October 27, 2010

Food & Wine Tips from Food Network's Anne Burrell

Monday night's Vinitaly at Eataly event was quite the success with over 600 registrants at the consumer tasting alone. But for Lil' Miss WinoBee and her partner-in-crime (@GlutenGossip) we wanted to make sure our experience was more than robust, so in addition to expanding our palate and having (too much) fun drinking new styles and varieties of Italian wine, we actually took some time to meet up with Food Network's Anne Burrell, host of Secrets of a Restaurant Chef to get her top food and wine tips.

Anne is notorious for her spiky blonde hair and former role as both Mario Batali's sous chef onIron Chef America, while also having worked under the likes of Lidia Bastianch. Anne also formerly taught at ICE and lucky for me, I'm scheduled for their "Essentials of Tuscan Cooking" class this weekend. Maybe she'll make a cameo for old times sake!

More recently Anne has kicked off her own show, Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, where she reveals the concise, easy-to-master techniques of a top level chef by showcasing professional secrets to preparing food that is creative and full of flavor (but never too frou-frou or scary -- thats why we love her, she's real!) You can tune into her show on Saturdays at 10:30am EST onFood Network.

October 21, 2010

2009 Soave Re Midas

A new wine is set to hit shelves in the United States next week and I was privvied to sampling it before everyone else does (god bless my Italian counterparts)!

Soave Re Midas is a great new, everyday wine that fully expresses the Veneto region's stereotypical luscious fruit flavors. Made of 100% indigenous Garganega grapes this light-bodied wine boasts a clear yellow color with hints of gold and a combination of white blossoms and lemon on the nose. When you take a sip, you're transported back to the summer months with bright citrus notes and a toasted almond finish .

It actually reminded me of a California Chardonnay in some ways, as it was very crisp and combined earth and fruit.

Cost: $9.99/bottle
Where to Buy: Columbus Circle Wines

October 20, 2010

De-LUSH-ious Boxed Wine: Duca White & Red

Four words that can often make a grown man or woman cringe... wine-in-a-box. And that's because for a while, the little budget cardboard un-delights have burned bridges with many palates (and stomachs) and likely even made a few college kids black out from too many wine stands (I'm not discounting myself in this demographic).

But truth be told, boxed wines are steadily making a comeback. In fact, sales value of boxed wines have increased by 46% and volume by 27% - that's pretty substantial! After all, boxed wines...
  • Have a longer shelf life after opening -- the tap-off design helps lock out air and prevent the wine from aging as rapidly as re-corking your bottle. You usually have a bout 4-6 weeks before the wine will go bad!
  • Are a bargain buy -- it's all about economical consumption and boxed wine typically holds the net of four (750mL) bottles worth of vino, or the comparable of about 2o glasses of wine. And in our book, the more, the merrier... especially when it doesn't pinch our wallet.
  • Use environmentally-friendly packaging -- we love smaller carbon footprints!
Enter Duca del Frassino, who has created two fabulous boxed wines - a white and a red - that leaves drinkers (and Kathy Lee & Hoda) thinking "inside the box" for a whopping value of just $19.99!

Duca White
Made From: 80% Garganega, 20% Pinot Grigio
Tasting Notes: Very light straw color and a hint of white flowers on the nost, this easy-to-drink white wine is made mostly of the Garganega grape which is indigenous to the Soave region. On the palate, a light fruit and citrus taste with a crisp but also somewhat juicy finish.
Pair With: Sip it as an apertif or pair it with lighter dishes like seafood or even salad!

Duca Red
Made From: 80% Cabernet, 20% Corvina
Tasting Notes: High quality blend the offers a deep purple color and opens with aromatic red cherry aromas and dark fruits on the palate.
Pair With: Goes great with meat dishes, Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese. For a predominately Cab wine, this glass it surprisingly balanced enough to drink on its own too!

October 15, 2010

Follow Friday: Wineries Uncorking Social Media

Wining + blogging = my passion, so naturally I'm a social media-lite who has to follow all the wineries out there to keep up on what's going on, what's good, what to avoid, etc. And as the digital wino world continues to expand (thank goodness it is!) we're hoping you'll expand with us. Here are a few more #FollowFridays for the week to make sure your wining vicariously in your "digital" life:

October 13, 2010

Harvest Leaves are a'falling!

