Something to Celebrate

Tonight we will say goodbye to 2012 and hello to 2013. Most of us will celebrate with bubbles and friends. We have been practicing around here. I took a class in sparkling wine recently which was great preparation. Champagne, Prosecco, Domestic, or Cava, there is a bottle for every palate and every price point.

I recently received a sample of sparkling wine from Biltmore Estate in North Carolina. Using the Methode Champenoise, this 2008 Blanc de Blancs is aged 24-30 months before disgorging. This wine has great acidity, citrus and green apple. The bubbles are small and elegant which yield a great texture and finish. If you are wanting to celebrate with a domestic wine, this is a great option. Looking for other options? I’ll get to that.

So what were we celebrating? Well, a few things. One being my brother’s visit. Another being the reason I have not mentioned other specific sparklers. At the end of 2011, I had just begun writing. I had posted maybe a dozen pieces, with most viewed only by friends. In 2012, I have begun receiving samples, have received invitations to fabulous events, and more importantly, have met amazing people in the industry. I have learned so much from them.

With their encouragement and example, I have grown in the social media world, and I am now writing for other publications. So, for other bubbles ideas, head over to Back9Network, a multi-media golf and lifestyle publication, where I have been writing weekly posts on wine and spirits.  So grateful for all of you that have taken the time to read my banter, for all that I have learned, and for the relationships I have made.

Wishing you a fabulous holiday and may 2013 bring you much joy.

East Coast vs. West Coast

This week I decided to sample two Chardonnays, back to back, for an East Coast/West Coast showdown.  The first Chardonnay was the 2010 Biltmore Reserve Chardonnay from North Carolina and the second was the 2010 Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Chardonnay ($20).

The Biltmore was very easy to drink.  Which was great because we opened it after my son’s third birthday party.  I’d love to tell you how it paired, but we didn’t get that far.  A fresh pear green in color, with similar nose.  Hints of citrus, rounded with a bit of buttery notes.  There was some of the banana that you find with malo-lactic fermentation.  I would say this would be a very versatile wine, but not to pair it as you typically would when you think Chardonnay.  The oak was light, the fruit remained on the crisper side.  A fun take on Chardonnay, for sure.

We opened the Robert Mondavi for dinner last night.  I made a light pasta with asparagus, mushrooms, and chicken.  This was, what I consider to be, a very classic Chardonnay.  Classic, but without the heaviness that is sometimes overwhelming.  A pear yellow, lighter than some Chardonnays, but don’t let that fool you.  This bottle drinks like one that is older.  Pear, something tropical, and a floral perfume.  I tasted lemon, apple, some tannic notes, and a nutty, creamy finish.  There is definitely oak, but it doesn’t hit you in the back of the throat as some do.  I enjoyed this wine, especially as it hit the right temperature. 

So who won the bi-coastal showdown?  I think it depends on what you’re looking for in a Chardonnay.  A fun, lighter fruit forward wine with subtle oak or a creamy classic one?  Personally, I can’t call a winner.  As with most wines, there is a time and a meal for each of these.

*{Disclosure: I was provided with these wines from PR Firm, Folsom & Associates. All statements and opinions expressed in this article are my own.}

An Icon on, and in, a Bottle

Earlier in the summer I received two lovely bottles of wine. And I am not just referring to what was in the bottle. Biltmore Wines have created a simple, subtle bottle with an etching of an American icon, the Biltmore House. The appearance is sleek, the blends irresistible.

Biltmore Century White is a beautifully balanced blend of Gewürztraminer, Muscat Canelli, Riesling, and Symphony. Looking at that list, you would think it would be quite sweet, but with a residual sugar of 3.24%, it would be considered only “off dry.” A nice reflective wine, yellow in color, and a very inviting nose. The bright citrus and floral nose were reflected in the taste. This wine was not too sweet by itself and it would pair nicely with a variety of foods. Salty cheeses, citrus or spicy seafood, a summer dessert, or my favorite pairing Thai or Vietnamese food.

I came up with this recipe last summer when I was trying to use up what I had in the house while sneaking in some veggies. Sometimes we have to get creative with the veggies, right? Although a bit time-consuming to chop everything, it allows for flexibility with how you build each bowl. The freshness of the veggies plays well of the citrus in the wine and the spice is tempered with the sweetness of the wine. You can generally count on the sweeter grapes above playing well with any spicy Asian cuisine. The peanut sauce is a little harder, but it worked well enough.

At $15.99, this bottle is a little more than a Monday wine and a little less than most weekend wines. I just that just makes it a great anytime wine. Cheers!

Thai Meatballs with Veggie Vermicelli and Peanut Sauce

  • 1 lb. Ground Chicken
  • Vermicelli
  • 2 carrots
  • grated
  • 1 cucumber thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/4 sweet onion
  • thinly sliced
  • 2 limes
  • 1/4 cup peanuts
  • 1/4 c peanut butter
  • 1/4 c coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. chopped mint
  • 2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 c rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • red pepper flakes (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine sugar, rice wine vinegar and onion in a bowl. Let that sit.

3. Mix ground chicken, egg, Panko bread crumbs, 1 grated carrot, ginger, 1 tbsp of mint, 1 tbsp cilantro, 1 tsp. salt in a bowl.

4)Form small meatballs (about 1 in. diameter) and place on baking sheet.

5) Bake in a preheated oven for 17-20 minutes or until firm and cooked through.

6) While the meatballs are baking, cook the vermicelli as directed.

7. Run the noodles under cold water to stop the cooking process.

8. In a large bowl, toss the noodles in the vinegar mixture and 1 tbsp olive oil. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 a lime over the
noodles. Set aside.

9. Make peanut sauce by combining peanut butter, coconut milk, soy sauce, the juice of half a lime. You may add red pepper flakes if you want heat.

10. Top the noodles with grated carrots, peanuts, cucumber, the remaining mint and cilantro.

11. The meatballs and peanut dipping sauce can be served on the noodles or on the side. Serve with mint garnish and a lime wedge.
This can easily be made gluten-free by using potato flakes instead of Panko bread crumbs and a rice pasta. Try other vegetables in the meatballs (sweet potato, kale finely chopped) or on the salad (red cabbage, tomatoes) as to meet your child’s needed nutrition and preferences.

*{Disclosure: I was provided with this wine from PR Firm, Folsom & Associates. All statements and opinions expressed in this article are my own.}