The Best Wines for Game Night
It is time for a game night? While we wait on the spring weather to chase away the rain and clouds, we’re appreciating our favorite indoor activities. This week, we are having some fun with creating “pairings” of wine and games. These classic games are good for playing with family and friends, and sharing a bottle of wine together makes the moments sweeter! Here are the wines to open on game night:
Wine & Game Pairing 1: Sparkling Wine & Blackjack
Sometimes, you just need something that isn’t complicated. These offer good, straightforward fun in the form of a classic.
Wine & Game Pairing 2: Sangiovese & Gin Rummy
Pair this distinct red with a classic card game for two! We like these because they are approachable and adaptable, easily enjoyed by amateurs and aficionados alike.
Wine & Game Pairing 3: Cuvée Dray & Clue
We like this combo for when we’re feeling inquisitive and want to “sniff out” the perpetrator in a classic mystery game! Clue-ve Dray, anyone?
Wine & Game Pairing 4: Grapeful Red & Uno
Both of these are here for you when you want to have some easy colorful fun. Whether you play a wild card or get hit with a draw 4, it’s simple and entertaining.
Wine & Game Pairing 5: Chardonnay & Monopoly
What’s a classic that can be strangely polarizing? These both are! Best thing is, however, they’re both worth taking some time to appreciate and savor.
Wine & Game Pairing 6: Peacock Patch Zinfandel and Rook
For this pairing, we are leaning into our bird appreciation. This trick-taking game encourages you to have fun getting into the heads of your fellow players.
Wine & Game Pairing 7: Reserve Petite Sirah & Cards Against Humanity
These two are perfect for moments you want to lean into your dark side a bit! This combo is rich with flavor, laughter, and opportunities for your next inside joke.
Wine & Game Pairing 8: Jewel Petit Verdot & Trivial Pursuit
Both of these cater to the group that has an appreciation for the power of subtleties and knowledge. Bonus points for enjoying your wine with a cheese cut into wedges!
Wine & Game Pairing 9: Intesa & Quiddler
If you want a fun word game that doesn't force you to pull out a dictionary, Quiddler is a nice intellectual and niche option, pairing well with our Cab-Barbera blend Intesa.
Wine & Game Pairing 10: Riverbed Red & Settlers of Catan
For when you want something that is deliciously complex and not always for the faint of heart, go for this rich combination.
Wine & Game Pairing 11: Jewel Petite Sirah & Risk
When you are ready to take some time, savor, and strategize, then you need a wine that’s up to that challenge. This pairing is an alliance that won’t let you down!
Wine & Game Pairing 12: Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon & Checkers
Sometimes, you want something that’s just plain classic, and this combination can do that. Get kinged while enjoying the king of wines!
We hope you’ll make some memories, savor some triumphant wins, delicious wines, and delightful company.
A Cozy Recipe For Mulled Wine Day
Today is National Mulled Wine day, and with the weather we’ve been having, it’s a welcome holiday! There is something perfect and soothing about a mug of perfection in your hand that warms you from the inside out. We love Mulled Wine not just for its coziness, but also for its versatility. Depending on what ingredients are available and what flavors you enjoy, you can customize to your heart’s content! Below, we’ve included a recipe we enjoy and hope you will too.
Ruby Hill Mulled Wine
- 1 bottle Ruby Hill Sangiovese
- 1 1/2 cup Apple Cider (cold pressed or cloudy is ideal)
- 1/2 cup Cranberry Juice
- 1/4 cup Honey or Brown Sugar
- 2 Large Oranges, sliced into rounds
- 1 Large Apple, sliced into half moons
- 3 Cinnamon Sticks
- 3 Star Anise Pods
- 1 tsp Whole Cloves
- 1 pinch Ground Nutmeg
- Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and stir well. For convenience, consider placing the whole spices in a cheesecloth pouch or something similar so you won’t need to fish them out later.
- Allow the mulled wine to steep for at least 15 minutes or as long as desired.
- Serve warm!
If you would prefer to make your mulled wine in a crock pot, combine all ingredients and leave the pot on low for 2-3 hours. Serve warm.