How 'bout a nice "Hump Day" treat? Check out this de-lush-ious sparkling wine cocktail perfect for the fall season. Serve it up at Halloween, Thanksgiving or even self-serve post-long-day-at-office!

By Eryn Reece, New York City
Add vodka, ginger liqueur and allspice dram to cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into a flute. Top with sparkling wine and garnish with orange zest.

Yields: 1 drink
Ideal Serving Glass: Flute

October 12, 2010

Party tips from Top Chef: Just Dessert's Dannielle Kyrillos

With monthly #WineDown events, you know by now that party planning is totally my shtick (is that even a real world?) So naturally when I was introduced last week to Dannielle Kyrillos, judge on Top Chef: Just Desserts and Editor-at- Large for DailyCandy, I was elated to get the best-of-the-best tips from her. Here are some of the great suggestions she offered me to share with each of you:

For a Dinner Party
  • Keep it simple - plan your menu in advanced so you aren't rushing around
  • Organize a smaller affair that is easier to manage - sometimes smaller affairs are more intimate and fun
  • Set your table so your guests have enough room to eat and mingle. Decorate the table with seasonal looks such as golden apples or pumpkins in a clear vase, or incorporate seasonal florals
  • Use name games and ice breakers for your guests so they can get to know one another - encourage them to share the weirdest job they've ever had or their favorite spot in the world
For a Romantic Dinner for Two:
  • Ambiance is everything - candles, flowers, and dark linens are all ways to create a romantic feel
  • Don't forget that chocolate is an aphrodisiac, which is always an added bonus!
For Larger Cocktail Parties (cough, cough, #WineDowns)
  • Avoid making it complicated - utilize areas of the home with food stations as opposed to serving buffet style
  • Welcoming guests with cocktails is a great way to set the vibe for the party
  • Use a theme such as "Living the Sweet Life" where you serve sweet and savory dishes alongside signature cocktails
Bring on #WineDown Fall and Christmakah!!

October 11, 2010

September #WineDown Rewind

September #WineDown came and went much like the summer we see shifting rapidly right now to fall (I swear it dropped 20 degrees overnight!) With the changing of season also comes a changing in wine selections, at least for me. I tend to enjoy the light, crisp wines for summer months and more tannin-infused, dry wines in the winter. But hey, to each his own, which is why my BFF's over at St. Supery were kind enough to sponsor our little shindig so I could share the beauty of their wines, all different styles, will all of the wino-wannabes joining me in the festivities.

And boy were they glad they joined! We attempted a progressive tasting over the course of the evening, and it went a lil' something like this:

2009 St. Supery Rose -- a perfect selection for end of summer, as its light and doesn't require a meal to accompany it. On the nose, pomegranate and rose hips. On the palate, light but crisp citrus and raspberry flavors with a dull sweetness that finishes on the tongue. Great character and like beautiful pink color! Cost: $18/bottle

2009 Sauvignon Blanc Dollarhide -- by far one of my favorite varietals for summer months as sauvignon blanc tends to offer exquisite citrus flavors, as does this particular one. On the nose, grapfruit, honeysuckle and nectarines. On the palate, rich grapefruit and some floral notes. Cost: $37/bottle

2006 St. Supery Merlot -- perfect, youthful selection for the coming months, as this wine is accented with all the ingredients of Fall - cinnamon, clove and nutmeg! On the palate, you'll experience currant and fig. $50/bottle.

2005 Rutherford St. Supery Cabernet Sauvignon -- I cannot wait to curl up to a fire come winter time with this love. Perhaps my favorite St Supery wine, this cab is luxorious. On the nose, dark fruits like cherry and plum. On the palate, a blend of fruit and spice where black cherry meets licorice. Cost: $35/bottle.

To purchase any (or all!) of these wines, check out the Wine Shop at St. Supery.

October 8, 2010

Follow Friday: Wineries Uncorking Social Media

A lot of great wineries are finally catching social media fever, and we're toasting to that! And in liu of the infamous #FollowFriday, here are a few selections this week that we think you should make sure your on top of. Afterall the best ways to get news and happenings in the wino world is straight through the vine!

