April 25, 2011

Cocktail Corner: Strawberry Basil Bellini

Easter Sunday at our house is an Italian festival all its own. Copious amounts of baskets for adults and kids alike, and a smorgasbord of antipastas, meal selections and, naturally, wine pave the way for a fun and tummy-filling day.

Its become a tradition to serve up a speciality cocktail following Easter mass and prior to dinner hitting the table, and this year, your truly took the reigns with a spontaneous creation... a Strawberry Basil Bellini.

Strawberry Basil Bellini
  • 1 pack of Driscoll's strawberries, fresh
  • 7 leafs of basil, large
  • 1 bottle Prosecco (or other sparkling white wine)
  • Vodka (optional)
In a food processor or blender, add strawberries and basil. Puree for 1 minute. Add mixture into champagne flute about 1/4 of the way to the top. Finish off with prosecco or other sparkling white wine. If you're feeling edgy, add a splash of vodka to each glass.

April 22, 2011

Happy Easter to you!

Happy Easter!
Bottoms up!

April 19, 2011

Passover Party: Braised Beef & Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon

While I'm an Easter-kinda-bunny, I have many friends and coworkers who celebrate Passover during this portion of the year. And while Sader kicked off last night, I couldn't help but share this delicious Passover-friendly recipe from Executive Chef Todd Aarons of Tierra Sur Restaurant (and naturally a WinoBee-friendly pairing to accompany it) because it looks too delicious to only enjoy one time during the year.

Braised Beef Shoulder
  • 4-5 lb. piece of boneless beef shoulder, tied with butcher string to make it a more uniform shape
  • 4 cups red wine such as Baron Herzog Merlot
  • 8 crushed black peppercorns
  • Shallots, sliced
  • Bay leaves
  • sprigs thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 carrot
  • ¼ cup brandy
Aromatics:carrots peeled and cut into ¼ inch rounds
  • celery stalks cut into ¼ inch pieces
  • 2 medium Spanish onions julienned
  • cloves garlic sliced
  • ¼ cup tomato concasse or 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • bouquet garni of ; thyme sprigs, parsley, bay leaf, and outer leek leave tied into a bundle
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Sea salt and coarsely ground black peppercorns
  • Strained cooked marinade plus 3 cups red wine
  • Broth to cover 1/3 of beef roast
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Directions:Preheat oven to 325F. Add all marinade ingredients to a pot and bring to a boil. Simmer to reduce by a quarter. Let cool and place roast inside marinade, refrigerate for at least 24 hours, turning at 12 hours. Dry the meat from marinade and liberally season with sea salt and black peppercorn. Reserve the marinade. Inside your roasting pot heat up the olive oil and add the beef. Sear all sides of the roast until you reach a deep rich brown color. Remove roast to a separate plate. Add your aromatics to the render beef fat left in the pot and sauté until lightly browned and translucent. Add the tomato paste and continue to cook until the tomato turns a rich brown color. Nestle roast back into the vegetables. Strain reserved marinade over
the roast while pot is on a medium flame. Add the new wine and simmer until all alcohol has dissipated. Pour in broth to cover at least 1/3 the roast. Add your bouquet garni bundle and cover with a piece of parchment paper then place lid over pot. Place pot into preheated oven and continue to cook for approximately 2 hours. Check doneness with a wooden skewer. You should be able to pierce meat and easily pull out skewer. If it is not ready continue to cook and check at 45 minute intervals. Serves 6.

WinoBee's Party Pairing
Pair this meal with a bottle of 2008 Herzog Special Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Syrah blend. Its elegant dark ruby colors lures the eye and its deep tannins are apparent on the upfront. It will open up on the palate with hints of toasted oak, plum, currant and dates. And did I mention its kosher?

