Wining Wife®

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Tag: Malbec

Wine Review List: A Southern Hemisphere Sampler

The wine notes included in this post are from prior to the closing of Creekside Cellars*, the establishment responsible for putting together the list of wines I will discuss. There were two wines we did not order in the tasting: Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (Marlborough, New Zealand) and d’Arenberg “Hermet Crab” 68% Viogner and 32% Marsanne from McLaren Vale, Australia.  We’d had both of them previously and have them in our cellar. They come highly recommended.

**This post contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Graham Beck Brut Sparkling, 53% Chardonnay & 43% Pinot Noir, South Africa – $16 – This wine was good. We gave it a star. The wine had notes of vanilla and almonds, and it was very smooth. This would be a great sparkling for pairing with appetizers.

Concha Y Toro 2011 Chardonnay, Limari Valley, Chile – $20 – We liked this wine a good bit; we gave it a star and an exclamation point. It had a curry like spice to it, like turmeric, ginger, and spice. The wine was very full bodied and creamy. It was heavy on the tongue. It had lime and oak notes, and it paired well with creamy flavors.

Staete Landt 2009 “Paladin” Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand – $27 – We also gave this wine a star and an exclamation point. It was light, similar to the Hickman Family Vineyards Grenache we enjoy, with flavors of spice, cloves, tannins, and plums. In all it was a decent, easy-drinking wine.

Urban Uco 2011 Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina – $14 – This wine was a decent value. For under $15 you could have a reasonably good Malbec. It is more understated than Antigal Uno. It had flavors of plums, oil, red pepper flakes, and blackberries. It would pair wonderfully with my tacos or with this stuffed pablanos recipe from Cookie and Kate.

Thorn Clarke 2010 “Shotfire” Shiraz Barossa Valley, Australia – $22 – Out of all the wines we tried, this was our favorite, earning a star and two exclamation points. It had hints of chocolate and paprika, but it also had a caramel and tobacco finish. I can highly recommend this wine to readers who would like something that doesn’t cost too much for their cellar. I strongly suspect it will age well.

Santa Carolina 2009 “Reserva de Familia” Carmenere, Valle del Rapel, Chile – $28 – This wine had a very sweet, like candy, nose and was very fresh smelling. On the tasting, however, it was surprisingly very dry. It was tobacco, spice, oil, and must. It was nice, we gave it a star.

Mulderbosch “Faithful Hound” 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 13% Petite Verdot, 8% Cabernet Franc and Malbec, Stellenbosch, South Africa – $25 – This wine was…weird. It could be good so long as it was paired with strong, peppery flavors. However, on its own, it was must, rubber, and tasted like it was sweetened with sugar. We gave it no stars.

Have you tried any of these wines? What thoughts did you have about them? Please post your thoughts in the comments section.



Pairing a Dinner to the Bodega Norton Malbec Reserva 2010

2010 Bodega Norton Malbec Reserva

2010 Bodega Norton Malbec Reserva

When I received the 2005 Fratelli Recchia Ca’Bertoldi Amarone, I received two other wines from Wine Chateau. I decided that I would put together a wine pairing with each of these the same way I had for the Amarone. I paired the 2010 Bodega Norton Malbec Reserva, the next wine we tried, with a three-course meal: soup, main dish with a side, and then a  cheese course.

The wine had a lovely nose – it was must, burnt chocolate, and as Wining Husband said “wet towels” – but in a good way! Upon first tasting, it was smoother than some of the other Malbecs we’ve tried. It was also at the edge of inkiness that Wining Husband can tolerate. The wine was spicy with a kick, and there was a lot of alcohol on the nose with the swirl, as well as unripe raspberry at the beginning and sour cherry at the end of the palate. The wine was very dry, and almost too bitter.

