Stay at home mom, lover of wine


Monday Wines

Meeting of the Minds-Indaba Wines

In most places the season is wrapping up, in South Africa it is just beginning and here in Central Texas it never ends: grilling season. Although it may look different, the spirit is the same. And though many of the current celebrity BBQ kings hail from Texas, South Africa boasts the oldest archeological evidence of the pastime. They too know their que.

In celebration of their National Braai Day, Braai4Heritage, on September 24th, Cape Classics sent our Braai packs so that we could sample a bit of their heritage. This included a sample of their Indaba Chenin Blanc, a red blend Indaba Mosaic, and a Peri-Peri rub, Rub with Love.

Continue reading “Meeting of the Minds-Indaba Wines”

Holy Halloween Party, Batman!

From the moment they opened their eyes, my children were ablaze. Crackling with expectation for the evening’s festivities, feeding off of one another, they ran with their neighborhood friends until I could rein them in, briefly to transform. I wasn’t far off.

Wielding a hot glue gun and green fabric, I channeled Batman’s villains to counter my heroic son. Since “Batman” wanted muscles, I reluctantly bought them. Catwoman and The Riddler were a breeze, and the “Mom” version of Poison Ivy was a fun challenge. We were ready to hit Gotham City, or rather the Block Party.


Continue reading “Holy Halloween Party, Batman!”

Fake it Till You Make It-Fall Recipes and Wines

This is the time of the year when I most miss my childhood home.  Glossed and changing leaves, tips curled, blanket the path and create a quilt of color.  The air, sweetened and chilled, hangs with a bit more weight. Bins of Macintosh line the path to the pumpkin patch and cider doughnuts punctuate most hikes.  The golden before the grey, the crisp before the bitter cold.  Autumn in the Adirondacks is hard to beat.


Here, the calendar says fall, the forecast argues, and we learn to fake it. Continue reading “Fake it Till You Make It-Fall Recipes and Wines”

Meanwhile in #TXwine-Texas Tuesday

While my opportunities to sneak away may diminish with summer, the world of Texas wine isn’t slowing.  In fact, it continues to expand in size and reputation.  My news feed has been full of announcements of accolades, invitations, and openings.  While I can’t attend or respond to all of them in the 18 minutes of free time,(on a good day) I am there in spirit, and in time, I’ll get to experience these wines and places myself.

One event I was able to attend was sponsored by Llano Estacado and featured wines from their new line for restaurants, Mont Sec.  The Sauvignon Blanc and Grenache Rose are made from grapes from Mont Sec Vineyards in the Chihuahuan Desert. Despite the rugged climate and challenging conditions, the area yields fruit that makes fantastic wine.  I really enjoyed both wines and would buy them by the case if I could.  Unfortunately, they are only available through restaurants.  If you see them, don’t hesitate.


I paired the Mont Sec Sauvignon Blanc with Greek style meatballs, Tzatziki. and cucumber salad.  I shared the bottle with my family, all of whom were impressed. The Rose was a fun fresh compliment to a casual Friday dinner of Berbere meatballs, Rosemary white bean dip, asparagus. My only complaint was that there was a hole in my glass.


The other stand-out of the evening was, of course, the flagship Viviano ($35).  The nod to a Super Tuscan (70% Cab, 30% Sangiovese) is a perennial favorite.  Jubilant fruit, spice, elegance.  I paired a bottle with lamb chops, roasted fingerlings, and kale avocado salad.  It worked, but I think I could have done better.  I’ll have to try again.

Hawk’s Shadow Winery had their opening this past weekend in Dripping Springs.  I wish I could tell you something about the wine, but this is one I missed.  Since Saturdays from 12-6 are currently booked, it may have to wait until fall.  For more information, see their website.

If you are looking for something to do this weekend, Flat Creek will be holding Vinopalooza on premise.  Music and wine in a beautiful setting sounds like a great way to celebrate.  For tickets and more detailed information, follow this link.

One of my favorite Texas wineries received five awards at the recent San Francisco International Wine competition.  Congratulations Kim and company.  You continue to impress me with the quality of wines that you are able to make while keeping them accessibly priced.  I’ll miss our stop this summer. McPherson Cellars wines stood out with the following wines:

Les Copains Rosé – GOLD
Les Copains White – Silver
Albariño – Silver
Viognier – Bronze
La Herencia – Bronze

In the same competition, Brennan Vineyards became the first Texas winery to bring home TWO Double Golds. The 2014 Mourvedre Dry Rose and the 2013 Tempranillo were both given the highest accolades.  I can’t wait to try them!

