One Of The Better Pairings…

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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.

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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’.

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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.

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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.

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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

Home Away From Home

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This is more than just about a wine.  And honestly most of these stories are more than just about the wine.  It’s also about the journeys we go on, the people we share it with, and of course any life changing tidbits along the way.  Not everything is going to be memorable or resonate.

Sometimes it’s not the wine but it’s the wonderful company you shared it with, or maybe you had a moment of peace and solitude.  And you may have said to yourself that life is pretty good, and at least for even a few surrealistic seconds, it was as pretty close to complete peace that there is.

You ever get that feeling?  I bet it happens more than you and I realize.

I’ve had that happen to me multiple times recently.  Maybe the universe is telling me to appreciate life all I can, because those moment are everywhere if you let them.

Well this happened to me twice in the same weekend at nearly the same place.  Now how I ended up in Northern Virginia twice in three days is something I hadn’t planned out.  It just worked out that way.  And I’m grateful it did because it brought me back to visit an old familiar friend, Balducci’s.

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Now we’ve all been to markets with their selections of natural foods, organic foods, salad bars, hot food bars, delis, cheese markets, and everything else you can come up with. But Balducci’s has been doing this for over 100 years.

Now with locations exclusively to Connecticut, Maryland, New York, and Virginia, it’s not going to be readily accessible to everyone.  And in a way these locations are mostly in pricier parts of their respective cities, which means higher end food and higher end prices.  That also means higher quality, yet you can still find deals.

I’ll make this part brief. my first and many visits after was to the Bethesda location near where i grew up.  Now that area is not quite my cup of tea but going back to my younger days when it was under a different name, I do have fond memories, maybe simply because it was a simpler time, and there were less things to worry about.

Even if the prices seemed out of reach at the time, what did stand out is how I hadn’t seen a store like this, of its kind, maybe ever.  And even with changes, the heart of the store remains the same.  And now they’ve added wine.

But two recent visits to the older part of McLean, VA brought me to another one of Balducci’s location.  And this location has more of a presence and easier to find than its Bethesda counterpart, simply because the McLean location is almost in an island unto itself, with little to no competition or hardly any neighbors to speak of.

Before I continue to digress, I’ll just say that what makes Virginia even stand out more is wine is easily accessible in grocery, convenient, and drug stores, while in Mayland you need a special permit, which the Bethesda location has.  But it makes coming to Virginia to buy one that much easier.

Yet I wasn’t looking for it.  But in McLean I felt so happy.  It was near where I was born, near things that made me happy (what those things are I’m really not quite sure, but I felt warm and fuzz), and overall had a welcoming energy I hadn’t always felt from its Bethesda counterpart.  If it sounds like I’m sort of picking on Bethesda, I don’t mean to.

There’s a lot to appreciate because in addition to everything that’s cool, their main headquarters is in Maryland.

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With all that said, I perused the wine section and noticed how so many bottles were in the $20-$30+ range.  That wasn’t a priority for me and it hardly ever is.  Thankfully, Balducci’s does have their own label of wines that were mostly under $15.00.  One in particular, the Chenin Blanc was only $10.  Without hesitation I decided this is what I was going to get, and this is what I’m going to write about.

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I was introduced to Chenin Blanc last summer, and enjoyed it for its simplicity yet somewhat sweet but still dry flavors, that make it a white that fans of mostly red wines can also enjoy.  If you were willing to give it a shot.  I did and I’ve had a few I’ve truly sipped again.

This 2016 Balducci’s Chenin Blanc tasted like a wine that is worth $10, nothing more, maybe less.  And with the understanding now it was one of the few bottles at $10 or less at Balducci’s, I get that quality is much higher here, and a lot of Chenin Blanc was produced.  More than what they know what to do with.  That’s just an observation and speculation.

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I tasted some fruits, and while it was semi sweet and dry, it was missing that wow factor. It felt like an everyday wine and I don’t think you should expect much more.  There wasn’t anything wrong with it.   It was a decent wine for the price.

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And it pairs well with spicy foods, salads (among so much more) or nothing at all.  I had mine with some Asian style chicken and vegetables.  And it was simple complement of wine and food.   That’s sometimes all you want and/or need.

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Here is a link to the importer of their wines, Kysela Pere et Fils if you’re curious to know more.

Maybe I had lofty goals because the Balducci’s of McLean had a positive energy and vibe that I can’t fully explain.  Maybe the grass is always greener, maybe it’s because I was born not too far away (that is a huge part of it),  or maybe I don’t come around enough to grasp what’s fully going on.   No need to over-analyze too much.

However, I do know this is just the beginning.  There’s more of this location and I’d like to explore and definitely a visit to the place where I was born in Alexandria, VA.

Yes so this will be done again sooner rather than later, and definitely before the year is out.   It’ll be a thoroughly enjoyable adventure.  I hope you’ll be able to join me.

For more on Balducci’s, click here.   And many of their items such as coffee, sweets and snacks,  spices, and many other giftsgifts are available for purchase online.

Here’s their list of locations again, which also includes one for my local friends in Baltimore.

And finally, here is their contact information.

Thank you so much and look forward to doing this all again soon.

Ideen

Christmas Eve Comradery

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I’m glad I got to save one of my more enjoyable wine tasting experiences for the end of the year.  Well when it’s the holidays, and even more specifically Christmas Eve, it makes the occasion all the more merrier and the wine taste so much better.

What makes it all the more special is the wine I’m going to write about will go down as one of my favorite wines I’ve had, not only this year, but in a long while.

