Tis the Season for Bubbles


The holidays and New Year's are the perfect time to pop open some bubbly, however, I drink it every chance I get. Most recently, at my blogiversary party.

Hell, it even has it's own Day on October 26 this year. ICYMI I wrote all about Champagne that day.

And let's be clear, not all bubbles are Champagne. Most of the sparkling wine that's typically enjoyed isn't Champagne at all. Prosecco and Cava are common, everyday priced sparkling wines that meet everyone's budget. There are some nice ones too! One of my favorite Cavas is from New Mexico. Yep, NM. Gruet Winery from Albuquerque produces a nice sparkling for around $15!

As we're gearing up for the holiday season and hosting, or just attending, all those parties, don't forget the sparkling wine! It's a festive way to start any evening.

There are plenty of events happening around town so you can taste all the bubbles you want:

Wednesday, December 12 5-8pm- Bell Wine Shop - Champagne & Sparkling Grand Tasting - $25 - Definitely the best bet for tasting as many as possible. They'll be pouring 40 different sparkling wines for only $25! They host a monthly Grand Tasting and it's not to be missed.

Saturday, December 15 1-4pm - Tallula & EatBar - 6th Annual Holiday Sparkler Tasting - $30 - What a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon, tasting two dozen sparkling wines and take a few bottles home at a special price.

Monday, December 31 6-8pm - Screwtop Wine Bar - Bubble Bash - $29.99 - It's a NYE pre-party!! Taste 30 sparkling wines before heading out for the night. That's a pregame if I've ever seen one!

Get out there and enjoy this festive time and pop that sparkling!


A Reflection...

It's here! It's officially been 2 years since I started wine blogging and I want to thank each and every one of you for the support, feedback and followership.

I want to take a few seconds to reflect on the past few years and where it has gotten me today.

From managing a wine shop, working PT in retail, founding a large group of Winos and starting my own blog, I can now proudly say I'm the new Marketing/PR Manager for Boxwood Winery!

That's right folks, I'm back into wine :)

It's where I belong and where I'm most happy. My passion will once again be a career and I couldn't be happier.

By the way, have you been to Boxwood yet? Come out to Middleburg and say hi sometime.

A Meal from the Pantry

Thanksgiving is over, there's a ton of leftovers in the fridge and your pantry is pretty well stocked. What's a hungry girl to do?

French onion soup and a turkey panini of course!

Using only what I had on hand (always a plus!), I made a from-scratch, turkey-leftovers, warm and cozy supper.

French Onion Soup - courtesy of Tyler Florence (I halved this recipe)
1/2 cup of butter (or 1 stick)
4 onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 fresh sprigs of thyme
Salt & Pepper
1 cup red wine (drink the rest ;) )
3 heaping tablespoons of flour
2 quarts beef broth (or 8 cups)
1 baguette (or bread slices)
1/2 pound of gruyere (or any shredded cheese you have on hand)

Melt the stick of butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and salt and pepper and cook until the onions are very soft and caramelized, about 25 minutes. Add the wine, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the wine has evaporated and the onions are dry, about 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Dust the onions with the flour and give them a stir. Turn the heat down to medium low so the flour doesn't burn, and cook for 10 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. Now add the beef broth, bring the soup back to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
When you're ready to eat, preheat the broiler. Arrange the baguette or bread slices on a baking sheet in a single layer and broil until golden brown, keep an eye on it!
Ladle the soup in bowls and float several of the croutons on top and top with cheese. Put the bowls into the oven to melt the cheese.

Turkey Panini
Slices of your favorite bread
Leftover turkey, sliced
Sundried tomatoes
Crumbled goat cheese

Butter the slices of bread and assemble the sandwich. Place in a grilled cheese maker or on a skillet. Toast, cut crossways and serve warm.

With the soup of course!

Now, where's the rest of that bottle of red wine?

Uncommon Wines for the Thanksgiving Feast

The holidays are officially here! Everyone is planning their big Thanksgiving feast with turkey, stuffing and of course the perfectly paired wine.

Most common wines for Thanksgiving are Pinot Noirs, for a few reasons. The light, fruitful body of a Pinot Noir matches perfectly with the typical Thanksgiving meal; turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing. Also, most Thanksgiving meals include a lot of people with all different kinds of palates. Pinot Noir is common ground, appeals to just about everyone.

