Sunday Baking: Malbec & “My Chocolate Chip Cookies”

2008 Achaval-Ferrer Finca Mirador Malbec with Rose Levy Beranbaum's "My Chocolate Chip Cookies"

2008 Achaval-Ferrer Finca Mirador Malbec with Rose Levy Beranbaum’s “My Chocolate Chip Cookies”

I love to bake, but for a long time didn’t indulge because I didn’t have the right equipment.  My mother in law bought be a Kitchen Aid stand mixer last Christmas, so for the last year, I’ve been baking cookies almost every week for my coworkers and my brother.  I decided this was better than baking weekly cookies for Hubby and me because neither of us needed to go through that many cookies.  Plus, I love to share the latest baking experiment with others.  Sure, between vacations and work travel, there have been a few missed weeks in there, but it’s been pretty consistent.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that somewhere along the way, I started posting the pictures under the hashtag #SundayBaking.  However, the cookies never really intersected with the purpose of A Glass After work, so I kept it all on Instagram.  And, then the pairing happened…

I don’t know why it took me so long to open a bottle of wine or beer while baking, but it wasn’t until October when I was drinking Terrapin Beer Company’s Pumpkinfest while making Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies that it hit me.  Since then, most of my cookie baking has been combined with a glass of wine or a bottle of beer, and I’ve decided it’s time to share those awith you through a new weekly post…Sunday Baking.

My Chocolate Chip Cookies and The Baking Bible by Rose Lvy BeranI’m on a quest to make the perfect chocolate chip cookie dough, so I decided to start from scratch with a traditional chocolate chip cookie.  My friend (and amazing photographer), Kami, gave me Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Baking Bible for the holidays this year, so that seemed like a good place to start.  The cookies were really good, but not perfect, so I’ll continue to tweak the recipe and share as I do.  However, they paired beautifully with the Malbec I opened.

The 2008 Achaval-Ferrer Finca Mirador Malbec (winery, snooth) is from Mendoza, Argentina and is made with 100% Malbec grapes.  The wine was a deep purple with flecks of ruby, particularly on the rim.  On the nose, there were plums, cherries, and hints of flowers.  In the mouth, there were plums, cherries, and violets mixed with baking spices.  The wine had a full body, medium-to-high tannins, and medium-to-high acidity.

2008 Achaval-Ferrer Finca Mirador Malbec

2008 Achaval-Ferrer Finca Mirador Malbec

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for?  At $80 a bottle, this wine is expensive, but worth every penny.  Admittedly, I received it as a birthday present a few years ago, and after some research, decided to wait to open it in hopes that the characteristics would mellow—and they did.  This wine is in prime drinking form and would be perfect with a nice steak dinner.

Admittedly, The Finca Mirador is too expensive to normally open while baking cookies.  However, I threw a little caution to the wind because it seemed like the perfect timing, since it’s the new year and I’m baking in our new house.  The wine was a little something special on a fairly normal day, and it made for a delicious pairing.  Afterwards, I continued to enjoy the wine in front of our fireplace, and there’s nothing quite like a relaxing evening with a fantastic wine and a nice fire.

While the bottle is too expensive for an every day wine and is out of the price range for many people, if you see it in the store, you should grab it.  It’s luscious and smooth, easy to drink, and is the epitome of a big, beautiful wine.

Question of the Day: Do you have a chocolate chip cookie recipe that you love?  Do you every combine drinking and baking?

2008 Achaval Ferrer Malbec cork

Price: $80
Overall: 4.5 Corks

New Year’s Eve with Mumm

Hubby & me at the Ponte Vecchio in Florence; Me and Andrea from Of Vines & Velos at Bridlewood Estate Winery; and Hubby and me in front of our new home.

Hubby & me at the Ponte Vecchio in Florence; Me and Andrea from Of Vines & Velos at Bridlewood Estate Winery; and Hubby and me in front of our new home.

I admit it…I was sorry to see 2014 end.  It was a wonderful year for Hubby and me.  We started it off by celebrating the New Year and our 7th wedding anniversary in Rome and Florence, Italy.  In March, I was finally fully recovered from the major hip surgery I had in 2013, so I ran my first post-surgery half marathon on the one-year anniversary.  I attended the 2014 Wine Bloggers’ Conference in Santa Barbara, where I caught up with old wine friends and made some fantastic new ones (both of which you will be hearing more about over the coming weeks).  Hubby accepted a new job in August and is finally enjoying some job stability.  And, while we were in Vegas running our second half marathon of the year, Hubby and I found out that the offer we put on a new house was accepted.  So, we ended 2014 by leaving Virginia and moving into our new house in the District of Columbia…all right before the holidays.

