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

Origium Garnacha – Beautiful, Bold, and Under $10

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

2014 Origium Garnacha – At $10, this Spanish red wine has an amazing quality-price ratio. This wine would be perfect for girls’ night -- talking and laughing over a plate of Jamón Serrano, Manchego cheese. Everyone will think you splurged on the bottle, even though you didn’t. So, what are you waiting for? Grab a bottle and your girlfriends. Cheers! Ratings 4.5 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com
Roy Lichtenstein's Bull I, Bull II, Bull III, Bull IV and Bull V from the Bull Profile series

Roy Lichtenstein’s Bull I, Bull II, Bull III, Bull IV, and Bull V from the Bull Profile series

Last Saturday was Hubby’s birthday, so instead of doing our normal weekend errands, we spent the day walking around DC and visiting the special exhibits at the National Gallery of Art. We love going to the museums during the winter because they’re usually less crowded, but the Power and Pathos exhibit, which displayed 50 bronze statues from the fourth century BCE to the first century CE, was surprisingly packed. The Serial Impulse at Gemini G.E.L. exhibit, on the other hand, was virtually empty and more how we expected to find the entire museum. I preferred the Power and Pathos exhibit, but seeing both was a fun and Hubby seemed really happy with how it all worked out.

Inside Hubby's homemade birthday ice cream sandwich

Inside Hubby’s homemade birthday ice cream sandwich

After the museums, we had a few hours at home relaxing before heading out to dinner at Charlie Palmer Steak and then came home for some homemade birthday ice cream sandwiches. I, of course, paired mine with wine.

The 2014 Origium Garnacha (winery) is from Carinena, Spain and is made with 100% Garnacha grapes. The wine was a deep ruby with flecks of purple. On the nose, there were strawberries and black cherries with hints of white pepper and something floral (roses maybe?). In the mouth, there were black cherries, strawberries and raspberries followed by something floral. The wine was medium-to-full bodied with low-to-medium acidity and tannins.

2014 Origium Garnacha – At $9, this Spanish red wine has an amazing quality-price ratio. This wine would be perfect for girls’ night -- talking and laughing over a plate of Jamón Serrano, Manchego cheese.  Everyone will think you splurged on the bottle, even though you paid under $10.  So, what are you waiting for? Grab a bottle and your girlfriends.  Cheers! Ratings 4.5 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2014 Origium Garnacha

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? With an SRP of $9, don’t walk…run…to buy this wine. When I taste press samples, I always go through and take my own notes before l read the accompanying information because I rather not be influenced ahead of time. I expected this wine to be double the cost, so to say I was shocked when I saw it was less than $10 would be an understatement.

I was sorry I didn’t have Origium Garnacha to go with my steak and potatoes from dinner because would have made for a really nice pairing–big enough flavors to not get lost in the steak, but not such a big wine that it would have overpowered the meal. This would also be a great wine to pair with a cheese and charcuterie plate, particularly if you have Jamón Serrano and Manchego. Ultimately, I paired the wine with my chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich, which worked surprisingly well, and then simply enjoyed another glass while indulging in an evening of food-coma laziness.

Question of the Day: Do you have special birthday celebration traditions, like baking a particular type of cake or going to a specific restaurant, or do you tend to take each birthday as it comes?

Suggested Retail Price: $9
Received as a sample.
Overall: 4.5 Corks

A Duke of Wines

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

After deciding that the 2013 Piedrasassi Syrah wasn’t for me, I went on the search for another wine to open on Christmas Eve.  Since I had been saving the Piedrasassi for the holiday, it threw me off a little to have to find something new that would be both special and  pair well with Hubby’s smothered applewood smoked cheddar burgers and roasted rosemary potatoes. In the end, I opted for a Ruffino Chianti.

