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

Top 5 Red Wine Recommendations for Thanksgiving 2013

At work last week, all the ice-breaking conversations before meetings revolved around Thanksgiving.  Who was traveling; who was hosting; the usual conversations that accompany the holiday season.  I’m not exactly sure how Thanksgiving snuck up on me this year, but it did, and questions about Thanksgiving plans drove home the fact that I’m completely unprepared.  Hubby and I only have to do an hour-or-so drive to my in-laws on Thanksgiving Day, so my lack of preparation isn’t too concerning for me…except for when it comes to the wine selection.  Not only have I started getting questions from friends and readers about wine recommendations, but I will need to bring a bottle or two to my in-laws.  In the past, that wouldn’t have been a big deal because I was the only wine drinker at the table, so I would just pick out a wine that I love.  This year, though, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law both started drinking wine, so there is the added (unintentional) pressure to bring something that everyone is going to think is fabulous.  For me, it will probably be a beautiful Pinot Noir or a big Zinfandel, but for them, I will need to bring a bright white.

With that in mind, today’s list will be my Top 5 Red recommendations, while tomorrow will be my Top 5 White & Rose recommendations.  (I didn’t post a Thanksgiving list last year, but here are my 2011 red wine and white wine recommendations)

 

2009 Lost Canyon Morelli Lane Vineyard Pinot Noir

2009 Lost Canyon Morelli Lane Vineyard Pinot Noir

The 2009 Lost Canyon Morelli Lane Vineyard Pinot Noir (wineryamazon) is slightly heavy for a Pinot Noir, but it has a beautiful complexity that will be delicious with well-seasoned turkey.  The wine has strawberries, rhubarb, and red licorice flavors mixed with hints of cedar, mushroom, earth, and allspice.  I gave this wine 4.5 corks and received it as a sample, but the suggested retail price is $45.

 

2011 Alphabets Pinot Noir

2011 Alphabets Pinot Noir

The 2011 Alphabets Pinot Noir (winery) was actually my red wine choice for the post-Thanksgiving dinner Hubby and I did for ourselves last year.  The wine tasted of Bing cherries, cranberries, and red currants with hints of white pepper, smoke, and cinnamon mixed in.  It not only went well with the turkey, which was seasoned with white truffle oil and garlic, but stood up to the variety of side dishes that we had.  Honestly, I couldn’t get over how delicious the wine was and how well it went with our Thanksgiving feast.  I gave the wine 4.5 corks and received it as a sample, but the suggested retail price is $21.

 

2010 Painted Wolf Pinotage

2010 Painted Wolf Pinotage

The 2010 Guillermo Painted Wolf (winery) is a delicious wine full of blueberries, cherries, tobacco, and the slightest hint of vanilla and Band-Aids.  It has a medium body and medium tannins, which will keep it from over-powering the Thanksgiving meal.  Plus, this wine will be great to transition away from the table and into an evening of schmoozing.  I gave this wine 4 corks and purchased it for $19. (I will have a full review posted later this week)

 

2008 Ottimino Rancho Bello Vineyard

2008 Ottimino Rancho Bello Vineyard

The 2008 Ottimino Rancho Bello Vineyard (winery) is a bigger wine that will give some depth to the Thanksgiving dinner.  The beautiful mixture of berry and cooking spice characteristics will bring out some of the deeper flavors while your eating, as well as transition nicely into a wine that you can drink on its own once the meal is over.  I gave the wine 4.5 corks and received it as a sample, but the suggested retail price is $30.

Question of the Day:  Have you picked out your Thanksgiving wines yet? 

Lighthouses, Whale Watching, and Wine

The Cape May LighthouseAdmittedly, I’ve been torn about whether or not to post this review.  I have this wine and another wine to write about from our vacation in August to Cape May, but in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, I wasn’t sure if this would be like pouring salt in the wound of a community that is hurting.  I finally decided to post, though, because I see it more as a celebration of the fabulous beach town, the delicious restaurants where we dined, and the wonderful places we visited while there.

***

Mid-way through our week in Cape May, Hubby and I decided to leave the beach and spend the day exploring Cape May.  We started off at Cape May Point State Park, where we climbed the 199 steps to the top of the 157-foot-high lighthouse.  It was well worth the climb for the gorgeous view of both New Jersey and Delaware.

