Tasting Notes: Rondel Platinum Cava

Sparkling wine has far and above become my favorite wine to drink, and while I wish I could afford delicious Champagne on a regular basis, it is always important to scope out value options. This is where Cava comes in! It is made in the same manner as Champagne, is still delicious in its own right, and comes with a lower price tag. Rondel may sounds familiar to you since I have used Rondel Brut in its identifiable blue bottle many times in the past, mainly for sparkling cocktails. It is inexpensive, flavorful, and comes in the handy split bottles. However, when I came across the Rondel Platinum, their elevated version, I thought I'd give a whirl to see if it could make the cut for New Year's Eve!

Rondel Platinum Cava

The Facts

  • Producer: Rondel
  • Region: Pendes, Spain
  • Vintage: NV
  • Variety: 40% Macabeu, 40% Xarello, 20% Parellada
  • Where I purchased: Total Wine
  • Price: $12.99

This Cava is a deeper straw yellow color and has finer bubbles. While the bottle's description boasts citrus and tropical fruits, I definitely picked up on more of a tart apple aroma. There was also some toast or bready smell, which comes from the yeast that is used to ferment in bottle. The same flavors come across on the palate, with an addition of a zing of lemon. While this Cava is definitely acidic, it is more well-balanced than the Rondel Brut and is extremely easy to drink. As my mother stated, "It is very smooth!" There is nothing complex about this Cava and don't expect it to hold up against Champagne, but at the price point, it is a good choice for an everyday or even a NYE sipper. 

Rating:

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Christmas Cocktails: Sweet and Savory

Merry Christmas everyone! While it's hard to believe Christmas is already here, this time of year is my absolute favorite. What's better than time spent with friends and family, sharing meals and listening to cheerful music?! Nothing, I tell you.

I have been seeing lots of posts about various Christmas cocktails and felt like I should get on that train! My creative side was sparked when my cousin mentioned trying to make a cranberry sparkling drink, and I was even more inspired when my aunt sent me a huge box of delicious citrus from Florida. I knew I wanted to make more than one recipe, so I went with one sweet(er) and one savory version. Fair warning, these syrups need lots of time to cool fully so make sure you prepare them in advance!

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Also, I know it's a little late in the game, but these simple syrups, especially the cranberry version, would make a great hostess gift for any holiday party. Get a cute little bottle like this one (the 8.5 oz one is perfect!), fill 'er up, and attach this recipe (or other recipe ideas!) as a tag. 

Cranberry-Orange Spritz

This sparkling cocktail is made from a simple syrup of, you guessed it, cranberries and orange zest! It produces a syrup that is a beautiful, vibrant, light red color that's perfect for Christmas. If you like sweeter drinks, this syrup is right up your alley.

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Simple Syrup:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 heaping cup of fresh cranberries
  • 1 tsp orange zest

Cranberry-Orange Spritz

  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • Top off the champagne flute with a bottle of brut bubbles (Cava works great!)
  • Add some cranberries and an orange slice for garnish!

Combine the water, sugar, and cranberries in a saucepan. Bring to boil. Once boiling, stir mixture until sugar is dissolved. Once the sugar is dissolved, turn down heat to where it's a heavy simmer or low boil for 2-3 minutes. This is when I added the orange zest. You'll hear the cranberries pop, which is what we want! After the 2-3 minutes, remove the pan from heat and let it cool for another 10-15 minutes or so with the berries. Pour the syrup through a strainer into the bottle and let it cool fully in the fridge. Syrup should be good in your fridge for about a month.

The beautiful thing about this sparkling cocktail is you can adjust the ingredients as you see fit! I suggest the mixture above, but if you want it a little less sweet or a little sweeter, you can pour the syrup accordingly. Enjoy!

Grapefruit-Rosemary Spritz

Now onto the savory syrup. Don't get me wrong, there is PLENTY of sugar in this one too, but the rosemary really gives it that savory flavor, which is perfect for this winter season.

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Rosemary Simple Syrup:

  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 big sprig of rosemary

Grapefruit-Rosemary Spritz

  • 1/2 oz rosemary simple syrup
  • 1 1/2 oz. fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
  • Top off the flute with a bottle of brut bubbles

Combine the water, sugar, and rosemary sprig in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir mixture until sugar is dissolved. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove the pan from heat and let the rosemary steep for 5 minutes. Remove the sprig and let the syrup cool until it can be poured into a bottle. Once in the bottle, let the syrup cool fully in the fridge. Mixture should be good in your fridge for about a month. To enjoy the cocktail, combine the ingredients for the spritz above and enjoy!

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Tasting Notes: Juvé y Camps Brut Rosé

For as much as I love sparkling wine, there are surprisingly few reviews on sparkling wines. When I came across this sale at Whole Foods, I couldn't pass a bottle up! I first tried the Juvé y Camps brand at Corkbuzz a while back and thoroughly enjoyed it. But this was their rosé, which is even more up my alley! 

