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?

 

A Beautiful Mumm Pinot Noir

2013 Mumm Napa Pinot Noir Devaux Ranch – At $35, this California red wine is a little pricey, but it offers the type of something special that brings a smile to your face every time you take a sip. It’s perfect for company, for Thanksgiving dinner or the rotisserie chicken you bought on the way home, or while sitting on the porch chatting with your spouse during a nice spring evening. Cheers! Ratings 4.5 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 Mumm Napa Pinot Noir Devaux Ranch – At $35, this California red wine is a little pricey, but it offers the type of something special that brings a smile to your face every time you take a sip. It’s perfect for company, for Thanksgiving dinner or the rotisserie chicken you bought on the way home, or while sitting on the porch chatting with your spouse during a nice spring evening. Cheers! Ratings 4.5 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

I love my job. Don’t get me wrong…if I won enough money in the lottery to be able to retire immediately, I would. But, if I have to go to work every day, I’m thankful that I go to a place where I like my boss, get along with my coworkers, and enjoy doing the everyday things I need to do. That said, going back to work after a long vacation is difficult. The sound of the alarm clock makes me cringe. My shower and get-ready routine takes longer than usual. And, the commute in, no matter how much I normally love the 30-minute walk, drags on because it’s out of necessity and not one for pleasure. Sure, the first day also is the chance to relive the vacation fun while catching up with colleagues, but the rest of the week is just a reminder that I’m not on vacation anymore. Therefore, after 16 days vacation, that first week back to work in January was rough, so I decided to indulge halfway through the week and open a nice bottle of wine.

2013 Mumm Napa Pinot Noir Devaux Ranch – At $35, this California red wine is a little pricey, but it offers the type of something special that brings a smile to your face every time you take a sip. It’s perfect for company, for Thanksgiving dinner or the rotisserie chicken you bought on the way home, or while sitting on the porch chatting with your spouse during a nice spring evening. Cheers! Ratings 4.5 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 Mumm Napa Pinot Noir Devaux Ranch

The 2013 Mumm Napa Pinot Noir Devaux Ranch (winery) was from Carneros, California and was made with 100% Pinot Noir grapes. The wine had a deep ruby color. On the nose, there were red cherries and blackberries, mixed with hints of cloves. In the mouth, there were cherries and blackberries mixed with cloves and nutmeg. The wine was medium bodied with medium tannins and acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? At $35 for the non-wine club price and $28 for the wine club price, this wine is a little pricey, but it’s worth the cost if you’re looking for something a little extra. Every time I took a sip, I couldn’t help but smile because it tasted so good, and that was exactly what I needed on that first Wednesday of January.

Mumm uses most of their Pinot Noir grapes to make delicious sparkling wine, but I’m thankful they put some grapes aside to make limited quantities of still red wine because the Pinot Noir Devaux Ranch is the result. It’s a wine that would be perfect for company, would pair well with Thanksgiving dinner or the rotisserie chicken you bought on the way home, or would be enjoyable while sitting on the porch chatting with your spouse during a nice spring evening.

Question of the Day: Do you have a special drink or routine to help you ease into that first week of work after vacation?

Price: $35 for non-wine club members, $28 for Club Vivant members
Purchased at Mumm Napa’s website
Overall: 4.5 Corks

The Force is Strong with Skywalker’s Sommità

2012 Skywalker Vineyards Sommità – This $42 bottle of red wine from California is a great special occasion wine. It’s luscious and complicated, but still approachable and drinkable. It would be great holiday wine, perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Ratings 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2012 Skywalker Vineyards Sommità – This $42 bottle of red wine from California is a great special occasion wine. It’s luscious and complicated, but still approachable and drinkable. It would be great holiday wine, perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Ratings 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2012 Skywalker Vineyards Sommita at the bar at Charlie Palmers Steak DCA little more than a month ago, a friend texted me a picture of a Yoda statue saying “You’ll never guess where I am.” It turns out, he was at a conference at the Skywalker Ranch, and while he was there, he did a wine tasting at Skywalker Vineyards. My envy was as green as the old Jedi Master.

Knowing my love of Star Wars and excitement about the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, he brought me a bottle of Pinot Noir. Since Hubby doesn’t drink, though, it seemed most appropriate that my friend and I open it together. So, we headed to Charlie Palmer Steak DC for lunch. They don’t charge a corkage fee for U.S. wines, although the wines can’t be something on their wine list, and they only allow guests to bring two bottles.

