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Palate Fatigue

Posts about my quick trip to Santa Barbara Wine Country are coming…but first!! Let’s talk about PALATE FATIGUE. What are your tricks and tips to avoid it?

There are a few things I do:

🍷1. The first thing I do is share tastings. I know for most of you this might sound like sacrilege. However, I find sharing tastings not only keeps me honest and clear, but I’m able to taste more before my palate decides it’s done.

🍿2. I like to break up tasting with some food or coffee. It doesn’t have to be a lot. A handful of popcorn helps. It’s just nice to refresh and reset.

💦3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. I’m sure this is not news to any of you, but drinking a lot of water helps to keep things fresh.

👅4. When visiting tasting rooms, I rarely hit more than 3 or 4 in one day. Wine events and conferences are a different creature (you will see me spitting at those 😮). At tasting rooms, I like to sip, enjoy and really take in the wine along with the ambiance that brand has created. There are only so many hours in the day and so much wine you can actually drink at one go. 3-4 tasting rooms is about all my palate can take.

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Spanakorizo with Garlic Shrimp (*or Chicken)

Nobody said being a mom is easy.  However, nobody said it would be extremely difficult to find any kind of time for myself.  My workouts have gone mostly by the wayside since I gave birth two years ago.  At first it didn’t matter.  Between nursing and constantly running on adrenaline, excess weight dropped right off me.  However, once I stopped the breast milk and started walking with a toddler, all that weight I had so easily lost came right back on.  Grrrrr…

Now that I’m beginning to get some sleep back, I’ve decided to get my body and health back too.  I’ve been trying to focus on creating healthier meals that don’t take too long to make.  I have become the queen of one-pot dinners.  Spanakorizo has been a long-time favorite of mine, but it’s only recently that I’ve started to make it myself.  Had I known it was so easy, I would have done it a long time ago.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound shrimp, unshelled, with tails off*
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cups frozen spinach
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup feta
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • Salt, as needed

 

Directions:

  1. Rinse the shrimp and place them in a bowl.  Add 1 minced garlic clove, salt, dill, and the juice of 1 lemon.  Let sit.
  2. In a large pot, saute onions and 1 minced garlic clove in the olive oil until soft. Add the spinach and juice from 1 lemon.  Cook until soft, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the rice, white wine and water. Stir occasionally until it is boiling.  Cover the pot and turn the heat to low.  Cook for about 20-25 minutes, until the rice is soft.
  4. Remove the pot from heat and add the shrimp to the rice. Mix together.  Add any additional salt you need.  Sprinkle feta and dill on top.  Serve with lemon wedges.

*If you don’t like shrimp, you can substitute with chicken, like in the picture.  Just cook your chicken or use already cooked chicken and add in like the shrimp.

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Featured Wine of the Week – Greek Wine!

I stood in front of the Greek wine selection at the wine shop.  I didn’t know where to begin.  I had a few recommendations of Greek wine I should try, but as fate would have it, they were nowhere to be found.  The sales clerk wasn’t any help.  He was clearly out of his element when it came to Greek wines, as was I.  Just when I was about to give up and grab the wine with the label I liked best, I was greeted by a passing customer.

He asked if I was looking to buy a Greek wine,  and when I responded that I was, he seemed surprised.  “Why would you want to do that,” he asked?

I laughed and responded that I was told I should try some, and as a wine blogger and occasional educator, I thought I should.  He then told me he was Greek and could help me.  Then he told me something I will never forget:

“The Greeks basically make wine to GET THE JOB DONE.  Most of the wine is not great.”

This made me laugh, as I thought of Ouzo, the Greek spirit that has an overpowering anise flavor and a knockout punch of alcohol.  Well, okay then…

He helped me through the selection and pointed me towards a wine he thought would be the most palatable and food-friendly.  It had a great price point of $10, which seemed appropriate if it wasn’t great.

I bought it and went home to cook up Spanakorizo, a Greek spinach and rice dish, to pair with the wine.

Description:

Hermes

White Dry Wine

Varietals: Achaia and Savatiano

11.5% Alcohol

Attica, Greece

Tasting Notes:

Pale yellow in hue, this wine has light aromas of lemon, citrus and minerals.  It has a crisp minerality, like licking a wet stone, with hints of lemon and kumquat.  This is a light bodied wine without much acidity.  It paired nicely with the Spanakorizo.

Verdict:

This was a very approachable wine.  It had light flavors and was not complex.  It was great with food and I would pair it was goat cheese, vegetables, fish, and chicken.

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Featured Wine of the Week – White Pinot Noir

One day I was scrolling through my Instagram feed, when I stumbled onto a review of a White Pinot Noir.  I paused and read through it.  A White Pinot Noir?  I pondered it and wondered if it was in the style of White Zinfandel.  If it was, I was not interested.  But if it wasn’t…well, if it wasn’t, this would be a very unique wine!

I’ve noticed a trend lately of taking traditionally red varietals and making them into white wines.  To create these wines the winemakers need to ensure minimal contact with the color giving skins of the grapes.  In the case of the White Pinot Noir I tasted from Left Coast Estate, careful attention was taken by fermenting the grapes in stainless steel at a cool temperature.  No oak was used.  This produced a Pinot Noir that is very clean and is, in fact, a white wine.

