Tag Archives: Wine

Jam Jar 2009 Sweet Shiraz

Trader Joe’s has done it again! This is an incredibly drinkable read with a sweetness that is very approachable. Though it does make you think it is a great affordable staple. At 9 smackers, its a crowd pleaser, great for bbqs and pork based foods.

Cost: $9

Sip: jammy, fruit, a little spice, straight forward, very sweet

Sniff: light notes of cherries, stone fruit

Eat: BBQ, chinese food, pork

Rating: Not Bad

Pizza and Pinot Noir

Tired of all the overpriced restaurant meals (and wines) and leery of the Friday night crowd, I hung out at a friend’s place instead last night. There were four of us, and we ordered three 10 inch pizzas to wash down with a bottle of Languedoc Pinot Noir (La Forge Estate Pinot Noir Reserve 2006 I brought from home (incidentally, I just trekked over to Nat Decants to take a look at her suggested pairing for meaty pizza, and pinot noir was up there on the list).

The wine was a cheap (relatively, in Singapore terms; do you know that the government charges a flat tax of $7.50 per bottle of wine that comes into Singapore?) bottle I had picked up on impulse at Denise Wines. My expectations were low, so I was pleasantly surprised by the wine. It had a light and fruity nose – strawberries, raspberries – and some cinammon in the finish. Nice and smooth tannins that went really well with our pizzas: a BBQ chicken one; one called the Sunshine Fantasy, which had boiled eggs, which I love; and a pepperoni and sausage one.

So, all in all, a delightfully pleasant, low-key evening punctuated with shouts of laughter. 🙂

Three Score & 10

Had a really good bottle of wine last night, the III Associates Three Score & 10 Grenache/Shiraz 2005, from McLaren Vale, Australia. It had raisin-y notes, but what I really loved about it was the weight of the wine, nice and heavy – quite a noticeable change from the big-boobs-but-no-ass wines I’ve had recently, you know, the wines with a lot of flavor upfront but which quickly disappear into nothingness. Anyway, as I was saying, I really liked the feel of the wine. There was some earthiness and oak to it too, mixed in with the rich plum mouth feel. Mmm! It’s bottles like this that reminds me of why I really like Grenache/Shiraz blends.

Roman Style Wining and Dining in Chicago

There is nothing more awesome than a true Italian style dinner….multiple courses, good wine, and eating that spans several hours. It is pretty rare to find a restaurant that feeds you continuously for that long without requiring you to nibble and look ackwardly at your impatient waitress/waiter. But at Enoteca Roma the owners have created the ultimate Roman feast with 6 courses, serving more food that you can handle and the grand experience of eating what I like to call a “sprawling” European style dinner. All of it is for a swoon worthy $25. Count ’em…
Courses
1. Antipasta and Bruscetta
2. Appetizers- usually steamed mussells and stewed sausage
3. Salad
4. Polenta served hot on a cool slab of marble
5. Pasta
6. Pizza
(7. Dessert)

Dessert is a little extra, and we actually refused the pizza and went for the dessert instead. The various cheesecakes and gelato were a perfect way to end the meal. I greedily finished off the rest of the pana cotta that was silk smooth and topped with berries. It was nothing short of glorious. All of us couldn’t help but comment how great the meal was along the way. Each course was well made and definitely drool worthy. I am already plotting my next visit.

Wines
Bisson Prosecco IGT Valdobbabiene, Italy 2006- $13- Not bad- Damn Good

We started out with this bottle. It had a nice acidity and a good deal of carbonation that made it a good way to clean our palates and start the evening out right. With hints of citrus and pear and a light nose, I thought this was a pretty good prosecco.

Corregio Roero Nebbiolo Piemonte, Italy 2003-$18- Not Bad

This was a very fruit forward light bodied red. It had a little bit of an acidic, tanniny, dry finish but maintained its body. With the bitter savoriness of our arugula parmesan salad, it paired wonderfully showing a great complexity than at first taste. It also left a clean palate.

J Hofstatter Pinot Nero Valle D’Aosta, Italy 2005-$20- Damn Good

To me the best wine of the night, this bottle had a great fruity jammy nose with hints of cherry and a great taste to match. What made it interesting was its complex spicy finish. It went beautifully with our heavier more substantial pasta dishes. Less tannin than the previous wine, it had a medium body and was very drinkable.

Haro Tapas and Wine

Tucked away amidst an industrial area in the southwest side, Haro is a gem of a restaurant. It features a wide array of tapas with a layering of flavor you rarely see with restaurants at this price point. With dishes like garlic shrimp with a balsalmic vinegar and honey sauce, your tastebuds are definitely given a wide showcase of flavors with each bite. One of my favorites was a dish with champignons glazed with sherry, garlic, and truffle oil. It was so rich and mushroomy with a burst of flavor when you bit into the mushrooms…drool. My only wish is that they had provided us with bread to sop up the saucy remains of each dish. We did not get to try the great desserts they had to offer and instead opted to have some fondue with dessert wines. (Post about that to follow 😉 )

Of note, Haro Tapa is no longer BYOB, but we brought wines anyway thinking it still was…oops. It made for a lovely meal with great pairings.

In order of opening:

Firehose Gewurztraminer 2006 California- $10

Sweet and light with hints of lychee and apricot I thought this bottle was incredibly drinkable. It had a little complexity, and resembled the more German sweet style of Gewurztraminer. I plan on keeping this as another staple for casual dinners and whatever excuse I can come up with. It paired wonderfully with the honey balsamic shrimp, manchego cheese dish, and salty bacon wrapped dates. Other suggestions would be a saltier crumbling cheeses like stilton to go with honeyed walnuts. Excuse me while I salivate!

