Sunday Baking: Montes Alpha Carménère & Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

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

2012 Montes Alpha Carménère & Chocolate Crinkle Cookies – At $20 a bottle, this red wine from Chile is big, bold, and full of flavor. Plan on opening it for dinner and grabbing a second glass afterwards for a relaxing evening, whether it’s a school night or not. Cheers! Rating 4 out 5| AGlassAfterWork.com

TheA glass of Montes Alpha Carmenere and chocolate crinkle cookies second weekend in January was all about trying to get back into the normal routine of things. Saturday was meal planning, grocery shopping, laundry, and making cookie dough. Sunday was a little bit of relaxing, the first meeting of my new book club where we read Lost in the City by Edward Jones, and baking cookies. Since I wanted something warm and chocolate-y, I went with chocolate crinkle cookies. To go with the dance party that is often my Sunday evening cookie baking, I opened a bottle of Chilean red wine.

2012 Montes Alpha Carménère & Chocolate Crinkle Cookies – At $20 a bottle, this red wine from Chile is big, bold, and full of flavor. Plan on opening it for dinner and grabbing a second glass afterwards for a relaxing evening, whether it’s a school night or not. Cheers! Rating 4 out 5| AGlassAfterWork.com

2012 Montes Alpha Carménère & Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

The 2012 Montes Alpha Carménère (winery, snooth) was a deep ruby with hints of purple that clung to the glass. The wine was made with 90% Carménère and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. On the nose, there were blackberries and tobacco with hints of vanilla, earth, and menthol. In the mouth, there were blackberries and plums with hints of vanilla, tobacco, and chocolate and mint on the finish. The wine was full bodied with smooth tannins and high acid.

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 was big, bold, and very enjoyable. However, I wish it was just a touch better integrated. The alcohol and acid distracted me from the beautiful flavors. Letting the wine breath a little definitely helped, but ultimately the balance was the difference between me really liking this wine and my loving it. Of course, none of that stopped me from dancing around the kitchen and having a fun time with the wine while I was baking.

The cookies were big and fudgey, and exactly what I was hoping for. My coworkers gobbled them down, and my sister-in-law later mentioned that they were her favorite for the month of January.

Overall, the pairing of the Carménère and the chocolate crinkle cookies was perfect for a rainy, January day. The cookies helped tone down the alcohol and acid in the wine, and the chocolatey-ness of the cookies paired nicely with flavors in the wine. Both the wine and the cookies will be repeats for me.

Question of the Day: What’s your favorite chocolate cookie?

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
Print Recipe
Chocolatey cookies rolled in powdered sugar and baked to fudgey, chewy perfection
Servings
2 dozen
Servings
2 dozen
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
Print Recipe
Chocolatey cookies rolled in powdered sugar and baked to fudgey, chewy perfection
Servings
2 dozen
Servings
2 dozen
Ingredients
Servings: dozen
Instructions
  1. In medium bowl, mix together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt .
  2. Combine the unsweetened chocolate and butter in a bowl. Microwave on low (or at 50 percent power), stirring occasionally. It should take about 2 to 3 minutes until the mixture is melted.
  3. In mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat on medium high speed until fluffy and light in color. Beat in egg and vanilla on high speed.
  4. Add chocolate mixture until just combined.
  5. Slowly add flour mixture, just until it is combined.
  6. Divide dough in half and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours.
  7. When ready to bake, remove cookies from the refrigerator for 10-20 minutes.
  8. Preheat oven to 350F. Line cookie sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
  9. Place the granulated sugar and powdered sugar in separate shallow bowls.
  10. Take a rounded tablespoon of chilled dough and roll between the palms of your hands to create 1-inch balls. Roll the shaped dough in the sugar mixture until coated. Slightly flatten cookies with the palm of your hand, if desired.
  11. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until cookies are puffed and cracked. The edges will look as if they're finished, but the middle will look soft and gooey.
  12. Let cookies set on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing them to a wire cooling rack to completely cool.
Recipe Notes

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

A Friday Night of Cookies, Pizza, and a Montes Syrah

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

2012 Montes Alpha Syrah – At $20, this big, bold, and beautiful red wine from Chile is a great choice for unwinding on a Friday night. Enjoy it on its own or drink it with a dinner of lamb chops, BBQ ribs, or even a juicy burger. Either way, you won’t be sorry you opened it. Ratings 4 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2012 Montes Alpha Syrah

On the left is the gluten-free chocolate chip cookie dough and on the right is the regular dough.

On the left is the gluten-free chocolate chip cookie dough and on the right is the regular dough.

Friday, February 5 was the last day I had to prepare for Hubby’s birthday, so there were a number of things I needed to accomplish but, considering it was a workday, the time I had to do everything was very limited.  Friday started with a conference call and a couple of meetings downtown, after which, instead of heading to lunch, I ran to Harris Teeter to get a few last minute supplies to make homemade birthday ice cream sandwiches.

