Alleigh

Apr 172014
 

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

2011 Yarden Mount Hermon White Wine corkThis week at work was supposed to be quiet, since Congress is in recess and many of the schools have Spring Break.  A lot of my coworkers have taken time off to be home with their kids or travel for the holidays, including both the Big Boss and the Boss.  Their absence would normally add to the calm and even result in an long office lunch or two.  However, I’ve had calendar packed with meetings.  Tuesday, in particular, left me envious because it was pouring all day, and I had to keep walking between the House and Senate sides of the Capitol, outside in the rain.  Even with an umbrella and raincoat, there was no preventing the “drowned cat” look.  Meanwhile, I was getting emails from a coworker teasing me about being out in the rain and missing team bonding at a new happy hour spot that opened walking distance in the office.  By the time I got home, I was sorry to have missed the outing and convinced I would never dry out.

While the day was busy, Hubby and I had a quiet, uneventful evening.  We both went to the gym for a 3-mile run.  Afterwards, Hubby and I chatted about our days while he made dinner, and I opened a bottle of wine.  Then, I caught up on the DVR’d shows and made some knitting progress on my last pair of socks.  It was the exact opposite of my work day.

2011 Yarden Mount Hermon White Wine

2011 Yarden Mount Hermon White Wine

The 2011 Yarden Mount Hermon White (winery) is from Galilee, Israel and is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Semillion grapes.  The wine was a light, greenish-yellow.  On the nose, there were limes, pineapples, champagne mangos, and a slight hint of ginger.  In the mouth, there were pineapples, champagne mangos, and a hint of honeysuckle.  The wine had a medium body and bright 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 of wine.  At an SRP of $14, this was a solid white wine and surprisingly inexpensive for being kosher.  It paired well with leftover turkey and green beans and had a nice taste of Spring to help getting into the spirit of the warmer weather, even though it was damp warmer weather.

Question of the Day: Do you have any “Spring Break” plans or is it life as usual for you during this time of year?

Suggested Retail Price: $14
Received as a sample.
Overall: 3 Corks

Apr 152014
 

2013 Flam Blanc and 2010 Shiloh Secret Reserve Merlot10 years ago, Hubby agreed to spend our third date at my Passover seder with 20 of my closest friends in DC, only two of whom he’d met a few weeks earlier.  Most of my friends weren’t Jewish, so I’d hoped that would help put him at ease, since he also isn’t Jewish.  Still, it was an intimidating scene for him to walk in on.  Those seders had been a long-standing tradition before we met, and continued even after we were together.  He always helped me host, even though it wasn’t a holiday that had religious meaning to him, because it served as a Spring Thanksgiving for my DC family and was important to me.  I would invite everyone over, regardless of religion.  We would read the Haggadah, eat my Passover food, and drink a lot more than the 4 glasses of wine called for in the Haggadah.

For a variety of reasons, Hubby and I haven’t done the big Passover meal for awhile, but we’ve continued to have wonderful Passovers.  This year, when we realized it was the first time in awhile that we didn’t have plans, he offered to make a special dinner so we could celebrate.  We bought a turkey breast, since he’s not a fan of brisket.  I made some knaidels (a modified version of what my Nana used to make), and Hubby made a “modern” potato kugel.  And, of course, ever seder has to have wine…and I happened to have both a bottle of white and a bottle of red.

2013 Flam Blanc

2013 Flam Blanc

The 2013 Flam Blanc (winery, snooth) is from the Judean Hills in Israel and is made from 55% Sauvignon Blanc and 45% Chardonnay grapes.  The wine was a light lemon yellow with a few small bubbles lingering on the bottom of the glass.  On the nose, there were limes, pineapples, and Granny Smith apples.  In the mouth, there were limes and Granny Smith apples with hints of pineapple and wet stone.  The wine had a light body and high acidity.

Price: $28
Purchased at: Kosherwine.com
Overall: 4 Corks

2010 Shiloh Secret Reserve Merlot

2010 Shiloh Secret Reserve Merlot

The 2010 Shiloh Secret Reserve Merlot (winery, snooth) is from the Judean Hills in Israel and had a deep ruby color.  On the nose, there were blackberries, cocoa dust, and instant espresso with hints of earth, cedar, and dark plums.  In the mouth, there were blackberries, cocoa dust, and dark plums with hints of cedar and nutmeg.  The wine had a medium-to-full body, medium-to-high acidity, and medium-to-full tannins.

