Saturday, October 8, 2016

#MerlotMe Trifecta for #WinePW is #MerlotMe time!!  I am so excited.  Do you remember last year's event?  It was so much fun.  You can read all about it in my post A Triple Food and Merlot Tasting.

Now that you've read that post you can see why I was jump out of my skin excited when Jeff of Food Wine Click, invited the members of our Wine Pairing Weekend group to join again in this event. Take a look at Jeff's invitation post to learn more about this wonderful varietal of wine that seems to get lost in the shuffle somehow.

Wine Tasting 1

Liberty School Merlot

My first wine pairing took place on a busy Wednesday during which we had run errands all day. Now I know people think because we are retired we have tons of time.  Let me tell you....I don't know how we found time to go to work.  Every day is an adventure around here.  Knowing that we were going to be gone all day, I put a rump roast into the crockpot before we left.  We walked into the house after our errands and our mouths immediately began to water.  There is nothing better than walking into a house where a crockpot has been working their fingers to bone slaving over a hot stove.  The smell is amazing.

In fact, it smelled so good that I decided to open up a bottle of Merlot and do a wine tasting.  The first bottle of wine that I received for this event came from The Hope Family wineries, specifically Liberty School.  The winery generously provided me with a bottle of  Liberty School 2014 Merlot. Since this was the first received I decided it would be the first tasted.  I just want to take a moment to say that although I was given bottles of wine for this event by different wineries there was no requirement to do anything other than enjoy them.  I am posting my tasting experience here simply because I wanted to share the information with my readers.  All opinions are my own.

I was not familiar with Liberty School prior to getting a bottle from the FedEx guy.  I did a search and found that Liberty School was named for childhood friends who got together to collaborate on wine making and named their wine after a one room schoolhouse. You can read their story here.  I am familiar with Paso Robles as this is not too far from where my brother lives.  I am visiting in January and I am putting this winery on my places to go and things to do list.

The wine poured a deep garnet.  I swirled and sniffed.  I swirled and sniffed again.  I did not get too much, perhaps some berries but not a strong nose at all.  I took a sip and swished.  I got that nice chalky feeling that I love from the tannins in red wines.  I swallowed and tasted blackberries with a good dose of black pepper.  I took a bite of the roast and gravy.  I had another swallow of wine and was a busy day but a good day that just got infinitely better.

Busy Day Rump Roast Dinner

1 rump roast
garlic salt and pepper to taste
1 small onion, cut into chunks
2 stalks celery, sliced into 1" pieces
4 carrots, cut into 1" pieces
4 small red potatoes, quartered
1 1/2 c. vegetable stock
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
2 T. cornstarch
1/4 c. cold water

Place the onion, celery, carrots, and potatoes in the crock of a slow cooker.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place the roast on top of the vegetables.  Season with garlic salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with Worcestershire sauce and add the vegetable stock.  Cook on low heat for 8-10 hrs.  

Remove the roast ota cutting board and let rest while you remove vegetables to a platter.  Strain the liquids left in the slow cooker through a seive into a saucepan.  Place the saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Combine the cornstarch and water until smooth.  Slowly whisk into boiling juices from roast.  Whisk and cook until thickened and glossy. Pour over roast and vegetables.  Print Recipe

Wine Tasting 2

J Lohr Cuvee POM

The second tasting took place after a long day of packing for our move.  When we got home from Mass I made up some of my Easy Pizza Dough.  While it was busy rising we were busy cleaning out the garage attic.  Not only was it jam packed with 15 years of our stuff but there was still stuff up there from the previous owners!!

When  we were finished (for the day, we still have a couple more hours of work there), we were more than ready for a glass of wine.  Frank opened the wine and let it breathe while we put together the pizza.

Once the pizza was constructed and placed in the oven we sat for the 17 minutes it took to bake, toasted each other for all our hard work and took a sip of this wine.  I am very familiar with J Lohr wines.  We often buy the Cab and since last year's Merlot Me, we have been buying the Merlot as well.  This, however, was our first time trying the Cuvee.

It poured a deep, dark garnet.  So deep and dark that you couldn't see through it.  A swirl showed heavy legs and a sniff reminded me of berries.  I took a sip and a swish and was immediately rewarded wth that dryness that let's you know there is a lot of tannins in this wine.  We swallowed and noted that it was a heavy wine that I described as Jammy.