Carrot and Red Wine Soup

Carrot and Red Wine Soup

The soup I paired the wine with was a roasted carrot, onion, and Malbec soup with some changes. Rather than using Malbec in the recipe, I used the cheap Cabernet Sauvignon that comes in the 4-pack. We had a ton of carrots from our CSA, so coming up with three pounds of carrots to cut up and roast wasn’t too difficult. I cut the carrots into sticks, and added three onions, thickly sliced, to the cookie sheets (the onions we had were smaller, and I’m glad I added extra. Many of the onions got a little too roasted!). I tossed the veggies in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then put them into the 450 degree oven for 45 minutes. Like I said, they got a bit too roasted, so I think 30 minutes will be perfect next time.  When the carrots and onions were looking roasted, I put them into our Dutch oven, where I’d melted 2 tbsp. of butter. I sautéed the vegetables in the butter for a few minutes, and then added half the small bottle of Cabernet. Once the Cab had cooked off for a few minutes, I added a 32 oz. box plus 2 cups of chicken broth to the pot, added two bay leafs, and brought the soup to a boil. Once it reached a boil, I reduced the heat to a simmer, and let it do its thing for 45 minutes while I worked on the side dish. I removed the bay leaves, put it in the blender to puree it, and then garnished each serving with a tablespoon of olive oil drizzled over the top and yogurt.

With the soup, the Malbec was tamed. The soup highlighted the coffee and chocolate flavors in the wine. It really highlighted how dry and tannic the wine was; Wining husband found it a bit bitter on the back-end. In all, it was a decently good pairing.

Pulled pork and broccoli bacon salad

Pulled pork and broccoli bacon salad

For the main course, I paired slow cooked pulled pork and a bacon-broccoli salad with the soup.  I followed each of those two recipes exactly as written, though I found the pulled pork could have used some salt. It was deliciously spicy, and it brought out the spice in the Bodega Malbec in a wonderful way. It also brought out the paprika flavors in the wine.  The broccoli salad brought out a burnt honey and coffee flavor in the wine, and highlighted the creaminess of the wine. This Malbec is bold enough to be out of control, and it needs to be paired with foods that will rein it in. Both the pulled pork and the broccoli salad did that nicely.

From left to right: Iberico, "Tipsy Goat," and Manchego to pair with the 2010 Bodega Norton Reserva Malbec

From left to right: Iberico, “Tipsy Goat,” and Manchego to pair with the 2010 Bodega Norton Malbec Reserva

Following the main course, we enjoyed three types of cheeses (we found in a three-pack at the grocery store): Iberico, “Tipsy Goat,” and Manchego. The Manchego was the best of these three – it was very nice and smoothed out the Malbec, pulling back the fruit forward flavors to tannin. The “Tipsy Goat” was not a great pairing. Instead, it brought out the wine’s acidity. The Iberico went very well with the wine, smoothing it out and bringing out the fruit flavors.

In all, the 2010 Bodega Norton Malbec Reserva was a decent wine. It was smoother and more finished than many wines we have tried, but I don’t know as I’d go and seek it out even though we liked it pretty well. If I came across it on a menu, and I really wanted a Malbec, and neither Finca el Origen nor Antigal 1 was available, then I’d choose this one.


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Five Popular Red Wines

Old Vine cabernet from Chateau Montelena, Napa...

Old Vine cabernet from Chateau Montelena, Napa Valley, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I’ve decided that I will accept guest posts for this blog, especially while I’m pregnant, in order to provide you with fresh wine news. Here is another post from Chuck Withers over at Two Guys Wine and Travel Blog.


Wine has long been known as a social drink. People like to get together and have a glass with their dinner, but they are not drinking the same bottle every time. There are many, many different types of wines. Some are red, some are white. Some are dry and others are sweet. As you consider which drink you will serve at your dinner party, make sure to learn all that you can about different wines and the food they can pair with so that you serve the very best drink for your guests. The following are five of the most popular reds.




If you are new to the drinking world, Merlot is a good place to start. It is soft, round, and not too tannic, making it a good drink for the beginner. You can pair Merlot with any foods, which is part of the reason why it is such a popular choice. Scents for this varietal often include blackcherry, plumb, and herbs.


Cabernet Sauvignon


Arguably the world’s best variety, Cabernet Sauvignon is sometimes blended with Merlot. This wine is full-bodied and the older it is, the less bitter the flavor. It becomes rich and the grip goes away as the drink ages. Many times, this drink will undergo an oak treatment, giving it a vanilla note. Cabernet Sauvignon is often served with simple red meats, such as steak. The grapes were most popular in France for many years, but now also grow in Australia, Chile, and California.