Make this mulled wine your own or mix and match to find your favorite flavor. Try creative additions like pomegranate, cherries, or cranberries, sliced fresh ginger, fresh rosemary, allspice berries (about 4), cardamom pods (about 5) or spike things up with 1/2 cup of orange liqueur or apple brandy. This recipe is yours!
We hope you are keeping warm and cozy!
If you want to enjoy our Sangiovese in this recipe, on its own, or with your favorite meals, now is the perfect time to buy. Get a bottle for only $22 while it's the Wine of the Month!
Quick Guide to Decanting Wine
When pouring and serving wine, the wide variety of options can be a bit overwhelming. To help simplify this a bit, it helps to know the benefits of each option to find what suits you. You always have the option of serving wine straight from the bottle. Often, this will work just fine! Simple carafes are also helpful to show off the color of the wine, or to make the wine easier to pour. The ever-popular elevated option, the decanter, offers unique benefits. Should you decant your wine? Read on and discover if this is right for your bottle!
A Brief History
Decanters actually find their origins as far back as ancient Greece, where they would have been made out of clay. Later, the Romans introduced the use of glass as the preferred material for serving wine. The decanter’s characteristic slender neck with its elegance and drama became standard among Venetians during the Renaissance. Very few changes have been made to the overall design concept since then, though we do see a wide variety of shapes as glass blowing technology has advanced.
Benefits of Decanting
When it comes to the actual benefits for wine, there are three main factors: aeration, elimination of sediment, and aesthetics. Every wine will benefit from these things differently, so there are a few important details to consider.
To Aerate or Not to Aerate
There is a wide range of opinion within the wine world regarding aeration, but the simple answer is that allowing wine to “breathe” allows for a new perspective on your wine. By pouring wine into a decanter, aeration releases aromas for fuller enjoyment. In the case of big, especially tannic reds, an hour or so in the decanter before pouring yields a smoother, more enjoyable wine. For wines that are more medium-bodied, similar benefits are offered by a slightly shorter aeration time, 30 minutes to an hour. Delicate wines such as those that have been aged for a long time or light red varietals like Sangiovese or Pinot Noir need very little time. Delicate tropical or fruity notes may be muted after extensive aeration, so if the wine you are enjoying displays these flavors, decanting may be less ideal.
A popular benefit of decanters is to limit sediment in wine. Sediment is naturally formed over time in wine bottles, particularly reds with at least 5-10 years of aging.. It is not harmful to the flavor or integrity of the wine, but it’s not exactly pleasing to the eye or on the palate. Fortunately, many wineries, Ruby Hill included, use advanced filtration systems that prevent excessive sediment levels. Even still, sediment is nothing to be feared especially if you have a decanter.
Pouring and Serving Tips
Before serving, it’s wise to leave the bottle upright for 24 hours to let the sediment settle at the bottom. When you’re ready to enjoy, pour slowly into the decanter, with the bottle at a 45 degree angle, allowing the sediment to collect at the base of the wine bottle’s neck, and leave the last ounce of liquid in the bottle. Decanters are also useful if a cork breaks and crumbles into the wine—just place a strainer over the mouth of the decanter as you pour from the bottle.
The final benefit of the decanter is simple aesthetics. There’s no shame in appreciating something elegant, beautiful, and with just a touch of drama!
Whether you decant or not, what's most important is that you enjoy your favorite wines in your favorite way. Shop our full collection of local estate-grown wines today!
Hamburgers & Wine
Does the chilly weather have you longing for a touch of summer? You’re not alone! We are coping with the wait by bringing some of our favorite summertime foods into the kitchen, starting with the american classic: hamburgers. It may not be time to bust out the grill quite yet, but we aren’t letting that hold us back. Make sure you have a trusty cast-iron skillet and let’s get cooking.
Cast Iron Skillet Burgers
- 1 pound ground beef, recommended 85/15
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 onion, sliced
- 4 slices cheese of choice
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 4 large hamburger buns
- 4 leaves lettuce
- 4 slices tomato
- 8 pickle chips
- In a large bowl add the beef, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper and form into 4 equal portions.
- Shape into patties and press down on the middle of the patty to make an indentation.
- Heat a large cast iron skillet on medium heat; add the butter and sliced onions.
- Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes until translucent and just starting to caramelize.
- Remove onions from the pan and raise heat to high.
- Add beef patties and cook for 4 minutes on each side.
