Enjoying Life One Glass at a Time

March Wine Club

This month we opted for a bit different tasting. Wayne and Kathy brought back three wines from Thomas Kruse winery in Gilroy, CA, a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and a Zinfandel. All of the wines were quite reasonable at about $12 per bottle.

The Blind Tasting

We asked you to guess which of the wines was which in a blind tasting. Wow! When it came time to draw a correct guess for the door prize, it became apparent that there were very few correct guessers (maybe three!). We ended up awarding the prizes to anyone that participated.

On the subject of door prizes, a huge Thank You to Lynn Pajer for donating the glass dish. She made the dish in the glass-fusing shop at the center (you'll have to insert a mental picture of the dish here-we are missing our photos this month). See Lynn if you are interested in buying a similar dish or other fused-glass art piece.

We also asked you to choose your favorite wine of the three. The votes were fairly evenly spread with 'A' receiving 15 votes, 'B' getting 10 votes and 'C' getting the most at 17. Oh, the secret identities were:

Wine A --- Merlot
Wine B --- Zinfandel
Wine C --- Cabernet Sauvignon

Thanks to all of you for participating and making the evening a success! We hope to have our usual array of photos back to grace our newsletter next month.

An Added Treat

You certainly noticed the delicious chocolate truffles that graced our tables. Those were the work of Nancy Stelow. She graciously agreed to provide the recipe (which she claims is not too hard and makes a LOT). Here it is!

Chocolate-Hazelnut Truffles Wine Club Event March 2014

This is the Truffle recipe served at the WC event. Below that is the ‘original’ recipe. I manipulated the original recipe quite a bit for the event March 6, 2014.
Makes 40-50 truffles.

The process has 3 main steps. You can refrigerate or freeze the batter and make the actual truffle balls at a later date. Also, the truffle balls freeze very well.


    1 ½ Cups (6 oz.) Chopped Hazelnuts
    12 ounces of 60% Cacao Chocolate bars (I used Ghirardelli’s from Safeway in cooking chocolate section)*
    1-Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
    1 Tablespoon Almond Extract*
    1 Tablespoon butter
    ¾ Cup to 1-Cup refined Sugar*
    ‘About’ 1-Cup unsweetened Cocoa Powder
    Mini-muffin liner or paper candy cups

    Chop hazelnuts in a “little Chop’, food processor or other mixer/grater to grate them to a ‘fine’ grade.
    In top of double boiler or metal bowl over simmering water, combine the 12 ounces of Chocolate Bars and cream. Cook, stirring with wooden spoon, until chocolate melted and it is smooth. Take off heat. Blend in butter and extract. Mix well.
    Add sugar to taste. I like this batter on the sweet side to contrast with the bitterness of the cocoa powder coating you will do later. Stir till smooth. Stir in hazelnuts and mix well. Pour into 9X13 pan or other shallow glass pan to let it cool, first at room temperature then cover with plastic wrap and in the refrigerator for minimum 3 hours or overnight. Goal is to make sure the ‘batter’ is structured enough to roll into balls.
    To make Truffles: melon baller works great or spoon.
    Make a surface to roll the balls with parchment or waxed paper. Pile the Cocoa Powder in the middle. Line up your individual mini-muffin liners before you start! Remove chocolate ‘batter’ from refrigerator and work quickly, scoop out a ball and roll between your palms to make a ball. Drop and roll in Cocoa Powder till lightly covered then drop in muffin liner. Continue till batter is gone. If batter gets too soft, return to refrigerator and make more truffles after it has hardened. If your hands get too ‘chocolaty’, wash and dry your hands then continue. Move Truffles to air tight container and put in freezer. Can store up to a month. Personally, I have never kept them longer than a week! I can take from the freezer and pop one in my mouth! No need to defrost! Your choice!

    *My main changes from the original recipe. They want you to roast your own hazelnuts and shell and chop. I did that the first time finding it to be a major hassle and flavor did not vary from pre-chopped packages. Original recipe calls for “Callebaunt” chocolate, which I never found and extract, can be Vanilla or Hazelnut Liquor versus Almond extract. (I ran out of vanilla; hence Almond!) I added the sugar to make the interior sweeter. That is a personal choice.

    Original Recipe

    1 ½ Cups Hazelnuts
    12 ounces top-quality Bittersweet chocolate such as Callebaut, finely chopped
    1-Cup Heavy (whipping) Cream
    1 Tablespoon Hazelnut Liquor or Vanilla Extract
    1-tablespoon Butter
    About 1-Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
    Mini-muffin or paper candy cup liners

    Preheat over to 350 Spread hazelnuts in a pie plate and bake until fragrant, about 12 minutes. Remove nuts and place in a large, fine-mesh sieve or colander and rub the nuts with a waded up clean dish towel until most of the skins are slough off. (
    Note: this is a much harder process than it looks!)

    Lift the nuts out with slotted spoon and chop finely. Set aside.

    In the top of a double boiler or metal bowl set over simmering water, combine chocolate and cream. Cook, stirring with wooden spoon until chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in hazelnut liquor, butter and hazelnuts. Pour the mixture into a 9X13 pan or other shallow glass pan and let it cool to room temperature, then cover with plastic warp and refrigerate until solid; 3 hours or preferably overnight.

    To make truffles: Place a large sheet of parchment or waxed paper on a work surface. Sift the cocoa powder onto the paper. Have mini-muffin or candy cups alongside. Remove the chocolate mixture from the refrigerator and working quickly, scoop out a level tablespoon of the mixture and roll it between your palms into a ball. Drop the ball in the cocoa powder, scoot it around gently to coat, then transfer to the candy cups. Continue with remaining mixture. If it gets too soft, return it to the refrigerator to firm up. Your hands will get very chocolaty, so wash and dry them once or twice during the process if necessary. You may also have to sift out more cocoa powder. Refrigerate the truffles until firm before serving. (The truffles can be made ahead, placed in an airtight container and frozen for up to 1 month. Let them thaw about 10 minutes before serving; truffles should be eaten cold.)

    The 2nd Annual El Primat Vino!

    Last year we held the first El Primat Vino tasting. Participating members purchased a high priced wines ($40 minimum) which were tasted blind to determine the winner. That was all great as far as it went BUT there were a couple of problems. To wit….

    • Our Snowbirds couldn't participate (it was in summer) and
    • There were too many good wines to taste at one time (darn!)

    We have come up with some ideas to, if not fix, then at least minimize the problems. Here, in general, is what we have proposed.

    We will hold the El Primat Vino tasting in 'heats'. Depending on the number of wines, we will split the wines randomly into groups that will be tasted blind by all participants, one group per month. The winner from each month will be entered in the final tasting held in October or November. This format will give us a chance to critically taste the wines in smaller numbers.

    For those that might want to participate but will not be here over the summer (or for any other reason), we will offer a buy-in. Those that did not contribute a wine will be able to buy a place ($25) in the final tasting and rate the preliminary winners along with the the other participants.

    Please remember that El Primat Vino (EPV) will be held side-by-side with any other tastings. Therefor, if you are participating, you can taste the EPV wines for that month and, if you wish, can pay for the 'normal' tasting as well.

    There are many details to work out and, as always, we welcome any suggestions you may have.
    Please comment via email with the subject line EPV.

    Until Next Time…

    Wine Clink