TTR Is STILL Partying For The Cause In Uptown!

In an effort to raise even MORE money for the Houston Red Cross, The Tasting Room in Uptown Park is throwing ANOTHER Party For The Cause this Saturday, September 27 and every Saturday after that until they reach their fundraising goal of $25,000! They raised over $10,000 this past Saturday. The rules are the same… $1 gets donated for every glass or bottle of wine or any pizza ordered. Let’s go raise some money for Houston! See you Saturday! XOXO, Mandee

Come Help Out This Saturday!

By help out I mean come over to the Tasting Room in Uptown Park for some wine and yummy food this Saturday! This all day event (Noon until Curfew) will feature live music, great food and wine, and festivities on the patio. What a great way to blow off some steam after all the trouble Ike has caused! It’s all about Houstonians helping Houstonians! TTR will donate $1 for every glass of wine, bottle of wine and every pizza sold between now and Saturday night to the Houston Red Cross. So come out Saturday and help us make sure it’s a sizeable donation! They are also accepting donations of non-perishable food and clothing for Ike victims. See you Saturday, September 20, at the Uptown Park Tasting Room!

TTR To Help Houston in Wake of Hurricane Ike

I received notice that all three Tasting Room locations (River Oaks, Uptown Park & Midtown) are now back open for business and will be serving food, wine, and beer until at least 10pm since the Mayor has extended Houston’s citywide curfew to midnight. Many businesses are still closed as Hurricane Ike knocked out most of the city’s power so if you are craving time out of your dark house you now have a place to go. TTR is also planning a fundraiser to benefit the local Houston Red Cross. A portion of this week’s business will be donated and they are also collecting donations of food, clothing and cash to help those affected by the storm. In addition, a portion of the proceeds from the upcoming Houston Cellar Classic will go to hurricane relief.

“Wine makes every meal an occasion, every table more elegant, every day more civilized.” ~ Andre Simon

While InStyle magazine is typically thought of as being all about the season’s hottest fashions (for your body) every once in a while they throw out something more. After all, being stylish is about the whole package, not just who you’re wearing. In the September 2008 issue they ran an article about actor Kyle MacLachlan and his new wine label, Pursued by Bear. It was a collaboration with Dunham Cellars. Pursued by Bear is a cabernet sauvignon produced in Washington State. The name is a tribute to a man of definite literary style, Shakespeare. Apparently “Pursued by Bear” was a stage direction in A Winter’s Tale, which I actually had to “rewrite” in a college English class so it holds a special place in my heart. This article basically highlights the party MacLachlan threw for his friends to introduce his new wine and though it looks like a fabulous party, there are a lot of photos of guests drinking white wine. Even the opening shot of Kyle walking in his garden shows him with a champagne flute in hand… Maybe it was a very small harvest and there wasn’t much to go around.

At the end of the article there were some tips on wine as well as alfresco (outdoor) dining that I found interesting and decided to share with my fellow Uncorkers. Enjoy!

5 Essential Wine Tips
GUEST:  If you would like to bring a bottle for the host but are unsure of the dinner menu a pinot noir is always a versatile choice (it plays well with others).
HOST:  If you aren’t quite sure how much wine to buy for a dinner party this helps you out with the math. A bottle typically fills about five glasses and with dinner guests usually have two glasses each. Perhaps my guests are just a little less bashful but I can usually count on mine to have more than two so I suggest overestimating rather than underestimating. Always better to have too much than too little I always say.
GLASS:  This was something I found helpful. It gave a suggestion for a great looking glass that would work for white or red wine. I like the look of uniform glasses so I liked this idea. The glass they suggested was the Spiegelau Burgundy glass which they say is $10. Stock up! (PS if you click HERE you can find out more about Pursued by Bear. I stumbled upon that looking for the glass coincidentally…)
DECANT:  Their advice is to decant young red wines to “knock off some of the hard edges” for thirty minutes before drinking. Also decant if the wine is old and you are worried about sediment.
STORE:  The ideal temperature for wine storage is 55° (I have yet to invest in a wine fridge) but it says that if you don’t have a wine cooler you should keep it in a cool interior space such as a closet or basement. If you’re in Texas you know the basement is obviously not an option… If a bottle needs to be chilled quickly place it in the freezer for 20 minutes but NEVER serve it with ice.

Gorgeous Aussie Shiraz

I will definitely buy this wine again. For $11.99 (at Fountainview Liquors in Houston), this wine is an excellent value. It was smooth and easy going but definitely meant business. The deep and dark liquid definitely provided some purple lips but they were worth every sip. Those nearest and dearest to me affectionately refer to this as “Mandee Mouth”. This big-bodied beauty from South Australia’s McLaren Vale was heavily laden with flavors of smoky cedar and blue and black fruit which then led to a rich chocolate finish. We drank this wine after dinner with a warm dark chocolate brownie topped with vanilla ice cream. It was an ideal match. One bite followed by one sip. It was absolutely delicious. This wine tastes much more expensive than it is. It was awarded 91 points by Robert Parker and deserves it. It’s sophisticated but still has fun. The quirky art on the label is an example of this. The 2006 vintage will be released with six different labels, starting with the Ms. Strong Arms, which was on the bottle I selected. Strong Arms is produced by R Wines. You can find out more about this and other Aussie wines at the Grateful Palate Imports website. I highly recommend trying this one… I think you’ll be glad you did.

