Around the World in 80 Sips Recap

We attended the Bottlenotes “Around the World in 80 Sips” event on March 21 at the gorgeous National Museum of Women in the Arts in DC with a great group of girlfriends.  Before we sipped, we enjoyed a delicious dinner at Chef Geoff’s and somehow managed to skip dessert!  We didn’t forget to take advantage of this perfect photo opp with a glass of wine and the top of the Chef Geoff’s dessert menu.

Photo Credit to Marci!

Photo Credit to Marci!

The event was quite popping when we got there–almost a little too overcrowded!  However, we managed to snag a cocktail table to claim as our home base while we each sampled different wines at stations set up by various wineries.

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Crowded! But how great is that?

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The girls at the gorgeous National Museum of Women in the Arts

We used the Bottlenotes Mobile iPhone app  so we could rate and share our impressions of each pour in real-time. Sarah was our Bottlenotes 80 Sips recorder. While we didn’t discuss our love of wine all night, here are some notes on the wines we did try!

Note from Colleen: “Yum! Smooth, taste cherry, and light in body”
Caroline: “Light but not crisp-very smooth and not heavy. You can taste the tannis.
Ellen: “Perfect wine with a steak dinner-fresh on the palatte!”
 

Tenuta di Ghizzano Sangiovese-2001 (SL-94231)

Note from Sarah: Too much strawberry

Château Lamy AOC Corbières -2012(SCH-139232)

Colleen:  ” I taste blackberries. Nice and smooth. Medium to full in body. I could drink this anytime!”
 
Sarah: “Smokey chocolate, yum!! Like a shiraz”
 Marci: “Good for mulled wine-smooth.”
 Sarah: “Taste strong alcohol.”
 
Ellen: “Crisp and very sweet, oaky in a good way: light crispy oak”
 

Los Hermanos Vineyards Chardonnay -N.V.(WS-001)

Marci: ” It’s on the sweeter side, not as dry as I’d like it to be.”
 

Anna de Codorníu Brut Rosé -N.V.(BOS-2000)

Sarah: “Lot’s of bubbles! Can’t taste it because of the bubbles!”

The Bottom Line: We loved our first Bottlenotes event and plan to attend many more!

To check out upcoming Bottlenotes events, visit the events page at http://www.BottleNotes.com!

Happy Sipping!

xoxo, Colleen and Sarah

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Sips: Grand Cru Wine Bar & Bistro, Arlington, VA

We both invited a close girlfriend to share in a fun girls night out at a local wine bar. Four seems to be the perfect number for a group wine tasting in an intimate setting. Often wine bars are on the smaller side, making it difficult to accommodate larger groups. It is also nice to be able to catch up with everyone equally and not have many side conversations with friends.

We selected Grand Cru Wine Bar & Bistro.  It is tucked away in a small courtyard in Ballston, a neighborhood in Arlington, VA. The wine bar was cute and inviting- perfect for a girls night or even date night!  One unique aspect of Grand Cru is that it is a wine store and a wine bar combined, so, as our waiter said, the wine list is “all around us!”  In addition to ordering a glass or a wine flight, you can select a bottle from the shelf and pay a small corking fee to drink it there in the bistro area.

Pre-Sipping

We discussed what kind of wines we prefer. Caroline brought up a good point when selecting a wine when out wining and dining. She told us she tends to look for the region of where the grape was produced. Caroline’s go-to is usually an Argentinian Malbec, but if a Malbec isn’t available she will choose another wine from Argentina. Makes sense!

We wanted to have a fun activity during girls night out, so Colleen printed out ‘A Sweet Tasting Shortcut For The Savvy Girl’ guide for the girls to use as a reference when tasting.

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What We Sipped: 

Sarah and Caroline sipped on “The Primavera” flight.

Elena Walch, Pinot Grigio,  Italy $15/bottle

The Elena Walch Pinot Grigio was fruity and light.  Strong notes of stone fruits–peaches–and some vanilla and oak flavors and smells as well.

Conti Speroni, Barbaresco, Piedmont Italy, $15/bottle

This was Caroline and Sarah’s favorite of the three.  The Conti Speroni Barbaresco was a light red wine.  Caroline and Sarah tasted plums, grass, and leather, and could easily taste the tannins.  The texture was smooth and tannic, and much lighter than we thought it would be.  We felt this was a great option for the wine drinker who doesn’t prefer white wines but wants something light in warmer weather.

