Wining During A Pandemic

Your pandemic alcohol bill is how much? I'm not even mad, I'm ...

Here in Nova Scotia Canada, we just completed eight weeks of working from home, and I’m reading news reports of alcohol and wine sales being on the rise.  No surprise there.  Hopefully, like me, you’ve had a chance to discover some new wines during this interesting time.

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Following proper protocols and sitting 6-feet apart, I shared a glass of wine with my friend Arla.  This is a wine she bought back from the States.  A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about its sister wine, the Stemmari Grillo.

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This past Sunday I got to try the crisp and delicious Pinot Grigio, sustainably-made in Sicily Italy.  A lot of work goes in to making this wine, including the fact the grapes are picked at night during the month of August, to maintain its fragrance.  It’s hard to believe this wine sells for $8 in the U.S.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we pay way too much for wine here in Canada.  If you can get this wine where you live, I highly recommend it.  I loved it.

As you know, I’ve been trying out some  new recipes while in isolation.  This chicken breast was a winner that I will do again in a heartbeat.  Boneless skinless chicken breasts can be dull and boring, but here’s what I did.  Stuffed it with feta cheese and bacon, and then I put butter in my small cast iron frying pan and browned it on all sides.  Then I added a bit of orange juice to the pan and let it finish cooking in the oven.  Delicious.  Easy and tasty.

And now for my wine of the week…

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I’ve been writing this wine blog for about 9 years, and if you’ve been reading it that long, this wine might look familiar.  Years ago I fell in love with this Merlot from Candor, so imagine my delight when I noticed it was back and $5 off.  Regular $25.00, it was on for $20 and what a steal of a deal.  Candor means ‘the art of being open and honest in expression’, and I loved how Hope Wines, the makers of Candor wines, express this Merlot.  You’ll notice in the left hand corner, you can see the words ‘Lot 3’.  Instead of doing a yearly vintage, they are able to bring quality wines to the table with Lot numbers, that represent whatever ‘years’ the grapes were harvested.  For example, Lot 3 Merlot is known to have grapes from a 2008 and a 2009 vintage.  It’s smooth, delicious and a great price.  This went beautiful with the pizza I had last night.

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Another Zoom conference call to wrap up the week.  Stay safe everyone, till next week, Cheers

Darlene

Food & Wine

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I’m confident if there were  2 words to describe my quarantine, food and wine would be at the top of the list.  I love to cook, and I love to drink wine, and an extended period of isolation is a great time to try new recipes and new wine.  And for that reason I have a whole set of different curves I’m trying to flatten!  LOL

Let’s talk about some wine.

One of the head buyers for the NSLC told me Italian Pinot Grigio is one of their most popular white wines.  You know me, I like to try a grape and then try it from different countries.  This Pinot Grigio is from Argentina, and is such a great value.  $14.99 for this bottle and it’s made by Las Moras, who is one of the biggest producers of wine in Argentina.  Started in 1993 by Richard Smart, this vineyard is putting out some great tasting wine at very reasonable prices.  This Pinot Grigio is fresh with a nice finish, and is a great wine for Thai, Chinese or any foods with a bit of spice.

I’m going to give you my new recipe for roasted potatoes,  it’s quick and easy and make the best roasted potatoes.  But first, let me tell you about the wine I treated myself to last night.

Centerstone Pinot

Regular readers of this blog know I love Pinot Noir from Oregon.  I think that state north of California is producing some of the best quality Pinot Noir wines since Burgundy France.  I thoroughly enjoyed this wine, although I do recommend decanting it.  The first sip was a little earthy before things settled down.  Once I decanted it (or you can let it sit for 30 minutes), the flavors came out.  This wine was only aged in oak for a very short time, so it’s not at all oaky.  Mild hints of the earthiness stayed, along with blended fruity notes of cherry, strawberry and vanilla.  Super food friendly wine.

