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Spanish Wines for Championship Weekend +

20 Jan

Much entertaining over the weekends in January through February 3rd are Saturdays and Sundays filled with futbol americano.

In December, I was sent 3 different varietals of the Spanish wine brand Tapeña.  This was my first time trying this wine and after the first pop of the cork, I immediately felt my taste buds grow more potent after each sip.  I am declaring that these wines and varietals be your drink of choice for your Championship weekend festivities and beyond, and here’s why!

Tepena

Tapeña combines ‘tapas’ – small plates and ‘peña’ – slang for a group of close friends, to create the perfect package for your perfect evening of food and conversation amongst your close friends.  Since you are most likely gathering today for the NFL’s Championship weekend lineup, these wines are the perfect pairing to your perfect Sunday Funday party, and I suggest stepping it up from beer to this festive Spanish wine!

Here is a deep dive into three key and notable Spanish varietals and wines that will spice up your day with just one sip!  Oh, and not to mention a few fun ‘cheat day’ recipes to try!  Suggestion: bookmark this page for your Superbowl party February 3rd!

2010 Tapeña Tempranillo

Tempranillo (temp-rah-NEE-yo) “is Spain’s indelible stamp on the world of wine. The heart of Tapeña Tempranillo can be found at night in the winding, noisy, old streets of Madrid. Bars and peñas (clubs), filled to standing room only, serve local wines and tapas, and everyone has a fork.” – From the bottle

Winepug’s tasting notes: A gorgeous purple color shines from the glass and tastes as good as it looks!  This Tempranillo has a very rich flavor with ripe black and red fruits of cherry, blackberry, and plum.  Hints of dark chocolate and cracked pepper brighten up the fruit and makes for a very smooth and lingering finish with silky tannins. This literally feels like sleeping in a bed of silk. It is heavenly and certainly a luxurious and luscious red drinking wine!

2010 Tapeña Garnacha

Garnacha (gar-NA-chah) “originated in Spain centuries ago and now mostly travels the world as Garnache. The soul of Tapeña Garnacha can be found in cafés that line the sun-washed plazas of Barcelona. Warmed by the afternoon sun, they’re aglow with tapas, life and laughter.  Perhaps it’s because everyone has a glass and a fork” – From the bottle

Winepug’s tasting notes: A beautiful garnet color makes this Garnacha a huge conversation starter at any table. A luscious red bursting at the bottleneck has a vibrant cherry and blackberry flavor with a spicy finish. Lots of great pepper gives the wine a final ‘oomph’ in your mouth. This wine reminds me of the Phil Collin’s song ‘In the Air Tonight’ as both start smooth and slow and then end vibrantly with a BOOM of a finish!

2010 Tapeña Verdejo

Verdejo (ver-DAY-ho) “until recently was one of the wine world’s forgotten treasures.  The spirit of Tapeña Verdejo lives in seaside chiringuitos that line the white sandy shore of Marbella.  Fresh fish, caught that very morning, is served with wine glasses of chilled Verdejo.  Sun-tanned locals and tourists dine side by side, no shoes required – just  fork.” – From the bottle

Winepug’s tasting notes: With a glistening color of gold in the glass, I could totally picture sipping this wine somewhere in the middle of the ocean on a beautiful sailboat, crew included!  Immediate honey flavors burst from the glass, along with a slightly bitter taste of pear. A hint of acidity and a smooth lingering finish gives this wine a balanced structure in the mouth. A true treat for a Sunday afternoon!

Tapena 1

Who would think that these wines would pair well with our NFL Championship fare!

The Menu

Championship Fare

Fresh carrots and celery with store bought hummus paired well with the Verdejo or you can drink the Verdejo as a preview before the main event!

Homemade potato chips & kale chips with Lemon May0 Dip {here} paired surprising well with the Granacha!  Such a ‘football’ app.

Homemade slow cooker Turkey chili {here} paired to perfection with the Tempranillo and is perfect for football! Spices from the chili and the wine will ease the intensity of the games!

