How quickly have the holidays crept up on you this year?
For me, 2010 is wrapping up (and unwrapping) way too fast! Summer seems like just yesterday, and I’ve barely had enough time to document all the bottles and glasses that have crossed my palate since (and I apologize).
However, I do have some interesting and awesome news to report:
1) I completed my WSET Level III Advanced course!
Last week, I wrote my final exam, which consisted of 50 multiple choice questions, 5 short answer/mini-essay sections and two blind tastings.
This course is largely why I have absent from the blog in the past month and a half, but it is my hope that future posts will be much better and more enlightening because of it! I feel very positive that I achieved a high score, so I am eager to find out and share my final marks with you. Here’s to a Pass with Distinction!
2) I am going to Boston Wine Expo 2011 in January!
It’s been a while since I last travelled, and I definitely wanted to visit somewhere new that just happened to feature vinous excitement in the dead of winter.
Fortunately, Boston is one such place! At the Expo, I’ll be at the trade tastings, and I’ve signed up for a Maison Drouhin tasting featuring Premier & Grand Cru wines from Burgundy, a Ribera del Duero seminar and a vertical tasting of Champagne Ruinart.
Needless to say, I’ve also been researching Boston dining and plan to eat my way through the city, so I’m very excited and can’t wait for my trip – please stay tuned for upcoming posts about my Bostonian adventures in food and wine!
I leave you temporarily with a couple of lip-smackingly tasty libations and one mulled wine recipe below, because of course, no Christmas season is worth toasting without having something yummy to toast with!
Until the next post, I hope you all enjoy a safe and happy holiday, and wish you all the best in 2011!
P.S. Suggestions on fun and interesting sights and flavours in Boston cheerily accepted in the Comments section!
Arran Amarone Cask Finish Single Malt Whisky
From the Isle of Arran’s only malt whisky distillery comes this unique Amarone-cask finished single malt, featuring single malt whisky of at least 8 years old that is matured for a further 8 months in a used Amarone cask.
Exhibiting a nose of dark chocolate, dusty wood and dried fruits (not to mention notes of classic Amarone’s passito-dried grapes), this copper beauty with rosy highlights is delicate on the palate, with mild notes of cherry, fragrant wood, spice, cocoa and dried fruit, finishing long with a dryness that hints at its tannin-soaked wood finish. I’m thinking this would be a spirited (!) food pairing with spicy/nutty dishes featuring raisins or other dried fruit, like Moroccan lamb tagine or Lebanese rice pilaf? Also sure to be wonderful after dinner with a wafer of very dark or bittersweet chocolate. $85
Pinhal da Torre Vinha do Alqueve 2006
I’m starting to discover the light wines of Portugal, a country that, like Spain, is represented on Canadian liquor store shelves with bottles of amazing value for their complexity and drinkability.
Vinha do Alqueve is the mainstream regional red blend of Pinhal da Torre, a winery from the Ribatejo province (now known as Tejo, Portuguese for the River Tagus, since 2009). For this blend, varietal wines made from indigenous grapes Trincadeira, Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca plus Cabernet Sauvignon and Tinta Roriz (aka Tempranillo) are vinified separately and then blended and aged in barrel, following a traditional Bordeaux method of production.
This is an inky, purplish black wine with a soft but complex nose of black and red fruits, tar, fall leaves, herbs, oak and earth. The palate is a plush, thick array of soft black and red fruit flavours with a nice savoury, foresty layer – a deliciously easy-drinking combination. Try this with boiled beef brisket or tongue with a crusty loaf of bread and spreads like aioli, grainy mustard, horseradish and/or pistou on the side. A terrific value at $12.
Chef Debbie Presents: Glöggignon Blanc
This is a really simple white mulled wine recipe that has all the flavour of regular Glühwein without the embarrassing maroon stains that those who love a good mulled wine are likely to incur. I eyeballed a batch this week for a work potluck, and it turned out so well that I figured I may as well record the recipe and share it with you all!
Ingredients (Serves 10 – 12; double the recipe and make it in a stockpot over the stove for a bigger batch)
- 1.5 L dry white wine (I used Sonora Ranch Sauvignon Blanc)
- 750 ml water
- 3 – 5 oz. spirit of your choice (brandy, rum or vodka work well; I used my cardamom and cinnamon-infused vodka from this post! Or just add Christmas cheer for a subdued, less punchy version)
- 1 large orange
- 1 lemon
- 3 slices of ginger root, peeled
- 20 – 25 cloves
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- pinch ground nutmeg
- 3 star anise (I didn’t have this on hand for my initial batch, but it would be an excellent addition)
- 10 pink or white peppercorns
- Honey or syrup to taste (I used golden cane syrup)
- Into a slow cooker (turned off) or stockpot, add your wine, water and liquor.
- Using a vegetable peeler, peel the zest off the orange and lemon into strips. Add to pot. Slice orange and lemon crosswise into thin slices and then in half again to make small half-moons. Add to pot.
- Add ginger, cloves, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, star anise and peppercorn to pot.
- Set slow cooker to its Low setting or your stockpot over medium-low heat until the mixture just reaches a slow simmer. Let brew for at least 3 – 4 hours, stirring in honey or syrup to taste just before serving in heat-proof (not plastic) cups. Enjoy!