One Of The Better Pairings…

PastaDinner2

A great wine paired with a great dinner is something that never gets old.  As a matter of fact it can always feel new, can feel fresh, and can feel inspired if you well, feel it.

Easy said and easy done…

It doesn’t get more authentic than a great pasta dish paired with a great Italian wine.  An added  bonus is when the wine is affordable yet so great for the price, that you almost might feel guilty.  Don’t.  It’s good to find the best deals in anything without having to look too hard.

MasciarelliWine2

The 2015 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo from Masciarelli is one of those wines that you’re going to find in a lot of places, and hopefully you’ve had the good fortune of trying it.  Sadly for me, it’s one of those wines (like many others) that I always see and unintentionally would take for granted.  It’s not deliberate.  There’s just so many great wines to try that while we have all the time in the world, it’s important to make the most of it.  And that goes for everything.

You’re going to taste your berries, cherries, and various spices but for a wine like this, like many others, that’s just one part of the story.  What’s most important is this a wine you’re going to enjoy?  Both things, among others, are connected.  I can safely say the answer yes.  Yes this is a wine that’s accessible, approachable, and affordable.  Those are some great things that start with the letter ‘a’.

MasciarelliWine

It’s also your typical wine you’ll find served at Italian restaurants, which in turn means great Italian meals and dinners, and could easily be served at an all around amazing feast near you.  I can imagine that it’s being served at a dinner near you, near me, and all around the world, as I write this, and as you read this.  It’s that versatile and that awesome of a wine.  There’s another ‘a” for you!

As it gets colder, the medium and fuller bodied wines are going to take shape.  Thankfully this is right in the middle of what could also feel like a light wine, depending on the meal, your mood, and the season.   Those are the fun details that can make a good wine into a great wine, and a good meal into an exceptional one.  This is so fun.

I mentioned affordable.  I’ve seen this wine sold for anywhere from $9-$12, and that’s a steal.   This tastes like a $15+ wine to me.  It may be for the aura it carries, the aura I sense, or just my gut reaction to it.  Your gut will always be your guide and never steer you wrong.

PastaDinner

What a great pairing of wine and food this was.  My meal was just as beautiful as it looks.  This was comfort at it’s most comfortable and beautiful.

MasciarelliWineWithFood

As we head towards the holidays, these are the kind of meals you’re going to encounter more if you haven’t already.  These are the wines that go with them, and hopefully you surround yourself with the best company as well.

I’m grateful to have shared this with a friend, and look forward to many more exciting times to come, before, during, and after the holidays.  It’s still early November, so one glass, and one meal at a time…

Peace Be With You.

Love,

Ideen

Drawing A Blank Here…

SabeoVerdejoFirePit

Well, yes and no.  Yesterday was a bit goofy for me.  This past week or so has been a bit goofy for me.  I can attribute that to anything.   But in the beginning and the end, we have control over how he handle experiences and situations that are thrown at us.  Life throws us a lot of things.  We adapt, persevere, and we sometimes say everything is going to be ok.

I keep telling myself that, but I have to feel it too.  Where did the summer go?  I’m already seeing pumpkin stuff slowly showing up, and that worries me, to the point I forget about all the things I said in the first paragraph.

This is still summer, and I’m going to be talking about these kinds of spiritually healing and fulfilling wines for as long as it feels right and it feels right.  Yes, I know what I just said.

So as to not be overwhelmed, I shared this bottle with good friends and with good food.  That’s a recurring theme of this, and of life.

And to be able to sit outside while the weather is still in our favor is a testament to the good in this universe.

When I spotted this beautiful label of an owl at one of my favorite wine shoppes, The Wine Source, at the sale price of $8, it would be a catastrophe if I didn’t grab one, at least.

SabeoVerdejoOwl

The Verdejo wine from Sabeo out of Rueda, Spain looked amazing on the surface, which can lead to all kinds of mixed results. But I had a sense about this.  The golden crisp color of the wine evoked positive energy, without ever even opening the bottle.  And whatever you think of owls, you can’t help but think this is one of the more artistic and stand out labels you’re going to see.

SabeoVerdejo

But as we all know, a label is not going to tell you anything about how the wine tastes.  That’s too idealistic and too much of a beginner way of thinking.  However, in many ways this journey of my love for wine will always make me feel like a beginner.

Thankfully, everything I said earlier is true.  This is a marvel, and for how little I paid for it, I felt like I was stealing.  Regular price goes for about $10, yet I would pay more for this.

