It is a Sunday evening and we had a delicious martini for our cocktail hour. For us that means gin and vermouth shaken in ice and poured into delicate glasses that have been keeping cold in the freezer. We watched football and simultaneously worked on the Wall Street Journal Crossword puzzle. Very relaxing and fun. For dinner I made oatmeal, buttermilk pancakes with blueberries, applesauce and sausage. There just wasn’t an appropriate wine for this meal so we had none. But the martini was sumptuous and the pancake dinner filling and delicious. 20111120-193046.jpg

The Wisdom Cabernet Sauvignon (2006)

It is Tuesday night and we have had such a fun cocktail hour. I had a lot of news to share from my work day (and Tom is a wonderful listener) and Trigger just soaks it all up — happy to be part of the group.

So, we started with an icy-cold martini (up) and have graduated to a glass of this The Wisdom Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 from the Alexander Valley in California. This wine is made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and aged in American Oak.

The result is big-tasting red wine. The predominant aroma and flavor is vanilla followed by dark fruit and buttery toast.

For dinner, I am reheating some leftover chicken which I will serve with some freshly baked potatoes and a salad. Tom offered to get pizza tonight (because I had a big day) but this dinner sounded tastier and is also very easy to prepare. Cheers!

Tom: Nice dark fruit, medium/big body, dry and tannic, with a bit vanilla/caramel. Very drinkable. A very fun cocktail hour…

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.

Green Acres Zinfandel (2008)

Green Acres Ranch Lodi Zinfandel 2008It is a summer Wednesday night in Michigan, the first day of July. We have a cool front with some rain so it is quite cozy tonight. So, I decided to take advantage of the cool weather and use my oven. I baked a batch of double-chocolate, walnut brownies (Tom loves these) and I made a stew out of leftover pot roast and some vegetables, which I put in a cast-iron skillet in the oven. We’ll have a comfy night and a comfy meal tonight.

I chose this California Zinfandel for our post-martini cocktail! (The martini was wonderful — served in an icy cocktail glass with just the right combination of gin & vermouth.) I am happy with this wine. I generally do not gravitate to Zinfandels — only because I am such an avid, die-hard Cabernet Sauvignon fan. But, I thought this would be a good selection for our dinner and I am pleasantly surprised at how good this is. A pleasant burst of raspberries and spice and a mellow mouthfeel. The finish is true oak.

Tubul Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot (2007)

This Tubul Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2007 Chilean blend is our choice for tonight, a midweek Wednesday evening.

But first, before I describe this wine, I have to tell you about the martini we had for our cocktail hour. I usually make our martinis with a touch of olive juice from the jar, but tonight I tried a product called “Dirty Sue.” This product comes in a bottle that looks like a Worcestershire bottle. I was skeptical and wary. . .I liked our martinis just the way they were; but, I wanted to try this. So, I substituted the olive juice I normally spoon out of the olive jar with this Dirty Sue olive juice. Well, let me tell you, it is GREAT! This will probably only make sense to you if you’re a martini lover, but the deal is that — olive juice can overpower your martini and taste like, well, salty olive juice. But, Dirty Sue apparently is a high quality olive juice and what you taste is olives instead of salty brine. I used three teaspoons of the Dirty Sue in our mixture for two martinis (instead of three teaspoons from the olive jar) and it was simply delicious and it was definitely a BETTER martini with the Dirty Sue than with the normal olive juice from the jar. It gives the martini that olive taste without overpowering the gin & vermouth with a briney, salty taste. I’m sold! I would highly recommend this product. You can purchase it at:

Now, on to our Chilean red wine blend, Tubul Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2007. This is good midweek quaff with lots of chocolate and fruit tastes. The finish is butter and a bit of grass. The tannins are just right — lip smacking but not overpowering.

For dinner, I have put together a casserole with brown rice, chicken and broth. It is baking in the oven for 2 hours. I also have an acorn squash in the oven. I am going to make a salad to top it off.


Martini for one. . .

It is Saturday night and Tom is in a plane headed home after a conference in California. I spent the day a) doing laundry, b) attending our college football game and c) attending a wedding. Neither b nor c were very close to home but both were very important to me. Now I am home. I walked little Trigger and did a little packing (I have to go to Dallas tomorrow) and now I am going to read Saturday’s Wall Street Journal.  Tom won’t be home until late so I made a martini for one. . .thought I would share my secret recipe for a perfect martini.

Okay, it is important to put a martini glass in the freezer at least 15 minutes prior to making the cocktail (we keep ours in there all the time). Put the number of jumbo olives you want on a toothpick (I use three). Set that aside. Now, take a cocktail shaker and fill it with ice and then add 2 jiggers of high-quality gin (I used Bombay tonight). Then, add 1 jigger of extra-dry vermouth (Martini & Rossi is good). Finally, add 2 tsp. of olive juice. Shake it vigorously. Then, take the glass out of the freezer and plop in the olives. Then, slowly drizzle the cocktail from the shaker into the ice-cold glass.

Now, sit and sip and enjoy. There is nothing better.

(Note to our son, Tony who is in South Korea: WE MISS YOU!!)


Longview Rustic Red (2007)

Tom and I first tasted this Longview Leelanau Peninsula Rustic Red 2007 in Longview Winery’s tasting room in Cedar, Michigan. We were on a mini-vacation get-away to the gorgeous and serene Homestead Resort in Empire.

On one of the days, we drove to the Dunes and climbed the sandy mountain to the top to view Lake Michigan. It was breathtakingly beautiful. After running and jumping our way back down the dune, we drove to Cedar to visit the Longview Winery and had a pleasant hour or so standing at the polished-wood bar sampling the wines. We ended up purchasing a couple bottles, including this Bordeaux-like red with a rich berry taste and supple tannins. We had this wine last night with barbecued ribs, corn on the cob, and broccoli salad.

I can’t finish this post without also mentioning a wonderful meal we had while staying up north at the Homestead. On Thursday evening, Tom & I ate at Trattoria Funistrada in Burdickville (near Glen Arbor). We knew we were going to love it the moment we walked into the friendly and cozy dining room. We had wonderful service and started our evening with a martini, served generously in a chilled stem-less martini goblet. The special that evening was any two pasta dishes AND a bottle of wine for $40. Tom had a spicy sausage pasta dish and I had angel-hair pasta with grilled chicken. Both were mouth-wateringly delicious. When it came time to choose the wine, we were able to choose from a variety of bottles that were displayed on the bar. We had a Rosso (I will have to look back at my written notes to be more specific). The entire meal from start to finish was everything I could wish for in a meal. We can’t wait to go back the next time we head north.