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Archive for October, 2011

Chardonnay Clam Sauce

October 27th, 2011 No comments

Here’s a simple and delicious clam sauce recipe that’s perfect for pasta, and perfect for the fall.  You’ll need:

Hands holding Littleneck Clams

Littleneck Clams, image from Wikipedia

  • 2 Tbsp. Butter
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil (Extra Virgin is usually best)
  • 1 1/2 Tsp. Fresh, Minced Garlic
  • 1/2 Cup Chardonnay
  • 1 Pinch Salt
  • 1 Pinch Black Pepper
  • 8 to 12 Fresh Clams in Shells (or a can of baby clams)
  • 2 Tbsp. Fresh, Chopped Parsley
  • 1/2 Lb. Pasta (I use linguine, cooked as directed on the package)
  • Shaved Asiago Cheese, to Taste
WineKeeper--Napa 4 Bottle

WineKeeper--Napa 4 Bottle

Before cooking your linguine/pasta, steam your fresh clams until their shells open; this is the sign that they’re cooked and ready.  (If using canned clams, there’s no need to steam.)  Prepare your linguine/pasta according to the package’s instructions.  When the pasta is almost finished cooking, combine the butter, olive oil, and garlic in a skillet.  Melt the butter, and saute the garlic for 1 to 2 minutes.  Add your Chardonnay, and pour in a little residual clam juice, if desired (about 1/4 cup from the bottom of your steamed pot of clams, or from the can).  Reduce temperature to low, and cook for 1 minute.  Add clams and parsley, heating them for another minute.  Put the cooked linguine/pasta on a plate, and cover it with this sauce.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper, evenly distributed, then cover with shredded Asiago cheese, according to taste.  Enjoy, and don’t forget to serve the rest of the Chardonnay with the meal!  If you choose to have another wine in its place, don’t waste your Chardonnay; use The Keeper Wine Preservation System, or the Napa 4 bottle WineKeeper dispenser and preserver unit to save the rest for another time.  Enjoy!

WineToMatch: an App for Android and iPhone

October 25th, 2011 No comments

WineToMatch App IconWineToMatch, an app available for both Android and iPhone, features a streamlined process that allows you to select your meal’s main ingredient, type of cuisine, additional traits, and other flavors.  From there, WineToMatch offers recommendations of wines that will best accompany your meal.  And for lovers of sweets, WineToMatch even suggests pairings for dessert items, too!  Overseen by Master Sommelier Jesse Becker, the app’s patent pending engine determines how agreeable portions of your meal are with the wines in WineToMatch’s database.  The information you provide about your meal is weighted, and composite scores are generated for each wine.  Wines that pair the best with your meal are displayed in large letters.  Wines that make the cut, but that have smaller letters, also pair well, but perhaps not as “ideally” as those with larger letters.  (This is similar to a web page’s “cloud” feature, and quickly conveys which wines are a better fit, relative to others, for your food.)

The app’s creators believe that the algorithms used to generate recommendations are “the most sophisticated ever designed for pairing wine with food.”  Originally programmed to produce more than 75 billion unique pairings, WineToMatch continually adds wines to its database, making this number even larger!  Give this easy-to-use, helpful app a try, and see if you agree with its designers’ claims.  The current Apple version, 1.1.2, is available for $2.99. It is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch (2nd, 3rd, and 4th generation), and iPad.  It requires iOS 2.2.1 or later.  The cost is the same ($2.99) for the Android version, 1.0.WineToMatch iPhone Screenshots

Wine Review: Frey Pinot Noir 2009

October 20th, 2011 No comments

It may be September, but it’s not too early to start planning your trip to the 2012 Millésime Bio, Europe’s largest and most impressive organic wine conference that takes place yearly in Montpellier, France.  Among the winning wines from 2011 was a curious 2009 Pinot Noir from Frey Vineyards.  (It won a bronze medal.)  What is most interesting is that this wine hails from America’s first organic winery.  That’s right… it’s an organic wine from a “recent” American company founded in 1980!  With no added sulfites, this wine came in 3rd at a French wine competition.  Given that the conference featured over 500 organic winemakers, this is quite impressive.  So of course we had to try it!bottle of Frey Pinot Noir 2009

