Saturday, December 26, 2009

what is family?

The holidays have always been a tricky time for me. Part of me gets really upset that somehow no matter how hard you try, the season is full of stress and anxiety. This is the second year that I've tried to alleviate some of that stress and frustration by spending the holidays away from my "family".

The flaw in this plan: I was missing something important and special....

Lucky for me, there are people out there who know I'm an idiot and didn't let me actually spend Christmas alone :) I am an idiot because somehow I forgot that "family" is a bigger circle of people than just those with whom we share our DNA. I discovered that even hundreds of miles from my parents, my Boston family was here for the holidays.

All day I looked forward to Christmas evening, when I knew Patti and Michele were coming over for dinner, wine, and lots of fun girl-time. We started the night with the 2007 Dominique Brunet Pinot Noir. This wine is a little sharp but dynamic. The color was dark fuschia and the body is light with cherry and a little spice. As a cheap-ish Pinot Noir, this wine ain't half bad--as a table wine, it's darn good.

Our second bottle was a gift from Patti - the 2008 Cortijo Rioja. This wine was soft and typical of Rioja. It had some jammy-ness and pleasant ripe fruit with a well-balanced finish. It complemented our holiday dinner very very well.

Our holiday feast was delicious! Patti made a cranberry, blue cheese, and pecan salad, Michele brought over a fruit platter and some cookies from Chris's Cookies. For the main event, I made lasagna with bechamel sauce.

Somehow I ended up with all the leftovers... needless-to-say, I've been eating lasagna and cookies for dinner every day since Christmas.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bye Lab Buddy!

So, yesterday my lab said good-bye to Kristen. She's off to become a smart, fun, knowledgeable, high-school science teacher. I'll miss her at work, my running buddy, gossip buddy, assay buddy, etc.

To say good-bye, our boss took us out to lunch at Elephant Walk (oh my $^&* so tasty!)... then I took the "kids" back to my apartment for some Karaoke and continued drinking...

Vasia brought some delicious Tawny Porto:

Let's just say that the evening ended earlier than any of us originally intended :)

I'll miss you Kristen!!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Faux-hawks and Birthdays

My birthday party was kick-ass for a number of reasons: so many of my awesome friends showed up - keg-stands - horse races - karaoke - awesome sparkly & ruffled presents - and of course, a mohawk.

When your birthday falls so close to Christmas, it's easy to feel like you'd be more important if, and only if, you'd been conceived by a virgin.

Luckily, this year my friends went all out to make me feel special. For the purposes of this blog there are a few highlights to share with you:

Wine Aerator!

I took this on my recent ski-vacay for some testing. We poured 2 glasses of wine, one with and one without the aerator. You could totally tell the difference! It made our wines taste a little more smooth, richer, deeper, and more complex. Totally awesome gift! Thanks J!

And Now For The Wines!

My friends know me so well... I got so much tasty wine for my b-day! Woot!

2007 Frei Brothers Reserve: Chardonnay from Northern Sonoma, CA ~Thanks Hugh!

Herding Cats: Pinotage/Merlot from South Africa. ~Thanks Kristen!

Il Valore: Sangiovese from the Puglia region of Italy. ~ Thanks Trish & Ben!

Best of all... Reed went out of his way to find my favorite varietal - AMARONE

For Amarone, only the ripest recie ("ears") of the grape bunches are picked in late October, then dried under shelter in the open air in flat wood crates holding 7 kilos until January/February (appassimento method). Fermentation of the raisined, non-botrytis affected grapes is done in temperature-controlled, stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeasts and can last 20-30 days. Aged 1 year in stainless, 4-5 years in Slovenian oak botte (casks). Average production: 3000-3500 cases per vintage.

IN OTHER WORDS, its a very rare, and expensive, imported wine. AND DELICIOUS!!! I can't say enough about this wine. It is a powerful, intense red with concentrated black cherry and jammy-ness. It is dense, rich, dry and has firm tannins while also being incredibly well-balanced.

The second wine he gave me is another of Italy's prize wines, SFORZATO (which translates to withering or strained).

