Love It If We…

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Zinfandel is not one I talk about a lot.  And I have no explanation for it.   I mean I could make up one, and let the words try to validate what I’m trying to justify (oh boy…), or I could say when I get around to it.

So I got around to it.

I’m so grateful to be invited into friends’ homes and know that most of all, we are friends and that we care for each other, and that the conversations never get old. And at times, we can enjoy silence without it ever being awkward.

This dinner was full of beautiful conversation, all entertainment, and there’ll never be enough time to get it all in.  Then again, there’s always room for next time, and room for everybody.

I had brought a bottle of the same grape, and it turned out to be a flop.  I won’t get into specifics.  You might be able to see the label in picture, so maybe you know to avoid it if you’re out shopping for Zin.  But don’t take my word for it.  To each their…

Thankfully and fortunately, the hosts opened up one of their favorite wines, the 2015 Zinfandel from Carnivor Wines.  A name like that carries a lot of weight, no puns my friends.

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The price is anything but that, ranging from $10-$12, you’re getting a bargain.

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Without reading the label and getting a couple of sips, I tasted that oak and oak is you’re friend when it comes to reds, and some whites.  That’s just my opinion, but it’s based on experience.  The info also mentions blackberry and hints of caramel.  I really dig that if that’s what I tasted.   It just felt different but most importantly of all it tasted like a wine many would enjoy.

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And when you’re with fantastic company everything is going to taste better.  Food tastes that much more palatable (more than already might be), water is even that more refreshing, the air feels dryer and cooler (well that’s literally where we’re headed), and at least for me, my breaths feel for natural.   I know right.

This bottle, like most great ones, never had a chance.  It lasted a while but then it didn’t.  A few hours of a great evening always goes by rather quickly.   You don’t always want it to end, but does it really?  It’s just on hold for the next time.

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The food choices were plentiful: chips, hummus, olives, cheese are the perfect appetizer for any dinner or party of your liking.  It’s those little things that are the biggest things.  I’ve said it before with knowing some parts of better left unsaid and to just be.

The dinner itself was one of a more heartier and comforting variety, which is fitting to pair with a wine named Carnivor (here’s where to buy near you!).  As no pictures were taken I just made my point from earlier, sometimes there’s no need for explanations and facts.   You can take out most food and wines and substitute them for something else, and the story, while different, has the same constant of joy, love, happiness, and all those other good things.

I love all those good things.

I’m so grateful to have shared another evening with great friends, and I welcome and embrace the next time.

Peace Be With You.

Love,

Ideen

Have A Cigar

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

The Source of All Things…

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I’m feeling abundant, and you want to know why?  Because what make me happy, what makes me feel good, and what currently brings me the most joy is the most simplest of things.

Some time ago I’ve come to terms and at peace with many things.  While many things remain unresolved, what I’ve become most comfortable and at peace with are the most simple and peaceful of gatherings.   I still can find enjoyment in big parties with lots of commotion, lots of people, and lots of stimulation.

But a simple meal, a simple glass (or bottle) of vino, and a little conversation, where we can hear one another talk and listen intently, is what I’m all for.  It’s what I yearn for and prefer.  And when not looking for it, the opportunities tend to be presented to me with regularity.

I was grateful to be awarded another opportunity last week with a friend I don’t see enough.  It tends to go that way.  There’s those friends you talk to constantly yet don’t see as much as you would like.  My friend would fit that category.

What also makes me happy is getting together with friends for no reason whatsoever.  You know, someone is always having a birthday, a sports gathering, a milestone in life, and who knows what else.  But sometimes the rest reasons to hang out are no reasons at all.  If you love your friends and family, you never need a specific reason.

Well it helps when my friends have pets.  That’s a bonus.   I could relax with a cat, dog, or other animal friend all day, but I digress once again.

This planned yet impromptu gathering got all that more unpredictable, when my friend, who was all set to good, realized there were enough leftovers to be shared.   The cooking can be left for another day.  I’ve been spoiled and feeling grateful that I have such quality friends who like to cook, and invite their friends over to share in their love of food and wine.  I’m eternally grateful to be surrounded with great people.

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The food was wonderful, and the wine (which I’ll talk about shortly) paired serendipitously with some delicious chicken parmesan and pasta.  Oh my goodness this was great.

