Pregnant and Over It

Wine: Fre Brut Sparkling

Mood: Frustrated

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I know there are pregnant women that glow, get energy, and feel amazing...and let me just tell you...I'm not one of them.  I thought my first pregnancy was tough, but that was a walk in the park compared to this one.  For those of you that may be reading this and are currently struggling with fertility, I want you to know how sorry I am and by no means am I ungrateful for being pregnant. I'm very thankful for the gift of being 10 days away from meeting this little man.  He's just not made it easy on me.  

Adding insult to injury, my whole family is on our annual family vacation without us right now.  We go to a small town called Downieville, CA and we couldn't go because it's 5-6 hours away, too far to travel, this close to him making his debut. 

This is the one vacation that I look forward to all year.  We've been going since I was 6 years old and growing up, this was often our only vacation of the year.  It's pretty hard to explain the charm of this place, but I'll try (see pictures from last year's tip at the bottom of the post).  We rent cabins on the north fork of the Yuba River at a place called Sierra Shangri-La.  We have no agenda except we have to take turns cooking a meal.  We often have a cocktail in hand and are floating in the river by noon.  We read books, take walks, fish, play card games and Scrabble.  Whatever we want.  It's just heavenly.

Being home, not on vacation, you know what I did today?  Went to Costco.  Yup!  My family is swimming and having a great time and I took Lucy to Costco.  Womp womp.

Fre Brut Sparkling Wine

Ok.  I'm done being a Debbie Downer.  I did stumble upon something that is kind of fun and wanted to share it with you.  It's called Fre wine.  They say that it's wine that has the alcohol removed.  I'm not really sure how it works, but supposedly there's a spinning cone involved.  Anyway, the result is kinda-sorta like wine.  It's kind of grape juicey with a little more tang that makes it wine-ish.  I liked the sparkling Brut wine vs the still Chardonnay wine.  I added some sliced strawberries to my champagne flute and pretended I was on vacation.  

There are a bunch of recipes for mocktails on their website that I haven't tried, but I'm sure are delish!

Let's talk about "Wine Rules"

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Wine: Ridge Vineyards 2015 Lytton Springs Zinfandel

Mood: Rebellious

You've all heard it before: chicken or fish goes with white wine.  Red meat goes with red wine.  Well, I'm here to tell you, I think it's all bullsh*t.  There are SOOO many factors to consider...and your personal preference is a big part of it.

Is the chicken served in a rich white gorgonzola sauce?  Does the fish have sour cream and smoked salsa on it?  These things all impact the flavor profile of the dish and change the range of wines that can accompany it.  

Here's my ROT (rule of thumb):

Ling Cod fish and Red wine
  1. If you like white wine, have it, with whatever the heck you want.  Same goes for red.
  2. If you want to talk flavors and what technically GOES with a meal, think about fat content and how "big" the flavors of that meal are.  The bigger the flavors, the bigger the wine flavors need to be to hold up to it.  A couple things to note about big wine flavors:
    1. Acid
    2. Earthy
    3. Fruit forward
    4. Dark fruit or bright fruit
    5. Smokey
  3. Sweet wines are not ONLY for dessert!  If they're balanced, meaning have a nice acid to compliment the sweetness, it can provide a really smooth drinking experience that can go with spicy and asian food.  
  4. Let's talk about temperature.  Whites served TOO cold will mask the fruit flavors...but if it's 95 degrees outside, grab a Sauvignon Blanc and throw some ice cubes in it and ENJOY that wine on a hot day.  The alternative is grabbing for a cold beer or margarita.  I vote...drink more wine!
Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel wine

Here's an example of me breaking the rules and it tasting SO SO SO good.  Fresh caught Ling Cod (a light, low fat fish) and I served it with Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel.'s mostly Zin (94%), but it also has 16% Petite Sirah, 8% Carignane, 2% Mourvedre. 

This wine is not to be taken lying down.  This thing has a full mouth feel, dark bush berry flavors, with smoke and tannin finish.  Are you thinking..why the hell did I have this with Ling Cod?  Well, I lightly breaded the fish, pan fried it, added a hefty spoonful of full fat sour cream and topped that with smoked tomato salsa that had mild spicy notes. 

This was a match made in heaven because I added fat to the meal by frying the fish and adding sour cream and the salsa played well with the tannin and toasted notes of the wine.  BAM!  Rules broken and it never tastes so good!

Ling Cod fish

Boxed Wine Anyone?

