Celebrating International Sauvignon Blanc Day

Always celebrated on the first Friday each May, this year International Sauvignon Blanc Day falls on Friday, May 1. Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most widely planted grapes in the world and produces a beautifully aromatic white wine known for its luscious fruit notes of citrus, peach, apple, passionfruit, and herbaceous notes of bell pepper, gooseberry, and grass. Sauvignon Blanc in the glass is typically medium to medium-high in acidity, which gives it that wonderful mouthwatering refreshing quality. Where the grape grows and where the wine is produced, however, makes all the difference in the world as far as what ends up in the glass.

Very popular in France, Sauvignon Blanc is thought to have originated in the Bordeaux region. When you are enjoying a bottle of white Bordeaux, you are enjoying the Sauvignon Blanc grape, often blended with Semillion and in some sub-regions, such as Pessac-Léognan and Graves, aged in neutral oak barrels, resulting in a fuller bodied, richer style wine with aging potential. Further north in the Loire Valley of France, Sauvignon Blanc is the white grape of Pouilly-Fumé and Sancerre, which can be described as crisp, fresh, and elegant in the glass.

New Zealand produces some of the most well-known Sauvignon Blancs to consumers in the United States. Unlike French versions which offer aging potential, most Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand are intended to be consumed young and fresh. These wines display intense and pungent notes of grapefruit and gooseberry, as well as distinct green flavors of cut grass, bell pepper, and passionfruit. Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand has a recognizable zing of crisp acidity, whereas their French counterparts offer a bit more richness and roundness on the palate.

When I was sourcing the wines for our portfolio at Sail to Trail WineWorks, I felt it was very important to source a Sauvignon Blanc that fell somewhere in the middle of both the French and New Zealand styles and offered the perfect balance. I looked to the Central Coast of California, and found exactly what I was looking for.

Our  Sauvignon Blanc is delightfully crisp without being overpowering. With lively notes of citrus, candied lemons, and stone fruits, this is a refreshing wine that can easily stand alone as a porch sipper. In the tasting room, this is the wine I see fly out the door more than any other, as it appeals to dry and sweet white wine lovers alike, as well as red wine lovers. Although a dry wine, the fruit is so pronounced, some might interpret that as a touch of sweetness on the palate.

I find Sauvignon Blanc one of the easiest wines to pair with food, regardless of its region of origin. With its pronounced herbaceous notes, it is a homerun when paired with foods featuring various herbs such as cilantro, basil, or mint. With its high acidity, herbed goat cheese is a perfect and effortless match. Lighter fare such as seafood and salads are fail-proof go-to pairings.

A Little Wine and Chocolate (Therapy)

I had the pleasure of meeting Pam and David Griffin, owners of Chocolate Therapy in Framingham, MA at a grand tasting just about a year ago. When I became the sommelier and EVP of Product Development at Sail to Trail WineWorks, Worcester’s only urban winery, I knew we needed to offer something unique yet irresistible alongside our flight of wines. The mind blowing truffles crafted by Chocolate Therapy immediately came to mind, and I think our customers will agree, was an excellent addition.

When you visit the Sail to Trail tasting room, you have the option of enjoying a flight of the five wines in our portfolio. In addition, we offer a customized flight of Chocolate Therapy truffles to accompany each wine. Each wine is incredible on its own, as is each chocolate truffle, but when paired together, the explosion of flavors and textures is something that cannot be accurately described in writing. You’re simply going to have to visit and try for yourself!

Sail to Trail’s 2018 Sauvignon Blanc comes from California’s Central Coast. It offers a beautifully light, refreshing mouthfeel and flavors of soft grapefruit, candied lemon, and stone fruits. I call this our “porch pounder.” Imagine that warm, sunny summer day; this is the wine you want in your glass. Typically, dry acidic white wines tend to be a bit difficult to pair with foods with high sugar content, but that wasn’t even a challenge for Chocolate Therapy. Their Limoncello truffle provides complimentary flavors of bright lemon blanketed in luxurious white chocolate. This pairing is heavenly.

Our  2017 Chardonnay comes from Yakima Valley, WA and is unoaked. This chardonnay was aged in stainless steel, so in lieu of flavors of vanilla and toast, you will enjoy aromas and flavors of pineapple and tree fruit. Bright, refreshing, clean flavors are only changed once you pair this wine with the Sweet Potato truffle. Suddenly flavors of hazelnut explode on the palate. It’s like magic!

