Wine Tasting at Llano Estacado

If you have been following me for a while, you know that one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE WINES is Llano’s 1836. This red wine is phenomenal, it was my very first Texas Wine that I fell in love with. Well one day, as I was perusing Instagram, something caught my eye! 1836 in White! I must try this, I thought. And so I have, and I am so excited to share with you everything that I learned while at Llano Estacado.

First of all, Llano Estacado is a West Texas Winery located in the dusty plains of Lubbock, Texas. They have been around since the 1970’s and became known on the wine scene in 1984.

While at Llano, I had the pleasure of having a wine tasting with Llano’s Sommelier, Matt Bostick. With Matt I tried the 1836-White, the Viognier and the Marsanne. Just like the red, the 1836 White was phenomenal. I was happily surprised that the white wine had a similar dryness that a red wine would typically have. Matt said this was due to the wine aging in a barrel. This white wine has subtle notes of peach on the nose and it has citrus, peach and Jello gelatin on the palate. It is high in acidity and it is medium-bodied. The 1836 White is a blend of the Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne and Chardonnay grapes. The wine gets it structure from the Viognier grape and its acidity from the Marsanne grape.

Often times I talk about detecting tannins in a wine but I learned something new about detecting acidity. Matt shared with me that the quicker you salivate under your tongue, the higher the acidity. This was very helpful because often times I am looking for that feel of the acidity in my cheeks like I do with tannins and I can’t quite detect it as quickly as I can tannins in a dry red. This method was much more easier for me.

After tasting the 1836, Matt poured me a glass of both the Marsanne and the Viognier so that I could taste each component of the 1836. The Marsanne has notes of mineral and peach skins. It is a light-bodied white wine; whereas, the Viognier has more body than the Marsanne. You could easily detect the fuller body of the Viognier on the palate and by the rich gold color of the white wine. The Viognier had notes of pickle juice and lemons. It actually would be a nice wine to pair with alfredo. The zest of the Viognier would cut nicely through the richness of the alfredo sauce. Delicious! After tasting each of these wines, I could see how the Marsanne added the acidity and how the Viognier gave the 1836 its structure. What a harmonious blend. Thank you Matt for sharing that experience with me. I hadn’t ever thought to taste each varietal separately in a blend.

I had such an amazing time!

Thank you Smileys and Wine Enthusiasts for reading about my experience. I look forward to sharing more with you. If you stop by Llano and try the 1836, tell’ em Smiling Danny sent you. Comment below if you have tried this wine before or if you have another Llano Estacado favorite that you would like me to try. Until next time…

XOXO, Smiling Danny. Salu’d!

January Wine Unboxing

Happy New Year Smileys and Wine Enthusiasts!

I am so excited to share this wine unboxing with you. I received a package from Scout and Cellar Wines containing three bottles of wine that I am looking forward to sitting back and enjoying.

The first wine I received was TangoTango Sauvignon Blanc, 2019. It has notes of lemon, key lime and lemongrass. You can pair this wine with seafood and soft cheeses. The second wine received was Cattin Sauvage Riesling, 2018. This wine has notes of lime, green apple, beeswax, and white flowers. It is suggested to pair this wine with spicy foods such as Thai; however, I think I would enjoy this wine more with a soup or salad. Lastly, I received a bottle of Middle Jane Zinfandel, 2017. Notes of black cherry, blackberry jam and plum danced across my palate. I loved this Zinfandel. I would drink this wine as an apertif; however, you can pair this with non – gamey red meats and hard cheeses.

Below is a video of my unboxing:

If you are interested in any of the wines mentioned or want to join my wine club, check out www.scoutandcellar.com/smilingdanny .

Hope you enjoyed this post, XOXO Smiling Danny.

Salu’d!

A Texas Thanksgiving

Hi Smiley’s and Wine Enthusiasts,

This month I am so excited to share with you my pairing of Texas Wines and Thanksgiving inspired hors d’ oeuvres. The wines range from the Texas Hill Country all the way to the High Plains. Be sure to grab your notepad because you are going to want to try these delicious pairings yourself.

