Late Summer Entertaining: Régnié Beaujolais and Wine-Pickled Stone Fruit and Charcuterie Board Salad and a Picnic Giveaway!

Régnié Beaujolais and Wine-Pickled Stone Fruit and Charcuterie Board Salad // stirandstrain.com

This post is brought to you by Beaujolais Wines, Regnié, Franck Cinquin, Domaine des Braves, 2014. Recipes and ideas are my own.

As we’re wrapping up Summer and starting to think about Fall, this is the time of year I start to stockpile my end of season summer fruits and veggies. And per usual, I overdo it with the produce.

For our end of summer entertaining post I thought I’d crack open a bottle of Beaujolais and show you this simple but flavorful dish you could serve up while we squeeze in the last few summer parties of the season (check the end of the post for our giveaway if you’re in need of some picnic swag!). Sometimes the perfect late summer get togethers can be as simple that: wine and a beautiful salad that showcases the bounty of the transitioning seasons.

Régnié Beaujolais and Wine-Pickled Stone Fruit and Charcuterie Board Salad // stirandstrain.comBut this is a spirits site, why are we talking salads?? Well, because we’ll be using that wine you’ll be serving your guests as an ingredient too! The star of the salad is the pickled stone fruit: nectarines, plums and cherries. These pickled stone fruit take a 3 day dip in a sweet and sour bath laced with wine and come out the other end transformed into some crazy delicious bites. I love it when I can incorporate elements from both the drinks and the food together for dishes.

Régnié Beaujolais and Wine-Pickled Stone Fruit and Charcuterie Board Salad // stirandstrain.comIn addition to this yummy salad, we’re also taking wine today. If we want to keep our get togethers simple and laid back, we also need a laid back wine. Enter Beaujolais; more specifically Régnié.

Régnié Beaujolais and Wine-Pickled Stone Fruit and Charcuterie Board Salad // stirandstrain.comRégnié (pronounced like rein-yay) is the ultimate outdoor entertaining wine. It’s food friendly and pretty much pairs with all those foods you’d want to eat at your outdoor fête. Charcuterie plate? Yes. Spinach salad? Yes. All the cheeses?!?!? Yes yes yes! That’s why we’re pairing this medium-bodied red Beaujolais (did you know Beaujolais comes in red, white AND rosé?) with our salad; the slightly spicy berry, tart and dry wine compliments the pungent, sweet and sour flavors of the pickled stone fruits as well as the salty goodness of the charcuterie and cheese perfectly.

Régnié Beaujolais and Wine-Pickled Stone Fruit and Charcuterie Board Salad // stirandstrain.comThe idea of this salad came about because, well…I’m not really a cracker person. Shocker, what?! Is that a thing?? I’m usually the odd one just eating cheese and meat slices off a fork; I just don’t want all the filler. My husband however is a water cracker connoisseur and is baffled by this approach to eating a cheese and charcuterie board. I thought that if I want to eat my meat and cheese and all the components of a well-dressed spread in a more substantial manner, I can put them all in a salad. The added bonus is the wine in the pickled stone fruits which punches their taste way up, and the resulting brine is an amazing substitute to plain old vinegar in the dressing for the salad.

Régnié Beaujolais and Wine-Pickled Stone Fruit and Charcuterie Board Salad // stirandstrain.comAre you guys ready to throw one last summer party now?

Here are some tips for serving your wine, party style:
  • Beaujolais is a pocket friendly wine, so stock up for the party
  • serve Régnié at slightly cooler than room temp but never totally chilled (and it’s fine if you forget and leave it at room temp too!)
  • don’t be afraid to pair this wine with “picnic” foods: fried chicken, crab dip, pâtés…
  • serve it all day long: Beaujolais is easy to drink from apps to dessert and everything in between

Régnié Beaujolais and Wine-Pickled Stone Fruit and Charcuterie Board Salad // stirandstrain.comWine-Pickled Stone Fruit and Charcuterie Board Salad

