If you read it, I will write…

I know, it has been a while since you have heard from me. Recently people have asked why I wasn’t writing about wine anymore…  I actually don’t have a great answer as to why the writing stopped. Life happened and blogging got away from me. Which is odd since I am quite opinioned on the matter and love to talk about it So, I am back and if you read it.. I will write!

*Just a warning in case you forgot- I am not a professional writer or an English major.. I am a wine drinker/educator who just wants to talk about  delicious fermented grapes. You may find typo’s or run on sentences or other grammatical errors, but you will also find great wine tips and passion! Read on my friends….* 

I am a massive fan of Washington Wines.  What makes drinking WA wines even more convenient are the hundreds of tasting rooms in my backyard. Woodinville, WA is a close, easy, Saturday afternoon trip to taste some of the states most delicious wines. However, it is not our wine region. To get a sense of our actual wine growing region,  you need to leave the comfort of your home, head east of the Cascades and explore.

Walla Walla, Washington is one of those perfect wine country weekend get always. Hundreds of tasting rooms/wineries, stunning culinary experiences, inexpensive places to stay and sunny weather (most of the time). I was lucky enough to visit this adorable city back at the end of February. Instead of the 5 hour car ride, I took a quick a 40 minute plane trip from SeaTac Airport. I would highly recommend this mode of transportation if you are low on time. There are inexpensive car rentals right at the Walla Walla airport or just take an uber (at the time of this blog, they had 5 uber drivers)! Either drive or fly, it’s a must visit for wine lovers.

Here are the top 4 wineries I recommend. This is by no means my complete list of recommendations. There are hundreds of wineries in Walla Walla and many I adore. This is just a quick glimpse of my top 4 picks from this visit. Otherwise this blog would go on and on…..

I chose these 4 based on my experience in the tasting room, attentiveness of the staff and of course the quality of the wines!!

1. Gramercy Cellars -http://gramercycellars.com/. By Appointment Tuesday through Friday
Open Saturdays 11am to 5pm

This small, family run, boutique winery produces Rhone and Bordeaux style wines. Their philosophy is simple:” to develop or partner with the best vineyards, harvest ripe, not overripe, grapes, intervene minimally in the winemaking process, and use as little new oak as possible.” Everything I tasted was clean, eloquent and well balanced.   *Vin Pick 2014 Lagniappe Syrah – lush, roasted cherry, mocha,  pipe tobacco and bright! *

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2. Rotie Cellars- https://rotiecellars.com/ Appointment only

This adorable tasting room is located in the heart of downtown Walla Walla. Since 2007, winemaker and owner Sean Boyd’s goal has been to make traditional Rhone blends in Washington State. Boyd’s winemaking philosophy is simple- combine old world winemaking techniques with the highest quality Rhone varietals that Washington has to offer. And you can taste his hard work in all his wines. *Vin Pick 2014 Southern Blend 70% Grenache, 25% Mourvèdre, 5% Syrah. Fresh fruit of bing cherry and blueberry , balanced and minimal tannin. A very pretty wine!*

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3. Sleight of Hand Cellars – http://www.sofhcellars.com  Thu – Mon, 11am – 5pm
Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Talk about a winery with a vibe. Everything about this winery is my jam. Great ambiance, killer music, fun staff  and fantastic wine. Their motto is “serious wines without the serious attitudes.” And that is exactly how I felt walking into the tasting room. Sleight of Hand Cellars was founded in 2007 by Trey Busch and Jerry and Sandy Solomon. Their only goal from the outset has been to “make world class wines while having the most fun that is legally possible”. That they do… *Vin Pick 2014 Enchantress Chardonnay. Pear, Peach and citrus are rocking this bright and acidic chardonnay!*

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4. Tranche Cellarshttp://tranche.wine/  Open Daily 11am-5pm

