Beautiful Biutiful Cava

Biutiful Brut Rosé Cava – At $14 a bottle, this sparkling rose wine from Spain is perfect for any season. Whether it’s opened during a summer picnic with friends over a basket of prosciutto and cheese or during a Thanksgiving feast with family, this food-friendly bubbly is easily drinkable and is full of festivity and fun. Ratings 3.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

Biutiful Brut Rosé Cava – At $14 a bottle, this sparkling rose wine from Spain is perfect for any season. Whether it’s opened during a summer picnic with friends over a basket of prosciutto and cheese or during a Thanksgiving feast with family, this food-friendly bubbly is easily drinkable and is full of festivity and fun. Ratings 3.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

Biutiful Brut Rosé Cava

Biutiful Brut Rosé Cava

Hubby and I never really celebrate Valentine’s Day. Not that I’m judgey of people who do…I completely understand the desire to feel that little bit of extra love and attention or spend time with your special someone over a nice dinner. However, Hubby’s birthday is the week before Valentine’s Day. Our anniversary is literally a month before. Two weeks before that is New Year’s, and a week before that is Christmas. So, for us, there are numerous opportunities around that time of year to make sure the other person knows how we each feel, so we just never really got into celebrating Valentine’s Day. That said, the day still calls for opening some bubbly to enjoy over dinner.

The Biutiful Cava Brut Rosé (snooth) is a sparkling wine from Spain that is made with 100% Garnacha grapes. The wine had a nice orangish-pink color with persistent bubbles. On the nose, there were raspberries and strawberries with a hint of apricot. In the mouth, there were tart raspberries and strawberries mixed with peaches and cream. The wine had a light-to-medium body and good acidity.

Biutiful Cava Brut Rose and homemade cheesesteakIs this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At $14, this rose Cava is easily drinkable, food-friendly, and very affordable. The acidity create a nice brightness and bubbles dance. I paired the sparkler with homemade cheese steaks, and the wine cut through the fat from the cheese and the meat beautifully, making for a nice pairing. I also think this wine would be a enjoyable over a Thanksgiving turkey dinner or on a picnic blanket with friends while eating prosciutto and cheese. Overall, this Cava definitely added a nice touch to our casual Valentine’s Day dinner, and I won’t hesitate to grab another bottle when I see one.

Question of the Day: Are you someone who celebrates Valentine’s Day or do you tend to treat it like every other day?

Price: $14
Purchased at 7 River Mart, the convenience store I walk by during my commute.
Overall: 3.5 Corks

A Grandes Vinos Red With My Blogger Group

2007 Grandes Vinos y Viñedos Monasterio de las Viñas – At $20 a bottle, this red wine blend is from Cariñena, Spain, which is the country’s leading producer of old-vine Garnacha and Cariñena. The wine is medium bodied and definitely meant to drink with food. Ratings 3 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2007 Grandes Vinos y Viñedos Monasterio de las Viñas – At $20 a bottle, this red wine blend is from Cariñena, Spain, which is the country’s leading producer of old-vine Garnacha and Cariñena. The wine is medium bodied and definitely meant to drink with food. Ratings 3 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

Two years ago at the Wine Bloggers’ Conference in Santa Barbara, I met a fantastic group of women that are now my “blogger circle” (links to their sites are below).  We regularly discuss all things wine, blogging, and wine blogging on a Facebook group, and then Google Hangout once a month, where we talk face-to-face about a particular topic that’s come up during our Facebook discussions.  I’m constantly learning from them, and I particularly love our Hangouts because I’m able to come home from work and just geek out with blogger friends about something we all enjoy…and we do it over a glass (or several) of wine.

2007 Grandes Vinos y Viñedos Monasterio de las Viñas

2007 Grandes Vinos y Viñedos Monasterio de las Viñas

During a recent Hangout, I opened the 2007 Grandes Vinos y Viñedos Monasterio de las Viñas, which is a red wine from Cariñena, in the Aragon region of Spain.  According to the press information that came with the wine, Grandes Vinos y Viñedos works with 5 winery partners within 14 different growing areas of Cariñena.  These partners collaborate and release a variety of wines as Grandes Vinos.

