Tag Archives: wine

Terzo – Birthday Edition

Standard

Happy Wine Wednesday!

My birthday was over a month ago and we are now upon Rob’s birthday month and dinner choice. {For the record, I suggested that we go to Barley John’s (never been) and stop at the Hammerheart Brewery (also never been) on the way back. But as of right now, Rob has chosen here (never been). Seriously. But there’s still time for him to change his mind…

Because I did that the week of my birthday! I made Rob cancel our other reservations when I remembered that I wanted to go back to Terzo. It was my only opportunity to get him there. I wasn’t sure that this was a place I could normally convince Rob to go…

We didn’t have to make reservations because Terzo “reserves” half of its tables for walk-ins. Still, we arrived at opening and had a seat at the bar. (Our favorite place!)

The Happy Hour special included glasses of Barbaresco for $15.

Terzo Happy Hour

It’s rare to see Barbaresco {a higher end Italian wine made from the Nebbiolo grape} by the glass. Sure, $15 is a little spendy for a glass of wine; but considering how much a bottle of Barbarsco can be, it most likely won’t find its way into our house any time soon. So I started with a glass. Rob chose the local Indeed Sweet Yamma Jamma Ale.

Then, the ever-changing menu:

Terzo menu

Rob really wanted to try the Chips and Dip:

Terzo House Made Chips

house potato chips with aioli – $4

We’ve been finding homemade chips and dip around a lot of places in the Twin Cities over the past six months or so. These did not disappoint. There were two kinds of sauces to choose from and when I asked Rob which one, he said, “You choose! It’s your birthday!” The bartender then wished me a Happy Birthday, of course. But I chose the wrong sauce! I selected the one I thought Rob would like (which had garlic in it) instead of the other (which might have been a roasted red pepper kind?). All I could taste was lemon in this sauce. No worries, though, the chips didn’t need them!

I also knew from my last visit that we had to have the bruschetta trio. And I didn’t forget to take a photo this time!

Terzo Bruschetta Trio

bruschetta trio – tomato & egg yolk, truffle mushroom, garlic & oil – $13

Rob’s fave was the truffle mushroom. I loved them all! Then we took a look at the extensive wine list. All of the wines at Terzo are Italian. Look at all of these Barberas!

Terzo Barbera Wine List

Because Terzo specializes in one area, they can narrow their focus and the wine bar thing right. It’s why I consider it the Best Wine Bar I’ve been to in the Twin Cities! While perusing the list, I could not find the wine on the menu that Jaime and I had and loved. But now that I look at this photo – I found it! It’s the Lagone – the second Super Tuscan on the list.

Terzo Super Tuscans

But that night, I hadn’t seen it. So we asked our bartender for a suggestion based on our favorite style (big, bold reds) and price point. As you can see, most of the wines are quite expensive on this list. Generally, I stay in the $30-$45 range. But we were celebrating. This was the wine recommended to us by two of the staff members. They said that we would not be disappointed.

Terzo - Birthday Wine Choice

And they were right! We went crazy over this Super Tuscan. It’s definitely one I’d buy in a store if I ever found it. We savored that bottle to its fullest throughout our meal.

I was in a salad mood:

Terzo Goat Cheese Salad

insalata di stagionemixed greens, roasted butternut squash, smoked goat cheese, rosemary vinaigrette, figs, candied pistachio – $9

This was one of the best salads I’ve ever had! There was a hint of sweetness that made me call it a “dessert salad,” but it really wasn’t that sweet. I just loved the combination of flavors. Rob even agreed that it was exceptional and he doesn’t even like goat cheese. I will get this salad every time it is offered.

I knew Rob wanted to try the Truffled Mushroom Porchetta Sandwich. At this point, I was a lot less hungry than when we arrived. I couldn’t imagine ordering the full entree that I had originally intended. Sure, it was just the Seared Sea Scallops that I wanted; but it was still a full entree! Besides, my dish now had to contend with a big, bold red wine. So instead, I convinced Rob to split the steak. I already knew how much I loved it last time!

Terzo Steak

manzo – pan-seared Grass Run Farms flat iron steak charred carrots, cipollini onion, parsnip puree, barbera demi – $26

Unfortunately, the steak didn’t live up to my hype. This time around, it was overpowered by peppercorns and was a little underdone to my liking. We still had no problem polishing it off. But I will be ordering something different next time.