Sail to Trail’s 2015 Zinfandel from Sonoma County, CA earned itself 88 points from Wine Spectator and is a favorite among all of our customers. You are left with no words once you pair this wine that offers juicy, ripe flavors of raspberry, blackberry, and plum with the white chocolate Raspberry Gemme truffle.

We offer two Cabernet Sauvignons at the tasting room. The first is our best seller, 2017 vintage from Yakima Valley, WA. This delicious every day cab starts with ripe red fruits and finishes with a spicy note of black pepper. When paired with The Cure (dark chocolate with cinnamon, cayenne, and bay leaf), that spicy kick is amplified and offers a fun, unique marriage of flavors.

Finally, our 2015 Signature Cabernet Sauvignon from Walla Walla, WA, which earned 89 points from Wine Spectator. This beauty offers layers of deep red fruit, earth, leather, spice, and sweet cedar. The Aristaeus truffle offers sultry dark chocolate with cold pressed olive oil and sea salt, finishing the flight on a truly luxurious note.

Fall In Love with Wine & Chocolate class at Sail to Trail on February 12, 2020

Visit Chocolate Therapy and Sail to Trail WineWorks for more delicious info!

Pairing the New England Clambake

As a lifetime New Englander, I basically grew up on everything you’d find at a traditional clam bake: a variety of steamed quahogs and littlenecks, mussels, boiled lobster, crab legs, corn on the cob drenched in melted butter, boiled red potatoes, clam chowder, potato, macaroni, and green salads… the list goes on and on. To me, this is the epitome of summertime dining in New England. Little did I know as a child, this culinary tradition would only get better once I was an adult and had a knowledge of wine to add even more enjoyment.

Let’s Talk Wine Pairing

Clams (quahogs, littlenecks, cherrystones) and mussels are absolutely delicious steamed and dipped in melted butter. Often times I’ll grab an oaked, buttery Chardonnay (such as DeLoach Private Collection Chalk Hill) for that melt-in-your-mouth experience, or I’ll grab a zesty and lively Sauvignon Blanc (such as Riversong Sauvignon Blanc), with a bit more crispness and acidity than a Chard. It’s really a matter of my particular mood and preference that day, but either one provides a home run pairing that is sure to please.

I recently posted an entire blog for Lobster Day, highlighting various lobster dishes and my favorite varietals. There are so many delicious choices for perfect pairing, although my absolute favorite is a dry sparkling wine, particularly Cremant de Loire (such as Abbesse Cremant de Loire), which provides the perfect note of salinity to compliment shellfish.

King crab legs are one of my faves, although a bit interactive. When I don’t mind getting my hands dirty and working for my food, I grab my nut and seafood cracker and get to crackin’ those spiny bad boys. Next to my plate of crab legs and pool of melted butter is a perfectly chilled glass of dry Riesling from Alsace, France, or a fruit forward, fuller bodied Pinot Gris (such as Hillersden Pinot Gris from Marlborough, New Zealand).

Clam chowder all year long… comfort food in the winter, beachy goodness in the summer. My suggested wine pairing is equally as versatile. Two of my favorites, Bees Knees Chenin Blanc/Viognier and Lobster Shack Chardonnay/Viognier, both from South Africa offer a beautiful balance of refreshing fruit and lively acidity with a weightier mouthfeel appropriate for both summertime and wintertime dining.

The Sides

Corn-on-the-cob, boiled potatoes, salads of all sorts. Every wine mentioned above would pair beautifully with all of these sides. Have fun with the experimenting! No clam bake would be complete without a rosé , and I am absolutely digging Paris Street Rose from Romania. A few more notable suggested wines would include The Arch Pinot Noir, for all you die hard red wine lovers, and Sonnenstrahl Grüner Veltliner from Austria. Happy pairing!

