We LLUUUUUURRRVVEEEE flatbreads at Reininger. If you haven’t stopped by and had one of our gorgeous tasting room girls make you one, we have revamped our recipe with help from Saffron’s Chris Ainsworth and they are delicious. Really delicious. In light of our flatbread obsession, I thought I might share a great recipe for the season.
It’s the perfect kind of day for an impromptu get together, and this pizza is perfect for our Helix Sangiovese. Ramps are a wild leek that are showing up in abundance in just about every CSA box there is in the Pacific Northwest. They are wonderful (but of course, someone from Walla Walla would love onions in any form) and more mild than later season onions. The combination of sweet and milky mozzarella with the light acidity of tomatoes and springy green-ness of the ramps is fantastic and absolutely screams late spring!
Ramp and Mozzarella Pizza (from Smitten Kitchen; makes one 12-inch round or 9 x 13 rectangular pizza)
1 bunch of ramps (4 ounces)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 12-ounce pizza dough (if you don’t have a favorite – or a Trader Joe’s nearby -click here for a good one)
1/3 to 1/2 cup canned crushed tomatoes
1 small garlic clove, minced
Pinch of sugar or drops of red wine vinegar (if needed)
3 to 4 ounces mozzarella, sliced into thin rounds
1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated
Trim off ends of ramp bulbs. Separate the ramp bulbs from the leafy ends. Thinly slice the stem ends; cut the leafier ends into 1/2-inch thick ribbons.
Heat large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add a pinch of red pepper flakes, and the sliced bulbs and saute until translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add ramp leaves and cook until just wilted, about 1 minute. Season with salt and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a baking sheet or pizza pan lightly with cornmeal. Roll or stretch pizza dough into a very thin 11 to 12-inch round or large rectangle.
In a small bowl, mix the crushed tomatoes with garlic, salt and red pepper flakes. Add a drop or two of vinegar for extra brightness or a pinch of sugar if needed. Spread the tomato sauce thinly over the dough almost to the edges.
Arrange the mozzarella slices over the tomato sauce. Scatter sauteed ramps over pizza. Season with additional salt and pepper and drizzle with remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Bake in heated oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until crust is golden and mozzarella is melted. Remove pizza from oven, sprinkle immediately with Pecorino Romano cheese and serve in slices.Print This Post
This week is SO MUCH BETTER than last. I can’t even believe how hot is was last week. It honestly made me believe that I had forgotten what a “real” spring in Walla Walla is like, and that the looming summer is going to just be miserable. Turns out (as per the usual) that I was wrong, and THIS WEEK has started to shower us with the amazing late-spring weather that all Walla Wallans love. Not too hot, not too cold, sunshine for days and a light breeze to kiss your sun-warmed skin. Perfection.
This kind of perfect weather really calls for an activity that is best enjoyed on the relative flatness of Walla Walla’s roads…biking! Chuck is a huge biking fanatic and, when he and his partners turned the two potato sheds into what is now the Reininger tasting room and production, he insisted on putting in a shower next to his office for the express purpose of being able to ride to work. Many of us who work at the winery also love to bike, from just going to grab a brew or two downtown to long, epic adventures around the valley. I strongly suggest that if you are coming to Walla Walla from somewhere within driving distance this spring/summer/early fall, bring your bike! If you don’t have the room, you can always rent from Allegro Cyclery in downtown Walla Walla. I’ve put together two rides that are great and appropriate for all levels, provided that you are an active person who enjoys riding bikes. Walla Walla is really flat, so if you’re used to riding around Seattle’s hills, you will absolutely adore these laid-back jaunts.
*Reininger would never recommend breaking any laws or being irresponsible with wine consumption. Please remember that even though you are on a bike, you are subject to the same traffic laws as those in cars, including DUI’s.
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I have so many friends who prefer beer to wine. Heck, some days I prefer beer to wine as well, especially now that the weather is suddenly twenty degrees warmer and all I want to do is be outside, roaming around on my bike. Perhaps a little known fact about Chuck is that his original plan was to open a brewery here in Walla Walla, until he started working with Eric Rindall of Waterbrook and found out that he’s a pretty fantastic wine maker.So anyway, for all of you who love a frosty brew or have friends who you always have to keep the fridge stocked for, this post is for you. These are pretty loosely-defined beer styles, and just like wine, can be much, much more intricately divided into categories, but who has time for that?
IPA lovers (Ninkasi Tricerahops, Elysian Immortal IPA, Terrapin Hopsecutioner, etc.) generally revel in the complexities and different flavors an IPA can provide, as well as the incredible hoppy bitter bite. Reininger Carmenere would be a worthy treat and has a similarly balanced complex fruitiness combined with intense tannins.