And because the bartender heard it was my birthday – this:

Terzo Dessert

She let me choose any dessert I wanted off of their menu that night. This was a deconstructed tiramisu of sorts, à la mode of course. We had a little trouble finishing it. We did overindulge! Still, I may have had a glass of Vin Santo after that…

Terzo Vin Santo

Vin Santo – traditional Tuscan dessert wine

I hadn’t had Vin Santo since I had been to Tuscany, where Rob proposed in 2008. That was an all-expense paid trip I earned through The Traveling Vineyard. We were served Vin Santo after just about every lunch and dinner we had there!

What I can tell you… Terzo won Rob over. And we will be back. He still has to get his Porchetta Sandwich, no?

Where do you like to dine to celebrate special occassions where you live?

Cheers~
Carrie

 

The One Thing I Didn’t Need to Bring to Australia

Standard

Happy Wine Wednesday!

My Australia trip recap wouldn’t be complete started without a post on wine. I’ve always loved the advice to drink wine in Wine Countries. Australia is no exception. While we had hoped to discovered some good craft breweries Down Under, we also knew that they haven’t quite caught on to the craft beer craze, just yet.

And such was the case. For the most part, Aussie beer didn’t live up to our snobbish craft beer palates. But there were a few exceptions! Like this one, for example:

photo 2

Not to mention that wine is significantly less expensive, whether you buy it in a store or order it in a restaurant. Sitting down to a $9-per-bottle of mediocre beer? No, thank you. We saw a case of Corona for $75! {We were explained later that is because it is an “Executive Beer” that caters to a specific market. Here we thought it was that it was the cost to travel so far from Mexico…} So, for the most part, wine tended to booze of choice. Especially, the key varietal in Australia:

photo 1

{I took the above photo of the Watershed Shiraz for my Wineaux friends, because it used to be a wine The Traveling Vineyard carried! I was so excited to find it again.}

The funny thing is – and I didn’t realize it until later in the trip – that I didn’t even need the one item I always travel with that remains in my luggage:

A CORKSCREW!

…because the Aussie wine bottle closure of choice is the Screw Cap:

906

I don’t think I’ve written about screw caps on the blog before, which is funny because I did intend to, as noted in my my first Wine Wednesday post! Though I used to teach about screw caps at my Wine Tastings. There is (or has been) a misconception about screw caps because they tend to give the impression that the wine is cheap. But such is not the case today! There are reasons why screw caps are preferred, by wine makers and consumers alike. Sure, it does take a bit of the romance out of opening a bottle, but if it’s a great wine, who the hell cares? There is a great article about the pros and cons of corks vs. screw caps here.

391

I didn’t really pay attention to wine closures of bottles on store shelves because I was too busy selecting the next bottle! But I will tell you that every single wine we bought in Australia had a screw cap – inexpensive and expensive wines alike. Then again, all of the wine purchased was Australian. {We prefer to drink locally when we travel!}

Such was the case in restaurants, too. All of the wines we ordered came in screw capped bottles. But I was too busy taking photos of labels to remember the wines. I didn’t think to get a shot of the full bottle at dinner!

There was just one exception!

We ordered a bottle of wine with a cork in it when we dined in an Italian restaurant in Melbourne. However, there were only Italian wines on the menu. This is the only time in which we did not order Aussie vino:

487

Wait a minute!

There was one time that we gals ordered an Australian Sparkling Wine while the boys enjoyed some brews. And I do remember the sound of the cork popping… because I just love that sound! Most most bubblies need that cork to sustain the pressure inside the bottle.

photo 4

So there you have it. I didn’t have to use my corkscrew one single time the entire 17 days of our trip. And we had countless more than a few bottles. Most of it was very good. Only one was so bad that we dumped it out. {Incidentally that was the least expensive wine we purchased the entire trip.} We quickly learned our price point. Still, it was so difficult to choose in the store! I knew the regions that were supposed to be known for the best Shirazes. But we wanted something to wow us! And we hadn’t found it yet.

