A Taste of Fall with An Italian Red & Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Cookies

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

2013 Valle Dell’Acate Il Moro Nero D’Avola & Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Cookies – This $17 red wine from Italy just screams to be paired with delicious food. Whether it’s a more traditional Italian meal, a Thanksgiving dinner, or these Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Cookies, the pairing won’t disappoint. Cheers! | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 Valle Dell’Acate Il Moro Nero D’Avola & Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Cookies – This $17 red wine from Italy just screams to be paired with delicious food. Whether it’s a more traditional Italian meal, a Thanksgiving dinner, or these Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Cookies, the pairing won’t disappoint. Cheers! | AGlassAfterWork.com

Last Sunday, Hubby and I ran the local Veteran’s Day 10k. That was our first real taste of cold weather in DC, and it was punctuated with frost on the ground when we arrived at the race’s starting line at 8am. I was in my element…I love running in cold weather. In fact, I ended up running my personal best, shaving a little more than 2 minutes of my previous best 10k time.

After the race, Hubby and I were able to take it easy for most of the day. I got together with my knitting group got together for a couple of hours in the later afternoon, but otherwise, I spent the day at home recovering and baking the last of the fall, pumpkin cookies.

2013 Valle Dell'Acate "Il Moro" Nero d'Avola

2013 Valle Dell’Acate “Il Moro” Nero d’Avola

To go with my afternoon baking, I opened a 2013 Valle Dell’Acate Il Moro Nero d’Avola (winery), which is a red wine made from 100% Nero D’Avola grapes in Sicily, Italy. The wine was a deep ruby red with a watery rim. On the nose, there were blackberries and licorice mixed with hints of cedar and cloves. In the mouth, there were tart blackberries and licorice, as well as hints of blueberries and cedar. The wine had a medium body, medium tannins, and high 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 $17, this wine is meant to enjoy with food. Admittedly, on it’s own, it was a little sharp for me, but it was the perfect pizza wine to go with the homemade white pizza Hubby and I made for dinner.  I also made sure to save a glass to taste with the dinner Hubby made on Monday night–turkey-stuffed acorn squash–and the pairing was absolutely outstanding.  With Thanksgiving right around the corner, if you’re looking for a wine that is under $20 and will pair nicely with Turkey Day foods, this is a good option…just make sure it’s the wine you’re serving with dinner and not the wine you open when you’re standing around talking with family.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Cookies

Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Cookies

As for the Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Cookies, they were like biting into a piece of fall. The cinnamon chips intensified the baking spice flavors without overwhelming the pumpkin, making for a tasty fall treat. The cookies were a little crisp on the ends and moist in the center, which was a nice consistency with these flavors.

Overall, the wine and the cookies were a nice match. The acidity from the wine made the spices in the cookies taste fresh, and the cookies added a nice depth of flavor to the wine. They felt like a nice indulgence after the morning’s run.

What are your dessert plans for Thanksgiving Dinner?  Will there be cookies on the table?  And do you have a wine picked out specially for dessert?

Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Cookies – These easy-to-make drop cookies are like biting into a piece of fall. The cinnamon chips intensify the baking spice flavors without overwhelming the pumpkin, making for a tasty fall treat. | AGlassAfterWork.com
Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Cookies
Print Recipe
Servings
40 cookies
Servings
40 cookies
Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Cookies – These easy-to-make drop cookies are like biting into a piece of fall. The cinnamon chips intensify the baking spice flavors without overwhelming the pumpkin, making for a tasty fall treat. | AGlassAfterWork.com
Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Cookies
Print Recipe
Servings
40 cookies
Servings
40 cookies
Ingredients
Servings: cookies
Instructions
  1. In medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  3. Add pumpkin, eggs, and vanilla, and mix until combined.
  4. On low speed, add dry ingredients and mix until just blended (about 30 seconds).
  5. Stir in chips until evenly distributed.
  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. Line cookie sheets with parchment or silicone mats and place in refrigerator to chill.
  9. In small bowl, mix together sugar and cinnamon for coating.
  10. Remove one of the dough halves to begin shaping cookies.
  11. Take a rounded tablespoon of chilled dough and roll between the palms of your hands to create 1-inch balls.
  12. Roll balls in the cinnamon and sugar mixture until coated.
  13. Place cookies on lined, chilled cookie sheets. Keep cookies about 2 inches apart and press them down so that each is about 1/2 inch high.
  14. Bake for 10 minutes.
  15. Let cookies set on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.
Recipe Notes

*This recipe was inspired by and adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod's Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Cookie recipe

