Tag Archives: wine

Bar Stool Fridays – Autumn Sangria

My husband and I recently visited my parents in Laredo, Texas.  Now, not to rub it in or anything, but the weather was pretty great.  Sunny.  Warm, but not hot.  Not humid.  Pretty great.

I was in the mood for a beverage with fall flavors, but I wanted to drink something refreshing that would be nice over ice…a drink for us to enjoy as we sat in the sun on the patio by the pool.

Autumn Sangria
Makes 8 servings

1 orange, sliced
1 apple, diced
1 lemon, sliced
1 bottle full-bodied and fruity red wine
1/2 cup brandy
4 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
3 – 4 Tbsp orange simple syrup (see note below)

Add fruit to pitcher.

Pour in wine and brandy.  Add cloves and cinnamon stick.  Add simple syrup and stir.

Serve over ice.

To make orange simple syrup combine 1 1/2 cups sugar with 3/4 cup water in a small saucepan.  Add 1 Tbsp of orange zest and stir.  Simmer over medium heat until sugar dissolved and syrup is slightly thickened.  It will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for several weeks.

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Vintage Virginia

Did you know that Virginia has nearly 200 wineries?

The wine industry has existed almost as long as Virginia.  When the English first settled in Jamestown, Virginia, the colonial government required that all colonial households plant and maintain at least 10 grapevines.  Centuries later at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson pursued the cultivation of grapes for fine wines that he enjoyed in Europe.  He was not as successful as winemakers in Virginia today.  But, he understood the potential of soil characteristics, climate, and growing conditions to produce grapes that could become premium wines.

We have not yet visited Jefferson Vineyards, but we did make a recent trip to Barboursville Vineyards with our friends Dave and Laura.

On the estate of the former Governor James Barbour, the vineyard is now owned by an Italian couple, the Zonins.    The former Governor’s mansion was designed by Thomas Jefferson, but was ruined by fire in 1884.

The central octagonal parlor – a signature of Jefferson’s design style – has influenced the name of their most premium wine, Octagon.

The winery offers a brief tour and a tasting of all 21 of their wines for only $5.  Their Brut was just terrific…even the non-wine drinker of the bunch enjoyed it.  We also enjoyed the Cabernet Sauvignon and it was clear why Viognier has become very successful in Virginia.

We were pretty impressed with our tour guide.  He was able to lay out the basics of winemaking without being boring, answer all questions, deflect difficult visitors (And I quote, “Was that paid for with tax dollars?”  The answer is no.), and maintained a strong sense of humor throughout our tour.

The basic process of winemaking is thus: yeasts that grow on all grape skins automatically ferment grape juice into wine when the grapes are crushed.  Nowadays, however, most wineries add commercial, cultured yeasts instead of relying on wild yeast to better control the fermentation and its impact on flavor.  The mixture of grape skins immersed in their juice is called the must, and the period they are in is called contact maceration. Skin contact or maceration is particularly important for the production of red wines, because the juice inside all grapes is clear. The deep color of red wines must be extracted from the black grape skins.  Unfortunately, the crush pad where the grapes are crushed was not part of our tour.

During the alcohol fermentation, natural fruit sugar in the grapes is converted into equal parts of alcohol and carbon dioxide by the yeasts. Heat is released in the process, which is why most delicate white wines are fermented in stainless steel temperature-controlled fermenters—so they don’t “cook.”  Some of the stainless steel tanks have dippled wrappers that can provide additional temperature control.

Some wines are bottled directly from the tanks, while others are moved to wooden casks for additional flavoring.

The level of alcohol produced during fermentation depends on the ripeness or sugar content of the grapes and when the yeast or winemaker stops fermentation. Table wines receive their alcohol from fermentation only. Wines typically have between 7% and 15% alcohol by volume. This is the upper limit for fermentation because the yeasts die when they produce this level of alcohol. Most dry wines average 11% to 12% alcohol, but many full-bodied dry red or white wines, including Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah and Chardonnay, typically have 13% to 14% alcohol content.

We were very pleased with our visit.  I recommend you check it out, too.

