Winery Visit – Canadian River Vineyard and Winery

Recently I went to Canadian River Vineyard and Winery to do a tasting and tour. I didn’t want to go by myself and I didn’t know anyone else in the class who could go, so I ended up getting a group of friends from work who all went with me, and it was great!

We started out with a wine tasting – or I did at least. My friends all happened to be about 15 minutes late while I was about 10 minutes early, so I spent some time talking to the owners. They’re really nice! I told them I was in the class and they knew what I was talking about. We had a great conversation about Italian wines too, once I mentioned that I had been to Italy. And I had a glass of their Noble Blush wine while I waited.,

Once everyone (finally) arrived we got right to tasting! Canadian River had a lot more wines that I would have expected from a small vineyard in Oklahoma!

Our group sprang for a cheese and cracker and meat plate to sample while we were tasting, and I loved it! It felt like I was back in Italy again!

These are most of the wines I tried, with the exception of their award winning Chocolate Drop wine, which was good but not my favorite.

I went back a few weeks later to go to their grape stomp festival, and I tried a few more wines then, but I don’t have any pictures of those.

I got a glass of the White Zinfandel “to go,” and then we went on the tour!

We started by going into the field to see the vines.

Canadian River harvests in August, by hand, so that had already happened. But they only grabbed the grapes that were suitable for wine production, so there were still quite a few on the vine. They said those are used for the grape stomp festival (which was super fun!)

The guy giving us the tour really seemed to know his stuff, which was awesome. He brought a refractometer with him to show us how they measure the sugar content to determine exactly when to harvest. Their vines are 17 years old right now, and all of their wine is made from their own grapes (when they first started, that didn’t used to be true).

Then we headed inside. They have a de-stemmer as well as a crusher that they use, and primary fermentation happens in stainless steel holding tanks.

They use cultured yeast for fermentation (which I want to say is pretty common, but they specifically said that, so I though I’d include it) and age their reds in oak barrels for two years.

They get their barrels from the owner’s son, who has a winery in California. After he uses them for a few years, they get shipped to Oklahoma and used for a few more years. Yay Recycling!

They do all the bottling by hand and they use real cork, but I think they have a machine that labels the bottles for them.

and the owner said that they recently made a business deal that will get them in local stores next year! That was the end of the tour, which was timed perfectly. Right as we went back into the tasting room it started absolutely pouring, so we took our time packing up. I bought three bottles of wine from them: their White Zinfandel, the Dry Riesling (my favorite that they make), and the Chocolate Drop (for my mother – she loved it). You can’t see them, but I promise they’re in those bags! 🙂

Eventually it did stop raining, and then we took a few pictures before going to get food together! I had a great time and I can’t wait to go back!

Wine Dinner – Blu (Brunch)

So fun fact, me and my friend Courtney (who is also in the Geography of Wine Class) decided to go have lunch at Blu, and we were going to have an Italian theme Wine Dinner for lunch! Unfortunately for some reason they were only serving their Brunch menu – even though it specifically says on their website that the dinner menu is served from open to close. So Courtney and I had to get a little creative.

(Me and Courtney trying to decide what to order)

So what did we come up with? We both decided to roll with the punches and have some wine with our breakfast (brunch)! We did get a few strange looks, but it was all for the wine, so it was worth it! I decided to get the “American” breakfast, because it sounded tasty, and it had an abundance of different foods for pairings, and the Passport wine flight because it seemed like the best bet (besides the Crimson and Cream, but Courtney got that).

(My Selections)

While we were waiting for the food and wine to arrive Courtney and I admired the general ambiance of the restaurant, which was really cool, and we noticed some Rorschach tests hung up on the wall. We debated about those, joked around, and generally had an awesome time!

(These were some of the decorations. I see a skull on top, a panda bear in the middle, and a crab on the bottom.)

Then the food arrived

(My plate)

followed shortly by the wine

(My flight)

and Courtney and I got started!

(Excited to pair some food and wine!)

After Reading the descriptions of the wines provided by the restaurant, I decided to start with pairing the Domaine de la Damase Grenache with the scrambled eggs, because of the description provided.

