Making A Simple Dinner Fancy

 

Because that’s how Wine Esquire rolls.

It’s winter. It’s cold. Are you bored yet? I’m getting there. It was Saturday morning and we were preparing for our first proper blizzard by throwing a soup together in the crockpot. We took our Inaugural Blizzard Walk[1] with the neighbors and so we decided to throw an impromptu dinner party.

Split Pea Soup is a favorite of ours. Not only is it classic, but it’s cheap. For less than $10, we had a gourmet soup ready to go. For your convenience, here are the detailed instructions:

Husband’s Not So Secret Blizzard Split Pea Soup Recipe

(serves 4 with one leftover portion for lunch)

1 pound split peas
Handful of baby carrots
½ yellow onion
3 garlic cloves
2 stalks celery
1 bay leaf
4 cups unsalted chicken stock
2 cups water
1 ham steak

Rinse the peas, chop the veggies and throw everything together in the bottom of a crock pot. Sear the ham steak in a cast iron skillet and throw it on top. Add the bay leaf, then salt and pepper to taste. Set the Crock on low for 8 hours and let it simmer. Voila! Fancy dinner!

We’d ventured out earlier in the day[2] and picked up some Portuguese raisin rolls in our travels. Husband grilled them up in the cast iron skillet and we served them with some super simple fancy homemade butter.

Super Simple Fancy Homemade Butter

(serves four – no leftovers, we practically licked the bowl clean)

½ stick butter
½ tsp honey
Pinch or 2 of sea salt (Fleur De Sel[3] if you have it)

Soften the butter in the microwave then add honey and salt and mix it up. The butter shouldn’t be pure liquid, but it should be easy to mix up. Scoop it all up, spoon it into a fancy dish[4] and chill in the freezer for 15 minutes prior to serving.

It’s a shame pea soup just doesn’t photograph well. It was delicious.

We broke out the wedding china, some nice crystal glasses and had ourselves a fancy dinner party. It’s absolutely true that food tastes better when it’s served on beautiful dishes, especially when your soup tureen is sitting on a silver platter. After all, what’s a little hand-washing among friends?[5]

Silver Platter’s Make Everything Better

Now, for the important part. We paired our winter feast with a bottle of The Sum by the Seventy Five Wine Company. A great red blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petite Syrah, 10% Syrah. Definitely fruity; the raspberry jam is out in full force. A great smooth mouthfeel, a touch on the lighter side with a nice dry finish. A great wine to warm you up on a cold winter’s eve with a bowl of good soup and a hunk of good bread.

Vino Vino Vino

The Seventy Five Wine Company was founded in, you guessed it, 1975. The back label recites all the epic and noteworthy events from that year. It was the year Bill Gates founded Microsoft, Saturday Night Live aired their first episode, Charlie Chaplin was knighted by Queen Elizabeth, and of course, the Beckstoffer family set up shop in Napa Valley.

Vino Vino Vino

The 2013 was a touch young; it could certainly be laid down for a while to let it mature and develop, but it’s a great drinker now too. The label is fun, and the bottle itself is a heavy clunker that makes you feel like you’re about to be drinking a rich, deep wine. You can grab a bottle for between $20-$25 throughout the US, so give it whirl and let me know what you think!

Until the next glass!
Cheers!

Lawyer Footnotes

[1] The Inaugural Blizzard Walk started several winters ago when Husband had the ingenious idea to walk around during a blizzard when everyone else is sanely snuggled up in front of their fireplace. It’s quite fun actually, seeing everything peaceful, quiet and white. It’s even better when you bring a flask with you. Just sayin’.
[2] Yes, in the blizzard. I really needed some yarn. What can I say? Me and the two old ladies at Hobby Lobby weren’t afraid of a little snow.
[3] Translated to “Flower of Salt”, this sodium variety comes from the hand-harvested salt crystals which float on the surface of salt water as it evaporates. Used as a garnish instead of as an ingredient, it is the most difficult salt to harvest, and therefore the most expensive. Fancy, huh? We recently acquired a jar at the Weekend Kitchen, a whimsical little kitchen shop in Essex, the cutest little town in America.
[4] You know, to make it fancy.
[5] Full disclosure, I’m so Type A I won’t let anyone else wash my china. Just in case. #RetiredPattern

Christmas Giveaway: Sauska Tokaji

 

Because that’s what you do at Christmas, you give gifts to those you love! And I love all of you! This Christmas I’ve partnered with my friends at Sauska Wines (Sh-au-shka) to bring you an extra special Holiday treat.

