Saturday, November 21, 2015

Three Wines for Thanksgiving Dinner

Ahh, the holidays are finally here. For us Floridians, we're still experiencing swampy hot days in the mid-80's. But that's neither here nor there. What's important is that it's time to gather with friends and family to eat awesome food and drink delicious wine. Here are my 3 picks for wines to pair with Thanksgiving dinner this year:

The wine: Biltmore Estate Chateau Reserve
Price: $24.99
Tasting notes: Good acidity and balance are complemented by hints of lemon, apple, and pear.
Why I like it: You have to start Thanksgiving Day with a sparkling wine, obvi. This pairs well with all the yummy apps enjoyed on Thanksgiving Day. My favorite pairing is this wine and a nice baked Brie with almonds and cranberries.
The wine: Kendall Jackson's Avant Chardonnay 2013
Tasting notes: This refreshing Chardonnay erupts with captivating layers of pineapple, bright green apple and fresh lemon, juicy pear and wildflowers.
Why I like it: At a value price point, this is a fantastic table wine for a holiday meal. I would pair it with the salad or soup course, but for those who exclusively enjoy white wine, it could pair well with the entire dinner. It's an unoaked Chardonnay so it doesn't overpower the flavors of the meal you worked so hard to cook -- I really like the pear flavors, too.
The wine:Coppola's Votre Sante 2013
Price: $13
Tasting notes: This is a light wine with sweetness, soft tannins and a nice texture. The finish is clean and the aromas are intense.
Why I like it: Not your typical Pinot Noir. Sometimes I avoid Pinot Noirs because I feel like I am drinking juice. This one is different - I wouldn't say it's "full-bodied" but it can definitely stand up to the flavors of turkey, sausage stuffing, and garlic mashed potatoes. Of course, I like the price point of this one, too.
I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving and hope you ca enjoy some time unplugging and relaxing. Of course, with a great glass of wine in hand. Cheers!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Wine Wednesday: Liberated Pinot Noir

Happy Wine Wednesday! So, I'm on a bit of a Pinot Noir kick. It's just so great for easy sipping and pairs well with just about every food -- am I right? Here's one I am loving lately.
The wine: Liberated Pinot Noir, the "Graduate"
Price: $20
Tasting notes: It's full of cherry, tea leaf, cranberry and baking spice flavors. If that combination doesn't say "perfect for Fall," I am not sure what does.
Why I like it: Well, a couple of reasons. This bottle is easy fall sipping. Their motto is "Free yourself from convention." And...I try not to say I like a wine for it's label, but hello - every label they make in this line of wines is really cool.
Food pairing: We enjoyed it with a pasta (made by the hubs!) with seared scallops, fresh tomatoes and arugula, lots of garlic and a splash of white wine.
Cheer and Happy Wine Wednesday! What's in your glass this evening?

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Wine Wednesday: Columbia Crest Pinot Gris

Today my pick for #WineWednesday is a great everyday white wine that is crisp and perfect for fall evenings.
 Wine: Columbia Crest Pinot Gris 2012

Tasting Notes: This is a lively Pinot Gris with aromas of peach, melon and grapefruit.  Fruit flavors are joined by subtle nutty and spice, all balanced by crisp acidity. 

Food pairing suggestion: I paired this wine with a crockpot red chicken curry – I used this recipe from a blog called Shared Appetite that I found on Pinterest. To save time, I’ve been relying on cooking 2-3 big meals on Sunday that last us through mid-week. This recipe was great and of course I took the liberty of spicing it up with extra jalapenos and sriracha. The Pinot Gris was crisp and balanced the spice well. That said, if you’re not a Thai food fan, I think it would complement a spicy pasta dish as well. 

Price: At $12, this is a great value bottle and can be an “everyday” white

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Wine Wednesday: Dreaming Tree "Crush"

Just a quick post today to share one of my favorite bottles of red you can find for $15. Dreaming Tree is a wine made by Dave Matthews, named for a track on the 1998 album "Before These Crowded Streets."
My favorite of the five wines he makes is called Crush, it's the red blend in the group. I'm also a big fan of the Chardonnay, which is called Everyday. See the theme here, with the names? The corks have song lyrics on them, such a cool detail.
And I also love that the website has Dave-approved recipes on it, recommended for pairing with the wines. Check it out. Happy #winewednesday! Cheers!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Recipe: NY Strip Steak with Mushroom and Arugula Pasta (and a wine pairing!)