(Domaine de la Damase Grenache Description)

I figure the eggs would help mellow out some of that initial acidity and allow some of the other flavors to express themselves more. First I tasted the wine by itself so that I could see how it changed with the food. It was good, and I could definitely make out the spicy tobacco flavors, along with cherry. It had a lot of tannins, and the description did not lie about the initial acidity.

Then I tried it again with the scrambled eggs. They definitely mellowed out the tannins and the acid, like I hoped they would, and the fruity flavors did become more pronounced. I also noticed some hints of plum that I hadn’t noticed when I tried the wine by itself. The food also brought out the spicy flavors, which I normally don’t like, but they weren’t so bad, probably because they were accompanied by the food. Pairing one = success!

I had some bread and water between courses to try and make sure that I was coming at each wine from the same place.

The second pairing I decided on was the bacon and ham with the Stemmari Nero d’Avola wine. I thought this would work out pretty well because I recognized the wine name as Italian, and I’ve almost always had Italian wines paired with prosciutto. Okay, so it was a guess, but it turned out great!

(Stemmari Nero d’Avola Description)

The wine by itself was really sweet when it hit the tip of your tongue with strawberry and pomegranate flavors. It had a lot of tannins, but it was really smooth. Having it with the bacon brought out the sweetness, but left the tannic component and mouthfeel unchanged. The ham, on the other hand, brought out the sweetness in a slightly different way, so instead of strawberry and pomegranate, I got more cherry and black currant flavors. The ham also mellowed out a lot of the tannins, which I think was really nice. Over all, both the bacon and the ham worked with this pairing, but the ham definitely went better with the wine.

After a little breather and some more bread and water, I moved right along to pairing number three! The final wine, a Loca Linda Malbec, was one that I was really excited to try based on the description.

(Loca Linda Malbec Description)

I decided to pair it with the potatoes, because I thought that a neutral background might really let this wine show what it could do. I tried the wine first, like I did with all the others, and it smelled fruity and citrusy and fantastic. But then I tried it and I was very disappointed to be unable to find any of those fruity flavors I had been led to believe were there. The potatoes did let the wine express itself a little more, and I found some hints of chocolate and vanilla that weren’t detectable when the wine was on its own, but still no fruity flavors. I tried this particular wine three more times with different foods on my plate, in an attempt to find something that would bring out the fruit flavors that were supposedly there, to no avail. Honestly, I feel like that wine was a lie.

So Courtney and I tried each other’s wines, and then focused on finishing off our brunch, and just hanging out. It was really nice

(Wine pairings are done and I still have all this food!)

Overall, I think two of the three wine and food pairings went really well, although I don’t think I’ll be having wine with breakfast food again any time soon. But this was a really fun experience, and I can’t wait to do it again!



Wine Tasting: Beringer Moscato

Name: Beringer Moscato

Variety: Moscato

Region: California

Country: USA

Year: NV

Price: $11.99

Winemaker Description:

Peach-scented, honeysuckle aromas. Fresh, sweet flavors of juicy stone fuit, honeydew melon, Fuji apple and ripe pear.

My Review:

I messed up a little when I tasted this wine. It was the second of two wines I tasted that day, and I assumed the first would be semi-sweet with this one being fully sweet, but that ended up being backwards. You know what they say when you assume things… Regardless, once my palate adjusted to the less sweet wine, I ended up enjoying it. It’s not my favorite, but it was much better than the first one, so I was happy. The wine was a very light golden color that reminded me of honey. The bouquet was made up of apple and pear scents, along with something a little citrusy, that I think might have been orange. The overall taste was good, but I wish it had a little more “zing” to it. The flavors were mainly composed of apples, pears, and melons.

I drank this wine by itself and it was alright, but I think the right food could give it that little something it’s missing. Maybe a nice piece of breaded flounder or seafood risotto.

Wine Tasting: Sweet Red

Name: Liberty Creek Sweet Red

Variety: Red Blend

Region: California

Country: USA

Year: NV

Price: $12.99

Winemaker Description:

Sweet Red is a blend of red wines that yield a fresh fruit forward taste. This brilliant wine captures the flavors and aromas of rich, ripe fruit. Typically characterized by sweet berry notes, it has a soft finish and refreshing mouth feel.

