Weekend Winos

Enthusiasts in search of quality libations to enhance weekends.


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Lake Tahoe 31st Annual Autumn Food and Wine Festival

img_9279Out with the old and in with the new! We’ve been going to this event on Saturday since 2009. Last wrote about it in 2014. We started to notice a different flow to the crowd last year. This year, for sure, it was a different event.  There were fewer wineries and brewers, lots more high-end jewelry vendors, the cooking demo at noon was The Mountain Kid’s cook-off finals, the Japanese restaurant did not have tables outside, and there were a lot less of our 4-legged friends.

Stella where art thou Stella?!? We missed our favorite brewery, usually they would have at least 2 stands at the event, and we always tasted some new flavor. The flip side is that we had the opportunity to taste new beers and more wine.  Also missing were the winery region exhibits (usually 3 or 4 in the seating areas around the ice rink).  The flip side is that we had places to sit, on an especially hot day, to enjoy the wineries and breweries that were there on Saturday:  Boeger Winery, Blue Frog Brewing Company, Bonterra Organic Vineyards, Coryelle Fields Vineyard, Gekkeikan Sake, MacLeod Family Vineyard, Mount Aukum Winery, Nick’s Cove, Sierra Vintners, Silkwood Wines, Skinner Vineyards Winery, Archer Brewery, Tin Barn Vinyards, and VGS Chateau Potelle.

We had a chance to talk to almost every vendor. Some of the standouts included the 2013 Zinfandel from VGS Chateau Potelle (we bought a bottle), the IPA from DNA Brewing and JOON a Rose Syrah from Coryelle Fields Vineyard.

We’ll take a close look at the program next year; maybe we need to break our pattern and try a Sunday instead of Saturday for the 2017 Food and Wine Festival at Northstar.

 

 

 


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Stroll The Alameda Part Deux: New Finds!

This year, our second time attending, we had no trouble convincing the winos to join us for a fun afternoon of wine & beer tastings as we visited the merchants on The Alameda.  Much like last year, we met early and endeavored to visit all the locales.

IMG_8803This is the sixth year that the Shasta / Hanchett Park Neighborhood Association and the Alameda Business Association organize The Alameda Wine & Beer Stroll. Armed with our wine or beer glasses and official yellow wristband we were off.  

We recognized some of the participants from last year:  Travieso Winery (should have been back at the tattoo parlor), Santa Clara Valley Brewing, Coterie Winery and The Wine Affair.  There were some new participants that made our day!

Umunhum-Brewery-LogoUmunhum Brewing:  Great Beer!   They say it is California’s first co-op brewery,  a growing group of dedicated members who are passionate about great beer, customer service, sustainability, and great food (supporting local and organic farms where possible). We were so impressed by the beer, we joined the co-op!

ZonaRosaSangria at Zona Rosa: The sangria was very good and at this half-way point we also sat down to enjoy their decadent guacamole (yes, that is bacon and nuts) and home-made chips.  We agreed that we would be back soon to the restaurant to try other items on their menu.  It is a small place and always packed.  Everyone there recommended we make reservations and insisted that we would not be disappointed with the meal.

Like we said last year…This is an event that we will add to our regular list.  Already looking forward to the 2017 Stroll, and in the meantime we will be back to enjoy the new acquaintances we made.


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Paella Feast

paella1

The group gathered for a house-warming party and what a treat to be part of it!  It was a large crowd and everyone had a great time.

The hosts hired  Hola Paella  to provide the delicious food and a fantstic show.  They cooked the paella as we all watched. Step-by-step they showed us how its done and our appetite just kept growing and growing. Gratefully the delicious appetizers (Serrano ham and melon mini-skewer; Manchego cheese, Spanish chorizo and Spanish olive stuffed with pimiento in a toothpick; and vegetarian empanaditas) were being served with wine, beer and sangria while we watched.

Making paella is an art form, and Chef Fernando and Team at Hola Paella sure have the experience and love that it takes to make this tasty dish.

paella7paella5The Paella Valenciana is my favorite with all the seafood (mussels, clams, calamari, scallops, peeled and devained shrimp), chicken, Spanish chorizo, pork sausage, timely prepared with rice and vegetables (sweet peas, green beans, garlic, onions, roasted peppers, Spanish saffron and spices. They also prepared, for any guests with allergies,  an All Meat Paella with rice, boneless chicken, Spanish chorizo, pork sausage and green and red roasted peppers, green beans, sweet peas, garlic, onions, Spanish saffron and spices. Both were served with a house salad (Mixed organic baby greens, red peppers, & walnuts served with honey Dijon vinaigrette dressing) & a French Baguette with Butter.

paella3paella9We all chipped in on the drinks and desserts and I assure you nobody left hungry.  The small donuts with dulce de leche filling were the first to disappear. The peanut butter pie with whipped cream was a close second.  Many guests asked to take some of the peanut butter pie home, because they heard it was good but had not had a chance to taste it.  I should have thought of that!

