Saturday, November 27, 2010

Get Naked at Twin Brook!


Naked Chardonnay back on the shelves just in time for the holidays, tree trimming (just WHERE is that handprint ornament from 1995??), and a little something to come home to after cattle chute shopping. Is there really a better way to relax? Well, maybe with a little Spice Wine...

Holy revelations, Batman!
We received a few cheeses to sample for holiday pairing from the Town Clock Cheese Shop in Gap, one of which was a Mango Ginger Stilton. I automatically went for the Vignoles, which paired great, but the Spice Wine took the cake! Hoping we are able to get some more of that in the tasting room for December. Trust me, you just have to come in to try it for yourself, honest!

Winding down, Consiglieri and 2008 Merlot will not be much longer for public enjoyment. Sadly, we are down to our last few cases of each, so find your way in to grab some before it is all gone. I am positive I can speak for many, the '08 Merlot will be sorely missed! I appologize for not blogging about this sooner, but it had gained quite a "cult" following before it was even bottled.

Back to the Naked Chardonnay!
Why naked you ask? Well, in case you haven't had the pleasure of experiencing a naked chard., it is not fruit that has been bruised in the buff... just aged in a steel tank, no oak. It retains all of the delicate taste of the fruit, with a crisp dry edge. Still a little green around the edges, this Chardonnay has the potential to carry on the lighter yet very fruity depth of our previous vintages. Available on the shelves now, it will be even better just in time for holiday company.
Wait, better saved for yourself after the company has left? Hmmmm...
Nope! This is a wine worthy of the great company I will keep! (YES! That is a shout out to my wonderful friends and fam alike!)

Get in to visit us! We have a nice selection of wines to fill any list; dry, off dry, and sweet.

We LOVE to tell you about wine! Just ask, and we'll help you choose the perfect variety.

Well, it may be an unsubstantiated rumor - but I thought I MAY have overheard Tim mention that Springhouse White was soon to be bottled??? He may put the kibosh on this later. Maybe it is ME who is starting the rumor??


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What's for DINNER, Mom?

SORRY GUYS!! None of Mom's world famous Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde tonight!
What can we grab on the way home?? Dare we use the coveted Wawa hoagie coupons from a school fundraiser, or save them for another more perilous itinerary?? Pasquale's Pizza IS on the way home, and cheese steak calzone DOES sound good...
Next burning question that just may alter the time/space continuum; What wines do I have stocked at the house?
Hey, you can't blame me for trying to pretend dinner was NOT a rushed decision made on my way through town.
We can still enjoy our hastily acquired food on the real everyday china, all sit at the table (after everyone has SCRUBBED their hands thoroughly) and eat like civilized human beings. A nice glass of wine imparts the feeling that I had this all under control all along.

The stress of meal planning is almost universal this time of year. Just Mad Lib it:
"I have been so busy with__________ (activity) that I have no time to chop_______ (plural vegetable) or pan sear_________(cut of juicy meat), much less consider making___________(starchy carbohydrate you shouldn't eat, or have any business adding massive amounts of butter to)."

Blame it on baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse, rototilling your garden. You can even blame it on daylight savings time! That extra hour of daylight still has us all fooled. I am constantly glancing at the clock only to gasp - "Holy cow!! Where did my late afternoon escape to; and, what can I pull off as dinner in the next 15 minutes??"

So, getting to the point, my schedule for the next few weeks is particularly precarious and I must plan accordingly. So, without further adieu here are my picks for pairing a wine to make dinner at least FEEL like, if not taste like I slaved over the stove all day.

