Brussel Sprouts look like upside down grape bunches!
Here’s a great side dish for the frequently under-estimated Brussel Sprout. Since this recipe involves a splash or two of dry sherry or wine, I thought it would be perfect to share here in case any of you are looking for new Thanksgiving options. Last year, I served this alongside our Turkey and received rave reviews for these little lovelies. Some brussel sprout lovers were already sold, but I believe I was able to turn some brussel sprout non-believers into believers with this recipe!
Maple-Glazed Brussel Sprouts
1lb. thick sliced bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
2lb. Brussel Sprouts, trimmed (6 cups)
2 cups chicken or veggie stock
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tbspn maple syrup (or more)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 tbspn dry sherry or dry white wine (or more)
black pepper to taste
Cook bacon until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside until needed.
In a saute pan large enough to accomodate all remaining ingredients, place brussel sprouts, stock, water, maple syrup, and thyme in. Reduce heat to moderate and simmer 25-27 minutes, or until liquid has evaporated and brussel sprouts are tender.
Add the sherry/dry white wine and reserved bacon and mix well. Serve immediately.
Secret Ingredient Tip: If you want to get super-fancy, use Vermont maple syrup.
Because I am not a big fan of 99% of wine charms on the market today ( the fish hook-looking things carrying various random objects and aluminum critters), I was relieved to find these simple silicone charms in a variety of colors to pass out to guests. The design appeared easy enough for anyone to pop on their stem without having to fuss and also wasn’t dangling free so as to become a distraction from the wine itself. Lastly, there were plenty of colors which would store easily on the acrylic stick they came with.
Unfortunately, after testing at a recent gathering, it was plain to see that these weren’t going to work for the simple reason that the charms don’t stay firmly on the stem ( at least for my glasses). Continue reading →
I was in Napa last week and posted an image of grapes still on the vine – phenomenal news for the California wine industry; the weather was just about perfect for grape growing. As illustrated in the images above, wineries were still harvesting grapes by the truckloads! Everywhere I went people were talking about this upcoming 2012 vintage. No joke that I heard the word ‘EPIC’ in reference to this vintage multiple times.
2012 is going to be the vintage to buy for California wine. Although the wine from this year won’t be available for a year or two, I want to spread the news early so that everyone can plan accordingly. My guess is that it will be similar to the infamous 2001 vintage, an historic vintage that I had a bottle of two weeks ago (a Cabernet from the Stag’s Leap district) which was probably one of my top 5 wines tasted – 12 full year’s later!
One last little tidbit – I heard that Europe had less-than-favorable weather for wine this year and that many crops were ruined as a result. If the rumors of an expected wine shortage are true for European wines, California wines will have potential to reach more palates and gain greater market share – another reason to keep your eyes peeled for the ’12 wines!
Just visited Napa for a quick getaway and everywhere I turned there were big juicy grapes still on the vines! We are now in the 2nd half of October and there is an abundance of harvesting happening all over Napa, a rarity this late in the season.
This is good news for the wineries and even better news for us! Everyone I have spoken with says that this translates to nothing but amazing wine for the 2012 vintage – I simply can’t wait to start collecting bottles and seeing first hand what this year has to offer.
Here’s a secret spot that I am way overdue on sharing! This hidden gem in San Jose is a great place to shop for the best selection of wine around, as well as best customer service and staff. It’s called The Wine Club, just off of Coleman and across from Costco. Below are a few reasons to love this place, but the best part of all, is no membership required to shop here!
Wine Tastings – Every Friday and Saturday afternoon they hold a new vertical wine tasting, always with a theme. Could be a region or a varietal, but you’re sure to find something new and intriguing! They usually charge a small fee which is always more than worth the amount of wine you’ll be able to taste.
Super Staff – The staff here is second to none. They are very attentive to what you are looking for – if you’re feeling adventurous and want something different, they can recommend something for you – if you want something classic, tried and true, they can do that too.
