I’m Back with News & Gruet

It’s been a long time. I’m sure you’ve wondered if I’ve stopped blogging. I haven’t. The first half of the year just started off with so much work travel that something had to suffer a little, and unfortunately it was the blog. And then, the week after my last work trip, my whole world changed…

A few months ago, Hubby and I were moving furniture in the house, and he pulled a muscle in his neck. He would rest and then go to the gym when it felt better, but it would start bothering him again. After about 6 weeks of this, he made a doctor’s appointment. On Thursday, May 18, I left for work, and he headed to the doctor. A couple of hours later, he called me to say they were sending him to the hospital for CT scans and blood work. I picked him up, so we could go together. After several hours of tests, even though no one could give us an official diagnosis, it was clear he had cancer.

We came home from the hospital and did what anyone would—talked and cried, hugged each other, and cried some more. We also drank two bottles of Gruet Brut Rosé. It’s one of our favorites, and bubbly can make even the worst situation seem a little less dire.**

The following day, Hubby had a biopsy. A week after that first doctor’s appointment we got confirmation of what we already guessed–Hubby has stage II non-Hodkin’s lymphoma. It’s an aggressive cancer, so treatment is intense. He started his first of six 21-day cycles of chemotherapy this week. The first week is 5 days of infusions–some at the hospital and some through a pump he has with him 24/7–so we both head into today’s last session emotional drained, but also with the knowledge that we’re fighting this thing.

Hubby’s cancer is treatable, and we’re incredibly fortunate to live in a city with amazing medical care and to be surrounded by a strong support system. The doctors and nurses at Virginia Hospital Center have been wonderful—explaining everything to us in detail, while also being caring, supportive, and friendly. At work, our supervisors have been very understanding and accommodating. Our family and friends have shown an outpouring of love and generosity. And, everyone has shared a cancer story about a parent, sibling, friend, or other loved one who has had cancer and fought it. We’ve been surprised how many of those stories have been people with lymphoma. Even my Dad shared a story, reminding me of something that I forgot in the confusion of everything…my grandmother had a “terminal” case of lymphoma in 1965, which she fought and then lived 45+ more years, passing away from the complications of old age in her mid-90’s.

It’s amazing to think that three weeks ago Hubby walked into the doctor’s office because we thought he had a pulled muscle in his neck and today he’s finishing his first week of cancer treatment.  If all goes as we hope, Hubby will finish in mid-October and will head into the holiday season healthy.

In the meantime, I promise our battle against cancer won’t take up every blog post, as this is still a wine and beer blog. However, the reality is it’s part of our life now. I keep things focused on me to give Hubby as much privacy as he can expect being married to a blogger, but be prepared for me to be honest about my good, ok, and bad days, since all my glasses after work will be influenced by that now. Life can really change in the blink of an eye.

** I will save my Gruet tasting notes for another post, but as this is a wine blog, I want to acknowledge that I will forever be fan of Gruet for helping us cope with this nightmare. These two bottles were the first of many that have been opened since of others to come. We drank some of rosé, brut, and blanc de noirs, and with every bottle we opened, it was like having a reliable friend with us. We knew without a doubt every bottle we opened would be a delicious and comforting one for us to share together.

Question #1 of the Day: Do you have a positive/encouraging story you’d be willing to share (you can always email me at alleigh@aglassafterwork if you want to keep it private?

Question #2 of the Day: We all know about comfort food, but what is your comfort wine, beer, or cocktail?

8 Kosher Wine Ideas for Your Passover Seder

The world of kosher wines has changed dramatically over the last several years, which means that whether you’re hosting Passover or you’re a guest at someone else’s seder, picking out wine can be daunting. Here are 8 wines—one sparkling, three white, and four red—that you should feel comfortable opening for the holiday. Cheers! | AGlassAfterWork.com

8 Kosher Wines For Passover

As I discussed with The Swirl Suite a couple of weeks ago, the world of kosher wines has changed dramatically over the last several years, which means that whether you’re hosting Passover or you’re a guest at someone else’s seder, picking out wine can be daunting. Here are 8 wines—one sparkling, three white, and four red—that you should feel comfortable opening for the holiday.

