Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Chocolate & Wine!

Chocolate, Wine And…Breakfast!


Chocolate and red wines are great. And over the years of traveling to wineries I’ve learned to really appreciate the two together. Some wines even appear to have been made to enjoy with Chocolate!

Pairing wine with Chocolate can be fun. Just remember that Chocolate has intense flavors that can be both bitter and sweet at the same time. They can also be acidic, nutty and fruity so you need to pair your wine and chocolate carefully.


When pairing the two remember this rule, the darker the chocolate the darker the wine. 

Red wines are perfect for most chocolates. You need a dry full bodied wine that is fruity and has intense flavors. But you also need a wine with softer tannins to go with the smoothness of the Chocolate. If you must pair white wine with chocolate, you still need one that is fruity with intense flavors. 

And you also need full-bodied wines for those heavy chocolate desserts!


Ports seem to have been made with chocolate in mind, especially desserts. A lot of wineries will serve chocolate with Port Wines in their tasting rooms. The chocolate helps to bring out the rich flavor of the Ports and adds to its overall enjoyment. Making it much more likely that you buy the Port being tasted! 


Zinfandels also go very well with chocolate! 

Zinfandel is a uniquely American wine although its origin appears to come from an obscure Croatian grape.  Zens are dark rich wines with an array of flavors. They can have both red and dark fruit flavors of blackcurrant, blackberry, plum, cherry and raisin. Zens are also noted for their spice, smoke, vanilla, herbs, tobacco, coffee and Gale’s favorite pepper! With all that going on no wonder they’re so intense and bold!

Zins can also have hints of cocoa and chocolate which helps explain why they pair so well with Chocolate!   


Several years ago while visiting Parducci Wine Cellars in California’s Mendocino County, we had the opportunity of having wine shooters made from their Zingaro Zinfandel and Zinfandel Chocolate Wine Sauce. We brought several bottles of the Zinfandel home along with the Zingaro Wine Sauce. They made fun gifts, although our daughter Allison wasn’t too keen on the shooter idea. But she loved both of them separately.

Over the last few years I noticed more and more wineries are putting chocolate in their wines. These often show up in wine shops and at tastings around Valentine’s Day. I know this sounds like a great idea, a combination that is both decadent and delicious. However I think this is more a novelty, and after one glass most wine drinkers would decide to move on.

And maybe that’s the point, chocolate infused wine is not intended for wine drinkers. 
 

I can’t imagine giving one of these wines to someone who really likes wine. But I can see it as a way to get non wine drinkers to try wine and maybe decide they want to give different wines a try. Which would make chocolate wine another cleaver marketing idea of the wine industry like White Zinfandel.    

That was my view of chocolate wine until I tried the milk chocolate version of Chocolate Rouge. If you like chocolate milk you'll like this stuff. Better yet if you like Baileys Irish Cream you’ll love this wine. Over the years I’ve kidded that some white wines were so fruity and crisp that they could be breakfast wines. We’ve never tried that, but it is the reason I put breakfast in the title of this blog.


Because you could drink this chocolate wine with breakfast…and we did!             

Cheers!

Harold 





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You can now follow The Neighborhood Wine Porch Party on Facebook where this blog appears weekly as well as listings for wine events, recipes and additional wine information. While on the page, please take the time to “Like” it and share it with your friends.

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Alexander Valley Vineyards 2008 Cyrus!


The Grand Champion At The Houston Rodeo!

These Cowboys Know Their Wines!!

2008  Alexander Valley Cyrus
It’s not often that you get the chance to visit greatness, but in 2006 your trusty band of wine tasters did when we visited the Alexander Valley Vineyards. It was a stop on our annual wine trip to the California wine country. And we tasted some really nice wines.

But at the time we didn’t know we were in the presence of greatness…but now we do! 

You see the Alexander Valley Vineyards 2008 Cyrus was named the Grand Champion at this year’s Houston Rodeo and Livestock Show International Wine Competition. But hey the Wetzel family, that’s who owns the winery are repeat winners. They also won the Grand Prize in 2010.

The Wetzel Family
And that’s what's great about our 2006 visit to the winery. Because in 2010 it was their 2006 version of the Cyrus that took home the Grand Champion belt buckle, Chaps and saddle! And now their 2010 Cyrus shows that their wines are the real thing… repeat Grand Champions!!

And just think we were there when that 2006 winner was being produced!!

Now if you read my blog very often you know I don’t trust the awards that almost all wineries have displayed. In fact it’s one of my top wine rules. There are so many wine competitions of all sizes, and you don’t know what wines were entered or even if the judges knew anything about wine. So my wine rule is, ignore the awards and judge the wine yourself! 

However in Texas, two wine competitions deserve our consideration. One is the Dallas Morning News’ awards and the other is the Houston Rodeo’s.

The 2013 Houston Rodeo and Livestock Show International Wine Competition had 2,884 wines from 943 wineries. So the competition was stiff. Just as important, they had some really outstanding judges. So trust me on this one, the winners were great wines! 

This brings me back to the Alexander Valley Vineyards and its wine. While they are distributed nationwide you may know them by their ever popular Sin Zin!! We bought several bottles of this fun Zinfandel when we visited in 2006. However their real gems are their Cyrus wines.

The 2008 award winner is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Melbec. 

Which helps explain why it has such intense colors! Its aromas of plum, black cherry and toasted oak are also outstanding. Better yet, its flavors of plum, cherry and blackberry with vanilla and oak really put it in the winner’s circle! 

And what is really nice is that the Cyrus 2008 is very young and will get even better with age! In fact Kevin Hall, the winemaker, says it will benefit from additional bottle ageing and will “age gracefully for 10 or 15 years.”

But don’t get me wrong it’s really good right now!  

Joe "Pinky" Koch & Jim Murphy
A fun side note to this wonderful winery happened last year on our wine trip. We stayed at the deLorimier winery and were wandering around the vineyards when we were approached by a very curious man wanting to know who we were. I guess Texans traipsing through his grapes was not an everyday event.

Turns out it was Jim Murphy the brother-in-law of Katie Wetzel Murphy.
Loved the grapes!
We had a great visit with Jim and really appreciated his hospitality. He showed us around the vineyard and showed us the various grapes. And tasting wine grapes still on the vine is amazing as you think about what they will become. And in Alexander Valley’s case that means some wonderful wines!


Hank Wetzel gets his saddle...again!
So the next time Hank Wetzel’s wines win the Grand Championship at the Houston Rodeo, and I’m sure there will be a next time; he needs to ask for a hat, spurs and boots to go with the saddles, chaps and belt buckles he’s already won!   



Cheers!!
Harold 






The Neighborhood Wine  Porch Party!! 



























 

















You can now follow The Neighborhood Wine Porch Party on Facebook where this blog appears weekly as well as listings for wine events, recipes and additional wine information. While on the page, please take the time to “Like” it and share it with your friends.

You can also follow the blog and my comments about wine on Twitter @winegonewild. 

Also please add your comments below & take the time to “join our blog” on the top right hand side of this page.

You don’t have to live in Munger Place to join the blog, "Like" us on facebook or follow us on Twitter.