December Club Wine

We are members of a wine club.  The wine bar we frequent has weekly wine tastings that cost $5/person for 4 tastes and a bite of cheese. Club members (and their significant other) don’t pay for the tastings. And the tasting the first week of the month is “club wines;”  you choose 2 bottles to take home.  Those tend to be in the mid- to upper teen$.   It saves us money by not paying for 8 tastings a month plus 2 bottles of wine.  It costs us for the additional glass of wine and snack we usually have when we go to a tasting.  I think everybody wins.

I am bad about remembering where we have gotten various wines.  So, I’m planning to try to remember to at least post our club wine selections here. I may run out of steam.  We’ll see.

This month we brought home 2 bottles of Shebang! Red from Sonoma, California.  It is “Mostly Zinfandel blended with Carignane, Petite Sirah, Mourvedre, Alicante Bouchet, Grenache, Syrah, Alicante Bouchet, Grenache, Syrah, Barbera and a touch of whites for aromatics.” Thus, the Whole Shebang.  Cost at Cork and Cow is $16/ bottle, $7/glass.


Wine and cheese

This post is for the amusement of avincie and annmeeker.

My loving husband got me a wine club membership. It is at the Cork And Cow Wine Bar at the mall near my job. We found the place by accident when we had time to kill before a movie and went in for a wine tasting.

Their tastings are offered on Tuesdays and Wednesdays every week and cost $5. YOu are given 2 crackers, a bite of cheese and tastes of 4 wine that are generous enough to be the equivalent of a glass of wine.

The club membership is $99 for the first 3 months and $40/month thereafter. It provides you with your name engraved on a Riedel red wine glass that stays there for your use when you come to taste, one free tasting every week and 2 bottles of wine chosen from the wines tasted on the first week of each month. If/when you cancel your membership, you take the glass home with you. the club wine prices range between $20 and $40 each month.

This is a fun thing for wine drinkers and I rarely go in for a tasting without spending “extra” money on tapas. And sometimes another glass or bottle of wine. Everybody wins.

Now, the Cow part of the menu. They have nice cheeses. I can easily find 3 to put together one of their cheese plates. And the bite they give you with a tasting can stretch to a nibble with each sample of wine. It changes each week, with the wines, so that can be its own adventure.

And, of course, I lost the little list of what was served the first week of this month. That was the week that the cheese was manchego.  This is a sheeps’ milk cheese.  And I usually like it.  But, I found it to be an interesting combination with the wines.  Because I hate goat cheese with the heat of a thousand suns. OK. Maybe not quite that bad. But, goats’ milk and its cheeses have a musty flavor that I find very unpleasant.  Most people I know don’t taste it whatever that particular molecule is.  I can’t avoid it.  It cannot be hidden or covered up.  My sister has tried.  And 2 of the 4 wines turned the usually pleasant sheep cheese into goat cheese on my tongue

I found that to be a fascinating example of wine and food working together.   Or not working.

I am repeatedly intrigued by how our physical perceptions differ and change.  That one was pretty dramatic.

Weaver Street Wine Show and Sale – Spring 2014

Iché Les Hérétiques, 2012. Old vine Carignane. $14/$8 We bought 2 and went back for another case after I had a bottle at home.

Los Dos Grenache Syrah, 2012. $12/$6.75 2 for me.

Michael David Winery 6th Sense Syrah, 2011. $20/$12.50 2 for me.

Joseph Cattin Pinot Blanc, 2012. $17/$11 4 for both of us. My note is dotp, dangerous on the porch. It’s one that will just disappear of of the bottle in the summer.

Le Campuget Frenache-Voignier, 2013. $12/$8.50 2 for Chuck

I really liked Warre’s Optima 10 year-old Tawny Port. $33/$23. But, couldn’t justify another bottle of port when I have so much open and unconsumed.

