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!

Does Glass Matter?

Have you ever wondered while drinking your wine about the glass that you are drinking out of? I usually don’t, until I visited a winery that only serves their wine out of Riedel wine glasses. If you haven’t heard, these are supposed to be THE Wine Glasses of all wine glasses. So, recently I decided that I would conduct a little experiment of my own. Since I have a set of Riedel Merlot wine glasses, I decided that I would put this experiment to the test with a bottle of Merlot.

Before I get into my experiment, I want to tell you a little bit about wine glasses. As you saw above, I said that I have a set of Riedel Merlot glasses. Did you catch that? Merlot glasses. Most people are familiar with there being white wine glasses and red wine glasses. I also knew that there were sherry wine glasses due to my frequent watching of the sitcom Frasier when I was in school. Oh, and then there are sparkling wine glasses as well. But most people don’t know that there are wine glasses for each grape varietal. The purposes of these glasses, whether designated by wine color or grape varietal, are to aid in the aeration of the wine and to aid in the way you experience the wine. What I mean by that is, let’s say you have a sparkling wine, if you put the sparkling wine in a white wine glass, you will not get those bubbles that you would get in a champagne flute. The skinny shape of the flute promotes the flow of the bubbles. Also, the red wine glasses have larger bowls than white wine glasses. This allows the bolder flavors of the wine to have enough room to breathe. So then when you go to smell the wine, you can identify the notes of the wine more clearly than you would if you poured red wine in a white wine glass.

Now that you have been given a little bit of information on wine glasses, I will carry on with my experiment. I used three wine glasses to conduct my experiment: a Riedel Merlot glass, a nice red wine glass that I bought from Bed Bath and Beyond (BBB) and a $1 wine glass I bought from a local grocer.

From Left to Right: HEB glass, Riedel glass, BBB glass.
 Heb GlassBB&B Red Wine GlassRiedel Merlot Glass
NoseOnly smell alcohol. Even though the glass has a wide opening, in fact wider than the others, the notes are hard to detect.Mainly smelling the glass and potpourri.Smells like a young wine with notes of plum and cocoa
LegsThe legs are inconsistent. After letting the wine rest a little longer, the legs came down slowly but still hard to see a consistent flow.Coming down quickly but consistent.The legs are beautiful, streaming down like a motion picture.
TasteJust tastes like alcohol and metal. No real flavors coming out.Tannins are subtle and the spice is heavy.Tannins are more pronounced.
NotesTastes like a watered down juice that lingers on the palate.Heavy on the oak, raisin. Here the spice tends to taste like it was heavy on the pepper. Instead of a rounded feel of spice you get a punch of heat on the palate.Notes of spice, earth and a hint of oak. Here you get notes of spice and earth. The spice is more rounded verses a punch in the face like the BBB glass. The spice feels like earth on the cheeks. Also, notes of cocoa and dark fruit dance on the palate.

As you can see, there was a difference in the smell and taste of the wine depending on the glass. After, looking at my notes, I thought to myself, am I expecting a difference because everyone speaks so highly of these glasses or is there a true difference in taste and smell? So, I conducted another test, blindfolded, and my conclusion was the same.

Does this mean that I will go out and buy a bunch of Riedel glasses? Probably not, but I will look into Cabernet and Zinfandel glasses since I tend to drink more of these.

If you remember from my previous posts, I have not found a bottle of Merlot that I have fell in love with. While drinking from the HEB glass and the BBB glass, I didn’t particularly care for the wine. However, when drinking from the Riedel, I was able to appreciate the notes and enjoy the glass of Merlot.

The bottle of wine that was used for this experiment was: Cycles Gladiator Merlot, California, 2019. It has notes of cherry, blackberry and cedar. It also has hints of pencil shavings and moss. I think this wine is better paired with red meat; possibly brisket.

After conducting my experiments, I used the remaining wine to make a Pomegranate Sangria. Here is the recipe below:

Ingredients:

2 parts Merlot

1 part Ocean Spray Cranberry Pomegranate juice

1/4c Pomegranate Seeds

2 Tablespoons Lime Juice

Directions:

Combine the above ingredients and pour over crushed ice in a red wine glass. Salu’d!

I hope you enjoyed this article. Leave me a message below and tell me if you have tried Riedel glasses. Does glass matter to you?

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!

Tasting Scout and Cellar’s Bookbinder’s Apprentice White Wine

Hello Smileys and Wine Enthusiasts,

I wanted to invite you all along with me as I tasted this delicious White Wine Blend by Scout and Cellar. It has notes of green apple, melon and peach and pairs well with sushi, salads and soft cheeses. This wine is crisp, fruity and contains 13.1% abv (alcohol by volume). The grape varietal is a Colombard grape that was planted in California. Colombard grapes are a combination of Chenin Blanc and Gouais Blanc grapes. This wine has medium acidity and is quite refreshing.

You will see in this video that pairing this wine with a cucumber salad really opened up the melon notes in the wine. Although I used a hard cheese in my dish, the wine also hi-lighted the subtle spice of the jalapeno in the Muenster cheese. Typically, the wine pairs nicely with soft cheeses; such as: brie, cream cheese, feta, ricotta, Roquefort, gorgonzola, cottage cheese and Chevre’.

To find out more information about this wine or to purchase, visit my website at: http://www.scoutandcellar.com/smilingdanny.

As always, Thank you so much for visiting my blog and for supporting me for another year! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from My Wine Cellar to Yours! XOXO, Smiling Danny

Salu’d

Danny’s Cucumber Salad consists of cucumber, roma tomatoes and jalapeno muenster diced and mixed with 1 tsp of white vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Closing out the Year with a BANG!

Hi Smileys and Wine Enthusiasts!

A couple of exciting things have happened recently: First, I aced my exam and received my Level 1 Award in Wines. Also, I’m so excited to announce that I am now an Independent Wine Consultant with Scout and Cellar Wines.
Scout and Cellar Wines are always Clean Crafted, which means they are free of synthetic pesticides and chemical additives. 

In Today’s post, I thought I would bring you along with me as I unboxed my Kit.


Check out my website:

– To Buy for Yourself, Friends or Family 

-To Start Christmas Gift Shopping

-To Participate in 12 Days of Giftmas, where you get 20% off of the bottle of wine picked for the day.

– To Join the Wine Club

Here is a link to my debut site: https://scoutandcellar.com/eventshare/P121244/?u=smilingdanny

You can also find a link to my website on the “Products” tab.

Thank You for Your Support and for Joining me in this Journey!

Salu’d, XOXO, Smiling Danny

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.

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

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

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