Thursday, January 29, 2015

Missouri Wines Pair Up with Mardi Gras

The Mardi Gras Wine, Whiskey and Beer Tasting has been one of our favorite St. Louis events for many years now. It offers a plethora of international wines, craft beers, and unique whiskeys all under one roof. Mardi Gras brings in high-energy DJs to set the tone as well as traditional creole cuisine to put you in the Mard Gras spirit.

This year will provide an extra special experience for the event goers. For the first time, Missouri Wines will be included at the Wine, Whiskey, and Beer Taste! This is long overdue. I genuinely believe a large event like this, that brings in people from around the country, should highlight the local wines that make Missouri great!

Edg-Clif Farms and Vineyard, Westphalia Vineyards, and Peaceful Bend Vineyard will be sampling their wines this Friday night, and I couldn't be more pleased. Michael and I volunteer at this event every year and help pour the wines. This year we will definitely show up early to ensure that we get the honor of helping at one of these wineries' tables. Each of these wineries has award-winning, stellar wines that highlight the potential and depth of Missouri wineries.

If you've never attended this event, we highly suggest you give it a try. Tickets are $40 in advance or $50 at the door and include all the samples you can drink of beer, wine, and whiskey (over 50 vendors) from 7-11pm. Tickets also include complimentary samples of award-winning barbecue from Pappy’s, Bogart’s, Salt + Smoke, and Sugarfire from 7:30-9:30pm. Rockstar DJs will be supplying the tunes and getting the late night dance party started.

This year, they are also offering a VIP Experience which includes special whiskey and food pairings and hand-crafted Jack Daniel's cocktails for an additional $35.

Purchase your tickets here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Love the Wine You’re With

It seems like many people have a love/hate relationship with the holiday Valentine’s Day. Whether you’re a fan or not, you can’t go wrong by pairing Missouri wine with this ultimate day of love. Call up your spouse, date, new love, or best friend and make plans to venture out to Missouri Wine Country this V-Day. There are lots of options and more than enough love and wine to go around!

A Taste of Chocolate, February 21 & 22, Mississippi River Hills Wine Trail
Nothing helps spark romance more than chocolate. Apple Creek Vineyard & Winery, Hemman Winery, Hunter Valley Winery, and The Barrens Winery are hosting a two-day wine and chocolate pairing that is certain to bring an air of romance to the Mississippi River Hills Wine Trail. Each ticket includes a souvenir glass, and if you make it to each of the four wineries you’ll be enter to win prizes! 

If you’re wondering which winery would be good to have lunch at, allow me to suggest Apple Creek Vineyard & Winery.  Start with the Bread and Olive Oil and meet in the middle of any of their delicious pizzas!

Be Wine with Wine, February 13 & 14, Serenity Valley Winery
This will be the 4th year Serenity Valley Winery throws its Be Wine with Wine dinner. The meal will include 6 sweet and savory tapas paired with 6 of their award-winning wines. When it comes to creating perfectly paired dishes, I have never been disappointed at what Serenity Valley has come up with. Seating is limited, and reservations are required.

Serenity Valley Winery offers the perfect backdrop for cuddling up with someone special to watch the sunset over their beautiful lake and rolling landscape.

Chocolate Wine Trail, February 21 & 22, Hermann Wine Trail
Chocoholics take note! This event includes 7, yes 7, decedent chocolate pairings. If that doesn’t get your heart racing, I’m not sure what will. Adam Puchta Winery, Bias Vineyard and Winery, Dierberg Star Lane, Hermanhof Winery, OakGlen Winery, Röbller Winery, and Stone Hill Winery have each come up with some very intriguing recipes to pair with their fantastic wines.

You’re chocolate lover will not be disappointed! Chocolate Lasagna and Mousse Cannoli really caught my attention.

Romancing the Grape, February 14 & 15, Route du Vin Wine Trail
Is your date an adventurous foodie? Say no more. The Route du Vin’s Romancing the Grape is the perfect balance of exploration and fine cuisine. Sainte Genevieve Winery, Charleville Winery, Chaumettte Winery, Twin Oaks Winery, Cave Vineyard, and Sand Creek Winery have each concocted unique tasting sized bites to pair with their top-quality wines. The dishes that really caught my eye include the Bacon Sriracha S’mores and Indian Winter Spiced Chicken.

