Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Not too hot, not too cold...

If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times... Correct serving temperature is a HUGE part of wine enjoyment. If a wine is too cold the flavors are 'numbed' out and acidity is pronounced; a wine that is too hot will have its alcohol magnified and taste harsh. 
There are many fancy wine thermometers that you can use to ensure that your wine is at the correct temperature.

But here's a very easy method:

Practice the '20-20' rule:

Take whites out of the fridge 20 minutes prior to serving them.
Put reds (yes, you heard me REDS) into the fridge 20 minutes prior to serving them.

Following this rule your wine's flavors and aromas will be more pronounced, thereby enhancing the enjoyment of your wine experience. Follow the link below to an article in Wine Spectator for more information on wine serving temperatures.

Salud! KathyD

How to Serve Wine 101: Tips on the Perfect Serving Temperature | How To | Learn Wine | Wine Spectator

Sunday, July 15, 2012

I fell in love on aisle 23 at Total Wine Dallas...

I fell in love on Aisle 23 at Total Wine Dallas...I know, I know - it sounds crazy doesn't it? But, it's true. Let me tell you how it happened.

Most of you know that I have moved my love for all things wine over to the new game in town, Total Wine and More at Park Lane and Central in Dallas. (What a FABULOUS store! If you haven't shopped there yet, you're in for a real treat - great wines, great prices!)

One of my last acts at World Market was to purchase a couple of cases of my favorite bubbly - Rene` Barbier Brut Cava - a wine that's exclusive to that chain. For the last couple of years, it's been my favorite everyday glass of bubbles and at $6.99, quite the bargain!

Anyway, back to Aisle 23...

After a couple of months, I had drank my way through the Rene` Barbier Cava cases and was faced with the task of finding a new bubbly that matched my palate. I knew I didn't want to go back to World Market for more Rene`, I wanted to support my new store in the same manner as I did my old store - it's only right.

The major problem was, I'd never heard of these producers, let alone tasted them; it was obvious I'd have to take a few home to check them out. My credit card began to whimper in my purse as I rationalized with myself that in order to talk intelligently with my customers about each of the wine's merits, I would first need to "research" the wines. Hmmm, perhaps it would be a deductible expense? 

That thought clinched it for me and I set off with a shopping cart, headed for AISLE 23 - Sparkling Wine.

I stood in Aisle 23, accompanied by my palate, and began to read the bottle and tasting notes on each wine in an attempt to find ones that sounded like what I prefer - not an easy task, since Total carries 300 bubblies!  Eventually, I whittled the list down to twelve that fell within my price range and left the store with a mixed case of sparklers:

Rondel Brut Cava $6.99
Rondel Brut Rose` $6.99Conde de Caralt Cava Brut  $6.99
Conde de Caralt Cava Brut Rose`  $6.99
Marques de Monistrol Cava Brut   $8.99
Marques de Monistrol Cava Brut Rose`   $8.99
Louis Bouillot Brut   $13.99
Jean Albrecht Cremant` d'Alsace Brut  $13.99
Arthur Metz Cremant` d' Alsace Brut  $11.99
Arthur Metz Cremant` d' Alsace Rose`  $11.99
Arthur Metz Cremant` d' Alsace Blanc de Noirs  $13.99
De Margerie Grand Cru Brut   $29.99

So, now to the daunting task of tasting through bottle after bottle of bubbly to discover the new favorite, it's sort of like Speed Dating - you have to go through a lot of Mr. Wrongs before you meet Mr. Right.

I tasted them in the order listed above, and was very impressed by the quality evidenced in each of my selections. At the end, I felt that I'd done a pretty good job of matching the offerings of Aisle 23 with my palate and my wallet - I would be comfortable buying a case of most of these wines.

But which were my favorites? Which would hold the title of new go-to bubbles after a long day at work?  Here's where the post title comes in...

I fell in love with Arthur Metz on Aisle 23 at Total Wine!

I loved, loved, LOVED everything that bore the name Arthur Metz. They each had a consistency in style, flavor and quality that spoke to my palate - lively acidity balanced with elegant, yet subtle fruit, minerality and a slight hint of toast and lees.
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Arthur had it all, whether the Brut, the Rose`, or the Blanc d'Noirs - Arthur knew the way to make my wine-drinking, bubble-loving heart jump for joy! Thoughts of Rene` Barbier were banished from my mind as Arthur's stream of pearls danced in my glass.

Yesterday as I patrolled Aisle 23 in search of customers needing bubbles, I glanced longingly and lovingly at Arthur. It was easy to resist a caress of the Blanc d' Noirs bottle because I knew that at home, Arthur was waiting for me - ready to pour a little wine-love into my glass...
If you'd like to take Arthur home with you I promise I won't be jealous, 
there's enough Arthur for all of us, you'll find him on Aisle 23 at Total Wine in Dallas.

Find him ~ Buy him ~ Try him ~ Love him!

Salud! KathyD

 People everywhere love Arthur - check out this video at one of the European wine shows.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Everyday Bubbles for the Bubble-head Crowd...

If you're like me, the perfect wine at the end of a long day is one that refreshes and cleanses not only  your palate but your mind...  