Before I get to my wine of the week, let me take a few lines to tell you about the meal above.  Paired with a staple in my wine rack, the DaDa Merlot from Argentina.  The Pork chops were first seared in my cast iron frying pan seasoned with salt & pepper.

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Then I added a bit of beef broth to the pan, mixed up honey, ketchup, garlic powder, and a splash of soy sauce and added that while I finished cooking them in the oven.

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The secret to the potatoes were peeling, cutting them up, boiling them for 5 minutes, and draining them.  I then added olive oil, salt & pepper and roasted them in a hot oven at 395-degrees.  Took less than 25 minutes in the oven and they were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.  I used to take an hour roasting potatoes, and this week I saw a ‘chef’s tip’ online of boiling them for 5-10 minutes before roasting them.  Try it, easy and delicious.

And now for my wine of the week…

Pepperwood Grove Zinfandel

Finding great wine at great prices is basically what my wine blog is all about.  This Gold Medal winner used to be a regular at our NSLC but about 5 or 6  years ago they stopped carrying it.  Well it’s back, and at $16.99 for an Old Vine Zinfandel, that’s a great deal.  Check out the last time I wrote about this wine, November 3rd, 2012 wine blog here.

This wine is medium-bodied, fruity and easy to drink with flavors of raspberry, plum and vanilla.  Delicious.

This is a fantastic wine from California, and Pepperwood Grove sources out the grapes, so they don’t grow grapes, they buy them and concentrate on making good wine at reasonable prices.   Pepperwood Groves also makes a Pinot Grigio and a Chardonnay for white wine lovers and a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Merlot, if you want something a little more full-bodied.  Please, please, please, can we bring in more of these wines to Nova Scotia.

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So, I saw this meme this week and it reminded me, this is basically my refrigerator, every time I open the door!  LOL.  You again?

Have a great week everyone, till next Saturday Cheers

Darlene

Virtual Wine Fest

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Every get together is being done virtually these days.  So every Friday at 4;30 p.m., myself along with the crew I work with, get on Zoom, and do a virtual Happy Hour.  In this age of self isolation and social distancing, and the fact I live alone, I really look forward to these Friday afternoon get-togethers.   Here’s the group from yesterday, and the reason everyone is wearing red, was to honor and support Constable Heidi Stevens and the RCMP, who along with 21 other people lost their lives here last Sunday in Nova Scotia in Canada’ biggest mass shooting.  Heartbreaking and gut-wrenching, there really are no words.

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My GM at the radio station, orders from a local wine store where you can just pull up and they’ll put the wine in your truck.  He was asking me about Sauvignon Blanc for his next order.  Here were two of my recommendations.  Sauvignon Blanc, if you’ve never tried it, is a wonderful crisp light white wine.  The word Sauvignon Blanc actually means ‘wild white’.  This wild wine is a great food wine, and tends to come two ways, grassy and green and those that lean towards passion fruit.  I like the fruity ones.  The Kim Crawford on the left has those tropical fruit aromas and flavors and hails from New Zealand.  That one is about $20 a bottle.  The Beringer on the right is a great value at just $12 a bottle and comes from California.  It too has the tropical fruit flavors with hints of mandarin orange.  I love Sauvignon Blanc.

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I rarely post food pictures, but I did try a new recipe this past week, a pork tenderloin with a red wine peppercorn sauce, and I loved it, so I shared it on my Facebook page.  I told people I would share the recipe on my wine blog this weekend.  I had wanted a Pinot Noir wine, but I did’t have one, so I opened a Zinfandel.  This Zinfandel

Mcmanis

There are some Zinfandel wines out there that have manipulated flavors of bacon, and although it was pork tenderloin, I did not want that.  This Zinfandel from McManis was a gift from my friend Maggie, and I thought it went perfectly with my dish.  The sauce had lots of peppercorns in it and the wine had hints of pepper, so it was a match made in heaven.  As you can see, this wine is Certified Sustainable, and a fantastic value at about $21 a bottle.  McManis Wines was started in 1990 by Ron & Jamie McManis in Ripon California, known for being the almond Capital.  I’ve tried all the McManis wines and I love the family vineyard.  This is probably my favorite.