Price: $35
Purchased at: Kosherwine.com
Overall: 4.5 Corks

Final Thoughts: The Flam Blanc was fantastic with the meal.  The high acidity cut right through the fat in the matzo balls and the heaviness of the kugel, as well as served as the perfect compliment to the turkey.  It kept my mouth refreshed, so that each bite after a sip emphasized the flavors of the food all over again.  If I didn’t know better, I would think this wine was made with a turkey dinner in mind (and yes, you should think about putting this on your Thanksgiving wine list).

2010 Shiloh Secret Reserve Merlot corkThe Shiloh Secret Reserve Merlot, on the other hand, was a brooding wine that also paired well with the turkey and potatoes.  Unlike the Flam, which kept the food tasting fresh, the Shiloh enhanced the spices of the meal, giving it a deeper flavor.  It made for slower eating and savoring.  This is a wine that that was gorgeous with dinner in 2014, but is also a wine that I would love to open again in 2018 or 2019.  It has characteristics that I think will age nicely, and at this price range, it wouldn’t cost too much extra to cellar a bottle or two.

That all said, the reality is both of these wines are out of the “everyday” price range for most of us, but the unfortunate reality is that kosher wines are often $10-$15 more expensive than their non-kosher equivalents.  If you keep kosher or are just willing to pay the a little more for a good wine, these are two wines that are worth it.  The Flam Blanc made for a better pairing with the meal, while the Shiloh Secret Reserve Merlot was the slightly better all-around wine.  Overall, though, they were both fantastic.

Question of the Day: What did you open for your seder on the first night of Passover?

Chag Sameach (Happy Passover) to everyone celebrating!

Apr 072014
 

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

alentine Blossom cookie instagramSunday, February 10th capped off a busy weekend.  After celebrating Hubby’s 35th birthday on Thursday, going for dinner at Michel Richard’s Central and the theatre on Friday, and running errands and 13 miles on Saturday, I spent Sunday baking Chocolate Valentine Kiss cookies for my coworkers, gossiping with my knitting group while finishing a pair of socks I was working on, editing pictures from Italy, and watching Sunday night TV with Hubby.  The pictures inspired me to open a bottle of Italian red wine, and it was the perfect wine for a Sunday evening.

2010 Bolla Creso Rosso

2010 Bolla Creso Rosso

The 2010 Bolla Creso Rosso (winery, snooth) is a red wine from Valpolicella, Italy and is made with 65% Corvina and 35% Cabernet grapes.  The wine is deep ruby with flecks of purple.  On the nose, there are cherries, plums, smoke, and allspice.  In the mouth, there are sour cherries, plums, cocoa, and hints of smoke and cedar.  The wine was full-bodied, had medium-to-high acidity, and big, velvety tannins.

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 $19, this wine was everything I loved about the wines I drank while Hubby and I were in Italy—bold, flavorful, and something to savor over an evening together.  The Bolla Creso paired well with the meatloaf and roasted potatoes that Hubby made for dinner, and it continued to drink well on its own, long after we finished eating.  Before I knew it, the bottle was almost empty…a clear sign that I enjoyed it.

Question of the Day: Do you like Italian Red wines?  What is your favorite?

Suggested Retail Price: $19
Received as a sample.
Overall: 4 Corks

Apr 022014
 

A Glass After Work March 2014 Instagram 11. The welcome chocolate that was waiting for me when I checked in at the Austin Four Seasons for SXSWedu 2014.
2. My new “Shhh…there’s wine in there mug,” courtesy of one of my BFFs, Sarah (thanks again, Sarah!)
3. Pure happiness
4. Running & finishing the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA half…my first post-surgery half marathon!  (thanks Janet for keeping me company during part of the run.)
5.  Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA…my post-half marathon celebratory beer (thanks Lina and Tim!).
6.  Double Fudge Irish Cream Cookies for St. Patty’s Day (from Tasty Kitchen)