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The wine is the 2015 Mas Donis Old Vines, which is a red blend of Grenache, Merlot, and Syrah.  And with such a medium to full bodied wine to go with such a hearty and hefty meal, it’s a match that was meant to be and the universe came together on this night to make all the elements of food, wine, and simplicity work out magically.   That makes me feel good.

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I’ll freely admit that the label had much to do with the purchase. But something about this wine grabbed me.  At one of my local wine shoppes I was drawn to it immediately.  I grabbed it, held onto it, and with no resistance whatsoever, I knew this was the wine I was meant to buy, and share with you my thoughts today.  It was the first and only bottle I saw. Sounds about right.

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There’s so much to this wine. It’s got your standard berries and cherries.  But what might taste earthy to you at me, might be herbs and spices to someone else.  What stands out is how this wine ends.  You may have heard the term lingering finish before.  This wine epitomizes that.  What lingers is the flavors and the tannins after each sip.   Yet there’s so much structure and life to this wine, that you don’t need to put into words.  A little oak always helps too, but I think you know what I’m saying.  This is a wine that warms my heart, and may do the same for you.

And at a price tag of $10-$15, it’ll warm your pocketbook too.   Do people still have pocketbooks?  For more on this wine, and the distributor click here.

I think the elements of the the evening also made this wine that much better.  I think my friend enjoyed it a little more than me.  I think I had a glass and a half at most, which is fine by me.  That means more to share with good people.

I’ll also add that not every conversation is meant to be deep and meaningful.  It might drive you crazy.  It gets me cuckoo at times.

A good friendship also means a little surface level, a little nothing, and sometimes a little silence goes a long way.

Let’s do this again sometime.

Peace be with you.

Ideen

 

 

Pairs Well With Ice Cream Cones

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The hosts get all the credit for the title.  Yes there were ice cream cones, but no pictures of those sweet treats were taken.   So I could easily be lying, but there’s no fun in that.

But before dessert, there was plenty of greasy comfort food to be shared on a freezing yet glorious and inspired Sunday evening.   All of this came together rather suddenly which is how my most favorite of things and events usually turn out.  MenageLabel1

With all this did come some wine, in the form of Ménage à Trois.  Maybe you’ve heard of them

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The bottle we shared was the 2014 California Red Wine which is a blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

To be honest, at the time of drinking this I didn’t think or care what was in this wine.  All I cared about was sharing a bottle in impromptu fashion, and eat some carry out food till my heart and stomach couldn’t take it anymore.  Actually that’s an exaggeration.  Remember there was also ice cream later.

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I’m just grateful to be in the company of good friends that I don’t see enough, in a different setting outside of the norm.  And when I mean outside of the norm, the house and location is spectacular.   It was so calming and peaceful at a time where many of us need that calm and peace.  There can never be enough.

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The conversation was all over the place.  There was catching up to do, serious business to attend do (maybe or not really), and those deep conversations I’ve been known to partake in from time to time.  I’m not good with this whole small talk thing.

When it comes to the wine, I may have tasted the blackberries and raspberries in the notes, but I wasn’t seeking out anything like that.  I was seeking out peace and great company of friends, and some peace within myself.   A standard label wine such as this is just what everyone can use.

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Complex, bold, and loads of structure have its place.  But when you’re pairing this wine with crab dip, chicken cheesteak, and chicken nachos with all kinds of stuff thrown on top, do you really need fancy and pricey?

You can find their wines quite likely at a store near you. It’s one of those most accessible labels there is.  I know people that don’t like wine that will purchase these bottles as gifts or to try if they’ve never had wine in general, but feel compelled to every once in a while.

What’s funny is that while I’ve had many a glass and bottle, I’ve rarely actually had Ménage à Trois.  It could be because my palate has expanded that I know what I want, yet willing to try anything unique and unfamiliar.

What it also could be is that I may take the fact that Ménage à Trois is everywhere for granted.  And I don’t meant to over-analyze but that’s something I would like to cut out of my life, the over-analyzing and the taking things for granted.  Could be easier done than said.  Yes I did just say that in reverse, deliberately.