Sforzato is a very special wine obtained uniquely from Nebbiolo grapes that are left to ripen for a longer period than is required for the production of regular wines. Its quality depends not so much on technical matters as on climatic conditions and the quality of the grapes. It is thus an embodiment of the uniqueness of this Alpine territory.

My Sforzato was deep red with an intense bouquet, ethereal and very complex. Full-bodied, structured, and velvety. This was a great sipping wine, and we spent the evening enjoying it next to the fireplace in our Waterville Valley "chateau".

An internet search revealed that "Sforzato is the pride of Valtellina and one of the greatest wines of Italy. Its unrivaled complexity and elegance makes it a premium wine from Lombardy. It is a vintage wine only produced during propitious harvests and is truly a connoisseur’s delight."


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thanksgiving Wine Tasting at The Wine Gallery

Hey everybody! I think this wine tasting at The Wine Gallery could be a super-fun pre-Thanksgiving G&G event. You can sign up & pay online - I hope to see you there!

Where: The Wine Gallery in Brookline
When: Nov. 23rd, 7pm
What: Pouring 5-6 wines, pairing with turkey
Cost: $10 + $1.25 fee

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Dear Wine Press, thank you for everything...

Hi lovely G&G's,
I thought it might be nice to keep you all updated on all our wine adventures, not just the ones that we taste at wine club.

It's been lonely at The Eustonian this week while K's been out in L.A. Obviously, I've had some (bottles of) wine to keep me company. I picked all of these up at The Wine Press in Brookline, mostly because they were on super-sale.

I started the week with a 2008 Tilia Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina. Tilia is sourced from sustainably farmed vineyards (bonus!) and had a spicy, fruity nose with heavy notes of black cherry and plum. It was easy to drink alone, and was soft enough to complement my dinner of baked acorn squash stuffed with spicy quinoa-pilaf.

Later in the week, I made tequila shrimp and black bean coriander cakes (R loves shrimp... I love tequila... how could it go wrong?). We opened a bottle that I had been holding onto for awhile for this special dinner - the 2004 Mira Salinas. This bottle was originally priced at $64.99... I got it for $19.99 (Thanks Wine Press!). The Salinas is 65% Monastrell, 25%Cabernet Sauvingnon, and 10% Garnacha, aged for 20 months in French oak. Wow, I loved this! It's a deep, garnet hue, with heavy aromas of black cherry, blackberry, plum, and minerals. It was bold and full-bodied on the palate, with excellent acidity and tannins. The finish was long and mouthstaining, with a nice balance of pure fruit and oak. I need to remember to head back over to the Press for a couple more bottles... what a steal!

Finally, I ended my week with the 2006 Concannon Petite Sirah Limited Release from California's Central Coast. R and I had this wine for the first time on our anniversary at The Fireplace in Washington Square. This time we had it with chicken scallopini and a creamy rosemary white bean puree. Concannon was the first winery in the USA to produce a Petite Sirah as it’s been around since 1883 in the Livermore Valley area. Petite Sirah, as its known in the U.S. and Israel, is actually the Durif grape – it came about from cross a cross pollenation from Syrah and a Peloursin plant. It shares a lot of similarites with Sirah (hence the name) - spicy, slightly jammy, with a decently smooth, silky finish. I got this on sale for $10.99, marked down from $17.

OK, that's it for now, its been a good wine-week and I can't wait until our next G&G meeting!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Terrifing-ly Tasty Start to Halloween

Kate, original Tucson Arizona G&G member, was in Boston for our Halloween-themed wine club. SO EXCITING!!! G&G goes cross-country!


zombie punch a'la Jaimie
Lots o' wine (I'm a bad person because I can't remember ANY of them... oops!)

We really did the creepy food theme right. We had a scary goblin-head cheese platter, black-bean hummus with fun olive spiders, and arancini (ok, ok, I brought the arancini... not scary at all... totally lame, I know....)

We paired our wines with some spicy horseradish cheddar and herbed goat cheese (along with the goblin-head cheese!)

I apologize for not remembering more of the wines of the evening, I blame it on the fact that Kate and I enjoyed some (many) pre-wine club drinks at The Savant Project.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A trip to Italy

This month we all made our way to Medford (Mef-feh) for an Italian-themed wine club. Major bonus: we got to spend some quality time with our newest wine club member, Baby K!

