I’m Back with News & Gruet

It’s been a long time. I’m sure you’ve wondered if I’ve stopped blogging. I haven’t. The first half of the year just started off with so much work travel that something had to suffer a little, and unfortunately it was the blog. And then, the week after my last work trip, my whole world changed…

A few months ago, Hubby and I were moving furniture in the house, and he pulled a muscle in his neck. He would rest and then go to the gym when it felt better, but it would start bothering him again. After about 6 weeks of this, he made a doctor’s appointment. On Thursday, May 18, I left for work, and he headed to the doctor. A couple of hours later, he called me to say they were sending him to the hospital for CT scans and blood work. I picked him up, so we could go together. After several hours of tests, even though no one could give us an official diagnosis, it was clear he had cancer.

We came home from the hospital and did what anyone would—talked and cried, hugged each other, and cried some more. We also drank two bottles of Gruet Brut Rosé. It’s one of our favorites, and bubbly can make even the worst situation seem a little less dire.**

The following day, Hubby had a biopsy. A week after that first doctor’s appointment we got confirmation of what we already guessed–Hubby has stage II non-Hodkin’s lymphoma. It’s an aggressive cancer, so treatment is intense. He started his first of six 21-day cycles of chemotherapy this week. The first week is 5 days of infusions–some at the hospital and some through a pump he has with him 24/7–so we both head into today’s last session emotional drained, but also with the knowledge that we’re fighting this thing.

Hubby’s cancer is treatable, and we’re incredibly fortunate to live in a city with amazing medical care and to be surrounded by a strong support system. The doctors and nurses at Virginia Hospital Center have been wonderful—explaining everything to us in detail, while also being caring, supportive, and friendly. At work, our supervisors have been very understanding and accommodating. Our family and friends have shown an outpouring of love and generosity. And, everyone has shared a cancer story about a parent, sibling, friend, or other loved one who has had cancer and fought it. We’ve been surprised how many of those stories have been people with lymphoma. Even my Dad shared a story, reminding me of something that I forgot in the confusion of everything…my grandmother had a “terminal” case of lymphoma in 1965, which she fought and then lived 45+ more years, passing away from the complications of old age in her mid-90’s.

It’s amazing to think that three weeks ago Hubby walked into the doctor’s office because we thought he had a pulled muscle in his neck and today he’s finishing his first week of cancer treatment.  If all goes as we hope, Hubby will finish in mid-October and will head into the holiday season healthy.

In the meantime, I promise our battle against cancer won’t take up every blog post, as this is still a wine and beer blog. However, the reality is it’s part of our life now. I keep things focused on me to give Hubby as much privacy as he can expect being married to a blogger, but be prepared for me to be honest about my good, ok, and bad days, since all my glasses after work will be influenced by that now. Life can really change in the blink of an eye.

** I will save my Gruet tasting notes for another post, but as this is a wine blog, I want to acknowledge that I will forever be fan of Gruet for helping us cope with this nightmare. These two bottles were the first of many that have been opened since of others to come. We drank some of rosé, brut, and blanc de noirs, and with every bottle we opened, it was like having a reliable friend with us. We knew without a doubt every bottle we opened would be a delicious and comforting one for us to share together.

Question #1 of the Day: Do you have a positive/encouraging story you’d be willing to share (you can always email me at alleigh@aglassafterwork if you want to keep it private?

Question #2 of the Day: We all know about comfort food, but what is your comfort wine, beer, or cocktail?

Top 5 White, Rosé, & Sparkling Wine for Thanksgiving 2013

Yesterday, I posted my top 5 red wine suggestions for Thanksgiving.  Today’s post is all about the white, rosé, and sparkling wine suggestions.  Since wine is usually the backdrop of a holiday meal, and everyone around the table is likely to have very different palates, I tried to provide suggestions that can meet both the sweet and the dry wine lovers preferences.  That said, in order to make sure the wines don’t overpower the meal and keep everything tasting fresh, my suggestions are all wines a lighter body, are unoaked, and have bright acidity.  Enjoy!

