Mother’s Day White Peach Sangria

Happy Mother’s Day Smileys and Wine Enthusiasts! Here is a delicious and refreshing Sangria that you can make for yourself, your mom or your friends!

Salu’d, XOXO Smiling Danny

*Please excuse my Barefoot Contessa reference *

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

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

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!

Christmas 2020

Merry Christmas Smileys and Wine Enthusiasts!

In today’s blog post, I am going to share with you all of the wines that I got for Christmas. Watch the video below and continue reading for tasting notes on each wine.

19 Crimes: The Banished, 2018

Notes of berry and spice. This wine was fruit forward with a hint of sweetness. I would consider it to be light to medium bodied.

Llano Estacado Bourbon Barrel Aged Cabernet Sauvignon, 2018

This Cabernet has notes of baking spices, brown sugar, pepper and dark fruit on the nose followed by notes of caramel and vanilla on the palate.

Vacuum Seals and Pump

This keeps your wine fresh by removing the oxygen from the wine bottle. Visit the products page on this blog to order from my website or from Amazon.

Bookbinder’s Apprentice, 1st Edition White Wine

Bookbinder is a fruit forward wine with notes of green apple, melon and peach. It pairs well with sushi, salads, and soft cheeses. This is my favorite white wine to date.

Middle Jane Zinfandel, 2017

This Zinfandel has notes of black cherry, strawberry balsamic and clove on the nose with notes of blackberry jam, plum and sweet spice on the palate. It pairs well with pizza, barbecue and gouda.

Veinte, 2018

This is a Chilean red wine blend with notes of black cherry and earth. This full-bodied wine pairs well with seasoned red meats and hard cheeses.

Gallivant Zinfandel, 2018

This Zinfandel has notes of boysenberry, orange peel and strawberries. It pairs well with hearty foods; such as, tomato based pastas, pork, and barbecue.

Middle Jane, Red Wine Blend, 2018

This red blend has notes of blueberry, black cherry and red plum along with violet, spice and a hint of caramelized sugar. Pair with pork and lamb.

I hope you enjoyed watching me unbox the wines that I will be trying in the New Year. I also hope you enjoyed reading the tasting notes and that you got an idea of wines that you would like to try as well. Leave a comment below sharing which wines you will be trying in 2021! As always, thank you for continuing to visit my blog this year and I look forward to having you return. It has been my privilege and a true joy sharing my wine journey with you.

Until Next Time, Salu’d, XOXO, Smiling Danny

Head on over to my webpage: http://www.scoutandcellar.com/smilingdanny if you are interested in purchasing any of the Scout and Cellar Wines mentioned above. Also, click on the products tab on this blog, to check out some awesome wine gadgets and accessories.

Happy New Year!

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.

How to Taste Wine

Hi Smileys and Wine Enthusiasts!

In this post, I will be sharing with you how to taste wine. The three S’s in tasting wine are: Sight, Smell and Sip.

Sight

First, examine the color of the wine. The color of the wine will tell you a little bit about the body and the flavors of the wine. The lighter the color, the lighter the body and flavor notes and vice versa. Looking at the color of the wine is also very important when comparing wines with each other. When comparing a Sauvignon Blanc with a Chardonnay, you will see that the Chardonnay will have a deep golden yellow color; whereas, the Blanc will be a soft pale yellow. When tasting the two, you will notice that the Chardonnay will have richer flavor notes and a heavier body than the Blanc. While the Blanc will taste crisp, light and refreshing on the palate.

Smell

The next step in tasting wine is to smell. You will want to start off by gently swirling your glass of wine. This will oxygenate the wine and release the aromas in your glass. Next, put your nose in the glass, take a deep breath and breathe in the wine. By the third sniff, you should smell the different flavors that you will possibly taste on your palate.

Sip

Now it’s time for the best part. Sip the wine and get a good taste. Gently swirl the wine around your mouth, letting the wine coat your cheeks. Breath in your nose as you take a sip and begin identifying the flavors that you are tasting. After tasting your wine, think about other wines that you have had and start making comparisons. Make mental notes about what you may or may not have enjoyed about the wine.

Bonus

What I love most about wine tasting is that I feel like I am on an adventure every time I try a new one. It is very important in your wine tasting journey that you explore the world around you. Try new foods, explore new places, and be adventurous. You wouldn’t believe how smelling the flowers at your local grocer or florist shop will help you pick up on the different floral notes in a wine. Try new fruits and smell them. All of this helps in identifying flavor notes in your wine.

Well Smileys, I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did. Leave a comment below telling me your favorite wine and your most unique tasting note.

Salu’d, XOXO, Smiling Danny

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