Warning: session_start(): open(/tmp/sess_e88885691cdfe1743901af76a1f6968b, O_RDWR) failed: Input/output error (5) in /home/psblogs/public_html/wp-includes/plugin.php on line 470
Cheers To You

Cheers To You

An exploration of all things wine with local wine expert Mary Earl.
Subscribe to RSS

A Steely Wine for Scallops

September 17th, 2014 by Mary Earl

For Ann Vogel’s Sea Scallops with Asparagus and Bacon, a Chardonnay is just the ticket. But not your ordinary everyday Chardonnay. You need a cool climate Chardonnay that has a steely purity and a limestoney, mineral quality that pairs with seafood in a beautiful way. You need a Chablis.

True Chablis is from the northern most vineyards of Burgundy, France. Just two hours from Paris, the appellation is actually much closer to Champagne than Burgundy.

Like most of the vineyards in France, it was the Romans who first planted vines in the area. Later under the guidance of the medieval Cistercian monks, winemaking flourished up and down the banks of the Yonne River, conveniently close to the best means of transport to the thirsty Parisians.

With Chablis, you don’t expect something rich, it’s a different kind of complexity. The effects of terroir are clearly demonstrated in Chablis with its cooler climate and limestone soils that contribute significantly to its singular style of Chardonnay.

Chablis is loaded with raciness and minerality that makes it a perfect pair for seafood. The wines can make your mouth water from the acidity and the mineral flavors, which can range from wet stone to flint. The fruit flavors are typically lean and vary on the citrus side with some green apple.

Unlike its Burgundian cousins, Chablis is usually free of oak. Oak is definitely not used in the Petit Chablis and Chablis, resulting in wines that are very clean and straightforward. Upper classification Chablis may see some oak, but the wines would never be oaky. After all, it’s Chablis, not a Chardonnay.

Chablis vineyards are divided into four classifications. The bottom tier, Petit Chablis, is usually found at higher elevations where the soils are considered less than ideal.

Then there is Chablis, which accounts for about two-thirds of the vineyards, Chablis Premier Cru, scattered throughout the area and Chablis Grand Cru with only seven designated vineyards. Wines in the Chablis appellation may claim the classification on their label held by the vineyard where they were grown.

The key difference within the Chablis tiers lies in the soil. Premier Cru and Grand Cru Chablis soils contain greater levels of mineral rich clay, as well as significant lime content; the source of the trademark minerality. In contrast, Petit Chablis soils are not as rich in clay, and produce less complex, slightly fruitier wines with a bit of minerality.

Chablis Premier Cru is not really a distinct appellation like the other three classifications, but rather a subdivision of quality from the standard AOC Chablis title. The cost is around $30-$50.

Chablis Grand Cru is more expensive, with Les Clos, the top Grand Cru vineyard, fetching the highest price. Grand Cru wines are produced from just 250 acres planted on southwest facing slopes. Chablis Grand Cru can be cellared for 10 and 15 years for a wonderfully aromatic wine with lots of complexity.

Many of the wines you’ll see on the market now are from the 2011 and 2012 vintages with a couple of Grand Cru 2009s. Wines from 2009 have good ripeness along with ample acidity. 2011 was more variable. And 2012 and 2013 produced very small crops. After two short years in a row, supplies are a bit tight.

As you can guess, anything with a Premier Cru or Grand Cru on the label are more expensive, but basic Chablis can represent a good value, considering its quality. Most will be in the $20-$30 range. A few producers that have good availability are William Fevre, Jean-Marc Brocard, Domaine Chenevieres and Drouhin.


