Newly Discovered Blogs Worth Reading

After searching for new reading material on WordPress, I stumbled across some engaging authors worth checking out.  In no particular order:

Adventures in Whiskey

Vines and Vices

California Globetrotter

Tune in next time for my 100th post.  Can you believe it?  I’ve outlasted some of my favorite tv shows.

Beer: The Most Romantic Drink of All

That high-stress relationship holiday is around the corner, and I’m sure florists, Hallmark, restaurants, and M&M Mars are poised to make a killing.  Yes, I’m referring to Valentine’s Day.  Inspired by Ms. Puckette’s article over here on her site, I feel wine is pretty well covered.  My focus will be on my first love, beer, and its ability to pair well with chocolate.

Right out of the gate, beer already has an edge over (most) wine when pairing with food- its carbonation.  Capable of cutting through rich, thick flavors and dense fat, those bubbles in beer act as a palette-cleanser.

Couple this cleansing ability with similar flavors found in chocolate, and beer is effective, versatile, and quite the complimentary beverage to chocolate.  Dark, roasty stouts and porters may contain black patent and/or chocolate specialty malts, providing flavor.  Some brewers even add chocolate itself into the recipe, as is the case with Samuel Smith Chocolate Stout made with organic cocoa.  Another option for pairing is a milk stout, such as Left Hand’s Nitro.  It’s brewed with lactose (milk sugar) which does not ferment out, leaving the beer a touch sweet.  Try milk stouts with chocolate high in cacao, to counter and soften the bitterness.

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For those fans of spirits, a bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout or porter will provide a layer of depth and complexity to your chocolate pairing.  Bourbon barrels impart a dose of vanilla and caramel, plus a dryness due to the oak compounds.  Pair these brews with quality milk chocolate and experience something akin to a Milky Way Bar.

Something commonly paired with chocolate is fruit.  Combined with either white or traditional chocolate, fruit beers make excellent “chocolate-covered strawberry/cherry/raspberry” experiences.  A beer such as Founders Rübæus, or its big brother, Blushing Monk, are made with raspberry puree.  Raspberries also provide a hint of tartness, adding a balance to the rich, creaminess of chocolate.  Or, you could skip the fruit AND the chocolate, and blend a chocolate and fruit beer together, a la Samuel Smith’s strawberry and chocolate.

For the truly adventurous, perhaps something esoteric is in order.  The few of us who enjoy those whack-and-unwrap chocolate oranges, try Sierra Nevada’s Side Car (or any pale ale with hops that impart an orange flavor to the beer) with some creamy milk chocolate.

I know me and my wife will find some sort of awesome combination to celebrate this year’s romantic holiday.

French Connection: Sarah’s Vineyards 2013 Pinot Noir

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On the docket: 2013 Sarah’s Vineyard Central Coast Pinot Noir
Poured into: Wine & Whiskey Country snifter

S:  Intense ruby, with thick legs and a pinkish-orange tint.

A:  Red berry fruit, a touch of spicy earth.  Higher fusel alcohols reminiscent of cherry liqueur.

T:  Bright berry flavors of strawberry, tart cherry, plus subtle wood and vanilla in mid-palate.  Digestif-style spice quality as it breathes.

F:  Regal, delicate with smooth tannins.  The finish is slightly tart and acidic with a hint of alcoholic warmth.

O:  Dancing on the tongue and roof of your mouth before gliding through to the finish, this Central Coast Pinot has a somewhat French sensibility, but with a bit more weight.

Suggested food pairing:  Lemon-braised pork or chicken, Gouda cheese; fruit salad

Best Kept Secret: Secret Cellars Paso Robles Cabernet 2013

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On the docket: 2013 Secret Cellars Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon

Poured into: Wine & Whiskey Country snifter

S:  A deep, inky body with a red-pink meniscus.  No legs.

A:  Dark red fruit and hints of cassis.  A touch of alcohol and subtle oak and vanilla.

T:  Initial sweetness and a burst of dark cherry and currant.  A hint of vanilla.  Fruit-forward.

F:  Supple, soft.  Refined, ample tannins that provide structure and a bit of grit, nothing scathing.

O:  Paso Robles cabs deliver excellent fruit and tannin.  This wine is no exception.  Let it sit for a bit and really get a sense of the luxury inside this bottle.

Suggested food pairing:  Black and blue filet with caramelized onions and mushrooms with a bleu-cheese butter sauce.  Want to go off the beaten path?  New York-style cheese cake.

All New Content, Same Great Blogger

 

 

Happy New Year!  I hope you all are off to a great start for 2017.  I know I am.  With another year comes a bit more wisdom, experience, change, and set of goals.  The biggest goal and the biggest change?  I am branching out from the world of beer reviews to cover what I like to call the earthly trinity:  wine, spirits, and of course, my first love- beer.  Closely linked to the first goal is a renewed energy and variety.  It will not necessarily be an even rotation, but learn to expect and dare I say, anticipate non-beer reviews here.  Why, who knows, I may start to sound like I know a thing or two about wine after a few reviews.

Granted, there will still be picture, pithy prose, and the occasional delve into a particular style or history for adult beverages.  Think of this site as a more robust, comprehensive look into the finer drinks in life.

Upcoming articles will include:

  • My favorite cocktail, the Manhattan
  • Californian Chardonnay
  • Beers for deep winter
  • Beer myths
  • Spirit-barrel aged wine

Raise a glass to 2017 and a revamped John Shoemaker’s Beer Reviews (other alcohol reviewed also)!