2011 Ruffino Riserva Ducale Chianti Classico -  This $25 Italian wine is a little pricey, but it's worth every penny.  This is a red  wine you'll just want to sink into and savor, particularly if you have a smokey cheeseburger or a juicy steak to go with it.  Ratings = 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2011 Ruffino Riserva Ducale Chianti Classico

The 2011 Ruffino Riserva Ducale Chianti Classico (winery, snooth) is made in Tuscany, Italy with 80% Sangiovese and 20% Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. The wine was a dark ruby color with a clear, watery rim. On the nose, there were cherries, plums, and violets mixed with hints of tobacco, leather, white pepper, and cedar. In the mouth, there were cherries, white pepper, leather, and cedar mixed with hints of tobacco and violets. The wine has a medium body, medium-to-firm tannins, and high acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? At an SRP of $25, this wine is a little on the pricey side for an everyday chianti, but it is worth every penny. It is the type of wine that you just want to sink into and savor.

Because of the high acidity, for me, this is definitely a food wine, and it went amazingly well with Hubby’s burgers. The depth of flavor and creaminess of the melted applewood smoked cheddar brought out the cedary notes of the wine, while the fattiness of the cheese and the burger never became too much because of the acidity in the wine. What was particularly fun, though, was that when I paired the wine with the rosemary potatoes, the violets and white pepper became even more noticeable. This wine ended up being perfect for our Christmas Eve dinner.

According to the Ruffino website, the Riserva Ducale is named after the Duke of Aosta. Aosta is in the Italian Alps, and the Duke supposedly traveled over the treacherous mountains to taste the Ruffino wines he had heard about. The Duke loved the wines so much that, in 1890, he named Ruffino as the official wine supplier to the Italian royal family. And, with a wine that tasted like the Riserva Ducale, I’m certainly not surprised.

Question of the Day: I know it’s a couple of weeks ago already, but if you were celebrating Christmas, what did you drink during the holiday?

Suggested Retail Price: $25
Received as a sample.
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

Valletta: A Thanksgiving Day Red Wine

As we are getting closer to Thanksgiving, I’ve been going through my wine notes looking for wines I haven’t blogged about, but that would be nice additions to the Thanksgiving table. That’s when I was reminded of this gem—the 2012 Valletta Barbera d’Alba.

I actually opened this wine at the end of August with some work colleagues when they come over to see the “new” house. We made a day of drinking Italian wines and eating prosciutto and Soppressata, truffled gouda and Cherry Glen’s Monocacy soft-ripened goat cheese, homemade calzones, and Fine Sweet Shop’s cannolis. It was a truly delicious, but gluttonous afternoon, and not dissimilar from Thanksgiving except with a different main course.

2012 Valletta Barbera d'Alba -- At $25 a bottle, this Italian red wine is food-friendly and seductive, without breaking my wallet.  Whether you’re pairing it with slightly spicy meat calzones or a roasted turkey dinner, this wine begs to be sipped and enjoyed.  Rating: 4.5 out of 5.  | AGlassAfterWork.com

2012 Valletta Barbera d’Alba

The 2012 Valletta Barbera d’Alba (winery) is 100% Barbera grapes made by winemaker Claudio Alario in the Piedmont region of north-western Italy. The wine was a deep ruby with flecks of garnet. On the nose, there were cherries and plums with hints of earthiness. In the mouth, there were cherries, blackberries, and plums mixed with earthiness and something toasty. The wine was medium-to-full bodied with velvety tannins and balanced acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? At $25, this wine everything I look for in an Italian red–seductive, food-friendly, and delicious–and all without breaking my wallet. The Valletta paired the way I had hoped when we enjoyed it with our slightly spicy meat calzones. And, as I thought back on that pairing, I realized that its versatility as a food wine practically begs to pair it with a roasted turkey. It won’t overpower the food, but rather blend, enhancing the flavors as you eat and drink. Sure, it’s a little different than the more common Pinot Noir or Beaujolais options, but I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Question of the Day:  Have you started buying your Thanksgiving wines yet or are you waiting a little longer?

Price: $25
Purchased at Radici Market
Overall: 4.5 Corks