A Weekend of Celebration

Well this is turning out to be a busy weekend of celebrations. First of all, it is Father’s Day weekend, so many people are celebrating. Today also happens to be my Brother-in-law’s birthday. Craig is one of my favorite people on the planet, so kind and so sweet. And he is so good to my Mom, so I hope you have a wonderful birthday Craig.

Jackie’s Husband Craig

Yesterday also saw the arrival of a friend I met last year, and a huge fan of this wine blog, that lives in Ottawa, Jeanne.

Jeanne & Judy

Jeanne has 2 sisters that live here in Halifax, so she is down visiting. And the get together was also an opportunity to celebrate one of my very good friends, who is having a birthday on Tuesday, June 21st.

Angie

I’ve never met anyone who loves to celebrate like my friend Angie. It was a wonderful night last night. Many many bottles of vino were consumed. And we had a spectacular meal hosted by our friends Sue and Larry in their beautiful home.

Sue & Larry

We sat around a table with fabulous food and great friends, and laughed and told stories. It’s my favorite kind of meal. I am getting to know new friends through Angie, like her son Mike and his partner Darlene. So I’m new to this group of wonderful people, and they call this Darlene ‘Dar’ too. My family and friends have been calling me Dar for years, so this will be fun. Any time someone calls out ‘Dar’, both of us will probably answer.

Angie’s son Michael & Darlene

Last week also saw my first attempt of making Coq au Vin. You might remember I had it on my recent trip to France for the very first time.

Coq au Vin in France

So I’ve been wanting to make it since I got back. And here’s an interesting note. The Coq au Vin I had in France was made with drumsticks, dark meat. I don’t normally eat dark meat chicken, but I loved it. So I used both chicken breast and drumsticks again in my slow cooker.

My Coq au Vin

I have to be honest, I preferred the dark meat in this dish. It is slow cooked for 7 hours, and the chicken falls off the bone. I had it with garlic cheesy mashed potatoes and it was heavenly. I not only shared some with the birthday girl, I also had enough for 2 meals. Chicken slow cooked with carrots, mushrooms, onions in a red wine sauce / broth. Very yummy.

My Sunday meal

I will definitely be making it again. And it was easy. I didn’t have any brandy in the house, I bet that adds a nice flavor. You’ll see some recipes add a splash of brandy, and I will probably try that next time. The recipe I used is here. I used Merlot instead of Cabernet, and some recipes call for Pinot Noir. I think any red will do.

Speaking of wine, let’s check out some wines.

Picpoul

If you are looking for a new refreshing white wine this Summer, check out Picpoul. Picpoul, also known as Folle Blanche, is a vibrant white wine that originates from the Rhone region in southern France. It’s a beautiful wine, and every time I bring it to a wine tasting, people love it. And it’s priced under $20, so it’s affordable. (I’m not bringing it tonight BTW)

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Kenwood Zinfandel

It’s BBQ season, and that brings out the Zinfandel. Kenwood from Sonoma County is a gorgeous deep and delicious red wine. Rich and flavorful, it goes with anything you put on the grill this Father’s Day weekend.

My Group in France

I have a wine tasting tonight with the people I went to France with, with some new wines I look forward to sharing next week.

Have a great weekend. Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

Wine Trivia

In my wine tastings I always include a little trivia. Fun facts about wine that most people find surprising and cute. Like did you know most people don’t know that authentic champagne uses both red and white grapes. The 3 grapes used are Chardonnay (white), Pinot Noir (red) and Pinot Meunier (also red). The color comes from the skins, so there is limited contact with the skins.

Do you know what the primary grape in Chianti Classico is? Or even just Chianti? Years ago before I studied wine, I’ll be honest, I thought Chianti was the grape varietal. But it’s a region in Tuscany Italy, where Sangiovese reigns dominant. I’ve heard people say they find Chianti dry, I think because the tannins in the Sangiovese grapes are so high. I really like the Super Tuscan wines, where Sangiovese is paired with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or other non-Italian grapes. Like this wine.

Monte Antico – 90 Points

I almost bought this again last evening. It’s a great Italian Super Tuscan wine. Made with Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s priced around the $20 mark. Another piece of trivia, Monte Antico means ‘ancient mountain’ and the husband & wife team of Neil & Maria Empson have put 40 years of passion and experience in this wine. Look for it in the Italian section of your closest liquor store.

I googled it, and discovered some mouthwash contains an alcohol level of anywhere between 14% and 26.9%.  Wine, unless it’s a port, on the higher end would be 14.5% for some reds while some white wines can contain as little as 6%.  Plus it’s no fun to swallow mouthwash and even less fun spitting wine.

