Spanish Wines for Championship Weekend +

Much entertaining over the weekends in January through February 3rd are Saturdays and Sundays filled with futbol americano.

In December, I was sent 3 different varietals of the Spanish wine brand Tapeña.  This was my first time trying this wine and after the first pop of the cork, I immediately felt my taste buds grow more potent after each sip.  I am declaring that these wines and varietals be your drink of choice for your Championship weekend festivities and beyond, and here’s why!

Tepena

Tapeña combines ‘tapas’ – small plates and ‘peña’ – slang for a group of close friends, to create the perfect package for your perfect evening of food and conversation amongst your close friends.  Since you are most likely gathering today for the NFL’s Championship weekend lineup, these wines are the perfect pairing to your perfect Sunday Funday party, and I suggest stepping it up from beer to this festive Spanish wine!

Here is a deep dive into three key and notable Spanish varietals and wines that will spice up your day with just one sip!  Oh, and not to mention a few fun ‘cheat day’ recipes to try!  Suggestion: bookmark this page for your Superbowl party February 3rd!

2010 Tapeña Tempranillo

Tempranillo (temp-rah-NEE-yo) “is Spain’s indelible stamp on the world of wine. The heart of Tapeña Tempranillo can be found at night in the winding, noisy, old streets of Madrid. Bars and peñas (clubs), filled to standing room only, serve local wines and tapas, and everyone has a fork.” – From the bottle

Winepug’s tasting notes: A gorgeous purple color shines from the glass and tastes as good as it looks!  This Tempranillo has a very rich flavor with ripe black and red fruits of cherry, blackberry, and plum.  Hints of dark chocolate and cracked pepper brighten up the fruit and makes for a very smooth and lingering finish with silky tannins. This literally feels like sleeping in a bed of silk. It is heavenly and certainly a luxurious and luscious red drinking wine!

2010 Tapeña Garnacha

Garnacha (gar-NA-chah) “originated in Spain centuries ago and now mostly travels the world as Garnache. The soul of Tapeña Garnacha can be found in cafés that line the sun-washed plazas of Barcelona. Warmed by the afternoon sun, they’re aglow with tapas, life and laughter.  Perhaps it’s because everyone has a glass and a fork” – From the bottle

Winepug’s tasting notes: A beautiful garnet color makes this Garnacha a huge conversation starter at any table. A luscious red bursting at the bottleneck has a vibrant cherry and blackberry flavor with a spicy finish. Lots of great pepper gives the wine a final ‘oomph’ in your mouth. This wine reminds me of the Phil Collin’s song ‘In the Air Tonight’ as both start smooth and slow and then end vibrantly with a BOOM of a finish!

2010 Tapeña Verdejo

Verdejo (ver-DAY-ho) “until recently was one of the wine world’s forgotten treasures.  The spirit of Tapeña Verdejo lives in seaside chiringuitos that line the white sandy shore of Marbella.  Fresh fish, caught that very morning, is served with wine glasses of chilled Verdejo.  Sun-tanned locals and tourists dine side by side, no shoes required – just  fork.” – From the bottle

Winepug’s tasting notes: With a glistening color of gold in the glass, I could totally picture sipping this wine somewhere in the middle of the ocean on a beautiful sailboat, crew included!  Immediate honey flavors burst from the glass, along with a slightly bitter taste of pear. A hint of acidity and a smooth lingering finish gives this wine a balanced structure in the mouth. A true treat for a Sunday afternoon!

Tapena 1

Who would think that these wines would pair well with our NFL Championship fare!

The Menu

Championship Fare

Fresh carrots and celery with store bought hummus paired well with the Verdejo or you can drink the Verdejo as a preview before the main event!

Homemade potato chips & kale chips with Lemon May0 Dip {here} paired surprising well with the Granacha!  Such a ‘football’ app.

Homemade slow cooker Turkey chili {here} paired to perfection with the Tempranillo and is perfect for football! Spices from the chili and the wine will ease the intensity of the games!

Homemade Peanut Butter Blossoms {here} (with dark chocolate kisses) paired with the Tempranillo and is simply divine!

photo 4.PNG

Where to find? You can find Tapeña in most wine stores in New York City. See {here} for restaurants that carry the brand in your area!

Enjoy watching the games, and go Patriots!

**For more fun recipes and pairing for your Superbowl party {here}, {here}!

Your 2013 (Wino)vation!

