Rodeo Houston Wine Experience 2017

Howdy, wine friends! If you live in Houston then you already know what time it is! It’s Rodeo season! It’s been over a year since the last time I attended, but I’m back and checking out the wines of course!

So, this year, the Champion Wine Garden features more than 70 award-winning wines from the 2017 Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Competition. There is literally something for every palate—red, white, sweet, dry, bubbly to wines made in Texas and internationally. The menu can be quite overwhelming, but there are volunteers available to help you decide. Wine is served by the glass and bottle. Prices by the glass range from $6 to $14, while prices by the bottle range from $20 to $140. I also noticed that the wine garden also sells snacks. You can purchase a cheese plate for $18 and/or charcuterie tray for $28. The Wine Garden has everything to make your wine experience complete.

During my visit, I started with a white wine and end with a red—just to make sure that I could try both. You know I’m a sucker for buttery Chardonnay and a friend of mine told me I had to try the 2015 Rombauer Vineyards because it was all that and more. The Rombauer Chardonnay did not disappoint! It was all types of buttery deliciousness! It had aromas of ripe apples, citrus, and melon. On the palate, you could definitely taste the oaked buttery flavors with a hint of creme brulee sweetness. Now a glass of this Chard ran for $14 and a bottle goes for $58. Next, I tried the 2015 Don Rodolfo Art of the Andes Pinot Noir. If I’m going to drink a red, 9 times out of 10, I’m going to choose a Pinot hands down. Now, I’m typically fond of Pinot Noirs from the Wiliamette Valley, but those were not on the menu. Instead, I opted for one from Argentina…reds tend to be very good from this region. Yup! And, I instantly fell in love with this red. It was sooooo good from the very first sip. You know I had to do my happy dance. Don Rodolfo Pinot has raspberry and cherry notes—very beautiful. On the palate you get those same cherries with hints of blueberries. I  liked it soooo much that I want to find it in real life and add it to my wine collection.

I had a good time at the Wine Garden and wished I could’ve tried more wines. There is still a week left of the Rodeo, so if you haven’t gone (and even if you’ve been several times), it won’t hurt to go back again just to try the wine. It really is a great experience!

Valentine’s Day Pairing Playbook

Raise a glass if you survived Super Bowl 51. **ting**

A double clink if you survived Super Bowl 51 and live in Houston! **clank, clank**

Next up, the holiday that people either love to love or love to hate….Valentine’s Day. I always get asked about wine pairings for this romanic day, so I decided to put together a little pairing playbook to help you pick out the right wines.

Now, don’t stop reading if you’re single and Valentine’s Day is the furthest thing from your mind. You don’t have to be in a relationship to take advantage of these recommendations. Whether you’re planning a romantic dinner for your significant other or getting a group of friends together for some Galentine’s Day fun, these wine recommendations are perfect for any special occasion. So, let’s get started!

Pre-Game

Chandon Blanc de Noirs for $16.99 at H-E-B

Start your evening off with some bubbly. Nothing like a champagne or sparkling wine toast to get the festivities started. I chose the Chandon Blanc de Noirs, which is available at H-E-B for only $16.99. Chandon is a very popular sparkling wine producer in California and H-E-B sells it at a very affordable price! I actually had the opportunity to visit their tasting room on my last trip to Napa.

Chandon Blanc de Noirs is a brut (dry) sparkling wine. It is filled with cherry and strawberry aromas and flavors. Although, this bubbly is on the drier spectrum, the flavors build for a nice soft, creamy finish.

Pairings: I paired this sparkling wine with semi-covered chocolate strawberries. I found all the ingredients at H-E-B. The recipe (which a friend and I made up on the spot) is super easy. Just melt the chocolate of your choice and dip or drizzle the chocolate on your strawberries. We also decided to jazz up the strawberries with some sprinkles. First off, the strawberries from H-E-B were sweet to perfection, then couple that with the sprinkles and paired with the dry cherry flavors from the Chandon Blanc de Noirs — waaaiiiittttt for it— OMG! Pure magic in your mouth.

Oh! And don’t forget the roses! You can buy a bouquet of fresh long-stemmed red roses from H-E-B in-store for $9.99. You can gift them or use them as the centerpiece for your table setting.

Found these heart shaped flutes at H-E-B for $2.47. Super cute! Plus, you can also find tea light candles for $5 from H-E-B to set the mood as well. Heyyy boy heyyyy!

