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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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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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

 

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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A Few of My Favorite Things…

A Few of My Favorite Things…

Hi Smileys,

As you can see, I have not posted much this month. Each day goes by with its daily list of to-do’s and before you know it, you have missed out on important and special moments. Seeing how it has been strongly recommended to stay home during this time of panic and chaos; I have been determined to enjoy every little moment while I can. I hope this month you are first trusting in God; placing all of your cares and worries in His hands. I hope you are enjoying memories with your family, they won’t be here forever and neither will we. I hope you are making the most of each day; reading, enjoying your hobbies, listening to music, finishing those projects that never seem to get done. And lastly, I hope you are enjoying a nice bottle of wine.

Below is the dinner that we had last night. Simple and delicious. No special notes other than we enjoyed a few of our favorite things…

Dinner: Honey Mustard Turkey Legs with Cornbread Dressing and Blanched Green Beans.

Pairing: Angry Orchard-Green Apple

Tasting Notes: This pairing gave fall vibes with memories of Thanksgiving. The Cider did not take away from the meal; instead, it was like having an apple tart for dessert.

XOXO, Smiling Danny

Salu’d