Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Popeye is going to love this - Spinach & Walla Walla Wine!

For you spinach lovers, and even the not-so spinach lovers, here's a recipe that will get everyone eating their spinach. Chef Caren, of Green Gables Inn in Walla Walla, sent me this recipe for Spinach ala Caren. I love this recipe she created, as she uses Walla Walla ingredients as well as featuring Riesling from Trust Cellars.

Spinach ala Caren

1 lb clean and well drained fresh leaf spinach (curly or baby spinach may be used)
2 small shallots (finely diced)
4 oz Thundering Hooves Cottage Bacon or Italian pancetta (diced)
1 TBSP olive oil
1 cup Trust Cellars Riesling (and don’t forget an extra cup or more for the chef's glass)
1 TBSP Walla Walla Sweet Onion Mustard - Dill flavor

Saute two diced shallots and diced Cottage Bacon (or pancetta) in a large skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil. After shallots are sweated clear and bacon is crispy, add one cup of Trust Cellars Riesling into the warm skillet of shallots and bacon to deglaze the pan (and pour the second cup or more of Trust Cellars Riesling into the chef's glass). Reduce the shallot, bacon and wine mixture to half, then stir in one tablespoon of Walla Walla Sweet Onion Dill Mustard. To this mixture, add the fresh spinach and toss lightly. Leave spinach in the pan just long enough to sweat it, leaving the spinach with a nice crunch. No soggy spinach! Salt and pepper to taste. Yummy!

Also, congratulations is in order to Chef Caren for her award winning Walla Walla Sweet Onion savory cheesecake that she recently entered in the Walla Walla Sweet Onion Festival!.

(At this time, Trust Cellars is sold out of Riesling, but there's a few bottles available at Walla Walla Wine Woman - - oh, and so is the Walla Walla Sweet Onion Mustard!)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Fast Food and Drive-Thru Wines

In a recent newsletter from Nat Decants, there's an article about fast food and wine. Natalie MacLean, noted wine writer and award winning author, cleverly suggests to us to consider a list of wines that she feels has a “drive-thru” philosophy. I love her idea of pairing fast food with drive thru wines, but Natalie - - I am going to have to stand on my soap…I mean my Walla Walla Sweet Onion box and dispute some of your suggestions.

Just because we are chowing down to a meal of go-to-greasy-goodness doesn’t mean we have to forsake our good taste in wine. The list of wines labels that were suggested in the article were: E&J Gallo, Lindemans, Jacob's Creek and Yellow Tail - - to name a few. I feel we can still pair good wines with fast food and keep within the same price range of some of the above mentioned wines - - and even better - - make those wines from Washington State.

This afternoon I went dropped by a local supermarket and purposely priced the 750 ml bottles of “fighting varietals” against some of the wines from Washington State. And what I found was dollar for dollar there wasn’t much of a price difference between what I could refer to as - - well if I were a “mean girl” - - I would say, “swill” against many quality value wines produced in Washington State. To name a few of those value Washington wines: Chateau Ste Michelle, Columbia Crest, Covey Run, Hogue and Sageland. And add to that grocery store list some Walla Walla originals, such as wines from Magnificent Wine Company (the familiar House Red) and Waterbrook. Both local based wines are what I would say value hasn’t forsaken quality. Hmmm…for some reason wine consumers often forget that Washington State is the second largest producer of wines in the US - - and most important, quality and consistency amongst the wineries from large volume to “mom & pop” remain high. You don’t see any jugs of Washington wines lining the bottom of the grocery store shelves – ahem.

Now if you want to kick your wine up a notch pairing with fast food, you can look to the many reasonably priced wines from Walla Walla. Sure, we admit that the majority of the lower priced table blends from Walla Walla are in the $15 – $20 range and so what? One can spend more than that buying a couple of chain store cheap crust pizzas with all of the toppings, adding extra cheese and extra “meat-sa – meat-sa” - - so why skimp on your wine? Table blends are available from Dunham Cellars, Forgeron Cellars, L'Ecole No. 41, Lowden Hills and Mannina Cellars to name a few. There are also Walla Walla wineries that offer a complete line of wines with excellent value such as those from Balboa, Dama, Rulo, Dusted Valley’s Boomtown label and Reininger’s Helix label.

