Showing posts with label wine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wine. Show all posts
A Visit To Stoller Family Estate

A Visit To Stoller Family Estate


Last weekend Jordan and I had a chance to visit the ultimate wine region of Oregon - the Willamette Valley! Neither of us had ever taken a trip to this Pinot Noir destination, and it was well worth the trip. The wines were delicious, people were friendly and welcoming, and the area was absolutely beautiful!

Our main reason for making the trip down was to visit Stoller Family Estate. Upon arriving, we were greeted by families picnicking on the front slope, dogs playing, and a feeling that despite their amazing success, Stoller really is a family winery.


The property at Stoller Family Estate is so beautiful. Even if the wine wasn't as delicious as it is (it's really good, I'm getting there!), I'd be happy to just hang out on the 399 acres of grounds! They have three beautiful guest houses, and we were lucky enough to stay in one. We were able to take a sunset walk with views of the vineyard, sipping our wine. When we come back soon, we plan to stay at one of their houses again! We couldn't have asked for a better location or more comfortable space.


The highlight of our visit to Stoller was hands down the Gastronomic tasting & tour. If you're in the area, this is a must! Each wine was so thoughtfully and perfectly paired with the food, and all of the food was chosen based on what was locally in season so the flavors were bright and delicious. They hold this tasting for private parties, so you and your friends can enjoy this special event together! Jordan and I were raving about this tasting all weekend, and kept saying we can't wait to come back and do it again.



The menu for the Gastronomic Tasting & Tour is seasonally dependent, so it's always different! Their chef thinks of new delicious and creative dishes each time, so every experience is unique to you. I think that's so fun, and makes the experience even more special.



On our menu:

Pairing 1: First of the season compressed watermelon, husk cherries, basil and white balsamic. Paired with 2018 Willamette Valley Pinor Noir Rosé.

Pairing 2: English pea farro risotto. Paired with 2016 Reserve Chardonnay.

Pairing 3: Roasted diver scallop, sweet corn succotash, black eyed peas. Paired with 2016 Elsie's Chardonnay. 

Pairing 4: Pan roasted salmon. Summer squash, saffron butter sauce. Paired with 2016 Helen's Pinot Noir.  (This was my personal favorite of the wines! We're going to get a bottle to enjoy for Thanksgiving, and I can't wait!)

Pairing 5: Filet mignon with morel mushrooms, green beans and chimichurri. Paired with 2016 Nancy's Pinot Noir. 

Pairing 6: Lamb chop, rainbow carrots, pinot reduction. Paired with 2014 History Otis Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.


Thank you to Stoller Family Estate for hosting us, and providing this wonderful experience. As always, all opinions are my own.


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Kirsten Bell
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Pop, Fizz, Clink! 5 Tips For Hosting A Sparkling Wine Party

Pop, Fizz, Clink! 5 Tips For Hosting A Sparkling Wine Party


Happy Friday, friends! Let's pop some corks, and kick off the weekend with a sparkling wine party! Who's in?? With spring finally in the air, a sparkling wine party just seems perfect, doesn't it? While you certainly don't need any special occasion to host a sparkling wine party, wouldn't this be a really fun way to celebrate Easter, or how about Mother's Day?? (I know this mama would be game!)

Today I'm outlining my top 5 tips for hosting a sparkling wine party. Because enjoying some bubbles and bites with friends is what life's all about, right?? Plus I'm sharing the #1 mistake I see people make when tasting a Champagne or sparkling wine. So grab a glass, and let's get started!

Gruet Sparkling Wines In This Post: 






Tip 1: Choose Good Sparkling Wine!


Ok this one might seem obvious, but have you ever stood in the wine aisle at the store, reading endless wine labels, trying to figure out which one is actually good? Because I sure have! That's why I was so excited to discover Gruet Winery. They offer a wide selection of delicious sparkling wines at really reasonable prices, which I love! 

I recommend for a sparkling wine party, selecting 3-5 different champagnes. For my party I chose the Gruet Brut Rose, Gruet Brut, Sauvage and Blanc de Blancs. This Gruet Demi Sec would also be a great addition! It's fun to have a variety, because when you taste sparkling wines back to back, you notice characteristics you may not have otherwise. Which brings me to my next tip!

Tip 2: Provide Tasting Notes


If you're like me and my friends, our first focus of getting together is always to have a good time! So you can take tasting notes as seriously as you like! But they're a fun way to encourage conversation about the wines, learn a little bit more about what you like, and also is a great way to remember what your favorites were so you can revisit them later! Without my notes, I'd be lost!