Suggested Retail Price: $17
Received as a sample.
Overall: 3.5 Corks

Chateau Ksara, A Beautiful Fall Wine

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

2013 Chateau Ksara Reserve du Couvent – At $15, this red wine from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon packs a flavorful punch without breaking the bank. It’s a slow-sipper that is perfect for an evening sitting in front of a fire and reading or enjoying with family over a hearty stew. Rating: 4 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 Chateau Ksara Reserve du Couvent – At $15, this red wine from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon packs a flavorful punch without breaking the bank. It’s a slow-sipper that is perfect for an evening sitting in front of a fire and reading or enjoying with family over a hearty stew. Rating: 4 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 Chateau Ksara Reserve du Couvent cork
While I work on federal policy and legislation, I don’t really get involved in the campaigns, especially now that I work for an association and not for a member of congress who has to run for reelection every several years. This means that while I end up doing a fair amount of work traveling, overall, the second half of an election year tends to be slow. At first, it’s exciting. It’s nice to have a break from the chaos, take a longer lunch or meet up with a colleague for coffee meeting instead of a frantic discussion in the office. However, after August’s 8 weeks of a slower pace, the downtime was getting old. Sure, that it meant I was able to attend the Wine Bloggers Conference without constantly checking my work phone. It meant that Hubby and I were able to take a 10-day vacation at the end of the month, and I only checked email a handful of times. And, it meant that I was able to leisurely drink a lot of great wine. But, by the time September arrived, I was ready to get back to the regular schedule.

2013 Chateau Ksara Reserve du Couvent – At $15, this red wine from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon packs a flavorful punch without breaking the bank.  It’s a slow-sipper that is perfect for an evening sitting in front of a fire and reading or enjoying with family over a hearty stew. Rating: 4 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 Chateau Ksara Reserve du Couvent

One of the wines I lingered over was the 2013 Chateau Ksara Reserve du Couvent (winery, snooth). It was a red wine from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, and it was made with 40% Syrah, 30% Cabernet Franc, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. The wine was a deep ruby color. Both on the nose and in the mouth, there were black cherries, dark plums, and raspberries mixed with vanilla, cocoa dust, and hints of a smokey fire. The wine was full-bodied with firm tannins and high 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 $15, this wine packs a flavorful punch without breaking the bank. I found the wine to be a slow sipper, perfect for an evening sitting around in front of a fire and talking or reading. That said, I think the wine would also hold up nicely to a hearty meal like stew. This, and several other Chateau Ksara wines are actually available in my local Lebanese restaurant, both by the glass and by the bottle.  I’ve ordered several glasses since trying this bottle and have never been disappointed.  So, regardless of whether you enjoy it on its own or with food, Chateau Ksara Reserve du Couvent worth opening and enjoying…especially now that cooler fall weather has arrived.

Question of the Day:  Have you ever had a Lebanese wine?  What did you think?

Suggested Retail Price: $15
Received as a sample.
Overall: 4 Corks

WBC16 Pre-Conference (Part 5): Last Day in Livermore Valley

Las Positas Vineyard

Las Positas Vineyard

The final vineyard stop on the Livermore Valley pre-wine bloggers’ conference excursion was to Las Positas Vineyard. The gracious hosts not only had space for us to taste their wine, but also the wines from several other wineries in the area. There were also several booths from local businesses. Our schedule up until this point had been crammed full and a little rushed (although I wouldn’t have wanted to cut anything off the schedule!), so it was nice to have a little bit of time to relax and enjoy the gorgeous scenery.

2012 Las Positas Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve – At $68, this California red wine is very non-intrusive. It has medium body, a mix of fruit and spice characteristics, and is definitely meant for food. Rating: 3 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2012 Las Positas Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

2012 Las Positas Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve (winery)
Price $68
Dark ruby color
Plums, cherries, and a hint of spice on the nose
Plums, cherries, tobacco, and hints of clove in the mouth
Medium body and tannins, high acid
I know this wine won the Double Gold at the 2015 San Francisco International Wine Competition and the Silver at the 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, but I was really underwhelmed, particularly at such a high price point.
3 Corks

2013 Heine Petite Sirah by Vasco Urbano Wine Company – At $48, this California red wine is the epitome of big, bold, and beautiful. Just give it a little time to breath and the wine will be one to spend an entire evening getting to know. Rating 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 Heine Petite Sirah by Vasco Urbano Wine Company

2013 Heine Petite Sirah by Vasco Urbano Wine Company (winery)
Price: $48
Grapes: 100% Petit Sirah
Cases produced: 100
Dark inky purple
Blueberry, blackberry, and boysenberry syrup on the nose
Add chocolate to that in the mouth
Big, grippy tannins, full body, and good acid
This wine is the epitome of big, bold, and beautiful once it has a little time to breath. There is a lot going on, but its so well balanced that it’s the type of wine I want to spend an entire evening getting to know.
4.5 Corks