SPARKLING

Deccolio Prosecco – At $14, this kosher sparkling wine from Italy is simple, food-friendly, and refreshing. It’s worth checking out, even if you’re not looking for a kosher wine. Rating 4 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

Deccolio Prosecco

The Deccolio Prosecco (winery) was a kosher sparkling wine from Italy that is perfect for both the kosher and non-kosher bubbly fan. It was light golden yellow with a lot of good bubbles. Both on the noise and in the mouth, this sparkler had a lot of Granny Smith apples, oranges, and hints of white flowers and honey. It’s simple, food-friendly, and refreshing, and won’t break the bank. I gave this wine 4 corks and purchased it for $14.

WHITES

Ben Ami Chardonnay -- At $10, this kosher Chardonnay from Israel is a nice white wine that would be nice both as an every day wine and as one to open on the holiday. It pairs well with roasted chicken or is enjoyable on its own. Rating: 4 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 Ben Ami Chardonnay

The Ben Ami Chardonnay (snooth) was from Israel and made with 100% Chardonnay grapes. It has a medium lemon-yellow color. This wine is all about tropical fruits—pineapple, guava, and hints of nectarine and lime on the nose with pineapple, honeydew and hints of lime, guava, and mango in the mouth. The wine had a medium body and bright acidity that made for a nice pairing with roasted chicken and mashed potatoes. I gave this wine 4 stars on Vivino and purchased it for $10.

Flam Blanc – At $28, this white wine blend from Israel is full of flavor. Whether you’re looking for a wine to pair with a turkey dinner or to enjoy over a steaming bowl of mazto ball soup, this wine is a fantastic option. Rating: 4 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 Flam Blanc

The Flam Blanc (winery, snooth) was an Israeli white wine blend that tasted full of limes, pineapples, and Granny Smith apples with hints of wet stone.  The wine had a light body and high acidity. It’s a fantastic food wine, just begging to be paired with a turkey dinner, but would also be nice with matzo balls or kugel. I gave this wine 4 corks and purchased if for $28.

Makom Grenache Blanc – At $30, this kosher white wine from California would please any crowd, kosher or not. It’s light-to-medium bodied with an acidity that makes it perfect for opening for a holiday dinner. Rating: 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

Makom Grenache Blanc

The Makom Grenache Blanc (winery) was made by Hajdu Wines. It was a beautiful lemon color with bright citrus, green apple, and something floral on the nose. In the mouth, the lemons were more like lemon curd mixed with apples, wet stone, and a hint of salinity. The wine had a light-to-medium body with good acid. It was a very fresh tasting that is sure to be a crowd pleaser. I gave this wine 4.5 stars on Vivino and purchased it for $30.

REDS

Casa De Cielo Reserve Malbec/Syrah – At $10, this kosher red wine is from Chile and has a quality/price ratio that would be difficult to match. It is a beautiful medium-bodied, well-balanced that is enjoyable on its own or perfect with a grilled London broil and polenta fries. Rating: 4 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 Casa De Cielo Reserve Malbec/Syrah

The Casa De Cielo Reserve Malbec/Syrah was Kosherwine.com’s private label, so it can only be purchased from their website. The wine was a blend from the Maule Valley in Chile. It was a beautiful medium-bodied, well-balanced red with blackberries and hints of cocoa dust and roses on the nose and blackberries, dark plums, tobacco and hints of cocoa and smoke in the mouth. While I enjoyed the wine on its own, it was absolutely gorgeous with a grilled London broil and polenta fries. I gave this wine 4 corks and purchased it for $10.

