Girl Scout Cookies with Wine

They wait for you like panhandlers outside grocery stores during "cookie season".  Little girls dressed in green uniforms are pumped to sell you a box of tasty girl scout cookies in effort to earn prizes.  And unlike a panhandler begging for your money, who could say no to a group of girl scouts?  Not just because they're so cute with their sash full of badges, the cookies are also amazingly delicious.  "I'll take 5 boxes of the Caramel deLites® please!" I excitedly proclaim.  I too was once a girl scout and dreaded cookie season.  I had no problem raising my hand in class to read, or nominating myself to be team leader of anything, but when it came to the uncomfortable feeling of asking someone to buy something from me, I became an introvert.  Instead of excitedly approaching people entering the store I would tense up.  "You don't want any girl scout cookies do you sir?  No, I didn't think so.."  I was horrible at sells.  Luckily they were always kind and eventually I gained the confidence in both my product and myself to not be so shy about selling something.

Don't you wish they were selling wine with those cookies?  I don't know that we want 10 year olds serving wine, but I have first hand experience about how great the two can be together!  My favorite box of girl scout cookies are Caramel deLites®.  They are vanilla cookies coated in caramel, sprinkled with toasted coconut and laced with chocolate stripes.  And since girl scout cookies are such a rare treat, I grab a bottle of hard to find Vin Santo (VEEN-SAHN-toh) from Italy.  Vin Santo can be quite expensive because of both the ancient and laborious method of making it.  Grapes are hung from rafters to dry for a period of 3-6 months and then spend another 3-5 years in small sealed barrels before it ever reaches the market.  The wine is not as sweet as some dessert wines and has a creamy, honey-roasted flavor.  Vin Santo is a great wine with cookies.  After a bite of the cookie and then a sip of the wine, I immediately love how the creamy and honey roasted flavors in the wine play off the caramel and toasted coconut flavors found in the cookie.  The toasted coconut flavor springs forth as the creaminess of both the wine and cookie play nicely together.  I also like that the wine has just the right amount of sugar to match the sugar in the cookie and enough acidity to cleanse the palate.  Other wines to try with Caramel deLites® are Tawny Port, Malmsey Madiera, Late harvest Muscat wines, PX Sherry, Banyuls, sweet Riesling, Moscato d'Asti and demi-sec Champagne.

Crème Brûlée with Wine

I met Brandon on August 11th, 2007.  I was fresh off a break up and preparing myself to be single once again.  I realized I had a hard time staying in a relationship for any period longer than a year.  I decided to clear my mind and meet up with a girlfriend and my older brother at the Red Rock Casino for a glass of wine or two.  After mingling for an hour with my brother's friends and having a few laughs with my girlfriend I headed to the restroom.  Upon returning to the bar I heard a voice say, "Hi...".  I looked up and noticed a group of guys standing there with one in particular whose back was to me.  I replied, "Hi," shyly.  I wasn't at all interested until Brandon turned around and looked at me.  I could feel my eyes widen and my cheeks warm at the site of him.  He was tall with a chiseled face, caramel complected skin and an athletic body.  My heart raced as I mentioned that I was having drinks with friends and family at the bar and invited them to join me.  Brandon and I ended up speaking for over an hour that night, and the rest as they say is history.  I've been with Brandon almost 4 years now and have broken my 1 year streak.  I've come to find that the reason I couldn't last for a long period of time in a relationship was because once I really got to know a person, he wasn't as attractive on the inside as I intially found him to be on the outside.  Brandon is truly beautiful both inside and out and I've only grown to find him even more attractive as the years go on.  He makes my life worth living and shares in every moment of my journey.  Today he turns 30 and to celebrate I've paired wine with his favorite dessert, crème brûlée.  I was asked recently if wine was my first love and my was response was, "No, he is..."

I had never tried crème brûlée until I met Brandon.  He raved about how good it was and all I could imagine was the custard like consistency.  Once again I didn't know what I was missing out on.  It became a hobby of ours to try every crème brûlée we could find and rate them against each-other.  Brandon also likes to bake and makes a killer version with Grand Marnier.  When thinking of a wine to pair alongside it there were many options.  Sauternes, sweet Sherry, Tokaji Aszu, sweet Riesling, demi-sec Champagne, Malmsey Madiera, Tawny Port, late harvest wines and sparkling wines all work.  Since it's his birthday I decided to go with one of my favorite Moscato's, Two Hands 2010 "Brilliant Disguise" Moscato from Australia.  Although hard to find, this wine is delicious with crème brûlée.  The wine has peach, melon and nectarine aromas with hints of flowers and mineral.  It is also refreshingly crisp and balanced with just the right amount of sugar.  After a bite of the food and then a sip of the wine the vanilla flavors play beautifully off the fruit flavors in the wine.  The slight sparkle and crispness of the wine help to wash the cream off the palate and match the crunch of the caramelized sugar on top of the dish.  Because the pairing isn't too sweet, I immediately go in for another sample of each.  I also love that the wine feels creamy on the palate mirroring the creaminess of the dish.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Covered Strawberries with Wine

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!  In the city of sin, New Years is a wild spectacle comprised of drunken people walking up and down the strip, nightclubs hosted by celebrities and people throwing their hard earned money away at the black jack tables.  Fireworks blast off the top of casinos in an orchestrated light show along the strip.  Besides New York, Las Vegas is the place to be to ring in 2011.   And what would New Years be without a bottle of bubbly to celebrate the occasion?  This New Years, make it a night to remember by opening a bottle of dry Rose sparkling wine.  Guests will be treated to a rare sparkling wine and the ladies will love that it’s pink.  Better yet, spend the evening in with your significant other and serve it alongside dark chocolate covered strawberries.  Rose sparkling wine and chocolate covered strawberries are not only a perfect pairing, but help to create the most romantic New Years yet!

What better way to start out the New Year than with three of my most favorite things, chocolate, strawberries and Rose sparkling wine!  Most people think of pairing strawberries with dry golden Champagne.  This isn't always a good idea.  Dry Champagne is too delicate for strong fruit flavors and can end up making the wine seem extremely acidic.  However, when pairing strawberries with Rose or demi-sec Champagne/sparkling wine, the food and wine come to life.  I prefer dark chocolate covered strawberries.  The wine is tart and the chocolate is bitter, complementing each other.  In addition after a bite of the food, the strawberry flavor in the wine springs to life and the acidity from the sparkling wine helps to wash the chocolate flavors off the tongue.  If you prefer milk or white chocolate covered strawberries, I would suggest a demi-sec sparkling wine that is slightly sweet to match the sweetness of the chocolate.  Port is also incredible with this pairing!