Bang for Your Buck, Bon Vivant, Bubbly, Entertaining, Event Planning, Holidays, Porch wine, Rosé, Seasonal Sips, Wine Recommendations, Wine Reviews, Wine Shops, Wine Tasting
The storm clouds in DC have finally given us a break and many people are planning outdoor entertaining for Memorial Day Weekend. What you may not know is that today is also #LanguedocDay.
Wine “days” seem to be a dime a dozen these days, but what I love about this particular one is that it breaks people out of wine ruts and raises awareness about an unsung region in the Southwest of France that offers incredible quality at affordable prices.
When Wines of Languedoc approached me about reviewing some of their wines, I was excited- mainly because I happen to love them, but also because they were focused on quality, with only AOP (Appelation d’origine contrôlée) designated wines. Though the region is often known for its bulk wine production, only 10% of wine from the region receives AOP designation, meaning stricter sourcing and production guidelines, but also higher quality wines.
It also gave me an opportunity to invite some friends over to chime in with their own opinions! We took advantage of a gorgeous DC day and threw a garden party.
Wines from the Languedoc lend themselves exceptionally well to entertaining. They’re accessible wines in both flavor profile and price- 2 things that make them prime candidates for any party wine!
The bar was set up for guests to easily serve themselves and sample all of the wines. Sparkling water and a carafe of cucumber lemon water kept guests hydrated!
On the menu:
- Homemade pimento cheese with ritz crackers- a must for any southern garden party!
- Crudité platter with hummus
- Orzo pasta salad
- Fruit platter
- Assorted olives, nuts, charcuterie and artisanal cheeses
- To hydrate: I like to serve cucumber lemon water and sparkling water.
- The bugs: These pretty citronella candles give off a gorgeous glow while keeping the bugs at bay.
These citronella candles not only give off a gorgeous glow, they keep pesky bugs at bay!
All of these, with the exception of the Crémant, are available at Weygandt Wines
. They’ve been kind enough to offer readers 15% off if you mention this post! Stop by to stock up for any weekend entertaining you might be planning.
Montfin Corbieres $13.99
This wine offers lovely red fruit with some earthy undertones. I noticed plum, red pepper and leather notes with medium tannin and acidity.
Montfin Rosé $13.99
This easy going rosé was a crowd favorite on such a gorgeous day! Dry, with notes of white peach and raspberrry.
Arbalète Coquelicots $17.99
This wine showed best after it cooled off a bit. Red fruit, a hint of baking spice and lovely earthy qualities.
Picpoul de Pinet $11.99
Crisp and light with notes of apple, pear and citrus. This is a warm weather no brainer!
Saint-Hilaire Crémant de Limoux $15
This crémant was both festive and accessible at a fraction of the cost of champagne! Crisp with notes of pear and soft floral notes.
Have you tried Languedoc wines? If not, this weekend is a great opportunity to do so. To learn even more check out L’Aventure Languedoc, a celebration of Languedoc AOP wines throughout June, coming to Seattle and Washington DC. Click here for more information!
Bon Vivant, Champagne, Drink Well, Entertaining, Event Planning, Events, Helpful Hints, Porch wine, Rosé, Seasonal Sips, Tried and Trues, Wine Recommendations, Winemakers, Wineries and Vineyards
I recently chatted with Rob Mondavi IV, 4th Generation winemaker, from his beautiful waterfront home in Beaufort, South Carolina. He had some great tips for outdoor entertaining as we come into the summertime entertaining season.
Mondavi pulls inspiration from California wine country, Europe, South America and Southern Coastal traditions, but his tips work well no matter where you live!
Check out some of his outdoor entertaining tips below and click here to see the full interview!
- Green & Eco-friendly are trends that are easy to incorporate. Mondavi recommends recycled materials with longevity like Trex decking materials.
- Make sure your guests have a place to set their drinks- you can even incorporate a cocktail rail into decking! Alternatively, set out cocktail tables or garden stools.
- Plan intimate events, bigger isn’t always better.
- Serve Bubbly! “It can mark a moment at the party.”
- When it comes to food, focus on farm to table and sourcing local, fresh products. I love visiting Eastern Market and Union Market in DC to pick up local, fresh ingredients.
- Mondavi’s go to porch wine: Chardonnay! Aromatic whites and dry Rosés are also great options that are trending.
What are some of your favorite outdoor entertaining tips?
Don’t be overwhelmed by endless options!
It’s easy to become paralyzed in a wine shop when shopping for a wine gift. It’s hard enough to know our own tastes, but the task becomes exponentially harder if you don’t know the hosts’ taste- or what they might be serving.
So the next time you’re standing paralyzed in front of a wine aisle, consider these tips:
Pick a wine that plays well with others
These are wines that please a variety of tastes and potentially pair with a variety of cuisines. For a better sense of what this means and specific recommendations, check out my post on pairing with small plates, or this one on Thanksgiving pairings.
Have a budget in mind
This will be one of the first questions someone helping you will ask. A range of $18-$25 is typically what I stick to for basic dinner party wines.
Go with what you know
If you have a “tried and true” that you love, there’s a good chance your hosts will like it, too!
When in doubt, pick bubbly
Most people like it, and it pairs well with a variety of foods!
Rely on the sales staff
Staff at a reputable wine store will know their stock better than anyone, and I’ve found great new favorites by taking the word of a trusted shop owner. Trust me, they help people in your situation every day!
