On a snowy day… drink bubbles!

Or you could drink a hot cocoa, hot buttered rum, hot toddy, Irish coffee, kahlua and milk, etc. I prefer bubbles. To me, champagne, sparking wine, bubbles are an any occasion drink. Hot or cold weather, special event or a night in watching movies. Sparkling wine creates good moods and let’s you feel fancy. So, after 4 days of being cooped up with a 2 and 6-year-old due to “Snow Extreme 2012” in Seattle, I needed a night to relax with some bubbles.

I appreciate quality bubbles. Ian and I took a “growers Champagne” class – which promotes small, boutique wineries in the area of Champagne, France. I came home with a bottle (or two) of small vineyard Champagne’s. Unfortunately, these champagne’s are not cheap. Each bottle that we tasted during the class priced around $35-$100. I have to say though, worth every penny. I have never tasted such smooth, lively, quality sparkling wines.  On the other side of that, our wallet’s did not appreciate the price of the smooth, lively, quality wines.

Not everyone is able to spend large amounts of money on a sparkling wine. Which is why I am here to help you. Now, I would suggest if you have a little extra money to spend, head to your local wine shop and talk to the owners about a growers champagne. If you are able to find a bottle, snag it. Or if you are at your brother-in-laws on Christmas you are lucky enough to enjoy a 1984 Dom Perignon, then take a moment to really enjoy that glass (because it probably won’t happen again). But, if the mood hits for a nice, inexpensive bubbly, I have one for you!

Tonight’s Tasting

Mumm Napa, Brut Rose, Napa Valley, CA (Safeway, $15.99).

Mumm Napa

When the mood  calls for bubbles, then this is wine I will purchase. Mumm Rose Brut is a go-to bubbly. This wine can be found in most major grocery stores.  It’s relatively inexpensive, has a dry/sweet/bouncy flavor that lingers in your mouth and a smell to awaken your soul. It is primarily a Pinot Noir grape with a little splash of Chardonnay thrown in. On the nose you smell strawberry, cherry and a slight citrus breeze – all with a taste to match. I have brought along this bottle to non-wine drinkers, which they have enjoyed its pop, fizz and smooth finish. And since Valentines day is right around the corner, you will be a favorite if you show up with pink bubbles. If rose isn’t your color, their other sparkling wines are also decent (try to find the reserves if you can).

I guarantee you will be able to find this wine almost anywhere. So, when an occasion like snow hits, put on your snowsuit and head to the store. Cozy up by the fire and enjoy!

http://mummnapa.com

Cheers and stay warm my friends!

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The Pseudo-Cellar

When snow hits Seattle, the whole city just shuts down. The city is at a standstill. As we are hunkered down in our home (because you really don’t want to drive in Seattle when it snows, because Seattleites cannot drive in snow. Even if you know what you are doing, chances are those next to you, don’t), I figured it was a good day organize my “pseudo-cellar.” I didn’t get far, because it dawned on me, I should blog about my makeshift cellar. To share my ideas in hopes to help out my fellow novices. So here I go…

What I mean by “pseudo-cellar” is just that, I have a pseudo wine cellar. In my dream home, I would have a beautiful, temperature controlled tile room with wine racks lining all the walls – of course all full of wine. But reality hits.. and I have my small little home in North Seattle with barely enough room to fit a family of four, let a lot a room devoted entirely to wine. So, we make do.

We have a lot of wine. Mostly to be consumed within the next 5 years, but we do have a few collector bottles that need to be aged a good 10-15 years. But where does one put wine in a small home, especially wine that needs to age? For us, we just had to be creative. With that, my pseudo-cellar was born.

It started with a wine fridge, which is a great way to keep your wine at a constant temperature – which is extremely important. Wine thrives in a cool place with consistent temperatures. A wine fridge can help you with that. You can even find them at Target for around $50. They don’t take up much room either. However, our wine outgrew that option. I still have the fridge, and use it to keep white wines and bubbles chilled.

