Wine 101

Wine 101

Buying and learning about Wine can feel overwhelming but it isn’t as gruesome as it may seem.  The exploration of wine can be fascinating and adventurous. So, this month I thought I would walk you through the Wonderful World of Wines.

What is Wine?

Wine is:

Fermented grape juice (and all of its sugar) + Yeast = Alcohol 

vatWine is prepared by adding yeast to the juice of grapes. Adding the yeast will convert the sugared juice into alcohol. This is called the fermentation process.  The yeast comes from the natural fungus that grows on the grape skins.  Wine is then added to wooden oak barrels or steel vats for fermentation. (pictured left)

Wines are identified by its grape varietal; such as Tempranillo, or by its region; such as Bordeaux.  They come in two colors: Red and White. Pink or Rose’ is considered a secondary hue but not a color itself.


They also come in different styles, such as:view

  • Still : no bubbles
  • Sparkling: contains bubbles
  • Dessert: sweet tasting
  • Fortified: extra alcohol added


Common Misconceptions:

  • The price of the wine determines the quality or taste.  No, price is due to a number of factors. There are inexpensive wines that taste just as exquisite as the expensive ones.
  • Once I buy a bottle of wine I can drink it immediately.  No, white wines should be chilled; however, red wines should be served room temperature. Too cold will make the tannins taste bitter and too warm makes it taste like vinegar. Ideally, 65 degrees  Fahrenheit is what the experts say.
  • I must know everything about wine to truly enjoy it or even buy it.  Not at all! Grab a bottle, did you like what you tasted? Take note of what you did like and didn’t like. Next time you go to the wine store, share with the Sommelier or Wine Specialist your notes and ask for suggestions. It’s all trial and error.

Smileys, I hope this put a little ease to the caution of trying wine or trying new wines. Take a big leap into this wonderful world and share with me your exciting adventures! I look forward to sharing more with you.  But until next time,

Salu’d, XOXO, Smiling Danny





Labor Day Weekend at Texas Sun Winery

Labor Day Weekend at Texas Sun Winery

This weekend I thought I would end the month with a visit to a new winery. So I researched around and found a winery in Midland, Texas.

I arrived at Texas Sun Winery located in this nice and new shopping/eatery strip. The inside was gorgeous; styled in a pueblo type architecture with the feel of a bistro. There they bottle their wine onsite and they also infuse some of their wines with fruit. The food was delicious as they have several flatbreads, panini’s, salads and charcuterie boards. However, the wine….. Well, my guest opted in for their Red Wine flight and I tried a White Cranberry Sangria. The Sangria was a Pinot Gris infused with white cranberry. It was very sweet. Had I known, I would have paired it with one of their flatbreads instead of ordering the Turkey, Brie and Jam Panini. The sight was bubbly and cloudy and the taste was silky, sweet and very light. This was a white wine of course.

The Red Wine flight consisted of five one ounce pours. Usually, when trying wine the Sommelier will pour the wine and tell you a little bit about it. Here they just poured the wine and walked off. You are lucky if you get to hear the name of the wine as they walk away. They do have a wine packet with the names of all of their wines and a little description about the wine but you would have to flip through the stack of papers to learn a little bit about it.  I asked one of the Sommeliers where do they source their grapes from, she replied: “all over.” As I browsed through the guide I saw wines from New Zealand, Ohio and California so let’s just say I’m a little confused about their whole wine preparing and bottling process. I attempted to take notes on the flight but like I said I didn’t get to hear the names of the wines we tasted. One of the wines smelled like butterscotch with notes of vanilla and spice. It would have been nice to take a bottle with us but they decided to close early to celebrate their one year anniversary so I was on a time crunch.

Would I go again? Hmmmmm, maybe. I think if you are looking for a venue to meet up with friends, eat something lite but filling, and sip on wine then this is a nice establishment. However, since they have a wine club, I expected a little bit more education during my wine tasting. Their menu looked delicious and they had a nice selection of wines just wished I could have learned a little bit more about their wines and their winery.

Thank you Smileys for your continuous support! Cheers to two years of blog posts.

Salu’d, XOXO, Smiling Danny

What’s in My Wine Stash

What’s in My Wine Stash

Hi Smiley’s!

