Wine Quiz: Food and Wine Pairings

It’s time for a wine quiz! My last quiz gave you the opportunity to match wines with their tasting notes.  But this is different.  This simple test of your knowledge focuses on food and wine pairings I’ve written about during the last few months.  Look at the list below then find the wine that matches.  Need help?  The number before the selection is linked to the full article that includes its recipe and wine pairing.  The answers are under the last picture!

From appetizers to desserts, from wines from Italy to California, I’m sure that you’ll just breeze through this quiz and perhaps be inspired to create one or more of these dishes soon.  And, of course, pair them with the wines (sent as samples) I’ve suggested.

Cheers and good luck!  Cindy

1.  Herbed Parmesan Crisps

2.  Slow Cooker Spinach Artichoke Dip

3.  Chilled Cucumber Soup with Mint

4.  Vegetable Lasagna

5.  Spanakopita

6.  Mushroom Risotto

7.  Chicken Breasts with Zucchini and Marjoram

8.  Warm Apple Crisp

Which wines are the matches?

a.  Forgotten Fire Late Harvest Riesling  b.  2011 Avantis Charisma Red  c.  2012 Van Duzer Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

d.  Anna de Codorniu Brut NV  e 2013 Las Lilas Vinho Verde  f.  2010 Cecchi Chianti Classico

g.  2011 Cornerstone Oregon Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, White Label  h.  2012 Fontana Candida Terre dei Grifi Frascati


1. d     2. h     3. e     4. f     5. b     6. g    7. c     8. a

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Wine and Dine: Las Lilas Vinho Verde 2013 and Chilled Cucumber Soup with Mint

Spring is finally here!! I’m more than ready to bury my winter coat, open the windows, take long walks outside, and read a good book on the back porch…I’m in Chicago after all!  The welcome change of season also heralds (for me at least) a shift of recipes and wine pairings.  Thanks to the plethora of spring vegetables becoming available, I’ll be making lighter dishes and choosing wines that are complementary.  Apparently others feel the same way I do (see the links at the end of this post).  Please join me and other wine and food bloggers on Saturday, April 11 at 11am Eastern on Twitter.  Use the hashtag #winePW and share your spring dishes and wine pairings.

Recently I found a lovely recipe for Chilled Cucumber Soup with Mint using fresh cucumbers, yogurt, lemon juice, mint leaves and just the right amount of cumin to keep you on your toes. Delicious as a light lunch or first course at a springtime dinner party, it would be just as fabulous in shooters as an appetizer.  With edible flowers in the center of this mint green soup, I can’t think of a better way to open the door to spring.

Chilled Cucumber Soup with Mint
There were a few wines I could have paired with the Chilled Cucumber Soup with Mint.  An unoaked Chardonnay, Cava, or Riesling would have worked.  But I decided to try Las Lilas Vinho Verde 2013 (sample) at an alcohol level of only 10% and the result was just what the soup (and I) needed.  The wine consists of estate grown grapes, Louriero and Treixadura, from a small vineyard of only 14 hectares in the valley of the Duoro River in Portugal.  Pale gold in the glass with a bit of fizz, light aromas of stone fruits, mangoes, and hints of orange led to tastes of peaches, florals, pears, and minerality.  Its high acidity and subtle sparkles tempered the cumin in the soup and floral notes were a refreshing complement to the mint.  The cost is just as approachable as the wine: $10. And don’t you just love the label?

Las Lilas Vinho Verde 2013

Chilled Cucumber Soup with Mint Leaves


  • 2 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cup Japanese or young English cucumbers
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons fresh mint leaves
  • salt to taste
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • small petals from the center of a rose (for garnish)


Step 1
Place all ingredients except garnish in a blender.
Step 2
Puree until smooth.
Step 3
Season with salt.
Step 4
Ladle into serving bowls and garnish with rose petals.

Cheers to Spring! ~ Cindy

Join the twitter chat on Saturday, April 11 at 11am Eastern.  Use hashtag #winePW to share your recipes and wine pairings!  I hope to see you there!

Spring Pea Risotto with Picpoul de Pinet by Curious Cuisiniere 

Spring-Kissed Seafood Chowder with Pelerin 2011 Les Tournesols by Cooking Adventures with Camilla

Wine and Dine: Las Lilas Vinho Verde 2013 and Chilled Cucumber with Mint Soup by Grape Experiences.