2013 Dante Robere Estate Syrah – At $38, this California red wine is one that is a food-friendly wine that you should feel comfortable ordering at a restaurant or grabbing in the store. Nothing crazy different, but solidly enjoyable. Rating 3.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 Dante Robere Estate Syrah

2013 Dante Robere Estate Syrah (winery)
Price: $38
Grapes: 100% syrah
Cases produced: 115
Medium-to-dark ruby color
Blackberries, smoke, and cedar on the nose
Blackberries, dark plums, smoke, cedar and baking spices in the mouth.
Medium-to-full body, tannins, and acid.
3.5 Corks

And with that, my final thoughts on Livermore Valley…

Collin Cranor, the winemaker for Vasco Urbano Wine Comapny and Nottingham Cellars

Collin Cranor, the winemaker for Vasco Urbano Wine Comapny and Nottingham Cellars

WOW! There is no doubt, I’ve fallen in love with wine from the area. Admittedly, my favorites were Murrieta’s Well, which I reviewed here, and Vasco Urbano Wine Company, which we didn’t visit, although we tasted their wines at a variety of stops throughout the Livermore Valley trip (my thoughts on their wines are here). Vasco Urbano specializes in Rhone styles (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Petite Sirah, and the delicious blends that can be made from those grapes), so it’s not a surprise that I enjoyed their wines as those tend to be the grapes I gravitate towards. That said, their winemaker, Collin Cranor, does amazing things with grapes, as I also really enjoyed the wines we tasted from Nottingham Cellars—Vasco Urbano’s sister winery. Nottingham Cellars wines are all Bordeaux-style red blends made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot.

All that said, if you aren’t drinking wine from the Livermore Valley, you should be. Whether it’s the larger producers or the smaller producers, the wines are mostly reasonably priced and they are ridiculously good.

Question of the day: When you pick wine for yourself, would you go for the Rhone styles or the Bordeaux styles?

The Tribe Chardonnay with My Wine Tribe

2013 The Tribe by Covenant Wines – At $35, this kosher white wine from Lodi, California is a bit expensive on the quality-price ratio scale. It’s a good, enjoyable wine that was delicious with goat cheese, but it’s an “everyday wine” at not-so-every day pricing. Rating 3.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 The Tribe by Covenant Wines – At $35, this kosher white wine from Lodi, California is a bit expensive on the quality-price ratio scale. It’s a good, enjoyable wine that was delicious with goat cheese, but it’s an “everyday wine” at not-so-every day pricing. Rating 3.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

My setup for July's Blogger HangoutI’ve mentioned before that at the 2014 Wine Bloggers’ Conference in Santa Barbara, I became friends with the several amazing women that make up my “wine tribe” (Alison from Bon Vivant, Ann from Oddball Grape, Becca from The Gourmez, Krista from Upkeep: Wine, Body, and Soul, and Lisa from Wine with Lisa). The two “Allisons/Alisons” live in DC, which means we get to see each other occasionally, but the rest of the group is spread out all over the United States and Canada. Our geographical diversity means we all bring very different perspectives to the conversation, although it also means that almost all of our face-to-face time is done over the Internet rather than in person. It’s one of the many exciting things about this year’s Wine Bloggers’ Conference (WBC16) in Lodi…I’ll have a chance to see Alison, Becca, and Lisa in person!

In preparation for WBC16, we grabbed some Lodi Chardonnay to pair with our monthly discussion about blogging. Check out Becca’s recap, which not only covers our some thoughts on the different wines we each opened, but also includes great photos from previous Wine Bloggers’ Conferences and her pre-conference thoughts about WBC16.

2013 The Tribe Chardonnay

2013 The Tribe Chardonnay

My 2013 The Tribe by Covenant Wines (winery, snooth) was a kosher wine made from 100% Chardonnay grapes and using a new flash-dente technique that allows the winery to flash-heat the grapes straight out of the vineyard, rather than heating the wine to make it kosher (read this post for more information on what makes a wine kosher). The wine was a medium lemon yellow. On the nose, there were pineapples and Granny Smith apples. In the mouth, there were pineapples, pears, and cream mixed with the taste of a chewed Popsicle stick.

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 $34, this wine is a bit expensive on the quality-price ratio, even for a kosher white wine. Don’t get me wrong…it’s a good, enjoyable wine that was delicious with goat cheese, but it’s an “everyday wine” at not-so-every day pricing.

The Tribe CorkOn a fun note, after Krista and Becca mentioned that they had cinnamon characteristics in their Lodi Chardonnay, I detected a hint in mine. However, I have to be honest and say that I’m not really sure if that was power of suggestion or if it was really there. I’ll be on the lookout for cinnamon notes in the Chardonnays while I’m in Lodi this week!