The Facts

  • Producer: Juvé y Camps
  • Region: Penedès, Spain (near Barcelona)
  • Vintage: Non-vintage
  • Variety: Pinot Noir
  • Where I purchased: Whole Foods
  • Price: $14.99, on sale

Eyes: This wine is so pretty. Is that weird to say? It's such a lovely deep salmon, almost cherry red color. And I think the bottle is awesome. The label looks classy and fancy... like it's expensive, but it's not!

Nose: The Cava smelled of bright red fruit, like strawberry and cherry. There was a hint of biscuit or toast, which is typical of Cava because it's made in the same method as Champagne, but I would say that it was more fruit forward than toasty. 

Mouth: Tasty! This is a wine that "what you see is what you get", meaning that it tastes fruit forward and refreshing. The strawberry that's on the nose really comes through when you drink it, and I personally don't get a lot of the toast flavor when drinking it. It's very acidic, but has more depth in flavor than a non-rosé Cava. 

Thoughts: I think this is a crowd-pleaser and a good value. Is there great complexity here? No, but for $15, I think it's pretty awesome. I think it's a great bottle to take over to a friend's house or to a celebration if you're not looking to bust out an expensive Champagne. This will likely be my go-to now when I want to pop a bottle at home!

Story: I actually really like the story behind Juvé y Camps. It's a family owned winery near Barcelona that was founded in 1921. The history behind the winery actually started 200 years earlier with the founder's grandfather, Joan Juvé Mir, who was a grape grower. He faced many challenges, including phylloxera and the subsequent replanting of his vines. The first wines were made in the cellar under the family home, and the grandson, Joan Juvé Baqués, decided to start an official winery. Now, Juvé y Camps is regularly served at state banquets by Spain's royal family and is offered to guests of the national government, Senate, and Congress. 

Rating:

 

Fiesta Time: What to drink this Cinco de Mayo

Fiesta time, cha-cha-cha! Tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo! In the United States, I feel like this holiday is an excuse to eat your weight in chips and guacamole and cheers with a margarita. Nothing wrong with that! Being from Texas, I love Tex-Mex food and I personally think I make the best margarita around, so I'm looking forward to celebrating. And just in time for the holiday, here are two drink options for you to feel festive!

Classic Fresh Margarita

I know this is a wine blog, but I can't help it. This margarita recipe is the BEST, so it is totally worth sharing! If you like margaritas with fresh ingredients, you'll love this recipe, and it's SO simple to make for one (or multiples!). Disclaimer: I found this recipe out on the internet somewhere several years ago and have been making it ever since. I apologize to whoever published it, I want to give you credit, but I honestly can't remember where it came from since Kevin and I have it memorized.

For one serving, you will need the following:

  • 2 oz tequila - We stock Hornitos Plata in our bar, but feel free to use your favorite!
  • 1.5 oz lime juice - Usually about 1-2 limes, depending on ripeness.
  • 1 oz orange juice - Do yourself a favor, and just buy it from your grocery store. Fresh squeezed is the best, but something like Tropicana works great, too!
  • Agave nectar to taste - I usually start with 1/2 tsp and work my way up from there.

The recipe is THAT SIMPLE, y'all. Pour all of the ingredients into a shaker, shake away, and then pour over ice. Yum!

Strawberry Sparkling Sangria

For those out there who may want to change things up from a classic margarita, this is a great alternative. Berries and peaches are coming into season, so now is a great time to celebrate spring and Cinco de Mayo all in one! It's sweeter than my margarita recipe, but super tasty with spring fruit flavors! 

Strawberry Sangria 1

For about 4 servings (give or take), you will need:

For the strawberry simple syrup:

  • 1/2 cup strawberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water

For the sangria:

  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1 ripe peach
  • 1/2 cup blackberries
  • 1/2 cup strawberry simple syrup
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1 bottle of sparkling brut rosé

1. Make the strawberry simple syrup.

For this simple syrup, combine the sugar and water. Bring to a boil, gently stir until the sugar dissolves and then add in the strawberries. Turn down the heat and let it simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until the strawberries look like they've lost their color. Strain the simple syrup into another container and throw the strawberry bits away. Let the syrup cool fully (took about an hour in the fridge). 

Strawberry Sangria 2

2. Dice the peach and add the berries to the pitcher. Pour brandy and cooled simple syrup over the fruit. Stir well! Let this mixture marinate for a while, at least an hour.

Strawberry Sangria 3

3. I'd use a stemless wine glass or a double old-fashioned glass for this cocktail. I found that the sangria tasted best when I poured the sparkling wine directly into the glass as opposed to including it in the pitcher. Also, in my opinion, the perfect ratio of sangria mix to wine for a serving is 1/3 mix, 2/3 sparkling wine. Feel free to adjust to your taste, and be sure to put some of the fruit in the glass! 

Strawberry Sangria 4

I hope that you all enjoy yourselves (and be safe!) this Cinco de Mayo.