There’s just no other way to begin this blog post (or any blog post for that matter).
I went to Washington! Washington State. Wine country. Don’t you just love the words wine and country back to back?
A few weeks ago, I had the incredible opportunity to fly to Washington (and sleep in a yurt) and meet up with the seriously-dear ALDI folks and the orbitally-friendly Precept Wine folks. We got LEARNT about wine, wine pairings, and the blooming and booming relationship between Precept Wine and ALDI. (and we slept in a yurt.)
First of all, I had no idea! No idea that a) ALDI even HAD WINE. and b) that Precept Wine is one of the 50 wineries they work with around the world to create private label wines exclusively available to ALDI shoppers. In fact, all of the Washington state wines sold at ALDI are made by Precept Wine. No idea!
Did you know?
Oh you did? Oh.
Want to see my wine journey?
Don’t be silly, of course you do. #yurt
An eager group of bloggers, influencers, media peeps and journalists arrived on Wednesday afternoon, slightly bleary eyed, but full of curiosity. AKA: ready for booze. Kicking off our stay (ON THE VINEYARD), our chief wine educational leader, David Oldham brought us all up to an observational deck, took out a giant machete and tried to kill us all.
Just kidding, David!
I LOVE A GOOD BOTTLE MURDER.
We toasted! We cheers’d. We took in the crisp air, vast skies and jaw-dropping scenery. IT WAS LIKE ITALY. But in the Pacific Northwest. I’ve never been to Italy.
Once we’d refilled our flutes (for a third time, shhhh.), we headed back to Canyon Vineyard Ranch to get acquainted with our sleeping quarters. Remember the whole yurt thing I said two minutes ago? I stayed in a yurt. That yurt. ^^ And of course I jumped on the Sauvignon Blanc room in a panic because I WILL HAVE HEADS IF I GET ASSIGNED TO MOSCATO.
You know me.
This is Hal Landvoigt, another one of our fearless winemaker leaders from Precept Wine. He was giving us the low down of the land, the weather, the best way to pick a vineyard lot, and the coyotes that were going to eat us in the night.
After a much-needed charcuterie board inhaling, we took it back outside and sampled a few more Precept wines all sold at ALDI, including the newest Lot Series! It’s available for a limited time starting TOMORROW, pigeons. I was seriously impressed with the Malbec (Hi, gold medal winning wine and received 92 points! That’s maj in the wine world.) Get your grubs on it if you can.
After a beauuuutiful family-style dinner in the kitchen yurt (YES THERE WAS A KITCHEN YURT), we refilled one last time around a glistening campfire and a tray of s’mores the size of a baby elephant.
I also kept trying to convince everyone that the blonde dude up there was Jamie Oliver. No one believed me.
The next morning, we inhaled all the breakfast in the KITCHEN YURT, complete with a couple of pitchers of mimosas and 80 carafes of coffee. (I’m good at math.)
That’s Sonja up there explaining to everyone the scientific nomadic arch of conundrums known in the 17th century as seen in today’s current millennial mindsets.
Just kidding I think she was talking about foot cream.
The day first unfolded at a vineyard! A different vineyard. This one was closer to Walla Walla, and was mid-harvest. That huge machine right there is the HARVESTER, guys. It basically rides and hovers over each vine, shakes it loose of all its grapes, collects the grapes in a giant vat thingy, and then we drink!
But we did taste a grape. Too seedy.
AND ZERO PERCENT ALCOHOL.
Later on, the grapes get transferred to a giant stainless steel tank, where it begins the cleaning and separating process. Then we drink!
Just kidding. Too warm.
AND ZERO PERCENT ALCOHOL.
Then it gets transferred to barrels, where it sits and sits and sits and sits and sits and sits and sits
and sits and stis sa nsdkf sa
sits and stist sans idtses igtsts
and sitsit sits.
THEN WE DRINK. THE END.
And would you believe, one of the wines that stuck out to me was their Crystal Creek CHARDONNAY? A chardonnay, you guys. Who am I?
Thing is, it wasn’t too buttery on the back of the tongue. It didn’t taste like college and regret. Matter of fact, it had this Granny Smith apples meets a kiss of oak meets a teeeensy smooch of vanilla in it. It was delightful! (AND only $7.99. AND was a silver medal winner and got 87 points! That’s maj in the wine world.)
So let’s eat (and drink, good grief) our wine, shall we?
Super simple appetizer. Bacon-wrapped green beans with a chardonnay cream sauce and chopped pistachios. GUUUH. So simple to pull together, but the wine-y cream sauce tastes like baby angels on a yacht in your mouth. Classy! But with a tinge of heeeey-o.
Wrap your beans with bacon! I got the Applewood smoked bacon from ALDI and cut the slices in half. Cover them with foil and bake about 30 minutes. Then uncover the pan, and continue to bake until the bacon is crispy, another 10-20 minutes, depending on your oven.
In the meantime, you’ll make a tiny roux with a pat of butter and a pinch of flour, add the Crystal Creek Chardonnay, whisk, whisk, whisk, then add a little bit of cream. Whisk, whisk, whisk. Season with salt and pepper! Das it.
Lastly, you’ll just drizzle the cream sauce over a couple of bacon bean bundles at a time, then sprinkle with chopped pistachios.
You may need to lie down and weep for a month or so.
Pair it up with the chardonnay, and brilliant, love! (apparently still thinking about Jamie Oliver.)
I DID learn, that when you pair food and wine, you need both in your mouth at the same time. So like, take a bite of food, then swig a little bit of wine right after, so that the two can dance and throw down like whoa. It makes a difference!
I think these would be magic on any holiday appetizer table, right?
You do remember this bottle is only $7.99? SEVEN NINETY NINE. I pay more for panty hose.
Just kidding I’ve not bought panty hose since the early ’90s. But I bet they’re at least that price.
Here’s the recipe, if you feel like being awesome.
My takeaway? Well, a few things.
1) ALDI is obsessed with value. Which speaks to my overzealous frugal nature.
2) Their wines are . . . unpretentiously yummy! Especially the Lot Series. I was seriously asking for a 57th glass.
3) Pair anything with anything. Cheese puffs with a chardonnay? Done. Prosecco with fried chicken? In. Cabernet sauvignon with a dirty shoe? ON I – wait. Maybe not a dirty shoe.
4) Everyone at ALDI and Precept shows such passion with what they’re creating. Whether it be the sustaining relationships, the wine process, the end result. Everything. And it’s contagious. Makes you walk away from it with a huge grin on your face and a warm fuzzy/buzzy heart.
Or maybe that’s just the wine.