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Wine: Bota Box Old Vine Zin and Pinot Grigio

Mood: Mellow

I may be breaking all kinds of rules here with some of you, but I'm just now discovering boxed wine.  I think it may be my new thing to try.  I am the only wine drinker in my house hold and as a result, I don't open wine much these days.  I don't like the pressure of having to drink it quickly, before it oxidizes.  The boxed wine solves that!  It's an anaerobic pouch in the box, so little to no oxygen get's in contact with the wine.  

We went on vacation with the family and we tried the Bota Box wine.  We got the Old Vine Zin and the Pinot Grigio.  I thought they were both what I'd call, "good everyday drinking" wine.  Both varietally correct, meaning I'd be able to tell you that they were Old Vine Zin and Pinot Grigio, even if I didn't know and it's tough to beat the price.  The convenience of the shelf life alone is enough of a reason for me to continue my exploration.  

Pretty fun summer experiment, if I do say so myself!

The perfect wine for homemade pizza and rain

Wine: 2015 Riddle bricks Alicante Bouschet

Mood: Experimental

I’d recommend this wine (2015 Riddle Bricks Alicante Bouschet) when you’re in the mood to eat yummy, not too rich food, on a cold day.
— Erica Manfre, The Moody Wine Drinker
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First things first...the pizza.  We all pitched in and got my parents an Uuni pizza oven for Christmas, this year.  They tried it and were bragging and texting pics, so naturally we invited ourselves over for a rainy pizza-making day.  I was polite and brought a bottle of wine, so don't worry too much.  This pizza oven is UNREAL!  It gets up to 900 plus degrees in 10 minutes and it cooked these pizzas in around 4 minutes.  We left their house deciding we NEED one.  Want isn't the right word.  We NEED one of these pizza ovens.  I don't mean to sound like Veruca from Willy Wonka, but if you saw this thing, you'd see.

Let's talk dough for a minute.  Some would say that it's the key part of the homemade pizza deal. My parents have made the same "trusty" pizza dough as long as I can remember and it's Wolfgang Puck's recipe (Click HERE for recipe).  It has great consistency, a hint of sweetness due to the tablespoon of honey, and it can keep in the refrigerator after you make it for a week or so.  I recommend it.

Now for the wine.  I brought over the 2015 Riddle Bricks Alicante Bouschet that I had just received from a Winc gift card (thanks Meegan!).  For those of you that haven't heard of the varietal Alicante Bouschet, let me fill you in.  It was crossed from Petit Bouschet and Grenache in 1866 and designed to be a blending grape to add depth to other wines.  It gained popularity due to how easy it is to grow and the high yields that the vines produce.  Some say that played a huge role in rebuilding the wine industry after the phylloxera outbreak.

This Riddle Bricks version didn't disappoint.  It's full fruit forward nose of plum and a hint of herb spices.  The mouthfeel was balanced, with a clean finish.  It was a delightful pair to the pepperoni, Bagna-Cauda (roasted garlic in butter, oil and other stuff), and cheddar cheese pizza.  I'd recommend this wine when you're in the mood to eat yummy, not too rich food, on a cold day.

Moody Wine....whaaaat?

Well, for many this may seem random.  What's this "moody wine" thing?  It's kind of a great past time of mine.  I was working in a cute wine shop in Santa Cruz, where I was asked every day what my favorite wine was.  I'd always start by explaining my mood, while I was making a suggestion and it dawned on me...."I can't be the only one that makes a wine selection like this."  I began asking people when they were planning to drink the wine and have them set the scene before making a recommendation.  BAM! was born.  

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A little more background, if you're interested.  I studied Agricultural Business and Wine and Viticulture at Cal Poly, and I was working in the wine business, but I fell off the wine blog wagon when I got out of the wine industry and bought a house.   My wine selection was kind of more like, "Whatever I can afford that tastes decent."  HA!  Those Santa Cruz County residents out there, feel me??!!  

I was strategizing the other day with a friend about this blog and we got to discussing Moody Wine and she said, "Why can't you just include that in American Huney?"  I let it kind of sink in and I realized something...why couldn't I?  As a result, I've reformatted the blog and I'm BRINGING MOODY WINE BACK!  You won't find such extravagant wines that I was fortunate enough to post about when I was in the wine industry, but you'll see some yummy retail store selections, some shipment selections that I get delivered to the house, and some local winery treats.  Really, it may be MORE approachable than before!  

The new design of the blog will make it simple to navigate to wine related posts...just click the wine quadrant and you're there!