Posts Tagged ‘ wine ’

The Garden State Wine Has Arrived

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This and a bottle of Europa!

To borrow from written history, various documented internet sources, and my own education in and around the New Jersey Vineyards over the past year, I have discovered my new home makes more than just ‘Okay and fruity’ wine.

The state has begun to take back its bragging rights of being ‘The Garden State’* in the last few years, and is staking a claim in some of the best wines produced outside of California and France. In 1767, London’s Royal Society of the Arts had already recognized two New Jersey vintners for their success in producing the first bottles of quality wine derived from the colonial agriculture. The problem I believe, started when everyone wanted a stake in the wine industry here and began buying up land and growing wine grapes further north, where the soil and weather are vastly different. Thus the huge difference in wine.

The GSWGA website with its marketing verbiage of ‘Savor The Experience’ and hearing from locals about how great their wines are in the central Jersey area (as they showed me their local fruity blueberry and cranberry wine), I was beginning to think no one knew what good vino really was. I already hail from Texas where there are very few, if any drinkable to my mature palate in the Lone Star State ( Texas grows wine grapes, and bottles it!). Yes laugh! Five years ago when I hit what I call the central Jersey wine trail…well…I was more than disappointed. De ja vue hit me like a mad bull in a packed rodeo parking lot!

I am sure a few winery cowboys would love to come after me on that comment, but I do agree in the spring along the east bound highways of I45: blooming wildflowers, historical site seeing, and a few stops at wineries can break up the ‘out of the AC lock down’ lifestyle of the Lone Star State, but I discovered something MORE breath taking in Jersey.

The Outer Coastal Plain American Viticultural Area– beautiful acres of green grass, pine barrens, and shore line. New Jersey is a puzzle so spread out that it can take years to place each piece together and find your way around, but its worth the wait. New Jersey wineries are generally in one of two areas: the triangle defined by Atlantic City, Cape May, and Philadelphia or the strip from near Trenton to High Point along the Delaware River.

Last year while taking a weekend excursion, which there are so many here to discover with its rich history, I ended up in the Marlton, Berlin, and the Atco New Jersey area. Noticing the clump of wineries on the ‘Garden State Wine Growers Association’ map, we decided to visit a few and see if they differed from the upper regions near our home in Princeton. Some were more drinkable, but our last stop was Amalthea Cellars. We walked away more than two hours later with over a case of wine, and I have made a few trips back since.

A big southern Thank You to ‘The Garden State’* as is well known for; it consist of rich cultural food history, small historical towns dotted up and down its old highways, sprawling farmland, farmers markets and (in my opinion) some of the best wineries down south. Put them together, and the sweltering summer heat of late aside, I have come to embrace my new home of wine and foodie paradise.

There is a lot going on now that the New Jersey Outer Coastal Plain AVA is getting noticed, and I would not miss it if I were you!

*HISTORY: New Jersey’s nickname, the Garden State, derives largely from the more than one hundred year history of growing of fruits and vegetables in this area which supplies such produce to the mid-Atlantic region and as far north as Montreal.


Chef Elizabeth Stelling Food ~ Wine ~ Fun!

Cooking With Wine

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Blueberry Chutney Sauce Marinated Duck

“If you do not have a good wine to use, it is far better to omit it, for a poor one can spoil a simple dish and utterly debase a noble one.”
~ Julia Child

Cooking with wine dates back as far as written history tells us- Greek and Roman artifacts and books show their palates loved wine, and used it often in recipes. Along the way others might have possibly used a splash here or there, but it was mainly to disguise spoiled meats due to lack of refrigeration, especially during the Middle-ages and so on.

Today using wine in the professional kitchen reigns, so if you enjoy quality dining, and yourself cook at home, then why are you not using a quality splash of vino in your dishes? Discovering local New Jersey Blueberries, and the fact that the area also had a high volume of Asian Indian restaurants an idea was sparked- Blueberry Chutney.

Using Syrah/Shiraz as a great match for the blueberries to wild game meats and chocolate. Each time the price range was $20 to $30 dollars. Cooking with wine should never begin with ‘cooking wines and sherries’ due to their over salty’ness, and sometimes they cost more than regular wine per ounce.

Unless you just do not drink wine otherwise, and remember the alcohol cooks (or evaporates*) from the dish after ? minutes, so that equation is not an issue- purchasing a less expensive bottle is better than none. However most recipes only call for a splash (2 oz) and with the outside factor of white verses red, just open the bottle you have chosen for dinner, portion out the desired amount and then close up the bottle temporarily with VinAssure, a source for pumping the air out, and preserving it for the nights meal, or other occasions.

Cooking with wine enhances the flavor, and can heighten the experience of a fine meal with friends if paired well. There is such a simple method for making these decisions, so stayed tuned for a good primer with a discussion on wine/cooking interactions, choosing a cooking wine, marinating, deglazing and finishing, plus a handful of recipes!

