Tag Archive for vanilla

Homewood Winery Merlot Port 2010

Homewood Winery Merlot Port 2010
Dry Creek, CA


I picked up this bottle on a recent sojourn to Sonoma from the one vineyard we ventured to on a quick day trip to the region. I thought the merlot port delicious in the tasting room, and I’m interested to see how it stacks up when drunk at home.

It smells of raspberry, strawberry, and very faint vanilla. For a port, it’s surprisingly light-bodied. I agree with our host from the tasting room that it pairs best with white chocolate; drinking it now brings me back to how it mingled with that confection during the tasting. Vanilla takes over the sip, and it’s tinged with buttery notes.  On drinking, the wine is closer to fig than berry in flavor, with amazing brown sugar that tastes moist and pure. A strawberry layer swells up toward the middle of the swish, but it’s fast, so you might miss it. Or never taste it at all, if your tasting buds are different than mine. Hint: They probably are!

This port is a lot of fun to drink, and I imagine it will only deepen in depth with age. But I never age anything so rest assured that you can enjoy it now.


Other Bloggers’ Thoughts:

Again, I’ve found no blog reviews of this wine. I’m beginning to suspect that local wine bottlings without mass distribution don’t end up with many reviews of their wares. Hrm. I think that deserves further pondering despite it being rather unsurprising.

Reviewed 26 December 13.

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Cocoa Cinnamon

Cocoa Cinnamon
420 W. Geer Street
Central Park District
M – Th, 7:30 am – 10:00 pm
Fri – Sat, 7:30 am – Midnight
Sun, 9:00 am – 9:00 pm

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I’ve been to Cocoa Cinnamon twice now, and I already wish I lived closer so I could watch as their amazing, thoughtful drink lists of coffees, chocolates, and teas expand and evolve. Cocoa Cinnamon started out as a bike-based coffee service and opened their storefront with the support of the community through Kickstarter, more proof that Durham is a city that celebrates hard-working folks with a passion for quality ingredients and the know-how to help us appreciate them.

The space is divided into a front room with computer bars for those more inclined toward work than socialization—

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Try not to love that mosaic floor.

– a cozy, talk-provoking lounge area also likely to be packed with the laptop-wielding masses—

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–and a brand-spanking-new canvas-covered patio full of benches for the outdoors experience.

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You can tell that Cocoa Cinnamon’s building is evolving along with its drink list if you compare that picture with the first one on the page taken back in March. Their late hours thrill me. Experimental jazz played one afternoon, and modern sitar was on during the other.

On my first visit, I opted for the al mokha from the chocolate drinking list, which had six choices at the time, all fairly traded and bearing tasting notes to craft your cup. The owners steered me toward an al mokha because I wanted chocolate with my coffee rather than coffee with my chocolate.

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All Cocoa Cinnamon’s espresso drinks use triple shots extracted ristretto style, which means a shorter shot pull that results in less volume and caffeine but a richer, bolder flavor. Thus a triple is comparable to a regular double in volume and caffeine. The al mokha’s dark Gran Saman chocolate seduced me with its bitterness and nutty flavors. The mocha was only slightly sweet, which is perfect for me, and a dash of cinnamon helped it all go down. It was on the lukewarm side, but I am not one to complain about that. My tongue has been burned too many times.

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Luxardo Maraschino Original Liqueur

Luxardo Maraschino Original Liqueur
Veneto, Italy
32% ABV
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This is a spirit of legend for me, in that I’d seen it in a million cocktail recipes before I could ever track it down. Now that it’s finally appeared at my local ABC store, I can explore it. And it’s full of shockers. Per Luxardo’s website, the spirit is distilled from the marasca cherry and aged for two years before being diluted and sweetened. When I think maraschino, I think of the dessert topping and thus (1) sweet and (2) reddish-pink. This spirit is neither.

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It’s clear as it can be for one. And there’s nothing sweet about the nose. The smell is a blend of cherry and almond that makes me wish it were in ice cream form, like now. I’m not talking toppings. I’m talking the main event.

Okay, the Gourmez, just drink it already! Fine, fine. So about that sweetness…it’s there, but its taste is pure sugar in undissolved, granular form. The sweetness bears no resemblance to most mixers’ almost plastic taste and its very light. Vanilla notes are strong, but it’s the spirit’s nuttiness that’s most surprising. Cherry comes across as the least of its ingredients.

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