What’s on the Menu:

Food Bites:

Meat: Smoked Honey Cured Ham and Cracked Pepper Roasted Turkey Breast

Bread: Sweet Cornbread

Cheese: Cranberry Orange Goat Cheese

Fruit: Opal Apple Slices

Desserts:

Texas Pecan Caramel Brownies

Pumpkin Spice Tea Cakes

Strawberries

Jazz Apple Slices

Hershey Chocolate Bars

Wines:

  • Becker Vineyards: Chardonnay, 2018
  • Becker Vineyards: Viognier, 2019
  • McPherson Cellars: La Herencia Red Table Wine, 2017
  • Llano Estacado: Cellar Reserve Texas Red Blend, Limited Release
  • Heath Sparkling Wine: Adoration, 2017
  • English Newson Cellars: Spider Rock Bourbon Barrel Aged Dessert Wine

Tasting Notes and Pairings:

Becker Vineyards: Chardonnay, 2018

This dry, white wine has notes of honey and pineapple. The wine paired nicely with the cranberry orange goat cheese, opal apple slices and the cracked pepper roasted turkey breast.

Becker Vineyards: Viognier, 2019

This is a dry, white wine with peach and floral notes on the nose and palate. Because of the fruit notes, the wine paired nicely with the apple slices and the goat cheese. This Viognier can easily be paired with the turkey or ham that you choose on your menu.

I think both wines complemented the charcuterie plate well. The wines did not overpower the food bite nor did the food bite overpower the wine. However, what I look for in pairings is for me to recognize the original notes in the wine and the flavors of the dish. In addition, I like to discover new flavor profiles from the combining of the two. Here, I didn’t pick up on any additional notes when I included the food bite in the tasting.

McPherson Cellars: La Herencia Red Table Wine, 2017

This is a dry, red wine with notes of berry and earth. Pairing this alongside the peppered turkey really opened up those earth notes in the wine. Also, the sweet cornbread created this umami profile in the mouth. Delicious!

Llano Estacado: Cellar Reserve Texas Red Blend, Limited Release

Now you know that I am in LOVE with Llano’s 1836, but this wine right here came in to a close second. I really enjoyed this wine. It is a dry, red wine, (of course, my fav) with notes of berry, earth and pepper. What I truly enjoyed about this wine is that I could taste the berry on the palate. Often, I pick up berry in the nose but it is rare that I will actually taste berry on the palate with the dry reds that I have tried thus far. This wine paired phenomenally with the ham and the goat cheese. Pairing it with the cornbread reminded me of cake, so that was a treat.

Next Up, Desserts!

Heath Sparkling Wine: Adoration, 2017

This is a dry, sparkling wine with notes of floral, apple, cranberry and cherry. It has a rose gold hue and lots of bubbles. This wine paired perfectly with the strawberries, chocolate bars and apple slices.

English Newson Cellars: Spider Rock Bourbon Barrel Aged Dessert Wine

This is a sweet, dessert wine with notes of raisin, pecan and chocolate. It tastes like every layer of my German Chocolate Cake! The wine paired nicely with all of the desserts, and when pairing, it created new flavors on my palate. I get really excited when this happens. Here are the creations below:

  • Brownie: pairing brought out caramel notes in the wine.
  • Chocolate: pairing created a dark chocolate flavor profile.
  • Strawberry: pairing created a chocolate cake with strawberries flavor.
  • Apples: pairing created a cinnamon glazed apple and brandied apple flavor.
  • Pumpkin Spice Tea Cake: pairing created a raisin bread flavor.

Now, is your mouth watering or what!! I hope that you enjoyed this post as much as I did and that you try some of the wines and food bites mentioned. If you do, be sure to leave a comment here or on my Instagram page. Have a Happy Thanksgiving and I look forward to sharing with you again soon.

XOXO, Smiling Danny

Salu’d

Check out these products below. I absolutely love my wine saver pump and stoppers. They are great for when you have left over wine and you want to keep the oxygen from getting in and changing the notes and flavors. There is also a special one for sparkling wines that I adore. The sparkling wine saver ensures that your wine doesn’t go flat. Click on the picture to find out more information about the products and to purchase. Thank you so much for supporting me and for checking out these products.

