SkinnyPop, Paradise Hills Vineyard, & Scandal = The Perfect Thursday Night Pairing


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{card via nocturnalpaper}

In honor of my obsession with Scandal I wanted to put together a “Netflix & Chill” kind of post Olivia might be proud of. So I decided to pair some of our local CT Wine Trail wines with SkinnyPop popcorn (because it’s my fave). Olivia is always pairing her vino and popcorn no matter if she’s happy or sad. So I thought, why not pair her two of her favorite things and watch her kick butt in DC? #Wouldn’tOliviaPopeDoThis?

Below are some of my favorite pairings from Paradise Hills Vineyard & Winery in Wallingford, CT. Maragret Ruggiero Mena, the Owner & Winemaker at Paradise, was kind enough to sit down with me and test out these pairings. Needless to say it was a fun Tuesday night 😉

Jalapeño SkinnyPop & The Washington Trail White:

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The Washington Trail White is a lovely fruit forward, medium bodied wine with notes of crisp apples, bright citrus, and soft fruity flavors with a delicate off-dry finish. The bright acidity brings out the jalapeño flavor in tasty and balanced way. The low alcohol and balanced residual sugar/acidity offsets the spicy burn. This is a great pairing for someone who has a spicier palate.

Washington Trail White: $19.98/bottle

SkinnyPop Jalapeño: $13.86 for a 12 pack

Original Style SkinnyPop & Temptation Apple Wine:

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The Temptation Apple wine is a semi-sweet wine made from 100% Connecticut Grown Apples. The crisp acidity from the wine balances out the “cheesey” notes of the Original SkinnyPop flavor. A delicious pairing for a sweet little girls night in.

Temptation Apple Wine: $15.50/bottle

Original Style SkinnyPop: $16.82/ 6 pack

Sea Salt & Pepper SkinnyPop and Trio Blend: 

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Paradise’s “International Style” is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Carmenere. The elegant creamy mouthfeel stands up to the pepper and sea salt, creating a rich and flavorful compliment. Personally this is my favorite pairing because of the flavor explosion that happens between the pepper and fruit. I highlight recommend this pairing for anyone who loves a good steak with a Cabernet.

Trio Blend: $27.50/bottle

Sea Salt & Pepper Popcorn: $25.99/ 6 pack

White Cheddar SkinnyPop and Nostrada Tradizione:

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The Nostradamus Tradizione is a Chianti Style wine, so naturally matching this blend with a cheesy popcorn is a delicious combination. The acidity in the wine offsets the creamy cheese notes balancing out your palate with well rounded flavors. Hints of cherry and raspberry are complimented by the creamy white cheddar notes.

Nostradamus Tradizione: $27.50/bottle

White Cheddar: $20.45/ 6 pack

So there you have it! Lots of delicious combinations from one of my favorite CT Wineries and SkinnyPop popcorn. Thank you Olivia Pope, Kerri Washington, and the Scandal team for introducing me to this amazing food group. And Thank you to Margaret from Paradise Hills Winery for not thinking I was totally crazy for pairing her delicious wines with popcorn!

Other Wine & Popcorn Pairings Chart via SkinnyPop popcorn:

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Valentine’s Pairing Ideas: Chamard Vineyards

Valentine’s Day is a great time to show someone you love them with a bottle of wine, a wine tasting experience, or a special event at one of the local CT vineyards.

Here’s some pairing suggestions from Chamard Vineyards in Clinton, CT.

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photo via 9orange photography

If you’re in the mood for Dark & Decadent… 2014 Chamard Vineyards Heritage Cabernet Sauvignon pairs wonderfully with dark chocolate. The bitterness of the chocolate brings out the fruit in the wine, giving you a scandalously flavorful experience.

If you’re in the mood for Sensual & Sweet… 2015 Chamard Estate Reserve Chardonnay is the perfect choice for white chocolate, butterscotch, or caramel desserts. The buttery notes in the barrel aged Chardonnay compliment the savory sweetness of these deserts – leaving a lingering sweet feeling in your mouth as well as in your heart.

If you’re in the mood for Bubbles… Chamard’s Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc compliments your everyday milk chocolate bar. Just as sparkling wines always bring the party, sparkling wine + chocolate = a match made by cupid!

No matter what vineyard you visit — they’ll have the perfect pairing for you and yours!

Winemaker Interview: Chamard Vineyards

In this week’s “Winemaker Interview,” Kristen Parsons talks about how family tradition set her on her winemaking path. Through hard work, perseverance, and her passion for wine, Kristen was able to position herself to achieve her winemaking goals. 

Winemaker: Kristen Parsons

Winery: Chamard Vineyards: Winery & Bistro (Visit)

Location: 115 Cow Hill Rd, Clinton, CT 06413

Tasting Hours: OPEN Monday – Saturday 11:00AM – 9:00PM, Sundays 11:00AM – 8:00PM

Tasting Options: Enjoy a tasting & a snack!

