Tag Archives: wine tastings

Mohegan Sun WineFest: The Drinks

So glad you guys enjoyed my recap of the food I munched on at the Mohegan Sun WineFest this past Sunday! Some of my favorite bloggers also attended, but on Saturday, so I didn’t have a chance to meet up with them and say hi. Bummer, but I wanted to share their recaps too:

You can also see my recap of the Oyster Open event here!

I also wanted to take a moment to first direct you back to my food recap so that you can read about my experience at the Pete & Gerry’s Organic Eggs booth. Their Events and Promotion Manager, Ken, was kind enough to drop me an email thanking me for sharing my opinions on their booth and custard – he is trying to get the recipe from Mohegan’s pastry and dessert chef, so keep your fingers crossed! Ken also provided me with the same flyers I picked up at the booth, in PDF format, to share with you all!

Even better? He shared COUPONS as well! Click here to access the PDF file (it’s intended to be printed on one sheet of paper, double-sided). Let me know if you try their eggs!

Onto what the Sun WineFest is all about in the end…the beverages! All drinks were included in my Grand Tasting ticket. Like I said Monday, Elliott of Sonoma Wine & Spirits helped me out by starring drinks I should make a priority, and highlighting those I absolutely had to try. It was SO helpful to go in with a plan because no one could EVER try every single offering!

I spy a must-see!

The first product I sampled was located right by the entrance, so I was attracted to the booth immediately since when I first walked in, I was quite hungry and the Connecticut-based company Peel had some amazing-sounding (and tasting, it turns out) liqueur flavors: cremoncello, bananacello, and limoncello.

The bananacello tasted just like dessert, but I actually enjoyed the limoncello way more because it had a lemon flavor that wasn’t so strong that it overpowered the taste of the alcohol. Call me weird but I like a drink that tastes strong, and lets the quality of the alcohol stand out. I hate getting a drink that’s so sweet and muddled with so many other flavors that I can’t even determine what it’s made with or how good the liquor is. The limoncello was really perfect and though it was smooth, it had a bite to it.

My parents are big fans of J. Lohr, it’s served by the restaurant my sister works at, and Elliott had marked several on my list, so I made that my first wine stop. I also picked up a recipe booklet (complete with suggested wine pairings, of course) that has yummy recipes in it like seafood penne with jalapeno pesto – wow! I sampled Falcon’s Perch Pinot Noir (2010) and October Night Chardonnay (2010), both of which were highlighted in pink! (Random comment: it is so cool how detailed winery websites are – I can find out anything I want to know about what I tasted! End comment.)

Thank you, James of J. Lohr, for taking my photo!

  • Falcon’s Perch Pinot Noir: Described online a “food friendly” wine, I really enjoyed this red. I love Pinot Noir and this one was nice and a bit oak-y. I can definitely see myself pairing this with a nice steak!
  • October Nigh Chardonnay: I could definitely taste the orange and lime notes noted on the website, though did not get the vanilla. It’s hard for me to really enjoy a white and this one was just pretty good to me.

I have a thing for pear cocktails, so I immediately selected Grey Goose‘s new flavor, La Poire AKA pear! Another side comment, their website is gorgeous. The vodka was excellent (of course, it’s Grey Goose). So smooth! I would LOVE to just have a simple martini made with their pear vodka. Maybe I’ll indulge sometime, but I’m usually too cheap for that 😛

Jim Beam had their booth set up just like a bar, with Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark cocktails all ready to go! I selected the strongest one, the Makers Mark Manhattan, because like I said, I like to taste the good stuff. So glad that I did! The drink was amazing and would certainly be easy to mix up at home. My dad is a big fan of Maker’s Mark and I bet he would like it! Father and daughter, sharin’ a Manhattan, how cute.

I definitely had the most fun at the above table, courtesy of Sassy Bitch Wines! I’m the one who marked this one on the list of wines – with a name like that, how could I not?! These Chilean wines are super affordable and were actually pretty darn good. I completely adore the packaging as well – I have a little obsession with creative wine labels. I sampled all three of their reds: Cabernet, Pinot Noir, and Merlot. Despite the lower price tag, these wines were all delicious and I can definitely see myself buying a bottle for a fun girl’s night – I’m thinking maybe when Rachel and I have our Grammy’s-watching party!