There’s nothing truly mind blowing about this wine, nor does it need to be.  It’s a wine that’s simple, easy to drink, enjoyable, and does its job.  What more do you need?

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And on an evening like this nothing was taken for granted.  I’m grateful to be invited into a home of dear friend’s and the warm and cozy feeling remained throughout the course of the night.  It’ll be a wonderful memory I now attach to Ménage à Trois, and I couldn’t be more thrilled, and yes, grateful.

To find their wines near you, click here; for their story, click here; their food & wine pairing suggestions can be found here; some things to love, and their contact info.

I would like to revisit a wine from Ménage à Trois much sooner than later.  Timing and the universe will present a situation where this will come together effortlessly.

And maybe, just maybe, we’ll share some more ice cream cones.

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Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

Wonderful, Incredible

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I adore Vin 909.  I was in love with it before I even set foot into the building.  For the past couple of years I would take the drive past Downtown Annapolis into Eastport, and would always stare in awe of the building the wine cafe is housed in.  It was one of those things that I romanticized without ever getting out of the car and having a glass of wine myself.

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Well one time last Summer I actually got out and was all set to walk in.  You know what happened though?  It was in between the hours of lunch and dinner.  Of course it was closed.  Of course it wasn’t supposed to happen then.   Was it ever going to happen?  You know I could just plan ahead, make reservations, and make all the proper arrangements to walk in.  But isn’t it more exciting for the spontaneous?

So I kept on making a few more drive sand remained enamored with the restaurant.  And I’ll be honest many of those times was when business was opened.  I just wanted to amuse myself, but also build anticipation for there would be day I walk in and hopefully it lived up to the immense sense of hype I’ve given this place.

Over two years later and the goofy build-up later all finally ended last Thursday.

And it was done in style.

This was a momentous occasion to be shared so thankfully I did have company.  I was forewarned that it’s best to make reservations or otherwise the wait will be 30 minutes or more.

That’s about the amount of time we waited but no big deal.  It gave time to peruse the menu. admire the bar, the two dining rooms, and the waiting area.  It’s a sight to behold for sure.  I didn’t picture the place be as big as it was either.  Absolutely beautiful.

This is a wine blog first and foremost.  There was wine had, as well as a nuts, olives, an incredible salad, and a world class pizza.  More on the pizza later.

How was the vino?    We went with a bottle based on name.  We didn’t see a label but the name Incredible Red by Peachy Canyon was enough to win us over.   This was without even reading over the grape.  It’s a Zinfandel by the way.  I haven’t written about many so this was a great opportunity to discover.

Traditionally this has not been one of my favorite grapes.  The Zin’s I’ve had have been met with mixed reviews.   Not this one…

The 2014 Incredible Red from Peachy Canyon is a break from that mold.  Oh it tastes like a Zin alright.  But the scents of blackberry and black cherry were immediate upon uncorking.  I’m not that much of an expert to detect nutmeg and vanilla.  Actually vanilla makes sense based on the theme of the day.  (For more on that click here) The synopsis mentions a smoky aroma taking over.  I did taste smoke.  It was earthy to me as well.  But that also could be the taste of pepper on the palate.  There’s so much to this wine that if I have it again it’ll taste differently.

But the olives and nuts that were paired with this wine brought about new flavors, and also showed me that this wine was anything but a disappointing Zin.  This was a grower.

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The salad that paired with the wine isn’t listed on the online menu but it was incredible. Are you detecting a theme?  The title of this one says it all.  The wine, the nuts, the olives, the salad, and that pizza were all shall you say, wonderful and incredible.

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I will get to more on that pizza later.

I neglected to mention there was tea and dessert.  To read more about that part of the journey, click here.

When the food is this extraordinary, when the company is great, and the whole vibe of the evening is off-the-charts, this wine goes to a whole new level of awesome.

I haven’t seen this wine on my radar anywhere.  If it’s been at sitting at a local wine shoppe it completely went overlooked.

That’s a topic for another day.  There’s a plethora of wine that many of us walk right past not knowing,  We don’t even think about it.  We have our favorites, are willing to try new ones, but so many go unnoticed,  or this is all part of the journey.  Not every wine is going to be had but many wines are meant to be tried.