Wine: wīn
Alcoholic beverage made from fermented grape juice

One of the biggest challenges for a blossoming wine lover is getting past the vast vocabulary. There are so many wine terms out there and even the savviest of connoisseurs can get tripped up sometimes. That being said, I have decided to take it upon myself to put together a sort of cheat sheet for those of us who might need a little help every once in a while. Here are some common wine terms you may run into whilst on your journey through the vines.

Appellation: Identifies where the grapes for a wine were grown
Aroma: The smell of a wine. Usually used to describe younger wines while Bouquet is used for more aged wines
Body: Describes the weight and fullness of a wine in the mouth: Light, Medium or Full-Bodied
Cult Wine: Wine for which a buyer will pay large sums of money because of its desirability and rarity
Cuvée: A wine blended from several vats or batches; also used in Champagne to denote the juice from the first pressing of a batch of grapes
Dry: Wines with little to no residual sugar; The opposite of sweet, except in sparkling wines, when dry means sweet.
Flabby: Used when tasting wine to describe its lack of structure which is often marked by low acidity
Hard: Tasting term for wine containing too much tannin and is therefore unpleasant; Hard wines usually take a long time to mature
Legs: Tracks of liquid that cling to the side of a wine glass after swirling the wine; Often said to be related to the alcohol or glycerol content of a wine; Also called Tears
New World Wine: Wines produced outside of the traditional wine growing areas of Europe and North Africa; Wines grown in those areas are referred to as Old World Wines
Nose: Tasting term for the Aroma or Bouquet of a wine
Oenophile: A wine aficionado or connoisseur
Quaff: Word used to describe an intoxicating beverage that is consumed copiously and heartily; Can be used as an adjective (the act of drinking) or a noun (the drink itself)
Reserve: Term used to indicate that a wine is of higher quality than usual
Residual Sugar: The level of sugar that remains unfermented in a wine; Corresponds with the sweetness of the wine
Sommelier: Trained wine expert that usually works in fine restaurants
Split: A single-serving wine bottle that holds approximately 6 ounces, or one fourth of a typical 750mL bottle
Still Wine: Wine that is not sparkling
Tannin: Polyphenolic compounds that give wine a bitter, dry, or puckery feeling in the mouth
Varietal: Wines made from a single grape variety, such as Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon
Vintage: The year in which a particular wine’s grapes were harvested; When the vintage year is indicated on the label it indicated that all the grapes used in that wine were harvested in that same year

If you want to learn even more wine terms I suggest looking on Wikipedia. Their glossary of wine terms is quite extensive. The list goes on and on! Good luck!

I’ll Have Mine On The Rocks

Wine on the rocks? What did you say? That’s right people. Wine on the rocks. I had my first Tincho during my recent trip to Fredericksburg. We visited one of the coolest stores/wine bars I’ve ever been to called House.Wine. You walk into an amazing furniture store and in the back is an awesome wine bar and lounge. Imagine lots of cozy and chic leather pieces with a plasma big screen playing old Humphrey Bogart movies on the back wall. I could have stayed there all day. We walk in and meet Jennifer who coincidentally used to live right here in Houston (and even more coincidentally right across the street from my current house). She gave us the grand tour and told us all about the store and said that we must try a Tincho. It was their most popular cocktail and all the rage in Argentina. A voice pipes up from a couple sitting at the bar assuring us that it is delicious. The best part, she says, is that you can take your drinks to go in Fredericksburg and walk down the street with them. While that was indeed fantastic, the best part of the Tincho was the drink itself.

What exactly is a Tincho? This deliciously refreshing cocktail is shockingly simple. Introduced by an Argentine wine maker, this little number is apparently the most popular happy hour cocktail in Buenos Aires. The wine is called New Age White (there is also a New Age Rosé) which is a slightly effervescent blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Malvasia. The back of the label has a picture on it so when the bottle is turned around you see a painting of a woman. This chilled wine is poured over ice and finished off with a squeeze of fresh lemon. The alcohol content in this wine is only 9% so it doesn’t sneak up on you quite as quickly as some other wines might. The bartender told us they had tried to make this with other wines but it was never the same. This was the only wine it seemed to work with. This was seriously one of the most refreshing drinks I have ever had the pleasure to imbibe. This would be a great cocktail to serve guests at a summer party. It sure helps beat the heat… especially Houston heat which I believe is in a class all its own. I have checked online and Spec’s appears to carry New Age White so if you’re looking for a bottle I would check there first. I highly recommend trying this one at home! Salud!