Bubbly with Beth: The Power of Sparkling Wine... An Introduction

I am thrilled to welcome Beth Nestlerode, guest contributor to The Winetender! Beth will bring us reviews of Champagne and other sparkling wines she pops to celebrate the extraordinary moments hiding in the everyday.

"A bold wine with a hint of sophistication and lacking in pretension. Actually, I was just talking about myself." -Meg Ryan, French Kiss

Any fan of Meg Ryan during the 90's certainly knows the movie French Kiss well - it's quirky humor, beautiful European backdrop, and sweet, predictable storyline. And yet, perhaps without intention, that favorite film of my family's also taught me a bit about another one of our shared loves well before I was able to partake. I love the idea that wine can reflect the true you that's hiding behind your inhibitions, shining a light on how you honestly view yourself.

As a new mom of four month old twin boys, my little glass of wine (when I'm able to find time to have one) is calming when I need to relax, insightful when I need to reflect, and peaceful despite the chaos. I know that I can too easily get lost in the inertia of the everyday. Wine allows me to stop, sip and smile. With just one sip, I can't help but be reminded of the more important things in life, and forget the rest.

I love many types of wine - usually bold, flavorful reds - but there's a special place in my heart for ones that bubble. I've never understood the ideology of saving champagne for just those special occasions. Especially today when so many families are counting their pennies and unable to always afford needs, let alone wants, it seems we have even more reason to celebrate the little joys in life...the moments that really matter. In my case, sparkling wine is my husband's and my little vacation after a long week; the perfect excuse after our boys go to bed to momentarily forget about parenthood and long work weeks, and reconnect.

In the hope of sharing my love of sparkling wines, and encouraging everyone to not just save Champagne for weddings and anniversaries, I'll be contributing regularly to The Winetender to track down all sorts of bubbly goodness and share my favorites.

As a kick-off to this new sparkling wine venture, I chose to pop a bottle of Cava Castellroig, a Spanish brut. I was pleased after the first sip to find it both light and bold - very crisp. The wine was friendly, but not afraid to tell it like it is. (Am I projecting, Meg Ryan?). It did have a little bite to it, which I was disappointed to find took away from what was otherwise a pleasant flavor.

At just $14.60 a bottle, I'd give this wine a passing grade and would choose it again. A good summer wine to enjoy outside.

I look forward to popping many more bottles and sharing the experiences here...I hope you join in and share your favorites too. Happy sipping!

- Beth Nestlerode


here's to us!

Happy Anniversary New York! This month marks one year since I moved to the city. Some cannot understand the desire to live here, but right now, I wouldn't have it any other way. I adore my teeny studio apartment, the ease of public transportation, and the ability to do almost anything here. It truly is a wonderful and inspirational place. So here's to you New York; if it weren't for you, this blog may not exist.

And to celebrate in style, I pulled out a gift from my father; a 2006 Stag's Leap S.L.V. Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. What a beautiful wine! Honestly though, I was nervous. I know it's a "nice" bottle, but sometimes Napa Valley Cabs are just too fruit forward for me. So new school (new world wine), neglecting the subtle earthy attributes of the old school (old world wines). But, what a wonderful celebration wine! Kind of dirty (that's a compliment) with bright cherry flavors. It's balanced with pleasant tannins and acidity. From this evening's experience, I can tell you it's great to drink before dinner, during, and afterward.

Thanks Dad!


wine of the night: 2007 Hendry Primitivo

The other night I was able to spend one of the last official  days of the summer by enjoying the season's bounty. Pasta loaded with roasted vegetables right from the garden. Better yet, the base sauce was made from tomatoes, also from the garden. It's amazing how food is so much more enjoyable when its grown in  your own garden (or in my case, my family's garden).

I was in the mood for a red wine with this meal so I chose a 2007 Primitivo from Hendry Wines of Napa Valley. I don't have extensive experience with Primitivo, but I do love Zinfandel and the Primitivo grape is similar. In fact, both grapes are genetically identical. Primitivo is slightly different in that the grapes are smaller and the grape bunches are less dense. It is expected that the Zinfandel grape is larger due to selective cloning from California wine makers to produce higher yields. According to the Hendry website, Primitivo is "a lower-tannin, higher fruit-and-acid red wine" compared to Zinfandel.

So how was it? Well, I wished I would have selected a not so fruit forward and heavy wine. It just didn't work with the meal, like a fruit bomb out to destroy the earthy and complex vegetable flavors of my dinner. The wine itself was very good however with nice tannins and lots of fruit flavors to ponder. I 'm excited to drink it again, with dark chocolate, as Hendry suggests. I would also like to compare their Primitivo to their Zinfandel- perhaps a post for another time!

Cheers and Enjoy! Just watch that sneaky 15.2% ABV.