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Wisconsin Road Trip … With BEER & John Mayer!!!

Wisconsin Road Trip … With BEER & John Mayer!!!

I live in Florida where the winters are glorious and the summers suck. It’s just so dang hot. So a couple of years ago my husband and I did something we never in a million years thought we’d do. We bought an RV. Owning a little home with wheels enables us to take our three doggies with us as we get the heck out of Dodge for a few weeks during the hottest (and stormiest) times in Florida.

This year we headed toward the Midwest, a land known for some super breweries.

While in Wisconsin, we hit quite a few. Here are some of my favorites:

Hinder Brewing Company – This new brewery is located in Waupaca, WI, my parent’s hometown where I spent a lot of weekends while growing up. My favorite thing about this brewery was the venue. Oh gosh, what they’ve done with this place! The building used to be a pretty run down store and they’ve turned it into a super hip spot. What a great place to hang with friends and down a brew or two. My favorite beer here was the Schweddy Stout, although their GladAss Porter and Craggy IPA were darned good too.  I absolutely love their slogan … “Grab a Hinder”!

22 Lakes Brewing Company – Also in Waupaca, this brewery is located right downtown and has some great beer! One of my favorites was the 22 Lakes Chuck’s Steam Engine, their signature stout with lots of roasted barley flavor. They also have some “Guest Beers” from Fifth Ward Brewing Company in Oshkosh (my hometown, woohoo!!!!). I fell in love with Fifth Ward’s Haze It or Love It New England style IPA! Full of grapefruit and orangey citrus flavors, this beer is a great thirst quencher on a warm day! Loved it!

Central Waters – Next up was Central Waters in nearby Amherst, WI. Holy moly, there wasn’t a bad beer in the bunch, and they have a HUGE bunch of beers!  My personal favorite was the Brewer’s Reserve Vanilla Bean Stout. Aged in bourbon barrels, this Imperial Stout has a lot of flavor, but the vanilla and bourbon are so well balanced that neither is overpowering. And I would never have guessed the ABV at 9.5%! I also really loved the Cassian Sunset; another bourbon barrel aged imperial with lots of baking spice flavors. They had a to die for milkshake IPA too, but like I said, every beer we tried was fabulous, and we tried pretty much all of them! I was so enthralled with the beer that I forgot to take many pictures! Luckily my husband snapped one of our flights, and I did capture a couple on my way to the loo! We bought lots of beer to go, along with some souvenir glasses and a shirt.

Geneva Lake Brewing Company – While visiting the Lake Geneva area of Wisconsin, I wanted to check out their brewery scene. We were there on a Monday, so we were limited because most places were closed. We checked out Geneva Lake Brewing Company and were happy with our choice. The brewery and taproom are in an industrial area, but that works for us. Inside, the taproom is pretty cool, and they have a bunch of board games and great seating. It was slow on Monday, but I imagine it’s pretty jamming on the weekends. Our favorite beers there were the IPAs. We grabbed a crowler of both their No Wake IPA and Implosion Double IPA to go!

Good City Brewing – Last, but certainly not least, was Good City Brewing in Milwaukee! My hubby and I were in town to see John Mayer at the Fiserv Forum, so I looked into nearby brewery taprooms we could hit before the show. Wouldn’t you know … right across the street was a taproom for a brewery I’d been dying to try … Good City! So we checked it out before the show! The vibe is awesome, with lots of seating in a fun industrial, yet modern space. They have a barley wine called BFG that I really dug. It’s 11.5 alcohol, so I was careful. They also had some great IPAs, my favorite probably being the Reward, which is a Double IPA. I loved the complexity of the tropical fruit along with some floral hoppy notes. My husband’s favorite was the Detail Porter, with lots of mocha maltiness! Good City was definitely a great way to start a fabulous night seeing John “gasp” Mayer!!!!!!!! Seventh row, no less! What an awesome time in Milwaukee!!!!!. P.S. Be sure to order some of their curry fries! Holy Moly!!!!

