Tag Archives: culture

A #Pisco Cocktail for Peruvian Independence Day

27 Jul

Break out the lomo saltado and the bottles of pisco, chicos y chicas: Tomorrow is 28 de julio, or Perú’s Independence Day ! I know I promised you part 3 in the Canadian wine series, but guess who’s up to her eyebrows in deadlines? So in lieu of the final installment in the Canadian wine series, I present you with a re-blog of a post that was a hit about this time last year: Señorita Vino’s very own “Caipirinka” recipe: A Peruvian twist on a Brazilian classic, with pisco (of course!) as the main ingredient. So shout it with me one more time: ¡Que viva el Perú, carajo! 

Variety, chicas y chicos, is the spice of life, so to add a little sabor to your weekend, it is my supreme pleasure to introduce my latest invention…the Caipirinka. It’s a refreshingly  exotic blend of mangoes, lime and pisco.

Yep, it’s like the Brazilian Caipirinha but with a two-fold Peruvian twist: 1). Pisco is the national drink of Perú*, and 2). Mangos grow happily in Perú. And of course, there’s 2a: Señorita Vino’s parents hail from the land of the Incas.

If you’re not familiar with pisco, it’s a clear alcoholic spirit made from grapes. Some say it’s comparable to Italy’s grappa and Greece’s ouzo. And  like grappa and ouzo, pisco can knock you flat on your asti spumante, so be forewarned: un poquito goes a long way.

Adding to the Caipirinka’s uniquely Peruvian flair is the mango. Perú is one of six countries that exports mangos to the U.S.  The mangos I used to make the Caipirinka were generously provided by the Mango Board, which probably had no idea I’d use them to make an alcoholic beverage.
In case anyone’s keeping track, this is arguably the world’s most nutrient-rich cocktail. Mangos contain more than 20 different types of nutrients and vitamins, and just one cup of mangos is 100 calories and provides 100% of your recommended vitamin C allowance. See? Señorita Vino cares muchísimo about the health (and girlish figures) of her readers.

I used fresh, pureed ataulfo mangos, the oblong, bright yellow fruit in the photo above. ¿Porqué ataulfo? Because this variety has no fibers and is as smooth as butter, making it a great option to blend in cocktails or fruit smoothies. Not only that, but the flesh is gloriously golden, calling to mind the gold treasure of the Inca empire. Now there’s a culture that literally worshipped its bling. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

So without further ado, here’s how you can add a little Inca gold to your Peruvian Independence Day celebration. Because we all have different palates (See “Vino 101”), you may want to adjust the amount of sugar, lime or pisco. If you do up the pisco content, Señorita Vino takes no responsabilidad if you wake up in an exotic land, covered in gold sequins and tropical bird feathers. ¡Salud!

*There is some debate between Perú and Chile as to which country ‘invented’ pisco. It was Perú, of course (see 2a above).

Señorita Vino’s Caipirinka 

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

1 cup of ripe Ataulfo mangos (about 2), cubed

6 tablespoons of  sugar syrup (make ahead: Dissolve 8 tablespoons of baker’s sugar into 8 tablespoons of water in a pan over low heat. Bring to a boil, then boil for 1-2 minutes. Refrigerate. Keeps for about 2 weeks in the fridge).

8 ice cubes, cracked

4 key limes (or 2 regular limes), cut into small wedges. Save a few slices as a garnish, if desired.

4 teaspoons raw cane sugar, divided

4 ounces of pisco

3 additional ice cubes, cracked

In a blender, place the 8 cracked ice cubes, the mango and the sugar syrup. Blend until the mango is completely liquefied. Set aside. Place an equal amount of lime wedges into four small glasses. Add a teaspoon of raw cane sugar to each glass. With a muddler (see photo) or wooden spoon, crush the lime and sugar until it forms a paste.

Place the remaining three cracked cubes in a cocktail shaker. Add 2/3 cup of the mango puree and the pisco and shake until condensation forms on the shaker.

Shake it, chica!

Pour immediately into the cocktail glasses. Garnish with lime wedge if desired.

Holiday gifts for vino lovers

8 Dec

¡Ay, caramba! Seventeen shopping days ’til Navidad, chicas y chicos!

Señorita Vino feels your pain, which is why we’re soothing your pre-holiday stress with our first annual Holiday Gift Guide for Vino Lovers. Of course, a glass of wine probably works better, but you’ve got gifts to buy, so don’t get too relaxed there, cowgirl (or cowboy). We’ve combed the vineyards and wine shops of the world – virtual and real – to bring you some fun, delectable, practical and educational-but-not-boring gift ideas for your favorite vino lover. Even if that person happens to be you.