Out of the ordinary:
Hoagies and OCTORARA ROSE' (-OR - Subs or Grinders; depending what part of Massachusetts you originate, or what the remainder of the states you hail from that subscribe to one of the trio)
I dare refer to this as my "Hoagie wine", so as to not offend Tim, or anyone else here revolving in finer wine circles. Amazingly enough however, the acidity of the wine balances with the traditional oil and vinegar, and the subtle hints of Cabernet Sauvignon compliment well with the peppery capicola and hard salami. Since it is a lighter Cab, it won't overtake the deli meats, rather punctuate them. I did lure a few unsuspecting participants with the unmistakeable and unrelenting bouquet of genuine Italian hoagie in all it's magnificent glory (I appologize to my customers that appeared right after I enjoyed said hoagie - it does tend to linger) to try it with a few wines and Octorara Rose' was the unanimous pick.
I must also add that the Octorara Rose' won SILVER at the San Diego wine competition!!
Congrats to Tim, and all who work endlessly to produce fabulous wine!
Stop by to give it a sampling - a lovely Rose' wine from both Cab's Sauvignon and Franc, a little lighter that what you might expect from a Cabernet. The brief science behind it is: the lighter vat "bleedings" from 2008 Cabernets blended with a little of the 2007 Cabs resulting in a light Cabernet, still with a nice oaky toast and Cab pepper - but not so deep a red to eclipse lighter fare as pork, or Italian chicken dishes.

The rest of my "fast food" from home and abroad pairings I will be trying for the duration of baseball season, and Twin Brook concert picnics:
Pizza (white): Pinot Gris (soon to be released!)
Pizza (red): Consiglieri
Cheese Burgers: Strasburger Red
Hot Dogs: Blossom Blush
Cheesesteaks: Cabernet Sauvignon
Sloppy Joe's: Icebreaker Blush
Mac N' Cheese: (add a little dried Basil) - Pinot Gris
(top with some Sofrito or salsa) - Chardonnay Reserve

If we all just close our eyes and savor every sip with a family meal, all will be right with the world, no matter WHAT'S for dinner!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Cabin Fever!

It's that time again - time to hide indoors from the negative wind chills, time to say "I will eat better this year - starting tomorrow", time to start planning your Super Bowl Party snacks!! Well, we have started pairing junk food with wine @ Twin Brook. I will be able to elaborate more on this in the immediate future, for the time being my wine tasting must be halted. Post surgery meds do not mix well with alcohol! However, I can lay the ground work for what is to follow!

Why do certain foods and flavors pair well with some wines and not others?

Acids and flavors in wine can react with different components in food. Oaked whites like Chardonnay will make magic with things that are creamy or buttery. White chocolate, alfredo sauce, and cheeses match up nicely due to the presence of lactic acid in the wine.
So far, we have tried cookie dough with different wines, and found Vignoles to pair excellently!
Conversely, the Cayuga did not blend well with white chocolate or the cookie dough. It's higher acidic nature made the buttery flavors taste more like cheese. Not a good pairing!

We are still amazed with the Bellavitano from The Town Clock Cheese Shoppe, it pairs with every wine we try it with!! Just the right balance of creamy, fruity, and salty; it is the chameleon of the cheese world!

Next on the sample platter: buffalo wings. More on that soon!

Try your hand at pairing things!
We have ideas of what should pair well, but only taste testing will tell for sure! One of my favorites is Lindt's white chocolate with coconut paired up with an oaked Chardonnay, Vignoles, and Vidal Reserve. The tropical fruit and pineapple flavors in the Vignoles and Vidal make for a pina colada taste with the coconut especially!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

no wine before it's time...

Yay! More time to blog!! Look for more babble to come out in the next 2 weeks. Unfortunately, it all comes out of a broken leg and being stuck on the couch.
I have been stressing lately over not having time to even blog 2 sentences, I guess I jinxed myself!
Now, to weed through all the ideas swimming around in my head...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

That's real crunchy!

Crunchy wine? What??

We all like a good wine we can sink our teeth into, but not loose a filling!

Not to worry, this is not an accident in bottling which has rendered glass shards in your favorite Chardonnay. The crystals that you might find occasionally are really tartrates. They appear as small crystals that look like broken glass, and are totally harmless. In fact, Cream of Tartar is a by product of the wine making industry - it is these same tartrates that have been ground into a fine powder.

Tartaric acid naturally found in wine will precipitate (to separate from a solution or suspension) just below the freezing point. We do this in a cold stabilization tank, however it can happen again with remaining tartaric acid if the wine is exposed to cold temperatures after bottling. Very cold fridge, sitting left in the car in December, busted furnace, etc.

Why do we do it?

In order to remove the tartaric acid from the wine, we cold stabilize it at 28 degrees fahrenheit so the acid crystallizes, and then we are able to filter it out in it's solid form. Tartrates can vary from small deposits on the cork looking rather like fine glitter, to small crystals that settle at the bottom often referred to as 'wine diamonds'. These are totally harmless if ingested, and there are several bottle stoppers/pourers you can buy that have screens to catch them. (We sell these too!!)

