FEBRUARY 2011: Wine Talk
Author: Krissy Cantelupe
Oh, February the month of red and pink, cupids and hearts, hugs and kisses. In the past, I have written about what wine pairs with chocolate, how to celebrate Valentine’s Day with wine and friends, and of course, Red, White and Rosé. This year I have decided that the month of February is about me. After all, I do have a birthday this month, and with 40 looming, I will let out a few secrets about my favorite libations:
THE BEST CHOCOLATE MARTINI EVER
I am not a big fan of drinks that have a lot of cream in them as many chocolate martini recipes do. My recipe is 2.5 ounces of really smooth vodka, such as Ketel One and 2.5 ounces of Godiva Chocolate Liqueur. Pour into a martini shaker with ice; shake for several seconds until good and cold. Pour into a martini glass and garnish with a stir stick or umbrella. The big reason that I enjoy this martini is that the Godiva is not super sweet; instead, it has a rich chocolate flavor, almost semi-sweet. The danger is that the Godiva masks the vodka, so these drinks go down easy.
If I must have beer, make it from Belgium. I found Chimay about 15 years ago when microbrews and imports were becoming very popular. I spent a lot of time at a bar back in Pittsburgh with over 200 beers available at all times. That’s where a friend and I discovered Chimay. Since 1852, Trappist Monks have dedicated themselves to the community, producing several types of cheese and brewing three rich beers. My personal favorite is the Chimay Blue, named Grande Reserve. It has a beautiful color, with flavors of light flower and malt. The alcohol content is nine percent, so it is a pretty strong beer. If you plan on drinking a Chimay in the 750mL bottle, be prepared to share it with someone. It’s best served in a wide-mouthed heavy goblet.
HOT TEA WITH HONEY LIQUEUR
One of my favorite concoctions when I have the sniffles or when I feel under the weather is hot tea with Barenjager. I prefer Red Rose Tea—a black tea, nice and strong—laced with about two ounces of Barenjager—a delicious product made by those who bring us Jӓgermeister. Barenjager is a rich, honey-flavored liqueur, imported from the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico where the honey is extremely aromatic. Combined with hot tea, the flavors are fantastic. What does Barenjager mean? Bear hunter. It was rumored that taking this famous potion into the woods would ensure a victorious return.
WINES TO SHARE
When it comes to wine, I cannot think only of myself, because I love to share it with others. Since this February is also the month of my fifth wedding anniversary (love ya Alex), I will let you in on which wines I would want to share on this special occasion. Instead of straying to the outrageous, I chose wines that are reasonably priced and plenty delicious:
Sparkling: Iron Horse Wedding Cuvée
Of course, with many celebrations, the bubbles flow. When Alex and I got married, we shared a bottle of this delicious sparkling wine. Made in California by Iron Horse Vineyards, Wedding Cuvée is a Blanc de Noir, made mostly of Pinot Noir. Pale peach in hue, it is as smooth as butter—not too yeasty. It’s a 91 point wine, so others love it too.
White: Trimbach Pinot Blanc
I am a big white wine drinker, especially Chardonnay, of which my husband is not a fan. So, when we choose a white wine, we try to find something we both can agree on. Several times we have gone to dinner and enjoyed this bottle of Pinot Blanc. Hailing from Alsace, France, these cold climate grapes give a lot of refreshing acidity to the bottle as well as hints of lemongrass and pear. This wine is delicious paired with light salads and first courses as well as shellfish and seafood.
On our first date, we shared a bottle of Legacy, a Bordeaux-style blend. It was so sublime and beautiful, we try to drink a bottle each year. A wine introduced by Jess Jackson of the Kendall-Jackson Estates, this was a dedication to his grandfather and is made from only the best grapes on the Stonestreet property in Alexander Valley. This vintage (2006) is 86 percent Cabernet Sauvignon enhanced with Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. The flavors are intense with hints of black currant, concentrated black cherries and a fabulous toasty smokiness on the finish.