Breathtaking. That is one word to describe this winery. When you pull up, the architect of the tasting room takes your breathe away. With the Blue Mountains in the background, this is a perfect winery to sit, relax (by the fire pit) and enjoy their luscious wines. To quote the owners Michael and Lauri Corliss “A taste of Tranche is a slice of life… the life of the place, the vines, the people who make the wines, and most of all, you who drink them. We have given our lives over to making every bottle worthy of your attention. “I would have to agree with this statement. *Vin Pick  Estate Cabernet Franc. Raspberry, leather and herbs de province.  Herbaceous notes of eucalyptus, cedar and slight smoke make this a truly beautiful Cabernet Franc.*

My advice, leave the comfort of Woodinville,  and see what is really going on in the world of wine. We have so much to offer with Washington wines between Yakima Valley, Red Mountain, Walla Walla, Chelan… and the list goes on. Explore and find your top wineries (and make sure you tell me!).

Stay tuned for my next blog when I explain how I have learned to love Prosecco….

Cheers!

Carolyn

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out Vin’s March Specials!!

March is filled with all sort of Vin specials!!!

1. March is Washington Wine month! We will have a special WA wine tasting this month. For $99.99, Vin Wine and Events will bring you a selection of 4 boutique, top Washington wines to enjoy with 10 of your friends. More than 10 friends? Want 5 wines instead? No problem. For an additional $25.00 we will throw in another outstanding Washington wine. Sign up here Or contact us for more information – vinwineseattle@gmail.com

2. Personal wine shopping- Vin Wine and Events can be your personal wine shopper. Let us evaluate your tastes and needs to build your wine cellar or just bring you fun, new wines. No need to feel overwhelmed wine shopping again!

This month, For $25.00 plus the cost of wine, Vin will personally hand pick your favorite types of wine and deliver right to you (within a 15 mile radius from Seattle). *6 bottle minimum. If you live more than 15 miles from Seattle, no need to worry. We can deliver to you as well (we just add a small delivery fee).

 

3. Wine Clubs

Don’t forget about our Wine Clubs!! We can still get you our February wine club.

What could be better than a Vin Wine and Events in-home private tasting? Vin Wine and Events delivering wine bi-monthly for you! Six times a year, Vin will search for special, small vineyard, boutique wines to share with you. You can chose 4, 6, or 12 bottles of red, white or mixed to be delivered (shipping TBD) or picked up! Included with your wine club is an in-home tasting once a year! Let Vin help you figure out which wines you love, and we will create a custom wine club for you. Sign up today for more information vinwineseattle@gmail.com

4 bottle Vin Club

6 bottle Vin Club

12 bottle Vin Club

Cheers to Spring around the corner and new wines to be explored!!

 

Vinwineseattle.com

 

 

Vin Wine and Events

Vin Wine and Events is off and running…. and might I say, I am SO excited!! I have tastings booked for January and into February. My line up is delicious! This journey has been amazing and I cannot wait to see where it takes me. I have a website up for Vin, so take a look when you can.

http://vinwineseattle.com

If you are in the Puget Sound region and interested in a tasting or to find out more about Vin, please email me!!

vinwineseattle@gmail.com

Cheers to a fantastic 2014

~Carolyn

white bean chicken chili

Zoup to Nuts

I’ve never been a huge chili fan.  As an adult, I’ll be polite and eat it if someone invites me to dinner and serves chili.  I’ll eat, but I wouldn’t ask for seconds.  In fact, I’ll probably feign fullness about 3/4 of the way through the bowl.  If there’s anything else on the menu, I’ll order that.  My poor mom, though.  Oh, the torment.  As a child, I hated chili.  The world record for the longest time taken to eat a teaspoon of chili was most certainly set by yours truly in 1973.  If there was a way to consume that teaspoon of chili without ever allowing said chili to touch my teeth, lips, or tongue, I mastered it.  There weren’t enough Saltine Crackers in a box to make a bowl of chili palatable to my budding taste buds.

And my mom was a good cook!

So how I became…

View original post 358 more words

South American happiness…

As many of you know, I enrolled last spring in a wine course at the Northwest Wine Academy at South Seattle Community College. I, somewhat, enjoyed it, but it wasn’t exactly the class had expected. However, it didn’t detour me from taking another course. This winter, I took Wine History and Appreciation – which  was more up my alley. However, I was not really thinking about the work involved. Work like a research paper. I haven’t written a research paper since 2005, when I graduated Seattle U with my Masters in Counseling.