2007 Alexis CabernetTo go along with the ‘New Year’ kick I am on, cleaning up and sharpening your bar carts {here} etc., I came across a relevant article while I was reading my monthly Wine Spectator.  One of my favorite wine writers, Matt Kramer wrote an inviting one pager on expanding your horizons in 2013 through trying new things in the world of wine and entertaining and I couldn’t agree with him more. I smiled, was stimulated and felt the immediate need to share highlights from “Is This the Year That You…?” to inspire you to make a vow and make things happen!

The Motivation

“…Decide that higher cost doesn’t equal better wine?”

There are so many wine deals out in the market today that still maintain the same quality in taste as higher priced wines.  Kramer suggests that these wines are the “game-changers” in the wine industry as technology, diversity, and abundance are key descriptors when in search for that perfect ‘game-changer’ wine.  In summary:

Technology “now ensures that pretty much every wine from everywhere else is well-made.”

Diversity “means that wines now come from every imaginable country, district and climate – and often they’re really good.”

Abundance shows that “more producers keep emerging!”

It sounds so easy to find quality wines at affordable prices, just do your research!

“…Finally start a wine cellar?”

How timely, as Kramer suggests scoring a quality/affordable wine is possible!  Compile wines from your trips to Napa, Italy, Oregon, Washington and start that much sought after wine cellar!

“…Raise your wine game from “comfort” to “challenge”?”

I couldn’t agree with this more!  Through my wine blog I have had the opportunity to meet winemakers and try a plethora of wines from around the world.  I’ve gone from having a “Go-To Wine” {here} to forgoing my ‘go-to’ (even when I’m lazy) and popping open an Oregon Pinot Noir or a Tempranillo from Spain.  That’s the beauty of wine, isn’t it?  Stretch your knowledge in wine and try something new and different in 2013.  Kramer suggests to “look to grower Champagnes, unusual grape varieties and emerging wine areas such as Hungary, Ontario, Tasmania, and newly revived spots such as Spain’s Ribeira Sacra, France’s Languedoc, and Sicily.” Of course it’s easy for me to challenge my wine instincts and move outside of my comfort zone because it is my passion, however, for some, the effort to branch out is just not there. Thus, I urge you to think of the possibilities before you buy! You are able to explore a new country, state, region through one single bottle of wine and share that experience with friends.  I say, why not!

 “…Dine at home just a tiny bit more formally?”

Living in a New York City apartment, I am most definitely a culprit of keeping china and crystal we’ve received as engagement gifts in their gift boxes in the cabinet until we have a house where we can gracefully display things. I feel awful about it.  I am dying to use our Waterford red wine glasses like no other but for some reason, I too am saving them, for a special occasion, when we have a house and entertain. But what’s the point! Why not treat yourself once a week and take the time to have a meal on your finest china and your heaviest crystal to enjoy what you have  – a beautiful home-cooked meal and an exquisite glass of wine.  Kramer suggests, “There is something to be said for just a skooch of dining formality in today’s rushed, crushed, gotta-go world.  It’s good for us, and surely so for our wines.”  So true, cheers to bringing out the new crystal!

“…Stop fretting about when a wine is ready to drink”

I too, have many bottles just sitting in our wine fridge, waiting for the right ‘year’ to be pulled out and ‘decantered’.  But let’s face it; no ‘year’ will ever be the right year to pull out the right bottle at the right time.  So why wait? To Kramer’s point, “Buy interesting wines.  Store them in a cool space for up to five years. Then pop and pour.” I may just go pull out our 2007 Alexis Cabernet Sauvignon from my favorite winery Swanson Vineyards {here}!

“…Start pulling the corks on all those special-occasion bottles?”

My parents still have their champagne from when they were married in 1971 and a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from when my brother was born in 1981! That says it all right there. The more we “wait around” to open those ‘special’ bottles, the more time passes by where we rarely find that special occasion to open them. Even we, still have a few bottles of excellent champagne that were gifted to us for our engagement about a year ago unopened, waiting for the right occasion.  I love this theory Kramer puts out there! Come Friday night, I’m reaching for our gold rimmed champagne glasses and popping the bubbly to celebrate…… well, LIFE!

Thank you Wine Spectator {here} and Matt Kramer {here}for a thoughtful and inspiring read on this wonderful evening.  Time to get the bone china out!

Wine for the Holidays

It’s that time of year – A time for entertaining and holiday cheer!

New York City

I recently attended Food Network’s Holiday wine tasting where I gained inspiration on some really cute and out of the box entertaining ideas!  All incorporate wine somehow, of course.  Take a look and let your creative energy explode with these great hosting ideas, cheers!

Adding edible gold baker’s dust {here} to any rim of a champagne glass adds a fun holiday kick for your guests! Use Freixenet Cava for this treat {more info on this bubbly in black, here}.

