Monthly Archives: January 2013

Holiday Wine and Food

One of my New Year’s
resolutions, number two on my list – No, I’m not going to tell you what number
one is, so don’t even ask — was to get back to writing about wines:  about visiting wineries, wine travel
and tasting experiences, and wine and food pairings.  So I’m getting after it on day one of 2013. 


Lori and I took off most of
2012 from  It wasn’t
intentional, it just happened that way. 
Blame work, granddaughter Elli, dealing with family crises, etc.  But things seem to be evening out,
starting with this holiday season. 
So I’ll catch you up on our celebrations, especially the wine and food
part of it. 


Thanksgiving:  Actually, the day after Thanksgiving is
what I really want to talk about. 
We celebrated the holiday in Las Vegas, as the grandmother of our
younger son’s wife lives there, and the grandmother is our daughter-in-law’s
only family.  So, road trip to Las
Vegas, with a stop near Placerville to pick up my in-laws so that we could spend
the 10-hour drive to Las Vegas with them. 
If you’re waiting for all the jokes and rude comments about that road
trip, don’t look here.  It went
well from my perspective, mainly because I spent it either driving or
sleeping.  Not that it’s high on my
list of things to do again.  Back
to dinner.  Thanksgiving itself,
out at a restaurant in the Venetian Hotel, was very nice from a family
celebration perspective, but nothing special on the food/wine side.  The next night we went to Prime
Steakhouse in the Bellagio
Great meal, with a very nice bottle of wine.  Everyone ordered their own food, so I’ll only go over my
selections.  My main course was the
Duck l’Orange.  And the wine that
we had with our main course was the 2009 Hirsch
“San Andreas Fault” Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast).  Great combination, with the duck cooked
perfectly, great sauce, and the wine with enough fruit and acid to balance the
duck in the mouth.  Wonderful, and
thanks again to “Grandma Dee” for that dinner. 


Hanukkah:  Dinner with both of our boys and their
wives (both expecting in 2013, by the way), and the granddaughter.  After stuffing ourselves with potato
latkes during the day, we were ready for some protein that evening.  Dinner that evening was beef short
ribs, served with a 2002 Soquel
Cabernet Sauvignon (Partners’ Reserve, Santa Cruz Mountains) and
a 2003 Soquel Vineyards Trinity. 
The Trinity is only labeled as “California”, and I don’t know sources of
the grapes or even the varietals that went into this blend.  We decanted both wines, and therein
made two mistakes.  The first was
drinking the wines right after decanting, and not giving them time to
breathe.  The second was which
decanters we used.  For the Cab, we
used a nice, basic decanter that provides a good amount of surface area to help
get oxygen into the wine, more than just the oxygen that gets in when you pour
into the decanter.  For the
Trinity, we used a beautiful Waterford decanter.  Looks great, but it narrows down at the top so that the
surface area of the wine in the decanter is not much more than the surface area
of a cork; i.e., not much additional oxygen gets to that wine.  The Cab was excellent that
evening.  A really nice example of
a well balanced wine, and went great with the short ribs.  The Trinity had a nice nose, but
otherwise fell flat.  So everyone
drank the Cab, and everyone was happy. 
Except for me, because I had higher expectations for the Trinity, having
tasted it throughout the years.  So
I tried it again the next day, and Doh! it hit me, the decanting mistakes I’d
made.  Because the Trinity was not
just excellent, but outstanding. 
(On the same level with some of the wines in the Birthday celebration
below.)  I’ve got one more bottle
left, and I’m now going to save it for a special occasion.  I’m not sure what occasion, or when,
but it’s got at least another 5 years in the bottle, and I’m sure something
will happen that deserves that wine. 

Dad’s 85th
Birthday:  In the past, for one of
the every-five-year birthdays for Mom or Dad, we’ve had a nice meal.  Sometimes we’ve gone out, sometimes
we’ve catered in.  I previously
wrote about Dad’s 80th
.  For this celebration
we decided to do the cooking ourselves. 
Mom took the hors d’oeuvres, my brother and sister-in-law took the
appetizer course (asparagus and prosciutto wrapped in filo dough, and a baked
brie and jam/chutney dish), we took the main course and my sister took dessert
(apple pie).  The “we” for the main
course included my wife and I, and both boys and wives.  The main course was tri tip, twice
baked potatoes and roasted asparagus with lemon and garlic.  The wines were 1992 and 1995 Opus One (Napa Valley Cabernet
Sauvignon based blends), and a 1993 V Sattui
Napa Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. 
The Opus One wines were excellent, with a split at the table as to which
was preferred.  And the V Sattui
held its own with the others; another great tasting experience.  It was a bit chaotic with everyone in
and out of the kitchen, but truly a memorable experience for the fun we all had
celebrating a big birthday. 

Leftovers:  In addition to the intimate home
celebration of Dad’s birthday, we also had a large party at a restaurant.  And Lori and I took home a container of
ziti pasta with chicken and mushrooms in a cream-based sauce.  The next night we opened a bottle of
2004 Peachy
Zinfandel (Paso Robles, Old Schoolhouse Vineyard).  This wine has aged quite well, and is
now a very nicely balanced wine, great with meals like this.  The Zin was not too heavy for the meal,
as the mushrooms in particular gave the pasta a nice earthy, meaty tone that
the wine complemented well.  Also,
the nice acidity in the wine cut through the cream sauce, cleaning out the
mouth after each bite.  Yes,
Zinfandels can age really well if they’re made to do that, and this wine
definitely has at least a few more years. 
Good thing, since we have another couple of bottles. 


That’s all for now.  No wine for New Year’s Eve, just
margaritas.  Here’s wishing you and
yours a happy, healthy and prosperous 2013!