January 31, 2011

Party Pairing Monday: Veuve Clicquot Risotto

What's better than a warm, hearty meal during chilly winter nights? Well, in my book its a warm, hearty meal made with wine. And just in time for Party Pairing Monday, I've culled together a fun little video and my own rendition of a Veuve Clicquot Risotto that I had to share with each of you. ENJOY!

Veuve Clicquot
Where to Buy: Wine.com
Cost: $45/bottle
*Note: You can substitute any type of dry champagne or white wine with this recipe.

January 27, 2011

Combat the Cold with Mulled Wine

Great snowpacolypse! It's been a crazy winter so far on the Northeast. As I type this, even more snow is landing outside my NYC windowsill. So to combat the cold, its time to mull things up. Try this tasty recipe for Mulled Wine... its like a fireplace in your wine glass!
  • 2 bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 4 oz. port or brandy
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 large orange, zested
Combine ingredients in a large pot and bring to a simmer. Do not allow mixture to boil. Heat for 20 minutes and serve in a large, heat resistant punch bowl or glass. If you want to spruce things up a bit, garnish with cinnamon sticks or freshly ground nutmeg.

January 26, 2011

Bethenny Frankel Talks SkinnyGirl

As part of my "real" job, I had the opportunity to spend the day with one of the women I admire most, Bethenny Frankel! Bethenny is not only a super mom, dedicated wife, natural foods chef, author, and TV personality (should I go on?) she also founded SkinnyGirl, an entire line of products aimed at providing solutions for women's everyday needs. My personal favorite... the SkinnyGirl margarita (she even hooked me up with a bottle on my way out tonight).

For those who haven't tried it, the SkinnyGirl margarita is a great alternative to the frequently calorie-loaded bevi. This concoction is made of tequila, triple sec and agave nectar so it keeps the sugar count down while still offering the delish, but refreshing citrus taste you crave.

What's even better? Bethenny tipped me off that the SkinnyGirl line is expanding this Spring - be on the lookout for Pom-opolitans, Vodka Iced Tea and (drum roll, please) Sangria! In the meantime, check out how you can whip up your own SkinnyGirl Red Sangria here. All you need is:
  • 8 peaches, pitted and sliced
  • 4 white plums, pitted and sliced
  • 1 pound green grapes, cut in half
  • 3 bottles Prosecco
  • One 12-ox can Fresca
  • One 12-oz can club soda
Another thing I envy about Bethenny is her ability to do it all, while staying so fit. Can I get some of those genes? Curiosity killed the cat so I asked her if she had any tips to keep from over indulging and she told me that times she's out on the social scene, "I drink 2-3 glasses of wine. It's fine to indulge yourself, just don't get too sloppy. You shouldn't need anything more than those 2 to 3 glasses."

I guess my problem is I drink 2 to 3 bottles.... woops! ;-)

January 24, 2011

Pairing Party Monday: Crab & Avocado Rolls

Last week we whipped up something on the wintery-side of things, but this week we've decided to bring back a taste of summer with some delicious Crab & Avocado Rolls compliments of our girl, Lisa Matthias over at "The Novice Nosher."
Crab & Avocado Rolls

• 1 cup white crabmeat
• 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
• 1/2 teaspoon wasabi paste
• 2 drops sesame oil
• 1 avocado
• 1/2 cup finely shredded iceberg lettuce
• Squeeze lemon juice
• 2 soft flour tortilla wrap

Put the crabmeat into a bowl and add the mayonnaise, wasabi paste and oil and stir to mix. Lay the wrap in front of you and put the crabmeat in a line horizontally 2cm/about an inch up from the bottom of the wrap. Take the avocado half still with skin and scoop out the flesh in half teaspoonful curls, laying these on top of the line of crabmeat. Sprinkle over the lettuce in a neat line also, and then spritz with the lemon juice. Roll up tightly from the bottom, to form a fat cigar and then slice on an angle into 3 pieces.

Winobee Says: While you don't always have to go for a white wine (medium bodied reds like Merlot and Pinot Noir often do the trick, too) its natural to sway toward them when pairing with fish dishes. Enter Roussanne - a white wine for the red wine drinker, and a perfect option offering both a refreshing acidity that matches well with salty foods, like crab, and a weight that can stand up to richer dishes, too. Try 2007 Zaca Mesa Roussanne, grown sustainably from the Santa Ynez Valley. It's an assertive wine that uses hand picked and whole-cluster pressed Roussanne grapes, is barrel fermented in French Oak and then aged sur lie for 10 months (which is thought to give it more complexity). The result is an intense profile of flavors and weight, but a versatility that pairs with so many different flavors.

Tasting Notes: On the nose and palate, a blend of fall fruits, like pears and figs, with an undertone of toasted nuts. Be prepared for a tangy bite at the finish, but an overall balanced wine offering a slight minerality.

Cost: $25/bottle
Where to Buy: Zaca Mesa Winery Shop

January 20, 2011

Happy Bragrationi Day to me!

Today marks yet another year since my birth. But its not just any year, its the year I enter my "late" twenties and I'm embracing it in the same way that many wines do as they age... getting finer with each year.

