Sunday Baking: A Luscious Lodi Zin & Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

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

2011 Scotto Cellars Old Vine Zinfandel & a Pumpkin Snickerdoodle recipe -- At $15, this full body red wine from Lodi, California has a great quality-price ratio. It’s food-friendly and luscious, making it easy to drink any time of year. Ratings 3.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2011 Scotto Cellars Old Vine Zinfandel & a Pumpkin Snickerdoodle recipe — At $15, this full body red wine from Lodi, California has a great quality-price ratio. It’s food-friendly and luscious, making it easy to drink any time of year. Ratings 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

In 10 days, I’m heading to Lodi, California for the 2016 Wine Bloggers’ Conference (WBC16).   The conference location was announced last August at the close of the 2015 conference in the Finger Lakes, and since then, I’ve been peppering my wine choices with options from Lodi. Admittedly, I’ve been slow to blog about those wines, but, as I start to think about WBC16, I’ve gone back through my tasting notes, and now, it’s time to share.

2011 Scotto Cellars Old Vine Zinfandel -- At $15, this full body red wine from Lodi, California has a great quality-price ratio. It’s food-friendly and luscious, making it easy to drink any time of year. Ratings 3.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2011 Scotto Family Cellars Old Vine Zinfandel

First up, the 2011 Scotto Cellars Old Vine Zinfandel. I opened this wine on a Sunday evening (November 1, 2015) while baking Pumpkin Snickerdoodles inspired by Sally’s Baking Addiction.

The 2011 Scotto Family Cellars Old Vine Zinfandel (winery, snooth) is from Lodi, California. The wine was a dark, ruby red. Both on the nose and in the mouth, there were blackberries, cherries, and vanilla mixed with hints of baking spice. The wine was full-bodied with soft tannins and medium acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? At an SRP of $15, the excellent quality-price ratio of this wine is undeniable. It’s a wine that pairs well with all types of food regardless of the time of year—think grilled Portobello mushrooms or a juicy steak in the summer and slow cooker braised short ribs and mashed potatoes or lamb stew in the winter. Not to mention that this easy-to-drink wine is perfect for just sipping while talking with friends and snacking on a cheese and charcuterie board.

Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Bite

As for the cookies, they’re still a work in progress. I essentially melded my Snickerdoodle recipe with Sally’s Baking Addiction’s Pumpkin Snickerdoodles. They were definitely tasty, but I would like for them to be a little more pumpkin-y and a little less pumpkin spice flavored. I also know that adding more pumpkin can mess with the texture, so that’s why it’s still a work in progress. They’re still worth making even without tweaks to the recipe.

Overall, these cookies are a seasonal favorite both at home and at my office, and they made for a delicious match with this dark berry and baking spice-filled Zin.

Question of the Day: Do you go to conferences for either work or your blog (or both)? What is your favorite part about conference-going?

2011 Scotto Family Cellars Old Vine Zinfandel and Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
Pumpkin Snickerdoodle
Print Recipe
This pumpkin variation of my regular snickerdoodle recipe is a delicious, seasonal cookie.
Servings
4 dozen
Servings
4 dozen
2011 Scotto Family Cellars Old Vine Zinfandel and Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
Pumpkin Snickerdoodle
Print Recipe
This pumpkin variation of my regular snickerdoodle recipe is a delicious, seasonal cookie.
Servings
4 dozen
Servings
4 dozen
Ingredients
Servings: dozen
Instructions
  1. In medium bowl, mix together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  3. Add vanilla and pumpkin puree. Mix until combined.
  4. On low speed, add dry ingredients and mix until just blended (about 30 seconds).
  5. Fold in the white chocolate chips. Dough will be very soft.
  6. Divide dough in half and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
  7. Preheat oven to 350F.
  8. Remove dough from the refrigerator to let it warm up for a minute or two, if you left it for more than 30 minutes.
  9. Line cookie sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
  10. In small bowl, mix together remaining sugar and cinnamon for coating.
  11. Take a rounded tablespoon of chilled dough and roll between the palms of your hands to create 1-inch balls. Roll balls in the cinnamon and sugar mixture until coated.
  12. Place cookies on lined cookie sheets. Keep cookies about 2 inches apart and press them down so that each is about 1/2 inch high.
  13. Bake for 10 minutes.
  14. Let cookies set on baking sheet for 5-10 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.
Recipe Notes

This recipe is inspired by Sally's Baking Addiction's Pumpkin Snickerdoodles and a modification of my Snickerdoodle recipe.

Suggested Retail Price: $15
Received as a sample.
Overall: 4.5 Corks

Bartinney’s Cab is a Captivating Dark Angel

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

Halfway through 2015, work changed our vacation policies, leaving me with vacation days left that I needed to use by the end of the year or I would lose them. But, with the fall being as busy as it was at work, I didn’t have time to take advantage of the vacation days. Instead, I waited until December. After the legislation I had been working on since 2007 was signed into law on December 10, I began closing things out for the year, and my last day of work in 2015 was December 17. Unfortunately, since Hubby has been at his job for less than 3 years, he still doesn’t have much vacation time. So, instead of escaping DC at the end of the month, I had a 16-day staycation. On December 30, towards the end of my staycation, I scheduled a spa day for myself. After a day of much needed pampering to close out the year, I came home to open up a big red wine with the idea of just sinking into it for the evening.