1-1/2 cup of pickled stone fruits plus 2 tablespoons of brine, reserved (recipes follow)
4 ounces sliced prosciutto and salami
1/4 cup sliced cornichons
1/4 cup sliced olives
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
4 cups mixed greens
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper
basil, chives, parsley, basil flowers for garnish
toasted baguette slices, optional

Start by mixing together brine, olive oil and salt and pepper to make a dressing. Build your salad by placing greens on a large plate and top with stone fruits, charcuterie, cornichons, olives, and cheese. Toss to combine and top with fresh herbs. Optionally serve toasted baguette slices to mop up any juices left over on your plate.

Pickled stone fruit

4 large stone fruits (mix of nectarine, plums and/or peaches), sliced into 1/2″ slices
1-1/2 cups white vinegar
1-1/2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1 teaspoon black pepper, whole
1 teaspoon coriander, whole
1 star anise
1 bay leaf
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 ounce Régnié Beaujolais wine

In a medium sized non-reactive saucepan, pour in white vinegar, water, sugar and salt. Heat over medium-high heat until sugar has dissolved. Stir in chili flakes, black pepper, coriander, star anise and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Place the stone fruit slices in a large glass container and pour the hot liquid over the fruit and stir in wine. Let the mixture cool to room temperature and then cover and refrigerate. Let the mixture sit for three days for best taste. Keeps up to two weeks.

*Sweet and pungent with a nice lingering heat from the small addition of chili flakes.

Pickled cherries

adapted from Whole Foods

1-1/2 cups cherries, pitted
1-1/2 cups water
1/3 cup sugar
3 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon coriander
4 green cardamom pods
1 bay leaf
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 ounce Régnié Beaujolais wine

In a medium sized non-reactive saucepan, add in water, sugar, cloves, cinnamon stick, coriander, cardamom pods, bay leaf and salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let steep 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar and wine. In a medium sized glass container, place cherries at the bottom and pour hot mixture over them. Let cherry mixture cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate for three days for best flavor. Keeps up to two weeks.

Régnié Beaujolais and Wine-Pickled Stone Fruit and Charcuterie Board Salad // stirandstrain.com

*Sweet, sour and spicy!

Up Your Beaujolais Game! from Honest Cooking on Vimeo.

You’ve got your wine, you’ve got a tasty salad, and now you guys need some picnic swag! Enter below for a chance to win a Wine Picnic Bag for 4 valued at $119! (Giveaway ends 10/15/17)

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For more information on Régnié and all theBeaujolais wines, please visit DiscoverBeaujolais.com today!



Desert Rosé Punch

I was compensated by Nielsen-Massey Vanillas for my time in developing this recipe and post. All opinions are my own.

This past week, Instagram was filled, filled, with weddings. It’s like half the internet decided this was the most auspicious week of their lives and if they were ever going to get married they might as well do it now. And I’m in no way hating on these people, in fact, I loved looking over how different they all were from each other; I’m a total sucker for weddings.

All of this celebrating tuned me in to the fact that we are about to hit summer party season. Already. One would say you can’t tell by the weather here in Southern California, but those of us in the know, know, that summer season starts about as gray and gloomy as they get before the awful heat kicks in.

So today we’ve got a fun punch you can throw together for a wedding or a graduation party or “hey look I’ve got a stoop we can sit on for a few hours let’s make a punch and call it a party” party. You’ll find a reason guys to make this punch. It’s also a lovely pink-hued punch for our SoCal June gloom, but it will work for sunny days too. Let’s just all agree not to call it a millennial pink punch. Ok? It was inspired by Turkish cuisine with pomegranates, pistachio and orange blossom water, otherwise known as “Essential Oil of Neroli”.

I’ll tell you upfront, it’s gin based, and I can already hear some of my pals whining about how they don’t drink gin. But trust me! It layers nicely in here and if you use a London dry, like I tell you to, then it won’t be an overpoweringly “gin” punch. Pairing it with a rich pomegranate reduction give a sharp sweetness with a nutty layer from some pistachio orgeat. The whole punch gets tied together with the amazing scent of Nielsen-Massey’s Orange Blossom Water.