- For cheeseburgers, cover the patties with cheddar cheese and let melt for 30 seconds then remove patties.
- Spread buns with mayonnaise (or burger spread of choice)
- Place bun bottoms in the skillet, working in batches based on the size of your skillet, mayonnaise side down.
- Cook for 3 minutes until browned.
- Remove bun bottoms and add bun tops, mayonnaise side down while you assemble burgers.
- Add beef patty, topped with onions, lettuce, tomato, and finally the bun tops.
Recipe from Sabrina Snyder for Dinner then Dessert
It’s hard to get more classic than this dish! If you want to add a classy touch, we have some wine pairing options that will elevate your burgers to a new level.
Our go-to wine for this kind of meal is always Grapeful Red. This deliciously drinkable wine brings full flavor and quality at an unmatched price, and reminds us not to take things too seriously—life’s too short for that.
Another reliable pairing for hamburgers is Cabernet Sauvignon, where the tannin cuts through the natural fat of the meat and enhances the flavor. If you choose a nice sharp cheddar to make cheeseburgers, then Cab is even more harmonious.
Our Cuvée Dray red blend is also a delicious companion for hamburgers. In addition to being absolutely delicious, this award-winning Bordeaux blend reminds us to savor the things in life that bring us joy, big and small!
What are you drinking on burger night? Let us know @rubyhillwines.
How to Say "I Love You"
With Valentine’s Day coming up, we are feeling love in the air. It’s a wonderful thing to celebrate love, and we don’t mean just the romantic kind. This week, try to think about the ways you can say “I love you” to the important people in your life. Use this blog as inspiration as we walk through a few of the ways you can show life to all kinds of people in all sorts of ways!
It’s affirming to know someone likes to be around you. Hold your loved ones tight. Sit side by side while enjoying something together, like watching a movie or enjoying your favorite wine. Never underestimate the power of a hug!
Gifts aren’t the only way to say “I love you” but they can go a long way! Whether it’s roses, a bottle of Rosé, a chocolate you enjoy, or a mug that made you think of them, a gift of any size makes a great memento of friendship and fondness.
Say What You Feel
It can be hard to put these things into words, but taking a moment to pick out (or make) a card and writing what you appreciate about someone who is close to you can make a big impact on you both. It doesn’t have to be a sappy poem or grand novel, just be sincere!
Take Some Time
When you’re with someone you care about, keep them at the center of your attention. Little things, like turning your phone on silent when you spend time together or taking a moment to clink your glasses of wine before you sip, helps them feel special.
Lend a Hand
Take advantage of the old adage: actions speak louder than words! It can be something simple like opening the door for them or offering to be their designated driver sometime. For people you’re close with, you can cook their favorite dinner or run errands together.
Use this Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to keep spreading love wherever you go, and take the habit with you throughout the year. Give the gift of good wine from a local winery like us, or come enjoy a wine tasting together! We're open seven days a week to welcome you in.
For your loved one with a sweet tooth: our Solera Dessert wine makes a great gift!
A Quick Guide to Dessert Wine
One of the many beautiful things about the wine world is the astonishing diversity of fine wines. With the change of a single factor, a new experience is born. From one wine to another, changes in oak, varietal, terroir, fermentation practice, yeast and so much more make each one unique--and promises that there’s a wine out there for everyone.
At Ruby Hill Winery, our Solera In Perpetuum stands out as markedly different from the other wines grown here on our estate as it is our only dessert wine. Despite being crafted from the same Zinfandel, Barbera, and Petite Sirah fruit and the same estate as our other wines, it is a special treat. How are dessert wines like this made? Also, why is it not called a “Port”? Can you pair it with anything? We explore these questions below!
The creation of dessert wines involves influencing the natural chemical processes that create wine. When grapes are fermented, their natural sugar is converted into alcohol. For dessert wines, this process is interrupted before the sugars have all converted, and the wine is subsequently fortified with distilled spirits, usually grape brandy. The resulting wine is denser, sweeter, and higher gravity than an average wine. Similar to Champagne, which legally refers only to specific style wines grown in the Champagne region of France, Port wines are only the wines of a specific style grown in Portugal’s Douro Valley.