Homemade Peanut Butter Blossoms {here} (with dark chocolate kisses) paired with the Tempranillo and is simply divine!

photo 4.PNG

Where to find? You can find Tapeña in most wine stores in New York City. See {here} for restaurants that carry the brand in your area!

Enjoy watching the games, and go Patriots!

**For more fun recipes and pairing for your Superbowl party {here}, {here}!

Happy Friday… From Portugal!

24 Aug

Well not really more like from NYC but it is a Portuguese kind of Friday for me and i’m loving it (and not just because I am 1/3rd)!  It’s a region that I do not drink often, yet when I do adventure into a bottle I just can’t get enough.  Lying between Lisbon and the small harbor of Porto Côvo, are beautiful vineyards that harvested the 2009 Portinho Do Côvo.  A bit of jammy-ness with ripened black fruits and hints of spice make for  a succulent wine with lovely tannins that are not too hard.  Time to take out the cheese and enjoy this perfect August night!  You should do the same .

Now Saude (to your health, in Portuguese)  and to the weekend! 

The 10 Commandments of Wine (From the Portuguese) 

1. Love wine above all things

2. Swear to drink it either in the summer or winter

3. Santificate bars and cellars

4. Honour either white and red

5. Start the day at least with one glass

6. Never mix water and wine

7. Never rob an empty bottle

8. Do not lie without being drunk

9. Just envy or desire a full bottle of good wine

10. Always drink it slowly but surely 

Thank you Lauren for this special gift from your journey to Portugal!

#WW– A Taste of Madrid with Malvar

8 Aug

I shared this interesting wine that I received from Olé Imports a few weeks ago with a dear friend of mine and we were automatically obsessed!  We sat down for a cheese and hummus plate and sipped the fabulous 2010 Zestos Vinos de Madrid Blanco, 100% Malvar and indigenous to the Madrid (so awesome!). My first try at Malvar, we found it to be such an easy drinking white wine and a cross between a grassy Sauvignon Blanc and an unoaked Chardonnay.  The graceful acidity paired well with the lighter cheese we had and even just drinking by itself was a treat and very easy to do! We were so caught up in the moment that I forgot to take a picture!

Like we were, were you perplexed by the design on the bottle also? Olé in their tasting notes explains that ‘Zestos’ means ‘basket’ in English.  ‘Not too many years ago, baskets like the one on the label were placed on donkeys to transport the just-picked grapes from the vineyard to the winery.”  This intricate design represents the heritage and process that was once used to harvest the grapes in the past.  A wonderful representation of tradition both inside and out!

Olé suggests: ‘If you like litchi fruit, Zestos Blanco!’

The best part, the price – $8

Have you tried any obscure grapes that you had never heard of before and LOVED?

**All photos are from Olé Imports

Go with Godello!

3 Jul

I was feeling inspired one night when I received two bottles of Godello from Ole Imports.  I have never tasted the Godello varietal before so I decided to open both bottles simultaneously to get the full effect of this grape type.  Godello is grown in northwestern Spain mostly in Valdeorras and northern Portugal.  It’s a fine white grape that at first, reminded me of a Chard then transformed into a burst of something more unique!  These wines really reflect its place of origin and the soils where the vines are grown. Both wines were farmed in slate and granite giving the wines earthy and ‘stony’ flavors showing how specific climate and immaculate precision is used in growing these remarkable grapes.  Now… onto the wines.

2010 Castelo do Papa Godello
100% Godello (of course) had such youthful minerality with hints of pear, green apple and a hint of grapefruit.  I tasted a bit of acidity as well which to me, made this wine extremely well balanced and smooth.  Definitely a wine that can be paired with a heavier meal, such as sausage, heavier cheeses, and really any seafood.

2010 Estate Bottle Rogo Godello
Another 100% Godello.  This wine had a floral and vibrant nose and loads of minerality and stone fruit in taste.  it had a bit of honey, a tiny bit of sweetness and is a little more ‘zest’ than the Papa.  A great refreshing wine with energy!  I would stay with lighter cheeses, fish dishes, oysters, and pasta as pairings.

All in all, my Godello experience was a very pleasant one and gives a true adventure into the world of the Valdeorras region through the taste of each wine – a mineral and fruitful experience!

