Mulled Wine for the Holidays

Mulled wine is one of our favorites during the winter holidays.  There are lots of different ways to make this hot winter drink.  All recipes start off with wine to which mulling spices  are added, and the mixture is slowly heated until the flavors blend.  Some recipes use a mixture of wine and cider (or other juice), while others “spike” their wine with brandy or rum.  Often fruits, such as orange slices or cranberries, are added and some people like to sweeten the mixture a bit.

One of our favorite recipes is the less alcoholic version of wine and juice:

  • 1 bottle of red wine (such as Sweet Mountain Mist)
  • 3 cups of apple cider or apple juice  (or 2 cups of apple juice and 1 cup of cranapple juice)
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick (about 3 inches)

Alternatively, you could substitute two bottles of our Winter Blend wine, which is a blend of Apple wine and Chambourcin wine, and omit the apple cider or juice.

Heat all ingredients in a crock pot – but never let it boil. Start off on the high heat setting until the liquid becomes hot, then turn it to the low or warm setting and let is simmer for about 2 hours.  The cinnamon stick should flatten out as the flavors blend together.  Serve hot and enjoy!

Posted by The Long Shot Farm

Vidal-Alfredo Food Pairing

It is the simple things in life that matter.

This is most certainly true when it comes to Alfredo.  I am not fooled by those jars in the grocery store that pretend to be Alfredo and are white and gooey and plop out of the jar with a sickening Gak sound.   I make my Alfredo as simply as possible with just a handful of ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 freshly grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper

Bring the first 3 ingredients to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and let thicken a few minutes.  Add salt and pepper.  Toss with pasta and parmesan.

I like to add in a few vegetables and chicken sometimes.  To pair with the Vidal wine I added asparagus and toasted pine nuts.  A satisfying Friday night meal after a full week.

Posted by Anja Weyant

Strawberry Wine

 

We are excited to start a batch of strawberry wine! Fruit wines typically take less than a year to complete. We purchased locally enough strawberries to make a small batch of wine.  The wine will have a pleasant perfumey bouquet and the taste of strawberries will come out cleanly. Dry or sweet this wine will be something to look forward to.

Posted by Anja Weyant

Wine and Chocolate Pairing: First Attempt

Let me start by saying that you should drink the wine you like with what you like to eat and therefore, should probably take someone’s wine pairing suggestion with a grain of salt[y chocolate].  I actually think that plain chocolate goes with most wine.  And by plain I just mean milk chocolate and the various degrees of dark chocolate.  I just really like chocolate and wine.

I recently visited the Lindt outlet in Carlisle and thought it would be fun to pair the Long Shot wines with the myriad of flavored truffles. Our naive expectations were that all the truffles would go more or less with every wine, and this would be a silly game, were we just make up what is “best” with what. And we were very wrong. Very, very wrong.

While we stand by the idea that most wine goes with most plain chocolate, flavored chocolate is a whole different beast. Example:  Chambourcin wine and orange chocolate do NOT go together.  Kinda like the pair of friends you have that you never invite to the same event. Chambourcin wine is best with just plain dark chocolate truffles.  We also thought that really sweet wine, like Concord, worked well with salty truffles.

But there were a few wines that were really enhanced when paired with flavored chocolate.  For instance, Vidal Blanc wine pairs well with citrus in general, so it was natural to try the Valley Blush wine, which is a blend with Vidal Blanc, with orange chocolate.  Wow.  We were all pretty shocked at the outcome.  Similarly, the Vidal Blanc wine and citrus truffle are absolutely splendid together.

Here is our list of recommendations
  • Concord and sea salt
  • Chambourcin and dark chocolate
  • Chardonel and almond
  • Vidal Blanc and citrus
  • Blackberry and extra dark or hazelnut
  • Fletched and coconut or strawberry
  • Chambourcin Rose and white chocolate (strawberries and cream anyone?)
  • Valley Blush and orange
  • Winter Blend and salted caramel

Nota bene: blueberry truffles hated all wine pairings. At least in our mouths.

posted by Anja Weyant

Why We Use Cork in Our Winery

Cork is a sustainably harvested product that is natural, renewable and recyclable.  Cork forests support high levels of biodiversity and prevent desertification in the Mediterranean region , where most of these forests are found. Additionally, cork oak trees store carbon in order to regenerate their bark.  According to WWF, a harvested cork oak tree absorbs up to five times more carbon than one that is not, and cork forests absorb millions of tons of CO2 each year.  With a global decline in the natural cork use for wine, cork trees are being lost and countries are experiencing desertification, which also threatens the habitats of some critically endangered species, like the Iberian Lynx in Portugal.

