Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Did You Know? . . . About Resveratrol

There are a number of scientific studies that point to health benefits in moderate wine consumption. Resveratrol is at the forefront of much of the discussions. Resveratrol is a compound found in the skin of red grapes, and the reason why many believe red wine has the health benefits that white does not. Resveratrol in large doses has been linked to longevity and cancer prevention, and a recent study indicated that resveratrol can mimic the benefits of exercise and diet in obese men. Don't run out to your nearest wine store just yet: red wine ultimately contains very little Resveratrol, in the order of one milligram per glass, and you might as well take a Resveratrol supplement if you want those health benefits. The studies are in their infancy, and there is still debate as to the full effectiveness of Resveratrol. Whether there is a health benefit to drinking wine is also up for debate, and it is generally agreed that more than two glasses of wine a day will counteract any of those potential benefits, anyway. Everything in moderation, as they way.

In terms of wine, the highest concentration of Resveratrol
is found in Pinot Noir grapes, pictured here.
(c) greenmelinda

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

QUICK REVIEW: Dr. Konstantin Frank Wine Pairing Dinner

NY, Finger Lakes, Dr Konstantin Frank, Dry Riesling 2010
++ // Crisp // Apple // Slate, Lemon, Apple // Light
Paired with a Fish course, the wine was a little light for the smoked sable, but went well with salmon.

NY, Finger Lakes, Dr Konstantin Frank, Rkatsiteli 2009

+ // Funky, Crisp // Berry // Apple, Floral, Spice // Medium
An Asparagus Gratin with Greyre, Grana and Asiago cheese would normally be a difficult pairing, but the sweet fruit notes, along with the hint of strange, earthy flavors elevated the wine, and made for an excellent pairing, and probably the best course of the evening.

NY, Finger Lakes, Dr Konstantin Frank, Pinot Noir Old Vine 2008

++ // Spicy // Leather, Dark Fruit // Chocolate, Dark Cherry // Medium
The powerful, dark notes of this wine balanced well with the hearty filet mignion, and there was a hint of funkiness to the wine that held up well the the accompanying truffled whipped potatoes.

NY, Finger Lakes, Dr Konstantin Frank, Semi-Dry Riesling 2010+

+ // Sweet // Peach, Slate // Ripe Peach, Peach Skins // Medium
Some savory, earthy notes in the dessert course, a Pear Cobbler, with Savory Cranberries and Spiced Pumpkin Custard were counterbalanced by the sweet fruit notes with hints of minerality of this wine, without becoming cloyingly sweet.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Dinner with Dr. Frank

We particularly enjoy the social experience of wine. Some of our best memories involve sharing an evening over a glass of wine with friends, whether it is through the wine club at Public or a wine festival in Virginia. So, as we made plans to host my family on a recent weekend and learned of a wine pairing dinner in recognition of the work of Fred Frank of Dr Konstantin Frank Wine Cellars, we couldn't have been more excited. Those who follow this blog know we have a sweet spot for Finger Lakes wine, and those of Dr. Frank in particular. This seemed the perfect opportunity to enjoy our favorite wines while introducing my family to one of our favorite aspects of NYC.

Friday, November 25, 2011

How to... Enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner!

I am thankful for cold fall evenings at home with my wife.

I am thankful for the hard work farmers and vintners put in, to allow us to enjoy good food and wine.

 I am thankful that I have the time and opportunity to cook a meal, with the help of my wife.

I am thankful for the bounty of good food and wine. 
And I am thankful that I don't need to finish all of this food.

And I thank you, for being willing to let me share.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wine on Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, Nate and I will be sharing a bottle of white wine with our turkey and fixins. We'll decide between the Cayuga White from Wilhelmus Estate Winery or the 2010 Dry Riesling from Dr. Konstantin Frank when dinner is ready.

How did we come up with these two, you ask?  Well, both the Cayuga grape and the Dry Riesling are acidic. Acidic wines (also described as "tart" and "crisp") work well with fatty foods. And, fixins are traditionally fatty. The acid serves to rinse away that fattiness. Ironically, the one thing the white wine probably won't go well with is the white meat from the turkey (Tina's preference), but it should go very well with the dark meat (Nate's). No matter, it all ends up in the same place, anyway.

So, today, think acidic if you are planning on a white wine. Think very light if you are going with a red.

And, Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

QUICK REVIEW: Wines from Mexico

Until our dinner at Casa Oaxaca, in D.C., Nate and I had no idea that Mexico had a wine region.