There is a tiny amount of the orange blossom water in the pistachio orgeat, but adding in the aroma directly to the punch makes for a more prominent aroma. Also, if you opt not to make the orgeat then this guarantees that you’re still getting lots of orange blossom with every sip.

I’ve been using the Nielsen-Massey vanillas for over a decade now and have started using their extracts in cocktails these past few years. All Nielsen-Massey products are all-natural, certified gluten-free, certified Kosher, allergen-free and GMO-Free, and there is an expanding line of certified organic products (right up our alley!). Their orange blossom water is my go-to for my obsession with almond-alternative orgeats as well.

Are you ready to start your summer punch party? Let’s get mixing.

Desert Rosé Punch

Serves 5-7 guests

7-1/2 ounces London dry style gin, such as Beefeater
1-1/2 ounces pistachio orgeat (recipe here, or sub in orgeat of choice)
2-1/2 ounces pomegranate reduction (recipe follows)
2-1/2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
1-1/2 teaspoons Nielsen-Massey Orange Blossom Water, or to taste
1 bottle of sparkling rosé wine
orange slices and pomegranate seeds for ice block

  • The day before, freeze together the orange slices and pomegranate seeds with water in a container that will fit your punch bowl.
  • At least an hour before serving, combine the gin, pistachio orgeat, pomegranate reduction, lime juice and Nielsen-Massey Orange Blossom Water into your punch bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • To serve, stir mixture and add ice block to the punch bowl. Top with sparkling rosé wine.

Pomegranate Reduction

1-1/2 cups all natural pomegranate juice

  • In a small saucepan over medium high heat, bring pomegranate juice to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and let sit until juice reduces to a little over a quarter cup.
  • Remove from the heat, let cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one month.

For more info on Nielsen-Massey Orange Blossom Water and all their products, check them out at nielsenmassey.com or on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!

{Now Closed} Giveaway // Wine Isn’t Rocket Science

Wine might not be rocket science, but you’ll feel a lot smarter talking about wine after you read this book. And today you can win your own copy of Wine Isn’t Rocket Science: A Quick & Easy Guide to Understanding, Buying, Tasting and Pairing Every Type of Wine!

The book debuts today and we’ve got TWO copies we can’t wait to give out. This book is perfect for the beginner oenophiles and seasoned wine lovers alike. There’s lots of easy to understand descriptions and graphics that make the world of wine easy to understand, even for those of you who usually just stick to cocktails.

Included are sections on:

  • Different varietals, highlighting the regions they grow in and key flavor profiles to look for when tasting each varietal.
  • The different production processes of white, red, rosé, Champagne and sweet wines.
  • Opening, pouring and pairing wines perfectly when entertaining guests.
  • Decoding wine labels and tasting wine like a pro.
  • The most productive wine regions around the world, from France, Italy and Spain to the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

So let’s get smart about wine! Enter below and score up to 11 entries to win your own copy of the book. Remember, we’ve got TWO copies up for grabs so tell a friend and you both can win! Good luck!

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Holiday Gift Guide: Wine Lovaaaahhhhhh

Whether you’re a Level IV Sommelier or just like mixing your red wine with coke, this guide’s for you!

Holiday Gift Guide: Wine Lovaaaahhhhh!!!! // stirandstrain.com

OK, let’s talk glassware. You can get it fancy (it says so on the glass), or save yourself the trouble and just get some unbreakable glasses (they look so REAL). Or if you just can’t be bothered, you can just attach your glass to the bottle. For your fanciest wine peeps, grab some copper, or a fancy decanter, or maybe a book on the wine regions of Argentina. And what’s the best wine gift of all? Wine. Sent to your home. Every month.

