Today I’m going to share with you my experience visiting Heath Sparkling Wines in Fredericksburg, Texas.
This one was an interesting visit in that I really didn’t get to make any tasting notes. Normally, when visiting a vineyard I learn about the grapes, tour the grounds and hear stories about how the owners started their work in the wine industry. Due to so many new rules and regulations during this pandemic the tasting wasn’t quite the experience that I would have gotten if I had arrived on any other given day. While there, I was hoping to learn some tips about tasting sparkling wines and there were a few additional questions that I had. However, the tasting felt rushed, there weren’t any tours and there wasn’t any history or sparkling wine tips given during the tasting. I literally took a sip, took a bite, sipped again and moved on.
Although this pandemic has created a form of chaos in the wine industry, I am all about making the most of my experience. What I did enjoy were the delicious pairings, the friendliness of the staff, the beauty of the courtyard, and the quietness of sipping my sparkling wine near the water fountain. And most of all, I enjoyed who I shared this experience with.
The tasting consisted of four sparkling wines accompanied with four delicious pairings created by their Chef. Each tasting was delicious but my favorite wine and favorite pairing was the Blanc de Blancs paired with a Watermelon Feta Salad.
All in all, although times have changed, that doesn’t mean that your spirit and joy have to as well. Make each day count. Cherish those special moments that you have with your loved ones while you can. And most of all: KEEP SMILING! In the meantime, I look forward to returning and discovering more of what Heath Sparkling Wines has to offer.
XOXO, Smiling Danny, Salu’d
Food and Wine Pairing
- Wine: 99 West Pinot Gris, 2018, Williamette Valley, Oregon
- Pairing: Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos on top a Broccoli Slaw and a Fruit Salad.
- Tasting Notes: I have noticed that when tasting Pinot Gris’/Pinot Grigio’s, most of the time the notes I pick up are crisp, clean, refreshing and citrus. I don’t always pick- up additional notes; despite Vinter, location and year. Through research, I found that this is common for this grape varietal. Here I pick up hints of pear and peach and because the wine is so clean, I get some mineral notes. The clarity reminds me of a shiny 24 karat gold and the wine is very clear. My cheeks are nice and moist; showcasing the beautiful acidity in the wine. The wine is perfect for a nice Spring or Summer day and paired well with this grilled fish dinner. The lemon and lime seasonings in the fish paired nicely with the citrus notes in the wine. Also, the green apples in my fruit salad paired nicely with the wine as well. Pinot Gris’ are known to be fruit forward wines.
Pinot Gris and Oregon
Pinot Gris is the second most planted grape varietal in Oregon. The grape varietal does very well in this area due to the climate and the location. Furthermore, Oregon has similar geographical characteristics as the Burgundy and Alsatian regions of France; where the grape originated. Oregon is a cooled climate, moderate temperatured area with long hours of sunshine. These consistent weather conditions allow the grape varietal to ripen slowly; which is ideal for the grape.
Pinot Gris: The Grape Varietal
Pinot Gris’ are usually picked early. This is why the wine tends to be light and fruity. The wine is best consumed within five to six years of bottling. The grape varietal thrives in cooler climates because this allows the grape to fully ripen. Oregon Pinot Gris’ are usually Medium bodied, have a balanced acidity and pair wonderfully with food. The skin of the grape ranges from blue-gray to pinkish-brown and if you hold the wine up to the light, you can see hues of pink flowing your glass.
I hope that you enjoyed learning a little bit more about the Pinot Gris grape varietal and that you enjoyed this tasting. Leave a comment below of the different notes that you tasted in the wine.
Until next time,
Salu’d, XOXO, Smiling Danny
How many of you have wine left from the “Sweet Wine with Your Sweetheart” Series? Have you been wondering what to do with the leftovers? Well, I have two delicious wine cocktail recipes just for you!
Red Wine Sangria
You will need:
- 1/2c Roscato Sweet Red
- 1/4c Cranberry Juice
- 1/4c Simply Lemonade
- 1 Tbs Lime Juice
- 1/2 of a Raspberry Orange peeled and squeezed (This fruit is seasonal)
- 1 Raspberry Orange segment for Garnish
Fill up half of your wine glass with ice. Then in the order listed above add all of your ingredients. Be sure to squeeze the juice of the oranges into the glass before adding the segments. Next, add your garnish. Give it a nice stir and enjoy!
White Wine Sangria
You will need:
- 1/2c Stella Rosa Moscato D’Asti
- 1/4c Apple Juice
- 2 Tbs Lemon Juice
- 3 Strawberries Sliced Veritcally
- 1 Whole Strawberry for Garnish
Fill up half of your wine glass with ice. Next, add your sliced strawberries. Then in the the order listed above add the rest of your ingredients. Give it a nice stir and refrigerate for 15 minutes to allow the juice from the strawberries to seep in the Sangria. After 15 minutes, give it a nice stir, garnish and enjoy.
I hope you enjoy these wine cocktail recipes! Spring is right around the corner and these cocktails will be a refreshing treat to enjoy on these upcoming beautiful days.
