Weekend Winos

Enthusiasts in search of quality libations to enhance weekends.


Leave a comment

Spirits Alley Alameda – Vacation 30 minutes from Home

What a nice surprise!  We had planned a fun brunch with winos from Alameda to explore the island. As the sun started to set, we found ourselves drinking wine with a fabulous view of the SF skyline from the former Naval Air Station on Alameda Point. After 4 hours, we were still laughing and relaxed – it felt as if we were on vacation.  But…I am getting ahead of myself.

We had researched bars and restaurants on Park and Webster. We noticed the Pacific Pinball Museum (yes we have some pinball fans in the group), the historic Alameda Theater, and a rich variety of architecturally diverse homes from Bungalows to Victorians. We never expected to discover the tasting rooms at Spirits Alley (walking distance from Alameda’s Main Street Ferry Station) and the fabulous food that appeared from that little window at Scolari’s at The Point 

At first, the huge hangars and old buildings made us wonder what we had gotten ourselves into, then we started seeing names we recognized – Hangar 1 Vodka, Rock Wall Wine Company, Faction Brewing, St. George Spirits, and Building 43 Winery. We were determined to visit all of them.

IMG_9122Well, that was the plan. The reality is that we started at Rock Wall Wine Company and that is where we stayed.  The tasting experience was excellent (5 tastes from an extensive selection + and extra bubbly to start) and you can buy wines by the glass so everyone can have exactly what they want.  That is enough of a good start, but combined with the delicious food from Scolari’s, the comfortable seating area (some of it reserved for adults only), the SF city skyline view and great conversation and laughs with  our group – it was spectacular. Did I mention that each person could buy wine by the glass (in hindsight we should have just opened a few bottles) so everyone could drink exactly what they wanted. During the week, they even have Happy Hour with a 50% discount on select glasses of wine.

IMG_9117

There were many medals displayed, no doubt a result of the skill of Winemaker Shauna Rosenblum.  But over the course of 4 hours of fun and relaxation – we were determined to judge for ourselves, and we did!  Some of the standouts came home with us: 2013 Tannat “The Palindrome”, 2015 Sparkling Grenache Rose , 2014 Chardonnay from Sonoma,2012 Le Mur de Roche ( a special treat) and 2015 Zin Nymph.

We will definitely be back to create new experiences at the other tasting rooms we did not get to this time.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements


Leave a comment

The Prosecco “Plus” Cocktail Challenge

Prosecco Cocktails At a recent weekend winos group gathering we feasted on everything Italian.  What a treat!

It was a sunny afternoon, and everyone had bubbles on their minds, so we quickly decided to kick off the celebration with some prosecco cocktails:

La Marca Prosecco Plus Limoncello

La Marca Prosecco Plus Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup

Other than color (and yes color does influence preference) the degree of sweetness was a key determining factor.

Appearance: The cocktail plus the hibiscus flower was a winner in overall look, it does look exotic and attractive.

Sweetness: While both the limoncello and hibiscus flower syrup are sweet, the overall IMG_3141_4perception was that the hibiscus flower syrup was too sweet. Even when no syrup was added (which some with a sweet tooth did), just the flower in the prosecco was enough to make it too sweet.

Refreshing: The cocktail plus the limoncello (stored in the freezer) was more refreshing.

Overall: The prosecco plus limoncello was the one that most everyone went back for seconds and in some cases more.

These cocktails, with the accompanying bruschetta, were a great start to a long evening of celebrating every Italian!


Leave a comment

The Common Folk Wine Descriptors List

wineIt is with great respect to sommeliers and wine experts around the world that our group took on the subject of creating the “common folk” list for describing wines.

Just Google “wine descriptors” and you find 393,000 results in 0.32 seconds, they include how to articles,  infographics, posters, charts, Wikipedia, descriptors for dummies, and obviously many, many more.  Just videos you find 50,600 and there are lots of photographs too.

On a Friday night, after a long work week, we each brought a bottle of wine ($10 to $60) an made notes of terms we would use to describe them.  At the end of the evening we each handed in our notes (some more legible than others, many with red wine stains) and agreed we would get back together to discuss.  Remember, we are just a group of common folk that enjoy getting together to learn about wine and other libations.

The Common Folk Wine Descriptors List  (in no particular order)

Red, White, Rosé, Bubbly (yes, we did have some champagne)

Buttery: creamy, oily, smooth

Robust: best with food, feels heavy

Smooth: a pleasant experience from beginning to end

Jammy: like jelly

Fruity: peaches, apples, citrus, you know it is some fruit but not really sure what

Light: refreshing (in this case applied to a white wine)

Bold: from the first sip, wham, it hits you hard

Complex: lots going on, can’t really pinpoint a unique quality

Elegant: simliar to smooth

Juicy: very light red wine, almost like grape juice

And of course: Like, Don’t Like

I must admit, our list does not appear to be very profound or sophisticated compared to the more official lists.  Well, we’ll just have to keep tasting and studying to become more proficient.  In the meantime, just knowing what we like is a good start.

 

 


Leave a comment

Pop the Cork – It’s a New Year!

Champagne 2014Happy New Year! The Weekend Winos wish you a year full of health, happiness, good food and libations!

The group agreed that at our first gathering of 2014 we would share a bottle of champagne that we enjoyed during the Holidays. What a treat! The only disappointment was that some of the winos were still traveling and could not join the tasting.

Of the five champagnes we tasted, only one was vintage. Vintage champagnes are produced from grapes grown during that specific year, and usually it is a very good season.  The process is also longer, vintage champagnes have a minimum of three years’ aging which is typically just the minimum as most are aged for a longer period.  The result is usually more complex, layered flavors than its nonvintage counterparts and also a champagne that you can keep in your cellar for longer.

The three champagnes that the group enjoyed the most were:

  • Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin Vintage 2002: A notable difference from the nonvintage bottle.  Light in color with a hint of citrus.
  • Duval-Leroy Design Paris Brut: The silk-sceened bottle, signed by LeRoy Neiman, is a work of art and set the tone for the overall experience.  Gold in color, dry with delicate fine bubbles.
  • Comte Audoin de Dampierre Ambassadeurs Brut: We learned that this champagne is served at embassies around the world, as well as presidential and royal receptions.  Elegant and delicate it was perfectly balanced and so easy to enjoy.

This is the start of a new tradition that I am confident the group will repeat every year.