Pinot and Pasta and Parties Oh My!

Renaissance man Paul Sorvino known for his role in Goodfellas but also a noted operatic tenor, sculptor and cook teams up with wife Dee Dee, herself an accomplished award winning television personality to produce Pinot, Pasta and Parties; this is a cookbook which presents Italian recipes with Paul’s personal flare. I am always on the lookout for well-organized cookbook that present easy-to-follow directions and suggested menus. This one certainly fits the bill, and I thought that I would share my thoughts for readers who want to consider this cookbook.

The book’s thematic organization is its best feature. Chapters entitled “Made in America”, “La La Land”, and “Patriotism at Play” allow the cook to find a go-to menu for the right occasion. The menus themselves are complete from starters to desert and are very easy to follow. Is there something on the menu that doesn’t appeal to your particular palate or looking for an alternative to something on the set menu? No problem. The Sorvinos offer an alternative dish for each menu. For example, the La La Land themed menu that features such dishes as figs in a blanket, California veggie pizza, swordfish with olives and pasta primavera offers eggs in purgatory and stuffed peppers as alternatives.

Dee Dee Sorvino offers her skills as mixologist to present a special cocktail for each themed menu. Appalachia Magic, a mix of moonshine, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, cinnamon bitters and star anise, complements the Made in America menu which features such delights as spaghetti western mac and cheese, meatball slider, and Paul’s special chili. Hosting a Goodfellas Feast? Dee Dee recommends The Goodfella, a blend of Jack Daniel’s whiskey, Scotch, Cognac, land limoncello.

The Sorvinos also add a personal touch to the cook book. In addition to an introduction of themselves, each chapter includes a story about themselves, their relationship, and their passion for food, art and entertainment. Photos of themselves throughout the book enhance the personal element and the cook gets to know them both as individuals and as a couple.

I must, however, comment on the lack of suggested wine pairings with the menus. The title of the cookbook begins with the word Pinot; however, Pinot or any other varietal is never mentioned as a recommended pairing with the food. And we are all about wine and food here at Virginia Wine Time! There is an appendix at the end which provides description of Italian wine grapes, and that is it. I also don’t know that I would venture into the political theme suggested in the Patriotism at Play menu. In these times, a respite from political discussions (which usually lead to arguments) during a dinner party might be a good idea; I would adapt that chapter to suggest a July 4th gathering in which everyone can agree that celebrating American independence is always a good idea!

If you are in search of a cookbook that presents Italian dishes from starter to desert, then Pinot, Pasta, and Parties might be worth seeking out. You may also enjoy getting to know more about Paul and Dee Dee Sorvino. Remember, though, Virginia Wine Time recommended it!

The ArT of Preserving Wine

We got an email from Co-Founder and General Manager Ryan Frederickson of The ArT of Preserving Wine, a company that produces cans of natural argon gas to help preserve wine. He shared the history of his company and offered to send us a can of the argon gas to try for ourselves. Of course we accepted!

Many people enjoy a glass of wine in the evening. The ArT of Preserving Wine makes it possible to open a favorite bottle, enjoy a glass or two, and save the rest for a later date. For us though, that usually isn’t a problem. For two people sharing a bottle of wine isn’t a wasteful event. Two glasses each and the bottle is empty.

However, we decided to accept the challenge and see exactly how this system works. We decided to open a bottle of the 2014 Cabernet Franc Reserve from Pollak vineyards. We love this wine already and would hate to see it go to waste. We each had a glass from the bottle. We then followed the directions on the can. We put the nozzle in the bottle and held the handle for two seconds. The argon gas displaced the oxygen and covered the wine surface with a layer of natural argon gas. This kept the wine from oxidizing and ruining the wonderful flavors of the wine. We quickly re-corked the bottle and stored it standing up in a cool, dark closet. We enjoyed our glass and took notes on the characteristics of the wine. While we wanted to have another glass, we decided we should keep it corked for the experiment.

Five days later, an amount of time that would ruin any uncorked red wine, we pulled out the safely stored bottle and popped the cork. AMAZING results! The wine exhibited the same characteristics it had previously! We noted the same blackberry, currents, dark cherry, and tobacco that we noted *5* days earlier! We were a bit astonished at the results. We couldn’t imagine how this could actually work. But it did! Science is amazing!

We don’t often have wine left in a bottle but we are convinced that The ArT of Preserving Wine is the way to go if we do find ourselves with wine left in a bottle. While we did our experiment with a red wine, we are sure this would work with white wine as well. However, store the white wine in the fridge instead of a cool, dark closet.

If you are interested in finding out more about The ArT of Preserving Wine, check out their The ArT of Preserving Wine. You can find out more details about the process and order a can or two!

Bingler & Brown

During our most recent visit to King Family Vineyards we chatted with one of our favorite tasting room managers, Matt Brown. He has transitioned out of his role as Tasting Room Manager at King Family Vineyards and has begun a new adventure in the wine industry. Along with his business partner, Melissa Bingler, he is starting a wine management, consulting, and education firm in Charlottesville called Bingler & Brown.

binglerbrown

There are essentially three components to their business:

(1) They provide storage and management of private wine collections in their climate controlled warehouse. These collections can range from 1 case to 100 cases. Each case in their care is cataloged and clients will have access to their staff to discuss the ins and outs of their various bottles (value, when to drink, how to serve, what else they may like to try, etc..)

