Liquid Sex

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Liquid SexI have no idea how I got to be on the same wine vibe as Kathy Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb, but apparently I am. Last week on their Winesday segment they discussed the pumpkin wine from Maple River Winery in North Dakota. Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought so.

Unfortunately, they weren’t particularly enthusiastic about the wine. In all fairness, pumpkin wine is an acquired taste. The problem is that it smells squashy. Why? It is made from squash. On the other hand, I see what the winery was going for… pumpkin is very autumnal. Though they also have several apple wines which would have been very Thanksgiving-y too. C’est la vie.

This week, Hoda and Kathy Lee talked about Sex. For the segment, they drank a wine I am familiar with… M.Lawrence’s SEX. The wine is actually produced by L. Mawby in Leelanau Peninsula. This wine the 10am Today Show gals were more enthusiastic about. And who could blame them. It is a sparkling rose made from locally grown fruit. The taste is full of cherries at the front and dry at the end. I might have wished for more connection between the front and the back but can’t complain overall.

So, my 10 am Divas! What shall it be next time? What wine in my fridge will you be discussing next?

Ooops. I see. You have Beaujolais Nouveau. The wine I bought today… But I selected better!

Bring it!

A Perfect Combo

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

When push comes to shove, I am as much a foodie as I am a wino. A couple of weeks ago Kevin and I had a perfectly fine dinner out at McCormick & Schmick. It was a really crazy night there and we felt a bit neglected by the staff initially. Eventually we got appetizers and our dinner… Even some wine.

We enjoyed dinner. I thought that the wine list was a bit of a throw away, but we cherry picked it… and ended up with particularly excellent appetizers…

A de-constructed oysters Rockefeller… and the Lomi-Lomi salmon that was put together at our table. The advantage of this? Well, obviously, I get the recipe.

So, after Kevin and I had a disasterous experience cooking fish last weekened? (check my Twitter feed to see how bad it was) We decided that we needed to get back on the horse so to speak. I decided to reproduce (hopefully) the Lomi-Lomi salmon.

Lomi-Lomi SalmonFirst I diced some lovely fresh salmon that I picked up from my favorite fishmonger, Bill Dugan of The Fish Guy. If you live in Chicago and haven’t been there? Shame on you. This salmon was from the Faroe Islands which I will admit that I thought were Scottish, but in reality are Danish (not that I think that the fish care). The fish was beautiful bright color with pronounced layer of fat in the musculature. Beautiful. Of course, I am dicing it, along with a smallish yellow onion, chopped scallions, three of those beautifully ripe vine tomatoes also diced, salt, pepper, the juice of two limes, the zest of one, a tablespoon of soy sauce (I only had a dribble due to my sweet filles love of salty condiments, so I substituted a combination of fish sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Sometimes cooking is about imagination) finely chopped green chiles (I used serrano’s because they have an herbal brightness) and a drizzle of sesame oil. Toss these ingredients together.. let them marinate a couple of minutes and serve on crackers (or just go ahead and eat the stuff from spoons. Why? because it is perfect in this form in every single way). When we ordered this at the restaurant they gave us to small a portion of this. Last night? We might have gone a bit overboard as we indulged in two whole filets.. which means that this is all we ate.

Oh, the flavor was amazing.

But what to drink with it? Well, that evening at McCormick & Schmick we drank the Sokol Blosser Evolution 9. It was an amazingly complex blend of 9 varietals which beautifully matched the spicy asian flavors, though to me were a bit sweet.

This time? Domaine Chandon Brut. The crispness of the sparkling wine was absolutely perfect. In fact even better than the sweet touches from the Sokol Blosser.

This recipe? Well, it will be on high rotation as it was light, simple and ridiculously good. Maybe I will consider drinking something other than sparkling wine with it… but no time soon, that is for certain.

Me & Fiona Apple Want Some Wine

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

I’ve been a bad, bad girl.

I’ve been careless with a wine blog

~ Gretchen with much assistance from Fiona Apple

Yes,  I played blog hookie today.  Ok, technically not since I am catching up tonight… still.  You get the point.

