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

Feb 112014
 

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

Angove Family Winemakers cap Sunday, January 26 was a quiet day in the A Glass After Work household.  Hubby and I were both still recovering from Saturday’s long run.  Not to mention that it was freezing outside, and the condo was just too warm and comfortable to leave.   So, I spent the day editing photos from Italy, baking oatmeal raisin cookies for my coworkers, blogging, and just lounging around.

Hubby is taking a Coursera course for fun, so he spent Sunday working on his first paper.  We often eat one larger meal in the late afternoon on Sundays, so once I finished baking in the kitchen, he pulled together a big (well, big for two people) Sunday dinner—baked ham and garlic mashed potatoes.  In the grand scheme, it wasn’t a very exciting day, but it was relaxing and perfect.

2012 Nine Vines Moscato

2012 Nine Vines Moscato

The 2012 Nine Vines Moscato (winery) is from South Eastern Australia and is made with 100% Moscato grapes.  The wine was a very pale, greenish yellow color.  On the nose, there were apricots, pineapples, and passion fruit.  In the mouth, there was passion fruit sorbet, lemon Italian ice, pineapple, and apricots.  The wine had a light-to-medium body, good acidity, and a bit of sweetness.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.  At an SRP of $10, this wine has an amazing quality/price ratio.  It’s sweet without being syrupy, and the acidity is bright without being shocking or overpowering.  If you’re a sweeter wine lover, this is definitely a wine worth checking out.  And, if sweeter white wines aren’t your style, you should try it anyway because I think the balance of acidity and flavors makes it enjoyable for even the most skeptical-of-sweeter-wine drinkers.  Unfortunately, though, for all of you non-USA readers, this wine is only available in the US.

All in all, not only will this wine be refreshing on a hot summer night or make a good picnic wine, but also it will pair perfectly with a salty, warm winter meal.  I couldn’t have picked a better pairing for this wine then the Hubby’s baked ham and garlic mashed potatoes.  The acidity in the wine cut through the heaviness of the ham in a way that helped highlight the flavor of the meal without enhancing the saltiness.  It also helped keep my palate fresh, which allowed me to enjoy the wine itself while still keeping every bite flavorful.

Question of the Day: Do you do big Sunday night dinners or are they just another night in your house?

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

Jan 242014
 

Hubby and I are both training for the USA Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon in March.  This will be Hubby’s first half, and my second…and it will also be just a few days shy of the 1 year anniversary of my hip surgery.  Even though we took a few weeks off from training over the holidays and while we were in Italy, we’ve both been diligently sticking to our training plans.  And, Saturday is our long run days.

BW Instagram Running SelfieThis past Saturday, I decided to do my long run outside, even though it was freezing cold.  Right before Thanksgiving my iPod Nano died, and I need to run with my Nano.  For me, it’s not just about the music.  In fact, what I love the most about running with the Nano is that it integrates with Nike+, which means I have a “running coach” in my headphones to tell me my pace when I hit the right button, as well as let me know each time I went another mile, whether I ask or not.  So, with my old one completely unusable, I ended up with a new one.  Unfortunately, though, the default calibration on the sensor wasn’t accurate for me, so I needed to head out to the track to calibrate my Nano/Nike+.

Originally, I planned to do run 1/2 mile on the track while calibrating, and then head back inside for the rest of my 10-mile run.  I was sure 27 degrees was going to be too cold.  Plus, I’m a slightly peculiar runner in that I normally prefer the treadmill.  It keeps my pace consistent, and it usually feels like the runs go faster.  Once I was out there running, though, it felt great.  I followed a 6:1 run/walk interval and was weaving up and down the streets of my neighborhood.  Before I knew it, the Nike+ running coach told me I was half way done with my run, so I texted Hubby to make sure he wasn’t worrying and to let him I was going to finish the run outside.

Flying Dog Brewery K-9 Winter Ale

Flying Dog Brewery K-9 Winter Ale

By the time I finished, my legs were exhausted, I was mentally worn out, I was glad to come inside in the warm, and I had my usual post-run beer craving.  But, the run was one of the best ones since my surgery.  It was also the longest, and it just felt right.  So, I drank my post-run protein drink, showered, and gave into the beer craving by opening a Flying Dog.