Join Our Clambake and Wine Pairing

None of the work, all of the fun! Enjoy the cuisine of Chef J. Rex poolside at Lantera Boston Landing on Wednesday, July 31st at 6:30pm as I guide you through the perfect wine pairings with each course!
Click here for tickets and more information or find our event on Facebook

Cheers!
Missa
winedowntastings.com

National Cheese Day

June 4th is National Cheese Day! Cheese boards are a staple of my home entertaining. There is nothing simpler, yet delicious and enthusiastically received by my guests than a variety of cheeses to pair with whichever wines we will be sipping on. Cheese boards can be inexpensive with easy to find, traditional cheeses most Americans are familiar with, or they can be an eclectic spread of costly gourmet cheeses from all over the world. I often enjoy having one or two gourmet cheeses that are new or unique to my crowd of guests, accompanied by several common “ol’ standby” cheeses to offer a little something for everyone. In honor of National Cheese Day, I offer you seven simple, easy to find cheeses and my favorite varietals to pair with them perfectly.

  • Herbed goat cheese with Sauvignon Blanc
  • Delice de Bourgogne with Chardonnay
  • Gruyere with Gewurztraminer
  • Feta or Gorgonzola with dry rosé
  • Buffalo mozzarella with Sangiovese
  • Smoked Gouda with Syrah/Shriaz
  • Horseradish cheddar with Cabernet Sauvignon

Want to learn more? Join us at one of our VINOIsLife public wine and cheese pairing experiences in the greater Boston/MetroWest areas! Click here for our experience schedule.

Cheers!
Missa
winedowntastings.com

Wine and Chocolate For Valentine’s Day

Originally published in South Shore Senior News, February 2019 Edition

Wine and chocolate, a match made in heaven in this wine lover’s opinion. I tell my students, when in doubt, grab a bag of dark chocolate and a bottle of tannic red wine, and you will have an evening of deliciously paired bliss. There is so much to explore in the world of chocolate and wine. Valentine’s Day is upon us, and what better time than to take our taste buds on a sweet adventure?

White chocolate and Pinot Noir is probably the most surprising and delicious chocolate and wine pairing I’ve ever experienced. Pour yourself a glass of Pinot Noir, then put a square of quality white chocolate on your tongue and savor. While the chocolate is melting, raise the glass to your nose and breathe in the aromas of the wine. You will start to taste an incredible vanilla flavor that wasn’t noticeable before. Once you’ve enjoyed this sensation, take a sip of the wine, coating the white chocolate as it continues to melt, and enjoy pure bliss.

Old vine Zinfandels are some of my favorite wines, and I’m absolutely obsessed with pairing them with dark chocolate raspberry, such as Ghirardelli dark chocolate raspberry squares. Zinfandels are so jammy and fruit forward that these chocolate squares will turn that wine into liquid raspberry on the palate in the most heavenly of ways.

Cabernet Sauvignon tends to have undertones of eucalyptus or mint, which makes these hefty reds the ideal partner for chocolate mint. You can go beyond dark chocolate mint candies and pair them with Mint Milanos, Thin Mint cookies, or even grasshoppers.

I enjoy the flavor of coffee in pretty much anything, and chocolate is no exception. You will bring out a delicious earthy, mocha note when pairing red wine with dark chocolate covered espresso or coffee beans. Earthier varietals like Cabernet Franc and Pinotage will truly impress with this delightful pairing.

A fun and unusual combination I have grown to love is dark chocolate chili, which provides a nice spicy kick. Enjoy this with a nice Syrah/Shiraz, and watch the fruit and spice dance happily on the palate, switching off who takes the lead.

What about white wines? These can be a bit tricky, especially the drier ones, as too much sugar will amplify the acid, resulting in an unpleasant bitter taste. I have found the heavier bodied oakier whites, such as Chardonnay, pair wonderfully with creamy white chocolate, or even milk chocolate covered nuts or turtles. Try an off-dry white, such as a Riesling, or a sweeter white, such as a Moscato, with milk chocolate caramels with sea salt.

Want to explore a little outside the box? Try chocolate covered bacon for a new and exciting twist. This gives you the best of the wine pairing world: salt and fat blanketed in decadent chocolate. You could even drizzle chocolate on some salty kettle chips for a similar effect.

When it comes to wine and chocolate pairing, the best part is the “research”! 