The reason I had so much fun with Sassy Bitch Wines is featured in the photo above – my fun temporary tattoo that I received from Master Mixologist Dave A. Brogan. We had a great time chatting and bonded over the fact that he has a blog too – take a second to check out his site because the Twitter icon at the bottom of his page is ADORABLE. And appropriate – you’ll see!

Around this time I ran into a co-worker and his friend, and the three of us decided to hang out for the rest of the WineFest and explore the wine and beer Elliott had marked on my list. I was glad to have some WineFest companions!

And some more yummy wines for your viewing…

Beringer Knights Vally Meritage Red not only had a really mysterious, dark, appealing package design that impressed me, but also an impressive flavor. At $35/bottle this was definitely a nice wine that I’m glad I got to try, because I am not usually buying bottles of wine at that price, or glasses of wine like that at restaurants.

Block Nine Pinot Noir was another bottle with an impressive label design and also impressive taste. I love Pinot Noir and Elliott was correct in recommending it to me. Block Nine only makes this variety but I’d be curious to see what other wines they will make in the future.

Longboard Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc was only OK – I’m not a white lover, but this wine was not good enough to make me enjoy whites either. I’d be curious as to how their reds taste, but Elliott did not mark them, and my tolerance can only handle so much – I couldn’t be trying wines that weren’t worth it!

The man working the Rombauer Vineyards table was so nice – we started chatting about balancing working out and eating right, and he said he wanted to give some of my workouts a try! If you are reading…go for it and tell me how it goes! 😉 He also had some yummy wines for us to sip on. the Napa Cabernet Sauvignon and Napa Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Select were really fun to try back-to-back because I could taste the higher quality in the Diamond Select vs. the regular. Lately I have been finding most Cabs to be too sweet compared to other reds, but the Diamond Select was nice and oak-y and I would love to sip on it some other time. I’m not sure how likely that is to happen seeing as it is $60/bottle (guess that’s why they call it Diamond) but it was exciting to be able to try a wine like that. The Zinfandel (a red zin!) was interesting, but I didn’t like it much. I’ve never had much luck with red Zinfandels – and I don’t even touch whites. I noticed on Rombauer’s website that they have a port – I LOVE port (I’m an old man) and would be dying to try that sometime.

I honestly saw Ferrari-Carano Vineyards on the list and assumed it was the car-maker trying to market wines. Jeff Gordon and Ed Hardy were giving out samples at this event – why wouldn’t Ferrari maybe be there too?! I thought twice about it after I saw that Elliott had starred a couple of their offerings for me. Suspicion confirmed – the vineyard is NOT associated with the car maker! Another confirmed fact – Ferrari-Carano wines are tasty! The Tresor (2007, a library wine!) and Siena (2009) were both delicious, and again, I could taste the price difference between the $58 Tresor bottle and the $25 Siena bottle.

Duckhorn Wines, my absolute favorite wine table of the day, had four of the best wines I tried – and one was even a white! I can’t believe I don’t have photos of the bottles – I’m kicking myself – but they honestly weren’t that pretty/unique so I guess that’s why. Doesn’t matter though, these tasted excellent. The Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noir was highlighted in pink on my list, so I knew it was going to be good. Even with my high expectations, I loved it. Its $55 price point doesn’t even bias that opinion, because I literally just looked it up. Decoy, described on Twitter as “the everyday wine for the well-informed, accomplished an amazing feat – they created a Chardonnay that I liked more than their Pinot Noir. I’m telling you folks, pigs are flying. My co-worker and I were blown away by this white, and its price point is pretty good at $54 for a three-bottle pack! Finally, the Paraduxx Napa Valley Red Blend was really good, but it was also the last wine I tried at Duckhorn and by that point I was going less impressed because I just expected every one of their wines to be amazing. OK, have I said enough about Duckhorn yet?

Though not as good as Ed’s mojitos at Zafra, 10 Cane Rum can make a pretty good mojito. Needed more rum though, less lime! I really enjoyed their display though. I want a glass container filled with mint leaves in my house!

Though it certainly didn’t taste like wine at all, Cocoa di Vine’s Chocolate and Espresso Wines were FANTASTIC. I don’t think I could drink a whole glass without feeling very full, but damn, the Espresso flavor was so good.

We did eventually head up to the beer rooms, but even after sampling some of the kinds Elliott recommended, I still could not find a single beer I enjoyed. I’ll keep trying though! Carbonation hatred is just a very strong thing.

The Heavy Seas Beer Loose Cannon pictured above left was pretty good, but my nose was a-burning after a sip or two.

