Tuesday nights are ‘Chopped’ nights at Casa del Vino. Yep, we are hooked on Food Network’s, “Chopped” series and have been regular viewers for almost four years. If you’ve never ‘partaken’ of the show, it pits four chefs against each other and the same ingredients in a basket four three rounds . . . appetizer, entree and dessert. After each round, one of the chefs’ gets Chopped and it’s down to three chefs – then two before the ‘Chopped Champion’ is chosen from the final two. The things that are put in their baskets would amaze even the most seasoned chef . . . chicken feet (complete with toe nails); chicken in a can; star fruit; purple asparagus; and some of the strangest ingredients on the planet. Most of the time, the cooks’ are restaurant trained or professional cooks.
We watch the show – not so much for the recipes, which there are NONE! It’s more for the individual styles that these culinary artists put into their creations. Admittedly, some look really delicious and others look, well, that’s why they have judges! The show features three judges who are accomplished professional chefs, restauranteurs and successful foodies in their own rite, and their tasting and observing helps determine the champion. Tonight’s show (originally aired this past Sunday) featured top amateur chefs’ and it was awesome. To have a totally different career and cook food on the side as an avocation is a true calling.
Speaking of calling, tonight’s wine was out of the ordinary for us. A Merlot – – – something that we really don’t care for all that much and a close out at Gabriel’s . . . a 2005 Auto Moto Merlot and available for under $10 a bottle. So, you’d think that a 2005 Merlot would be stout, fruitful and long-lasting . . . you’d think! It had an ‘interesting’ nose . . . not fruity, but not oaky . . . not full-bodied but not light. It had a kerosene aroma that mixed with green pepper and black cherry. . .Weird? Yeah, we TOTALLY get it. The taste was less than awe-inspiring. On the palate was a real nice, smooth black cherry taste along with hints of pipe tobacco. BUT, the finish was GONE. It WASN’T there. There was NO after taste . . . no fruity elegance; no smoky goodness; no slate or limestone or tobacco . . . NOTHING. It was gone! As the wine opened up, we thought that the finish would open with it, but to no avail. So, to make sure that we weren’t off of our rockers, we did a little “recon” and found out that others describe the wine as, “It’s a clear, bright light to medium colored ruby-violet wine with some structure to it. Your nose will detect some definite berry notes for this one, (raspberry/blackberry) but not especially pronounced. This follows on to your palette as well (again raspberry/blackberry) with some well modulated tannins and a very light astringency that will dry the mouth but not aggressively so. A good thing, at least for me. This leads to a pleasing finish and good balance. Best for sipping but with a light enough lunch that won’t tax it too much, you might be able to use it there too.” HUH? A pleasing finish and good balance? Maybe it was because we tasted it on a Tuesday, but this wine – even at a discounted price – was not what we’d hoped it would be.
Yep, we know . . . we’ve had another string of less than stellar wines (good news though – our good friends at Twin Liquors are repeating their “Dollar Sale” this week – looks like a shopping trip is in order). But, remember, we’re here to taste 365 different wines in 365 days, so that means some are going to be good; some are going to be bad and some are going to cause us to ride the fence. Tonight was clearly a night for bad wine. Okay, we understand, and we hope that you do as well.
So, when you enjoy your favorite wine, please do so responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.