Hess Syrah (2007)

It is Wednesday evening. Tom is at an association meeting for our neighborhood. I should have gone, too, but I had forgotten about the meeting and had started dinner preparations so I had to stay home and tend to the stove (oh darn!). So, I am sitting here alone with some music on the Bose, Trigger by my side, and a crossword puzzle nearly completed. I purchased this wine at our local wine shop in Ann Arbor (A & L Wine Castle) on sale for $14.99. This is more than we like to pay for an everyday bottle of wine; however, my experience with Hess wines has been consistently positive. Plus, I try to average out the per-bottle price of wine by buying some inexpensive wines (say, 2 for $9.99) along with a couple $15-20 bottles. Then, a case of wine will maybe average $10 a bottle, for example.

This wine is worth the price. I love it. A quality Syrah with ripe fruit and pepper flavors, the tannins are firm and the finish is long. Yummy.

For dinner, I made a baked ziti with italian sausage, steamed fresh carrots and a salad. So, while I wait for Tom to come home I have no choice but to have another glass of this Syrah. . .cheers!

Lindemans Shiraz Cabernet (2008)

We have had this wine several times before but I always try to record my tasting notes each time I have a wine. It is my little diary. . .

So, it is a Tuesday evening. We just had a martini while working on the Wall Street Journal crossword puzzle. (In the past, we would have been reading the Ann Arbor News, but now that the newspaper is only published twice a week, we have switched to working on the crossword puzzle.) Now, we are having a glass of this Australian fruity wine. For dinner, I am making pesto chicken with asparagus and red peppers and angel hair pasta. This wine will hold up well to the strong flavors of this pasta dish.

This is a new-world wine with lots of fruits — especially cherries and raspberries. Soft tannins and a timid finish. . .but absolutely fun to drink and enjoy.

Amado Sur (2007)

We chose this Argentinian blend of 72% Malbec, 16% Bonarda and 12% Syrah for our dinner. I purchased this wine for $16 at the A & L Wine Castle in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This is so delicious. Everything I enjoy about a wine is in this one.  The taste has a touch of raisins — not too fruity; definitely more old world style. A lovely finish.

We were delighted to have both our sons and our oldest son’s girlfriend for dinner. I had made a pot of spaghetti and meatballs, which I served with a tossed salad and steamed broccoli and a loaf of crusty garlic bread. For dessert, I made peanut-butter/oatmeal/chocolate chip cookies. Everyone had seconds and a good time was had by all!

Stone Cellars by Beringer California Shiraz (2008)

We have blogged about this wine before. Tom picks it up at our local grocery store on sale every so often.

This is a fun and easy-to-drink wine. Absolutely nothing to complain about here. The price is right. The nose is spicy. The taste is fruity and the finish is fairly complex and lengthy. California certainly does know their red wines.

It is a late-October evening in Michigan. It is very dark out there, cold, and raining. Tom was happy to see me come home because sometimes a Friday night drive in the dark rain can be tenuous for me! (There are some aggressive and angry drivers out there.)

For dinner, I sauteed a fresh, chopped mushroom (big one)  [that I got from the food co-op that I belong to] in olive oil and butter. I browned pork chops in olive oil. . .then, combined the chops and mushrooms with some broth and let it simmer. Then, I added some thickener. I will serve this with potatoes  and a fresh salad (I still have some baby-lettuce leaves from my garden).

This food co-op that I just joined should be interesting. I split a share with my neighbor and she brings me a grocery bag full of random fruits and vegetables every Monday, which is my share. For example, this last week I got apples, a pineapple, fresh spinach, one mushroom, one beet. . .isn’t that hilarious? But, I like the challenge it gives me to make sure I use everything. (I made a delicious apple cobbler with the apples last night.)And, yes, I cooked and ate the beet.


Guenoc Petite Sirah (2006)

It is only Tuesday night but Tom & I both feel like we should be nearing the end of our work week! But, at least I was able to leave work on time today, which gave me time to prepare a nice dinner. My dinner tonight was largely based on a bagful of fruits and vegetables that I received from my new membership in a fruit & vegetable co-op. I have some vegetables that I don’t even recognize! But, everything is organic and I know it will be delicious. So, for dinner, we are grilling boneless pork loin chops (with a rub that I just love: brown sugar, chili pepper, salt & pepper and cumin) and steamed brown rice, and a combination of sauteed brussel sprouts and some other greens that I honestly don’t know the names . . .but I’m sure it will be delicious!! I also baked an apple crisp from the many apples I received in this week’s co-op share. The apple crisp has a lot of sliced apples topped with a combination of brown sugar, flour, oatmeal, cinnamon and some melted butter.

The wine is quite lovely! Very dark purple in the glass with a nose of  stewed plum and blackberry jam. A  nice blueberry fruit finishing with soft tannins.