Some things you can think about when you're tasting sparkling wine:

  • How does it look? Is it clear or cloudy? Pale or golden? How big are the bubbles?
  • How does it smell? Remember, you don't need to swirl champagne before smelling it. Does anything come to mind? Apples? Lemons? Florals? 
  • How does it taste? The moment you've been waiting for! Does it taste similar to how it smelled? Different? Do any flavors come immediately to mind? Is it dry? Fruity? 
  • The #1 Sparkling Wine Tasting Mistake? Forgetting that you don't need to know a lot about wine to appreciate it! Just like any wine, the whole point is to enjoy it! 
Side note: I also personally like to print out the tasting notes provided on the winery website - that way after everyone has tasted the wine and had a chance to figure out tastes on their own, we can compare notes with the experts!




Tip 3: Set the Scene


You certainly don't need to host your party at the Ritz, but it's always fun to take a little extra time and put together a fun table for your friends. For my table, I took my inspiration from the pretty peonies and went with a blush and gold theme. Definitely nothing complicated, but it made sitting down to the table that just more fun!

On The Table: 

Champagne Flutes, Pink Napkins, Blush Plates, Glass Plates, Rose Paper Napkins, Champagne Paper Napkins, Gold Chargers, Pink taper holders are antique, but I love these too! Champagne bucket is sold out, but i also love this one!


Tip 4: Pick some food pairings! 


A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post on just this topic, and you can find it here! You'll find easy and delicious food pairing for each of the sparkling wines mentioned here. When I'm hosting an event, I like to keep food prep as quick and easy as possible, so you'll notice that it takes fewer than 30 minutes to prepare all four recipes.


Tip 5: Have fun! 


Pop the bottles, pour the bubbly, and have a good time! It is, after all, a party! Cheers! 



Thank you to Gruet Winery for making amazing wines, and sponsoring this post.
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Kirsten Bell
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Gruet Sips and Bites: Sparkling Wine and Food Pairings

Gruet Sips and Bites: Sparkling Wine and Food Pairings


What better way to kick off the weekend than with some delicious bubbly! I am so excited to share this post with you - it's one of my favorites I've written (and researched) to date! I mean who doesn't want to taste champagne all day! Someone had to do it.

Now let me just say: whether you spend every other week in Napa or are just dipping your toe into the wine world, this post is for you! This is for my wine-loving friends who are always wanting to try something new. Learn more. Explore palettes. Have fun. In my book, that's what wine is supposed to be all about! Are you with me? Then pull up a chair, pour some bubbly, and let's talk food and wine pairings!


Jordan and I have been on a major sparkling wine kick lately, and discovered Gruet Winery. They're located in New Mexico, and make sparkling wines using the Champagne method (or méthode Champenoise, which you can learn about here). Their founder was originally from France, and decided to plant an experimental vineyard in New Mexico in 1984. You can read more about the fascinating story here!

Their wines have become a favorite in our house. We love that the quality rivals some of the biggest players in the Champagne game, and yet they're not so expensive that we feel guilty popping a bottle on a Wednesday. It's all about that balance, right?

For the sparkling wine, we will focus on the Gruet Brut, Sauvage, Blanc de Blancs and Brut Rosé. When you're doing a food and wine tasting, I recommend a strategy that I learned on our recent trip to Bordeaux: taste the wine first and try to pick out any familiar flavors and/or tastes. (Ex: Maybe green apple? Maybe you're not sure which fruit, but you know it's tart.) Then taste the food. Then take another taste of the wine. It's fun to see how the flavors change with the food - how some characteristics might become more subtle, while others become more pronounced. 

For the food: I tried to keep the food pairings as simple as possible. If you want to recreate this sparkling wine and food tasting at home (which I hope you will!), the food will take you max 35 minutes to prepare all of it. And then, if you want to explore each wine further with fancier food options, please do!

 

Pairing 1: Brut with Fresh Bruschetta and Balsamic Glaze

Let's start with the Brut! This is a really traditional sparkling wine that's bright and citrusy, and I get some hints of nectarine or peach. I feel like this wine is really forgiving and would pair well with a variety of food. I loved the Brut with a fresh tomato bruschetta, drizzled with a balsamic glaze. Sometimes acid needs acid, and this wine pairs really with the acid in the tomatoes and balsamic.