2011 Bartinney Cabernet Sauvignon - This $20 red wine from South Africa is food-friendly, captivating, and the perfect glass of wine to end a work day.  Rating = 4 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2011 Bartinney Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2011 Bartinney Cabernet Sauvignon (winery) is made with 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in Stellenbosch, South Africa. The vineyards are located on the slopes of the Helshoogte (“Hell’s Heights”) Pass, overlooking the Banghoek Valley. The wine was a deep purplish ruby color. On the nose, there were plums and blackberries mixed with a hint of tea leaves, mint, chocolate, and cedar. In the mouth, there were dark plums and blackberries with hints of spice, black tea, and cedar. The wine was full-bodied with strong tannins and medium 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 $20, this wine delivers everything I look for in an everyday Cabernet…and I was surprised. While I love South African wines, I tend to gravitate towards the wines that are more unique to the country like Pinotage and Chenin Blanc, and this Cabernet is proof as to why I shouldn’t do that. It’s an affordable wine that was the perfect way of ending a day of spoiling myself, but without breaking the bank to do so.

Question of the Day: Do you drink wine from South Africa?  If so, are their certain types of South African wine that you gravitate towards?

Suggested Retail Price: $20
Received as a sample.
Overall: 4 Corks

A Duke of Wines

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

After deciding that the 2013 Piedrasassi Syrah wasn’t for me, I went on the search for another wine to open on Christmas Eve.  Since I had been saving the Piedrasassi for the holiday, it threw me off a little to have to find something new that would be both special and  pair well with Hubby’s smothered applewood smoked cheddar burgers and roasted rosemary potatoes. In the end, I opted for a Ruffino Chianti.

2011 Ruffino Riserva Ducale Chianti Classico -  This $25 Italian wine is a little pricey, but it's worth every penny.  This is a red  wine you'll just want to sink into and savor, particularly if you have a smokey cheeseburger or a juicy steak to go with it.  Ratings = 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2011 Ruffino Riserva Ducale Chianti Classico

The 2011 Ruffino Riserva Ducale Chianti Classico (winery, snooth) is made in Tuscany, Italy with 80% Sangiovese and 20% Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. The wine was a dark ruby color with a clear, watery rim. On the nose, there were cherries, plums, and violets mixed with hints of tobacco, leather, white pepper, and cedar. In the mouth, there were cherries, white pepper, leather, and cedar mixed with hints of tobacco and violets. The wine has a medium body, medium-to-firm tannins, and high acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? At an SRP of $25, this wine is a little on the pricey side for an everyday chianti, but it is worth every penny. It is the type of wine that you just want to sink into and savor.

Because of the high acidity, for me, this is definitely a food wine, and it went amazingly well with Hubby’s burgers. The depth of flavor and creaminess of the melted applewood smoked cheddar brought out the cedary notes of the wine, while the fattiness of the cheese and the burger never became too much because of the acidity in the wine. What was particularly fun, though, was that when I paired the wine with the rosemary potatoes, the violets and white pepper became even more noticeable. This wine ended up being perfect for our Christmas Eve dinner.

According to the Ruffino website, the Riserva Ducale is named after the Duke of Aosta. Aosta is in the Italian Alps, and the Duke supposedly traveled over the treacherous mountains to taste the Ruffino wines he had heard about. The Duke loved the wines so much that, in 1890, he named Ruffino as the official wine supplier to the Italian royal family. And, with a wine that tasted like the Riserva Ducale, I’m certainly not surprised.

Question of the Day: I know it’s a couple of weeks ago already, but if you were celebrating Christmas, what did you drink during the holiday?

Suggested Retail Price: $25
Received as a sample.
Overall: 4.5 Corks

Loving LaTour

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 – 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

While I don’t keep kosher throughout the year, during the 8 days of the Jewish High Holidays, I’m careful about the food I eat. There’s no bacon or pork chops, no cheeseburgers…and my wine is almost exclusively kosher. I was particularly excited about opening the 2011 LaTour Netofa Red this year because two blogs I trust–Yossie’s Corkboard and Kosher Wine Musings— had great things to say about it. And, what better way to celebrate the start of the Jewish New Year than with a wine that I had high expectations for?  So, after I came home from synagogue on the first night of Rosh Hashanah, I opened the LaTour while Hubby started dinner.

2011 LaTour Netofa Red

2011 LaTour Netofa Red

The 2011 LaTour Netofa Red (winery, snooth) was made in the Galilee region of Israel and is a blend of Mourvèdre and Syrah. It was a dark ruby color with a touch of garnet on the rim. The nose was big, with blueberries, blackberries, nutmeg and hints of tea leaves, black pepper, and dried roses. In the mouth, there were blackberries, dark plums, and hints of blueberries, black tea, and dark chocolate. The wine was full-bodied with big tannins and acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? At $35 a bottle, this wine offers a lot in a single glass. It definitely needs to time to breath, so either decant it before drinking it or use an aerator when pouring. As long as you do that, it’s a wine you can sit and puzzle over, pair with a delicious holiday meal, and enjoy while talking the night away. It’s versatile and worth checking out, even if you aren’t looking for a kosher wine.