The 2007 Grandes Vinos y Viñedos Monasterio de las Viñas (website) was a blend of 60% Garnacha. 30% Tempranillo, and 10% Cariñena.  The wine’s color was a dark ruby with a purple tint.  On the nose, there were dark cherries with hints of cocoa dust and smoked meat.  In the mouth, there were black cherries, blackberries, and smoked meat with hints of cedar and pepper.  The wine was medium bodied with medium tannins and high acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work?  Sure…you won’t be drinking anything out of the ordinary, but you’ll have a decent, reliable glass.  At an SRP of $20, this wine is definitely a food wine rather than a “sip and chat” wine.  It’s a little thin and acidic, and while I enjoyed the nose, I just kept wishing for a little more every time I took a taste.  Granted, that didn’t stop be from sipping away while talking online with my blogger friends, but overall, I felt the wine was a little pricey for what it offered.

Check out the other bloggers in my blogger circle:
Allison from Bon Vivant
Anne from Oddball Grape
Becca from The Gourmez
Krista from Upkeep: Wine, Body, and Soul
Lisa from Wine with Lisa

Question of the Day: Are you a blogger?  Do you have a blogger group and, if so, what is the most useful part of the group for you? 

Lambrusco Tasting at Osteria Morini

6 Lambrusco, Italian Sparkling Red Wines – Ranging from $7-$25, these wines range from dry to sweet, as well as from pale in color like a rose to inky purple like a sparkling red wine. All 6 wines are easy to drink and are perfect for pairing with food. The blog post includes details from a wine pairing dinner. | AGlassAfterWork.com

6 Lambrusco, Italian Sparkling Red Wines – Ranging from $7-$25, these wines range from dry to sweet, as well as from pale in color like a rose to inky purple like a sparkling red wine. All 6 wines are easy to drink and are perfect for pairing with food. The blog post includes details from a wine pairing dinner. | AGlassAfterWork.com

Banfi’s Lambrusco seminar at the 2015 Wine Bloggers Conference (WBC15) inspired the focus for this year’s tasting. In the WBC15 session, I learned that Lambrusco is the most purchased Italian red wine in U.S. retail chain stores. And, I realized that while I love ordering Lambrusco out at restaurants, I knew very little about the wine, I rarely bought a bottle to drink at home, and even less frequently wrote about it on the blog. So, I decided while still at the conference that 2016 was the year I would publically embrace Lambrusco, and what better way to do that than by organizing a Lambrusco wine dinner for my work colleagues.

Setup at Osteria Morini for 2016 Lambrusco Tasting

Setup at Osteria Morini for the Lambrusco tasting

At least once a year, my department does a team-building event. Several months after I started at this job, I offered to do an Albariño wine tasting for one of these gatherings. Since then, our annual staff bonding has occurred over food and wine. Usually, it’s just for the 15 people in my division that are located in DC. This year, however, the tasting ended up being while the regional members of our team were in town, so our size actually doubled. None of my coworkers are wine experts and only a couple could even recall ever having a Lambrusco before our dinner.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the wine, Lambrusco is a sparkling red wine made from a family of grapes that are unique to the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. This northern part of the country is about the size of Massachusetts and is particularly well known for the food that comes from the area. Therefore, it’s no surprise that Lambrusco makes for a perfect wine pairing with many of these items.

As luck would have it, one of my favorite Italian restaurants in DC–Osteria Morini–specializes in food from the Emilia-Romagna, so there was no question about holding the wine tasting dinner there.

Lineup for 2016 Lambrusco Tasting

Lambrusco tasting lineup

There were 6 different Lambruschi (the plural of Lambrusco), ranging from dry to sweet, as well as from pale in color like a rose to inky purple like a sparkling red wine.