Now, many of you are probably chuckling since you are thinking “how hard can a research paper on wine be?” True, I felt the same way. But, I was dreading it.. and put it off until the last minute. I had no idea what to write about. I wanted something I was interested in, but also something that connected with the class (and within 5 pages). So, viola! A paper on South Amrican wines was born. We didn’t cover that wine region at all during the class. Which was disapointing, since I am intrested in all wine history. Which is why I decided on that region. To which I found out that South Ameican wines have a long history, connected to France, Italy and Spain.

With the said, I thought I would post my paper as my blog tonight. Now, as a reminder… I am not a writer. And have not written an actual research paper in 7 years (especially one that was limited to 5 pages). But, I found some interesting facts on South Ameican wine and thought you would enjoy them!

Tonights tasting

For the first time, I would like you to include your favorite wines from South America. I would like to see what my fellow novices enjoy from South America… as I am still learning about these wines as well!

Now – on to my paper

With California wines emerging as a true competitor to French wines in the early 1960’s, it left the door open for other New World wines to compete with the European wine market. A new “radical” idea was born, an idea that wine was not merely a European fascination (Johnson, 2005). Other area’s in the world, such asChile and Argentina, who have history with French wine makers, could challenge the Old World wine regions and potentially develop world class wines. This paper is going to take a look into the history of South American wines, explore the historical influences on their modern wines and discuss consumer views South American wines. 

Today, the major wine regions in South America are Chile,Argentina and Paraguay. You will even find wine production in Peru,Uruguay and Brazil.Chile was the first emerging country in South Americato debut its wines to the rest of the world. It had been a long time supplier of wines to other countries in South America, yet foreign to the rest of the world. It wasn’t until the 1980’s, when economics and politics’ allowed the rest of the world to try wines from the Chilean regions (Johnson, 2005).  

South American wines are considered New World wines; however they have roots with the Old World wines of Spain. The grape vines of South America were planted by missionaries who came from Spain in the mid-sixteenth century. These grapes were considered “mission grapes” and are still grown today. The vineyards were planted in 1551 and the first records of wines being produced in Peru are from 1555 (Grosz, 2006). This practice began in Peru, but made its way to Chile, then in Argentina, where both countries attribute success in the industry to the climate, which is favorable for wine growth (Chilean wine history).

During Chile and Peru’s early wine production, the Viceroyalty of Peru put restrictions on how much wine could be produced. Much of their wine for consumption at this time was still imported from Spain (which still colonized South America). In 1641, winemaking from Peru came to a halt as the vineyards converted their production from wine to pisco (a Peruvian port) and aguardiente (a distilled spirit). However,Chile chose to ignore the King’s orders and maintain vineyards.Chile, as well as the rest of South America, was released from the grips of Spain in the second two decades of the nineteenth century when the colonies declared their independence from the Spanish empire (Johnson, 2005).

Chile’s wine production, like many wine regions in history, was religion based. In the 16th century, the people in the capital of Santiago were in an uproar for more wine to quench their thirst and spiritual needs.  The surroundingMaipoValley proved to be a tremendous source of red wine, andChile’s first wine boom began in earnest. (Chilean wine history). This was also at a time where transatlantic travel became popular, so many wealthy Chilean’s were able to travel to France and bring back many French customs (even today, Chilean architecture has French flare). One of the most important customs they brought back was the custom of French wine making. The Chileans were able to blend their Spanish influences with the French way of making wines. Thus, there wines being a blend of Spanish-French cultures (C. Grosz, 2006).

At first, the principal grape of Chile, as well as Peru, was the Pais or Criolla, which is a sweet grape and compared to a Muscatel. However, today Chile produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillón wines; as well as Syrah and Pinot Noir in the coastal regions (Wesley, 2012).  The valleys of central Chile are perfect for grape growing. It has fertile soil, plenty of sunshine, low humidity, and an infinite supply of water for irrigation (snowmelt from theAndes’). And their vines have been untouched from the dreaded wine disease Phylloxera, which affected vineyards inEurope.

