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Celebrating the Holidays with Line 39 Wine

Celebrating the Holidays with Line 39 Wine

Tracking PixelThis is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Line 39 Wine, and our opinions expressed here are our own as always. Content for 21+/

When the holidays come around, I always get excited about entertaining at our house. There’s just something special about having friends over when the air gets chilly, sitting around a fire and enjoying each others’ company. This year we’re celebrating the holidays with Line 39 Wine, and that is bringing next level festivity to our neck of the woods.

Celebrating the Holidays with Line 39 Wine

From California wine country to our house with love, the wines from Line 39 Wine are easy to enjoy – distinctive yet totally approachable. Growing up in Northern California, I was surrounded by wines and grew up to like several varieties that matched my palate. Line 39 Wines are from this area, and are literally named for the region. The 39th Parallel runs through this part of the California wine country. The result is the perfect climate for making good wine. Perfect name for a winery too!

Line 39 Wine sent us a few bottles to try out, so of course we called a friends to come over and share a glass or two. Since we were in the holiday spirit, it was fun decorating the house for the season in advance of our friends arriving.

Decorating the House for Fall

I don’t know why gourds make me laugh so hard, but they always do. There is something inherently funny to me about their odd shapes, random striped patterns and gnarly warts. I just love them. In years past, I may have perhaps been accused of over buying gourds in my obsessive need to decorate with them. This year was no exception, and I went to three different markets to collect just the right menagerie of gourd misfits to place around the house. Throw in a couple ears of brightly colored Indian Corn and BOOM! We’ve got Fall up in here.

Before our friends rang the doorbell, we had the charcuterie platters ready, the Line 39 Chardonnay chilled and the Line 39 Cabernet Sauvignon corked and breathing. And the gourds artfully arranged, of course.

Red or White?

As our guests get settled, the first question is always the same red or white? To this day, I still cannot predict what someone will answer when asked if they prefer red or white wine. Is it their mood? The kind of day they had? Or maybe it’s the siren call of their taste buds demanding a certain flavor profile? Honestly, we have a lot of friends that are sommeliers or close to it, and I still cannot predict what to pour for them. That’s why we always have both a bottle of red and white on hand.

Line 39 Wine sent us a couple of different options to try, and both are delicious.

Red

Line 39 Cabernet Sauvignon – This smooth red packs plenty of flavor, with fruity/chocolate hints that don’t overpower. Our wine expert friends said they detected notes of blackberry, pepper and dark chocolate in this rich ruby red pour. It’s suggested that this wine pairs well with hearty dishes like short ribs, garlic mashed potatoes, and slow cooked pork shoulder. Although not an expert myself, I know what I like. And I like the Line 39 Cabernet Sauvignon a LOT. We served it with our charcuterie board containing salume and other cured meats, sharp bleu cheese and fresh figs.

White

Line 39 Chardonnay – A solid Chardonnay, Line 39 has bottled a rich, medium-bodied wine that is both crisp and refreshing. Among our group of friends, we have several that favor Chardonnay almost exclusively and they loved this wine. Oaky and fruity, Line 39 Chardonnay lightly tickled our palates as we eased into the evening. Pair this wine with roasted chicken, poached fish and other lighter fare. At the end of our little party, there was no Chardonnay left. I guess that tells you the popularity of this wine – in our crowd anyway.

At our house, we served Line 39 Chardonnay with Camembert cheese, crackers made with raisins and nuts, and fresh slices of sweet and tangy persimmon I scored at the farmer’s market.

Easy To Find

Line 39 Wine can be found in most places wine is sold, and comes in at a good value for approximately $11 per bottle. The quality versus price ratio on these wines is darn good. A quick search via the Line 39 Wine website showed me at least a dozen locations where I can buy these wines. They are all within a very short driving distance from our house.

Entertaining for the Holidays

With Hanukkah and Christmas coming up, we have lots of reasons to celebrate with Line 39 Wine. We’ll be pouring Line 39 Chardonnay and Line 39 Cabernet Sauvignon at our house. Maybe we’ll bring a bottle or two over to a friends’ party as a host gift too!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Line 39 Wine.


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Eating Insects and Tasting Mezcal in Mexico

Eating Insects and Tasting Mezcal in Mexico

*Our visit to the Riviera Maya was hosted in part by the Fairmont Hotel Mayakoba, and we are grateful for the experience. As always, the content and thoughts expressed here are our own.

On a great family vacation to the Riviera Maya recently, we had the opportunity to try something out of our comfort zone. One evening our hosts at the Fairmont Hotel Mayakoba asked us to an insect dinner party. That’s right, we eat insects. Well more precisely, Triton and Jon ate insects while Sophia and Ava gagged at the thought. We did get to wash this feast down with a healthy tasting of Mezcal, so we learned, tasted, laughed and grimaced. Turns out eating insects and tasting Mezcal in Mexico is pretty darn fun – and delicious!