Freixenet

Use Food Network’s wine, entwine {here} and create mini wine shots paired with mini cupcakes and dessert

EntiwineEntiwine

Set up a ‘make your own’ cocktail bar with fresh fruit and other treats to challenge guests to unleash their inner Mixologist with Seven Daughters Wine!

Seven Daughters

Il Postino Recipe
- Handful of fresh raspberries
- 1 oz. light rum
- 1/2 oz. fresh-squeezed lime juice
- 1/2 oz. honey syrup
- Fill with Seven Daughters Moscato
Muddle raspberries in a glass; Shake, Strain, Pour and Top with Seven Daughters Moscato.

2012 Thanksgiving Day Wine Picks!

Here it is! Our Annual Thanksgiving/Shopping Spree wines {previous post} that are ‘musts’ this year (plus a few extras)!  As you will notice sparklings and reds fill the list but that won’t stop us from finding the perfect whites for your Thanksgiving Day table!

So take a peek while you wait for the outcome of the Presidential Election… It might make time go by faster!

Apéritif/Sparkling

  • J Vineyards ‘Cuvée 20’: Spotted, the last 25th Anniversary bottle of J Cuvée sold to and sipped by 4 wonderfully shopped out ladies at Glenmere Mansion. After our trip to Woodbury it was so refreshing to see J Vineyards on the menu in the tavern at Glenmere.  Anything J is truly a must serve as an aperitif while enjoying your homemade hors d’oeuvres before the turkey carving.  This Cuvée has a rustic mouth feel all around with its toasty almond like hints then ventures over to the honeysuckle and grapefruit flavors which give it life and zest!  Buy online now to enjoy in time for Thanksgiving! {here} 

 

  • Freixenet Cordon Negro Cava Sipped and tried a few months ago {here}.  Had to pick a full bottle up to taste while the ‘hostess with the mostest’ prepared!  Not to mention it was her birthday celebration and this of course did the trick for that as well! Surprise!

Red Wine

  • Bonterra 2010 Merlot, Mendocino County : This spectacular Merlot is crafted from certified organically grown grapes and it is one of the better Merlot’s I have tried.  I received this wine for a twitter tasting with Thirsty Girl and Bonterra Organic Vineyards and we were all blown away by the wine’s dark berry flavors of cherry and plum and it’s smoothness in it’s finish filled with lovely tannins.  We are calling it a “Merlot for non-merlot lovers” and we are sticking to it! I highly recommend this wine with your main dish this Thanksgiving as it’s pleasant balance will put a smile on everyone’s faces! {still interested}?
  • Swanson Vineyards, 101 Points Red Wine; Add a little fun to the Thanksgiving day table with this predominately Syrah with Cabernet Sauvignon blend.  A very rich and sweet wine with hints of exotic spice, raspberry and black cherry makes this a great match with your juicier dark meat of the turkey. Not to mention, this wine adds a delicate yet elegant red color to your Tgiving table; $25 per bottle online.
  • Mark West Pinot Noir: Makes the list again as it is a staple on the Thanksgiving day table! Everyone loves it! {more Mark West and last year’s wine picks}

I will be trying more holiday wines and reporting back from the Food Network Magazine’s Holiday Tasting in NYC next week so stay tuned on more fun holiday wines! Hopefully I’ll have luck finding some more white wines for all of you white lovers!

Stay tuned and happy prepping!

Happy Friday… From Portugal!

Well not really more like from NYC but it is a Portuguese kind of Friday for me and i’m loving it (and not just because I am 1/3rd)!  It’s a region that I do not drink often, yet when I do adventure into a bottle I just can’t get enough.  Lying between Lisbon and the small harbor of Porto Côvo, are beautiful vineyards that harvested the 2009 Portinho Do Côvo.  A bit of jammy-ness with ripened black fruits and hints of spice make for  a succulent wine with lovely tannins that are not too hard.  Time to take out the cheese and enjoy this perfect August night!  You should do the same .

Now Saude (to your health, in Portuguese)  and to the weekend! 

The 10 Commandments of Wine (From the Portuguese) 

1. Love wine above all things

2. Swear to drink it either in the summer or winter

3. Santificate bars and cellars

4. Honour either white and red

5. Start the day at least with one glass

6. Never mix water and wine

7. Never rob an empty bottle

8. Do not lie without being drunk

9. Just envy or desire a full bottle of good wine

10. Always drink it slowly but surely 

Thank you Lauren for this special gift from your journey to Portugal!

Perfect Summer Wines for the Shorely Bon Vivant!