Here's a few non-traditional Thanksgiving pairings:

1.) Sparkling Rosé - Every great night begins with sparkling. Who doesn't love to pop open that bottle of bubbly to get the celebration started! I've come across some great sparkling rosés recently and think it's a great option to sip on while preparing last minute details before the big meal.

2.) Sauternes (saw-turn) - This slightly sweet, white wine produced in the Sauternes region of France is a perfect pairing for that salty ham. The classic pairing of salty and sweet is pronounced. Sweet wine with a savory meal? Oh yes, there's no better pairing for this sweet wine.

2.) Sémillon (sim-e-yon) - A crisp, food friendly white wine has gained popularity in the wine world. Usually a blended grape, some of single varietal wines have popped up recently. This bright, fresh wine has hints of pears and other stone fruits and is an easy crowd pleaser, much like the typical Pinot Noir.

3.) Beaujolais - Released just last week, pick up a bottle of Beaujolais, maybe not the Nouveau but a Cru or Village, and share it during your Thanksgiving meal. The fruit-forward, light-body of a Beaujolais pairs nicely with turkey and cranberry sauce, similarly to a Pinot Noir.

4.) McPherson Cellars Les Copains - What's on my table this Thanksgiving! This white blend is from Texas! YES, and actually really tasty! It's a blend of Grenache Blanc, Viognier and Roussanne. I came across it recently at a Swirl and Sip tasting event. The distributor, Vino50, mentioned that it may be hard to get your hands on, it's been selling out across the area the past few weeks. Thankfully I grabbed a bottle from Swirl & Sip just in time.

Speaking of which....Enter this week's giveaway! $20 credit towards your next purchase at Swirl & Sip, a new online wine retailer. This giveaway can be used in many different states, not just the local DC area. $20 credit will also buy that bottle of McPherson Les Copains so enter now by posting a picture of your favorite Thanksgiving wine! Post either on the Facebook page or tweet to enter. Good Luck!

*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. ALL FEDERAL, STATE,  LOCAL AND MUNICIPAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS APPLY. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. This contest is open to all US residents age 21 or older. The contest begins on November 19, 2012 at noon EST and will end on November 23rd at noon EST. Entries submitted before or after contest period will be discarded. Limit 1 entry per person. Winner will be chosen on November 23rd at noon via information input at random.org Winner will be notified via email. Winner approves of any public announcement via social media.

Where to Celebrate the Beaujolais Nouveau Release this Week

Beaujolais Nouveau is made from the Gamay (red) grape in France. Fermented only weeks before it's arrival on shelves, the release drives a lot of marketing and parties. Not a wine that you'd want to age, Beaujolais Nouveau is an early drinker with tons of bright fruit, sometimes even bubble gummy and bananas. There are hardly any tannins due to it's early age, being only bottled for 6-8 weeks after fermentation.

Granted, there are higher end Beaujolais that do have more admirable traits such as Beaujolais Village and Cru. Nouveau was invented mostly as a marketing ploy but hey, it works!

There are parties, tastings, dinners, etc all over town every year on the Wed/Thursday before Thanksgiving. Here is a simple lineup of this year's events:

Bistro du Coin, Dupont Circle
Wednesday, November 14th

One of the biggest parties in town is held at this popular French Bistro in Dupont. Why is it so popular? They clear out the tables, offer free and have a live DJ to blare house and French music. That's right, FREE wine. Get their early because lines form quickly.

1905, U Street
Wednesday, November 14th

5th Annual Get Beaujolaid by BYT is also on Wednesday night. Doors open at 10pm and free wine after midnight, the official release day of the 2012 Beaujolais. Sadly, this event has already sold-out but keep this in mind for next year. It's one of the biggest!

Central Michel Richard, Penn Quarter
Thursday, November 15th 5-10:30pm

If dinner and wine is more your style than all night partying, Central has a great option for you. French bistro specials including Beaujolais by the glass or bottle. They are also extending a 15% discount on any wine from the Burgundy region. Live jazz will accompany the food and wine from 6-10pm.

Le Chat Noir, Friendship Heights
Thursday, November 15th

Le Chat Noir is hosting a 3 course dinner with Beaujolais region inspiration. This menu is only $35.95. Enjoy Beaujolais Nouveau Day the way the French meant it to be, new fresh wine with a perfectly paired menu.

