A Spoonful of Sherry

So there I was, 6:15 p.m. on the night of this month’s #Under25Challenge. I still hadn’t left the office, I had no bottle of wine, and even more distressing, I had nothing to eat for dinner[1]. Shite. I packed my bag, grabbed my keys, ran out the door and headed to Price Chopper[2]. I ladled myself some split pea and ham soup,[3] then made my way over to the hole-in-the-wall liquor store across the street.[4] I wasn’t sure what I was gonna get, but I figured they had to have SOMETHING drinkable. I was in a pinch, and beggars can’t be choosers.

I walked in to the store and found the lone employee perusing the Beverage Journal at the front counter. As it turns out, Marvin owned the store. I told him about the Twitter challenge and how I’d like for him to make a recommendation of his best bottle $25 or under, and he chuckled to himself. I could tell that this was the kinda guy in the kinda store that just didn’t do Twitter. He asked whether I wanted to give him any direction and I said I was open to anything, although I was leaning toward having a red. He took me over to the wine section, plunked a bottle down on a wine box, and then disappeared. I didn’t know if that was it or if he was going to get something else. I decided to wait around.

The #Under25Challenge Selections
The #Under25Challenge Selections

Four minutes later he came back with two more bottles, then he wandered to another section to get a fourth. I really wasn’t expecting this kind of variety, or thoughtfulness, from my hole-in-the-wall package store down the street. My choices ranged from $13.99 to $19.99; he offered an interesting Australian blend featuring Petite Verdot, which he told me was rare for a Rhone style wine, a 100% Mencia from Spain that he said would knock my socks off, a Rioja that may need a bit of decanting[5], and a delicious black cherry fruit bomb from Napa. I told him I was rather partial to fruit bombs from Napa, but that I wanted to go out of my comfort zone that evening. I was leaning toward the Australian or the Mencia.

Then I casually mentioned what I was having for dinner; split pea and ham soup. “Aha!,” he exclaimed, “well then I know just the thing, but this is gonna be weird.” I waited with bated breath while he disappeared again. He came back with a bottle of what looked kind of like Boone’s Farm. It was a $10.99 bottle of Hartley & Gibson’s Fino Sherry. He explained that Sherry was the secret ingredient to make any soup outstanding; clam chowder, chicken noodle, beef and vegetable, you name it, Sherry would make it shine. I said, “Really? I’d never heard that before!”

Fino Sherry
Surprise!

Marvin told me that the Sherry would do three things to my soup: 1. it would add its own unique flavor; 2. it would meld all the flavors of the soup together; and 3. it would remove any excess saltiness. I thought it sounded great, and I figured that since my store-bought soup couldn’t possible get any worse, I might as well give it a try[6]. So I went with the Sherry… and the Australian blend, just to be safe. Both bottles came to $26.16, almost cheap enough to meet the #Under25Challenge parameters.

But all that chatting with Marvin about wine and Sherry had seriously cut down my lead time for the challenge. I didn’t have much time to prep for the chat, and clearly, my main priority was the soup[7].

First I tasted the soup sans Sherry, to give myself a baseline to compare it too. It was really good, but not amazing. Then I added the magic elixir. Less than a shot, maybe two teaspoons, and mixed it all in. Marvin said you should add it tableside or right before you take it off the heat. I took my first bite and said, “Oh. Em. Gee.” What Marvin said was true! Holy. Moly. This was the best thing I’ve ever done to a soup.[8]

Fino Sherry

The flavor it added was just a hint of oak barrels and a touch of sweet port. It really did bring the flavors together and eliminated the saltiness. It gave it a richness that wasn’t there before, and a whole lot more pizzazz. It was a soup miracle.

Since the #Under25Challenge is all about finding new things for under $25, this bottle fit the bill perfectly. I tried a small taste on its own to get a feel for Sherry, it may have been my first foray. Someone on Twitter said it should have been on the rocks, but I drank it warm and neat, and I can tell you it wasn’t something I’m in a rush to do again. But I can tell you that this soup season is going to be packed with a Sherry punch!

Until the next bowl, Cheers!