Finally, I have a free minute for WINEPUG!  Oh how I’ve missed you all!  With the day job, celebrating my favorite holiday (the 4th of July) and many engagements/wedding festivities of my dearest friends and family, I’ve yet to find time to blog about my wine adventures! Nonetheless, while I have been sipping and toasting to happiness and celebration, I subconsciously watched my PERFECT Summer Wine list transform before me! I’m calling it “Perfect Summer Wines for the Shorely Bon Vivant!”  I’ve tried these out in many situations (along the water) and all grab guest’s attention through their delicious taste and impeccable design.  Have a peek!

Andre Balazs ‘Sunset Beach’ Reserve
Exquisite pink rose that embodies New York City and Sunset Beach!  Found only at Andre Balazs’ properties {here} and one of my favorite wine stores in NYC, Sherry-Lehman {here}, Sunset Beach Reserve SCREAMS Summer and has turned non-rose lovers into fanatics (I’ve seen it happen).  Enjoy this on the beach with a Lobster dinner (we did in Martha’s Vineyard) or anywhere by the water.  A very light rose filled with light strawberry and a tiny bit of dryness, just superb!

Limited Edition Chandon
Imagine Fourth of July Party on the boat or engagement toasting with this bottle – All of this did actually happen over the past few weeks! – This is my champs of the summer!  A simple crisp champagne with hints of pear and full of great bubbles.  Who wouldn’t want to be seen with this bottle outside on the water!

2009 ‘Surf Zin’ from Armida Winery
I tried this wine at the tasting room in Capitola, a supple fruit bomb great for summer. It’s perfect for an outdoor BBQ in the Hamptons or anywhere by the water.  It even has a little surfer dude on it to keep reminding you that it’s summer and its surf time!

Pink Flamingo NV Gris de Gris “Pink Wine”, Vin de Pays des Sables 2011
I actually found this bottle at my local wine store right around the corner from my apartment!  It was one of the rose’s that was featured and its description was too good to pass up.  Plus the peach color from the onset reeled me in! Another extremely light rose with loads of minerality and cherry/raspberry flavors serves as a light treat with any summer fare.

Sofia Mini Blanc de Blancs from Francis Ford Coppola Winery
I’ve ran around Manhattan with them before {here}, now try taking them to the beach with you or even on the train or bus ride if you are too eager to wait!  A blend of 82% Pinot Blanc, 10% Riesling, 8% Muscat makes this a very vibrant white wine with zest and honeycomb and pear flavors.  Delish for a BBQ or for your summer party!  PS – each can comes with a straw – even better!

Chandon Stripes for Summer!

It excites and intrigues me whenever I see creative parallels of Fashion and the Wine World.  Thus, as you can imagine, I JUMPED off of my elliptical machine this past weekend when I was reading through this month’s INSTYLE {here} seeing the amazing vision of STRIPES looking perfectly ‘summer’ both in hand and on!  Alice + Olivia {here} and Chandon {here} have created the perfect outfit and accessory for the bon vivant for summer 2012!  These limited edition bottles are so ADORABLE, I may even pick up a case at Sherry-Lehmann {here} this week to kick summer entertaining off in style.   How great these would be accompanying your Fourth of July Fireworks! 

 Cheers to a great week!

#WW – What’s Your PoiZin w/ @ArmidaWinery

We recently visited the West Coast over Memorial Day weekend where we went to explore the wine treasures of Santa Cruz – a true hidden gem for great wineries with amazing views.  A little more casual than your big boy Sonoma and Napa estates however, nonetheless still treasures on the vine.

We brought back this wonderful red drinking wine perfect for a Sunday BBQ in the city.  Poizin, made in Sonoma at Armida Winery, but has a tasting room in Capitola overlooks the beach and water and is this week’s wine of choice for Winepug Wednesday!  Such a true Zinfandel (don’t you love the play on words) driven by loads of fruit, spice, and a smooth yet soft finish makes this wine the “wine to die for”.  Not only can you sip on this for hours, it’s also a great conversation starter from the skull artwork on the bottle to the fun anecdotal tale on the back.  So, what’s your Poizin? 

“As she stands in the clearing the cold wind dances through the trees, swirling her golden mane over her diaphanous silken black gown.  The full moon melts into the paleness of her skin.  As she stirs the cauldron of Zinfandel she chants an other worldly incantation.  From vials as old as the echoes of time she adds minute pinches of her ancestry.  Her slender fingers rub together as the grains fall, releasing their magic as they touch the fermenting must.  On her face is the look of both good and evil, of love and hate, of life and sex and all that stirs you.  What is this unearthly potion?  It is Poizin, the wine to die for.”