XOXO, Smiling Danny
Today’s wine of choice is a dessert wine. And I thought I would do something extra special by incorporating a local favorite into the Series. All the way from Fort Worth, Tx I am sharing with you Cowtown Winery’s: Texas Gold.
Wine: Texas Gold, Cherry Chocolate
Tasting Notes: This is a dessert wine with notes of black cherry, mocha, espresso and chocolate. The notes of chocolate and cherry were added to the wine. This wine reminds me of a port so I used wine tasting glasses as my glassware of choice. The wine has a dark chocolate play on a cherry cordial due to the notes of espresso and mocha. Coffee and Chocolate lovers will absolutely love this wine. The wine is extremely sweet, so those of you who enjoy sweet wines and/or sweet desserts will fall in love with this treasure.
I hope this series has been giving you some great ideas on wines to try. Let me know which ones are your favorite thus far by commenting below or on Instagram.
XOXO, Smiling Danny
In case you are wondering: What are Tasting Glasses? Tasting glasses are little wine glasses big enough only for one ounce pours. You will usually find them at wineries. Sometimes, wineries will use these instead of full sized glasses when going through a tasting menu.
Next in the Series is a Sweet Red Italian wine. This wine was recommended to me by the Wine Manager at Market Street Supermarkets.
- Wine: Roscato Rosso Dolce
- Bouquet: Grape Popsicle, Cranberry Juice, and Cherry Cordial
- Taste: Fizzy Port, Cough Syrup, Very Sweet
- Pairing: This wine paired nicely with cheese. The cheeses of choice were Parmesan and Babybel. I served the cheese with toasted crackers and noticed that the wine made the cheeses the star of the show. I preferred the wine with the cheese versus by itself.
- Taste: Notes of cherry, blackberry and red raspberry
- Pairing: Barbecue, spicy dishes, and pasta with red or cream sauce
I hope you are enjoying this series thus far. Leave a comment on here or Instagram letting me know which wine you have enjoyed the most.
XOXO, Smiling Danny
Hi Smiley’s and Wine Enthusiasts!
I am back with another Sweet Wine. This wine is indeed a SWEEeeet one but I have truly enjoyed it. The wine that I have for you this week is a Moscato D’Asti. Anytime you see D’Asti, know that the wine will be an Italian wine with a hint of effervescence. Asti is a province in Northwest Italy. Due to the wine being sweet and low in alcohol, it is considered to be a dessert wine.
Wine: Stella Rosa, L’Originale Moscato D’Asti, 2018
Bouquet: Green Apple, Orange/Citrus
Taste: Apricot, Honey, Effervescence. The sweetness of the wine is not overbearing.
Clarity: Clear, No legs
Pairing: Dark Chocolate Covered Strawberries: The chocolate on the strawberries hi-lited the effervescence in the wine. The bitterness of the dark chocolate and the sweet wine blended together so eloquently causing a nice melted chocolate effect on the palate.
Vintor’s Pairing Suggestions: Fresh Fruit, Spicy dishes and Desserts
I hope you enjoy this wine and wine pairing as much as I did. I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised. Until Next Week, XOXO, Smiling Danny
Are you ready for Valentines Day? This month I thought that I would do a Sweet Wine Series. So each week this month I will be trying out sweet wines and leaving tasting notes right here on the blog. Consider this my labor of love as many of you know I am not a fan of sweet wine.
This week I tried the Sparkling Rose’ by Cupcake Vineyards. Unfortunately, I assumed that this would be a sweet wine especially since I found it displayed with the sweet wines; however, it is not sweet at all! This wine reminds me of a dry Prosecco. The good news about that is that this wine makes a great pairing wine for fruit and a great base for wine cocktails. The Vintor’s notes state that this wine delivers notes of raspberry, strawberry and floral. I didn’t pick up any of those notes. The Vintor also suggests pairing this wine with shrimp ceviche or fresh blooms. I tried this wine with shrimp and didn’t particularly care for it but I did enjoy it with some blueberries and grapes. I also made a nice wine cocktail with this wine. I think that you will enjoy it, especially for those of you who enjoy spending Valentine’s Day with your friends as well.
- Sight: Effervescent, Rose Gold
- Taste: Dry Prosecco
- Bouquet: Didn’t pick up any distinguishing notes
- Pairing: Raspberry Sorbet
Recipe: Galentine’s Cocktail/ Sparkling Wine Float
- Champagne/Sparkling Wine Flute
- 3 Tablespoons of Talenti Raspberry Sorbetto
- Cupcake Vineyards Sparkling Rose’
Add 3 tablespoons of Sorbet to your flute. Top off with Rose’. Salu’d.
Adding the sorbet to this wine definitely makes this a sweet treat. I hope you enjoy this wine cocktail recipe with your loved one, your friends or as a special treat for yourself.
