Paso Robles

Review: Clautiere Vineyard Port

I had never had Port until I visited Clautiere Vineyards in Paso Robles. The winery’s tasting room is all about transporting you to a magical place of whimsy and they pull it off–especially with the secondary hat room. You’ve got to see these photos of me sporting the classiest of caps:

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Now that I’ve embarrassed myself, let’s talk about the wine. I popped the port open this evening because I decided on a whim to make baked apples inspired by my late Bubbe and after drizzling the luscious dark purple liquid onto the bright green Granny Smith apples (how appropriate), I decided to pour myself a glass. I promise, I’ll share the recipe in an upcoming post.

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It’s been quite some time since I tried the libation in the Alice in Wonderland meets Marie Antoinette tasting room. After twisting off the cork, you see the deep purple stain on its edge and cocoa and alcohol scents swirl up towards your nose.

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It tastes like Black Forest cake and cream, which gives it a semi-syrupy feel on your tongue. By the time it hits the back of your throat, you feel the warm tingle. This baby’s alcohol content is 19.2%, I think the highest I’ve ever had in a wine!

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Ports are typically sweet and strong and this one has the classic tenets.

Nuts and Bolts

Wine in a can? Wine in paper bottles? What’s up with that?

For those of us who went to college in the past 10 years, we’ve had our fair share of wine in a box. Who can forget slap the bag? 

But wine in paper bottles and wine in cans? These are new and intriguing entries to the U.S. wine market.

First, the paper bottle:

It’s made by a U.K company called GreenBottle and the eco-friendly company’s first U.S. partner is California-based Truett-Hurst. Inside this interesting container will be Paperboy, a 2012 red blend from Paso Robles. What’s in the blend doesn’t seem to be portrayed on the bottle, but it does clock in at 14.5% alcohol and it’s coming to a Safeway stores soon. The paper bottle has already been used by Kingsland Wines on the other side of the pond. That winery used the label Thirsty Earth for its paper bottle wines, which included a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and an Australian Shiraz.

Photo: thedieline.com

Photo: thedieline.com

Much like boxed wines, paper bottles are lined with a plastic bladder to hold the liquid. According to Fox News, you can put it in ice for up to three hours without the paper disintegrating. I feel like I need to test this out myself before believing that one. I don’t know how much it will cost, but once I figure that out, I’ll update.

Now, the can:

An Oregon winery has canned Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris in 8 ounce containers! Union Wine Co., which cans the wine under the label Underwood, wanted to reverse the craft beer trend, where beer has been elevated out of Miller and Bud territory and into the world of tastings and fancy glasses, much like wine.

Photo: Union Wine Co.

Photo: Union Wine Co.

“We wanted to come up with a product that embodied our company’s philosophy of making great craft wine minus all the fuss,” Ryan Harms, owner of Union Wine Co., told Fast Company.“There is a ‘winification’ of beer trend going on and Union Wine Co. is at the forefront of a new trend, the ‘beerification’ of wine.”

It’s about taking the snobbery out of wine and making it more accessible, which seems to be the trend du jour. The cans even feature the Twitter hashtag #pinkiesdown.

They’ll be available next year; $5 for an 8-ounce can.

Wine Jelly

As soon as I saw we were out of Penman Springs wine jelly, I looked like this:

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When I found out that I could make my own wine jelly, perhaps one that could rival that of Penman Springs, I turned that frown upside down:

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You see, I first discovered wine jelly at Penman Springs while wine tasting in Paso Robles during Valentine’s Day weekend. Penman Springs is a country-style winery, fit with rolling hills, a white farm house and delicious, warm baguettes and house-made wine jelly ready for you when you come in for a tasting.

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That cute little farm house is where Penman Springs does their tastings

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That’s me hanging out in the vineyard at Penman Springs

I liked the wine jelly so much, I bought four jars of it. The jelly lasted me almost nine months, but when making almond butter (the best) and wine jelly (also, the best) sandwiches the other day for lunch, we reached the end of the last jar.

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Turns out, though, it’s not too hard to make wine jelly at home. Here’s the recipe I plan to use from allrecipes.com.

This makes 5 half-pint jars:

  • 3 1/2 cups wine
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 ounce package dry pectin (a jelling ingredient made from apple and citrus fruits)
  • 4 1/2 cups white sugar

In a large pot, bring the wine, lemon juice and pectin to a boil. Stir frequently. Add/dissolve sugar. Turn the heat back up and bring to a rolling boil for one minute, while stirring. Remove from stove and skim the foam off the top. Put the hot jelly into sterilized mason jars with 1/2 inch of space near the top. Close up the jar and put bathe them in boiling water for five minutes.

Do you have a better wine jelly recipe? Let me know!