Thursday, April 16, 2015

Wines for Earth Day: Snoqualmie Vineyards

Earth Day is approaching (April 22), a time when many people will consider what they can do to help the environment. While there are many important ways to reduce your carbon footprint, an easy (and fun) idea is to make the switch to a sustainable wine.  
Snoqualmie Vineyards is the largest certified organic vineyard in Washington State and they have several new releases, just in time for Earth Day sipping. This vineyard has been committed to sustainable and organic winemaking practices since 1983. Their ECO wines are produced from certified organically grown grapes in a certified organic facility. 
For a little Earth Day inspiration, check out the landscape where these wines come from! Such a beautiful part of the country. It's in my 5-year travel plan to make a wine trip to WA state to check out the beautiful scenery -- and the amazing pinot gris this area is known for. I have enjoyed Snoqualmie Vineyards wines for a few years now -- ever since I first tried their Riesling back in 2011 when I wrote this weekly wine column for Patch.com. Their wines are right, balanced, and bursting with varietal flavors, these wines pair well with a variety of food and offer a great  accompaniment to casual spring and summer picnics, barbecues or low-key weeknight dinners at home. 

What are your favorite sustainable or eco-friendly wines? Post your recommendations below!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Wines for Earth Day: Villa Maria


Earth Day is April 22 and this is a great time of year to support wineries that are maintaining sustainable, Earth-friendly practices. 
 

New Zealand winery Villa Maria is well known for its Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc and Private Bin Pinot Noir—both of which feature packaging made from 70% recycled materials, making them great options for Earth Day. 

  


Here’s a quick glimpse into some of the ways Villa Maria is reducing its carbon footprint:

  • 500 sheep to graze its vineyards to help control the growth of grass, provide natural fertilizer for the wines, and to pluck leaves from the vine canopy as needed.  
  • Wildflowers planted between the rows of Villa Maria’s organically managed vineyards add diversity, help the soil structure and attract beneficial insects to ward off pests that would otherwise require the use of pesticides. 
  • Villa Maria’s Auckland warehouse features a night air cooling system, importing night air into the warehouse where the wine acts as a giant “chill pack” to maintain optimum temperature
  •  All these great activities have led to significant carbon reductions
  •  Villa Maria has reduced its carbon and electricity use by 25% per liter of wine since 2010.
  • 70% of the packaging for Villa Maria’s Private Bin wines are now made from recycled materials.


I love supporting sustainable winemaking practices and it's clear that Villa Maria is a leader in this area. Happy Earth Day! Which Earth-friendly wines will be in your glass this year?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wine Wednesday: 14 Hands Kentucky Derby Red Blend

The quintessential drink of the Kentucky Derby is, of course, the mint julep. But if like me, you're not a bourbon girl (or guy), then here's the perfect wine for you to pour while watching the "Run of the Roses."   14 Hands Winery from Washington state is commemorating its continued partnership with the Kentucky Derby by offering a one-of-a-kind wine experience with the launch of the 14 Hands Limited Release 2012 Kentucky Derby Red BlendThe name "14 Hands" refers to the way that horses are measured by stacking palm's width - the measurement is therefore called a "hand."


The 14 Hands Kentucky Derby Red Blend is a combination of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Aromas of dark berries and plums are followed by hints of chocolate and white pepper -- sounds delicious! I love the commemorative label -- and the added bonus is the great price point: the 2012 Kentucky Derby Red Blend is available now for a limited time nationwide for $12. Are you watching the Derby this year? What wine or cocktail will be in your glass?

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Recipe; Bison Burgers with Blue Cheese and Jalapeno

We've been on a bison burger kick lately. And I'm feeling these days that once you go bison, it's hard to go back to beef. Not only is it flavorful and super lean, I think it's just fun to say you're eating bison for dinner. It makes burger night into an "event." An event that would only be complete with a great red wine in the mix. But first, the recipe...Try these topped with Cabenet onions. They take a good 15 minutes to make, but they add so much flavor and take this burger from tasty to "memorable."

Bison Burgers with Blue Cheese and Jalapeno:
  • 1 lb ground bison meat
  • 1 jalapeno, minced (either remove the seeds or don't -- depending on how much heat you want!)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (splurge on the good stuff)
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  •  onion burger buns (these make all the difference)
  • 1 red onion
Directions:
  • Slice your onion and put in a pan on medium with a big pat of butter. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring until they become translucent. Add a splash of red wine and cook for 3 more minutes, stirring continuously. Set aside for your burger topping.
  • Combine all burger ingredients in a bowl and mix well, form 4 patties
  • Grill for on each side
  • Serve on
The wine I served with these was Atalon Cabernet Sauvignon 2012. I met the winemaker, Brian Kosi, a couple of years ago and learned all about his interesting background, so wines from this vineyard hold a special interest for me. 

Here are some tasting notes on this one from the winemaker himself: "Deep ruby color with sweet aromas of ripe black cherry, blackberry, plum, jam, black pepper and aromatic cedar. Soft and rich with tons of black fruit, green olive, dried herbs, spice, integrated oak and dark chocolate. Long finish of sweet dark fruit."