Barboursville Vineyard
17655 Winery Road
Barboursville, VA


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Bar Stool Fridays – Peachy Keen Wine Cocktail

My friends Dave and Laura just returned from a vacation through the Southeast states.  They very kindly brought me back some luscious Georgia peaches.

I considered peach pie and peach ice cream, but I decided instead to start with a cocktail.

This white wine cocktail with pureed peaches and a hint of ginger is a delicious accompaniment to summer grilling.  Of course, we didn’t save it for the food.  We drank it while we grilled.

Peachy Keen Wine Cocktail
Serves 6 to 8

2 peaches, peeled, pitted, and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup orange liqueur
3 to 4 Tbsp ginger syrup
1 bottle white wine (750 mL)
club soda or seltzer
mint and peach slices, garnish

In a blender or food processor, puree peaches with orange liqueur and ginger syrup.  Pour the peach puree into a pitcher.  Add the bottle of white wine.  Stir gently.

Serve in ice-filled glasses with a splash of club soda.  Garnish with mint and thin slices of peach.

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Bar Stool Fridays – Take Your Spoon Out of My Wineglass

This Bar Stool Fridays post is brought to you by my mother.  She thought my readers would enjoy this alcoholic summer dessert.  It is as good as it looks…so good you won’t want to share.

I was looking for a light, low calorie, and cooling dessert.  The apricots and mangos looked beautifully ripe at the store so we then went in search of a wine.  The type of Riesling we chose was a Spatlese and I think we chose wisely since it is a late harvest and the grapes were fully ripened and enhanced the over-all fruity flavor.

The beautiful color of the sorbet combined with the balance of sweet and tart made the perfect finish for a summer supper.


Apricot, Mango, Reisling Sorbet
Recipe By: Marie Ferrier
Serving Size: 6

4 Apricots, fresh, peeled, pitted
1 Mango, fresh, peeled, pitted
1/2 cup Sugar, granulated
1 cup Water
1/2 cup Wine, Riesling, chilled

Peel, pit, and slice the apricots and the mango for 2 cups of fruit.
Place cut fruits, sugar, and water in a saucepan and cook until fruits are tender for about 20 minutes.

Puree the mixture and and pour into a container, cover, and chill 24 hours.

Add the chilled wine to the fruit mixture.  Follow ice cream makers direction for freezing. I have a Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Maker attachment and it stirred about 12 minutes until it was the correct consistency.  Empty the mixture into a container with a lid and place in the freezer for at least 2 hours.


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Bar Stool Fridays – Sands of Laredo Cocktail

On New Year’s Day 2011, my husband and I helped my parents move their belongings and pets from Brownsville to Laredo,  Texas.  We followed the Rio Grande north on US Highway 83 past the edge of Mexico’s Chihuahuan Desert and over the infamous Falcon Lake.

While I didn’t grow up in South Texas, a number of significant life events for our family have occurred while my parents lived in the Brownsville area.  And we have so many close friends and loved ones that it was bittersweet to help them make the move.  I must admit, I was disappointed when they initially moved to Brownsville, even though I was already living on my own, but I grew to feel at home there.  I’m excited for my parents’ new adventure, however, and my husband and I are eager to become more familiar with another part of Texas.  I’m sure we will grow to love it, too.

Driving to Laredo, as it is all along the Rio Grande corridor where Texas and Mexico meet, I could see that the border is just arbitrary.  The history, food, and culture of Texas and Mexico are so intertwined (and the river can run so low) that it is difficult to see the so-called border.  You can’t really tell one side from the other or where one begins and the other ends.  Well, except for markers like this…

Or the border fence.  But, that is an entry for another day…

So close to the Chihuahuan Desert, Laredo has a semi-arid climate, and they’ve been suffering with unusually high temperatures this spring.  Needing a refreshing and thirst-quenching drink for their Easter celebration, my father came up with a cocktail using pomegranate wine.  When he finished composing the drink, it looked rather sandy colored, so he named it the Sands of Laredo.  But, I think the name is also fitting because you can’t tell where one ingredient ends and the other begins.  Each ingredient is improved by mixing with the others.  It is a real borderland gem.  Thanks for sharing it, Dad.

