Thursday, April 27, 2017

How to Pair Wine and Chocolate

The wine study group me on May 2nd.  We puzzled and tried some new wines as we watch the snow flurries.  Dennis Kohl help me pick out these wines. I wanted aromatic wines so we could smell floral notes from the wine in anticipation of someday smelling real flowers. I also wanted wines we could pair with 3 different types of chocolates from Cathy Bosacki's Chocolate & More shop.

2 related articles:

How to Pair Wine and Chocolate from WikiHow 

Hey, I saw this on VinePair and thought of you: Does Your Wine Smell Like Spring? Here’s Why:

Amazing appetizers compliments of Jan and Dianne:

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Week 5 WSET

Decoding Spirit Label Assignment

Find 2-3 example  labels for the spirit styles we have looked at in this week's activities and containing terms covered in Chapter 20 of the textbook.
Create at least 2 discussion topics and reply to at least 5 other posts explaining what the terms listed on the label tell you about the spirit in the bottle, and based on this week's reading.

Jim Beam Black Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Aged 8 years

Bourbon whiskey can be made throughout the United States but Kentucky is the most important state for Bourbon whiskies. A Bourbon whiskey must be 51% corn. The corn will produce a spirit that seems sweeter than other grain-based spirits. This bottle has been aged for 8 years in heavily charred new American oak. This is 4 years longer that the original Jim Beam so I would expect a fuller body and a little more caramel and a smoother oak flavors like sweet coconut, vanilla and spice.  It is amber in color from the oak. It is 43% abv.

Tequila Oro Jose Cuervo Especial, 40% alc

This is a Joven/gold/oro tequila so it is unaged and colored with caramel.  It will be at least 51% blue agave, I would expect flavors of grass, citrus, earth and pepper with sharp alcohol.  Because this is an unaged Tequila the flavors will be sharper without aromas of vanilla and spice. The quality will not be as good as a tequila labeled with 100% agave. Resposado and Anejo will be a much higher quality Tequila.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Week 4 WSET Sparkling, Sweet & Fortified Wines

SWines for Wednesday, April 12, 2017

We are all bringing a tapa:
  • Garlic Shrimp, (Beth)
  • Chickpeas and Chorizo (Jan) The recommended pairing was. Spanish Rioja, Jumilla or Priot made from Tempranillo, Monasrell or Granacha. This wine has deep red and black fruit flavors with. Hint of balsamic, curry and fennel.
  • Chicken kabobs from southern Spain (Dianne)
  • Olives
  • Various cheeses
  • Dark Chocolate and nut bark
The wine study group liked the Beaujolais and Vouvray with the tapas that were spicy. The sweeter wine didn't kill the taste. The sherry was good with the chocolate.
We will be conducting a tasting activity:
  • 2 uncooked mushrooms
  • A slice of lemon
  • Table salt
  • A light bodied red wine e.g. Beaujolais or Valpolicella (if you don't have this wine style, try with any wine you have available).
I tasted a 2016 Beaujolais Nouveau from George Dubuef.
Take one of your mushrooms and cook it for around 30 seconds in the microwave (if you do not have access to a microwave, you may roast it in the oven or under the grill instead).  Taste the raw mushroom against the cooked one.  What do you notice?
By itself, the raw mushroom tasted rather bland and earthy with some mineral taste.  The texture was rubbery
The cooked mushroom tasted sweeter and creamy and richer. Very juicy.
Have a taste of the red wine by itself.  Experiment with how the salt and lemon effect the flavor of the red wine.  e.g. try a pinch of salt before tasting the wine or a drop of the lemon juice or both.  What do you notice?
Tasting the lemon and then the wine made the lemon less acidic and the wine more fruity.
Tasting the salt and then the wine made the wine taste sweeter and my mouth less salty.


There was much more joy in finishing this puzzle than illustrated in the picture.