The Main Event

Pictured left: Bread & Butter Pinot Noir for $$18.99; Pictured Left: Duet Chardonnay-Viognier for $$11.57. Both available at H-E-B.

I chose a white and red wine for the main meal.

First, let’s talk about white wine. I’m all about staying away from the status quo. Impress your love bug or friends with the Duet Chardonnay-Viognier. This white is a blend of Chardonnay (70%) and Viognier (30%). The aromas are a little funky – very earthy, but you’re in for a surprise on the palate. It’s a dry wine, but filled with lots of tropical fruit flavors on the front and ending with a nice, subtle tart finish.

Pairings: This Chardonnay-Viognier blend would pair well with some grilled chicken or a light fish like tilapia, or maybe even a pasta dish with marinara sauce.

If white wine isn’t your thing, try this Pinot Noir from Bread & Butter. If you recall, I recently reviewed their Chardonnay, which was awesome sauce. Well, their Pinot Noir is just as good and only $11.57 at H-E-B. The nose on this red wine is delicate, yet very pretty – lots of floral, chocolate, cherry cola, with a hint of pears and creamy caramel. If you haven’t been hit with cupid’s arrow, you definitely will after drinking this red. This Pinot Noir is light and very smooth on the palate. You get these earthy, mineral undertones followed by flavors of ripe cherries and raspberries. The tannins in this red are almost nonexistent, so you get more of the fruit flavors without the bitter aftertaste. Best served cool.

Pairings: This Pinot Noir would complement heavier dishes like steak, salmon or other fatty fishes, or even a casserole. And don’t forget H-E-B is offering a sweet deal this month. Buy their H-E-B Meal Simple™ Lobster and White Cheddar Mac & Cheese and get two 3″ French Tarts (February 8- 14). Now that’s a great deal! Pair the lobster mac with the meat of your choice and you can get your dessert included for free. Because this Pinot is lighter, it will pair with the heaviness from the cheesy pasta. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! I definitely plan to treat me, myself, and I come V-Day!

Celebration

Colby Red Blend for $10.73 at H-E-B

Be sure to leave room for dessert! I remixed this dessert idea from Pinterest and created the YGOM Wine Trifle! Here are the ingredients:

  • Red Velvet Cake
  • Whipped Cream
  • Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Raspberries (soaked in the red wine of choice)
  • Mint Leaf (for garnish)

I love that this dessert is so easy to make AND I actually used wine glasses from H-E-B. All you have to do is layer the ingredients in a wine glass. First, the red velvet cake, then layer with some cream cheese frosting, followed by the wine soaked raspberries, a little whipped cream, and simply repeat. Make sure to top off with whipped cream and garnish with a mint leaf or shaved pieces of chocolate. I’m not a dessert person at all, but I sure did finish a glass by myself. This dessert is soooo freakin’ good! If you want to impress your boo, then definitely try this recipe!

Pairings: I chose to incorporate wine into the actual dessert. If you make the red velvet cake from scratch, you can infuse it with red wine and also soak your raspberries for about 30-45 minutes in wine as well to absorb the flavors. For this recipe, I used Colby Red Blend. I’m not a big red drinker, but this blend was love at first sip. It’s only $11 at H-E-B – super affordable and quality red wine! Colby red wine is a unique blend of  Cabernet Sauvignon (55%), Petite Sirah (15%), Merlot (12%), Zinfandel (11%), and Syrah (8%) – smooth, light, and fruit forward…just how I like my reds! On another note, you could finish off the Chandon with the dessert, but it honestly stands on it’s own.

So, there you have it! The YGOM Val(Gal)entine’s Day Pairing Playbook. Hope these wine recommendations get you ready for your special day.

**This post was sponsored by H-E-B. All opinions are my own.

Sip & Chill: The Netflix Wine Guide

Winter has been off and on this season…at least in Houston. So, when winter does decide to slide through like it did this weekend (we’re in the 30s), my comfy couch inside my warm and cozy apartment become everything!

I think we can all agree the struggle to venture out when it’s cold is so real in these streets. But, being a homebody is all fun and games until you start wishing you had someone else to cuddle up with besides your pillow. That’s when the cuffs come out!