A Glass After Work March 2014 Instagram 2

1. Sparkling wine flight at Flight DC
2. Foothills Brewing Torch Pilsner at Rustico
3. Snickerdoodles (from Browneyed Baker)
4. My March 2014 Birchbox
5. Giving blood sticker
6. The Women in Government Relations (WGR) at the 3rd Annual American University Women & Politics Institute 5k Race to Representation

Mar 312014
 

Wine at Central InstagramThe week of February 3rd was a ridiculously busy week.  I started off Monday with a dentist appointment, had work events Tuesday and Wednesday night, ran four miles and celebrated Hubby’s birthday on Thursday, and finished off on Friday with dinner out at Michel Richard’s Central and The Importance of Being Earnest at the Shakespeare Theatre Company.   All that activity meant that I enjoyed a glass of wine or two while out, but didn’t have much chance to taste anything at home.

Running in DCSaturday, though, was a usual day for Hubby and me.  We spent the morning grocery shopping, picking up and dropping off dry cleaning, and finishing up the errands we needed to do before lacing up for our long run.  Since the weather was cooperating, I headed outside, running through the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor so that I could get in some hills in preparation for the half marathon.  It was a solid 13-mile run that left me hoping to get a little faster before race day, but feeling strong and ready.  Afterwards, as usual, I opened up a beer and just spent the evening being lazy.

White Birch Brewing Hop Session India Pale Ale

White Birch Brewing Hop Session India Pale Ale

The White Birch Brewing Hop Session Ale (brewery) is an India Pale Ale from Hooksett, New Hampshire.  As the beer is unfiltered and unpasteurized, it was a hazy medium amber, with an inch of off-white foam on the top.  On the nose, there was some yellow grapefruit and hints of Cheerios.  In the mouth, there was lemon and caramel mixed with hints of pine and something herbal.  The beer had a medium body and medium carbonation.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.   At $8 for 22oz, this IPA was a little lighter bodied than I expected, but it had a nice, balanced bitterness that kept the beer refreshing and enjoyable while still giving me some of the IPA qualities that I was really looking for.  We can have the debate about whether a brewery can make a “Session IPA,” but I think the Hop Session Ale embodies the idea well.  It embraced the hoppiness of an IPA without hitting me in the face with it, which meant the big, bold, bitterness that seems to be more and more common in many IPAs didn’t overwhelm this beer and let some of the other characteristics really shine through.  This was the first beer I’ve had from White Birch Brewing, and I will definitely be keeping my eye out for more of their beers.

Question of the Day:  Are you an IPA fan?  Do you have a favorite?

Price: $8 for 22oz.
Purchased at Whole Foods Market
Overall: 4 Corks

Mar 252014
 

There are good running days and bad running days.  Saturday, February 1st was a bad one.  From the moment I started, my feet felt like cement hitting the pavement and I just couldn’t wait for the run to be over.  I’m not sure why it was so difficult.  I did my usual warm-up.  I didn’t run a more difficult route than usual.  Yet, I felt like my legs were letting me down.  I didn’t let the struggle keep me from running the full 12.5 miles, but it was a rough one.  As soon as I finished, stretched, and cleaned myself up, I headed to the fridge to grab a beer I knew would put a smile on my face.

Flying Dog Brewery's Dogtoberfest Märzen

Flying Dog Brewery’s Dogtoberfest Märzen

Flying Dog Brewery’s Dogtoberfest Märzen (brewery) is brewed with 100% German ingredients, although it is made in Frederick, Maryland.  The beer had a medium reddish-amber color with about an inch of off-white, foamy head.  On the nose, there was some nuttiness and maltiness with hints of caramel and black pepper.  In the mouth, there was a nice maltiness mixed with lemon zest, biscuits, and caramel.  The beer was a medium body with a mild bitterness and good balance.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this beer in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.   At $2 a bottle, this Octoberfest beer offered something a little different.  After my run, I opened my last two bottles of the season, and I was sad to see them go.  The beer is refreshing, with good flavor, and perfect for drinking while trying to relax my sore muscles.  The nice thing about Dogtoberfest is that it’s also very food friendly.  It’s the perfect beer to drink while snacking on some cheese and crackers or having a German dinner complete with bratwurst.  I think it also might go well with something a little sweeter like teriyaki chicken.

Question of the day: Do you drink seasonal beers?  If so, do you have a favorite season?

