Heather's Hangout

Sharing the people, places & little moments that make a difference.

5 great Michigan wines for summer July 9, 2017

summerwhitewinesThe warm summer temperatures have provided some lovely evenings to sit outside and enjoy a chilled glass of wine. One of my favorite summer activities (yes, I have a LOT of favorite activities!) is to share a bottle of good wine with friends, enjoying great conversations and laughs. I’m thankful for many of these moments.

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Despite an amazing time in Napa Valley, California exploring several of their local wineries and tasting lots of delicious wines, I still am a big fan of Michigan wines. Besides the fact that there are some great-tasting wines produced here in Michigan, I like supporting my home state businesses. If you’re looking for a variety of crisp, light, flavorful wines to enjoy on the deck, beach, canoe, dinner table, okay, pretty much anywhere, here are a few of my favorite Michigan wines (so far) this summer:

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Domaine Berrien Cellars (Berrien Springs) – Vignoles, semi-sweet wine with light tropical fruit flavors

2 Lads Winery (Traverse City) – Late Harvest Riesling, light on sweetness and cool and crisp to taste

Domaine Berrien Cellars (Berrien Springs) – Seyval Blanc, a fairly sweet wine with aromas of mandarin orange, apricot and honey

Peninsula Cellars (Traverse City) – Kroupa Orchards Cherry Wine, made with black sweet cherries to provide a beautiful aroma and great taste

Left Foot Charley (Traverse City) – Missing Spire, a not too sweet late harvest Riesling

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A few of my favorite Michigan products December 11, 2016

miwines

So many good Michigan wines to drink!

If you’re still looking for some holiday gift ideas for family, friends, or yourself (no judgement here!), consider shopping local. I love to support local and state-based companies as often as I can. Thankfully, Michigan is full of great companies providing food, beverages, clothing and more. And for my out of state readers, most of these companies ship their products!

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This list only scratches the surface of the variety of food, drinks and other products made in Michigan. This is just enough to whet your palate!

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Traverse City cherries. I LOVE summer time in Traverse City, one of my favorite cities in the northern Lower Peninsula. I also love eating fresh cherries from this beautiful area, and admit there have been many times I’ve earned a terrible stomachache after eating a bag of cherries on the way home. But it’s been so good!

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Michigan wines: While Michigan may be considered ‘young’ when it comes to wine-making, our wineries have been holding their own at competitions as they create some great tasting beverages. Some of my latest favorites include Black Star Farm Riesling, Chateau Fontaine cherry wine, Peninsula Cellars Homework and Detention, and Verterra Winery’s Chaos Red Cuvee. I recently became a wine club member at the Michigan By The Bottle tasting room, which partners with Michigan wineries to serve and sell a variety of wines in metro Detroit (there are three locations). This has been a great way to try many new wines.

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Better Made chocolate covered potato chips: ‘Tis the season for Better Made to release their tin of potato chips covered in milk or dark chocolate (both are good but I prefer and love dark chocolate). It’s a perfect balance of salty and sweet. And fairly addictive so beware. (Note: Sanders also makes chocolate covered potato chips, which are also delicious.)

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bettermadetins

So delicious!

Michigan Awesome: If you’re looking for cool shirts, mugs, pint glasses, or fun gift ideas with a Michigan theme, check out this Holland-based company. Their products can be purchased online and at various stores throughout the state.

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Craft beer. We’re fortunate to have some fabulous breweries right here in Michigan. Enough that I can’t list just one. Some of my favorite beers brewed in my home state include (keep in mind my favorites lean toward wheats and Belgian Ales): Kuhnhenn’s White Devil, Black Lotus Apricot Wheat, Short’s Brewery Anniversary Ale and Power of Love, Griffin Claw Brewing Screamin’ Pumpkin Ale, Founders Rubeaus, and North Peak’s Archangel.

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McClure’s bloody mary mix: McClure’s uses their pickle brine, dill, garlic, black pepper and a bit more to make a bold bloody mary mix with a kick. Their popular pickles and kettle chips are great snacks.