Nat Decants also suggests that the list of wines with the drive-thru philosophy are consistent and dependable (consistent and dependable about what? Yuk?) and unlike the more complex wines with tannins designed for cellaring. The article also points out that the listed high volume wines (Yellow Tail et al) do not have much subtlety or delicacy of flavors that might be overwhelmed by greasy fast food. Natalie…Natalie…Natalie – come hang with me in Walla Walla and I'll show you how to shop for Walla Walla wines! Why should we forget hearty and complex wines because we're going to drink them with a cheeseburger and fries? You make that sound like a bad thing! If you’ve ever tasted a local cheeseburger from the Ice Burg or Fast Eddy’s Drive-ins, they make for perfect pairings with the rich, yet approachable, red table wines from Walla Walla! And the plus side - - not only are these quality wines of value and approachable now, one could still put a few cellar years on them - - if they want. Cellaring those tannins do not have to be a bad thing.

When pairing wine with fast food, one doesn’t need to bend over and scrape the bottom of the grocery store shelves for a jug-o-plonk. Stand tall! Be proud and reach for a Washington wine and even better, one made in Walla Walla! Who cares if you are secretly eating behind closed doors (...and with the drapes shut, waiting ‘til dark to dump the fast food sacks in the neighbor's garbage...don't ask me how I know this...) stuffing your pie-hole with two all beef patties and special sauce with sesame seeds attached to your buns while having it your way with a King (or a dairy owning Queen) including a guy named Jack whose head is shaped like a ping-pong ball and lives in a box! If it rings your taco bell, all is fair as long as you pair these greasy paper bagged delicacies with a decent wine!

The supermarket roasted chicken is delicious with one of the local Chardonnays. A Riesling is the perfect pairing with an assortment of Chinese take-out entrees. A pepperoni pizza screams for a Merlot table blend or Sangiovese. A chilled summer rose’ from the Walla Walla Valley takes the heat out of the spicy bean burrito, beef taco or chicken quesadilla. And splurge when eating fried chicken from a Colonel, reach for that bottle of sparkling wine from Washington State or a Walla Walla Roussanne. A bacon cheeseburger, mocha blueberry milk shake and a glass of Syrah is waiting for you!

So, once in a while it’s okay to exhange the "jug of wine, a loaf of bread and thou..." for (with apologies to Omar Khayyam) "...a bottle of wine, a cheeseburger and thou (or even alone) beside me singing in the Wilderness – O, Wilderness were Paradise enow!”

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Bordello Barbeque

This week Walla Walla Village Winery released their new Cabernet Sauvignon table red blend, Bordello Red - a Cabernet Sauvignon blend with 9% Merlot and 9% Cabernet Franc. It's a fun label with the history of the bordello where their tasting room now resides (see Liven Udes).

Besides making wine for his family's winery, Joel Clark's other talent is cooking. I hear this makes the best BBQ beef sandwiches. I know at my house, Chez W5, we will be trying this recipe - -SOON!

Smoked Bordello Brisket

1 full Beef Brisket (5-8 lbs)

Marinade:

1 Cup Walla Walla Village Bordello Red Table Wine
2/3 cup juice of Blood Orange
1/3 Cup Worcestershire Sauce
1/3 Cup Water
1 Tbl. Kosher Salt
1 Tbl. Fresh Ground Black Pepper
10 Garlic cloves – crushed
6 whole Bay leaves
Hickory, Cherry or Mesquite Chips

Combine marinade ingredients and brisket in large zip loc or baking dish large enough to hold brisket and marinate 12-24 hours.

Ready smoker for a cooking temp of 200-220 degrees, begin to soak wood chips.

Remove brisket from marinade and bring to room temperature in sink, allowing the excess liquid to drip off. Remove garlic pieces and bay Leaves from marinade and discard the used liquid. From the fatty side of the brisket cut small a small slit approx. ½” – 1” deep and insert crushed garlic cloves. Make sure slit does not penetrate all the way through the brisket. Repeat process a few inches apart until all garlic is inserted into the brisket.

Generously salt and pepper all sides of brisket prior to smoking. Evenly disperse bay leaves on the fatty side of brisket. The bay leaves can also be inserted into the brisket for more flavor extraction.

Smoke brisket fat side up. Allow approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes per pound of brisket or until cooked through. Allow brisket to rest 20 – 25 minutes before serving.

Follow manufacturer suggestions for your smoker for the amount of wood chips to be used.

