Category Archives: Sip… a wine store

Five Blocks, Pinot Noir – Lúmos

Lumos Wine Well, here we are Wednesday and hadn’t made the Sunday meal post yet. Ah sure, it seems easy to write a blog continuously, but sometimes life really gets in the way. These long days are making my brain shut down and all I think about are these Sunday dinners. They have begun to bring together our family, our love of wine/food and of course centering our thoughts. What do you think about when you’re cooking or baking? Everything else going on in your life? Not me, I think about the recipe, what ingredient comes next, how will it look when it comes out. Then it’s done and nothing has really turned out the way you wanted it to, but the Taste! The taste makes it all worth it.

This Sunday’s menu: Stuffed portobello mushrooms with roasted brussels sprouts and lemon bars
Paired with: Five Blocks, a Pinot Noir from Oregon from a Winery called Lúmos 2011

As I’ve previously touched on, nothing went the way I wanted it to. I baked the mushroom caps first and they shrunk to Portobello Mushroomswhat looked like little tiny stones on parchment paper. When I turned them over they were as flat as pancakes… how does one stuff a pancake?? Instead, I used them like a mushroom tostada piling my mixture of cannelini beans, wilted kale, herbs and prosciutto on the cap; topped then with breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese and baked until crispy. (Notice the un-stuffed-ness of the mushroom??)

The brussels sprouts were roasted in olive oil and balsamic glaze until done, easy. It was my dad’s birthday on Monday so I wanted to make his favourite dessert, but I was trying to keep it a secret. This was extremely hard to do as everyone was in the kitchen and they were all secretly wondering why I was making a shortbread crust and had 5 lemons? In the end, everything was delicious. It really had great flavour and the lemon bars came out of the oven right on time.

Pinot NoirFor this meal I chose a Pinot Noir from Oregon. 1. Mushrooms pair very nicely with Pinot Noir because of their earthiness and because the mushroom can stand up to a red wine. 2. Oregon is known for the earthiest of Pinot Noir. This time I went to Sip… a wine store in Cary to pick out my wine. I had my dad come with me to choose which one he wanted. The store had about 200 bottles of wine in it, there were about 4 from Oregon and 2 that were Pinot Noir; it took my dad about 30 minutes to choose. Typical eh?

The Five Blocks was aged in French Oak for 15 months. It was said to be more earthy than the other one in the store.  It had dark fruit flavours and lovely spice. I didn’t pick much up on the earthy side when I first tasted it. To me it was much more bright than I expected. The tannin was medium and smoothed by the overall meal. The wine paired nicely with the portobello mushroom, not so much with the lemon bar 🙂

I guess all that really matters in the end is the effort we put into something to make someone else happy. The more we do for someone else, the more we find we want to do. Sitting at the table with our food and wine, room dimly lit by candles and filled with conversation and laughter. Who could pass that up?

Lemon Bars I couldn’t.

Happy Birthday dad.



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No Way, Rosé

Ruby, salmon, coral, cerise, puce, cherry blossom, fuchsia, petal, ballerina, pink, and rose – it’s no wonder you may be confused. Some big time winemakers are talking about their newest pink creation and you’re sitting there wondering how they could ever make white zinfandel.  Well, they aren’t. White Zin certainly has its place and by the millions of people who swear by the stuff, you can’t deny that it’s loved. But the real hang-up for a lot of people is straying from rosé wine before you even get to know it!  Does it happen to be pink in color? Yes, but for good reason.

Raise your hand if you like Grenache, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc. I sure do, but at a summer party may not be the best choice. (Milk was a bad choice…) Heavy reds warm you up and make you sleepy…a complete drag for a party.  Still you’re struggling with the fact that you don’t care for white wine.  Rosé might be the answer to you problems.  It’s dry, crisp and light enough for the summer. Find yourself one with a little fizz and you’ll be unstoppable. Well, at least your wine bottle will be.

I had the opportunity of visiting Great Grapes wine store in Cary off Kildaire Farms Rd. for their South African wine tasting.  The tasting was free and the winemaker was pouring.  There were about 7 or 8 wines being served; 2 white, 4-5 red, 1 rosé.

South Africa grows an exceptional Chenin Blanc (so I wanted to mention it here) a nice light white with full flavors of tropical fruits, pineapple and mango.  I always like to mirror foods and therefore would love to put this with some kind of fish (swordfish, tilapia or scallops) with a pineapple mango salsa.  Being a huge fan of Bobby Flay, I want to feature a recipe of his that I’m hoping to try soon.  Fire Roasted Swordfish Steak with Pineapple Mustard Glaze and Grilled Pineapple Salsa.

The Chenin Blanc being served was good, but wasn’t the wine that caught the attention of my taste buds.  Though it is one of South Africa’s most famous wines the others at the tasting were excellent in comparison.