Part of adventure is trying new things. Surprisingly, these wines were very light. However, they had lost most of their fruit flavor notes (the heat will do that!). But still worth talking about, as we expand our wine knowledge.

Both wines come from L.A. Cetto winery.

Tina's choice:
Mexico, L.A. Cetto, Chenin Blanc 2009
/ Smooth // Old Peaches // Peach (almost no flavor) // Very Light
(This wine had probably been fruity at one point, but had lost most of that flavor. Hence, the "smooth" descriptor).

Nate's choice:Mexico, L.A. Cetto, Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
+ // Earthy // Cherry, Leather // light
Went excellent with Nate's steak.
Perhaps in an upcoming Wednesday "Did you know . . . ?" post, we'll talk more about Mexican wine.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

QUICK REVIEW: Two Virginia Wines

At Blue Duck Tavern, we enjoyed a glass of wine each with brunch.

Nate's Choice:
VA, Middleburg, Boxwood Winery, Cabernet Franc 2010 
+ // Fruity // Green Apple // Apple // Light

 Tina's Choice: 
VA, Huntly, Rappahannock Cellars, Seyval Blanc 2009
/ // Crisp // Green Apple // Apple // Light


Monday, November 21, 2011

Washington D.C. Restaurants and Museums (cont.)

And now, the stunning conclusion for our 3-part series on our trip to Washington, D.C.!
Sunday ended up being another early morning. We woke well before our planned brunch with the foodie cousin who’d recommended Casa Oaxaca, and ventured into Georgetown to enjoy the morning sun. The fall colors on the tree-lined streets made for a gorgeous walk, highlighting the historic buildings and artfully restored canal. 


The sun glistened on the river, as we made our way to Blue Duck Tavern for our brunch.

We joined our friends for brunch, and waited for a few minutes for our table to open up. The dining room was quiet, and our waiters were quick and attentive. We chatted for a while, and on their recommendation, ordered some Virginian wines, on the assurance that it was some of the best in the region. The food was seemingly simple fare, but created with unique twists that showed real skill. The wine proved to be perfect for the early meal, and the company made the time fly by, even though we lingered over our meal. And for a special treat, we ordered some dessert--a dutch apple pie large enough to serve four (yes an entire pie), crafted in the front window of the restaurant so that we watched it being prepared as we waited for our table. We had it served with ice cream, of course.

Soon, it was time for everyone to part. Tina left for New York; I’d be staying an extra night for work obligations the next day. Since I had the evening to myself, I wandered the neighborhood around Dupont Circle. I passed by Kramer’s Books and Cafe, but decided to press on, despite the allure of sipping wine will perusing a book store. I love the idea, but I knew that I would end up with a few books to take home, and I didn’t really have space in my bags for that sort of souvenir. Instead, I wandered down further afield and ended up at Veritas Wine Bar. I pulled up a seat at the half empty bar, and order up a glass of Shiraz and a meat plate. Sitting at the bar, watching football on the TV and listening to classic rock on the loudspeakers, I was content. But I wasn’t full, so I ordered a glass of Zinfandel, and a cheese plate. Of course, it was a bachelor’s night out, so I chose the stinkiest cheeses I could get off the menu. There was no way even the strongest of wines could hold up to those cheeses. Yet, the ambiance of the bar, and a casual evening, more than made up for my imperfect pairing.

In all, it was a wonderful weekend. We got to enjoy a bit of our nation’s history, set in the beautiful fall atmosphere of an architecturally beautiful city. We enjoyed good food and drink, good friends, and had a chance to relax before the holidays 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Washington D.C. Restaurants and Museums (cont.)

We recently took a trip to Washington, D.C., and left readers after having a delicious lunch at the National Museum of American History.

After rushing down to the Mall, and shuffling through the museum for hours, we wanted to get off our feet for a bit, so we headed back to the hotel, to take advantage of the free happy hour, a perk of the Kimpton hotel chain that we have enjoyed elsewhere. It was a delicious house wine, and a great way to relax for a few minutes, before our dinner reservation. 

Tina enjoys the house wine at Topaz Bar.
At the recommendation of a cousin local to the area, we had plans to enjoydinner at Casa Oaxaca. Casa Oaxaca is a small restaurant on the outskirts of a busy neighborhood. We arrived for a fairly early dinner, and the place was already full, a mixture of young families, couples, and groups of friends populating the tables. We’ve enjoyed Oaxacan cuisine elsewhere, so we were looking forward to the range of molés and other traditional dishes. 