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Cherry Republic Hiker’s Mix and dark chocolate covered cherries. If you’ve visited one of these stores, you know to come a little hungry as the array of samples is…..well, delicious. I like to make my own trail mix for hiking, biking and simple snacking, but this trail mix pulls me in with the mix of dried cherries, cranberries, roasted peanuts, raw pumpkin seeds and more! And mixing dried cherries and dark chocolate? Yes, please.

 

5 Michigan white wines for summer tasting July 2, 2016

The warm, summer weather in Michigan makes it the perfect time to enjoy crisp, flavorful, refreshing wine. Thankfully, the mitten state is home to numerous wineries that produce delicious varieties of wine.

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White wines are my favorite types of wine, even more so during the summer (so relaxing to sit on the deck in the evening with a cool glass of wine!), and I’m grateful that my home state wineries create many tasty bottles. Here are a few of  my favorites:

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wineArcturos Late Harvest Riesling, Black Star Farms (Suttons Bay) – This long-time favorite is a light, sweet fruit-forward wine full of apple, peach and other fruit flavors.

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Rustic White, Longview Winery (Cedar)  – Another long-time favorite, this semi-sweet wine is loaded with tropical fruit flavor, including pineapple and passion fruit. It’s a refreshing, easy wine that is always popular when served!

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Naked Chardonnay, Chateau Aeronautique (Jackson) – This chardonnay captures ripe fruit flavors such as apple, orange, peach and more to produce a light, crisp flavor and easy finish.

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2014 Chardonnay, Peninsula Cellars (Traverse City) – A lightly sweet wine packed with hints of pineapple, tropical fruit and green apples.

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Missing Spire Riesling, Left Foot Charley (Traverse City) – I usually indulge in this winery’s Cinnamon Girl hard cider so it was a nice surprise to taste this deliciously, crisp, sweet wine, which brings together a blend of the winery’s late harvest Riesling vineyards.

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What wine(s) do you like to drink during the warm summer months?

 

Tips for chilling your wine April 16, 2016

temperature guageYou open a bottle of your favorite white wine ready to enjoy the delicious flavor. You take a deep breath to smell the full aroma. What do you smell? It depends how you chilled the wine, according to a recent workshop that I attended at Michigan By The Bottle tasting room. My sister and I recently attended the “Chill or Not to Chill” wine workshop at the Royal Oak wine-tasting room to learn about the proper temps and ways to chill a bottle of wine (read about the last wine workshop I attended there). Mostly, I learned that I’ve been chilling my wine wrong for ages!

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I learned that winemakers of course intend to get the most aroma and flavor out of their wines, which means they intend to serve at the proper temp to encourage these two things to occur. If you chill a white wine too much, for example, the aroma and flavor are muted.

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For this workshop, we were provided two variations of three different types of wines – one glass was chilled in a regular refrigerator and the other glass was chilled in a wine refrigerator (typically a warmer temperature than a household refrigerator). Note that a wine refrigerator is different than a beer refrigerator, which is a colder temperature too. I could not believe the difference in these wines! The aroma was much fuller and the taste so much stronger when chilled at the proper temperature. I was especially struck by the difference in the white wines, such as a Rieslig and Pinot blanc. Having side by side samples of a glass of refrigerator chilled wine and a glass of wine refrigerator chilled wine was so noticeable. Nothing was distinct on the refrigerator chilled wine, while the aroma and flavors popped on the other wine. I can’t believe I never noticed these differences before now!

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Red wines should be served at room temperature. However, if you really prefer to drink all of your wine at a cool temp, then store your red wines in the basement or put in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes before serving. You can chill the remainder of the red in the refrigerator to slow the oxidation process, which will extend the life of the wine (bring it to room temp before serving). You can also store the bottle on the counter for typically one or two days.

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winebottlesA suggested temperature for a light-bodied white wine (Pinot blanc) is 45-50 degrees, full-bodied white (chardonnay) is 50-55 degrees and a sweet white (sweet Riesling, Moscato) is 43-47 degrees. A medium-bodied red can be served around 55 degrees, light-bodied red (Pinot noir) is 50-55 degrees and full-bodied red (Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah/Shiraz) is 60 degrees.

