Just the Bottle

One woman's adventure in beer, food, wine and spirits

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Easy Wine and Dinner with Old Westminster wines

My fella and I are always trying new recipes (usually him more than me). He's taken a few cooking classes in the DC area from L'Academie one of which was for paella (that's a whole other delicious story). One of my first experiences with L'Academie was at Metro Cooking DC (which will be back in early December). Metro Cooking DC is one of my preferred food events in DC.

Recently, the fella and I wanted a simple recipe for inspiration for an easy and tasty weeknight dinner. We went to Epicurious as it's one of our go to websites. We found  simple pasta dish with spinach and shrimp. Once he got it started, I knew I had to find the right wine to enjoy his creation with. I reached into our cellar (cellar/closet - apartment living means you make it work) and grabbed a recent acquisition from Old Westminster

Old Westminster is truly a family affair. Drew (vigneron) and his sisters Ashli (estate director) and Lisa (winemaker) are executing their and their parents', Jay and Virginia's vision of making natural wine in Maryland. Every day their wine is changing people's pre-conceived notions on what Maryland wine as well as passionate young people can do. 

In addition to their knowledge and passion, I am always impressed by their transparency. They are incredibly clear with their winemaking and farming methods. They also produce different labels with different colors depending on where they are sourcing the grapes. There's no need to scour a label as it's presented to you. 

The wine we enjoyed was the  2016 Pét-Nat Barbera Rosé (currently sold out at the winery).  This particular style emerged from France's Loire Valley many years ago and fell out of practice for quite some time. Wine geeks and lovers of natural wine made it popular again and there's good reason why. The wine is still going through fermentation when it is placed under  cap. This allows fermentation to finish in the bottle. As yeast converts sugar to alcohol, there is naturally occurring carbon dioxide which adds the fizzy element to the wine. When fermentation is complete, the bottle cap is removed along with sediment and the bottle is recapped. As opposed to Champagne method, which undergoes a second fermentation, this is a one  and done situation. It's also the most natural with no additives, sugar, or anything added. The wine was slightly funky with some earthy notes, along with some ripe fruit that came through and the perfect amount of effervescence. It's definitely a must buy if I see it again. 

#Winelover Athens Anniversary Welcome Dinner - Scala Vinoteca

I attended the #winelover anniversary trip to Athens, Greece in February 2016.  It was a great opportunity that I found from a friend I made from the International Wine Tourism Conference.  The #winelover community is based online, but is pretty simple - we love wine.  All are welcomed to join and members include industry, sommeliers, importers, winemakers, and simply wine lovers.  I had seen some of the members blog posts, tried some of their wines, and was excited to finally meet some of the members on the trip.  

The trip started off with a welcome BYOB dinner at Scala Vinoteca.  Scala Vinoteca was the perfect welcome to Athens and to the #winelover community.  Every member brought a special bottle of wine.  Before coming I heavily debated what I should bring.  I asked my friend who is also a #winelover ambassador and specialist.  I was concerned that perhaps everyone's bottles would be super rare or high end ($100 or more).  She stated it should just be something really interesting or important to me.  Therefore, I ended up going with Chester Gap Cabernet France 2012.   I have written about my love of Chester Gap and their wines before.   It ended up being a big hit!  Many people hadn't traveled to America or their travels were limited to New York or other cities.  They were incredibly excited to try a Virginia wine and also  appreciated my love of promoting local.  Others experienced that difficulty in promoting local wines and food especially when at times they may be pricer than others.

The Scala Vinoteca space was somewhat modern with an open kitchen design.  Our group took over multiple tables and moved around to socialize.  The food was a delicious evolution in Greek and Mediterranean cuisine.   Being part of a large party, we had pre-set menu for the dinner as we did for other meals.  Every course was a tasty surprise ranging from vegetarian friendly to meaty delights.  

After eating our fill, we returned late to the hotel and continued the after party in the hotel lobby just as R. Kelly sung. 

Young Winos of DC at Dino's

The Young Winos of DC next event will be at Dino's on Thursday, February 5th at 6:00pm.  Jessica Hagadorn, founder, Young Winos of DC has organized another great event that will prove to be fun and educational.  The event will focus on orange and unusual red wines.  There will be cheese and charcuterie served.  It's the perfect event for someone who wants to learn more about this exciting trend in wine with a great group of people.  Hurry fast as tickets may sell out quickly.

Orange you glad I didn't say banana

My birthday was January 13th and I decided to celebrate all month long.  On New Year’s Eve Man Friend and I went to Professionals in the City New Year’s Party.  I didn’t want to go, but one can’t really say, “Oh, you want to see someone that you were stationed in Texas with and served in Iraq with?  No. I don’t want to even though s/he lives in a different state.” Before the party we went to Red Hen and it was spectacular.  The service was amazing and the dishes were well executed. They also featured orange wine by the glass.

I arranged for Man Friend to take me to Komi for dinner another night and then a play at Studio Theatre.  Komi paced the meal perfectly.  It didn’t feel like two hours and we made the play in plenty of time.  Every dish offered a new set of flavor and texture.  I went with the pairing, which might not have been appreciated by others. However, I do what I want.  Anyways, one pairing was this really interesting Italian beer that had a nice funk.  I mentioned my interest in orange wine and they offered it along with a red so that I could compare.

Two other birthday celebrations included renting the private room at Black Squirrel and a Sunday Funday that involved bottomless brunch at Masa 14.  There was no fee to rent the room at Black Squirrel even though it was a Saturday night in Adams Morgan.  Masa 14 was a solid brunch that should be on one’s DC bucket list.

Back to the orange wine!  I have talked to some who believe that orange wine is a trend that has come and gone.  Others think it’s a current trend.  I am not sure what the average wine drinker will think, but I have found the few I have tried thus far to be very interesting and food friendly.

Orange wine is made up of white wine varietals that have extended skin contact during fermentation.  The color can be incredibly light to a more tawny like color.

Here’s the interesting part that I wonder if it will appear to beer followers…orange wines can be VERY sour and funky.  I tried another that came off as oxidized I expected sherry like flavors that did not appear.

Orange wine more commonly appears in Italy and Eastern Europe like Georgia and Slovenia.

I look forward to experimenting with them more.  Perhaps doing a tasting with some other wine friends?