The Flying Dog K-9 Winter Ale (brewery) is brewed in Frederick, Maryland.  The beer had a dark, clear amber color with a 3/4-inch cream colored head.  On the nose, there were baked sweet potatoes, walnuts, and something herbal.  In the mouth, there was toffee, allspice, and pinecones mixed with toasted maltiness and a touch of molasses on the finish.  The beer was medium bodied.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At $2 a bottle, this beer was exactly what I needed after my long run.  It’s a lighter winter ale, but what I particular like is that I don’t feel like I’m drinking a Christmas tree or a glass of potpourri.  It has the nice winter spices without being overpowering.  I paired it with a two slices of meatball pizza.  After running and considering how cold it was outside, neither of us felt like cooking or going out, so we ordered delivery from Pete’s Apizza.  Not only was delivery the right choice, but the pizza made an outstanding pairing for the beer.  All in all, the K-9 Winter Ale isn’t my favorite of the Flying Dog beers, but it definitely is one I would grab again.

P.S.  If you haven’t filled out my reader survey yet…you have until Sunday! It’s only 10 questions (9 multiple choice questions and 1 “anything else you want to tell me”).  So, please take 2 minutes to complete it. I’d love to hear what you like and what you want to see more of at A Glass After Work!

Question of the Day:  Are you a runner?  If so, what do you crave after your long runs?

Price: $2 a bottle (I bought 2 singles)
Purchased at Whole Foods Market
Overall: 4 Corks

Jan 202014
 

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

Selfie on Ponte Vecchio in Florence, ItalyThursday marked the one-week return to work after spending two weeks in Italy, and, oh, do I miss Italy.  Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do for a living, and thankfully, a year+ into my “new” job, I’m still loving it.  However, I much rather be in Rome or Florence.  So, after work on Thursday, I went for a 5-mile run to get myself back in the routine. Admittedly, the run took a lot out of me because, with the exception of a 3.5 mile run on Tuesday that was torturous, I hadn’t run for three weeks.  The holidays and vacation got in the way, and I paid for it.

After the run, Hubby made some pan-fried tilapia for dinner, and I decided that downloading pictures from our trip was the best way to deal with my sore legs and post-vacation blues.  Of course, I couldn’t tackle the over 2000 photos without some Italian vino, so I opened a Pinot Grigio.

2011 Castello Banfi "Le Rime" Pinot Grigio

2011 Castello Banfi “Le Rime” Pinot Grigio

The 2011 Castello Banfi Le Rime Pinot Grigio (winery) was a pale straw yellow with greenish flecks.  On the nose, there were pears and yellow grapefruits.  In the mouth, there were yellow grapefruits, pears, and white flowers.  The wine had a light body with bright acidity.

Banfi Pinot Grigio Bottle TopIs this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.  At an SRP of $10, this wine was a pleasant surprise.  Honestly, I don’t tend to be a Pinot Grigio fan because I find they often are all acid with little flavor.  When I drink Pinot Grigios, I usually am left wondering why I wasted the time on the wine.  Clearly, I’ve not been drinking the right ones.  Le Rime had subtle flavors that were noticeable and pleasing on their own, while not overpowering the lighter flavors of the tilapia that Hubby made.  At the same time, the acidity of the wine helped to cut the oil from pan-frying the fish, keeping the meal very light and fresh tasting, while also enhancing the wine.  The pairing was very enjoyable.  This wine doesn’t offer anything out-of-this-world, but you can do a lot worse, particularly at this price point.  All in all, it was a solid wine with an outstanding quality:price ratio.

P.S.  Please take 2 minutes to complete my reader survey.  It’s only 10 questions (9 multiple choice questions and 1 “anything else you want to tell me”).  It will help me get to know you, as well as make sure I’m writing about things you want to read.  Thanks!

Question of the Day: Are you a fan of Pinot Grigio or do you tend to gravitate towards other white wines?

Suggested Retail Price: $10
Received as a sample.
Overall: 3.5 Corks

Nov 262013
 

Yesterday, I posted my top 5 red wine suggestions for Thanksgiving.  Today’s post is all about the white, rosé, and sparkling wine suggestions.  Since wine is usually the backdrop of a holiday meal, and everyone around the table is likely to have very different palates, I tried to provide suggestions that can meet both the sweet and the dry wine lovers preferences.  That said, in order to make sure the wines don’t overpower the meal and keep everything tasting fresh, my suggestions are all wines a lighter body, are unoaked, and have bright acidity.  Enjoy!

 

2010 Michel-Schlumberger La Bise Pinot Blanc

2010 Michel-Schlumberger La Bise Pinot Blanc

The 2010 Michel-Schlumberger La Bise Pinot Blanc (winery) was the white wine I chose for the post-Thanksgiving dinner Hubby and I did for ourselves last year.  It’s a white wine from California, and it had wonderful grapefruit and lime characteristics that were followed by hints of white flowers, grass, honey, and jasmine.  It was a delicious accompaniment to the meal, but was particularly good with Hubby’s pesto mashed potatoes.  I gave this wine 4.5 corks and purchased it for $24.