Cataldi Madonna, Montelpucciano d’Abruzzo, Italy, $17/bottle

Sarah’s favorite wine while studying abroad in Italy was Montelpucciano, and the Cataldi Madonna didn’t disappoint.  It has red berry and vanilla flavors, and was just a bit sweeter than the Barbaresco.

Colleen and Christine sipped on “The World of Reds” flight.

Honestly, both Colleen and Christine found it a bit difficult to figure out what all the third selections smelled like.  We both laughed and said, “Smells like grapes!”

2008 Lomalta Crianza

The Lomalta Crianza wine was creamy and balanced. Flavors included blackberries, plum with hints of oak.

Noble Hill 1674 South Africa 2008- Cabernet Sauvignon – Merlot – Petit Verdot

The wine was dry and very full in body. We tasted blackberries with hints of oak and toast.

Troublemaker California 2010 Syrah Blend

   The third selection was the favorite in this flight. The wine was smooth and medium in body. We tasted blackberries, oak, and vanilla. Colleen is a fan of Syrah and would have gladly poured a full glass.

Tips

  • Keep your group on the smaller side.
  • Check if there are any happy hour specials. We missed HH, but there were specials!
  • Check if your local wine bar takes reservations. Grand Cru gets bonus points for being able to making online reservations via their website.
  • If possible, try to have the group try different wines.  We found it worked to have two girls try the same and the other two girls try the same so there was someone to compare thoughts with!
  • Have fun!!!! Don’t take it to seriously when comparing different wines! Everyone has a unique taste.

grandcru

Happy Sipping!

xoxo, Colleen and Sarah

Bottlenotes: The Daily Sip and ‘Around the World in 80 Sips’

Bottlenotes is an online community for wine lovers to share tips, stories, and even buy wine! The vino enthusiast site was founded by entrepreneurs Alyssa Rapp and Kim Donaldson.  We can’t believe we are just hearing about this site and we are excited to use Bottlesnotes as an educating tool!

Sign up for the Daily Sip– We have both signed up for the The Daily Sip, a free e-newsletter that lets you know what’s new in the wine world. Each day we will receive an email about a cool new wine, a helpful gadget, an enlightening book or an interesting interview with a key figure in the wine industry.  It’s a great way for us to learn more about wine. You should sign up, too!

Around the World in 80 SipsThe Sips&Sweets girls are also excited to attend a Bottlenotes event!

‘Around the World in 80 Sips’ 

When: March 21

Where: The National Museum of Women In The Arts In Washington, DC.

We found a great deal on Gilt City for $37. We’ll be tasting 80 of the finest wines, from Greece to South Africa and New Zealand.  While 80 seems like a lot, we think we can handle the challenge!  Bottlenotes even created a Mobile iPhone app  so we can rate and share our impressions of each pour in real time—and see what everyone else is drinking.  How fun is that?! We can’t wait to share our impressions at girls night out next month!

Happy Sipping!

xoxo, Colleen and Sarah

 

Sweets: Better than Sex Brownies

With Valentine’s Day coming up, we decided a rich, delicious, chocolate-y brownie had to be the first sweet item on our list for Sips&Sweets.  Credit goes to The Brown Eyed Baker for this recipe, but we renamed it ourselves because we knew with five eggs, this recipe might just deserve the new name.

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The Summary: Colleen bought the ingredients for the brownies, and Sarah brought the wine (a California Cabernet) to Colleen’s place for our usual girls baking and wine night.  We baked, sipped the wine, and watched the Sochi Winter Olympics opening ceremony while enjoying the delicious brownies.  Perfect Friday night!

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The Tips (For those of you who want to host your own girls’ baking nights):

  • Decide on the recipe before you get together so you have time to buy the ingredients and pair a wine
  • Pre-heat the oven before your girlfriend comes over: less waiting time!
  • Switch off on hosting–divide up the messy kitchen responsibility each time you get together
  • Wear yoga pants: there is a time and place for dressing up, and at home baking and sipping wine is not one of those!