So, on our last night in Melbourne, before flying to Uluru where our Aussie friends told us everything would be ungodly expensive, we stocked up on some vino for the trip. We walked into a Bottle Shop and the guy, who looked like the owner, saw us wondering around aimlessly and asked if he could help…

“YES! YES! We are looking for some big, bold Australian reds in the $15 – $2o range.”

And you know what? These were the best wines we had all trip. It pays to ask the locals.

471

How do you select wine?

Do you care if your wine has a cork or screwcap?

Cheers~
Carrie

 

 

Wine & Cheese – An Education

Standard

Happy Wine Wednesday!

I’m still alive! I’m just enjoying summer and only blogging when it feels right, ya know?

You may have realized by now that I am a huge fan of Thrillist. I love their candid accounts on things I really want to know… or even things I didn’t know that I wanted to know.

Still with me?

Having conducted in-home wine tastings for 10 years, I know a thing or two about wine and cheese. You can get a simple list of cheese and wine pairings here.

One of the things that I found that stressed some hosts out was how to cut the cheese to go with the wine. To be honest, as much as I love it, I’m no expert on cheese. The point of the wine tastings was to keep it simple and to focus on the wine and education. I’d tell my host to cut into bite-size pieces. It’ll be easy to serve and just the right size for tasting.

But if you want to know the “proper” way to cut and serve cheese, check out this article from Thrillist:

How to Cut the Cheese Like a Frenchman

Overwhelmed? I am. I may have to have a cheese-tasting party just to practice. (Or to try all of those delectable cheeses!) Maybe have everyone bring one type of cheese and I’ll supply the bread and wine? Sound like a plan? Who’s in?

Want to learn more about wine? This is a fun and direct approach, also from Thrillist:

This is How You Talk About Wine

(Or How Not to Embarrass Yourself When Talking about Wine)

I love it. ALL good advice.

Enjoy!

Cheers~
Carrie

 

 

Pouilly-Fumé

Standard

It may be American Craft Beer Week, but it’s also Wine Wednesday, so I wanted to share with you a wine that we finally enjoyed last week! This Pouilly-Fumé {pronounced poo-yee foo-MAY} was given to us as a gift by our friends Brian and Erik in November. It was time!

photo 1

So what is a Pouilly-Fumé, you ask?

Well, if you are new to wine, let me just start off by telling you that one of the most confusing things when I started learning about wine was understanding what varietals each bottle contained.

You see, in the U.S. {and most of the New World}, we tend to label our wines by the varietal: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Merlot, etc.

In the Old World {think Europe}, wines are most often labeled by the region. Most of the time, the varietal isn’t even listed on the bottle. For example, a Bordeaux isn’t usually labeled as a Cabernet-Merlot, nor is a Burgundy {Bourgogne} labeled as Pinot Noir (red) nor Chardonnay (white). It is just known what type of grape it is made of because they’ve been growing the same grapes in these regions for hundreds of years. It has become commonplace, and even law, that wines from these regions are made from specific grapes.

On the other hand, in the U.S., despite that this particular region is known for it’s stellar Cabernets, you don’t see a wine called a Napa.Other grapes are grown and different wines produced here, too. That is why you will see the varietal listed along with the region.

In addition, there are even smaller regions within the bigger ones that also label wines. In France, these viticultural area are called Appellation d’origine Contrôlée or AOC. That’s why you will also see a Bordeaux labeled as Margaux or Pomerol, for instance.

Confused yet?

In any case, Pouilly-Fumé vineyards are found in the Loire Valley of France and produce spectacular Sauvignon Blancs. Our wine’s back label indicates such for it’s anglophone market:

photo 4

Now, Rob is not a huge fan of Sauvignon Blanc, sometimes from California, but mostly from New Zealand, which, to him, taste too much like green pepper.

Though dry, French Sauvignon Blancs aren’t as abrasive on the palate as Rob finds the New World versions. This one did not disappoint! It was easy drinking with well-balanced citrus and mineral notes. It paired perfectly with our sausage pasta tossed with veggies and a pesto cream sauce based loosely on this recipe. That’s a pretty non-traditional pairing; but it worked.

