Finger Lakes Wine Center

To celebrate my birthday, my friends and I stopped by the Finger Lakes Wine Center. From my experience, people who work at alcohol-related places are incredibly friendly. How can you not be when you’re surrounded by fermented juice? This wine center, located near the Ithaca Commons, is only a few blocks from the TCAT bus stop (perfect for Cornellians who don’t want to choose a DD).

The wine center was recently renovated and would be a great venue for professional gatherings or intimate parties. It’s a spacious place with a high ceiling, a separate shop area displaying local foodstuffs, and a lounge with soft seating. Wine facts are creatively shown on the walls; one part shows samples of various soil compositions that make up the Finger Lakes areas.

Since we did not have any varietal preferences, the lady helping us chose a hodgepodge of three white wines, one red, and one rosé. All wines are local. Our favorite was the Lamoreaux Landing 2010 Dry Reisling for its refreshing peach and apricot notes. Now for the pictures!

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Six Mile Creek Vineyard

Just some pretty pictures of Six Mile Creek Vineyard, only a ten minute drive from Cornell campus. We were too tipsy too intrigued by their many drinks (they make wines and distill liquor) to take notes.

One of our favorites was their number one seller, Pasa Tiempo, a sweet wine with hints of lemon and honey. They also distill their own vodka (made from grapes and oh-so-smooth), gin, limoncella, orangecella, and grappa!

Thanks to Derek for a great tour and a fun afternoon!

Midnight Wine Talks #3: Chianti Superiore

Today we tried a Banfi wine, the namesake of our school’s hotel’s restaurant.

Varietal: Chianti

Vintage: 2009
Origin: Tuscany, Italy
ABV: 13%
Price: ~$10

Winemaker’s notes: “Fresh and fruity hints on the nose, well integrated in a round structure and full body.  The lively acidity is well balanced with the rest of the structure. Ready to drink, pleasant and persistent. [It]… is pleasingly smooth and satisfying with its clean and distinctive flavours… Ideal with grilled meat dishes, poultry or pasta.”

Our notes:

Sunnie: I would say it’s very medium body, light on the tannins, and there’s a strong aftertaste.

Audrey: What varietal is this?

Sunnie: I think it’s just Chianti.

Audrey: Definitely not as familiar with that name as ones like Cabernet, or Pinot.

Sunnie: Time for some internet research… They age it for 4-5 months in a French oak barrel and after, another 4-5 months in the bottle. It is 75% of the Sangiovese varietal.

Audrey: I didn’t know Banfi’s makes this kind of wine. I’m really enjoying this Da Vinci painting on the bottle. This is very easy to drink… it’s almost sugar-y sweet and the aftertaste is not too strong or bitter.

Sunnie: Wines with Sangiovese grapes usually taste of ripe black fruits, like black cherries or plums. It’s usually used as a ‘blender’ varietal that’s added on to the local varietal. By itself, Sangiovese is usually too harsh and acidic. It’s the most-planted red varietal in Italy.

Audrey: Very cool, I can definitely taste the black fruits. It’s more fruity than floral.

Sunnie: Why is it so cheap? I don’t understand… it’s cheap and affordable, so great! Hm… I can definitely taste black cherry.

Midnight Wine Talks #2: Cline

Varietal: Viognier (pronounced vee-ohn-NYAY)

Vintage: 2010
Origin: North Coast, California
ABV: 14.5%
Price: ~$10-11

Winemaker’s notes: “Cline’s Viognier offers rich and distinctive aromas of pears, apricots, orange blossoms and honeysuckle.”

Our notes:

Sunnie: I don’t like it.

Audrey: Wow, already? Why?

Sunnie: I don’t like it.

Audrey: Oh, this is weird, you’re right. Not very drinkable for college kids. Although it does have a higher alcohol content than most wines.

Sunnie: Well maybe the flavor’s too young. I think it will mellow down the flavor if we drink it after 2-3 years.

Audrey: Gasoline. I taste gasoline…

Sunnie: Maybe we should chill it. Maybe that’ll improve the flavor.