If you are going to consume your wines right away, small counter wine holders work well. They are convenient, cheap and can look really cool in your kitchen. But, I wouldn’t recommend using them to store wines for long periods of time. The kitchen is the worse place to store wines because of the constant changes in temperature.

Since we graduated from the wine fridge, we purchased a nice leaning shelve from Crate and Barrel, which had slots for wine and then wedges to store more wine. However, it looked cluttered to me, especially since it was in our downstairs family room. So, we kept a few bottles on the shelf, and decided to use our dark storage room as the wine storage room. We were lucky to have wine rack given to us from an auction last year and it has been the greatest gift ever. It fits perfectly in the dark, even temp, storage room –  between boxes of clothes and old toys. Which works perfectly. It’s not in the way, the wines that need to age will be safe and it’s still very easy to get too (once in a while you have to crawl over a box or two).

For wine racks, they don’t have to be expensive. The company below donated the rack I inherited (of course from someone who has my dream cellar in their home and didn’t need the rack), but you can also purchase racks at Ikea which do the same job at half the price. http://www.luxewinecellars.com/

No matter your home space or financial situation, you can still keep your wines safe. Some day I will have my dream home and dream cellar, but until then, I am pretty proud of my pseudo-cellar.

Happy Cellaring!!

Tonight’s Tasting:

There is no tasting tonight – however I have a Winery for you to find at your local wine shop. Last night, with a wonderful halibut and salmon dinner, we cracked open a bottle of 2009 Cakebread Cellars Sauvignon Blanc (Napa, CA). Their Sauvignon Blanc is one of my favorites. Its fresh, light, touch of citrus, melon, granny smith apple and mineral. You would think this wine would be perfect on a warm summer night, but last night it tasted just as great with the snow falling outside.  Cakebread Cellars has an amazing wine selection, beyond their Sauvignon Blanc – although they are pricey. The Sauv Blanc is around $24, but worth the price. You can find Cakebread in many local wine shops, as well as QFC and Safeway (if they have a large wine selection). Splurge on their wine and let me know. And if you find yourself in Napa Valley, make sure to stop by the winery!!

www.cakebread.com

When does a dream become a reality?

For the better part of 2 years, I have been talking about opening a wine shop. It’s one of those things where my heart says YES, while my pocket-book, time, business sense and being a wine novice all cries no. My mind always wonders to the dream of owning my own shop, teaching people about wine, finding new, amazing wines, increasing my knowledge on wines… etc. You get my point. I have even gone so far as to take a couple of classes at the Northwest Wine Academy But, then I come back to reality. I have a great job (that I honestly love), a husband, two little kids and a mortgage. Seems like timing is everything and now may not be the right time. Or is it? When can you just take a leap of faith? If you have the passion, drive and determination then should you risk it? I just can’t seem to answer this question and I am the only one who really can.  So, as I ponder, talk and plan,  I will happily sip my wine and continue to learn. You never know, maybe my dream is closer to a reality then I realize.

Cheers my friends…

Tonight’s tasting

Pietramala Biano Dell’Umbria 2010  (Italian white wine). West Seattle Cellars $12.99

85% Trebbiano – 15% Grechetto (new grapes to me!)

Lately, white wines and bubbles have been catching my attention.. and in a good way.  As fish taco’s were on the menu tonight, nothing sounded better than a crisp. white wine. I pulled this wine out of my pseudo cellar and thought, “what the heck, let’s give this a whirl.”

On the nose, it has slight citrus scent with a hint of mineral. Just a pure, clean smell. On the palate, there was more dancing then first smelled. It’s a very bright wine, with a rock, pear, citrus flavor – but all hidden underneath. It’s not over powering in taste at all, which will balance out spicy fish taco’s nicely. If you find this wine, grab a bottle. Pair it with your next spicy meal. If you can’t find it, you will survive.  It’s not one to seek out,  just one to stumble upon. There are many similar wines out in the market. However, it is fun to try a wine with grapes I have never had before!! That should be your goal – if you are unable to find this wine, grab a wine with grapes that are new to you. Maybe a charm is waiting to be found.