This drink is also often referred to as Syrah because they are from the same grape variety. It goes well paired with all types of meat, including steak, beef, and other wild game. Gripping tannins often pull the fruit sensation out of Syrah. You can typically find wild black fruit flavors in Shiraz. Not only can you find average wines created with this varietal, but you can also find some of the world’s best wines with the intense flavoring of Syrah.


Pinot Noir


The Pinot Noir grapes are hard to grow and are not rough at all. They make the best reds of Burgundy, with a delicate, soft, and fresh structure. While fruit is the main aroma in Pinot Noir, you can often find tea-leaf or worn leather undercurrents.




The characteristics of Malbec vary based on where the grapes were grown and how they were transformed. Many people consider Malbec to be easy to drink, with plumb and berry flavors. Beginning in France, this varietal is also grown in California in some of the cooler areas. You can pair Malbec with all kinds of meals containing meat. Malbec is great for dishes with strong flavors, such as Cajun or Indian meals.


If you are getting together for a drink or for an all out dinner party, make sure to serve the right drink. Learning about the different varieties and flavors of each of the red wines can help you to decide which drink you will choose to serve for your get together. Not only will you discover what food to pair with your drinks and what flavors they carry, but you may also realize that there are health benefits associated with drinking red wines.


Article courtesy of Chuck Withers of the Two Guys Wine and Travel Blog, follow him on Twitter @twoguyswine for more updates on wine, travel and many more international delights.


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Food Pairing With Malbec (Guest Post)

A glass of Malbec wine

A glass of Malbec wine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve decided that I will accept guest posts for this blog, especially while I’m pregnant, in order to provide you with fresh wine news. Here is another post from Chuck Withers over at Two Guys Wine and Travel Blog.

Serving drinks takes a certain amount of expertise. Whether you are having a big dinner party with your friends, or if you are in charge of drinks for a work banquet, learn how to pair the food with the drink to get the maximum flavor experience with both the food and the drink. When you serve any type of drink, it is important that you pair the food just right. If you don’t get it right, the drinks could taste bitter. The wines flavors could overtake the flavor of the food. Sometimes the entire meal can be ruined simply because the drink was not paired right with each course. The challenging part in all of this is actually knowing what to serve with which drink. If you are serving Malbec, there are a few things you will want to keep in mind so that you pair the meal correctly.


The first thing that you can do to pair your food correctly with this drink is to think about the flavors in the drink. Typical flavors for this white wine are blackberry, blueberry, and citrus. Black pepper and cocoa also come out in this drink and it sometimes has a smoky undercurrent. Keeping these flavors in mind, you can choose foods that are similar to the flavors, or contrast them in a complimentary way.


Base ingredients that might work well with this varietal include the following:

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Smoked Salmon
  • Sausage
  • Chicken
  • Veal

When you are cooking your meat, consider smoking or barbecuing so that the smoky flavor compliments the smokiness of the drink. There are bridge ingredients that you can add to your dish that will enhance the meat and bring out the flavor in the drink. Because of the flavors in this white drink, blackberries, blueberries and other fruits are a good choice. Aged cheeses, bacon, and mushrooms also do well to bring out the flavors in the drink.


If you are unable to take the above mentioned ingredients and make a dish on your own that will go well with the drink, the following are some specific meals that you can pair with this drink:

  • Steak and potatoes. There are those who would argue that steak and potatoes go with anything, but try them with Malbec and you will understand why it is recommended. Buying a full-bodied bottle will help to bring out the wonderful flavor of the steak.
  • Barbeque ribs. Not just any barbeque ribs, but ribs wrapped in smoked bacon. The smoky flavor enhances the smoky flavor of the drink.
  • Dark chocolate. No, it’s not exactly a meal, but if you are looking for something good to eat as an appetizer or a snack, dark chocolate and this rich white drink work well together.

When you serve any kind of wine, it is important to get the food pairing right so that you can enjoy both the food and the drink. By doing a little bit of research beforehand, you can find the foods that will work the very best with the wines that you have chosen for your guests.

Article courtesy of Chuck Withers of the Two Guys Wine and Travel Blog, follow him on Twitter @twoguyswine for more updates on wine, travel and many more international delights.