Why did you become a winemaker? 

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I grew up in an Italian family where wine was part of our celebrations. No one in my immediate family made homemade wine, but distant relatives and family friends did. I developed a palate for wine at a young age and fell in love with it. During my time at Babson, where I was focusing on the entrepreneurial studies of opening a vineyard and winery, I decided that I wanted to learn every aspect of the business. I took several internships during the summer and winter where I first studied the business end, marketing and finance, then hospitality, viticulture and enology.

After this, I found that I had a passion for working in the fields and in the cellar and crafting wine. I then went out and studied in Italy for a semester at Lorenzo de Medici and learned about Italian wines, just furthering my desire to make wine. Upon returning and graduating I decided to continue my education and went to school for Enology and Viticulture at Washington State University to realize my dream of making wine. Professionally, I have been making wine for close to seven years.

How were you introduced to winemaking in Connecticut?

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I was introduced to CT winemaking at Chamard Vineyards when I held an internship during my years at Babson College. Funny and wonderful how I ended up making wine here after all these years. I felt like I was coming home, and the crew that was here made it even better.

What are the biggest challenges for a winemaker in Connecticut?

The greatest challenge for a winemaker in CT is growing the grapes. It is a short growing season with a very humid climate. Wine is not just made in the cellar but is grown in the fields. The cost of growing grapes in CT is high and the yields are low. Grapes must be brought in to make enough wine to support the vineyard.

What makes Connecticut wine so great? What makes CT wine so different?

Bringing added agricultural production to the state. Making wine from CT grapes is difficult due to the terroir and crafting a quality wine from such grapes is more challenging. This forces CT grape-growers and winemakers to really study their craft and be extremely dedicated and resourceful.

Tell us about your harvest process

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When harvest is nearing we begin testing the grapes for sugar and acid levels and then begin placing lugs in the rows of grape varietals that will be ready for harvest first. The grapes are hand picked into the lugs and collected into the back of the trailer pulled by a tractor. They are brought to the wine cellar where we have the destemmer -crusher and press cleaned, sterilized and ready to go. The white grapes are crushed and pressed into a pre-chilled tank. The red grapes are crushed and pumped into a vessel for fermentation on their skins.

How does your wine making approach differ from other winemakers? What is your general winemaking philosophy?

I cannot say how my wine making approach differs from others. I do make sure that any juice adjustments of acids, sugars or tannins are made prefermentation. I do not like adding any acids or tannins to the wine post fermentation because I feel that it negatively affects the flavors of the wine. I test, taste, and document the juice everyday through fermentation. I like to take my time and taste and test the wine the whole way through its life. My general winemaking philosophy is to try and make wine that is as much as posssible vin de terroir, that is to make the wine to express a sense of place rather than the stylistic efforts of the winemaker. I like to be as natural as possible and bring out the best of the grape. I learned this from a very inspirational winemaker, Randall Graham.

How do you know you’ve got a good vintage?

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A good vintage comes from a good growing season. On the east coast that is a long, warm and dry season with no rain around harvest.

Are there any new winemaking techniques or tools you’d like to experiment with?

A simple technique that I have always wanted to try is to ferment grapes on their indigenous yeast. I would like to try this wild, spontaneous fermentation to add a greater and diverse range of flavors and increase the aromatic complexity to the wine.

Which wine-growing region has had the most influence on you?

This is so hard to say! In Italy I experienced how grape growing and wine making was a way of life and how wine was a part of the culture. This began my romance with wine. I worked viticultural research positions throughout central Washington State during my time in college. This is where I fell in love with viticulture, the beautiful vineyards, the terroir and the resulting wines.

Upon moving back to the East coast, in VA and then CT I had to learn a whole new growing region and how to care for grapes in a new climate. This would be my first time growing grapes that I myself would be making wine from. Here I learned first hand that you grow the wine in the vineyard, that the viticulture is as important as the oenology.

What is one aspect of your job that might surprise people?

Wow, that is a hard question. Perhaps all the manual labor involved. Maybe the amount of time spent cleaning and sterilizing. Perchance the length of time (sometimes years) that it takes to complete a vintage.

What do you like best about your job?

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Everything! Especially guiding the wine through the whole process from start to finish, watching it evolve and mature, the changing tastes and aromas. To see how each growing season can affect the resulting wine.

What is your favorite wine that you’ve made and what makes it your favorite?

I guess that would be the first wine I ever vinted, not because of the varietal, but because of the memories and intricacy of the process, which produced a very complex and layered wine. It was an oak Chardonnay that I barrel fermented in French oak barrels ranging from brand new to 5 years old from several different forests. I used five different yeasts and surlies aged it over a year. It was vinted in 2007 and I have but one bottle remaining.