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] #Priorities.
[2] Because where else would I go for food?
[3] I love that it’s officially soup season.
[4] When I say hole in the wall, I’m really not exaggerating. This is the kinda place where regulars come in for their nips and their forties on a daily basis. #classy
[5] But ain’t nobody got time for that when your twitter chat is about to start in 20 minutes!
[6] To be fair, the hot soups at Price Chopper are seriously awesome.
[7] Because, #hanger.
[8] You know, besides re-heating it.

Rooftop Rosé

It’s been a week since my last post! Yikes! Sorry! #lawyerlife. I had a great post laid out in my head. The title was “Memorializing the Weekend”[1] and I had some great photos, but I just never got around to writing it. It’s been a bit crazy at The Firm. Lots of work. Lots of extracurriculars. While everyone else was Barbequin’, I spent a few hours at the office on Memorial Day and that’s kind of how the week went from there. You know how it goes. But now it’s Friday afternoon and Middle Sissy, Mom and I are on a mini “vacation” [2] visiting Grandma in Baltimore. It’s quite heavenly on our rooftop patio and my craving for Bubbly has finally been satisfied. Thank the wine gods!

_______________________________________________
To:                  Alleged Blog Readers
From:              WineEsquire
Date:               May 29, 2015
Wine:              Navarro Correas Brut Malbec-Rosé
_______________________________________________
IMG_6551This is a bright, gorgeous pinky red Rosé. Perfectly fitting for this hot spring day. On the nose I immediately get strawberries and grape jam, the kind you had as a kid on a piece of white toast when you didn’t want anything else for dinner. I’m still full from lunch and trying to get hungry for the delicious dinner we’re about to have[3], but I think this would go perfect with the Fontina cheese sitting in the fridge. It’s fairly light bodied but it leaves a pleasant finish in your mouth. As far as bubbly Rosés go, especially for $12.99 this is a huge win. Per Middle Sissy, “Sparkling wines really are the way to go.” Per Mom, “I’m not a fan. I’m a Chardonnay snob.”[4]

Wine Dossier
FullSizeRender9
The website for Navvaro Correas is in Spanish with no option to go to English. If Husband were here, I’d ask him to translate, but since he’s not, I’ll have to rely on the information available from Wine.com. According to them, the Navarro Correas “family history dates back to 1798, when Sir Juan de Dios Correas planted the first vine seeds in the lands of Mendoza at the foot of the Andes ridge.” This means they’re a very old winery in Argentina. I can tell from their website that they grow many types of grapes. This one was a Brut Malbec. According to Wine Spectator’s Dr. Vinny, “brut”[5] is a word used to describe the dryness of your bubbly.  I wouldn’t say this one was particularly dry; in fact, I didn’t get any dryness at all. Maybe they just used the term to convey that it was sparkling.  Malbec is one of the varietals traditionally blended into Bordeaux wine. I always associated Malbec with South America, but as it turns out, Malbec was originally a French grape until a French botanist began growing it in Argentina in 1868. It also turns out that French Malbecs tastes very different from their Argentinian counterparts. I’ll have to do a comparison one of these days. #bucketlist

Cheers!

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] We drank a lot of great wine that I never wrote about. C’est la vie!
[2] I use the term vacation lightly since I spent the day answering emails and revising loan documents, in between the singalong and 4 p.m. happy hour with the nursing home residents.
[3] At a Lebanese BYOB place that has to-die for Baba Ganoush. Wine pics to follow I’m sure.
[4] Mom is not a snob of anything. Her go-to Chardonnay is Tisdale, which she buys for $3.99. She’s also on her third glass of the Rosé and singing along with James Taylor YouTube videos.
[5] Google translate tells me that the word “brut” translates to “gross” so that is not very helpful.

A Jumbo Chardonnay

In an unusual turn of events, Husband and I ended up hosting Mother’s Day at our house yesterday. We threw together a little soireé for all the IMG_5983mothers in our lives, our actual mothers of course, plus grandmothers, aunts, fairy godmothers, uncles, fathers, sisters, cousins and neighbors. The weather gods blessed us with a beautiful, if not unseasonably warm, May day. The rosé, red wine and Onyx Moonshine were flowing. Spirits were happy and lively. All in all, I’d say the day was a success.