By the way, my husband and I have seen John Mayer in concert a gazillion times, and this tour ROCKS!!! If you have the chance, don’t hesitate to make a date and go!

We are now on our way back toward Florida, with a weeklong stop in Asheville! I’m sure we’ll be hitting Asheville’s famed South Slope to sample some of the brews there. Who doesn’t love a road trip with breweries along the way?

If you’d like to check these breweries out, here are the links! Cheers!!!

https://hinderbrewingco.com

http://www.22lakesbrewingco.com

https://centralwaters.com

https://www.facebook.com/GLBrewCo/?rf=891035637634727

https://www.goodcitybrewing.com

Great Pairing With A Sunset? Ramey Chardonnay!

Great Pairing with a Sunset? Ramey Chardonnay!

Well, it’s that time of the year. The Florida weather is turning warmer and warmer … and my wine selection is growing lighter and lighter. Especially when we’re hanging out on the deck.

For dinner I made a Sweet Corn and Potato Chowder. What wine should I choose as it’s pairing? I had a Vouvray that I was really eying, but it’s a 1996 and I wanted to save that for another night. So, I went for Chardonnay. A 2014 Ramey Ritchie Vineyard to be exact.

This wine is fabulous! On the nose are Meyer lemon and white flowers. The palate is gloriously complex with pear, peach, honeydew melon and a touch of oak. There is definitely a richness, but the great acidity balances the wine beautifully.

The pairing??? Well not great, but that’s my fault. The corn was even sweeter than I’d expected and clashed with the acidity of the wine. Note to self: Taste the dang food before I chose the wine! What was I thinking? Apparently, I wasn’t.

The wine DID pair beautifully with the buttery, garlicy brioche croutons that I served on top of the chowder, so that was a plus.  And it will pair beautifully with a lot of other things, including just sitting on the deck and enjoying the sunset!

All in all, the evening was a success. The wine was fabulous and we finished the bottle while sitting on the deck after a long day’s work!

To learn more about this wine, David Ramey and Ramey Wine Cellars, check out their site here: https://www.rameywine.com

Special Celebration????? Why Champagne, Of Course!

Special Celebration????? Why Champagne, Of Course!

Yesterday was a very special day! My husband and I became grandparents for the first time. So what did we open to celebrate? Why, Champagne of course!!!

I’m a lover of all wines sparkling, and it flows almost every day in our household.  In honor of our adorable little girl (as well as our son and daughter-in-law!), we decided to toast with REAL Champagne!

What is it about Champagne? The effervescence of the mesmerizing bubbles? The ceremony of the popping of the cork? The fabulous yeastiness from the years on its lees? Perhaps all of those things and more make Champagne the beverage associated with luxury and the parties of the royal courts and aristocracy of Europe yesterday and today.

We visited the Champagne region a little over a year ago and loved visiting the famous Champagne houses. An added bonus was bellying up to some of the Champagne bars serving “farmer fizz”. Officially known as Grower Champagne, these are sparkling wines in the Champagne region that are produced by the same estate that owns and tends the vineyards. These wines reflect their own style and their specific vineyards. Interestingly, only 5% of the Champagne imported into the United States is Grower Champagne.

We cracked open a Grower Champagne last night to celebrate our little Claire Marie. We chose the Varnier Fannière NV Grand Cru Brut, which is lovely. Made with grapes from their Côte des Blancs vineyards, this Champagne has apple, plum, zesty orange  and spices on the palate. What’s my favorite part of this wine? There is a fabulous brioche yeastiness coming through with the fruit. Ohhhh … heaven! I’ve had this bottle in my cellar for over a year, and in my opinion that bit of age on a non-vintage Champagne adds lovely complexity and enjoyment!

Sipping on this Varnier Fannière while excitedly chatting about the new joy in our lives was the perfect way to end a fabulous day, and to commence an exciting phase of our lives.

And what’s my next mission? I’ll be stocking up on nice bottles of the ’19 vintage to open with her to celebrate her 21stbirthday!

