Stay at home mom, lover of wine



It’s Legal!-#CarmenereDay

Well, sort of. Although the grape has been around for much longer, it was mistaken for Merlot. Twenty-one years ago, they correctly identified the variety and have been adjusting the growing practices since. Like all grapes, there are expected characteristics and then there are nuances that come from a combination of terroir, climate, growing practices, winemaking and other variables.

I recently sampled a few bottles of Carmenere from Chile, courtesy of Nonni Marketing. And since today is #CarmenereDay on Twitter, it seemed the perfect day to share them. Each wine images[3]was made from grapes grown in the Colchagua Valley, one of the best known regions in Chile. There, Carmenere is second only to Cabernet Sauvignon in acreage.

Apaltagua, Gran Reserva 2013 – From start to finish, this was an enjoyable wine. Jeweled tones, great clarity. Juicy cherry and tobacco notes with smooth tannins. A red that can go from turkey to pasta, not overly complex, but interesting and a pleasure to drink. $13

images5QOM94JDCasa Silva, Los Lingues Vineyard 2013 – Nonni’s notes state that this label is one of the few brands with 100% of its vines certified under the Wines of Chile Sustainability Code. Always a plus. This was much more intense and rustic than the Apaltagua, more of what I think of with Carmenere. Rich, stewed fruit and cigar box, tobacco and cedar. Had I tasted it first, I would have paired it differently. Our vegan dinner was not quite enough but it was fun with the butternut squash and pomegranate.  $14-$21

Francois Lurton Hacienda Araucano, Alka 2011 – This wine became my husband’s birthday wine. A gem. The deepest hue of 11890432_is[2]black plum, so dense it was nearly opaque. Incredibly fragrant with notes of blackberry and vines, smoky cocoa. Brambly fruit, green and earthy, roots and stems, pepper. Intriguing, complex, delicious. We paired this with filet mignon with mushroom sauce; it worked very well together. $50

Regardless of menu or price point, Chilean Carmenere can work and wow. Priced to share, easy to pair or rich and reserve, there is something for all of our holiday meals. But well worth the risk. What are you opening for Carmenere Day?

{These wines were provided as media samples. I received no other compensation. Thoughts and opinions are my own.}

Gobble Gobble Give- Potluck with a Purpose

We are now in our 5th year here in Austin. If you’ve participated before, thank you. If you are in any of the cities we have Gobble, Gobble, Give, consider volunteering. This year we are returning to straight potluck (we had started buying meals) which means we can’t do it without you, without each other.

Here is how it works:

1) Sign up for food item
2) Want to deliver or assemble? Sign up for that too.
3) Show up on Thanksgiving morning.
4) We will assemble meals in separate to-go containers.
5) Delivery teams do their thing, assembly line continues until we run out of food.
6) Clean up, go home, and be grateful.

If you are able to bring more, toiletries, socks, and blankets are always needed. That’s it!

I wrote this about the founder, my brother-in-law, and my experience with the charity three years ago. Our world’s needs are changing, different struggles are at the forefront of our minds.  It has grown but the heart remains the same.

At this time of year, many of us are rushing around, trying to decide on the perfect appetizer, on table settings and decor, and pairing wines that will fit the budget but still impress our guests. And some are trying to figure out where they will get their next meal. Or how to pay the electric bill. Or wishing they had an electric bill to pay. Between the destruction in the wake of the hurricane and the current unemployment across the country, the needs we see around us can be overwhelming. How can we help? How can we possibly make a difference when the need is everywhere and so much bigger than us? Continue reading “Gobble Gobble Give- Potluck with a Purpose”

Giving Back, Coming Home, Going out #SHAREANNA

When we think of wineries, we think of festive gatherings.  Wine conjures the idea of celebration, warm-hearted revelry. Behind the scenes there is more: back-breaking labor, heartbreak, and trying days.  What you may not initially think of is philanthropy. It was not until I began writing about wine and receiving press releases about the programs sponsored or lives changed that I became aware of the great work that some of these wineries are committed to doing. I don’t typically pass a long press releases, but these are worth sharing.



Continue reading “Giving Back, Coming Home, Going out #SHAREANNA”

Re(de)fining Texas Wine- #Thesip

Refine (v)

: to remove the unwanted substances in (something)

: to improve (something) by making small changes

Define (v)

: to explain the meaning of (a word, phrase, etc.)