Price: $2 a bottle (I bought 2 singles)
Purchased at Whole Foods Market
Overall: 3.5 Corks

Mar 192014
 

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

Rib Shack Red CapNeither Hubby nor I are big football fans, so Superbowl Sunday around our house tends to be just another Sunday.  This year, though, I think I spent too much time browsing Pintrest and Facebook because when we went grocery shopping on the Saturday morning before the big game, I told Hubby we needed to make crockpot chili.  I blame all those Pintrest pictures of delicious looking Superbowl-themed appetizers and all my friends who spent the football season bragging about how their houses were filled with the wonderful aromas of slow-cooking chili.  I just needed Superbowl food, even without the actual Superbowl.  So, Hubby indulged my request, making the best chili I’ve ever had, while I baked some cornbread and opened a bottle of red wine.

The 2012 Rib Shack Red (winery) is from the Western Cape in South Africa and is made with 60% Pinotage and 40% Merlot grapes.  The wine was a dark ruby with flecks of purple.  On the nose, there were blackberries, cedar, and cumin with the slightest hint of nail polish.  In the mouth, there were blackberries, pomegranates, and smoke with hints of cumin and vanilla.  The wine had a medium body, medium tannins, and medium acidity.

2012 Rib Shack Red

2012 Rib Shack Red

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At a SRP of $10, the quality-price ratio on this wine is difficult to beat.  Admittedly, on its own, Rib Shack Red is a solidly average wine—good, but nothing that stands apart from other wines.  Paired with food (particularly red meat), though, this wine just sings.  Whether it’s something straight from the smoker, a juicy burger off the grill, or Hubby’s spicy slow-cooker chili, this is definitely the wine I want.  Our condo building has a holiday party every year that is catered by Red, Hot, and Blue BBQ, and since I’m in charge of the wine, I can tell you 9 months in advance that the Rib Shack Red will be making appearance in 2014.  It’s structured, food-friendly, and beautiful.  It’s affordable, but still good quality.  And, for those of you who are environmentally conscious, the grapes are all sustainably grown.  What more could I ask for in an everyday wine?

Question of the Day: I know it’s a little more than a month ago, but did you watch the Superbowl?  Did you go for wine, beer, or something else?

The 2012 Rib Shack Red and Hubby's chili...the perfect Superbowl wine pairing

The 2012 Rib Shack Red and Hubby’s chili…the perfect Superbowl wine pairing

Suggested Retail Price: $10
Received as a sample.
Overall: 4 Corks

Mar 182014
 

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

If I’m being honest, even though I absolutely love my job, there are bad days at work.  Sometimes, really bad days.  January 30th was one of those days.  The organization I work for has been very involved in the Common Core State Standards debate, but as I prefer to avoid the actual politics of Common Core, I’ll spare everyone the specifics.  What I will say is that in a short amount of time, my morning went from being fairly calm to completely blowing up.  My email inbox was filling up rapidly with questions about what was actually happening, yet the folks I needed answers from “outside the building” had gone dead quiet.  There was an emergency internal meeting to make sure all efforts were coordinated, which meant my going back and forth across town from my office to the headquarters building.  I had a short turn-around time to review a press statement, and then a little while later similarly short turn-around to review a blog post that was ready to go live.  The whole time, I was trying to calm everyone day, explain that there was no need to overreact.  But, the frenzy was well underway and my attempt at reason fell on deaf ears.  Everything became a fire drill.

2011 Lander-Jenkins Vineyards Spirit Hawk Chardonnay

2011 Lander-Jenkins Vineyards Spirit Hawk Chardonnay

The 2011 Spirit Hawk Chardonnay  (winery) is made from 100% sustainably grown grapes from vineyards in the North Coast, Monterey County, and Central Valley of California.  The wine was a bright, Mt. Dew yellow.  On the nose, there were apricots and pineapples mixed with hints of honey and butter.  In the mouth, the wine was full of peaches, apricots, pineapples, and honey with a hint of vanilla and buttered toast.  The wine is full-bodied with good 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 of wine.  At an SRP of $15, this wine is nicely balanced and enjoyable even without offering something unusual.  Normally, I prefer Chardonnays that either are  over-the-top oak monster, full of buttery popcorn and cliches about California wine or are clean, crisp wines that let the more subtle aspects of the grape sing.  The Spirit Hawk is neither.  It’s a wine that has definitely seen some oak, so it has a full-body that  hints at vanilla and butter, while still maintaining a balanced acidity that keeps it fresh and food-friendly.  By offering a little of both, it’s a wine that I would happily serve to others.

