Terra Summa, Red Blend

Terra Summa, Red BlendThanks to all of our nouveau hippie friends, I’ve been keeping my eye out for organic wine that’s actually good to drink. Like regular wine, there’s a vast array of organic wine, and it’s growing. So when I find an organic wine that’s actually good, I pounce like a cat on a lizard sitting in the sun.

The first time I had a bottle of the Terra Summa (red label, I think it was a merlot), the price was somewhere above $10. And I thought it was just about worth that. Not striking, but drinkable and consistent in flavor. And then I saw it on sale 2-for-1 at our local Publix. What the heck. Two extra bottles of a decent wine for the rack would be nice. I noticed the price had dropped other places as well. It seemed like over night, the average price went from about $11 to $6.

Not to be dramatic, but this is a very nice bottle of wine for that price range. Especially if it’s organic.

Not that price determines how good it is. I’d put this on our wine rack next to Our Daily Red as a good weekday dinner wine because it’s tasty, affordable, and fairly mellow. And it’s consistently good. As opposed to some of the wines you buy knowing that every few bottles, you’re going to get one that’s a bit funky.

Another measure for a weekday dinner wine is how long it stays drinkable. The simple truth is that The Man and I are not the roaring young drinkers we once were. Age and responsibility have crept up (oh don’t get me started!). It’s no longer an option to drink a bottle of wine with dinner and another one after dinner. Don’t even try to broach the subject of liquor on a “school night”. Not that I personally ever tried to get as drunk as humanly possible. But there were times in my youth that I had a drink too many and was still able to get up the next day for class or work, and function. Not so much anymore.

So it’s nice to open a bottle of wine while we’re starting to cook dinner, and sip on it through the night until we start falling asleep in front of the TV… oh, I mean, until we decide it’s time for bed. We never fall asleep in front of the TV. Never.

A good bottle of wine for this kind of slow sipping is one that will be drinkable right away instead of requiring decanting to breathe first. And it will tolerate being open for a while without oxidizing badly (that taste it gets that’s like licking a rusty tin can). Terra Summa seems to hold up well to these expectations.

I’ve googled this wine in an attempt to learn more about its origin, but can’t find much about it beyond other people blogging about it and their own suggestions about where it’s from. These tend to conflict. The Terra Summa website is a single page that just lists the red and blue label varieties. Some people say Tree of Life brought this line to the market. The label says it’s imported by Natural Merchants LLC, who admit to Trantas and Air but not Terra Summa. That, combined with the price drop are suspicious to me.

It’s still a good wine at a very comfortable price. The one we had the other night was the Classic Spanish Red Blend, 2008. And I have a merlot on the rack. In the Classic red label line, there is also a chard, a white blend, and a cab. The blue label Premium line has an Italian red blend, a pinot, and a tempranillo. There’s a rumor on the wind about a third line that is “no sulfites added”.

This 2008 Red Blend was nice and mellow, with an even balance of fruit and chocolate notes. There is more complexity to the finish of the wine than the rest of the flavor curve. The chocolate ends as a nice coffee flavor, and the fruity notes fade out to a low, dark berry blend. It goes very well with Mediterranean cooking as well as some of the more mild Mexican dishes, but it probably wouldn’t hold up well against something too spicy. It’s definitely not the most talkative person at the table, but it’s intriguing enough that people would stop to listen when it had something to say.

Terra Summa
Classic Spanish Red Blend, 2008
Organic, 75% Spanish Tempranillo / 25% Cabernet Savingon
$5-7 per bottle (red label varieties)


Calphalon Katana Knives

Calphalon Katana knivesWhen The Man and I first started dating, I had no proper knives to speak of. I had a collection of sharp-ish objects collected from yard sales and bargain bins. They were sort of knife-shaped. They would often cut butter and bread. My actual veggie chopping knife had also been used as a home improvement tool over the years.

Suffice it to say, The Man was shocked down to his cotton socks when he first opened my utensil drawer and surveyed my stock of handy dandy cooking tools. I had the complete set of OXO Good Grips kitchen utensils. And I do mean the FULL set. I don’t even know what some of these do. I suspect one is for subduing unruly Jehovah’s Witnesses.

But nary a sharp cutting utensil to be found. He was still reeling from this shock when he discovered I had no cutting boards either. I nearly had to pick him up off my tile floor and offer him a stiff drink. This was one of our first ‘issues’ that was quickly fixed by an impromptu trip to a big box store for emergency knives and cutting boards. I asked him to marry me that night in the Kitchen Goods department. This is not a joke.

After quite a few months of domestic bliss, he confessed he was just not satisfied anymore and he had to speak up. He’d been having fantasies about a real knife set. With a knife block and everything. The old knives just weren’t doing it for him anymore.

He found this new set in one of those name-brand clearance stores for only $200 and agonized over the decision for a few days before breaking down and buying them. He did research online. He paced and ran his fingers through his hair in the small hours of the night. It was not a pretty sight.

The Calphalon Katana series won his heart. This set has five knives, utility scissors, a roomy block, and one of those blade straightener things (I’ve never figured them out, but that’s okay since apparently that’s the man’s job). These are real steel blades–33 layers of steel, so they say. You can see the way the metal is folded and worked in the blade faces. The resin handles have a nice shape and balance the blade. And the block has room for our older knives, too, which is comforting to my sentimental heart.

Sharp knives make all the difference in the world, especially at the end of the day when you’re trying to prepare dinner quickly and you’re tired. It’s recommended that you gently wash and carefully dry these knives right after you use them to avoid pits and stains. This is my greatest failing in the kitchen, and a source of great anxiety to The Man. I am one of those cooks that constantly washes and cleans as they are cooking, but the knives always remain in the dish drainer, wet. The Man always sighs hugely when he sees them left like that. My favorite blade has sadly developed a pit or two.

So take it from me–awesome knives–take care of them!

When this series was new, this 8-piece set retailed for upward of $600, but now you can find them online from $200 to $700 for 8-piece to 18-piece sets. (Read the reviews when shopping because any moron with a keyboard thinks they know what they’re talking about and end up showing their ignorance after their three page wah-session about the sponge catching on the inside angle of the blade when they clean them. This is not a joke either.)

I gave you this whole story so you could see that I am no knife expert, but I clock a lot of real-life hours in the kitchen, and if something greatly improves my efficiency and proficiency in a daily task, I can only give it the credit it deserves. Shop around. Handle the knives. Read reviews. And find a good set of sharp knives.

Katana, 8-piece Set