We started the evening with Proseccos (the Italian version of Champagne).

1. Zardetto Prosecco Brut: Made in the Prosecco village of Canegliano, there was a nose of apples, a whiff of clover honey and wildflowers. Crisp and dry tart-apple flavors are near bone-dry, with a lemony, acidic finish. Bright and refreshing, it's an appealing summer sipper, but good balance and crisp acidity made it a fine food wine, too.

2. Villa Carlotti Prosecco: This one was light, with nice bubbles, and mellow aromas of almond, pear and yeast. On the palate, it tasted of green apple, asian pear, and spice.

We enjoyed these sparkers with an antipasto spread of marinated olives, roasted red peppers and proscuitto, along with hummus and pita chips.

We then moved into they most popular Italian white varietal, the Pinot Grigio.

3. Casalini Pinot Grigio Veneto 2007: Intense, ample and persistent bouquet of fresh fruit and
flowers. The taste was delicate and elegant, with a crispy, dry hit well balanced by aromas of ripe fruits like golden apple and tropical fruit.

4. Campanile Pinot Grigio 2008: It had a nice pear taste with a crisp finish.

On to the Reds!
5. Carpineto Dogajolo Toscano 2008: This wine has been classified as a young “Super-Tuscan”, and is a blend of Sangiovese (mostly) and Cabernet Savingnon grapes. It had a surprising aroma of dark fruit, coffee and spice and a long, dry finish. It was an interesting wine, with the power and deep colors of a young wine and a fruity and fragrant bouquet. I bet this wine would probably age well and taste much better in a few years.... not that it was bad!

6. Rubentino Chianti 2006 (imported from Italy via Patti): This wine was an AWESOME addition to wine club... everyone loves a good, smuggled wine! The color was bright ruby to garnet red and had a generous bouquet of fruity, floral flavors, with hints of morello cherry and violet. It was reasonably dry, but well-balanced.

7. Layer Cake Primitivo 2007: This wine hails from Puglia, Italy and is their version of the Californial Zinfindel. Purple in color with black fruit, cherries and whipped cream on the nose. Extremely creamy and ripe fruit with spice and a bit of tartness on the finish. Bold, big reds aren't common to most Italian wines and it can be very difficult to find an inexpensive version, which this one is.

We had quite the spread of food, so much so that we were all too full to try the family's famous sauce (bummer!). In addition to the antipasto platter, there was tomato, basil, and mozzerella bruschetta, tiramisu, nutella with assorted fruits and cookies, and cheese (gorgonzola, parmesan, and asiago).

What a great evening! We enjoyed some seriously delicious food and wine, and those of us who have traveled to Italy shared our stories. I think many of us left that evening with a new appreciation for Italian wine, culture, and food... we all left about 5lbs heavier too!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

New G&G Chapter!

Well, I just heard the news, our newest G&G chapter is getting ready to begin.


Here's what Liz told me about her group, "Just wanted to let you all know that a new chapter of G&G will be starting in just a few weeks. We are so excited! It looks like about 7-10 interns from my intern class are interested, a great starter group I think. Anan is here for a visiting rotation, so we will present the wine together and I will host our first get together. Our theme will be "Napa Favorites", mostly because I am not more creative, but also since Anan will be going to Napa this weekend to do some serious tastings."

We now have G&G groups in Tucson and Phoenix, AZ; Boston, MA; and San Fran, CA. I've heard wind of a possible group starting up in Philadelphia, PA, too!

Monday, April 13, 2009

4/10/09 Meeting!

Welcome to the Boston Girls 'n Grapes Wine Club blog! I'm your blog host, Katie, and I'm here to guide you through our wine selection and recipes for April's meeting.


Jaimie bought us a primer wine, a tasty white which we enjoyed while we waited for people to arrive.

We started with the Petit Chenin Blanc, which was lovely and light, then headed to the Indaba Sauvignon Blanc and Excelsior Chardonnay, two other nice choices.

Next up was a smokey LB Pinot Noir and a delightful Walker Bay Pinotage.