I highly recommend you try to brighten your taste buds and grow out of your comfort zone with wine.  Try something new and grow your palate!  I can now say I am a huge fan of Godello and will seek them out when I’m at my wine store next!

For more on the wine region check out this great article from Good Food Revolution !  

#WW – What’s Your PoiZin w/ @ArmidaWinery

6 Jun

We recently visited the West Coast over Memorial Day weekend where we went to explore the wine treasures of Santa Cruz – a true hidden gem for great wineries with amazing views.  A little more casual than your big boy Sonoma and Napa estates however, nonetheless still treasures on the vine.

We brought back this wonderful red drinking wine perfect for a Sunday BBQ in the city.  Poizin, made in Sonoma at Armida Winery, but has a tasting room in Capitola overlooks the beach and water and is this week’s wine of choice for Winepug Wednesday!  Such a true Zinfandel (don’t you love the play on words) driven by loads of fruit, spice, and a smooth yet soft finish makes this wine the “wine to die for”.  Not only can you sip on this for hours, it’s also a great conversation starter from the skull artwork on the bottle to the fun anecdotal tale on the back.  So, what’s your Poizin? 

“As she stands in the clearing the cold wind dances through the trees, swirling her golden mane over her diaphanous silken black gown.  The full moon melts into the paleness of her skin.  As she stirs the cauldron of Zinfandel she chants an other worldly incantation.  From vials as old as the echoes of time she adds minute pinches of her ancestry.  Her slender fingers rub together as the grains fall, releasing their magic as they touch the fermenting must.  On her face is the look of both good and evil, of love and hate, of life and sex and all that stirs you.  What is this unearthly potion?  It is Poizin, the wine to die for.”

#WW – A Bold Blend w/ @ChalkHillEstate

30 May

Straight from the winery, last Memorial Day weekend  2011, we transported this extremely special bottle of wine from Russian River Valley’s renowned and unique winery Chalk Hill.  This wine was the inaugural release of their Estate Red that was inspired by the proprietor, Frederick, P. Furth’s vision of a wine authentic to Chalk Hill, as it blends and represents the lay of the land that Chalk Hill resides on. Made with 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Malbec, 13% Merlot, 11% Petit Verdot, and 1% Carmenere makes this beautifully smooth red wine full of vibrant fruit.  By looking at the varietals and the burgundy color and ‘young’ looking wine in the glass, my first thought was, “this is a heavy wine that absolutely needs a meaty meal to pair with.”  However, after pouring two glasses in 80 degree weather in NYC, in these wonderful Italian wine glasses from Fishs Eddy {here} I might add, my fiancé and I enjoyed this outside (perfectly chilled for a red wine) with light salads and were blown away.  With beautiful tannins that aren’t overbearing and amazing blackberry flavors with many other fruits bursting on our taste buds, the 2007 Chalk Hill Estate Red {here} was an experience and recommended for all red wine lovers to enjoy.  

To my fiancé’s point – “For such a bold looking wine, this really hit the spot on a hot day.  It wasn’t chalky and the fruit really came out in the hot weather…” Oh how I’ve taught him well… Just kidding!

Overall, definitely worth the splurge ($70) to bring to a wonderful dinner party outside on the terrace!  Enjoy!

For more on Chalk HIll
Sunday Sips {here}
Off-Roading In Sonoma {here}

Winepug Wednesday – Masseria Cavallo, Puglia

16 May

Masseria Cavallo Negroamaro Puglia 2009

Tonight’s Winepug Wednesday Wine comes from my fiancé!  It was a crazy day at work and lo and behold a bottle of red was popped open and decanting on the table waiting for us to indulge in that first ‘sigh of relief’ sip.

Coming from our Zagat Wine Club {here} stash, is a still red wine (or table wine) from Italia. It is my first experience with the Negroamaro grape and it is simply divine.  Lots of spice, plum and blackberry flavors, tannic but not too overbearing with a smooth finish makes this wine… yup, you guessed it… a drinking wine! This wine has a flirty finish loaded with prunes and sweet fruit leaving you begging for more (looking like a great Wednesday night)!  An awesome value (~$10) and a great wine to drink NOW, no need to let it sit in your wine cellar.