With flavors of strawberry, raspberry, pomegranate, and a hint of unsweetened jam, this very smooth wine is sure to make your tastebuds happy.  It’s a great fall wine, perfect for accompanying chicken, duck, goose, and even turkey meals.  (If pairing with turkey, for best results place a bit of sausage alongside the turkey meat; the sausage helps bring out the wine’s unique French oak flavor.)  This 2009 Pinot Noir also pairs well with flavor-rich fishes like salmon or red snapper.  Try a glass, and see what the French critics found so delightful!  You may be surprised an organic wine can taste this good!

Wine Cherry Treats

October 18th, 2011 No comments

They’re like a Jell-O shot, but with the addition of some class. And cherries. What’s not to love?

You’ll need:

orange half sphere silicone baking pans

Half-sphere Silicone Baking Pans

  • 1 jar of maraschino cherries with stems
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 7 1/2 teaspoons of gelatin powder
  • 2 cups red wine, your choice!
  • Rainbow sprinkles

Coat two mini half-sphere silicone baking pans (the kind with 15 indentations per pan) with a light covering of cooking spray.  Pour the orange juice into a saucepan, and cover it with 2 1/2 teaspoons of gelatin powder.  Heat on low, stirring frequently for approximately 5 minutes.  Immediately fill each half-sphere in the baking pan about 1/3 full with this, then refrigerate for 1/2 an hour.  While waiting, pour your wine into another saucepan (or rinse and reuse the same one) and add 5 teaspoons of gelatin powder.  Heat on low, stirring frequently for 5 minutes.  Remove, and allow to cool.  After the baking pans have cooled in the fridge for 30 minutes, take them out and put a cherry into each half-sphere.  Then, fill each half-sphere to the top with the wine and gelatin mixture.  Put the pans back in the fridge, and chill overnight.  Before serving, sprinkle colored sprinkles on top of each cherry treat.  Enjoy!

Wine Collections: Fantastic Investments in Uncertain Times

October 13th, 2011 No comments
A Portrait of Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States (image from Wikipedia)

To date, the most expensive bottle of wine sold at auction was a 1787 label-less bottle with “Lafite” and “Th. J.” etched on its front; it was a bottle of wine which some believe to have belonged to Thomas Jefferson.  (The controversy surrounding this claim continues.)  Though the value of the wine was listed as “inestimable,” it sold for 105,000 pound sterling on December 5th, 1985.

With today’s economic uncertainties, instead of investing in stocks, several people are deciding to invest in tangible items like rare works of art, original manuscripts by famous authors and composers, clocks, watches, gemstones, old cars, and… wines!  Much of today’s “wine investment” focuses on old and rare wines, similar to the “Jefferson” bottle (mentioned above, and purchased by Christopher Forbes).  Earlier in 2011, a collection of 300 bottles of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild sold in Hong Kong for $540,000, making the record books for the highest-valued lot at any wine auction this year (so far).

Wine collections, unlike many equities, have value that appreciates quickly because of continued (and growing) interest of collectors worldwide.  And since investing in various financial services has become less-than-promising for many people (low interest rates, stock markets too temperamental, etc.), purchasing wine allows collectors to invest in something that is not completely dependent on the state of the global marketplace.

So if, like many others, you’ve been burned by the stock market, perhaps investing a small portion of your net worth in a wine collection may be worth considering.  You’ll have a tangible product in your cellar that, if stored properly, will most likely appreciate.  Plus, if wine is your hobby, you’ll have a great deal of fun searching for those elusive bottles!  If you do decide to invest in a serious wine collection, and do not yet have a wine cellar, visit Vintage Cellar’s custom wine cellar page to learn how easy it is to have a professional cellar designed to house the treasures you acquire.  Who knows?  Perhaps your collection will make the record books for being a high-valued lot, too?

