Celebration in a Bottle

As I mentioned in a post earlier this week, I was doing “the happy dance” on Tuesday because I received my WSET Level 2 Intermediate Certificate in Wines and Spirits test results, and I passed with distinction.  You could probably tell from my discussions about work that my current career is not within the wine industry.  My boss, however, is nice enough to allow me to leave the office early, once a week, so that I can attend wine classes.  Granted, that means school nights are particularly long days for me, since I leave my house around 7:30am and don’t walk back in until after 10pm, but it’s worth it, particularly when I receive good test results! 

Once I had my results, the big question was what I should open to celebrate.  Tuesday night was a busy one because immediately after work, I had a condo association board meeting.  As I’m a member of the board, I not only had to stay for the open session that residents could attend, but also the closed executive session that occurred afterwards.  It was an intense night, as there was significant disagreement between board members on a few hot-button issues.  Ultimately, I didn’t get home until almost 9:30pm, but that wasn’t going to stop my personal celebration.

During the first course, I was introduced to Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and my love affair with this Southern Rhône Appellation bloomed.  Because of that, it seemed only appropriate for me to celebrate my results by opening a bottle of 2005 Perrin & Fils “Les Sinards” Chateauneuf-du-Pape (vineyard site, vineyard blog, snooth).  This blend of 70% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 15% Mourvèdre had a beautiful ruby color.  On the nose, there were strong red fruit aromas, mostly strawberry and raspberry, followed by a nice savoriness—a mixture of leather and sweet cooking spices.  In the mouth, the raspberry flavors were more prominent than the strawberry, but they both blended nicely with the taste of cloves and leather.  There was also a hint of spicy white pepper that helped give the wine character without dominating or becoming distracting.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At $38 a bottle, this wine might push the limits of what some readers may be willing to spend on an everyday wine.  However, it’s a nice, maturing wine that will offer a solid flavor that you can sink into without being overwhelmed by it.  Plus, while I did open this bottle up for a special occasion, I can attest to its ability to be enjoyable after a long, tiring day.  In terms of food pairings, while I didn’t actually drink the wine with dinner, I think it would make go well with a roasted chicken or a seasoned pork tenderloin.

Overall: 4 Corks

Bliss with Barefoot & Bubbles

If you follow me on Twitter (@Alleigh), you know that last week was a ridiculously busy week in my office.  Every year, we hold a breakfast reception for people who come into DC, and we choose the date by looking at the popular Spring Break weeks for K-12 schools.  The purpose of picking the date this way is because there will be more families travelling, so we can see more people.  This year’s reception was last Wednesday, and it was the biggest one my office has ever had—over 250 people!  Now, that may not seem like a lot to people who are used to those types of big events, but as this is only a one-time-a-year reception, it is not something that my officemates and I are used to. 

For me, the reception meant a lot of talking, a lot of standing on my feet, and a lot of just “being on” all the time.  It also meant an overall increase in meetings, since people who attend the reception usually want to set up private meetings at another time.   All in all, it was a very successful week, but I was ready to collapse on Friday night when I got home.  I walked in the door, chilled a bottle of Barefoot Bubbly Brut Cuvee (vineyard, snooth), and plopped down on the couch to decompress w/ Hubby. 

Admittedly, I’m not the first to review the Barefoot Bubbly.  In fact, some of the blogs that I read regularly, like Wines by Benito, 1 Wine Dude, Brix Chicks, and The Wine Whore, have great thoughts to share on this sparkler.  Despite the diverse coverage, I still wanted to share my thoughts because, well, this wine fits perfectly into what A Glass After Work is all about.  As I read through the posts by other bloggers, what was most interesting to me is that while the wine was consistently described as not complicated, everyone gave it a thumbs-up—and I completely agree. 

The sparkling wine had a nice, medium lemon color, with big, strong bubbles rising to the top of the glass.  On the nose, there were pleasant green apple aromas.  In the mouth, the bubbles just danced off my tongue.  Again, there were green apple flavors.  There was also the slightest hint kiwi. 

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At $8.99, this wine is pure, uncomplicated happiness in a bottle.  It’s the type of wine that doesn’t require a lot of studying, but rather is just meant to drink up and enjoy.  The Barefoot Bubbly is very drinkable on its own, although I paired it with a tortellini and shrimp in an alfredo sauce, and it was a great match.  The Barefoot Bubbly wasn’t anything fancy, and certainly not something that I would say was a special occasion sparkler, but it was perfect to open after a crazy day (or week) at work and just settle into and relax while you sip.   

