Thursday, May 24, 2012

Your Cure for a Rough Day at the Office

Come on in and let me pour you a glass. After a day like today, I know exactly what you need, a good stiff drink. Not just any drink will do, but I happen to know just the thing to put you at ease.

I slip off your shoes, give your aching feet a firm squeeze and your body begins to relax ever so slightly. Your resistance is low, your brain is tired and you’re not going to fight with me. I know this and I also know that what I pour for you is a bit out of the realm of your typical drink, but you succumb to my better judgment.

Expecting a glass of wine, you jiggle the glass, and the sound of the ice cubes tinkling excites your exhausted state. You take a sniff and your long day melts away as you slip off into the exotic aromas that only exist elsewhere… far, far away. You’re now under my spell… really the spell of Cana’s Feast Chinato D’Erbetti.

After a day like today, you need something stronger than a simple glass of wine, and this one is anything but simple. Cana’s Feast Winery, located in Carlton Oregon, produces a Nebbiolo-based wine that’s been blended with grape neutral spirits from Clear Creek Distillery, sugar and hypnotic infusions of over 18 different aromatic herbs, spices and plants. The Cana’s Feast Chinato D’Erbetti ($45), the first domestic version of this historic Italian beverage, was inspired by the traditional Barolo Chinatos from Piedmont and has its roots in old-world traditions and folk medicine. It’s a cure all, or at least a cure to a rough day. 

Combining time-honored Vermouth making methods with classic naturopathic extractions for herbal medicine, the result is a fortified wine with a prescription for contentment. The wine is magical all on its own, sipped slowly after a meal, but to make a troubling day vanish into a sea of minutia like a flash of green as the sun hits the ocean, mix the Chinato into your favorite cocktail and savor the moment. Give an Old Fashioned a new twist, add a shot of Chinato and breath new life into a classic drink… I love the way the Chinato enhances a good whiskey (and vice versa). Take DIY bartending to a new level and try some of these creative cocktail recipes by Portland's top Mixologists. Next time you need an escape, try a glass of the Chinato D’Erbetti and discover a new world through an Old-World wine. it's just what the doctor ordered.


This post was written for and inspired by Wine Blogging Wednesday (WBS) challenge #77 to write about what wine you would drink after a bad day at work, hosted by none other than A Glass After Work. And while actually I’m posting this piece a day after the WBW challenge, if you knew the kind of day I had yesterday co-hosting #WineChat with Frank Morgan of Drink What You Like, you might grant me a little leeway, if not pour me a good strong drink, and rub my feet.

Full disclosure, I actually work for Cana’s Feast Winery (managing their Marketing and Social Media), so my knowledge of this unique and memorable wine is rather intimate. When I saw the WBW challenge though, I knew there wasn’t anything I’d rather drink after a rough day at the office and thought the rest of the world would benefit by the knowledge of this tasty little cure-all, even a day late.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Pinot and Pooches Unite at Oregon Winery

Memorial Weekend is like the shot heard round the world for the opening of wine season in these parts… well, the shot heard round Oregon anyway. Many wineries that don’t keep regular tasting room hours will throw open their cellar doors this weekend while most others will be offering special events and/or wine discounts. Typically a crowded weekend in Oregon wine country, Memorial Day weekend provides a fantastic opportunity to both visit some lesser-known wineries and to stock up on summer wines.

Though certainly not lesser-known, this year the incomparable WillaKenzie Estate (one of Wine and Spirits Magazine’s Top 100 wineries of the world for 2010 and 2011) is doing something really unique and worthwhile. Taking advantage of a surge of foot traffic on the holiday weekend, they’ve partnered with the Oregon Humane Society to create the “Pinot and Pooches” Pet Adoption event. Dog and wine lovers unite this weekend only with a goal of placing all the pets into the arms of loving families and stable homes. WillaKenzie Estate Winery's Owner Bernard Lacroute says, "Every animal is entitled to a good home. Our dogs Beasley and Iko here at WillaKenzie Estate Winery, enjoy the life that every dog deserves. We support the Oregon Humane Society and hope to provide each and every dog the opportunity to live like Beasley and Iko."

On May 26-27 from 11-5pm, visitors will taste WillaKenzie Estate’s wines (including their newly released 2011 Pinot Gris) and visit with shelter dogs desperately in need of good homes. If you’ve at all been considering getting a new dog, what better time than this event to cement that decision? If bringing home a new loveable scamp isn’t part of your grand plan, come give a dog a hug (we all need love), walk them through the vineyard and perhaps you’ll want to change your plans. 