Tomatoes and Barbera

September 4th, 2014 by Mary Earl
Tomatoes are such a versatile fruit of the vine. It’s the tomatoes high acidity that really sets it apart from the rest of the vegetable crops. With tomatoes, I like reds with equal parts acidity, fruit and tannins. Those favored reds to have with tomatoes all have their roots in Italy, Barbera, Chianti and Sangiovese.  barbera
Chianti is a blended wine with a preponderance of Sangiovese. Sangiovese is Italy’s most widely planted grape with vineyards in Tuscany being the most heavily planted to the grape. There you can drink Chianti, Brunello, Vino Nobile and Super Tuscans, all made with Sangiovese.
But with tomatoes, I reach more towards Barbera. Second only to Sangiovese in production and versatility, it’s naturally high in acidity so it does very well in warmer climates, like Italy, California and Eastern Washington.
Barbera reaches its zenith in the Piedmont region where you can find labels stating Barbera d’Asti and Barbera d’Alba. It also does best on the well-drained, limestone slopes of Asti and Alba in northwestern Italy.
Even the warmer sites in Eastern Washington, Sonoma Valley and the Sierra Foothills produce some fantastic Barberas. This acidity complements the fruit flavors and the wines are ripe, bright and tangy, a perfect match for Ann Vogel’s Tomato Tarte Tatin.
Barbera is a dark-skinned variety found in several Italian wine regions, including its native Piedmont, Emilia-Romagna, Puglia, Campania, Sicily and Sardinia. Barbera can be both on its own or blended, usually with that other Piedmonte grape, Nebbiolo.
Like so many Italian grape varieties, Barbera has an interesting history. It was recorded in the cathedral of Casale Monferrato archives where leased vineyards were planted to Barbera between 1246 and 1277. Barbera was well regarded for its “rustic yet generous” character.
It was a favorite among army officers, who considered the wine a “sincere companion” and helped them maintain their courage in battle. Also cited in a Società Agraria di Torino document in 1798, there you can read the first definitive list of Piedmont’s grape varieties.
This varietal’s bright and cooperative nature has made it equally popular in California. Barbera is the sixth most planted red grape in California, but is rarely bottled alone. Loved for its color and acidity, Barbera is usually blended to tame other varietals into better balance.
So where to start with Barbera? I would highly recommend Italy’s La Spinetta Barbera d’Alba or d’Asti, Prunotto Barbera d’Asti Pomorosso, Sandrone Barbera d’Alba, Seghesio Barbera d’Alba, Vietti Barbera d’Asti Tre Vigne or d’Asti, or Voerzio Barbera d’Alba.
Early California planters and producers of Barbera were Martini, Seghesio, and Sebastiani. Sebastiani was winning awards for his Barbera in the 1930s.
But in this century, I’d choose a Montevina Amador Barbera, Sobon Estate Amador Barbera, Seghesio Alexander Valley Barbera, Shenandoah Sierra Foothills Reserve Barbera or Renwood Amador County Barbera.
Cavu Cellars Barbera Rose, Facelli, Maryhill Winery, Stomani Cellars, and Wind Rose Cellars all produce Barberas from Washington grown grapes.
Bon Apetito!

Wining and Dining this Weekend

August 29th, 2014 by Mary Earl

This weekend head on down to the 25th Annual Blackberry Festivalbbfest_logo held on the Louis Mentor Boardwalk on Saturday, August 30th through Monday, September 1, 2014. The festival opens at 10:00 a.m. each day with lively music, lots of food vendors and fun for the whole family.

The festival’s blackberry wine is also available. It’s made, as in past years, by Pasek Cellars of Mount Vernon Washington. A perfectly balanced wine, not too sweet and not too dry, it’s just right.

The Bainbridge Island Winery Alliance wineries are open for tours and tasting this weekend from 12:00 – 5:00 p.m. It’s billed as a pre-harvest party even though Mother Nature brought on an early harvest this year. These cozy wineries offer the opportunity to meet and talk with the winemakers, taste their wines, some offer music to enjoy their wines amid lush surroundings.

Yes, the 2014 harvest has begun! And that means Catch the Crush is not far away. The smells, colors and hustle and bustle make this one of the more exciting times of the year to visit Yakima Valley.

You can celebrate the harvest with the Yakima Valley wineries at the annual Catch the Crush event, October 11th and 12th. Each winery offers its own celebratory events, including grape stomps, harvest and crush activities, tours, free-run juice, hors d’oeuvres, live music and wine tasting, of course.


Eleven at Eleven

August 29th, 2014 by Mary Earl

It’s a special weekend for Eleven Winery, they turn 11 and there are several ways to help them celebrate!

The garagiste and volunteers during crush.

Matt Albee, a true garagiste,  first started the Bainbridge Island winery in 2003 in the garage. This humble beginning has blossomed into the same garage winery but with lots more equipment, and two tasting rooms, one on Bainbridge and one in Poulsbo.