Bordello Red can also be purchased at Walla Walla Wine Woman

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Wine Blogging Wednesday #47 - Brought To You By The Letter "S"

Erin and Michelle at the Canadian wine blog Grape Juice would like us to regress a bit into our childhood - - in fact, they would like us to go back to the years of Sesame Street. However, for me to regress back into my childhood, we are talking about Captain Kangaroo, Sky King, Howdy Doody and The Mickey Mouse Club featuring Annette. But no matter the generations, I do appreciate their reasoning: "...when things were simple, creativity was encouraged and the whole world seemed like a new and exciting place just waiting to be explored...as adults and wine lovers, with stress and the occasional sense of imposed snobbery, we sometimes lose that pure, indescribable ability to have a little fun..."

So needless to say, the theme for Wine Blogging Wednesday #47 is "Brought to you by the letter 'S'." The word beginning with “S” must be directly related to a bottle of wine whether the S starts with region, appellation, producer, varietal, style, winemaker, etc and that’s the only rule.

As most of you know, the letter "S" isn't really my thing. I am all about the "W," but I will be a good sport and give this Wine Blogging Wednesday, the old Sesame Street try.

From Sleight of Hand Cellars in Walla Walla, located on Second Street, I selected for you a Syrah! Can you say "Sy-rah," boys and girls? Now this isn't just any Syrah, it happens to be a micro-cuvee from four very special barrels of Syrah hand-plucked from some of the oldest Syrah vines in Washington State. The 2006 Levitation Syrah, named for a magic term because Sleight of Hand Cellars is all about magic, reminds me of the traditional Syrahs from Northern Rhone in Franse (I know - - I know, it's France. But just checking to see if you are paying attention). This Syrah is not a simple sip - - it is spicy, yet subtle. Strong tannins for splendid aging, but supple, sensual, sexy and soft on the tongue. (Ooops! Can we say those words on Sesame Street?) Why, this Syrah is simply magical! A succulent and scrumptious food pairing as a reduction sauce on selected seared meat, if you want to sacrifice a bottle. (Did I mention that the winemaker's name is Trey Busch, but he would meet his soon-to-be partners, Sandy and Jerry Solomon in Sun Valley? Que Sera-sera!)

But sorry to say - this soaring-through-the-sky Syrah from Sleight of Hand, located on Second Street in Walla Walla, is SOLD OUT! But you can shop at the Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman because she still has some bottles of this Syrah available for sale. See - - at least the "W" will always come through for ya, even though this is brought to you today by the letter, "S."

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

A Legend in the Washington Wine Hall of Fame

It's marked on my calendar - a rather bitter-sweet reminder that this is the weekend Stan Clarke, who I referred to as my "wine guru," would be posthumously inducted into the Legends of Washington Wine Hall of Fame at Prosser, WA. All last week I struggled on what more I could write about Stan Clarke without it being maudlin. Afterall, the Stan I knew wouldn’t have liked that continued sentiment very much, if any sentiment at all. He would prefer I talked about him in the content of Lemberger wine, the Grateful Dead or the time he showed up at my house with 100 lbs of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and exclaimed, "Surprise! You're going to make wine." However in my lack of words, Mary Hopkin, Tri-City Herald staff writer captured it perfectly:

Stan Clarke likely would be embarrassed to know he's being inducted into the Legends of Washington Wine Hall of Fame.

But for his family, it's an honor for the humble, low-key viticulturist and teacher who died in November.

...Clarke became associate director of the Walla Walla Community College Center for Enology and Viticulture, combining his love for teaching, winemaking and grape growing.

He was always sunny and upbeat, and even in the dead of winter would be wearing shorts and a Hawaiian shirt -- his uniform of choice.

Often his socks didn't match ...'If people want to judge me on whether my socks match, I don't think I want to know them'

Monday, July 07, 2008

Liven Udes?

What? What is that word, this "liven udes?" It's printed on the bottom of this new wine label. Is it a Swedish pickled fish that you serve at Christmas time in a sour cream sauce? A garment that you wear under your lederhosen? A Latin word inscribed over a court house door? What on earth is Liven Udes? Hmmm - - I wonder what it means...?