Wedding Oak Winery was awarded “Best Albariño” and given Double Gold for the same wine. They also received two bronze medals for Terre Rouge and Sangiovese.

These are the awards I have found via social media but when the full list is released today I am sure we will be adding to the list.

Finally, another wine on the list to try is one bottle by Vinovium Partners that I spied at Whole Foods Arbor Trails. I have the utmost respect for the guys behind this, Daniel Kelada and Craig Mayer.  They are driving the Texas Wine Journal and putting their efforts, energies, and enthusiasm into Texas wine like few others.


In summer, my children’s freedom expands, mine shrinks.  And attempts to shrink waistlines for summer means an expanding list of wines I need to try.  My apologies for not much in the way of personal experience, but just because I’m having less fun in the wine world doesn’t mean you can’t have it for me.  I’d love to hear about your adventures and new discoveries in #TXwine. I’ll put them on the list for the freedom of fall. Cheers!

P.S.  The complete list is available now on TX Wine Lover.  So much to be excited about!

A Surprise in Any Package-Monday Wines with Banfi

One of the joys of writing about wine is, indeed, the packages that arrive requiring a signature.  Some are expected, others are not.  Each time, it is a little like Christmas.  You may have a good idea of what is inside, but there is always a little flutter of expectation with the slicing of the tape.  Sometimes the surprise comes, not with viewing the bottle, but what happens when you open it.

I recently received three wines from Banfi: a Rosso di Montalcino (always a bit of comfort), a Prosecco (always a bit of fun), and something unexpected. I read the description of 2013 Fontana Candida Terre dei Grifi Frascati DOC and thought, hmmm.  Composed of  50% Malvasia Bianca di Candia, I thought it may be a little a little sweet for me.  I read on.. 30% Trebbiano Toscano, 10% Greco, 10% Malvasia del Lazio.  I love Trebbiano, great acidity and citrus usually.  I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was recommended with Thai or Asian (read sweet) but described as dry.  Now I was really confused.

And that, my friends, is why I always try to taste with an open mind.


I brought it to my parent’s as an appertif (as recommended) for my father’s birthday. That way, if it were indeed too sweet, I had just the people there to enjoy it. It turns out, that was everyone.

Light and tropical, fruit forward without too much residual sugar.  It was bright but not biting, refreshing and easy to drink. And at around $13 it is great for summer parties with a little something for everyone. Surprise!

The Rosso and the Prosecco were as expected. The Maschio Brut Treviso is festive, citrus and stone. 100% Glera it is classic Prosecco in style and composition and another great Monday wine ($13). The Rosso is fruit, and spice, and everything nice.  Just enough tannins to give it structure while remaining versatile. I never say no to either.

Let’s face it, I don’t say no to wine very often.  I always like to try something new.  Sometimes it is hard to check my expectations at the door. But, now I know, even more definitively, that surprises come in all sorts of packages and packaging.

Summer Salmon,Two Ways

School’s…out…for summer!

Somehow I tried to believe that I, too, was now “off.”  I have to admit: I’ve been a little casual about cleaning and a little last-minute lazy in the kitchen.  But aren’t I allowed?  I always try to keep it simple, even more so now.  Throw something on the grill (or let my husband).  Turn the oven on minimally. Enjoy the fresh produce in simple salads. Eat what is in season.

One such food now in season is Copper River King Salmon. Known for its abundance of Omega 3s and anti-inflammatory properties, Wild Salmon is considered one if the world’s “Superfoods.” Although I have to admit, it isn’t my favorite thing to eat, I do so a few times a month for health reasons.  I have found a few ways to prepare it that, I think, tempers, without masking, the flavor. And a crisp glass of white only enhances the meal.

At the local HEB, they were sampling a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Drylands, that I liked quite a bit.  Based on that, she suggested I try Sea Pearl, on sale at $9.  Sold.  Subtle grassy notes, tropical fruit and lime zest.  Very easy to drink with fun acidity.


For this dish, I mixed chili powder, smoked paprika, salt, cumin, thyme, and s little garlic powder and dusted the fish.  My favorite grillmaster got it super hot and seared it for a minute, then turned it down to 400 for about ten minutes (depends on size of filet). This gave the fish a really nice crust. While it was cooking, I made a lime-cilantro butter which I drizzled over the fish when it was done.  Add some grilled zucchini, Israeli couscous (for those eating carbs), an avocado and you’re done.  It paired really nicely and was a fun change from my norm. 

