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A Mishap in the Orient

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I have not been very faithful to this blog, dear readers. April was not kind and I was overwhelmed with work, visits and travel. It’s May now and excuses are officially out. This is no way to run a blog. So here I am again. Just don’t call it a come back.

This particular post pairs a wine and candy from the same locale: China. I suppose it’s timely too because this experience did not quite work out like I wanted. It is not to the same scale as the crisis with Mr. Chen but nonetheless, I raise this glass to you Hilary.

I went into this pairing totally blind. (Ok I know that sounds awful considering I just referenced Chen. But I wrote that completely unwittingly. It’s just too late now.) I chose a wine and candy off the smallests of criteria. Let me tell you. It wasn’t a good idea.

The Wine: Kuei Hua Chen Chiew, Grape Wine. Beijin Dragon Seal Wines Co.

White? Red?…Orange?

The Candy: The Coconut Candy

It is What it Says it Is

The Dream: 

An awesome, great, totally perfect experience that I planned based on endorphines and the thrill of being in a Chinese store (I’m a country bumpkin!). Oh and run-on sentences.

Some Pairing that I Used to Know

The Reality: 

This candy reminds a  lot of Creamsavers (anyone remember those?) It is extremely creamy and the flavor is thick in your mouth. I actually love it and I’m quite rapidly working through the bag. It takes awhile to go through just one, which is ideal. But for my sommelier expedition, it did not work. You can not drink and eat candy at the same time, so you have to sip after finishing one candy. This wine simply tasted like grape juice and extremely sweet. Make no mistake, it definitely is wine. Sam actually enjoyed it, which worked out well so it can not be too terrible.

Would this wine go with anything? I want to say something bitter, but my experience is that a bitter candy does not fix a very sweet wine. I actually could see this wine with Chinese food or something extremely salty.

I don’t know if I will venture into Chinese wine again, but if I do, there will be a carton of Chinese right next to me.


I’m Melting, Melting

I’m sitting right now in my sweltering apartment. With the strange spring weather alongside my 475 degree oven, it’s a little too hot to handle.

Last summer it was also hot. Too hot, actually. Though I hate to be cold, I abhor being too hot. I feel puffy, sticky, and my fingers grow strangely rotund. Make-up melts off my face as I apply it. Clothing just feels wrong. Before last summer, I did not take to white wine. But with the high heat, it was all I wanted alongside dinner. The wine grew hot pretty fast and the glass perspired, but those few first sections were all I needed.

Speaking of melting (as in, melts in your mouth, not in your hand), it is time to unwrap an American classic: the M&M. I also wanted to keep things relatively cheap, by buying budget wine and candy. Initially, I wanted to do something crazy like buy Arbor Mist and the 99 cent bag of jelly beans. But this blog is supposed to bring joy, not unending stomach aches. And we’re not in college any more, so there is no excuse for that type of behavior. 

So, stop the world and melt with me (buddum cha!).

The Wine: yellow tail, Riesling: $7.49

Hop to It

That tail is orange!

The Candy: M&M Coconut & M&M Pretzels. 2 for $6

Image

I have a lot of complicated feelings about sentient candy people.

The Dream: 

I knew Rieslings were sweet, but I did not know the exact nature of their sweetness. But yellow tail is a fairly good budget wine, a step above Barefoot but not quite as good as Cupcake. I’m sure if my dad reads this, he’ll say: wait, YOU DRANK YELLOW TAIL? HAVE I TAUGHT YOU NOTHING! And I’d have to say yes. I love my dad, but when he talks about wine, I sort of start thinking about whatever I’m looking at. Like oh, look at this salt shaker. Way to do your thing salt shaker.

Image

Yeah wine glass, you sweat it off

But we’re off topic, probably because I’m overheated. I saw the coconut M&Ms at my work’s convenient store and immediately I started to plot pairing them. Coconut is tricky, because it can be understated or incredibly sweet. Yet if it was just the right amount of sweet, something beautiful would happen.