Walla Walla Village Winery, favored by air guitarists everywhere, will soon release their new red blend, named Bordello Red! This 2005 table red was inspired by Walla Walla’s infamous Madame, Josephine "Dutch Jo" Wolfe. In the early 1900's Madame "Dutch Jo" ran a bordello on the second floor in what is now the tasting room of the Walla Walla Village Winery building. The label will still feature the very recognizable Walla Walla Village Winery sun designed especially for them by rock and roll artist Stanley Mouse. Does the brick on the background of the label happen to look familiar? If it does, then you were hanging out at the old McFeely's Tavern and Hotel too much.

So how does this soon-to-be-released wine taste? Well, here’s what the back of the label says regarding this predominantly Bordeaux-style red: "Bordello Red is a voluptuous, titillating blend that will penetrate your palate and leave you lusting for more." Heh-heh (in my best Beavis of Beavis and Butthead voice), they said, "penetrating..."

Anywhooo - - stay tuned for the release date and more about Bordello Red from Walla Walla Village Winery and it will also be available through me, The Walla Walla Wine Woman.

(Pssst - - have you figured out what liven udes means?)

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Happy Fourth of July!

Here's to a day of potato salad, hot dogs on the grill and fireworks. If you live in Walla Walla or perhaps visiting the area, chances are great you will be enjoying some Walla Walla Sweet Onions in your potato salad and even sprinkled on your grilled burgers and dogs. You'll probably take delight in the naturally sweet, dark red and juicy Klicker strawberries over ice cream or your favorite shortcake recipe. Of course, you will have an excellent assortment of Walla Walla wines to enjoy with your bbq and later everyone will find their favorite seat "in the house" to watch the public firework display. For me, these holidays force me to slow down, maybe get caught up on few house and yard projects and most of all, make the day about family and friends.

It was on July 4, 1776, we claimed our independence from Britain and what we now understand to be "Democracy" was born that day. Every day thousands leave their homeland to come to the "land of the free and the home of the brave" so they can begin their own "American Dream." And that American Dream is what the US wine industry is all about. In California, settlers from Spain, Mexico, Hungary and Italy brought their vines and winemaking skills to the new world. In Walla Walla, we are witness to many young French winemakers who left the old world to follow their dreams of claiming a chief winemaking position or perhaps owning a winery in America, as in France those positions are usually left to generations of the family chateau.

In America, we take our liberty for granted - - after all, that's what America is all about - - an earthly paradise, a land of riches and abundance, where the natives led lives of simplicity and freedom. Unfortunately, something that can be as simple as choosing a bottle of wine from a different state appellation in America is not so simple anymore. It seems as if our "American Dream" in the wine industry now has barriers and borders that we are not allowed to cross. The wine consumer in Kansas, Missouri, Tennesee and many other states in America will never know what a wine from Walla Walla tastes like especially in the comfort of their own home. Unless they visit the area, they will never be able to discover other wines as long as we have federal regulations that restrict wine shipments between the states in America. We definitely want and should have "wine without borders."

"The best way to enhance freedom in other lands is to demonstrate here that our democratic system is worthy of emulation" - - Jimmy Carter, 39th US President

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Grape Way of the Internet

Did you know that everything you need to know about wine is right at your fingertips, as long as your fingertips are placed on the keyboard and not always wrapped about the stem of your glass? So, what do you want to learn today? Want to read several wine blogs at once? Alltops Wine lists some of the top fifty wine blogs in the world (and yes, you will find Through the Walla Walla Grape Vine listed) and if you want to over-dose on more wine blogs, check out Scrugy, AlaWine.Com and a new one coming your way - - the Weekly Wine Round-Up!

Looking for a simple way to review wine, search for wines and find out what others have to say about wines, then get Cork’d and Snooth'd (I promise it's not as painful as it sounds). Great wine doesn't have to be hard to find when you use Vinquire. And if that isn't enough, you can also search for wines, share wines, make a wish list, write a review and read more wine blogs at Adegga - the Social Wine Discovery.

Is food and wine pairing more your thing? Curious about new restaurants, looking for a new recipe? You'll find it on the internet by signing into Culination and Food Buzz.

Are you sitting in Kansas or New Jersey and pissed off that you can’t get any Walla Walla wines shipped to you and don't understand why? Read about the ever-changing wine shipping laws at Wine Without Borders. Then after reading these laws, brought to you by friends of the Wine and Spirit Wholesalers of America whose selfless intent is to "protect the children from using their credit cards and buying $50 bottles of wine online," (which the intent is about as safe and selfless as Michael Jackson volunteering as a playground monitor) then vent your frustrations about these unconstitutional laws at Free The Grapes.