1. Twist Wine Decanter 2. Stay Fancy Wine Glass 3. Wine Glass Bottle Topper 4. Unbreakable Wine Glass 5. Wine Tasting T-Shirt 6. Argentina Wine Book 7. Wino Wine Bag 8. Winc Wine Subscription (Use this link for a free bottle of wine!) 9. Copper Wine/Ice Bucket

 

Catch up on all the gift guides here!

Holiday Entertaining Tips: What to Do With Leftover Wine

Entertaining Tips: Banfi Wine Ice Cubes // stirandstrain.comThis post is brought to you by Banfi Wine. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Of all the holidays over fall and winter, I’d say that Thanksgiving is the holiday where we drink the most wine. Maybe it’s because we’re matching all that food that is being shoveled down our gullets, or maybe it’s always a thoughtful gift to bring to the party. Inevitably, after the meal, and the dessert, and that second meal at 1am, there are always a few stray bottles that have just a little too much wine left in them to finish off standing over the sink. So what to do?

This holiday season I’m going to give you guys a few quick and dirty tips to make entertaining easy for you. First up: leftover wine, because it happens.

Entertaining Tips: Banfi Wine Ice Cubes // stirandstrain.comThere’s a pretty easy solution that probably has never crossed your mind: freeze it into ice cubes. Because wine has a low alcohol proof and is made of a higher percentage of water, it will freeze. Now, it will never get a solid as an ice cube, but it will freeze and hold a shape. I would suggest freezing the wine for a full 48 hours before use, and to store in the ice cube trays (I like these big guys). You might want to cover with plastic wrap as well so the wine will not brush off onto other items in your freezer.

Entertaining Tips: Banfi Wine Ice Cubes // stirandstrain.comI used Banfi Wine’s Bell’Agio Rosso Dolce for my ice cubes. This Lambrusco is a sweet red wine that is a perfect match for your holiday table. The sweetness of the wine is a nice addition in ice cube form when mixing up drinks so you won’t need much (or any) added sugar.

And just how should you use up those wine ice cubes? Here’s a few ideas for you all:

  • Instant Sangria: slice up some oranges and apples, add a wine ice cube and give the whole thing a generous splash of sparkling water. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes.
  • Wine spiked cocktails: wine ice cube + liquor (gin, whiskey, rum) + a slice of lemon or orange = tasty.
  • Wine granitas: instead of freezing in an ice cube tray, add the wine to small ramekins (like these), give a good spritz of lemon juice, a scant teaspoon of sugar, mix and freeze. After a few hours give it a stir, then do the same again a few hours later. When frozen to the consistency you desire, take them out and eat right from the ramekin. YUM!

Entertaining Tips: Banfi Wine Ice Cubes // stirandstrain.comDo you have a trick for using leftover wine? Leave your ideas in the comments below!

For more information on Banfi wine and the Bell’Agio Rosso Dolce Lambrusco, please visit their site at banfiwines.com!

Florals generously donated by BloomsyBox.com

Summer Cocktailing Essentials 2016

Well, summer’s here. And I’m not going to complain about all this over 100° weather we’re having in Southern California. Nope. Not going to complain…

Summer Entertaining Gift Guide 2016 // stirandstrain.com

Instead I’ll use it as an excuse to sit in the pool with my flamingo drink holder. My fruit wine for the morning and my Japanese whiskey for the night (your whiskey changes each season too, right?). With a summery cocktail book in one hand, and my favorite citrus tools in the other I really won’t need much else for the next few months. Ok, maybe some boozy hot fudge sauce. That’s a must.