Can’t-go-Wrong Wine – Every wine that is offered at the Wine Club must be approved by all staff members in order to secure a spot on the shelf. That means that no bottles are there because there was a great deal from the distributors, or because one person who was buyer that day ate a bunch of Brie cheese just before tasting – these wines have the seal of approval from all staff members – so you really can’t go wrong with any selection you make.
Atmosphere – When you walk into the Wine Club, you will notice the cool air and quiet atmosphere. I believe the building is surrounded by concrete blocks, and is at optimal temperature for storing all those lovely wines for you. Be careful though – don’t talk too loud about your friend’s recent affair or family drama on a sub-par headset, since those concrete walls also allow for sound to bounce back and amplify your conversation (not that it ever happened to me or anything)
Best Rosé – I am a major sucker for French Rosé, and have found it beyond difficult to find a classically styled Rosé locally – here you will find one of the best selections of French Rosé (and some other fantastic contenders as well)! Also, during the summer, keep your eyes peeled for a vertical Rose tasting which you will never experience at a single vineyard, unless maybe you are in Provence, France.
Hands down, this place beats the other well-known local wine shop (starts with a K, ends with an L), based on the friendly, attentive staff and amazing wine selection. Swing by on Friday after work and taste for yourself!
The Wine Club – San Jose
1200 Coleman Ave
Santa Clara, CA 95050
The Wine Club – San Francisco
953 Harrison St
San Francisco, CA 94107
This summer I had a completely new wine experience that I absolutely have to share here. The situation was this:
A guest brought a special bottle of Reisling from a favorite winery to share
The bottle was opened and poured with an unexpected cloudy, bubbly effect
The guests all inquired as to whether or not the wine was ok to drink
The delicate bubbles created numerous fine lines, similar to Champagne
After taking a few sniffs, and a few more, I decided to brave the drink and took a sip (from a champagne flute, of course)
The result was surprising – it was lovely! Tasted like a somewhat sweet, semi-dry sparkling wine. From there, we continued to wonder whether or not it was fit to drink, so the 2nd bottle was set aside for possible indulgence once my research was complete:
Bubbly Wine Hypotheses:
Here are some potential reasons I discovered for why the still wine was laced with bubbles
1) Dirty glass (residue)
Too many bubbles for that
2) The wine is bad
Tastes too good for that
3) Could have had one too many sips prior to drinking
This was our first pour!
4) Has to do with fermentation (yeast, sugar, Co2)
After doing more research, the most likely reasoning behind the bubbly Riesling mystery was #4 – Fermentation. The wine could have been bottled before it was completely ready – either all of the existing gas was not removed, or there was still some yeast left in the wine, that allowed for further fermentation after bottling – hence the sparkling wine effect (calling it sparkling, since I know this winery was out of California).
The only way to confirm this is to test the 2nd bottle, or to inquire with the winery. Most likely, if there was yeast left behind, it would have affected many, if not all of the bottles produced. The good news is that it tasted excellent and the sip I had did not make me sick (I think I am ready to try some more now that my research is complete).
Wine is a great ingredient to use in your cooking because it helps to color and flavor your dish beautifully. If you are cooking a light chicken dish, then a splash of white wine and a squeeze of lemon juice all go together fantastically. Alternatively, red wine is best used in rich and meaty sauces or casseroles.
Keep in mind that cooking with alcohol under intense heat causes all the alcohol to burn off, while leaving the flavor behind. Still, I encourage you to add one last splash just before removing the dish from the stove, for the added beyond-flavor boost.
Strong backbone for a Merlot with ripe berry flavors, but still needs time to open up and become smoother. This will definitely happen, even in a year or two – hence the 93 pt W.S. rating. I feel that at this time, it has not quite developed into that 93 pointer, but it is an exceptional glass for the price.
Washington is my favorite region for Merlots and Chateau St. Michelle is the highest producing winery in the state. They are really proving themselves, creating finer Merlot than California, in my opinion.