The Sip: Dreaming Tree Cabernet.  Dreaming Tree wines are co-produced by Dave Matthews (you might know him from his day job as a fantastic musician), and Steve Reeder, a Sonoma, CA native.  We chose cabernet to pair with the brownies because Cooking Light Magazine (and other places) shared that, “A concentrated red wine with velvety texture, oaky spice, and dark-berry fruit meshes with chocolate’s mocha flavors.  Rich, lush cabernet sauvignon from warmer climates such as California and Australia goes well with chocolate (especially dark).”  We also learned that Port goes well with chocolate, but we both love Cabernet, so chose that this time.  Dreaming Tree’s description caught Sarah’s eye, (in addition to the Dave Matthews connection): “The rhythm of our North Coast Dreaming Tree Cabernet Sauvignon highlights classic aromas of blackberry, cherry and herbal notes wrapped by toasted vanilla. It’s an easy-drinking wine with a lot of character.”—Steve Reeder.  Our verdict: this might become one of our Cabernet staples; it was smooth, fruity, and delicious.

The Sweet: 

yield: 24 brownies prep time: 30 minutes cook time: 30 minutes total time: 1 hour

INGREDIENTS:

1¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder

11 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

1½ cups granulated sugar

½ cup packed light brown sugar

5 eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9×13-inch glass or light-colored baking pan. Line the pan with parchment paper.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and cocoa powder together.

3. Put the chocolate, butter and instant espresso powder in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be room temperature.

4. Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.

5. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a rubber spatula (not a whisk), fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Let the brownies cool completely, then lift them out of the pan using the parchment paper. Cut into squares and serve.

7. Store at room temperature in an airtight container or wrap with plastic wrap for up to 3 days.

(Recipe adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking)

The Bottom Line: Homemade brownies (versus the box) are worth the extra effort, and Cabernet pairs perfectly with the rich chocolatey brownie flavor. Leftover, brownies also taste amazing with coffee! 😉

Time to invite your girlfriend over for a “Better Than Sex Brownie” and Cabernet night!

Sweet snapshot of Sarah from our girls night!

Sweet snapshot of Sarah from our girls night!

Happy Sipping!

xoxo, Colleen and Sarah

Blind Wine Tasting: Learn to Sip

ImageWe booked a Living Social deal for a blind wine tasting class at the fabulous 918 F Street space in downtown DC, and had a great time learning a few tidbits about what to look for in a good, affordable bottle of wine.  Special thanks to the Food and Wine Diva, Summer Whitford who led the class and shared the sipping tips.

The Summary: Colleen started early with a pre-class drink of Pinot Noir. Pre-class drink is always necessary acceptable in this case. We learned how to open a bottle of sparkling wine, tasted several wines, and learned some useful tips on drinking and tasting the flavors of a wine.
The Tips:
  • Champagne is a specific grape that comes from the Champagne region in France.  All sparkling wine is not Champagne!
  • Opening a bottle of sparkling wine with a cork flying and a loud POP is not the “right” way (We beg to differ, as this is the most festive/fun part)
  • Smaller bubbles=less likely to have a hangover and the flavor is better!
To Open Sparkling Wine:
Remove foil and wire cage.  Tilt the bottle at a 45° angle, obviously facing away from you and your guests.  Hold the cork firmly and twist the bottle. If you aren’t coordinated (Colleen usually hands the bottle off for someone to open), you can set the bottle down on a flat surface. You will have opened the bottle correctly if there is barely any noise.
  • Temperature matters when serving wine.  We tasted the same wine at two different temperatures, and each tasted like a completely different wine.  Wine that is too cold will not have as much flavor as wine that is the correct temperature.
  • Flavors you smell and taste in wine (grapefruit, florals, earthy, tannins, Band Aids?? (yes, someone said they smelled Band Aids! EW!) vary by person.  We learned that just because you may taste a certain flavor,  doesn’t mean the person next to you will taste the same flavor.  One could taste blackberries, while another could taste a more earthy flavor.
  • What are tannins?! Tannins refer to the textural elements typically found in red wines.  Summer described it as the component which dries the mouth out.  She compared it to “cotton mouth.”tasting
The best part: All the wines we tasted and Summer suggested were under $30 a bottle! You don’t have to break the bank for a fine bottle of wine.  View the list of wines from our blind wine tasting here:

Happy Sipping!

xoxo, Colleen and Sarah