Cheers!
Missa
winedowntastings.com

SSSNFebruary2019

Snowed In With Mulled Wine

Originally published in the South Shore Senior News, January 2019

I have always been a fan of wine cocktails, whether a morning mimosa or bellini with brunch, sangria in the summer, and especially mulled wine. Also known as glögg, Glühwein, and many other names I cannot pronounce, mulled wine is a wine beverage served hot or warm, particularly in the colder winter months. It is typically made with red wine and various baking spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, anise, ginger, cloves and dried orange peel with the addition of some sort of spirit, most commonly brandy or vodka. Born and raised in New England, I have experienced my share of Nor’easters and blizzards, and nothing makes me feel cozier than watching the snow fall from the comfort of my living room while cozied up fireside with a mug of nice hot mulled wine.

Not only is mulled wine incredibly simple to make, the house smells incredible from the simmering baking spices. By keeping a few simple ingredients on hand, you can be prepared to whip up this comforting recipe in a pinch. I also find this fun to make for cocktail parties, get-togethers, the random “pop-in” visitor, and especially as a dessert beverage after dinner parties. Mulled wine can be made stovetop or in a slow cooker, whichever you prefer.

You can find hundreds of different recipes for mulled wine on the internet, but I have my own personal favorite that is simple, inexpensive, and delicious. You can certainly buy your own personal favorite combination of spices separately, but I choose to purchase a pre-mixed combination of mulling spices from Atlantic Spice Co. in North Truro, MA (https://www.atlanticspice.com/), which contains cinnamon chips, orange peel, allspice, and cloves, as the base of my spice mix. I purchase small muslin bags to contain the spices while simmering for easy removal; however, you can choose to add the spices to the simmering pot on their own, then simply strain them when it is time to serve.

Missa’s Mulled Wine
– 1 (750 mL) bottle of the red wine of your choice
– 1 muslin bag (or cheesecloth pouch) containing 2 Tbsp of Atlantic Spice Co’s mulling spice mix
– ¼ cup brandy or vodka (or your favorite liqueur)
– 2–4 Tbsp of sugar, maple syrup, or honey (or your desired sweetener) to taste
– optional garnishes: orange slice, cinnamon stick, star anise

Steep mulling spices and wine for 30-60 minutes on the stovetop or in a slow cooker on low just to a simmer. Do not boil, making sure to keep the wine under 160 degrees. If no pouch or bag is used, strain the wine into a mug, top with desired garnishes, and serve hot.

This can be made in a non-alcoholic version, as well. Simply simmer the spices stovetop or in a crock pot with a gallon of cider or juice and omit the wine and liqueur.

Cheers!
Missa
winedowntastings.com

Article in South Shore Senior News

A Cookie Swap Wine Tasting

Today is National Cookie Day! Yes, there’s truly a day for everything. Although if there was the perfect time to have a designated cookie day, this time of year is definitely it. Over the past several years, I have conducted several cookie swap themed in-home wine tasting events, and this year was no exception.

My fabulous host and multi-time in-home tasting attendee Ameera hosted a cookie swap tasting in celebration of her 30th birthday. The great thing about a cookie swap (besides the obvious) is that every guest gets to contribute and bring their favorite cookies to share. As the Wine Educator, I choose which wines I will bring to the tasting based upon the cookies everyone has offered to bake and bring.

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It’s certainly fun to apply my pairing knowledge and predict what I know (or at least am fairly certain) will be a great match, which cookies will be delicious with which wines, but it’s even more fun to see my dozen or more wine loving guests experiment with the flavors and come up with new and unpredictable pairings. We pleasantly found the following are fabulous together:

Oatmeal cookies with coconut with Chardonnay.
Gingerbread cookies with Viognier.
Caramel Apple Pie cookies with both Viognier and Chardonnay.
Dark chocolate raspberry cookies with Zinfandel (probably my all time fave!)
Peanut butter blossoms with Chardonnay and Zinfandel.
Dark chocolate peppermint with Malbec (this also pairs amazingly with Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah).
Chocolate chip cookies with pretty much any red wine, both dry and sweet.