Salu’d, XOXO Smiling Danny
Remember in my “Wine 101” post (October 14, 2019) that I mentioned that wines are identified by their grape varietal or by the region in which it was produced? Well, I thought that this year I would post about some different grape varietals so that you will know a little bit about the grape and its characteristics when tasting and buying wine. Of course this is not an exact all be all because weather conditions, soil, climate, and production all come into play when it comes to the final taste of the wine. These notes that I share with you will just be a foundation or springboard as you began to explore wine yourself. As you try several of the same grape varietal, you will notice the consistencies in the wine.
The first grape that I would like to introduce to you is Cabernet Sauvignon. It is the world’s most famous grape and it is grown in every vineyard around the world. At least every vineyard that I have visited or researched. It is also the most successful red grape in California although it has a dusty blue hue. Cabernet was introduced to the United States of America in the 19th Century by way of Bordeaux, France. This grape is a grape that maintains its characteristics. Despite the blend or where it has been produced, Cabernets will hold its character. In a recent post, I mentioned that the Cabernet that I tasted, tasted like a true Cabernet. What I meant by that was that Cabernets have distinct characteristics that are always apparent despite its vintor, location, or the weather conditions that it was exposed to while growing.
Cabernet wine has powerful notes of black currant, dark chocolate and plum. When it is aged in oak, the notes will place emphasis on the minerality of the wine. Other notes that you may pick up in a Cabernet are dried fruit, savory spice and game meat. Cabernets have perfect tannins and range from light bodied to full bodied. Cabernets typically will be dry and pair well with following:
- Cheese: Cheddar, Gorgonzola
- Nuts: Walnuts
- Meat: Venison, Ribeye, Beef Stew
- Fish: Grilled Tuna
- Fruit: Black Cherries
- Vegetables: Broccoli, Tomatoes
- Sauces: Brown Gravy, Tomato Sauce
- Herbs and Spices: Rosemary, Juniper, Lavender
- Dessert: Bittersweet Chocolate, Gelato
I could go on and on but don’t want to overwhelm you with information. I hope that you find this post helpful as you explore one of my favorite wines: Cabernet Sauvignon.
XOXO, Smiling Danny
Wine: Dr. Loosen Bros Riesling, 2018
Bouquet: Peach, Green Apple, & Hint of Pear
Taste: I truly enjoyed this one over the Dry Riesling. For those of you who prefer sweet wines this wine is sweet but not overbearing. The wine reminds me of a delicate flower finishing off with a hint of effervescence. My palate was left with crisp notes of apple and pear.
Region: Mosel, Germany. Mosel is located in the Far Western region of Germany. This area is known to provide perfect weather conditions for Riesling grapes because the vines are exposed to the sun, the soil contains a good amount of minerals and the cool climate allows the grapes to ripen slowly. This slow ripening process allows the grapes to fully develop it’s flavor and keep it’s levels of acidity.
Pairing Suggestions: I have had this wine in the past with Clam Chowder. It was DELICIOUS! I would also pair this wine with fruit, delicate seafood dishes, mild and creamy cheeses, and maybe a slice of cheesecake.
Salu’d, Smiling Danny
A lot of people have asked me how to go about pairing food and wine. I usually say it’s all trial and error and ask more questions to gauge what they’re going for with the dish. Here are a few other tips that may help as you explore pairing food and wine:
- Balance the weight of the food with the weight of the wine. The bolder the flavor of the dish, the bolder the wine should be to stand with the meal. The reverse also applies, the lighter the dish, the lighter the wine as to not overwhelm the flavors of the dish.
- Take into account how your meal has been prepared. Steaming a fish will have a delicate flavor versus a meat that has been grilled. Here you will want to serve a light bodied wine because the steamed fish is a delicate dish. A bold wine with tannins is great for a dish that has been grilled or broiled.
- Dishes packed with citrus, vinegar or other acids will pair well with a wine that is equally as acidic. Normally, a white wine or a red wine that does not have a lot of tannins is recommended for citrus dishes because tannins clash with acidic food.
- Acidic wines pair well with fatty dishes causing the dish to appear less rich. The acidic wine will also heighten the flavor of the meal.
- The sweeter the food, the sweeter the wine. If you pair a dessert with a dry wine, you will notice that the wine will taste tart and thin. Of course, this is not an exact all be all. There are beautiful marriages of sweet and savory that can occur, you just have to explore and be willing to continue to try until you find it. I have found a few myself. (Note: you can check out my previous post: “Leading My First Wine Pairing Class, October 27, 2019” to see some of those marriages.)
- The best partner for a wine with tannins is meat. Meat perfectly smooths out the tannins in the wine. Cheese and eggs aren’t the best of friends when it comes to tannins; probably because, these two are usually considered to be delicate dishes.
Let’s Be Adventurous
Normally, white wine is suggested as a pairing for fish but the next time you are ordering dinner or grocery shopping, I challenge you to get a broiled salmon and to pair it with a Pinot Noir. Notice I said a broiled salmon, not just salmon. I haven’t tried this yet myself so let’s come back and share notes. You can share your thoughts on today’s Instagram post or here on the blog.
I hope you find this helpful as you continue to explore the World of Wines.
XOXO, Smiling Danny