Donelli Lambrusco di Sorbara

Donelli Lambrusco di Sorbara

Donelli Lambrusco di Sorbara (winery)
SRP: $15 (purchased in restaurant for $40 a bottle)
Grapes: 90% Lambrusco di Sorbara and 10% Lambrusco Salamino
Medium pink color with flecks of ruby and a pale pink foam
Roses and violets mixed with strawberries and raspberries
Lighter bodied with bright acidity.
3.5 Corks

Albinea Canali "FB" Lambrusco

Albinea Canali “FB” Lambrusco

Albinea Canali “FB” (winery, snooth)
SRP: $20 (*provided as a sample)
Grapes: 100% Lambrusco Sorbara
Pinkish-red
Fresh and fruity with lots of strawberries and hints of yeastiness that comes from the second fermentation in the bottle
Lighter bodied with refreshing tartness
Dry
4 Corks

Albinea Canali Ottocentonero

Albinea Canali Ottocentonero

Albinea Canali Ottocentonero (winery, snooth)
SRP: $20 (*provided as a sample)
Grapes: 50% Lambrusco Salamino, 40% Lambrusco Grasparossa, and 10% Lancellotta
Darker ruby with hints of purple and a pinkish foam
Cherries and blackcurrant on the nose
Flower petals and sour cherry in the mouth
Dry, almost bitter finish with bright acidity, but pleasantly so.
3.5 Corks

Riunite

Riunite

Riunite (website, snooth)
SRP: $7 (*provided as a sample)
Grapes: Lambrusco Maestri, Lambrusco Marani, Lambrusco Salamino, Lambrusco Montericco, and Lancellotta
Dark ruby with hints of violet and purplish, foamy top.
Big and fruity—strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and cherries
Medium bodied with soft tannins.
Sweet
4.5 Corks

Fattoria Moretto Lambrusco Grasparossa

Fattoria Moretto Lambrusco Grasparossa

2013 Fattoria Moretto Monovitigno
Cost: $25 from Wine Library
Grapes: 100% Lambrusco Grasparossa
Dark, purplish ruby with a nice foam top
Mixture of strawberries and blackberries with hints of sour cherry, rose petals, and something herby
Medium bodied with soft tannins
Hint of sweetness
4.5 Corks

Bell'Agio

Bell’Agio

Bell’Agio (website, snooth)
SRP: $15 (*provided as a sample)
Grapes: Lambrusco Salamino and Lambrusco Grasparossa
Dark ruby with hints of purple and foamy top
Mixture of raspberry and blackberries
Full-bodied with a bit of acid and soft tannins
Luscious and sweet
4 Corks

2016 Lambrusco Tasting Menu at Osteria Morini

2016 Lambrusco Tasting Menu at Osteria Morini

What I still love about these wine dinners is that they’re not just about the wines, but also about experiencing the wines with good food and company. And, the restaurant definitely didn’t let us down when it came to good food.

cheese and charcuterie board

cheese and charcuterie board

The evening started with a cheese and charcuterie board to go with our first Lambrusco–the Donelli Lambrusco di Sorbara, which is the only bottle we opened from the restaurants wine list. The Lambrusco and the boards were enjoyed cocktail hour style, with everyone standing our talking, eating, and sipping away. After that, we sat down to dinner at two long tables, where we indulged in a 4-course, family style dinner.

The Antipasti Course - Polpo alla Piastra, Polpettine, and Burrata

The Antipasti Course – Polpo alla Piastra, Polpettine, and Burrata

After the about 30 minutes of standing around talking, we settled into our seats for dinner. The Albinea Canali “FB” was served with the antipasti course–Polpo alla Piastra (charred octopus, fregola, and tomato); Polpettine (mortadella & prosciutto meatballs, pomodoro), which is one of my favorite dishes at Osteria Morini, and Burrata (house-made mozzarella, grapefruit, and pistachio). The FB is a lighter, drier style of Lambrusco. And, while the FB paired nicely with all three dishes, I could not get enough of combining it with the octopus. I kept taking a sip of wine, then a bit of octopus, and another sip of wine. It was one of the few dishes I went back for seconds on, even knowing how much more food was left to come.

