I’m excited to announce a giveaway of two tickets to an Italian winemaker dinner at one of my favorite local businesses- Sona Creamery and Wine Bar! The winner will receive 2 tickets to the exclusive event next Tuesday, April 22, a $150 value!
Sona Creamery and Wine Bar
For a chance to win, enter in the rafflecopter widget below! The winner will be chosen at random and announced on Monday!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
The dinner starts at 7:30 and will include a four-course tasting menu, plus dessert! The tasting menu will be specially prepared by Sona’s Executive Chef Frank Paris.
Luca Martini di Cigala, renowned San Giusto a Rentennano wine maker and proprietor, will be visiting Sona Creamery to present a selection of red wines, paired with a specifically paired with each dish.
Featured wines include:
- “La Ricolma” – Made from 100% Merlot grapes especially slected from prime vineyards and hand-picked when perfectly mature.
- “Percarlo” – Made from 100% estate grown Sangiovese grapes, especially selected buch per bunch, from the best zones of the San Giusto vineyards. It is a robust expression of the San Giusto a Rentennano terroir and a powerful, intense expression of Sangiovese. One of the elite wines of this Tuscan vintage. 98 points.
- “Chianti Classico” – The San Giusto a Rentennano Chianti Classico is a blend of 95% sangiovese and 5% Canaiolo grapes, hand-picked when perfectly mature. It is fermented in glazed concrete and stainles steal vats for 14 days: during fermentation the skins and must are puped over and punched down a number of times to extract the maxium qualities form the grapes. After the wine has been racked, the skins are soft-pressed in a horizontal press and the juice thus obtained to be added to the wine. Aged in medium sized casks and oak Tonneaux for 10-12 months.
- “Le Baroncole” – Chianti Classico Riserva le Baroncole is made from 97% Sangiovese and 3% Canaiolo grapes. It is first processed in the same manner as the Chianti Classico and aged secondarily in French oak barriques for 16-20 months, depending on the vintage.
So many bubbles…
I was lucky enough to recently attend Drink What you Like‘s 5th annual Virginia Sparkling Wine Blind Tasting. A line up of 11 sparklers was presented to the tasting panel of 10 local winos at the very hospitable Tarara Winery in Leesburg, Virginia.
And if you were wondering, yes, there are worse ways to spend an afternoon!
The event was straightforward- all dry blanc de blanc (chardonnay!), all bubbly, with a Virginia focus and a straightforward ranking system.
The rankings might be surprising to bubbly drinkers and champagne lovers, alike.
If you had told me several years ago that my focus would be so heavily focused on Virginia wines I would’ve dismissed the notion. However, even this Francophile was astonished when the ranking lineup was revealed! Virginia offers some outstanding sparklers and surprising value.
Although the wines were primarily from Virginia, there were also examples of sparkling chardonnays from New York, California and France, as well.
The winning wines, ranked from left to right:
Virginia took the top 4 spots!
1. Trump Blanc de Blanc (VA)
2. Green Hill Blanc de Blancs (VA)
3. Stone Tower 2009 Wild Boar (VA)
4. Boneyard Blanc de Blanc (VA)
5. Flat Rock Cellars, * (Niagara, NY)
5. Roederer Hermitate 2004 * (California)
7. Trump Reserve (VA)
8. Thibaut-Janisson Blanc de Blanc (VA)
9. FIZZ (VA)
10. Piper-Hidseck (Champagne, France)
11. Louis de Sasy Champagne (Champagne, France)
Sparkling wine against the backdrop of Tarara Winery
I was partial to the Trump sparklers, as well as the Roederer Hermitage- and when I refer back to my notes what really pushed these wines to the top for me was their more feminine, elegant and well-balanced qualities.
Most of the tasting panel was surprised at Trump’s placing so highly over the esteemed Thibaut-Jannisson, a self-professed favorite for most. However, the esteemed French winemakers take cues from Champagne, marrying the gold standard of bubbly production with the unique Virginia terroir.
As is true in most cases, much of the voting likely had to do with the day- a perfect 70 degrees with a light breeze. Although I usually love the toasty, yeastiness of a true Champagne (the wine geek term for this quality is “Autolytic”), the first notes of spring had me craving something lighter.
The number one ranked wine is a superb value, ringing in at just $24, far less than the Piper-Hidsek, which typically runs between $40 and $50. All this goes to show that even trained palettes don’t always pick the priciest bottle when drinking blind, and the day’s circumstances really can influence even the most ingrained preferences.
Do you drink Virginia Sparkling Wine? What’s your favorite?
Still Need Valentine’s Day Plans?
Planning on celebrating with someone special? Prefer to drown single sorrows in a bottle of wine? Either way, this giveaway is for you!
I’m excited to announce 2 free tickets to the Main Event of this Saturday’s International Food and Wine Festival!
Named one of Washington’s top 100 events, the festival features three areas of Food, Wine, Beers, Cocktails and Entertainment for you to celebrate with someone special (romantic or otherwise!).
A $240 value!
Saturday, February 15
For a chance to win, enter the Rafflecopter below! A winner will be chosen and announced Friday at noon!
*Winner will receive tickets via email.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
How are you planning to celebrate Valentine’s Day?
Follow the International Food and Wine Festival on Twitter @wineandfooddc
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?