This isn’t the first time WillaKenzie Estate Winery has partnered with the Oregon Humane Society, this past year they dedicated 10% of all sales on their Clos Marco Chardonnay to the organization in honor of their late vineyard dog Marco. Event Manager Claudia Bowers speaks about the winery's decision to partner with the non-profit organization, “Being ardent animal lovers, we chose to support the Oregon Humane Society because of their hard work and dedication to helping those animals that can’t help themselves.” Come do your part, if you can’t provide a home, you can simply buy a bottle. Tell a friend, maybe someone you know has been thinking of adding a new member to the family. 

Pinot and Pooches Memorial Day event is just $15 per person (free for Cellar Club members and up to four guests) and includes tastings of their 2011 Pinot Gris, 2009 Clos Marco Chardonnay, 2010 Pinot Meunier, 2009 Pinot Noir Kiana, 2009 Pinot Noir Emery and the 2009 Pinot Noir Aliette; along with foods like Sweet Briar Farms Grilled Pork Sausages with House-Made Rosemary Focaccia and a Mediterranean Salad by Chef Gabe Gabreski of A Cena Ristorante, as well as a variety of gourmet cheeses.

Visit their website for more information and to purchase your tickets.

**An Important Note About Visiting Dogs**
Although they are a dog-loving winery, they are asking that you do not bring your own pooch to this Doggie Adoption Event. They would like the shelter dogs to be the center of attention, and to make sure they are as comfortable as possible without additional stress other dogs may cause. Thank you for understanding.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Yes, Red Wine in the Fridge. Really.

Taste the best in fine Italian wine, on deal now.

It seems like a lifetime ago when I was just getting started in the wine industry, with so much to learn about tasting wine, making wine, selling wine. Not much has really changed. I worked for a small, family-owned winery back then where it wasn’t easy to find the confidence to voice my opinion amidst the group whom I’d known had been immersed in wine for what seemed to me like eons.

I remember a day when I was filling in for the tasting room manager (one wears many hats in a small business – communications manager one moment, receptionist the next and tasting room manager the next) and performing the closing duties. I got to the part where I was supposed to preserve the open bottles of wine for the next day. While I would have much preferred to take those open bottles home and put them to good use, that wasn’t a financially sound option. Instead, I pumped a steady stream of nitrogen gas down the neck of each bottle and stuffed the cork tightly back on. Into the fridge went the whites, while the red wines were returned to their position on the tasting room bar, lined up like bunch of beauty pageant contestants. At that moment, if someone had been standing next to me, they might have seen the light bulb illuminate over my head. The thought going through my mind… If the refrigerator preserved the white wines, wouldn’t it do the same for the reds?

At the next staff meeting, when I suggested perhaps the red wines should be refrigerated each night just like the whites, the winemaker and assistant winemaker looked at me for a moment, before slightly nodding their heads in agreement. “Yeah, I guess that’s a good idea” was their reply.  Really? Had no one thought of this before. Years later, after I’d moved along to another winery and then into business for myself, I found myself recalling this moment and wondering if that best practice has been preserved like a valuable bottle of wine.

So, this all came streaming back into the forefront of mind last week when I had the pleasure of attended an industry tasting of over 100 bottles of wine and was able to take home a few of my favorites. With six open bottles of wine, I invited friends over to taste, but between my busy schedule, and theirs, there was more open wine bottles than people to consume them. I wondered how long the wine could last before becoming oxidized and undrinkable.

Fast forward a bit… I was mentioning to a friend that I was taking a risk and drinking a four-day-old wine that night, when he advised me to be careful and not to get sick. “It’s not milk” I replied. I told him I’d vacuum sealed the bottles and stored them in the fridge, and though they were perhaps not optimum, they should hold up okay, but it was a test. “Red wine? In the fridge?” he asked surprised (this coming from a man who had cooked bottles of Chateau Lafite Rothschild from 1960's in his collection). “Of course, you should always store your unfinished bottles in the fridge, even Port,” I said, realizing at that moment that what I’d thought was common sense really wasn’t that common at all. “Not only does it reduce oxidation but it also reduces the chances that acetic bacteria will spoil the wine,” I added. It also occurred to me not everyone has the dilemma of storing open bottles of wine. Often time people finish their bottle each night and don’t have to worry about how to save the remaining for future use, but that’s not always the case.

