Category: Wine

FourPlay and Buffalo Balls

Fourplay2You like the name of this post? Me too.

Funny thing is, it was totally inadvertent. I knew I’d be doing a wine post–Carhartt’s 2010 FourPlay, to be precise–and Fiancé and I were brainstorming what would make the perfect meal to go with it. And yes, at times, we prefer to build our menu around the wine instead of the other way around. What’s wrong with that?

FourPlay is a flavorful red blend from one of our very favorite wineries in Los Olivos. The 2010 vintage produced only 350 cases of the sweet, sweet nectar and Fiancé and I have been saving this bottle for a special occasion–something like, hey it’s Thursday, and we’re on our way to pick up more Carhartt wine this weekend, so let’s drink up. You know, that kind of occasion.

FourPlay is 35% cabernet sauvignon, 31% merlot, 24% cab franc, and 10% petite verdot. Four players working in balanced juxtaposition to get our juices flowing, and ready for the main event–in this case, a steaming plate of gluten-free fettuccine with Fiance’s crockpot marinara and huge, flavorful meatballs made of bison. Seeing as how the wine is described as a perfect partner to savory meats, hearty pastas, and aged cheeses, we figured this menu was a bull’s eye, and it gave me an excuse to buy some fancy cheeses to indulge in beforehand (for the first time since the [p2p type=”slug” value=”challenge-2013-elimination-diet-food-allergen-cleanse” anchor=””]Elimination Diet[/p2p] began–woot!).

Fourplay3I took one sip of this wine and told Fiancé that I want every glass of wine I ever drink to feel this way in my mouth. Holy velveteen, I’m in love. The blend has brilliant clarity, and a cherry red hue with rich intensity, belying its cabernet sauvignon component. It’s also fairly leggy, which makes me think of a great line from my favorite sommelier (and mentor–lucky me) Caitlin Stansbury, about how merlot, which she affectionately dubs the Sex Bomb, “shows more leg than Angelina Jolie.”

Stick your nose in the glass, and you’ll find a medium intensity aroma of ripe red fruits–cherries and cranberries, the very same that you taste when you take a sip. I also detected a hint of baking spices, and Fiancé noted a little smoke. What a delightful surprise on this celebratory Thursday, to find that I actually am a fan of merlot, which it turns out is the likely reason this wine feels so damned good to drink!

Fourplay1If you’re curious about how to zero in on your favorite qualities when wine tasting, and yearn to bring out your inner wine-know, you should check out Caitlin’s book, Wineocology. Watch out, this sassy sommelier has a mouth on her, which is why I could read this book and drink wine all the live-long day.

I hope you’re heading into the weekend with plans to do something delicious!


Wine and Truffles: An Affair to Remember

Cakebread Merlot

Recently the boyfriend celebrated his 40th birthday, and his boss gave him a bottle of Cakebread Merlot and a box of Lindor chocolate truffles, with the strictest instructions to share them with me. I love his boss!

So we’re sitting on the couch soaking in the atmosphere of our new apartment, and it just seems like the right time to celebrate. I’ve never tried the Cakebread Merlot, but at around $50 a bottle (I looked it up, nosy thing), I know we’re in for a treat.  We decant it for 30 minutes to let the fruit and roasted herb aromas develop. We are very serious.

Lindor truffles come in dark, milk, and white chocolate and have a ganache center the consistency of butter. I’m not a big “chocolate-on-top-of-chocolate-decadence” girl (who would be, after working in a shop during college that sold every possible variant of the stuff), but these little babies are showstoppers. I’ve long since outgrown the over-sweet taste of most white chocolate but for some reason, white Lindor truffles hold the key to my heart. Basically, they defy everything I feel about the confection; about its decadence and tooth-pain inducing sweetness. And the buttery quality of the ganache gives such a silky mouth feel that it perfectly complements the velvety texture of the wine.

A tiny, creamy bite. A ripe, berry-filled sip.

The chocolate marries with the jammy flavor of the merlot, full of punchy plum and cherry notes, evoking Black Forest cake. Boyfriend compares the softness on the palate to sucking on a silk tie. It is marvelously balanced; there is just enough tannin to leave my palate cleansed and ready to taste all the nuances of flavor in the next sip and each one after that. Is that toasted oak that I detect?

Now this is certainly not the first time I have consumed chocolate and wine together. But it is the first time someone has given the combination to me (or Boyfriend) as a gift. Accompanied by the instruction to share this experience with someone awesome. Making this more than just a gift of wine and candy—making this a gift of time.  Making it a memory. A moment in my crazy life to stop and smell the roses. And plums. And cherries. And oak.

Doesn’t that just make you want to go and do something delicious?


Cakebread Cellars by James Lee is licensed under CC BY 2.0/ Brightness increased from original