Blueberry Chutney Components for a Syrah/Shiraz match- This recipe has a sweet to spicy, or earthy flavor that brings out flavors of wild game and chocolate desserts. It works both as a sauce, or marinade for meats. Too heavy for chicken/poultry, but works great with marinating duck for up to three hours, and then grilled, stove top searing, or oven baked in cast iron skillet topped off with brick and other HEAVY cast iron pots.

Dark Berry, Almost Black

Two Hands, Bella’s Garden, Barossa Valley Shiraz
Deep and impenetrable, red to black.

Lifted aromas of deep red fruits, plums, cinnamon, licorice and earthy spice. Underneath subtle notes of chocolate, tar and moss complete the bouquet.

The wine is robust and rich with a balance that exemplifies the hallmarks of the finest Barossa vineyards. Red fruits and plums dominate a tight palate with earthy char and chocolate that then finishes long with fine tannins and bright acidity. Will drink well now and will improve with medium term cellaring.

*When wine is heated, the alcoholic content as well as sulfites disappear, leaving only the essence imparting a subtle flavor. Remember, if you do not like the taste of the wine you opened, then you might not want to use it in your dish- wine does however enhance the flavors of a dish, so simply ask friends or a retailer for ideas!


Chef Elizabeth Stelling Food ~ Wine ~ Fun!

How To Walk Away From A Madeira Tasting

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Good Friends Share Their Madeira

Madeira is one of the most ignored fortified wines of our era, especially by the younger generation. Why? I am not sure, but they should pay attention to this one! My partner in wine and I will be attending a Madeira tasting in NYC today, and the key is to swish and spit, at least three times before making a decision about each wine. You will be hearing our thoughts on 40 different bottles of this goodness- if we can walk away…we may be crawling home!


Various quality vineyards at Campanário and
Calheta at altitudes between 100 and 300m.

Cossart Gordon 5 year old Bual underwent
fermentation off the skins with natural yeast at
between 18°C – 21°C in temperature controlled
stainless steel tanks. After approximately 3
days, fortification with grape brandy takes
place, arresting fermentation at the desired
degree of sweetness.

Cossart Gordon 5 year old Bual was aged in
American oak casks in the traditional
‘Canteiro’ system. This comprises of the gentle
heating of the wine in the lofts of the lodges in
Funchal. Over the years the wine is transferred
from the top floors to the middle floors and
eventually to the ground floor where it is
cooler. After this gradual ‘estufagem’ the wine
underwent racking and fining before the blend
was assembled and bottled.

Alcohol: 19% ABV pH: 3.45 Residual Sugar:
85.0 g/l Total Acidity: 6.5 g/l tartaric acid

Cossart Gordon 5 year old Bual is fined and
does not require decanting. It is excellent as an
after dinner drink and also very good with fruit,
milk chocolate, cakes and hard cheeses. It has
been bottled when ready for drinking and will
keep for several months after opening.

Clear, amber colour with tinges of gold; a
bouquet of dried fruit, vanilla, wood and toffee
with a smooth, medium-sweet finish and an
excellent balance between the fruit and acidity.

“Medium amber with a restrained aroma of
nuts, coffee and chocolate and even a hint of
olives as the wine opens up. The flavours
amplify these aromas, with the addition of
subtle, tangy lime quality to offset the
sweetness of the wine”. Lyn Farmer – The
Wine News, March 2001

Silver medal – IWC 1999
Bronze Medal – IWC 2003

Madeira Fact: The colonies in North America were at the time the largest and most discerning market, so much so in fact that the best production was widely known as ‘American Madeira’. Madeira played such an important part in American life that it was used to toast the Declaration of Independence on July 4th 1776.


Chef Elizabeth Stelling

Thirsty Thursday-Argentinean Cabernet Sauvignon

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Argentinean Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon, the king of red wines has a home in Argentina. Argentina, long known for producing great Malbec, produces Cabernet Sauvignon as well. Known as a land of meat lovers and Malbec production, Argentinean wines also offer consumers a wide range of value oriented and more distinctive Cabernet Sauvignon.

Bodega Luigi Bosca, Mendoza, Argentina, is a family run enterprise, long considered for producing high quality wines from the area. The family strives to be one of the most biodynamic wine producers from the area and offers distinctive wines at different levels for every occasion. Luigi Bosca offers three labels: Finca La Linda, Luigi Bosca Reserva and Selectos Familia Arizu.

Finca La Linda Cabernet Sauvignon 2008: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged in French and American Oak. Deep maroon in color with aromas of dark fruit with a hint of spice. Young tannins, not overpowering, yet subtle in mouthfeel. Should age well over the next 1-3 years. A lovely everyday drinking Cabernet Sauvignon paired well with a steak or other red meat. An outstanding value from Luigi Bosca.

Cheers, Adrienne

Pairing Wine with Food- Grenache

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Pulled Pork & Beer 'Butt' Chicken BBQ

First of all, let me mention a good friend of ours, Doc @ What’s Cookin’ With Doc. He brought up a great fact about how Rose wines are so overlooked. Because they are not as popular, they are cheaper than the big reds of the old world and new world wine industry.