I was definitely more impressed with this cool duck tap than the Goose Island Honkers Ale and IPA.

After giving up on the beer rooms, we went back downstairs. I parted ways with my co-worker to cover the 8th Annual Oyster Open…that post is coming soon! To be continued…

Which of the beverages I sampled would you most like to try? Which do you know you’d HATE?

What do you think of Pete & Gerry’s? Any plan to use their coupons?

Vinifera Imports: Italian Wine Tasting

My go-to spot for fantastic wine, Sonoma Wines & Spirits of Glastonbury, held three tastings the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday before Christmas. Joe and I attended the grand finale on Saturday (Christmas Eve) with Jeff of Vinifera Imports, a provider of wonderful Italian wines. I enjoyed each wine that I tried, but there was a favorite white and a favorite red, as there usually is.

Both whites were poured chilled, which of course really added to their flavors. The Pra Soave was my favorite white. It was nice and light, and so very refreshing. A fun fact – this wine was in “Romeo and Juliet”! I did like the second white, the Sant’ Elena Sauvignon, as well. It’s actually a Sauvignon Blanc, but due to labeling restrictions, cannot be called what it is! It had a fuller body, making it not quite as refreshing as the Pra Soave.

The next wine was the Pelissero Dolcetto d’Alba, a tasty, lighter-bodied red from last year.

I really liked it, and could tell it was a real Italian red, but the next wine completely overshadowed it with its…well…wonder. And at $40/bottle, I would say it should!

The Sapaio Volpolo was an experience in itself. The scent alone gave off the strong aroma of fine oak barrels. The taste was a whole other story – never before have I been able to see the process that a wine goes through, from vine to bottle, just from its flavor. That’s probably the reason why the only word I can think of to describe this pour is “sensational”.

The label is very fitting – this wine was crowned king of the tasting by me, and I’m sure by many others who participated. I’m not sure if the cheapskate in me could ever spend $40 on a bottle of wine, but I do understand that there is definitely a long, extensive process that goes into making those bottles. You may not be able to see it, but you can certainly taste it.

Have you ever spent money on an expensive bottle of wine? Was it worth it?

Planned and Spontaneous Wine Tastings

Quick reminder – don’t forget to enter the Shabby Apple necklace giveaway! Ends tomorrow at 11:59PM EST!

I’ve blogged plenty about my favorite local package store, Sonoma Wines & Spirits. But they keep giving me reasons to love them, so I’m gonna continue writing about their fabulous wine selection – no apologies here.

In fact, they are offering tastings both today and tomorrow on location in Glastonbury, so if you are a local reader, be sure to stop by for free wine samples + education!

I attended a free Saturday evening tasting recently, in which I tried the first sparkling wine that I can honestly say I enjoyed! It had already sold out by the time I arrived, but was a nice preview for a possible future purchase. This wine, made by J Vineyards, located in the Russian River Valley in Cali, would be wonderful at a Christmas or New Year’s Eve party.

The next two wines for tasting consisted of a Chardonnay and Cabernet by Norton Ridge, a “winemaker’s project”. Each wine is given the personality of the wine maker, because he or she is the one that chooses the fruit sources that go into it. The Chardonnay was quite good – definitely something I can see myself having a glass or two of. The Cabernet was quite tasty, as usual, but was not stand-out to me like the sparkling wine.

My favorite of the four was also the grand finale – Chionetti Dolcetto di Dogliani Briccolero 2007. I had never had a red like this before, and was beyond impressed. I could really taste the high-quality of this Italian red and really wanted to buy a bottle – but it was a bit out of my price range, at $21.96. Luckily, Elliott the expert recommended something comparable at $15. I can’t wait to crack it open soon!

As if that wasn’t enough wine (wait, you can never have enough wine, so forget that I said that), I stopped into Sonoma the other day to pick up something for a friend and was greeted with a half-glass of Chianti – a spontaneous tasting, thanks to a salesman who had stopped by earlier that day to deliver a complimentary bottle!

The bottle pictured is a 2008, but the wine I sampled was actually from 2007 – double score! This is a nice wine at $35/bottle!

Thanks to Sonoma for continuing to feed my wine fascination!

Sonoma: Free Wine Tastings!