Cape May WWII BunkerOnce we had our feet back on the ground, we walked out onto the beach to explore the WWII bunker that was built as part of the Harbor Defense Project of 1942 when the area was still part of a military base.  While we couldn’t walk inside the bunker, we spent a lot of time walking around it and taking pictures.  It looks like something George Lucas built for the Star Wars Tatooine set!
When we were done walking around the state park, we went whale watching with Cape May Whale Watcher.  While we weren’t fortunate enough to see any whales, we saw numerous pods of dolphins, including one that was far from shore and had more than 100 dolphins.  Hubby and I had both seen dolphins from the shoreline before, and he’d even been out in a boat that was running along the coast when he saw them, but neither of us had been that far out in the ocean or seen a pod that was that big.  It was very impressive.

A Pod of about 100 dophins feeding several miles off the Jersey shoreAfter a great day exploring Cape May Point State Park and going whale watching, Hubby and I headed to The Lobster House for an amazing seafood dinner.  The restaurant doesn’t accept reservations, so we made sure to get there just as they were opening, and the line was out the door.  It was certainly worth the wait, though.  I started off my dinner with the best baked clams casino that I’ve ever had, followed by fresh sautéed Cape May scallops.  Admittedly, there was a little too much sauce on the scallops for my taste, so I would definitely ask them to go easy next time, but the quality of the scallops and the overall taste of the dish was outstanding.  Hubby ordered oysters to start—a half dozen fresh Cape May Salts that he absolutely loved.  His one complaint about the fillet of flounder that he ordered as an entrée matched mine—too much sauce.  Otherwise, he said it was possibly the best piece of flounder he ever had.  Sadly for me, the wine list was underwhelming, so I just grabbed a half bottle of Santa Margherita Pinto Grigio, which I had tasted before and knew would go well with the seafood.  I saved the trying a new one for once we got back to the rental.

2008 Trivento Torrontés Select

2008 Trivento Torrontés Select

The 2008 Trivento Torrontés Select (winery) is from Mendoza region of Argentina and was a medium golden yellow color.  On the nose, the wine was almost sherry-like with stone fruits—peaches and nectarines—and white flowers.  In the mouth, there were nectarines, limes, and a touch of salt and rose petals.  The wine had a light-to-medium body.

Is this worth a glass after work? Eh…if you have a bottle on hand, drink it, but I wouldn’t go searching it out either.  At $12, I thought this wine was ok. I wonder if this vintage is a little passed it’s prime or if there were some storage issues at the liquor store because the sherry-like quality struck me as something that was a little off.  That said, I didn’t feel like I wasted my money, as I certainly enjoyed a few glasses while sitting on the porch listening to the ocean.  It went particularly well the carrots and Mediterranean hummus I was snacking on while drinking the wine.  Overall, I probably wouldn’t buy this vintage again, but I would definitely like to try a more recent vintage to see what this wine can really offer.

Question of the Day: In celebration of the areas just hit by Hurricane Sandy…have you every been to the New Jersey Shore or the DelMarVa beaches before?  If so, where did go and do you have a good story/memory you’d be willing to share?

Price: $12
Purchased at Montreal Liquor Store
Overall: 2.5 Corks

Nothing Little About Ottimino Zinfandel (Wine Blogging Wednesday #77)

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

On April 30th, I announced I was hosting this month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday.  And, yes, folks…today is the big day, the day wine lovers everywhere are posting on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, Instagram, and right here in the comment section about “A Glass After a Bad Day at Work.”  In few days, I’ll have a WBW #77 wrap-up post, so don’t forget to drop me an email (or comment on this post, on my Facebook wall, or on Twitter). And if you are posting about WBW on Twitter or Pintrest, be sure to use the #WBW77 tag, this way we can all see it.

In the meantime, here are my thoughts for this month’s theme.

Last week was a pretty good week at work, so thankfully, as I thought about the WBW theme, it was all hypothetical for me.  Still, the drama queen in me knows that when I come home feeling moody, I want a wine that is moody with me, A wine that will let me embrace my grumpiness, but at the same time be brooding enough to distract me from me stormy mood.  Nine times out of ten, that means I will grab a Zinfandel.

The 2008 Ottimino Rancho Bello Vineyard (winery) is from the Russian River Valley in California.  The wine had a deep ruby color with the slightest fleck of dark purple.  On the nose, there were blueberries, black cherries, pomegranates, and raspberries mixed with cinnamon, cloves, and a hint of vanilla.  In the mouth, there were blueberries, black cherries, pomegranates, and hints of cloves, vanilla, and white pepper.  The wine had big tannins, good, acidity, and high alcohol.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for?  At an SRP of $30, this wine is one the high end for opening after work, but it is worth it, particularly on those nights where you’re looking for something that is big and bold. It’s exactly the type of wine I would want to open after a bad day because there is so much complexity in the wine, I could spend the evening just sipping it and losing myself in the lusciousness.  At the same time, the great balance makes it enjoyable a good, food-friendly wine, even on those days that aren’t so bad.