This weekend’s celebrations include  a special 11th Anniversary commemorative wine glass for $5, bottle discounts on their 2011 vintage wines, and reserve tastings for $11.

This is also your last chance to visit the Poulsbo Tasting Room during the Great Poulsbo Sidewalk Sale on August 29th and 30th. After several years in Poulsbo, Albee has decided to refocus efforts on the winery location. There will be huge discounts on wine merchandise but not the wine.

With this closing, the winery hours and events will be expanded. The winery is located off 305 at 7671 NE Day Road. The winery tasting room will be open every Saturday and Sunday from 12-5 p.m. and other fun wine occasions for club members.

You can also order off their website but it won’t be near as much fun as being there!


Chill with Cool Dinner Ideas

August 16th, 2014 by Mary Earl

With this streak of hot days, firing up the stove for a home cooked meal is the last thing on your mind. A hot kitchen would not be a very pleasant place to hang out. Wouldn’t you rather be on the patio, sipping a chilled bottle of rosé with a few bites of something light and refreshing?

Summer dinners are usually lighter fare as are the wines that would accompany them. Here are some small bites recipes that require no heat when dinner time rolls around and can be prepared in a short time.

Prosciutto wrapped Nectarine Wedges garnished with Basil is an easy, light, refreshing bite. This cool recipe can be assembled without any heat. Toss 3 peaches cut into 8 wedges each, with ¼ teaspoon of sugar, ½ teaspoon sherry vinegar, 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin and let stand 10 minutes. Cut the Prosciutto in half lengthwise, and then wrap each piece around a wedge of peach. Garnish with a basil leaf and secure with a pick.

Summer Rolls with Cilantro Lime Dipping Sauce are a great addition to our summer repertoire. Similar to a spring rolls only this one is totally fresh ingredients. Almost cooking and an all hands assembly makes for a quick and fun dinner.

Just soak a bundle of dried bean thread noodles in a bowl of boiling hot water for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, blanch 1 carrot cut into matchsticks in the microwave until al dente. Halve, de-seed and cut one cucumber into matchsticks, cut a fresh serano chile into matchsticks, and finely shred about a cup of lettuce.

Quick pickle the carrot, cucumber and a serrano chile in ¼ cup rice vinegar, ¼ teaspoon sugar, a tablespoon of lime juice and a couple of shakes of sea salt. Let stand 5 minutes. Drain the vegetables and reserve the liquid. Toss the noodles with the reserved liquid.

Fill a shallow pie plate with warm water and soak a rice paper round until it begins to soften, about 30 seconds. Place it on a damp cutting board and put a small mound of lettuce, pickled vegetables, noodles, cilantro, mint and/or basil leaves on the round. Fold in the sides and roll up jelly roll style.

For the Cilantro Lime dipping sauce, shake the following in and sealed jar: 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger, 1 tablespoon chili paste, 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, 1/2 cup citrus soy sauce, the juice and pulp from a freshly squeezed lime, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup sugar, and salt and freshly ground black pepper  to taste.

Radishes with Savory Butter is a lesson in simplicity. It’s a cool, satisfying dish with creamy, salty butter and  crunchy, peppery radishes. Soften a stick of good quality unsalted butter and blend in the a food processor with a tablespoon of anchovy paste, one minced garlic clove and fresh lemon juice to taste until smooth. Season with salt and serve with radishes that have been halved. This can be done one day ahead and chilled.

Tuna Salad stuffed Tomatoes. One advantage of this hot weather is the garden tomatoes that are coming on. For this Italian flavored meal, you need a can of cannellini beans, a can of tuna fish, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Drain and rinse the beans and tuna fish. In a bowl, break up the tuna fish and then toss with the beans. Make a dressing of balsamic and olive oil with a few red pepper flakes and a few grinds of black pepper. Toss with the beans and tuna. Cut your garden fresh tomatoes in half. And depending on size, scoop them out and to fill. Garnish with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley

So what wine to pair with these cool dishes? There’s a wine for every season; and for the summer season, it’s to be chilled, refreshing bottles of Rosé. It has the cody of a red, sometimes, and you can chill the heck out of it because there are no tannins.

Rosé is a wine that can be light pink to almost light red in color. The reason for these many shades of pink is how the wine is fermented. In the skins of the red grapes are all the pigments for color and much of the tannins. The longer the skins are allowed to stay in the fermenting juice, the darker the color of the wine.