Wine Review: Block Nine Caiden’s Vineyards Pinot Noir 2009

October 11th, 2011 No comments

Wine bottle of Block 9 Pinot Noir 2009

This relatively inexpensive Pinot Noir is quite a treat!  Beautiful garnet in color, its nose consists of violet, iris, strawberries, and black cherries.  Its velvet-like texture is soothing to the tongue, and its body is solid.  For fans of sweeter Pinot Noirs, the Block Nine 2009 is a good find; the typical earthiness that turns people off from many Pinots is very subdued in this one.  Flavors of semi-sweet black cherries delight the tongue, and the spicy finish is very satisfying.  Though not an extremely complex wine, it is incredibly well-balanced (which is quite nice, considering its low price).  Because of its well-integrated taste, plus its balanced tannins and acidity, this is a wine that really “works.”  It’s a sure winner, and is guaranteed to please most wine and non-wine drinkers, alike.  Consider storing a few bottles in a 23-Bottle Wine Grotto Wine Cellar, or an elegant Vinotheque Boxed Up-3 Door Double Deep Credenza, to pull out for unexpected company.  No matter the occasion, this wine will help make it memorable.  Cheers!

WineStein Pro: a Wine-Pairing App

October 6th, 2011 No comments
icon for winestein pro app

WineStein Pro Icon

Ever have questions when pairing food and wine?  With WineStein Pro, a “genius” application for your iPhone, you can select the perfect wine for every meal.  It’s like having a sommelier in your pocket, on call to offer advice.

Simply enter your meal’s main ingredients, sauces and sides, and WineStein is ready to help!  Using cutting-edge artificial intelligence, the app creates a “meal DNA” used to determine the best wine pairings.  A scored list of wines, each with a full description, is produced for every dish you enter, and you can refine the results by choosing appropriate filters that range from color to price.

The WineStein database currently contains over 2,000 ingredients, dozens of sauces, and over 600 wine types for use when scoring.  With this information being constantly added to, the app can suggest a suitable wine for just about any meal.  (Try something really unusual; you’ll be surprised!)

WineStein Pro is available for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.  It requires an internet connection, and an iOS of 4.2 or later.  And did we mention that the app is currently free?

image from winestein pro appimage from winestein pro app

Marsala Wine Sauce and Turkey Cutlets

October 4th, 2011 No comments

A few years ago, I was offered plain turkey cutlets at a dinner.  (The bland poultry was less-than impressive!) After giving them a second try, however, this time dressing them up with this delicious sauce, I discovered that they can easily make a satisfying entree.

A bottle of Marsala wine, courtesy of Wikipedia

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 4 Turkey Cutlets
  • 1/3 Cup Marsala Wine
  • 3-4 Tbsp. Flour
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1/2 Tsp. Salt
  • 2 Tsp. Minced Garlic
  • 1/3 Cup Chicken Broth
  • 2 Tsp. Fresh Chopped Rosemary
  • 2 Tbsp. Fresh Chopped Parsley

On a large plate, mix the flour and pepper.  “Dunk” the cutlets in this mixture until they are covered completely with the flour and pepper mix.  Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pan.  Add the cutlets, cooking each side for about 3 minutes.  Next, move the cutlets to a plate, and stir the garlic into the hot pan, sautéing it for 2 minutes.  Then, add the wine and chicken broth.  Cook on medium for about 4 minutes; some of the wine and broth will evaporate.  Add the rosemary and salt to the pan.  Put the 4 cutlets back into the pan, and cover them with the sauce.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees (usually in 2-4 minutes.)  Place the cutlets on clean serving dishes, cover with sauce, and top with parsley.  Enjoy!  For extra flavor, consider adding 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms or 1/2 cup of sliced scallions to the pan when you add the garlic.