Fall is here and while it's still hot as ever in Florida, I'm inspired to start cooking dishes with earthier, heartier ingredients. This is a pretty easy recipe and if you're cooking as a duo, the person grilling can take care of the steak while the other takes care of the pasta. If you're cooking solo, this can still be done, as long as you're ok with running back and forth from the stove to the grill outdoors!

NY Strip Steak with Mushroom and Arugula Pasta

  • 1 box pasta. Your choice here, I used rotini this time, but it's also great with papardelle
  • olive oil
  • 1 pkg of portobello mushrooms
  • 4 large cloves fres minced garlic
  • 4 handfuls of fresh arugula
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb NY Strip steak (your choice on the cut)
  • fresh grated Parmesan cheese  
  • fresh basil
  • Boil noodles in salted water, drain and set aside
  • Heat olive oil in pan and cook minced garlic cloves for 30 seconds to a minute. Don't burn them!
  • Add mushrooms and a pinch of salt and cook 5 minutes 
  • Add a swirl of the olive oil and toss the noodles into the pan with mushrooms, fully coat all noodles
  • Add a little more salt and pepper to taste and then toss in arugula until it's coated. The arugula shouldn't fully cook, just be warmed by the pasta
  •  Simultaneously, if you can, grill the NY Strip. For medium rare, about 4 minutes on each side.
  •  Top with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.
I paired this dish with Coppola Director's Cut Red Zinfandel. It's a fruit forward wine with flavors of chocolate and vanilla. A little Syrah is added during the winemaking process for a sturdier structure.
 Notes from the winemaker: "The 2012 Director’s Cut Zinfandel delivers ample body and a velvety palate with a bouquet of blackberries, raspberries, clove and pepper followed by succulent flavors of cherries, mixed berries and mocha."  A delicious complement to the steak and the pasta, a hearty dish that (almost) made me feel that Fall is right around the corner. Cheers!
 Coppola 2012 Director's Cut Red Zin can be found at Total Wine and Pubix for just under $20.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Great red wines for summertime BBQs: Motto

I recently discovered a new wine that I would definitely reccomend for your summertime BBQs and get togethers. Motto is a collection of distinct, dark, rich wines from California that offers a new take on California wine. The wines are dark and bold, yet fruit-forward.
Aside from being great, bold reds that all pair well with food, they have interesting names that caught my attention: Unabashed, Gung Ho and Backbone. But today I'll focus on Gung Ho, as this one was my favorite...
This Red Blend is full of contrast—rich, yet delicate; fruity, yet structured; soft floral aromas and flavors of blueberry pie.  Lots of character and complexity here and a price point ($15) that makes it a perfect take-along to a summertime dinner party.  Any of these three would pair well with burgers, grilled chicken or salmon. The Motto collection is now available nationwide and at

BadA** Beer Fest at Tampa Bay Brewing Co

Beer is your friend. This is a true statement.

...and it's the motto of Tampa Bay Brewing Company.
I was pretty excited to find out that they were hosting their BadA** Beer Fest at their new location on Race Track Rd this past Friday, July 31. Some say the location is in Westchase, some say it's Oldsmar.... Either way, I'm happy we have craft beer on my side of town. 
What a cool event!  Tampa Bay Brewing Company brought the annual BadAss Beerfest to the site of its second location. A crowd of 3,500 attended.The craft beer festival, which also functioned as the grand opening of the new brewpub at 13937 Monroe Business Park, coincided with BrewCo's 20th birthday as well as a lunar blue moon. To celebrate, the Full Moon Madness anniversary brew was released during the event, and each guest got to take home 16-ounce can of this new "subtropical porter."
 My favorite beer discovery of the night was TBBC's Reef Donkey, a rye-hopped American Pale Ale made using a "secret selection of hops" to give this nice dry beer a lemon/lime aroma and citrus & slight tropical fruit flavor.

This is quite the facility. Outside, there are tables with built-in firepits and an outdoor bar. It was super-crowded and tough to get any good pics of this part of the event. 
There was live music from the band Stormbringer,  beer tastings from 40 different area breweries, food trucks and more. The restaurant at the brewery opens today and I can't wait to check it out. I was told the menu was similar, but not exactly the same as menu at the location in Ybor City.

Overall, an awesome event for Tampa Bay craft beer enthusiasts and I look forward to trying the food here on my next visit, paired with a Reef Donkey of course. Cheers!