Question of the Day:  Do you have recommendations for a great red wine that is under $30?  My hunt for the elusive inexpensive kosher red is still on!

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

Sunday Baking: Nutella Cookies & “Encuentro” Malbec are a Match

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

2011 Rutini "Encuentro" Malbec & Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies – At $19 a bottle, this red wine from Mendoza, Argentina is one to consider cellaring for a little, as it has enough structure to hold on for another year or two before reaching prime drinking time. That said, if you’re looking to drink it now, pair it with a steak, some BBQ beef ribs, or these deliciously moist and chocolatey Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies. Ratings 3 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2011 Rutini “Encuentro” Malbec & Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies – At $19 a bottle, this red wine from Mendoza, Argentina is one to consider cellaring for a little, as it has enough structure to hold on for another year or two before reaching prime drinking time. That said, if you’re looking to drink it now, pair it with a steak, some BBQ beef ribs, or these deliciously moist and chocolatey Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies. Ratings 3 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

I’ve fallen behind on the Sunday Baking Pairing posts because I was waiting to use a new blog plug-in that will hopefully making both posting and reading the recipes easier. While I’m not completely done customizing it, I’m unveiling it tonight. So, let me know if you like the change.

2011 Rutini Encuentro MalbecWith that, I think I left off with the first full weekend in June, which was the first in a month where Hubby and I didn’t have do some major yard repairs and replanting to do. Sure, there was upkeep on our small space, but it wasn’t a full weekend project. Honestly, I don’t know how those of you with large yards do it! With the work around the house and numerous work conference calls interrupting me that weekend, I decided to keep the cookies simple with Sally’s Bake Blog Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I admit it…I have a Nutella addiction, which is why I never keep it in the house, but these cookies were the perfect excuse to indulge. Plus, the recipe was easy enough that my cookies would taste fancy without requiring a lot of extra time effort.

The 2011 Rutini “Encuentro” Malbec (winery, snooth) was from Mendoza, Argentina and made with 100% Malbec grapes. The wine was a deep, inky ruby with hints of purple. On the nose, there were dark cherries, blackberries, and hints of violets and cinnamon. In the mouth, there were dark cherries and blackberries mixed with hints of violets, vanilla, and chocolate dust. The wine had a medium body and tannins with high acidity.

2011 Rutini Encuentro Malbec corkIs 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. At an SRP of $19, this wine is a little abrasive, but will probably age nicely if you’re able to buy it and let is sit for a couple of years. If you’re looking to drink it now, grab food that t is big and flavorful like a steak or some BBQ beef ribs.

You could also bake these cookies. Overall, they were deliciously moist and chocolatey, and the big flavor from the cookies helped cut down on the wine’s bite, making for a pairing that went together very nicely.

Question of the Day:  Do you regularly drink Argentinian Malbec or is it a wine that is less likely to end up in your glass?  If you drink it often, do you have a favorite?

Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies
Print Recipe
A variation on traditional chocolate chip cookies, adding Nutella adds moistness and a rich, chocolate flavor.
Servings
5 dozen
Servings
5 dozen
Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies
Print Recipe
A variation on traditional chocolate chip cookies, adding Nutella adds moistness and a rich, chocolate flavor.
Servings
5 dozen
Servings
5 dozen
Ingredients
Servings: dozen
Instructions
  1. In large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, cornstarch, and salt.
  2. In mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth and creamy (about 1 minute).
  3. Add the light brown and granulated sugar, and beat until pale and fluffy (30 seconds to 1 minute).
  4. Add in egg, egg yolk, and vanilla, and mix until combined.
  5. Add 1/2 cup of Nutella, and beat until combined. (To prevent overspreading, make sure you stir the oils in the Nutella REALLY well. You want to make sure you mix them with the very think Nutella at the bottom of the jar)
  6. On low speed, add dry ingredients and mix until just blended (about 30 seconds to 1 minute).
  7. Add 2 cups of chocolate chips and mix on low until evenly distributed (5-10 seconds).
  8. Add remaining Nutella and beat for 5-10 seconds, creating streaks through the cookie dough without fully incorporating it into the dough. The dough will likely be a little crumbly, which is fine, but it will get extremely crumbly if you mix the Nutella in too much.
  9. Preheat oven to 350F.
  10. Line cookie sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
  11. Take a rounded tablespoon of dough and roll between the palms of your hands to create 1-inch balls. The warmth of your hands will help the dough come together.
  12. (Optional: Chill cookie dough for 30 minutes before baking to help prevent spreading).
  13. Bake for 10 minutes or until slightly brown along the edges.
  14. Let cookies set on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. After transferring them press a few of the remain 1/2 cup of chocolate chips into the top of the warm cookies

 

Suggested Retail Price: $19
Received as a sample.
Overall: 3 Corks