It paired so well with the bison burgers -- being so full bodied, it stood up nicely to the bold flavors of the blue cheese and spicy jalapeno. Plus a splash of Atalon makes the most delicious Cabernet onions. They say to never cook with a wine you wouldn't drink, and I follow that rule of thumb. If you make these, let me know how they come out! You can vary the recipe by adding or removing the cheese and peppers - other additions could be green onions or feta cheese if you're not a fan of blue. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

3 Wines for Valentine's Day

The masses are rushing to make Valentine's Day reservations. But don't panic, friends, don't get caught in the fray.  Fighting the V-Day crowds for a table can be annoying -- plus, some of the best meals are made at home with love. But to ensure your dinner will compete with the "dining out" experience, you must have some great wine to accompany what you're cooking. Here are 3 that I recommend.
Nothing says Valentine's Day like bubbles and you can never go wrong with Chandon Rose. With vibrant fruit  forward flavor, it's known to pair well with shellfish like oysters or shrimp cocktail. True as that may be, sparkling wine is a great pre-dinner look, too. If you're cooking together for Valentine's Day, why wait for the entree to be served? Pop the bottle early and the cooking part will seem more like a party than a chore.
Arrowood Cabernet Sauvignon is a new one for me. I recently tried it with bison burgers and it really stood up nicely to the red meat.  This wine has an earthy, savory taste that would pair well with that filet mignon you're planning to grill.
I love a Washington State wine and Chateau Ste Michelle Canoe Ridge Estate Merlot 2012 is another great wine to pair with your romantic dinner. With flavors of ripe cherries and dark fruit, this wine would be fantastic with Italian food or pasta dish, like a lobster ravioli or shrimp scampi. Whether you're cooking an elaborate meal or ordering pizza, remember: life is too short to drink bad wine! Happy Valentine's Day to you and yours.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Recipe: Meditteranean Mahi Mahi

This is a colorful and healthy fish recipe that is made all in one baking dish, which allows you to hang out with your guests instead of tied to the stovetop preparing your meal. You can prep this prior to guests arriving and then pop it in the oven 20 minutes before you're ready to serve dinner.
Ingredients:
  • 6 six-oz Mahi fillets
  • 2 cups quartered marinated artichoke hearts (with marinade liquid, do not drain)
  • 1/2 cup Kalamara olives, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. capers
  • 1 package crumbled Feta cheese
  • 1 lemon
Directions:
  • Spray baking dish with cooking spray and place fillets down with a little space in between
  • Season with salt and pepper  
  • Mix all other ingredients in a bowl and pour them evenly over the fish fillets
  •  Slice lemon into wheels and
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes
  • Serve with a side of orzo. I chopped up a tomato, a handful of parsely and used some extra feta on the orzo as a side.
I served this with a salad on New Year's Eve and it was a hit! My wine pairing reccomendation is Chateau Ste Michelle Indian Wells Chardonnay 2013.
 It actually has pineapple flavors and a creamy texture which pairs nicely with white fish and the saltiness of the capers and olives.
Do you have any super easy fish recipes? I'd love to check them out, leave a comment below.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Wines to Serve with Christmas Dinner

Happy holidays! How has 2014 treated you? It's been quite a year. I've had a couple of big changes in my life, including (but not limited to) welcoming a precious new family member and taking on a new job. At times, things have been a little hectic juggling everything, but overall this year has been pretty excellent.
I have a couple days of downtime to enjoy for the holidays, so I thought it's about time to post some Christmastime wine recommendations. We're spending time now in a part of Florida I've never discovered before, Rosemary Beach. It sits right on the Gulf of Mexico in between Destin and Panama City Beach -- and it's simply beautiful here. The weather has been crisp and cool, the white sand beach is gorgeous, the water crystal blue. And the Main Street area is as quaint and charming as can be.
I took this photo last night as we were walking up from the beach. I mean, couldn't this be mistaken for a little European village or what? We're celebrating the holidays here with family, and the traditions we maintain are many. My husband's family is Italian and they maintain is the tradition of the Feast of Seven Fishes. Basically you fill the day eating 7 courses of seafood, each meant to represent one of the 7 Sacraments. I'll try to snap some photos -- between lobster ravioli, stuffed clams, and calamari fra diavolo, we have some tasty things on the menu for Wednesday.  One wine I brought to pair with the seafood dishes is Gia Pinot Grigio.
Named after Francis Ford Coppola's granddaughter, Gia, It's a light-bodied, refreshing white with flavors of pineapple and and peaches. It has a hint of sweetness which should complement the spiciness of some of the dishes we have planned. This bottle is around $15 and can be found at Total Wine.
 Another wine we've set aside for 7 Fishes is Bonterra's 2013 Viognier. I've long been a fan of Bonterra, a vineyard that makes organic and biodynamic wines out of Mendocino Country, CA.  I like so many of the wines The flavor profile of this one is also full of citrus and peach -- and you can't beat the price point of around $12 or $13.
Another holiday tradition we uphold is serving pierogis, or Polish dumplings that can be stuffed with potato, cheese, cabbage and sometimes even blueberries. The cabbage variety, in my opinion is the best.  I grew up in a Polish family and we always celebrated Wigilia, which is the traditional Polish Christmas Eve feast that takes place after the sun sets. Pierogis are served at the start of the meal and frying them up in a pan with butter and onions always brings back childhood memories. My dad always ships me a few dozen pierogis to cook up for the holidays and they made the trip to the beach with us, of course. With this meal, I plan to serve Kendall-Jackson's 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabbage pierogis have an unmistakeable and delicious flavor and served with sour cream, they warrant a full-bodied red as their pairing.
The fourth and final wine I'll reccomend here is one I brought along to serve with one of my favorite appetizers, baked brie. Here's the recipe I always use, it's super simple and perfect for holiday entertaining. Chardonnay is my go-to white and Chateau Ste Michelle's Indian Wells Chardonnay is buttery and delicious. This one can be found for under $20 at most grocery stores.
It goes great with this baked brie, served inside a flaky croissant crust, with apples on the side. Which wines are you serving this holiday season? Have you tried any of the wines I listed here? Leave a comment below and enjoy your traditional holiday favorite meals.