1. Tequila infused chocolate sauce 2. Outdoorsy drinking t-shirt 3. Bourbon infused chocolate sauce 4. Citrus squeezer and zester tools 5. Flamingo drink holder 6. Spritz: Italy’s Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, with Recipes 7. Pomegranate Wine 8. Kikori Whiskey 9. Pineapple + Mango Sangria

Stir and Strain X LAWine Fest

Stir and Strain at the LAWine Fest 2016 // stirandstrain.comThis weekend we’re sending our wine-man-on-the-town Robin Watts to check out the 11th annual LAWine Fest here in Los Angeles to get the lowdown on what’s haute in the wine world. Robin will be posting on our Instagram with his must pours and give you guys a little behind the scenes action. If you’re not in Los Angeles this will be a great way to check out what’s up and coming in the wine world, and if you ARE in Los Angeles: JOIN US!! LAWine fest has a special code for Stir and Strain readers. Using the code FEST2016 on lawinefest.com, tickets can be purchases for the special rate of $45.00, instead of the $90.00 door price. Guys, that’s 50% off!

Here’s a little more info on the event:

  • L.A.’s largest and longest-running consumer wine tasting event, LAWineFest aims to make the world of wine fun and accessible for Angelenos. Founded in 2005 by renowned wine personality Dr. Joel M. Fisher, LAWineFest became a family business when daughter Sara Fisher Chapin began running the company in 2012. LAWineFest proudly supports local organizations while serving as the Southland’s signature celebration of wine.
  • Participants you will also have the opportunity to get up-close and personal with a wide variety of reasonably-priced artisan boutiques, gourmet foods, wine-related accessories and local lifestyle ‘must have’ products.
  • Wineries will be doing online sales and wine-club sign-ups, and non- wine exhibitors will be selling their wares directly at the event.
  • Offers a rare opportunity for true wine lovers to taste select small-batch pours from hard-to-find boutique wineries at a small, additional fee. This private area will include 25 winery gems and tickets for this will be limited to 400 people per day to provide a more personal experience for this exclusive tasting.
  • Not only does it balance fun, exploration and education, but with a portion of the event’s proceeds, LAWineFest proudly supports The Sunshine Kids for pediatric cancer. You can find more information about the history at LAWineFest

Stir and Strain at the LAWine Fest 2016 // stirandstrain.comLocation: Sunset Bronson Studios, 5901 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90028. The cross streets are Sunset Blvd and N. Bronson Avenue.
Dates and times: Saturday June 25th from 2pm-7pm and Sunday June 26th from 2pm-6pm.
Cost of Admission and Ticketing: Tickets are $90 per day (single, general admission), $120 per day (single, universal admission and includes boutique wine tasting), and $15 (designated drivers—no drinking).
What is included with ticket: General Admission covers tastings, commemorative glass, event program, main stage shows, bottled water and vendor samples.
Website | Ticketing site

 

Gift Guide: Mother’s Day 2016

This year for Mother’s Day, give her what she really wants: a couple bottles of Prosecco and for you to leave her alone.

 

Mothers Day Gift Guide 2016 // stirandstrain.com

Why have Mom choose just one little black number when she can have a black, grey and white choice (of Prosecco, that is). A dash or two of bitters into a flowery tumbler will make for a delicious road soda on the way to brunch. Give her a few cocktail pins to hold her scarf in place and away you go! And after all the kids have gone, all she wants to do is soak in a giant daiquiri bathtub and slather wine on from head to toe. Don’t we all?

1. Rosemary Lavender Bitters 2. Cocktail Pins 3. Bottle Stock Wine Opener 4. Melon Daiquiri Shower Gel 5. Zonin Prosecco Black Edition 6. Kate Spade Flower Tumbler 7. Zonin Prosecco Grey Edition 8. Wine Therapy mask 9. Zonin Prosecco White Edition

Tarantas Wine Slushie with Melon, Pimm’s and Crystalized Ginger One SPICY cocktail!

Tarantas Wine Slushie with honeydew, Pimm's No. 1 and crystalized ginger // stirandstrain.comFor about the last month or so you guys may have noticed I’ve been promoting a contest by Tarantas Wines where I’ll be judging all of the wine-based cocktails. I feel that sometimes saying “wine-based” for cocktails confuses people, like, they only imagine taking the wine and mixing it with club soda and maybe adding a mint leaf to it. Or, in one kinda sad case online I recently saw some wine cocktails that were just a bottle of wine blended with a basket of strawberries and ice. It looked pretty in the picture, but I wouldn’t warrant it an innovative cocktail.