What's this lil' WinoBee uncorking in celebration tonight? Well, I can't say its going to be just one thing. A good friend shared this quote with me and tonight I think I will abide by its wisdom:

"Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle." -- Paulo Coelho

So to kick things off (at minimum), I'm uncorking this affordable bubbly, Bragrationi Classic Brut which boasts citrus fruits on the nose with honeydew melon flavors on the palate. Its not quite Veuve Cliquot, but it'll do until I get home to uncork that too!

Cost: $17/bottle
Where to Buy: Barclay's Wine

January 19, 2011

Rocca Sveva Ripasso Valpolicella Superiore

Every once and a while (particularly in the cold winter months) I get a craving for a dry red wine. And with all the snowy weather the northeast has been enduring over the past few months, I felt inclined to snag this bottle of Ripasso Valpolicella Superiore from Rocca Sveva.

Made from a blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes (all of which you've likely never heard of) you'll get a dry, but fruit-forward wine that offers black fruit, bing cherries and raspberries on the palate and a hint of oak and vanilla on the finish. Its silky tannins and lengthy finish make it the perfect option for red meats, and an even more perfect option for your next dinner party!

January 17, 2011

Pairing Party Monday: Mushroom & Goat Cheese Tapas

Happy "Pairing Party Monday!" Today we're warming things up a bit with a tasty Mushroom and Goat Cheese Tapa compliments of our friend Lisa Matthias over at The Novice Nosher. With the winter months in full swing, selecting an appetizer that warms the heart and the belly is sure to be a hit at your next gathering

Chef Elizabeth Brown’s Mushroom & Goat Cheese Tapas

• 2 tablespoons butter
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 pound large cremini or button mushrooms, trimmed and quartered through the stem end
• 1 tablespoon minced garlic
• 1/3 cup dry sherry
• 1/4 teaspoon Spanish hot smoked paprika (I didn’t have Spanish paprika on hand; regular works just fine here)
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
• Minced zest of 1/2 lemon
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1/4 pound fresh goat cheese (I tried this with Laughing Cow Swiss and shaved Parmesan and both also tasted yummy)
• 16 slices baguette (we used a whole-grain baguette and it tasted great with everything else)

Directions (adapted slightly)
Slice baguette and spread the goat cheese on top of each piece. Set aside.
In a large saute pan, melt the butter with olive oil over medium-high heat. When the butter froths, add the mushrooms and cook, tossing and stirring frequently, until just cooked through and beginning to brown. This will take 3-5 minutes. My mushrooms ended up browning quicker than my timer set at 4 minutes, so just watch them carefully while continually stirring. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer, or until fragrant. Add the sherry, paprika, parsley, and lemon zest, toss to combine, and stir for 30 seconds, or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

Take the pan off the heat and spoon about a tablespoon of the mushroom mixture on top of the baguette slices. Or, you can pour the mushroom mixture into a deep bowl or dish and have guests spoon the mixture onto their cheese and bread.

NOVICE NOSHER TIP: For a little guidance on timing when it comes to food prep, be sure to buy enough ingredients according to how many people you'll be serving. This recipe is built for small parties of about 8-10 guests, so if you're hosting more (or just have hungry people on your hands) consider doubling your recipe -- its better to have extra grub than not enough. Also note, these mushroom and goat cheese tapas are best made 30-45 minutes before the party starts - shrooms taste better when warm in the pan.

Winobee Says: This appetizer couples the earthiness of mushrooms with the tanginess of goat cheese, so go for a Pinot Noir which can help to bring out the attributes of both items. Try Orogeny, whose name is actually derived from the Greek variation of "Oro," meaning mountain and "Geny," meaning birth. Sonoma's Orogeny very literally brings to life collisions and separations of the Earth's crust which form mountains. The last orogenic episode in Sonoma County formed Green Valley, where the grapes from this wine come from.

Tasting Notes: This Pinot is super smooth and has lively cranberry and cherry flavors on the palate, balancing with hints of nutmeg and cinnamon.

Cost: $35/bottle
Where to Buy: Wine.com

January 8, 2011

WinoBee is soaking up some rays...

Lil' Miss WinoBee is trading wine for Mai Tai's on vacation this week in Hawaii. Check back with us on January 18th for typical wino fun!

January 6, 2011

2009 Rocca Sveva Soave Classico

2011 is the year of "la dolce vita" and in taking after our Italian ancestors, we should all celebrate the good life with some good wine.

Located at the foot of the Castello di Soave, a small boutique winery called Rocca Sveva produces high quality, value wines that we instantly fell in love with after uncovering them at a local tasting.

The Soave Classico wine caught our eye with its luminous straw color, and proceeded to wine our hearts (and palates) with its fragrant white blossom bouquet, and its beautifully balanced ripe apple and almond flavors. We naturally had to share with you!

Cost: $17/bottle
Pairing: Try with lighter meals, like salad, fish or an antipasti platter

January 4, 2011

Bowl Week: BBQ Bites

Going to an ACC school (go Hokies) nothing screams "tailgate" like putting a lil' South in yo' mouth! And in honor of Bowl Week, we want to assure you that party food doesn't always has to be fancy-shmancy. I mean, aren't tailgates meant to be messy and delicious?