: to show or describe (someone or something) clearly and completely

Last night was about defining, refining, and redefining Texas wine.  It was about what we’ve learned in the last ten years and where we are going in the next ten. It was about challenging the preconceptions, the misconceptions. And it was about good wines. Very good wines. Continue reading “Re(de)fining Texas Wine- #Thesip”

Hatch Hongos y Elote- Meatless Monday

So much for freedom.  It is week two and my sweet girl is home sick.  And will be for a while.  Poor thing. At least I get some time to spoil her.

It is Hatch Chile season here and I wanted to get a recipe up for Meatless Monday so if you can forgive the lack of story, here we go. Continue reading “Hatch Hongos y Elote- Meatless Monday”

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.

Friday Fancy Ticklers

Sometimes I have products I want to share that have nothing to do with wine. Some are samples, some are finds, all are current obsessions.  Ok maybe not full-fledged obsessions, but they certainly tickle my fancy.

Evan Healy Face Products


I already loved the mask, a recommendation from a friend, so when they were sampling the facial serum and tonic at Whole Foods, I tried.  I couldn’t stop smelling and feeling my arm. I stopped in the next day to try it on my face.  And the next day to buy it.  I’m pretty sure my skin has never been so soft.

These plant-based products are based on the idea that “less is more.” The idea is to restore the balance of the skin so that is thrives.  The tonic hydrosol is 100% Organic Rose Geranium, the serum is fruit and flower oils and Vitamin E.  The idea for choosing the right fit? Smell them, your body will tell you what you need by which scent you are most attracted to.

I love the idea of minimal, clean ingredients in and on my body.  Check them out.

Millcreek Cacao Roasters*


As part of the Austin Food Bloggers Association, I was given a chance to sample these Farm to Bar chocolates.  The company is dedicated to preserving heirloom quality cacao through sustainable practices and support of small farmers.  Owners Mark DelVecchio and Dana Brewster are committed to maintaining direct trade relationships to produce the finest quality cacao and chocolate.

The commitment shows.  I like my chocolate like I like my wine: clean, honest, with a sense of place.  Subtle fruit and spice, just enough sweet to enhance the flavors.  These are beautifully made and beautifully packaged.  If you are looking for a gift for a chocolate lover, or yourself, this is a gift that keeps giving.

For more information about what they are doing in Ecuador, visit their blog.

Royitos Hot Sauce



I could drink this.  I love salsa, especially ones that taste this fresh.  The perfect amount of spice, acid, a little salty, a lot addicting.  It is on the pricey side of salsa at around $5 but my mouth waters every time I see it and I can’t pass it up.

Wine Wipes*


A cute little compact to wipe the blue residue when you’ve been indulging in reds.  These came in VERY handy at the Wine Bloggers Conference last year.  If you, like me, have somewhat porous enamel and get the blue hue, these may be worth the investment. They also come in singles so you can hand them out or stick one in your clutch.

Pop-Up Campers

Ok, these don’t really fit the list, but I am truly obsessed with finding one for this summer’s trip.  If you have any experience or tips, please enlighten me. Shower? No shower? things to look for/avoid, etc. On that note, I am also thinking of chronicling our family camping adventures (travel, cooking, campground, spots to stop) in a new blog.  If you have any favorite camping blogs, share!

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

{*These items were received as media samples.  I received no additional compensation. Thoughts and opinions are my own.}



Make Your Easter Celebration Sparkle


Many thanks to Michelle for including me with these far more experienced writers. She asked for an accessible California sparkler and, of course, J was the first thought. News of the Gallo takeover after I’d reviewed which was disappointing. I hope they are able to maintain their family feel.
I’m excited to be joining our church family in serving the city’s homeless population. If you are in Austin and would like to help, let me know. If you are not in Austin, you can still contribute by sending a pair of shoes for our shoe drive. Message me for more info.
I hope you have a wonderful holiday with loved ones. Cheers!

Originally posted on ROCKIN RED BLOG:

This is the first in a two part series on wines to enjoy with your Easter meal celebrations. Easter is a day of great joy and celebration for Christians all over the world; what better wine to enjoy on such a celebratory day than bubbles! This article focuses on Easter brunch and the outstanding sparkling wines to pair with that meal for your friends and family. Furthermore, I have enlisted the assistance of some of my favorite wine bloggers. These are all blogs I follow; each is informative with its own unique style, all are educational. I highly recommend you follow each of these bloggers. Please note these recommendations range in price from $6 – $60 and includes a variety of sparkling wines  from the US, France, Italy Spain and Chile. Enjoy each of these sparkling wine recommendations, make a list of the ones that fit your taste, then head…

View original 1,237 more words

Spring Forward


One thing that is consistent about Texas weather is its inconsistency. Fifty degree swings in 24 hours are not unheard of.  In fact the week before Spring Break we had freezing temperatures, the weekend it began we hit the seventies, the second weekend was chilly and raining.

