WINEing in Abilene Texas

WINEing in Abilene Texas

Spring is in the Air…. I hope. The weather is either nice and sunny with a small breeze or it’s snowing…. All the while, Spring is in my heart and mind and so I wanted to venture out and explore what wineries were located in Abilene, Tx. I visited one wine room and a restaurant with a variety of wines to try. I have to say, I had a better experience at one place and you might be surprised by which one. However, my theory remains true: Wine is an experience! Wine is connected to feelings, memories, and moods. What I love about visiting wineries is the atmosphere, the knowledge you receive about the wines, the history of the winery and the wines and getting to know those who work hard to share their hard work with you.

My first stop was The Winery at Willow Creek. Upon walking in, I was not greeted. I shared with the lady behind the counter that it was my first time there and she proceeds to give me a menu and tell me what I could buy. As I was looking over the menu, she kept asking me: “well…what are you going to do?” I felt so rushed, I barely had the menu for a good couple of minutes. Now, normally, I would have politely handed my menu back and said thank you and left. But since I had driven all that way, I decided to go ahead and try the wine flight. Instead of taking my time and picking the wines that I wanted to try, I just told her that I would try the reds. “Just write it down,” she says as a paper was placed in front of me. As she began to pour, I asked her if there were any tasting notes on the wines, as you know I like to sip my wine and gather my notes as well as look at the vintner’s. “No, just the menu,” she replies and of course she couldn’t tell me anything about the wines she was pouring. But despite the initial impression, I was not going to let this ruin my vibe.

I went outside to sit on their patio area. Boy, was it gorgeous: the view was so nice and relaxing. “Ok, I am ready to taste my wine now,” I thought. Me and my companion both got a flight: red and white so that we could try the majority of their wines. I have to say, we didn’t enjoy them. I wrote down some tasting notes, but I just did not like any of the wines I tried. In fact, we didn’t finish the 1oz pour on any of the wines in the flight and we don’t leave behind wine. I went back inside to try something else and I was greeted by a different lady. She was so nice, welcoming and knowledgeable. She let me try their sparkling rose’ and I did enjoy that pour more than the flights. I’m sure her friendly disposition helped with that.

I think that if you are just looking to sit back and enjoy a glass of wine with friends then Willow Creek is the vibe you are looking for but if you like to learn, savor and experience wine, this might not be your first choice.

Next Up, Vagabond Pizza. Now this was the experience I was looking for! Right off, the server asked me what type of wine I liked, she listed off some wines that she thought I would enjoy and gave a few tasting notes as well. She allowed me to sample some of the wine before I chose a glass and she continued to check in on me to see how the wine paired with my meal. She even poured me a sample of a wine to try for the next time I came to dine. “I should of just went here to begin with!” I thought. The wine I tried here was a grenache’ blend. This was my first time trying this grape varietal. It had a fireplace note that paired well with their Lucia pizza. The smoke note in the wine and the jalapeno jelly on the pizza created a sweet almond or sweet nutty note on the palate. DEEELICIOUS!

Before leaving town, I was able to enjoy a glass of red sangria at Miguel’s Mex Tex. I loved this Sangria because it was a glass of true sangria. What do you mean by that, Danny? For me, Sangria is wine and fruit or fruit soaking in wine. When adding the additional liquors and sweeteners, it now has become a cocktail. I’m not sure if this is a formality but when I order sangria, all I want is wine and fruit and that is exactly what I got. I was able to pick up some of the notes in the wine and I think I was able to select the wine that they used as their base.

All in all, wine is an experience and what you are experiencing in that moment can play a part of the sip that you take. Abilene revealed some little gems of places to enjoy a nice glass of wine and although it wasn’t where I expected, I did enjoy finding these treasures and the memories I created while I was there.

XOXO, Smiling Danny, Salu’d

Christmas 2020

Christmas 2020

Merry Christmas Smileys and Wine Enthusiasts!

In today’s blog post, I am going to share with you all of the wines that I got for Christmas. Watch the video below and continue reading for tasting notes on each wine.

19 Crimes: The Banished, 2018

Notes of berry and spice. This wine was fruit forward with a hint of sweetness. I would consider it to be light to medium bodied.

Llano Estacado Bourbon Barrel Aged Cabernet Sauvignon, 2018

This Cabernet has notes of baking spices, brown sugar, pepper and dark fruit on the nose followed by notes of caramel and vanilla on the palate.

Vacuum Seals and Pump

This keeps your wine fresh by removing the oxygen from the wine bottle. Visit the products page on this blog to order from my website or from Amazon.

Bookbinder’s Apprentice, 1st Edition White Wine

Bookbinder is a fruit forward wine with notes of green apple, melon and peach. It pairs well with sushi, salads, and soft cheeses. This is my favorite white wine to date.

