WINEing in Abilene Texas

Spring is in the Air…. I hope. The weather is either nice and sunny with a small breeze or it’s snowing…. All the while, Spring is in my heart and mind and so I wanted to venture out and explore what wineries were located in Abilene, Tx. I visited one wine room and a restaurant with a variety of wines to try. I have to say, I had a better experience at one place and you might be surprised by which one. However, my theory remains true: Wine is an experience! Wine is connected to feelings, memories, and moods. What I love about visiting wineries is the atmosphere, the knowledge you receive about the wines, the history of the winery and the wines and getting to know those who work hard to share their hard work with you.

My first stop was The Winery at Willow Creek. Upon walking in, I was not greeted. I shared with the lady behind the counter that it was my first time there and she proceeds to give me a menu and tell me what I could buy. As I was looking over the menu, she kept asking me: “well…what are you going to do?” I felt so rushed, I barely had the menu for a good couple of minutes. Now, normally, I would have politely handed my menu back and said thank you and left. But since I had driven all that way, I decided to go ahead and try the wine flight. Instead of taking my time and picking the wines that I wanted to try, I just told her that I would try the reds. “Just write it down,” she says as a paper was placed in front of me. As she began to pour, I asked her if there were any tasting notes on the wines, as you know I like to sip my wine and gather my notes as well as look at the vintner’s. “No, just the menu,” she replies and of course she couldn’t tell me anything about the wines she was pouring. But despite the initial impression, I was not going to let this ruin my vibe.

I went outside to sit on their patio area. Boy, was it gorgeous: the view was so nice and relaxing. “Ok, I am ready to taste my wine now,” I thought. Me and my companion both got a flight: red and white so that we could try the majority of their wines. I have to say, we didn’t enjoy them. I wrote down some tasting notes, but I just did not like any of the wines I tried. In fact, we didn’t finish the 1oz pour on any of the wines in the flight and we don’t leave behind wine. I went back inside to try something else and I was greeted by a different lady. She was so nice, welcoming and knowledgeable. She let me try their sparkling rose’ and I did enjoy that pour more than the flights. I’m sure her friendly disposition helped with that.

I think that if you are just looking to sit back and enjoy a glass of wine with friends then Willow Creek is the vibe you are looking for but if you like to learn, savor and experience wine, this might not be your first choice.

Next Up, Vagabond Pizza. Now this was the experience I was looking for! Right off, the server asked me what type of wine I liked, she listed off some wines that she thought I would enjoy and gave a few tasting notes as well. She allowed me to sample some of the wine before I chose a glass and she continued to check in on me to see how the wine paired with my meal. She even poured me a sample of a wine to try for the next time I came to dine. “I should of just went here to begin with!” I thought. The wine I tried here was a grenache’ blend. This was my first time trying this grape varietal. It had a fireplace note that paired well with their Lucia pizza. The smoke note in the wine and the jalapeno jelly on the pizza created a sweet almond or sweet nutty note on the palate. DEEELICIOUS!

Before leaving town, I was able to enjoy a glass of red sangria at Miguel’s Mex Tex. I loved this Sangria because it was a glass of true sangria. What do you mean by that, Danny? For me, Sangria is wine and fruit or fruit soaking in wine. When adding the additional liquors and sweeteners, it now has become a cocktail. I’m not sure if this is a formality but when I order sangria, all I want is wine and fruit and that is exactly what I got. I was able to pick up some of the notes in the wine and I think I was able to select the wine that they used as their base.

All in all, wine is an experience and what you are experiencing in that moment can play a part of the sip that you take. Abilene revealed some little gems of places to enjoy a nice glass of wine and although it wasn’t where I expected, I did enjoy finding these treasures and the memories I created while I was there.

XOXO, Smiling Danny, Salu’d

My Visit to Heath Sparkling Wines

Hi Smileys!

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

 

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It’s Cinco de Mayo and Taco Tuesday!

Hello Smiley’s and Wine Enthusiasts!

Today is a day of double delights because I will be featuring two wines in today’s blog post in honor of Cinco de Mayo and because it’s Taco Tuesday!

The first wine that I will be sharing with you is a White Wine Sangria by Eppa. This Sangria was a surprising treat that reminded me of Talenti’s Mango sorbet. The bouquet  had notes of peach, white grape, mango popsicle and candy dancing throughout my senses. The wine is very sweet and quite refreshing. If you are a sweet wine lover, you would enjoy this wine. This wine is also versatile as you can add other ingredients to make this even more of a special treat.

Recipe: Berry Sangria

  • You Will Need:
    • 1 Bottle of Eppa White Sangria
    • 1 Cup of Berries
    • 1 Cup of Seltzer
    • Mint Leaves (optional)
  • Directions:
    • Add Sangria and berries to a pitcher. Stir. Refrigerate for 3 hours. Then add seltzer and stir once more. Serve over ice and garnish with mint leaves.

The second wine that I will be sharing with you is a Red Wine Sangria by La Diosa Cellars. Notes of citrus and fruit punch danced across my palate and left me wanting more. I loved the delicate notes of sweetness, followed by the subtle crescendos of citrus. This reminded me of my favorite candy: Sweetarts. La Diosa Cellars, meaning: The Goddess, celebrates the talent of artists and their artistry and is a true gem and local favorite in the city of Lubbock, Tx.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post and that your day is full of love, laughter and joy. Let me know your tasting notes on these wines in the comments below or on Instagram.

Until next time, Salu’d!