While air is a wine’s worst enemy, high temperature is no friend either. Pop a cork and you can rest assured that your wine is now vulnerable to both. While we instinctively put our white wines in the fridge to preserve them, partly because it's common knowledge to serve white wine chilled, not everyone would think to do the same their opened bottles of red. I can tell you though that this simple method is the best and easiest way to ensure that bottle will be as enjoyable next time you remove that cork. Don’t discount the wine vacuum though. The recipe for wine preservation should be a two-step process. Suck out all the air before you store it in the fridge. 

Through experimentation, I’ve learned that older vintages will survive a bit longer than young wines. And while I would certainly not recommend that anyone should try to store an opened bottle of wine for four days (yeah, it wasn’t good), with proper technique and attention (though it may deteriorate some), it should definitely be drinkable for a good two or three days. As with any rules, there are exceptions, and Bubbly is always the exception. Don’t ever try to save an open bottle of sparkling wine, it will only lose its sparkle. If you can’t find anyone to help finish the bottle, call on me. I’ll do my civic duty and volunteer my services to rescue your Champagne from impending death. It’s all in a day’s work. Call me a superhero, call me the wine rescuer… just call me.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

No Person Hungry in Portland - A Food and Wine Mecca

A foodie's dream come true, Taste of the Nation was created to bring awareness and raise money to stop childhood hunger. 5,000,000 calories later, I'm still digesting this concept. This year the event changed venues from Luxe Autoworks to the sun-dappled Jeld-Wen Field, and since the weather was especially accommodating (it was practically summer), one could almost feel the energy coursing through the breezy air. Thrill and excitement could be seen and felt by all who attended, worn like clothing on the bodies of those waiting for their entry, their next bite and their next drink.

The event is a showcase for local culinary artistry. Top chefs come out in the name of a worthy cause and don't hold anything back. Some of them are risk takers—huge props to Aviary on their Fried Pig Snout with Pickled Fennel, Hard-Boiled Egg and Mustard Creme Fraiche and La Calaca Comelona for their Octopus Stew atop a Slice of Green Apple. Some stay in their comfort zone, like the esteemed Joel Palmer House with everything mushroom, who still managed to throw out a few surprises with their mushroom desserts, like the tasty Candy Cap Mushroom and Madeira Milkshake.

A feast for the eyes, not only the belly, there's food in cups, on spoons, square foods, round foods and everything in between. Do I need to even mention the sweets? Top visual honors go to Otto for their Egg Cake (which wasn't really an egg at all) and Andina on their Causitas Maki (though I didn't care much for the texture when it hit my mouth, much preferring the taste of their Empanaditas de Lomo Saltado instead).

If I were to give out awards for favorite bites of the night, it would be a tough call, as there was literally a concourse of comestibles. Foods so scrumptious, they'd tempt you to eat more (like the little devil on your shoulder), even while your belly was screaming that is was so full another mouthful might make it burst. My most esteemed entrees of the evening were Aviary's Deep Fried Pig Snout, Boke Bowl's Asian Steamed Buns, Ned Ludd's Rabbit Confit, Biwa's Karokke, Circa 33's Mushroom Forest, Departure's Honey Chicken Buns, Irving Street Kitchen's Potato Latke Salmon Gravlax with Apple Butter and Herb Creme Fraiche and Portobello Vegan Trattoria's Beef Tartare with Cashew Cheese. Wow.

Top wineries were on hand to enhance the tasting experience, of which I particularly enjoyed the Bergstrom 2010 Old Stones Chardonnay, Elk Cove 2011 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Argyle 2008 Brut (who could turn down a glass of their bubbles?), Owen Roe Ex Umbris Syrah, Cana's Feast 2009 Barbera and Seven Bridges 2008 Malbec. If wine didn't put a smile on your face, local breweries were pouring beer and cider, and distilleries were also sampling a multitude of spirits and cocktails which seemed to leave imbibers with ear to ear grins.

A huge suceess, kudos to the Share our Strength Taste of the Nation organizers, staff and volunteers on a job well done! I hope the event achieved its goal and was able to raise the funds they were hoping for to make a difference in the lives of hungry children everywhere.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Eat, Drink and Do Your Part to End Childhood Hunger

Wine Chateau: the online wine store of choice.

For nearly 25 years, Taste of Nation has brought together culinary geniuses all across the country with one singular goal in mind, to raise money to help end childhood hunger. The tour has so far successfully raised over $1.3 million in hunger relief, and yet the problem still persists.