Pair it with the perfect plate of food, and your guest will feel you are amazing, talented, and a genius! Doc is a genius for bringing up that point! Rose is a wine that goes great with warmer weather and cool fruit laden salad or dessert. Even a simple crostini with a marinated brushetta topping fresh from the cooler, and onto their plates. Not too heavy on the garlic!

Barbecue is also a food people find hard to pair with wine. Beer always enters the picture. Nothing wrong with a good cold brew, but what if your guest do not like beer? They want a cool wine to fight off the heat of summer, or in my case I cook barbecue all year long, so I have taken on the challenge. Grenache is a great wine to pair with barbecue. As long as the sauce is light in heat/spice, and remember to leave some fat on the meats when cooking them. A California Grenache goes great with skin on ‘beer’ butt chicken on the grill. Why? Because the fat helps take down the tannic cheekiness of the big bold wines of this nature.

Maturing them a few years longer helps, but we do not always know when we open a bottle it is ready. Some of it is guess work. Shhh, do not tell my superior wine aficionados I just said that. Buying wine and trying it can be a guessing game. Basic knowledge will help steer you to becoming a better judge as time goes by. That is the fun of trying wines. Find the ones you like.

Go out and add a few bottles of Grenache to your cellar, basement, closet floor or where ever you keep it on its side in a cool dry place.

A few Grenache suggestions:
Rose- Chateau D’escians ‘Whispering Angel Rose’, France 08
BBQ- Herman’s Story Larner Vineyard, California 06

Chef Elizabeth Stelling Food and Wine Writer Food ~ Wine ~ Fun!

Perfect Pairing- Rose & Strawberry's

Letting Wine Breathe

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Decanting A Few Good Wines

English glass maker George Ravenscroft is credited for the 1676 discovery of how to make lead crystal. Most wine decanters were initially made of glass or lead crystal, both of which allowed the person who decanted the wine to see the sediment and avoid pouring it into the decanter, as well into your wine glass.

As the demand for bottled wine grew, so did a parallel industry for the manufacture of decanters. Whereas decanters had originally been used purely to serve a function, manufacturers began to create new and more sophisticated designs, as decanters were recognized for their decorative potential.

One cannot have too many decanters. If you are going to do any kind of tasting event in your home involving more than one bottle of vintage wine- it would be wise to purchase more than one decanter.

Crystal decanters manufactured in England and Ireland during the period between 1760 and 1810 are considered among the finest of classic decanters. They were manufactured before the advent of machine production, and were hand-blown, hand-engraved and hand-cut, and therefore, each was a complete original.

Involved in the American Wine Society I have seen on many occasion the need for two or even three decanters. Wines, such as big Bordeaux or even a Pinot Noir benefits from breathing and can sit for up to three hours. Each passing minute the wine takes on a new life, even in the glass you will notice subtle notes on the nose, tongue and finish.

Decanters can range from $20 to $200, or even more, but one nice decorative for show and a few less expensive glass decanters will suffice. Guests who enjoy wine care more about how the wine is affected than whether you are pouring out of Bacarat lead crystal.

More on decanter history

Chef Elizabeth Stelling Food and Wine Writer Food ~ Wine ~ Fun!

Other Wine Glasses and Decanter History

Tasting Tuesday- Chef Fresco Talks Baron Herzog

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Cheers to Baron Herzog!

We Found this bottle at Trader Joe’s (shocker, I know) and it was a really nice selection. I enjoy a good Cabernet because it always seems to be a bit smoother than a Merlot while still having a good red wine flavor.

The only down side for me is that one; it seems to stain my teeth really bad, and two; it makes me extremely sleepy. I don’t know much about the teeth staining but I think certain people must be more susceptible than others. Reason being that I get it really bad, however Jessi does not. My father also gets exceptional red teeth when drinking red wines—so much that my mother has since forbid him to drink them in public settings, since he looks so ridiculous.

I must admit that this does pose a problem when cheesing it up for photos—you look like a vampire. Well besides the red teeth and sleepy side effects the cab was great. It did not seem to be as fruity as I like but had some hints of vanilla. I would consider the wine to have a high level of tannins. Don’t know what that is? It’s basically the acidity level in a wine, learn some more here from this friendly lady- comes from the stems and seeds when fermenting. Being this wine was not very fruity or sweet I would consider the wine to be very dry, witch I prefer in a Cab. I recommend pairing this wine with a red sauce pasta dish or red meat.

Overall I give it a good recommendation and we might even serve it at our wedding.

Team Chef Fresco– Jessi and Michael are two 20-somethings who are about to be hitched. They both are native North Carolinians and currently live in Charlotte. They stay very busy with work – Jessi does a fair amount of traveling and Michael spends a lot of time on his own freelance work. They are also new homeowners and love to spend time fixing up the new house. Writing about food, wine, and beer on their blog is one of the favorite pass times!

Partners In Wine Team rate this bottle a thumbs up for those of you who love a chewy big Cabernet!

Thumbs Up!