Barefoot Sauvignon Blanc- $9

This bottle was savory compared to the firehose with a good lemony nose and a taste to match. Less complex than the previous with a little bit of fruitiness and citrus, it went amazingly well with the champignons. With the right food it becomes buttery and mouthy. I would pair this in the future with seafood, chicken, a rich creamy pasta, or something along the lines of a butternut squash ravioli. Mmmmm…I am already thinking of my next meal!

Concha Y Toro Casillero del Diablo Carmenere 2005- $12

This was a young with a bit of tannin to this finish. Very drinkable and smooth, the nose was amazing with the scent of warm spicy berry if that makes any sense. With its come hither smell, I was mildly disappointed by the chalkiness of the drink, but it did have a great savoriness to it that reminded me more meat. It would probably have went better with a steak than the spicy sausage and other fixin’s we had. I definitely plan on opening it again with a juicy steak.

The Dregs: Rosé Wine Apricot Clafoutis

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Inspired by my favorite celebrity chef Mark Bittman’s recent New York Time’s video on clafoutis. I decided to create my own version of this easy French dessert. I had a lot of left over dried apricots thanks to a Costco impulse buy and decided to reconstitute these super sweet fruits with a little rosé wine to bring back the tartness that seems to go so well with a clafloutis. Most claflouti recipes are made with either plums, berries, apples, pears, or cherries, nice fresh tart summer fruits. But I REALLY had a hankering for some after watching this video and being short of clementines at the moment, decided fruit soaked in wine is never a bad option. I chose a rosé since I have had the combination of rose and apricots before and its delicious. Plus I like the added color it gives to the dried apricots. I bet this would taste equally good if made with a fruity floral white, like chenin blanc or viognier, or even a rich dessert wine like sauternes or icewein. Sometimes I am reluctant to cook with the latter though since those bottles tend to get more pricey.

Biltmore Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc de Noir 2006- $11
I bought this bottle on the estate a little over a year ago. They have a surprisingly good array of wines. This particular buy is a really nice fruity refreshing rosé, and went well with the sweet tart apricots. Very floral on the nose, I would not hesitate to drink this with any dessert.

Other suggestions for this recipe that are more widely available are: Sutter Home’s White Zinfandel and Barefoot Winery’s White Zinfandel. Both are very fruity, the latter having a nice burnt sugar caramel finish. The best part is that they are both cheap so “sacrificing” a cup or two for baking is not such a loss.

Rosé Wine Apricot Clafoutis
Adapted from Mark Bittman’s Clementine Clafoutis recipe

Butter for greasing
1/2 cup flour, more for dusting pan
3 eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Pinch salt
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup milk
1 cup dried apricots
1 1/2 cup of rosé wine
Powdered sugar (optional)

1. Soak apricots in wine, just covering most of them, for 24 hours in a container with plastic wrap or a lid. They will plump up a little and become soft. A lot of liquid should be absorbed and most of the apricots will not be submerged.

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2. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a gratin dish, about 9 by 5 by 2 inches, or a 10-inch round deep pie plate or porcelain dish, by smearing it with butter, just a teaspoon or so. Dust it with flour, rotating pan so flour sticks to all the butter; invert dish to get rid of excess.

3. In a large bowl, whisk eggs until frothy. Add granulated sugar and salt and whisk until combined. Add cream and milk and whisk until smooth. Add 1/2 cup flour and stir just to combine.

4. Place apricots (without remaining liquids) in dish. Pour batter over fruit. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until clafoutis is nicely browned on top and center is not too jiggly when you shake the dish. Mark Bittman suggests to test to see if a knife comes clean, but I found this works just as well and doesn’t ruin the nice perfect finish. 😉 Sift some powdered sugar over it and serve warm or at room temperature. Best eaten right away, but can be microwaved next day.

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The Dregs: Cherry Wine Syrup over Ice Cream

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At one point I made the mistake of opening a fruit wine with only two people around to help drink it. The sweetness got overwhelming and both of us gave up after two glasses. 😦 To be honest it really drank more like a liquor. Since then a good portion of the remnants has been haunting my fridge door. Over time I have been using it to enhance fondues and whipped cream here and there. Finally I decided to kill the aging bottle by making a syrup for ice cream, drinks, what have you. I’ve done this with other wines before and it can be done with virtually anything your heart desires, reisling, roses, merlot, syrah…you get the idea. It is super easy and almost not worth putting a recipe down for, but I seem to always forget that this is an option for leftovers. I promise this recipe DOES NOT involve a candy thermometer; actually I don’t even own one. This time I used a cherry wine from Cream Ridge Winery in New Jersey (YES…New Jersey!). It tastes like liquid cherry pie and why I thought two people could drink most of a bottle of it is anyone’s guess. 🙂

Anyways, for the syrup it all starts with sugar, A LOT of sugar….

Wine Syrup
2 1/2 cups of wine
1 cup of sugar (more or less depending on the sweetness of wine)

1. Dump wine and sugar in a sauce pan.
2. Stir together and turn heat to medium-high.
3. Stir, sugar with gradually dissolve
4. Keep stirring, do not let boil just mildly simmer at most
5. Stir
6. Stir some more (about 20 minutes total of stirring usually) until mixture thickens and leaves an open wake when you run the spoon on the bottom of the pan or coats the spoon
7. When the syrup coats the spoon you can stop there or keep going a little longer, depending on how thick you want it. REMEMBER when it cools the syrup will thicken so stay on the thin side of what you want especially if you plan on using it later and storing in the fridge.

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