Dona Sophia (2007) and Villa Farnia Montepulciano D’Abruzzo (2008)

Last night we had friends over for dinner. After a lengthy cocktail hour full of good conversation (and perfect gin martinis) we sat down for dinner and some red wine. We drank several bottles, two of which I am listing here. Both were fabulous.

I had prepared a totally organic dinner. For starters, I stuffed a well salted and peppered grain-fed chicken with a lemon, fresh thyme and 5 cloves of garlic.  I put the chicken in my cast iron skillet and drizzled it with olive oil and cooked in a hot, 425 degree oven for one hour. Then, I added carrots and potatoes (from the farmer’s market), more sprigs of thyme and 5 move cloves of garlic to the skillet along with about 1/2 cup chicken broth. Then, I turned down the oven to 350 and let it roast another hour and a half. I also sauteed a pint of pole green beans  (freshly picked), and made a salad with freshly picked lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and onions. So, I think dinner was delicious and healthy. For dessert I served some decadent chocolate cookies that I had prepared earlier in the day accompanied by some lemon sherbet.

I was too busy to write down my wine-tasting notes, but I can tell you that these two bottles of wine were a hit. Fabulous.

Tonight we are having a less-expensive wine that Tom bought on sale at the grocery store. I will blog about it tomorrow night (assuming we don’t finish it tonight). For dinner tonight, I am making a chicken stroganoff made with boneless, skinless chicken strips sauteed in butter, fresh mushrooms and onions sauteed in butter, then, the  addition of a thickened chicken broth and sour cream to simmer. I am going to serve it with buttered noodles, sliced fresh tomatoes and sauteed Swiss Chard. Yummy!

Orovales Rioja (2007)

It is Monday night at the Werner household. I have prepared a tuna casserole and it is in the oven.  We both had rather hectic days at our jobs and now we are relaxing, reading the paper, listening to music, staring out the window, feeling the breeze. What a great way to rejuvenate after a demanding day at the office.

Looking out the window, I see nothing but bright blue sky. It is a beautiful summer night in Michigan. The grass is green, the trees are green and the sky is bright. I really love Michigan.

This Spanish red Tempranillo is delicious. It’s fresh and lively yet complex and spicy. The palate is full of concentrated fruit flavors with a vanilla and oak finish. Love this; a definite reorder. . .

I am going to serve our tuna casserole with fresh tomatoes and green onions from my garden along with garlic toast and green beans. (The casserole has elbow macaroni with celery, cream cheese, a white sauce, onions, dry mustard. The topping is Grape Nuts in melted butter [for crunch]).

Forbes Creek Cabernet Sauvignon (2007)

This is our third bottle of this delicious Forbes Creek Cabernet Sauvignon. I have one bottle remaining after this one. It is one of my favorites. And I opened it tonight because. . .it’s Friday! We both worked hard this week.

For dinner, I assembled a casserole that has deliciously fragrant aromas wafting from the kitchen. It’s simple. . . I mixed up ground beef with tomatoes, onions, celery, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper and pressed into the bottom of a 13 x 9 dish. Then, I mixed together frozen corn kernels, frozen hash browns, flour, butter, green pepper. . .I think that is it. . .and put that on top of the beef. I baked it for an hour in the oven and then added some shredded cheese and put it back in the oven for another 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, we are enjoying this wine. It is fruit forward with a tobacco finish. The tannins are velvety.  I really like this one. Wish we had more bottles on hand!

Time to make a salad. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Los Rosales Cabernet Sauvignon (2007)

Well, here we are in the middle of the week — Wednesday night. Hectic work days for both of us. But now we are home and life is good. Listening to music while enjoying a glass of this Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon, talking and reading the papers.

(For those of you who are interested in my dinner menu. . .when I got home I immediately plunged a package of chicken drumsticks into a saltwater brine. After about an hour and a half, I dried the chicken and placed in a bag of flour, breadcrumbs and spices and shook until evenly coated. I then browned the chicken in hot olive oil in a cast-iron skillet. Then, I turned the chicken to low (but did not cover). The chicken will continue to cook for another 45 minutes or so and I will serve with mashed potatoes, asparagus and a fresh salad.)

Back to the wine. This is a good Chilean red! The color certainly caught my eye. . . a brownish red opaque in the glass. The nose is tobacco and cedar. The taste is black fruit — currants, a touch of blackberry — along with a metallic finish. Tom is raving about it. He loves it. I like it very much but I’m not raving about it. . .so there you go. I would say between the two of us, it is safe to say that the wine is definitely above average.

The Holdings Cabernet Sauvignon (2007)

It is Monday night. We both worked today, natch. We had some nice rain today and our grass looks green and healthy.