Another consistent for Spring break is daily drinking with friends. There were plenty of opportunities to do some sampling, and those bottles were as varied as the temperatures.

The week before, I participated in a Snooth Twitter Tasting with Ruffino‘s line of Chianti*.  They ranged from the 2013 Chianti DOCG ($9) with bright red fruit and plenty of acid to the 2010 Riserva Ducale Oro ($28), a rich, layered, brooding example of what Sangiovese can be.  One thing remained true throughout.  These are well made, balanced wines that are priced to benefit the customer. It was a pleasure to hear from the winemaker, Gabriele Tacconi, about both the history and winemaking process and the participants always entertain.  If you haven’t joined before, we will banter again on Monday April 27th,


Malbec is a grape I enjoy more in cooler weather so I made it a point to open a sample from Rutini** ($18) before the temps changed.  This 100% Malbec from Argentina is held in 50% French, 50% American barrels.  The fruit was deep, rich, intense and has a smooth and spicy finish.  I paired it with a ratatouille with turkey sausage, eggplant, peppers, zucchini, onion, tomatoes, and herbs.  I finished the sauce with some of the Malbec and let it simmer for a couple of hours.  It turned out really well and paired nicely.


Later that week we opened the Rutini** Chardonnay($18).  Chardonnay is generally not my go-to white, but when the oak is subtle and the fruit has a starring role, I am in.  This wine had tropical fruit notes and honey balanced with abundant acid.  50% goes though Malolactic fermentation and it sits in New French Oak for 10 months. I rarely make recipes anymore but as I was thumbing through my mom’s Country Living magazine, I found this for Pancetta and Brussels Sprouts linguine.  Since I had the ingredients (sub bacon for pancetta and pasta) I gave it a try.  Lovely together.


By mid-break I was in the mood for Sauvignon Blanc and so I invited a neighbor over to sample with me.  These two SBs from Chile were vastly different. Outer Limits by Montes($30)*** is a series that explores grapes from new regions.  This bottle yields from the Zapallar vineyards in Chile, 6 miles from the Pacific Ocean.  This came as no surprise to me as the first sip tasted like the ocean.  A great deal of salinity, tropical fruit, and citrus with a touch of oily green.  The color reminded me of an unripened banana, yellow with hues of green.  Although not my preferred style of SB, it was a food-friendly, complex, and interesting wine.


The second Montes wine was Montes Limited Selection Sauvignon Blanc ($15)***. Grass, white peach, and floral notes on the nose and in the mouth.  Crisp, fresh, floral and delicious.   Grown in the Leyda Valley, this was exactly what I am looking for when I open a Sauvignon Blanc.


They say if you don’t like the weather, wait.  By Friday, it was chilly and rainy.  I had previously caramelized onions for French Onion Soup and then frozen them.  I knew it might be our last chill of the season so I decided to finish the process.  With one more sample that was predominantly Malbec looming, I knew what I had to do: call in the hubs for red meat reserves. When the wine suggests decanting for at least an hour, you know you’re dealing with a big one and the soup just wouldn’t cut it.

The 2011 Achaval Ferrar Quimera**($38) is a Bordeaux style blend but the predominant grape is Malbec. 60% was aged 12 months in 1-year old French oak barrels, 40% 12 months in new French oak barrels. The color was a deep cherry plum, the nose conveyed spicy dust and sun-warmed fruit.  A surprising amount of acid at first, it faded as it opened.  Black fruit and alpine herbs with sturdy structure and a long finish.

There are some wines that I receive as samples that, in my mind, need to be held for a bit.  It pains me to open them, but it hangs over my head if I don’t. This was one of those wines. In retrospect, I would have paired it a little differently (stinky cheese?), decanted more, and held it a little longer.  It was clearly well-made and has potential, but I think I missed the mark with this one. Now I know.

Sometimes price point is not an indicator of how much you will enjoy the wine.  Yet another reason to taste before you judge and  review with an open mind.  In each of these samplings, for whatever reason, I found myself enjoying the wines that were less costly. Now if only that were true with shoes…clothes…hotels…

Wishing my friends up north a jump towards spring and for my friends in Texas, a lengthy one.  Cheers!

*These wines were provided as media samples for Snooth Virtual Tasting and I received no other compensation. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

**These wines were provided as media samples by Gregory White PR and I received no other compensation. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

***These wines were provided as media samples by Feast PR and I received no other compensation. Thoughts and opinions are my own.




Blog at | The Baskerville Theme.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: