Another summer is fast approaching and I'm soooo looking forward to spring and summer evenings sitting on the deck in the backyard of our little city house, busy traffic sounds, birds chirping in the tree overhead, dogs barking in the neighborhood. Our deck is small but cozy, screened from the neighbors by a bamboo screen. Potted plants- herbs and flowers, add ambiance and the shady spot is cool and comfortable. We don't have room for a table with a great big brolly, but we have chairs and a table, the perfect place to relax and set your cocktail. The Chef and I don't imbibe very often but on occasion a bottle of wine will be popped open, glasses poured, and calmness descends upon us. The Chef cooks at a trendy wine and small plates restaurant so we often get the inside track on new wines, what's popular, what's highly rated, what to drink, so I thought it would be a good idea to share a few of my favorites.
Some people are strictly white wine drinkers and others are die hard red drinkers. I have favorites on both sides of the vineyard fence. As you might know, Riesling tops the list of white wines for me, with Pinot Grigio as the runner up but I don't limit myself to just those two. I have had several Sauvignon Blancs that are fabulous, and an unoaked Chardonnay is quite pleasant. In Iowa you see a lot of wines made with Brianna or Edelweisse grapes, both of which are quite similar to sweet Rieslings.
Gaga was a white blend from California that was a true delight to drink. I found this wine at Gateway Market and grabbed a couple bottles. This wine was so fruity and crisp- I served it well chilled. Like many other whites, it would pair great with lighter dishes, salad, seafoods, appetizers. It's a fantastic sit on the patio and sip wine.
Normally you don't keep whites for long, generally speaking they are better drank while young. However, this Robertson Gewurztraminer somehow snuck by me and hid in the back of the cabinet for a while. That was not necessarily a bad thing. It was a 2007 vintage that was eventually opened in 2014 and it was still incredibly delicious, almost a creamy sensation. The years had turned this German style wine quite a lot sweeter than it probably was originally. If you're at all like me and love Riesling, you'll love Gewurztraminer too.
Iowa has about one hundred fantastic wineries these days, and that means a whole lot of places to visit and tour, wines to sample, and many of the wineries also have restaurants. Santa Maria Winery in Carroll is a stunningly beautiful Italian villa style building with a beautiful tasting room and restaurant that turns out some incredible food. My favorite Santa Maria wine is hands down Bella Collina. It's a red blend of Iowa-grown grapes that's quite a bit drier than what many of my wine drinking friends prefer. I, however, love a great dry red. They pair well with steaks and grilled foods and some also make great sipping wines.
Back to the Rieslings- Blue Fin was a nice California Riesling that I picked up not too long ago. Just the right amount of sweet for me, this was one of those wines I'd buy again and again. Nice sweet and acid balance this one is great for enjoying all by itself or with any dish you like.
Joseph Handler Riesling is my most recent wine purchase. I picked this bottle up at Trader Joe's and drank it the same day. Chilled in the freezer until almost slushy, it was so bright and fruity. Hints of sweet, not too acidic, I enjoyed this bottle immensely. This was NOT an expensive wine at all, in fact it was below $10 and well worth twice the price. Many people shy away from these cheaper wines but the reality is, price doesn't normally determine the quality of the wine. Take a chance on a cheap bottle sometime and you might find a new favorite.
If you want me to enjoy a Chardonnay, it has to be an unoaked Chard. I have never liked the flavor that oak brings to wines, especially whites. Some reds hide it well but in my opinion Chardonnay tastes like an old wet board when it's been aged in oak. Sunfish is a California Chardonnay that I fell in love with about ten years ago. I've enjoyed many bottles from many vintages over the years. It's great for recipes that have "dry white wine" as an ingredient. Chardonnay does have that tanniny dryness that some people don't like. Even thought this is a dryer white, it's still perfect for sipping on its own.
A couple other great wines I picked up at Gateway Market were Raimat Castell de Raimat and Delish. Raimat is a rose wine, not something I normally pick, but a while back my friend Jessica and I decided to try some rose wines, so I grabbed this to take it for a test drive. I am not a rose fan. Sorry. I tried. Not that this wine wasn't a good wine, it's just not my thing. Much like moscato, white I really do not like, I just couldn't get into roses. Too acidy and not enough fruit forward. Now, the Delish Sauvignon Blanc was a winner. I love the green and grassy notes in Sauvignon Blancs and this one was so refreshing. I'd buy a case of this to keep on hand.
|Our furkid Peanut came to us over the summer as a stray.|
She is now a comfy and cozy housecat and we love her.