I’l take a step back here though and not get on the soapbox about what IS and ISN’T a cocktail, because quite frankly that’s not a debate I want to get into. (Although, side-note, according to David Wondrich the first usage of the term cocktail has to do with horses and ginger placed in their, um, well, butts to make their tails perk up.)

Tarantas Wine Slushie with honeydew, Pimm's No. 1 and crystalized ginger // stirandstrain.comSo let’s talk about how I like to make wine cocktails, or rather, since the weather is getting HOT again in my neighborhood, wine slushie cocktails. I don’t bat an eyelash over frozen cocktails as evidenced here here and here. In fact, book publishers- if you want a cocktail book on this subject, go ahead and contact me; I’m taking meetings.

Tarantas Wine Slushie with honeydew, Pimm's No. 1 and crystalized ginger // stirandstrain.comThe wine I’ve chosen as my base is Tarantas Monastrell, an inky, tart and not-too-sweet red from the Jumilla region of Spain. Because it’s so dry, I added in some sweetness with honeydew melon and Pimm’s No. 1. The Pimm’s also adds in some spices and subtle earthy flavors. I wanted to finish this on a spicy note so in went crystalized ginger. (You can get crystalized ginger in a speciality grocer, online, or can make your own too.) I wanted to add a touch more sweetness and have some of the ginger chunks actually present in the drink- think of them as your chewy spice bombs. Otherwise I could have gone with fresh ginger infused in some capacity.

Tarantas Wine Slushie with honeydew, Pimm's No. 1 and crystalized ginger // stirandstrain.comTo minimize watering the drink down with ice, I pre-freeze the mixture the night before. Because there is a low alcohol content, the mixture actually becomes solid overnight but not completely frozen. This way I can add the pre-frozen mixture directly into the blender and only add ice to it as needed. Yes, it’s an additional step that requires some thought beforehand, but it makes for a better frozen drink. If you don’t have the time to freeze overnight, you should at least chill the mixture a few hours beforehand, and if you need this IMMEDIATELY, then go ahead and throw it into the blender with crushed ice, just taste and adjust as you go.Tarantas Wine Slushie with honeydew, Pimm's No. 1 and crystalized ginger // stirandstrain.com

The overnight mixture makes for a refreshing and light cocktail. You get honeyed ginger flavors with subtle spice and some grassiness; overall it’s quite balanced. If you like your drinks even spicer, I’d up the ginger by another tablespoon, it gets quite zingy.Tarantas Wine Slushie with honeydew, Pimm's No. 1 and crystalized ginger // stirandstrain.com

15 ounces honey dew melon (about half a melon), chopped into 1/2″ pieces
36 g or 1.2 ounces (about a quarter cup) chopped Crystalized ginger
2 ounces simple syrup (1:1 ration)
4 ounces of Pimm’s No. 1
8 ounces Tarantas Monastrell wine*
crystalized ginger pieces and edible flower petals for garnish

  • The night before, combine the honeydew melon, crystalized ginger, simple syrup, Pimm’s No. 1 and the Tarantas Monastrell wine into a gallon size ziplock bag. Freeze overnight.
  • When ready to make the cocktails, add pre-frozen mixture to a blender and blend to desired consistency (should be smooth, not too chunky). Add ice as needed.
  • To serve, pour into double rocks glasses and garnish with crystalized ginger pieces and edible flower petals.

Remember, you have until THIS FRIDAY to enter your own wine-based cocktail on the Tarantas website! Happy Wine Wednesday everyone!

The Not-Your-Ordinary Valentine’s Day Wine (Report) with Robin Watts!

Sexy February Wines with Robin Watts // stirandstrain.comYou’ve got options for Valentine’s Day folks. Sexy, sexy wine options.