As a result, the wine is not as tannic as red wine and therefore can be chilled without the resulting bite of tannins. It’s very similar to making a cup of tea. If you leave the bag in the cup for about 30 seconds the color and flavors will be lighter. Conversely, if you dunk your tea bag many times, you’ll get more color and tannins.

A dry rosé is my go-to summer sipper. Whether you’re on the patio or picnicking under the shade of a big leaf maple, these summer sippers will beat the heat and won’t break the bank.

Folie a Deux Menage a Trois Rosé

Here’s a refreshing medium bodied wine with tides of flavors with raspberries, strawberries, lychee nuts, and a smooth finish. Always a madcap blend, this one is Merlot, Syrah, Gewürztraminer and Muscat. The two reds are given a 24-hour cold soak on the skins to give the wine its blush and luscious body. The Gewürztraminer was cold fermented to preserve the exotic spicy nose. The wine is mouthwatering, crisp, and light pink in color.

Domaine du Pere Caboche 2012 Vaucluse Rose VDP ‘Le Petit Caboche

This delicious rose is blended from typical Cotes du Rhone grapes, Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah. It’s another medium-bodied refreshing wine with strawberry, raspberry and hint of citrus flavors. The crisp acidity and a touch of spice in the finish make this a fav with food. This French estate, which is a few centuries old, owns and farms some superb properties producing Cotes du Rhone as well as a great Chateauneuf du Pape.

Syncline 2013 Columbia Rosé is the embodiment of a Provence rosé. This Washington rosé is amazing, offering beautiful aromatics with flavors of melon, and citrus, combined with supple red fruits of the typical raspberries and strawberries and a touch of pepper. Gorgeous on hot summer days and a complement to lighter fare.

Be cool with a chilled glass of rosé and the bounty of summer. Cheers!


Kitsap Wine Festival is Tomorrow

August 8th, 2014 by Mary Earl

Tickets are still available for the sixth annual Kitsap Wine Festival at Harborside Fountain Park.  This is a great afternoon event with plenty of sunshine, breezes off the water and catching up with friends. Proceeds go to the Harrison Hospital Foundation. You can purchase online at brownpapertickets.com

This year’s wineries are Chandler Reach, Convergent Zone, Davenport, Elegante, Kana, Laurelhurst, Long Road, Madsen, Maryhill, Mosquito Fleet  NVH, Page Cellars, Stina’s Cellar, Stottle, Terra Blanca, and Waterbrook.

The place to go for the seafood bites is the popular Summer Sipper Bar where guests can sample Rieslings, rosés and sparkling wines side-by-side from many of the participating wineries.

My favorite past time at events like this is to find the perfect wine for the delicious savories served up by Anthony’s, Bay Street Bistro, Boatshed, Bremerton Bar and Grill, CJ’s Evergreen Catering, Gold Mountain, Kitsap Conference Center, Minder Meats and Toro Lounge.

So slather on the sunscreen and pop on down to the Harborside Fountain Park tomorrow at 2:00p.m. Hope to see you there!

 

 

 


Plans for the 2014 Blackberry Harvest

August 1st, 2014 by Mary Earl
With all the hot weather through July and now into August, the harvest season is in fast forward mode. So, I’ve been plotting what to do with all that blackberry bounty.It looks like a record crop of that sweet luscious fruit and for the truly ambitious that means lots of  wine, cordials, syrup, sauces and cake. blackberries

Blackberries, as everyone in Western Washington knows, are sweet, dark-colored berries that can effortlessly become invasive. They are extremely variable, because they freely cross with other blackberries and raspberries.

There are many types of blackberries including the erect ones from the eastern United States, the Eastern trailing, Southeastern trailing, and the Pacific Coast trailing types. All of these different parents have crossed and recrossed to produce the many cultivars we have today. And sometimes that’s a good thing, for example, now there are thornless blackberries.

Blackberries are known for their flesh slashing thorns and the way they trip you up while walking along the trail. Many love the fruit, but the thorns bring fear and suffering and the seeds get stuck between your teeth causing you to sprint for the floss.

But we can forgive them their trespasses because of the luscious goodness they can turn into. First and foremost, blackberry wine. Having judged a number of county fairs over the years, I’ve tasted some very, very good blackberry wines.