This can be savored alone, with great company, and with great food.  All the generalities in life do apply, but mainly the positive ones.

If memory serves me correctly, this is the first time I’ve ever had this grape.  I’m so happy this is how it begins for me, and I feel spoiled and blessed in many ways. There’s flavors of lemon, lime, and maybe a hint of melon in this wine that could make many non-wine drinkers even a fan.  It just has that aura yet welcoming feel about it.  It’s approachable, endearing, and it’s a heck of a wine.

SabeoVerdejoWineWithFood

Versatility is important in life, and definitely helps with pairing wine and food.  This wine has it all.  It complemented this amazing meal of chicken & vegetable kabobs cooked over the grill, along with homemade Tzatziki that it brought back memories of childhood, family, and happiness that transcend any headaches and complaints I referenced earlier.

SabeoVerdejoFirePit2

And a larger-than-life firepit always helps….

These are memories that will be ongoing, as new ones are created and nostalgia sets in immediately.  Living in the moment yet appreciating everything that’s going on makes anything, including a wonderful dinner, that much more of a notable place and time.

I’ve spent many dinners with my friends (and written about many, not all…) and I’m so grateful that the stories keep growing, evolving, yet the constant of joy, happiness, and harmony remain.

SabeoVerdejoFlowers

Sometimes drawing then filling in the blanks is just fine..

To many more.

Salud.

Ideen

Have A Cigar

CigarWine2

This in connection with a story I wrote about here.

The pizza was great, but for the sake of this post, how was the wine?

My dear friends introduced me to Harvest Thyme of Davidsonville, MD, which is as charming and welcoming a restaurant as I’ve seen.  And I tend to say that a lot.  When you visit a place for the first time, and/or literally go with little to no notice (this kind of goes along the lines of both), it’s one of those natural feelings that can’t always be expressed in words.  It’s expressed in feeling, emotions, and sometimes no words at all.

But what about the wine?  I tend to go on these tangents, and forget about the subject at hand.

CigarWine

The 2015 Cigar Zinfandel was the bottle of choice.  We came for a glass a piece, and since it was the three of us, and happy hour including deals on bottles of wine, this made perfect sense.

At the time, and in hindsight the wine made perfect sense.

We weren’t looking for anything fancy.  We just wanted something that looked good on paper, and spoke to our sensibilities.   Why not have a Cigar?

The name is a draw, but the wine itself is fantastic.  And I don’t drink a lot of Zinfandel wine in general, so whenever I get the opportunity I embrace it.  And I don’t avoid these wines on purpose.  It’s just not a grape I actively seek out.  With this wine, that might need to change.

There’s so much to love and yet there’s so little to decipher.  That makes me happy.

A lot (or maybe just a few) darker fruits and berries is what you will taste, but you also get a peppery or wood type of flavor, which makes it feel like there’s an elements of smoke or perhaps even a cigar in it.   It’s easy to make your mind think that as well, because of the name of the wine.

CigarWine4

But after a few sips and a good conversation, all that analysis doesn’t really matter.  The waiting area had a feeling of a ski lodge, or anywhere cozy that would make you feel safe, secure, and have all the worries and cares in the world disappear, if even for just this short visit.

And a restaurant that’s as inviting as Harvest Thyme, is instantly going to give you that community type of feeling.  Aside from my friend’s who have been there before, I didn’t know a single person, yet felt like I belonged here.  It was a mini vacation, away from home, yet close to home, that everything feels so near and so far away at once.  It just felt good.

CigarWine3

The Cigar Zinfandel is one of those wines that might feel like it would only taste well in this setting.  But there’s a lot of depth, structure, and character to this wine.  It’s what you want in your friends, your relationships, and all the spiritual parts of your life.  So why not have it in your wine, as well?

There’s a darker red color which I take as just sit back and enjoy the view.   There’s a little spice in this as well.  Some of this may all be hogwash, but sometimes a wine that’s easy to figure out are the best ones.  And I’m not sure I’ve figured it all our, nor would I want to.  Not yet at least.

At around $15, this is well worth it.  I would absolutely drink it again.  It seems perfect for a night in by the fire with some tasty treats, or nothing at all.

HarvestThymeSlices

Oh yeah, there’s that pizza… 

For more on Harvest Thyme, here is their food menu, their drink menu, and their story.

And this wine is available at a Total Wine, near you.