 

2010 Michel-Schlumberger La Bise Pinot Blanc

2010 Michel-Schlumberger La Bise Pinot Blanc

The 2010 Michel-Schlumberger La Bise Pinot Blanc (winery) was the white wine I chose for the post-Thanksgiving dinner Hubby and I did for ourselves last year.  It’s a white wine from California, and it had wonderful grapefruit and lime characteristics that were followed by hints of white flowers, grass, honey, and jasmine.  It was a delicious accompaniment to the meal, but was particularly good with Hubby’s pesto mashed potatoes.  I gave this wine 4.5 corks and purchased it for $24.

 

2009 Buried Cane Chardonnay

2009 Buried Cane Chardonnay

The 2009 Buried Cane Chardonnay (winery) is a no-oak Chardonnay that is very food-friendly.  The wine tasted of limes, granny smith apples, and pears, with the slightest hint of lemon custard. The wine has a light-to-medium body and a bright acidity that will go nicely with the turkey without overpowering it.  And, if some reason you manage not to finish the bottle (although I will be very surprised if that happens), the wine holds up nicely over a couple of days.  I gave the Burried Cane Chardonnay 4.5 corks and received it as a sample, but the suggested retail price is $14.

 

2011 Sawtooth Riesling

2011 Sawtooth Riesling

The 2011 Sawtooth Rielsing (winery) is probably the wine that I will bring to my in-laws, as my mother-and-sister-in-law both prefer wines with a hint of sweetness.  The wine tastes of peaches, Lemonheads candy, honey, and flowers with a hint of minerality.  What is great about this Riesling, though, is that it isn’t overly sweet and the acidity is bright.  So, even if you tend to prefer dry whites, you should give this wine a try.  I gave this wine 4 corks and purchased it for $10. (I will have a review of this vintage posted in the next couple of weeks, but here is my review of the 2010 vintage)

 

2012 Storybook Mountain Vineyards Zin Gris

2012 Storybook Mountain Vineyards Zin Gris

The Storybook Mountain Vineyards Zin Gris (winery) has nice flavors and good acidity, which will help keep the Thanksgiving meal fresh tasting, particularly when it comes to the butter-laden mashed potatoes and sweet potato casseroles.  The flavors, though, are will also help incorporated other dishes on the table, as the wine is full of nice mixture of cranberries, limes, and thyme.  This wine will be a great accompaniment without overpowering the food.  I gave it 4.5 corks and purchased it online through the vineyard for $19.

 

Gruet Blanc de Noirs

Gruet Blanc de Noirs

The Gruet Blanc de Noirs (winery) a bubble that is made with 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay grapes.  It’s full of berries, baked pears and hints of toast, cream, and vanilla.  The small, persistent bubbles, light body, and bright acidity will help keep your palate fresh as during the meal, as well as work as a nice digestive while you’re sitting around talking afterwards.  I gave this wine 4 corks and purchased it for $13. (I will have a full review posted in the next couple of weeks.)

(I didn’t post a Thanksgiving list last year, but here are my 2011 red wine and white wine recommendations)

Question of the Day:  Are you thinking about a bubbly or a rose for your Thanksgiving dinner or are you more likely to stick with red and white wines? 

Top 5 American White Wines & Sparklers for July 4th

Yesterday I shared 5 American red wines to bring to a Fourth of July barbecue or cookout.  A lot of people don’t like drinking red wines in the summer heat, though.  Plus, there is something about sitting outside on a summer evening with a glass of crisp, white wine that just screams summer vacation, even if I’m not really on vacation.  Therefore, as you’re putting together your final shopping list for tomorrow’s July 4th party, here are some American white and sparkling wines to consider:

2009 Fess Parker Viognier

2009 Fess Parker Viognier

The 2009 Fess Parker Viognier (winery) is actually a blend of 80% Viognier, 13% Marsanne, 5% Grenache Blanc, and 2% Roussanne grapes, and while you know my recent confession that I don’t tend to be a Viognier fan, this wine is definitely an exception.  The mix of tropical fruits—honeydew, pineapple, and champagne mangos—with hints of butter, vanilla, and wet stones makes for a delicious wine.  I made an avocado chimichurri bruschetta that I found on Pintrest for last Saturday’s get together with the Wine Ladies, and I think it would not only be good addition to a July 4th party, but also would pair nicely with this wine.  I gave it 4.5 corks and purchased it for $18.