In another unusual turn of events, I unexpectedly find myself home rather early[1] on this lovely Monday evening with a jumbo bottle of Chardonnay open from yesterday’s fête. After nibbling what remained of the left overs[2], I thought, what’s a girl to do but take a sip[3] and blog?

I must confess that I did not have high expectations for this bottle of wine. Not only was this a jumbo bottle[4], but it had been open for 24 hours.[5] I figured if it was bad, I wouldn’t bother with a post, even though it’s been awhile since my last blog.[6] Since you’re reading this now, you can guess I was pleasantly surprised.

______________________________________________
To:                  Alleged Blog Readers
From:             WineEsquire
Date:               May 11, 2015
Wine:              2013 CK Mondavi Chardonnay Review
______________________________________________
The nose smells like muted granny smith apples. Then I get a hint of vanilla. I sip and it’s soft and buttery, really buttery, with a slight citrus tang on the finish. It’s very smooth and definitely on the thicker side. I’m not as experienced with whites, so I’m not sure if could be classified as full-bodied, but it is certainly not thin.  The color is similar to soft yellow corn, but with the slightest tinge of green.

IMG_6022This is budget wine. College students[7] can afford this. Online you can buy a 750mL starting at $4.69. Splurge on a jumbo 1.5L for your next party and pay $10.99. I’m a firm believer in not serving wine you wouldn’t drink yourself,[8] and I wouldn’t hesitate to serve this at another gathering.[9] This refreshingly crisp wine was a welcome end to the day. Whether you’re organizing a Bar Association event, throwing a dinner party for your law school friends, or hosting the summer associates over for a BBQ[10], you can’t really go wrong with this bottle.

Cheers to a cheap and charming chardonnay![11]

Wine Dossier
Everyone has heard of Robert Mondavi, but until I started this blog, name recognition was all I had. Turns out Robert’s parents, Cesare and Rosa, began writing the family wine history when they purchased the Charles Krug Winery in 1943.[12] Fourth generation Mondavi’s are now involved in running the CK Mondavi Winery, an accomplishment for any family business.[13]

According to the website’s tasting notes, I was fairly on point with my interpretation of this wine. “[M]edium-bodied with a hint of oak. Aromas of lemon and citrus combined with flavors of apple and pear lead to a delightfully crisp finish.” This appears to be the first Chardonnay I’ve reviewed, and that’s probably because I don’t drink much Chardonnay.[14] Chardonnay is a green grape that originated in France and is now widely grown all around the globe. It is said to be the most popular white wine grape, and is used to make sparkling wines, including champagne. DNA testing done has revealed it’s a cross between Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc and the nearly extinct, Gouais Blanc. People who know about these things speculate that early Romans planted Gouais Blanc in French vineyards with Pinot Noir vines, resulting in the natural cross-pollination of the two.

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] Home by 6:15!
[2] Panzanella salad for the win!
[3] Ok, a glass. Or two.
[4] The wine snob in me is biased against them. I’m sorry.
[5] Though it had been properly vacuum sealed and refrigerated.
[6] Mea culpa, mea culpa! I’m a busy lawyer and stuff!
[7] Of legal drinking age of course.
[8] That’s tacky.
[9] That being said, I don’t think buying jumbos for weeknight drinking is a good idea.
[10] Actually, if you’re a partner hosting summers at your home, then you should splurge and buy them some nice, expensive wine. Make them believe that someday, after their law school loans are paid, they too can afford nice things.
[11] See what I did there with the alliteration.
[12] Hence the name CK (Charles Krug) Mondavi.
[13] Robert branched off and started his own winery in 1966; there are now multiple Mondavi wine brands, including Robert’s daughter-in-law Isabella’s Rosé.
[14] Unless, of course, I’m at a summer party and there’s no rosé.

Lofty Goals: A Dynamic Pinot

Setting goals is the key to success.[1] In law school, I was on top of my goal setting game. Get good grades. Get multiple job offers. Pass the bar exam. Check. Check. Check. Now that I’m in real life lawyer-land, setting goals has slipped down on my priority list, even though I know how good it is for me. The day to day “stuff” gets in the way so easily, but last week, I took some time to write some goals.[2] One of my goals was that the Universe would send me some wine to review on my blog.[3]

Ask and ye shall receive.

