Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Wine Class #16- Spain and Portugal

Time to catch up on our adventures in wine!  Last week we moved to the regions of Spain and Portugal.  So those of you I know going to Spain soon (there's really only one that I know of), listen up!  I'm not lucky enough to travel there with you, but at least I can give some tips on wine!

Wines of the week:
A Priorat
A Rias Baixas

A white Rioja
A Rioja- or as many know it
as- Tempranillo

A Jumilla
A red wine from Portugal

This class was probably my second favorite thus far.  Spain and Portugal mix the tastes of the Old World (i.e. France and Italy) with the Modern World of wine.  

My favorite was the Jumilla.  It's made from Monastrell grapes and smells a bit like Gingerbread and is a moderate wine- not too dark and tanniny like the Rioja.

Rioja, or Tempranillo is a deep, rich wine somewhat like a mix of Pinot Noir and Cabernet.  It is delicious, but is best with a meal.

The White Rioja was my favorite white of the night.  It's similar to a Sauvignon Blanc, with a citrusy taste and smell.

Rias Baixas was a medium body white wine, that smelled of stone fruit (peaches, plums).

Priorat is a blend of Garnacha and Carinena grapes.  It's a very full bodied wine, high in alcohol and has the  quintessential smells and tastes of Grenache- licorice- which is probably why I'm not a huge fan of Grenache, I've never liked licorice.

Finally, the red wine from Portugal, this is a blend of many grapes and also smelled of licorice, but not as strong as the Priorat.

The weather has been so warm lately, which called for some lighter, crisps wines.  I went back a couple classes and picked up one of my favorites from the Rhone Valley- Tavel, the Rose.  I loved it again!  It's like a Syrah wine that's lighter, crisper and more refreshing on a warm day.  A must try!

As for Adam and I, we just enjoyed a long weekend with his parents here in Denver, and we are headed out tomorrow for our much anticipated trip to Florida.  Cannot wait for the warm-shorts weather, a pool in the backyard and time to R.E.L.A.X.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mom!

I want to send a quick "Happy Birhtday" to my Mom today!  I wish more than anything that we could be there to celebrate with you.  Hope you have a wonderful day and enjoy your upcoming Tahoe trip!  We miss you!  Lots of love!
Sorry, this is the only picture I had on my work computer!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Goodbye Vanilla

I'm finally posting pictures of our painted dining room.  There are still other things I can't wait to do to the room, mainly hang some art and paint the china cabinet.  I'm trying to do things in baby steps, else I'll drive myself crazy with too many projects and my husband will wonder where all our money went.

The "Vanilla" before:

It was so BLAH.  I'm glad we were able to liven it up with a richer color.  It feels so much cozier now and the black table and hopefully-soon-to-be-not-black cabinet aren't such a stark contrast to the walls.

The choices:
We always paint or favorite samples on the walls throughout the room before picking our final color, because they look totally different from the swatches.  Thank God we did here, else our room would have turned out darker and a more blue or brown color than we wanted.  1536 it is!


Of course my picture taking skills don't do it justice, as I don't know how to make the lighting better with this my husband's overcomplicated camera, but we love it.  The blinds were a much needed update, as the old clothes ones that were in when the bought the house were not cutting it.  And I'm so glad I found these handles at Hobby Lobby.  Together they were the price of one Anthropologie knob, and so cute.  Once we dress the room up a bit with some trimmings and pops of color, It will be so much more welcoming than it's previous self.

As for my wall art projects I mentioned before...they are coming along nicely.  Hope to post pictures of the finished products soon.  This is my craft table of things to do from last weekend...that obviously didn't get done.

Wine Classes #13-#15- Italy, Germany and Austria

It's finally time to catch you all up on our wine classes.  Over the past two weeks we've completed three classes- Northern Italy, Southern Italy and Germany and Austria.  This is a post full of a lot of information, so it may be tough to read unless you are searching for a wine.  Skip down to Germany and Austria if you are looking for a diverse wine great with almost any food or one that's wonderful for sipping.  If you are looking for a heavier wine to go with a dark meat dish, Southern Italy's calling your name!  Northern Italy is a bit moderate, nothing too rich or sweet, but a great variety.

Northern Italy:

A Barbera d'Asti

A Langhe Nebbiolo-
from Piedmont region-
similar to Barolo

A White Piedmont-
Cortese or Arneis grape
An Amarone
A Pinot Grigio
from Friuli
                        A  Soave

Just for a quick recap on the wines:

Nebbiolo is a thinner skinned grape and the wine is very aromatic (similar to Pinot Noir).  It is very acidic and has a strong tannin finish.

White Piedmont is grown in an area with limestone rich soils, which makes it very acidic.  It is a pale greenish color, with a fresh and crisp citrus taste- mostly due to the fact that it is unoaked.  

Barbera d'Asti (*my favorite of the lecture*) is a very food friendly wine, as it has a lighter body and is softer in tannins than the Nebbiolo.  It smelled of toast, cherry and vanilla.

Pinot Grigio from Friuli is likely Italy's most famous wine export in North America.  It is very aromatic and has an all around medium characteristics- body, acid, fruit intensity and alcohol- which make is a crowd pleaser. Loved this one as well.

Soave, from the Veneto region, which surrounds Venice, this is made from the Garganega grape and is similar to Chardonnay.  We thought it smelled like asparagus with slight smells of citrus.