And I have made my share of blackberry wines. It’s easy, inexpensive and you get to do it your way. You know, the right way.

The most important part of fermentation process is to keep anything in contact with your wine, super clean and sterile. Gloves and a pot of boiling water to sterilize equipment are essential.

Equipment needed includes a covered fermenting vessel, a small mesh bag to contain the fruit sediment, siphoning hose, airlock, and two carboys. Two, actually, because you’ll need to siphon the wine off the lees after the first 10 – 12 days of fermentation. And this will need to be done at least three of four times to clarify the wine and to prevent it from developing off flavors.

You can purchase your yeast, yeast nutrient and Camden tablets from Bill Sproules of Olympic Brewing Supplies in East Bremerton. His store has all the equipment you need to make wonderful blackberry wines. They even have it in a can if you want to skip the picking part.

Bill is also an excellent resource for winemakers, new and experienced. He has recipes or you can follow one of the many to be on line.

After the picking is over and your wine has been fermented, racked, fermented a second time, bottles and aged for about three to six months, try this recipe for Blackberry Wine Cake.

You’ll need a package white cake mix, 3 oz. blackberry flavored gelatin, 4 eggs, 1/2 cup vegetable oil and a cup or your blackberry wine.   Mix all ingredients together. Bake in a greased tube pan at 325 degrees for 45 minutes. Prepare a glaze of 1 cup powdered sugar and 1/2 cup of blackberry wine. Pour over cake.

Other easy ways to enjoy the bounty of blackberries is to make a cordial. This is super easy. You’ll need equal parts, of vodka, Cognac or brandy, sugar and berries. Put all ingredients into a big jar and cover. Agitate it every now and then until the color is good and the berries have completely macerated about two weeks. Strain and pour into bottles. Seal tightly and store in a cool place for at least 2 weeks. Adding spices to the mix makes it way more interesting. Try a few whole cloves, black peppercorns, cardamom pods, or cinnamon sticks for more complex nuances in your cordial.

Besides the quick and easy cordial, another way to enjoy the bright burst of color and taste is blackberry syrup. It can brighten up many dishes. You can splash it into a glass of champagne, drizzle it over waffles, or flavor a sauce for a roasted pork loin.  You can muddle it with mint or a myriad of other herbs then top it off with a splash of soda for the ultimate al fresco cocktail. Or transfer it to a bottle, decorate with pretty paper and twine, and voila!  A hostess gift!

Blackberries also freeze very well. Rinse under cold water. Lay evenly on a baking tray and put in the freezer. When frozen, put them in a plastic bag for later use.

There are a few Pacific Northwest wineries that make a delicious blackberry wine. My favorite is Pasek Cellars. Pasek Cellars in Mount Vernon has been making fruit wine for about 20 years. And you may have tasted this too if you have had a bottle of the Bremerton Blackberry Festival wine made by Pasek Cellars.

Their fruit wines have garnered quite a few gold medals and include a Blackberry that is vibrant with sun-drenched berry flavors (both dessert and not dessert), Cranberry (perfect with turkey), Loganberry and Raspberry. They also make a unique dessert wine – Arabica, a coffee dessert wine. I’ve had their wines and hand on heart, swear they’re terrific.

I may have tried the Wild Vines Blackberry Merlot sometime in the not so distant past. This fruity blend is made in Modesto, California by the largest wine producer in the world.  I only mention this because it inspired me to blend last year’s blackberry wine with a Cabernet concentrate I purchase from Bill Sproules at Olympic Brewing Supplies. It’ll be a few months before I can report on this blend.

Other Northwest wineries that make blackberry wine are Honeywood, Hoodsport, Nehalem Bay, Northwest Mountain Winery, Sky River Blackberry Mead, Wasson Brothers Winery and Westport Winery. Happy picking!


Whaling Days does Wild Meadows

July 31st, 2014 by Mary Earl

While kicking around Whaling Days last weekend, listening to the music, catching up with some long lost friends, I was treated to a new Washington Winery. Well, new to me anyway.