I felt very confident about the pretzels, although it is sort of cheating. I mean, is a pretzel covered in chocolate really a candy? Since we were still in the M&M territory, I think I’m covered. But that got me thinking–do I have parameters in this blog? Should I have some? Dear readers, let me know.

The Reality: 

The wine isn’t that sweet. It is actually like eating a grape. I know how ridiculous this sounds, since this is wine we are talking about. But it felt like taking a bite of a green grape. Although it wasn’t tangy, just refreshing. 

The M&M pretzel took me for a spin. The salt plus the understated chocolate and candy coating truly took the Riesling to a different level. It enhanced it. Each one on their own would have been fine, but the flavors combined were complimentary. By complimentary, I mean a bite or sip of one led directly to a bite or sip of the other. 

The M&M coconut would benefit from something spicier, like a Malbec. The coconut inside the M&M tasted like chocolate coconut–it didn’t pop on its own. Which is all very well and good, but it was too thick to bring out the qualities of a Riesling. I plan to revisit the challenges coconut bring, but maybe by just making macaroons.

 

So there we have it! Another long overdue post. I recently bought a Groupon for a bunch of wine I hope to pick up this weekend, so let’s have high hopes. In the mean time, perhaps I’ll prepare something to post on St. Patty’s Day. Maybe some Jr. Mints? What say ye?

Also, I want to do a vegan post, but I need your help. Picking a vegan candy blind is a bit dangerous. And vegan wine…do we have thoughts, recommendations? 

 

Drunk Bears

Drunk Bears

I bet you all thought I went away for Lent. “Liz is a good person,” you decided. “She would never abandon her blog, so she must have a strong, moral reason for not posting.”

Wrong!

Several health mishaps and travel delayed my posting, but what matters is we are here now. Living in the moment. I’m not sure when the next post will be, since I am still ill and need to lay off the drinking. Fortunately this blog is not my livelihood (yet?!).

This pairing was thrown together without too much thought. I tossed around a few ideas. Perhaps I could do something with the Oscars? I stared around the wine store and could not find a wine that fit “Moneyball” or “Hugo.”

But I still wanted to be darin and I realized that I had not done any gummy candies. Only one word came to mind: Haribo. The candy I associated with my brother’s trips to Germany and my stays at French & German camp. But now you can buy them everywhere.

The Wine: Caught my eye for being a supposed “Recession Buster.” An Italian Red Wine. “Montepulciano D’Abruzzo”, 2008

Italian Red

The Recession Buster

The Candy: Haribo, “Happy Cola” & the classic “Gold Bears”

Chew Chew

The Dream: I’ll be honest, I worried about the gummy bears a little bit. They are so, so very sweet and it is hard to eat them with any beverage. I felt more optimistic about the Happy Cola. It is a strange candy, but has flavors that don’t invade your mouth. And though I love gummy bears, they are practically a war weapon with the way they make you feel post consumption. The wine…I had no thoughts since Italian wine is like most things on this blog: I know very little. But the description said it would have soft tannins.

Red Wine with Gummy Compote

The Reality: The wine is very bitter and has a tart, cherry flavor. It reminds me a lot of bark in some ways. I can see why it is a recession buster, because it punches you in the mouth a bit. The only candy to stand up to this wine was the Happy Cola. Happy Cola isn’t overwhelming in its sweetness. It is almost like a Diet Coke, lacking that rush of sugar that grazing past your teeth when drinking regular Coke. The Gold Bears are another story. It just wouldn’t work. The wine felt unpleasantly sweeter when paired with the Bears. And when paired with the wine, the bears lost each individual flavor. They just blended into one underwhelming mass that I knew would make me sick.

So buy your own “recession buster” and pick up a pack of these Happy Colas. I can’t promise that you’ll like it, but I will guarantee one thing:

You’ll have the worst stomach ache.

A Love that will Surely Last

A Love that will Surely Last

Don’t you love a late gift? Like the birthday card that came two days late or the Valentine’s Day gift you got two days after the fact?

I know I do. And I hope you do too, because here is your late post.

For Valentine’s Day, I wanted to do a special post dedicated to loving the Earth. Not because the Earth is a good thing. Not because I love the environment. Although both those things are true, I did it because the “Earth friendly” wine was pretty affordable. And that is how most themes on this blog are born!

Despite the fact my boyfriend and I have been dating for almost 4 years, this is the first Valentine’s Day we have spent together. At first, I thought I would make it super romantic by creating an enormous dinner. But since I work and get tired, this did not come to pass. I did make a kicking chili and we watched 21 Jumpstreet for two hours. So basically super romantic.

All that romantic chemistry is super interesting for you, but that is not why we are here. We are here because of candy-wine pairing. And boy, do I have a bad romance for you all (and I mean vernacular bad, so you know, good romance).

The  Wine: Fetzer, The Earth Friendly Winery. California Merlot, 2009.

Landfill Waste Reduced 95% Since 1990

The Candy: 

Divine, 70% Dark Chocolate with Raspberries

Divine, Fruit and Nut Dark Chocolate

Fair Trade Certified "Chocolate with a heart"

The Dream:

Like I said, price was pretty important to me. Because I don’t make that much money, and keeping this affordable is pretty important (I will have a Budget Themed one too guys!) The wine was about $10 and the chocolates were two for five dollars.  Since this is a learning experience, I picked a wine I don’t try often. That was the Merlot. I have heard a lot of smack talk about environmentally friendly wines, so I wanted to find out for myself.  Since it was Valentine’s, chocolate was a must. I decided, to keep with the theme, to try the raspberries (they are red, duh) but I threw in the fruit and nut to up my chances of success. Or failure. How ever you choose to look at it.

The Reality:

The wine is very good. It’s sharp and challenging. The label said there were flavors of all sorts of fruits, but the blackberry really stood out for me. At first, I panicked. Is fruit going to wrestle with fruit?

Merlot Only Pairs with One

The raspberry dark chocolate was a perfect fit. The raspberry was tangy and it jutted out at the bottom of the chocolate. But the solid dark chocolate on top balanced the tang. It vacillated from a mild sweet flavor to sweet and sour, in the best way. It felt balanced and addicting. And like love, it felt so right.

But the fruit and nut…just didn’t work. The chocolate was fine, but the fruit was too chewy and the nuts just left the mouth too dry. There was too much competition. There will be no second date here.

But please, try these two specific brands of Merlot and wine together. It’s best for you and hey, probably ok for the environment too.

I’ll be out of town for the weekend with the star of the Kitchen Whisk. Will we start trouble? Most likely. Will we blog? Not very likely. So enjoy your President’s Day if you are from the East Coast. If you are in the MidWest and don’t know what President’s Day is, then good for you.

Musharoom About Nothing

Friends, I have been challenged. And I am afraid I have not met up to the expectations. But every time I “lose” a challenge, I plan to revisit it until I can satisfy both my ego and my readers.

The Challenge: Couple a foreign wine with a foreign candy

Seems simple, doesn’t it? I already had an Argentine red wine in mind, all I needed was a tasty candy. I knew I wanted something unusual and definitely something I had not yet tried. I also wanted to buy something you could get at a regular grocery store. I will branch out in the future to stranger tides, but I want this blog to be accessible. If you can’t find the candy, what is the point? How can I advise you?

I found quite an unusual candy and thought it could make a dashing suitor for my Argentine wine.

The Wine: Funky Llama, 2010, tempranillo

A Funky Taste Sensation

The Candy: Chocorooms, Meiji, Japan

A Splendid Chocolately Combination and Crispy Cracker

The Dream:

I did not know anything about this wine except that it was red (what else is there to know, right?) And I don’t allow myself to cheat, because that is not how you learn. Looking at the wine, I didn’t think it was sweet. How could a funky llama be sweet, after all? I figured it would have a strong flavor, because that llama looks like he means business. So these cute little ‘shrooms seemed just the thing. They looked crisp, with just the right amount of milk chocolate. And they had personality. I wasn’t confident, since I did not know much about “tempranillo”, but I felt comfortable with my pick.

Crisp chocolate with personality

The Reality:

It wasn’t….bad exactly. But also not great.

Tempranillo, according to Wiki, “is a variety of black grape widely grown to make full bodied red wines.” It is known to have flavors of vanilla, tobacco, berries, plum, and herbs.  Our llama has a citrusy, almost lemony flavor. It is strong and extremely flavorful. At the same time, I tasted a high amount of tannins. It ended on a bitter note, while remaining lovely.

Not Bad, Not Great

But the Chocorooms sort of wilted underneath the strong flavor of the wine. The flavor was too subdued. Although tasty, they would probably go better with a Sauvignon Blanc than a Tempranillo. They pairing was not unpleansant-they went together fine. But I would suggest something bolder. In terms of international candies, I am not exactly sure what this would mean. I wouldn’t recommend anything with a crispy cookie part. It just didn’t work. I might suggest a gummy candy, like Haribo Berries. These Haribo, if I recall correctly, are strong. But their subtle sweetness would go well with this wine.

 

One reoccurring question this blog keeps bringing up: do opposites attract? Or not? It is certainly a factor to consider in the future.

Stay tuned for the Valentine’s Day special. In that blog post, I’ll be singing sweet nothings to the planet Earth by pairing an organic wine and candy.

 

 

Cheers, Salut, Etc.

Welcome to Uncorked, Unwrapped

I love to drink wine. I also love to eat candy.  But recently, I found myself asking: what if I could make those two worlds collide into the perfect combination of flavors? It would, without any sense of hyperbole, be spectacular. I owe a lot of this idea to one bottle of Malbec as well as the this post by MattBites: “Anything Inside a Tortilla.”

Some would argue that wine pairing is an art. From a hefty steak to a gourmet Asian dinner, there is a wine for the occasion. A wino, a very sophisticated wino mind, would be the only one fit for the task.

Well, I’m not that person. I stumble through wines. I pair my dinner with whatever wine bottle is the coolest or my latest obsession. I will drink only Malbec for months, bringing it to parties so I don’t have to explore other options. I’ll walk lazily through a store until I can find a Cupcake that suits my needs.

It is time for me to learn through the best means possible: by eating candy.

This blog will not be snobby. It will most definitely not be classy. It will not be a restaurant review from the New Yorker. I will sample the cheapest wines with the worst store-brand jellybeans. Sometimes I will try to pair candy with wine, or wine with candy. Most of the time I will probably fail. But when I succeed, it will be…not to be cheap..pretty sweet.

With my glass raised, her goes nothing:

Wine: Andean Sky, 2011 Chardonnay

"The Height of Freshness"

2011 Mendoza, Chardonnay

Candy: Lindt Excellence. 90% Cocoa Supreme Dark

"Deliciously intense, Surprisingly Balanced"

The Dream:

My choice behind the pairing was so simple, it was too good to be true (hint: it didn’t work). To me, white wine is either dry or sweet. Since I go into these pairings without any research, I based the choice on my preconceived notion that Chardonnay is a sweet wine. Balancing the sweet was the challenge at hand. Chocolate seemed obvious, because the other bitter candies were either salty or not bitter enough. I chose the darkest chocolate available at my neighborhood Giant: Lindt chocolate 90% cocoa.

The Reality:

Although the two make a pretty picture, they don’t necessarily compliment each other. The wine had a soft flavor instead of an overwhelming sea of sweet. It tasted subtle and smooth. It turned out, this chardonnay needed a partner that could compliment its softer side. The chocolate was far too dark-the expected sweetness of the chardonnay was supposed to balance the dark, intense flavor of the chocolate. Instead the thick and almost chalky Lindt stuck to your mouth as the Chardonnay could barely battle such strong flavors. It was still a tasty treat, but not the pairing I had hoped.

A doomed pair

Takeaway: Chocolate is the type of candy to pair with a chardonnay. The challenge is to find the right type of chocolate. Is milk chocolate too sweet? Or is there an ideal middle ground? Or is chocolate not the way to go?

I’ll keep this blog as updated as possible. I am welcome to challenges. Do you want to know what wine goes well with a Mallow Cup? Do you enjoy a good Pinot Noir, but can never find the perfect licorice to match it? In these cases, I will try until I succeed. Whatever the costs.