Speaking of wines with a lower alcohol content, here’s a very popular one

Jacob’s Creek Moscato

Jacob’s Creek Moscato has an alcohol content of about 8%, and is affordably priced under $15. Remember, in the wine making process, yeast turns sugar to alcohol, so some low alcohol wines can be on the sweeter side, including this one.

I had the opportunity to visit the Napa Valley region in California in 2001, and I really really want to go back. It was amazing. I still love California wine and drink it on a regular basis. One winery I visited twice was Francis Ford Coppola’s winery, and here is a fantastic wine that my nephew gave me for Christmas this past year.

Director’s Cut Cabernet Sauvignon

I’m sad we can’t get Director’s Cut wine here anymore. Both the Zinfandel and this Cabernet Sauvignon were spectacular. My nephew lives in Labrador City and got this in Fermont Quebec, which is about 25 minutes away. We are both going to be home in October, and I’m going to ask him to bring me another one. Another bit of wine trivia, upstairs at the tasting room of his winery, Francis Ford Coppola has a display with something from each movie he’s made. And he has one of his Oscar statuettes on display. Plus he grows olive trees and produces and sells his own olive oil.

That’s it for me for this week. Have a wonderful weekend, Cheers

Darlene

Summer is Almost Here

Hello June. June can be a busy month for me. First day of Summer is in June. Also, some special Anniversaries in the month of June for my family.

Mom & Dad

Tomorrow, June 5th, would have marked Mom & Dad’s 64th wedding Anniversary. My Dad passed away in 2020, 3 months shy of his 90th birthday. My Mom is celebrating with a special dinner with my sister and her husband.

Jackie & Craig 35 years ago

Happy 35th Anniversary to one of my favorite couples on the planet. My sister Jackie, and her husband Craig celebrates 35 years of marriage tomorrow, June 5th .

Jackie & Craig more recently

These two people are two of the kindest, most giving people you could ever meet. When they got married Jackie was a nurse and Craig worked for Newfoundland Light & Power. Since then, they have built a very successful business, Simms Financia,l and they are always giving back to their family and to their community. Most of it anonymously. They are also some of the funniest people you’ll ever meet, and I can’t wait to see them in July, because I know it will mean a good side-stitching laugh. Happy Anniversary Jackie & Craig! I miss you both so much.

La Vielle Ferme White

On a warm sunny day, I love a nice white wine with tropical fruit flavors, reminds me of being down South. This wine fits the bill, and affordably priced under $16. It’s less than that in other parts of Canada, we tend to pay a little more for wine than in other parts of Canada. Still a great value.

Ribs in the air fryer

I’m having fun discovering new ways to use my air fryer. Most people I work with have one, and apparently hot dogs are awesome, done in the air fryer I haven’t had hot dogs yet, but last night I tried ribs for the first time, using the air fryer for the finishing touches. So, last night I had my favorite meal. Ribs and wings. I know it’s hard to believe, but I wasn’t in the mood to start the BBQ last night, so I tried a new way. I’m a bit of a rib purist, I’m very picky when it comes to ribs.

I slow cooked a small rack of baby back ribs in the oven, 250-degrees for two and a half hours. To crisp them up I put them in the air fryer. Came out great. 10 minutes on each side. It may have beat the BBQ for timing and convenience, but not in taste. After slow cooking my ribs for a while, I put them on bbq, top rack, and continue to slow cook them. And put them on the flame at the very last minute for the grill marks and crispy char bits. When it comes to ribs, nothing beats slow and low.

Here’s the wine I had with it.

Kenwood Cabernet Sauvignon

I’ve written about the Kenwood Zindandel previously and last night I had the Cabernet Sauvignon. On clearance for about $19, it’s still under $25 regular priced. Making great wine from the Sonoma Valley in California since 1970. Sonoma is located in the perfect location, between the Pacific Ocean and the Mayacamas Mountains. In my opinion, the effects of both the ocean and the mountains, provide the perfect environment for wine grapes.

That’s it for me for this week

Have a great week.

Darlene

More Great Wines Under $20

I had a bit of a scare this morning. When I first got up this morning, I decided to do a few housekeeping things before getting my first coffee. Then, when I was just about to get my first coffee of the day, when Bam! The power went out. Then I read a notice on my phone that my friend Cassandra sent me said it was going to be out all day. Well, there was almost no wine blog, as I had no internet for a while. But luckily it came on a short while later, just as I was getting dressed to go out for coffee. I wasn’t taking any chances, I made two. A quick Nespresso while my other coffee was brewing.