2011 LaTour Netofa Red – At $35 a bottle, this red wine from Israel is versatile kosher wine that offers a lot in a single glass. It can be used to accompany a holiday meal or just enjoyed on its own while talking the night away. Give it time to breath, and you won’t be disappointed. Rating 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2011 LaTour Netofa Red

The LaTour Netofa Red was is a full-bodied wine made from a blend of Mourvèdre and Syrah grapes. Both the nose and mouth were full of blueberries, blackberries, nutmeg, as well as hints of tea leaves, black pepper, dark chocolate, and dried roses. This was a wine that tasted like it was made to enjoy over a holiday meal with family and friends. I gave it 4.5 corks and purchased it for $35.

2014 Hajdu Wines Brobdinagian Petite Sirah – At $50, this kosher red wine from California is big, beautiful, and defies all the stereotypes about kosher wines. It’s still a touch young, but had nice fruit flavors and was delicious when paired with food. Definitely a wine worthy of a holiday occasion. Ratings 4.5 out 5 stars | AGlassAfterWork.com

2014 Hajdu Wines Brobdingnagian Petit Sirah

The Hajdu Wines Brobdingnagian Petite Sirah (winery) was a big and beautiful. It has nice fruit flavors and was delicious when paired with both a Florentine bistecca and chocolate chip meringue cookies. I actually brought this wine to a BYOB wine lunch with some diverse wine lovers, and not only did no one guess that it was a kosher wine, but also everyone loved it and went back for me. I gave this wine 5 stars on Vivino and purchased it for $50.

2012 Gva'ot Masada – At $80, this kosher red wine from Israel is a special occasion wine worth putting on your holiday table regardless of whether or not you keep kosher. It’s a big, bold, seductive wine that lingers in the mouth, calling for great food, conversation, and another sip. Rating 5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2012 Gva’ot Masada

The Gva’ot Masada was the epitome of a special occasion wine, and I’m in love it. This wine as all about blackberries, black currants, and dark plums mixed with a smokey earthiness, and the slightest touches of dark chocolate, thyme, and blueberries. It was full-bodied with grippy tannins. with a medium-to-full body and nice tannins. This is a seductive wine that lingers in the mouth, calling for great food, conversation, and another sip. I gave it 5 corks and purchased it for $80.

Question of the Day: If you celebrate Passover, have you picked out your wines?  What are you planning on serving? And, where do you tend to buy your kosher wines?

YouTube Famous Talking Kosher Wine with The Swirl Suite

Listen to A Glass After Work talking and drinking kosher wine with The Swirl Suite

Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised about this, but there are A LOT of wine bloggers in the DC metro area. I first met Tanisha (Girl Meets Glass) not long after I started blogging, but little did I know that she had a network of local amazing African-American women who were also wine bloggers. A couple of years after I met her, Tanisha left her desk job in DC for a wine life in Paris. As far as I can tell, she hasn’t looked back since (and I admit I’m green with envy).

Separately, a few years later at one of the Wine Bloggers’ Conferences, I met Sarita (Vine Me Up) and Glynnis (Vino_Noire). Sarita and I, in particular, were surprised that while we end up in similar wine circles and that she’s close with Tanisha, we never crossed paths before the conference. Not only that, but we also live fairly close to each other in DC, to the point that we’ve since met up at the wine bar that we both consider our local spot.

Behind the scenes of my interview with The Swirl Suite

Behind the scenes of my interview with The Swirl Suite

Tanisha, Sarita, Glynnis, Leslie (Vino301), and Melissa (Liquor_Lady) now making up The Swirl Suite and hold monthly discussions online about wine and spirits (you can find them here on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Stitcher, and SoundCloud). Sometimes they live stream and sometimes the conversations are pre-recorded. Sometimes it’s just the 5 of them and sometimes they have guests. Always, though, the conversations are lively, fun, and informative.

As a fan of all 5 ladies individually, and The Swirl Suite in its own right, I was very flattered when Sarita asked me to make a guest appearance to talk about kosher wines. I jumped at the chance. Last Sunday, I talked and drank with The Swirl Suite for 40 minutes, and the time went by very fast. You can watch our discussion here:   http://bit.ly/2nIV7hQ.