More traditional pairings include roast pork, grilled fish and scallops. You know, your lighter meats. Pairing the weight of the wine with the weight of the food is always a good bet. Otherwise, match the flavors in the wine with the flavors in the food. The citrus notes in this sauce would pair well with any seafood with a citrus-based sauce, such as the Grapefruit Walleye I made here. I’ve also read that a Pouilly-Fumé can work well with omelets, oysters and smoked salmon. And one of my favorite pairings with Sauvignon Blanc is a warm goat cheese salad with fresh herbs. My mouth is watering just thinking about that one!

But sometimes, just sometimes, you need to pair your Pouilly-Fumé with something “local”:

photo 3

We enjoyed our Pouilly-Fumé with an episode of the new TV series Fargo. Yah, you betcha.

No regrets.

After all of that, it’s important to point out that Pouilly-Fumé is not to be confused with Pouilly-Fuissé {pronounced poo-yee fwee-SAY} which is a wine that hails from the Burgundy region of France and is made of Chardonnay.

Furthermore, the word fumé in French means “smoked.” However there is nothing smoky about either of these wines. Generally speaking, most are fermented in stainless steel, not oak barrels.

More confusion? Well, then just drink the wine. That’s the easy – and most fun – part.

What is your favorite Sauvignon Blanc?

What is your favorite Sauvignon Blanc wine pairing?

Cheers~
Carrie

Drink Me: GSM

Standard

Happy Wine Wednesday!

Last week we talked about Grenache, a grape varietal grown mainly in France and Spain and usually blended with other grapes to yield an elegant wine.

Many wines from the Rhône Valley in France are made by blending Grenache with Syrah and Mourvèdre. If you find this blend in the new world, however, the trend is to label it as a:

GSM

I’ve often seen this label when this traditional Rhône Valley blend comes out of Australia. But our last South Coast Wine Club shipment included a 2008 GSM from Temecula, California:

photo 1

Legally, in the U.S., a wine must be made up of 75% of the grape in order for a wine to be labeled as that varietal. Generally speaking, in the new world, if the primary varietal is less than 75%, it is listed on the label first, along with the other grapes. For example, a wine labeled Cabernet-Merlot, is typically made of Cabernet and Merlot, but with a higher percentage of Cabernet than Merlot.

However, the exception to the rule lies when the vintner lists the percentage of each grape, as shown above. Here, Syrah dominates, just like in the northern Rhône Valley of France. Whereas the primary grape found in southern Rhône wines is typically Grenache.

Why does this combination work so well?

  • Grenache offers red berry flavors, such as raspberry and strawberry, with hints of warm spices such as cinnamon.
  • Syrah adds dark fruit flavors, earthiness, peppery spice and tannin.
  • Mourvèdre provides acidity and balance with some floral notes. It’s rare to find this grape standing alone, but I once had a Cline Small Berry Mourvèdre that was incredible. I haven’t been able to find it in years. They do make an Old Vine Mourvèdre, but I was already spoiled by the Small Berry version that I couldn’t be converted. Good news! I found the Small Berry online and they still make it. Bad News: It’s twice as much per bottle from when I first tried it.

Here is what our South Coast GSM offered:

photo 2

Have you had a GSM before?

What about a wine from the Rhone Valley in France?

What do you think of this blend?

Cheers~
Carrie

 

 

 

How to Make a Bad Wine Good {Or a Great Wine Bad}

Standard

Back when I was conducting in-home wine tastings, one of my hosts said that she tended to only drink red wine. When she would drink white wine in the summer, she and her neighbor friends would put fruit in it to make it more palatable.

I found this interesting because it was usually the white wine drinkers who were trying to learn how to enjoy red wine, not red wine drinkers looking to make white wine more tasty.

On a hot summer day last year, I remembered this trick and talked Rob into giving it a try. I mean, we use fruit to make sangria, right?

So we took a mixture of fruit that we had on hand and put it in the bottom of two stemless wine glasses.

photo 2(1)

Then we added a chilled dry white wine.

photo 3

We finished with a little citrus, too.

photo 4

The result? Something soooo tart and sour. I was kind of kicking myself because I know that fruit and wine do not go together. What was I thinking?

I know what it was… I thought about the fruit one puts in sangria, which made me believe this would taste great, too! Besides, it was recommended by a respected red wine drinker. But I didn’t stop to ask her what kind of white wine to which they added fruit. Maybe it was something sweet?