Our Sweet Red is soft and sweet with layers of bright cherry and wild boysenberry flavors, and a silky smooth finish. Enjoy chilled. It pairs perfectly with everyday foods, such as burgers, pizza, spicy, chili and hot chicken wings.

My Review:

This wine was probably really good, but I personally didn’t like it at all. I wanted to try a sweet red because I haven’t had the best experiences with them in the past, but I think maybe I just don’t like sweet red wines. I must just be biased, but red wine is supposed to be more dry. The wine was overall light; light colored red, light body, and it had very little taste. The only scent I could make out past overwhelming sugar was strawberry, and it was the same with the taste. I don’t know if there were supposed to be other flavors or aromas but, if there were, they drowned in the super high sugar content. I felt like I was drinking sugar water. Hopefully one of my friends will like it, because I can’t see myself finishing it.

I drank this wine by itself and, well, I’m sure you can tell how I felt about it. I can’t really image eating anything with this wine that would make it better. I feel like it would just make the food taste worse.

Wine Tasting: Sutter Home White Zinfandel

Name: Sutter Home Family Vineyards White Zinfandel

Variety: Zinfandel

Region: California

Country: USA

Year: NV

Price: $5.99

Winemaker Description:

Deliciously sweet with the essence of strawberry and melon, it’s so light and refreshing that it pairs perfectly with all kinds of food – from spicy to sweet and from salads to fish and meat. Day or night, this wine is a sweet taste of the good life.

My Review:

I served this wine chilled as the bottle suggested, and I’m very proud of myself! I don’t know if it really is better that way, but I actually took the time to do it, so I get a gold star. The wine was really nice too. Its one of the lightest pink wine I’ve ever seen; if there had been any less color it would have been a clear, white wine. The pink also had an orange undertone, which was kind of cool. The scent of the wine was more flowery than fruity, which was interesting to me. There were hints of honeysuckle, rose, and a little bit of a grassy scent. There were also subtle hints of something citrus, which I think was either grapefruit or lemon. The taste of the wine was great (especially for the price). There were flavors of strawberry, honeysuckle, grapefruit, apples, and lemons. Honestly I thought there was a lot of flavor packed into a little pale wine.

I drank this wine by itself and it was perfect. I feel like I really could eat almost anything with it, because the sweetness was offset by the perfect amount of acid. I’d love to try it with something spicy though, like curry. I think that would pair really well.

Wine Tasting: Apothic Dark

Name: Apothic Dark

Variety: Red grape blend (Zinfandel, Merlot, Syrah)

Region: California

Country: USA

Year: 2015

Price: $11.99

Winemaker Description:

This dark red wine blend features fruit flavors of blueberry and blackberry with opulent notes of coffee and dark chocolate.
My Review:

The first thing that I noticed upon opening thing wine is the color. They don’t play around with this stuff; it looks black. Upon further inspection I realized it is a very dark purple-red, but if you aren’t paying attention it really looks like a black wine. I would definitely assume that full color extraction took place. I was nervous to taste this wine because it smelled very earthy and spicy with hints of tobacco and black pepper – just like a Merlot – which I normally don’t like. But there were some hidden flavors in the taste that I couldn’t make out in the bouquet. There were still those smoky, tobacco, black pepper/anise flavors towards the back of your mouth. However at the front there were really nice sweet flavors that I wasn’t expecting. Things like strawberry and blackberry with a bit of vanilla. It was really nice, and I’m glad I gave it a shot.

I drank this wine by itself and it was really nice. I’m honestly not sure what I would eat with this because it has the Merlot/Syrah finish to contrast with its sweetness. I think I’ll just keep drinking it on its own; this wine is an experience in itself.

Wine Tasting: Big House White

Name: Bootlegger White

Variety: White grape blend

Region: California

Country: USA

Year: 2014

Price: $8.99

Winemaker Description:

My Review:

I really liked this wine and I was definitely surprised by the amount of body it has. I thought it would be pretty light bodied because it’s a white wine, but I think the grapes the winemaker mixed together ended with a more medium bodied wine. It was mostly clear with a green tint and had hints of lemon, grapefruit and honey in the smell. The taste comes across as really sweet at first, but then I could make out some of the complexity of the wine, and the sweetness was cut with fairly high acidity that blended together pretty well. Some of the more specific flavors in the wine were lemon, melon, and honey with vanilla.