Deep, dark Porter (Black Butte, Pipeline, CoCoNut, Perseus, etc.) fans will absolutely love the Reininger Malbec and Reininger Cabernet Sauvignon. Dark and earthy, smooth, silky, and structured describe both porters and two of our favorite Reiningers. Porter fans will enjoy how these two wines deliver plenty of earthiness while also pairing with similar foods to Porters.
If your friend loves light Lagers (Molson, Rolling Rock, Tacate, Asahi, Corona, etc.) try the Helix Rosé. The light flavors, bright acid, and way it tickles the tongue mimic what most love about a good ol’ refreshing brew – the light carbonation and easy-drinking flavors. Crisp and refreshing like a lager, and easily affordable, too. It pairs with foods easily and provides that juicy finish to each bite.
I could probably go for a long time without seeing another Belgium Ale, but many, many people would disagree with me. If Belgians are your thing (Trippels, Leffe Blonde, De Koninck, etc.) for their smooth body, subtle fruitiness, and high alcohol content, you will probably love the Helix SoRho, for those who like a less-intense Belgian, or the Reininger Syrah, if you enjoy a richer Belgian. Smooth, unctuous, slightly smokey, and softer tannins are a good match to a Belgium Ale’s characteristics. The SoRho and Syrah both stand on their own, like a Belgian Ale, as well as offering that inherent fruitiness and body.
For those who love a Pale Ale (Sierra Nevada, Samuel Adams, Bass, Bodington’s, etc.) for its rich, bigger-body and well-balanced flavors, the Reininger Merlot is a great pick. Our Merlot is a little softer than the fuller-bodied reds, wonderfully balanced, and has nice, pillowy tannins that aren’t overly aggressive.
Hefeweizen fans (Blue Moon, Dirty Blonde Ale, Sunset Session Wheat, etc.) can find solace at a wine-only function in a full-bodied Chardonnay, like the Reininger Reserve Chardonnay. Wheat beers can often be smooth, a bit creamy, and to some palates, a bit sweet. They are rich and refreshing, just like a great Chard. Lovely Honeycrisp apple notes compliment voluptuous texture and subtle acid in our Reserve Chardonnay, mirroring those qualities of a good Hefe, while still satisfying thirst.
Have a great day and toast (your brew or your wine glass) to the sunshine!
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Whew! It’s been kind of an impressively bustling week at the winery and as a Walla Wallan! Though I can’t say we know for sure what this weekend will bring as far as political fireworks, I can assure you that the weather is going to be incredible (for the first time!) and the wine will be flowing in abundance.
As a reminder for all of our Wine Club members who are coming to taste this weekend, the Wine Club area will be available on Saturday only! Don’t worry if Saturday is not your day. To be sure, our Wine Club wines will be available all weekend.
Make your way to Reininger early for the best selection as some of our wines are incredibly limited due to our small production and Wine Club pre-sales.
If you were wondering what’s on tap for Reininger’s Spring Release lineup, here is our fantastic selection for the weekend.
2011 R. Reserve Chardonnay (very limited – tasting in the WC area only)
2009 Reininger Merlot (very limited)
2009 Reininger Malbec (very limited)
2004 Reininger Anomaly (very limited) – tasting in the WC area only)
2010 Reininger Cabernet Sauv.
2009 Reininger Carmenere (tasting in the WC area only)
2009 Reininger Syrah
2011 Helix Chardonnay
2011 Helix Rose (very limited)
2007 Helix Sangiovese
2008 Helix Sangiovese (tasting in the WC area only)
2008 Helix SoRho
2010 Helix SoRho (tasting in the WC area only)
2009 Helix Merlot
2010 Helix Cabernet Sauvignon (tasting in the WC area only)
For everyone making the journey from elsewhere, drive/fly safely and we look forward to seeing you this weekend!Print This Post
Filed under: General, Helix Wines, Reininger Wines, Winery
Walla Walla, in terms of the west, is a pretty old town. When Marcus and Narcissa Whitman arrived in 1836, Washington and Oregon were still future states, the Oregon trail was still an actual trail (not a computer game), and Fort Nez Perce had been established as a trading post for nearly twenty years. In the mid 1800′s, Walla Walla was even slated to be the state capital. ALl of this history gives Walla Walla a deep sense of pride and beauty. We have a beautiful historic downtown bursting at the seams with an unusually high proportion of great food, cute and quirky shops, and amazing architecture. Of course, I’ve already written a few posts on weekend itineraries for Walla Walla, which you can find here & here, so those are good places to start to build your next trip.