If you’ve read El Full Disclosure, all of the items below were selected randomly by me, and purchased with my own dinero, unless otherwise noted. Should you be inspired to buy any of the featured items this holiday season, spread the holiday amor and tell ’em Señorita Vino sent you.

So here you go, in no particular order, our picks for this year’s best gifts for wine lovin’ newbies (and you more seasoned folks, too). Feliz shopping!

1. If you think life is all fun and games, so is learning about wine! I picked up Viti Vini in the gift store of a San Luis Obispo tasting room last month to add a little oomph to my wine studies coursework (not that the material was boring – I’m just an over-achiever). But I’m also a giving kind of a chica, and I realized that a good friend of mine may appreciate it more than I would. The  party hostesses and hosts on your gift list might enjoy a new addition to their cocktail party repertoire. As an alternative, you may want to buy your own game, bone up on some useful wine facts and figures, and be the cocktail party repertoire. $24.95 at VitiVini.com.

2. Wine and chocolate go together like Diego Forlan and a soccer jersey. No need to feel guilty about indulging this holiday season with Wine Lover’s Chocolate. This takes the guesswork out of pairing chocolate and wine, because they’ve done it for you! The collection features chocolate with varying percentages of cacao made to pair with a particular red wine varietal. I bought the formula made to pair with Pinot Noir for my husband. I stumbled across it at Alapay Cellars in Avila Beach, Calif. last month, but it’s also available online at $5.99 a tin, or $18.95 and up for variety packs.

3. Ah, vino…what gift says Feliz Navidad better than a nice bottle of wine. I could go on and on recommending scores of world-class wines I’ve had the privilege of tasting this year, and I hope to post more wine reviews in 2012 (Señorita Vino has started her New Year’s resolutions list). But for now, I wanted to recommend the 2009 Bonarda Earth First from Mendoza, Argentina. The reason is simple: I’m giving two bottles to my father for Christmas (Shhhhh! It’s a surprise). This is what we poured at Thanksgiving this year, and I only wish I could have recorded my dad’s reaction, because he said it with such gravitas: “Éste es un vino excelente.” Bonarda is becoming a hot grape in Argentina, giving Malbec a run for its money. If you like fig and raisin flavors, bold tannins and luscious fruity aromas, you can’t go wrong. What’s more, I’m highly selective about the wines I give my father, and this one is a winner. Earth First is an organic wine, so the granola crowd on your list will appreciate it. I found it at Uncorked: The Wine Shop in Hermosa Beach, Calif. for $13.99

4. One of my favorite memories is of my dear friend “Joy” (not her real name) who, at a holiday bacchanalia, attempted to uncork a bottle of wine while walking down a flight of stairs. She took a graceful tumble but managed to right herself, bottle (and ego) intact. If you have friends like Joy who like to show off their multitasking skills, or others who couldn’t work a corkscrew to save their lives, take the pressure off by giving them a wine opener that doesn’t require a Ph.D. to operate. My husband bought me mine for Christmas last year, and it’s among my top 5 most frequently used kitchen gadgets. This one’s called the Compact Wine Opener, and it sells for $40.00.

A little somethin’ for the stocking: Don’t you hate it when a rogue piece of spinach commandeers your front teeth, and no one around you has the decency to say anything? If you love red wine like I do, you may have noticed the chompers start to take on a purplish hue after a few sips. Hopefully people around you are too tipsy to notice, but do a friend – or yourself – a favor and don’t leave home without your Wine Wipes. Tear open a pack, discreetly wipe, et voila! You’ve got the whitest teeth in the room. Until your next glass, that is. (El Full Disclosure: I was handed a few Wine Wipes as samples at a wine festival this summer). $6.99 for a 10-pack at Amazon.com.

Stay tuned…last minute gift ideas for your favorite Vinorita or Vinorito are coming up!

US Latinos consuming more wine, but is anyone paying attention?

20 Oct

Earlier this month I came across an article entitled “Hispanics in the U.S. are developing a taste for wine” (Daily Breeze, Oct. 9, 2011 page A4). The article cited research from Experian Simmons that indicated U.S. Latinos are leading the pack with regard to increased wine consumption as compared to non-Hispanic adults. To be more specific, Hispanics 21 and older drank 34 percent more wine between 2005 and 2011 than in previous years, while non-Hispanics of the same age saw an increase of only 14 percent.