Spend the afternoon exploring wine country or make a whole weekend of it. There’s so much to see and do in the Ste. Genevieve area including great antiquing and breweries!

Staying home for Valentine’s Day??
Even if you don’t plan on going out to celebrate Valentine’s Day, Missouri wineries can still help you plan a romantic date at home. Start off with some “Hill Berries” from Canterbury Hill Winery. Valentine’s Day isn’t complete without chocolate covered strawberries. Canterbury Hill Winery can also add balloons, wine or gift cards to your order.

Don’t forget, nothing pairs better with chocolate covered strawberries better than sparkling wine! I am a huge fan of Missouri sparkling wines and indulge in them whenever possible. My go-to list includes Mount Pleasant’s Ten Bucks, St. James Winery’s Sparkling Blush, Adam Puchta Winery’s Sparking Brut, Crown Valley’s Moscato, and my all-time favorite, Les Bourgois Vineyard’s Brut. You can find some of these sparkling wines in your local grocery stores, but most you’ll have to order online or from the winery directly.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Ultimate Food and Wine Pairing Experience

I consider myself a true Missouri wine oenophile, but I also dabble in being a foodie from time to time. That said, there is a place in Excelsior Springs that is ideal for indulging in Missouri’s plethora of wines, while also enjoying perfectly paired cuisine.

Willow Spring Mercantile claims to have the world’s largest selection of Missouri wines, and I don’t doubt them for a second. With more than 300 varieties, from 25 wineries around the state, I found myself in Missouri wine heaven! You can also find Missouri craft beers and spirits along with coffees, teas, gourmet foods and wine gifts all from local and small businesses in the Midwest. Jim and Daphne Bowman have created a cozy, inviting wine shop that serves lunch, leads wine tours, offers wine tasting and other fun things.
Once a month, Willow Spring Mercantile hosts the Four Course Wine Dinner. Each month, a different winery is invited to pair their wines to a unique menu. Wineries that have participated include, among many others: Baltimore Bend Vineyard; Serenity Valley Winery; Cooper’s Oak Winery; and Blumenhof Winery. I attended the Holiday themed dinner which included wines from Les Bourgeois Vineyard in Rocheport. The Vice President/Owner, Drew Lemberger, joined us that evening to explain the wines and guide guests through the dinner pairings.
The wines of the evening all came from Les Bourgeois’ limited reserve selection. The first course was Salmon Cakes with Watermelon Salsa, paired with the Brut Rose. The St. Vincent grape is what gives the Brut Rose its pink hue and light, fruity taste. This course was a perfect balance of sweet and salty.

The second course was a Thai Salad with Feta Cheese and Mandarin Oranges, paired with a Valvin Muscat. The Valvin Muscat grape is fairly new to the Missouri winery scene. Les Bourgeois creates this wine in the traditional French style, resulting in an off-dry, complex wine. The wine tamed the spice in the dressing and enhanced the sweetness of the oranges more with every bite.
The main course was a generous helping of Smoked Prime Rib with Pan Seared Green Beans and Garlic Mashed Potatoes, paired with the Reserve Norton. This wine is truly unique because it is the best of their 2012 Norton. Les Bourgeois used the best four barrels out of ninety to create this complex, robust wine which brought out the smokiness of the prime rib.
The dinner concluded with a Flourless Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Mousse Cream, paired with a Blackberry Port. The port is composed of 90% Norton and 10% local blackberries. Only two barrels were made, so this was a highly exclusive wine. This velvety wine heightened the coffee flavor in the cake and finished with full blackberry goodness.
The entire evening was delightful and delicious. I would highly suggest attending these wine dinners for an enjoyable night out. The next dinner takes place January 30, featuring the wines of Ladoga Ridge Winery. Reservations are required. If you’re attending from out of town, I recommend staying at the Elm Hotel and Spa – a beautiful and historic hotel located in Excelsior Springs.
Willow Spring Mercantile is at 249 East Broadway, Excelsior Springs, MO 64024; (816) 630-7467. Find more information at and on Facebook.