Chocolate and Wine Is So Fine

A box of Russell Stover for V-Day? Come on, you can do better than that. Instead splurge on two tickets to the Chocolate Wine Trail in Hermann. You and your honey will spend the third weekend of February sampling luscious chocolate and wine pairings at seven stops along the beautiful Hermann Wine Trail.

The tasting menu at the 2013 Chocolate Wine Trail, February 16 and 17, will feature:

• Adam Puchta Winery — Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcake, paired with the newly released Cat’s Meow

• Bias Winery — Chocolate-Dipped Strawberry Surprise, paired with Strawberry Weisser Flieder

• Dierberg Star Lane Tasting Room — Blueberries in a Black Pepper Chocolate-Syrah Syrup, paired with Three Saints Syrah

• Hermannhof Winery — Chocolate Truffle Torte with Norton-Blackberry Ganache, paired with Norton

• OakGlenn Winery — Cincinnati Chili, paired with Chardonel

• Röbller Winery — Chocolate Whoopie Pie, paired with Villa Rouge

• Stone Hill Winery — White Chocolate Popcorn with Raspberry Drizzle, paired with Brut Rosé Sparkling Wine

The $30 per person ticket price includes a souvenir wine glass. Participants also may enter a drawing for a $30 gift certificate from each winery and a night’s stay at a Hermann B&B. Wine Trail tickets may be purchased online at Visit Hermann or from the Hermann Welcome Center, 800-932-8687. Advance purchase is required. (A word to the wise—tickets usually sell out early for this popular event.)

Information about the Hermann Wine Trail is available at Hermann Wine Trail.

The Chocolate Wine Trail is one of five annual events hosted by the Hermann Wine Trail, which hugs the Missouri River for 20 scenic miles between Hermann and New Haven.

Thinking ahead? Bacon will be the theme of this year’s Wild Card Wine Trail the first weekend of May; Berries & BBQ Wine Trail during the last full weekend of July celebrates the flavors of summer; and the Holiday Fare Wine Trail is the third weekend of November for a festive start to the holiday season. Say Cheese Wine Trail rounds out the year during the second weekend of December which is the same weekend as Hermann’s popular Kristkindl Markt.

Ahhh! Mango-Cucumber Wine Cooler

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We were enjoying the last of our Shrimp and Leek Linguine in White Wine Sauce the other night when I realized we still had quite a bit of local Missouri Les Bourgeois vidal blanc left. It was still insanely hot outside; the day before was our hottest day yet, a blazing 108 degrees! Neil and I were both getting ready to leave town, and for me, getting ready for BlogHer just made the heat feel that much worse. A colorful chilled drink was definitely in order, they fix everything right? {Via Bon Appétit}

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Ingredients:

1 ½ tablespoons sugar
1 750-ml bottle Sauvignon Blanc (we used the fabulous Les Bourgeois Vidal Blanc)
1 hothouse cucumber, peeled, cut into 1/4″ rounds
1 mango, pitted, peeled, finely diced
12 sprigs fresh mint, divided
1 cup ginger ale

Directions:

  1. Stir sugar and 1 ½ tablespoons hot water in a large pitcher until dissolved.
  2. Add wine, cucumber, and mango. Remove leaves from 6 sprigs of mint; stir into pitcher. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours and up to 6 hours.
  3. Stir ginger ale into pitcher. Fill 6 large wineglasses with ice. Divide wine cooler among glasses. Garnish with remaining 6 mint sprigs.

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Lightly sweet and refreshing and just what we needed to relax a bit. Because I don’t drink much, I’m usually quick to talk myself out of overly complicated beverage recipes. This however was easy to put together on short notice, and I loved it the longer we let it sit covered in the fridge.

Feeling bold, we tried taking them outside to enjoy on our deck, but the bugs and heat drove us back inside pretty quickly. Isn’t it nuts that it can be too hot to BBQ or enjoy your deck in summer? Now that the temperatures are finally starting to cool down, hopefully we can make up for it. It would be a shame to end the first summer in our new house having barbecued only once.

Locapouring Missouri Wines at Drink Local Wine Conference

Last weekend I spent a couple of days in St. Louis, immersing myself in Missouri wines at the Drink Local Wine conference. The conference is an offshoot of the Drink Local Wine website which spotlights wine made in the 47 states that aren’t California, Washington, and Oregon. It’s the brainchild of Washington Post wine columnist Dave McIntyre and wine blogger Jeff Siegel, the Wine Curmudgeon. It was a celebration of all things Missouri wines. As a localvore, I had to be there. And as one of the few non wine bloggers there, it was fun to get to “eavesdrop” on the wine culture and hear what they really thought about Missouri and our wines. The two nights in the seriously comfy room at the Doubletree Westport didn’t hurt either.

But back to the wine. On Friday night we media attended a wine dinner at Annie Gunn’s. When we walked past smokers on our way in, I knew we were in for a treat. And treated well we were with four delicious courses paired with Missouri Wines. A standout for me was their cold pork dish. The restaurant’s wine director Glenn Bardget is an aficionado of regional wines and offers an unparalleled selection of Missouri Wines on Annie Gunn’s menu. If you’re in the St. Louis area, I highly recommend taking the time for a meal there.

The next day opened with a morning of panel discussions moderated buy different wine writers. I very much enjoyed the first session “We don’t need no stinkin’ vinifera: The Grapes of Missouri” with winemakers Andrew Meggitt, executive winemaker, St. James Winery, Tony Kooyumjian, owner/winemaker, Augusta Winery, Cory Bomgaars, head winemaker, Les Bourgeois Vineyards. They spent a lot of time talking about the grapes that grow well in Missouri and the wines that are made from them. I didn’t understand the connection between the styles and the soil before. After the morning sessions concluded, it was time for the Twitter Tasteoff where 19 wineries offered their wines for tasting. Attendees tweeted their impressions with the conference’s hashtag #DLWMO.

That evening, over sushi and beer, I spent some time chatting with other attendees. I wanted their thoughts on Missouri wines. Overall, the response was positive. They felt Missouri was a young wine state (ironic since we are actually one of the oldest wine producing states, damn you Prohibition) with a promising future, but lots of growing to do. You can read their thoughts in depth with the links here.

Personally after a day of tasting more Missouri wines than I had ever heard of, there were some that screamed “regional wine” to me but more that I would buy and serve on a consistent basis. I will be definitely be sharing some of my favorites in more detail.

Disclosure: As a member of the media, my conference costs and room were covered by Drink Local Wine.