Robin Watts is back this month and he’s gone and picked an impressive line up of wines for your weekend. Pop open a few of these for a loved one, or do what I did: get thirsty reading these descriptions and finish them yourself. It’s going to be hard to pick just one…

-Elana



When I set out to pick a few wines for the impending Valentine’s Day weekend I thought I would end up going a possibly cliche route and selecting only French or Italian wines. So “romantic” and European! Truth be told, I was seduced by some domestic stuff as well and I think you, and maybe someone else in your life, might be too.

 

Sexy February Wines with Robin Watts // stirandstrain.com2014 Broc Cellars Love White
California
Retails apx. $20

This is a California white that I would recommend to any white drinker who doesn’t usually, or won’t, drink California white wine. This blend of Marsanne (85%), Roussanne (12%), and Viogner (3%) has some very distinctly European sensibilities about it. Aromatic and floral with overtones of pear and bit of honey I think that this wine works well as a starter or even accompanying an entree of lighter fair. And lets be honest, this holiday places a lot on aesthetics and this is nice looking bottle with a couple hearts on it. It’s called Love White!!! This wine will help you fit in with the cliche and trite parts of the holiday while its corked but surprise you and spoil you once it’s uncorked.

Sexy February Wines with Robin Watts // stirandstrain.com2014 Gragnano from Poggio delle Bacanti
Italy
Retails apx. $15

There is not a lot of information to be found on this wine but for around $15, and sometimes less, you’ll be drinking this so fast you probably won’t care. Mildly effervescent, it pours and froths like a lambrusco but drinks relatively still (and dry!). I prefer it with a decent chill on it and think its versatility lend it to any day part but, if pairing it with food, go heartier. Being from Napoli, and for some reason very mysterious, I have to assume this is Aglianico and Piedirosso which explains the earthy, leathery quality. There is something satisfyingly vegetal about this, almost as if an olive and a cranberry had a baby but it was raised by a beet and an eggplant. I recommend finishing this savory dry surprise the day you open it but I doubt that should be a difficult task.

Sexy February Wines with Robin Watts // stirandstrain.comL’Unique Gaz de Schiste
France
Retails apx. $24

Just go buy this. I should just say that and tell you to trust me. Pink? Check. Bubbly? Check. Delicious? Check. Seems perfect for Valentine’s Day. I think its perfect for any time, any place, and probably any person. 50% Grenache/50% Mourvedre and six month of bottle maturation make for one elegant bottle of bubbly. A little bit sweet, this sparkler is a tart, minerally, grapefruit-y, creamy treat. At first, it smells like you’ve opened the most exquisite bag of gummy worms (I mean that in the best, most respectful way) and the first sip conjures up images of the most impressive fruit trifle and leaves you with a macadamia kiss. Yeah. I’m not even a little bit embarrassed to say any of that. This stuff is that good and functions perfectly as an aperitif or dessert. Get a bottle for someone you love, especially if that person is yourself.

Sexy February Wines with Robin Watts // stirandstrain.com2014 Bow & Arrow Gamay
Oregon
Retails apx. $24

Bow & Arrow knows what they’re doing. This Willamette Valley Gamay is soft, luscious, velvety, and just the slightest bit dirty, but in a good way. A very good way. Valentine’s Day appropriate for multiple reasons, the label, covered in tiny arrows, will help you play up holiday Cupid motifs while impressing your sweetheart with a wine that is reminiscent of a dark chocolate bar filled with cherries and almonds. Perfect for someone who thinks they’re afraid of tannins, though be warned, they are there, this wine just gets better as it opens up. Halfway through your first bottle I’d suggest opening a second if for no other reason than to smell that luscious mulberry aroma one more time. Great acidity makes this a lovely food wine but its just as satisfying by itself. This is a wine you can proudly pour with confidence in hopes to impress a special someone new or remind a longtime partner that you can still enjoy the good stuff without breaking the bank.

Ask Robin all your wine questions on twitter @RobinNWatts and find all his wine picks here at Wine Wine Wine

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