De Morganz Chardonnay
Indaba Merlot
Kanonkop Pinotage
KF Petit Cab-Merlot
Mulderbosch Rosé
Rustenberg John X Cabernet Blend
Raats Cabernet Franc

I wish I could have bought all these wines, but stuck to those that fit my budget more. I grabbed two of the Mulderbosch Rosé bottles.  This rosé, made from Cabernet Sauvignon tasted just like a Cab should with all the tannins and flavor, but was light enough to drink in 100 degree weather.  To check them out, visit Great Grapes in Cary.

As stated above, rosés can be made with many different types of wine. The wine also holds the integrity of the grape itself, which makes rosé a great choice for mixed company parties. (By mixed company I mean red lovers and white lovers.)  So before you say “No way, José” to that beautifully pink liquid, give it a chance!

I recommend the Mulderbosch Rosé at Great Grapes in Cary, the Meichlits Pinot Noir Frizzante Rosé at Sip…a wine store in Cary, Skull Camp’s “Confusion” and the Dry Rosé at Grove Winery in Gibsonville. These all sell for between 10 and 14 dollars. Enjoy!

There is a lot to do this next weekend for Father’s Day! Chatham Hill Winery and Grove Winery are both having Father’s Day wine tasting specials. Also, the local wine stores all have their regular tastings set up through the weekend. Follow @breeze386 on Twitter for more information.

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Sip…(More than just) a wine store (Part 2)

Let’s jump right into the last two pairings. But first, I wanted to add that many, if not all of the wine sold at Sip is produced from organic vineyards.  The Chehalem, Chardonnay from my last blog is actually completely sustainable and pesticide free. Way to go! Love wonderful products that are good for the environment!!

2008, T-Vine, Zinfandel, Napa Valley – Even if you know fairly little about wine, you might be asking yourself, why choose a red Zinfandel to be paired with sweet chocolate?  I too ask the same question.  Alone, the Zinfandel smelled like a Zin and looked like a Zin, so therefore it must be a duck… well, you get the idea.  So of course, I decided to taste it and it was what I had expected.  Red Zinfandels are smooth, silky and flavorful.  It is the reason that many wine drinkers become, I dread saying it… wine snobs.  This varietal is full-bodied, easy to drink and it also goes well with many of our favorite foods.  Specifically, steaks, lamb, roasted chicken, potatoes and asparagus sautéed to perfection in olive oil with just a hint of fresh crushed course salt and pep…. I apologize, back to the wine!

Zinfandels also tend to leave you desiring a similar experience where by going back to, say a Pinot Noir, you are sure to miss.  (Only because they are two completely different grapes!) I view wine differently.  I can’t say that I don’t compare one wine to another, but I don’t compare apples to oranges.  Pinot Noirs are good in there own right as are many other red varietals.  Which is why wine snobbery is not permitted here.

Chocolate Pairing – Hazelnut Crunch.  The only pairing I didn’t like.  Separately, the chocolate was delicious.  The Hazelnut Crunch was light and airy with what we thought were wafers that provided the crunch.  A great chocolate treat for sure.  Together the wine and chocolate fought each other.  Yes, that’s right a UFC match in your mouth and it didn’t end with a handshake.  I thought about what kind of chocolate might be good with such a robust red and I landed on Mexican dark chocolate.  Dark chocolate isn’t as sweet as milk chocolate and Mexican dark chocolate has a bit of spice, both flavors which might have melded better with the Zinfandel.  Either Mexican dark chocolate or dark chocolate covered almonds – two tastes that add and create complex flavors that fill the gaps.

2007, Dancing Coyote Wines, Moscato – This wine was presented in a small bottle, which is probably a good thing.  Moscato is one of the sweetest wines because the wine is harvested from extremely ripe grapes.  The grape’s sugars have fully developed and the wine is aged only for a short time or not at all, so the sugars stay in the wine. Moscato is a white wine; it is sweet, fruity and too me, a bit heavy.

Annalisa Moscato Spumante from Italy, however, is a sparkling Moscato, and after tasting a sparkling Moscato, I don’t believe I’ll ever go back.  By just adding a few bubbles, the wine’s flavor changes from heavy, sometimes overly sweet, to light, crisp and just sweet enough for dessert.

Chocolate Pairing – The Dancing Coyote’s saving grace, Key Limon White Chocolate.  Not only did this piece taste like heaven and look like art, but also it was sweet enough to bring down the sweetness of the wine.  Sounds strange, but it is why the Hazelnut Crunch didn’t go well with the Zinfandel, the chocolate was so sweet that it made the wine taste bitter. In this case, a very sweet wine when paired with an even sweeter chocolate just made the Moscato taste less sweet.  Together the pair was a hit and I would be first in line if ever offered to me again.

Here ends our journey through the Wine & Chocolate tasting at Sip…a wine store.  I give my compliments to Red Light Chocolates, a family run business that not only wow-ed me with the sheer beauty of their chocolates, but far surpassed my expectations in flavor as well.  The website to visit is

Also, I have to a give a shout out to the musician serenading us with his tunes.  Shawn’s voice was lovely and certainly calming after a hectic day at work.  You can find Shawn Odendhal at

Abadeebadeebadee, that’s all folks!