FullSizeRender8I’m toiling working away at my desk one evening last week when one of the partners buzzes me about a hearing he needs me to cover the following day. I trudge head down to his office to retrieve said file and I spy a bottle of wine on his credenza. I found this unusual because this was not a Wine-Drinking Partner[4], this was Coors Light-Drinking Partner.[5] I asked him what he was doing with the bottle of wine and it turns out a client[6] had given it to him for a job well done.[7] He said I could have it since he knows I love wine.

Free wine. Check.[8]
_________________________________________________
To:                  Alleged Blog Readers
From:             WineEsquire
Date:               May 6, 2015
Wine:              2013 Orogeny Pinot Noir Review _________________________________________________
The nose on this wine is amazing. It certainly doesn’t remind me of a typical, light Pinot Noir. It’s pungent and thick with strong notes of spicy tobacco. Even a little licorice and anise. While it’s definitely on the lighter side, this wine packs a powerful punch. It leaves a thin coating of deliciousness throughout the mouth. I’m having trouble identifying what exactly it is I taste[9], but it is very, very smooth, like liquid velvet. No dryness whatsoever; my mouth feels moist[10] and soft after imbibing.  The color is gorgeous, almost a clear ruby red.[11] IMG_5932

Wine Dossier
I was surprised to find I haven’t reviewed a Pinot Noir yet. Pinot used to be[12] my go-to wine. It’s rare that I encountered a bad Pinot, always so light and drinkable; it was always[13] a good bet. Then my taste buds starting evolving changing and I found that Pinots were getting a bit boring. I suppose I’ve been on a Pinot hiatus, but when this free Pinot presented itself, I had no problem checking out what the Wine Gods had in store for me.

The name Pinot Noir is French[14] and based on the words for pine (pin) and black (noir). It’s successfully grown all over the world and as it turns out, is heavily used in the production of Champagne.[15] For being so typically light and drinkable, it’s surprising that it’s apparently difficult to transform into wine because of its tight, pine cone-like bunch structure.

The producer, Orogeny Vineyards, delivered this wine in a nice, heavy bottle with a thick foil seal encapsulating the cork.  The label tells me that the name comes from the Greek terms “oro” (mountain) and “geny” (earth). It goes on to say that “Orogeny is the process during which the collisions and separations of the earth’s crust form mountains. The last orogenic episode in Sonoma County created the Russian River Valley,” the source of their grapes.[16] Online this seems to retail in the $25-$35 range. While I don’t regularly purchase wines in the higher end of this price point, it was wonderfully enjoyable. For poor young lawyers in the throes of law school debt repayment, you really can’t afford this. Higher ups on the legal food chain should definitely give it a try. Personally, I prefer that people give it to me for free. Cheers!

IMG_5939Lawyer Footnotes
[1] I’m sure a life coach has said that before and I’m sure I’ve read it somewhere, but right now, that’s just coming straight from me.
[2] And cleaned out the heinous junk drawer in my desk. I feel like a new woman. Paperclips, rubber bands, pens and corkscrew, all in their proper place. It’s a beautiful thing.
[3] Another goal was that I have 50 blog followers. If you haven’t signed up for email updates, now would be a good time to do so! Up and over to the right. The box that says “Follow WineEsquire”. Enter email. Click Subscribe. There you go.
[4] There are several of these.
[5] Preferably one in each hand at all times.
[6] And good referral source.
[7] Coors Light-Drinking Partner is an excellent attorney with a heart of gold.
[8] Ready to sit down and set some goals?
[9] Maybe some cherries.
[10] Yes I know, mouths are usually moist, but sometimes wines dry them out!
[11] I’m swirling it in my glass wishing I had enough skills to take one of those fancy slo-mo videos. Alas, you’ll have to settle for some still photos.
[12] Last year.
[13] Usually.
[14] Really, I swear.
[15] Thanks, Wikipedia.
[16] Neat story, but I’m not sure I’m comfortable with saying the word out loud.