In previous cookie swap events, I have been been able to determine some general rules when it comes to pairing wine and cookies. That being said, when it comes to wine, there never seems to be one final answer, and all rules are meant to be broken. For instance, I assumed snickerdoodles would be much too sweet and sugary to pair well with an oaked Chardonnay, but much to my surprise, it was a delightful pairing. Generally speaking, the sweeter the cookie, the sweeter the wine. Sugar cookies and frosted cookies should pair nicely with semi sweet and sweet wines. Chocolate cookies with red wines is another almost sure bet. Lemon cookies, if not heavily glazed and not too sweet, seem to pair lovely with off dry and drier whites, especially those whites with citrus and/or lemon notes.

I was asked to create the pairing suggestions for your cookie swaps based upon wine category. You will find this fantastic chart designed by our design team below. But remember… rules are meant to be broken, and you might find additional matches that you find simply delicious. Happy pairing!

Cheers!
Missa
winedowntastings.com

The Wine Lab – North Andover, MA

Scrolling through Facebook one day, I saw that a new wine bar had opened up in North Andover, which is about an hour north of me and a town I drive through all the time when I commute to work at the Traveling Vineyard corporate office. It looked like a pretty cool concept… an urban style winery that sources grapes from various places, then vinifies and bottles under their own name, The Wine Lab. I was really excited to check it out, so one beautiful fall afternoon this past weekend I took a ride up to North Andover, met up with a great friend, and got to see what The Wine Lab is all about.

The Wine Lab is located in a beautiful historic mill building that appears to be a thriving spot for local businesses. It’s a gorgeous rustic-meets-modern space with high ceilings and a large bar in the center, surrounded by many high top tables, and a cozy living room-like space with leather chairs and coffee tables. Immediately upon entering, I knew this was a place I could see myself spending many an evening with great friends.

But What About The Wine?

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I decided to order one of the wine flights on the menu called the Devil Flight. This flight consisted of three reds, then your choice of whichever wine you wanted for the fourth. I chose the Chardonnay as my fourth wine, and the three reds that came in the flight were a Pinot Noir, a Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Malbec. They arrived in little test tubes, a quirky and fun way to present a flight in a place that calls itself a lab, accompanied by a large empty glass for tasting. Love the creative presentation!

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They served them in what I thought was a strange order to serve wine in: Cab Sauv, Pinot Noir, Malbec, then Chardonnay. Naturally, I tasted them in what I believe to be a more proper order and began with the Chardonnay.

Summer Day Chardonnay was a nice basic Chardonnay. No signs of significant oak, a medium weight with good acidity. The grapes are sourced from California, and the winemaking didn’t seem to be anything special. A decent, crisp white wine that would pair lovely with a variety of foods and satisfy most white wine drinkers.

I then poured the Red Dragon Pinot Noir into my glass. These grapes are sourced from Lodi, CA and displayed a bright ruby red in the glass. The texture was super smooth with very light tannins, and this wine showed a bit of tart fruit, including cranberry, pomegranate, dried strawberry, and red raspberry. It was a bit more floral than I would expect from a Pinot Noir, and more fruity than earthy or rustic. It was a nice easy drinker that would pair with a variety of lighter foods.

Next, I tried the She Drank It All Cabernet Sauvignon, also sourced from Lodi, CA. The color was almost identical to the Pinot Noir, which I found peculiar, but the flavor and texture was even more odd. Dare I say, this Cab was even lighter in flavor and body than the Pinot Noir. I’m not sure how that can even happen, especially grown in an AVA such as Lodi where you would expect much more deep fruit and heavier tannins. This wine was incredibly floral, something else I wouldn’t expect from a Cab. This showed extremely light fruit, very light tannin, little to no oak, and notes of red plum. Missing was any herbal or eucalyptus notes I’d expect from a Cab, and certainly no deep, dark fruits. It was interesting, to say the least.

Finally, I tried the Smooth Criminal Malbec, also sourced from Lodi, CA. This was my favorite of the flight. The most tannic and structured of the reds, it was still quite smooth and soft. This had deeper fruit, although still more red fruit notes than black fruit, and almost had a bubble gum character to it you’d find in a wine that has undergone carbonic or semi-carbonic maceration.

Light Bites

We decided to split a couple of light bites, so we ordered the Antipasto Skewers and the Deconstructed Beets and Buratta. These plates were fantastic! I ordered a glass of Smooth Criminal Malbec to sip on while we snacked, and it was a perfect compliment to both appetizers.

