All posts by Gwendolyn

A drink with the Crowleys

downtonbottle2They are here. And almost gone. I speak of the Downton Abbey wines, a white and a red from Bordeaux of which even Carson would approve.

We tasted these wines yesterday and were quite impressed. Though some wines that latch on to a celebrity name or brand are not stellar quality, others look for good wine at the right price to associate with a well-respected image. For Downton Abbey, the situation is the latter.

The Downton Abbey Blanc hails from the Entre-Deux-Mers area of Bordeaux, a region that excels in white wine production from the Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon grapes. It shows bright citrus and stone fruits on the nose and the palate is ripe apple – we may even call it fruity – with vibrant acidity and a soft texture. Nice balance and a wine I think would be ideal for a seafood dish or even a pasta with a rich sauce. If you like California Sauvignon Blanc, you’ll enjoy this wine.

As for the Claret, it’s a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec and definitely calls out for some protein. It is balanced overall with dark berries and black currant, touch of spice, touch of floral notes and great acidity and good structure. But I do highly recommend with food!

So stock up to sip on these two wines for the January premiere! We’ve heard fans will need a strong drink!

Goulish wines for Halloween

Halloween is fast approaching (as in 3 days from now!). The evening is full of spooky revelry for both kids and adults. In my neighborhood, after the kiddos are in bed and the masses have subsided, the adults get together for their own version of candy – wine & cocktails! This is a fun time to choose wines for their label, and we have some spooky – and delicious – picks.

velvetdevil

The Velvet Devil Merlot - with a pitch fork and everything! From eccentric winemaker, Charles Smith, this is a supple red from Washington State.

Ghost Pines -  The winery produces Chardonnay,  Cabernet Sauvignon and a Red Blend. The wines are smooth and supple, with lots of ripe fruit.

Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo - “Cellar of the devil” – got to have these wines on hand for any Halloween festivities as they are great value and actually named for a haunted cellar!

Razor’s Edge – Choose from Shiraz or Shiraz-Grenache. The label harks back to movies with Freddy Kruger or Jason from “Halloween.” What’s inside is that ripe Aussie fruit style – easy drinking and good for watching the kiddos go door-to-door.

Ready to rock out with wine?

grapesofrockWine.com is gearing up for an awesome event, Grapes of Rock, to be held here in San Francisco at the Fort Mason center. Forget the old pairing of rock and beer (or maybe its whiskey), and starting thinking rock & wine. Poison fans out there will rejoice when they hear Bret Michaels is headlining the event, though some of my millennial friends tell me he had a reality show. Or two. Or more. But hey, that makes him stretch the generations, right? Me? I’d look forward to hearing “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” again, just so I can wax nostalgic about cheesy middle school slow dances.

Get your tickets – all happening Sunday, November 3.  Wines of Rock will be there, as well as Parducci, Kunde, Middle Sister and more.

Hope to see you there!

What do “legs” tell us about a wine?

“Legs” in a wine glass are the tears that stream down the side of the glass after you’ve swirled it. Some take special notice of these legs – are they fast or slow? Thick or thin? Whatever speed and shape they take, what does it even mean? The legs of a wine show you nothing of the wine’s quality, and studies have shown they don’t really show much about a wine’s viscosity, either. Legs are created in a glass by a number of different relationships between the liquid and the glass surface and between the water and alcohol components of the wine. The way the legs fall usually has to do with the level of alcohol in the wine and the speed at which it evaporates, and  thicker and slower legs can indicate a higher alcohol level. In short, watching the legs flow down a glass may be pretty, but won’t give you much insight into the wine.

Patriotic Drinking

The Fourth of July weekend is upon us again, and as a history major, I love to ponder our founding fathers around this time. As a University of Virginia graduate, I am quite partial to all fun facts and notes about Thomas Jefferson. Though I don’t agree with everything he did as a politician or even a person, there is no denying his inventive mind and complex character. Plus the fact that he is what many like to call the first ‘wine connoisseur’ of our nation – or at least, the most well known.

But he’s not the only one who enjoyed wine – and other potent potables. During colonial times, alcoholic beverages, such as beer, wine and spirits, were considered more healthy than drinking water. Water contained bacteria and could be more dangerous to one’s health than alcohol. So when that is the case, best to find a signature drink! Here are some favorite tipples of a few founding fathers.

George Washington: Madeira is said to be his favorite drink, and it was in fact one of the most available beverages in the colonies (and states), as it was hard to ship European wine overseas without spoilage. But Washington also ran a distillery on his property at Mount Vernon. In fact, it was the largest whiskey distillery in the country in the 18th century. Granted, it was constructed in 1797, but it was able to claim that title!

John Adams: Again, Madeira was a favorite for this second president, but he also enjoyed cider and beer. Hard cider, that is. As an ambassador to France, he also had is fair share of wine, but was not known to indulge quite as much as Benjamin Franklin when hew as in the position.

Thomas Jefferson: Wine, of course! Not only did he collect wine from the famous Bordeaux chateaux, he also tried planting European grapes on his Virginia estate. Though that experiment did not take off back then, it certainly is growing now and the VA wine industry is improving every year. A few of his favorite chateaux in Bordeaux included Chateau Haut Brion and Chateau d’Yquem. He was a man with expensive tastes…

I’d love to know what Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Paine and Patrick Henry liked to drink most, but can’t seem to find much research out there on it. What do you know about our other founding fathers and their drinks?