 

2009 Buried Cane Chardonnay

2009 Buried Cane Chardonnay

The 2009 Buried Cane Chardonnay (winery) is a no-oak Chardonnay that is very food-friendly.  The wine tasted of limes, granny smith apples, and pears, with the slightest hint of lemon custard. The wine has a light-to-medium body and a bright acidity that will go nicely with the turkey without overpowering it.  And, if some reason you manage not to finish the bottle (although I will be very surprised if that happens), the wine holds up nicely over a couple of days.  I gave the Burried Cane Chardonnay 4.5 corks and received it as a sample, but the suggested retail price is $14.

 

2011 Sawtooth Riesling

2011 Sawtooth Riesling

The 2011 Sawtooth Rielsing (winery) is probably the wine that I will bring to my in-laws, as my mother-and-sister-in-law both prefer wines with a hint of sweetness.  The wine tastes of peaches, Lemonheads candy, honey, and flowers with a hint of minerality.  What is great about this Riesling, though, is that it isn’t overly sweet and the acidity is bright.  So, even if you tend to prefer dry whites, you should give this wine a try.  I gave this wine 4 corks and purchased it for $10. (I will have a review of this vintage posted in the next couple of weeks, but here is my review of the 2010 vintage)

 

2012 Storybook Mountain Vineyards Zin Gris

2012 Storybook Mountain Vineyards Zin Gris

The Storybook Mountain Vineyards Zin Gris (winery) has nice flavors and good acidity, which will help keep the Thanksgiving meal fresh tasting, particularly when it comes to the butter-laden mashed potatoes and sweet potato casseroles.  The flavors, though, are will also help incorporated other dishes on the table, as the wine is full of nice mixture of cranberries, limes, and thyme.  This wine will be a great accompaniment without overpowering the food.  I gave it 4.5 corks and purchased it online through the vineyard for $19.

 

Gruet Blanc de Noirs

Gruet Blanc de Noirs

The Gruet Blanc de Noirs (winery) a bubble that is made with 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay grapes.  It’s full of berries, baked pears and hints of toast, cream, and vanilla.  The small, persistent bubbles, light body, and bright acidity will help keep your palate fresh as during the meal, as well as work as a nice digestive while you’re sitting around talking afterwards.  I gave this wine 4 corks and purchased it for $13. (I will have a full review posted in the next couple of weeks.)

(I didn’t post a Thanksgiving list last year, but here are my 2011 red wine and white wine recommendations)

Question of the Day:  Are you thinking about a bubbly or a rose for your Thanksgiving dinner or are you more likely to stick with red and white wines? 

Nov 072013
 

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

There are some people who build up vacation time at work but never use it.  I’m not one of those people.  I love vacations.  I love vacation planning.  Before I’ve finished doing the laundry from one vacation, I’ve already started planning the next.  This year was a little different, though.  Instead of planning a vacation when Hubby and I returned from a January trip to St. Lucia, I scheduled my hip surgery.  The surgery put a kibosh on our plans to go to Iceland at the end of May because not only wouldn’t I be able to sit for that long on the plane, but also there was no way I would able to ride Icelandic horses on the glaciers or go hiking through the lava fields.  In fact, it took me until early-July to decide that I could sit in the car long enough to head down to the Outer Banks for a week.  Once I made that decision, though, the planning went into full gear.  On the Saturday after July 4th, I opened a bottle of white wine to help with the inspiration and researched beach houses in Duck, NC.

2012 The Beach House White

2012 The Beach House White

The 2012 The Beach House White (winery) was a blend of 80% Sauvignon Blanc and 20% Semillion grapes and is from the Western Cape of South Africa.  The wine had a light golden yellow color.  On the nose, there were gooseberries with hints of pink grapefruit and tangerines. In the mouth, there were gooseberries with hints of apricots, pink grapefruit, tangerines, and honeysuckle.  The wine had a light body and bright acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.  At an SRP of $10, you this wine has an amazing quality/price ratio.  It’s very drinkable, refreshing, and affordable…the perfect wine to open when you get home from work, particularly on a hot summer day.  It’s food-friendly, leaving me wishing I had a dozen oysters, some sushi, or a salad with seared tuna steak to go with the wine.  Every sip just screamed summer and seafood, which made it the perfect wine to drink while Hubby and I searched for our own summer beach house.