Indiana Roadtrip

I spent the end of last week driving to Nashville, Indiana to visit friends.  I met Patti at her sister’s house in Forest, Virginia and left my car there.

We took Patti’s car through the coal fields of southern Virginia and Kentucky, finally getting a hotel room in Campton, KY when the snow got so bad we gave up on making it to Lexington that night. The only place to get dinner was a Mexican joint that had a Mexican man cooking and an Anglo girl waiting tables and no other customers.  The waitress all but begged us to come back the next day.  She had come to Campton to be near her mother, she didn’t say why, and, in her words, no one does anything there except drugs.

We got coffee breakfast at the Kentucky Coffeetree Cafe in Frankfort.  It is in the funky part of the city with lots of interesting shops nearby.

Dinner Thursday night was at Jan’s house.  She made a lovely marinara spaghetti with meatballs on the side.  Ken chose a very nice Italian wine to go with it.DSC01534 DSC01543

Friday night, I made Crab bisque for dinner and Ken chose a Washington state chardonnay as accompaniment.  It was only mildly oaked so it worked well.

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On Saturday, we went out for dinner in a bar that is trying to become a restaurant.  The choices around the table were varied and Ken chose a very smooth Malbec.  Trying to be quick, my photo is a little blurred.


I would have any of these again.

We took a northern route home on Sunday, stopping at Jungle Jim’s International Market to pick up snacks for supper in our hotel and generally entertain ourselves wandering around the Ikea of food stores.  I got my son a bottle of Scotch bonnet hot sauce, picked up a Star Trek: The Next Generation Pez dispensers for a coworker and got a bottle of Plungerhead old vine Zinfandel from Lodi, California for myself.  Happily for me, they have it at Total Wine.

It was a fun trip.  I loved seeing unfamiliar landscape, prowling around Nashville, walking in Jan’s woods and visiting with my friends face to face rather than via the internet.  Traveling with Patti was delightful.  We looked for peculiar church names and looked up places worth noticing on my Roadside America app.  But, I am very glad to be home, out of the car and sleeping in my own bed next to my sweetie.

Tempranillo blanco (etc.)

Last night was date night and we went to the movies.  The Carolina Theater in Durham is showing collections of the shorts that have been nominated for Oscars and we saw the nominees for Best Animated and Best Live Action Shorts.  We would like to see the nominees for Documentary but they are so long that they are in 2 segments on separate days and we don’t care see them that badly.

However, we did enjoy dinner at Taberna Tapas for dinner, The Parlour for dessert and Beyù Caffè for coffee before we settled into our seats.

Because it was Wednesday, bottles of wine were half price at Taberna.  How can you say “no” to that?  So we got a bottle of Vivanco Rioja White Blend.

We have had tempranillo blends and we have had 100% tempranillo so that we know what it contributes to a blend. This was the first time we had ever seen tempranillo blanco and we were intrigued.

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We have had Malvasia in blends, too, but Viura was an unfamiliar name and we find that we like it.  This is a good medium bodied white.  It has more substance than the Pinots but isn’t as heavy a Chardonnay.  Similar to a Sauvignon blanc.  Nice with seafood and the less heavy things we tend to eat.

Talbott 2012 Kali Hart Chardonnay

On Friday, December 6, we took Carolyn to Oakleaf in Pittsboro to celebrate her birthday, which was actually Wednesday, December 11, but Friday was when we could conveniently go out for the evening.  Oakleaf is wonderful.  The food is always excellent, portion sizes are rational and the service is perfect.  It is a local-in-season place that makes food art and delight.

Carolyn and I both like the oakey Chardonnays.  We think that if you are going to use stainless steel you should just go for another grape.

One of the nice things aboujt Oakleaf is that no matter what wine you are considering, they will let you taste it if you are unsure about a choice.  Because is was a celebration, we expected to have more than a glass of wine each so we just went for a bottle.   And, oh my god, it was lovely.  Enough oak to give a nice flavor, but not so much that it interfered with the flavors of the food.