Next… Valentine’s Day stuff your face fest! Can’t wait!

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Sip… (More than just) a wine store (Part 1)

I must begin by saying that a man that sounded like a game show announcer did not announce the jazz musician at the wine tasting last night, but I’m actually relieved. Sip… a wine store is tucked away, almost unnoticeable, yet to remain unaware of this little gem would truly be the tragedy.  My roommate and I entered into an interesting situation.  Neither of us really knew how the tasting would go, nor were we sure how we might be treated.  Believe it or not, lots of people tend to judge first, learn later and we were two younger looking girls.  Our fears were quickly put aside with the comforting smell of wine bottles and the warm, kind smile of the owner.  As she beckoned us in to start with the first wine, I was distracted by the shear beauty of the chocolates that I only hoped would be a part of the experience.  Pleasantly enough, they were. 

The owner explained to us that she chose the wines based on the chocolates and that each wine could possibly be paired with 2 different kinds of chocolate.  This worked out perfectly because it allowed each wine to have a chocolate pairing.  Where at the end, we were able to try them all.

Weingut Michlits, Pinot Noir Frizzante, Austria – We began the ‘wine journey’ as it were, with a Pinot Noir Frizzante. Frizzante most simply means with bubbles and you can remember it by knowing that anything labeled Frizzante will be fizzy, ooo ahhhh.  A lovely wine most comparable to a sparkling White Zinfandel… yea… I know… booo. However, this wine was perfect and a wonderful beginning to the evening.  The wine was described as having a floral nose, which means that unlike, say a Riesling, it smelled like maybe a rose would instead of how a pineapple or orange might.  I only noticed the floral smell after a few sniffs, but it was certainly there.

Chocolate Pairing – Raspberry Ganache filled Chocolate.  This pairing was impeccable.  I think I heard one lady say it was one of those flavors that would make you wanna slap your grandma! So I did.

But seriously, the raspberry ganache improved the flavor of the wine, the wine improved the flavor of the chocolate and for just a couple minutes, it’s possible that Armageddon could have occurred and I would have still been in the vicious cycle of better wine, better chocolate, better wine, better chocolate and so on. Red Light Chocolates started with a very bright ‘green light means go’ chocolate. So, you know, I guess you could say I ‘kinda’ enjoyed it.

2009, Chehalem, Chemistry Chardonnay – There was a LOT going on with this wine.  It is actually a blend of 57% Chardonnay, 28% Pinot Gris, 12% Riesling and 3% Pinot Blanc.

A quick breakdown of each grape – just by how they usually taste.  Chardonnay (drier, can be creamy or crisp depending on how it is aged) Pinot Gris (round, heavier, full) Riesling (fruity, sweet, clean, light, easy drinking for a 1st time wine try-er) Pinot Blanc (crisp, light, sweet, but not too, a favorite among many women, summer wine)

Ok, back to the Chemistry. This wine alone was ok.  Wasn’t bad, but didn’t have much spark.  Riesling and Pinot Gris came through with strong taste that really happened to over power the lovely creamy* Chardonnay (* which is a sign that it was most likely aged in oak barrels).  An interesting blend that became immensely more enticing as soon as its chocolate pairing was tasted.

Chocolate Pairing – Coffee Caramel. Sometimes wine improves the flavor of a paired item and sometimes the paired item improves the flavor of a wine.  In this case, the latter.  The coffee caramel chocolate improved the wine bringing with it a spice that was once before lost.  Perhaps on a stranded island with a volleyball as a friend.  No one can be sure where it was, just that it had been found.  The best part is that the 50% Chardonnay also showed itself, which made the blend as a whole a lot more impressive.

(Creepy? But he’s so happy!)

There are 2 wines and 2 chocolates left, so stay tuned for part deux!

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Wocolate… Chine?

Ok, so maybe they don’t go so well together in writing, but by God are they good together in 3D!  No goggles needed. Tonight I will be visiting “Sip…a wine store” in Cary, NC on James Jackson Ave. in Preston.  Though it be a small store, I’m hoping for big things!  Tonight is their Wine & Chocolate night from 4-8 pm.

I’m asking you, what’s better than wine, chocolate and a bunch of women who owe the success of their marriages to the stuff? Yes, that’s right, jazz music! Sweet Jesus this is gonna be a good night.  I might possibly even get the chance to break out my yazz flute, as I’ve been practicing now for months. I also hope that Sean Odendhal – the artist of the night, is announced by a guy that sounds like Rod Roddy… And if you don’t know who that is, watch some old Price is Right.. “come on downnnnn…” It might all be just wishful thinking.

This event is free as many tastings are which really makes me a happy panda.  So until then, I bid you adieu. Reaction and response to come!

Enjoy your Friday!

<< Rod Roddy




<< Bob Barker beating up Adam Sandler

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