To Beaufort with Love…of White Wine and Soft Shell Crabs!

Posted by on Apr 20, 2014 in Wine News |

Southern novelist Pat Conroy, author of “The Great Santini” and “The Prince of Tides” among other stellar literary creations, has written that Beaufort is the most beautiful town in South Carolina. Mr. Conroy was not creating fiction when he put pen to paper for that observation. Downtown Beaufort is a charming, quaint town located in the curve of a bay along the Intra-Coastal Waterway. Since it is the second oldest city in South Carolina, there is a historic character to it that cannot easily be found in other locales.   That is why Mr. Conroy makes Beaufort his home. Awaiting Mr. Conroy and those others fortunate enough to be in Beaufort is Plums Restaurant. Plums is a casual lunch and dinner bistro located in Downtown Beaufort overlooking the Waterfront Park. They have been at this location for 27 years and have become a tourist attraction as well as a local staple. The menu changes constantly with the seasons to allow for the use of as many local ingredients as possible.  No matter what the new menu, there is no better way to start than with a glass chilled Pinot Gris overlooking the Beaufort River. While there is certainly no need for a special event  to visit, the Soft Shell Wine Dinner at Plums definitely qualified!  The host for the evening explained that several special orders had to be placed in order to get the soft shell crabs in from all over just for this event. The weather has been unusually cold, so local soft shell crabs were not an option.    The first course was a sautéed soft shell crab over a pear and cucumber salad paired with Primaterra Prosecco NV from Veneto, Italy. The pears added a slight sweetness that compliment the savory sautéed crab. The soft and creamy Prosecco was a perfect pairing with its pineapple and citrus aroma. I savoured every bite.   The second course was a fried soft shell crab taco with corn relish and sriracha aioli. It was absolutely delicious and the mild heat was welcomed after the sweeter first course. It was paired with Velanosi “Villa Angela” Pecorino from Marche, Italy. The wine’s fresh taste went well with the spicy taco.   The third course was a cornmeal dusted soft shell crab with a succotash of sweet corn, lima beans, cherry tomato, and hot bacon dressing paired with Normande Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina. The vegetables complimented the crab nicely. I was surprised that a Malbec had been chosen to pair with a crab entree, but they truly went well together.   The final course was a dempsey strawberry tart with citrus cream. It was the perfect light desert to finish the lavish dinner.   At only $45 a person, it...

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This is What a Wine Tasting Should Be!

Posted by on Dec 15, 2013 in Uncategorized |

Charis Winery is the only one of its kind in Cumberland, Maryland.     What makes it special and the visit well worth the trip is that Charis Winery is unique as its owner Chuck Parks conducts the tasting.  That makes a peerless wine tasting experience due to how enlightening and comprehensive it is.  Krista Costanza and her mother can attest to that as they were fortunate enough to revel in the tasting experience on an afternoon visit.     Krista and her mother came into Cumberland from Pennsylvania for the tastings of reds and whites.  Chuck was even gracious enough to let them sample some that are not yet available to the public.   After sampling a few, Krista wanted to know more about the award winning wines, which Chuck detailed for her and her mother.     With medical school in her future, Krista naturally had an interest in the art and science of creating wines.  Absorbing the bouquet of the first wine to lead off the tasting, a dry Catawba, stimulated all of Krista’s senses for what was to follow.     Which was fortuitous as the next label in the tasting was the Xanior blend, described by Krista as “full of aroma.”   Following that was a Pinot Gris, with a touch of cranberry, ideal for the holiday season.  There were a variety of sweet wines, including a triple berry red that was delightful. What should have everyone excited about next year is the availability of the “Chance of Chocolate,” which will be coming out in about 6-8 months.     The special tasting of it that Krista received was worthy of a toast in itself!       Even though they had to head back to Pennsylvania, by the look on Krista’s face, there will be many return trips to Charis Winery in the future!  ...

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Our Nation’s Capital…for Wine!

Posted by on Dec 15, 2013 in Uncategorized |

While there are many sites to visit in Washington, D.C., the best way to enjoy all that the nation’s capital has to offer is to enjoy wine along the way.  Washington, D.C. is surrounded by history, and also great wineries, vineyards, and wine bars.  Brand Ambassador Abigail Cole sampled quite a few on a recent visit. It was a cold winter evening, so a red was the ideal wine to start off with at Luna Bar and Grill on Connecticut Avenue in the fashionable Dupont neighborhood.     Right around the corner is The Tabard Inn, which offers offers intimate surroundings for sampling dessert wines after dinner.     Marching down the street from The Tabard Inn takes one to The White House.  No matter the weather conditions, that is always worth a trip when in our nation’s capital.       The same is true for heading on up to Capitol Hill to check out The Capitol Building.       For movie buffs, having a red at The Tombs in Georgetown always emboldens one for a visit to “The Exorcist Steps,” made famous from that legendary film.     All of the wine action in Washington, D.C. is not just in the city. It is surrounded by hundreds of wineries, wine bars, and vineyards in Virginia and Maryland.  There are many more a short drive away in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.  The wines produced have done very well in competitions and rankings.  Judging from the look of Abby’s face, she will be back to enjoy more of the wine scene in Washington, D.C., with a pledge to learn more about Pinot Noirs!...