2012 Skywalker Vineyards Sommità Pinot Noir

2012 Skywalker Vineyards Sommità Pinot Noir

The 2012 Skywalker Vineyards Sommità (winery, snooth) is made in Marin County, California with 100% Pinot Noir grapes. The wine was a deep ruby with flecks of purple and big, drippy legs. On the nose, there were dark cherries and raspberries mixed with hints of cloves and earth. In the mouth, there were dark cherries, raspberries, and cranberries mixed with cedar, baking spices, and hints of white pepper, earth, and mushrooms. The wine had a medium-to-full body, medium tannins, and medium acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for?  At $42, this wine is not an everyday bottle, but if you’re looking for a special wine that is under $50, this is definitely worth considering. It’s luscious and complicated, but still approachable and drinkable. It’s a wine that can just as easily be paired with food as it can be enjoyed on its own.

Skywalker Vineyards CorkI paired the wine with the hand-cut yellowfin tuna tartare, which is on a bed of avocado and is made with a soy and lime emulsion. It also comes with sesame flat bread. I couldn’t have picked a better pairing, as the dish emphasized the earthiness in the wine, while still allowing everything to taste fresh and without being overpowering.

This wine is definitely drinkable now and would make a nice addition to a Christmas or New Year’s feast. Or, as the wine has some aging potential, so you should feel comfortable buying a bottle or two and holding on to it for a couple of years. Either way, if you’re a Pinot Noir or a Star Wars fan, this is a wine worth finding.

Question of the Day: Have you seen the new Star Wars movie yet? What did you think of it (no spoilers, please!)? And, have you ever had a wine from Skywalker Vineyards?

Me meeting R2D2 at the Disney screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on opening night

Meeting R2D2 at the Disney screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on opening night

Price: $42
Overall: 4.5 Corks

An Evening With the Wine Women of the Finger Lakes

Clean duvet postitAfter leaving Villa Bellangelo on the first day of the Wine Bloggers’ Conference pre-conference excursion, we had an hour to settle into our rooms at the Hampton Inn in Geneva, NY. While not overly fancy, the hotel was clean (even leaving a little sticky note on my headboard ensuring me my duvet cover and sheets had been freshly cleaned), the staff was super organized and friendly, and the location was walking distance to Seneca Lake and downtown. It was perfect for our group.

FLXWineWomen

FLX Wine Women–Martha Macinski from Standing Stone Vineyards, Chef Heather Tompkins from OPUS Espresso and Wine Bar, Jenna Lavita from Ventosa Vineyards, Erica Paolicelli from Three Brothers Wineries & Estates, and Liz Leidenfrost from Leidenfrost Vineyards

Once we were cleaned up, we headed to Ventosa Vineyards for a night of food and wine with the FLX Wine Women– Chef Heather Tompkins from OPUS Espresso and Wine Bar, Erica Paolicelli from Three Brothers Wineries & Estates, Jenna Lavita from Ventosa Vineyards, Liz Leidenfrost from Leidenfrost Vineyards, and Martha Macinski from Standing Stone Vineyards. Each of the women gave a presentation, highlighting not only what was unique about each of their vineyards, but also what was unique about them and their experiences being a women in an industry that is often dominated by men.   Then, during dinner, they each spent one course with one of the four tables, giving us the opportunity to talk with them one-on-one.

Background on the wineries and the restaurant

Seneca Lake and a glass of NY Cider at Ventosa Vineyards

Seneca Lake and a glass of NY Cider at Ventosa Vineyards

OPUS is located in Geneva and specializes in freshly roasted espresso, homemade, Paninis, fresh baked pastries…and wine, of course. While I didn’t get a chance to visit OPUS during the trip, Chef Heather prepared a decadent dinner made from local ingredients that highlighted the wonderful things each of the local winemakers are doing with their wines. Should I find myself in Geneva again, I will definitely be visiting OPUS in person.

Three Brothers Wineries & Estates actually is made of three wineries–Stony Lonesome Wine Cellars, Passion Feet Wine Barn, and Bagg Dare Wine Company–and a microbrewery called War Horse Brewing Co. that makes both hard ciders and beer. They actually have two locations if you’re looking to taste–the location in Geneva, as well as a storefront in Eastview Mall.

Liz Leidenfrost from Leidenfrost Vineyards

Liz Leidenfrost from Leidenfrost Vineyards

Ventosa Vineyards consists of 23 acres overlooking Seneca Lake. They’re known for producing dry red wines like Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Sangiovese. The night WBC15 was at Ventosa, they were awarded the 2015 Governor’s Cup for Best Red Wine–the 2011 Ventosa Vineyards Lemberger.