Question of the Day: What wine would you open after a bad day at work and why would you picked that wine to wash away your bad day (obviously)?

Suggested Retail Price: $30
Received as a sample.
Overall: 4.5 Corks

Passover 2012 Top 5 Wine List

Last year, while putting together my Passover 2011 Top 5 Kosher wine list, I realized I was sorely lacking in white and sparkling wine recommendations.  In fact, not only were all of my recommendations red wines, they were all Israeli red wines.  What was most unfortunate about this was that it wasn’t from a lack of trying non-Israeli, non-red wines.  It was just that none of them were any good.  On some level, it makes sense that Israeli winemakers are rocking the kosher wine market, but that didn’t change my desire to branch out a little.  So, I spent the last year on a mission to find good kosher wines from elsewhere in the world, particularly ones that were sparkling or white and help round out my kosher wine options.

My quest paid off.  While I still prefer kosher reds to kosher bubbly and kosher whites, I found a few California and Italian options to add to my recommendations.  That said, I still feel I have a dearth of kosher white-and-sparkling wine recommendations, which means my search continues.  If you have any ideas, please share them by leaving a comment or sending me an email.

The first night of Passover is two weeks away, so as you start thinking about your menu and your wine options, here are my Passover 2012 Top 5 kosher wine recommendations:

 

Borgo Reale Prosecco

Borgo Reale Prosecco

#5
The Borgo Reale Prosecco is a mevushal sparkling wine from Italy.  It had light citrus and yeast aromas that were mixed with a hint of apple.  The sparkler paired nicely with fish, but was particularly enjoyable when mixed with some orange juice.  That makes this sparkler a fun addition to the Passover Seder, as well as a good way to celebrate the guests leaving on Sunday morning.  I gave this bubbly 3 corks and purchased it for $18.

 

 

2008 Bartenura Nebbiolo

2008 Bartenura Nebbiolo

#4
The 2008 Bartenura Nebbiolo was made with 100% certified organic Nebbiolo grapes.  It had a nice mix of red fruits and violets, along with a hint of tobacco that gave the wine a slightly different character. It’s very food-friendly and will go particularly with Italian dishes like my spinach matzo lasagna.  I have this wine 3.5 corks and, while it was a sample, it retails for about $17.

 

 

2009 Covenant Lavan Chardonnay

2009 Covenant Lavan Chardonnay

#3
The 2009 Covenant Lavan Chardonnay had nice complexity, good balance, and the slightest hint of oak.  There were good citrus fruits mixed with pears, apricots, and vanilla, as well as a hint of ginger and cloves that gave the wine a nice complexity.  It was food-friendly and would be a nice way to start of a Passover dinner, but it also drinks well on its own if you just want to enjoy it with guests before sitting down to start the Sedar.  I gave this wine 4 Corks and purchased it for $37.

 

 

2008 Golan Heights Winery Cabernet Sauvignon

2008 Golan Heights Winery Cabernet Sauvignon

#2
The 2008 Golan Heights Winery Cabernet Sauvignon was made with 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.  Black fruits dominated the wine, and it had a nice smoothness and balance to it.  The wine promised to age nicely and is one that I can’t wait to pair with my Nana’s brisket.  I gave this wine 4.5 corks and purchased it for $16.

 

 

2007 Covenant Wines Cabernet Sauvignon

2007 Covenant Wines Cabernet Sauvignon

#1
The 2007 Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon is a California Cabernet that will knock your socks off, whether you’re looking for a kosher wine or not.  It was full of cedar, smoke, and black fruits, but also had hints of spices that gave it a complexity that was particularly enjoyable.  The wine was food-friendly, so it would be perfect for a Seder or holiday dinner, but it’s so luscious and tantalizing, that it’s also quite enjoyable on its own.  While the fruit characteristics dominate right now, I think this is a wine that will age nicely over the next 10 years, so be sure to buy a bottle to enjoy now and one to open in the future.  I think it will be worth the wait. I gave this wine 5 corks and purchased it for $70.

Question of the Day: Have you started thinking about your Passover or Easter wines yet?