Creamy Mushroom Pasta with Spring Peas and Westrey Pinot Noir by Pull That Cork

Red Wine with Asparagus and Mushrooms by Cooking Chat

Spring Hopes: Asparagus and Rosé by Food Wine Click

Leap into Spring with Pasta Primavera by Vino Travels

Spring Fling with Greek Pizza and Wine by Confessions of a Culinary Diva

Spring Flavors with Hungarian Pinot Grigio by A Day in the Life on the Farm

Welcoming Spring with #WinePW by Rockin Red Blog

Winter’s Hill Pinot Blanc and Warm Arugula, Bacon and Asparagus Salad by Tasting Pour

Roasted Halibut with Potatoes and Lemon and Tablas Creek Cotes de Tablas Blanc by Enofylz Wine Blog

Beets and Wine Pairing by Girls Gotta Drink

Posted in Recipes, Regional Wines, Wine Reviews | Tagged , 6 Comments


6 Responses to “Wine and Dine: Las Lilas Vinho Verde 2013 and Chilled Cucumber Soup with Mint”
show comments ⇓

  1. What a lovely soup, beautiful with that addition of flowers. I am keeping my eyes open for this Las LIlas.

  2. Such a light and fresh soup. Perfect for spring!

  3. Great pairing! Looks delicious.

  4. You’re a women after my own heart Cindy…an easy to prepare dish! I enjoy vinho verde, and can totally see it working with this dish. Love the garnish (and of of course it matches the pretty label) Well done!

  5. Two of my favorites – Chilled Cucumber Soup & Vinho Verde! Love your recipe and will give it a try, I’m always on the lookout for new chilled soup recipes since we have over 120 days of 100 + weather in Palm Springs.

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5 Pinot Noirs to Love Right Now

Pinot DaysWhat better way to celebrate the first full day of spring than to taste one of my favorite wines, Pinot Noir? Recently I attended the trade tasting at Chicago Pinot Days 2015 held in the Lakeview Terrace of Navy Pier overlooking beautiful Lake Michigan. Over 200 trade and media wine lovers (and hundreds of consumers later) tasted wine from sixty five wineries located for the most part in California and Oregon.

Although Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Blanc are the most popular clonal variations of the Pinot grape, the varietal most represented at Pinot Days was the Pinot Noir. Produced mainly in the Burgundy region of France where it has an uncanny ability to express its terroir, this grape gives winemakers around the world a true challenge if they want to emulate the Burgundian style. The good news is that there are many outstanding examples of Pinot Noir from cooler climate regions in California and Oregon.

I sampled plenty of delicious Pinot Noir each with its unique palate profile. From light, fruit forward to taut, Burgundian to rich and bold, all reflected the nuances of their specific terroir and techniques of the winemaker. This versatile grape is incredibly food friendly and can pair just as well with hearty seafood dishes as it can with roasted meats. As a well known Sommelier once told me, “if you just can’t decide which wine to ask for, Pinot Noir is always a good choice.”

This year I wanted to find wines that may not be on everyone’s radar yet are special and worth a second look. Although it was difficult job (yes, we wine bloggers have challenges, don’t we?), I found five wines, all from small, boutique wineries, that caused me to sip, savor, and…sip again. Three wines are from vineyards in the Russian River Valley, one is from Anderson Valley, and another from the Sonoma Coast AVA – all in California. Talented winemakers there are crafting delicious wines with limited production. Although you can (and probably should) cellar each wine for a few more years, you will want to love them right now!

Promise to check out the websites of these notable wineries for interesting information. I was more than impressed with the backstories of each of these wineries and I’m thinking that you will be, too.

Davis Family Vineyards: 2012 Rosé de Noir – Beautiful, fresh, red berry tastes sparkled my palate as much as those tiny bubbles danced in my glass. Bright and graceful, this is a special bubbly from a cool climate vineyard in the Russian River Valley. $55.

Davis Family Vineyards:  2012 Rosé de Noir
Friedeman Wines: 2013 Pinot Noir – Friedeman is a small boutique winery with a focus on Burgundian varietals in the Russian River Valley. Just released in January, I was mesmerized by its rich black cherries, hint of spice, and smoke on the palate. A wine of depth, the lingering finish was incredible and it was difficult to step away from the table. $44.

Friedeman Wines: 2013 Pinot Noir
Trombetta Family Wines: 2011 Pinot Noir – The site of the vineyard in this striking Pinot Noir is Gap’s Crown located in the Petaluma Gap region. I found wild, dark berries and fruit, vanilla, white pepper, and earth in this luscious, balanced wine. Just wow. $58.