October 7, 2010

Need a wine break? Indulge with Godiva Vodka!

Wine is my vice. If I've had a stressful day and need to unwind, I can always rely on a glass to do the trick. If I want to celebrate, what better way to do so than with some bubbly. But even the versatility of wine, and occasions for drinking it, can sometimes play themselves out. And that's where other tasty crutches come into play.

Cue chocolate. Cue liquor. Cue both in the form of new Godiva Vodka! That's right, the world-renowned chocolatier is set to release it first namesake infused vodka this Fall and I had the privilege of attending its launch soiree on Wednesday night at Meet at the Apartment, a swanky apartment-like venue in NYC decked out in chic decor that leaves every Manhattanite saying, "When am I gonna make enough to get me one of these?!"

And it was the perfect venue space for an evening of luxury and entertaining, something that the Godiva name is notorious for (I mean, have you tried one of those chocolate covered strawberrys?)

Godiva teamed up with the vodka pros over at Diageo (they make Diddy's Ciroc too!) to develop this 5-times distilled premium spirit, which just so happens to be the first chocolate vodka to carry the name of a brand that is synonymous with true chocolate credentials (I'm a chocoholic, I should know!)

Executive Chef Chocolatier Thierry Muret was on site to counsel each of us on the development of the spirits and walk us through a tasting that truly brought to life the impeccable standards and premium nature of Godiva chocolate. We tasted two delectable flavors, Godiva Chocolate Infused Vodka and Chocolate Raspberry Infused Vodka:
  • Chocolate Infused Vodka - we drank it straight up, which immediately made me a bit apprehensive (let's just say I may have overdone the Smirnoff Twist my freshman year of college and now my cringe level for straight vodka is elevated!) To my surprise, this vodka was super smooth and really brought to life the dark chocolate, almost fudge brownie-like aromas and tastes of their infamous dark chocolate truffles. ($29/bottle)
  • Chocolate Raspberry Infused - truly an authentic spirit that captured the taste of freshly-picked, juicy red raspberries alongside subtle dark chocolate notes. I'm itching to try this one martini style! ($29/bottle)
But perhaps the most impressive thing about both these vodkas was what led me to them first place - their versatility. Each can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, whether you're drinking it straight up (like above) or combining it with other ingredients to make a decadent cocktail. And what better time to do that than with the holiday season right around the corner - you better believe we'll be serving this up at #WineDown Fall and Christmakah style in upcoming months. I've even captured some fun recipes that both use and don't use wine, so be sure to check back for more on that, as well as fun tips on entertaining from Top Chef - Just Desserts' Danielle Kyrillos... and of course, wine and chocolate pairing advice straight from the master himself, Chef Thierrey.

Check out some more of the fun below, and don't forget to visit www.drinkgodiva.com for more!

October 5, 2010

Batter Up! But make sure you use TWO HANDS!

Wine and baseball! Not normally a pairing I would put together, but it works... when you do it right.

I had the privilege of recently attending a Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays game and prior to my arrival at the new stadium, had everything laid out and every sports-like craving on lock down. I guess you could say it was a bit premeditated. I was going to rock some Yankees colors, down a dirty dog and a draft beer, and watch my future hubby (Nick Swish-a-lishious) do what he does best. Or so I thought...

As we arrived, we headed up to the luxurious Audi Club (holler!) and took to our behind-glass seats. Surrounded by carving stations galore and free-flowing booze, how could this night go wrong? And much to my excitement, it didn't.

The thought of beer jolted from my mind as I overheard the guy next to me order a glass of wine, and the waitress returning with an entire bottle for him. "Now this is my style!" I thought to myself. Naturally, instinct took over and I ordered myself some wine and much to my delight, I made two discoveries worth sharing:

2006 Flowers Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir -- this bottle represented the full spectrum of a classic pinot noir. It offered a beautiful light garnet color, cinnamon and spice on the nose and a blend of bing cherry and nutmeg on the palate. It's smooth tannins and oak finishing made for a completely uplifting experience. This pinot MAY takeover as a top WinoBee choice!