(2) They consult with local wine shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars about purchase decisions, wine lists, and proper wine service. They can provide training not only for owners but also for front line staff on how to present their wine programs in the best light.

(3) Knowledge is power! They will be offering numerous casual level classes for consumers who want to have a stronger understanding of what wine is all about. In addition, they will also be leading professional level classes for those who want to start a wine career or for people in the industry who want to take their careers to the next level. Initially this will start by offering a prep course for the Certified Specialist of Wine designation through the Society of Wine Educators. In the Spring, in conjunction with some other people, they will begin leading some of the Level I and Level II courses that are a part of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust curriculum.

Matt grew up in a family owned business, then graduated college to work for another family owned business, and is now starting his own small business. He is very excited about this new venture! Check out their website and see what they can do for your wine collection. And when you do, tell Matt and Melissa that Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Wine Storage

Swirl, Sip, Snark and Cellarblog have posted pictures of their wine racks. I’m very impressed with their wine storage. Frank from Drink What You Like also kicked in his photo on Twitter. They have issued a challenge for all Virginia wine blogs to post about their wine storage. Wanting to be part of the in crowd and participate I decided to show how I store my wine. I have two separate areas for my wine. I store them both in my dining room. I have one rack just for white wines and then on the other side of the room I have two racks for all my red wines. Both racks are organized by winery. My wine collection is almost exclusively Virginia wine so I can store them on the racks by winery. This works out well when I’m looking for a specific wine from a specific winery. So here are the pictures of my wine racks. How do you store your wine?

White wine rack…I also have several bottles chilling in the refrigerator.

Red wine racks.

Not to leave out Warren, I will say that he stores his wine in several places around his house. He has most of them in a closet that keeps a pretty constant temperature and lots of darkness.

Unicorn Winery

Last weekend we went to Unicorn Winery. It was time to check in and see what was new and chat with Sandy LePage, one of the owners of Unicorn Winery.

The white wines we tasted were the 2008 Pinot Gris, the 2008 Chardonnay, the Table Rock White, and the 2008 Traminette. We also tasted the Slightly Embarrassed, the blush wine. Warren and I both agreed the gold star for the whites went to the 2008 Traminette. Its a light white wine with hints of pear and melon. We thought this one would be a good summer sipper on a warm day.

During our tasting we were able to sample the different flavored pita chips, sauces, and olive oil they now sell at Unicorn. Warren even left with a bottle of the olive oil. The olive oil is from Greece and can be purchased in 250 ml or 500 ml bottles.

On to the reds. We tasted the 2005 Merlot, the 2005 Chambourcin, the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2005 Cabernet Franc, and the 2005 Crimson Sunset. While they were all nice wines, Warren and I agreed again the gold star should go to the 2005 Merlot. Its medium bodied with black cherry notes and an easy finish. We thought this one would go well with pizza.

To finish our tasting we tried the Frappe Vino. Its like a wine slushy. They serve it in two flavors; pinot gris and merlot. I really enjoyed the pinot gris version. It was refreshing considering how warm it was that day. Its always fun to catch up with Sandy at Unicorn Winery. If you stop by, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Enotria Guide

Are you looking for an iPhone app that helps you pronounce the wines of the world? The Enotria Guide is for you. With this app you can find the wine word you’re looking for and have the app pronounce it for you. We received a copy to test out. I have an iPad and while it’s written for the iPhone, it does work on the iPad. An iPad specific version is in the works. We tested it out and found that it had lots of layers to go through to find the words but the words are pronounced clearly and with the correct accent. If you are in the industry and already know how to pronounce the wines of the world, you’ll find this app useless. However, if you are new to wine this app might help you pronounce the words correctly. Have fun!

Drink This!

coverWine, of course! Actually, I’m referring to Drink This: Wine Made Simple by Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl. Grumdahl’s purpose for writing Drink This is to bring the potentially bewildering (and pretentious) experience of wine tasting to a very basic level. Written for both the novice oenophile and the experienced sommelier and everyone else in between, Drink This offers wine tasting and pairing tips, debunks myths and mistakes about wine, and presents easy-to-understand facts about wine regions and varietals. Wondering what kind of wine to bring to a dinner party? Want to splurge on bubbly for a special event but your wallet has the recession flu? Drink This offers practical advice for these circumstances and many others. Grumdahl’s wise words for the budget weary allow the consumer to buy quality wines at value prices; at the same time, she offers savvy selections that present creative alternatives to California Chardonnay or French Champagnes.

I also appreciate Grumdahl’s no-nonsense approach to the wine experience. Her clever style and straight-forward approach disarms the wine snob and puts the beginner at ease. So you like Merlot? So does Grumdahl! No Sideways poseurs allowed in her book; however, if Merlot is not your thing, Grumdahl has a suggestion for you. Don’t know the difference between Bordeaux, Burgundy or any other wine region? Dara is glad you asked. Structured in a concise, clearly organized yet complete fashion, your questions are answered.

With the holiday season upon us, consider giving Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl’s Drink This: Wine Made Simple as a gift for that favorite wine collector or budding aficionado on your list. Should anyone wonder where you heard of this excellent wine source, mention that you read about it on Virginia Wine Time.