I do not want to belabor the point that this has been a yucky winter. We have endured day after day of cold, windy weather. Around here – South Jersey – there are winters a warm coat is unnecessary. Not this year. We don coats, hats, gloves, boots, sweaters, and still shiver when stepping outside, greeted by polar vortex cold.
Rain, sleet, ice and snow are common occurrences. Dire predictions of storm-ravaging events have been even more pervasive. My car knows the way to the nearest convenience store for the obligatory bread and milk purchases, although in my house it has morphed into a chocolate cake and ice cream run.
And I wonder why my clothes are beginning to feel tight.
Yesterday – Sunday - was the first time in days, probably weeks, the sun shone. The sky was blue. The gray dreariness of past weeks – gray sky, gray buildings, gray grass, and gray air – dissolved and the world suddenly beamed.
It was time to awaken from our winter lethargy, get out of the house and do something.
Scanning the paper I discovered just the remedy for the winter blues.
New Jersey is home to several wineries – I know, sounds crazy, but do not laugh. (Everyone laughs at New Jersey. Governor Christie has not helped the situation.)
Actually, it is not so far-fetched that wineries found their way to the Garden State. Large tracts of land remain agricultural in south Jersey. Farmers and entrepreneurs seek the best way to maximize their acreage. Varieties of grapes thrive in the climate, with the end product proving profitable.
Most of the wineries are new businesses, launched in the 21st century, and just beginning to publicize their existence and invite the public for wine tastings, tours, and special events.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, the past two weekends were Wine and Chocolate Wine Trail Weekend on NewJersey’s Wine Trails.
The event offered an excuse to get outside, sort of, go for a ride, and look for signs of spring. (Regrettably we did not find any.) It was too cold – at least for us – to spend a lot of time outdoors. Walking from the car to the wine tasting building provided our source of Vitamin D for the week - actually for the past month.
There are rules for pairing particular types of wines with specific chocolates, but the idea of spending an afternoon consuming chocolate and wine was enough for me. Neither a wine connoisseur nor a chocolate snob, I was eager to sip and munch in an appealing atmosphere.
Wine and chocolate – delightful decadence!
We spent the day sipping wine and nibbling chocolate at three wineries. The idea of pairing wine and chocolates has become so popular that a brand of chocolate – Brix – is specially made to pair with wines.
And, lest you think all this imbibing bad for your health, red wine and dark chocolate may be good for you. Both contain a molecule called resveratrol. Unfortunately because there is only a trace amount in each, a lot would have to be consumed for the individual to reap the benefits of the molecule. But if you are so inclined, go for it…
Personally I prefer white wine.
Each winery charged a fee for the tasting, and we bought a bottle or two or three at each winery. But our wine rack was almost bare and – thinking positive, believing winter will eventually be over and warm weather, friends and family arrive soon – this was an opportunity to stock up for the busy summer season.
The last winery visited offered not only wine and chocolate – eight wines and four chocolates - we tasted wines scheduled to make their official debut in November directly from the barrel. Musical entertainment was provided under a heated tent, and wine by the class and bottle were for sale, as well as appetizers and lunch items.
We arrived home happy, sated and tired. Wine and chocolate will do that to you.
We slumped on the couch and spent the evening watching the Olympics and Downton Abbey. Love the show, the costumes, the character development and historical references. (I correctly guessed the corruption problem Cora’s brother Harold was involved with in America was the Teapot Dome. My history classes pay off!).
Now that we have roused ourselves from winter hibernation, it is time to pray for spring!
For those within driving distance of the Jersey shore, we visited Natali Vineyards, The Jessie Creek Winery, and Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery. We never made it to the fourth winery in Cape May County, Cape May Winery and Vineyard. But we will!