Sparkling wines perform this task easily, with all those tiny bubbles dancing around on your tongue making you forget the busy-ness of business and helping you transition to some relaxing, down-time.

My go-to bubbly for everyday is Cava. Made in the Penedes region of Spain, Cava follows in the footsteps of Champagne - albeit with grapes native to Spain - and is made in the Traditional Method with the secondary fermentation taking place in the bottle, followed by at least a year of aging. 
Penedes, Spain ~ Cava Country!

Penedes is located in the Northeast corner of Spain, just south of Barcelona.

One of the reasons I love Cava is that  - when you find a well-made one - it closely resembles Champagne at a fraction of the cost, and what bubble-head can resist that dry, toasty, leesy flavor with apple-fruit and minerality? I know that flavor and style combination hits my palate spot-on.

My new find is the Gran Sarao Brut Cava - NV.

Great little bottle of Cava, runs about $10 if you can find it...

One of my favorite local restaurants, Bonnie Ruth's in Frisco, has started carrying this sparkler and I just love it! In adddition to the typical grapes of Cava (Parellada, Macabeo, and Xarel-lo) this wine has a touch of Chardonnay (10%) to round out the blend. The classic flavors that I love about a Champagne are evident in the Sarao - aromas of dough, green apples, and stone with a hint of peachy-apricot.

I'm not the only one who loves this wine - in April of 2010 Robert Parker said, "Gran Sarao has an excellent nose of biscuit, apple, and floral notes leading to a dry, fruity mid-palate. This well-balanced bubbly has a lengthy, refreshing finish." 

If you can track down a bottle (or case!) snag it and invite over some bubble-heads for a celebration of the end of another day of busy-ness.

Find it ~ Buy it ~ Try it ~ Love it!

Salud! Kathyd ~ The Wine Studio

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Why you NEED to generate romance on Valentine’s Day…

 If you’re a man, here are two Valentine’s statistics that will instill fear in your heart:
  • ·  In the United States, 64 percent of men do not make plans in advance for a romantic Valentine's Day with their sweethearts.
  • ·  53% of women will dump their boyfriend if they don’t do something romantic on Valentine’s Day.
Now that I’ve got your attention and you’re in the planning mode, you’ll be asking yourself the age-old question, “What’s romantic?”  As a woman, I can assure you that it is NOT a football game, basketball game, or anything else that ends with the word “game.” 

On Valentine’s Day romance is spelled C-H-O-C-O-L-A-T-E, F-L-O-W-E-R-S, or D-I-N-N-E-R  O-U-T.

Last year the average gift-giver in the United States spent $116.21 on Valentine’s Day related merchandise - of that total, $68.98 was spent on their spouse or significant other. So, if you’re not looking to be part of that 53% of men who will be cut loose on February 15th you’re going to have to get your act together quickly!

According to a survey by the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association in 2011, the following are the percentages of items that gift-givers purchase for Valentine’s Day (allowing for multiple answers):
Cards - 52.1%; Candy - 47.5%; Dining/Evening Out - 34.6%; Flowers - 34.3%; Jewelry - 17.3%; Clothing - 14.4%; Gift Cards - 12.6%; Other Gifts - 11.2%

What can you do to both impress and delight your sweetheart? Well, if you’re a man in India the bar is pretty high in that regard…
The Taj Mahal was built by Mughal Emperor Shahjahan as a love gift and memorial to his wife – but if you’re not willing to build something requiring 22 years and 20,000 workers, perhaps you should start a bit smaller.

Whatever you decide to do – DO IT NOW! Select a card while the selection is optimal, grab some chocolates before they’re picked over and only those awful cream-filled ones are left, and book a table at a small, intimate restaurant or wine bar.

Here are a couple of suggestions for you that are close to home and scream romance.

Times Ten Cellars located at 6324 Prospect Avenue in Dallas, is a functioning winery with a romantic tasting room and lounge. Settle into a cozy sofa in the lounge with a glass of their ’08 Santa Barbara Pinot Noir and soak up the cellar-like atmosphere, complete with soft lighting and background music. Small plates of cheese, cured meats and olives are available for light bites with your wine. For a heavier meal Times Ten offers you menus from nearby Asian, Indian or Italian restaurants that deliver straight to your table.  No Valentine’s night out is complete until you’ve shared wine, a kiss and some chocolate. Whether it’s a single, handmade truffle, a rich, dark chocolate ganache or their espresso mocha cake, they’ve got you covered. Reservations are available for parties of 6 or more, otherwise there is plenty of seating in the tasting room and lounge. Kert Platner or Rob Wilson, the winery's owners would love to see you! 214.824.9463

The Grape Restaurant located at 2808 Greenville Avenue in Dallas is another great choice for a rendezvous with that special someone on Valentine’s Day. Often termed, “Dallas’ original neighborhood wine bistro,” their menu covers everything from charcuterie and cheese plates to Cabernet braised beef short ribs or mustard crusted salmon entrĂ©es. The Grape has an appealing European charm with its alley-like entry, intimate bar and cozy, close seating.  Expect a crowd here for Valentine’s Day dining; a small saving grace is that you can make a reservation now for their 3-course Chef’s meal. The wine list is extensive and you’re certain to find a wine that makes you and your sweetie feel the romance of the evening.   214-828-1981

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