Standing Stone Vineyards is 41 acres and was originally planted in the early 1970’s as Gold Seal Vineyards. Owners Tom & Marti Macinski bought the farm in 1991 and have grown it from a vineyard that produced 800 cases of wine in 1993 to one that now produces about 8000 cases.

Leidenfrost Vineyards has been owned and run by the Leidenfrost family since 1947. It’s located on the east side of Seneca Lake in Hector, NY and produces about 3000 cases of wine annually.

The FLX Wine Women Dinner Menu

The FLX Wine Women Dinner Menu

Dinner and the wines

Candy Beet Melon-Arugula Salad with Red Jacket Cheribundi-Curry Vinaigrette, Stony Brook Pumpkin Oil and Seeds, and First Light Goat Cheese paired with a 2014 Three Brothers Winery & Estates Pinot Noir Rosé and Leidenfrost Vineyards Blanc de Blancs

Candy Beet Melon-Arugula Salad with Red Jacket Cheribundi-Curry Vinaigrette, Stony Brook Pumpkin Oil and Seeds, and First Light Goat Cheese paired with a 2014 Three Brothers Winery & Estates Pinot Noir Rosé and Leidenfrost Vineyards Blanc de Blancs

2014 Three Brothers Winery and Estates Pinot Noir Rosé
Sadly, I couldn’t find any information about this wine on Three Brothers’ website, but it was a very pleasant rosé and I recommend trying it if you see it. The wine offered some lighter red fruit notes and had good acidity, which helped it hold up to the oil and cheese in the salad. It would be a great sipper on a hot summer day.
4 Corks

Leidenfrost Vineyards Blanc de Blancs ($25)
The is a traditional Méthode Champenoise sparkling wine made from Chardonnay grapes. It was very subtle, with some honeysuckle, cream, and a hint of toast. It was a favorite at my table, and the bottle was empty before I had a chance for seconds. I particularly liked it with the pumpkin seeds in the salad.
4 Corks

Sweet Corn-Muranda Cheese, Cheddar Studded Risotto Cake with Summer Tomato and Fennel Coulis and Jalapeño-Orange Mascarpone paired with a 2012 Ventosa Vineyards Pinot Noir and a 2013 Standing Stone Vineyards Gewürztraminer

Sweet Corn-Muranda Cheese, Cheddar Studded Risotto Cake with Summer Tomato and Fennel Coulis and Jalapeño-Orange Mascarpone paired with a 2012 Ventosa Vineyards Pinot Noir and a 2013 Standing Stone Vineyards Gewürztraminer

2012 Ventosa Vineyards Pinot Noir ($25)
100% Pinot Noir grapes
Produced: 210 cases
The Pinot Noir was a light ruby color with bright cherry notes, low tannins, and a bit of acidity. The acidy and lighter body helped cut through the fat in the cheese and risotto cake, keeping both the flavors of both the food and wine fresh in my mouth.
3.5 Corks

2013 Standing Stone Vineyards Gewürztraminer ($15)
Produced: 1218 cases
This wine caught my attention because it was very different from the others. It had a light body and good acidity, like many of the other wines, but the rose petals and passion fruit notes combined with its food-friendliness made it very memorable. Plus, the price point makes it a nice every day option.
4 Corks

Grilled Petit Finger Lakes Farms Filet Mignon and Scallop with Wilted Baby Kale, Piggery Bacon Vinaigrette, Cayuga Blue, and Pickled Red Onion paired with Three Brothers Winery and Estates 0 Degree of Riesling and a 2011 Ventosa Vineyards Cabernet Franc

Grilled Petit Finger Lakes Farms Filet Mignon and Scallop with Wilted Baby Kale, Piggery Bacon Vinaigrette, Cayuga Blue, and Pickled Red Onion paired with Three Brothers Winery and Estates 0 Degree of Riesling and a 2011 Ventosa Vineyards Cabernet Franc

Three Brothers Winery & Estates 0 Degree of Riesling ($14)
This Riesling was clear, crisp, and stunning…especially at this price point. There were some nice apple and pear notes, mixed with a refreshing minerality and a bright acidity. I was nervous about pairing it with the filet portion of dinner, but it held up surprisingly well. That said, I couldn’t get enough of it with the scallop.
4.5 Corks