For those not familiar with the term, cuffing season is a winter sport when people who thought it was cool to be single over the summer when things were poppin’, suddenly decide it’s no longer good for man (or woman) to be alone now that temperatures have dropped and social calendars aren’t filling up like they used to before. So, the desire to be “cuffed”or tied down in a serious relationship becomes more appealing. I don’t know why colder weather brings out the thirst loneliness in people, but having a boo tends to come in handy (for more reasons than one) when it’s cold and human interaction (outside of work) is limited.

It’s no secret that Netflix & Chill is the infamous cuffing season activity. Watching Netflix is an easy trap way to hook-up hangout when you don’t feel like going anywhere. However, whatever happens next when that red screen flashes is simply up to you. But no matter how you choose to “chill,” a Netflix evening isn’t complete without wine of course! Yes, it’s that fermented soother when you’re alone on the couch or that grape encourager when you’re trying to set the mood.

That’s why I created the YGOM Sip & Chill: Netflix Wine Guide to get you through the ups and downs of cuffing season. Whether you’re single, in some sort of situationship or in a committed relationship, I have the perfect wine to pair with whatever season life has you in. So, check out these wine recommendations for the next time you decide to make it a Netflix night.

#Unbothered 

Club <insert your name> is always lit on Friday nights! Once 5 o’clock strikes, you can’t wait to head home, put on your finest pajamas, tie up that head scarf, and hit the couch. Raise a glass if this is how you get down on Fridays most evenings and are not ashamed!

Hey! Nobody said being single was easy. Yet, you remain cool, calm, and collected as cuffing season approaches. Although you may not have a boo to snuggle up to for movie night, like Kendrick Lamar said “we gon’ be alright!”

Pop open this Italian sparkling wine and make it a group night or chill by yourself. Either way, this wine will light up any night!

Wine Recommendation: Mionetto ‘Il Ugo’ ($11.98)

il-ugo_281high

Mionetto ‘Il Ugo is a sparkling wine unlike any other. It’s a little off-putting on the nose at first, but don’t let that stir you away from taking a sip. Its funky floral aromas eventually die down once you allow the wine to breath a bit. Then you get this nice earthy, almost forest-like scent. It reminded me of the Mahogany Teakwood candle at Bath & Body Works, which is very soothing. The taste of this sparkling wine is pretty unique as well. It’s slightly sweet, but not overpowering, with a mix of elderflower and fruit flavors, such as citrus and pear. These flavors are very enjoyable. It’s like Christmas in your mouth. Sipping this will definitely have you feeling unbothered!

I Wanna Be Down 

A little Netflix & Chill never hurt nobody! Besides, it’s cuffing season and you’re trying to get chose!

I mean he did say he would cook dinner (Mmm hmmm) and then you could watch a movie and drink wine afterwards. No harm, no foul in that right?! I could yell don’t do it girl, it’s a trap. But, we’ve all been there before and know a man cooking a meal (and it’s free!) will get you EVERY-SINGLE-TIME! (I may or may not be speaking from experience) So, no judgment if you’re scurrying to get your stuff when that “come through” text appears. If you’re trying to be down, set the mood with this amazingly tasty White Pinot Noir.

Wine Recommendation: Left Coast Cellars White Pinot Noir ($16.99)

This White Pinot Noir is awesome sauce! It’s a great inexpensive grocery story find that you can easily pick up for a movie night. The aromas are really bright and airy. You’ll find hints of tropical fruits like pineapple, peach, and green apple. This dry, light-bodied white is best served chilled to give it that crisp, clean taste. Low in acidity, its fruit forward flavors help liven up the palate and then it ends with a tart finish. People are seriously sleeping on White Pinot Noir! If you’re really trying to pull out all the stops to impress a special someone, this wine will let them know for sure that you wanna be down!

Not on My Watch

Netflix & Chill?! Umm, boy bye!

You’ve seen AND heard it all before. So, when you get asked to come over to a watch a movie AFTER 10 p.m., you can’t help but tilt your head to the side like…

He must not know that you turn into a pumpkin around 9 p.m. You’re the girl who’s not here for any of those reindeer games. So, if he’s coming to watch a movie, then that my friend is what you’re going to do because none of that “chilling” stuff will be happening on your watch. But, first open up this bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand to calm your nerves.

