Saturday, November 30, 2019

Getting holiday Ready

Thanksgiving was late this year so it’s feeling like a tighter holiday season. I’ve been inundated with samples to try and finally seeing the end of the (tasty) tunnel.

Wine for your dining…
Seven Falls Cellars in Paterson, Washington sent me a case of some of their most popular wines. I have to say I liked them all, especially since they have a price point around $20.

The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon is a quality cabernet sauvignon at a $22.99 price. It’s starts with the familiar black cherry and ends in smoke and spice.

Seven Falls Cellars Merlot (2014) is more flavorful for my taste, when you add in the black raspberry and currant, and a finish with a hint of cocoa.

The 2015 Rapids Red is filled with red fruit, with just a little spice on the back. I could actually take this wine warmed with some cinnamon or nutmeg, or a full set of mulling spices, to drink in front of the fire.

Although I prefer my chardonnay unoaked, the Seven Cellars 2016 is the red lovers white. It’s bold and buttery, with an oaky vanilla.

Canned Wine with a twist…
Don’t worry about flipping that metal open to drink this wine. ICAN has a unique can: it’s a reusable, insulated can, resembling a bottle, with a twist top.

I love the design and the fact that it can be reused for wine, water, or anything you’d like. The wine also happens to be pretty good because it’s produced by an established winery, Mercer Wine in Washington State.

I was sent the current options: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Rose, and Red. Although Sauvignon Blanc is my favorite wine, I liked that one the least as it tasted a bit watery.

I thought the others were really good – especially the Rose. The Chardonnay had a light frizzante, which made it even more tasty.  I also loved how the cans kept the wine cold.

A most unusual cordial…
I’ve had some unusual spirits over the years, and Somrus Chai Liqueur tops the list. I wasn’t really sure what to think of a chai liqueur, but I’m always willing to give liquor a chance. I’m glad I did.

I found this cordial to be a bit spicy and very creamy. Although the taste is nothing, I can describe beyond a super-rich chai latte at 27 proof. The Indian spices, especially the cardamom, are very obvious, and it’s made with real cream.

I don’t believe in taking a perfectly mastered cordial and doing anything other than sipping it, but there are some fascinating recipes on their website.

A new offering from an old favorite…
Just in time for Christmas, Bailey’s Irish Cream has a very appropriate new liqueur - Red Velvet. I was thrilled to get a bottle of this one and gathered some friends to give it a try. It is even better than we expected.

Bailey’s Irish Cream has always been known for its natural flavors, and the Red Velvet is no different. You’ll taste that dark chocolate, cream cheese, and butter, with a smooth and sweet finish.

It’s delectable by itself (cold or on the rocks) or added to coffee or hot chocolate.
The folks at Bailey’s seemed to agree with my assessment that a cordial doesn’t need to be a cocktail, however, it has become popular in recipes (like the ultimate red velvet cupcakes). We finished my bottle before I had a chance to do any baking, but it’s certainly worth considering.

You’ll want to pick up a bottle (or maybe two) of Bailey’s Red Velvet Irish Cream for the holiday season.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Fall Spirits and Food

There was lots of frost on the pumpkin this Halloween, but that didn’t keep me from enjoying fall food and spirits.

A little bit of spirit in my bread…
I first tried Sugarland Distilling’s Pumpkin Spiced Latte Sipping Cream two years ago. I loved it and it was a huge hit with my friends. 

I received a note from the company promoting it for the fall season. I asked them to send me another bottle, this time for cooking.

I had a pretty good idea of what it would work in and I was right. You definitely want to try this recipe I created for Pumpkin Spiced Latte Cream Cheese Bread.

Try this tequila selection…
I didn’t know much about Alacran Tequila before I received a box to sample. I am a tequila lover and was impressed with their selection, as well as the product.

My favorite of the bunch was the Autentico Tequila Cristal. This premium tequila will remain one of my favorites. It’s got the perfect mix of smooth and sweet that I wouldn’t waste mixing in a cocktail. This is a tequila I want to sip.

The Alacran Blanco, which comes in a pink bottle for Breast Cancer October, is a good lower level tequila (it runs about $33 to the $44 of the Cristal), a little less smooth and sweet, but certainly worth keeping around and great for mixing.

While Reposados are not my favorite, I did like the Alacran, which is only aged four months in American Oak Barrels, so it’s not too strong, but does have some tasty vanilla and caramel.

All of the Alacran Tequilas are 100% agave, cleaned by hand and fermented with their own yeast. They also distill the tequila multiple times.

Not as strange as it sounds…
I was a bit thrown by Sonoma County Distilling Black Truffle Rye. I love black truffles, but wasn’t sure I wanted them in my whiskey. I was pleasantly surprised.

While Sonoma is better known for its wine, Sonoma County Distilling is making its name producing California whiskey with a flavor twist. (In addition to the one I received, they also make a Cherrywood Rye Whiskey.)

Don’t expect this to taste like anything you’ve had in your risotto. Instead, Sonoma Black Truffle, has an earthy, almost musty, taste from the truffles that will more remind you of Scotch whiskey. You’ll sense the nuts more than the vanilla.

At 100 proof and $80 for 375 ml, this is definitely a bottle you savor, or give someone as a special gift.

Fully cover that bottle…
You certainly have to give kudos to whomever came up with the name “Wine Condoms.” I’m sure you can think of a dozen friends to buy them for – before you even know what they do.

Well, after receiving two boxes and trying them out, I can tell you that Wine Condoms have more than a good name. These are an ingenious invention, inexpensive and practical. Instead of worrying about where you put the bottle stopper, just rip over one of these in their little wrapper and cover up your wine.

In addition to being easy to use, I found the Wine Condoms work great. I was able to lay my bottles down in the refrigerator without any spillage.

You can purchase Wine Condoms on Amazon.

Easy, Healthy Popcorn…
I confess that, despite reading about some of the dangers of microwave popcorn, I use it for convenience. That’s why I was anxious to hear about Colonel Popper, a simple option.

Colonel Popper is definitely easy to use. I didn’t need more than a teaspoon of oil and, miraculously, all the kernels popped. They were light and flavorful, with no chemicals, no wasted bags, and no extra cost.

I also love the pop-up bowl that stores easily with its cover. You can buy Colonel Popper here.