Now let’s correct any of your pre-conceived notions right up front. We did not eat live, slithering bugs like some twisted episode of Fear Factor. These insects are a delicacy in Mexico, thoughtfully prepared by the Fairmont’s Chef Fernando in very artful presentations. Although maybe not for the squeamish, we were game. We sat down inside La Laguna restaurant, ready for anything.

Fairmont Mayakoba Chef serving insects

Chef Fernando brought his insect creations to our table, while we warmed our palates with shots of mezcal.

Eating Insects and Tasting Mezcal in Mexico

Insect Degustation

In Mexico, people have been consuming insects throughout history, first as an important source of protein since meat was scarce. Now in many nice restaurants, insects have become a delicacy prepared carefully with other tasty ingredients. Honestly if you can get past what you are actually eating, the overall combinations are really quite good.

The Fairmont Mayakoba has become well known for their culinary masterpieces created with insects. The experience is available for $75 per person, and pairs three dishes with a sampling of Mezcals.

insect sampler at Fairmont Mayakoba

Our sampler platter of edible insects was colorful and delicious.

Chapulines – Grasshoppers

These are the largest and probably hardest to overlook as actual insects, with little legs clearly visible. Prepared by boiling and then frying, they crunch in your mouth like a tortilla chip but softer. These little grasshoppers are fairly common, and are organically raised on farms feeding on only the best alfalfa.

At the Fairmont Mayakoba, chapulines (cha-poo-lee-nays) were served atop a blue corn tortilla, dotted with sour cream, avocado puree and crumbly white cheese. The crunch of the insects is complemented by the creamy sauces and the rich corn flavor. It was really quite good. We each ate the entire serving, while the girls squirmed. (They were served cheese quesadillas).

edible grasshoppers in Mexico

These grasshoppers still had their legs and antennae, but they tasted fantastic.

Escamoles – Ant Eggs

Tiny white capsules, escamoles are look much like risotto in appearance. Difficult to harvest and only available a short time during the year, the ant eggs are considered a true delicacy. Escamoles (es-cah-moe-lays) are often called “Mexican Caviar” for their appearance and expense.

Our tasting experience had the Fairmont serving them up atop a savory cheese pudding-like concoction. Meant to be consumed at room temperature, this one had a consistency some might find difficult. Triton found it unappealing and did not taste it more than once, but I liked it. The escamoles tasted buttery and soft, blending with the cheese for a pleasant bite.

Hormigas Chicatanas – Ants

These little guys are actually leafcutter ants that are found in the wild all over the Yucatan. They are pretty large in comparison to American house ants. To prepare the chicatanas (chee-kah-tah-nahs), they pull off the legs, heads and such. Although toasted to a crunchy crisp, their bodies still delicious for eating.

edible ants in Mexico

With the legs and heads pulled off, these ants just look like raisins. Kind of.

Our servings at the Fairmont started with a blue corn sopapilla (soft, thick tortilla-like), with a crema and cheese. The chicatanas were placed on top, and then garnished with pickled something – I think they were diced radishes. This one was my favorite and I scarfed it right down. Of course, we ate this one last and had been tasting several bottles of mezcal, so that might have helped!

Mezcal Tasting

While we were working up the nerve to eat the insect concoctions, a very nice gentleman from the bar was instructing us on the finer points of Mezcal. Tequila is a type of mezcal, made only from a certain type of blue agave plant only grown in the Jalisco region of Mexico. Anything else in this family of liquor is called Mezcal, and there are hundreds upon hundreds of varieties made in Oaxaca and all over Mexico.

Tasting Mezcal and Tequila in Mexico is like sampling fine wines.

Smokey Flavor

I always thought ALL mezcals have a strong smokey taste, but I was corrected. All mezcal is created by torching the hearts of agave plants in pits dug in the ground. This process condenses the juices and adds a smokey flavor. Some mezcal is left to ferment with the smoke intact, resulting in a bottle tasting of the fiery way it was processed. Other mezcals begin the same, but are processed, filtered and distilled differently in a way that removes the smoke flavor.

Colors and Nuances

Mezcal comes in many colors, just like tequila. It can be crystal clear, honey colored or even dark amber in tone. Not unlike fine wines, each distillery has its own special touches that add flavor tones, nuances and other tastes to their mezcals. Our instructor helped us pick up tones of cherry, chocolate, cinnamon and even juniper among others. The process of tasting five different liquors was hugely enlightening. And delicious.

lesson in mezcal tasting

Our leader taught us how to discern flavors unique to each Mezcal we tasted.

My favorite mezcal in the tasting was bottled by Gracias a Dios, and was called Tobalá. Triton like the bottle of Gracias a Dios Cuixe. Either way, we left happy!