Wine RecommendationSileni Estates Sauvignon Blanc Cellar Selection ($14.99)

 

sileni

Sileni Estates has one of the best Sauvignon Blancs in the game! Their Cellars Selection is 95% Sauv Blanc and 5% Semillon. Those intense grassy aromas, that are normally found in classic New Zealand Sauv Blancs, immediately jump out at you. You’ll also get hints of fresh, ripe tropical and passionfruit aromas that follow onto the palate. This wine is sooo smooth. It feels like air on your tongue. Every sip is refreshing. It will give you the liquid courage to stay strong and let any foolishness know that nothing will be going down on my watch!

BAE on a Budget

Times are hard on the boulevard! I mean he (or she) is cool and all, but you’re not sure how much you’re trying to invest in this situationship JUST yet.

So, count your coins and impress your boo with this red blend!

Wine Recommendation: Smashberry Red Blend ($13)

smashberry

This wine is a great go-to red, when you’re looking for a good quality wine at a lower price. The blend consists of 38% Merlot, 34% Petite Sirah, and 28% Cabernet Sauvignon. If you’re not a fan of super dry reds, then you’ll enjoy this selection because Smashberry is all about the fruit flavors. On the nose, you get raspberry and boysenberry aromas with little hints of chocolate. The fruit flavors are just as amazing. Its rich tannins complement these flavors for a clean finish. This red will definitely impress bae and they won’t even know you were on a budget.

Baby, Let Me Upgrade You

You’re not just trying to “chill” with anyone these days. You’re in a serious relationship that has shifted your priorities.

Netflix doesn’t really fit your intentions anymore. You’re about that Amazon Prime life now! This upgrade is the first of many as you work towards locking things down with your boo.

So, let me introduce you to some new things like this French white wine to get you to that next level.

Wine RecommendationPatient Cottat Sancerre  ($21.99)

sancerre

This white is EVERYTHING and changed my entire life and now I’m sharing the wealth with you. I’m normally not a fan of French wines, but this one has me thinking differently. Patient Cottat Sancerre is a Sauvignon Blanc from France. It’s filled with soft floral aromas with Muscat-like and passionfruit undertones. The taste of this wine will blow your mind and will definitely have your guest wanting to stay forever. Its crisp fruit flavors are followed by this mix of mineral and citrus flavors that give it a nice bold punch. Once you have one sip, you won’t be able to stop (trust me I know). Your love will be extremely impressed with this wine upgrade.

Make it Last Forever

You’re committed and in it for the long haul (for real, for real) This is the type of love that has you jumping on people’s couches.

You don’t need a movie night to make things happen! Just a couple of forevers and this bottle of Stellekaya Orion to make it last forever.

Wine Recommendation: Stellekaya Orion ($32.99)

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This red is a French-style Bordeaux blend. It consists of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Merlot. This wine was matured in French barriques for 20 months, so you know this red is in it to win it! It’s bold aromas are filled with dark cherries and berries. This full bodied red has this velvety consistency that is layered with black fruits and hints of chocolate. This is red is strictly for the grown and sexy who have stood the test of time!

Well that completes the YGOM Sip & Chill: Netflix Wine Guide! I hope this wine list will help get you through cuffing season no matter what stage in a relationship you’re in. Wine is always the key to a great night!

Gloria Ferrer Va de Vi

Varietal: 89% Pinot Noir, 8% Chardonnay & 3% Musca| Region: Sonoma | Retailer: Check Local Grocery Store | Price: $15.98

Mood: Habakkuk 2:2-3 — “Write the vision and make it plan…For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come…”

Happy New Year, wine friends! 2017 is finally here and in full effect! For some reason, the scripture above was really heavy on my heart over the last couple weeks. You see 2016 was a year of realization and growth for me. I really feel like God had me in this holding pattern last year and as I look back, He really forced me to deal with a lot of issues I had tried to ignore for along time. What felt like this never ending emotional roller coaster, ultimately taught me an invaluable lesson of self worth that I believe was meant to set me up for the next season in my life. So, as I walk into 2017, I have this inner light of hope that God has great things in store for me. Therefore, I know that I must be intentional this year and strive for things that are only aligned with His purpose. I’m a super organized person, so I spent time writing out my goals for 2017, so that I would not lose sight of what I wanted to accomplish. The words that I’m typing can’t even describe how excited I’m about this year. And let me be the first to say that no foolishness nor pettiness shall prosper against me in 2017. I did not come to play!