Until the next one, peace be with you…

ideen

 

…What Is Essential Is…

BigSqueezeDinner2

There are times when I do this, that I wonder why I keep doing this.  I wonder if at some point I’ll become burnt out, or run out of fun wines to talk about.  The former is possible, the latter well..  There will never be enough time to try all the wine.  Hey!

After consecutive weeks of posts where all I did was review Whites and Rosé’s, it’s time to get back to what made me love wine in the first place, a simple, full bodied, and affordable red wine.

If it weren’t for dear friends of mine inviting me to dinner just hours ago, this may have been another white wine or Rosé post.  The dinner that we had could only be justified with something full, something powerful, yet something approachable.

My friend suggested an Australian Shiraz, and I agreed, with pleasure.  It didn’t take long to find something I liked. As a matter of fact, one jumped at me simply because of the label.

BigSqueezeFront

The artwork and the beauty displayed from the 2014 Big Squeeze Shiraz by Evans & Tate will draw anyone in.  This depiction of animals, nature, and all the elements that are bright in the world sold immediately.

Its at this moment, that after $14 later, I so badly want this wine to taste amazing.   I already have a memory attached to it (its that dragonfly and butterfly, among all the other goodness), and I’ve yet to uncork (or in this case unscrew) this anticipatory bottle.

I’m so happy and grateful to report this wine was stellar upon opening, and got better with time.  And then it just kept getting better with time.  And this is all before dinner was served.

BigSqueezeNotes

So what is it about this wine, aside from the art?    It comprises everything I grew to love about reds.  First, I adore Shiraz.  Second, it’s the simple inclusion of plum, cherry, pepper, among the other easiest elements of the universe.    There’s lots of toasted oak too to almost make you think its a different season.  Almost.

BigSqueezeGlass1

In short, this wine is approachable, medium bodied (in my tasters opinion) for a Shiraz that it almost tastes light, and is perfect for the Summer.   Yes you can have a red wine in the Summer and not feel bloated or regretful the next day.  It’s tremendous, it’s beautiful, and it’s what a red wine is supposed to taste like.

And my goodness this is pair perfectly dinner.  My friend was spot on with this call.  For a wine that with a beautiful label that represents goodness and the best parts of our planet, it only made sense that this meal (mostly comprised of local and organic elements would go with our wine.   Yes, our wine.   The expectations were so high that two bottles were actually purchased.

BigSqueezeDinner

Not only did the wine wow us all, but so did the food.  The meal which comprised of lamb sausage, pasta with homemade pesto and local basil, and local squash was a hearty yet the right kind of filling meal.  A fuller bodied Shiraz or any red may have undermined what were dining on.  It’s one of those things I realized while we were eating, and now as I write about this experience.

BigSqueezeDinner3

And how could I forget the Caprese Salad?  Joyous emotions all around.   The tannin level on this wine leans towards the lower side, which in hindsight I appreciate even more.  As much as I love high levels of tannin, it wouldn’t work with this meal, at least in this instance.

I just found this to be so perfect.  It was so perfect, that the picture taking was limited. This was wine and meal I wanted to enjoy with my friends, and retain as many memories for myself and with my pals.

From when this wine was opened up until the conclusion of dinner was about an hour.  I can’t tell you how great the food was, and I can’t elaborate properly how this wine got so much better with each minute of breathing.   Some wines air out and then they settle into their intended taste for a while.  This one just kept getting better with each sip. But this wine is something special.

But everything factors into an awe-inspiring wine experience; the company, the weather, the food, your mood, and every other element the universe decides to present to us.

The conversation was great, it was necessary, and it was therapeutic.

Life is good but as much as I love wine on my own, great company is always a welcome thing.  And I’m grateful these folks are not only great company, but great friends.

And what wine is really that good if you can’t share it with good people.

Until today I’ve never seen this wine in my life.    To see if this wine is available near you, click here.  If not, you can also purchase this bottle online.    This wine is listed anywhere from $10-$14 and I feel it tastes closer to a $20+ bottle. That’s meant as a compliment.

There’s still plenty of time to write about all the other wines that identify with the Summer.  I sense this will resume next week.

So I’ll see you then.  Thanks so much.

Ideen

 

Sentimental Saturdays

RhoneGlass

I was grateful to be invited to the 2nd Annual Christmas Tree Decorating Party hosted by a dear friend of mine. I’m not sure how official this event is but the 2nd anniversary it is!

Yes this took place on a Saturday, hence the cheesy title.