Trombetta Family Wines:  2011 Pinot Noir
Waits-Mast Family Cellars: 2012 Pinot Noir - From the Deer Meadows Vineyard in Anderson Valley, this is an exotic Pinot Noir bursting with black cherries, cloves, allspice, earth, and minerality. Balanced with a firm tannic structure and lip smacking acidity, this was a superb wine. $55.

Waits-Mast Family Cellars: 2012 Pinot Noir
Valdez Family Winery: 2010 Ulises Valdez Pinot Noir – Cherries, currants, and wet earth were aromas that leapt from the glass. On the palate, I found a wine with a true Burgundian profile. Firm tannins, chewy mouthfeel, earthy, and full bodied, the finish was, well, sexy. $50.

Valdez Family Winery: 2010 Ulises Valdez Pinot Noir

Cheers to Pinot Noir~ Cindy

Posted in Events and Travel, Regional Wines, Sparkling Tastes, Wine Reviews, Wineries | Tagged Leave a comment

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Cornerstone Cellars 2011 Napa Valley “The Cornerstone” – An Exceptional Wine

From the first swirl to the last sip, the Cornerstone Cellars 2011 Napa Valley “The Cornerstone” can be described in one word:  exceptional.  But I have others, too.

Craig Camp, Managing Partner of Cornerstone Cellars, has once again produced a stellar wine from a challenging vintage year in Napa.  A wet winter, spring, and early June delayed bloom and affected the fruit set.  Yet, a steady temperature throughout the summer months allowed the fruit to ripen slowly and evenly.  Cool and wet weather in September and October delayed harvest, but weeks of beautiful weather followed and provided time for ripening.  Thanks to the patience of growers and the talent of winemaker Jeff Keene, Cornerstone wines from the 2011 vintage exude the classic sophistication and style for which they are known.

I opened “The Cornerstone”, sent to me as a sample, one evening to celebrate my husband’s birthday at a favorite restaurant and realized immediately that this is a special wine.  Graceful and pure, complex and luxurious, Cornerstone Cellars 2011 Napa Valley “The Cornerstone” is everything a wine should be.  It can be held for several decades…but that wasn’t about to happen.

“The Cornerstone” is a blend of selected barrels from Oakville Station Vineyard in Oakville.  A true masterpiece, 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Franc join to create intense, lush aromatics of dark rich cherries, licorice, plums, blackberries, and sweet spice. On the palate, sweeping strokes of deep red berries and more spice are framed by well honed tannins and bright, mouthwatering acidity which provide harmony and balance.  Its finish is long, elegant, and intriguing. Cost is $150.

Cornerstone Cellars 2011 Napa Valley "The Cornerstone"

To be honest, I can’t stop thinking about this exceptional wine.

Cheers~ Cindy

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Uncorked Ventures: Curating the Wines You Never Knew You Wanted

Mark Aselstine of Uncorked VenturesJust when I thought that there could not possibly be another online wine club that would interest me, Mark Aselstine of Uncorked Ventures sent me an email “wanting to start a conversation.” Although I knew that he wanted to promote his business, I didn’t want to press the delete button immediately. I always prefer to do my own research with hopes of finding a hidden gem to share. And this time I succeeded.

After a few back and forth emails, it was apparent that Uncorked Ventures is on target with their business plan. Mark and his brother-in-law Matt Krause are diligently searching (and are having quite of bit of fun doing so, by the way) for wines that meet the needs of smart, savvy consumers who have an eclectic palate, a desire to try new wines not found in the usual wine shops, and limited time to search for them.

Mark graciously sent me two bottles of wine from Uncorked Ventures so I could taste the style and quality offered.  I’ll go on the record and say that if these wines are indicative of what is sent, club members are fortunate indeed. The Bluxome Street Winery 2012 Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley is a complex, layered, balanced Pinot that exhibited notes of red fruit, earth, mushrooms, and herbs leading to a spicy, satisfying finish. A sparkling wine, Caraccioli Brut Cuvee 2008 from the Santa Lucia Highlands is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and produced in the Méthode Champenoise. Fruit forward with toast, almonds, and citrus on the palate along with tiny, persistent bubbles, this was a real treat.

But what also makes a difference (to me at least)? I want to have a personal connection with the people who are curating the wines I’m purchasing; understanding their personality and philosophy always sheds light on what may be in the glass.