One of my favorite weekend activities as a local is to walk around the neighborhoods and peek at the historic homes. If you’re coming to town to wine taste, I highly suggest that you take a break from all of the liquid and go for a wander off the beaten path of wineries and main street. Here is a Historic Buildings Map for your wanderings. I love going South of downtown and seeing the beautiful mansions of Palouse and Catherine streets. East of downtown is another lovely walking area with quaint, tiny streets filled with amazing homes dating back to the turn of the century. Of course these aren’t old compared to the east coast or, you know, anything in Europe, Asia, Africa, India…(you get the idea) but in terms of the west it’s pretty amazing. For those who really love historical homes, check out the Kirkman House Museum while you’re in town. If you happen to be in town this Sunday, April 28, you could even go to the Sweet Home Walla Walla historic homes tour at the Kirkman House Museum. Click here for tickets!
If you have questions about visiting Walla Walla, are looking for guidance, recommendations, or help, feel free to give us a call at 509.522.1994 or shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. All of our staff is proudly from the area and we love sharing our town with you!
Here are a few links:
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Today is a great day. Seriously. The weather is amazing, the breeze is light and fresh, and I’m currently listening to Jimi Hendrix with the sunshine streaming in through an open window. If you’re in your office, I suggest you do the same. The only thing that would make this moment better is I had a lightly chilled glass of something delicious on my desk…something like the 2011 Helix Rosé. Spring Release is just around the corner, so we are pulling it out for the weekend and it’s been on my mind. I daydream about the delicious strawberry juiciness and crisp acidity dancing on my tongue.
Rosés have always been a hard-sell, mainly because when people see their pinkish color, they automatically think of the overly sweet, one-dimensional blush wines or white zinfandels. That’s not the kind of Rosé we make at Reininger, and certainly not the kind I drink anywhere else.
The best Rosés are dry, crisp and fresh, and their lighter red-berry flavors can give them an advantage in food pairings over whites and reds. They can be made with any number of grapes – Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Malbec and Cabernet Franc, to name a few. Though it might seem like these are a blend of red and white wines, traditionally they are 100% red fruit, just with the skins left to macerate only for a very brief period to impart subtle tannins and beautiful color.
This is sunny day, porch-sittin’ wine. If you can’t wait for Spring Release weekend, you can order it here or call us at the winery and we will set some aside for you. With only 45 cases made, this beauty is going to fly out the door.
75% Cabernet Sauvignon
Bottled April 2012
Total acidity 6.0 g/L
Cases Produced 45
Juicy summer fruit lovers will flip for this one. Take a whiff and smell the aromas of sweet and sour strawberry Jolly Rancher, watermelon and squeeze of lime. Fresh strawberry and juicy watermelon carry over to the palate with a nice round texture and bright acids. Sexy summer sipping. Wow!
Every year I encounter the same disappointing reality: April is not a warm month for Walla Walla. Sure, it’s warmISH or even perhaps warmER than the average March day, but it’s just not time to put away the fleece quite yet. Although April’s temperatures may disappoint the clear skies and bright sunshine definitely do not. I crave lighter, brighter foods to awaken my taste buds after winter’s glut of root vegetables and kale (don’t get me wrong, I still adore kale). This soup is perfect for the still undecided spring weather when it’s too cold to go for a salad but you are craving some freshness. It’s also dead easy to make with stuff I almost always have in my fridge. The 2007 Helix Sangiovese – a year round food pleaser – goes especially well with this soup. Its bright cherry fruit with solid acidity and well-composed medium tannins compliments the zing of the tomato and lemon while allowing the subtle sweetness of the caramelized fennel and roasted garlic shine.
Caramelized Fennel, Roasted Garlic and Tomato Soup with Lemon
Recipe (and picture) from The Gouda Life
serves 2 as main, 4 as sides
1 large bulb fennel (about 1 1/2 cups), diced
1 head of garlic, roasted*
1 can (1/2 cup) tomato paste
4 cups chicken or veg stock
1 cup water
2-4 tbsp fresh lemon juice, depending on taste
salt and pepper to taste
fennel fronds, optional
Drizzle a pan over med-high heat with a few glugs of olive oil and let it get hot. Add the fennel and a few pinches of coarse salt and let it cook, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until deep brown and caramelized around the edges, 20-30 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and roasted garlic cloves and cook until the paste has deepened in colour and become very fragrant, 6-7 minutes. Add the stock and water, bring to a boil and stir, scraping the bottom of the pot to release all the flavourful bits of fennel and tomato paste. Turn down to a simmer and let it bubble away for 20 minutes. Puree if desired (I like it smooth, but there is nothing wrong with a chunky soup). Add lemon juice, 1 tbsp at a time and taste to see if you’d like to add more. Taste for salt and add more if needed. Ladle into bowls and garnish with fennel fronds and a drizzle of olive oil.Print This Post
My sweetie and I took off for an UH-mazing trip to northern Europe over Thanksgiving last year for good ol’ exploring and visiting with my friends from graduate school. As good house guests, we wanted to bring a bottle from Walla Walla for each person we were staying with on our journey. As we didn’t know anything about their wine preferences, we decided to red was probably the way to go, but why?
