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

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.

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

Check out these products below. I absolutely love my wine saver pump and stoppers. They are great for when you have left over wine and you want to keep the oxygen from getting in and changing the notes and flavors. There is also a special one for sparkling wines that I adore. The sparkling wine saver ensures that your wine doesn’t go flat. Click on the picture to find out more information about the products and to purchase. Thank you so much for supporting me and for checking out these products.

Wine Cocktail: Pinkie Promise with a Twist

Wine Cocktail: Pinkie Promise with a Twist

Leftover Wine?
Here’s a Wine Cocktail Recipe using Fre Wines’ White Zinfandel.

Pinkie Promise with a Twist:
You will need:

  • Fre Wines White Zinfandel
  • 100% Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice
  • Juice of 1/2 Lime
  • Lemon wedge for garnish

Directions:
Pour equal parts White Zinfandel and Cranberry Juice in a white wine glass. Next, juice 1/2 a lime and add to the wine glass. Stir and garnish with lemon wedge.
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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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

 

Local Wineries Need Our Help!

Local Wineries Need Our Help!

To My Fellow Smileys and Wine Enthusiasts,

During this time of chaos and panic; let’s remember to support our local wineries and small businesses. So many businesses and families are being affected in ways that transcend the virus itself. So if you can, spend local and shop local. Below is a list of Texas wineries that are offering wine discounts, curbside service, free delivery, shipping services and virtual wine classes. Check out their websites to get additional information on the service(s) they are offering.

Austin, TX

  • Fall Creek Vineyards
    • 18059 Farm to Market Road 1826; Driftwood, TX 78619
    • http://www.fcv.com
    • Curbside Pick-up, Free Delivery (6+ bottles)

Brownfield, TX

  • Farmhouse Vineyard
  • Reddy Vineyards

Fort Worth, TX

  • Lost Oak Winery
    • 8101 County Rd 802; Burleson, TX 76028
    • http://www.lostoakwinery.com
    • Curbside Pick-up, Delivery, Virtual Tasting, Virtual Tour, Virtual Pairings

Fredricksburg, TX

  • Grape Creek Vineyards
    • 10587 E US Highway 290; Fredricksburg, TX 78624
    • http://www.grapecreek.com
    • 10% off discount (non-members), Free Shipping (3+ bottles), Online Ordering, 25% off Wine Club Membership, Wine Club Pick-up
  • Heath Sparkling Wines
    • 10591 E US, US 290; Fredricksburg, TX 78624
    • http://www.heathsparkling.com
    • 10% off discount (non-members), Free Shipping (3+ bottles), Online Ordering, Wine Club Pick-up

Lubbock, TX

Midland, TX

New Braunfels, TX

San Antonio, TX

I’m sure there are many more wineries that are offering services but these are the ones that I know of thus far. If you know of any more that you would like me to add, feel free to comment below or on Instagram.

Stay Safe and Salu’d!

XOXO, Smiling Danny

Brats and Brews Tasting

Brats and Brews Tasting

Most of last month and so far this month, most of us have been home. It has been wonderful to see how creative people have become in order to make the most of this time. Before we were encouraged to stay home, I held a Brats and Brews pairing and thought that I would share my notes here with you today. Thanks to my friend, I saw that she had created her own Brats and Brews pairing for her Hubby a while back so I thought this would be the perfect time to create my own.

Here is what we had on our Menu:

Turkey Brat paired with the Local Buzz Honey Rye Golden Ale from Four Corners Brewery located in Dallas, TX.

Beer Brined Brat paired with the Red Bud Berliner Weisse from Independence Brewing Company located in Austin, TX.

Green Chile Brat paired with the Ugly Pug Black Lager from Rahr & Sons Brewing Company located in Fort Worth, TX.

These pairings were accompanied with Warm Buttered Pretzel Bread, Course Salt and a Trio of Mustards. The mustard trio included French’s original yellow mustard, spicy brown mustard and course ground mustard. There was also a nice bowl of sauerkraut for garnish.

The first beer served was:

Screenshot_20200321-164247_Chrome This brew is a golden ale comprised of Texas wildflower honey, pale malt, Munich and rye malt. The consensus was that the ale was crisp and refreshing with notes of bread and spice. This paired nicely with the pretzel bread and spicy brown mustard that accompanied the beer and brat.

Next Up:

Screenshot_20200321-164046_Chrome This brew is a German wheat beer with malts of white wheat, pilsen, oats and flaked barley. This beer left everyone with strong sour notes on their palate. The Brewer’s notes say that this beer pairs nicely with salty/oily/ starchy foods, sauerkraut and weisse wurst; so, this was a perfect beer to include in our lineup.

Last:

20200321_164605 This beer is a smooth, light-bodied, black lager with notes of caramel, chocolate and roasted malt. The sweet notes of the lager went well with the saltiness of the menu; but, we wouldn’t necessarily say to pair this beer with the brats that we had.

Of all the beers served, Local Buzz was the Star of the evening and voted best beer!

I hope you enjoyed this little switch up. Let me know in the comments if this is something that you are going to try.

XOXO (with mask and gloves), Smiling Danny

Salu’d

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Poached Mushrooms

Poached Mushrooms

Hello Smiley’s and Wine Enthusiasts!

I thought I’d kick off the month with a simple and delicious wine recipe. And since we have been encouraged to stay home this month; this month’s posts will be filled with tastings from my wine stash. Bon Apetit!

Poached Mushrooms

You will need:

  • 2 Cups of clean and sliced mushrooms (brown)
  • 2 Cups of Dry Red wine. Add more if it doesn’t touch the top of the mushrooms. You want the wine to cover the mushrooms but you don’t want the mushrooms to drown in the wine.

Directions:

Combine wine and mushrooms in a quart sized pot. Set temperature to high to bring to a rapid boil. Once boiling, drop temperature to  low for 10 to 15 minutes until your liquid boils down.

Serve and enjoy.

This dish can be served alongside red or white meat. Tonight, the mushrooms were served alonside pot roast, roasted pork loin and grilled chicken. The accompanied sides were sauteed spinach and buttered red potatoes. Deeelicious!

The wine that I chose this evening was from Llano Estacado Winery. It was their 2013 Due Compaesani.  This wine has notes of raisin and spice. It has full tannins and was enjoyed as a night cap. Because I have had this wine for a while, I thought it would be the perfect cooking wine. 

Wine tip: the longer you have a wine, the tasting notes may change.

I hope you enjoyed this Wine Wednesday Recipe and I look forward to sharing more with you in the weeks ahead!

Salu’d, Smiling Danny

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