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For those of you who might use an ice cube to chill your wine faster (ahem, Mom), it was highly recommended not to do as it dilutes the wine’s flavor, body, aroma, and overall intent. A guest at the workshop said he uses an ice bucket with half ice and half cold water to chill his bottle of wine in a few hours. Heck, we’ve stuck bottles in the snow during January for a quick cool down and it worked great!

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I love myself a good fruit wine, such as Chateau Fontaine’s cherry wine or Black Star Farms‘ pear wine. These wines can be chilled.

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Most wines are meant to be drank within a year. Reds, such as Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, age better, and Rieslings age very well (frankly, my Riesling bottles usually don’t last long in my house, let alone a year!).

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I love my stemless wine glasses. But these type of glasses make you hold the glass filled with wine, where the warmth of your hands can start to warm the wine more or less than you want. Duh, I never thought of that!

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Overall I learned that it doesn’t hurt to chill wines, it just depends what process you use to do this. You don’t have to run out to buy a special wine refrigerator (right…yes, I keep telling myself this!). There are several viable options for cooling your bottle, as I listed here. Do you have other suggestions?

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I ended up finding another good, new wine during the workshop – Chateau de Leelanau’s Cherry Wine. Delicious!

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Another great learning experience! I definitely will head back to this local wine resource in the future.

 

*This is not a paid endorsement for Michigan By The Bottle. I went and purchased on my own. I enjoyed the event so want to share with my readers.

 

Identifying the differences in white wines February 19, 2016

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Cheers to good wine!

Michigan residents are fortunate to be able to taste delicious wines made at wineries throughout our great state. Metro Detroit residents can enjoy various opportunities to sample some of these great wines (besides at the wine parties that my husband and I host!). One such location is the Michigan By The Bottle Tasting Room in Royal Oak. After driving by this location on numerous occasions, I finally had the opportunity to check it out.

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Michigan By The Bottle opened its first tasting room in Shelby Township and a second location in Royal Oak last year. Now a third is slated to open in Auburn Hills this year. Several Michigan wineries are featured for samplings and many special events are offered throughout the year. The partner wineries represent four major Michigan wine trails and include 2 Lads Winery (Traverse City), Bel Lago Winery (Cedar), Chateau Aeronautique (Jackson), Chateau de Leelanau (Suttons Bay), Domaine Berrien Cellars (Berrien Springs), Peninsula Cellars (Traverse City), Sandhill Crane Vineyards (Jackson) and Verterra Winery (Leland). I have tasted wines from many of these wineries so I looked forward to checking out some new ones (I heard that the Auburn Hills location will have different partner wineries so that will be cool to have a variety!).

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My friend and I visited earlier this week for a “Blind Tasting” event which focused on learning the difference between pinot grigio/gris and chardonnay wines – without labels to assist you. White wines are my preference (I have a slight allergy to the tannin in red so my cheeks get super bright when drinking red – thus, I usually do so in the privacy of someone’s home!) and while I feel fairly comfortable identifying white wines, I thought this event sounded fun. And it was.

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For $12, we received six pre-selected wines – three chardonnay and three pinot grigio/gris Then we received great instruction on how to tell the difference by using color, smell, and taste. I was impressed by the knowledge and teaching ability of Shannon, the husband in the husband-wife owner team of MBTB. He made the information easy to understand.

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wineglassesHere are a few tips I learned:

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Pinot grigio and pinot gris are the same type of wine – grigio is the Italian version/grape and gris is the French version/grape.

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Swirling the wine in the glass before drinking adds air, which improves aroma and taste. I tested this before/after and it’s true!

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Chardonnay tends to be more yellow in color, while grigio/gris appear more copper-like.

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Pinot grigio/gris wines tend to have a more floral aroma and taste a bit more bitter than a chardonnay.

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Chardonnay can be fermented in oak; a pinto grigio wine almost never is oaked.

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Not all wines age well. Pinot wines usually drop off in flavor/aroma 4-6 years from bottling (I also learned that my favorite wine type, riesling, ages great. Too bad my riesling wines tend to not last too long!).

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Tannin dries the mouth; acidity in a wine adds moisture to the mouth and give you that ‘tang’ up the cheeks.

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I really like Peninsula Cellars’ Chardonnay! In fact, I purchased a bottle to enjoy at home.