The Wine Lab is a fabulous place to visit, and I hope it thrives for years to come. The atmosphere is welcoming and spacious, the service is top notch, and the food is incredible. I personally found the wine to be average, but certainly enjoyable. I will most definitely return in the future to enjoy more Malbec and experience more options on their menu.

Rhode Island Wine and Waterfalls

A few months ago I found an article online guiding the reader through a day trip through Rhode Island that included a little hiking, several waterfalls, and various vineyards along the way. I love all of those things, so I texted my best friend Angi, we picked the date of Sunday, October 7, 2018 to go on said day trip, and we patiently awaited a new adventure. Neither of us are strangers to RI wineries in general, as we spend every 4th of July weekend in Newport, RI, followed by a day touring the RI portion of the Coastal Wine Trail. The vineyards and wineries more inland, however, were brand new to us.

The weather report wasn’t looking spectacular for our day trip, so we decided to forgo the waterfalls portion of the day and simply “do wine.” Truth be told, I’m glad it ended up this way, as it allowed more time for an extra winery visit than we had planned.

Leyden Farm Vineyards & Winery

Ang and I hopped in the car and drove about an hour south of my house, where we’d start our day at Leyden Farm Vineyards & Winery. First, let me start by saying the drive from Worcester, MA to West Greenwich, RI was simply beautiful. Rustic homes and farms, one pumpkin stand right after another, lots of small town charm, long winding back roads, and foliage that was just starting to glow. The drive itself with no destination at all would have been worth it, but alas, much wine awaited us.

Ang and I each bought a tasting, and then were instructed to go out back, choose to sit wherever we wished, and then go up to the tasting bar for each of our five selections. They had quite a bit of fruit wines, which Angi chose to taste. I tend to stay away from the sweeter styles and fruit wines when there are other options, so I went for their dry white and four dry reds, which included a Sangiovese, Merlot, “Romeo’s Red” (a blend of Merlot, Cab Franc, Cab Sauv, and Landot Noir), and a Pinot Noir. I didn’t ask, but I’m pretty certain not all of these grapes are estate grown, as many of them struggle to grow in our New England climate. What I found odd was that every single red I sampled was exactly the same bright ruby red. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Merlot such a bright shade of ruby. I should have asked more questions, but to be honest, I just wanted to taste some wine and enjoy a relaxing day with my bff! Sometimes I really need to force myself to draw the line between tasting wine for work and tasting wine for pure enjoyment. This day was for enjoyment.

What I did love was that several of their labels were pictures of dogs, and some of the wines were even named after their dogs. I think we all know how I feel about dogs! #dogmom

We enjoyed our wine on the quaint patio overlooking what appeared to be a Christmas tree farm and a lake with a fountain in the distance. It has a beautiful atmosphere and is a wonderful place to enjoy a relaxing day with people you love. We certainly could have stayed for a while and made ourselves comfy for a few hours, but there were other vineyards to see and wines to taste, so we got back in the car to head about 30 minutes north to Johnston, RI.

Verde Vineyards

Another stunning drive through winding New England back roads, and we arrived at Verde Vineyards, and incredibly quaint and rustic farm winery.  Of course the first thing I did upon arrival was hop out of the car and squeal with delight over the backyard chickens running about. I have this weird thing for birds. I love them. LOVE THEM! Chickens, ducks, turkeys, and of course parrots (I am a parront to two macaws, after all). Living in the city, I don’t really have the yard space to own my own chickens and ducks, but mark my words, when I eventually move out to the country, that’s one of the first things on my to-do list. Get chickens! Okay, back to the wine…

Before we even reached the tasting room entrance we were pleasantly greeted by two gentlemen, one of which was the owner, Giacomo (Jim) Verde. Sadly for us, they were completely sold out of white wines, so we were only able to taste the two reds. For $3 per tasting, you can’t really complain, and good for them for creating a product people love enough to buy out! Jim was proud to explain to us that Yankee Magazine had called him “the greenest vineyard in New England,” and not because his last name means green in Italian, but because his energy bill is $0. The farm creates all of their own energy. Angi and I truly enjoyed their reds, so we each walked out purchasing a bottle of St. Croix, a hybrid grape, that we will open during our annual Friendsgiving dinner and share with our closest friends. This vineyard was a charming farm that would be a delightful place to spend an entire day. Pack a picnic, grab some friends and family, head over to Verde Vineyards, buy a bottle, and just enjoy the small town feel. You won’t regret it.