Middle Jane Zinfandel, 2017

This Zinfandel has notes of black cherry, strawberry balsamic and clove on the nose with notes of blackberry jam, plum and sweet spice on the palate. It pairs well with pizza, barbecue and gouda.

Veinte, 2018

This is a Chilean red wine blend with notes of black cherry and earth. This full-bodied wine pairs well with seasoned red meats and hard cheeses.

Gallivant Zinfandel, 2018

This Zinfandel has notes of boysenberry, orange peel and strawberries. It pairs well with hearty foods; such as, tomato based pastas, pork, and barbecue.

Middle Jane, Red Wine Blend, 2018

This red blend has notes of blueberry, black cherry and red plum along with violet, spice and a hint of caramelized sugar. Pair with pork and lamb.

I hope you enjoyed watching me unbox the wines that I will be trying in the New Year. I also hope you enjoyed reading the tasting notes and that you got an idea of wines that you would like to try as well. Leave a comment below sharing which wines you will be trying in 2021! As always, thank you for continuing to visit my blog this year and I look forward to having you return. It has been my privilege and a true joy sharing my wine journey with you.

Until Next Time, Salu’d, XOXO, Smiling Danny

Head on over to my webpage: http://www.scoutandcellar.com/smilingdanny if you are interested in purchasing any of the Scout and Cellar Wines mentioned above. Also, click on the products tab on this blog, to check out some awesome wine gadgets and accessories.

Happy New Year!

Tasting Scout and Cellar’s Bookbinder’s Apprentice White Wine

Tasting Scout and Cellar’s Bookbinder’s Apprentice White Wine

Hello Smileys and Wine Enthusiasts,

I wanted to invite you all along with me as I tasted this delicious White Wine Blend by Scout and Cellar. It has notes of green apple, melon and peach and pairs well with sushi, salads and soft cheeses. This wine is crisp, fruity and contains 13.1% abv (alcohol by volume). The grape varietal is a Colombard grape that was planted in California. Colombard grapes are a combination of Chenin Blanc and Gouais Blanc grapes. This wine has medium acidity and is quite refreshing.

You will see in this video that pairing this wine with a cucumber salad really opened up the melon notes in the wine. Although I used a hard cheese in my dish, the wine also hi-lighted the subtle spice of the jalapeno in the Muenster cheese. Typically, the wine pairs nicely with soft cheeses; such as: brie, cream cheese, feta, ricotta, Roquefort, gorgonzola, cottage cheese and Chevre’.

To find out more information about this wine or to purchase, visit my website at: http://www.scoutandcellar.com/smilingdanny.

As always, Thank you so much for visiting my blog and for supporting me for another year! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from My Wine Cellar to Yours! XOXO, Smiling Danny

Salu’d

Danny’s Cucumber Salad consists of cucumber, roma tomatoes and jalapeno muenster diced and mixed with 1 tsp of white vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste.

How to Taste Wine

How to Taste Wine

Hi Smileys and Wine Enthusiasts!

In this post, I will be sharing with you how to taste wine. The three S’s in tasting wine are: Sight, Smell and Sip.

Sight

First, examine the color of the wine. The color of the wine will tell you a little bit about the body and the flavors of the wine. The lighter the color, the lighter the body and flavor notes and vice versa. Looking at the color of the wine is also very important when comparing wines with each other. When comparing a Sauvignon Blanc with a Chardonnay, you will see that the Chardonnay will have a deep golden yellow color; whereas, the Blanc will be a soft pale yellow. When tasting the two, you will notice that the Chardonnay will have richer flavor notes and a heavier body than the Blanc. While the Blanc will taste crisp, light and refreshing on the palate.

Smell

The next step in tasting wine is to smell. You will want to start off by gently swirling your glass of wine. This will oxygenate the wine and release the aromas in your glass. Next, put your nose in the glass, take a deep breath and breathe in the wine. By the third sniff, you should smell the different flavors that you will possibly taste on your palate.

Sip

Now it’s time for the best part. Sip the wine and get a good taste. Gently swirl the wine around your mouth, letting the wine coat your cheeks. Breath in your nose as you take a sip and begin identifying the flavors that you are tasting. After tasting your wine, think about other wines that you have had and start making comparisons. Make mental notes about what you may or may not have enjoyed about the wine.

Bonus

What I love most about wine tasting is that I feel like I am on an adventure every time I try a new one. It is very important in your wine tasting journey that you explore the world around you. Try new foods, explore new places, and be adventurous. You wouldn’t believe how smelling the flowers at your local grocer or florist shop will help you pick up on the different floral notes in a wine. Try new fruits and smell them. All of this helps in identifying flavor notes in your wine.