To make the bruschetta: I made a really simple version with fresh tomatoes, basil and mozzarella, piled onto slices of fresh baguette and drizzled with a balsamic reduction. I didn't even bother toasting it, because I loved how light and fresh it was! 

 

Pairing 2: Sauvage with Truffled French Fries

The Sauvage sparkling wine is described as "bone dry", and that's an accurate description! This is a very dry sparkling wine, and I loved pairing this with a high fat food. The fat in the fries really helps to cut the acidity, and brings out more flavors in the wine. I think this would also be really great with a macaroni and cheese or buttery lobster!

To make the truffled french fries: Preheat the oven to 450 and line a baking sheet with foil. Spray with baking spray (I love this coconut oil spray). Cut a russet potato into thin (1/4 inch) slices, and then cut them again so you're left with long and thin "fries". Toss them in a bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons white truffle oil, 2 teaspoons garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste. Bake on the lined baking sheet for 20 minutes, and then turn the fries over. Sprinkle 1/4 cup parmesan cheese on top, and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes.

 

Pairing 3: Blanc de Blancs with Smoked Salmon Bites

I love the bright lemon flavors in the Blanc de Blancs! I first tasted this wine with a lemon sorbet which was way too intense and overpowered the more subtle flavors in the wine. Oops! That's a great example of a "bad pairing" haha! So I slept on it, and in the morning I decided to try it with my salmon bites. This ended up being my favorite pairing! The crisp citrus taste of the wine is so complimentary to the freshness of the salmon.

When I was thinking about what food would pair best (in my opinion) with the Blanc de Blancs, I thought about what I most like to use lemon in, since that was the primary flavor I personally got from the wine. And I loooove a lemony salmon! So voila!

You can find my Smoked Salmon Bite recipe here!

 

Pairing Four: Brut Rosé with Fresh Strawberries

No recipe needed! This Brut Rosé is so versatile, and can be paired with sooooo many things! We enjoyed this with pork tenderloin for Jordan's birthday, and strawberry macarons! It was delicious with pretty much everything we ate with it, but I really loved it with the simplicity of fresh strawberries. Sometimes a really good wine pairing happens with you pair the wine with a contrasting flavor, and sometimes complimentary flavors. The strawberries really help to bring out red berry tastes, and show off this wines creaminess. 

Remember - 99% of the fun in wine pairings is experimenting and seeing what you like! Everyone's palette is different, and maybe you'll love the Brut Rosé paired with fried chicken! What matters most is that you love the wine you're drinking, and I know you'll love all of these Gruet sparklers! Cheers!
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Kirsten Bell
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Easy Strawberry Bellini Champagne Cocktail

Easy Strawberry Bellini Champagne Cocktail


We've made it to Friday! Another week behind us, and the weekend ahead! I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful Valentine's Day yesterday. With the holiday on a Thursday this year, I feel like that lends itself to being celebrated all weekend, don't you? And these strawberry bellinis are a perfect weekend brunch cocktail!

I love a good mimosa, but sometimes it's fun to mix up the brunch routine. Bellinis are traditionally made with a fruit puree, and topped with champagne. What that means is that unlike mimosas with orange juice, you can really control how much sugar goes into these. Perfect if you're like me, and like your drinks on the dry side!

And if you love champagne (who doesn't!), check out this post on sparkling wine and food pairings, or this post for 5 tips for hosting a sparkling wine party






I love that this is an easy cocktail for a crowd - ladies brunch, anyone? But you can also make the puree and store it in the fridge for a few days, so whenever your fancy strikes for a champagne cocktail, it's prepped and ready to go! 


Serves 2

Ingredients:

1/2 cup fresh strawberries
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon granulated sugar (optional)
Your favorite sparkling wine (I'm currently loving this one!)

Directions: 

Puree the strawberries, lime juice and sugar in your blender or food processor. Top with champagne or sparkling wine and serve!


http://www.thiscelebratedlife.com/search/label/recipes

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Kirsten Bell
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3 Perfect Wines For Valentine's Day

3 Perfect Wines For Valentine's Day


There's only one more week of January - can you believe that?? We're almost one month down of 2019. I should probably start working on my resolutions haha! And that also means that Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and will be here before we know it! Now you guys know me, and you know that I love wine. So I put together a list of some of my favorites that would be perfect for a romantic dinner, girls night, glass after the kids go down and you eat thai takeout - whatever the evening looks like for you, it will look better with a glass of one of these delicious wines in your hand!