Here at Ruby Hill Winery, we employ a system called a “solera” which is a time-tested and labor intensive method of aging that ensures the best of quality over time. A solera is a hand stacked set of barrels, with each layer of barrels representing a different stage in the life of the wine. Over time, wine from multiple vintages is blended from barrel to barrel: young wine begins its journey at the top layer, and every year it will slowly be blended downward. The wine that has had the most time to mature is pulled for bottling. The oldest wines in our solera date back to 2002, over 20 years.
Pairings for a sweet red wine can be trickier than a dry one. The tried-and-true combination of wine and chocolate works phenomenally, especially dark chocolate. For cheese, don’t be afraid of big flavors like blue cheeses as the strength of the wine compliments them well. Additionally, a fine cigar pairs just as well for anyone who wants to lean into the luxury of the experience.
Save room for dessert! For the month of February,
enjoy our Solera in Perpetuum Dessert Wine as our Wine of the Month.
Spotlight on Our New Arrivals
Last week marked our first wine release of 2023! We are thrilled to introduce three new vintages of our delicious wines, joining the ranks of Ruby Hill favorites. Our new arrivals all shine in their own way, bringing rich, mouthwatering flavors and luxurious textures to the palate. Below, we’ve provided some tasting notes and details for these newly introduced gems!
2019 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
A longtime favorite and staple of California wine country, our Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon offers strong competition to other Bordeaux wines. To create the delightful profile of this wine, we balanced the Cabernet with an addition of a few percent Merlot, Petite SIrah, and Petit Verdot. The result is a classy flavor and aroma profile, including strawberries, dark cherries, black pepper, and vanilla. A mid-plus weight on the palate is balanced by an acidity that makes this wine ideal for pairing.
Our Intesa is a blend created exclusively for members of the Ruby Hill wine club. This vintage was crafted with a careful symmetry: 49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 48% Barbera, and a touch of Merlot. For optimal flavor and mouthfeel, this vintage was aged in 100% French oak. Only the finest for our members! Plush aromas of rich red fruit, including strawberry jam and pomegranate, glide into dynamic flavors of cherry, cardamom, and a touch of toast brioche that lingers through the finish. This wine sips like velvet and tastes like harmony.
2018 Jewel Petite Sirah
Every wine in our Jewel collection receives the highest degree of attention to detail, but this vintage of our Jewel Petite Sirah stands out even more. With 94 points from Wine Enthusiast and a gold medal from the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, this full-bodied wine sets itself apart with irresistible, saturated flavors including dark chocolate, blackberries, vanilla bean, and toasted oak. Though dark and inky in the glass, this wine graces the palate with refined elegance and a light grip. Enjoy now or age, because this wine is worth it.
Curious about your favorite flavors and aromas to pick out in a wine? Come enjoy wine tasting here at Ruby Hill in an approachable environment so you can explore the things you like.
Wine Superstitions and Folklore
It’s Friday the 13th, so we’re thinking all about superstitions. Whether you believe in luck or not, it is fun to reflect on the things that have delighted or unnerved us for centuries. Wine has had a strong foothold in human life for centuries, long enough to pick up some folklore along the way. Customs, traditions, and urban legend all play little roles in our lives as we shape our understanding of the world and look into the past.
In some cultures, spilling wine portended disaster, similar to having a black cat cross one’s path. Some Italian traditions held that this could be countered by dabbing a little bit of that spilled wine behind each ear--it’s said that this would bring wealth! Other traditions agree that spilled wine is actually good luck. The tradition of breaking a glass full of wine at a wedding is meant to bring many years of love to the happy couple.
One Persian story holds that wine was “invented” when a woman who was suffering from a headache drank juice that had inadvertently fermented in its jar. She became relaxed and fell asleep. When she awoke, her headache was gone. In wine there is health!
Old German winemaking superstitions dictate that the very last grape harvest of the year should be pulled in from the field in an ox-drawn cart, or else the whole harvest would be plagued by sour grapes yielding terrible wine. Fortunately, this superstition is region-specific, and everything from our 2022 harvest is tasting wonderful so far despite our cellar team using no oxen.
As with many areas of superstition, quite a bit of wine lore deals with death. In some Romanian traditions, it’s customary to pour out some wine onto the floor when indulging, sharing friends and loved ones who have passed away. In some German stories, when someone passes away all of the wine in their cellar must be shaken immediately or it will go bad.