Well Smileys, I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did. Leave a comment below telling me your favorite wine and your most unique tasting note.

Salu’d, XOXO, Smiling Danny

Trying Something New…

Trying Something New…

Hi Smileys!

This week was particularly interesting as I came across something that I have never seen or heard before: Non-Alcoholic WIne! I have heard of non-alcoholic beer but never have seen this with wine. When I came across the bottle I decided that I would give it a try. So I went ahead and purchased a bottle of Fre Wine, White Zinfandel. The taste was very interesting in that you can taste the different fruit notes but then there is a third mysterious taste that seems familiar; but, I can’t quite place it. It almost tastes like alcohol but not so much. It reminded me of a wine cooler. The wine had aromas of strawberries and strawberry jell-o with palate notes of strawberries and raspberries.

So how is this possible?

Well, we know the basic wine making process consists of Sugar + Yeast —-> (Fermentation) = Alcohol.

Fre uses the traditional winemaking methods to make their wines; however, they gently remove the wine after the fermentation process is complete.

So, isn’t this the same as Juice?

No, juice is a lot sweeter because the grapes have not been fermented. Since these grapes have gone through the fermentation process, the sugar has been removed. Therefore; the wine is a lot less sweeter and still maintains the prominent characteristics that were preserved during the winemaking process. Also, this wine still contains less than 0.5% alcohol. For a frame of reference, this is the amount of alcohol in Kombucha (for those who drink Kombucha).

Pairing and Recipe:

I paired this wine with chopped steak and balsamic brussels sprouts and it was quite delicious.

Visit http://www.frewines.com for several mocktail recipes. But as you know adding Cranberry Juice and a spritz of lime juice will always My Go-To!

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Comment below if you decide to give this wine a try.

XOXO, Smiling Danny

Salu’d

My Visit to Heath Sparkling Wines

My Visit to Heath Sparkling Wines

Hi Smileys!

Today I’m going to share with you my experience visiting Heath Sparkling Wines in Fredericksburg, Texas.

This one was an interesting visit in that I really didn’t get to make any tasting notes. Normally, when visiting a vineyard I learn about the grapes, tour the grounds and hear stories about how the owners started their work in the wine industry. Due to so many new rules and regulations during this pandemic the tasting wasn’t quite the experience that I would have gotten if I had arrived on any other given day.  While there, I was hoping to learn some tips about tasting sparkling wines and there were a few additional questions that I had. However, the tasting felt rushed, there weren’t any tours and there wasn’t any history or sparkling wine tips given during the tasting. I literally took a sip, took a bite, sipped again and moved on.

Although this pandemic has created a form of chaos in the wine industry, I am all about making the most of my experience. What I did enjoy were the delicious pairings, the friendliness of the staff, the beauty of the courtyard, and the quietness of sipping my sparkling wine near the water fountain. And most of all, I enjoyed who I shared this experience with.

The tasting consisted of four sparkling wines accompanied with four delicious pairings created by their Chef. Each tasting was delicious but my favorite wine and favorite pairing was the Blanc de Blancs paired with a Watermelon Feta Salad.

All in all, although times have changed, that doesn’t mean that your spirit and joy have to as well. Make each day count. Cherish those special moments that you have with your loved ones while you can. And most of all: KEEP SMILING! In the meantime, I look forward to returning and discovering more of what Heath Sparkling Wines has to offer.

XOXO, Smiling Danny, Salu’d

 

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It’s Cinco de Mayo and Taco Tuesday!

It’s Cinco de Mayo and Taco Tuesday!

Hello Smiley’s and Wine Enthusiasts!

Today is a day of double delights because I will be featuring two wines in today’s blog post in honor of Cinco de Mayo and because it’s Taco Tuesday!

The first wine that I will be sharing with you is a White Wine Sangria by Eppa. This Sangria was a surprising treat that reminded me of Talenti’s Mango sorbet. The bouquet  had notes of peach, white grape, mango popsicle and candy dancing throughout my senses. The wine is very sweet and quite refreshing. If you are a sweet wine lover, you would enjoy this wine. This wine is also versatile as you can add other ingredients to make this even more of a special treat.

Recipe: Berry Sangria

  • You Will Need:
    • 1 Bottle of Eppa White Sangria
    • 1 Cup of Berries
    • 1 Cup of Seltzer
    • Mint Leaves (optional)
  • Directions:
    • Add Sangria and berries to a pitcher. Stir. Refrigerate for 3 hours. Then add seltzer and stir once more. Serve over ice and garnish with mint leaves.

