March is Washington Wine Month

So, I am sure quite a few people know this – but it is news to me – March is Washington Wine Month. An article by Margot Sinclair Savell on her Write for Wine blog caught my eye.

The Washington State Wine website outlines promotions and events that are happening throughout the month.  I think this is the perfect excuse to try some new wines.  I am amazed by the vast amount of wineries in this state and am looking forward to trying and finding some favorites.

I am happy to report that both of the grocery stores (Safeway and Metropolitan Market) that I visit often (more often than I want to admit) are offering specials this month.  Now, I just need the confidence to pick out some wines on my own.

Do you have any plans for Washington Wine Month?

Tasting Luxe, Indian Wells and Ethos Reserve Amongst Others at Chateau Ste. Michelle

Domaine Ste. Michelle Luxe

I decided to try my hand at tasting again, but this time I brought my brother Ian Nichols.  Ian has been a wine enthusiast for many years and agreed to teach me a little about wine tasting.

We chose Saturday and headed to Woodinville and Chateau Ste. Michelle.  Chateau Ste. Michelle is a beautiful winery – even in the middle of winter.  When we arrived, we warmed ourselves by the fire before heading to the tasting room.  The tasting room itself was quite large – it has various tasting areas, depending on if you were part of a tour or tasting on your own.  Once again, we had children in tow, but the wine shop off the tasting room included various treasures – the perfect diversion for little eyes.

The winery was offering two wine flights – either 4 whites or 4 reds, so my brother and I each chose one ($10 per flight).  That way, we could experience all of the wines.  There was even one additional red that the lady pouring wine threw in (a 2007 Ethos Syrah that was on special).

I won’t go into detail about all 9 wines, but there were three that stood out to me and that I ended up purchasing:

  • 2005 Domaine St. Michelle Luxe
    • To me, the nose was yeasty, similar to when you are adding yeast to bread and when I tasted it, I could almost taste the bread, along with a citrus flavor
  • 2009 Indian Wells Merlot
    • The nose on this wine smelled like cooked fruit.  It reminded me of walking into my mother’s kitchen while she was making jam.  When I tasted the wine, I didn’t get the fruity flavor I was smelling, but I did get a smokey taste.
  • 2007 Ethos Cabernet Sauvignon
    • When I smelled this wine, it reminded me of taking a nature walk, earthy and outdoors.  The taste was sweet, almost like cherries, and the flavor remained on my palette for a while (but not in a bad way).

It was wonderful having someone with way more knowledge than me by my side.  I really started to understand how to smell and taste.  And while I have quite a lot to learn, I did notice quite a difference in my experience from my first tasting.

Plus I learned some good tasting tricks:

  1. Swirling – it helps to keep the glass on the bar when swirling – especially if you are clumsy like I tend to be
  2. Smelling – if you keep your mouth a little open when you smell the wine, you can actually get a much better and fuller smell

Thank you Chateau Ste. Michelle for a fun day and some great wines!

The Chateau

Should Wineries Be Family Friendly?

I read an interesting article today from the New York Cork Report: Is Wine Tasting a Family-Friendly Endeavor?, written by Tracy Weiss. Tracy does not have children, so at first I expected the article to be coming from an angle of “no kids allowed”, but was pleasantly surprised.  I was even more impressed by all the comments.

You see, I have a three-year old. And unless it is a “date night” or “ladies night”, I usually have my daughter in tow.  Now that I am trying to learn more about the wine industry, I will probably have my daughter with me for a good handful of tastings.

I would like to think that wineries are open to allowing children.  I know that at least for me, a winery that allows my daughter to be present while I do a tasting will leave a better taste in my mouth (and my mind), but I wold be interested to see what others think.

Getting Ready to Visit Chateau Ste. Michelle

I am one of those people who prefers to learn by experience, so I think it is time to do another tasting.

I live in Seattle, so it only makes sense that I experience what this area has to offer. My first pick  is Chateau Ste. Michelle.

The winery makes a nice selection of red and white wines and actually makes some of the most popular wines here in Washington State.

The winery is composed of quite a few different wineries – I am noticing this to be a trend that I must learn more about. I will have to do some investigation as to why one winery would want to produce various wines under other names…watch for a post.

I mostly know Chateau Ste. Michelle for the summer concert series they do every year, so it will be nice to taste and learn more about their wines.




Chocolate and Emeri Pink Moscato, Quite a Yummy Combination

Emeri Pink Moscato & Truffles

As referenced on my other blog, Wednesday, I went to the Twirl Cafe for their “Whine” Wednesday, a combination wine tasting and child playtime.

For approximately $9, the wine tasting included a 2oz taste of De Bortoli, Emeri Pink Moscato, along with 3 truffles and playtime for the kiddo. So, while my daughter investigated the toys, I gave the Moscato a moment of undivided attention.