I started with a cocktail on special for the evening, another concoction of tequila and jalapeno, the balance of heat and flavor of which put the drink at the Topaz to shame. We ordered Ravioli de Huitlacoche. Huitlacoche is a Mexican delicacy, a fungus that grows on ears of corn and which is often compared to truffle. It has a mild, earthy flavor and was a great start to the meal. Tina enjoyed their famous cheese enchiladas, drenched in molé sauce, while I had the filet mignon. To continue with the theme for the evening, we decided to pair it with Mexican wines. It was no surprise that both wines, being from such a warm climate, were light and tart. My Cabernet Sauvignon was a good compliment to my meal; the hints of leather and spice balanced well with the hearty meat. Even though we were exceedingly full, we were convinced through some joking with our waiter to order churros for dessert. It was one of his favorite dishes, and, after we managed to stuff ourselves, he came over to notify us that it normally comes with six pieces, but he couldn’t resist, and helped himself to one of them, knowing I was so full. All told, this was one of the best Mexican meals we’ve had to date, for a great price, and in such a wonderfully casual atmosphere.

To be continued . . . !

Thursday, November 17, 2011


United States, New York, Long Island, Raphael Vineyards, Estate Merlot, 2008

+ // Fruity // Leather, Spice, Berry // Strawberry, Raspberry, Leather // Medium

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Did you know? . . . Herb Infused Wine

Adding wine to your favorite recipes is pretty common, as is mixing spices, juice, and other mixers into wine to create fun cocktails and other infusions. But we were surprised to discover an herbal-flavored wine from Rebec Vineyards.  Called "Sweet Sofia," this wine is described by the winemaker as such:
An herbal-flavored wine. A Bulgarian recipe presented by Rebec Vineyards' winemaker, Svetlozar Kanev. It is just right for sipping, or as an after-dinner treat. A 'niche' wine for special occasions, it also goes well with Cajun, Mexican, Oriental, and Indian cuisine.
Upon first smell, you get hints of the italian herbs. And it's very apparent in the taste as well. This unique wine went very well with our homemade lasagna (matching the herbs in the lasagna with those in the wine), but was not as good as a standalone sipper (in our humble opinions). And, with dessert, the wine was much too herb-y. But a fun idea and love the idea of using an old-time recipe to create a new type of wine.

Photo couresy of

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

QUICK REVIEW: Wolffer Estate

New York, Long Island, Wolffer Estate Late Harvest Chardonnay 2008
+ // Fruity // Citrus // Ripe grapefruit and peach // Heavy

Late Harvest wines are perfect for dessert, alone, or with some dried fruit, blue cheese, or a rich caramel creme brulee.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Washington D.C. Restaurants and Museums

Despite the early blizzard in the Northeast this year, it was still a beautiful fall . After our trip to the Longbranch Balloon & Wine Festival in VA, we wanted to visit the area again, and set aside a weekend to visit Washington DC. We could not have picked a better weekend than the one we did: warm sunny days bringing out the hues in the changing leaves, we wandered around our nation’s capital, enjoying the sights. It also happened to be my birthday weekend. After arriving late on Friday, we went straight to our hotel--the Kimpton’s Topaz Hotel just southeast of Dupont Circle. Dropping our bags, we rushed back down to the eclectic bar to enjoy a drink and snack before the end of our evening. 

The Topaz Bar has recently been revamped as a "Moroccan-inspired retreat."

The bar’s signature cocktail menu features drinks based on the astrological signs. I tried the Aries, a spicy mix of jalepeno-infused tequila and orange juice, while Tina went with the Aquarius. Mine was well balanced, the heat playing off the sweetness of the juice and alcohol without being bitter. Tina’s Aquarius, on the otherhand, was not altogether unpleasant, but required getting the brain to ignore the drink’s strange, neon blue color. I stuck with my drink, but Tina decided to ordered the Gemini - a sweet cocktail made with pomegranate juice and sparkling. It was a good 2nd choice. We shut the bar down (at 10:30, mind you, but still!) and decided to call it an early night to prepare for the busy day ahead.

Saturday was our tourist day. We had mid-morning plans to tour the Capitol, so lept out of bed to enjoy breakfast before making the 2 mile hike down there. It was a short tour, packed with interesting tidbits of info (you get to see where John Quincy Adams sat when in the House of Reps and walk right by the Speaker’s office chambers). Nate took dozens of photos of the area around the Mall.