I went kayaking today, having just taken possession of my new kayak late last week.

Today I used it and got something that doubted was possible.

An October sunburn.

October Sunburn

I am celebrating with Michigan bubbly from L. Mawby which I picked up a bit a go at a little shop called Provenance.  (hoping that Fizz doesn’t mind if I come up and visit sometime!)

It Came From Where?

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

If you have read this blog before you know that I appreciate wines from non traditional areas. These areas are usually in the United States, but not always. I love local wine, but believe that everywhere is local to someone.

So what do you do if you live in Russia and you want Champagne? Prior to Soviet control, French Champagne could be imported into Russia, but at great expense. It was Prince Leo Galitzine, who created the first factory for sparkling wines at his estates in the Crimea. These wines were called Soviet Champagne or Champagne for the people. After the revolution, these wines were still in production.

So when I saw this bottle? I knew that I had to try it.

Russian Champagne... I think they were in a hurry....This sparkling wine (not being from the Champagne Region of France, I won’t call it real Champagne) is not from the Crimea, but rather Kazan, which is the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan, Russia.

The taste was very apple. And the color very golden. I can fairly say that I have never had a sparkling wine like it before. The carbonation was very light, and while dry it was exceptionally fruity. If I hadn’t known better, I would have assumed it was cider rather than wine. It wasn’t what I was expecting, not by a long shot. But that doesn’t mean that it was bad. On the contrary. Just different. I also noted that this was the “dry” version. The store where I found this also carried the semi-dry and sweet varieties, which I am guessing can move into the cloying category. Luckily, I stuck with what I did. And we enjoyed the bottle, toasting my parents as they prepare to leave for a vacation to Egypt and Israel. Naturally, they have been asked to keep their eyes open for interesting wines and to report back to me!

Tip O’Neill Would Enjoy This!

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

I love local wine. But that doesn’t mean that I won’t drink wine that is made more than 100 miles away from my home. Why? Well at the moment there are only 37 wineries within that boundary and I don’t love all of them (Though I do love several that I have encountered so far). Plus, I love to explore and tasting new wine and food is like taking a little vacation from your everyday life. I call this seeming paradox the Tip O’Neill Corollary. Why? Well, Tip O’Neil once famously remarked that all politics is local. And the fact of the matter is, that all wine is too. It is local to someone. So I go ahead an enjoy those wines too and sometimes I even write about them.

This last week I tried a Crémant d’Alsace , a sparkling wine from Alsace (home of my Miller ancestors). I had tried still wines from the same House, Gustave Lorentz and had always liked them. So I was really looking forward to tasting this sparkler.

And I wasn’t disappointed. The wine was wonderful with medium sized bubbles and a dry but fruity taste. The varietals used to produce this bottle were Chardonnay 60%, Pinot Blanc 20% and Pinot Noir 20%. The winemakers feel that this provides fruity liveliness (from the Chardonnay), freshness and elegance from the Pinot Blanc and depth and persistance from the Pinot Noir.

In addition to the Crémant, the Maison Lorentz also produces still wines from traditional Alsatian variatels, including several Grand Cru Rieslings, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris, several late harvest wines and Eaux-de-Vie, liqueurs and an Alsatian Marc which is a type of grappa made from the skins of Gewurztraminer grapes.

The Crémant and still wines (Gewurztraminer, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris) are available at my favorite wine shop, Good Grapes. The Crémant is about $20.

Ohio and Connecticut Wine

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

via Wikipedia and the Cleveland Public Library

via Wikipedia and the Cleveland Public Library

I know that I left the question somewhat vague, but readers of the blog would know that Marguerite has written extensively about Connecticut wines. So the question remains how are Ohio and Connecticut wines related.

The answer is in the name of the winery that I was visiting, Firelands.

The Firelands was a tract of land that was set aside for Connecticut residents of Danbury, Fairfield, Greenwich, Groton, New Haven, New London, Norwalk, and Ridgefield who in 1779 and 1781 were burned out of their homes by the British during the Revolutionary War. The heirs to those original settlers were able to move to these lands and were the first to plant vineyards in the region. Isle St. George was part of the original Firelands tracts.  The winery still produces its grapes on Isle St. George and then ships back to the winery in Sandusky for fermentation.