Wikipedia has an informative article on wine acids, that even I - a straight D student in high school chemistry - can get the point of!

(Hey, I was an art major - give me a break!)

Acids, pH, precipitates, conversions - reads like a juicy romance novel for the wine savvy. For the rest of us who simply enjoy wine, it is a mystical concoction the origins of which we may never completely comprehend, and we can not help but be entranced by wine's magic spell.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

You say 'tomato', I say 'tom-ah-to'

You say
I say 'gew-verz-traminer'
Tomato, tom-ah-to;
Let's call the whole thing off!

Don't give up now! It really is easy to say.
I was, for the longest time, saying it phonetically (this took some practicing) as Gew-urz-tra-mee-ner. I was corrected by my mother, who learned proper German as a teenager while they were stationed in Germany during the construction of the Berlin Wall; I had been butchering it.
Gu-Verz-tra-miner (slight roll of the 'r' in the middle, and long on the 'i') is the proper way to pronounce it. How many other people had I been offending prevoiusly??

Well, we don't have a Gewurzt (a nickname acceptable and well used) at Twin Brook - but we do have a hybrid it is parent to: the Traminette grape.
Having been picked just last week, our Traminette grapes will experience fermentation, cold stabilization to precipitate tartaric acid, some lab tests (to include tasting!) and be on the shelves shortly as Clocktower White. Similar to a Gewurzt, it is a sweet white wine with hints of ripe peach and apricot.
This is a great wine all by itself or enjoyed with spicier foods, like Mexican, Indian and Asian.

Why 'Clocktower White'?
Just down the road about 2 miles is the historic Gap Town Clock, marking the intersection of rts. 41 and 741. It reminds everyone to TURN HERE for the Strasburg Railroad and other quaint Lancaster tourist spots. A popular local landmark for a popular and versatile wine.
The best thing about the Clock, is it also marks the stop for the Town Clock Cheese Shoppe.
This is an experience NOT to be missed! The shop is directly across the street in the basement of a brick apartment building, the entrance faces rt. 41. I will blog more about wine and cheese pairing soon, but if you can not wait, stop by the winery, grab a bottle of your favorite wine, then go to the cheese shoppe. Tell Bill (the cheese guru) of your wine selection and he will make excellent recommendations to go along with it. Bill knows his cheese, and his wine!
As I have mentioned before of the winery; We LOVE wine, and we love to tell you about it!
Well, Bill LOVES cheese, and he is EXCITED to tell you all about it!
So, stop in to Twin Brook,
enjoy some wine, practice your pronunciation, grab a bottle of Clocktower White, and head on down to the Town Clock Cheese Shoppe to pay Bill a visit. Just remember, while at the cheese shop, all you need to do is put your hand in!

Friday, October 16, 2009

It's got a good beat, and I can dance to it!

From the first time I had a painfully negative wine tasting experience many years ago with my cousin Suz, I have been on a quest to find out all the nuances, subtle and bold, characteristic to each grape variety.
We stroll into a quaint little tasting room and wine accessory boutique on a droll rainy day, husbands and bored children in tow. Hey, after letting them all drool for several hours over the hunting gear at Cabela's, we deserved our 15 minutes of entertainment! We naively sip the blush, and are immediately slapped in the face by something familiar. Suz just makes a polite nose crinkle - I however, trying hard not to spew the fetid swill everywhere, choke it down and as politely as I could gasp "tastes like CAT PEE!!" in Suz's ear. If you haven't immediately thought of her response already, she mumbles "And when have you drank cat pee??" Groan. I did set myself up for that one. Well, now the tasting room attendant is on to us, but seems to care less. My husband innocently wanders up to check on our progress, (I think they have duct taped the children's hands together to avoid buying what they broke) so, knowing he will occasionally drink a blush wine I hand him the rest of my sip. God knows I won't be finishing it! As I recall, he was very tactful and reserved in his response. I got a "you are sooo going to hear about this later" look usually reserved for the kids, wondering why I was trying to kill him. He retreated - possibly in fear that I might try poisoning him further to hasten the process.
I am still trying to do a dance around the full cat box and explain myself, and doing a very bad job of it. I have never tasted cat pee of course, but if I had, this is certainly what my 'half bead off level' imagination would think it tasted like.
"I don't know! You taste what you smell, and smell what you taste!"
I think the attendant has totally had enough of us by now, we select a safe red wine to take home and enjoy with dinner and exit.
Haunted by the lingering memory of my close encounter of the feline kind, I had to find out WHAT that awful variety was and vow never to let it pass my lips again. I later came across the BEST article on "bad" wine flavors:
Now, these smells we spend quite a lot of money to eradicate from our daily life (cat box, BO, wet dog, skunk, etc.) that can be found in a wine's bouquet (smell) are actually appreciated by some connoisseurs. I would hope that margin is a very small one. Not looking forward to Bertie Bott's Beans newest jelly bean flavor to be feral feline urine. Yes, there are many, many flavors, and many more descriptive terms used to describe them. According to Linda Murphy in her article, it is demeaning to call it "cat pee", where boxwood or asparagus would be more respectful.
OK, lets play nice now. Boxwood I can settle on.