After the store, I went home to make cookie dough — regular chocolate chip for Hubby and gluten-free dough for me.  Since the cookies were really just the vehicle to eat the ice cream, I decided to use the Original Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe with a few minor tweaks.  I halved the whole thing because Hubby and I didn’t need 10 dozen cookies, then doubled the vanilla and halved the butter.  For my cookies, I used my batch of Minimalist Baker’s gluten-free flour blend (without xanthan gum) instead of all-purpose flour.  Amazingly, whipping together the cookie dough and getting everything chilling didn’t take much time.  And, as soon as I was done, I headed back to work for my afternoon of marathon meetings on Capitol Hill.

Hubby's homemade birthday ice cream sandwich

Hubby’s homemade birthday ice cream sandwich

Once my meetings finished and the workday was over, I walked home, told Hubby what I was up to, opened my wine, and popped the cookies in the oven.  I made a few extra, this way we could both taste a couple on Friday night, but the goal was really to get the cookies baked and let them cool so I could make the ice cream sandwiches first thing Saturday morning.

The 2012 Montes Alpha Syrah (winery, snooth) was from the Colchagua region of Chile and was a blend of 90% Syrah, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% Viognier grapes.  The wine had a dark purple color with a bright ruby rim and big, drippy legs.  On the nose, there were blackberries and black currants mixed with tobacco and a hint of vanilla and black pepper.  In the mouth, there were blackberries, blueberries, and mocha mixed with hints of vanilla, black pepper, and baking spices.  The wine was full-bodied with good acidity and velvety tannins.

2012 Montes Alpha Syrah – At $20, this big, bold, and beautiful red wine from Chile is a great choice for unwinding on a Friday night. Enjoy it on its own or drink it with a dinner of lamb chops, BBQ ribs, or even a juicy burger. Either way, you won’t be sorry you opened it. Ratings 4 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2012 Montes Alpha Syrah

Is this worth a glass after work?  Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. A t a $20 SRP, this wine is a great choice for a Friday night when you’re more likely to have a couple of glasses.  It was beautiful on its own while I was waiting for the cookies to bake, went nicely with the homemade white, gluten-free pizza Hubby and I had for dinner, and was amazing with the chocolate chip cookie.  The only problem with this wine was that it goes down very easily, so before I knew it, the bottle was almost empty.

Question of the Day: Do you generally have the same thing for dinner on Friday nights (like beer & pizza night) or do you generally mix things up every week?

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

An Evening with del Diablo

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

Photographing grapes in the vineyard at Sandford Winery

Photographing grapes in the vineyard at Sandford Winery

After spending July 4 weekend in New York City, Hubby and I worked for three days before heading to Santa Barbara for the 2014 Wine Bloggers’ Conference.  We were in California for 5 days, and I have a lot to share about the trip.  However, since life has just kept on zooming by, I haven’t had a chance.  Not to worry, though.  I’m working on the update.  In the meantime, as a teaser, this is a picture of me in the vineyard at the absolutely amazing Sanford Winery, courtesy of Andrea from Of Vines and Velos.

Hubby and I got back to DC (from California) late on Monday, July 14.  We had unexpected plane delays, which, when added to the time difference, made it very hard for me to get up the next morning to go to work.  Hubby, on the other hand, practically leaped out of bed.  While we were in Santa Barbara, he finished negotiating a new job offer, and Tuesday, July 15 was the big quitting day.

That Tuesday night, we had RiffTrax Live tickets, so the schedule felt particularly packed.  In a complete sidetrack, let me just say that if you’ve never seen RiffTrax…you should.  It’s commentary (well, more like heckling) by Mystery Science Theater 3000 comedians Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett that accompanies Hollywood movies, television programs, and films.  The Riffers are set-up in a theater/comedy club with a live audience and a film crew.  While you can buy RiffTrax DVDs to watch at home, Hubby and I head to our local movie theater for the live broadcasts (through Fathom Events).  Sadly, the theater doesn’t serve food or alcohol, as it was the only thing missing from our latest RiffTrax adventure —Sharknado.  It was the best/worst thing I’ve seen in a very long time.

Tuesday was our last fun day of the week, as Hubby and I spent every other night that week and most of the weekend preparing for the real estate assessor to evaluate our space.  We’re in the process of refinancing our condo, and because I’m the Queen of Overbooking Our Time, I agreed to an appointment the following Monday morning.  Admittedly, we probably went a little overboard with our preparations, but we wanted to make sure everything was perfect so that we get our “magic number.”

2013 Casillero del Diablo Reserva Sauvignon Blanc

2013 Casillero del Diablo Reserva Sauvignon Blanc

Thursday, July 17 was shampooing-the-carpet and scrubbing-marks-off-the-walls day.  By the time I got home, Hubby was almost finished with the carpets.  After about an hour, I was done with my scrubbing.  So, we fell into our usual after work routine of chatting about our respective days while he made dinner and I opened up a bottle of wine to enjoy with what little was left of the evening.