What’s my norm you ask? Generally, I throw on some fresh herbs (oregano, thyme), salt and pepper, lemon zest.  When finished I top with parsley, chopped olives, lemon juice.  During Greek Week at Central Market, I picked up a couple Greek wines and, I must say, for pairing with fish, I’m hooked. (Ba-dump-bump.)


But seriously, Domaine Sigalas in making wine from some of the oldest vines of Santorini. The vines are not trellised, but grown in these beautiful cylindrical baskets of vine. The Assyrtiko was packed with minerality and vibrant acidity.  Balanced, playful, citrus and stone fruit; I enjoyed every drop.

An image formerly on the winery’s website.
Salmon can be tough sometimes.  The intensity of flavor doesn’t always “play well.” I’ve done Soy glaze, tropical salsa, dill yogurt, and a few others. These, so far, are my favorites.  Easy, quick, tasty, and I usually have the ingredients in-house.  And since we have another month of Salmon season, I’m sure I’ll be finding more.

I’d love to hear from you (if you aren’t out frolicking). What are your favorite preparations and pairings?  And what are your go-to, not-much-time-in-the-kitchen meals? I’ll be sharing more here and also meals that can be made at the campsite. Happy summer!



Balance, Bubbles, and Bertolucci

Nearly two decades ago, a film set in the Tuscan countryside provided my first wine-related epiphany.  Not through her teenage prattle or any life-changing plot, but through one scene in particular.  The rich golden rays on a rustic table, wildflowers and clinking glasses, laughter and debate beneath the branches. I remember so clearly thinking: THAT.  That is what I want in my life.

Perhaps the memory is idealized, it has been half a lifetime ago, but the sentiment remains strong. It is a moment I’ve chased, and caught several times.  Outside of Rome, on the hills of Sonoma, the Hill Country of Texas, and even whispers of it in downtown Austin.

Whether it was the breadth of the table, the diversity of the group, the lively conversation or the Old World wines, something about a recent wine lunch reminded me of that movie. Gregory White PR held a lunch at Second Bar and Kitchen with representatives, writers, and winemakers from some of their brands: Codorniu, Scala Dei, and Artesa.


I was familiar with the Cava of Codorniu, a staple for everyday value and one I’ve recommended before, so it was a pleasure to meet Bruno Colomer Marti.  Marti has been the head winemaker there since 2008 and his dedication to quality is evident.  Before the lunch, I had only sampled the entry-level wines ($8-12) and was blown away by Reserva and Vintage Pinot Noir sparklers.  Delicate, fresh, complex.  The Gran Codorniu Pinot Noir was a favorite with the fresh berry notes and long, lively finish and at an excellent value at $20. (It is in my refrigerator now, in fact.) Effervescent, approachable, and complex: a reflection of the winemaker.

All dinner parties should have a few surprises.  Ricard Rofes of Scala Dei took on that role. Perhaps it was the language barriers, perhaps the size of the group, but he seemed to be more of a quiet observer at first. Friendly and warm, but reserved.  However, when it was time to discuss his beloved Priorat and his wines, his passion was evident. He explained the history, the unfamiliar grapes, the process and soils. And when we tasted, we understood.  We tasted a Garnatxa and two blends, Prior and Cartoxia. Each wine was intense, but balanced.  Deeply saturated color which is typical of the region. The Cartoxia was strength and spice, incredibly elegant. Powerful, but subtle. Sound familiar?

Representing the domestic line was Artesa from Napa.  The Chardonnay was fresh citrus and baked apple.  The Pinot Noir had great clarity with red berries and spice. Very tasty wines. If asked about what wines from Carneros taste like, this would be a top contender for examples.  Well made, well-balanced, and a classic representation of the region.

The name “Scala Dei” translates to “Ladder of God.” This rings true to me on many levels.  The region’s beauty is dramatic and awe-inspiring.  The fruit it produces tastes like a gift from above. Most importantly, the collective enjoyment of the resulting products brings people together in a unique way.  Sharing a glass leads to sharing a story. Sharing stories brings connectivity. Connectivity provides the rungs of the ladder; it is what this life is about.

Many thanks to Patricia Clough at Gregory White PR and Aveniu Brands for inviting me and the opportunity to meet such wonderful people. Thank you Bruno and Ricard for taking the time away from your families and your work to share your wines. Thank you to each person that brought a piece of yourselves and shared with us all.  I will always drink to that. Cheers!

BTW-I made a last minute jump into the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge with this piece.  If you liked it, please vote. I haven’t entered in over a year!