Let’s start with a brief summary of the types of wine bottle closures:

Natural Corks
Natural cork has several advantages, it is a natural product, it is porous and traditionalists will say that cork creates the perfect oxygen/wine ratio for cellar aging. The oxygen transfer rate of natural cork is approximately 0.0179 mg/L or between 3.00 and 6.83 micrograms of O2/day. Cork is also recyclable and cork forests contribute to biodiversity and prevent desertification of the Mediterranean region. A high quality cork offers long term aging potential, though with very high end wines it is recommended to re-cork after 25 years, as the cork will start to fail at that time.

But there are some major disadvantages, including problems with leakage as well as sources of off-odors. Leakages can be caused by structural imperfections of the cork itself, of it could be caused by wrongly aligning the cork and bottle during the corking process. Rapid temperature changes may also cause leakage. Another serious problem with cork is the possibility of off odors, including TCA (Trichloroanisole), as well as microbial growth from a variety of sources.

Concerns about structural imperfections of corks as well as cork taints have been the major reason for the development of alternative closures.

Synthetic Corks
Synthetic corks are inexpensive, they are consistent and they will never have the taint issues of real cork. They can also be used without the need for new bottling equipment. However, plastic allows the diffusion of oxygen at varying levels, ranging from 0.0052 cc/day to 0.0076 cc/day, while other evaluations of synthetic cork show diffusion from 5.7 to 13.99 micrograms of O2/day. Oxidation of wines under a synthetic cork can be observed as early as in a year, though ongoing research is addressing this issue. Plastics are not generally a renewable resource.

Screw Caps
Metal screwcaps are a major alternative to cork when it comes to closures. The metal cap itself is not the actual closure; rather the bottle is sealed with a plastic foam pad that is either lined with saran and a tin layer, or saranex only. A main advantage of these closures is that they are very consistent; they are great at retaining SO2 and they minimize oxidation. They are pilfer proof, and eliminate the need for a cork screw. There is no risk of TCA and the bottles do not need to lie on their sides.

There is some research suggesting that screw caps may lead to reduction in wine (the opposite of oxidation.) And there is still disagreement as to the aging potential of wine closed with a screw cap. Another disadvantage is the cost of investing in a capping machine, which starts around $8000. The various types of screw caps in the market are not standardized so a capping machine is specific to one type of screw cap only.

“Engineered” or “Technical” Corks
A technical or engineered cork is basically made of shredded natural cork that is then “glued” back together and molded into the traditional cork shape. This type of cork provides all the advantages of natural cork, but eliminates the problems of cork taint (from musty smells to TCA) and inconsistencies with oxygen permeation caused by technical imperfections. Different grades of cork are used in this process, which – just as with the natural cork – influences the number of years that the cork is guaranteed for. This typically ranges from 2, 3, 5 and 10 years.

Regarding overall market perceptions, cork closures are still the preferred method of closures in the US for all wines, but even in countries where alternative closures are well accepted, many wineries opt to use traditional cork closures.

When deciding about the best wine closure, the overall environmental impact should not be underestimated! Cork is a sustainably harvested product. It is produced primarily by the Cork Oak (Quercus suber), but the tree does not get cut down in order to harvest the cork. The cork oak is the only tree, where all the bark can be stripped without harming the trunk. Harvesting cork starts when a tree is around 30 years old, and is repeated every 10 years or so – for about 200 years per tree.

We know that by using natural cork, we are helping save cork trees in Portugal, across Europe, and in the Mediterranean region!

Here are some links where you can learn more about how corks are sustainably harvested and the importance of cork trees:

Cork Forest Conservation Alliance

“Save a Tree, Use Real Cork” The New York Times, 2013

Cork Quality Council

 

Posted by The Long Shot Farm