To me, the wine smelled almost floral, and was very sweet.  Moscato is apparently made from the muscat grape, one of the oldest grapes used for wine making.  I saw in an article by Richard Jennings at the Huffington Post, that the wine is actually gaining in popularity, so it was nice to see I was actually in vogue for once. And I can see why it is a popular wine, the sweetness isn’t overwhelming and it would almost substitute as dessert itself.

The truffles that came with the wine were three dark chocolates (Anise Ganache Filled Fig, Spicy Dark Truffle & Fruit, Nut & Sea Salt Bar) made locally by a company called Chocolopolis.  These flavors all worked nicely with the sweet wine.

Overall, the wine and chocolates were a tasty experience and the pairing actually made sense to me.  Maybe I am starting to make some progress!


Tasting Pinot Noir at Rex Hill Winery

On Sunday, I went to Rex Hill Winery to do a tasting.  This was my first “official” tasting for this blog – and actually one of the few tastings that I have done.   The last tasting I did was probably five or so years ago.

The winery is very nice – nestled on a hill in Newberg, OR, off of 99W.  The tasting room was warm and inviting and the grounds were lovely.  It was a brilliant winter day and I could tell that in the spring and summer, the vineyard and picnic area would be just stunning.

I had my three-year old, husband and mother-in-law in tow, and while I was the only one doing the tasting, the person pouring the wine was very hospitable, offering my daughter crayons and picture to color.  He didn’t eve blink as she sat in an antique looking desk, coloring to her heart’s content.

The person pouring the wine was courteous and gave me some information about each wine – but to be honest it was a little awkward.  I didn’t know what I was doing and wasn’t sure how to go about making small talk.

I did take some notes and here is the low down on my experience:

  • The tasting flight was for 5 wines and cost $10.
  • They all smelled like wine – note to self, need to learn more about the smelling portion
  • The first part of the tasting included two Chardonnay’s:
    • 2009 Rex Hill Dijon Clone Chardonnay & 2009 Rex Hill Old Vine Chardonnay
    • To me the Chardonnays were both a little sharp.  I am not sure if that is even the right termonology, but that is the thing that struck me the most. I did notice the Old Vine was a bit sweeter and smoother.
    • Interesting tid-bit about the “old vines”.  Apparently, these are grape vines from California.  The vines are used to warmer temperatures, and overall did not produce well for Rex Hill.  However, the summer of 2009 was a hot one and the grapes did good, thus the wine.
  • There were three Pinots:
    • 2007 Rex Hill Sims Vineyard – this one had an earthy flavor to it
    • 2008 Rex Hill Reserve Pinot – a smooth taste and I liked it the best.  I ended up buying a bottle of it (for $48)
    • 2008 Rex Hill Jacob Hart Vineyard – was fine – not as good as the second one

I brought the 2008 Rex Hill Reserve Pinot home and will serve it at the next get together with my brothers.  I would like for them to weigh-in to see if I am at least on the right track for tasting.

What did I learn:

Well, for starters, tasting wine for real and not for show is hard.  I have a lot to learn.  Plus, the next time, I will bring along someone with more wine knowledge than myself, that can fill me in on the important details and procedures.

So, thank you Rex Hill for the fun experience and the patience.

Preparing for My First Tasting – Rex Hill Winery

I will be heading down to Newburg, OR in about a week, so I decided this would be the opportunity to do my first official wine tasting.  I have learned that the Willamette Valley in Oregon is known for growing Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris grapes.  While red wines are not my most favorite, I think it only makes sense to try what the area is known for.

After doing a quick survey of the area, I have decided to do my first tasting at Rex Hill Winery.  Rex Hill was founded by Paul Hart and Jan Jacobsen, and is now under the guidance of  Bill & Debra Hatcher of A to Z Wineworks.  They have apparently won many awards for the Pinot, so hopefully that will make for a good wine tasting experience. I am excited to give it a try and report back on my experience.

My next step is to read up on how properly taste wine, so I can give an accurate review.  Stay tuned!

My Wine Adventure

Welcome to the Splendid Grape!

I have decided to tag along with my brothers and learn about the wine industry (and probably the hard cider industry too).  I am going to use this blog to capture my adventure and venture into learning the ins and outs of wine.

You have to understand, I really don’t hardly know a thing about wine.  I know I prefer whites to reds, mostly because it kind of weirds me out to have a room temperature alcoholic drink.  I also know I like hard ciders, mostly because they are sweet and I have a sweet tooth.

My goal for the spring – to go to Taste Washington with my brother, Seth and actually kind of know what I am talking about.

So sit back, relax and enjoy – I hope the blog will be helpful, fun and enjoyable.