I’ve mentioned before that my favorite liquor store is located in my hometown, Sonoma Wines & Spirits. They often offer free wine tastings (I’ve attended a couple on Saturday afternoons), which always impress me; I usually end up taking home a bottle! The owner and employees are friendly and personable, and the store is even pet-friendly! Sonoma has quite a Facebook presence and use their page to let fans know about both free tastings and affordable wine and food events. That’s how I found out that this past Monday through Wednesday, they were holding free in-store wine tastings from 2-5 and 5-8pm!

The offerings for each tasting.

So I made plans to do what any blogger would do: work out, and immediately follow up the gym with a wine tasting. Maybe it’s the opposite of hydration/recovery, but it sure was fun!

Monday night’s tasting was hosted by 2fly Wines, a company that holds a special place with my family since the owner, Chris Didden, is also the president of the pool club we belong to. He was inspired to join the wine industry after a trip to Australia. Now he sells quality, delicious wines from there!

I met my mom at Sonoma since she is a big 2fly fan as well. The wines being poured that night were a bit out of our price range, so we didn’t buy any of those, but the mom did pick up a bottle of one of her favorite reds.

Mom venturing outside of her comfort zone and trying a white.

The 2fly wines being poured were: K1 by Geoff Hardy Gold Label Arneis 2009 (white), Brookman Wines Chenin Blanc 2008 (white), Conte Estate Middle Tatta Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (red), and Diamond Collection Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (red).

I rarely meet a red I don’t like, so when wine tasting, I actually find it more intriguing to try different varieties of whites since there is more “suspense” over whether or not I will enjoy!

Verdict: I really enjoyed both whites! They weren’t overly sweet, which is what often turns me off to having a glass of white wine.

The real star of the show, though, was the Siraz Cabernet blend (above left). I love the idea of blending two different types of reds since I like most types. It’s like creating new flavors! I would have loved to bring a bottle home, but it was just too expensive. My mom called it “something special”.

Post-workout wine? Why not!

On Wednesday night, I made my way back to try some wines poured by Scott of Franklin Fine Wines. I really enjoyed talking with Scott and one other fellow taster about the wines we were trying, as well as Franklin and its recent merger with Hartford Distributors. Also, these wines were much more affordable, so I ended up taking home a bottle.

Wednesday’s lineup.

I sampled Dr. Peter Poontinger’s German Riesling, Rocland Estate‘s Duck Duck Goose Chardonnay, Rocland Chocolate Box Dark Shiraz, and Three Crowns’s 1830 Malbec Cabernet Sauvignon.

German Riesling

Rieslings are tricky business for me. Too sweet, and I can’t stand them. I don’t think I could ever even drink a whole glass. However, for sipping or tasting, a riesling that isn’t overly sweet is something that I can enjoy. The Dr. Peter Poontinger brand was very enjoyable! And at only $10 a bottle, it was a wine I could see my mom and dad enjoying in the summer months. My co-taster actually ended up taking a bottle of this home with him.

The Duck Duck Goose Chardonnay, named for the Rocland Estates owner’s daughter’s favorite game (and my favorite as a child too!), was the best white I’ve tried in awhile! It was well-balanced and again, not too sweet. My co-taster (wish I’d caught his name!) said that he could see it pairing well with Thai food. Duly noted! I bought a bottle of this to bring home for my dad. He is quite the chard lover.

Bring on the red!

Unfortunately, I didn’t really enjoy the Malbec Cab at all. I just took a sip and said – meh. However, I LOVED the Dark Chocolate Shiraz! Make no mistake, this wine doesn’t actually contain any chocolate, but I love the name as well as the bottle’s design. It tasted delicious – too bad it was the most expensive bottle of the bunch! Still not bad though, $17, but there were other cheaper options, and I’m a bit cheap.

My two favorites of Wednesday evening.

And what’s wine without food? I came home after both tastings and dove into delicious dinners.

Monday night: Giovanni’s take-out.

Giovanni’s Brick Oven Pizza, where my sister is a waitress on her school breaks, makes the best salad with grilled chicken that I can find at any restaurant. The key is they shred and marinate the chicken. I love how they offer baby spinach, and plentiful veggies! I also had an un-pictured slice of their wonderful Veggie Special pizza.

Wednesday night’s feast!

In honor of Hannah being home from school, my dad grilled filet and my mom made baked potatoes. Leftover green beans and corn bread joined my plate. And you know I put Mariah’s Chow Chow Relish on my potato skin!

After dinner snack of Yoplait Greek and Uncle Sam Strawberry cereal

Thanks to Sonoma for hosting so many free and fabulous wine events!

Red or white wine? What do you think? Or are you a wine hater?