Monday, May 26, 2008

Weekend Yum

Doug & I went to a wine tasting & dinner with some friends on Friday night. The tasting was at one of our favorite stores & Robin, one of our favorite wine reps, was pouring. We love her tastings - not only has she become a good friend of ours, but her pours are heavy & she brings food as well. Not just crackers & cheese, but things like chicken salad, flank steak, & shrimp! She really likes to showcase the relationship between wine & food, & in ways that just about everyone can pull off.

For example, she suggested the chicken salad with Cycles Gladiator 2005 Pinot Grigio, & it was delightful. Normally, I'm not a huge fan of Pinot Grigio, although I must admit that the Italian girl in me really wants to love it. I find it leaves me wanting & bored, especially after having some lesser-known Italian whites that I like much better, like Verdicchio. This Pinot Grigio, however, has a touch of Riesling in it - 6%, to be exact. This really added interest to the wine, & at about $10 a bottle, we snatched a bottle immediately. It's going to make a really nice summer quaffer, & we'll very likely buy it again.

Robin also surprised us by bringing a bottle of something that she doesn't even distribute (her former company does), & I could've kissed her for it (I didn't). She wanted to introduce the owners of the store to this winery, & she also suspected that we'd be popping by, too. That's happening more & more - our rep friends are bringing special bottles that they've picked out because they know that Doug & I will love it. They don't include it in the tasting, but they have it hidden & pull it out when no one is looking. Hehehe... tasting on the sly. Anyway, back to the wine - it was the 2005 Dare Cabernet Sauvignon, & it was amazing. We're huge fans of the Dare Cabernet Franc, which we bought without tasting on a recommendation from someone we trust in the wine business. Since then, we've turned some of our friends on to that bottle, & it's become a favorite. The Cab Sauv could also easily share the same popularity, but at about $40 a bottle, maybe not right now. Damn gas prices.

Enough about the freakin' wine, already. Let's talk about fun with beer.

We had dinner reservations at Big Sky Cafe, & while we were waiting for our table to be ready, the bartender made the most wonderful suggestion: the Shandy. None of us had heard of such a thing, but it was love at first sip. My shandy was made with fresh-squeezed lemonade & a raspberry Hefeweizen beer, half & half. Crisp, refreshing, & just downright lovely, & light in alcohol - perfect for a hot summer night. My friend's shandy was made with the lemonade & a peach beer, & that was really good, too. That one was a tad bit sweet for me, but I wouldn't turn it down if someone made one for me! I think Doug & I will have to have these available at our next party...but I'm sure the lemonade will be Minute Maid or something like that, which I'm confident will be just fine.

Oh, Shandy...insert bad Barry Manilow parody here.

But hey, let's not just talk about booze... the food at Big Sky is pretty good, too! Our favorite was the Cheddar Cheese Macaroni - with fresh sage & bacon. Mmmmmm... I could make a meal out of just that dish, but then I'd probably have to buy all new pants the next day.

That wouldn't be good.


Peggy said...

Dare Viader Cab is a tasty treat. One of my favorite bottles in my modest "cellar".

Try Simply Lemonade or Oberweiss Lemonade. You don't get that bite that minutemade lemonade gives you. A bit more expensive, but well worth the extra cost. Sounds like you two made it a great Memorial Day weekend.

Em said...

Hmmm - that "shandy" concoction sounds like something I ought try. I like pinot grigio in the summertime - light and pretty neutral I can pour a few glasses for my friends and know they'll like it and of course, it's generally cheap.
I wish we got food with our winetastings - but then again, I guess I shouldn't complain, free wine is free wine.
The Dare does sound tempting, but I'm not to that price point yet - maybe if I hit the MegaMillions or some such.

LucyinStLou said...

Shandy is really one of the only ways that I'll drink beer. (Try as I might, I'm still not a beer fan.) I think Leinkuegels makes a premixed Shandy that's pretty good.

Dare is just wonderful! We had the Cab. Franc for our anniversary on Saturday and just loved it. We will be buying much more from her to add to our cellar.

Claire said...

Peggy, thanks for the lemonade suggestion!

Em, the shandy is damn good. As far as food with wine tastings, it's nice when you can get it, but we never, ever count on it!

Lucy, apparently Doug & I have been living under a rock - if you, a non-beer drinker, knows about the shandy, then it really makes me wonder why we haven't heard of it. A friend of mine brought the Leinenkugel Shandy to a party the next day, & I was amazed. I thought we were first on the scene! =) We love it now, though. I really like it because it's a way to drink something that tastes great & yet not have the alcohol kick your ass.

Thom said...

I was introduced to the shandy when I first visiteed the UK in the late '80s. There are variations, but the one you had sounds particularly tasty. Bass makes a commercial (premixed) shandy, but I don't know if it is available in this country

Claire said...

Good grief, in the late 80's??? Clearly, I've been kept out of the loop. There's been a damn conspiracy.

Ok, that's not the case, but it sure was fun to write.

Yes, Thom, the shandy I had was quite wonderful, & I think I will recreate it soon. Not as soon as I'd like, but they frown on drinking at work around here.

Tracey said...

You are so fancy with your wine knowledge, Claire! I made a discovered a lovely drink myself this weekend. It doesn't have a name (I don't think) but involves Sierra Mist, Strawberry Pucker, and Vodka. Refreshing, Fruity, and a major kick depending on how much Vodka you include. It's really the perfect summer beverage. I love drinking. Heh.

Tracey said...

I really can't type today. How do you correct a comment? Oh, well. You get the gist. It should say "I made a discovery" or I discovered or something. I miss the weekend already.

Claire said...

Hehehe...Tracey, I just like using the word "quaffer".

I think I'm going to have to try that drink of yours...

Joe Joe said...

Hey Claire!!!! Love that your hear . . . I MUST link to you!

And now, I quote "Your name is now Petina. Better...dontchuthink?"
(Believe it or not, it really is a quote about a woman named Claire from my FAVORITE tv show!).

Thx for stoppin' by my blog! Much love! jj:)

Claire said...

Ah, Joe Joe, I've missed you! Now, what the hell tv show was THAT?

Link away, buddy, link away.