In America, one of the world's wealthiest nations, practically one out of every four children struggles with chronic childhood hunger. Kids that are hungry have much greater problems than just a rumbling tummy. Hungry kids suffer from impaired growth, development, increased sickness as well as lower productivity in schools. Share our Strength utilizes events like Taste of the Nation to bring light to this sad subject and make a difference in the lives of children, their families and ultimately our country.

Taste of the Nation is touring America for the 24th consecutive year uniting celebrity chefs, premium wineries/breweries and expert mixologists who donate their time and resources to help with this extraordinary cause.

If you wondered how much of your ticket sales actually go to those hungry children, rest easy and eat and drink up, because the answer is 100%… tickets range in price from $85 to $185 (for the Luxe ticket offering the earliest entry). Additionally, there will be a silent auction where you can bid on amazing prizes to help aid the Child No Hungry movement.

On Tuesday, May 8th, 2012, Taste of the Nation will be at JELD-WEN Field in Portland. This is your change to mingle with the foodie in-crowd while you savor signature dishes, sip locally crafted wines, cocktails and beer from over 75 purveyors all to benefit hungry children. The Portland leg of the national tour will be directly benefitting local organizations like the Oregon Food Bank, Partners for a Hungry-Free Oregon, St. Vincent de Paul Food Recovery Program and Klamath-Lake Counties Food Bank.

Be a part of the solution. For more information and to purchase your tickets, visit the Taste of the Nation website.

If you need another reason besides helping poor hungry children, take a look at the participants and drool over what you'll be enjoying:

Gem Restaurants:
Bamboo Sushi
Boke Bowl
Ned Ludd
Olympic Provisions

Other Participants:
Ate Oh Ate
Brasserie Montmartre
Bunk Sandwiches
Circa 33
Clyde Common
Crown Paella
Cupcake Jones
Davis Street Tavern
Double Dragon
Irving Street Kitchen
Joel Palmer House
La Calaca Comelona
Miss Zumstein
Missionary Chocolates
New Season's Market
Nong's Khao Man Gai
Nuestra Cocina
Oregon Ice Works
Oven and Shaker
The Painted Lady
Pine State Biscuits
Random Order
Ringside Fish House
Ruby Jewel
Ruth's Chris Steakhouse
Saint Cupcake
St. Honoré Boulangerie
St. Jack
Smokehouse 21
Urban Farmer
Woodlawn Bakery
Xocolati de David

2012 Gem Wineries:
Bergstrom Wines
Owen Roe
Sineann Wines

Additional Particpating Wineries:
Adelsheim Vineyard
Anne Amie Vineyards
Apolloni Vineyards
Ardiri Winery and Vineyards
Argyle Winery
Cana's Feast Winery
Coleman Vineyard
Cooper Mountain Vineyard
Cristom Vineyards
Elk Cove Vineyards
Ilahe Vineyards and Winery
Lange Estate Winery and Vineyard
Methven Family Vineyards
The Mitchell Wine Group
Montinore Estate
Oak Knoll Winery
PDX Urban Wineries
Torii Mor Winery
Willamette Valley Vineyards
Youngberg Hill Vineyards

Beer, Cider and Non-Alcoholic Beverages:
Burnside Brewing C.
Captured by Porches
Crater Lake Soda
Deschutes Brewery
DRY Soda Co.
Finnegan Cider
Full Sail Brewing Co.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Smith Teamaker
Volcanic Minerals
Widmer Brothers Brewing

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Free Tickets for Pinot Lovers!

I consider myself fortunate for being able to turn on wine lovers time and again by providing my readers great opportunities to taste the beautiful locally crafted Pinot noirs. Today, I'm proud to be able to give some lucky follower a chance to win TWO tickets to the upcoming Taste Pinot 365.

Taste Pinot 365 doesn't refer to drinking Pinot noir 365 days a year (no matter how fun that sounds) but rather honors some of the select wineries open to guests each and every day (well, excluding a few major holidays) and serves as reminder when making your plans for a wine country outings. These places are more than just wineries, each and every one should be considered a destination.

Come to Red Slate Wine Company in the Olympic Mills Building on May 10th from 6-8pm and enjoy some of the finest wines this state has to offer.

Participating wineries include:

Tickets are just $15/person (available through Local Wine Events) and include tastings of wine and foods by Olympic Provisions and Red Hills Provincial Dining.

Comment below or on my Facebook page for your chance to win and tweet about it using the hashtag #Pinot365 for additional entries! 

Winners will be selected Monday, May 7th, so comment and tweet on until midnight on May 6th. Good luck!