Wild Meadows Winery is part of the Precept Wine portfolio. Precept Wine is the largest privately owned wine company in the Northwest. Founded in 2003, Precept now owns 4,270 acres of vineyards, seven wineries and 37 labels in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.  red beauty

Last year, they produced 950,000 cases of wine including Waterbrook, Pendulum, St. Chapelle, Washington Hills, Sawtooth, Red Knot and Alder Ridge.

Precept allows its wine makers free rein when it comes to making wine. The Wild Meadow Winery winemaker, Hal Landvoigt, is also Precept Wine’s director of winemaking. This means he enjoys the freedom of choosing the best lots for Wild Meadow as well as House Wines, Washington Hills, Primarius, Battle Creek and Windy Bay. These wines are also attractively priced, usually under $12.

Landvoigt was the mastermind behind the chocolate flavored red wine, Chocolate Shop, another Precept Wine brand.

Wild Meadows makes a Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Merlot, Syrah and Malbec. The juice is usually sourced from Columbia Valley since this is where the bulk of their vineyards are located.

The white wine served was the 2012 Columbia Valley Chardonnay which sells for around $11. Aromas of apple, pear, and citrus follow thru on the palate. Served chilled, the flavors of apple and pear with a bright citrus note still come through.

The red was called Red Beauty. It’s a blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 15% Syrah, and 3% Cabernet Franc. The deep garnet color was a promise of good flavors and aromas in the glass with berries, plums, cherries and big body with smooth tannins and a silky finish. Try them! You’ll like them!


Wine Touring on Bainbridge Island

July 24th, 2014 by Mary Earl

The seven wineries of the Bainbridge Alliance were open for a special Art among the Barrels last weekend.

So the Blind Wine Gang took advantage of the opportunity to taste Island wines at a few of the wineries. It had been a while and the weather was very nice – cool and almost raining. Perfect wine tasting weather, not too hot, not too cold.

Our first winery was Victor Alexander on Island Center Way. DSC00809Owner winemaker Charlie Merrill literally has a garagiste winery. Charlie poured the Blind Wine Gang his 2011 Sémillon and 3 rosés from three different barrels. The barrel tasting was immensely popular. To taste the same grape, from the same vineyard, but resting in different barrels was real education. The final blend, just before bottling, will be of all three barrels. It’s really very interesting to taste the different nuances the barrels played in this wine.

Next, we visited Amelia Wynn Winery and we’re grateful for the escort to the winery. It is not easy if you don’t know Bainbridge like a native. We were greeted by owner winemaker, Paul Bianchi who had taken a break from his other duties to grill up pizza. The garden party featured a full line up of whites, a rosés and three reds to pair with the  pizza hot off the grill.    pizza

Not only can Paul grill up a savory pizza but he can also ferment some wicked good wines. A wonderful 2012 Chard, a 2012 Roussane and a beautiful 2013 Viognier with a fragrance that would make one swoon.

The 2011 Sangiovese oozed cherries in the nose, across the palate and in the long finish. Very smooth and perfect with the grilled pizza that I slathered with a bit of blue cheese. Yum! Next was a 2011 Walla Walla Merlot, a Double Gold & Best of Class Merlot. It was near perfect.

The final wine on the list was the 2011 Syrah, which many in our group loved. I did too but couldn’t get the Merlot off my mind….

Our next stop was Rolling Bay Winery with an abbreviated group – some had to run off to an engagement at Bloedel and some had a date with a crab pot.

Rolling Bay’s signature wine is Manitou Red. It’s a blend of 4 red grape varieties and eminently drinkable with all types of hearty fare. Their Fusion is a blend of mostly Chardonnay and 25% Pinot Grigio. A good summer quaffer. The 2011 Cab from a difficult year was ready to drink but I thought the 2013 Cab out of barrel was ready to drink also. I could have tasted a case of that one and still asked for more.

Tasting with friends is an education. Seeing the different palates, likes and dislikes and whose palate is alighned with mine. Fortunately, the one friend I taste with the most has a plate that is very similar to mine.

The next Washington wine tasting. the Kitsap Wine Festival happens on Saturday, August 9th at Harborside Fountain Park. This celebration of food and wine on Bremerton’s scenic waterfront, benefits Harrison Medical Center Foundation.

Here’s a link to the wineries that will be pouring at the Festival.