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The ambiance of the room was relaxed, a little hip and fun. When we visit wineries in northern Michigan, tastings are free so it’s a bit to swallow paying for a flight of wine samples. However, MBTB is a separate business venture from wineries (a pretty cool business from what I can tell!) so it is worth the fee. There are several options for tasting – small and large flights (samples) and a single ‘big pour’ if know what wine you like and simply want to chill with a glass of wine. There is also a limited ‘snack’ menu of crackers, cheeses, meats, chocolate and more.

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Michigan By The Bottle Tasting Rooms offer various flights for tasting wines, as well as many special events, live music, book clubs, gifts and more. I will definitely go back for another event.

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*This is not a paid endorsement for Michigan By The Bottle. I went and purchased on my own. I enjoyed the event so want to share with my readers.

 

Northern Michigan wines add great flavor to holiday parties December 20, 2014

homeworkwine With Christmas and New Year’s quickly approaching, it’s a great time to stock up on wine so you can grab a bottle to take to family dinners and parties, or have available at home to serve during evenings with friends (or just for you!).

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We’re lucky to live in a state that is home to many wineries that produce great wines. We’re also fortunate to have great friends who live in Traverse City near many of Michigan’s wineries. Because we often miss them not being close, we try to go north a few times a year. This also provides opportunity to pop into our favorite wineries to taste and purchase!

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While red wine is a preferred choice for many of our friends, I admit to not being a fan of dry reds. I also have a mild allergic reaction when drinking red wine (I get really, really hot and my skin flares up with red patches. Not pretty so I rarely drink red wine in public!). But we have tasted many different red wines to find a few that we enjoy and can serve at home.

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Longview, located in Cedar on Leelanau Peninsula produces a few of our favorite wines. Their Rustic Red is a very smooth wine that is “rich with ripe berry and cherry flavors and hints of spicy clove.” The winery suggests serving it slightly chilled for the best burst of flavors. I enjoy a glass of Chateau Fontaine’s Big Paw Red because it’s not too dry and not too sweet. It incorporates three hybrid grapes for a great flavor. Peninsula Cellar’s Homework is a big favorite of my older sister and some friends. It’s actually considered a rose’ with a little sweet taste of strawberry, watermelon and raspberry flavors. Delicious!

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Longview also makes one of our favorite white wines, Rustic White. This light wine is “loaded with tropical fruit flavors,” yet it’s not too sweet. We get positive reviews every time we serve this wine so Longview is a definite stop when we’re in Traverse City! They also produce a very good Chardonnay that is fermented in stainless steel rather than oak.

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longviewwineIf you like a sweeter white wine like me, try a Riesling. This type of wine is typically sweeter and filled with various fruit flavors, such as peach, citrus, pineapple and apricot. Riesling has its roots from Germany and balances acidity and sweetness for a crisp taste that pairs well with a variety of foods. Riesling wines are usually categorized as sweet, semi-sweet or dry.

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Chateau Grand Traverse’s Late Harvest Riesling has long been my favorite sweet Riesling. It is definitely a sweeter wine, yet oh so good! The winery describes it as “dazzling fruit and crisp citrus flavors balanced with a naturally sweet finish.” It certainly dazzles my taste buds when I drink a glass!

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Ranked up there with it is Black Star Farm’s Arcturos Riesling. The winery describes it as “vibrantly alive, fresh, and highlighted with a balanced sweetness” with “aromas of fresh fruit followed by concentrated flavors of apples, apricots and peaches complemented by honey undertones.” In fact, this light, sweet wine won the first wine tasting party my husband and I hosted with friends.

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We recently discovered Left Foot Charley’s The Missing Spire Riesling wine – it’s a medium sweet late harvest that is loaded with flavors that are delicious on your tongue (this winery also makes great hard cider).

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If you want to try delicious fruit wines, check out Chateau Fontaine’s Cherry Wine, Longview’s Cherry Mead (Honey Wine) and Black Star Farm’s Pear wine. All of these have a light, sweet taste…and the cherry wine pairs perfectly with dark chocolate!

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There are so many more wineries in Michigan that offer excellent choices to drink. These are just a few of my favorites. Whatever you choose, enjoy (and drink responsibly!).

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What are some of your favorite wines?

 

 
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