XOXO, Smiling Danny

Brats and Brews Tasting

Most of last month and so far this month, most of us have been home. It has been wonderful to see how creative people have become in order to make the most of this time. Before we were encouraged to stay home, I held a Brats and Brews pairing and thought that I would share my notes here with you today. Thanks to my friend, I saw that she had created her own Brats and Brews pairing for her Hubby a while back so I thought this would be the perfect time to create my own.

Here is what we had on our Menu:

Turkey Brat paired with the Local Buzz Honey Rye Golden Ale from Four Corners Brewery located in Dallas, TX.

Beer Brined Brat paired with the Red Bud Berliner Weisse from Independence Brewing Company located in Austin, TX.

Green Chile Brat paired with the Ugly Pug Black Lager from Rahr & Sons Brewing Company located in Fort Worth, TX.

These pairings were accompanied with Warm Buttered Pretzel Bread, Course Salt and a Trio of Mustards. The mustard trio included French’s original yellow mustard, spicy brown mustard and course ground mustard. There was also a nice bowl of sauerkraut for garnish.

The first beer served was:

Screenshot_20200321-164247_Chrome This brew is a golden ale comprised of Texas wildflower honey, pale malt, Munich and rye malt. The consensus was that the ale was crisp and refreshing with notes of bread and spice. This paired nicely with the pretzel bread and spicy brown mustard that accompanied the beer and brat.

Next Up:

Screenshot_20200321-164046_Chrome This brew is a German wheat beer with malts of white wheat, pilsen, oats and flaked barley. This beer left everyone with strong sour notes on their palate. The Brewer’s notes say that this beer pairs nicely with salty/oily/ starchy foods, sauerkraut and weisse wurst; so, this was a perfect beer to include in our lineup.

Last:

20200321_164605 This beer is a smooth, light-bodied, black lager with notes of caramel, chocolate and roasted malt. The sweet notes of the lager went well with the saltiness of the menu; but, we wouldn’t necessarily say to pair this beer with the brats that we had.

Of all the beers served, Local Buzz was the Star of the evening and voted best beer!

I hope you enjoyed this little switch up. Let me know in the comments if this is something that you are going to try.

XOXO (with mask and gloves), Smiling Danny

Salu’d

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Poached Mushrooms

Hello Smiley’s and Wine Enthusiasts!

I thought I’d kick off the month with a simple and delicious wine recipe. And since we have been encouraged to stay home this month; this month’s posts will be filled with tastings from my wine stash. Bon Apetit!

Poached Mushrooms

You will need:

  • 2 Cups of clean and sliced mushrooms (brown)
  • 2 Cups of Dry Red wine. Add more if it doesn’t touch the top of the mushrooms. You want the wine to cover the mushrooms but you don’t want the mushrooms to drown in the wine.

Directions:

Combine wine and mushrooms in a quart sized pot. Set temperature to high to bring to a rapid boil. Once boiling, drop temperature to  low for 10 to 15 minutes until your liquid boils down.

Serve and enjoy.

This dish can be served alongside red or white meat. Tonight, the mushrooms were served alonside pot roast, roasted pork loin and grilled chicken. The accompanied sides were sauteed spinach and buttered red potatoes. Deeelicious!

The wine that I chose this evening was from Llano Estacado Winery. It was their 2013 Due Compaesani.  This wine has notes of raisin and spice. It has full tannins and was enjoyed as a night cap. Because I have had this wine for a while, I thought it would be the perfect cooking wine. 

Wine tip: the longer you have a wine, the tasting notes may change.

I hope you enjoyed this Wine Wednesday Recipe and I look forward to sharing more with you in the weeks ahead!

Salu’d, Smiling Danny

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Happy Anniversary in Hye, TX

Hello Smileys!

I hope that you had a wonderful month last month, I sure did as hubby and I celebrated 10 years of marriage. As part of our anniversary festivities, we took a trip to Hye, TX and visited William Chris Vineyards. We had such a wonderful time!

Once we arrived at William Chris we were welcomed with a glass of their Pe’tillant  Nature’l. This was a nice refreshing glass of Rose’. It had notes of grapefruit that wasn’t overbearing and had a nice effervescence that cooled us off in the Texas heat. Next, we were escorted to the tasting room where we were able to taste six of their wines.

This month, I thought I would share with you notes on three of the wines that I enjoyed during the tasting. Yes, only three, that way, when you go you will have your own fresh experience.

  • 2017 Mary Ruth: This is a blend of Malvasia Bianca, Muscat Blanc and Blanc du Bois. You can enjoy it as an apertif or with a good book. Mary Ruth is a light, dry white wine with an aroma and notes of peach. She has a hint of sweetness but finishes with a subtle acidity.
  • 2017 Roussanne: Bouquet- Crisp, Light, Hint of Raisin and Cobbler. Taste- Sweet, Butter, Prune with a nice acidity.
  • 2017 Malbec Rose’: This wine is special because it was aged in concrete. The Rose’ can also be enjoyed as an apertif with notes of strawberry and cherry and very little acidity.

I truly enjoyed my time at this Vineyard. There is so much history associated with the wines, the vineyard and even the uniqueness of the wine label. I encourage you to visit and tell ’em Smiling Danny sent ya! (not sponsored).

It was our goal to visit several wineries while in Hye but I recommend that you visit one winery at a time that way you can truly experience the wine and pick up on the distinct notes of each one.

Happy Tasting, XOXO Smiling Danny