Wow, I thought. More blog traffic! All kidding aside, I had seen the U.S. Census figures, and I realized that this trend could have a significant impact on the wine industry. Thrilled by the idea that more Latinos were discovering the wonders of wine, at the same time I panicked and thought somehow I’d missed the piñatas and confetti that heralded the findings.

I was wrong.

Not only was I unable to find the article itself online (I have a PDF of the hard copy for those of you who can’t get enough of my museum-quality photo), but I learned that the research was released back in March. Apparently nobody was all that interested, so here it was again in October with a new spin (interviews with a local Hispanic winemaker and a spokesperson for a Hispanic-owned grocery store chain).

So, what gives? Or as my father says, ¿Qué cosa?

Before we go down that path, today I came across another article about a new ad campaign that plays on the Spanish word for crazy.

Hmmm….wonder why that is. Maybe it’s because ‘crazy’ is how we all describe our feelings for wine. Could be because ‘loca’ evokes a certain Ricky Martin song, which makes me want to get up and salsa, and maybe pour myself a glass of sangría while I’m at it. Or perhaps it’s because of the sheer romance of the Spanish word ‘loca‘ and its link to California history and winemaking.

My opinion is that it will be a while before the wine industry begins taking Latino wine drinkers seriously. Which, if you read between the lines, means that they are not taking us seriously now.

A little disheartening, no? Not to beat a dead caballo, but maybe to demonstrate that I am not the only one who thinks this way, I found yet another story dating back to March of this year from the Dallas Observer blog. This one notes that there isn’t a whole lot of information out there about Latino wine consumers. The good news is that the Texas wine industry has taken note and that the Texas Wine Marketing Research Institute did some preliminary research in 2010. More to come, it seems.

My conclusion: Don’t wait for the wine industry to notice us. Use this time to cultivate your appreciation for wine, and invest some energy into educating yourself on its intricacies, subtleties and history. Enjoy wine with friends, family and food. And as a Napa Valley winemaker of Hispanic heritage told me, don’t be afraid of wine. Explore, taste and ask questions. And if you feel like it, put on a little Ricky Martin and get all loca with it.

The Last Sipper: Wines for the End of the World

21 May

An end-of-the-world toast, and a reminder that mañana is another day.

Here it is, the day the world ends, and I’m still in my Julius the Monkey pajamas, feeling woefully behind schedule: A couple of piles of laundry, some reading to catch up on, and a vacation to plan. It looks like I have until 6 p.m. tonight to get everything organized before a giant earthquake finally does what several Hollywood blockbusters have promised to do for decades – decimate Los Angeles. Talk about pressure.

Since no End of the World is complete without a well-curated wine list, here are my top three “Last Sipper” picks between now and 6 p.m. Today’s cataclysmic forecast may cause ATM malfunctions, so I chose three wines that won’t break the bank. On second thought, I guess it doesn’t matter because we won’t be around for the next credit card billing cycle:

  1. St. Supery 2009 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley

The first time I tasted St. Supery’s Savuignon Blanc was on a business trip to Napa Valley, where our group was given the option of playing golf or going wine tasting as a ‘team building’ activity. Talk about no-brainer. Today I’ll relish the heady aroma of grapefruit and passionfruit, with a lime citrus flavor that is not too acidic, while I wax nostalgic about wine tasting excursions past. The long and refreshing finish is perfect for a sultry afternoon lunch at a beachside bistro over a plate of fresh clams and house-made pasta. If the marine layer blows over, I may have time to squeeze this in.

  1. 2006 Feudi di San Gregorio Greco di Tufo

Ah, Italia…(El Sexist Remark Alert): In addition to gorgeous men, this country produces gorgeous wines. Yellow straw in color, this wine from southern Italy has a lingering white peach aroma with traces of vanilla and pear. Pleasantly crisp in the mouth with mineral elements, the full-bodied finish complemented my last meal in Ravello – a baked whitefish paired with roasted zucchini tossed with mint, olive oil and garlic – a meal I shared with my gorgeous husband.

  1. 2006 Dolce (Far Niente) Late Harvest, Napa Valley

What better way to end the world than with a decadent dessert wine. It’s a little pricey, but hey, you’re worth it. If you’re searching for the nectar of the gods, this is it. Gloriously golden and intoxicatingly heady, it was love at first sip for me. It’s an apricot orgy in the mouth, with a rich honey taste that pairs beautifully with an aged Gorgonzola or a fluffy white cake confection with loads of buttercream frosting. Fattening? Absolutamente. Look at it this way – if the world ends tonight, you don’t have to hit the gym tomorrow morning.

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