Sadly, Hubby had the flu on New Year’s Eve 2015, so our plan to go out with friends was thwarted.  Instead, we curled up on the couch and watched a new-for-us series, “Ray Donovan,” and “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest.”  And, of course, I opened a bottle of bubbly.

Mumm sparkling wine is a regular favorite in my house.  In fact, I enjoy it enough to split a wine club membership with a couple of the Wine Ladies.  So, I couldn’t resist open a bottle of their wine for New Year’s this year.

010 Mumm Blanc de Blancs

2010 Mumm Blanc de Blancs

The 2010 Mumm Napa Blanc de Blancs (winery) is made in Napa Valley, California with a blend of 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Gris grapes.  It has a light-to-medium golden color with a lot of small, persistent bubbles.  On the nose, there are limes and apples.  In the mouth, there are limes, apples, and a hint of apricots and buttered biscuit.  The sparkler is light bodied with high acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? At $42 a bottle (or $33.60 if you’re a Mumm Club Vivant member), this bubbly is more of a nice dinner wine than one to open every day.  That said, if you’re looking for a romantic evening with oysters or having company and want a welcome bubbly to start the evening or pair a sparkler with salad, the Mumm Blanc de Blancs is very food friendly and would make the perfect pairing.  It is also worth considering if you’re looking for something to curl up with in front of a fire for a special evening at home, as the bubbly is beautiful on its own.  For me, while Hubby and I didn’t end up spending New Year’s as we planned, the Mumm helped cap off a fantastic 2014.

Question of the Day: What did you drink this New Year’s Eve?

Price: $42 a bottle (or $33.60 for Mumm Club Vivant members)
Purchased at Mumm Napa website
Overall: 4 Corks

Beaujolais Nouveau…The Real Start to the Holidays

2014 Georges DuBoeuf Beaujolais Nouveau top labelThe start of the holiday season is really the third Thursday of November—Beaujolais Nouveau Day!  Yes, I know that makes me a tool of the wine marketing machine, but I admit that and then open a bottle or two of Beaujolais Nouveau because it’s fun and festive.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this wine, Beaujolais Nouveau comes from the Beaujolais region of France.  The wine is made using Gamay grapes, but unlike most wines, it isn’t aged before it’s released for sale.  Within a 6-8 week period, the grapes are harvested, crushed, fermented, bottled, and shipped to distributors and wine stores.  It is a fruity, low-acid wine, and the whole purpose of enjoying the immature wine is to get a sneak peak at what the year’s vintage of Beaujolais will taste like.  Beaujolais Nouveau should really be consumed within the few months of its release.  I never drink it after January, as it’s not meant to age in a bottle.  The longer it sits, the less enjoyable it will be.

My first bottle of 2014 Georges DuBoeuf Beaujolais Nouveau

My first bottle of 2014 Georges DuBoeuf Beaujolais Nouveau

And with that, let’s take a look at the 2014 vintage…

I ended up with two bottles, one that I bought from Whole Foods  and another that a friend gave to me because he knows how ridiculously excited I get about Beaujolais Nouveau Day.  And, just like last year, the two bottles had different labels.  However, this year, I felt that they tasted similar.

The 2014 Georges DeBoeuf Beaujolais Nouveau (winery, snooth) is 100% Gamay grapes and is from Beaujolais, France.  The wine was a medium, watery ruby with purplish tints.  On the nose, there were candied strawberries and hints of white pepper.  In the mouth, there were strawberries, raspberries, and hints of white pepper, thyme, and orange zest.  The wine had a light-to-medium body with medium acidity.


My second Bottle of 2014 Georges DuBoeuf Beaujolais Nouveau

My second Bottle of 2014 Georges DuBoeuf Beaujolais Nouveau

Is this worth a glass after work?  Definitely!  If you see this wine/beer in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.  At $10 a bottle, this wine was surprisingly complex for being so young.  It has nice flavors and is very drinkable.  It’s a wine that, as we enter the final stretch of the the end of the holiday season, you should definitely keep in mind.  It’s perfect for a big dinner with family or friends because it’s not only affordable, but also food friendly.  It will pair nicely with a roasted turkey or Christmas ham.

As for me, I actually didn’t end up enjoying this wine on the Third Thursday of November.  I had a work event followed by a condo board meeting, so it wasn’t until Saturday night that I finally opened my first bottle.  Hubby and I had spent the day packing in preparation for our big move–we put an offer in on a house and it was accepted, so we’ll hopefully be in the new place by Christmas!  After a full day of packing, I was ready to put my feet up and just relax, so I poured a glass, pulled out my knitting, and turned on a movie.  The wine was enjoyable on its own and was a great way to decompress after the stress of packing.