Cost: $36/bottle
Where to Buy: Herzog Cellar Wines

April 17, 2011

Cocktail Corner: Blackberry Basil Bliss

As I've stated many times, on occasion I deviate from my typical wine regime and want to play with the big boys by drinking something a wee-bit stronger. And one of those times just happened to be this weekend. I'm still not sure what got into me, all I know is my Friday and Saturday evenings resulted in two separate cocktail benders. I blame this on a company happy hour that kicked off the weekend, where many of us indulged in (what I later learned) were Everclear Margaritas ... no wonder I was socially lubricated after just one (thank you, Rio Grande!)

Friends who witnessed my inebriated antics, god bless you. Others looking to mimic it, well, I would never do that to you. Instead, I decided to use my "detox" of a Sunday to devise my own specialty cocktail (which will soon be featured on Glo.com!) that mixes my easy nights with my more edgy nights, cuz' hey, that's the kinda' girl I am. The result... Blackberry Basil Bliss! Ain't it purrrty?

  • 5 fresh blackberries
  • 3 large leaves, basil (fresh)
  • 1.5 oz. Cointreau
  • 1 oz. Whiskey
  • 2-3 oz. Prosecco
Muddle blackberries in a small bowl. Shred basil into short strips. Place both items at the bottom of a champagne flute, or other festive stemware. NOTE: The more condensed the glass, the darker the appearance of the beverage.

Add Cointreau and whiskey. Top off with prosecco, or other sparkling white wine.

April 11, 2011

Pairing Party Monday: Seafood Pasta & Italian Chianti

Happy Monday! Happy First Day of Work! Happy I Don't Know What to Plan For the Rest of the Week! Actually, after reading this post you will because I have another amazingly delish recipe from our good pal, Lisa Matthias, from The Novice Nosher.

I secretly wish I could just hire Lisa to be my personal menu maker. It would make my hectic life hella' easy and would require very little thought from me... well, at least until I got to the wine pairing portion of the meal!

So on that note, on the menu for this week is a medley of seafood over pasta. And lucky for you health conscious bugs, you can improvise with many ingredients in this recipe! Go on, try it out. You know you wanna!
Seafood Pasta
  • 1/2 lb of fresh or thawed frozen shrimp (other seafood works great in this but preparation may be different)
  • 1 can of stewed tomatoes, Italian-seasoned if available
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 handfuls of spinach
  • Red cooking wine
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Dried basil and oregano or dried Italian herb mix
  • Spaghetti or linguine (whole wheat or white)
  • Optional: Parmesan cheese
Directions:Cook the pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large saute pan over medium high heat, saute the garlic and onion until the onion begins to soften. Add the red bell pepper and season lightly with salt and pepper. Add a splash of red cooking wine and allow that to dissolve. Then add the stewed tomatoes and season with herbs ( I just generously sprinkle - it's probably about a tablespoon). Stir in the spinach, it will wilt in a few minutes. Add the shrimp and allow them to cook fully (they'll turn pink - about 3-4 minutes). Season to taste with red pepper flakes and toss in the cooked pasta. Top with shredded Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Pairing Party from WinoBee:
To balance the acidity of the tomatoes in this dish, opt for a lighter to medium bodied, but higher acidity wine, like an Italian red. Ruffino Ducale Oro is a great sangiovese-based Chianti with a style all its own. You'll experience cherry, tobacco and pepper aromas, with an earthy core and lingering dark berry flavor and nutmeg. Smooth and magnificent with this dish!

Cost: $40/bottle
Where to Buy: Wine.com

April 7, 2011

2008 Lazan Spanish Red

The funny thing about becoming a "wine resource" for friends and family is that they love helping contribute to my discoveries.

Back in January, I had the privilege of taking a trip to Kona, Hawaii with one of my best friends and her family. The week was filled with fun adventures (some of which included wine) and to repay my gratitude to my amazing hosts I sent them what I knew best... a plethora of wine.

To my surprise, they sent me a review of their first wine just recently, so naturally I felt it was my duty to share their feedback with you.

Enter this 2008 Lazan Spanish Red made from a blend of Moristel and Granacha grapes. According to the panel of tasters, this wine "had good nose and a nice fruity aroma which was more evident as it breathed. On the first taste, everyone thought it was favorable with a fruity, but not too heavy touch. Nice oak undertones, too, however, the finish was where this wine fell apart -- it was very bland." These WinoBee's gave it a 7 out of 10!