I drank this wine by itself and it was pretty tasty, and then I tried it with lasagna and it wasn’t that great. It just goes to show that you really need to think about what food you pair with what wine. I think it would go really well with some sort of chicken back though.

Wine Tasting: Purato

Name: Purato Nero d’Avola

Variety: 100% Nero d’Avola

Region: Sicily

Country: Italy

Year: 2015

Price: $12.99

Winemaker Description:

Sicily’s number one red grape variety, Nero d’Avola is indigenous to the island. Our Purato Nero d’Avola has a wonderful structure, yet has soft tannins and is very approachable. Packed with red berry fruit flavours, it is ideal with red meat and tomato based pasta sauces.

My Review:

Honestly this wine reminded me a lot of a classic Tuscan Chianti, which made more sense when I looked at the bottle and realized that it was an Italian wine. The wine was a deep true red color, and its bouquet had scents of cherry, tobacco, cinnamon and black pepper. The pepper, cherry, and tobacco carried into the taste of the wine, but there was also a bit of vanilla. The wine wasn’t quite balanced, because the tannins were very harsh. I think either aging it longer or decanting it might have helped. But, since I had it with food there was a little something extra to cut the tannic component of the wine.

I drank this wine with a lasagna and it paired very well. I agree with the winemaker that the tomato based foods are very nice with this wine.

Wine Tasting: Talbingo Hill

Name: Talbingo Hill Sauvignon Blanc

Variety: Sauvignon Blanc

Region: South Eastern Australia

Country: Australia

Year: 2016

Price: $14.99

Wine Critic Description:

Tropical notes along with lime mingle in the bouquet. On the palate, more lime along with passion fruit, crisp acidity, and a zesty finish make for a delightful Sauvignon Blanc

My Review:

I actually really enjoyed this wine, even though I was not expecting too. For some reason I just assumed that I wouldn’t like Sauvignon Blanc, but I did! The wine had a really clear yellow tint, which I haven’t seen before. I normally think of white wine as more golden, but this one was definitely yellow. I got hints of melon and some type of flower, maybe lavender, as well as honey in the bouquet. There was also one more scent that I could not for the life of me figure out but, after reading the critique, I realized that I was smelling the lime. I think that I couldn’t identify it because it was not what I was expecting. The taste was the best part however – as it should be. It was much more dry than most wines I like, but there was still enough sweetness to cut the acidity. The wine itself tasted like apples (specifically yellow apples), vanilla and clove spices, and a little bit of lemon. It was really nice!

I drank this wine without food but I’m going to have some food with it the next time I try it. I think this recipe for Garlicky Lemon Shrimp would go really well with this wine.

Wine Tasting: Blue Towers

Name: Blue Towers

Variety: Malbec

Region: Torres del Paine

Country: Chile

Year: 2016

Price: $14.99

Winemaker Description:

Rich, dark fruits like blackberry, blueberry and plum dominate this Chilean Malbec. Full-bodied, smooth tannins and hints of oak, vanilla and herbal qualities add to the complexity of this wine. Pair with a barbecued ribs, pulled pork or brisket. Enjoy with hard cheeses like Manchego or Iberico.

My Review:

This wine certiantly looked very nice; it was a really dark violet red which, I now know, means the must fermented along with the juice, basically the whole time. The scents I got from the wine were very spicy with thing such as nutmeg, black pepper and tabbaco. The tastes of the wine more than lived up to the smell. It was very intense and I was just not ready for that. I was really overwhelmed at first with the really earthy, spicy tobacco and black pepper taste, which really carried over from the smell. It was only after I had been sipping on the wine for a hot minute that I was able to make out the black current and plum flavors that were there. Overall I didn’t really like this wine. I think it might calm down if I decanted it or had let it age, but I don’t think I’m going to really give it a second chance.

I drank this wine without food, which may have contributed to my dislike. However, I do agree with the winemaker that this would probably go really well with some barbecue.