Who are your favorite winemakers and why? OR What is your favorite wine and why?

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One of my first inspirational winemakers was Randall Gram. He is the proprietor of Bonny Doon Winery in Santa Cruz, CA. From the beginning Randall was a leader in innovation in the wine industry from cyro-extraction to microbullage. He has always thought way outside the box. He embraced Biodynamic viticulture and producing wines of place.

Another of my inspirations is Charles Smith, the proprietor of K Winery in Walla Walla Washington, among many others to date. I studied near his winery in Washington when he was just beginning his venture into wine. He was a rock and roll manager and now a self-taught wine maker. He began with a love of Syrah, one of the great Rhone varietals, and he brought new and bold ideas and attitudes to the wine community. He worked on a label “The Modernist Project” with intent to create wines true to both the varietal and the vineyard that could be imbibed right away, which is the way wine is consumed today.

I will name but one more inspirational wine maker, Jef Stebbin (pictured above), a California winemaker, whose first harvest was with Opus One, with a UC Davis degree in fermentation management. He came to the east coast with his profound knowledge of chemistry where I got the chance to meet him and learn from him. He embodies the patience and passion of winemaker and teacher and has passed on to me some great information that I share with my fellow winemakers. Visit Jeff at his new winery, Maple Springs Winery in Bechtelsville, PA!

Is beer ever better than wine?

I have to say, after a hot, long day of harvest a cold beer is  what many winemakers reach for. I would have in the past, but have since discovered gluten allergies. I myself would enjoy a nice stout with roasted barley.

I want to give a big Thank You to Kristen Parsons from Chamard Vineyards for giving us a peak into the life of a Connecticut Winemaker. Make sure to stop by Chamard Vineyards in Clinton, CT for some delicious wines made from a very passionate Connecticut Winemaker! #GirlsMakeWineToo #MyCTWineTrail

The Chamard Vineyard & Bistro Experience:

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Visiting Chamard Vineyards is like taking a trip to the French country side.  Once you turn into the driveway you are surrounded by a myriad of beautiful grape vines and transported to a Chateau style winery. You can enjoy delicious wines while taking in the gorgeous views of a fountain and pristine vineyards.

A tasting includes samples of 5 wines and a Reidel glass which is your’s to keep. Each tasting is $10.00 per person. Chamard can accommodate parties of up to 10 people without a reservation. Stop in and sip on some tasty vino while you wait for your table at their Bistro.

The Bistro pairs delicious foods with the wines made on the property. Many of the vegetables and fruits that are sourced for the bistro are from Chamard’s on premise garden. Very much a farm to table atmosphere, Chamard Vineyards is a fantastic place to sip great wine and enjoy delicious food with family and friends. I hope you enjoy your visit! Cheers!

 

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Creative Cocktails (vol. 1): Rosedale Vineyards Rosé Spritzer Punch

It’s hot. It’s muggy out. And you find yourself counting down the moments to happy hour….

So how about you mix up something special to beat the heat? Something fruity? Check. Something refreshing? Yes please. Something pink? Absolutely!

Sounds pretty tasty already right?

Earlier this summer I got together with some friends who are passionate about their cocktails. I tend to be more passionate about wine, so I don’t usually pour myself a refreshing martini after work. I usually hit up the vino. Sauvignon Blanc on hot days, Red Blends on cold days. Actually, I could go on and on as I have a “go to” wine for every mood (#dontjudge). Where as these friends are all about their creative cocktails. So what should we do? I love my wine and they love their inventive cocktails, we were at an impasse. Then it dawned on us – why not blend them together and make something we all could enjoy?

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In the spirit of creativity (and cooperative civility) we decided to make a refreshing Rosé Spritzer. We started with a bottle of Summer Bouquet Rosé I had picked up from Rosedale Farms & Vineyards and added some refreshing treats. We wanted to create something that brought out the delicate flavors of the Rosé without overpowering them.

We had a lot of fun trying out different flavor concoctions and ended up with a delicious Rosé Spritzer “Punch” to sip on when it’s hot and muggy out -or if you’re really in the mood for anything Rosé and/or spritzer. 🙂

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Rosedale Rosé Spritzer Punch Recipe:

Where to find the ingredients:

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Rosedale Farms & Vineyards Summer Bouquet Rosé:

“Red raspberries are the inspiration for this wine which matches a blend of our estate grown Meynieu, LaCross and Cayuga with the essence of red raspberry. The naturally higher acidity of these grapes balances out a smooth sweetness and sets up the perfect wine to serve with any number of desserts or even over ice on a hot summer afternoon.” Retail: $18.00/bottle

 

Visiting Rosedale Farms & Vineyards:

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Location:  25 East Weatogue Street, Simsbury, CT 06070

Tasting Hours: Weekends from 12-5pm (last call is 4:30pm)

Tasting Options: Sipping Options

Rosedale Farms & Vineyards is more than a winery, they are one stop local shop. Rosedale grows their own produce and sells other local items in their store. They have a great program called the “Farm Membership” where you get a 10% discount every time you shop (including their hand-crafted wines), e-mail coupons, free passes to the corn maze, discounts on Family Events and Farm Tours, and more! {Discounts on wine?! I’m in! :)} It is a great place to enjoy wine and shop locally grown produce.