I must confess I did not pay much attention to the libations, my glass was always full with something special that one of the weekend winos had brought to share. I do know that I started with a delicious home made Sangria — must get the recipe.


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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!


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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.

 

 


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The Sazerac Bar

The Sazerac BarA few of us recently met up in New Orleans – do I need to say more?   Yes!

The whole trip was great, but the time we spent at The Sazerac Bar in The Roosevelt New Orleans Hotel was fantastic!

Truth be told,  we did not specifically plan on going to this bar, but a few of the weekend winos were staying at The Roosevelt Hotel.  We did want to taste the Sazerac drink, a traditional New Orleans cocktail, and this place made it a great experience.

BarThe whole ritual of the two chilled old-fashioned glasses, cognac or rye, bitters, absinthe and the muddled sugar cube is great to watch, and even better to consume.  It is a strong drink and pricey, but worth every penny of it.

The bar is dark and soothing, with comfortable leather couches (we were there at an off-time, so we could sit back and relax). An old-school kind of bar with dark wood,  definitely first-class atmosphere.  You can’t help but feel like you are transported back to a different era.  The service is impeccable and  the mixologists really know their craft.  There is a lot of history here and the servers take pride in making it more than a drink at the hotel bar.

menu

The Official Sazerac Cocktail Recipe (courtesy of The Sazerac Company

1 cube sugar

1½ ounces (35ml) Sazerac Rye Whiskey or Buffalo Trace Bourbon

¼ ounce Herbsaint

3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters

Lemon peel

Pack an Old-Fashioned glass with ice. In a second Old-Fashioned glass place the sugar cube and add the Peychaud’s Bitters to it, then crush the sugar cube.  Add the Sazerac Rye Whiskey or Buffalo Trace Bourbon to the second glass containing the Peychaud’s Bitters and sugar. Empty the ice from the first glass and coat the glass with the Herbsaint, then discard the remaining Herbsaint. Empty the whiskey/bitters/sugar mixture from the second glass into the first glass and garnish with lemon peel.


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Lake Tahoe 29th Annual Autumn Food and Wine Festival

WoodworkI don’t know if it is the altitude, good friends, wine, beer, sake, cooking demonstrations or the art but….this event is fantastic! We try to get to The Village at Northstar for the Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival every year.  Although we are tempted by many of the events from Friday to Sunday, we always default to The Village Wine & Brew Walk on Saturday from noon to 4 pm. And that’s what we did this year!

With more than 35 wineries, breweries and distilleries participating, we had a full schedule. Luckily the Truckee Sourdough Company and Fab Delights Chocolate Truffles were also participating. Their bread and chocolates are “oh so delicious” and a perfect intermezzo for the libations.  Wine merchants can not sell their wines at the event, this creates a more relaxed and enjoyable experience — the type of experience you’d expect in beautiful North Lake Tahoe.

SilkwoodOnce again, we uncovered some wines that we had not tried before, some that stood out included:

Silkwood Petite Sirah: In its third reincarnation, this small Modesto, CA winery had some very smooth rich wines.  They are proud to point out that they sell their wines in 21 states, Japan and HongKong.  In fact Japan Airlines selected their Syrah as the only American Red Wine to be served in First Class.

LucchesiLucchesi Zinfandel: From their “View Forever Vineyard” in the Sierra Foothills, Mario and Linda Clough produce some delicious wines.  We all agreed to make Grass Valley a destination trip to experience the View Forever Vineyard first hand and relax as we learn more about their collection of wines, their Italian heritage and their family escapades in South America.

Schug

Schug Pinot Noir: A family affair with German roots, the winery is located in the Sonoma portion of the Carneros Appelation. What a great family story and the wines are fantastic.  On our list for our next Sonoma adventure – a self-guided tour after learning more about the wines, buy a few bottles of wine, enjoy their picnic tables and the views.

No doubt the 29th annual Lake Tahoe Wine and Food Festival was an adventure we will always remember and now the countdown begins to the 30th annual event.  We’ll be there!