Category Archives: Valentine’s Day

New Worldly Red Wines to Taste this Spring

3 RedsI was surprised with a phone call from The Wine Feed off Glenwood Avenue in Raleigh, NC on Friday, February 14th. Wine had been selected for me and was available for pick-up. I was grinning into the phone, filled with the same jubilation as a child who has just found out school is cancelled tomorrow, and it’s the Friday, of a three day weekend… Get my drift?

Come to find out – it was three wines. (Kid – school cancelled – giant chocolate cake)

Lyric by Etude – Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara, CA 2012
Lyric was enjoyable without food. I opened it simply to taste before going out for a meal and loved how lively the wine tasted. Young as it is, Lyric’s fruitful aroma certainly was not lost. Notes of spice and toasted nuts were a nice addition to the soft tannins. Certainly this wine could be paired well with food, though I used it as my “getting ready” aperitif.

Ripasso by Corte Majoli – Valpolicella, Verona, Italy 2010
Valpolicella is fantastic. I’ve always liked it, even if it isn’t as well know as Montelpulciano or Chianti. Valpolicella is known for strong cherry notes on the palate and this one from Corte Majoli did not let me down. I love how fruit forward Italian wines can be. This wine was fairly low in tannins, so would be a great choice for anyone who hasn’t come around to the big, bold reds. (Corvina is the variety of grape for Valpolicella)

Domaine de Fenouillet – Ventoux, Rhone, France 2012
Ventoux is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Carignan. The Ventoux appellation is in the Rhone, France. This red blend was bigger than the other two.  The dark fruits and herbal flavors stand up well to luscious, well-prepared meats with herb marinades. This 2012 could stand to stay in the bottle a few years longer, but I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it even at just two years old.

Hope you had a wonderful February! Keep the red wines coming, it’s not spring yet. And perhaps try some of these appellations/regions/grapes that you haven’t heard of – they will surprise you.


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Filed under Valentine's Day, Wine, Wine Tastings, Wine's Properties, Wineries

For the first time in my life, I actually had a valentine this Valentine’s Day! Whoohoo! To celebrate such an occasion I decided upon making one of me and my valentine’s favorite dish, seafood chowder.

Last July when I had visited before we headed off to county Clare to see the cliffs of Moher.  On our way back we stopped at a small pub near Connemara, though it was cold and spitting rain all day, we were warmed by the best bowl of seafood chowder I had ever tasted with of course delicious Irish brown bread and butter on the side. (It was also my first bowl of seafood chowder 🙂 )  The pub was packed and we found it hard to find a couple seats. I saw a couple sitting at a table with 2 seats on the other side. We made friends and sat with them, discussing their travels and our travels and loving a moment that would never come our way again. We left full, warm and happy.

Last night I tried to remake this seafood chowder, used the recipe and paired it with the wine below. It wasn’t even close to being as amazing as that first bowl, but it was rich, the fish tender and the meaning the same.

The Recipe: brought to you by Monk’s Pub in Ballyvaughn

  • 8-10 fresh mussels (discard any that are open)
  • 1 pint fish stock or clam juice
  • 1 pint milk
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • ½ lb total mixed fresh diced carrots, diced green beans, peas and corn
  • 1 Tbs flour, dissolved in 3-4 Tbs water
  • 1 lb mixed fresh fish fillets,  cut into coarse chunks (I used salmon, cod and monksfish)
  • ¼ lb fresh shrimp, peeled, deveined and cut crosswise into ½-inch pieces
  • Lemon wedges to garnish
Bring 1/4-inch water with a splash of white wine to a boil in a small sauce pan. Add mussels, cover, and steam until just open, about 2-3 minutes. Remove mussels with slotted spoon (discard any that don’t open) and when cool, remove from shells, coarsely chop and set aside.Combine the fish stock and milk in a large pot and bring to a simmer. Add the mixed vegetables and simmer until just beginning to soften, about 6-8 minutes.

Add the fish and shrimp and simmer until almost cooked through, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the cream, then slowly stir in the flour/water mixture to thicken. Simmer for 5 minutes to combine flavors.

Add mussels, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve in soup bowls garnished with a wedge of lemon.

The Wine: 

Redwood Creek, California Chardonnay 2007

I tried to find an oaky white wine to go with the chowder and though this wine had a hint of oak, it wasn’t oaky enough. Still it was a nice wine to drink and went well enough with the creamy base.  Since the wine was a little more acidic it cut the richness and was delightful. I could have also chosen a Sauvignon Blanc and would have really loved to have Angelina Chardonnay from the Russian River valley (very oaky and smooth).

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Filed under Food Pairings/Recipes, Valentine's Day, Wine

Life is so gouda…

Valentine’s Day eat fest was a success! It was so much fun spending time with my mom and my roommate, despite the fact that the first Red Box that I went to didn’t have any movies filmed after 1996. I was still able to find an appropriate choice and it was still as girlie and you’re probably thinking.


On the Menu:

Homemade Chicken Nuggets

Havarti, Gouda and Crackers

Vegetable Tray? – Broccoli, Carrots – Caesar Dressing

A couple pieces of Valentine’s Day cookie cake from the apartment clubhouse

Queso and Tortilla Chips


Le Grotte, Lambrusco Dell’Emilia Bianco, Dolce, Italy

Epicuro, Vermentino, Lazio, Italy (The wine I’m drinking as I write)

Now this may not seem like your typical wine and food pairing, however when your one and only goal is to eat, drink and be merry…. who cares.  Interestingly enough, there was organization to my chaos.

Lambrusco is a slightly sparkling wine (‘frizzante’ like that Pinot Noir from before), but in this case white.  It’s bouquet floral and it’s palate sweet. A clean, pretty wine that I thought would be really nice for girls’ night.  I chose the Lambrusco because of the Gouda cheese I’d already picked out, the chicken nuggets and the queso dip.  The Gouda that I bought was harder, nutty in flavor and had a bit of a tang.  The queso as spicy as your dance moves at the club last Friday night.  The floral sweet sparkling flavor of the wine was a nice contrast to both items.  (If you don’t know exactly what I mean by ‘floral sweet,’ buy a German Riesling and a Gerwurztraminer.  Rieslings are fruity sweet and Gerwurztraminers are floral sweet, almost like how a rose smells. Mmmmmm….)

Vermentino is a new grape that I have never tasted.  I was able to try some during my shopping escapade in Trader Joe’s; certainly the best place to buy wine.  Of course, some might argue with me, but they have great wine at unbelievable prices. (Sorry, advertising major J)  Vermentino tastes like Pinot Grigio mixed with Sauvignon Blanc.  It has a nice crispness blended with an undeniable grapefruit base and it is still altogether creamy? The wine was a complete contrast to itself, rich, yet soft; acidic, yet slightly sweet; crisp, yet creamy.  I like wines that keep you guessing! Good pairings include soft cheeses (Harvarti), poultry (chicken nuggets), fish and light pastas.  Another score for the win!

I thought all the flavors went together nicely and I promise I stuffed as much food in as I could.  You know the best part of the whole evening was that even though my dad was out of town, my mom could hang out with my roommate and I for a nice little whatever of a night.

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be complicated or sad or even expensive; it just has to be a day that you make someone…. anyone!…. feel good and loved.

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