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The wine in question (well not in question, I just said that for dramatic effect) is The 2014 Lost Colony Wine from Virginia Dare Winery out of Geyserville, CA.

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Now I know what you might be thinking.  It’s The Lost Colony, it’s Virginia Dare Winery, and isn’t the state of Virginia one of the original 13 colonies?  My first reaction is this winery is a reasonable drive away.  Well just a few more hours have been added than originally presumed.  I’ll let you read the synopsis since I’m not the best at history. Instead I’ll stick with the wine and the spirit of Christmas.  Yay Christmas!

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So what inspired me to bring this wine to a dear friends’ Christmas Eve gathering?  Well the kind folks who were hosting prepared a pork crown roast.  And when you get invited to an event with a carefully prepared main course, the wine has to at the very least complement this meal that took days to prepare with love and care.

In advance of this gathering of loved ones and friends, but more so family, I did my research on the proper wines to pair with this dish. Syrah came up a lot and that was more or less in lines what I was thinking.  There were other suggested pairings but I was set on Syrah. And my local wine shoppe came through once again with a massive selection of bottles to choose from.

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Within seconds I spotted The Lost Colony and was in awe of this label.   I mean I was in love.  I had to take pictures.  Well I always take pictures.  But in this situation how could you not admire this work of art?  I’m sounding like a novice that only picks wines based on the label, but that’s a huge part of the fun.  It’s what draws you in.  And no, never judge anything by its cover, but when it looks this good, how can you not be the least bit fascinated?

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To be factually correct, this wine is a Red Blend (45% Syrah), and the fact sheet can be found here.

And when I saw the price listed at only $16 (more on this shortly), I was thinking it’s the holidays, it’s my dear friends’ Christmas Eve Party, and its this portrait and this wine that I want to bring to this assembly of awesomeness.  After all the build-up, this wine better be good.

Thankfully, I can safely say this wine was stupendous, tremendous, and I’m so grateful to have shared it with a few friends at the party.   Was I thinking of keeping it all to myself? Well…

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I was clutching this bottle like it was my baby.  Even the host of the party told me I should bring a cheaper wine out of the cellar, and to save this for later.  He had a point.  So I got a more standard label out and popped it open, and was done with it.

But I really wanted to open my wine.   So even after opening up the el cheapo, I went ahead and opened my Last Colony wine way ahead of dinner time.

This was a fruit forward gem that didn’t need any time to air out or open up, as it was amazing immediately.

The aura of this wine was something.  Lots of friend, old and new, were asking about this wine.  They were also intrigued by the label.  I felt proud that I brought such a wine that led to such a discussion.  It became an ice breaker which I didn’t expect at all.  Well it’s Christmas and the magic of the holidays shined through again.

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I poured cups for folks who were interested and was happy to do so.  And yes, dinner was nowhere close to being served.  But it paired well with the mammoth amount of appetizers and treats sprawled all across the kitchen counter.

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I did save a little wine for the crown roast.  And to say the pairing was amazing only tells a small percentage of the story.  I believe half the bottle was still there when I departed.  I hope my friends got to enjoy it.  The reviews I heard were strong across-the-board. It was so easy to drink.  It tasted more light bodied than I anticipated.   This may also due to the fact that the incredible amount of holiday parties leading to this one has made everything taste differently.  I’ve been feeling full most of the time so this wine may have had the opposite effect than if this were a more relaxed time of year.   And I still loved it.  Perhaps the Malbec in the blend gives is a lighter on the tannins feel.

Remember how I said I purchased this wine for $16?  It just had this feeling of tasting more than that.  But as you can see on the link to their own site, the price is $28.  How can this be?  I feel like I committed winery robbery.  And even though we spend like crazy on Christmas, I fully appreciated the savings in hindsight.   Even on reseller sites I see the prices listed in the $22-$25 range.  So is this an anomaly?  I may need to buy a few more of these bottles for future consumption.

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What’s funny is that if this bottle was over $20 I likely would not have purchased it.  It goes against my purchasing habits.  But here it is.  I was meant to buy this wine on this day, and I’m glad I did.  I’m happy to share this wine with dear friends and family a like.

And everyone at the party did the same.

That’s a testament to all of us.  We all came together to share in this wonderful couple’s home.  They wanted to share the holidays with us.  And we gave back in all the ways we could.  We all brought something to the party, whether it was a side dish, appetizer, sweet treat, liquor, and of course wine.  And that’s not only important during the holidays but all year round.   This group knows the meaning of sharing and caring throughout the year.

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And the hosts of this party go above and beyond in ways I have never seen.  It’s a blessing to know our party hosts, who are more than just hosts, they are family.  This whole group is a family.  And there’s nothing more important than family.  It’s amplified during the holidays and with this crew, the whole year through.

I will always remember this holiday season for a lot of things.  This party will be one of the highlights.

For more on Virginia Dare Winery click here.  They have charming music playing on the main page so beware if you’re looking at the workplace.

To purchase directly from the website, go here.

Here’s a behind the wines and then a history lesson.

If you live near the Baltimore area, I’ve seen this wine at the great Wine World in Abingdon, MD.  I’ve not seen it anywhere else but if I do, I will update it here.

This was fun and I can’t believe another year is in the books.  I can’t wait to see what comes next.  I may revert back to some old posts I never got around too and of course take some unexpected twists and turns throughout the duration.  I look forward to you joining me.

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But for now I will savor what’s left of the holidays and appreciate the fact that I got to be a part of this gathering, and that I got to share this with you.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,

Ideen