Maryhill Winery, 2012 Serendipity

I've loved Maryhill's wines for a long time - we finally joined their wine club about a year ago (we should have joined sooner!) and always look forward to those shipments! They have tasting rooms in Goldendale, Spokane, and are just about to open a new tasting room in Vancouver this April! Definitely pay them a visit if you're in the area. I really love all of their wines, and the Serendipity is no exception. It's really smooth, and would pair well with whatever your Valentine's Day meal looks like! We drank it while eating my White Wine and Parmesan Risotto, and it was soooo delicious! It would also be amazing with a steak or pork. (When you order this wine, also grab a bottle of their rosé! It's my favorite!!)

Merry Cellars, 2016 Dolce Vita

Merry Cellars is our local winery in town - you probably see me mention them all the time on Instagram stories! We love their wine and hanging out in their tasting room in Pullman. I'm not usually a fan of dessert wines, but I looooove Dolce Vita. It's made from merlot that's co-fermented with blackberries, which makes for a really deep, jammy and fruity wine. Dolce Vita is really special, and would be the perfect Valentine's Day treat!

Yarden, 2008 Blanc de Blancs

No Valentine's Day wine list would be complete without a sparkling wine, am I right? This sparkling wine is so good - I love how bright, fresh and fruity it is! It would be perfect with light appetizers like a cheese plate or these smoked salmon appetizers, and would also be amazing for a brunch! If you're looking to pair this with your Valentine's Day dinner, I'd recommend it with my Lemon and Garlic Salmon, or a light chicken. And grab another bottle while you're at it, because I know you'll love the Blanc de Blancs as much as I do!

I hope you all find a new wine to love on this list - be sure to let me know if you try one and report back! And if you love wine, check out this recipe for Merlot Chocolate Truffles - they will blow your mind!!

https://www.thiscelebratedlife.com/p/blog-page_12.html


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Kirsten Bell
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Chateaux & Merlot in Bordeaux, France

Chateaux & Merlot in Bordeaux, France



After our time in Scotland (which you can read about here, here and here), we made our way over to France. I was really looking forward to our time in Bordeaux, which is basically the Napa Valley of France! We spent four days touring the region, soaking in as much wine and information as possible. I wasn't at all disappointed - it was grapevines as far as the eye can see, and a new winery around every corner!

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Kirsten Bell
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Frosé (Frozen Rosé Sorbet)

Frosé (Frozen Rosé Sorbet)


You may have noticed by now if you're following me on Instagram that I really enjoy wine! Despite how much I love baking, I would choose a glass of wine over dessert any day. My interest in wine is actually a relatively recent one, and I've been having so much fun learning about it for the past few years. I'm really excited because next month (cue panic mode as my to-do list flashes before my eyes) we're going to leave for our vacation in Britain and France. On that trip we'll be visiting Bordeaux, and doing soooo much wine tasting! I can't wait to learn as much as I can about Bordeaux wines!



I was trying to brainstorm fun sorbet recipes the other day, and opened my fridge for inspiration. Voila! Rosé sitting right in front of me! So I poured a glass (naturally) and got to work! I love that this sorbet has a hint of fruit and citrus, but the flavors only compliment the rosé flavor - they don't overwhelm it. This recipe includes kiwi, which was actually the suggestion of our friend Patrick who is the winemaker at Merry Cellars Winery in Pullman. I would never have thought to add that flavor, and I love it! This is perfect for enjoying on a hot summer day! 

Ingredients: 

1/2 lb strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
1 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups of your favorite rosé wine (I used Merry Cellars)
2 oz fresh grapefruit juice



Directions:

Rinse, hull and slice strawberries and kiwi into smallish slices. Place the fruit into a medium saucepan, and cover with water. Bring the fruit water to a boil, and them reduce to medium and simmer for about 15-20 minutes. You will know it's ready when the berries have lost their color, and the water is dark pink. Strain the fruit out using a fine mesh strainer, being careful not to squish the berries or kiwi. Discard the fruit once the liquid is strained out. 

Pour the liquid back into the saucepan, and add the sugar. Bring to a boil again, and then simmer for about five minutes, stirring as the sugar dissolves. Once all the sugar is incorporated, take the syrup off the burner and allow to cool completely. 