Check out more about Varnier Fannière here: http://www.varnierfanniere.com/Champagne%20Varnier%20Fanniere.htm

What’s The Tastiest Hangover Remedy???

What’s the Tastiest Hangover Remedy???

Did you know that French Onion Soup is a hangover cure? What??? That’s what a lot of people believe. In fact, this heavenly caramelized onion concoction is often served at weddings in France long AFTER the cake … to ward off the dreaded headache and nausea that is bound to plague you the next day!

I made a batch last night. Not because I was hung-over, but because it’s my hubby’s favorite!

Now I know that there are a lot of wine pairing options for this tasty soup, but which bottle should I crack open? Should I go with a Pinot Gris from Alsace, whose Meyer lemon and waxy texture would compliment the soup nicely? A Gewürztraminer crossed my mind, for the touch of residual sugar that would bring out the sweetness of the onions. A Northern Rhone or Beaujolais were also tempting, but I ended up going with a Pinot Noir from Burgundy!

I chose the 2012 Régis Bouvier Gevrey-Chambertin, which I think was a great fit! The bright raspberry, cranberry and cherry fruit in the wine pick up the onion’s sweetness. The herbaceous thyme I used to in the soup brought out the earthiness of the wine. Perhaps most importantly, the great acidity of the wine cuts the richness of the Gruyere cheese (my favorite part!) blanketing the soup!

The wine itself is lovely! Perfectly balanced with fruit and earthiness, this 2012 Régis Bouvier Gevrey-Chambertin is a great value and once again a fine example of why I trust a bottle with the Kermit Lynch logo on the back label!

So go for it!!! Whether you’ve had too much fun the night before (i.e. hangover!) or you’re just in the mood for some warming soup with a kick-ass wine, cook up some French Onion Soup and grab a bottle of Régis Bouvier! Cheers!

https://www.kermitlynch.com/our-wines/regis-bouvier/

 

The 12 Wines Of Christmas … Solomon Hills Pinot Noir

The 12 Wines of Christmas … Solomon Hills Pinot Noir

I know my neighbors probably judge me a bit, but I’m still celebrating the holidays. The front porch still shines with green and red, my trees are sparkling their lights through the windows and the wine is still flowing.

Here’s the deal. It’s still the 12 days of Christmas. What happened to that tradition? Why do so many people strike the fun from their lives on January 2nd? Heck, some on December 26th???

In my world there are 12 days of Christmas, and by god I’m going to enjoy every single one of them. Sure, my family doesn’t exchange gifts every night as some people do, but we do consider these days and nights as special and we’re sure to celebrate them in one way or another.

So last night (the 10thday of Christmas) I made some pasta and decided to pair it with a new world Pinot Noir.

I really dig this varietal from the Central Coast of California, because although there’s a lot of fruit on these wines, there’s also some nice minerality and earthiness.

I selected a 2014 Solomon Hills from Santa Maria Valley. The Miller family (who planted the infamous Bien Nacido vineyard in the 1970s) has owned the Solomon Hills vineyard for years, selling their fruit to wineries producing some fabulous wines. It was a natural progression for them to begin making wine with their own fruit, starting Solomon Hills Vineyards in 2008.

This lovely Pinot Noir is very well balanced with fruity cherry and cranberry, a touch of cola, some sage and thyme and great acidity. I actually wish I’d opened a bottle of this for Thanksgiving, because it would have been a perfect match for those holiday flavors.

It did, however, work well with the pasta I made last night as well. It definitely complimented the roasted red pepper and sun-dried tomato pesto that I used as a sauce! I’m going to be seeking out more of the Solomon Hills Vineyards’ Pinot Noir.

Sadly, it’s only a couple of days before Christmas is truly over for this season. Tomorrow we have friends coming over for the 12thday and one final feast. On Monday I’ll sadly begin taking all of the decorations down and packing them safely away until next time. And I undoubtedly with do that with another nice bottle of something to keep my spirits up!

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