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

A Texas Thanksgiving

A Texas Thanksgiving

Hi Smiley’s and Wine Enthusiasts,

This month I am so excited to share with you my pairing of Texas Wines and Thanksgiving inspired hors d’ oeuvres. The wines range from the Texas Hill Country all the way to the High Plains. Be sure to grab your notepad because you are going to want to try these delicious pairings yourself.

What’s on the Menu:

Food Bites:

Meat: Smoked Honey Cured Ham and Cracked Pepper Roasted Turkey Breast

Bread: Sweet Cornbread

Cheese: Cranberry Orange Goat Cheese

Fruit: Opal Apple Slices

Desserts:

Texas Pecan Caramel Brownies

Pumpkin Spice Tea Cakes

Strawberries

Jazz Apple Slices

Hershey Chocolate Bars

Wines:

  • Becker Vineyards: Chardonnay, 2018
  • Becker Vineyards: Viognier, 2019
  • McPherson Cellars: La Herencia Red Table Wine, 2017
  • Llano Estacado: Cellar Reserve Texas Red Blend, Limited Release
  • Heath Sparkling Wine: Adoration, 2017
  • English Newson Cellars: Spider Rock Bourbon Barrel Aged Dessert Wine

Tasting Notes and Pairings:

Becker Vineyards: Chardonnay, 2018

This dry, white wine has notes of honey and pineapple. The wine paired nicely with the cranberry orange goat cheese, opal apple slices and the cracked pepper roasted turkey breast.

Becker Vineyards: Viognier, 2019

This is a dry, white wine with peach and floral notes on the nose and palate. Because of the fruit notes, the wine paired nicely with the apple slices and the goat cheese. This Viognier can easily be paired with the turkey or ham that you choose on your menu.

I think both wines complemented the charcuterie plate well. The wines did not overpower the food bite nor did the food bite overpower the wine. However, what I look for in pairings is for me to recognize the original notes in the wine and the flavors of the dish. In addition, I like to discover new flavor profiles from the combining of the two. Here, I didn’t pick up on any additional notes when I included the food bite in the tasting.

McPherson Cellars: La Herencia Red Table Wine, 2017

This is a dry, red wine with notes of berry and earth. Pairing this alongside the peppered turkey really opened up those earth notes in the wine. Also, the sweet cornbread created this umami profile in the mouth. Delicious!

Llano Estacado: Cellar Reserve Texas Red Blend, Limited Release

Now you know that I am in LOVE with Llano’s 1836, but this wine right here came in to a close second. I really enjoyed this wine. It is a dry, red wine, (of course, my fav) with notes of berry, earth and pepper. What I truly enjoyed about this wine is that I could taste the berry on the palate. Often, I pick up berry in the nose but it is rare that I will actually taste berry on the palate with the dry reds that I have tried thus far. This wine paired phenomenally with the ham and the goat cheese. Pairing it with the cornbread reminded me of cake, so that was a treat.

Next Up, Desserts!

Heath Sparkling Wine: Adoration, 2017

This is a dry, sparkling wine with notes of floral, apple, cranberry and cherry. It has a rose gold hue and lots of bubbles. This wine paired perfectly with the strawberries, chocolate bars and apple slices.

English Newson Cellars: Spider Rock Bourbon Barrel Aged Dessert Wine

This is a sweet, dessert wine with notes of raisin, pecan and chocolate. It tastes like every layer of my German Chocolate Cake! The wine paired nicely with all of the desserts, and when pairing, it created new flavors on my palate. I get really excited when this happens. Here are the creations below:

  • Brownie: pairing brought out caramel notes in the wine.
  • Chocolate: pairing created a dark chocolate flavor profile.
  • Strawberry: pairing created a chocolate cake with strawberries flavor.
  • Apples: pairing created a cinnamon glazed apple and brandied apple flavor.
  • Pumpkin Spice Tea Cake: pairing created a raisin bread flavor.

Now, is your mouth watering or what!! I hope that you enjoyed this post as much as I did and that you try some of the wines and food bites mentioned. If you do, be sure to leave a comment here or on my Instagram page. Have a Happy Thanksgiving and I look forward to sharing with you again soon.

XOXO, Smiling Danny

Salu’d

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