As for my night with the Spirit Hawk, admittedly, my first glass was almost finished by the time Hubby finished making dinner.  I spent the entire time, tasting the wine and talking his ear off about my rough workday.  By the time we sat down for dinner, I was settled into the wine and my evening.  The Spirit Hawk paired nicely with the grilled shrimp seasoned with Old Bay and olive oil and the mixed coastal blend veggies that Hubby made.  All around the wine, dinner, and company were exactly what I needed to unwind.

Question of the Day: Are you a Chardonnay drinker?  Do you prefer the bigger, bolder, buttery Chards or the clean, crisp ones?

Suggested Retail Price: $15
Received as a sample.
Overall: 3 Corks

Mar 032014
 

February Instagram  Part 1

  1. 13 mile run through Clarendon
  2. Sprinkle sugar cookies (modified from Sally’s Baking Addiction’s soft bake funfetti sugar cookies)
  3. Hubby’s 35th birthday cake and present
  4. A glass of Damilano Barbera at Michel Richard’s Central
  5. Chocolate Valentine Kiss cookies (from The Kitchen is My Playground)
  6. A snowy view

February Instagram  Part 2

  1. Mumm bubbly on a snowy afternoon
  2. 13.5 miles on the treadmill because of the snow outside
  3. My February 2014 Birch Box
  4. Tröegs Brewing Company beer pairing dinner at Willow Restaurant
  5. Oatmeal Scotchies (from my friend Amanda at Click the Good News and at the suggestion of my friend Courtney.  Thanks, ladies!)
  6. My 14.5 mile run along the Mt. Vernon Trail.
Feb 252014
 
Running across the Key Bridge with Georgetown and the Washington Monument in the Background

Running across the Key Bridge with Georgetown and the Washington Monument in the Background

After having a rough 11-mile treadmill run on January 25, I headed into my 12-mile long run the following Saturday with mixed emotions.  I dreaded the idea of having another bad run, but was very hopeful that by heading back outside that the problems of the previous week would be left behind.  I also decided to take a slightly different route, this way I could run a few more hills, head into DC, and have a change of scenery.

Miles 1-4 were awesome, and I knew it was going to be a solid run. Miles 5 & 6 were rough, but mile 6 is always where I struggle a little in my longer runs.  So, I pushed through and by miles 7 & 8, I was feeling strong.  Mile 9 was ok.  Then there was Mile 10, when I was sure my legs were abandoning me.  I started a mantra in my head to keep myself from stopping with only 2 miles to go.  It was a hard final push.  When I finished and reviewed my split times, I realized my long runs have not only been getting consistently longer, but also consistently faster.  The best part of the run, though, was my post-run beer and pizza.

Aria by Perennial Artisan Ales

Aria by Perennial Artisan Ales

The Aria is a Belgian ale fermented with Brettanomyces (affectionately known as Brett) by Perennial Artisan Ales in St. Louis, Missouri.  The beer has 1 1/2 inches of stiff, off-white foam and a hazy, amber color.  On the nose, there was honey, white pepper, horse stable, and wet hay.  In the mouth, there was apple, wet horse stable, and hints of honey and apricots.  The beer had a medium body.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this beer in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At $13, this is the beer for a Brett lover.  When it’s done in a controlled way, I like the “barn yard” characteristics in my wine, which is why I wanted to give it a shot in my beer.  And, Perennial did a nice job.  They created a beer that was interesting and unique, yet still very drinkable.  That said, if you don’t like the Brett characteristics, you won’t like this beer.  Also, a word of warning…don’t pair the Aria with pepperoni and meatball pizza.  While the two are delicious on their own, they do not make a good pairing.

Question of the Day: Have you ever had a beer or wine with Brettanomyces characteristics?  Are you a fan or do you think it gives the drink a flawed, nasty taste?

Perennial Artisan Ales

Price: $13 for a 750ml bottle
Purchased at Whole Foods Market
Overall: 4 Corks