My favorite part of the tasting was when Frank said..."I don't know much about describing wine.  I don't know what flavors I am tasting besides wine, but I do know what I like and I like this wine". That there folks is quite the recommendation!!

We plated the pizza and topped off our wine glasses. The pie was a Deep Dish Italian Chicken Pizza. It was a heavy pizza and needed a strong, heavy wine.  The Cuvee, being 85% Merlot mixed with Malbec and a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc was up to the task.  We enjoyed the wine by itself and we enjoyed it with the pizza.  This is a very nice bottle that I would recommend to those who enjoy a heavy, dry wine.

Deep Dish Italian Chicken Pizza

1 recipe pizza dough (enough for two thin crust or one thick crust) My recipe here.
1 t. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lg. leek, white and light green parts, cut in half lengthwise, rinsed well and thinly sliced
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
3 lg handfuls of baby spinach
1 pint or 1 (15 oz) can crushed tomatoes
2 T. tomato paste
1 T. Italian Herb Paste
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 c. cooked white meat chicken sliced into bite size pieces
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil in a skillet over med high heat.  Add the garlic and leeks.  Cook stirring until fragrant and softened.  Add the mushrooms.  Season with salt and pepper and cook until liquid is released and evaporated and the mushrooms are golden and soft. Add the spinach and cook until wilted.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Place the tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian herbs, salt and pepper in a skillet over med high heat.  Cook until thickened and reduced.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Spread pizza dough into a 10x15x1" baking pan.  Top with the tomato sauce.  Cover with the chicken. Layer the mushroom mixture over all.  Sprinkle with both cheeses and bake in a preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted and bubbly.  Print Recipe

Wine Tasting #3

Duckhorn Merlot

The third and final tasting was, again, after a long day of packing.  I loved Duckhorn Merlot when I was first introduced to it last year.  You can read my notes on it here.  When I read my notes I was surprised to see that I had liked it's heaviness.  This year, it was my final tasting and was much lighter than the J Lohr Cuvee.  Very smooth with no heavy tannins and reminiscent of luscious ripe berries fresh from the vine.

I served this up with a baked pasta dish that I had made for my brother and sister in love.  They fondly called this the last supper as they will not eat here in this house again.  The pairing was lovely. I had seasoned my vegetable while they were roasting with some pumpkin spice olive oil and the fruitiness of the wine played off of those spices very well.  

The pasta was to die for but you are going to have to wait for the recipe because I am tired and I still have MORE packing to do.  We get the keys to the house today so we are nearing the finish line. Have a Wine Wonderful Weekend, relax and enjoy the other posts being shared today at #WinePW.

Our Talented Bloggers Share Their #MerlotMe Ideas


  1. Three wonderful dishes to pair with three incredible wines! I don't know how you had time to do all this with your packing and moving, but I do know that I wish you were moving to our neck of the woods, so we could come over for dinner! ;)

    1. That would be so nice guys will just have to make a road trip to Michigan.

  2. Looks like you had a good lineup! I'm curious about the Liberty School, haven't tried that before. The crockpot roast sounds great too!

    1. Thanks David. I enjoyed the Liberty School very much. It was a new experience for me as well. One I hope to repeat very soon.

  3. I like the idea of Merlot and pot roast, I'm going to have to try that.

  4. Beautiful pairings, Wendy! I never think of making pot roast - you've inspired me to dust off the slow-cooker and give it a try.

    1. It is a regular around here. Pot roast for dinner one night and then we can get two more dinners of soup or hot beef sandwiches or pot pie or a casserole. Enjoy Lauren.

  5. I'm with Frank when it comes to describing wine. I am not a seasoned wine taster but I know what I like. I don't like dry wine at all. I am much more into smooth and sweet. If that makes any sense. Can't wait to see the pasta recipe. Good luck with the continued packing!!

    1. Thanks Paula. We started moving stuff over today. Hope to be completely out of here by Monday evening.

  6. I love using honey in my pizza dough also! Your pizza looks amazing!

  7. I'm happy to hear about your pairings as I felt like my Sausage Baked Rigatoni may be too simple, but having a newborn I'm not all that fancy with preparations. I still havent gotten my recipe up yet, oops!

    1. Sometimes simple is best Jennifer, especially when life gets busy. Looking forward to seeing your recipe.

  8. I love homemade pizza and merlot is a fave pairing for our versions too!

    1. We are preparing for National Pizza Day over at #SundaySupper today. Tons of great pies to pair with Merlot.


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