Amarone is from the western region of Valpolicella.  It is a blend of Corvina, Rondinela and Molinara grapes.  An interesting part of this wines process is that is its dried on bamboo mats for several months after harvest.  It is very full bodied and has a somewhat sweet taste reminding you of chocolate covered strawberries.   Baby Amarones are great value wines.

Southern Italy:

I actually took pictures of our bottles to make it easier for this class.  From left to right:

Super Tuscans, which are usually over $100, are very similar to a Cabernet Sauvignon.  It was created as an attempt to replicate a French Bordeaux, so it is a very dark wine with smoky scents and a very full bodied taste.  Oh, and nobody spent hundreds on this bottle, rather ours was a baby Super Tuscan.  

Nero d' Avola, from Sicily, is a deep, dark red wine with jammy dark fruit and soft tannin flavors.

Aglianico is the main red grape of the Campania region.  It has a firm tannin taste with smells of dark fruits.  This is a great wine on a budget- we bought it for only $13 and it was delicious.

Brunello (similar to Chianti) is a blend of grapes including Sangiovese.  It is a great wine to sip with very meaty and tomato-based dishes, as it does take on a meaty flavor itself.  **My favorite of this lesson**

Primitivo is a grape similar to that of red Zinfandel.  It is lighter bodied red with a very juicy taste.  A great summer red wine as it's not heavy.

Falanghina, the only white wine from this lecture, is a very aromatic wine with tastes of nectarine fruits, minerals and almonds.

Overall Southern Italy has great red wines, with which they've mastered the art of wine pairing.  So, if you plan to make a tomato based dish with pasta and or steak- you have to try one of these reds.  They are not definitely not all sipping wines.


Germany is known more than anything for their Riesling, which is the most versatile food-pairing wine in the world.  It goes with the very flavorful indian and chinese dishes, as well as fish and steak.  So, when in doubt, pair with Riesling. It is a sweet wine with some weight and high acidity, which makes it not too sweet.

The far left bottle is Liebfraumilch, meaning "beloved mother's milk" in German.  Has anyone out there heard of "Blue Nun," a popular wine in the U.S. during the 80's?  Well, Blue Nun is a Liebfraumilch.  It is sweeter than the Riesling and is a crowd pleaser among new wine drinkers.

Finally, the Spatburgunder, which was the only German red wine we tasted.  It is a Pinot Noir that ages well and is at a lower price point than a French Pinot.

Overall, Riesling was **my favorite from this group.


Our final lesson covered Austrian wine, it was by far the most unmemorable, but that could be because I could still taste the dark reds from the Southern Italy course.  Still, they were unique and worth trying over the summer as they are all light wines.

First, Zweigelt, which was the only red grape from the group, is similar to a Pinot Noir with a cherry fruit and very peppery flavor.

Next up, Gruner Veltliner, which was **my favorite of the trio.  It is a great crowd pleaser with it's honey and toasty flavors.

Finally was the Austrian Riesling, which was difficult to find, as it is in such low demand as compared to a German Riesling.  And let me tell you, they taste nothing alike.  The Austrian has more of a Chardonnay flavor, and is completely dry, no sweetness at all.   Worth trying to see the differences.

Hope I didn't bore you with all my catching up.  Wine has been such a fun new hobby for us.  It is amazing how every bottle tastes so different- yet they all are great for their own reasons.  We plan to finish up the last 9 lectures by the end of April....but then I don't know what we'll do with our Thursday nights?!??!!  This is what our group off 12 polished of Friday night.

And I've decided to start collecting the corks, something I should have done from the beginning...I'm sure I'll be able to make something with them.

Now go out and get a bottle of German Riesling, it's sure to go great with whatever you're having for dinner tonight!

Next week it's Spain and Portugal!  

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My Recent Obsession


When it comes to my house, I feel like I have ADD.  I cannot think only of the project at hand, rather I'm moving on to the next thing I want to do.  I promised a week or two ago that I would post pictures of the dining room....however we had a bit of a door fiasco this weekend so it's not completely wrapped up.  They're ready to hang- we just need to do it.  I promise they'll be up this weekend though!

But this is an example of my attention problem.  Rather than forcing  asking Adam to help me with hanging, I scour the internet for art and wall decor.  Looking around our house, especially the basement, the walls are bare.  Art is known to be pretty pricey, so I'm always looking for new ideas for framed pictures and other interesting pieces. 

Currently I'm working on finishing up a couple stenciled pictures and canvases.....
You could probably guess which one we'll hang in our kitchen, and which one will grace the bare wall of our bedroom.  Pictures to come soon...promise.  Stencils are from stencilplanet.com.

One other idea I found to fill up some empty space in our basement is a vintage map of our travels across the U.S.
We love to travel, so I think it's a neat idea to add push pins to all the spots we've lived and traveled to together.  The map came in the mail yesterday, now just need to find a cork board and frame.

Some other great finds I found on Etsy: (Don't mind my crazy placement of all these pictures, I still have no idea how to place my pictures the way I want on this thing!)

"Home is where the heart is," but  Denver, CO of course!
Comes in various sizes.

"Keep it Simple Circle"- would look great in a
simple frame.  I love the linen background and it is roughly 8x11.

Mad Men Picture- love the show and I think
it would be great in guys office.  Comes in
a variety of colors.

Giclee cirles- 11x14 print.

Mid-Centry Bird Poster 18x24- currently on sale
for $17.50

Another Mid-Century Bird Poster on sale
for $17.50
I think the Bird posters would be so cute framed in a nice, thick poster frame for a kids room. 

Now back to work so I can pay for this crazy hobby of mine!

Post on last week's wine night, soon to come!