More interesting to us was the National Museum of American History. We stomped through for hours, exploring different bits of our national history. Tina was enthralled by the Star Spangled Banner, but was appalled that the original owners cut pieces away to give as gifts. It’s still in pretty good shape after more than 200 years. I enjoyed an historic house, which the museum has tracked through 200 years of owners and renovations. But the best part was lunch. Apparently the Smithsonian has made a point of bringing good food into their cafeterias, and we took advantage of the fresh BBQ and craft beer during a casual meal. Both the pulled pork and North Carolina style chicken were juicy and flavorful, the sweet potatoes were crispy on the outside and soft and moist on the inside, and the coleslaw was juicy, but not too runny. For a simple meal, convenient to the Museum, we couldn’t really ask for more.

To be continued. . . .!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Wine Pairing...Sauvignion Blanc and Pulled Pork with Beet Salad

We’ve started to experiment with trying wine with food that you might not normally pair with wine. Recently, I tried wine with Buffalo Wings to great success. This week, I decided to make some pulled pork, and we made a quick run to the wine store to see what might work with it.

Asian Pulled Pork Recipe: 
1 tbsp Cardamom pods
1 tsp Paprika
2 tbsp dried Star Anise
1 tsp Chili Pepper
1 lb Pork Shoulder
2 Fresh Jalepeno peppers, chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste

In a spice grinder, mix and grind the spices thoroughly. Coat both sides of the pork shoulder with the spice mixture, then cook in a crock pot on low heat until tender, 4-6 hours. Serve on thick sliced bread. Serve with a warm beet salad.

Warm Beet Salad: 
4 small Beets, sliced thin
1 tbsp Scallions, sliced
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
1 tbsp Butter
8 oz Goat Cheese

In a sauté pan, melt the butter, then add the beets, scallions, and lemon juice, and sauté until tender. Drain, then add the beets to a bed of lettuce and top with goat cheese.

We paired this with a Sancerre from France, a crisp white with hints of flowers, minerality, and spices. The minerality of the wine went well with the natural earthy flavors of the beets. According to Tina, with the pork, the wine “makes the spice go ‘bang’”. The floral notes popped against the smell of the seasonings, especially the anise. The flavors of the wine were strong enough to make a good pairing with the dinner, which was a fun discovery, considering that pulled pork is not usually paired with this sort of French wine.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Our Pulled Pork pairing
France, Sancerre (Sauvignon Blanc), Eric Montintin, 2009
++ // Sweet // Floral, Spice, Ripe Peach // Lemon, Mineral, Herbs // Medium

We recently posted about Sancerre:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Did you know? . . . Blended Wines

Americans like their wines label by the varietal. If we don’t know the grape as soon as we look at the name, we consider it a cheap drink. But French wines embrace the blending of grapes, as a way to control style. This is epitomized by Champagne, a wine that is always a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Petit Meunier. This is done so that the Champagne house can guarantee identical flavor from year to year, despite seasonal variations in the individual varietals. For other wines, its a way to augment the grapes, allowing a winemaker to avoid a “donut wine”--a wine with obvious holes in the flavor and body of the wine. Consider this time Bordeaux wine--wine made from a blend of grapes produced in the Bordeaux region in France. A blend lets a winemaker select the best elements from a range of grapes, and play to the strength of each, creating a better overall wine.  Like Champagne, this will allow for a more consistent wine from year to year, and gives you a better idea of what the wine will be like, even if you don’t know the particulars of the vintage year.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

QUICK REVIEW: Louis Latour

France, Burgundy, Pinot Noir, Louis Latour, NV

+ // Smooth // Strawberries // Strawberries/Pepper // Medium

Tip: All red grapes from Burgundy are Pinot Noir.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Wine Riot

The world of wine can be intimidating. We try to share what we learn as we expand our knowledge in a casual way, without placing wine on a pedestal. It’s nice to see that we aren’t alone in this endeavor. The folks over at Second Glass are working hard to educate the next generation of wine drinkers in an approachable way. I had the opportunity to attend one of their Wine Riots in my neighborhood, so I jumped on the chance.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Palate Press article

Tina's published another article in Palate Press, this time on a quirky little vineyard based out of Charlottesville, VA. Thanks to Amy Steers for a great interview as prep for the piece. Enjoy!

How-To: Make Mulled Wine

It seems like we’ve skipped directly over Fall, and went straight to Winter here in the Northeast, so its time to break out those recipes that will keep us warm through the snows ahead. Try this recipe for Mulled Wine, for a warm drink to sip in front of the fireplace.