Vinum Regum, Rex Vinorum, Wine of Kings, King of Wines

First of all, Hungarian wine is where it’s at. Their unique indigenous grapes make some seriously amazing wine[1]. And their Tokaji Aszú[2] wine specifically is OUT. OF. THIS. WORLD. So that’s why I want you to try some.

Head over to their Instagram account, follow them and you’ll be entered.

Head over to Instagram!

You have until Monday, December 26, 2016 at noon EST. A winner will be picked at random to receive a bottle of their delicious 2003 Tokaji Aszú, 6 puttonyos[3]. This wine is literally pure liquid gold. Notes of thick apricot and honey with a hint of vanilla. The desert wine to top all dessert wines. You may not want to share, although sharing is caring, and ‘tis the season.

Legend has it that Tokaj wine debuted on the world stage when Francis II Rákóczi, prince of Transylvania, gifted King Louis XIV of France with numerous bottles of wine from his Tokaj estate in 1703. When Tokaji wine was served at Versaille for the first time, King Louis XIV declared it “Vinum Regum, Rex Vinorum” or “Wine of Kings, King of Wines”.

Chateau de Versailles – Galerie des Glaces. #LivingRoomGoals

Merry Christmas Eve, Happy Chanukah, and Happy Christmas my friends! May your family be happy, your cookies delicious and your wine glass full!

Nature’s Refrigerator

Click to enter contest giveaway.

OPEN TO US RESIDENTS ONLY.

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] Like Kékfrankos, Furmint and Hárslevelű. More on those later, promise.
[2] Pronounced Toe-kai Ah-zoo. Still figuring this language out myself.
[3] Puttonyos is the unit given to indicate the level of sweetness of Tokaji wine. It was traditionally measured by the number of hods added to a barrel of wine. A hod is an antique grape picking bucket. Puttonyos are now measured in grams of residual sugar.

The Millesima Blog Awards Are Back #MillesimaBA2017

The holidays are a perfect time to get nostalgic, and Millesima is making me all sorts of nostalgic this week. Entries are now open for the 2017 Blog Awards, which means seven lucky bloggers will be heading to En Primeur in Bordeaux in April. This time without me[1]. I’m so jealous.

On a boat in Bordeaux
On a boat in Bordeaux

This was literally the trip of a lifetime, especially for a wine blogger. Me and my blogger counterparts, three from the US, three from Europe, were treated like Kings and Queens from the second we stepped off the airplane until the moment we were chauffeured back to the airport[2].

Château d'Yquem in all her glory
Château d’Yquem in all her glory

You may recall last year when I asked you, and every other person I’ve ever met, to vote for my entry in the awards[3]. The contest asks bloggers to submit a wine blog that fits into one of three categories:

  • Wine & Food Pairing Award
  • Wine Travel Award
  • Wine Reporter Award (an open category celebrating the best in wine writing)
Millesima Blog Awards
Millesima Blog Awards

Wine bloggers from the USA, Europe, and Asia are qualified to enter so long as the entries are written in English. A panel of three judges whittle down the contestants to a few finalists and then it goes to popular vote[4].

Winners this year will be flown to Bordeaux, enjoy a private guided tour of the city, a gala welcoming soirée, imbibe at exclusive tastings of the 2016 vintage en primeur with the Chateaux of the Union des Grands Crus, and more[5].

I think I read something about how past winners aren’t eligible. Maybe I’ll start a new blog called Winer Esquirer and submit an entry again. Technically, Winer Esquirer wasn’t a winner, so I think I’m ok. That’s not cheating right?

If you have any questions about how fantabulous the experience was, feel free to reach out. I love reminiscing about French fairytales. For example, we literally drank the 2015 vintage of Château d’Yquem like water. For a few hours. At the Château. While we chatted it up with the winemaker.  For real. That happened[6].

Angels sing all day at Château d'Yquem
Angels sing all day at Château d’Yquem

My friends at Millesima and Bernard Magrez truly know how to make you feel like royalty. Every detail was attended to, and the trip was a jam-packed, wine-filled breathtaking experience. Not only was the wine and food phenomenal, it was an incredible chance to make some lifelong friends from all over the world. My buddies and I still chat today and I’ve even had the opportunity to meet up with people I met there in New York.

You can visit the blogs of my fellow winners, Madelyn, Michelle, Jeremy, Mike and Toma, where they document their fabulous international wine journeys.

Wine Blogger Friends
Wine Blogger Friends, from left to right, Michelle, Jeremy, Toma, Mike, Madelyn, and Wine Esquire.

I really can’t say enough about the experience, and if you’re a wine blogger, you’d be crazy not to give it a go. Can’t wait to read your entries, Cheers!

