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Entries in wine (3)

Sunday
Nov172013

10 NoVa wineries warming up wine this winter

At my holiday/birthday party each year the first thing I put on the stove is a warmer full of wine and spices.  It's always gone in the first two hours. So, this year I am going to try three new recipes with local wine.

Here are 10 Northern Vrginia wineries serving mulled wine during the chily months so you can take a few bottles for a test drive before they hit the crock pot:

The Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyards, Hamilton – Mulled wine available on Saturdays for $7/glass

Sunset Hills Vineyard, Purcellville -- Serving a blend of Cabernet Franc, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, orange, lemon and sugar to warm up your holiday spirit. Mulling spice packets are also available for purchase.

Quattro Goomba’s Winery, Aldie - Enjoy mulled wine in the tasting room, or purchase spices on site to make it at home.

The Vineyards & Winery at Lost Creek, Leesburg -  Grab a glass by the fireplace.

Loudoun Valley Vineyards, Waterford - Traditional-style gluhwein available starting in December.

North Gate Vineyards, Purcellville - Pair a glass with truffles from Maryland chocolate from Perfect Truffles

Corcoran Vineyards, Waterford– Mulled wine available every Saturday.

Hunter’s Run Wine Barn, Hamilton – Mulled wine made with Chambourcin or Merlot.

Hidden Brook Winery, Leesburg – Mulled wine make with apple cider and wine available on site, and mulling spice -- made in Gaithersburg, Md., -- are available to bring home.

Hiddencroft Vineyards, Lovettsville- "Grandma's Love Potion" (blueberry wine with 2% residual sugar and 12% alcohol) is mulled and spiced with cinnamon, cloves, allspice and lemon or orange peel. Northern VA Magazine has details from last winter's brew.

Friday
Feb082013

Aerating: Every time, all of the time

 

If there is one wine tool you buy this year, consider a wine aerator. Many wine professionals encourage you to use them when drinking reds, and a growing number that I know also recommend aeration before drinking whites too.

There are many ways to aerate wine, or let it breathe. When wine is exposed to air, the processes of oxidation and evaporation begin, allowing less desirable compounds that are often found in wine – such as sulfites -- to start to dissipate and revealing more pleasant components.

The best known, and cheapest, way to aerate is simply swirling your wine in a glass, or the act of pouring it from a bottle into a glass itself. The hard part is letting it sit and not drinking it right away.

Another option is to use a decanter, a wide vessel that allows the wine to have have maximum surface contact with air. It doesn't have to be a fancy, blown glass showpiece – even a mixing bowl will do – but an actual decanter does make it easier to transfer the vino back to serving glasses.

Aerating tools, both ones you place in the bottle's neck and ones that you place over your wine glass, utilize the Bernoulli's Principle, which states that as the speed of a moving fluid increases, the pressure inside the fluid decreases. Can you tell I'm married to a mechanical engineer?

Products from companies like Vinturi claim that they mix the “right” amount of air into the wine with a single pour, allowing the wine to open up faster then simple decanting, which can take up to an hour or more. New products, such as the TWIST adjustable aerator, let users control how much air is incorporated to “bring out the best in any wine.”

Try it out at home. Serve glasses from the same bottle, decanted, aerated and straight from the bottle. Ask guests to give you feedback on taste. The results may surprise you.

 

Saturday
Feb042012

Tips on Hosting a Vertical Tasting

Last night we went through a flight of Cabernet Sauvignon from Joseph Phelps (known for the steakhouse sweetheart Insignia) with a mix of wine wonks and neophytes at my first-ever home vertical tasting. Everyone had a great time because we had useful information that sparked good discussion and the star of the night -- the wine -- was well curated and cared for by our generous hosts.

A few tips on how to make a home vertical tasting a success:

  • Keep it small: We had 6 people tasting four vintages. It was plenty of wine per person without requiring more than one bottle per growing year, and four wines spread out over 2+ hours of tasting and noshing allowed for tasters to differentiate between the vintages without muddying the flavors.
  • Decanting & Serving: If you don't have enough decanters, consider using an aerator. Red wines should be opened in advance of the start of the night to 1) give them some time to open and 2) check to see if they are still good. Try to find proper stemware for the wine; we didnt have balloon glasses for all of the vintages, but the ones we did have were smartly saved for the oldest bottle.
  • Order: We tasted an '01, '03, '04 & '05. Our hosts reached out to the vineyard in advance and their experts suggested we taste from youngest to oldest. My thoughts -- that way you don't get spoiled early, but it also allows tasters to see the progression of aging and its impact on the bottled product. 
  • Notes: The four stages of wine tasting are Look, Smell, Taste, Finish. I add a fifth: Talk. Discuss what you are drinking and have paper and pens nearby to take notes. Your memory will get foggy and you'll want to have something to giggle about later when you try to decipher your scribbles about the fourth glass.
  • Inform: Our hosts distributed tasting notes on each vintage a few days before the dinner. While tasting, we noted the flavor profiles and checked to see if our observations matched with the vintner's expertise.
  • Snacks: My favorite part! Everyone contributed food, including traditional pairings like grilled steak and fresh chimichurri, tagliatelle with truffles and goat/cow/sheep cheeses -- I am officially in love with truffle salt, olive oil and goat cheese, for the record. Food gives everyone a chance to contribute to the fun and experiment with pairings (bacon-deviled eggs and sparkling wine -- try it!) and a potluck format takes some of the planning weight off of the hosts.