Slate Wine Bar, Glover Park
Thursday, November 15th

Want to just grab a glass? Visit newly opened Slate in Glover Park for special by the glass pricing ($8) and great cheese and nut pairings with this fresh new wine. No reservations necessary but the bar is first come first serve. You can find me relaxing with a glass here on Thursday.

French Embassy, Georgetown
Friday, November 16th

Beaujolais and Beyond features the popular Beaujolais Nouveau, food by local restaurants, dancing and more! Tickets are $55 for non-members or $95 including the hour-long VIP party beforehand. Party like the French this Beaujolais Nouveau Day.

Cheers to the 2012 Vintage of Beaujolais Nouveau!

Giveaway #1

Woo Hoo it's here, giveaway time!

As mentioned before, in honor of the 2 year Blogiversary this month, I'll be giving away prizes, one per week, until the end of the month!

Giveaway #1
First up, a $25 gift card to the local wine bar in Clarendon, Screwtop!

It's easy to enter:
1.) Join the mailing list
2.) Like "One Classic Wino" on Facebook
3.) Winner will be chosen (and verified) on Friday at noon.


*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. ALL FEDERAL, STATE,  LOCAL AND MUNICIPAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS APPLY. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. This contest is open to all US residents age 21 or older. The contest begins on November 12, 2012 at noon EST and will end on November 16th at noon EST. Entries submitted before or after contest period will be discarded. Limit 1 entry per person. Winner will be chosen on November 16th at noon via information input at random.org Winner will be notified via email. Winner approves of any public announcement via social media.

Lemberger, you say?

Fall seems to have come and went already but that didn't stop me from enjoying a great Fall wine last night.

An unusual one, too.

I'm a fan of the Finger Lakes region in NY, and not only because my in-laws are there, but because they produce well-balanced, flavorful wines. One of my favorite wineries is Dr. Konstantin Frank, otherwise known as Dr Franks. I absolutely love the Riesling but in my wine fridge, I had the Lemberger.

Hmm, never heard of the Lemberger grape. According to the back of the bottle, it's "a cool climate red grape from Central Europe particularly well suited to the Finger Lakes region of New York." Well sadly, that's not enough info for me. So, I began to dig.

Lemberger is another name for the more-known Blaufränkisch grape. Still may be a little foreign to some but this grape is grown mostly in Austria. Stylistically, this grape has spicy notes and solid tannins and dark red fruit flavors. Perfect for the dinner I was preparing, pasta! Also pairs nicely with gamey meats and some seafood. It has a jammy texture and plenty of fruit.

The spicy notes from the pasta sauce as well as the wine were harmonious. The Lemberger was not too heavy or bold to overpower the dish but balanced quite nicely. It's also easily drinkable on it's own, which I did after dinner was over ;)

This wine is ideal for the fall season. Bright, fruity, smooth, pairs well with traditional hearty, fall meals. And according to Dr Franks:

If at all possible, I highly recommend getting your hands on some of this wine (I am!) or the Dry Riesling, another one of my favs. In case you missed it, I've blogged a few times about this winery: Salmon Run Meritage and included the Dry Riesling in my Summer=Grilling=Wine post.

With over 10,000 different wine grapes grown all over the world, it's fascinating (and easy!) to find a new one to try!

OCW is Turning 2!

Wow, 2 years have flown by!

I remember the day, sitting behind the counter at Market Cellars, surrounded by good wine and a huge notebook of tasting notes. What better way to keep track of all of my adventures than a blog?!

That's where it all began.

Now, 2 years later, the blog consists of all kinds of things! I've even started guest blogging and been featured on other's sites.

So for my 2 year blogiversary I plan to host contests and giveaways so you, the reader, can benefit!

Also in honor of 2 great years, I've launched a newsletter so you don't miss out on any exciting posts. Want to join? Enter your info in the box on the right sidebar and you'll be added!

Looking forward to many more years and stay tuned for those giveaways :)


It's National Champagne Day!!

Yes, there's a day for everything and today just happens to be Champagne Day!