Spicy Eating with a Quenching Drink

July 16th, 2014 by Mary Earl

Did you know, eating spicy foods may help cool you down? If you think about the world’s hot spots and their cuisines, like Mexico, India, Malaysian, Thailand, Szechwan, and New Orleans, spicy peppers permeate most dishes in those climates.

Why does this happen? Perhaps because super spicy food induces sweating, which may help you feel colder. The other big reason is food borne bacteria are inhibited or killed by spices like garlic, onion, and oregano, which are the best known bacteria killers. Chilies and hot peppers also inhibit bacteria and when combined with the above and ginger, anise seed, lemons and limes, you can be cool and eating hot, healthy foods.

Ann Vogel’s recipe for Chicken Big Mamou, has a lot of those spicy spices, black pepper, white pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic, and Tabasco. These flavors dominate the dish, that and the pound of butter and tomato sauce. So something cold, sweet and sparkling to balance those dominate flavors and textures. The best wine choice for this very spicy dish is a chilled bottle of Riesling for three good reasons; the dish is Cajun hot, it’s hot and it’s hot.

But since last week’s blog entry had us chatting about the wonders of Riesling and Dungeness crab, I’ll depart from the usual wine match up and move into a chilled bottle of cider.

There is a cider revolution going on. The hard cider industry in the United States is growing rapidly. Sales grew 101 percent in 2013, to more than $128 million, according to the Northwest Agriculture Business Center.

In Washington alone, there are at least 25 cideries on the market. They’re making cider out of apples, pears, and even combinations of other fruits and herbs. Ciders are sweet, dry, still and sparkling.

So, what makes a cider a cider? In North America, there are two types, cider and hard cider. Typically, cider is the sweet unfermented stuff. Hard implies alcohol within. Hard cider is brewed like beer, fermented and bottled without aging. But in Washington State, the Liquor Control Board considers hard cider a fruit wine.

Cider can go from apple to juice to ready to drink in 21 days. Like beer, ciders may get their bubbles from a dose of CO2 or the traditional second fermentation. Apple varieties grown specifically for cider are classified as heirloom, bittersweet and bittersharp.

Usually ciders are a blend of apples, and with Washington being a major producer of apples, sourcing the juice to make cider is as plentiful as wine grapes. Cider apples are prized for their high acids and sugars and intensely flavors, much like grapes.

If you have a hankering to try ciders,finn river a great place to start would be Northwest Cider Association’s second annual Summer Cider Day in Port Townsend on Saturday, August 9 from noon to 5pm. It’s one of the largest cider tasting events in Washington.

Advance ticket prices are $25 and $20 for NWCA members. Tickets are $30 at the door. Price includes admission, 10 tasting tickets, and a souvenir glass. Additional taste tickets are available for purchase.

For more info, http://www.nwcider.com/cider-events/2014/8/9/summer-cider-day

An partial list of Washington’s Cideries:

Alpenfire Cider, Port Townsend, AlpenfireCider.com

Core Hero Hard Cider. Edmonds, coreherohardcider.com

D’s Wicked Cider, Kennewick, DsWickedCider.com

Dragon’s Head Cider, Vashon, DragonsHeadCider.com

Eaglemount Wine & Cider, Port Townsend, EaglemountWinery.com

Finnriver Farm & Cidery, Chimacum, Finnriver.com

Grizzly Ciderworks, Woodinville, GrizzlyCider.com

Irvine’s Vintage Cider Vashon Island, VashonWinery.com

Liberty Ciderworks, Spokane, LibertyCider.com

Nashi Orchards, Vashon Island, nashiorchards.com

Neigel Vintners, East Wenatchee, neigelvintners.com

Schilling Cider Company, Seattle, SchillingCider.com

Seattle Cider Co. Seattle, seattlecidercompany.com

Sixknot Cider, Carlton, SixknotCider.com

Spire Mountain, Olympia, Fishbrewing.com

Snowdrift Cider Co., East Wenatchee, SnowdriftCider.com

Square Mile Cider, SquareMileCider.com

Tieton Cider Works, Tieton, TietonCiderWorks.com

Twilight Cider Works, Mead, twilightciderworks.com

Westcott Bay Cider, San Juan Island, WestcottBayCider.com

Whiskey Barrel Cider, Pullman, WhiskeyBarrelCider.com

Whitewood Cider Co., Olympia, WhitewoodCider.com


Archives: Cheers to You