Tasting Notes - any other 2 wines from those listed in the specification

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

WSET Week 3: Black Grapes

Tasting 3
In your tasting this week you should try:
  • Full bodied high tannin red (e.g. Barolo or Chianti Classico - Chianti Classico should preferably be Riserva)
  • New world Pinot Noir

If we want to go beyond the assignment here are some fun options:
  • Taste the New World Pinot Noir from Chili against the Old World Pinot from France.
  • Taste a New World and Older World Merlot
  • Compare a Caberbet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noit
  • Plus a new Muscot for Jan from Spain
For food our focus is on pasta.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Week 2 WSET Assignments

Decoding White Wine Labels

Find 2-3 example wine labels for the white wines we have looked at in this week's activities and containing terms covered in Chapters 7, 10, 12 and 13 of the textbook, such as any of the following:
Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC), IGP, Vin de Pays, rosé, blanc, sec, demi-sec, moelleux, doux, Sur Lie, Grand Cru, Qualitätswein, Prädikatswein, Trocken, Halbtrocken, DOCG, DOC, IGT, rosato, bianco, secco, DOCa, DO, Vino de la Tierra, rosado, blanco, seco, Fumé Blanc, cuveé, oaked/unoaked, barrel/barrique-fermented/aged, organic, unfined/unfiltered, vieilles vignes/old vines, vintage
Create at least 2 discussion topics and reply to at least 5 other posts explaining what the terms listed on the label tell you about the wine in the bottle, and based on this week's reading, what you would expect the style of the wine to be.  don't forget to consider what the labels tell us about the style and quality  of the wine inside the bottle.

1.  Label: Domaine du Tariquet 2014 Chardonnay Cotes de Gascogne 12% abv IGP Vin de Pays (country wine)
Domaine indicates that the grapes were grown on their own land. The Domaine du Tarquet winery is in the Cotes de Garcogne region and is in the quality category IGP (Indication Georgraphique Protege). The PGI designation IGP is not as restrictive as the PDO (AC or AOC) designation. I expect the quality to be good. This is a young wine with low alcohol with 100% Chardonnay grapes from a cool to moderate climate. I would expect the style to be medium body, and medium acidity with flavors that range from green apple, pear, lemon and lime to melon and peach with oak and vanilla spice.The label says it will have buttery notes and vanilla hints so I suspect the wine had spent some time in oak

it to be bight and low to medium bodies. The grapes are from a cool to moderate climate so I would expect 
All of the wines are made exclusively from estate-grown fruit and are produced and bottled at the Domaine du Tariquet estate, allowing for quality control from the vine to the bottle.


ClimateCool to moderate
StyleFrom dry, high acidity, medium body and no oak to full bodied, medium acidity and fermented in small oak barrels.
FlavoursRange from green apple, pear, lemon and lime to melon and peach with oak and vanilla spice.
The classic region for Chardonnay is Burgundy in France and the climate ranges from cool in Chablis to moderate in the Côte d'Or. The wines are priced up to premium. There is some inexpensive Chardonnay coming from the Pays d'Oc and Val de Loire which is sometimes blended with local grape varieties to produce higher volume wines.

2. Schmidt Sohne Beerenaulese Reinhessen 2004
8.5% alcohol 
Qualitawein Mit Pradikat
Reinhessen is the largest region for producing quality wines of the Qualitatswein and Pradikatswein designations. This is a great dessert wine, very sweet with honey and apricot overtones. It is heavy in body yet bright with moderate acidity, thanks to the Riesling grape. The Riesling grapes are hand sorted and harvested when they are overripe. Qualitawein Mit Pradikat means the wine is of superior quality.  In 2017 this designation was changed to Pradikatswien. Prädikatswein must be produced from allowed varieties in one of the 39 subregions (Bereich) of one of the 13 wine-growing regions, although it is the region rather than the subregion which is mandatory information on the label. (Some of the smaller regions, such as Rheingau, consist of only one subregion.)

Riesling France

StyleDry to off dry, medium to full bodied, with medium/high alcohol and high acidity.
FlavoursGreen apple, pear, lemon and lime with peach and apricot fruit notes and a pronounced flinty mineral character.
Alsace is the key region in France for Riesling; the characteristics of this variety can differ markedly from one site to another, even when the same winemaking techniques are used. Some of the best wines can benefit greatly from bottle age and can last for decades. These wines can fetch up to premium prices.

Tasting Notes:
1. Inexpensive neutral Italian white 2014 La Mora Vermentino Maremma Toscana DOC Cecchi $18.99 12.5%abv


2. Brand name oaked Chardonnay
Trentadue La Storia Chardonnay 2014 Chardonnay from Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California

WSET Week 3 Black Grapes Assignments

This is MCC Women's Day this week
Week 3
  • Full bodied high tannin red (e.g. Barolo or Chianti Classico - Chianti Classico should preferably be Riserva)
  • New world Pinot Noir
remember here to identify not only the different regions where we find each of the grape varieties, but also the differences in style you'd expect.

'decoding red wine labels' exercise. When you do this, remember to focus on the style and quality of the wine you'd expect to taste from what the label tells you.