Question of the Day: Are you a Beaujolais Nouveau fan or do you prefer to ignore the hype?

Second bottle closeup of Beaujolais Nouveau 2014


Price: $10
Purchased at Whole Foods Market
Overall: 3.5 Corks

I’m Back…with a Joyeuse Rosé

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

Hello dear readers…I know it’s been almost two months since my last post, and the best I can do is apologize for the silence.  September hit and life got very busy.  After 8 years of living in 750 sq. ft., I think that Hubby has finally had it with my wine taking over the living room.  Ok…well, maybe that’s not the only reason why we’re looking to move, but the search for a DC rowhouse that we want to call our own is on!  That search, though, has been an all-consuming treasure hunt, which means Sunday blogging has been become all about open houses, appointments with our real estate agent, and half marathon training.  Admittedly, there are still a few more weeks before the half marathon, and the house hunt continues, but I’ve missed sharing what I’ve been drinking with you…so, I’m trying a new, temporary blog schedule.  And with that, let’s dive right in… and what better way to do that than sharing a rosé that is not only a great summer option, but also a wine that would be nice for Thanksgiving dinner?

2013 Anne de Joyeuse Camas Pinot Noir Rosé

2013 Anne de Joyeuse Camas Pinot Noir Rosé

This summer ended up being the summer of rosé wine for me, and on August 28th, I continued the trend.  Work was actually fairly slow that day, but I started things off with an early morning visit to the dentist and ended it with an emergency visit from the plumber.  By the time I settled into the evening, I was ready for a glass of wine and to watch the U.S. Tennis Open.

The 2013 Anne de Joyeuse Camas Pinot Noir Rosé (winery, snooth) is a Vin de Pays d’Oc made with 100% Pinot Noir grapes.  The wine was a light-to-medium orangeish-pink.  On the nose, there were Bing cherries, strawberries, and raspberries.  In the mouth, there were Bing cherries, tart strawberries, and a hint of thyme.  The wine had a light body and lime-like acid.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine/beer in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.  At an SRP of $11 a bottle, this wine has a fantastic quality/price ratio.  Is it the most complicated rose you’ll ever taste.  No.  But, is it a solidly enjoyable wine?  Absolutely.  The wine would be perfect to enjoy with cheese or other high-fat appetizers, as well as with a dinner of creamy entrees or buttery side dishes because the acidity of the wine will be a palate cleanser and keep the food flavors a little more vibrant in your mouth.  So, as you think about your Thanksgiving menu, if you’re planning buttery Brussels sprouts or if your like my mother-in-law and serve homemade mac-and-cheese, this is a wine worth considering for your table.

Question of the Day: Do you enjoy drinking rosés all year long or do they tend to be a summer wine for you?

Suggested Retail Price: $11
Received as a sample.
Overall: 3.5 Corks

Enjoying the Local Species

Blue Mountain Barrel House Local Species

Blue Mountain Barrel House Local Species

Blue Mountain Brewery is about 2 and a half hours away, so it’s definitely not a “DC Beer,” however, I still think of it as local. In fact, Blue Mountain Brewery makes quality craft brews, and while it’s taken me a little while to find my favorite of their beers, I have enjoyed the ones I’ve tasted so far.  So, admittedly, while I ended 6th Annual DC Beer Week  (August 17-24) with a non-DC beer, I did go with a “Local Species,” and it definitely hit the spot.

The Local Species (brewery, untappd) is a Belgian Pale Ale made by Blue Mountain Brewery in Nelson County, Virginia.  The beer was a dark, hazy, reddish-amber with an off-white, foamy head and a lot of lacing on the glass.  On the nose, there was toasty maltiness mixed with hints of red apple and caramel.  In the mouth, there is a maltiness and some grass mixed with the slightest hint of something sour, maybe sour grapefruit, and some toffee-like sweetness, probably from the bourbon barrel the beer was aged in. The beer had a nice body with a long, smooth finish with only a hint of hoppy bitterness.

Cork and closeup of Blue Mountain Barrel House Local SpeciesIs this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this beer in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.  At $11 for 750ml, this beer is easy to drink, food-friendly, and well-balanced.  Hubby and I have started the fall race season training, so I enjoyed the Local Species on a Sunday evening while recovering from one of my first longer training runs.  It was a great beer for putting up my feet, relaxing, and catching up on my Runner’s World and Vogue magazine reading.

Question of the Day: How far away is still local for you when it comes to buying local beer or wine?  For you, is buying local more about supporting small producers than it is about actually buying local (for example, is buying a Robert Mondavi wine when you’re in Napa still buying local)?

Price: $11 for a 750ml bottle
Purchased at Whole Foods Market
Overall: 4 Corks