Wine Pairing: Since we’re celebrating a new year of power moves, I thought it would be best to pair this “go get it” mentality with a sparkling wine. Today’s selection is Gloria Ferrer Va de Vi, a méthode champenoise sparkling wine. Va de Vi is a term used in Barcelona that means “it’s about the wine!” while méthode champenoise refers to the labor-intensive process whereby wine undergoes a secondary fermentation inside the bottle, creating bubbles. All Champagne and most high-quality sparkling wine is made by this process.

This Sonoma sparkling wine is a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Moscato, which is one of the reasons why I picked it up. I’m not a fan of brut Champagne or sparkling wines, so I was hoping its unique blend of grapes would bring a touch of flavor to it. Luckily, I was right! The aromas from the wine are very soft and subtle. I mainly picked up cherries that reminded me of some kind of sweet hard cherry flavored candy. On the palate, this wine is not overwhelmingly dry at all. Many of its ripened fruit flavors really come through. I found hints of apple, cherries, blackberries, and vanilla that all compliment each other nicely for a smooth finish.

Rating: 4 Corks

Sip, Chug, or Cork It? Definitely SIP it! This sparkling wine is a must for any celebratory occasion. I definitely recommend Gloria Ferrer Va di Vi if you’re looking to up your game in sparkling this wines this year. At $16, this is a solid price point for a high-quality sparkling wine.

As we celebrate the new year, what are some of your biggest lessons from 2016 and what are you looking forward to in 2017? Let’s sip and chat!

Thee New Year’s Eve Cocktail

Heyyyy 2016! 2017 called and it’s coming with a vengeance!!

Yassssss!! Come through 2017!!!

Whew, 2017 can’t get here fast enough! The last couple days of December are always hard as people scramble to make New Year’s Eve plans. This year, my cousin (hey, girl, hey) and I are headed to Dallas, which I’m super excited about! So, Dallas please, please, please (with cherries on top) don’t disappoint us.

Originally, I’d planned to close out the year with a post about different festive DIY champagne cocktails you could make to bring in the new year, but time really wasn’t on my side this year month (oops) week. God knew my energy level was low and placed this amazing looking cocktail on my Instagram timeline to catch my attention. I knew I had to feature it on YGOM. Plus, it was way better than anything I could’ve shown you.

Wine Friends meet The Pink Fluffer, one of Weights + Measures‘ specialty cocktails that will be offered on New Year’s Eve this Saturday.

I’ll wait a couple seconds for you to wipe the drool from your mouth…

Trust me…your vision is not impaired! Before your very eyes lies champagne, cotton candy, old school rock candy on a stick and YES they’re going to be mixed together in all their glory. Cool right? My thoughts exactly!!

But, as pretty as The Pink Fluffer looked, I was a little skeptical of how it would taste. All that sugar just screamed diabetes in a glass when I saw the cocktail on the ‘gram (sorry I work in healthcare, so I’m more keen to these things), but I still was intrigued. Since I will not be here this weekend, Weights + Measures graciously let me try the specialty cocktail earlier this week. And guess what…

I absolutely LOVED it!! Here you have this amazing juxtaposition of flavors. The sugary cotton candy instantly dissolves into the chambord (raspberry liqueur), lemon, and simple syrup mixture (pictured at the bottom of the flute) once the brut champagne is poured in the glass. On top of that, you can use the candy rock stick to stir the ingredients together. I was surprised at how balanced the cocktail was. It wasn’t super sweet at all like I’d envisioned. The chambord and lemon flavors really pop once the cotton candy dissolves. The bubbly fizz from the champagne is also a nice added touch. So you see, these sweet and tart flavors combined equal magic. The type of magic that will make you forget about anything negative you may have endured during 2016 and smile because this drink is every indication that life is still good. The Pink Fluffer sums up everything up I hope 2017 will be in one glass…unapologetically different and bold. I could sip on this cocktail all the time! *Hints to W+M to add The Pink Fluffer to the regular bar menu please, please, please (with cherries on top)*

So, if you’re looking for something to do for NYE head over to Weights + Measures! They’ll have specialty drinks like The Pink Fluffer on deck and plenty of champagne flowing. In addition, they’ll have a prix fixed dinner for $75 and you can add wine pairings for $35. Such a great deal!

Well wine friends, that’s all she typed for 2016! I have lots of great things in store for 2017. Stay tuned and thanks for sipping with me this year! Have a safe and awesome New Year filled with LOTS of wine!