Bubbles, Bubbles Everywhere

Sparkling wine is often seen as a purely celebratory drink, but why do you need something special to happen in order to open up some bubbly?  Sure, you might want to keep your $150 bottle of Dom Perignon for a nicer occasion, but there are some wonderful, everyday sparklers that won’t break your wallet and are worth exploring.  Granted, not everyone agrees with me. but they don’t know what they’re missing! 

There is something contagiously happy about having the bubbles dance in your mouth, which is why sparkling wine is my go-to choice both when I’ve had a rough day at work and need a pick-me-up, as well as when I’ve had one of those days where everything went right and want to have my own personal celebration.  The Canella Prosecco di Conegliano (snooth) is the perfect choice for either of these reasons.  This Italian sparkler has a clear, lemony-yellow color.  The bubbles are large, persistent, and inviting.  In the photo, you can see how clear the wine is, as that’s my countertop that you can be seen through the liquid.  You can also get a feeling for how fast the bubbles race to the top by the streaking lines inside the glass.

The Canella Prosecco has a clean smell that hints of yeast and dough.  These aromas are followed by strong, refreshing fruit smells—mostly lime, apple, and pear.  When tasting the wine, the crisp bubbles pop off the tongue.  The sparkler has a high acidity, which complements the lime and green apple flavors that fill the mouth.  Those two strong fruit flavors are followed closely with hints of grapefruit.    

Monday nights are hectic in my household, as I head to my wine class right after work.  Sometimes I can grab a quick bite of dinner beforehand, but most of the time, I don’t eat until 10pm while standing in my kitchen.  Admittedly, this past Monday night after class, I drank a glass (ok, maybe two) of this Prosecco while I was eating an American cheese sandwich.  It was a surprisingly good pairing.  The salt and creaminess of the cheese was complimented by the acidity, fruitiness, and bubbles in the wine.

Is this worth a glass after work?  It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for?  For $16, the Canella Prosecco di Conegliano is a crisp, refreshing sparkling wine that is enjoyable on its own or with food.  If you’re looking to eat something other than cheese (or a cheese sandwich) while drinking a glass of the Canella Prosecco, you can’t go wrong with a some seafood–maybe a pan-fried flounder or a shrimp scampi.  Either way, you should consider popping a cork, pouring a glass, and settling in for a delightful treat.

Overall: 4.5 corks

Four Bottles of Wine for Passover…Let the Holiday Week Begin!

When I got home from work yesterday, I had a package waiting for me…four bottles of kosher wine for Passover! The timing is perfect because Passover starts tonight, and wine is a big part of the Jewish holiday as not only are four glasses consumed as part of the sedar, but also wine is used to prepare one of my favorite Passover foods—charoset (chopped apples, ground walnuts, cinnamon, honey, and wine).

Historically, kosher wines have a bad reputation, but there has been significant discussion about how it has improved, moving past the days of the Concord-grape based Manischewitz. While I don’t keep kosher year round, and admittedly have passed over kosher wines in the past out of fear of drinking the nasty, sweet stuff of my childhood, finding a decent, fine kosher wine would be perfect for occasions such as the upcoming holiday.

So, what better time to explore the world of kosher wine than during Passover? At least, that’s what I asked myself when purchasing my four bottles of wine from KosherWine.com. The wines I final decided to try are:

  • Bartenura Prosecco ($14.56)—An Italian sparkling wine
  • 2005 Domaine Saint Benoit Laureline Chateauneuf-du-Pape ($32.72)—A French Southern Rhone Blend of Grenache, Mouvedre, Syrah, and Clairette
  • 2006 Bazelet haGolan Cabernet Sauvignon ($27)—An Israeli Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2006 Baron Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon ($14)—A Central Coast California Cabernet Sauvignon

To add to the fun, the latest Wine Blogging Wednesday has been announced over on The Corkdork, which means on the last day of Passover (Wednesday, April 15th), a number of wine bloggers, including yours truly, will be posting kosher wine reviews. So, check back to read about how my wine selections turned out.

In the meantime, chag sameach!  Happy Passover!