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A Labor of Love Tasting

Ripe Sauvignon blanc grapes.

Ripe Sauvignon blanc grapes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


This week’s tasting at Creekside was called “A Labor of Love.” The wines at this tasting were all made by family-owned wineries, and the cheeses were provided by family-owned dairies and cheese-makers. We tried eight of the ten wines (We skipped the Frank Family Chardonnay only because we’ve had it before and quite enjoyed it). Here are the notes.


2011 Honig Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley ($17) – This wine is big, creamy, and beefy. It is halfway between a Chardonnay and a Riesling. It was nice, and has been a perpetual favorite of ours.


2009 Treana 50% Viognier and 50% Marsanne, Central Coast ($23) – This wine has citrus and kumquot notes and is very green on the nose. It also has subtle notes of Italian seasoning woven through.


2011 Buoncristiani Rosé of Syrah & Malbec, Napa Valley ($20) – This wine is phenomenal! It is good with white cheddar and olives. It is smooth, light, and refreshing with hints of blueberries. It’s one of the new rosé wines that proves that rosé is not limited to the dull white zins of the past.


Pinot noir growing in the French wine region o...

Pinot noir growing in the French wine region of Burgundy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


2009 Athair Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma ($37) – This wine was also quite excellent. It had notes of tobacco and spicy red peppers. It was absolutely excellent when paired with the Humboldt Fog cheese.


2010 Middleton Family Wines “Casa de Arcillia” Tempranillo, Paso Robles ($18) – This wine was very nice as well. It was creamy yet balanced. It was big with that cigar box nose that makes me just want to run away with the glass into a corner and savor it. IT had notes of fruit, pepper, and spice and was very well balanced. It paired well with the white cheddar.


2009 Haraszthy Family Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi ($16) – I was stunned to learn the price of this outstanding must-try wine. It is well balanced, with a heavy creamy body, and that lovely cigar box aura that we love so much. It also had some hints of rust – but in a good way. This one is a must-try for your list.

2009 Marietta Cellars Angeli Cuvee, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah & Caringnan, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County ($30) – This is a bit generic as far as wines go (it may be that it was overshadowed by the Haraszthy Family Old Vine Zinfandel). It has notes of fruit juice, cigar and spices. It was also quite good.

2008 Bell Cellars “Claret” 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Syrah, 5% Petite Verdot, and 3% each of Cab Franc, Merlot, Malbec, & Petite Syrah, Napa Valley ($33) – This red blend was very nice. It had notes of vanilla, almonds, raspberries, and dark chocolate. It too comes highly recommended.  



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Creating a Cleaning Schedule


A cleaning brush

A cleaning brush (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Even with a glass (or bottle!) of Malbec at hand, housework is much easier if you create a cleaning schedule. What works best for me is to break down my home’s rooms and then assign each room to a day of the week. I then create a checklist of cleaning chores that need to be completed – daily, weekly, monthly, etc., and create a chart broken down for each room and each frequency.

For example, daily kitchen chores include washing dishes, putting dishes away, wiping down counters, and cleaning up spills. Weekly chores include wiping down the sliding glass door – trust me, that thing builds up some crazy finger prints – and thoroughly cleaning the stove and oven.

To create an effective cleaning schedule, it’s helpful to go into each room as you make up the checklist. How often do you need to wash windows? How often do you need to sweep? Mop? Dust the baseboards? Dust the fan? Wining Husband is allergic to dust, so we try to stay on top of that Sisyphean task. It’s not always easy, and it’s not always perfect, but it works. Having a printed out checklist in my household management binder also means that when I’m sick the tasks can easily be delegated.

How about you, do you keep a checklist and schedule of chores? How do you track them? Post your thoughts in the comments.



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Creekside Cellars’ Olympic-Themed Tasting


LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 28:  Giant Olympic ...

LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 28: Giant Olympic rings are towed on The River Thames in site of the O2 arena (R) and Canary Wharf financial district on February 28, 2012 in London, England. With 150 days remaining before the start of the London 2012 games the Olympic rings, measuring 11 metres high by 25 metres wide, are being showcased on the river as Mayor of London Boris Johnson is announcing details of two new cultural programmes, which will be part of the London 2012 Festival, along with details of other cultural events being organised to celebrate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

This week’s tasting took patrons on a tour of the world’s wines. There were many successes on the list. It was one of the rare events that we actually tasted all ten of the wines offered. Here’s a rundown of the notes we made on the wines.

