Pinot Evil Pinot Grigio

Pinot Evil

Pinot Grigio

No Year Given on Label

(Livermore & Ripon, California)

On Bottle/Website:

* Fresh with crisp acidity

* Soft, friendly palate

* Perfect on hot afternoon

* Pairs with salads, chicken and grilled fish

* 12.5% alcohol

My Notes:

* Appearance: clear, bright, straw, low concentration, no rim variation, medium viscosity

* Nose:  clean, medium minus intensity, green apple, white flowers, sawdust

* Palate: dry, light bodied, confirms nose with tart citrus, lemon, grapefruit, medium alcohol, high acidity, medium minus finish, low complexity

My friend purchased this wine in part because of the playful monkeys depicted on the bottle.  The cutesy play on “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” fails miserably.  There is no possibly way to speak no evil of this wine.  I suppose the fact that no year was indicated on the bottle should have been an immediate sign that the quality level was minuscule.  The assertive acidity in this wine was more aggressive than my palate could handle.  My friend tasted the wine before me and the pucker on her face as she took the first sip was an immediate indication that this was going to be a challenging wine to enjoy.  We both whole-heartedly agreed to pour the wine down the drain, which could be seen as alcohol abuse if there were any redeeming qualities in the glass. I can say with certainty that I will never purchase this wine.

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Park Farm Winery Sunday Afternoon LaCrosse

Park Farm Winery

Sunday Afternoon LaCrosse

2011

(Bankston, Iowa)

On Bottle/Website:

* 12.5% alcohol

* Light, crisp, dry white

* Pairs well with chicken and fish

* Tropical fruit notes

* LaCrosse Grapes

My Notes:

Appearance:  clear, bright, straw, low concentration, medium viscosity

Nose: clean, medium intensity, pear, pineapple, white flowers

Palate: Off-dry, light bodied, fruit confirms nose, no wood, medium alcohol, low acidity, medium finish, medium complexity

This wine is a perfect spring/summer sipping wine to enjoy while sitting on the back deck.  It has prevalent pear notes, reminiscent of a Pinot Grigio.  I have found this wine pairs well with light pasta dishes and chicken.

Tiefenbrunner Pinot Grigio

Tiefenbrunner

Pinot Grigio

2011

(Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy)

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On Bottle/Website:

* Pale yellow in color with green reflections

* Exotic fruit notes, trace of meadow flowers

* Slightly spicy, well-structured, full in the mouth, lingering finish on the palate

My Notes:

Appearance: clear, straw, medium plus viscosity

Nose: sound/clean, medium minus intensity, aroma/youthful, pear, green apple, peach, wet rock, stone, honey, almond, white flowers

Palate: dry, medium bodied, green apple, grapefruit, medium plus alcohol, medium acidity, medium complexity, medium length

Concannon Pinot Grigio

Concannon

Pinot Grigio

2009

(Central Coast, California)

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On Bottle/Website:

* Citrus, melon, honeysuckle

* Pairs well with smoked salmon or roasted pork tenderloin

* 13% ABV

* http://www.concannonvineyard.com

My Notes:

* Appearance: clear, star bright, straw, low concentration, medium viscosity

* Nose: clean, medium low intensity, youthful, lemon, grapefruit, green apple, wet stone, slate, no wood

* Palate: dry, medium bodied, confirms fruit, mostly lemon/citrus, wet stone, slate, medium plus alcohol, high acidity, medium plus finish, medium complexity.

The more the wine opened up, the more melon flavors were present.  It also became much fruiter and floral.  This wasn’t one of my favorite Pinot Grigios, but for the price it was not horrible.

Tasting Exercise: Body

I read a wonderful article in Food and Wine Magazine last Autumn about different tasting procedures you can go through to help yourself understand the different properties of wine tasting. I found the exercises to be extremely insightful and it was easier for me to remember these properties after physically testing them myself.  I wanted to save these exercises and the wines used and recommended to be able to go through them with friends in the future. I think this would make a fun little educational wine gathering!

Body

Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson defines body as “the sense of weight or richness or heaviness, or even the feeling of viscosity that a wine leaves in your mouth.”

I have often used the analogy of comparing the body of wine to the difference in thickness with milk.  Skim milk is thinner and doesn’t have the richness of 2% milk, and that thickness/richness of milk grows as it reaches whole milk.  A light bodied wine would be comparable to the skim milk while the fuller bodied wines are comparable to whole milk.

Typically, if a wine has a higher alcohol content it will have more body.  Often times wines from warmer climates, which produce grapes with more sugar (that eventually turns into alcohol), tend to have more body.  Other factors in determining the body of a wine include sugar, oak and the concentration.

Food Pairings

One of the most common wine and food pairing tips is to pair white meat with white wine and red meat with red wine.  This concept refers to one of the most commonly used approaches when pairing food and wine: choosing wine based on its body.

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Tasting Exercise

Equipment:  4 glasses, 1/4 cup each of skim milk, 2% milk, whole milk and heavy cream

Begin with the skim milk and taste in the order of richness until the heavy cream.  Pay attention to the texture of each variation on your tongue and the sensation in your mouth.  The skim milk should dissipate quickly, which the cream will coat your tongue.

Wines

The following wines will help illustrate the concept of body.  A type of wine is listed, followed by a specific vintage and brand that would work well. Each are listed in order from least to most full-bodied.

