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Today’s Food and Wine Review

After returning from a recent business trip, we’ve had a busy weekend. First it was a day of wine and chocolate tasting on Saturday on Bainbridge Island. We tasted our way through the island, seven wineries offering up some of their wines along with chocolatiers letting us sample some gourmet chocolates. We drove to the island on one side of the island, then winding our way across the island then took the ferry back across Puget Sound to Seattle.

Tonight, for dinner, I fixed an early Valentine’s Day dinner. I made a shrimp dish, Garlic Seared Shrimp with Smoke Paprika and oven roasted vegetables. For the wine, I opened a red blend, Radius, 2014 from Walla Walla, Washington.

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The wine is a wonderful red blend that is soft and smooth, fruit forward, with cherry notes and a hint of oak. The wine just fills the mouth and tastes of dark fruit and ripe cherry, with a lingering finish. The wine went along very well with the shrimp and vegetables.

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Today’s Wine Review

I am always on the hunt for new and tasty wines. In the last few years I’ve tried more blends and which has resulted in more new interesting wines. My latest find is a very nice red blend from California. I must admit I bought the wine because of the label. In honor of the season, I ran across a bottle of Gnarly Head Authentic Black from Lodi, California. A Red Blend, vintage 2014, had an alcohol content of 14.5%. The blend is based on Petit Sirah and more undisclosed grapes.

The wine was a dark reddish purple color in the glass and translucent. I smelled black cherry and a hint of vanilla. The wine was dry and smooth, with no bite or high alcohol taste that some have. I could taste boysenberry, dark chocolate and a vanilla taste at the end. The wine had a nice full finish, and went down very smoothly and dry without any burn.

I was very pleasantly surprised by how well this wine tasted. I will definitely put this on my “to buy” wine list and pick up another bottle or three. The price was also a nice surprise under $15 a bottle. You can find Gnarly Head online at http://www.gnarlyhead.com.

Today’s Wine Review

Fall has come to the northwest with temperatures in the fifties along with clouds and rain. I had set out a steak to grill hoping for better weather, oh well. For the wine I opened a bottle of Apothic Inferno, a limited release of wine aged 60 days in whiskey barrels.

The wine, a California Red Blend, vintage 2014, had an alcohol content of 15.9%. The wine was a dark red color in the glass and had a light smoky smell with a hint of a sweet maple smell. I could smell the alcohol when I stuck my nose in the glass.

The wine had a dark cherry taste with a sweet maple note, not overpowering at all, just kind of a tease. I could taste the wood, but it was a soft wood and smoky flavor and a touch warming, almost like a cognac or brandy, but not heavy and strong, just hints and subtleties.

The wine was a nice surprise and went well with the steak. It was also a great companion to the chilly weather, like a glass of cognac, warm and inviting. You can find Apothic online at http://www.apothic.com. The wine was reasonably priced at under $15. I’m pretty sure it will go fast, since it is a limited release.

Today’s Wine Review

Today is the last day of our vacation. It’s back to getting up early and going to work all day. Last week we started off our vacation with a day of wine and whiskey tasting in Woodinville, Washington. I tried the whiskey varieties at the Woodinville Whiskey Company, and didn’t gag, which totally surprised me. The Woodinville Whiskey Co. makes three different whiskeys, Rye, Bourbon and American Whiskey. In fact, the American Whiskey was almost pleasant tasting. We tasted their vodka and maple syrup too. We bought a bottle of the Rye Whiskey and Vodka, then headed on to the wineries.

Our first stop was Isenhour Cellars tasting five of their wines. We carried out a bottle of the Cabernet Sauvignon and a bottle of the Cabernet Franc. The Cabernet Sauvignon was smooth and dry with a dark fruit taste. Next stop was at Chateau Ste Michelle, which has a large estate and tasting room in Woodinville.

We stopped at Goose Ridge Cellars where I bought two bottles of Rosé made from Pinot Gris. I asked how they got a Rosé from a Pinot Gris, but the ones managing the tasting room either didn’t know or weren’t telling. Then we moved on to Castillo de Feliciana, a winery that made wines in Spanish style. The Malbec was very fruit forward and quite yummy.

On Saturday, we drove out to Mount Rainier and stopped at a winery on the drive home. The winery, Rainier View Winery and Nursery, made their wines in the German style, very fruit forward and high in alcohol content, all their wines were around 18%, requiring many pretzels during the tasting so one of us was capable of driving home. They had some very interesting and different wines. One, called Glacier Breeze was turquoise blue in the bottle, and one was a Jalapeno wine, which lit you on fire as soon as it passed your lips. Not real sure why I would drink Jalapeno wine, the torture effect alone has a dampening effect, but I’m sure there are those that are into pain.

Oh well, it’s back to work and only a glass or two in the evening again, but now I have may more bottles to sample.