2011 Col de Salici “Prosecco Superior” from Valdobbiadene, Italy – ($19) – This prosecco was smooth and understated, but quite nice.

2010 Boutari Assyrtiko from Santorini, Greece – ($20) – This wine was very Greek and minerally, almost like sea foam. It had thyme and rosemary notes, and went well with an aged goat’s milk cheese called “Pico” from Perigod, France.

2011 Nautillus Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand – ($18) – This wine had a pine and green nose, you could tell it was a young Sauvignon Blanc. It was also nuanced – foresty, and had hints of mushrooms and white pepper. It was pretty darn good, and is on our wish list to purchase in the future.

2009 Glen Carlou Charonnay from Paarl, South Africa – ($19) – This wine was quite versatile, rustic, and oaked. It would be lovely with a chowder or white cheddar. It was really versatile, and it’s the kind of wine that would pair well with many different meals.

2011 Chateau de Lancyre Rose of Syrah, Grenache, & Cinsault from Pic Saint Loup, France – ($19) – This wine was summery and fruit-salady. There were notes of watermelon and cantaloupe.  It would pair well with falafel and other light vegetarian or Mediterranean dishes. This is a great wine for summer parties.

2009 Migration by Duckhorn Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley, California – ($36) – This was a light, chocolaty Pinot Noir that had cigar box and allspice notes. It was very nice.

2009 Urban Ribera Tinta Del Pais (Tempranillo) from Ribera Del Duero, Spain – ($16) – This wine had notes of tomato, and would go well with a spaghetti or pizza. It was a fairly standard red wine, but had good balance. It was fruit forward done right.

2011 Achaval Ferrer Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina – ($25) – this wine had hints of paprika and cayenne pepper. It was a firecracker and reasonably good.

2010 Langmeil “Hanging Snakes” Shiraz from Barossa, Australia – ($19) – This one had plum notes and it was okay.

Dow’s White Port – Served chilled with lime twist and tonic water from Douro, Portugal – ($17) – This was the star of the show. It was cocktail-ish, and didn’t need a pairing. It had vanilla and blueberry notes. It would pair well with broiled plums and marscapone chesse.


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Tour de France – in Wine at Creekside Cellars

The Wining Husband and myself have made a habit of visiting Creekside Cellars once a week. Not only are their wine selections always excellent, but their cheese plate is quite the treat. This week’s selection had a French Wine theme.

This image shows a red wine glass.

This image shows a red wine glass. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here are the notes on the reds:

Bugey-Cerdon “La Cueille” Sparkling Pinot Muenier from Savoie ($20) – this one was a party in a glass. It was a beautiful sparkling rosé color. It was a lot of fun, and we decided that this would be the perfect wine for toasting the New Year at our annual New Year’s Eve party.

2009 Clos La Coutale 80% Malbec 20% Merlot blend from Cahors in Southwest France ($16) – This wine was definitely a summer red. It was fruity, light, and easy drinking. It was reasonably good, but it couldn’t compete with some of the other great wines we’ve had.

2010 Domaine Bernard Baudry Chinon Cabernet Franc from Chinon and Loire Valley ($22) – This wine reminded me of a “barn” wine we had when visiting the Purple Wine Bar and Cafe in Seattle. I was not a fan of this wine, for that reason, but I could tell this was a well-crafted wine.

2010 Ermitage “Tour de Pierres” Syrah 50%, Grenache 40%, and Mourvedre 10% red blend from Pic St. Loupe, Languedoc ($17) – This wine was light, sour, and good. It was interesting, because on the nose, we both got grapefruit. This one is worth checking out for an evening dinner with garlic fries and grilled chicken sandwiches.

2007 Domaine du Vieux Lazaret Chateauneuf~du~Pape from Southern Rhone ($46) – This wine was spectacular. It had that lovely cigar box flavor that my husband and I both really enjoy. It was fruity and balanced.

What are some of your favorite French Wines? Have you had any of these? Please share your thoughts in the comments section!

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