Link to more information and to enter. Be sure to get your entry in by December 30!

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] Never say never though, I’m working out a way for me to go back too!! #seeyouthere
[2] In a wifi-enabled Mercedes. Because how else do you travel around Bordeaux?
[3] I wrote about a white Bordeaux blend, homemade crepes and a crazy a#s client. I miraculously ended up winning the Wine and Food pairing category.
[4] Thank God for Facebook. If I’m friends with you on Facebook, I asked you to vote. Probably on a daily basis. #sorrynotsorry

Caviar Tasting at Pape Clement. That was all for me. #nobigdeal
Caviar Tasting at Pape Clement. That was all for me. #nobigdeal

[5] Did I mention I’m jealous? #sojealous
[6] See my highlights, here. More in-depth reminiscing about d’Yquem, the Bordeaux Tour and dining a la Michelin Stars, residing at a Château for a week (#normal), and tasting Sauternes like it’s my job (well, it is my job, I’m a wine blogger).

I'm pretty much a farmer. Working the fields at Chateaux Pape Clement. #nobigdeal
I’m pretty much a farmer. Working the fields at Chateaux Pape Clement. #nobigdeal

Riesling is My New Cabernet

Riesling

Well, maybe.

If you ask me what my favorite wine is, I’ll always answer Napa Valley Cabernet. Give it to me big, full and juicy and I’m a happy camper. Some argue that there are better wines in the world, and I’m not about to disagree, but everyone’s palate is different. I’m still exploring and figuring mine out, and if I’m in a pinch and just want some good wine, I’m usually not steered wrong with one of my favorite Napa fruit bombs.

That being said, since my real goal is to always experience different wines,[1] I’ve encountered a fair number of Rieslings in the last year that have been impeccable. They work as stand-alone drinkers, and pair exceptionally well with food as well[2]. Now, I’m not going for the super fruity sweet Rieslings that were popular with all my friends in college, but rather the more subdued, not so sugary varieties that have real body and character.

A few weeks ago[3] our Sommelier Wine Friend[4] brought over a bottle of 2012 Joh. Jos. Prüm Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett.

Riesling
2012 Joh. Jos. Prüm Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett

The sparkle hits you right away. Petrol and peach on the nose; amazingly silky mouthfeel with notes of peach, pineapple and green grass. Simply gorgeous. We served this as an appetizer, sans food, before Husband’s incredible dinner of braised short ribs[5] and duck fat potatoes[6].

Riesling
Riesling and Gourds … the perfect combination

So even though I’m still a huge fruit bomb fan, I’m seriously open to exploring more and more Rieslings, and this one was a winner. It retails throughout the country for around $26-30, and let me tell you, it’s well worth it.

J.J. Prüm is a seriously well-respected wine house. In 1911, Johann Josef Prüm began the estate and his son Sebastian joined him in 1920 when the first bottlings were released. JJ and Sebastian’s ancestors continue at the helm today; it is currently run by Sebastian’s son Dr. Manfred Prüm, and his granddaughter, Dr. Katharina Prüm. With an exclusive focus on Riesling, their 33.5 acres of vineyards produce some of Germany’s finest, and they have a long history of aging well. Their harvest tends to be late which gives the wine the ability to stand the test of time.

The wines are grown in Wehlen, a tiny village of about 1,300 residents in the heart of Mosel, one of Germany’s 13 wine regions, and perhaps its most prestigious. The Prüm vineyards are nestled along the Middle Mosselle, the central section of the Moselle River which runs through France, Luxembourg, and Germany.

Riesling Wine Cork
Cork Shot #forthewin

The sundial on the Prüm labels is a nod to the real life sundial which graces the face of their Sonnenuhr vineyard.

JJ's Sundial. Photo (c) courtesy of pop & pour
JJ’s Sundial. Photo (c) courtesy of pop & pour

New, crisp and interesting Rieslings will always be a hit, so this would be the perfect thing to bring to an intimate dinner party as an apertif or give as a gift. After all, #tistheseason.

Until the next glass, Cheers!

Lawyer Footnotes

[1] We are, after all, here for a limited period of time, and the wine selection possibilities are endless.
[2] See, i.e., Riesling is a Viable OptionHey, Can We BYOB?, and Indian & Riesling: Wining & Dining 101.
[3] Jeeze, time flies, huh?
[4] If you don’t have one of these wine friends, I’d highly recommend finding one. #WineFriendsForTheWin
[5] Which we paired with a big Napa fruit bomb. Obviously.
[6] #DietStartsMonday