I hope you have enjoyed your Summer as it is coming to a close. Each year it feels like it goes by so quickly. For some of us, August is a preparation month; getting ready for the upcoming school year or Fall plans. But this year I have decided to use this time as a wind down or shall I say WINE down/ relaxation period. I really want to enjoy the month and enjoy the little things that are so easily taken for granted.  So my evenings have consisted of playing games, reading and nice conversations with family and the company of a delicious glass of wine.

As I was thinking of what to share with you all this month, I decided to look in my wine cabinet and see what I had on hand. I have stored up a little collection and thought I would share some of the wines that I have with you.

My Collection:

  • Texas Wines:
    • As you know I enjoy visiting wineries and have collected some treasures along the way.  I have collected wines from Llano Estacado Winery, English Newsom Cellars, McPherson Cellars and William Chris Vineyards.
  • Red Wines:
    • Red wine is my favorite wine so most of the wine that I have is red. They consist of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Malbec, Merlot, Sweet Red, Port, Syrah and Petite Verdot. I also have some varietals/blends such as Cabernet and Cinsaut.
  • White Wines, White Zinfandel, and Rose’: I have a few of each of these from Wineries I have visited or from labels such as Beringer or from a wine subscription. I also have a Petite Grange wine and usually I have Sparkling Wine in my cabinet.
  • Wine Recommendations: I have a few bottles of wine that were recommended by friends such as the San Antonio Sweet Red that I have posted about before. I also have Chateau Muscar and Conundrum which were recommended by a Sommelier who has visited “The Sister Circle” on TV. Her name is Regine Rousseau and she is the Founder of “Shall We Wine“. I have also posted about Conundrum; it is one of my favorite White Wines.
  • Favorite Wine:
    • Red: Seven Deadly Zins, Zinfandel, 2012
    • White: Conundrum, Blend of Chardonnay, Viognier and More, 2015
    • Texas Red: 1836, Llano Estacado, 2010
    • Texas White: Texas White, McPherson Cellars, 2015

Most of my wines come from wineries, I have tried main labels but I tend to enjoy wines that I have bought from a winery. I love the experience and the memories that come from walking the vineyard, touring the facility, tasting the wine and conversing with the Sommelier’s.

I’d love to hear about what’s in your wine stash! Leave a comment below or leave a comment on my Instagram post.

And as always, Happy Tasting!

Salu’d, XOXO, Smiling Danny

Wine Makes Everything Better

Wine Makes Everything Better

There is this misconception that I enjoy cleaning. I guess it is because I am always cleaning my house and do my very best to keep it clean. But the truth is: I HATE CLEANING! I do, however, enjoy a clean house. Therefore, I do what it takes to keep it clean.  I could go through all of the nuances and explain what I don’t like about each task but it will just boil down to the fact that I just don’t like it. I don’t like anything about it except being done. I even more hate the fact that I have to keep cleaning it.

Anyway, one day I was watching a vlogger on YouTube do one of her “Clean with Me” episodes. Why? I guess for inspiration, I truly don’t know.  But I realized that this particular person was playing music in the background. She may have even lit a candle. Not really sure but my mind began to drift as I thought about how relaxed she looked while she cleaned. So I thought to myself: “How can I change the circumstance of my cleaning to make it more enjoyable?” Well, “I love Jazz music!, I thought. It relaxes me and puts me in a very happy space. So the next time I clean, I will play some jazz!” A day later, it occurred to me: why not pour yourself a glass of wine as well. I shared this with someone else and they got so excited that I ended up going straight home and trying it for myself. I tell you, this was the best cleaning experience I have ever had. Adding the glass of wine made it all better. I have played jazz before but usually while washing dishes and not for long because I don’t want to ruin my love for jazz by associating it with cleaning. But this time, including wine and jazz made my experience all the better. Now, I don’t sweat the small tasks nor dread the big ones.

So Smileys, if there is anything that you dread doing or thinking about, take a deep breath and think of a way to turn it into an enjoyable experience. For me it was a glass of wine. For you it can be a piece of chocolate, a cup of tea or an audio book. The list is limitless but life is too short not to enjoy it or the things you have. Praise God I have a home to clean and the ability to clean it myself. For this I am grateful.

