With spring and warmer weather comes our family doing more outside. Including happy hour every day we can. Is there really anything nicer than sitting outside on a beautiful day and just soaking it in? We think not.
It seems we have plenty of friends and neighbors who agree. From the first official outdoor happy hour of the season until we close it up for the fall, we have a steady stream of drop-ins. Why yes, it has been much commented that in some ways, we live similarly to how we did in college, only we now have a mortgage, a child and are a bit more responsible.
Often times, our guests will bring treats to share. I’ve had people tell me they get nervous about bringing wine over here – uhm, hello? Anyone who has read my wine writing should know that I am perpetually on a mission to find the best wine under $10 that I can. I rarely serve a bottle over $10 and when I do, you can bet your bottom that unless it is a very special occasion or you are very important person, I am not spending over $15. Do not concern yourself with spending oodles of money on a good bottle for me. There are enough you that do this however, that I think it’s quite a lovely & charming fact about my friends. You shouldn’t have, you don’t have to, but it does make me love you all the more.
Charles & his lovely wife Carol from across the street came over one Saturday when Aunt Jenny & Uncle Kevin were visiting. Charles had this bottle of Tarima Monastrell in hand. I wrote about a Monastrell blend I drank last month that I did not care for. That was not the case with this wine. It was smooth & fruity, while having nice body to it. A quick Google search and I noticed it fell into my price point range – I would definitely recommend grabbing a bottle or two if you happen to come across it.
Another afternoon my friend Megan came over and watched the dogwood bloom with me.
I get nervous serving wine to Megan, especially Italian wine, as that’s sort of her thing. I had grabbed this bottle of Italian white while at Market Street Wine Shop. I can’t recall if it was on sale for under $10 or if it regularly sells for that price.
I also don’t know what variety it is – I’m going to go with it being a white table table that is slightly dry and nicely balanced until Megan tells me otherwise. According to the label information on the back, it was estate bottled by IT AT420, Calamandrana Italia for Siema Wines. (I list that because I’m hoping Megan with her vast knowledge of wine will be able to tell us more about the wine, which I will share in an update.)
From Megan: Siema Bianco is bottled in Piedmont, Italy specifically for the VA-based, Italian-centric company that imports it (Siema Imports). This is how they can keep costs so low. The wine’s a delightful blend of Cortese (the grape that makes the Piedmont white, Gavi, and that tastes like ripe white melon and smells like gravel after a rainstorm), Chardonnay (but with Italian terroir and no oak!), and just a wisp of the abundantly aromatic Moscato. The result is spring incarnate! (Thanks Megan!)
The outdoor drinking season also means it’s bread & cheese for dinner season.
This would be some of the most perfect bread I’ve ever baked. Extra gluten is the secret.
The cheeses, olives and pickles were nice too. On this day, we had a brie, a spanish cow’s milk cheese, green tomato pickles as well as my green bean pickles. Later on, Edie broke out the sweet pickles to share with Megan’s daughter – bread & butter, cherry (which is not really sweet, but she considers them sweet because it’s a fruit) as well as watermelon rind pickles.
Two little girls can tear through a jar of watermelon rind pickles like nobody’s business.
I grabbed a bottle of this Beaujolais Rosé at Market Street Wine Shop a few weeks ago. I went back and grabbed a few more when I realized what a fabulous wine this was. It’s imported locally by Williams Corner Wine. It’s currently on sale for $8.99 – 50% off it’s usual price. I adore rosé – I call it the red wine of summer.
Rosé is not your mother’s pink. Rosé still finds itself confused with that other pink wine, White Zinfandel. Both start out with red grapes, but they are processed differently. Rosé spends a short time soaking with the skins of the grape, which is what gives red wines their deep colors and tannins, which is why it resembles red wine but is lighter and therefore perfect for warm weather.
You may recognize Beaujolais from Beaujolais Nouveau – the wine that is released just around Thanksgiving every year with much fanfare as the first French wine of the new vintage. Beaujolais Nouveau comes from grapes that are picked, fermented and bottled all within a matter of weeks. Those grapes are Gamay, which are known for low tannins and fruity flavors of the berry variety. It makes for a lovely rose such as this. This one is crisp, fruity with a dry finish. Go now and get yourself some before I buy it all up. I have served at least 3 bottles of it in the last two weeks – that’s how much I like it.
Jen brought along a proper bottle to toast with – Fizz by Thibaut-Janisson, a local wine that has recieved many accolades and for good reason. Fizz is a sparkling wine, made in the Methode Traditionelle, which means it’s made in the same way as Champagne from the Champagne region of France, but thanks to French law, only sparking wines produced in that region can carry the name ‘Champagne’. Anything else is sparkling wine. Fizz is 100% Chardonnay grapes, fruity (think apples & peaches), while being creamy, smooth and bubbly.
I also pulled out a bottle of Green in honor of Green Girl. I happened to notice it was on sale at Market Street, so I picked up a couple bottles. I’m going to need to go pick up a few more. It really is my new favorite (local) wine. Next to the Green are these delightful sausage bites Aileen made. She also brought over a jar of candied pecans that did not last the night in this house. I think I’m supposed to get the recipe please.
There was the standard spread of bread, cheese (A goat brie, a blue and an aged goat), pickles (carrots this time) & olives, but I also broke out some cherry butter, melon jam and bacon jam. The latter never fails to disappoint. It’s all about the bacon, which is why I use my friend Tom’s hand smoked bacon from Open Gate Farm. Rounding out our spread was a Champagne Cheese spread & white bean dip Jen brought. Good eats.
Nuts & sausage weren’t the only treats Aileen brought. She also brought a bottle of Chartron La Fleur, a white Bordeaux. Like their famous red counterparts, the white wines produced in the Bordeaux region of France are typically blends of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon. Sauvignon Blanc is hands down my favorite white grape – I adore the citrus zestiness of it. Sémillion on the other hand, has notes of honey & figs as well as a soft round texture, a nice counterpoint to the acidity of Sauvignon Blanc.
This particular wine however, is not a typical white Bordeaux. It is 100% Sauvignon Blanc in the Old World style, meaning there is more minerality, more savoriness and flavors on the palate than a New World Sauvingnon Blanc, which I frequently liken to lemonade. The crispness typically associated with a New World example was there, but it wasn’t the first note. This was definitely a more well rounded example of what a Sauvingnon Blanc wine can be.