Whites

* Northern Italian Pinot Grigio (2011 Tiefenbrunner)

* New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (2011 Kim Crawford Marlborough)

* White Burgundy (2010 Domaine Faiveley Bourgogne Blanc)

* Barrel-fermented Chardonnay (2010 Rodney Strong Sonoma County)

Reds

* Valpolicella (2011 Tedeschi Lucchine)

* California Pinot Noir (2010 Dutton Goldfield Azaya Ranch Vineyard)

* Chianti Classico (2009 La Maialina)

* Zinfandel (2010 Ridge East Bench)

The wines in parenthesis were not necessarily the wines I found and used when first doing this experiment. They are wines suggested in Food and Wine Magazine. I used the ones I could find locally and if I could not find the specific brand they recommended or didn’t have the budget for the one they recommended, I used one that fit their category. I did these exercises before starting this blog so I did not record each brand and vintage I used.

My Go-To Drinks

I have a very unsophisticated palate, but I have been enjoying beer, spirits and wine for awhile and I know what I enjoy. I am curious to see if my tastes will change as I become more knowledgable about alcohol and try a plethora of new products.

One of my favorite times of the year is the holiday season.  I love a good drink and the holidays seem to bring about more than a few opportunities to have a social cocktail.  For me, the holiday season starts with my birthday, which is typically celebrated about a week before Thanksgiving, and lasts well into the new year.  You may notice a few seasonal drinks on my list of favorites below because of my affinity for the holidays.

Bailey’s Irish Cream

Such a lovely holiday treat!  I even bought an ice mold tray that will make ice shot glasses, perfect for the Bailey’s.

Schlafly’s Pumpkin Ale

I am quite particular about pumpkin ale.  This St. Louis brewery is phenomenal and their seasonal pumpkin ale is the best I have ever tasted.  I never seem to get enough of it before it is off the shelves.

Ketel One Vodka

I was not always particular about what kind of vodka I drank.  In college, the five dollar bottle was economical and got the job done for tailgating purposes.  Now that I have a more discerning palette and suffer from hangovers more easily, I prefer to spend a bit more money for the smooth taste and ability to function the next day.  I recommend putting this bottle in the freezer for an even smoother effect.

Avion Tequila

As with the vodka, I am willing to pay for the smoother tequila.  I did not even realize that Avion was an actual brand;  I simply thought it was concocted for the show Entourage.  When I saw the perfect smaller sized bottle for my margarita needs, I snapped a bottle up to check it out.  I was impressed.  Well played, Turtle.  Well played.

** Need a perfect margarita recipe?  Check this one out:  Margarita Recipe

Captain Morgan

Does it mean I am an alcoholic if the Friday night bartender at the nearest watering hole to my work place knows exactly what to pour me when I walk in after a long work week?  I didn’t think so.

Captain Morgan and Diet Dr. Pepper is my go-to after work drink on a Friday night.  I have converted more people than you would think to mixing this spiced rum with Diet Dr. Pepper.

X Rated Fusion 

When I want a girly drink, I turn to this pretty pink liquor.  Mixed with a cheap bottle of champagne, this mango, blood orange and passion fruit infused vodka makes an excellent girls night in cocktail.

Cavit Pinot Grigio

A lovely pinot grigio to have with a plate of cheese or chicken dish.  It is very drinkable and reasonably priced, which is important for a simple wine with your meal.

Robert Mondavi Pinot Noir

For me, this is the perfect inexpensive light bodied dry red to enjoy with a nice Italian meal.  Cheers to comfort food and table wine!

Homemade Alfredo Sauce

Playing with the concept that acid cuts fat, I have a fabulous homemade alfredo sauce recipe that my ex-boyfriend used to make for me.  The measurements are in parenthesis because they are estimations, as he never really measured anything out and simply adjusted to taste preferences.

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Homemade Alfredo Sauce

butter (1/2 stick)

flour (1/4 cup)

heavy cream (quart)

white wine (1/4 cup)

parmesan cheese (shredded, 1/2 cup)

asiago cheese (shredded, 1/4 cup)

Melt 1/2 stick of butter in a small saucepan.  Add flour.  Stir together until the flour turns into a consistency similar to play-doh.  This is the roux.  You will use it as a thickening agent.

In a pot, heat up heavy cream over medium/medium high heat.  Once it gets pretty hot but not boiling (be careful because it can boil over very quickly and it is awful to clean!), add a generous dose of the roux and stir until incorporated.  Add a dash of white wine (pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc work well).  The acid in the white wine will cut through the thickness of the sauce.  Add parmesan and asiago cheeses and stir until melted.

Adjust how much roux and wine you add to make the sauce the thickness you prefer.  More roux will make the sauce thicker.  More white wine will make it thinner.  You will not ruin the sauce by adding more roux or wine until you achieve your desired consistency.  Feel free to add more parmesan and asiago cheese if you want more of their flavor in the sauce. Serve over your favorite pasta. Enjoy with a glass of the white wine you used to make the dish!

There are many ways to make variations. Feel free to try adding some of your favorite proteins and vegetables.  Some of my favorites include:

** Add peas, sauteed mushrooms and proscuitto and serve over cheese filled ravioli.

** Add hot sauce and grilled chicken and serve over penne pasta.

** Add grilled shrimp and spinach and serve over linguine.

** Add grilled steak and steak seasoning and serve over fettuccine.

Wine & Food Pairing Tip: Acid Cuts Fat

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I am a firm believer that everybody should eat and drink what tastes good to them.  That simple.  Every person has a different palate.  Every person finds different tastes pleasurable.  Find what makes your tastebuds sing and go with it! That being said, there are many wine and food pairing tips that work beautifully for the majority of the population.

When enjoying foods high in fat, like alfredo sauce, the fat typically coats the palate and stifles the flavor of subsequent bites. (And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love creamy, enveloping homemade alfredo sauce?) In these situations, the acid in the wine cuts through the fat lingering on the palate.  This effectively prepares your mouth to be able to fully indulge in the next delectable bite.

Some examples of higher acid white wines include pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc and some dessert wines.

(Recipe for homemade alfredo sauce.)