Are you in the wine industry or a wine blogger and want to do a bit of networking, follow industry discussions and find out the latest wine news scoop? Check out the Open Wine Consortium. Maybe you just want to make some new wine friends and find other wine lovers in your area who want to profess their love for Fume Blancs, Plonks d' Blancs, Chateau Lafite Poo-Foofery-Phoo and Blue Nun, then Must Love Wine is your social wine network.

Want to keep an inventory of your private wine stash and remove it from the dog-earred spiral notebook you stole from your kid? List your inventory and find out what others have to say about the wines and best of all - - do it for free at Cellar Tracker and VinCellar.

Curious about what the best of the best enophiles are chatting about? Want to spy on conversations of wine bloggers and others in the wine industry, then you'll find them at Facebook, Twitter and Pownce. Send them a virtual cupcake to let them know you've been there. I prefer the red velvet ones, myself.

And last but not least, maybe all you care about is learning about wine and being entertained at the same time. I recommend that you watch Wine Library TV. View this guy "swishy-swish," spit in the dump bucket, and then yell with an unpretentious gonzo approach about wine, while cheering and ranting about the New York Jets.

(And trust me, I haven't even begun to bring to you all of the grape sources out there - - they are endless and ever-growing! In fact, I welcome my wine internet comrades to please list some of their favorites and self-promote in the comment section - - if they're not posted above. So don't be saying I'm never nice...Cheers!)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

That Which We Call A Walla Walla Rosé...

One of my favorite places to visit is not too far from my house, in fact it's the deck from my living room. It’s a quiet place where I can sit on one of two rocking chairs I purchased during a visit in Tennessee. These oak chairs, with woven seats and backs, were handcrafted by a Tennessee family that's been making rocking chairs for 150 years. Between the two chairs is an old Hungarian oak wine barrel. On the head of the barrel, I have placed a large round glass table top. It makes the perfect table for my evening glass of wine and my morning cup of coffee. On the deck is an assortment of clay and ancient cement pots filled with summer annuals. There's a bird house hanging, that has actually housed some birds and a delicate sounding wind chime. But the best part is below the deck. It's framed with an assortment of rose bushes. This time of the year the fragrance from the roses waft up to the deck and it makes for a relaxing setting away from phones and computers.

Gertrude Stein said, "A rose is a rose is a rose." But when I think of my rose garden, I can’t help from thinking about rosés - - the wonderful summer sip that fills a glass in pastel shades of pink, red, peach or even lavender. Rosé, rosado, or rosato are fragrant and delicate wines made for the red wine lover who wants a taste of the red grape, but looking for the light crispness of a white wine - - making it a perfect summer sipper.

Two perfect summer sippers are those rosés from Trio Vintners and Trust Cellars. Tres Rosé is the second release of rosé from Trio Vintners and is made using the saignee method. The juice is free run from their Boushey Vineyard Sangiovese, including 50% Mouvedre from the Den Hoed Vineyards and then co-fermented in stainless leaving about 2% residual sugar. The nose of this dark rosé reminds me of grandma’s kitchen when she baked summer cherry, berry and rhubarb pies. Dominant flavor of pomegranates with a hint of cinnamon makes this a wine to be enjoyed while watching a Walla Walla sunset and especially with backyard entertaining. A spicy pairing with bbq ribs or if you can resist from opening it before Thanksgiving, a bottle must be saved for the turkey.

Cabernet Franc is one of my favorites and I especially "s_w_o_o_n" when I find a rosé produced with that peppery grape. And such a rosé is from Trust Cellars. Cabernet Franc was especially picked just for this rosé and produced using the traditional rosé pressing method and fermented dry. This isn’t a "sissy" wine, so don’t let the delicate shade of this pink nectar fool you. The wine is full and round with flavors of fresh picked cherries and apples, which continues on to a finish of cinnamon and allspice. Again, another great summer sipper to relax with on a cool Walla Walla evening, like I do on my deck. It pairs well with fresh picked salads like spinach and strawberry salad with a poppy seed dressing or something spicy like Cajun style catfish.

English playwright and politician, Richard B. Sheridan said, "Won't you come into the garden? I would like my roses to see you."

I say, "Won’t you come into the Walla Walla Wine Woman garden? I would like these rosés to see you."