When I drove home from work, I saw Tom on his run. He looked fast. I don’t know how he runs at the end of the day. I really like to run first thing in the morning or during my lunch hour. I am not a good after-work runner, but he is.

So, after he came home and showered, we started our “happiness hour” with an icy-cold martini. Now we are sipping a glass of this California “The Holdings” Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles. We are going to grill a steak and have that with a baked sweet potato and a salad.

I am already a fan of California Cabernets and this is no exception. This one is particularly lush with lots of fruit — both on the nose and on the palate. The mouthfeel is velvety smooth and silky. There is a touch of mint on the finish. This was an excellent choice for our steak dinner.

Tomorrow is our youngest son’s birthday. Tony will be 24 years old! I can’t wait to see him when he comes home from his year-long teaching job in South Korea. Happy birthday Tones!

RJR North Coast Syrah (2007)

It is another very hot Sunday summer night in Michigan. I spent much of my day doing preparations for a new class I will be teaching this fall. It’s a lot of work but I was able to get much done.

We started our cocktail hour with an icy-cold martini and a little golf (Tom wanted to watch the golf tournament and I worked on a crossword puzzle). Now, Tom is heating the grill. I am steaming brown rice and we will grill marinated pork loin chops.

This wine is wonderful. Lots of berries. Substantial body. The finish is velvety smooth yet also has a jolt of pepper.We both like this wine very much.

Domaine Roueire Cabernet Sauvignon (2007)

It is a hot August Saturday night in Michigan. We have our fans on and are resisting turning on the air conditioner. . .because why should we not enjoy this heat? It won’t last long! We had a typical Saturday. I started my day with a 10-mile run with my two running partners. Tom worked hard in the yard. Then, I spent the afternoon doing planning for a new course I will be teaching this fall. It is slow work, but having the run behind me helped me to sit still and make progress.  I will work on it again tomorrow.

We started our cocktail hour with an icy-cold gin & tonic. That was followed with this wine from the Languedoc region in France. The wine is very dark ruby with a black fruit nose. I love the taste . . .grass, smoky bacon and blackberries with silky tannins and a long finish. Complex and delicious. A real keeper! So glad we have a couple more bottles on the shelf.

For dinner tonight, I tried an unusal new recipe. Knowing it would be hot, I assembled a meal in the crock pot. I am cooking a turkey breast in a mixture of cranberries, orange juice, onion soup mix, celery, a pinch of salt and pepper. I have no idea how this will taste. I have heard it is quite delicious; we shall see. It smells good. I am going to serve this with a baked sweet potato and sliced melon. We shall see.

Dona Sophia (2007)

I finished the rest of this Portugal “Dona Sophia” wine Friday night after a long and arduous work week. Tom opened a bottle of something new that he had purchased at the grocery store.  I opted to have the remaining glass of this because I really like it.

This is an opulent, richly-colored red Portuguese wine with a mouthful of black fruit and a balance of acidity and tannins.

We grilled hamburgers for dinner. I picked two warm, ripe juicy tomatoes from the garden to serve on the burgers. I also sauteed asparagus in olive oil. It was a great way to celebrate the end of the work week.

Stone Cellars by Beringer California Shiraz (2008)

We’re enjoying this California Shiraz that Tom picked up at our local grocery story (2 for $11).  It has been a stormy Saturday but it has finally stopped raining. The birds are singing and the grass is much greener. The forecast calls for very hot and humid weather now that the rain has passed. I had planned on a long run this morning, but the thunder and lightening forced me to stay inside. It was actually a pleasant respite. I will run tomorrow, instead.

This Shiraz is full of fruit and spice. Although simple, this wine is easy and fun to drink. . .a cheerful everyday wine for any kind of meal or for just sipping on the patio. I have so many leftovers from this week (because I was a cooking machine all week) so I will serve this wine with leftovers from Thursday night. I had made chicken parmesan, which was delicious (in my humble opinion). Basically, I dredged boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a mixture of spicy bread crumbs and parmesan cheese, browned in hot olive oil, then transfered to a baking dish, covered with tomato sauce. . . baked covered; then, removed the cover and added some cheese and baked some more. I served this with thin spaghetti tossed with olive oil, freshly ground salt & pepper.  I am reheating that dish tonight and making a fresh salad from my garden. Cheers!

Monasterio de Santa Cruz (2006)

It is Wednesday evening. We are having a glass of this Spanish red while reading the paper. This wine’s core is inky black; the flavors are complex with a smooth, woody and spicy finish.This wine is top notch and I would definitely purchase it again.

I put together an unusual casserole tonight made with crumbled breakfast sausage, eggs, sour cream and cheddar cheese. Yikes, good thing I am not getting a physical tomorrow! But, it is in the oven and smells good. I am serving the casserole with fresh strawberries.