Vino Veritas

Food & Drink, Vino Veritas, Wine School

Vino Veritas: It’s Spring, Time to Make a Seasonal Wine Shift From Red to …

0 Written by: | Thursday, Apr 10, 2014 12:38pm

rose-wine glasses

As a new mom, I am without a regular nine-to-five job or school to keep me on track. I rely heavily on my surroundings to keep me up on the systematic parts of life. The mood of my child tells me time of day. Phone calls keep me on top of what day of the week it is, and the weather is my seasonal gauge. My seasons thus far in 2014 have been Winter, Narnia, Always Winter Never Christmas, Wet, Cold-and-Wet, Mid-May, Almost Spring, and Wet Again. I talk a lot about the weather. It determines my clothing choice, my activities, often my mood, and my beverage choice. Read More →

Food & Drink, Vino Veritas, Wine School

An Evening Conversation About Wine

1 Written by: | Thursday, Mar 27, 2014 11:59am

resized_177x265_FoodandWine_main_Full

On a Monday night, the baby is dozing in her swing and we are cooking dinner together after what hopefully is the last snow of the year. We are very, very hopeful. Chicken, preserved plum sauce, endive and beet salad, and couscous with walnuts, the kitchen is thick with salt and spice and heat. 

“What would you like to drink?” my husband asks. He always asks me. I always answer the same. Read More →

Food & Drink, Vino Veritas

Vino Veritas: Whether Relishing Winter or Dreaming of Summer, Wines to Suit the Mood

0 Written by: | Thursday, Feb 27, 2014 11:55am

wine shot stock

We interrupt your six more weeks of winter to bring you three glorious days that remind you spring may be on the way, even though one was riddled with thunderstorms and the other unceremoniously brought to a close by more snow. I swear I forget every February that this is what winter means, that by the best part of winter, which is obviously Christmas, you’ve only barely crested the Solstice and the most brutal brunt of it is still to come. Here in Maryland that means, apparently, soggy cold days, foggy cold days, two feet of snow, sub-freezing temperatures, freak 50-degree days sprinkled in there, and the worst parking situation for anybody who lives in the city. My sister sent me a picture of herself on the beach in Miami where she goes to school with the caption, “Never too early for mimosas by the sea.” I almost wept.

So what are we to do when the winter drags on, threatening yet another month of puffy coats, sleet, and a disgruntled public? When the world turns to whiskey to quell its chilly insides, will we embrace the season or wishfully long for warmer times? To be honest, I like to go to Miami. So obviously, option B: long for warmer times.

But let’s face it: Miami isn’t always an option unless you’re my sisters. So how do you bring the tropics home when it’s 28 degrees and snowing again and you forgot to put the windshield wipers up on our car and your shoes aren’t waterproof? Two approaches: Love It or Leave It.

Love It

When it gets cold out, my initial reaction is to pull out every sweater I own and bake a lot of pumpkin things, and my wine preference quickly swings from white or light reds to rich, snuggly, stick-to-your ribs kind of wine. In dealing with winter dregs (that is, January, February, and March), if I had my druthers, I would drink Washington State Merlot constantly. The good ones are robust and pure, like a really good blackberry or blueberry preserve, with cool, sleek minerality that may remind you of a wet river stone. They’re a little more generous than their grandparents from the Right Bank of Bordeaux, to speak generally, which means a lot of the time you don’t need to be snacking in order to quell tannins or acid. They’ll both be there, for sure, but are often more willing to play second fiddle to the fruit.  Read More →

Food & Drink, Vino Veritas

Tasting Notes #2: Old Friends

0 Written by: | Thursday, Feb 13, 2014 12:00pm

When I moved from my house to my husband’s place, I brought with me not only a Granny Smith-colored Kitchen Aid mixer and a cat, but also three or four cases of wine I’d stashed away periodically over my brief tenure in the wine shop. They were usually single bottles of things I liked at a given moment and would save up to purchase periodically, so the cases are pretty full of strange things. I’ve picked off a few of them here and there, but haven’t looked in them in quite a while. So this week, I went snooping and came across a few odd balls and old friends and decided to re-taste them, a pure study in curiosity.

Wine #1: Orin Swift Cellars “Mannequin” White, California

I can’t remember why I have this wine. Therefore, I open it now.

Mannequin is made by Orin Swift, a producer that’s not quite cult status but certainly has some loyal followers and are known for limited release wine with intriguing names and genius labels. Their design is typically sleek and evocative, some with brooding photos, others with eerie drawings, Mercury Head actually has a Mercury head dime in the glass. The bottles are skull crackers, really hefty, and the wines vary from Bordeaux grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to Rhone varieties like Syrah and Grenache, some Zinfandel, and this weird, weird white wine, Mannequin. It’s a blend of Chardonnay, Viognier, Semillon, Muscat, and Marsanne, aged in a combination of new oak, neutral oak, and stainless steel and the label is a long line of creepily arranged and deteriorating department store mannequins.

mannequin

First, let me admit that I enter this tasting with a bias against many California white blends like this, usually find them too massive and lacking in any kind of grace or subtlety. So again, I don’t exactly remember why I have this wine to begin with. But I’m interested to see what it’s all about. Read More →

Food & Drink, Vino Veritas

Which Wines Will You Welcome to the Holidays?

0 Written by: | Thursday, Dec 05, 2013 11:55am

champagne_glasses

The first sounds in the middle of the night are grunts, husky guttural warthog noises that impossibly float out of that precious newborn mouth. Eyes open and looking into the darkness that gradates from dark to darker and darker as the seconds pass, waiting for further evidence that she is in fact awake and not just dreaming. If she wakes, then I awake, arrange my pillows, and pick her up. There is plenty of time to think in the middle of the night, plenty to fret about, plenty to blow out of proportion with drowsy panic (a specialty of mine). My time in those dark and darker hours is far better spent absentmindedly collecting ideas for the looming holiday, a little online research I hope will filter its way into my subconscious so I’ll perhaps remember it in the morning. Cookies? Decorations? Food? Wine? Yes.

My goals this year are simpler than the last few, as my Bundle of Joy will most likely keep me from walks outside in the cold, late and leisurely dinner parties, and extensive baking adventures. But we will still have our tree trimming party, I think. That was the highlight of the season and offered the best excuse to participate in all of my favorite holiday things: good people, good food, good wine.

Last year, the tree trimming party was a handful of friends and many treats. A platter of fresh oysters hoisted from the Bay that morning found their way to our table, a delicacy I’d never participated in previously and were pretty remarkable. Briny, salty, minerally, and paired with a sharp citrus and shallot vinaigrette, they begged for a glass of something with equal precision and intensity, and there is nothing better for an oyster than a glass of Champagne.

If you’ve never had a glass of true Champagne, that is, the world famous sparkling wine from the northernmost growing region in France of the same name, you are cheating yourself. To think that you can substitute any sparkling wine in place of a glass of Champagne is simply untrue, not because I’m a snob, but because the terroir (read: soil, climate, human input) of Champagne is entirely unique and unmatched in the world. The primary mineral content in the region’s soil is chalk and is translated into the fruit as a clean, laser-like minerality that echoes that of oyster shells or other shellfish. The production method is labor-intensive, time-consuming, and ancient.  Only three grapes are invited to the party: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay. It’s beautiful. Some are perfect. And the best ones can be opposite delicate and ethereal or earthy and powerful and both are equally amazing.

Granted, I’d never make a mimosa or bellini out of true Champagne (travesty!) and there are so many amazing Cavas from Spain, Proseccos from Italy, and Champagne-style sparklers from the US and other places, but in the words of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby. Read More →

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