Some facts about Champagne:
  • The term Champagne only refers to those wines from the Champagne region of France. The sparkling cavas, bruts, spumantes and more should not be labeled Champagne but often are referred to in that way. Instead, in 2005 a court ruled that the term méthode traditionnelle should be used in those cases. (Sidenote: "In 2008, more than 3000 bottles of sparkling wine produced in California labelled with the term "Champagne" were destroyed by Belgian government authorities." - Wikipedia)
  • Méthode Champenoise is the traditional method by which Champagne is produced. The second fermentation that occurs includes several grams of yeast and sugar. Again, there are more rules stating that it must sit for 1.5 years to get the proper flavor. After that time has passed, the bottles are then "riddled" meaning the lees settle in the neck of the bottle by being placed on a slant. The bottle is then chilled, the neck is frozen and the cap is replaced with a cork, sealing in all the carbon dioxide.
  • Most modern Champagnes are non-vintage (NV) meaning that the grapes in the bottle are blends of different vintages. There is a such thing as Vintage Champagne which consists of at least 85% of the grapes from one vintage.
  • There's 3 classifications of Champagne: Prestige Cuveé, Blanc de Noirs, Blanc de Blanc. The prestige cuveé is the high end selection from the producer (Moet & Chandon Dom Pérignon, Louis Roederer Cristal, etc). Blanc de Noirs means "white from black" literally so the juice is from black grapes. The typical grapes used are Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier or a blend of the two. Blanc de Blanc is the easily enough "white from white". The only grape in a Blanc de blanc is the Chardonnay grape.
  • Rosé Champagne or "Pink Champagne" starts the same way Blanc de Noirs do but the grape skins sit with the juice longer to make it a pinkish color (macerate) or a little bit of Pinot Noir or cuveé wine is added.
  • Obviously the amount of sugar determines the sweetness. There are 3 classifications: Brut natural (<3 grams of sugar/liter), Extra Brut (<6 grams of sugar/liter), and the most commonly seen Brut (<12 grams of sugar/liter).

So enjoy a bottle of your favorite French bubbly, or explore and find a new one! Just be sure it's true Champagne. It's worth it to indulge sometimes ;)


In the Kitchen with Mark Krieger

Planning events for both Young Winos of DC and French Wine Social allows me to meet a lot of local business owners, especially wine stores and bars. Well this sunny, unusually warm Fall day was not the typical meet and greet.

Slate Wine Bar recently opened just 51 days ago! Having interest in hosting an event there, Mark invited me to stop by and discuss. Now usually these types of meetings are very basic, here's what we offer, what are you looking for, etc. Well not Mark!

Upon walking in, I noticed the well-lit bar area with porcelain floor, reclaimed wood bar, and shiny granite table top. The cozy dining room had exposed brick, white linen table cloths and a collection of antique corkscrews that adorned the walls. Then out pops Mark from the kitchen. He explained so much about the newly opened space from the time it took to get the place up and running to the recipes to meeting the staff. Talk about a welcome!

We took a tour of every inch, literally. I was in the walk in freezer to see the cheese and meat selection to the private space loft to the bathroom to admiring the antique corkscrews and then back into the kitchen. This is one place that has a ton of thought put into it. Who would ever think to get bar stools for the high-top tables that swivel and adjust height so everyone can be comfortable? And most people want fresh cracked pepper with their dishes so every table has their own. And you won't find paper on top of the tables, nope just clean fresh linens every time. It's all in the details. Some so small, we hardly notice on a regular basis.

Then the fun part...cooking! They were making a ton of meatballs for a private event and I got to taste test them. But with meatballs comes marinara and guess who's job that was...This girl! The marinara recipe is simple: tomatoes, paste, oregano, garlic, oil, pepper. I was even handed over the HUGE immersion blender. Of course I wore white on this particular day so I was given a chef's jacket to keep my work clothes clean because ya know, I did have to go back to work :(

Mark has poured his heart and soul into this place and it shows! From the details to the menu to the friendly staff and decor, Slate Wine Bar is not a place to be overlooked. They have daily wine and food specials on the chalkboard that change everyday. The food selection is even paired with the daily wine selection, no thought needed!

This place has all the things to make it a new favorite (as written about in my last post). You can betcha I'll be back very soon. Oh, and Ripple, you may have been replaced! ;) Just kiddin' there's enough love to go around.