It was suggested by the guys at Verde Vineyards that we add an additional winery visit to our day, and who are we to ignore a great recommendation? Back in the car it was for a quick drive north to the town of Chepachet, RI.

Mulberry Vineyards

I truly can’t get over the simple rustic beauty of every vineyard we visited. The moment we pulled up to Mulberry Vineyards, both of us fell in love. The owner, David Wright, was crushing Merlot grapes, and his wife Melissa was upstairs working the tasting bar, where she greeted us with a huge smile and warm welcome.

The Wrights are truly “living the dream.” They own and operate this gorgeous piece of vineyard property, and produce some truly delicious wines. Like most vineyards in New England, they do source their grapes from other areas of the country that are better suited for growing, and the result is some seriously high quality wines.

Alongside our tasting, Melissa gave us a little plate of the Merlot grapes David was crushing. I find this fascinating, to taste the grape at the exact brix and acidity level the winemaker desires to create the perfect wine. I thought this was such a great touch to add to the experience. The Merlot was fabulous, by the way, and I walked out purchasing a bottle to take home and enjoy.

Tavern On Main

After three fabulous wineries, we were starving, so on the way to our next winery we passed by what looked like a quaint tavern to have lunch. We had no idea what we were walking into. Usually we’ll take a moment to look up a menu online, assess the wine list, all that jazz. Not this time. We wanted to just pick a random place by the looks of it and see what we could find. Wow, were we glad we did. Tavern On Main in Chapachet, RI is one of those hidden gems you want to revisit as often as possible.

You never know what to expect on a wine list in a small town bar or grille. Actually, I take that back. I usually expect the wine list to be full of mass produced, cheap crap wine. Ang and I were pleasantly surprised to see their wine list contained two wines from the very vineyard we had just left, Mulberry Vineyards! I ordered a glass of red, Ang ordered the white, and we thoroughly enjoyed a glass of high quality, locally made wine. In addition, the menu blew us away. The menu was so diverse and had such enticing selections, it took us a bit of time to narrow it down and figure out what we wanted. The decision got a lot easier once I realized they had a seafood dish that was 100% lobster, crab, and butter. No bread crumbs, no carbs, just pure keto-friendly savory goodness. Ang and I started by splitting a bowl of steamers, and then I savored that lobster/crab/butter dish like nobody’s business. Heaven!

Purple Cat Winery & Brewery

Our final destination for this awesome day was a block or two down the road from the tavern, Purple Cat Winery & Brewery. This place is just plain fun. There was live music as we walked in, and people were enjoying tasting flights of both wine and craft beers. As if we didn’t eat enough delicious business at the tavern, for some reason I felt the need to order a charcuterie plate to enjoy with my tasting flight. I’m glad I did, as it was the perfect compliment to the nine or so wines we were able to taste, and it helped me stay away from the bowl of non-keto friendly CheezIts.

After the tasting, we decided to close the day by ordering a glass, relaxing on one of the several comfy couches, and kick our feet up. They closed at 6pm, we were still there at 6:20 (ooops), so we figured we overstayed our welcome and headed back home. Purple Cat was a lot of fun, and I really enjoyed their “Trolly Car” red blend, which is what I ended up ordering by the glass.

And That’s A Wrap…

When we think about great wine regions of the world, Rhode Island isn’t one of them. In fact, no where in New England comes to mind. Despite that, what I have found is that we are incredibly fortunate to be home to many wonderful rustic farm wineries, some bigger commercial wineries, and some that are just plain fun. I don’t expect a big, bold California style Cab when I visit our local wineries, nor do I expect a grassy New Zealand style Sauvignon Blanc. What I do expect is a unique flavor, some great blends, perhaps some unexplored hybrids, a few fruit wines here and there, and truly something to be proud of. New England has it all, and wineries, vineyards, and amazing cuisine are at the top of the list. We don’t need to compete with the Finger Lakes or California, that would be ridiculous. But we can stand on our own when it comes to local flavor and charm, and appreciate it for exactly what it is.