Original Mantey WineryTrophy CaseOne of the nice parts of the Firelands Winery was their self-guided tour. I have taken several of these, but this was the nicest. It began with a short video presentation and then a tour of the winery from a historical perspective and from off the floor so that you can watch the work in progress while not being in the winemakers way.  The tour looks at the original winery as well as the history of winemaking in Northern Ohio, including information about how sparkling wines were produced locally.

winery floorbottlingThis winery was originally owned by the Mantey Family and opened in 1880 and their original house serves as the base of the wineries tasting room. The winery is currently owned by Lonz, Inc. and is the largest winery in the State of Ohio.  It produces wine under the Firelands, Mantey, Lonz, Mon Ami and Dover labels.

Aerial of Isle St. GeorgeSandusky Wine History As to whether someone won answered the question?  We will have to see as this article was posted before the deadline for the contest.  Good luck to everyone!

A votre santé!Riddling Rack

Pink Bubbles

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Pink wine has always had an image problem. In the old days (and maybe I am the only one old enough to remember) there was Lancers. A Portuguese wine in a funky bottle.

Then there was white Zinfandel. A sweet pink wine for old ladies, women who want to look klassy by ordering wine and as part of a hot summer day’s guilty pleasure. But virtually no one admits to liking it.

White Merlot fell into that same category. White became the new pink…

But really, pink has been screwed over.

Why? Well, most of it is dry, fruity and the best are on the edge of effervescent anyway. Which is why I present to you the final sparkling wine from my birthday dinner.

Albert Sounit Caprice Rose

This wine is made in the Cotes d’Or region of Burgundy of Pinot Noir and Gamay grapes.. The most masculine rose you can find. By definition? A Cremant de Bourgogne.

Though at this point, if you think that pink wine is for girls, all I can say is “Grow Up!”

Bubbles in Every Color

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

For my birthday Kevin decided to try out all different kinds of sparkling wines. And I think that you will agree this one is quite unique as it is a sparkling red. I know that my first thought was, “What?! Cold duck?” Which I haven’t seen or heard of in a 1000 years… Cold duck was a blend of red wine from California with a New York State sparkling wine.

The IGT Giol Raboso Frizzante is grown in the Veneto Region of Italy near Treviso. Raboso is the local grape in the area and produces a deep ruby red wine that is low in alcohol but high in tannins. Additionally, the grapes for this wine were grown organically.

The wine was dry and tasted of black cherries and plums. The bubbles died away fairly quickly but were great to look at with their ruby hue.

I had never seen an Italian wine like this (yes, I know, I need to get out more) but enjoyed it thoroughly. I was disappointed not to learn what method the winery used to create the carbonation as in the region both the traditional French method champagnoise and the charmat (the wine is prepared in stainless steel tanks under pressure) method. But for once my curiousity will have to go unsated.

I guess that works out so long as the wine was so tasty.

You have to admit this would be a delightful alternative to Champagne for Valentine’s Day!

Oh! That is What the Label Meant!

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

They say that you can’t judge a book by its cover.

And the same principal works with wine as well… except….

Sometimes the little circles on the wine label mean something….

That happened to Kevin and I recently when we were attempting to open a bottle of 2007 Contadino Pinot Grigio. We noticed that the wine was particularly light in color… and noticed the circles on the label.

We started the comedy of errors thusly:

Kevin reaches for bottle.

Kevin reaches for corkscrew.

Kevin inserts corkscrew into bottle illiciting a big WHISH’ing sound.

Upon further observation, I sagely note: “Gee, that is awfully effervescent.”

Kevin removes corkscrew and then removes screwcap from bottle (I like to stay Stelvin Closure to look in the know).

We enjoy wine which is crisp and light tasting of green apples and kiwi. And it is bubbly.

So, there you go… The moral of the story is this: make sure you read the entire label.. like the part that says Vivace… That coupled with the circles on the label probably meant “LIVELY” or as we would call it… bubbly.

Ooops. But like every good story… alls well that ends well…