Today’s Wine Review

We had good friends over for dinner last night. We had talked about all the recipes I save on Facebook and Pinterest, making all of my Facebook “friends” complain about putting them in a diabetic coma all of the time, so we decided that we would get together at least once a month and some recipe we’ve saved would be on the menu. For the entrée I chose a Pinwheel Flank Steak, Rosemary Roasted Potatoes and Sautéed Green Beans and Shallots. The flank steak came from Facebook, the potatoes and green beans from an episode of The Barefoot Contessa. The flank steak was laid out flat with a layer of fresh basil leaves and mozzarella cheese, rolled up tight and tied off with string. I grilled it on the grill for about fifteen to twenty minutes, turning it often. I like mine rare, but if you like your steak more done, probably twenty to twenty five minutes.

Our friends brought the wine and dessert. The wine, a bottle from Westport Winery Garden Resort. You can find them online at http://www.westportwinery.com. It is the western most Washington winery, right on the Pacific Coast. The wine, Smoky Nor’wester, was a 2014 Red Blend made up of Cabernet Sauvignon 35%, Merlot 31%, Cabernet Franc 26% and Syrah 8% and had an alcohol content of 14%. The wine was a dark red in the glass and when I swirled the glass it had great legs. I could fruit and wood when I stuck my nose in the glass. The wine was dry and smooth, with a bit of a bite and left the sides of my tongue tingly. I could taste the fruit and the smoky hint of the Syrah. It went very well with the grilled flank steak.

I was most intrigued about the winery specially since it is on the coast, between Westport and Aberdeen, Washington. That means it would be a double bonus for me, a trip to the coast and a winery at the same time. Talk about the best of all worlds. This place just jumped to the top of my “going to“ places and the best part is that it is only about a two hour drive. Bonus.

Today’s Wine Review

A rare weekend off for Mitch means I cook something nicer and we open a bottle of wine. For me the weekends are special, for one I am off and I try to cram as much in as I can in two days and if Mitch is off, it usually means I get to plan a play day, hiking or sightseeing. Today we did our running around so tomorrow will be our play day. This afternoon Mitch assembled the chairs we bought for the living room during an excursion at Ikea, while I started dinner. Tonight it was strip steaks and for the wine I went with a Washington Red Blend.

The wine, Red Theory Winemakers Red Blend, vintage 2013, was from Columbia Valley, Washington. The wine was a lighter red color in the glass, more like a summer wine and not the big heavy reds, Cabernet Sauvignon or a Zinfandel. My first smell was alcohol, then I could smell a soft fruit aroma. The surprise came with the first taste. The wine tasted like a blend of Merlot and Pinot Noir, dry but there was the dark plum fruit taste of the Pinot Noir. I could also taste wood and tobacco. There was a jammy blackberry finish. The wine was soft but had a bite at the end. The wine was also budget friendly at under $15 a bottle.

The wine went very nicely with the salad and steak. For the vegetable I roasted Brussel sprouts in the oven for me and steamed some for Mitch. Picky pants prefers plain old steamed Brussel sprouts, go figure.

I have to say that Washington wines are a different animal from the wines I’ve been drinking, mainly California, Italy and France. Washington wines are intriguing and I am making a conscious effort to buy more varieties and brands I haven’t tried before. One thing I’ve found out is that a lot of Washington wineries or vineyards don’t have websites that describe and promote their wines like California wineries and vineyards. Or least I haven’t had much luck in my search.

Maybe I should learn web design then travel throughout Washington wine country and set up websites for the wineries. Talk about wine heaven.

Today’s Wine Review

Last week I was gently reminded that I now live in Washington, the second largest wine producer in the United States, so why am I still writing about California wines. I had to agree I had fallen into a habit of buying and tasting wines from regions I was familiar with. I needed to shake things up and go shopping, wine shopping, not that shoe shopping isn’t also just as important, but for now I’m doing okay on shoes. It is wine, Washington wine I need, and that’s what I did, went wine shopping. Mitch stood there and watched as I filled my cart with bottle after bottle.

He said, “I didn’t think we were out of wine.”

I said, “We’re not, but it won’t go bad, right? It never hurts to have a bottle or two around.” A case later he just shook his head and carried the box to the car.

Tonight I fixed pork chops for dinner and to go with them I opened a red blend from Columbia Valley, Washington. See, a Washington wine. The wine, Wild Haven, Blazing Red vintage 2013 had an alcohol content of 12.8% and very fruit forward. The wine was a very dark red color in the glass and smelled a bit of smoke, maybe a little like pipe tobacco. It was dry but not super dry, fruit forward almost jammie and had a nice finish that tasted like plums and currants.

This was definitely a wine I will buy again, super tasty.

I am working harder at trying more blends. Blends have always been a bit of a mystery to me. Single variety wines are easier, because you have a preconceived idea of what it should taste like, but with a blend, all bets are off. I never know what I’m going to taste when I open a bottle.

One thing I’ve found when I search online for Washington wineries or vineyards is that they are hard to find, not like California wineries. California vineyards and wineries have websites everywhere and are super easy to locate, but not Washington wineries. It’s like they are hiding and I have to go on a scavenger hunt to search the wineries out. Oh well if Washington wants to make it a bit of a quest for me find their wines, I will just have to work a bit harder. I do love a challenge.

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