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Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Zinfandel Wine Tasting

Hi everyone!  Betcha thought that I'd fallen off the face of the earth, huh?  Afterall, you haven't seen me in any movies lately nor have I made a blog entry in way too long.

I cannot promise that blog ideals will once again arrive steadily in that little plastic bubble head of mine but I can offer you these words today.  Better than nothing?  Er ~ maybe not?

I have recently discovered an aunt and uncle who are wine affectionados.  We've been sharing "favorites and finds" back and forth via Facebook.  They had recently suggested a most affordable zinfandel for Tiffany and I to try.  They learned of a particular favorite Cabernet Sauvignon which we both enjoy (Mount Veeder).  They have it on order and will be trying it soon.

They recently enjoyed Dancing Bull Zinfandel and found it quite pleasant to the palate.  They had suggested that we exercise those little doll legs our ours and scurry down to our local wine purveyor.  "Please!  Please, Mr. Spirits Purveyor!  Have you a bottle of Dancing Bull Zinfandel to spare?"

Dancing Bull Zinfandel - 2008 - Winemaker's Reserve

Well ~ I am quite happy to report that I was successful in my wine acquisition.  Ha!  You should have seen the look on the cashiers face when I reached into the back pocket of my overalls and whipped out an ID showing that Chucky was, indeed, older than 21-years!  

Last night I cooked portabello mushroom sandwiches (recipe below).  I also made some fresh Carrabba's Tomato Basil soup (recipe below).  A most delicious pairing to the zinfandel experience!

Bleu Cheese Basil Portabello Mushroom Burger & Basil Tomato Soup

It was then time for the wine tasting to commence.  For our first pour, Tiffany and I elected to pour straight out of the bottle with no decanting.  We each independently sniffed, sipped, savored and scored this wine.  Without looking over each others shoulders and without speaking during the judgment, we eerily scored quite comparably.  However, I shall admit that this is quite common for the two of us. Never have two individuals held such similar tastes in vintages and grape varietals!

Instead of going through too much detail, I will allow the following tasting sheets to speak for us.  I decided not to identify which is Tiffany's and which is my review.  Can you guess?

Tasting Sheets - 2008 Dancing Bull "Winemaker's Reserve" Zinfandel

Bottom line?  A most excellent zinfandel for the affordable $7.99 price point.  Although I prefer a more bold Shiraz or more elegant Cabernet Sauvignon grape varietal, the zinfandel has it's place upon our table.

In our second experiment, Tiffany and I poured the 2nd glass using a Venturi to emulate 1-hour of decanting.  "Same great taste only smoother!"

Third glasses?  We simply poured from the bottle and allowed it to breathe naturally without Venturi or decanter.  Since the bottle had sat and was breathing during our tasting, it was more similar to experiment #2 results.

Trust me...  This particular wine gets nicer by the glass.  But, then again... Maybe it was the effects of the wine?  Hmm...

Bleu Cheese, Basil and Portabello Mushroom Burger:
  • Quality hamburger bun
  • Portabello mushroom cap
  • Bleu cheese crumbles
  • Fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 1 Tbsp reduced-fat Vegenaise
  • 2 dill pickle slices
  • 5 or 6 fresh jalapeno slices
  • Tomato slice
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Bragg's organic seasoning
  1. Grill hamburger bun.  
  2. When lightly browned, remove from skillet or grill and set aside.  
  3. Grill portabello cap on each side until fully cooked, tender.  While cooking, sprinkle Bragg's or similar herbs onto mushroom cap.  
  4. While portabello cap is cooking, prepare hamburger bun.  
  5. On bottom half spread 1 Tbsp Vegenaise and top with arranged dill pickle and jalapeno slices.  Top with bleu cheese crumbles.  
  6. On top half of bun, arrange lettuce, tomato slice and shredded basil leaves.  
  7. When portabello cap is ready, place hot 'n juicy cap onto of bleu cheese crumbles to facilitate melting.
Vegetarian Carrabba's-like Tomato Basil Soup:
  • 2 cans (14-oz) fire cooked tomatoes
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped (reserve 1 clove)
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube
  • 1/2 cup So Delicious coconut milk creamer
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 15 to 20 fresh basil leaves (reserve 1 or 2 leaves)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Crushed red pepper, to taste
  1. Heat olive oil in heavy pan over medium-high heat sauteing sliced onion until translucent.
  2. Add 4 chopped garlic cloves to onion and cook an additional 5-minutes.  Stirring frequently to prevent burning.
  3. Add  canned tomatoes and juices.  Cook additional 15-minutes, stirring often.
  4. Add vegetable broth and coconut creamer.  Reduce heat and cook additional 10-minutes.  Allow to thicken and stirring frequently to prevent sticking.
  5. Crush basil and add.  Remember to reserve 1 or 2 leaves for garnishing.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Add crushed red pepper to taste.
  6. Transfer to blender.  Add reserved garlic and blend until pureed and smooth.
  7. Serve topped with chopped reserved basil leaves.
Hi-dee hi-dee share-a-wine-find-with-a-friend-ho my fine friends!  Cheers!

Print Soup Recipe
Print Sandwich Recipe 


  1. Hi Chucky! Thank you so much for posting your recipe for Vegetarian Carrabba's-like Tomato Basil Soup. It sounds very delicious, and I can't wait to try it! I invite you to submit it to our website, if you feel so inspired. If we publish it, we'll include a link back to your blog, and even send you a gift!

    And while you're there, please grab some coupons for your next purchase of any of your favorite So Delicious products!

  2. Thank you for the comment Gail.

    Unfortunately I am unable to share the recipe with So Delicious for two reasons. First, I prefer to remain anonymous to my blog and So Delicious cannot accept anonymous source(s). Secondly, at what point is a recipe truly "original"?

    I did not sit and create my recipe from scratch. Instead I borrowed from someone else's idea and reduced the calories and fat. I also converted a carnivorous recipe into a vegetarian version. But, truth be told and when I am truly honest with my morals, I am unable to state "I have created this recipe from scratch and without direction, input or influence of others."

    But ~ you have a killer product and thanks for providing it to me the consumer! I should be thanking you Gail.