The 2013 Casillero Del Diablo Reserva Sauvignon Blanc (winery, snooth) is 100% Sauvignon Blanc grapes from the Casablanca Valley in Chile.  The wine was a clear, straw yellow, with a touch of effervescence.  On the nose, there were grapefruits with hints of peaches and gooseberries.  In the mouth, there were yellow grapefruits and peaches with hints of gooseberries and something grassy.  The wine had a light body 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 $12, this is a good and affordable wine.  It would be perfect to drink outside on a hot summer day, particularly if you had a salad or a grilled fish to go with it.  Or, if you happen to see this wine while you’re out for sushi, I think it would be a very nice pairing.  All in all, my thoughts on this wine are similar to when I reviewed the 2012 vintage about a year ago — it’s simple, refreshing, and food-friendly, all while having a great quality-price ratio.

Question of the Day: If you own your own home, have you ever refinanced your mortgage?  Any tips to someone who hasn’t done it before?  Any wine that you enjoyed after you got the results (be them good or bad)?

Suggested Retail Price: $12
Received as a sample.
Overall: 3.5 Corks

Chilling with “The Devil’s Cellar” Sauvignon Blanc

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

Casillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc capLast week in DC was hot.  Like really hot.  It was the type of weather where I dread wearing a suit to work every day.  Of course, it was also a week packed with meetings, so trading in the suit for a lighter, summer dress was not an option.  Thursday was particularly rough because the heat and humidity made things so sweltering that the heat index was over 110.  It was not pretty weather.  It was brutal.  It was hellish.

After a day of bouncing around from meeting to meeting, and being thankful every time I walked out of the heat and felt the blast of cool air conditioning on my face, I headed to the metro to go home.  Anyone who has been in DC during a heat wave knows that the hotter the temperature, the more the metro system breaks down.  Thursday was no different.  I bailed on my first metro car because it had no air condition.  And, then, I was off loaded from the next train because of some train malfunction before I was finally able to get on a train that would take me home.  After all the heat, busy day, and metro drama, I was planning to bail on my plan to hit the gym for a treadmill run, but Hubby convinced me to go.  So, I did.  And, even though it wasn’t a great run while I was doing it, I was glad a went…and even happier when I came home, kicked off my running shoes, pulled on my compression socks, and opened a bottle of nicely-chilled white wine.

2012 Casillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc

2012 Casillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc

The 2012 Casillero del Diablo Reserva Sauvignon Blanc (winery) is from the Casablanca Valley, Chile.  The wine was a pale lemon yellow.  On the nose, there was lemon zest, yellow grapefruit, and gooseberries with hints of green apples and thyme.  In the mouth, there were limes, yellow grapefruits, and hints of gooseberries, lemon zest, and thyme.  The wine had a light body 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 a SRP of $12, this wine is one that is not to be missed.  It’s light.  It’s refreshing.  It’s flavorful without being overly tart.  It’s food-friendly.  What else could you want in an inexpensive Sauvignon Blanc?  Hubby made grilled tilapia with rosemary browned butter and roasted Brussels sprouts, and the pairing was very nice.  Overall, while it’s not quite as cool as actually being in “The Devil’s Cellar,” the Casillero del Diablo a simple Sauvignon Blanc that is perfect for cooling off on a hot summer day.

Question of the Day: I’ve received a number of questions about Sauvignon Blanc recently…do you have a favorite?  Are you a fan of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc?

Suggested Retail Price: $12
Received as a sample.
Overall: 4 Corks

A Black Sheep (Oveja Negra) Birthday

2008 Oveja Negra Carmenère

The Friday before Memorial Day was my birthday.  As it was also the start of a holiday weekend and the beginning of a quiet week at work, I decided to celebrate by taking the afternoon off.  On my way home, I went to my local wine shop to find a celebratory bottle of Carmenère.  I ended up opening a bottle of Carmenère for my birthday in both 2009 and 2010, so I thought it would be fun to make it a tradition.

The 2008 Oveja Negra Carmenère (snooth, winery) is a single vineyard blend of  92% Carmenère and 8% Cabernet Franc grapes.  The wine has a deep purple color with a hint of ruby.  The nose was big and bright with ripe strawberries, tart raspberries, juicy plums, nutmeg, cloves, and the slightest hint of vanilla.  In the mouth, there were strawberries, plums, and cloves wrapped in a pleasant woodiness.  The wine had good acidity, high alcohol, medium tannins, and a medium body.

Is this worth a glass after work? If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At $20, this wine is was certainly not a “black sheep;” in fact, it was a luscious complex wine that was worthy of a birthday celebration.  The Carmenère was definitely food-friendly and would pair wonderfully with a marinated steak.  However, I enjoyed this wine on its own.  It was so smooth and well-balanced that it was like drinking warm liquid velvet, and it brought a smile with each sip.

Price: $20
Purchased at Schneider’s of Capitol Hill
Overall: 4.5 Corks