Of course, superstitions aren’t just for the days of the past. Winemakers today still have their hangups and good-luck routines, such as having a shot of tequila when the first grapes of a new lot come in, writing instructions to the cellar team with a certain pencil, or wearing a lucky hat during harvest. Our winemaker knew of one cellar that had a pink tutu that would be worn by whoever made the most recent mistake, and they’d wear it until someone else made a mistake and the tutu was passed on. As lovely as our team might look in tutus, we don’t feel the need for luck around here, we’re just delighted to invest our effort and care from stem to bottle.
Good luck this Friday the 13th! Cheers from Ruby Hill Winery.
5 Healthy Recipes for Winter Weather
If you are focusing on health and wellness this January, you’re not alone! Still, with the winter weather hitting us full force, it’s easy to want to curl up with your favorite comfort foods. The good news is this: we don’t believe those things have to be separate. This week, we are sharing 5 different recipes for dishes that are easy to make and will make you feel cozy and comforted, all while providing the nutrition you need. Of course, we’ve included wine pairing suggestions too. After all, who says you can’t have both?
“Lasagna” White Bean Soup
Enjoy with our Sangiovese
Soup is one of the most versatile comfort foods out there, and this version takes full advantage of that. With flavors and ingredients inspired by lasagna, this soup offers familiar taste along with protein, fiber, and more. Perfect for a rainy day!
Photo and Recipe by Nadine Brown via Olive Magazine
Lightened Up Chicken Pot Pie
Enjoy with Reserve Chardonnay
We love this recipe with all its savory coziness, the aroma it fills the kitchen with, and that golden brown top that just can’t be beat. It’s lighter on the calories than most recipes for this classic, but you’d never know. Dig in!
Photo and recipe by David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding
Vegetable & Coconut Dhal
Enjoy with Grapeful Red
Warm your soul with this delicious dhal, full of nutritional powerhouses and seasoned to perfection. A satisfying combination of red cabbage, cauliflower, this recipe is also great for anyone starting their year off with “Veganuary.”
Photo and recipe by Esther Clark via BBC Good Food
Vegetarian Black Bean Pasta
Enjoy with Grapeful Rosé
This tasty meal is simple enough for a weeknight. Ingredients like beans, spinach, and whole wheat pasta pump up the nutrition; tomatoes, mushrooms and garlic make sure the flavor isn’t lacking either! Add your favorite protein for an extra boost.
Photo and recipe from Taste of Home
Cauliflower & Butternut Squash Curry Stir Fry
Enjoy with Jewel Zinfandel
Serve up yet another set of warm, comforting flavors in the form of this deliciously spiced dish. Enjoy the sweetness of butternut squash alongside balanced creaminess and heat, and this vegetarian beauty might become a regular on your home menu.
Photo and recipe by David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding
Happy cooking! Don't forget to stay cozy & healthy this month.
Sue's Holiday Shopping Guide
Have you checked everyone off your gifting list? Our dear Sue Couls, retail manager and decorator here at Ruby Hill, has some tips for what to give this year. Shop these items from our boutique shop here at the tasting room before they're gone!
Ornament candles and mercury glass trees
Sue loves all things that bring light and brightness into a home. The glow of these gorgeous candles, in their scents of winter wood or cranberry spice, compliments the charm of these gleaming trees.
Chic and sparkly jewelry
Can you ever have too much? These fun pieces are a fun addition to outfits of all kinds, making them a great gift for fashionable people in your life (and for yourself too!)
Festive and playful ornaments
If you want to gift something small, we love these ornaments for their variety and merriness. Currently, we have designs including a beer stein vodka bottle, a wine glass, Santa in a martini glass, and more!
Fashionable purses and handbags
You need something to carry all your gifts around in, right? These handbags come in all kinds of unique sizes and designs so you can pick out the perfect purse for your loved one.
Cozy blankets and throw pillows
Wintertime calls for all things warm and comforting. Every home needs a few throw blankets to get through the chilly weather, and cozy throw pillows complete the look.
On behalf of Sue and the whole Ruby Hill team, happy shopping to all!
Enjoy complimentary ground shipping when you order 6 or more bottles.
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