Archive for the ‘Wine’ Category

I have amassed a pretty sizeable collection of wine over the years. The wine rack in my basement holds 60 bottles and is nearly always full. The thing is, while we do drink a lot of wine, we also love to tour wineries and join wine clubs. So, the number of bottles in our “cellar” ebbs and flows a great deal.

Some of our favorite “weeknight” wines currently, include Lenore Syrah from Corvidae and Mi Terruño Malbec (imported by my friends at Elemental Importers). During our travels and tastings however, we have bought some pretty nice bottles that we are saving…for a special occasion.

But what is a special occasion? I used to think that we’d save these wines for occasions like milestone birthdays and anniversaries, but all that changed a few years ago after I heard an essay on NPR. I know, I know…”an essay on NPR.” SNORE. But, it wasn’t one of those “This I Believe” hokey stories. This guy was talking about wine, and what he said really struck a cord with me.

The story went something like this (I can’t find it online unfortunately): Guy meets girl, they get married, they are given a great bottle of wine as a wedding gift and decide they are going to save it for a “special occasion.” Anniversaries and birthdays come and go and they still put off drinking the wine. Then, kids arrive and life gets busy and they forget to drink the wine. Then, the wife gets cancer and passes away. But they never drank the wine.

Yeah, I KNOW! The story continues about how this man – now a widower- later gives a newly married couple a nice bottle of wine as a wedding gift and tells them to “drink it on a Tuesday.” Well, this story made me cry my eyes out. After that, I immediately went down to the basement and grabbed one of our own special wines.

The thing is, any day can be a special occasion. And you know what, people – life is too short to be “collecting” things you should be ENJOYING. A couple of years prior to hearing that essay, I lost my brother to cancer. He was 38. Last year, we lost a friend to cancer as well. She was 37. I am celebrating the 40th birthday of a dear friend this Saturday, but on Monday I opened a nice bottle of champagne. And celebrated life.

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Seattle is filled with whiners. This summer when temperatures broke 100 degrees for over a week, they whined. This week, temperatures have barely risen above freezing during the day. And guess what? Seattleites are whining again. What am I doing? I’m drinking.

OK. That didn’t sound quite right, but it is in fact what I am doing to combat the cold. Just like I made ice cold daiquiris this summer and retreated to our blissfully cool basement, I have been making warm drinks this week and curling up under a down comforter. Let’s call it S.A.D. – seasonally affected drinking.

Warm drinks on a cold winter’s night are traditional in Northern climates and where my family comes from, Glögg is the drink of choice. Other countries have Glüwein or mulled wine, but in Sweden, it’s Glögg. They are all pretty much the same: steep some spices in wine, heat and serve.

I’ve tried several recipes over the years. A favorite comes from a dear familiy friend, John Swedstedt, who adds Vodka to his Glögg. This year however, I wanted to try out some new recipes. That’s not to say I didn’t want Vodka in my Glögg, I just needed an updated recipe.

In a pinch I’ve used the bottled Glögg concentrate from IKEA. It works, but I find the spices to be kind of flat.

I heard Marcus Samuelsson on the radio a couple of week’s ago. He’s an Ethiopian born Swede that now lives in America. His restaurant – and cookbook – Aquavit, had just what I was looking for. A little more online research and cookbook consulting and I think I’ve found a recipe to call my own.

3 cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces
1 Tbsp cardamom pods
2-3 small pieces candied ginger
Grated zest of 1 orange
6 whole cloves
1/2 cup vodka
1 750-ml bottle dry red wine. I like Zinfandel
1 cup port
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 brown sugar
1/2 cup blanched, slivered almonds
1/2 cup raisins

Crush the cinnamon and cardamom using a mortar and pestle or smash on a cutting board. Put them in a small glass jar and add the ginger, orange zest, cloves, and vodka. Let stand for 24-48 hours. Strain the vodka into a large saucepan and discard the spices.

Add the red wine, port and sugars and heat over medium heat just until bubbles start to form around the edges. Do not boil.

Add a few almonds and raisins to the bottom of each mug and pour the hot Glögg over the top.

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I first met Burgundy in 1996. We hit if off right away and promised we’d stay in touch. In 1997, we met again and Burgundy agreed to come back to the US with me. Since then though, I’ve neglected our relationship.

Burgundy had it’s own room – but it was chilly and dark and I only visited occasionally. Burgundy got lots of friends in it’s basement room, but these friends quickly came and went. Lately, I’ve been afraid that our relationship would be ruined forever. I’d heard murmurings that perhaps Burgundy would leave me or worse, perhaps Burgundy had already gone south. 1990 was a long time ago afterall. You can’t hang onto your youth forever.

Tonight was your night to shine Burgundy. And shine you did. From your sweet, dried cranberry introduction to your smooth finish, you wooed us. With your pale yet opaque color, you confounded us. I know you prefer to be called by your proper name – Savigny les Beaune – but your neighborhood is a pretty tony one, so don’t be so picky. Burgundy = Bourgogne = Heaven.

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