As with the rest of South America, Argentina’s wine history is similar; with the arrival of missionary monks fromSpainin the 16th century. A Chilean friar first brought wine into Argentina via a cutting. Because of that, wine-making in Argentina evolved to the origin of two important wine regions: Mendoza and Cuyo in the years of 1561 and 1562. At first, the wines produced from Argentina were less than spectacular. The popular grape at that time was Criolla and Cereza (still grown today). Despite how crude this type of wine was, it was popular and sky-rocketed the development of Argentine wines, throughout the country as well as the rest of South America (History of Argentine wine).

Argentina’s arrival on the wine scene was more delayed than other regions of South America, due to political and economic chaos surrounding the Falklands War (Johnson, 2005). For many years, Argentine wine was enjoyed within the country. Once they caught on to what Chile was able to do with their wines, Argentina was interested in venturing to the outside markets.  It’s only been within the recent years that wine fromArgentinacould be found outside South America.  Although wine-making in Argentina maintained a small profile until the 1980s, local wine production has over a 300 year history. Inspired by the success of Chile,California and Australian wines, Argentina began to export their wines to an international audience (History of Argentine wine).

One thing Argentina was able to do, was bring back the almost-forgotten Bordeaux grape, Malbec. At one time, Malbec was one of Bordeaux’s famous grapes. However, it fell out of favor in France for it’s quickness to rot and mildew. However, being a region that is not humid and has fertile soil, the Malbec is able to flourish in Argentina. With that, it has become with most popular wine coming out of the Mendoza region of this country. Despite other grapes that are grown inArgentina (Bonarda, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Tempranillo), Malbec has transformed a region and putArgentinaon the map for outstanding wines. Today, Mendoza produces 70% of Argentina’s wine and Argentina ranks in the top 10 wine producers in the world (Schweimler, 2012).

As read from above, modern day South American wines have plentiful Spanish, French and even Italian historical influences, which make them a competitor within today’s wine market. An example is modern day Chile. Back in 1994 the French Marnier Lapostolle family, of the Grand Marnier fame, and the Chilean Rabat family joined forces to use French wine making skills from the old French grape vines (Grosz, 2006). Countries within South America have been able to use French wine making skills, along with their Spanish influences and rely on South America’s perfect wine-making weather, to make quality wine. They also have the ability to produce quality wines at low costs to the consumers. South American wines have quickly become popular, especially within the USmarket.

Even Forbes magazine has taken notice of South American wines, quoting “With Chile and Argentina, the possibility for exceptions was pretty obvious. Both countries have big-league wine industries (Argentina’s is the world’s fifth-largest), nearly 500 years of vintages and growing areas with Eden-like climates for farming wine grapes–so warm and dry that grapes easily ripen and pesticides, fungicides and anti-rot measures are often unnecessary. Around here, much of what is painstakingly “organic” practice in wetter climates is second nature, as it were.” (2008).

Chile, Argentina and Uruguay have also been able to put their name on the map by producing wines that are not usually produced in other regions. Chile Argentina and Uruguay have found their niche in Carmenere’s, Malbec’s and Tannat (something to keep an eye out for). However, the consumers cannot forget that they can also produce some outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon’s, Syrah’s, Pinot Noir’s and Sauvignon Blanc’s. By using grapes that France has essentially “thrown away” or are not as adaptable to growing in their environment, South America has been able to turn those grapes into signature wines. Furthermore,Chile’s Carmenere is today’s hidden gem in the wine market, due to the fact that they are (to date) the only country that produces it, the wine regions within South America are obviously adaptable to producing this quality wines. 