2010 Chateau Fonternard Montagne Saint Emillion

Chateau Fontbernard is in the Montagne Saint Emilion region of Bordeaux. Saint-Emillion is  one of the most important appellations in Bordeaux. This is not a Grand Cru but it is an AOC Grand Vin de Bordeaux which means a Chateau's premier wine or "first wine." This is a very good quality wine. Vintage is 2010 and  14% abv. The wine is a blend with 80% Merlot,  15% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine will be medium to full bodied juicy, plums and velvety from the Merlot. The Cabernet Sauvignon will add acidity and tannins and the Cabernet Franc adds spice and more black fruit. The 2010 vintage adds more earth and mushrooms. I would expect the color to be pretty intense and the aroma of stewed fruit, licorice and cedar.

2014 Alexander Valley Cabernet

This 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon. The appellation is Alexander Valley, sub region Sonoma Valley. 14% abv. The grapes are estate grown and bottled so I would expect good quality. This wine is primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, there are small amounts of Merlot and even smaller amounts of Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot.  The Merlot will add structure, the Cabernet Franc should add some floral notes and Malbec and Petit Verdot will add to the deep color. I expect the tannins and acidity to be high. The aroma and flavor will be dark berries and chocolate. This wine is still rather young so there will be less tobacco, earth and leather. It will be fruity and full bodied

Broad Bean Dip

This recipe came from Jan Pitzo.  She made it during our study of white wines on 3/31/2017. She is taking a Spanish cooking class. It was delicious.

Broad Bean Dip
1 lb 2  oz shelled fresh or frozen broad beans (I used canned)
5 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp lemon juice
6 oz water
1 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
salt and pepper


1. Fresh broad beans should be added to a saucepan of boiling salted water. Cover the saucepan and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Drain the beans and run them under fresh cold water. The outer shells should be easily peeled off now; make sure they are all removed. Frozen broad beans should be allowed to thaw completely, and then have the outer shells removed. (Remove outer shells of canned as well)

2. Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a frying pan/skillet. Add the garlic, onion, and cumin. Combine these over medium heat. The first fragrant smell of the onion and garlic will mingle with the spicier cumin, and as soon as the onion is softened and translucent, you can add the broad beans.
3. Stir the mixture over a medium heat for 5 minutes, combining all the ingredients thoroughly.

4. Let the mixture cool slightly, then transfer to a food processor. Add lemon juice, the remaining 3 tbsp of olive oil, water, and mint. Process the mixture until it is a smooth paste. At this point, taste the dip and season with salt, pepper, and even a little lemon juice or mint, as you like.

5. Heat the mixture over a low heat in the frying pan. When warm, transfer to small bowls. Dust the dip with a tiny amount of paprika or the ground cumin to make it look as appetizing as it will taste.

Saturday, April 1, 2017


This recipe came from "Jacques Pepin, Heart & Soul in the Kitchen" @2015, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, pg. 125,

I am intimidated by fish so was worried about trying this recipe. The event called for a fish appetizer so this seemed perfect. The puzzlers were gathering and our wine focus was on white wines. I used cod but would love to try this dish again when I had access to fresh fish. Jacques said he likes to use black fish when he is in Mexico. Snapper and halibut would also be an option. Use a fish with mild flavor. He suggests this as a first course or as a main course for lunch. Savignon Blanc is a great pairing.

Serves 4 as a first course


1 # while fish fillets
3/4 t. salt
3/4 cup coarsely chopped red onion
1 T finely chopped garlic
3 T fresh lime juice
1/1/2 cups diced (1/2 inch) ripe tomatoes
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 t. finely chopped jalapeno pepper, or to taste
lettuce leaves for serving

NOTE: some recipes also include pitted green olives chopped and ripe avocados peeled, pitted and diced.

Trim the fish of any sinews or pin bones, so it is totally clean. Cut the fish into 3/4 inch pieces.
Combine the fish with the remaining ingredients except the lettuce.
NOTE: The fish can be marinated a day in advance, after about 4 hours, when the fish is "cooked," drain it so that it won't become too tangy.  For the freshest flavor, add the flavoring to the fish no more than a couple hours before serving.

Jacques suggests arranging the lettuce leaves on four plates or fit the leaves into martini glasses. I
totally forgot this part.  It would be looked so cool. Another recipe suggests placing the ceviche in a large bowl and let people spoon in onto individual plates.  This is what I did.

Serve immediately.