I looked it up when I got home and found that the particular wine is available from the vineyard, but not from any local stores.  There is a variation at Total Wine that I may give a try, though.




Too sweet wine

My husband and I were in a gourmet shop on a day they were tasting a couple of wines and had some samples of a couple of the food treats out.  We told the owner we’d like to try the red but weren’t interested in the pink because they are always too sweet for us.  He said “hold on a minute.”  and dashed off to find the spicy salsa that was around the corner.

We were very pleasantly surprised.

He said “When you find a bottle of wine that’s too sweet, pair it with something spicy and they will balance each other.”

That should be instructions given to people before they ever pull the first cork, in my opinion.  I don’t know how many times I passed on a wine that would have been a good choice for a certain dish because I didn’t know how to match it with food.

I have drunk a lot of wine.  I have an idea, now, what various grapes taste like, so I can imagine how things will go together in anticipation of the actual combination with food.  But it took a lot of wine and a lot of time to get to this place.  And it feels like a lot of good opportunities have been wasted.

I recently figured out a wine I like with sushi.  Because, I don’t get out for sushi very often, this hasn’t been an easy discovery.  I have often chosen water or tea because I knew how those would work and simply didn’t want to risk not liking what was going on in my mouth.  (And I have never had sake that I liked.  I’ve only tried it 3 times but there are too many things I do like to invest time and money trying to cultivate that taste.)

I tend to go for big wines, oakey chardonnays, old vine zins, dark shirazs.  But Asian cuisines  don’t stand up to those flavors.  They become overwhelmed by the depth of the wine.  Finally, (I’m slow to catch on) it occurred to me that the wines I think are too light to go with garlicky pastas or sturdy stews are actually a good fit for the flavors of Asian cuisines.  Pinot gris/grigio works for me when we are eating Japanese or Indian, the other food I have tended to eat wineless.

Wilmington, NC for Halloween, All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days

Our vacation plans this year were inconvenienced by my surgery in early August.  And we had discussed taking a weekend to go to the beach before I went back to work, but, instead, went to see my parents.  I don’t remember why.

My darling husband hadn’t forgotten the plan to head east, though, and a couple of weeks ago suggested going to Wilmington during the first weekend in November.  I had thought of having a Day of the Dead party for All Souls’ Day, but never really worked up any enthusiasm for putting it together.  But, I had reserved the time off from work. So, the time was available.

Did you know Venus Flyrap is native to North Carolina?  And only  grows wild on our coast?

Metal and glass Venus Flytrap sculpture on the Riverfront

We stayed at an AirBnB apartment in in the middle of downtown. This meant we could park our car when we got there and not drive again until time to leave.  We wandered into shops all over the area and had some truly excellent food.  Unfortunately, we learned that there is no off-season for the bar under the apartment.  It vibrated the floors until closing time.

Dinner on Halloween was at the Tidal Creek Co-op, where we picked up snacks and breakfast supplies.  Friday, I had breakfast at Port City Java before we hit the streets.  Lunch was at the Dock Street Oyster Bar and dinner was at The George with dessert at Perkeo Wine Bistro.  Saturday we had brunch at the Cobblestone Cafe and dinner at 9 Bakery and Lounge.

We had some truly excellent wines at both dinner restaurants and at Perkeo and, yes, I took notes.

Promis Qous White (at The George)

Butternut Chardonnay at Perkeo

Sokol Blosser Pinot Gris at Perkeo

Protea red blend from South Africa at Perkeo  (I can’t find a decent link for that)

Simple Life Chardonnay/Viogner Blend at Perkeo and Pinot Noir at 9

The Ned Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc at 9 (which we had tasted at the Weaver Street Wine Show)

d’Aurenberg Hermit Crab (Aus.) 74% Marsanne, 26% Roussane  at 9

Peirano “The Other” red blend at 9.