Cost: $49/bottle
Where to Buy: Malloy's Wine

2006 Two Hands "Bella's Garden" Shiraz -- heading from the Barossa Valley, this wine belts "ruby red." It offers a vibrant red cherry and raspberry core with an essence of pepper and dark chocolate.

Cost: $58/bottle
Where to Buy: Wine.com

October 4, 2010

2007 St Supery Malbec

After waking up early Sunday morning, walking 3.2 miles for the annual Komen 5K Race in Maryland with family, and then trekking back to New Jersey for nearly fours hours in the car with two peanuts (ages 3 and under), it was no wonder we were uncorking a little vino with our impromptu Sunday pasta dinner. Hey, we're Italian and that's what good Italians do to help "wine" down!

My brother-in-law (like his fabulous wino-in-law-sister) has great taste and pulled out a 2007 Malbec from one of my fav Napa vineyards, St. Supery -- I know, you always hear me talk about them, but seriously, its because their wines are delish!

Malbec, a thin-skinned grape that requires a bit more sun and heat than Cab or Merlot, normally offers an inky dark ruby color and robust tannins.

This one in particular was on point, and offering a beautiful complexity that would pair well with heavier meals (I admit my fettucini a la vodka was probably not the most appropriate pairing). On the nose, cloves and licorice . On the palate, dark plum meets cocoa. Beautiful balance and smokey finish.

Where to Buy: St. Supery Vineyards
Cost: $45/bottle
Pair With: Empanadas

Additional St. Supery wines from our September #WineDown to be shared later this week. Keep your eyes peeled for more yumminess!

October 1, 2010

It's Get Your "Flirt" On Friday!

Ok, I made that up but I figured as clocks slowly inch to the close of the work week, I would share this tasty new libation (compliments of my friends at Mionetto) so you can all gear up for a fun weekend!

Serve in a flute glass.
1/2 oz Vodka
1/2 oz Premium Triple Sec
1 oz Pineapple Juice
Fill with "IL" Prosecco DOC. Garnish with slide of pineapple or star fruit.

Bottoms up! I think I drank a whole gallon of this myself on Wednesday night (as you can see from my "start" picture above) I want to hear what you think. Give it a whirl and give me a shout!

Live the 'Prosecco Lifestyle'

Ok, I'm still rolling off the excitement (or probably the buzz) of Wednesday's Live Lively event. And naturally to get you guys to start living the 'Prosecco Lifestyle,' I need to offer some tasty libations that you can put in your shopping basket and conjure up!

In chatting with Enore Ceola, Managing Director for Mionetto, he told me that, "Prosecco has gotten so popular with American wine drinkers because its straight forward and sophisticated." Wow, sounds like me... but I deviate! :-)

He added that "Live Lively! aims to bring Prosecco drinkers together online via personal stories and tips on how to life the 'Prosecco Lifestyle."

And its true. In Italy, Prosecco is an integral part of the social fabric. You enjoy it as an apertivo amongst quality time with your friends and family. It's a perfect pairing (we all know I'm a sucker for Prosecco and St. Germaine, but we'll save that for another day!) So why not take some time to add life to your weekly routine. Try these delicious options from Mionetto:

  • Prosecco DOC - probably the best buy, this wine offers a fresh, crisp aroma of apple and peach. Drink it as your "everyday" prosecco. ($11/bottle)
  • Moscato - this one won the heart of both my friends who attended with me! Its a semi-sweet wine with peach and citrus flavors and a hint of strawberry. Perfect with dessert or as dessert! ($10/bottle)
  • Prosecco Brut DOC - my second personal favorite of the evening, this wine offers clean, fruity aromas followed by a fresh, crisp finish. I think I'll have some more at Sunday brunch! ($13/bottle)
  • Prosecco Certified Organic - a bit more acidic than its counterparts, I liked that this wine offered golden apple on the palate.
  • Sergio Rose - though pink wines are not normally my forte, I was surprised by the delightful bouquet of wild roses on the nose, followed by pink grapefruit and dark fruit on the palate. ($20/bottle)
  • Valdobbiadene Superior DOCG - by far, the best... and not just because I loved how the Italians say, "Valdobbiadene!" This wine had aromas of exotic fruits - a perfect apertif!