Sands of Laredo
Makes 1 drink

Pomegranate wine
sparkling wine/champagne
orange juice

All ingredients should be chilled.  In a tall fluted glass pour about 1 1/2 oz of pomegranate wine.

Top the glass with equal amounts sparkling wine/champagne and orange juice.

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October is Texas Wine Month

In honor of Texas Wine Month, I thought I would share a few tidbits of knowledge and give you a recipe that calls for a bottle with an apple in it.

Did you know that Texas has more than 220 family-owned vineyards covering 3,700 acres?  What about the fact that the Texas wine industry contributes more than $1.35 billion a year to the state’s economy and supports more than 9,000 jobs for Texans?  Are you surprised to learn that the Texas Hill Country is  the third largest American viticultural area, dwarfing any in California?

The first vineyards in Texas were established by Spanish missionaries in the 1600s, but the modern Texas wine industry as we currently know it began in the 1970s.  Because the industry hasn’t been around very long (relatively speaking), vitners are still determining which grapes grow best in the Texas climate.  Current front runners include traditional European grapes, such as  Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, and Merlot.  Texas wineries are also doing great work with grapes such as Sangiovese, Syrah, Blanc du Bois, Viognier, Malbec, and Tempranillo.  Plus, some of the cooler climate grapes such as Reisling and Pinot Noir have been successful in West Texas, where the elevation creates a cooler climate.

The major differences between the Texas growing season and that of California are that ours is much warmer with less sunshine and more heat and humidity.  Climate is the single most important factor in viticulture, and there are several grapes that are well-suited to the Texas heat, including Syrah, Tempranillo, and Viognier.

Viognier is an intense, slightly spicy white wine.  My favorite is from Becker Vineyards outside of Fredericksburg, Texas.   It has hints of floral, peach, and apricot, but still maintains a bit of crispness.

Andrea Immer Robinson, Master Sommelier and wine writer, said it is,
“One of the best viogniers made in America, so it’s worth the search.”

  I think it works pretty well with dishes that you might pair with a reisling,
such as these pork chops in a recipe modified from Saveur Magazine…

Stuffed Pork Chops with Roasted Apples and Calvados
Serves 6

10 Tbsp butter
10 small yellow onions, peeled and halved lengthwise
2 stalks celery, trimmed and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 tsp dried sage leaves
1 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 double-cut, bone-in, pork chops
6 cooking apples, peeled, quartered, and cored
3/4 cup calvados

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Melt 5 Tbsp of the butter in a large skillet over low heat.  Finely chop 3 of the onion halves and add to the skillet along with the celery, garlic, and sage.  Increase heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until soft, probably no more than 5 minutes.  Remove skillet from heat, stir in breadcrumbs, and season stuffing to taste with salt and pepper.

Using a sharp knife, cut a deep pocket in the side of each chop.

Fill each with one-sixth of the stuffing, then close with a toothpick.  Season chops with salt and pepper.

Wipe skillet clean and return to medium-high heat.  Brown stuffed chops, 2 at a time, making sure that both sides and the edges get nicely browned.  It was about 3 minutes per side.  Transfer chops to a large roasting pan.

Reduce heat under skillet to low and melt remaining 5 Tbsp of butter.  Put melted butter, apples, calvados, and remaining onions in a large bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Toss well.  Increase heat to medium high, put apples and onions in the skillet, and saute until evenly browned all over.  It took about 10 minutes.

Scatter and spread the apples and onions around the chops in the roasting pan.  Cover pan tightly with foil and roast until chops are tender, about 3 hours.  Be sure to pull out the toothpicks before serving.

NOTE: Calvados is apple brandy from the Norman region of France.  Apples are pressed into a juice that is fermented into a dry cider, and then distilled into brandy or eau de vie.  After aging in oak casks for two years it can be sold as Calvados.  The longer the aging, the smoother it becomes and the more expensive the bottle.

You will notice that my bottle of Calvados Pomme d’Eve has an actual apple inside.  Cool, huh?  After the blossom, and once the apple has started to grow, carafes are attached on the apple trees, so that the fruit can grow inside.


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