In conclusion, South American wines are a threat to other wine regions in today’s market. They can credit their past but also be proud of modern techniques. South Americans have put their name on the map for wines. Bringing back wines that were once lost in Old World Wines is one niche they have accomplished, as well as the good fortune in climate, have all attributed to the success of the wines produced. In South American countries, they are able produce a range of wines that many other regions cannot to, because of the climate. The world has taken notice of Chileand Argentina, but given a few more years other regions such as Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil and even Mexico will have their wines debut to the rest of the world. These South American regions have created an identity that has changed the way consumers look at wine and has shown the world they are competitors with Old and New world wines.  

References:
 

Grosz, C. (2006). The World Wine Encyclopedia: A complete guide to the world’s great wine-making regions. United Kingdom. Parragon Publishing.

Johnson, H. (2005). The Story of Wine. Great Britain: Octopus Publishing Group.

Nally, R. (2008). Twenty exceptional South American wines. Forbes.com

Schweimler, D. (March, 2012). Toasting the success of Argentine wine. BBC News Magazine online. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-17286034

Wesley, N (2012). Chile’s new players. Wine Spectator. Vol 36, No.15.

History of Argentine Wine. All about AR: Argentine Travel Guide. http://www.allaboutar.com/ar_wine_intro.htm

South American Wines: Discovering ‘New Wines’ with a Long History. Chiff.com.

http://www.chiff.com/a/wine-south-america.htm

Chilean Wine History: The Beginnings of the Chilean wine industry. Chilean

wine, the best wines ofChile. http://www.chilean-wine.com/chilean-wine-history

 

 

 

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.

Wine Shop vs. Grocery Store

Where do you buy your wine? Do you prefer a quint little shop which only supplies you with wine? Or are you the type that prefers to buy your wine with your milk and toilet paper? This is the great debate. Even greater than a presidential debate (and a lot more fun). Everyone has a preference. Neither one is right or wrong, but since this is my blog I am going to let you know my opinion on where to buy wines. 

So, there are those who prefer to buy wines at a chain grocery store – QFC, Safeway, Fred Meyer, etc.  – usually you can find big name wines, cheap prices and if you have a favorite big name wine you can usually find it every time you go. I can see how a grocery store would be appealing, it is really one stop shopping. My issue with a chain grocery store is their lack of diversity. They have contracts with big name brands and are required to sell their wine. Little wineries cannot compete with the big names and thus chain stores won’t stock their shelves with those wines. I guess I am just a supporter for the little guys.

Then you can move on to the speciality grocery stores, the Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Ballard Market, PCC, etc. Their wine choice is more diverse and they generally have more information on their wines. Prices are a bit higher, but they are more open to supporting the smaller vineyards. I do buy wines from these stores often, but not always my favorite.

With both – it is very difficult to find help – even if you ask. Many don’t have staff with wine knowledge. If they do, then I never seem to hit the stores at the right time. I don’t know how many times I have stood in front of the wine section, with a blank look, and no one offered to help. How is a person supposed to know which wine to buy? Do you really want to drop $15 on a bottle you have no idea if you like or not? That is where the specialty wine shops fit in (although, I have recieved help from the wine steward at Ballard Market many times).

Wine shops are daunting- I get that. And with good reason. Many wine shops are intimidating. There a few in Seattle I have walked out of, because they were rude. But, then there are some who listen to your likes, don’t walk away from you if you want a wine under $10, and will remember you and your favorite wines. If you have a local shop that you love to buy your wines at, please let me know!! I have a shop, where everyone knows your name. West Seattle Cellars – prices are competitive (they even have these bins where all the wines are under $10 – genius), their wine clubs are reasonable (12 wines a month for $100 – amazing prices and gives me wines I can tell you about), they offer wine classes (I am taking on in Feb.) and the staff are incredibly helpful. I know they are not the only wine shop that offers such service, but West Seattle Cellars the shop which increased my love of wine.

In the long run, it doesn’t matter where you buy your wine, as long as you follow your taste. Just remember to expand your horizon and check out that local wine shop or specialty store. Not only are you supporting your local economy but you may meet a new friend, find a new favorite wine or just learn something new.

Shop on novices….

http://westseattlecellars.com/Home.html