This one, even more so, is truly about the experience.  This crew is fun.  So you know good food and hopefully good wine is going to be incorporated.

The wine purchased was a 2014 Cotes du Rhone Rouge Acantalys, from Chesapeake Wine Company in Baltimore, MD.  A thanks to them for the suggestion.

I had never seen that bottle before and I can’t find anything on it, except a link in the UK to purchase.   For this occasion, it didn’t matter…

I really liked it.  The label looked like some red wrapping paper so that helped.  I specifically asked the owner if they had had any holiday themed bottles or labels for this party.   They did not, so I simply asked if they had a decently priced wine with some pepper or spices.   And voila.

This is exactly what I was looking for.   It had elements of pepper, spice, and barbecue smoke.  This was an enjoyable bottle for only $12.

But more importantly, this was shared by all of us as we slowly adorned the tree with ornaments.  This is a special time of year and some of can get overly sentimental.

Some of us need an event like this to finally get us over the hump and into the spirit.  I’m somewhere all over the place.   I can never involve myself in enough things with the intent of feeling good.  This was needed by everybody.

RhoneWithCupcake

A friend brought homemade cupcakes which paired well with the spicy wine. I’d say the dichotomy of the flavors really made the wine and the cupcake a unique but successful duo.

RhoneWithPizza

You know when there’s a party, pizza has to be involved.  And my friend ordered a buffalo chicken pie to be shared.  It was annihilated within minutes.  Here’s my one slice.

Nothing could have messed this up. Even if the food or wine wasn’t up-to-par, we would have figured something out.  Luckily, everything tasted great.   I suspect the festive occasion made everything taste and feel better regardless.

With a heightened sense of spirit, our palates and our energy may have been altered a bit, for the best.  And I say that with all positive intent.

It’s events like these that make me feel such joy and love.   I wish the feeling could hit me everyday.  Actually it can. The holidays are a special part of the calendar year that would lose it’s uniqueness if celebrate too long.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t feel good all the time.  Small gathering like this remind me that I can and I intend to.

Good wine and good food will only increase those good times.   Good friends and family to share it with, not only enhances that but also gives us a feeling of comfort and love.

We are well into the holidays and want to take every second to savor it I can. This is why these blog posts exist.

And speaking of savoring, Chesapeake Wine Company has apparently been sold.  What will come of it?  I don’t know.  But this place has been so good to me, especially on Sundays.  As one of the few places with a seven-day liquor license, it has been a go-to for so many. So keep that in mind if you’re in the area and doing shopping over the weekend.

In the meantime I’m going to appreciate the work we did on the tree. Before and after pictures have been included.

Enjoy the holidays and enjoy them with people you care about!

Best,

Ideen

 

Smokin’

cote

I got to try a new Cotes Du Rhone, per a recommendation from a friend.  And I am so happy I did.   It’s a full bodied red at it’s finest.  I thought it was a bottle that I had before.  But I doubt it.  This flavor would have resonated with me.  Is it the peppery taste that makes me love Cabernet Franc so much or are there some exciting things going on here?

Now I have always like a good Rhone, Grenache has always been a favorite for me.

The La Grande Ribe Cuvee Centenairee Cotes Du Rhone 2009 is one for the books.   As soon as I took a whiff upon opening, I knew I was in for something different and something special.   Boy was that an understatement.

There was a smokiness, along with something else very distinct about the aroma.  So I took a pour and this blew my taste buds away.  I thought I was tasting a piney, earthy, or maybe out of this world selection.   Well I looked up what I could and discovered that barbecue smoke and roasted herbs are added to make this a dynamite bottle.  Literally.

Mystery is abound, however, as I cannot find anything about the winery itself.  But to my pleasure and lack of surprise, you can look this wine up and get a dozen or so different synopsis and evaluation of what is included.   It’s all about interpretation and the power of persuasion.  But I definitely can taste the smoke and the herbs.   Or is it something else too good for words?

Now this recap tells me there’s the black pepper I alluded to, coffee, cinamon, figs, and licorice flavors.  Now which one is it?   There’s also red fruit and black fruit?   So much to keep up with.   This could take years or maybe sooner, but one day, I will figure this puzzle out.   Maybe they’re all right?  Or maybe it’s not meant to be solved?   Just maybe, the flavor can be whatever you interpret it as.    Ah this adds to the mystery…

Bottom line, this is an awesome get.  And this is how I enjoyed it.

amazing

Pretty inspiring I know.

All the best,

Ideen