Pour the rosé into a medium bowl, and whisk in the grapefruit juice. Add the strawberry kiwi syrup a little at a time, tasting as you go. Sweetness is a personal preference, so it's nice that you can so easily control it in this recipe. Once the ingredients are combined, transfer the frosé to a shallow baking dish, cover carefully with plastic wrap, and freeze overnight. I know, that's the hardest part!! The first time I made this I tried to freeze it in my ice cream machine, but because of the alcohol I found it didn't really work.

The next day you will be able to enjoy your cold, refreshing frosé and instantly become the most popular person on the block! 

Do you like wine as much as I do? Then you will also love my Merlot Chocolate Truffles!

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Kirsten Bell
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Merlot Chocolate Truffles

Merlot Chocolate Truffles


wine chocolate trufflesOne of our family traditions growing up was enjoying special treats that we only got once a year. We made all kinds of Norwegian cookies together and bought decadent truffles from our favorite local stores.

This year I thought I would try my hand at making truffles myself! I was a little intimidated, especially because recipes I looked up talked about fancy things like tempering chocolate. I don't even know what that means!

I decided that I wanted to make merlot chocolate truffles, because let's be honest - is there anything better than chocolate and wine? Surprisingly, I couldn't find any recipes that looked decent for this, so I decided to make my own. My first few batches were fine, but I had a really hard time getting the wine flavor to actually come through. That's when Jordan had the excellent idea to make a red wine reduction, and use that instead of straight wine. The result? Magic.

https://www.thiscelebratedlife.com/p/blog-page_12.html

These are actually really easy to make. If I can do it with a baby on my hip, you got this too! (And no children were harmed in the production of this recipe).
Try it below, and start a new truffle tradition of your own!

Red Wine reduction:

2 cups Merlot (Or your preferred red wine. I used Merlot because I was looking for that deeper fruit flavor. Note that while you might not want to use an expensive wine, you definitely want to use one that you would enjoy drinking, because you will taste it in the truffle.)
1/4 cup sugar

Bring to a simmer, and cook until it thickens to a syrup - JUST thick enough to start coating the bottom of the pan. If it goes too long, it turns into a gloppy disaster (I tell you from experience). This usually takes me about an hour, but you do NOT need to stand and wait over it, so don't let that discourage you.

The reduction can also be done ahead of time. I made mine in the morning and let it sit on the stove for about two hours until I came back to it, because #momlife.

Truffles:

1 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup red wine reduction (recipe above)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 Tbs butter

Add the semi-sweet chocolate chips to a large heat proof mixing bowl,and set aside. Bring the milk to a boil, whisking regularly so it doesn't scald.  Pour the hot milk immediately onto the chocolate chips. Wait about five minutes, and then stir until the chocolate chips are melted and smooth. If the chocolate doesn't melt completely, microwave the mixture in 10 second increments, stirring each time.

Once chocolate is completely melted, stir in the salt, red wine reduction and vanilla extract.

Put the chocolate mixture in the fridge and let set for 1.5-2 hours. Spread a piece of wax or parchment paper on a baking sheet. I like to store my baking sheet in the fridge ahead of time, so it's cold for the next step. Take the chocolate mixture out of the fridge, and roll balls (approximately 2 tsp per ball) with your hands.

wine chocolate truffles

Try to move quickly, as the chocolate melts. If you notice that your chocolate is melting especially quickly, you can always put the mixture back into the fridge and let it re-set.

Place each truffle ball on the lined backing sheet. When you've formed all of the truffles (I usually get around 25), place them back in the fridge on the baking sheet.

Melt the bittersweet chocolate and butter together, either on the stove or in the microwave (using increments again so the chocolate doesn't burn). Stir until chocolate and butter mixture is blended and smooth.

Take the truffles out of the fridge, and dip each truffle ball into the bittersweet chocolate mixture. You can use a fork for this, and they also sell special chocolate dipping tools. The first time I made these I used a corn on the cob holder, because it had thin but sharp tines. Super random, but it's what I had! This time I used these tools, which are designed for it, and it was way easier.

wine chocolate truffles

Put the truffles back in the fridge again until the chocolate sets - about 30 minutes. These can be served cold or room temperature, whatever your preference. Decorate however you like!

wine chocolate truffles

Since the truffles have no preservatives in them they should be stored in the fridge, and are good for two weeks.

Let me know what you think in the comments!

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Kirsten Bell
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