Like any good Walla Wallan, I love red wine, but a lot of times I prefer white (and feel like a bit of an outsider for it). Unlike the people who start drinking white wine in June only to switch back to red in September, mine is no mere seasonal fling. I love the way white wine can be rich and seductive, with layers of flavors and aromas that range from violets and honey to lime and wet stone, or simple, straightforward and refreshing, a beverage in the best sense of the word. But most of all, I love that thanks to the plethora of solid winemakers in Walla Walla, there’s never been a better time to be a fan of white wine than now.
Most people underestimate how well white wine goes with food. Examples of great white-wine-and-food matches abound well beyond the traditional province of pasta and chicken. For example, the fresh, melon-esque notes and full body of Viognier pair perfectly with roast pork or smoked ham, while choucroute and Riesling are a match made in heaven. Any dish rich with egg or cheese is almost by definition Chardonnay material–in fact, white wine and cheese work brilliantly together, as evidenced by my usual afternoon snack in my parents’ kitchen. I guess we should have thought of that given that we were spending our time in the Netherlands (home of Gouda) and Sweden (home of the cheese-obsessed).
As it turned out, while our red wine gifts were greatly appreciated, everyone we brought a bottle to admitted to being more of a white-wine fan. What I have learned from this experience and further thinking: if you are gifting wines to anyone living in Europe, the Midwest (Europe without the landmarks), the South, Canada, or Mexico – unless you know that they adore reds – take them white. More specifically, take them a not-too-dry or oaky white, like our 2011 Helix Chard or 2011 Helix Viognier. The best part is that they won’t break your bank, either, unlike some of those showstopper reds you might be tempted by. If only I had known.
2011 Helix Chardonnay
2011 Helix Chardonnay has wonderful acid and a crisp, beautiful sparkle thanks to the stainless steel fermentation. It features Granny Smith apple sweet-tartness and a mellow draw on the finish with fresh pineapple and subtle orange flower. A perfect wine for brighter weather.
2011 Helix Viognier
Aromas of white flowers, Asian pear, green apples and honey sweep you away for some afternoon delight. Take a sip an indulge in a waxy-textured mouth feel of honey and more Asian pears. You’ll be left satisfied with flavors of hazelnut and good memories.Print This Post
As someone who has an extremely sensitive nose, honed after years of my face being attacked with my mother’s mildew-ridden sponge, I find really clean drinkware imperative to my overall happiness. If you are in the habit of cleaning your wine glasses in your dishwasher, where you also wash your egg/fish/meat-covered dishes, you are doing yourself a disservice when it comes to enjoying a your wine, and if I ever come to your house for a glass I will notice (and judge you).
Wine glasses are specifically designed to enhance the entire wine drinking experience. If you have ever looked through a Riedel catalogue or wandered through Crate and Barrel, you’ve seen all of the different options. Stemware designed for red wine, for example, usually has a large, broad bowl to better capture the bouquet. White wine glasses, on the other hand, are narrower so the delicate aromas of the whites are contained. Please, I beg of you, do not use scented detergents. It’s gross.
The visual appeal of wine is also important in tasting – the way the light plays on the liquid as well as the legs that form on the inside of the glass when you are swirling. But the wine glass won’t enhance your experience if it is not clean – fingerprints, leftover wine, LIPSTICK (the bane of every tasting room associate’s existence) and marks can mar the visual appeal.
So for you at home, here is the best process for cleaning your wine glasses, which means protecting your investment and enjoying any wine you put in said glasses to its fullest.
* Unscented dish detergent (I like Seventh Generation)
* A CLEAN sponge, dedicated only to wine glasses
* Scent free paper towels (Any kind of towel leaves lint. Don’t even get me started on towels cleaned in scented laundry detergents)
1) Rinse the glasses in very hot water. As hot as you can stand (but not boiling hot as it can shatter the glass).
2) Use a drop of unscented detergent into the glass and fill it partially with hot water.