2009 Francis Ford Coppola Diamond Collection Black Label Pavillion

2009 Francis Ford Coppola Diamond Collection Black Label Pavillion

The Francis Ford Coppola Diamond Collection Black Label Pavilion (winery) is a blend of 96% Chardonnay and 4% Viognier grapes and is a more full-bodied white.  It has a nice mix of citrus—mostly grapefruits and limes—and nectarines, with touches of pears, passion fruit, vanilla, and ginger.  It’s wine that was made to enjoy with food and will go nicely with some of the cold salads that often are served as side dishes at a cookout.  I gave this wine 4 corks, and while I received it as a sample, the suggested retail price is $17.

2010 Sawtooth Winery Riesling

The Sawtooth Winery Riesling (winery) is an incredibly affordable Riesling from Idaho.  It’s full of stone fruit characteristics, which are mixed with Lemonheads candies, white flowers, honey, and a nice minerality.  While it has a touch of sweetness, the bright acidity and little bit of spritz in this wine make it very refreshing, particularly in the hot summer weather.  My one word of caution is that it is so light and enjoyable, you may forget that you’re drinking alcohol!  I gave this wine 4 corks and purchased it for $10.

Mumm Napa Brut Prestige

Mumm Napa Brut Prestige

The Mumm Napa Brut Prestige (winerysnooth) is a sparkling wine that has a lot of sparkle.  It surprised me a little with its floweriness, but I enjoyed the way it mixed with the cream, limes, nectarines, and toast.  It had a bright acidity and was actually the sparkler I drank while watching fireworks on our roof deck last Fourth of July.  I gave this bubbly 4.5 corks and purchased it for $20.

Gruet Brut

Gruet Brut

The Gruet Brut (winery) is an affordable sparkling wine from New Mexico that would be a fabulous addition to a July 4th cookout.  It’s full of limes, granny smith apples, and toast with a nice acidity that keeps the sparkler fresh without making it too biting.  I gave this bubbly 4 corks and purchased it for $14.

Question of the Day: What are your plans for July 4th

Fate in a Bottle of New Mexico Bubbly (Wine Blogging Wednesday #74)

Sometimes finding a wine is all about fate.

My first post this year was about my wine plans for 2012, and I mentioned that I wanted to “drink and review at least two bottles of sparkling wine a month because bubbly is fun and brings such happiness into life.”  Craig with Two Guys from Napa suggested I find a bottle of Gruet, saying it was an impressive sparkling wine, particularly at that price point.  I was intrigued and put the sparkler on my “to try” list.

Gruet Brut

Gruet Brut

Then, as I was catching up on Facebook after being in Jamaica for the week, I saw that Dezel from My Vine Spot posted good things about the Gruet rose.  This second mention was definitely enough to raise my eyebrows even higher and pique my interest even further.

As if the two blogger recommendations weren’t enough to convince me to try the bubbly, though, two non-wine friends who don’t know each other mentioned Gruet’s sparkling wine separately as a must try.  To have the wine suggested four times in less than a month meant I had to immediately grab a bottle of New Mexico’s finest bubbly.

The Gruet Brut (winery) was a medium golden yellow with a lot of small, persistent bubbles.  On the nose there were limes and toast.  In the mouth, there were limes, granny smith apples, and toast.  The wine had good acidity and a medium body.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.  At $14, this sparkling wine lived up to all the hype…so run, don’t walk, to the store to buy a bottle.  It was simple, elegant, and refreshing.  Hubby made turkey curry and couscous for dinner, which wasn’t the best pairing because the bubbles increased the dish’s spiciness, but I think with a different pairing, it would be a food-friendly bubbly.  All in all, I spent Saturday evening knitting and enjoying this bubbly, and I see more bottles of Gruet in my future.

***This month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday (WBW #74) theme is value sparkling wine.  The challenge was to pick a sparkling wine from any appellation, made from any grape, that sells for $25 or less a bottle (€20, £16).  Special thanks to Winecast for hosting!*** 

Price: $14
Purchased at Whole Foods Market
Overall: 4 Corks