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As you can see, my pork tenderloin and red wine peppercorn sauce was a success.  So, when I cook, I don’t measure things.  I realize that makes it hard to share recipes, but I’m going to give it a try.

  1.  To start, I marinated my pork tenderloin for about 4 hours with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper.  That’s it.
  2. Then I took out my cast iron frying pan, I have two, a big one and a small one.  I love my small one for small steaks, etc.  For the tenderloin I used the large one.  I had taken the pork tenderloin out of the fridge to bring it to room temperature. cast iron
  3. Then I seared it for 1-2 minutes on each side.  I like the fact the grocery store on my street sells smaller tenderloins.  It’s very helpful for a person that lives alone.  So I had a small tenderloin and I enjoyed two meals with it.
  4. Then I had the oven pre-heated to 375 and finished cooking it to a medium in my oven, which took my tenderloin about 20 minutes.   A medium is 160-degrees, I took the tenderloin out of the oven at 155-degrees and wrapped it in aluminum foil for 5-10 minutes.  This lets the juices settle back in and it will finish cooking to that 160-degree perfection.  It took me a long time to cook pork tenderloin because I used to over cook it.  Life became simpler when I got a meat thermometer.
  5. For the sauce, in a saucepan I sauteed onions, sliced super small and thin, for about 2 minutes, and added some garlic and sauteed another minute.
  6. Then I added some red wine.  I opened the Zinfandel and added it, because that was the wine I was having for dinner, so that’s the wine I used in the sauce.  Let it simmer for 5 minutes or so, until it reduced down a bit.
  7. Then I added the Peppercorns, beef stock and heavy cream, playing with the amounts a bit to get the consistency I wanted.  Once it boiled, I let it simmer on low for about 10 minutes. I have a pepper grinder and I set it to a coarse grind, and put in quite a bit.  Maybe 1/8th of a cup.  If you are unsure, start with less, you can always add more pepper as you go.

And now for my wine of the week…. It’s a brand new Pinot Noir.

Cono Sur pinot

I loved this wine, because I found it full of flavor, and it’s only $20 a bottle.  This wine is from Chile, which makes it a warm climate Pinot Noir.  I’ll be honest, I tended to lean towards the cool climate Pinot wines – Go Canada, Burgundy France and Oregon!  However, I did very much enjoy this wine.  It was earthier than your cool climate Pinot, where as the cool climate ones tend to be fruitier and jammier.  100% of the wine was barrel aged for 11 months, and you can taste it.  I will definitely buy it again, but I will definitely try it with food next time.  I think it would have been a wonderful match with that pork tenderloin.  I may have to try that again.

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Stay safe everyone, and thanks for reading.

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

 

 

National Pajama Day!

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This past Thursday, April 16th, marked “National Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day” here in Canada.  Honestly, I didn’t make it up.  It made me chuckle because those of working from home due to self isolating and social distancing, I’d say there were a few ‘National Pajama Days’ in the past 5 weeks.  Who hasn’t been wearing pajamas a little more often than usual in the past five weeks?

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When I saw this glass on social media this past week, I knew I want to use it.  Believe  me when I tell you, most people are going through some sort of stress during this pandemic and time of isolation and social distancing.  I’m here to give you a little break from that, and I hope you enjoy reading my wine blog.  Let’s talk some wine!

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You don’t often hear me talk about South African wines, I don’t drink them all that often.  But I do have to share when I find a really great one.  The Ghost Corner Sauvignon Blanc was awarded 93 points at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards and 94 Points by Master of Wine Tim Atkin.  I really enjoyed this crisp Sauvignon Blanc with its tropical notes and hints of lemon zest.  It’s a real nice wine if you wanted to give yourself a bit of a treat, selling for $37 here in Nova Scotia and about $30 in other parts of Canada.

