The Friday Fermentable: Post-holiday cheer

For as good of an attitude as I normally seem to have on the blog, I just simply don't do well with the end-of-the-year holidays (but condolences should be sent instead to my dear friend who suffered a true loss earlier this morning). While it may take some therapy to truly understand my blahs this week, let it suffice to say that the return from our vacation and a continued mystery leak in our basement may have made me a bit more irritable than usual. After spending part of Christmas and much of today ripping out drywall and trying to diagnose the cause of basement flooding, you'd think I'd be drinking like a fish. However, I'm just not really in the mood.

So, let me leave you with two Friday Fermentable selections:

1. Key West Sunset Ale: Aha! You didn't think I'd let you readers off easily without one final reference to my now long-past vacation, eh? Actually, I put this up here to my dear reader, Chemgeek, who was kind enough to comment here lately all while have some major health stuff go down with his little kids. (Hang in there, bro, and best wishes for the healing of the tribe and a new year full of far fewer health issues.)

Key West Sunset Ale is actually not made in the Keys but rather far up the road apiece in Melbourne. However, it is a reasonably serious beer that is about the most complex I can drink in south Florida. Best on tap, this American amber ale is brewed from a combination of caramel and pale malts with a low degree of hoppiness. You can get it all over south Florida but, again, it is best on tap - particularly with a plate of stone crab claws, Apalachicola oysters, or clams. In Key West, I enjoyed it both at the Schooner Wharf Bar (but not at their 7 am happy hour) and Alonzo's Oyster Bar.

2. 2005 Aliança, Dão Reserva, Dão, Portugal, 2005 ($12.99 USD but as little as $6.98 at select wholesalers). Y'ever wonder what a port would taste like if not made in the heavy semi-sweet vintage port style. Well, my mentors at The Wine Authorities have recently turned me on to some nice selections from Portugal, all at surprisingly reasonable prices. Cafe Kick in London describes it as, "Produced by one of Portugal's most famous wine makers, this is a delicious, lush quaffable red with cherry and blueberry flavours." (They also sell it for £4.35/glass or &pound17.50/bottle.

This interesting selection comes from the center of Portugal in the Serra da Estrella mountain range. The peak of the range is 1993 m above sea level such that Portuguese King João V (1716-1726) decreed that a 7 m high tower be constructed such that the elevation reach 2000 m.

The Wine Authorities describe the wine as follows:

Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Jaen (aka Mencía) 18 months in cask, 6 months bottle EXOTIC, BLUEBERRY FRUIT, CARDAMON SPICE, SAVORY. This Reserva bottling shows the effects of the Dão's granite soils at the base of the Serra da Estrella mountains. Located in the center of Portugal, Dão is unique for its hot summers and very cold winters. Most vineyards in the area are one hectare or less, planted amongst the pine and eucalyptus trees. The wine is serious and long on the finish with meaty and exotic fruit flavors. Try With: Strong cheeses, grilled meats; traditional favas con chouriços (fava beans with chorizo sausage)

After showering the gypsum off my body, I boiled up some gorgonzola and sundried tomato tortelloni with olive oil to accompany the wine. It was absolutely delightful, although I know it could've held up to even stronger flavors, particularly the chorizo described above. Once I get the basement situation squared away and mend my family relationships, I'll be sure to try this will a more substantial grilled meat dish, perhaps my favorite: filet mignon with Spanish Calabrese sauce.

While we all recover this weekend, why not feel free to share in the comments the foods and wine accompaniments you enjoyed over the last few weeks?

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Thanks for the best wishes. I truly appreciate them and draw strength from them.

As far as drinks go, my wife and I discovered Avalon Cabernet while dining on our anniversary. It was rather good. Nothing exotic, but a very enjoyable wine.

On Christmas Eve, we remembered my wife's grandmother on her birthday by opening a bottle of 1996 Veuve Clicquot Champagne Brut La Grande Dame. She truly was a Grande Dame and the wine was as outstanding as its reputation. On Christmas Day we opened a NV Loose End Sparkling MSM, which is a sparkling wine made from merlot, shiraz, and matero. I thought is was pretty interesting, a real red, not a rose, but sparkling. My wife thought it was too weird and went to a 2006 Horton Viognier. Both did quite nicely with the fresh baked pumpkin pie.

Oooh,thanks for the site about Serra da Estrella-- Erleichda and I did one of our hikes there-- its truly beautiful countryside and worth a trip.

I remember the scenery more than the wine, but you know Erleichda, he might remember a few of the wines we tried there.