And at only $15 retail, this is as a good a deal as any.  At Vin 909 it was only $28.  To be less than twice the bottle price at any restaurant is a heck of a deal.  Leave in it to Vin 909 to do it right.

For their seasonally changing food menu click here, for their beer and wine list click here, contact info, and more about them.

This is hopefully the first of many visits.  Since this is wintertime and our dinner was at night, the outdoor dining area was unavailable.  I intend for my next review and recap to take place during the warmer weather months.  The romance continues.

And any place that supports a close friends’ organization, which is Anne Arundel County CASA, is deserving of all the praise and all the business.

For more on Peachy Canyon, click here, here is their wine list with options to purchase online,   and a map and tracker on where to buy.

More to come on Friday.

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Thanks so much,

Ideen

Beautiful Doves

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love the positive vibe of a winery.   There’s something usually so welcoming and approachable about the whole experience.  From the usual remote location, to its endearing road signs to steer you in the right direction, makes the journey as wonderful as the destination.

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This brings me to one of the most pleasurable tasting experiences I’ve had in quite some time.   If you haven’t been to Dove Valley in Rising Sun, MD, I strongly recommend to make the journey.  Even if you’re a few hours away, it’s highly work making the trip for.

And that leads to me.  I only live about 30 minutes south and it’s taken me nearly seven years to finally make a visit.  I’ve been living in the area for about that long.   Why it’s taken me so long has no explanation.  I’ve taken drives up to the Philadelphia, New Jersey, and New York areas going up 95 North and always saw the signs for Dove.  I always said to myself I need to go. Well it finally happened and maybe it was meant to happen on this day.

Additionally,  I’ve rarely seen their wines at various nearby festivals, if at all, the more I think about it.  Maybe the universe was telling me something.  That I need to come to them.   I’m grateful I did.

As I parked my car, the area seemed eerily quiet.  In many instances I would take this as a sign to drive off and delay this visit once again.  But the little voice inside me said no, get out of the car, and see what’s going on.

A nice lady came out and greeted me.  She directed me to the tasting room where someone would be joining me momentarily.

Fortunately, there were a couple of dogs running around, so I felt at peace and was in no rush to get this tasting going.

Janel, who is such a wonderful person, came in a few minutes later and made me feel at home.    One thing I’ve noticed about wines, when the person pouring it for you is approachable, caring, and sincere, the wine is almost always going to taste better.  It’s just one of those amazing parts of life.   My head and my heart is in a happy place and everything around me is the same.  It’s so powerful.

Now there were wines I liked more than others, but some I was pleasantly surprised by.   I did not find a single wine to be bad, that could also be the environment I was in, that I alluded to before.  But this was so fun.  And wine drinking is supposed to be one of those most fun and inspiring experiences.

I won’t write about them all but the Cabernet Franc, which is usually a favorite wherever I go, was very good, but my favorite was the Pinot Noir.  It didn’t taste as light as usual Pinot’s but this one hit me and made me feel so warm and fuzzy inside.  I have no other explanation for it.  It really struck a chord with me.

The Merlot and Red Zin were also very good, that can complement just about any meal at any time of year.   The Rose and Dove Valley Red, which is their own special blend which full-bodied and full of fruitiness, also were stand-outs.  The latter is not something I would usually drink, but as the weather is still magnificent, I would drink this now or through most of the year.   I found it tasty and actually dangerously easy to drink.  🙂

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But the two I purchased were the aforementioned Pinot and my other favorite of the day, the Vignoles.   To me, these two wines are the red and white equivalent of the other.  That was the glorious feeling I got when I was sipping them and decided to purchase both.  The latter also had a full body and fruity taste, similar to the Dove Valley Red, but this one just hit me more.  Don’t get me wrong, I would’ve walked out with about a half-dozen bottles if I wasn’t careful.

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Janel also provided a masterful cheese and crackers plate for me to sample along with the wines and to cleanse the palate when necessary.  The tasting glass is so pleasing to the eye, that it will be a welcome addition to my collection.

The most important thing I want to mention is she was so accommodating and helpful in regards to any questions I might have had.  This was not a rushed experience.  She took her time and made sure my visit was a great one.  It was more than that.  It was a memorable one.  So memorable, that this is one of the longest write-ups I’ve ever done!