To end our night, we enjoyed some low alcohol California orange muscat wine with a slight bit of carbonation. Very sweet and a good end to a lot of wine, having only 4% ABV.


I traveled to the South End Food Emporium (yelp link) to buy injera. Injera, if you haven't partaken of Ethiopian food, is the flat, crepe-like, spongy sourdough used to both plate and eat your food. It is made of a grain called teff, which is one of the smallest cereal grains on the planet. I also picked up some berbere
, which is the spice commonly associated with the Ethiopian cuisine. A bag of injera is $5, and 1/2 pound of berbere goes for something like $7.99. It's worth a trip out there to get it, but fair warning, the bread doesn't last long in your pantry. I've had good luck freezing it, however.

Anyway, these are the dishes I made:

-Ethiopian split peas. (made according to recipe, except I didn't pre-soak the peas; instead, I threw everything into a crock pot to cook while I was at work. If you do this, add at least an extra cup of water.

-Ethiopian Green Beans and Potatoes. Added two carrots, chopped, didn't seed the jalepeno (I never do), used can of regular diced tomatoes instead of stewed, and used maybe 1/2 the recommended green beans.

-Yemiser Wat. Used red lentils and only 1/2 of the can of tomatoes. Also, instead of the spices, I just used a couple tablespoons of berbere, no tomato paste, and water instead of veggie broth.

There was other food, but I'll let the chefs post their own recipes. Patti brought bread and cheese, Laura made a honey/cinnamon tofutti spread and brought cheese, and also made cherry raviolis with soy vanilla "ice cream" (loving the non-dairy shout out) and shaved chocolate. Also in attendance were a couple cupcakes, vegan mint-chocolate and margarita varieties.

It was a wonderful way to spend a Friday night!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Don't Cry For Me Argentina

This month we tasted different varietals from all over Argentina. Argentina is the largest wine producer in South America and is the 5th largest wine producer in the world. Also, due to its high altitude and low humidity, there are less bugs, fungi and mold - which means that in generial, there are less pesticides in Argentinian wines. Sweet!


We started the night with a Crios Rose of Malbec, a fragrant blush wine with notes of cherry and wild strawberry. This wine paired very nicely with stinky cheese and chevre. Next up was an aromatic white wine, the Amichas Torrantes. This is a very typical Argentinian white wine that also paired nicely with chevre. Our final white wine was a Catena Chardonnay from Mendoza.

We started the reds with a Pinot Noir from the Rio Negro region. This was followed by the most popular Argentinian wine, Malbec! Our Malbec was rich, dark, juicy and had a good plum nose. We ended the night with a spicy Clos de los Siete red blend that had similar characteristics to a French Bordeaux or Claret.


Katie made some delicious vegetable samosas with 3 different chutneys, whose spice really paired well with these wines. Lindsay made some vegetable enchiladas, and we had the obligatory tasty cheeses and fruit. I'm drawing a blank on the other dishes... oops! A NY cheesecake rounded out a delicious Argentinian night.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

January = Beginnings

Our first meeting of Girls & Grapes - Boston was a great success! We had about 11 girls to start the night, lots of wine, food, and fun!

THEME: Pinot Party


We started the night by comparing a 2007 Borgo Pinot Grigio from Italy, with the 2007 Villa Marchesi Pinot Grigio (also Italian), both were was crisp, light, and dry with notes of honeysuckle, lemon, and slight mineral flavors - great rainy spring wines. To round out the whites, we tasted a French 2006 Joseph Kaetzel Pinot Gris, which was a solid, medium-bodied white wine with banana, cedar, and floral aromas. They're hard to find, but I think this was a good winter white.

For the reds, we started with a 2007 Cartlidge & Brown Pinot Noir from California, a ripe and fruity wine. We then tasted a 2007 Mirassou Pinot Noir, which had aromas of strawberries and cherries, followed with a little spice.


We had a massive spread with lots of fruit (dried bananas, strawberries, pears, etc), mini-quiches, bread and dipping oil, and some cheeses.

For dessert, we enjoyed some fresh baked brownies and some "Brad Sucks" spice cake (Katie's creation).

It was a great way to start the year and to start the newest "chapter" of Girls & Grapes!