09b7b2b3-1e92-4116-aa01-24db51e16774Left Coast Estate’s White Pinot Noir was created when the overcast and chilly “Bummer Summer” of 2011 produced slightly unripe grapes.  On the bottle they say, “Rather than trying to impose our will on the vineyards, we followed our winemaking philosophy of embracing the irregularities of each vintage and created White Pinot Noir.”

 

 

Description:

Left Coast Estate

2018 White Pinot Noir

13.7% Alcohol

Willamette Valley

Oregon

USA

Tasting Notes:

This wine is a very pale straw color, with no hint of any red hues.  There are floral aromas, like walking through a botanical garden on a lovely Spring day.  Light and refreshing with brilliant acidity, it features flavors of honeydew, white flowers, apricot and a white peppered lemon twist on the finish.  This wine is crisp and clean.  This is definitely not your ordinary Pinot Noir.  It lives and breathes as a white wine, and it is absolutely delightful!

Suggested Food Pairings:

I had this wine with sushi, and it was fantastic!  I also recommend salty meats and cheeses, green vegetables, and fried pickles.  Cheers!

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Featured Wine of the Week – Four Vines “The Willing”

It seems I’ve been having a lot of conversations about Chardonnay lately.  Who knew one wine could be so polarizing?  People either love it or hate it.  Honestly, I think those big, over-oaked California Chardonnays have given it a bad rap.  In recent years there has been a trend of lesser oaked, more food friendly Chardonnays.  Then there are the stainless Chards.

Stainless, or naked Chardonnays are an expression of the grape in its purest form.  There is no oak manipulation, so you really get to see what this varietal is like.  Recently I revisited this type of Chardonnay and was not disappointed.  It was lovely and so quaffable.  I could drink it all day (something you will not hear me say about a Chardonnay very often).

Details:

Four Vines “The Willing”

Chardonnay

2016

Monterey County

California, USA

Tasting Notes:

On first glance, this wine is a gorgeous bright golden hue.  A bouquet of tropical fruits awaits: papaya, guava, lychee and pineapple.  It’s telling of what is to come.  On first taste, this wine is slightly sweeter than most Chardonnays.  White floral flavors of honeysuckle and jasmine dance on the tongue.  Juicy tropical fruits linger with a lush and creamy mouthfeel.

General Notes:

This wine was created in Monterey County, California, an area known for being “anti-establishment” with a large population of artists.  Four Vines advertises their wine as being “interesting wine for interesting people.”  This is an interesting wine, and I would drink it again and again.  At $20 for the bottle, this is a bargain.

Featured Wine (Glasses) of the Week

Let’s talk about wine glasses.

I have a coworker who loves to drink wine out of a small water glass because it makes her feel like she’s in Europe.  I understand – for me, wine is all about the experience.  A big part of that is how it makes me feel.  However, a water glass is restricting the full experience of the wine.  Don’t believe me?  Try drinking wine from a water glass and then try drinking from a wine glass.  You will notice a difference.

Wine glasses are shaped in a way to help deliver the aromas of the wine.  They are also designed so you can swirl the wine to release the fragrance.  It doesn’t matter if the wine glass is stemless or has a stem.  It is the shape of the vessel that is important.

I recently got to try some beautiful red wine titanium crystal glasses from ROD Wine Co.  First of all, I will admit, I am completely enamored by the shape of these glasses.  They are curvy and sexy.  Plus this glass feels so nice in my hand.  The stem is delicate, but not overly fragile.  The sound it makes has a lovely resonance.  The bouquet of the wine is effectively delivered.  When I drank from this glass, it felt luxurious and like pure elegance.  Experience received!

What glass do you like?

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Featured Wine of the Week – Orange Wines

img_5235Orange wines seem to be popping up all over my Instagram feed, in some of my favorite wine bars and in the stores!  What are orange wines?  They are not wines made from oranges, as you might guess.  They are a style of wine where the white grape is fermented with the skins, like how red wine is made.  This technique is intended to produce fuller bodied, more tannic wines from white grapes.

I took a class on orange wines several years ago, and was not impressed.  While they were beautiful to look at, they were bitter and lacked any kind of real character.  However, it seems the wine making process on these orange wines has gotten better, because suddenly I (and everyone else, it seems) have found a couple of orange wines I like.  2c399c01-c00b-4203-86c0-0cc41ff390ef

Details:

Albino Armani

Pinot Grigio

2017

12.5% Alcohol

Valdadage, Veneto, Italy

Cold mascerated, soft pressed

 

Tasting Notes:

e189bb09-ac89-45c4-b8d1-77c52ac2fb43Flirty in nature, this wine demonstrates its desire to please with its gorgeous copper color.  It greets with a bouquet of lilacs and roses.  In the first taste, the flowers are still there, but then there is some funky fruit – overripe apricots and pears, with bright acid and an unconventional thin, but silky mouth feel.  Light tannins give over to a metalic finish, leaving a slightly bitter taste in the mouth.