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The Reds are the Equals of the Whites at Chandler Hill Vineyards

Posted by on Nov 24, 2013 in Uncategorized |

When someone who looks like Grace Muraski leaves somewhere with such a captivating smile, it naturally raises the question: “How do I how get to be like that?’     The short answer is to buy a bottle of Port from Chandler Hill Vineyards like the one that has Grace, a Brand Ambassador and Spokesmodel from St. Louis, looking so radiant.  A better answer, though, would be to go through the entire tasting, like Grace did one brisk autumn weekend day, and take in all that Chandler Hill Vineyards has to offer.  A previous post detailed how splendid the whites were at Chandler Hill. For Grace, it was the reds that had her looking so beautiful, although that is probably her norm. You will not be disappointed in any of the wines at Chandler Hill, no matter what your personal preference.     Chandler Hill Vineyards was started in 2008. There has not been a moment of disappointment in the years since for those who have made the rewarding decision to visit.  In addition to its panoramic setting, the tasting room at Chandler Hill is warm and inviting.  So gracious is the gentle embrace of Chandler Hill, that 90 weddings have been held on the grounds, many in the tasting room below.     Tasting was what Grace had on her mind when she visited that day, too.     For only $5, the tasting at Chandler Hill Vineyards is unrivaled.  The smile on Grace’s face is proof of that: the tasting card being filled out as never looked so alluring at Chandler Hill as when she did it, either.     The staff at Chandler Hill Vineyard makes the experience even more rewarding.     Not only knowledgeable, they are very friendly; and everyone is made to feel welcome.  That is a tribute to the owner, Chuck Gillentine.  While there are many truly wonderful folk working at vineyards, the food at Chandler Hill makes it special.  The menu sets it apart from others.     There is no better way to cut the autumn chill in the Ozarks than to sit in front of the inviting fireplace in the gracious tasting room at Chandler Hill Vineyards.  If you live in the area, there is no reason to head out to Napa.  If you don’t, Chandler Hill Vineyards is a great reason to visit St. Louis! From the website: Founded in 2008, in Defiance, Missouri, Chandler Hill is only 30 minutes west of St. Louis, and is adjacent to America’s First Wine district, Augusta, Missouri. This unique grape growing region has produced some of the highest quality wines within the Midwest. Chandler Hill proudly grows Chambourcin, Vignoles and Norton.  In...

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Destination: Defiance, Missouri for Great White Wines at Chandler Hill Vineyards

Posted by on Nov 23, 2013 in Uncategorized |

A major objective of Wine & Spirits Watch is to edify followers that there can be great wines, wineries, and wine bars everywhere, and anywhere.  That was recently proven, again, at a great winery, Chandler Hill Vineyards in Defiance, Missouri.  Closer to St. Louis than to Napa, the wines of Chandler Hill Vineyards will keep those in the Midwest from leaving home and have more traveling to the “Show Me” state for a wide variety of  fine labels, both red and white.     From the website: Founded in 2008, in Defiance, Missouri, Chandler Hill is only 30 minutes west of St. Louis, and is adjacent to America’s First Wine district, Augusta, Missouri. This unique grape growing region has produced some of the highest quality wines within the Midwest. Chandler Hill proudly grows Chambourcin, Vignoles and Norton.  In addition to our award-winning Missouri wines, Chandler Hill also offers a selection of the very finest wines from the west coast. Our west coast wines come from our vineyards in Napa Valley, Willamette Valley, Columbia Valley and the legendary Central Coast. The grapes are hand selected by our vintners to produce the finest wines. In addition to the wines, the tasting room at Chandler Hill Vineyards is well worth the journey through the Missouri countryside.  The tasting room is as nice as any to be found.       Making the tasting room even more pleasing to the eye this Saturday afternoon was brand ambassador,  Abby Cole.  She was a huge fan of the whites at Chandler Hill Vineyards.  The staff led her through a tasting that is very reasonably priced at $5.     The Pinot Gris obviously met with Abby’s favor!     As did the Chardonnay on a brisk Missouri fall day on the outdoor desk.     Warming up inside, Chuck Gillentine, the owner of Chandler Hill Vineyards, helped her make her final choice.     No better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than a wine tasting at Chandler Hill Vineyards and leaving with a bottle of the Raspberry Sparkling Wine to bring back the tasty memories for Abby!     If you are not fortunate enough like Abby to be able to make it to the lovely setting that is Chandler Hill Vineyard, restaurants that have its wines include: Cafe Napoli and Napoli 2 Viviano’s on the Hill West End Grill and Pub Gianfabio’s Italian Cafe J Buck’s in Clayton All Pi Pizzeria locations West End Grill and Pub Truffles Flemings Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar Four Seasons Cielo Yia Yia’s  ...

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