Overall: 3.5 Corks

TTT&T: How to Get a Good Look

Since I’m trying to keep these segments short, today’s post is simply about how to hold the glass so that you can get a better look at your wine.  Looking at the wine is something a lot of people quickly gloss over.  However, it’s amazing how much information you can gather without even taking a sip, and trust me, it’s well worth taking the extra minute to do a quick check.

The main things that I’m looking for when I check the appearance of a wine are:

  • Clarity, which hints at the age and quality;
  • Rim color, which gives an indication of the wine’s age;
  • Overall color, which helps determine grape variety, age, and quality, as well as create expectations of what’s to come; and
  • Legs, which show the viscosity and, ultimately, how much sugar and alcohol are in the wine.

First, make sure you hold your glass by the stem.  If you’re not used to this, it might be awkward at first, but the heat from your hands can increase the temperature of the wine when you hold the glass by the bowl.  This can be particularly bad when tasting white and rosé wines. 

Then, the best way to examine your wine is to tilt the glass (obviously, this means you shouldn’t fill the glass to the brim when you pour).  It’s best to do this over a white tablecloth or napkin, this way there isn’t anything behind your glass to throw off the color.  After that, you’re ready to start making observations about the wine’s appearance. 

Overall, if you don’t already tilt your glass while checking the appearance of your wine, try it over the next couple of weeks, as I will be discussing what to look for in terms of clarity, color, and legs.  I think you’ll find it’s particularly helpful when trying to differentiate the color around the rim of the wine from the core color of the wine, although it will give you a better view of almost everything you’ll be looking for.   

WARNING: Attention Whore on the Loose

I just received the test results for my WSET Level 2 Intermediate Certificate in Wines and Spirits …and I PASSED WITH DISTINCTION!!  It took almost 5 weeks to get the results, and I’m already well into the Level 3 Advanced Certificate, but this is a great way to go into the final several weeks of studying.

For those of you who have been following since the beginning, you probably remember that when I started this blog, I was one week into my first WSET course.  For those of you who are new, the courses I’m taking are offered by the Washington Wine Academy (WWA), but are actually part of the Wine & Sprits Education Trust, which is based out of London and is internationally recognized.  The WSET Level 2 was my first foray into wine education, and I loved every minute of it.  If you’re even toying with the idea of taking a WSET class, I definitely recommend doing it.  If you’re in the DC area, check out the WWA (both for the class and for their other activities).  I learned a lot and tasted some great wines during the 6-week course.  

So, that’s my good news.  Now, the big question is what to should I open tonight to celebrate?

Come On Oregon, Light My Fire

Between Hubby’s classes two nights a week, my class one night a week, and both of us working long-ish hours, we’re lucky if we sit down to dinner before 8pm and even luckier if we sit down together.  Since we eat so late, our weekday dinners tend to be fairly simple—marinated chicken/fish/steak made on the George Forman grill, some starch or veggie, and a glass or two of wine (for me, since Hubby doesn’t drink).  Clearly, this means there isn’t a lot of variety in the food, but that also means that I like some diversity and personality in my wine.  Oregon’s R.Stuart & Co. 2007 Big Fire Pinot Noir looked like it could a wine to provide the variety I needed.

The Big Fire Pinot Noir (vineyard, snooth) comes with a screw top, although, unfortunately, mine was stripped.  I’m sure watching me figure out how to open the bottle was very amusing.  Let’s just say that I was becoming increasingly aggressive with the poultry scissors.  Finally, though, I was able to get the top off, and my efforts were rewarded with my first sip.

The wine was a medium-to-light ruby that resembled the color and intensity of cranberry juice.  On the nose, there were red fruits—mostly cranberry and plums, with a hint of strawberry—followed by a surprising, although not unpleasant, amount of spicy white pepper.  In the mouth, the spiciness was stronger than the fruit flavors, although the types flavors all matched the types aromas.  The wine could have used more body, as it felt little watery in my mouth, but, in general, the low tannins provided a nice counter to the spiciness, giving the wine enough flavor to be enjoyable. 

Is this wine worth a glass after work? Sure…you won’t be drinking anything out of the ordinary, but you’ll definitely have a decent, reliable glass of wine.  At $22 a bottle, the 2007 Big Fire Pinot Noir is a good wine to pick up and drink now, particularly as I don’t think it will benefit from any aging.  The wine would work well with a casual weekday meal like grilled chicken breast or a pizza, depending on if it’s an eat-in or order-out night. 

Overall: 3