What are your favorite wines to bring to a dinner party?
Photo Credit: Boxhill Photography, LLC
A Festive New Year’s Eve Celebration at Home
Although I love getting dressed up and going out, New Year’s Eve is my absolute least favorite night of the year to do so. The weather is always miserable, transportation a hassle, and places I usually enjoy tend to be jam packed and over-priced.
Last year, we decided to invite a few close friends over to celebrate at home and it was the most fun we’ve ever had! This year, we went for a repeat, and once again had a ball.
A roaring fire, music and a festive table set the tone for a celebratory evening in. I created a simple centerpiece with submerged greenery, berries and a floating candle, pulled out the monogrammed table linens, silver champagne bucket and called it good!
I’m into low-key entertaining that focuses on the food and wine, but couldn’t resist a few simple touches to make an evening in seem a bit more special.
Although I always love starting dinner parties with a sparkling rosé and a charcuterie board, for New Year’s Eve I upped the ante with a Grand Cru Champagne.
Cooking at our house is always a group effort, and we’re fortunate to be friends with some excellent gourmands who always contribute their talents; this year was no exception!
We looked to our collective southern roots- and our new Green Egg- when menu planning. Although last year’s New Year’s meal was a little more high-brow, this year we hickory smoked a pork butt. The traditional sides of collards, black eyed peas and corn bread were also there representing health, wealth, wisdom and luck in 2014.
Although the meal is traditionally eaten on the New Year’s Day, I also enjoyed leftovers. I figure I have 2 helpings of the traditional virtues coming my way in 2014!
We enjoyed red, white, rosé, and the requisite bubbles over the course of the evening.
After enjoying copious amounts of cheese and cured meats, we delved into two Spanish wines from Priorat for the main course.
Although I knew the Menut would stand up nicely to the hickory smoked meat, I wanted to compare it to another vintage, and so I picked up Zaumau from the same region. Guests were split on which was the favorite- some enjoyed the spicier and more fruit forward notes in the younger Menut, and others the slightly more subdued qualities of the latter. It will be interesting to see how the Menut continues to develop as it ages over the next 2-3 years.
For professional comparative reasons, I had a glass of each with my meal;) These hearty reds from Spain stood up nicely to the BBQ and it’s definitely a pairing I would re-create.
For midnight, I decided to go with a large format bottle of Premier Cru Champagne. Although many shy away from large format bottles, there’s something festive about this indulgence (and if you’re going to be consuming multiple bottles, it actually saves a few bucks!). This blanc de blanc was 100% Chardonnay. While I sometimes find these to be a bit one dimensional, the extra time allowed on the lees (or yeast) really rounded the Larmandier-Bernier out with gorgeous notes of champagne toastiness, almond and a fine mousse of bubbles.
Finally, we enjoyed a Late Harvest Petite Manseng from Linden Vineyards; a bottle purchased on our last visit to the esteemed Virginia winery. The sweetness of the dessert wine was balanced by firm acidity and notes of honeyed apricot- absolutely divine in front of the fire and a perfect way to end the evening!
We skipped watching the Times Square ball drop or making resolutions, but the combination of fantastic friends, food and wine made this New Year’s Eve an absolute success!
Did you enjoy any particularly great bottles of bubbly during your celebration? How did you celebrate this year?
‘Tis the Season
Me with my “cooking” wine last year. This wine was both delicious to sip, and also thinned the gravy quite nicely!
Although Thanksgiving is 2 weeks off, I thought I’d throw in my two cents on what to drink for the occasion.
Thanksgiving food is abundant, rich, and has an array of flavor profiles. Throw in the inevitable array of personalities around most Thanksgiving dinner tables and you definitely don’t want to forget the vino- for therapeutic purposes, naturally!
No one wine is going to pair perfectly with everything on your plate with such a variety of flavors, but there are a few simple guidelines to making your selections complement your meal!
1. Drink what you like. If you prefer red, drink red. White drinkers, drink white! Pick a medium to full bodied white, or a light to medium bodied red and your wine will go just fine with the meal.
2. Pick a wine that is relatively high in acidity. They can be dry, off dry, sweet, or even sparkling. An acidic wine is one that makes your mouth water (as opposed to dry out) when you drink it! This is key to cutting through the richness of the meal.
3. Pick wines that “play well with others”. With so many competing flavors on your plate, you don’t need wine fighting the turkey & gravy (or your crazy Aunt/sister/in-law) fighting for center stage! Save the bold Bordeaux for another occasion.
With these guidelines in mind, here are a few of my favorite Thanksgiving wine pairings, all for under $25 and available in the DC area!
- Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc
- Breaux Vineyards Viogner
- Clean Slate Riesling
- Domaine de Varoux White Burgandy
- Ducasse White Bordeaux
- Meiomi Pinot Noir
- Tres Picos Garnacha
- Pratesi Locorosso Sangiovese
- Kermit Lynch Cotes du Rhones
- Cerro Anon Reserva Tempranillo
When in doubt, pair with Champagne or another sparkling wine. It’s easily one of the most food friendly wines out there! I particularly love Champalou, a sparkling wine made from Chenin Blanc!
What are some of your favorite holiday wines? Anyone have any “weird” Thanksgiving dishes or traditions they can’t live without?