A Mexican Gem in Vienna

(not wine related)

After moving to Fairfax 2 years ago, Bryan and I have been hunting for great restaurants in the suburbs. Inundated with chain restaurants like Cheesecake Factory, TGIFridays, etc, it's been quite the task to find a great go-to place to enjoy date night.

Having loved Bazin's on Church in Vienna a few weeks ago with the in-laws, we've been wanting to try their sister restaurant, Alegria, a casual Mexican joint.

A superb Saturday evening, we headed to Alegria on the quaint Church St in Vienna. Much smaller than Bazin's, there is a bar serving up fantastic margaritas, a few tables on the patio and a cozy dining room. While we waited (not even 5 minutes), we ordered margaritas to start off the dining experience.

We took advantage of the great weather and dined al fresco. You can't go to a Mexican restaurant and not order the Queso Fundido, ooey gooey deliciousness with soft tortillas and meaty chorizo. Another great way to start off the dining experience.

Attentive servers kept our table manicured, drinks filled and made sure we were enjoying every minute.

Mexican is one of my favorite cuisines so it was hard to decide on what to order for my entree. However, there were a few items that stood out on this menu; short rib enchiladas, Oaxacan-style Carne Asada and pork confit tacos!

Enchiladas are my go-to choice any day and stuffed with short ribs, are you kidding me?! No question about that. They were rich and flavorful and served with black beans and rice. The portion size was rather large too!

The slow-roasted pork confit tacos were a great addition to my meal. They were served with pickled jalapenos and chunks of pineapple. (Tacos can be purchased individually and they have a great selection to choose from)
Bryan ordered the carne asada. It was tender and full of flavor. Served with rice and crispy plantains. It was another hefty portion!
As we wrapped up our great date night, we were already thinking about when we will be returning! This is quite the gem outside the beltway. It's worth the trip :)


"Fun Was Never So Pink"

So says McPherson Cellars.

Their 2012 Dry Vin Gris Rosé is a must have as this summer season is winding down. Crisp, acidic and BRIGHT pink, this rosé is a blend of Cinsault, Mouvédre and Grenache. There's no short finish here, this wine is not only bright in color but has bright flavors of berries. This wine is versatile and pairs wellwith a patio, light dinner or your favorite summer dish.

I'm no newcomer to this Texas (yes,Texas) winery. Les Copains, a white blend, was served at my Thanksgiving dinner last year and I've been purchasing a bottle of their wine every time I come across it.

It's no secret that Kim McPherson has figured out the perfect balance, quality, and flavors needed to make successful, popular wines from the Lone Star state. He is spearheading the movement that wine can be made (and made well) in unlikely places. As their website says "Texas Wines with a Pioneering Spirit".

Another great advantage to McPherson wines are their reasonable prices, most under $20! Here in the DC/MD/VA region, you can find these wines in numerous wine shops and restaurants. If you haven't tasted these wines before, seek them out, you won't be disappointed.


Expanding My Wine Career

I've taken a short hiatus from the wine industry over the summer but it's back to a full-time wine career for me in September!

I'm excited to start working with Global Wines Distribution covering DC, Arlington and Alexandria. After years of working in wine retail, I'm ready to be on the other side of the table! Global Wines is a locally owned wine wholesaler focusing on high value wines from the US and around the world.

Looking forward to learning, tasting and blogging more about wine!

I'm back!

Cheers :)

A Love, Hate Relationship: Happy Hour Wine

I love it because I feel like I'm getting a deal and saving money (aren't we all?!) And that always occuring, "yeah I'll just have 1 more".

But I hate it because usually this means an oaky Chardonnay or another run of the mill wine (think Kendall Jackson).

Also, most places only offer 1 white and 1 red which really limits the wine lover. Granted, wine bars and higher end places, if they even offer a happy hour, have a much wider and more palatable selection, even during happy hour.

(Maybe I'm just a little cynical now that I'm out in the burbs, trying to find a place with decent wine)

I get that sports bars, dive bars and the like aren't going to have a Gigondas by the glass but there are some great options that are on the cheaper end to highlight. Wine is a fast-growing "hobby" and more and more people are becoming interested in more than just Chardonnay and Cab Sauv.

Granted, not all places have chosen this route. Most recently, I visited The Coupe in Columbia Heights for the DC Food Blogger Happy Hour (yeah, it's a thing). They have great happy hour specials including 50 cent bites and $5 wines. Again, only 1 white and 1 red.

My first question: "What is the happy hour white?" Expecting a New World, fruit forward, possibly an oak bomb; she handed me the bottle.

It was a vin de pays from Cotes de Gascogne. Hmmm....wasn't expecting that! Especially in a 24/7, wi-fi haven, "No Corporate Coffee No Matching Silverware" place, as they describe it.

"I'll take that!"

Now, this wine isn't one to go writing home about but it's definitely a great value wine and something different to offer patrons.

There are hundreds of options for great value, happy-hour-worthy but off-the-beaten-path wines, New and Old World alike. Having been on the wine bar side (and an accountant), I understand the cost and financial impact of even having a happy hour.

I'm hoping to see more diversity as customers learn about wine and want to expand their palates,

at happy hour or not.

Exciting Things Happening at Philip Carter!

It's no secret that I've always been a fan of Philip Carter. Not only do I enjoy the wine but the people are fantastic and welcoming and I've loved to see them grow over the past few years. 2013 is no exception.

Photo courtesy of their Facebook page
With my most recent visit, I sat down with Philip Strother, CEO of PC, and also Dan, the Operations Manager. This particular day they were bottling one of their brand new labels: Corotoman, 315 cases of a Meritage blend. Another great wine added to their lineup! Carter Charter members were invited to exclusively help with bottling, just another perk of being their wine club member.

I also noticed some new vines had been planted in three separate areas of the vineyard. I was told Viognier, Petit Verdot and Tannat have been planted this year. With a current case production around 3,000 this year, they plan to ramp up to 5,000 or more in the near future. The planting of these vines will help in the increased production, however, they will still be sourcing 40% of the grapes used as their portfolio continues to expand and evolve.

The growth doesn't stop there! They've also acquired a new property about a mile down the road. It will open in September as the Inn at Vineyards Crossing! This inn has 6 rooms available to rent and you can stay in the heart of Fauquier wine country. This property dates back to the 1700's and ideal for those interested in local food, wine and history. They are even working on educational programs and a wine camp! Sign me up! Like them on Facebook to stay informed.

With their wine club, Carter Charter, steadily growing, production increasing, and wine education opportunities at the Inn, Philip Carter Winery is place to keep your eyes on!