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Anyone else find their budget has changed slightly?  Gas consumption zero.  Food and wine … we’ll just leave it at that.

Now it’s time for my wine of the week….

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A person who is working at my local wine store, that I don’t know, told me this was the best Sangiovese he has ever had in this price range.  Perfect.  I love trying new wines and that was recommendation enough for me. The Santodeno Sangiovese Appasimento is a great wine for under $20.  Appasimento means the grapes goes through a drying process before fermentation.  That process is used in making Amarone, for example.  The drying process concentrates flavors and sugars in the grapes, but in no way makes the wine ‘sweet’.  From the Romagna region of Italy, known for Balsamic vinegard and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (Parmesan), this region is also putting some dynamic wines.  I love the fact this full-bodied wine is under $20.

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Stay safe friends, and till next week, Cheers

Darlene

 

 

Happy Easter (With Wine)

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This is going to be the most unique Easter weekend I have experienced in my lifetime.  Like most of you, I won’t be seeing any family this weekend, as we continue with our social distancing and isolation.   However, like you, I’m sure there will be food and wine to celebrate this unusual long weekend.  Last weekend I cooked a turkey, because I hadn’t had it since Christmas, so this weekend it will be pork.

I know March 21st is the official first day of Spring, but growing up in Newfoundland it really didn’t start to feel like Spring until Easter weekend.  And as my friends and family in Corner Brook Newfoundland got a dumping of snow yesterday, we had everything from sunshine to snow to rain to hail here in Halifax.  Welcome to Spring in Canada.

The arrival of Spring also means the arrival of Rose wines for several of my readers.  Every time I bring a Rose wine to a wine tasting, at least 30% of the group is surprised it’s not sweet.  This is not your mother’s Rose wine.  This was my favorite find from last year.  Casillero Diablo Rose is made with the Shiraz grape.  Shiraz is a big, bold thick-skinned grape, which gives Shiraz wine its color and body.   Obviously a Rose is made with limited skin contact, but it’s still a delicious grape that makes a Rose wine that most red wine lovers will enjoy.  This wine can be enjoyed while cooking Easter dinner, served with any appetizers, or you can even serve it with the turkey.  It’s a spectacular value at $16 a bottle.

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Casillero del Diablo is made by Concha Y Toro, the biggest producer and distributor of wine in Chile.  It just so happens I had their Merlot last night.  Chile is putting out great drinkable wines at great prices and this Merlot is another great value at just $15.

The Rose wine is one great option to serve with turkey, here’s another one.

Sauvignon Blanc is another great wine to serve with turkey.  The name ‘Sauvignon Blanc’ means “Wild White”, and it’s one of the most widely planted wine grapes in the world so it has a wide range of styles and flavors. The Matua Sauvignon Blanc hails from New Zealand and some might having you thinking green and grassy, this one is more fruity with notes of pineapple and passion fruit.  Sauvignon Blanc is a great value wine as well, this one is $20.

And now for my wine of the week……

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I don’t very often buy Carmenere, but my boss had a great idea, that while we are in isolation, 4:30 every Friday, we are going to get together on Zoom to have a cocktail together.  This past week it was Thursday, and I opened this wine.  I always try a new wine every week, and this week it was the Casa Silva Gran Terroir 2018 Carmenere.  A good value for this Port of Wines selection, at just $19.  I would let it sit for 30 minutes, or decant it.  Upon first opening it, I found it to be a bit ‘woody’, the oak was really there, as well as leathery.  Full bodied and complex, every sip was interesting.   That’s what I really liked about the wine.  It had a full deep purple color, that on a blind taste, I would have guessed Malbec, just based on the color.  Dark bold fruit with hints of leather, tobacco and notes of pepper. A fantastic wine to pair with any hearty meat dish you were serving this weekend.  One Master of Wine (MW) called it Carmenere at its best.  Definitely worth the try at $19 a bottle.

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Happy Easter everyone.  Stay safe

Darlene