2011 Ventosa Vineyards Cabernet Franc ($27)
100% Cabernet Franc grapes
Produced: 285 cases
Nice medium ruby color with black cherry and earthy notes. I could have used a touch more body on the wine to match the nose, but it was still delicious. In fact, while it’s a little pricey, it was my favorite of the Ventosa wines and paired beautifully with the filet and scallop.
4 Corks

Red Jacket Peaches and Ginger Galette with Seneca Salted Caramel and Shaved Seneca Salt Bark Dark Chocolate paired with Leidenfrost Vineyards Cabaret Port and a 2014 Standing Stone Vineyards Gewürztraminer Ice

Red Jacket Peaches and Ginger Galette with Seneca Salted Caramel and Shaved Seneca Salt Bark Dark Chocolate paired with Leidenfrost Vineyards Cabaret Port and a 2014 Standing Stone Vineyards Gewürztraminer Ice

Leidenfrost Vineyards Cabaret Port ($25)
Holy cow…this port was absolutely luscious. There were ripe raspberries mixed with vanilla and a hint of baking spice. It was like drinking liquid velvet. Pairing it with the salted caramel and dark chocolate was just decadent.
4.5 Corks

2014 Standing Stone Vineyards Gewürztraminer Ice ($25)
While I always enjoy a good sweet wine, I usually only enjoy them while dining out. This wine left me wondering if I should keep a bottle on hand at home. It’s a full body, sweet wine with good acidity. There are golden raisin and honey notes, and the wine just lingers in your mouth.
4.5 Corks

Question of the Day: One of the FLX Wine Women wondering during her presentation about the benefits of focusing solely on women in the wine industry.  Statistically, there are more men winemakers than women.  Is gender something that makes a difference to you when deciding what wine to buy?  Is this something that you think people should be talking about?

Sunset over Seneca Lake at Ventosa Vineyards

Sunset over Seneca Lake at Ventosa Vineyards

I’m Back…with a Joyeuse Rosé

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

Hello dear readers…I know it’s been almost two months since my last post, and the best I can do is apologize for the silence.  September hit and life got very busy.  After 8 years of living in 750 sq. ft., I think that Hubby has finally had it with my wine taking over the living room.  Ok…well, maybe that’s not the only reason why we’re looking to move, but the search for a DC rowhouse that we want to call our own is on!  That search, though, has been an all-consuming treasure hunt, which means Sunday blogging has been become all about open houses, appointments with our real estate agent, and half marathon training.  Admittedly, there are still a few more weeks before the half marathon, and the house hunt continues, but I’ve missed sharing what I’ve been drinking with you…so, I’m trying a new, temporary blog schedule.  And with that, let’s dive right in… and what better way to do that than sharing a rosé that is not only a great summer option, but also a wine that would be nice for Thanksgiving dinner?

2013 Anne de Joyeuse Camas Pinot Noir Rosé

2013 Anne de Joyeuse Camas Pinot Noir Rosé

This summer ended up being the summer of rosé wine for me, and on August 28th, I continued the trend.  Work was actually fairly slow that day, but I started things off with an early morning visit to the dentist and ended it with an emergency visit from the plumber.  By the time I settled into the evening, I was ready for a glass of wine and to watch the U.S. Tennis Open.

The 2013 Anne de Joyeuse Camas Pinot Noir Rosé (winery, snooth) is a Vin de Pays d’Oc made with 100% Pinot Noir grapes.  The wine was a light-to-medium orangeish-pink.  On the nose, there were Bing cherries, strawberries, and raspberries.  In the mouth, there were Bing cherries, tart strawberries, and a hint of thyme.  The wine had a light body and lime-like acid.

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 an SRP of $11 a bottle, this wine has a fantastic quality/price ratio.  Is it the most complicated rose you’ll ever taste.  No.  But, is it a solidly enjoyable wine?  Absolutely.  The wine would be perfect to enjoy with cheese or other high-fat appetizers, as well as with a dinner of creamy entrees or buttery side dishes because the acidity of the wine will be a palate cleanser and keep the food flavors a little more vibrant in your mouth.  So, as you think about your Thanksgiving menu, if you’re planning buttery Brussels sprouts or if your like my mother-in-law and serve homemade mac-and-cheese, this is a wine worth considering for your table.

Question of the Day: Do you enjoy drinking rosés all year long or do they tend to be a summer wine for you?

Suggested Retail Price: $11
Received as a sample.
Overall: 3.5 Corks