Because that’s why sangria works. You add some sugar (or other sweetener) and a sweet liquor of some sort. I have a slew of sangria recipes here. They never fail.

I recently found this beautiful Rainbow Sangria, too, that I’d love to try. I was looking for a white one to add to my arsenal anyway.

So what does this have to do with making a bad wine good?

It’s not that white wine is bad. Not at all! But if you have a cheap wine, one which you can’t seem to palate as your first (or second) bottle, make sangria with it! My husband used to stock up on wine at the huge liquor store wine sales. I would shake my head when he bought a case of “chianti” because it was a good deal.

“But you haven’t tried it before!” I’d argue. This was a big deal to me since I was marketing wines in a try-before-you-buy fashion.

He quickly learned that a “good deal” isn’t really one if it isn’t a wine you like, nor are likely to drink.

We learned to use these wines to make sangria. With added sugar, liquor and fruit, you can make practically any wine (that hasn’t turned) better.

Don’t think you have the time or ingredients to make sangria? It really isn’t that difficult. But if you want something else ultra quick, pick up a 2-liter of 7-up or Sprite and make this spritzer to bring your bad bottle of wine to life. You can even make it a glass at a time.

Would you want to do this with your favorite bottle? Absolutely not. That would be blasphemous.

How do you use a not-so-tasty bottle of wine?

Cheers~
Carrie

Barleywine

Standard

Happy Wine Wednesday!

Barleywine, however, is not a wine at all!

So should I say…

“Happy Barleywine Wednesday?”

So what is it then?

Because barleywine isn’t made from grapes, but grain, it is actually a beer. It’s a type of ale that was supposedly developed in England a couple of hundred years ago to replace the beloved claret wine that the English could not import from the French during war. This style of beer amped up the alcohol percentage closer to that of wine, giving it its name.

I love the description of the Southern Tier Barleywine on this menu at the Happy Gnome:

Barleywine - Gnome Desc

Ha ha. Yeah, you probably wouldn’t want to drink more than one. Maybe, two? This beer is all about quality over quantity, people.

Like most ales, English and American versions of barleywine are usually pretty distinct. Rob and I enjoyed the two styles side-by-side at The Gnome recently:

Barleywines

There is an unmistakeable difference in flavor! Because I’m not great with descriptors when it comes to beer, I thought the English Meantime Barleywine tasted more, well… English. But that’s probably because I’ve been drinking more American craft brews for some time now. It’s been a while since I’ve had any English ales. It brought me “back” to those times when I had.

Barleywine descriptions

But I’ll have to disagree with The Gnome’s description of the English barleywine. Yes, English barleywines are the more classic, balanced style. However, I don’t think American craft breweries are trying to emulate them. Generally speaking, I find that American barleywines, like American ales, tend to be more hopped up. Maybe things are changing?

No matter what, the alcohol is there – usually 8% – 15%. You won’t miss that. Today, we find many more Imperial and Double style beers that are also high in alcohol. Does this make them barleywines? No, not necessarily. Barleywine is more a style of beer, from which other high-alcohol beers may have evolved.

Still, generally speaking, many barleywines can be cellared and aged like wine! You’ll find a lot more complexity in a barleywine than you will in your typical ale.

Speaking of cellaring and beer evolution, one of my favorite barleywines puts its vintage year on the bottle, just like you’d find on that of a wine bottle.

CW - BBB Vintage

Okay, you have probably guessed by now that my favorite barleywine is aged in Bourbon barrels. But I’m kind of obsessed with the bourbon-barrel style right now. Who makes this beer, do you ask?

CW - BB Barleywine

It’s Central Waters Brewing Company out of Amherst, WI. This baby isn’t easy to find, nor cheap. But it’s sooooooo worth it. Remember, quality over quantity people.

I don’t drink barleywine very often…

But when I do…

It’s the Central Waters Brewer’s Reserve Bourbon Barrel Barleywine

~

Now, I’m just wondering if I can hold on to one to see if it really does get better with age:

 CW - Better with Age

Have you had a barleywine?

If so, what did you think?

Do you have a favorite?

Cheers~
Carrie