(Ten minutes later)

Sunnie: …

Audrey: …

Midnight Wine Talks #1: Mirassou

Welcome to our new column where Sunnie and I will be ‘live blogging’ once a week about a different wine. School’s stressful and sometimes after a long day, you just want to pop a cork. We’re wine amateurs (although Sunnie’s taking the infamous Wines class and will be applying her education!) and might be bullshitting from time to time but like most young drinkers, we’re learning. Hopefully, this simple guide can help you find some good wines because let’s face it, selecting wines when you don’t know anything about them can be tricky. I’ve googled “good supermarket wines” on my iPhone while shopping more than once but it usually didn’t help. So, a bottle a week, it can’t be that tedious, right?

Mirassou

Varietal: Pinot Noir
Vintage: 2009
Origin: California
ABV: 13.5%
Price: ~$9-10

Winemaker’s notes: “Offering intense flavors of cherry and plum, with delicate floral notes, and hints of vanilla… This versatile wine pairs beautifully with salmon, poultry, or risotto.”

Our notes:

Continue reading

“If Life gives you lemons, cut them into slices and you’re well on your way to making SANGRIA”

Cue, backstory

I spent this past summer in Shanghai doing an internship, exploring the city, and just bumming around a bit. Shanghai, as I soon found out, has always been a mix of old and new. You could find old men crowded around an intense game of Chinese chess, a crowd of fanny pack-toting tourists, a hip and trendy Starbucks coffee shop, and a local with his pushcart selling meat skewers all on the same street. Louis Vuitton? Check. Fake eggs at a local market? (I’m not kidding) Check. Authentic Italian thin-crust pizza? Check. You get the idea.

On one of my gastronomical explorations with one of my friends, we went to a Mexican brunch place called “Maya”. Boasting a “brunch menu below 50 RMB” on Sundays, this offer was a steal. While perusing the menu, the drinks list naturally caught my eye (yes, even on a Sunday morning). Bellini! Mimosa! And then Sangria! My God, people. This was not the first time I’d been to brunch, so I’m not sure why the idea of having a little bit of drank with Sunday brunch was such a novelty (Oh right, I know why, it’s because I live in America).

So to do my first real brunch justice, we ordered white wine Sangria.

Our Sangria arrives. Condensation forms around the wine glasses from the ever-present humidity. Ice cubes bob amongst the fruity bits and pulpy pods of lemon, orange and grapefruit. Bubbles fizz around the edges from the added Perrier. To use my native, regional Bay Area, proverbial term… it was “hella” good. For those of you who are not acquainted with the jargon: it was the bomb dot com, it buttered my toast, etc.

The Sangria was refreshing, simple and absolutely tasty. Better yet, when I was done sipping on the bubbly wine, there was still floating fruit to fish out! Double whammy.

Om nom nom nom.

Brunch and Sangria

Fast forward to a week later… my friend who is leaving Shanghai mentions two bottles of wine that he forgot to give to his boss as a going-away present. My mind whirs a little, and then I give him the look. I give him the upward shift of the eyebrows, a subtle smirk indicative of mooching, and the “you know what’s up” expression all in one go. He takes a second to process my meaning. We all know how that one ended up.

Utilizing the unique and fruity flavors of Asia, I devised this simple recipe:

Shangria (see what I did there?)

1 Bottle (750 mL) of red or white wine (I used a 2007 Australian Shiraz while in Shanghai)

4 Lemons (or substitute half limes)

3 Kiwis

6-8 Lychees

1 Pink Lady Apple (or whatever’s freshest near you)

1 Asian Pear

1 cup Orange Juice

2 cups Peach Nectar

Sparkling Water

Cut lemons into slices. Skin the kiwis (I had no idea how to do this, so check it out) and similarly slice. Peel and seed the lychee. Make sure to crush the lychee so the inner pulp becomes exposed (which releases juices). Finely dice the apples and pears.

Place all fruit in a pitcher or bowl and add wine and juices. Allow Sangria to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Overnight is best. Add sparkling water to taste right before serving. Serves 5-6.

Sangria sitting in fridge overnight. Fruity bits floating...

Note: You can use any kind of fruit. Play around with the recipe and be creative. For red wine Sangrias, all kinds of berries work very well. For white wine, grapefruit, mango and watermelon would make great additions.

So whether you’re in need of a summer throwback or just have some leftover wine that your friend forgot to give their boss that you can mooch off of… Sangria’s your go-to!

Enjoy!

-J Lo