Where to buy in NYC:  Unfortunately, another wine I couldn’t find in NYC however, if you find it… Let me know! Definitely available through Zagat!

For more and fun facts on the Negroamaro grape {here}

Salud to YOU and Wednesday!

A Tempranillo Good Time!

2 May

Ole Imports impresses me again!

It’s a dreary night in NYC tonight and I’m craving something with SPICE to get me out of this mood I am in caused by the weather.  Well, I just opened up a bottle of Barco de Piedra from the region Ribera del Duero, kindly sent to my by Ole Imports and BOOM – My spirits are lifted!  This light fruit bomb of red berries filled with delicious spices (I taste cinnamon!) with cedar lingerings and a delicate finish is taking me away from this rainy Wednesday and floating me to the  SUN of Spain!  What a wonderful red drinking wine at an amazing value.  $15 – $17 in price point… Really?  By the sophisticated bottle and elegantly light taste, I would think this wine was MUCH more costly.  Have fun fooling your friends and CHEERS to Barco de Piedra.  Thank you again to Ole Imports for letting me try this remarkable bottle!

Where to find in NYC: Astor Wines & Spirits – 399 Lafayette St. (at East 4th St.) {here}

**More info on the wine {here}

Lobster Rolls and Champagne

27 Apr

As Lord Byron {here} once said… “A woman should never be seen eating or drinking, unless it be lobster salad and Champagne..”  I did just that a few Sunday’s ago however, a little less elegantly as I am sure Lord Byron had imagined.  I felt as though I stepped outside of NYC and into my most comfy-est of comfort zones, a New England vibe at – Luke’s Lobster {here} – the infamous lobster ‘shack’ in the East Village (93 E. 7th st.).  We grabbed a few lobster rolls to go and sipped and ate our rolls in bliss.

 It was truly a day of firsts!  First time to Luke’s and first time trying Hosmer Sparkling Wine {here} from upstate NY in the Finger Lakes. So how was pairing these two firsts together? Lord Byron was right on point, as to my surprise this pairing actually tasted so exquisite and lovely that I was craving another lobster roll and more Hosmer!   

 The vibrant bubbles, honey, pear and apple notes went so well with the lobster meat, livened up the seasoning on the lobster roll a bit and the brut (dry) champagne/sparkling was delicate enough not overpower Luke’s delicious Lobster Roll.   A true New England dish that I will be replicating this summer in… New England!

 What other Sparkling wines would you pair with a Lobster Roll?

Bougrier Sauvignon Blanc – Love at First Glass

19 Mar

The first sight of Sauvignon Blanc is like the first signs of Spring – A beautiful thing! I don’t know if I just LOVE Sauvignon Blanc or if I’ve been hibernating with Red for too long this winter, but this is the best I’ve tasted! Not as ‘harsh’ as a New Zealand, and leaves you salivating for more! Another round please, I think I see Spring flowers blooming!

2010 Bougrier Sauvignon Blanc Touraine “Cuvée spéciale” (France, Loire Valley, Touraine)

What Zagat Thinks: “A top-class Sauvignon with a gold-medal pedigree, from trusted Loire insiders the Bougrier family. They’ve sent the follow-up to their double gold-medal 2009 Reserve. Like the best Loire Sauvignon Blancs, this is crisp, elegant and poised. An ideal white for those who enjoy a more delicate style than the tropical fruit-loaded, leap-from-the-glass character found in New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. So fresh and very classy.”

Bottle Notes – “I choose the finest grapes to make my Family Reserve. It has classic Sauvignon Blanc character: aromatic elegant and dry. We enjoy this wine served as an aperitif or as acompaniment to grilled fish and seafood dishes, salads or the Loire classic goats cheese”

Winepug’s Tasting: APRICOT and PEACH are the pungent taste here, slightly acidic, semi creamy, a bit of a lovely bitter taste and beautifully smooth. Definitely drinking this as an aperitif AND with a great grilled Sea Bass!

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