For the tasting you can sample up to 10 wines for $12.00 (wine glass included). The tasting room is very charming and usually a family member or the winemaker is behind the bar pouring and speaking about the wines. Once you find a wine you enjoy you can purchase a bottle of wine and enjoy a glass on their outdoor patio.

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Wild Rose Flavoring from Hartford Flavoring Company:

“The rose is the quintessential symbol of love, so why not love yourself and add a little rose to your cocktail?  In addition to its intense aroma and striking appearance, rose hips are known to have several health benefits when ingested.”

For More Delicious “Wine Cocktails” and other great mixed drink recipes click below to my favorite libations blog – Gastronominsta

We hope you enjoy this delicious punch!  Make sure to Visit Rosedale Vineyards and the other Connecticut Wine Trail Wineries for other great wines and wine experiences. Cheers! 🙂

CT Wine Festival Review

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The CT Wine Festival was a lot of fun. I highly suggest attending. The CT Wine Trail rolls out a great spread for you to enjoy. The day is filled with delicious wine, tasty food, fun events, and interesting artisan booths. You can try many different wines from all over the state, enjoy some delicious local eats, and even take care of some shopping along the way. There really is something for every 21+ attendee to enjoy. Even the designated drivers were having a blast – apparently lots of Pokemons attended the event! 😉 Also, the grape stomp competition is always super entertaining – so why not enter next year and see what it takes to win it.

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My favorite food booth was the Pop-Centric Boozy Popsicles.  They were incredible. Not only were they a life saver from the heat but the Peach Mango Vino Blanc pop was particularly delicious. I’m hoping their truck makes it out to the Hartford area soon or I might have to make a special trip to their shop in North Haven, CT.

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Another exciting thing about the CT WineFest was meeting up with new instagram friends. @Connecticut_Uncorked and I had been chatting back and forth via the social media app and were finally able to meet in real life! Super fun to meet the awesome people behind the account. I love their perspective on wine and their enthusiasm for Connecticut wine in particular. Looking forward new collaborations with them and other Connecticut wine bloggers. Make sure to check them out on Instagram and Facebook.

Now because there was a lot of wine and socializing, unfortunately I forgot to write down all of the wines I tasted. So instead of giving tasting notes on the wines, I’ve outlined my favorites from the wineries who were at the event. I hope you get to try their wines and enjoy them with friends and family!

Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope the information is fun and helpful. Looking forward to releasing more wine tasting and winemaking content for you to view.

Cheers! 🙂

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links i heart {vol. 1}

a few funky links….

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design darling: i’ve been thinking about creating a “home office area” in my apartment and this shop has the most adorable prints and lust worthy office supplies.

becky kinkead: looking for blog inspiration? need some photoshop help? then this is the blog for you. becky has great photoshop and illustrator tutorials to help you brand your blog.

honestly wtf / mark lovejoy: newest art obsession. get lost in the colorful movement.

23 brilliant life lessons from anthony bourdain: seriously. read it.

#WBC15: interested in a blogging? love wine? if you answered yes to both questions then this is the conference for you!

1designperday: check out the 110 most interesting wine labels and pick up a bottle while you’re at it

happy monday 🙂 

 

 

 

 

mulled wine ~ sip, savor, and share with friends

we hope everyone had a very happy thanksgiving. we have so much to be thankful for and it’s good to take a step back, reflect, and enjoy each others company.

now that we are in the holiday spirit we have been experimenting with different winter wine recipes. one of them being mulled wine. below is my recipe. i suggest pairing it with friends by the fireplace and a tasty charcuterie plate.

 

4 cups apple cider (or can use apple juice if you want it a little sweeter)

1 bottle of red wine (suggest cabernet, merlot, or a blend of both)

1 tablespoon – 1/4 cup of honey (depends on your sweet tooth)

2 cinnamon sticks

1 orange – juiced and zested

4 whole cloves

2-3 stars of anise (do to taste)

orange peels/wedges for garnish

add the apple cider/juice, wine, cinnamon sticks, orange zest, orange juice, and cloves to a saucepan. bring to a boil. add stars of anise and honey to taste. let it simmer for 8-10 minutes. pour into mugs, add an orange peel/wedge for garnish, and enjoy!

thanks for stopping by

cheers ~ cm