{Wine Wednesday} Thanksgiving wine pairings

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Lucky us: Vine Pair came through again (Halloween candy-booze pairings) and created this infographic pairing wine, beer and booze with almost every Thanksgiving dish option:

thanksgiving-wine-beer-booze-pairing

If your Thanksgiving drinking plans call for wine, keep the corks and bottles! I’m working on some fun holiday wine bottle and cork crafts that I’ll showcase next week! Three cheers for Thanksgiving!

 

{Wine Wednesday} Job well done, winemakers!

Brandon and I had a few open hours last weekend, so we cruised up to Woodinville and did some wine tasting! We stopped by our favorites (Davenport Cellars and Robert Ramsay Cellars) where they were hard at work finishing the last of this year’s de-stemming, fermenting, and barreling. As we know firsthand (well, Brandon, but you know… royal “we”) wine making is hard work!

Our glasses are raised to you, winemakers and everyone who helps support the process. Thank you for your great work and making Wine Wednesdays possible!

Here are some fun photos I shot at Pomum Cellars and Stevens Winery, some of our new favorite spots to frequent:

Brandon sneaking a peak at the Pomum process

Brandon sneaking a peak at the Pomum process

The warm grapes at Stevens -- the fermenting actually creates heat!

The warm grapes at Stevens — the fermenting actually creates heat!

Working the grapes at Stevens Winery

Working the grapes at Stevens Winery

Happy Wine Wednesday! Cheers!

{Wine Wednesday} Halloween candy-drink pairings

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Halloween is just around the corner and if you’re like us, you’re buying candy {and booze} for yourself and not so much for the trick-or-treaters. We maybe get one or two trick-or-treaters each year, so it’s only worth it to buy what we like.

Vinepair (my new favorite wine blog) sent out their wine-booze-beer pairing guide earlier this week and it was so good that I had to share it with you:

2014-10-29 Candy-booze guide

We opted for the 2012 Vampire Merlot for Friday’s festivities — watching Grimm on the couch, dressed as a blogger and a PhD student (so creative, I know!) — so I’ll also need to stock up on KitKats (the orange ones!!!), as dictated by the above chart.

2012 Vampire Merlot wine

I bought this wine for two reasons: 1) It had a very cool, fitting name for Halloween drinking, and 2) It was on sale at QFC. Sometimes that’s all it takes. Upon further investigation, I’m totally stoked about drinking this wine!

Here’s what I found out:

Much mystery surrounds the Vampire line of wines.

As an example, the identities of the winemakers engaged for the project remain a well-guarded secret. That’s because they’re employed by other wineries, and it’s important that the brands they represent be protected in the marketplace. We can tell you that one of the vintners has garnered an almost unheard-of score of 96 for one of his bottlings from Wine Spectator.

What is not a mystery is why Vampire wines are so good. It’s a combination of professional winemakers having access to exceptional winegrapes and knowing exactly what to do with them. Several of California’s top growing areas contributed grapes for the 2012 Vampire Merlot.

The finished product is a medium-bodied, smooth wine that shows off the fruit flavors of the grapes, herbal notes from the terroir, and spice, vanilla and toast impressions from oak barrel aging. Why this wine is so sublime is no mystery at all.

Happy Halloween and CHEERS!

(We made some really fun Halloween cocktails last year! Read all about them here!)

{Wine Wednesday} You’ve been BOO-zed!

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I was hoping to write about our new shipment of Joullian wine, but the delivery was delayed, so I won’t be able to write about them until next Wednesday. I’m totally excited about the three bottles of wine we’re expecting!

Have you been seeing BOO-zing happening on your Facebook, around your neighborhood, or even at your house? It’s an adult version of Halloween and I totally want to try this with our neighbors! I don’t know if there are official rules, instead I think you drop off some candy and something alcoholic — beer, wine or booze — and one of the below print outs, and call it a day.

An example of a "BOO-zing"

An example of a “BOO-zing”

I scoured the internet and found several variations on the BOO-zed-theme. Happy {early} Halloween to you and I hope you get “boo-zed” sometime soon!

You've been boozed!

You’ve been boozed!

Another variation on the BOO-zed poem

Another variation on the BOO-zed poem

True that! Why should the kids have all the fun!?

True that! Why should the kids have all the fun!?

 

{Wine Wednesday} Brandon crushed it!

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Editor’s note: Today’s Wine Wednesday post was written by Megan’s Island resident (and my husband) Brandon. His writing is great, but his photo skills could use some work. I still love him. — M.

Hello Megan’s Island Blog!  I’m excited to be you guest blogger for Wine Wednesday.

This past Saturday I did something that I’ve wanted to do for a while.  I joined a crush volunteer team at one of our local Woodinville wineries.  The experience wasn’t quite what I was expecting it to be, to say the least.

Lots of grapes to sort!

Lots of grapes to sort!

It started out promising when I showed up and they had donuts and pastries for breakfast.  It was a 7:45 a.m. start time, so this was great.  Most importantly, I learned that we would be working with cabernet sauvignon grapes.  No lousy white wine grapes here!  I found out that we would be helping with about 10 tons of grapes or about 3.5 acres worth.  That is a lot of grapes!  When I say “we,” I’m referring to me and the nine other volunteers, most of who were experienced in this but a few were rookies like me.  The wine maker and 4 or 5 winery employees showed us the ropes.

There were essentially two jobs that needed to be done, both of which involved picking stuff out of the grapes.  The grapes arrive at the winery in big bins.  With the help of a fork lift, the grapes are dumped into a hopper and then slowly release onto a vibrating conveyor table.  It is similar to a conveyor belt but instead is a solid piece of stainless steel that is constantly vibrating and sloped slightly downward so that the grapes make their way down the line.  The first set of volunteers is stationed here and pulls out everything they spot that shouldn’t be there.  This primarily includes leafs and grapes that aren’t fit for wine – those that aren’t ripe, those that are too ripe and have turned into raisins, and those that are damaged by birds or whatever.  This group also removed a few bugs.  Remember that these grapes are in bunches and come straight from the vineyard where they’re cut from the vines.  We were told that our grapes were pretty clean, that the vineyard crew did a good job of selective cutting and screening.