We're firm believers in keeping with simple and affordable…well, most of the time! That's why we're bringing you a fun lil' hors devours recipe that mixes down home flavor with uptown flair – we call em’ BBQ Bites. Basically, it is a yummy and juicy recipe for traditional Southern pulled pork that we stole from our mama’s kitchen. It takes about 10 minutes to prepare and 4-6 hours to cook in the Crock-Pot (yes, the 1980's slow cooking style is back in trend!) before it’s ready for the grubbin’.

Though its meant to be overstuffed on a sesame seed bun (oh my!), the below recipe has been given a touch of city-flare that we assure will keep your guests wanting more. So, what are we waiting for, let's get to cookin'...


  • 1 2-1/2- to 3-pound pork sirloin roast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 2 medium onions, cut into thin wedges
  • 1 cup root beer
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups root beer (two 12-ounce cans or bottles)
  • 1 cup bottled chili sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon root beer concentrate (optional)
  • Several dashes bottled hot pepper sauce (optional)

1. Trim fat from meat. If necessary, cut roast to fit into a 3-1/2- to 5-quart crockery cooker. Sprinkle meat with the salt and pepper. In a large skillet brown meat on all sides in hot oil. Drain off fat. Transfer meat to cooker. Add onions, the 1 cup root beer, and garlic.

2. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours.

3. Meanwhile, for sauce, in a medium saucepan combine the 3 cups of root beer and the chili sauce. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Boil gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes or until mixture is reduced to 2 cups. Add root beer concentrate and bottled hot pepper sauce, if desired.

4. Transfer roast to a cutting board or serving platter. Using a slotted spoon, remove onions from cooking juices and place on serving platter. Discard juices. Using 2 forks, pull meat apart into shreds. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

About 20 minutes before your guests arrive, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Then, take a standard sourdough baguette (or two) and cut it into half-inch thick slices. Lay the bread slices flat on a baking sheet, brush with a tiny bit of olive oil and bake for about 5-7 minutes until lightly toasted. Once your bread bites are ready, place them on a platter and put a biteful of pulled pork on top. Spoon on sauce. Finish it with a small dollop of fresh cole slaw and some fresh ground pepper to taste. If you desire, you can add a dot or two of BBQ sauce, but I prefer it without. Yummmmmm!!

Suggested Wine Pairing? Yes, please!

Because our bites have a bite of BBQ, it may be best to pair with a spicier red wine (just my two cents - afterall wine is subjective!) One of our all-time favs is the Darioush Signature Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley – but it will certainly make up where your cheapy appetizer left off. A bottle will set you back about $80, but is well worth it for a special occasion. If you are looking for something that won’t break the bank, go for a Chianti Classico like Ruffino Riserva Ducale ($24).

January 3, 2011

Pairing Party Monday: Caprese Skewers

We're kicking off 2011 with out first "Pairing Party Monday!" We've teamed up with Novice Nosher's Lisa Matthias again to share with you a super-easy, yet delectable Caprese Skewer hors d'oeuvre that won't eat up your prep time or take a bite out of your budget.

Caprese Skewers

• 1 package/carton cherry tomatoes
• 1 package mozzarella (try a pre-rolled, pre-sliced package or mozzarella balls)
• Fresh basil leaves
• Good quality extra virgin olive oil
• Balsamic vinegar
• Skewers or toothpicks (depending on how many you’re making)
• Salt and pepper (if desired)

Take 1 skewer and slide 1 cherry tomato, 1 slice of mozzarella and 1 basil leaf through. If using skewers, repeat this once or twice, depending on the size of the skewer. If using toothpicks, only 1 set will fit. Repeat with remaining skewers and ingredients until you reach desired amount. Arrange on a platter, drizzle generously with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. If desired, sprinkle the salt and pepper lightly over the skewers.
NOVICE NOSHER TIP: If you're making more than one item at a time, try to tackle the no-cook dishes first. With these caprese skewers, make them ahead of party time and refrigerate. Don't drizzle the olive oil and balsalmic on them until just before serving.

Winobee Says: From the ingredients down to the colors, everything about Caprese belts "Italian." So why not try pairing this cultural dish with a wine from its motherland, Chianti! The little red wine produced in Tuscany has historically has been associated with "cheapness," but has more recently upgraded from a squat bottle with straw encasing to a traditional shaped glass of goodness that makes it way into our hearts. Try Ruffino Riserva Ducale Oro which captures classic Chianti with a distinct style all its own

Tasting Notes: You'll uncover the nose opens slowly with cherry, tobacco and pepper aromas. This fuller bodied wine, also has an earthy core to it and a lingering dark berry flavor and nutmeg on the palate -simply smooth and magnificent, but its style continues to open up the more you let it breathe - so decant and let it sit for a tad. In doing so,
Cost: $30/bottle
Where to Buy: WineAccess.com

For more fun food recipes, visit The Novice Nosher!