Monday, August 31, 2009

Maryland Wine: Better than New Jersey wine (but that's not saying much)

As mentioned in my previous post, this past weekend I took off for my annual girls' weekend. Each year we pick a different beach on the East Coast and this year it was the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I've been wanting to visit this area for quite some time and when I found out that they also had a local winery, I thought, "Even better, now I know what I'll write for my next post."

Admittedly, I was not expecting much from Maryland wines and as much as I would love to say that the St. Michael's Winery proved me wrong, the wine has a looooooooong way to go. I took a bunch of notes at the winery, but rather than bore you with all the gory details, I'll just share the key points:

-What is up with almost every one of their white wines having a nose of cat urine? Have they been hanging out with the New Zealanders (a.k.a. "Kiwis" - like the bird, not the fruit)?

-Concord grapes = Manishewitz. These grapes are wonderful to eat but they're little sugar bombs and should not be used for anything other than Manishewitz wine and White Zin drinkers who think they are wine drinkers.

-The free cheese they served us at the tasting was quite good - especially the truffled one.

-They gave away logo'ed glasses with each tasting which many of the California wineries used to do but no longer do. I wish all wineries did that because whether the wine was good or not, it's a nice memento of the visit. Plus, it's a good way to brand.

Luckily we had stocked our rental house with enough good bottles of wine that by Friday evening our wine tasting was left well in the past.

Oh, and for those who enjoy good beer, we visited the local brewery. I didn't take any notes, but if I had, I would have written: If this brewery succeeds, then there's no way that Chris*, who is a masterful home brewer, won't be successful.
*Chris is my friend, Grace's, fiance.

Thanks to Amy, Amy, Wendy, Trish, Irene, and Grace for indulging my note taking. I'm glad my "outdoor voice" proclamations about the urine nose didn't get us kicked out into the rain.

Until my next sniff, swirl, sip and quaff,

Alli M.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Past few weeks

I'm sorry I've been lax about posting lately. The summer has just flown by! I've had a few "wine moments" over the past few weeks so in the interest of time and keeping your attention, here are the highlights:

-Went to the Mohegan Sun a few weeks ago and enjoyed dinner at Todd English's Tuscany. My friend, Lisa, and I wanted to stay on the light side because we had hours at the poker table ahead of us. We chose a Pio Cesare Moscato D'Asti and I learned it was pronounced "Chez-uh-ray" and not "Say-zar-ie." After 20 minutes they told us that they were out of the Moscato we wanted. They gave us a Prunotto Moscato D'Asti that they explained was much more expensive and thus better. The Prunotto was quite good but when I looked it up on later, I found out the Prunotto was about $3 more at retail than the Pio Cesare!

-This past weekend my friend, Pam, and I went to Passionne (a local French favorite of mine) and split a Foxen Rhone style blend. The wine was excellent but way too spicey for my choices. I have to stop bringing big reds to restaurants when I know I'll be ordering seafood. This is a terrible habit of mine.

-Tasted at the Wine Library this weekend. Didn't love any of the wines and one of them, a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, had the cat urine nose I last picked up from a Chardonnay in Sonoma. At least the New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs are known to sometimes have this nose. They need to work on that.

This weekend I'm off to my annual "girls weekend" and I'll be bringing several bottles of wine so hopefully I'll have some fun reports for you.
Take care and Happy Thursday,


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What is the rule that says that wine served at large company gatherings has to suck?!?

After my Monday flight debacle, I finally made it down to my company's annual sales meeting. I was hoping I'd have some fun new wines to talk about but I haven't tried anything yet that I've wanted to write about or even learn the name of.

This is not a new phenomenon for me. I've yet to go to a company-wide event where my wine choices haven't been a thin, tasteless merlot or a sticky, burnt cabernet sauvignon or an overoaked, butter soaked chardonnay. I know that these are popular grape varietals and so it can be a little tougher to find truly good, value merlots, cabernet sauvignons or chardonnays, but why can't any hotel or convention center seem to want to even try? Or why don't they try some of the more unique varietals. The wine is usually "free" for the attendees so even if they raise an eyebrow and look at the waiter or bartender weird, they're going to try the wine.