Covenant Wines Syrah

Covenant Wines Syrah

Without giving too many spoilers from the discussion, I was drinking the Covenant Wines Syrah, which is a $55 red wine from Israel that I would give 4.5 stars. My review will be posted in the next few days. Glynnis was drinking the Ugav Pinotage, which is a red wine made by Jerusalem Wineries in Israel, and she said the wine would be making a regular appearance in her house. Sarita opened a Cantina Gabriele Pinot Grigio that was not a favorite. Clearly, she and I will have to open another kosher wine together so that she has a better experience…there are so many delicious options out there.

Other wines, wineries, and online wine buying options that were mentioned during our conversation:

  • Deccolio Prosseco, which is a $14 sparkling wine from Italy that I reviewed in August and gave 4 stars.
  • Casa De Cielo Reserve Malbec/Syrah, which is an $11 red wine from Chile, is a silky wine full of dark fruit flavors and with medium tannins and acidity. It’s not very complex, but very food friendly (think steak or other grilled meats) and is perfect for drinking now.
  • 2014 Hajdu Wines Brobdinagian Petite Sirah – At $50, this kosher red wine from California is big, beautiful, and defies all the stereotypes about kosher wines. It’s still a touch young, but had nice fruit flavors and was delicious when paired with food. Definitely a wine worthy of a holiday occasion. Ratings 4.5 out 5 stars | AGlassAfterWork.com

    2014 Hajdu Wines Brobdingnagian Petit Sirah

    Hadju Wines– I mentioned the Brobdinagian, which I haven’t blogged about although I did post about it on Instagram and gave it a 5 rating Vivino. However, I also really enjoyed their Grenache, which is a $50 red wine from California that I gave 4 corks to in October.

  • Dalton Winery, which I’ve reviewed in the past and enjoyed.
  • Kosherwine.com – This is the website that I do almost all of my online kosher wine shopping. The selection is definitely worth checking out.

Question of the Day: Have you ever had a kosher wine before?  What did you think?

 

Levo Mint – A Sexy California Red

Monday, February 13 was one of those days that got a late start, so it fooled me. I had some emails to answer before my 10:30am staff meeting, but all seemed quiet…until it wasn’t. Halfway through the staff meeting, my email started to blow up. From there, I spent much of my day running from congressional office to congressional office, meeting with staff on a vote that was announced for that week. I enjoy the busy days, but this one shifted from busy to chaotic, which isn’t quite as fun. The benefit of having email on my phone, though, is that once things moved back from chaotic to busy, I was able to make it to my spin class before heading home to open a bottle of wine and pack for my work trip to Nashville.

2013 Levo Mint – At $36, this red wine from California is an incredibly sexy wine that is worth every penny. It’s big and bold enough to enjoy on its own, while turning sultry when paired with food. It’s a luscious wine that will call into question your self-restraint, but leave you with no regrets. Rating: 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 Levo Mint

The 2013 Levo Mint (winery) is a red wine blend from California. On the nose, there were blackberries and cigars mixed with hints of black cherry and vanilla. In the mouth, there were blackberries and black cherries with a cigar box and hints of nutmeg and cinnamon. The wine was medium-to-ful bodied with medium tannins and high acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? At $36, this is an incredibly sexy wine that is worth every penny. I sipped away at my first glass while packing for my trip. And, while it was delicious, the wine only got better from there. I paired the second glass with Hubby’s slow cooker BBQ pork and grits. There was something about the BBQ that enhanced the depth and smokiness of the wine, making the meal sultry and delicious. I couldn’t get enough. Admittedly, the third glass was just gluttonous, but I was enjoying it too much to have self restraint. All in all, it was a wine worth the indulgence.