Ah, the perks of having a "following" to do your dirty work (thank you, Mr. Feldman!)

Where to Buy: Barclay's Wine
Cost: $14/bottle

This has been a guest post compliments of Jerry Feldman.

April 6, 2011

2008 "The Crusher" Petit Syrah

I think one of my most favorite things in life is making a discovery, particularly one that has to do with wine, and for that matter wine on a budget. And I'm pretty sure I've talked about discovery, oh like, everyday this week!

Its almost become a passion of mine to search and uncover "diamonds in the rough" within the wine world. And because the space has become more cluttered (and I say that in a positive way) with budget friendly wines, the search has become more engaging for me.

I love the adventure of finding something new and expanding my palate (but not my wallet). Enter The Crusher Petit Syrah from Sebastiani & Sons, my newest favorite "wine find" at an amazing value of just $12.99/bottle!

This wine enraptures you right from the eye with its dark plum, almost ink-like color and light legs. On the nose, a blend of dark fruit - blackberries, plums and blueberries -- and on the palate, the same sweet attributes but with complimentary undertones of cocoa and earth. This wine blended a hue of richness with a soft velvet finish and made more than my heart melt.

Cost: $12.99/bottle
Where to Buy: Bevmax

April 5, 2011

2008 Zantho Zweigelt Burgenland

I'm sure, like me, many of you may be familiar with certain grape names (even if you don't know they are actual grapes) - cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, pinot grigio, pinot noir, chardonnay - this list of recognizable names goes on and on!

But some of the most impeccable wines sometimes come from grapes and places you may have never heard of! And to me, Austria is sort of one of them (not that I don't know where Austria is - I've visited Viena and Salzburg and devoured lots of streusel when in both places, but I digress...)

To me, Austria is not one of the top wine producing countries. I see Italy, I see France, I see Australia, I see the U.S. (ok, maybe California in particular), even Chile. But this is what's so enlightening about the discovery of wine. You never know what's out there that you might like until you explore and find it.

Cue Zweigelt from Zantho. Confused yet? I am. So lemme break it down for you. Zweigelt is a widely planted red grape in Austria. This particular wine is produced by a winery called Zantho which is located in the Burgenland region of Austria. This area is defined by dry, mineral soil and those attributes come to life in this particular wine, which is characterized by its deep ruby color. You'll experience a deep blend of berries, cherries and cinnamon -- almost like an autumn cherry pie -- on both the nose and palate, but the reveal of the flavors is a tad on the slow side. The smells capture your senses off the bat, but the tastes evolves as you sip in length and appreciate its long finish.

Cost: $20/bottle
Where to Buy: WineSearcher.com
Pairing: Cheese please!

April 4, 2011

Event Buzz: 2nd Annual Huichica Music Festival at Gundlach Bundschu Winery

It's here! The 2nd Annual Huichica Music Festival is June 4, 2011 at Gundlach Bundschu Winery, and it has already improved with age!

Jeff Bundschu and Fruit Bats front man Eric D. Johnson are proud to announce 2011's incredible Huichica line-up! This year's crop of talent includes EIGHT buzz-worthy bands and the addition of a second stage. Folk-phenoms Fruit Bats will headline, along with universally acclaimed indie-rock legend J Mascis (of Dinosaur Jr.) and San Francisco superstars Sonny and the Sunsets. Other acts include Richard Swift, These United States, Breathe Owl Breathe, Tu Fawning and David Williams.

Mark your calendars! Tickets will go on sale on tomorrow (Tuesday, April 5) at 10am at www.gunbun.com/hmf. General Admission tickets are $55 and include admission to view all 8 bands and complimentary wine tasting from 2-6pm. VIP tickets are $195 per couple and include admission for two, VIP preferred seating, two gourmet dinners, one bottle of Gun Bun wine, and two complimentary wine tastings from 2-6pm.

For more information on the festival, please visit www.gunbun.com/hmf.