The Primi course (rigitoni, gramigna, and cassarecce) with the Albinea Canali Ottocentonero

The Primi course (rigitoni, gramigna, and cassarecce) with the Albinea Canali Ottocentonero

For the second course (or Primi course), we opened the Albinea Canali Ottocentonero to drink with three different pasta dishes–a Rigatoni (made with braised wild mushrooms, rosemary oil, and parmigiano), a Gramigna (made with pork sausage, carbonara, and pecorino), and a Cassarecce (a squid ink pasta with scallops, squid, rapini, and calabrian chili). The Gramigna is usually my go-to dish at the restaurant, but I think that’s because I never had the Cassarecce before. The Cassarecce was my favorite of the night, and when put with the acidity and flavors of the Lambrusco, both the food and the wine came to life in a way that took what was already enjoyable individually and just made them sing together.

The main course (or secondi) actually featured two Lambruschi–Riunite and 2013 Fattoria Moretto Monovitigno–and they were paired with several different types of meats–Anatra (duck breast, spaetzle, trumpet mushrooms, spinach, radish); Branznio (Mediterranean seabass, chickpeas, charred broccoli, taggaisca olives, and bagna cauda); and Grigliata Mista (lamb porterhouse, pork ribs, chicken sausage, and hanger steak). Our side dishes, which I somehow missed getting a picture of, were Patata Fritti (crispy red bliss potatoes with pecorino) and Spinaci (buttered spinach).

The Secondi Course - Anatra, Branzino, and Grigliata Mista

The Secondi Course – Anatra, Branzino, and Grigliata Mista

The Riunite has a bit of sweetness, definitely more than the Fattoria Moretto Monovitigno, but that made the pairings even more interesting because everyone agreed that both wines matched the food beautifully. Several coworkers mentioned that they never really experienced a “good” pairing and the difference it can make in how the wine and the food both taste, but that this course really highlighted the possibilities for them.

It’s also worth noting that during this course, we tasted both the least and most expensive wines of the night. Interestingly, they were also both the favorite wines of the night. When it came to these two in particular, since we were tasting side-by-side, I asked everyone to show their hand for preferences before reveling the cost of the retail cost of the wines, and it was split almost exactly down the middle.

Dolci course with the Bell'Agio

Dolci course with the Bell’Agio

Finally, we finished the evening off with our last Lambrusco–the Bell’Agio–and dessert (Dolci course). This Lambrusco was the sweetest of the night, and its sweetness was particularly nice with the flavors of the Tiramisu (mascarpone mousse, lady finger, amaretto, and coffee crema) and Torta al Cioccolato (chocolate ganache and praline crunch).

Overall, the tasting was a huge success! I’ve had several coworkers follow-up when they’ve ordered Lambrusco at a restaurant or bought a bottle to share at home, and that is the ultimate sign of success for me. A special thanks to Joe and Dino at Banfi for generously providing 4 of the 6 wines we tasted and to Jonna, Rubio, and the rest of the Osteria Morini DC team for an unforgettably delicious evening.

Question of the Day: Have you ever had Lambrusco? If so, what are your thoughts on the type of wine? Do you have a favorite?

Snowzilla Day 4 – A Goodbye to Snow with a Snow Roller

**Here is my blog post about Snowzilla Day 1 , Snowzilla Day 2 (Part 1), Snowzilla Day 2 (Part 2), and Snowzilla Day 3**

Magic Hat Brewing Company Snow Roller – This seasonal brown ale from Vermont is only available in the winter, but it’s a great option for the IPA lover looking to explore new beer horizons Ratings 3.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

Magic Hat Brewing Company Snow Roller – This seasonal brown ale from Vermont is only available in the winter, but it’s a great option for the IPA lover looking to explore new beer horizons Ratings 3.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

IMagic Hat Brewing Company Bottle Top promise…this is my last post about Snowzilla. I know it was months ago. I know everyone is over snow and instead thinking about spring, cookouts, and rose. But, I’m clearly behind on blogging, and I tasted so many good things over those few days I didn’t want to miss sharing. So, here it is…my final day of Snowzilla.