Just my two cents. For this trip I'll be sticking to my vodka soda with a twist of orange. Not as refreshing as Moscato D'Asti, but good luck finding that at a company event (or Camenere or even Riesling or half decent Pinot Noir).

Have a lovely afternoon and stay cool.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Yes, I'm actually not feeling up to drinking wine

Due to Continental airline's greedy, misleading ways, I've been stuck at Newark airport for the better part of the day. Although I wish I had an "airlines suck and Continental is right up there" blog right now, I write about wine, so I'll stick to the topic at hand.

Earlier today on one of my many walks between different gates (FU Continental Airlines), I noticed that a wine bar, Vino Volo, had opened at Newark airport. Supposedly there are now 9 of these in various airports across the U.S. I've been tempted to check it out, but in between trying to get on standby flights to Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale or Miami (and I don't even like Florida - oh and FU Continental Airlines), I haven't had a chance.

Moreover, I still have a slight fever that I picked up this weekend. So between the Advil, Cold Eeze and my sheer exhaustion of being here since 6am (FU Continental Airlines), I have no desire to drink anything right now. Bummer - for all of us - though mostly for me. Generally I like to believe that alcohol kills all bacteria but I think at this point it would just make me tip over. So here's to my Venti decaf coffee (yes, I'm so lame I can't even fathom regular coffee right now) and hopefully a new posting that actually talks about wine in the not too distant future. One day I will try Vino Volo and gladly write about it.
Until then, Continental Airlines can go screw themselves. Ahhh, that felt good.

Cheers and happy travels to all.

-Alli M.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Of course I saw "Julie & Julia" this past weekend - like you had to ask?

As my fellow foodies and wineys* know, "Julie & Julia" ( opened this past Friday so my friend, Rachel, and I just had to see it. The reviews have been good, but not great. However, we both LOVED the movie and laughed out loud at several parts. I could go into a lot of detail, but you should just go see it yourself. Plus, this isn't a movie review!

Most importantly, as Rachel and I had expected, the movie left us craving wine (and lots of butter). That left us with only one option - Bin 14, a wonderful wine bar and bistro in downtown Hoboken (Bin (14) There, Loved That).

As soon as we sidled up to the bar, Rachel said, "We just saw 'Julie & Julia'" and I added, "So we need two glasses of a medium bodied French wine." Our bartender poured us a structured, tight Cabernet Franc, but it was a bit too dry for me to just be sipping without food. Rachel liked it and stuck with it, but I moved on to an Australian Shiraz that the bartender recommended.

I've been weary of Australian Shiraz because value Australian Shiraz became really popular several years back and as it goes with popular wines, was over-planted. For the past few years the market has been flooded with a lot of tasteless crap. However, the good people at Bin 14 know their stuff so I trusted I'd be getting something good and they were on it. I had a glass of Omrah Shiraz 2005. The nose was jammy with a lot of blackberry. The first sip was a little surprising as it was quite spicy, but then I got a big hit of fruit that lingered through the mid palette. It was a joy to sip as we replayed our favorite moments of the movie.

At some point Rachel made it on to her second glass which ended up being a Lange Pinot Noir. Lange (out of the Willamette Valley in Oregon) is one of my absolute favorite Pinot producers and I cannot believe I didn't see it on the menu. Of course I was excited that I could order it for my second glass. Unfortunately, I found out the hard way that chasing pretzel bites and fake cheese sauce with a good Australian Shiraz = seriously bad heartburn. Or at least it does for me. So I had to forego the second glass. Bummer. Now I know what I'm ordering the next time I'm at Bin 14!

Please go see "Julie & Julia" and stop by your own local Bin 14 after or plan to have a bottle ready for when you get home. It's would be way to cliched for me to say Bon Appetit, so I'll just leave it at....


Alli M.

*If the term "winey" has not yet been officially coined, I'm taking credit.