Sorting grapes

Sorting grapes

From here, the grape bunches travel up a conveyor to the de-stemming machine, which removes the grapes from the stems.  We were told the machine wasn’t working the greatest that day, possibly because of the summer that Washington had – lots of sun.  Because of this, the grapes were left on the vines as long as possible get as much flavor as they could because they were ripening very quickly.  From my understanding they were very full of sugar but not necessarily complexity.  I was told these grapes would easily convert to a 17% alcohol if the winery didn’t cut it some.  I tasted a few, and they were very good and sweet.  The end result was that the stems were little more brittle than usual and they were breaking in the machine easily.  Because of the poor performance of the de-stemming machine, most people were stationed after this and were tasked with grabbing stems that make it through.  Apparently stems are okay in things like syrah but they not wanted in cabernet sauvignon.  After this, the grapes went into the fermentation bins where they started the fermentation process.

Hard at work

Hard at work

In case you didn’t notice, there was no “crush” by the volunteers (or the employees).  It was all about pulling stuff out of the grapes.  All in all, this isn’t a necessarily a hard thing.  However, you are essentially bent over all day and your back starts to hurt.  Everyone there experienced some level of back pain, yours truly included.  This was worse for those on the first vibrating table.  It wasn’t as bad for those removing stems because they grapes were moving up a belt, meaning they were higher in the air as one picked through them.  However, because the conveyor belt was constantly moving with “steps” carrying the grapes at a pretty good pace, some people experienced dizziness and vertigo as a result (and because many people are standing on ladders or steps to reach the grapes).  There were a few volunteers who help in this task because of this.  Luckily, I don’t get motion sickness and I was fine there.

Leftover stems

Leftover stems

The intense Washington summer also meant that all the grapes were coming in early and at the same time.  Last year the wines came in over a span of six weeks, but this year it was a little under four weeks.  Most of the other grape varietals had been “crushed” before Saturday.  This meant all the winery employees were pretty tired, but they kept a good face for the volunteers.  It also meant a pretty intense day for the volunteers.  We ended up finishing just before 4 p.m., with less than 30 minutes for lunch.

Crush: back breaking work

Crush: back breaking work

Overall, as a volunteer, the manual labor isn’t very comfortable.  The winery staff is very busy and it just isn’t fun.  It is often pretty loud, so you can’t really talk to many people either.  It isn’t what I was expecting and it wasn’t worth the three bottles of wine and lunch (which was delicious) that I received as compensation.  Maybe I was naïve in my expectations.  I am glad that I was able to help out a winery that I love when they needed it.  However, you won’t see me back volunteering anytime soon.  No one really seemed to enjoy it (lots of complaining and plenty of exhausted faces at the end) but one of the volunteers was there for the third time that week.  Another guy did it 10 times last year.

I will enjoy the bottles of wine this gets turned into when it is bottled in a few years, probably much more so than usual.  I’m glad I did it once, but I’ll stick to working on my dissertation, my house, and my pizza oven, and watching football on future weekends.

{Wine Wednesday} Fall reds

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Happy Wine Wednesday! It’s not too early to talk about fall, right? It is less than a week away.

I love, love, love the fall. Why? So many reasons. The cooler weather and the crispness in the air, the weather that gives you an excuse to bundle up but isn’t too cold. The spirit of football season and dressing up to watch the games. The smell of freshly-fallen rain. And finally, the RED wine! Enough of the Rieslings and roses. It’s time for some deep, peppery reds.

The weather on Megan’s Island cooled down a bit, long enough for us to open the bottle we got in the Carmel Valley — the award-winning Joullian 2011 Zinfandel. It did not disappoint and was just as good as we remembered.

A very happy wine Wednesday, indeed!

A very happy wine Wednesday, indeed!

What did we pair with the wine? It’s chanterelle season and we sauteed them with thyme and unsalted butter (about 1/2 a stick over 30 minutes of cooking) and added some half rigatoni noodles. We also sauteed baby zucchinis with olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper.  Combined the meal was delicious.

We recently received an email from Joullian and our first shipment of wine club wines is set to ship on October 13 — the day after my birthday — and will include their 2011 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, 2011 Family Reserve Syrah, and 2012 Estate Sias Cuvee Zin (the next vintage of this wine).

We’re so excited we joined the club! CHEERS!

{Wine Wednesday} Mercer Island Art UnCorked

 
The weather reports are in and it looks like the Pacific Northwest will have fabulous weather on Friday!
 
If you’re looking for something fun to do, I’d suggest a quick visit to Megan’s Island (aka Mercer Island) and enjoy Mercer Island Art UnCorked, an evening of wine-tasting, art, music and food at the Mercer Island Outdoor Sculpture Gallery, located at Sunset Hwy. and 78th Ave SE.  The event runs from 6-9 p.m.
 
A mere $30 buys you at least two wines from 10 different local wineries. Juried artists from both Mercer Island and the Seattle area will have a selection of fine handmade artwork:
 
Along with wine and art, there will be food trucks and music.  A portion of the proceeds from this evening will benefit the scholarship programs of the Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce and Mercer Island Visual Arts League.
 
Wines poured will be available for purchase on-site, with a 10 percent discount.
 
Buy your ticket today — or stop by on Friday!  I hope to see you there!
 
Happy Wine Wednesday! Pour yourself a nice, big glass as you wait for the web to load!