By the time Day 4 rolled around, the weather was doing more to clear away the snow than the city. There are many things I love about DC, but the ability to handle snowy weather is not one of them. Hubby and I spent our last day home acting more like it was a staycation day rather than a snow day. And, after several days of wine, I felt like enjoying a beer instead. So, I opted for Magic Hat Brewing Company’s aptly named Snow Roller.

Magic Hat Brewing Company Snow Roller Hoppy Brown Ale

Magic Hat Brewing Company Snow Roller Hoppy Brown Ale

The Snow Roller (brewery) is a brown ale from Vermont. The beer had a clear medium amber color with about an inch of foamy tan head. On the nose, there were mild smells of caramel, cereal, and something bitter. In the mouth, caramel and biscuits mixed with hints of citrus and something earthy. The beer had a medium body with a slight bite of bitterness on the finish.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this beer in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. It was an interesting mix of a brown ale and IPA. So, if you’re an IPA lover looking to expand your beer horizons, you should definitely grab a bottle. Overall, this beer was makes for a nice winter seasonal option and it was perfect for a snowy day.

Question of the Day:  What’s the weather been like you?  How has it impacted your drinking choices?

Purchased at Harris Teeter
Overall: 3.5 Corks

Snowzilla Day 3 – Morning Sun & a South African Chenin Blanc

*** I received this wine as a sample. ***

Snowzilla Day 3 - A view of people walking in the middle of the street from the balcony

People walking in the middle of the street

**Here is my blog post about Snowzilla Day 1 , Snowzilla Day 2 (Part 1), Snowzilla Day 2 (Part 2), and Snowzilla Day 4**

By Day 3 of Snowzilla, most of the snow had stopped. We woke up in the morning to 2 feet of snow, which required some final shoveling, particularly when it came to digging out the car. However, for the most part, that Sunday was about enjoying being snowed in without snow falling and walking around the neighborhood. Hubby and I had a leftovers from the two big meals he made at the beginning of the storm, not to mention cheese and prosciutto left. Instead of going for another red, though, the warmer weather and sunshine called for a white wine to go with the historic snowfall we were digging out from.

Hubby in yellow digging out the car from 2 ft of snow

Hubby in yellow digging out the car from under 2 ft of snow

The 2014 De Morgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc (snooth, winery) is from Stellenbosch, South Africa and is made with 100% Chenin Blanc grapes. The wine was a medium lemon yello color. On the nose, there were white flowers and peaches mixed with a hint of honey, pear, and ginger. In the mouth there were pears, flowers, peaches, and apricots with hints of honest and ginger. This wine is medium-to-full bodied, with nice acidity and a long finish.

2014 De Morgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc – At $35, this white wine from South Africa is a dry, but luscious wine that is incredibly food friendly and easy to sip. The flavors are all flowers and peaches with hints of ginger, and it’s long finish lingers in the mouth bringing a smile to the face. Ratings 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2014 De Morgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? At an SRP of $35, this wine is probably a little price for an everyday wine, but this is a wine to grab for a nice Friday or Saturday night dinner or to open at the start of a night with friends. It’s incredibly food-friendly and easy to sip.

The snow stopped, but 2ft piled up against our back door, which turned our back patio into a "snowbox."

The snow stopped, but 2ft piled up against our back door, which turned our back patio into a “snowbox.”

According to the website, DeMorgenzon  means “the morning sun.”  While I didn’t know that when I opened the bottle, it was perfectly named for when I opened it.  The sunny, cloudless morning made for a beautiful winter day, and the Chenin Blanc made for a beautiful wine.  It brought a smile to my face…particularly nice a cold walk, in front of a warm fire, and cuddled up with Hubby.

Question of the Day: Do you tend to spend less on wine that you buy to open during the week than on the wine that you open over the weekend?  What’s your price range for an weekday bottle of wine?   

 

Suggested Retail Price: $35
Received as a sample.
Overall: 4.5 Corks