XOXO, Smiling Danny

Mother’s Day at English Newsom Cellars

Mother’s Day at English Newsom Cellars

This Mother’s Day, I had the privilege of visiting English Newsom Cellars in Lubbock, Tx. Formerly known as Caprock Winery, English Newsom has made its own mark with wines produced there on the Estate and sourced from Hockley County. I truly loved my visit as the Sommelier’s, Production Manager, Wine Maker and English Family made me feel like a QUEEN. It was my very first visit and I wasn’t even a club member but they made me feel just as special.

I ended up doing a six taste wine tasting and hubby did also. We both got six different wines that way we could try twelve. After I requested the six taste, I immediately regretted it remembering that the last time I did that all the wines began tasting alike and my body felt awful. I didn’t say anything to the Sommelier because she already began our pour. What really impressed me with this tasting is that my body didn’t feel awful at all and I was able to pick up the notes on each individual wine. I was so surprised! I also enjoyed that these wines were not heavy on the Oak; I think that’s what usually makes my body feel crummy when doing more than four. I mentioned to the staff how I usually can’t taste more than four wines at a time but here I was able to pick up the notes on all twelve. They were so happy that I mentioned that because they work very hard to make sure that the Oak does not overpower the grape.

My two favorite wines were:

  • Flirt: This is a Blush Table Wine rated Double Gold Best of Class by the San Francisco Chronicle. It has notes of Cotton Candy and Strawberry Sour Punch Straws.
  • Spider Rock: This is a Cabernet aged in a bourbon barrel for five years. It’s a Port with Notes of German Chocolate Cake ( and I mean EVERY SINGLE LAYER- From the Coconut to the Chocolate, Pecans and Sweet Buttered Milk Icing (not buttermilk). It also has Notes of Raisin, Whisky and Bourbon.

**Both of these are Fan Favorites. Also Google Spider Rock Treasure, Haskell County.**

As you can see, I had a great time at English Newsom Cellars and of the twelve wines that we tasted, I can’t say that there was one that I didn’t enjoy and that is very rare. So, if you are ever in Lubbock, Texas stop by and tell’ em Smiling Danny sent you and shoot me a note sharing with me your experience.

Happy Mother’s Day, XOXO, Smiling Danny

Using an Aerator

Using an Aerator

Hi Smileys,

I hope you had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. This month I am excited to share with you my tasting notes on the wine: Chloe, before and after using an aerator.

Wine: Chloe Red No. 249

Vintage: 2015

Region: North Coast California

Notes (without an aerator):

  • Sight: Beautiful legs, Deep Burgundy
  • Smell: Spice, Dark Berry, Raisin, Alcohol
  • Taste: Heavy Spice, Subtle Cobbler- maybe blackberry, Gradual Tannins and a building of coffee notes after several sips.
  • Pairing: Baked Chicken Parmesan, Artichokes and Cauliflower. The wine paired with the mozzarella very nicely drawing out the flavor of the cheese.
  • Overall: Truly enjoyed the wine. Paired nicely with my dinner and this wine could easily be enjoyed before bed.

Notes after using an Aerator:

  • Sight: Beautiful legs, Deep Burgundy
  • Smell: Floral
  • Taste: Sweet cobbler upfront, followed by spice. However, the spice wasn’t as strong after aeration. Heavy ending of Dark Chocolate; such as 90% Cocoa.
  • Pairing: Paired with the same dish but after aeration the wine seemed to be too rich for the dish. This wine would pair better with red meat. Full Bodied.
  • Overall: Still enjoyed the wine but not with my meal. Also, after aeration, the wine seemed to have a heavier alcohol content (versus smelling the alcohol, I felt the alcohol).

Winemaker’s Tasting Notes:

  • Bouquet: Dark Fruit Flavors
  • Taste: Rich Espresso and Spice. Soft integrated Tannins. Full Bodied.

After aerating the wine, the alcohol note was eliminated, the spice notes were more leveled out and the finish of the wine was more luxurious.

Have you used an aerator? Did it change the profile of your wine? Aerators mix air with the wine, allowing it to breathe more quickly than just letting it sit. Swirling your glass of wine also adds air to the wine and will open the profile of the wine before the taste.

I hope that you liked this article on wine aeration and learned a little bit about how letting the wine breathe enhances your experience of the taste.

Salud, XOXO, Smiling Danny