My Rating System

As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve been trying out a rating system at the end of each post.  As the point of this blog isn’t just to taste and rate wines, but to find excellent everyday wines, it seems most appropriate to ask whether the wine I’m reviewing “is worth a glass after work.”  So, I’ve started asking that question of every bottle I open.  I’m trying to give a quick summary that includes the price I paid for the wine.  I may include food pairings, as well as any last minute thoughts.  Finally, each post will end with an “overall” rating of 1-5 corks—1 cork being the lowest and 5 corks being the highest.  

Generally speaking, this is what the ratings will look like:
Is this worth a glass after work?
No…it’s not worth dirtying a perfectly clean wine glass. (0-1.5 Corks)
Eh…if you have a bottle on hand, drink it, but I wouldn’t go searching it out either. (2-2.5 Corks)
Sure…you won’t be drinking anything out of the ordinary, but you’ll definitely have a decent, reliable glass of wine. (3 Corks)
Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. (3.5-4 Corks)
It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? (4.5-5 Corks)

If you have any questions about the system or suggestions on how to improve it, just let me know!

A Predictable, Yet Playful Nymph

The medium-ruby colored Tranquility is a blend of Mouvedre, Syrah, & Grenache grapes, so it was no surprise that there was a spicy, white pepper smell on the nose.  Behind the pepper smell, there was grape and raspberry.  As far as taste, the wine felt a little light in the mouth, particularly because the spiciness was even stronger on the palate.  As the spiciness gave way, a nice raspberry jam and hint of cherry flavor emerged.  The wine has a long finish that focuses the fruit flavors, although there is a touch of cough syrup right at the end.  Some people might enjoy that, although I could have done without it.  The balance of the spiciness and fruitiness might be a little off, but overall the wine was good. 

It turns out that Flying Nymph is a second label for Cass Vineyards and Winery, and after having tasted the second label wine for the vineyard, I’m excited about trying one of their first label wines.  What’s interesting about the 2005 Tranquility is that when I tried to do a little research about it on the Internet, very little showed up.  Most of what I found, though, linked to three restaurants in the DC-Metro area that have it on their wine list.

Is this worth a glass after work? Sure…For $20, you know what you’re going to get when you open the bottle—a spicy wine with a long finish.  The medicinal taste at the end means that it’s probably done aging, so if you see a bottle, grab it now and drink it.

Overall: 3 corks

Dark Moods and Dark Wines

This week is moving week in my office, which is quite depressing really.  As I mentioned in a previous post, my current space is wonderful.  The new space has a gorgeous conference room and about half the office, including my boss, will definitely have an upgrade in everyday workspace.  I, on the other hand, will be moving with the other half of the office to what has nicknamed “the bullpen.”  15 of us will be put in one room, and while I’ll have a small 5 ft wall to enclose my little space, there are only three of us fortunate enough to be even semi-closed off.  That leaves everyone else sitting desk to desk in a big open space, with 20 ft ceilings.  I can only imagine how loud it’s going to be, not to mention how much I’ll miss my balcony.

As you can imagine, preparing for the move has made for a long, busy, and tiring week, which obviously called for a deep, brooding wine.  The 2006 Napa Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon (vineyard; snooth) proved to be the perfect match for my mood.

This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, and its intense ruby color is very inviting.  The nose on this Cabernet was very pronounced—dominated by dark plums and vanilla, with a slight hint of anise.  As soon as you taste this wine, you’ll feel the high tannins pull at your gums, and when mixed with the spicy, ripe blackberry and black cherry flavors, it’s very enjoyable.  The flavors are very lively and can even lift the spirits of someone who is mourning her impending loss of wonderful space and hating every moment of packing up her files and books.

Is this worth A Glass After Work? Definitely. For $20, the 2006 Napa Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon has a nice, long finish that makes it easy to really savor the delicious smell and taste.  It’s perfect for drinking alone while putting your feet up at the end of the day and sinking your teeth into a good book.  If you’re going to eat it with food, I recommend something that is equally strong in flavor—roasted beef and lamb would both pair nicely—this way the vibrant flavor of the wine doesn’t overpower the food.

Overall: 4 Corks