Question of the Day: How do you like your Chardonnay…crisp and aged in stainless steel, a plush oak-and-butter monster, or slightly oaked and somewhere in-between?

Price: $35
Purchased at Schneider’s of Capitol Hill
Overall: 3.5 Corks

5 American Red Wines for July 4

If you’re in the DC area, the cold, rainy weather probably has you in the mood for red wine, but otherwise, it’s sometimes hard to find a red wine that goes well with the warm summer weather. However, red wine is made for BBQ. Here are a few great red wine ideas that are under $25 and worth about opening today for your cookout. Happy Fourth of July!

One Hope Pinot Noir – At $19 a bottle, this red wine from California not only tastes great, but also helps fund rescue animal adoptions, as half the proceeds go to charity. The wine is juicy with a touch of sweetness and begs to be paired with grilled Portobello mushrooms, goat cheese, and girlfriends. Rating: 3.5 out of 5. | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 One Hope Pinot Noir

The 2013 One Hope Pinot Noir (website, amazon) is a California wine made by Rob Mondavi, Jr. and half the proceeds of the wine are donated to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to help fund pet adoptions. This wine tastes of sweet, juicy strawberries and Bing cherries mixed with hints of cinnamon. It would be a great wine to pair with grilled stuffed Portobello mushrooms, especially if you’re stuffing them with goat cheese. I gave this wine 3.5 corks and purchased it for $19.

Mark West Black Pinot Noir – At $14, this surprisingly full-bodied red wine from California is not what a typical Pinot Noir. It’s a bit darker and more brooding, without being as in-your-face as a Cabernet. Definitely a wine to think about when looking for an in-between. Rating 3.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2014 Mark West Black Pinot Noir

The 2014 Mark West Black Pinot Noir (winery) is a red wine from California. It’s a surprisingly full-bodied Pinot, with black cherry, tobacco, and mocha characteristics. It’s a nice cookout option because it’s smooth and easy to drink while you’re standing around the grill, but it will also pair particularly well with pulled pork, grilled chops, or burgers. I gave this wine 3.5 corks and received it as a sample, but the suggested retail price is $15.

Barefoot Merlot – At $8 a bottle, this red wine from California has a fantastic quality price ratio. If you are looking for a red wine and know you’ll be drinking more than one glass, this approachable red is a perfect everyday option. Rating: 3.5 out of 5. | AGlassAfterWork.com

Barefoot Merlot

The Barefoot Merlot (website) is a California red wine that is perfect for a party. While not very complicated, this Barefoot wine was surprisingly easy to drink and enjoyable. The wine is medium-bodied and has dark fruit flavors—black plums, blueberries, and blackberries—with just a hint of baking spice. I preferred the wine with just a touch of chill (not actually cold), which also makes it the perfect way to keep cooler while still drinking a red wine during the summer. I gave this wine 4 stars and received it as a sample, but the suggested retail price is $8.

Noble Vines 337 Cabernet Sauvignon – At $13 a bottle, this red wine from Lodi California is full-bodied with firm tannins and just plain beautiful. It’s a plush wine that is perfect to enjoy with BBQ ribs or on its own while sitting on the patio with friends. Rating: 4 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2012 Noble Vines 337 Cabernet Sauvignon

The Noble Vines 337 Cabernet Sauvignon (winery) is a red wine from Lodi, California. It’s a full bodied wine with firm tannins, and lots of black cherry and blackberry flavors that are mixed with hints of cedar and black pepper.  This plush red wine is perfect to enjoy with BBQ ribs or on its own while sitting on the patio with friends. I gave this wine 4 corks and received it as a sample, but the suggested retail price is $13.

2013 Director’s Cut Cabernet Sauvignon – At $24, this red wine from California lingers in the mouth and leaves you wanting more. It has nice fruit flavors mixed with some savory notes that are perfect for enjoying on its own or pairing with beef, lamb, or pasta. Cheers! Ratings 4.5 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 Francis Ford Coppola Winery Director’s Cut Cabernet Sauvignon

The Director’s Cut Cabernet Sauvignon (winerysnooth) is from California and, as long as you give it a little time to breath before drinking it, the wine is fruity upfront, has some savory notes in the middle, and a finish that lingers, begging for another sip to follow. If you’re breaking out the smoker, this is a wine you should open with it. The full-to-medium body will be able to stand up to the flavor of the food, while also enhancing it. I gave this wine 4.5 corks and received it as a sample, but the suggested retail price is $25.

Question of the Day: At a BBQ or cookout, are you more likely to drink beer, wine, or liquor?