3) GENTLY insert the sponge into the bowl of the glass and wipe around the interior.
4) GENTLY but thoroughly wipe the rim. Be careful of your pressure…I’ve broken a ton of wine glasses and it usually happens at the point.
5) Don’t forget to wipe the stem and base, as fingerprints are unattractive.
6) Rinse each glass thoroughly, inside the bowl and out. Keep your grubby fingers off of the bowl at this point.
7) Hand dry your glasses using a paper towel. Again, don’t forget the stem and base.
If you are anti-detergents, bring a pot of water to a boil, hold the glass by the base (bowl side down) over the steaming pot, and steam-clean your glasses for a beautiful spot-free finish. Be super careful to not burn your hand on the steam! Hand dry with paper towels.
If you find you have stubborn wine stains, make a paste of baking soda and water and allow it to sit on the stain for a few minutes. Clean as usual.
If you have cloudy wine glasses, and you’re pretty sure it’s not etching from the dishwasher, warm some white vinegar in a pot and soak the glasses in the vinegar for an hour. Gently scrub the residue with a soft scrub pad. Follow with a hand wash.
I know it seems picky, but taking good care of your glasses allows you to fully enjoy your wine and keeps your glasses in good condition for a long time. One final tip I leave you with if you are a beer drinker…never use soap on your pint glasses, mugs, or pilsners because even the tiniest amount of residue will make your beer go flat.
I’m off to Montana to hit the steep and deep this weekend, but for all of you who are having a party, remember these tips and enjoy your beautiful, spot/lint/lipstick free wine glasses!
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People are often surprised that I, having worked for Reininger for years and a native Walla Wallan, don’t have a wine cellar. But I don’t, and probably for some of the same reasons you don’t. I can’t be bothered. I’m too busy to put one together. I live in 900 square feet with someone else. I’ve moved 4 times in the past year. I’m way too cheap to buy a wine refrigerator.
Does that mean I run out and buy a bottle of wine every night for dinner, or each time I need a cupful to make a sauce? Heavens, no! I keep a little stash. Call it a cook’s wine stash. It’s very basic: a little of this, a few bottles of that, all tucked into an old wine box from many years ago (I think it might even be a 2002 Reininger Merlot box). I keep one bottle of sparkling and one bottle of white ready to drink in the refrigerator (neither stays longer than a week or two); between that and the 12 in the box, I’m pretty ready for anything.
While there are many wines that are delicious and affordable, I find that our Helix line is my go-to for everyday drinking. You might think that this is because it’s easy for me to grab a bottle on my way home from work, but as I work from my own office downtown, I choose Helix for its consistent quality, not its convenience. My idea is that you only need a few wines – three, in fact – available all the time for any meal you can think of. These babies aren’t the WOW factor wines that I bust out for special occasions or the rare get together, but they certainly satisfy any palate (a tested and proven theory) and are perfect for everyday drinking. As precious as these wines are to Chuck, they don’t come with precious prices.
For a case of wine, here is how I break it up:
2011 Helix Chardonnay (4 bottles) $21
This has, as Chuck says, “wonderful acid and a crisp, beautiful sparkle thanks to the stainless steel fermentation. It features Granny Smith apple sweet-tartness and a mellow draw on the finish with fresh pineapple and subtle orange flower.” I think it’s great to sip on while I’m cooking, perfect for adding a splash to soups, and excellent with a nibble of strong cheese and crackers after work.
2011 Helix Rosé (2 bottles) $20
With a base of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon this beauty has some body and beautiful strawberry and hibiscus notes with a nice dry mouth feel. The 5% Malbec gives this Rosé a STUNNING red color and a little pop of raspberry. I love this with salmon or soups when I’m not feeling like I want something as heavy as a red. I also tend to have about 6 bottles of Rosé on hand in the summer, lowering the amount of red.
2009 Helix Pomatia (6 bottles) $21
The ol’ standby. Chuck is pretty excited about the 2009 and didn’t want to cellar it at all. It’s a tasty little bugger and a great, classic blend of Cab Sauv, Merlot, Syrah, and Cab Franc. It’s light on the wallet for everyday but big and balanced on your taste buds to pair with really tasty cuts of meat, hearty salads, stinky cheeses, and even chocolate.
Now, that’s a stash you can use. The beautiful part is you get to have wine on demand, and you only need to replenish it as the stash gets low. If I cleaned out my minimal kitchen a bit, I would also keep a few current vintage SoRho (obviously), 2008 Reininger Malbec, and perhaps a 2004 Anomaly for really special dinners. In the meantime, enjoy!