November 2016's Wine Bloggers' Conference Scholarship Fund Wine Club shipment | AGlassAfterWork.com

November 2016’s Wine Bloggers’ Conference Scholarship Fund Wine Club shipment

As a side note, the Levo Mint was one of three wines I received as part of “The Wine Bloggers’ Conference Scholarship Fund Wine Club.” This wine club is just $99, and 50% of the profits are donated back to the WBC Scholarship Fund. The scholarship helps wine bloggers attend the annual Wine Bloggers’ Conference, which long-time readers know I think is an invaluable experience for every wine blogger.  The wine club also has a private Facebook group and, since several participants are also wine bloggers there are a number of people blogging about, tweeting about, and holding live tastings of these wines.  So, if you wanted to add a social component to your membership, there are many ways to do that.

So far, I’ve been in love with every wine I’ve received through the club. There are four shipments of three wines from boutique California wineries (we’ve received two shipments/six wines). If you’re looking for an inexpensive, charitable wine club that is going to give you some truly fantastic wines that you probably wouldn’t know about on your own…this is the wine club for you.  Check it out!

Question of the Day: Do you drink wines or belong to wine clubs that donate some of the profits to charity? Do those donations make you more likely to buy the wine or join the club?

Price: $36
Purchased at The Wine Bloggers’ Conference Scholarship Fund Wine Club
Overall: 5 Corks

My Annual Review, Laurent-Perrier Champagne, & A Casserole

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

First off…today is my 8-year Blogiversary, so a quick thank you for being loyal readers!! I’ll post more on my celebration in the next few days. With that, onto the blog post.

Last Tuesday started off with my annual review. No matter how good one feels about his/her job or boss, review time is always nerve-wracking. This year, though, I actually outlined a few new things in my self-evaluation that will expand my role in the association, push me outside my comfort zone, and, hopefully, provide some good career growth. Thankfully, not only to the Big Boss have great feedback about my performance, but also he was very supportive of the goals I outlined. Now, the hard part will be implementing it!

After my review, I was off to meetings with Senate staff for most of the day. Then, I finished things off with a killer spin class at my local spin and barre studio. By the time I walked home, Hubby had dinner–Pinch of Yum’s creamy chicken quinoa and broccoli casserole–in oven, so all that was left was to open a good bottle of wine.

Laurent-Perrier Demi-Sec – At $40, this Champagne from France dances in the glass and in your mouth.  The cost makes it a more of a splurge, but the beautiful flavors, and food-friendliness can’t help but bring a smile to your face. Rating: 4 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

Laurent-Perrier Demi Sec

The Laurent-Perrier Demi-Sec (winery) is a sparkling wine from the Champagne region in France and is made with a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier grapes. The bubbly had a medium yellow color with a lot of small, persistent bubbles that danced in my glass. The characteristics on the nose and in the mouth with similar–juicy white peaches mixed with lemons and brioche. The wine had a medium body with medium-to-high acidity and a hint of sweetness.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this sparkler in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At an SRP of $40, it is definitely more of a weeknight splurge, but I thought that a good review was qualified. And, since I’d actually enjoyed this Champagne for the first time a few weeks ago, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. Sometimes, I find that Champagne can be almost too subtle, but this bubbly has enough going on that I’m aware of it without it drawing my attention away from conversation or food every time I take a sip.

Admittedly, I enjoyed several glass over the course of the evening. My first was while Hubby finished making dinner. It was a lovely choice for catching up about our day, although it admittedly went down so smoothly that I was ready for my second glass by the time dinner was served. The acidity and bubbles were perfect for cutting through the cheese in the casserole, and the more delicate flavors matched nicely with the lighter seasoning of the chicken and quinoa in the casserole. After dinner, I poured by third glass, grabbed my latest knitting project, and watched a few episodes of Call the Midwife, my latest Netflix addiction.

Question of the Day: What is you’re under-$50, but still a splurge go-to sparkling wine?

Suggested Retail Price: $40
Received as a sample.
Overall: 4 Corks