Question of the Day: Are you a person who builds up your vacation time or do you end up using it all throughout the year?

Suggested Retail Price: $10
Received as a sample.
Overall: 3.5 Corks

Oct 292013
 

This past weekend was the Marine Corps Marathon 10k (known as the MCM10k).  Hubby and I set the alarm for 6:15am, which is earlier than we both get up for work and a very painful wake-up time on a Sunday morning.  We spent the next half hour waking up, putting on race clothes, drinking some water, and eating the little bit of “fuel” that we could stomach that early before we headed to the metro.   We were on the National Mall in time to see the sunrise over the Smithsonian Castle, which was beautiful, although very cold, to watch.  We clung to our sweatshirts, turning them into the baggage claim at the last minute before heading over to the start line.  From that point on, it wasn’t long until the race got underway.

For those of you who are runners but have never run the MCM10k, I highly recommend it!  You essentially run the last 6.2 miles of the Marine Corps Marathon, including the killer uphill finish that is lined with Marines cheering you on.  This was my first long race since my hip surgery, and I’m so glad I did it.  Sure, my hip and my leg muscles are still feeling it a couple of days later, but it’s a good race.  I was mentally and physically in a good place the whole time, and now I’m pampering myself with a little recovery time before lacing up the running sneakers again.

Dead Guy Ale by Rogue Ales

Dead Guy Ale by Rogue Ales

Unfortunately, though, the race was the start of our day on Sunday, which meant several hours of grocery shopping and other errands before Hubby and I could finally relax on the couch to recuperate.  When we finally finished, we grabbed some pizza and beer at one of our favorite local spots and then came home to watch Boardwalk Empire and The Walking Dead.  Earlier in the day, I bought a couple of beers that felt “Halloweenish,” and, for me, there is nothing like drinking beer on a day that I’ve been running, so I was excited to open one of them up while we settled in for the evening.

The Dead Guy Ale (brewery) is a German Maibock from Newport, Oregon.  The beer had a dark cooper color with a think, foamy, cream-colored head.  On the nose, there was a doughiness mixed with some caramel and hints of apricots.  In the mouth, there is caramel mixed with bread.   The beer was medium bodied.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this beer in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.  At $10 for 650ml, this beer wasn’t overly complex, but it was a solid, enjoyable choice.  It had a strong maltiness with just a touch of hops peaking through to give it a brightness that wasn’t too bitter, but that lingers on the finish.  I drank it with a leftover piece of white pesto pizza, and while that may not have been the best pairing, there is no doubt that this is a food-friendly beer.  The one caution I have is that it’s very drinkable, so don’t be surprised if you find your glass is empty sooner than you expected.

Question of the Day: Have you had any of Rogue Ales?  Do you have a favorite?

Price: $10
Purchased at Whole Foods Market
Overall: 4 Corks

Sep 242013
 
Heavy Seas Small Craft Warning Über Pils

Heavy Seas Small Craft Warning Über Pils

Admittedly, but the time the end of the week arrived, my enthusiasm for DC Beer Week 2013 was waning.  The experience gave my a good sense of what local brews I would order on tap when I’m out, but the Port City Brewing Company Derecho Common was the only one I would consider buying for home, and that one will be a seasonal option for me.  Ultimately, what I was finding during my week of DC beer is that everything just tasted average.  And then I opened The Heavy Seas Warning Über Pils.

The Heavy Seas Warning Über Pils (brewery) is an Imperial Pilsner from Baltimore, Maryland.  The beer is a medium amber with about an inch of foamy head.  On the nose, there were oranges with hints of corn, flowers, and biscuits.  In the mouth, there was citrus and toffee with hints of flowers, honey, and biscuits.  The beer is a medium body with medium carbonation.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this beer in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At $2.47 for a 12oz bottle, this beer is the perfect mix of hoppy and malty.  Admittedly, I don’t tend to buy Pilsners, as they’re often a little light for my tastes, but I’d never tried an Imperial Pilsner before.  It was a pleasant surprised!  I drank the Über Pils on its own on a Friday night, and I was very sorry that I didn’t have another couple of bottles to go with dinner, as I suspect that it’s a good food beer. Hands down, this was my favorite of the beers I tried during DC Beer Week 2013!

Question of the Day:  Have you ever had an Imperial Pilsner?  If so, which one was it and is it a beer you would recommend?

Price: $2.47
Purchased at Grateful Red Wine Shop
Overall: 4 Corks