I also wanted to mention that she didn’t charge me for the tasting or the Vignoles.  She had no reason to do so.  I was so flattered and insisted that she didn’t have to.  It was above-and-beyond any winery visit I’ve had before.  This is their family business, I felt bad not paying, but she insisted.     This is class personified.  I wish I could use every superlative in the word for this one, but that would go on endlessly.

I splurged on the Pinot Noir.  The bottle was $25 and that is extremely rare for me to do.  I usually like my wines under $20, usually under $10-$15 if at all possible.  This is the whole point of Wine Is Fun.  We’re here to celebrate that great wine is fun to drink, to talk about, and be very affordable.  In this instance, I still feel that $25 for this bottle was a bargain.  And to have the tasting and Vignoles as part of the package, I felt like I was stealing.

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This only means I will be back soon and many times over.  Speaking of which, they have many fun events coming up, including live bands, and events such as Paint & Wet Your Palette, which is akin to many of the wine and paint nights that have become commonplace.  I have yet to do one myself.  I hope I get the opportunity.

They also have a Murder Mystery next month, which I always thought was the coolest thing when reading about them or seeing it depicted on television.   To have it be so close is an event I don’t think I can miss.

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And their big event coming up in October is Winestock, in which they will team up with several other wineries in the area for a day of wining, eating, and live music.  If the wording is correct this is a hippie fest that is right up my alley, that I hope not to miss. All the events can be found here.   And since you want to come here, here are the directions!

Here is a list of there you can find their wines in Maryland.

I could go on till eternity, but I’ll save some for a future post.  Enjoy the photos.  I think you will see the encapsulate how the brilliance of this place.

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I was only here for under an hour but the visit will resonate me for a lifetime.  This is how wine is done.  There’s not enough gratitude to express how extravagant and spectacular this experience was.

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Dove Valley thank you so much!

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Best,

Ideen

Wine Ice Cream Social

It’s time to switch it up and pay another homage to this beautiful season we call Summer!

I’ve come across various wine ice creams, slushies, and other frozen concoctions in the past couple of years and never thought to try them, let alone write about them. There’s no time like the present.

In serendipitous fashion, I discovered Mercer’s Wine Ice Cream at one of my favorite local wine shops near me!

With the assistance of the friendly team members at Wine World of Abingdon, MD, I got 3 pints for me and my pals.

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You can’t judge a book by its cover, but how beautiful do these look?

Now if you were just getting regular, old-fashioned, and delicious ice cream, $6.99 a pint might seem a bit steep.  But we’re talking vino, we’re talking emotion, and we’re talking new experiences.

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Most importantly though, how did they turn out?

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Exhibit #1 : The Strawberry Sparkling. This was my favorite.  You could really taste the alcohol content right away.   And mixed in with the ice cream this was a match made to perfection.  The strawberry pieces really added a lot to this.  This is one of my favorite fruits in frozen form or to be cherished alone.  This was fantastic.

Strawberries and champagne will usually always be a winning combination.  And they nailed this one.  If I wasn’t careful I would’ve eaten the whole thing and been unable to write this post.

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Exhibit #2 : Peach White Zinfandel.  I liked this one too, but I didn’t taste much in the way of alcohol.  I love peach and the fruit pieces were also delectable and very much appreciated.   I haven’t had much experience with Blush Wines like this one, so I didn’t have the highest of expectations.

Don’t get me wrong, peach is a wonderful fruit and is one of the joys to be had during these beautiful months, but I just felt like I was tasting peach ice cream.  On its own that would be great, but my taste buds didn’t get much of the wine.

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And finally, exhibit #3 : Cherry Merlot.   This one hit a little more.  I love cherry and the cherry pieces looked magnificent. Merlot is a grape that I’ve gradually enjoyed a little more each time I have it.

Of the three helpings, this is the least summery but the one that seemed the most powerful.  The color also stands out.   This is one I’d think I’d have to be careful with or I may be taking an extended nap or two.

There was an abundance of flavors, so if time allows, I will be reviewing some more!

If you’re interested in purchasing some, the only location in the Baltimore area that carries them is Wine World.  And here’s a location guide for anyone else interested!

I would definitely recommend these creams for any outdoor events and parties. We have a lot of Summer left!

Enjoy!

Best,

Ideen