Terre di Ricaldone Barbera d’Asti (2005)

We have had this Terre di Ricaldone Barbera D’Asti 2005 before but it was quite a long time ago. I retrieved this wine from our storage area in the basement — mainly, because I wanted an excuse to check on my son who isn’t feeling well and was watching TV downstairs. So, I was able to breeze through on my way to pick out a bottle of wine and also check on him and see how he was doing. (He is sick; maybe has the flu but he is relaxing and taking good care of himself.)

Although I noticed from my notes that I really enjoyed this wine the last time I had it, my experience is different tonight. Tonight I am finding that the nose is musty and I do not like a musty nose. The nose is a big part of the wine; so it is difficult for me to get past it; however, in spite of this, the taste of the wine is typical Italian and very good.

For dinner, I am roasting a fresh chicken that we bought at the local farmer’s market yesterday. I also tossed some fresh, diced potatoes into the cast-iron skillet with the chicken. I am baking an acorn squash and will make a salad. (I harvested the remaining lettuce from my garden today so I have some wonderful, baby-leaf lettuce for dinner tonight.) I am going to hand over the computer to Tom so he can write his tasting notes, too.

Tom: To my palate this is a pleasant Italian with a taste common to many Italian wines: an Old World, slightly vegetal quality. It has a light-to-medium body and is fairly dry. (This is the opposite of, say, a fruit-bomby Australian. Each has its place, depending on one’s mood and food.

Trivento Select Mendoza Malbec (2007)

It is Saturday night. Both Tom and I were at football games today but not the same one. It was cold out there! But now we are home and cozy. I have a pot of homemade soup on the stove. We are working on the Wall Street Journal crossword puzzle while also watching the Florida vs. Arkansas game. Florida just scored with 4 seconds left in the game.

I bought this wine for $12 at A & L Wine Castle in Ann Arbor. This is a good one. I find it to have a nice bite on the palate yet a velvety, smooth texture and cherry & vanilla taste on the finish.

This is a keeper. . .

Castle Rock Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (2006)

We opened this California Cabernet Sauvignon to commemorate an October Friday night. Woo Hoo! (Even though I have to work all day tomorrow.)

Okay, no kidding, this is a keeper. I love this wine. I bought it for $12.99 at the A & L Wine Castle in Ann Arbor.  I like everything about it starting with the nose and ending with its long and spicy finish.

I am reheating a casserole that I made earlier this week ( a delicious and simple ground beef and potato dish) which I will serve with sauteed asparagus and a salad.

If you find this wine, definitely buy it. It’s wonderful!

Dancing Bull Zinfandel (2005)

It is a Thursday evening in Michigan; the weather has really turned cold, dark and, quite frankly, depressing for Michiganians who thrive only in the summer. Lucky for me, I am not one of those people. Although I prefer the carefree-ness of summer weather, I try my best to embrace the changing seasons. Today, for example, I went for a 42-minute run during my noon hour at work. It was very cold! Windy, dark, cold, with a little precipitation in the air. Nonetheless, I made myself go out there and I warmed up after about the first mile and had a great, invigorating run and felt wonderful the rest of the day. Moral of the story: Get out and embrace the yucky weather!!

So, tonight Tom chose this bottle of wine for our dinner. (I purchased this at one of my favorite wine shops in Ann Arbor — the A & L Wine Castle.) For dinner, I prepared an oven-baked chicken dish. . .. chicken that was first brined in saltwater, then dredged in a combination of eggs beaten with spicy mustard. . .then tossed with a mixture of bread crumbs, falafel and spices. This will result in a tasty, juicy, crispy baked chicken. Because I was going to be using the oven, I also put together a quick apple crisp — with a totally made-up recipe. I took the remains of apples that I bought at a farmer’s market, peeled and sliced and put them in a glass baking dish, then I mixed some melted butter with flour, brown sugar and lots of oats (and cinnamon) and spread that mixture over the apples. Then, I spooned some applesauce over everything and it is baking (and smelling delicious) along with the chicken.

And now to the wine. . . this is great! For some reason, I have a psychological block against Zinfandel. I find Zinfandels to be a little on the sharp, astringent side. This is no different but,, in this case,  the sharp astringent quality is coupled with a rich and luscious cherry and vanilla taste that is wonderful! It is a lovely blend of flavors and textures that combine for a real treat.

So, cheers to miserable Michigan weather because it really is all about how you choose to take it all in.

Il Papavero Vino Da Tavola Rosso

We chose this Italian table wine for our Monday night cocktail hour. We have been holding onto this wine for quite awhile. . .we had 3-4 bottles of it and this is our last one. We like this very much. This wine has dark, ripe fruit with some spice.  A velvety finish makes for a luscious work-week quaff.

For dinner, I put chicken legs and thighs in saltwater brine. Then, I dredged the brined chicken in a mixture of eggs and poupon mustard. Then, I tossed in a crumby mixture of bread crumbs, falafel mix and spices. Then, the chicken went into a very hot oven to get crispy on the outside and juicy and tender on the inside. I also am baking a couple of yams.