{I was invited as media to this lunch.  I received no additional compensation.  Thoughts and opinions are my own.}

Picnic with Portugal-Memorial Day Wines

You’ve been invited to a BBQ or a picnic this weekend with 20 of your closest acquaintances.  You know them, but not well enough to know their taste in wine.  Do they drink wine? Are they REALLY into wine?  You want something nice, but not too nice.  Interesting, but approachable.  Something that goes with a wide variety of foods and one that can be sipped solo.  It can be intimidating, but not impossible.

Look no further than the wines of Portugal.  You will find new varieties that may serve as conversation starters.  You’ll find value.  You’ll find versatility.

Sweltering? Pick up a low-alcohol, refreshing Vinho Verde.  You can sip all day without embarrassing yourself. BBQ chicken? Try an Alvarinho. Grilling ribs? Perequita pairs wonderfully. Burgers? The Esteva Douro* would fit the bill.

Not sure what is on the menu? You can grab a white and a red for around $20.


I recently grilled some ribs with a rub and a quick Root Beer BBQ sauce. I reduced said brew down to a syrup and added Stubbs.  (I said it was quick.) The Periquita*, a blend of Castelao, Trincadeira, and Aragones (Tempranillo) complemented the smoky spice, the acid cut the sweet and kept it fresh. This wine can be found a Whole Foods for around $10.

Whether you plan on celebrating this Memorial weekend with a few close friends or joining a large group, check out the Wines of Portugal.  There is something for everyone at a price everyone can afford. Cheers to that!

I would be remiss in mentioning Memorial Day without expressing gratitude for my freedom to do so. Thank you to all of the men and women that serve our country and have sacrificed their time, lives, and families so that we can be free. There are walks going all throughout the country with the organization, Carry the Load. There will be a walk in Austin area. Follow the link for more information on the organization. My deepest gratitude to those that have served and those that continue to do so.

*{These wines were received as media samples from Palm Bay International. I received no other compensation.  Thoughts and opinions are my own.}





Radicc-ulous Salad-Monday Wines

I don’t mean to brag, but I have been given the title of the “Salad Queen.”  I know, you’re jealous.  I am sure it is not exclusive, so no need to panic.  You, too, can be given that accolade by your significant other. In all seriousness, I love to make salads.  I don’t plan in advance too often; it is a matter of seeing what I have in the house.

I try to play off moods, season, and pairing.  Usually it begins with a green, then some sort of texture(veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds), sometimes an accent (cheese, bacon,) and then a dressing that compliments.  Dressing is some sort of oil or fat and an acid (lemon, vinegar), salt and pepper, often an emulsifier (Dijon usually) and sometimes a specific flavor (herb, jam, juice, etc.)

Last night I made, what I would consider, one of the best.  I’ve mentioned before that I kind of enjoy the challenge of a somewhat empty fridge.  Less waste, more effort.  I was marinating chicken with the Cornell recipe.  I had always referred to it as “Grandma’s chicken” because it was what my grandmother had made all the time.  A friend pointed out the similarity to the Cornell chicken and I found myself corrected.  Regardless, it is an easy, tasty, versatile recipe that is always a hit.

Digging through my empty fridge, I found dandelion greens, radicchio, carrots.  I decided to roast the carrots and do a play on the salad at St. Philip.


Radicc-ulous Salad

Dandelion Greens (or any you have)

Chopped Radicchio (or another bitter green)

Roasted and cooled carrots (oil and salt at 350 for about 30 minutes)

Pistachios (or pumpkin seeds or similar)

Feta (or goat or similar)

Olive oil drizzle, salt, pepper, and a generous squeeze of Meyer (or regular) lemon.

Oh my.  I enjoyed every single bite.

We paired it with a Rosé from the Languedoc region: 2014 Côté Mas 2012 Rosé Aurore*.  The blend is 50% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 20% Syrah. A beautiful salmon pink, the nose was tart red fruit and floral.  A nice amount of acid making it lovely by itself and a great compliment to the food.  When I initially tasted it, I found it to lean towards the floral, specifically lavender.  With the food, it became silky and the fruit notes awakened.  A great value at around $12, this is one I would drink all summer long.

I mentioned before that I rarely planned salads.  This is one I will plan to repeat, for sure, and, although you could go in many directions with the wine, I see no reason to stray from this pairing. Happy Monday!


*{This wine was received as a media sample from Gregory White PR.  Thoughts and opinions are my own and I received no further compensation.}


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