Wine Cocktail: Pinkie Promise with a Twist

Leftover Wine?
Here’s a Wine Cocktail Recipe using Fre Wines’ White Zinfandel.

Pinkie Promise with a Twist:
You will need:

  • Fre Wines White Zinfandel
  • 100% Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice
  • Juice of 1/2 Lime
  • Lemon wedge for garnish

Directions:
Pour equal parts White Zinfandel and Cranberry Juice in a white wine glass. Next, juice 1/2 a lime and add to the wine glass. Stir and garnish with lemon wedge.
Salu’d

XOXO, Smiling Danny

Trying Something New…

Hi Smileys!

This week was particularly interesting as I came across something that I have never seen or heard before: Non-Alcoholic WIne! I have heard of non-alcoholic beer but never have seen this with wine. When I came across the bottle I decided that I would give it a try. So I went ahead and purchased a bottle of Fre Wine, White Zinfandel. The taste was very interesting in that you can taste the different fruit notes but then there is a third mysterious taste that seems familiar; but, I can’t quite place it. It almost tastes like alcohol but not so much. It reminded me of a wine cooler. The wine had aromas of strawberries and strawberry jell-o with palate notes of strawberries and raspberries.

So how is this possible?

Well, we know the basic wine making process consists of Sugar + Yeast —-> (Fermentation) = Alcohol.

Fre uses the traditional winemaking methods to make their wines; however, they gently remove the wine after the fermentation process is complete.

So, isn’t this the same as Juice?

No, juice is a lot sweeter because the grapes have not been fermented. Since these grapes have gone through the fermentation process, the sugar has been removed. Therefore; the wine is a lot less sweeter and still maintains the prominent characteristics that were preserved during the winemaking process. Also, this wine still contains less than 0.5% alcohol. For a frame of reference, this is the amount of alcohol in Kombucha (for those who drink Kombucha).

Pairing and Recipe:

I paired this wine with chopped steak and balsamic brussels sprouts and it was quite delicious.

Visit http://www.frewines.com for several mocktail recipes. But as you know adding Cranberry Juice and a spritz of lime juice will always My Go-To!

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Comment below if you decide to give this wine a try.

XOXO, Smiling Danny

Salu’d

Wine Pairing Wednesday: Pinot Gris and Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos

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

 

Local Wineries Need Our Help!

To My Fellow Smileys and Wine Enthusiasts,

During this time of chaos and panic; let’s remember to support our local wineries and small businesses. So many businesses and families are being affected in ways that transcend the virus itself. So if you can, spend local and shop local. Below is a list of Texas wineries that are offering wine discounts, curbside service, free delivery, shipping services and virtual wine classes. Check out their websites to get additional information on the service(s) they are offering.

Austin, TX

  • Fall Creek Vineyards
    • 18059 Farm to Market Road 1826; Driftwood, TX 78619
    • http://www.fcv.com
    • Curbside Pick-up, Free Delivery (6+ bottles)

Brownfield, TX

  • Farmhouse Vineyard
  • Reddy Vineyards

Fort Worth, TX

  • Lost Oak Winery
    • 8101 County Rd 802; Burleson, TX 76028
    • http://www.lostoakwinery.com
    • Curbside Pick-up, Delivery, Virtual Tasting, Virtual Tour, Virtual Pairings

Fredricksburg, TX

  • Grape Creek Vineyards
    • 10587 E US Highway 290; Fredricksburg, TX 78624
    • http://www.grapecreek.com
    • 10% off discount (non-members), Free Shipping (3+ bottles), Online Ordering, 25% off Wine Club Membership, Wine Club Pick-up
  • Heath Sparkling Wines
    • 10591 E US, US 290; Fredricksburg, TX 78624
    • http://www.heathsparkling.com
    • 10% off discount (non-members), Free Shipping (3+ bottles), Online Ordering, Wine Club Pick-up

Lubbock, TX

Midland, TX

New Braunfels, TX

San Antonio, TX

I’m sure there are many more wineries that are offering services but these are the ones that I know of thus far. If you know of any more that you would like me to add, feel free to comment below or on Instagram.

Stay Safe and Salu’d!

XOXO, Smiling Danny

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

Resized_20200401_183509(1)