The second wine that I will be sharing with you is a Red Wine Sangria by La Diosa Cellars. Notes of citrus and fruit punch danced across my palate and left me wanting more. I loved the delicate notes of sweetness, followed by the subtle crescendos of citrus. This reminded me of my favorite candy: Sweetarts. La Diosa Cellars, meaning: The Goddess, celebrates the talent of artists and their artistry and is a true gem and local favorite in the city of Lubbock, Tx.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post and that your day is full of love, laughter and joy. Let me know your tasting notes on these wines in the comments below or on Instagram.

Until next time, Salu’d!

XOXO, Smiling Danny

Wine Pairing Wednesday: Pinot Gris and Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos

Wine Pairing Wednesday: Pinot Gris and Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos

Food and Wine Pairing

  • Wine: 99 West Pinot Gris, 2018, Williamette Valley, Oregon
  • Pairing: Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos on top a Broccoli Slaw and a Fruit Salad.
  • Tasting Notes: I have noticed that when tasting Pinot Gris’/Pinot Grigio’s, most of the time the notes I pick up are crisp, clean, refreshing and citrus. I don’t always pick- up additional notes; despite Vinter, location and year.  Through research, I found that this is common for this grape varietal. Here I pick up hints of pear and peach and because the wine is so clean, I get some mineral notes. The clarity reminds me of a shiny 24 karat gold and the wine is very clear. My cheeks are nice and moist; showcasing the beautiful acidity in the wine. The wine is perfect for a nice Spring or Summer day and paired well with this grilled fish dinner. The lemon and lime seasonings in the fish paired nicely with the citrus notes in the wine. Also, the green apples in my fruit salad paired nicely with the wine as well. Pinot Gris’ are known to be fruit forward wines.

Pinot Gris and Oregon

Pinot Gris is the second most planted grape varietal in Oregon. The grape varietal does very well in this area due to the climate and the location. Furthermore, Oregon has similar geographical characteristics as the Burgundy and Alsatian regions of France; where the grape originated. Oregon is a cooled climate, moderate temperatured area with long hours of sunshine. These consistent weather conditions allow the grape varietal to ripen slowly; which is ideal for the grape.

Pinot Gris: The Grape Varietal

Pinot Gris’ are usually picked early. This is why the wine tends to be light and fruity. The wine is best consumed within five to six years of bottling. The grape varietal thrives in cooler climates because this allows the grape to fully ripen. Oregon Pinot Gris’ are usually Medium bodied, have a balanced acidity and pair wonderfully with food. The skin of the grape ranges from blue-gray to pinkish-brown and if you hold the wine up to the light, you can see hues of pink flowing your glass.

I hope that you enjoyed learning a little bit more about the Pinot Gris grape varietal and that you enjoyed this tasting. Leave a comment below of the different notes that you tasted in the wine.

Until next time,

Salu’d, XOXO, Smiling Danny

 

Sweet Wines with Your Sweetheart Series: Dr. Loosen Riesling Kabinett

Sweet Wines with Your Sweetheart Series: Dr. Loosen Riesling Kabinett

Happy Valentine’s Day Smileys and Wine Enthusiasts!
Thank you so much for joining me in this Series. I truly enjoyed tasting all of these sweet wines with you and for you. And thank you to all of you who have reached out and asked me for Sweet Wine recommendations. I appreciate all of your support and encouragement in this blogging journey.
I wanted to end this Series by sharing with you the wine that I will be serving this evening and the meal that I am pairing alongside it.

Tasting Notes:

  • Wine: Dr. Loosen Blue Slate Riesling Kabinett
  • Vintage: 2017
  • Region: Blue Slate Vineyards located in the middle of Mosel, Germany
  • Sight/Clarity: Clear with a hint of effervescence.
  • Bouquet: Minerals in the Ocean, Oyster, Salt Water
  • Taste: A light Moscato with notes of mineral and hints of fuzzy peach. There is a nice acidity in the wine that creates this soft, glossy, refreshing feel on the sides of my cheeks.
  • Overall: This wine reminds me of Pier 39 in San Francisco.  Drinking this wine floods my memory with the wonderful times that I spent there with My Forever Valentine. How exciting that we will get to enjoy this wine together this evening and reminiscence on shared memories.
  • Pairing: This wine you can enjoy as an aperitif (on it’s own) or serve with spicy dishes. Asian and Seafood dishes would also pair nicely with this wine.

Dinner:

I will be pairing this Riesling with Quail stuffed with Jalapeno and wrapped in Bacon, Sauteed Potatoes and Peppers; and an Oven Roasted Squash Medley.  For dessert, we will be having cocoa cinnamon rolls with a marshmallow creme glaze.

I hope this weekend is filled with loving memories with friends, families and cherished ones. Enjoy your time with yourself and with others.

XOXO, Smiling Danny

Salu’d

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