Monday, March 30, 2009

Wine at Chili's, is that so bad?

I'm sitting at a Chili's restaurant with a small group for my best friend's twenty-first bday. We're carousing the drink menu, chatting a bit. I make a comment about a wine I'd like, and one friend turns to me and says, "You aren't seriously going to order wine at Chili's!"

And I thought, Where the heck are you drinking wine, the Ritz?

OK, I'll admit that I've ordered wine at the Ale House before, and that turned out to be a disaster.

But should the dining venue really dictate the quality of wine? I am witness that it is perfectly possible to get an excellent bottle of wine at the supermarket for $10 or less. Those same $10 bottles are being sold by the glass at fine dining establishments like Chili's.

When you're a student, or just on a tight budget (which is the case for most of us today), chances are you don't have big bills to throw down on a fancy steak dinner. There's no reason you shouldn't enjoy a glass of pinot with your fajita quesadillas.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Just got back from Thai-to-the-Land.

What a trip.

This was a dry trip since it was school-sponsored, so there was no drinking of any Thai wine. Although it would have been a mission to find any in the first place. We took a few trips to the local Carrefour (which is like a Wal-Mart throughout Asia and Europe) and the wine aisle carried only foreign labels, to my disappointment. It would have been neat at least to see some Thai wine.

Still, the flavors of Thailand did not disappoint. From fresh coconut ice cream (above) to fermented guava, my palate still enjoyed the non-alcoholic fruits of life. Most dishes were complex, mixing spices and sweets. Favs included the curry rice, iced cocoa, and especially Thai donuts (mmm).

Now I'm back on U.S. soil, and I am ready to get back into the swig of things (pun fully intended). I definitely see a trip to Total Wine somewhere in my near future.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Halfway 'round the world

In just hours I depart from Miami to beautiful, tropical Bangkok (with two stops - Chicago and Seoul, S. Korea).

This is my second year participating in the Alternative Breaks program at FIU, where students travel to volunteer during their breaks from school.

Since the trip is school-sponsored and service-based, there's a strict no alcohol policy. Still, that doesn't mean I can't do my research.

First question: Does Thailand even make their own wine?
Answer: Yes! The Thai wine association was formed in 2004.

Five years? Whoa that's young, considering that most countries started their wine associations before the 1800s.

Second question: What are the most popular grape varietals/growing regions?
Answer: Varietals are a mystery. Vineyards seem to be generally in the southern area of the country.

Google is doing me no good. It seems to be a more popular choice within the vino community to pair wine with Thai food than to drink Thai wine. I'll see what info I can get from the locals.

Be back on the 24th!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Once in a Blue Moon

I'm not a beer fanatic by any stretch of the imagination. To be honest, most carbonated beverages just don't do it for me. Beers have a tendency to leave me more thirsty (and bloated) than I started.

There is one beer, though (wine bottles, cover your ears) that almost makes me swoon.

Blue Moooooon.

It's classified as a "White Belgian-style" beer (which I read an entire page about on wikipedia, and still don't quite understand). The beer is a creation of the Coors company, which is interesting because I really don't like Coors or Coors light; but the two labels maintain their distance for a reason.

Blue Moon isn't the type of beer you wanna be pumping at a kegger. It's a sipping beer. Think more... summer BBQ, day at the pool, casual dinner party. It's light, airy, refreshing. Typically served with an orange slice, helping to pronounce spicy citrus notes. It tastes like sunshine, really.

It's good stuff, but don't fret. This blog is not about to turn into the Beer Nut anytime soon.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Wine & Cookies

Ever since SOBE I've been super interested in this Robert Mondavi guy. He's apparently a pretty big hot shot in Napa Valley.

Solaire is really the wine that I want to try, but the other night I'm with friends who prefer white. (Actually, they prefer jug white zin. They have yet to see the light.)

So we made a compromise and settled on a 2003 Mondavi Sauvignon Blanc.

Tasting Notes listed on the bottle: Sweet, opulent apricot, guava, citrus and crème brûlée character. Toasty vanilla and spice from barrel fermentation and aging.

Drumroll pleeease... and the tasting notes check out! I didn't get the guava so much, but the citrus/crème brûlée combo was right on.

And it was such a perfect addition to our No Bake Cookies.

If you've never had these cookies, go snatch some oats, cocoa, and peanut butter (plus a tasty bottle of sauv blanc) and get to work!

What are you waiting for? GO!