Last Friday night I went out to dinner with some friends, and they were surprised when I took an ice cube and put it in my red wine. They were shocked. I know regular readers of the blog know how I feel about ‘room temperature’, but I’ve added a lot of new readers recently, and I thought I would share it again.

The room temperature of wine is the temperature of the wine cellars where winemakers store the wine. This is usually 55-degrees Fahrenheit or 13 – 16-degrees Celsius. Some big bold reds can be served at 18-degrees Celsius. The lighter fruitier wines should be served a little cooler. When I was recently in France, I encouraged everyone I went with to touch the bottles of wine in the cellars we toured. Most were underground and the bottles were very cool to the touch. Wine was never meant to be served at 24-degrees Celsius. And wishing my friends Judy & Gary a very Happy 50th Anniversary.

I have always promoted this blog as being about great wine at affordable prices. Today, I’m going to focus on some wines that are under the $20 mark that you and your friends will love.

It’s Rose Season!

Here’s a great one from the Niagara region and to my Newfoundland friends and readers, you can get it there as well. The Lola Cabernet Franc rose from Pelee Island is priced under $20 and perfect for patio sipping.

To my white wine loving readers, here’s a new white. Last week I told you about the Burnt Ship Sauvignon Blanc, I’m still on that kick. Here’s a great value, the Canyon Road Sauvignon Blanc.

Priced at $12, you read that right, $12. They make a Chardonnay as well, but I love the Sauvignon Blanc. Crisp and fresh with tropical fruit notes. Very good.

And last but not least, a new red I’ve tried that is under $20.

Malbec is not normally a go-to wine for me, but did I ever enjoy this Argentinian one from Gauchezco. To my friends in Newfoundland, it has a different label, but you can get this brand there. It looks like this

Priced in the $17 range, this rich deep Malbec is was perfect with my favorite meal.

BBQ baby back ribs, crispy wings, corn on the cob and rice.

Great wine doesn’t have to expensive. Be adventurous, you might be surprised, like I was with this wonderful Malbec.

That’s it for me for this week. Thank you for reading. And a big hello to our new readers over seas.

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

I Love Long Weekends

Who doesn’t love a long weekend. Especially the May long weekend, it’s like the unofficial kick off to Summer.

Me 5 p.m. Yesterday

I’m sitting here, writing this blog, and I have my patio doors open and the sun is shining. Perfect. My apologies for no blog last weekend. After working all week, the Covid fatigue really got to me, and I just didn’t have it in me.

As you all know, the price of gas is over the top atrocious here in Canada. And the price is not changing once a week, sometimes it’s a couple of times per week. Well, I have the perfect picture my boss sent to me yesterday. So for this weekend, I’ll save gas and drink wine. It’s much cheaper and makes me feel better than gassing up my vehicle.

I pick wine

Remember the wine salt I told you about last week, the combination of wine and salt I bought in Bordeaux. Wishing I bought more!!

Wine salt combines sea salt, super-reduced wine, citrus zest and fresh herbs, adding a fruity tang and also making a great salt substitute for all sorts of things. I’ve been having fun using it on meats of all kinds. If you find it online, buy it and try it.

Yum
That’s mango chicken

I love it on pork chops, I also used it in the top picture in my au jus gravy for my mashed potatoes. It adds a really interesting taste and I’m kicking myself I didn’t buy more.

Ok, let’s talk some wine. With one of those meals above, this is the wine I had with it.

Burnt Ship Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is one of my favorite white wines, and this one from Canada was fantastic. My friend Arla gave me this last week and it was delicious with my pork chop and mango chicken. Now that Summer is almost here, I am definitely going to add more Sauvignon Blanc to my wine rack. It’s such a food friendly wine. It goes with just about everything. The Burnt Ship Sauvignon Blanc sells for about $19 here in Nova Scotia at the NSLC, and it’s a beautiful wine with notes of citrus and tropical fruit. I loved it.

And for the red wine this week, this is my wine of the week.

Leaping Horse

Before I went to France, I went down to a locally owned independent wine store in Halifax, and picked up this beauty. The Leaping Horse Cabernet Sauvignon is 80% Cabernet, 10% Cabernet Franc and 10% Syrah (Shiraz). What an interesting wine, and priced at just $19 a bottle. It’s made by Ironstone Vineyards in Lodi California, reflecting their love of horses. It was so good, I was sad I only bought one.

That’s it for me for this week. Enjoy your long weekend, stay safe.

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene