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The Fruits of Labor

Happy Labor Day weekend!

I will go against the grain here and labor a bit in order to make a new post. I am going to stop talking about how I get a bit behind on posting because I am sure that’s very boring.

Summer is officially over. I do not know how that will change my pallet. Hopefully the crisp Autumn, that won’t come to DC until late September, will bring exciting flavors. Today’s post is certainly something different, venturing into a type of sweet I usually don’t like: white chocolate. It’s not that white chocolate isn’t lovely; it’s perfectly fine. I consider it a lower chocolate. Although it doesn’t taste like it, white chocolate reminds me of hardened lard. It’s a solid white mass that is very fatty and usually pretty bland. That’s why I decided to take it on. What would this blog be if I didn’t step out of my comfort zone?

We continue to go through the bag of wine I got a few weeks ago. I have to say I was disappointed this time around. Unlike the stunning chardonnay I sampled last, this wine didn’t knock my socks off. It was fine but but I can’t say I will buy it again. As pairing goes, it was good which is saying  a lot considering I paired two things I don’t exactly like.

Enjoy the post and please, relax today. I know I slept in after a very busy week and tomorrow I start my online statistics class. Tonight I plan to work on another pairing and celebrate the end of a truly great summer. Thanks to you all for helping make it great.

The Wine: Cuvée de Peña, vin de pays des Pyrénénees-Orientales, 2009

Pretty label, but it rubs me the wrong way somehow

The Candy: Lindt, Lindor Vanilla White Chocolate

Little Scoops of Ice Cream

The Dream:

The reality is I bought these while on the phone so my mind was elsewhere. I also love vanilla and Lindt is relatively safe. I know it’s not too fancy, but it’s white chocolate, the trashiest of chocolates (sorry I’m not sorry if I offended you). I actually did not mean to have the packaging of the wine and chocolate match, but it turned out quite lovely right? White chocolate has this viscosity to it and is simple flavor wise.

Pairing the Lindt with a generic wine felt safe but still had the potential to pleasantly surprise me. Since white chocolate is relatively bland, the red could build on it’s flavors and provide the extra boost white chocolate usually lacks.

 

The Reality:

The chocolates are little scoops of vanilla ice cream. Each ball of chocolate is sprinkled with black vanilla flecks and the vanilla flavor is intense and rich. I froze them, because that is just how I prefer my chocolate. It also keeps them from overwhelming your mouth. When each chocolate unfrozen it sort of makes my mouth sweaty. They sort of make my lactose-intolerant mouth lurch at first taste, but that is ok. I like that just one is enough to satisfy your sweet tooth.

The wine has a leathery smell with notes of blackberry. It is smooth with an acidic finish, but lacks any outstanding flavors beyond the blackberry. I think this is a great table wine that would go with many dishes. It won’t overwhelm your food but certainly will not start any conversations.

The small truffles creates additional smoothness for the wine and gives it a softer finish. The sweet vanilla adds to the subtle blackberry notes and elongates the fruit flavors. It’s an indulgent treat and I could not eat too many. The pairing is good and I imagine it would go well with any generic red (sorry for the word generic, it’s not right). I imagine a nice rioja would also be pleasant.

 

Have a happy holiday and remember, it’s California wine month!

A Twist on a Classic

Happy Thursday. I hope all of my super cool readers are doing well. I know the end of summer looms on the horizon. For some of you it is exciting and for others maybe not so much. Either way, I hope you are coming to peace with the coming fall.

To help you find that inner happiness, I came up with a lovely pairing. It is not revolutionary, but it’s good wine and intriguing candy. Full disclaimer: all the wines for the next 6 postings or so will be classier wines. I snagged a great Groupon for a wine store in downtown DC. I recommend Groupon for finding wine deals. Sometimes they are not actually deals, but when they are you can get a decent haul. I even got one of those fancy bags with different slots for wine…for you know, all those instances where I need to buy a bunch of wine at once (come to think of it, I could use that bad boy to recycle a lot of my bottles!) For some of my readers, this wine may not seem so top-shelf. But for a lowly 23-year old, these wines are absolute treats. I have even enforced a one-glass at a time rule so they don’t dwindle away. Let’s see how long that lasts.

Our candy is an interesting one. It was too intriguing to pass up and of course it came from Trader Joe’s. They are chocolate raspberry sticks. If you read that and have no idea what I am talking about, you are in good company. When Sam and I saw them it was an instant ‘yes.’ I thought the touch of raspberry and the thin chocolate shell could play well with the chardonnay.

The Wine: Cinnabar, 2010

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Starry Eyed

I loved the cap to this wine so I have to share it. It’s adorable, while staying classy. It has a wonderful whimsy to it.

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It’s a blurry photo because this cap excited me that much

The Candy: Trader Joe’s Chocolate Raspberry (Jelly) Sticks

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I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly….stick

The Dream: 

This candy combined two different types of candy–chocolate and jelly-gummy candy. Gummy candies are difficult to pair, so the chocolate edge and the substantial amount of jelly in the middle offered a promising treat. The flavor range was not too big, which made the pairing easier to manage. Chocolate and raspberry are classics, but this candy has a twist to make it interesting. Chardonnay can usually hold its own against sweetness. It can be very potent and since I knew I had a high quality wine, I felt confident. But I sort of always feel confident, so that’s neither here nor there.

ImageThe Reality: 

A sip of this wine is an onslaught of flavor with notes of tart green apples and ripe pears. It is extremely dry and pungent, which for me is what a Chardonnay should be. It’s refreshing and you savor each sip to extract the play between tart and crisp. The color is a deep yellow, like the skin of a ripe lemon. I enjoyed this wine over several days and it felt like luxury. This wine would be wonderful to share with some close friends on a late August evening.

The candy is intriguing. They are indeed jelly sticks surrounded by chocolate. No doubt about that. The milk chocolate is typical but the gummy center is far squishier than I expected. The raspberry is not overly sweet but rather sour. Your lips pucker a bit and the amount of filling washes away the chocolate from the tongue. It really is tasty. I suggest freezing them as well.

Together, these two make a nice pairing. The wine does not go sour after the sweet treat and both are strong flavor wise individually. But I don’t think either one enhances the other. They are both good and they taste well together, but there are no fireworks. The raspberry leaves that slight tart kick that lingers lightly for no more than a second with the chardonnay. An interesting surprise.

I recommend this pairing overall. The jelly sticks are fun, but mostly because the are called jelly sticks. The wine is simply mouth watering. You can’t lose when you are consuming these two, and truly, what else can you ask for?

Zinful Indeed

Posted on

Hey there!

I did this pairing a week ago and I thought I could get it posted by Monday. But it turns out I have a job as well as a blog and it just didn’t happen last week. I hope you forgive me.

To make up for my absence, I have an excellent pairing for you. As you may remember, I paired it with the premier of True Blood. With the second episode airing tonight, I am not too off base. If you don’t know the show, that’s ok because watching it is not a prerequisite for enjoying this pairing.

I like the idea of TV pairings because TV and wine already go well together. Add some candy in the mix and you have an excellent night. As some of you may remember, I blogged during the season premier of Mad Men. Your next TV pair will most likely be for Breaking Bad (rock candy, anyone?).

Hopefully you’ll catch this post before the next episode of True Blood. If not, we have a whole, bloody season ahead of us.

The Wine: Cardinal Zin, Zinfadel, 2010 California

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Last season featured some religious figures behaving very badly…the wine was a natural choice.

The Candies: Godiva: Milk Chocolate Dipped Strawberries; Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate Raspberry

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For a show about vamps, having a candy with a red filling was a natural choice.

The Dream:

The chocolate with red filling of any variety was the basis for this pairing.  The “bloody” factor. Originally, I wanted chocolate covered cherries but I couldn’t find them (I only looked two places–oops). That little accident ended up being a happy one. In terms of wine, a zinfadel instantly came to mind. It’s fruity with a deep, strong flavored while maintaining a lighter quality. Boyfriend’s family love zin so I know it fairly well. The time was up for ignoring my zin.

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Obviously, this glass is amazing.

 

The Reality:

There a moments when I’m doing this blog where I am filled with false confidence. I think, wow, I’m super good at this. I had one of these moments with this pairing. I was with people I just met, so having this work felt really good.

The zin has a light sweetness and a slight tang. It does not go down smoothly, but it’s full, rich flavor makes up for it. Some wines are meals unto themselves whereas others are a perfect pairing wine. This wine was the later. It’s a great summer wine, light while still flavorful.

The chocolate is pretty much what you would expect. I need to start doing some edgy candy, but I put the shopping off so Ghiradelli and Godiva it is. The dark chocolate I liked the best, since it’s so rich and the raspberry is a tangy surprise. It pairs really well with the wine since each has a very simple pallet and they compliment each other. The rich chocolate with the tangy center compliments the full flavored wine. Since the chocolate isn’t very sweet, I can still enjoy the sweetness of the zin.

The Godiva I don’t like very much since it is milk chocolate. I just don’t like milk chocolate. It feels too sweet and the strawberries are rather meager. I hate to pair milk chocolate since I already dislike it, but I wanted to provide variety. It certainly isn’t terrible and a friend enjoyed the pairing. I think the wine had such full flavor that it overpowered the meager milk chocolate.

I will be going on a real vacation soon. I can’t promise a pairing in the near future, since I’ll be prepping for going away and then I’ll be gone. I’ll also be away from the Internet. I’ll try to scrounge something up, but no promises.

The American Way (zu bisou bisou)

If last Sunday was not already a day of rest, it would have been declared a holiday. Everyone referred to March 25th as “Mad Men” Day and the world was silent and still for the two-hour premier.

Ok that’s not the case, but it was still a big deal. Such a big deal, in fact, that it received its own themed Uncorked, Unwrapped post. I am sure everyone thought I would do a Hunger Games post, but I am not that predictable (also, it really does not seem appropriate….so I do not volunteer). Although Katniss does get totally drunk in the next book….so there is some potential. 

But I digress. Let’s start this party. 

The Wine: Entrada, Malbec (2011)

Malbec

You bet that is Don Draper sweeping that lady off her feet

The Candy: Trader Joe’s Brandy Beans

Trader Drunk

Fact: I was carded for these

The Dream:

I’ll admit–I did not know how to approach this one. I was at a loss in every which way. I don’t think we really see Don get hammered on wine that often…or really anyone for that matter. In fact, all the liquor in those little glasses is usually brownish in color. Maybe wine is had at dinner, but that’s like water to those men. I mean, they drink martinis for lunch.

To find a candy, I looked at all their accounts at Sterling Cooper Draper Price and did not see anything like Mars Bars and there really isn’t any 50s/60s era candy…is there? After asking the boyfriend, he suggested liquor filled chocolates. Now, liquor-filled chocolates seem so innocent (kind of like the 50s amirite?) but are actually quite potent. They’ll make you a bit tipsy if you don’t take them seriously. I figured this would be the ideal treat for ole’ Don. But wine…I had no idea. I just chose the Malbec that came with the Groupon wine deal I had. I did put some thought into it, but only to the point where I knew a red would be better than a white.

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The Reality:

I took one sip of this wine and thought, this is not what a Malbec should taste like. My second thought was, how the hell did I get to this point where I know that? What the hell is my life?

Entrada is not a brand I would recommend. It is a bit too sharp and tangy, which is fine, but not a Malbec attribute. It goes down alright, but it did not have that velvety feel and rich flavor I associate with a great Malbec. If you want to try this brand, open it, pour it, and let it air for about 10 minutes. It starts to get its flavor and matures a bit. 

The brandy flavor in the chocolate shell alone is astounding. The minute it touched my tongue, I knew this would be intense. Cracking its chocolate shell releases a flow of sweet, rich brandy chocolate. I imagine a dense chocolate cake witha  brandy glaze would taste like these babies. Don would certainly approve, because the taste of liquor is very prominent. 

Surprisingly, the wine made an ok performance paired with these puppies. It cleared the palate before the brandy deluge. It contrasted the candy perfectly, since it did not have the heaviness of a Malbec. It aslo was not sweet, which the chocolates certainly were. Overal, this pairing did ok. These chocolates I would recommend, but I do not give a vote of confidence to this wine. If it is a bargain, then go for it, but in terms of Malbec…I give it a hardy “meh.”

We will be redoing mint next week due to some inspiration from this blog who recommended pairing a port with Thin Mint. Check out the other pairings with Girl Scout cookies. A true genius. 

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

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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.

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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?