Getting to the point!
So, it goes like this; appreciating a wine's bouquet is a joint effort between your nose and your taste buds. When you smell that turkey roasting all day, and finally have absconded your first piece while the designated carver is not looking (carefully aware of the slicer blades) your appreciation of the juicy roasted flavor is so much more so because you were smelling it's richness before you popped that golden nugget into your mouth. If you are vegetarian, I sincerely apologize for my hedonistic analogy. Tofurky is no match - I will have to go with something akin to warm banana bread for you. Now, if you are gluten free - refer back to turkey. Those of you who are vegetarian AND gluten free, I am out of ideas. Use your imagination and work with me.
Getting back on track, I have never tasted cat pee. The wine's bouquet had elements of boxwood (remember, nice!) so when I took a sip that flavor came forward, and very strongly I might add!
All characteristics of a particular grape variety can range from subtle to 'slaps you in the face'. (I got that term from Jason @ Twin Brook when tasting a very young Merlot - it amused me!)

You taste what you smell
The smell of a wine is called it's bouquet, or even it's 'nose'. Swirling the wine in your glass agitates it, releasing it's bouquet - it took me awhile to swirl without slopping it out of the glass all over. Start with the foot of the glass on a flat surface (tail gates don't count) and depending on if you are right handed or left, make a circle with the bottom of the glass still flat on surface toward you (right handed best to go counter clockwise, and lefties go clockwise) trust me! All you ambidextrous people out there - stop showing off!
So, you now hold the rim of the glass up to your nose, take a BIG sniff, then sip. You will get the full effect of that vintage.

Dissecting the descriptions
Let's take our Consiglieri which is taking it's rightful place on the shelf as we speak. It is made from the Chambourcin grape. It is described as:
off-dry, rich ruby red Chianti-style wine; fruit forward berry flavors with a nice tannic finish.
off-dry: There is a little sugar added (1%) to enhance the flavors, but not sweeten the wine
ruby red: If rubies had a flavor, this would be it! Rich and deep.
fruit forward berry: The berry flavors are the first thing you taste. We do not add berry juice to the wine, the flavor comes from that particular variety of grape.
tannic finish: Tannins are acids found in grape skins, nut shells, and wood for a few examples. You will have tannins in red wine because the juice is fermented with the skins, that is what makes it red. What does 'tannic' taste like? It is the tartness that makes you pucker! It is astringent, leaving the roof of your mouth feeling "squeaky clean" after drinking a dry red wine. This is why red wine pairs with fatty foods - it breaks down the fat!

Wrapping things up
The next time you sip a wine, try to pick out the different flavors you detect. Berry, herbal, dark chocolate, vanilla, citrus, coconut - I have even had a patron who described a wine as hot clumps of wet grass that collect on the underside of the lawnmower. What he was really tasting was a combination of grassy along with a hint of diesel. That is good!
Now, not to scare you off of Sauvignon Blanc, I have since experienced a proper specimen with not a hint of cat pee. That other one I spoke of earlier was just a little overbearing and brutal.
I may not always know why I like a wine, just that it is good, I like it, and too much of it may lead to dancing!