Read my Q&A with Mark Aselstine to learn about who is going to ensure that your wine is just what you want.

GE: How did you decide to start Uncorked Ventures?

Mark: We started Uncorked Ventures after noticing that the quality of wine from one region of California to another varied so greatly, let alone when we started looking at what was available to my family in Buffalo, New York. As an example, Pisoni is a pretty well known grower, but they produce a single, estate bottled Pinot that’s just amazing. Here in San Francisco, you can find it at a few select wine shops, in San Diego it’s nearly impossible to find and they don’t have distribution in NY (at least the last time we worked with the wine). We wanted to ship the wine that San Francisco gets to access based largely on location to people across the country.

GE: What is your background?

Mark: When we opened, I had absolutely no wine background at all. I had worked a corporate real estate job out of college, but was looking for something I could call my own. Matt’s been an avid collector of wine since the first tech bubble and introduced me to many of the names we worked with at the beginning of Uncorked Ventures.

GE: What are your business goals?

Mark: Our goals are pretty straight forward: we want to provide wine and gift baskets that customers will enjoy, while telling the story of the people behind the wine and why we think the wines we’re shipping are important or noteworthy. Sure, at work we all have growth goals etc, but really…..many of these small production wines deserve more attention and if we do a good enough job telling their story, the rest should work out just fine.

GE: How many wineries are represented in Uncorked Ventures?

Mark: Unlike virtually anyone else, we don’t have a set list of wineries that we work with. Looking back at my notes, we shipped wines from 103 wineries over the past year. Very rarely will customers see a second bottle from the same winery, unless there’s something truly unique about the winemaker, vineyard, etc.

GE: How do you curate the wineries and their wine?

Mark: Everyone always likes to laugh at the process, almost always asking about how it was that I came about this job…but I actually spend time in wine country. Last week, as an example I spent a day in Napa, first tasting through a range of wines from the wineries on Atlas Peak (many of which were their lots for Premiere Napa), then meeting a winemaker in Calistoga and tasting through his lineup. It’s not the toughest part of the job, but relationships in the wine industry matter, I think, more than most. Given that there are under 1,000 people making wine in Napa, it actually doesn’t take long before winemakers end up suggesting projects from their friends or former coworkers, and more to check out.

GE: Does Uncorked Ventures have a specialty or focus for the wines?

Mark: We try not to have a specific focus. Instead I’d rather tell the tale of what’s happening and what the wine industry feels is important. In California, there’s so much talk about the low alcohol movement and cooler vineyard sites, so we’ve shipped a lot of Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast, Anderson Valley and quite a few from Oregon. We’ve also tried to feature wines from urban wineries since those are all the rage right now and more than likely, you’ll have one in your neighborhood sooner rather than later.

GE: Are you going to offer unusual varietals or do you already?

Mark: I think everyone has a different definition of what is an obscure varietal at this point, heck sometimes in San Francisco it seems like a truly obscure varietal might be Merlot! That being said I know we have a California coastal Pinotage upcoming that’s always a fun one since there’s so little of it planted in California. Over the past few months we’ve also shipped a Touriga and a few Rhone whites that aren’t exactly mainstream….yet.

GE: Do you travel to wineries to taste the wines you’ll offer?

Mark: Over the past four years… maybe 200? More perhaps. We’ve spent a ton of time in Sonoma, Napa, Paso Robles and and Santa Barbara. The Willamette Valley is a favorite just because it still feels so new compared to California’s wine regions. I’ve also worked harvest, bottling and more at wineries over the past few years. Being able to better communicate in winemaker’s language, I believe, helps us find better wine.

GE: How does your wine club stand out from the others?

Mark: I think the wines that we ship are what stands out more than anything else. Plus we’re actually family owned and operated. As an example, I mentioned tasting in Calistoga earlier, the winery is called People’s Wine Revolution and they make about 750 cases across 6 wines. It’s small enough that my competitors, especially those in Los Angeles and New York (both cities I love by the way) wouldn’t ever find them.

GE: Why should I buy wine from Uncorked Ventures?

Mark: We’re nice and we honestly care? In all seriousness, we ship a lot of wine that simply isn’t available elsewhere, so if someone wanted access to wines not available where they live with a focus on quality, we’re a good bet.

Cheers to you, Mark! ~ Cindy


Posted in Product Reviews, Regional Wines, Sparkling Tastes, Tasting Techniques, Wine Connoisseurs, Wine Reviews | Tagged , Leave a comment

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