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Archive for the ‘Wine & Cheese’ Category

Today I am having a few of my lovely American friends over for a last-minute-but-amazing potluck Thanksgiving feast. I have already started the planning (you might say, but the dinner is TODAY and you’re not done planning?) and am about to run off to the shops to pick up some lovely bits & bats to complete my dishes. I have offered to make Baked Camembert with balsamic onions, Cornbread & sausage stuffing, Mushroom & truffle gravy and slow cooked Mulled wine…get excited!

And my wine choices for today….

This Cheval-Blanc Signe is one that I’ve wanted to write about for a while – Its a tener from Whole Foods and is SPEC-tacular. Nice solid Cabernet with a certain sophistication that belies the price tag. Absolutely perfect for a foodie feast with friends.
I’ll post some more pics as people arrive with their food (and their wine!!)

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I hosted my second wine tasting at my flat yesterday and welcomed an intimate group of lovely new friends into my home. We tried wines from around the world – with personal stories from the group to match! I have posted pictures of the wines below as well as some notes on our reviews. Please excuse the quality of the pictures – my lovely photographer friend, Jackee, is on holiday so I took them myself (yikes!).

What we covered: 
Introduction to tasting & discussion of glassware
Food & wine pairing – don’t overcomplicate it
New world & Old world wines and what some of the differences are
3 basic steps to tasting a wine
Party tricks for tasting and talking about wine (i.e. impress your friends…or just weird them out with your slurping technique!)

Wines we tried: 
Glass of Prosecco DOC, Corte Alta with Elderflower port (from Yorkshire) to start
Giesen Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough 2011
Gran Vendama Rioja Crianza 2009 **CROWD FAVOURITE
Giesen Pinot Noir, Marlborough 2010
Barista Pinotage, South Africa, 2011 **CROWD FAVOURITE
Taylors Late Bottled Harvest Port, 2006
Finished off with french press coffee w/ Baileys to prep my guests for the cold

Everyone left slightly merry with a lot of laughter which is exactly how I like it.

A few suggestions were made for future tastings which I will be taking on board:
Around the world with one grape – find the same grape from different regions around the world and try them all together.
Sherry is not just your Grandma’s drink – this one I will find more challenging as Sherry is not my favourite but alas, when the crowd wants it the show must go on.

If you want to join in on the fun, sign up for a future tasting or drop me a note.

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What better time to get up to speed on what wines you like, love and covet than when you are preparing for upcoming festivities with family and friends? There are a million ways to start brushing up on your skills: Head to your local supermarket/wine shop and ask lots of questions (many times they will have tastings available while you browse – just ask), Attend a tasting (lots of places offer tastings – speciality shops, wine shops, liquor stores, etc. Keep your eyes peeled), Talk to your friends (many people have a favorite bottle of wine that they use as their ‘go to’ tipple for any celebration. Ask people you know for suggestions and you may just discover a new gem!).
For my part, I will be hosting, attending and conversing about all things wine in the next two months (have a look at what I’m up to here and sign up if you’re interested). As always, if you want to swap ideas – pull up a chair and let’s chat.

Essentials for any successful holiday: 
Brandy – my favourite is Hennessy VSOP. Top it with a bit of ginger ale for a spritzy buzz or some spicy eggnog for a classic holiday treat
Sparkling wine – the holiday favourite in my household is Prosecco because of its light body, balanced flavour and general yummy-ness (plus it can be enjoyed at any time of day…)
Good, full bodied red wine – this is the absolute must have. I love picking a few favourites each year to share with my family. I am still in the discovery phase for this year’s celebrations and will be using my upcoming tastings to explore a few pre-selected Malbecs, Petit Syrahs, Bordeauxs and Tannats. Stay tuned…

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My two lovely friends got married last Monday in London with 20 of their closest friends from around the world looking on. Our troupe was then shuttled into cabs, whisked away to the Champagne bar at St Pancras station and herded into Coach 15 on the Eurostar bound for Paris. After a quick transfer to the regional station in Paris, we were on our way to Dijon. Hop, skip and a 40 minute drive from Dijon, we entered our home for the next week: Chateau du Tailly, a gorgeous 18th century block of three buildings (all of which could have been individual houses)…

So many stories, such a wonderful week. Ultimately, it was about two people: Joel and Marc whose love brought all of us together for this incredible experience. We wined and dined our way through an awe-inspiring week throughout Puligny, Chassagne, Beaune, Mersault and many more. More updates to follow but will leave you with this for now.

  

The main Chateau and my two lovely friends, Joel and Marc, who hosted us during the week:

My home for the week:

        

The winemaker at Chateau Lahaye allowing me to ‘break through the must’ on their newest harvest.

  

Cheers!

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Ahhh the day of love…or just another day to try an extra special wine??  Whatever it means to you, have a look at some ideas to mark the occasion with someone special (i.e. yourself!).
Here are some ideas to spark the LOVE….

A Valentines day MUST – BUBBLES!!
Grab a bottle of Prosecco. Honestly – it doesn’t much matter which one. Spend no more than 10 quid on it, make sure its chilled and pour for your loved ones at the beginning of the evening. If you don’t have champagne flutes – buy them. It is worth it. Never, never, never, NEVER serve a loved one a glass of anything bubbly in a regular wine glass. That is the definition of taboo. Plus – Sainsburys sells 4x flutes for 4 quid – don’t be a cheapskate…
For an example: This one is on sale! 

Want to upgrade and get a little bit fancy? Look for Blanc de Blancs. 100% Chardonnay sparkling wine. Yummy, special and sure to impress. My favorite is Argyle from Oregon (argylewinery.com)

If you would like to have another wine with food, here are a few sure to impress stunners:

LOVE: Petalos Bierzo, Castilla y Leon, 2009 Descendientes de J. Palacios
Ridiculously tasty red wine from a little known region in Spain. I have had three bottles of this in my house – the last was opened last night. Red Cherries galore with a strong acidity that will stand up to some really gorgeous cheese. I had a humble meal of garlic/onion soft cheese and dense sunflower rye bread made extra special by this fantastic wine…Read the reviews on Majestic’s site for more info (and more professional reviews!)

ONE TO TRY: Chateau Grand Faurie Larose, 2006 St-Emilion, Grand Cru
Never had it before but judging by the region and its Grand Cru rating, I would test out this yummy merlot based Bordeaux. Good price point for a classy wine – grab some cheeses, bit of cured meat and you are away!

ONE FOR DESSERT: Royal Tokaji Late Harvest 2009
Honestly, you can’t get much more impressive than Royal Tokaji. Have it on its own or with some gooey, stinky blue cheese.

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Amazing – trying out 44 different wines by taste, half glass or full glass, picking out your own wine specific glasses by Chardonnay, Cabernet, Shiraz, etc., – in a self service lounge room. When you find one you like, they have beautiful and uniquely decorated rooms off to each side of the tasting room where you can order something to nibble on and enjoy a few glasses or a bottle of your favorite pick. They have just started up First Thursday’s tasting night for members as well. For more info: www.wineodyssey.com.au

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