The new water heater

Water Heater Woes

It all started when Nick asked me, with a confused look in his eye, “Did you spill some water in the basement?”

Um. No.

So we went down to the basement and sure enough, we had wet carpet under our feet.

Water heater leak.

Water Heater Tank Leak

The water heater is located in the closet of our basement utility room.

It was hard to tell how much of the carpet was wet due to its off-white, beigey color.  We pulled it back and the carpet pad revealed the scale of the leak.

Wet Carpet Pad

I spent some time pulling out the soaked carpet pad and then we got box fans out to start the drying process.  I failed to photograph this but the set up was three large box fans in front of chairs with the carpet draped over.  It worked as the carpet did dry in a couple of days.

Onto the larger problem.

After spending some time researching and figuring out where the leak was coming from, Nick determined that it had rusted on the inside, which is a common problem, and the 14-year-old tank needed to be replaced.

Rust Water Leaking

More research ensued.

We settled on this water heater because of its incredible warranty and plastic construction, meaning it won’t ever rust.

With the heater on special order we spent our days showering all over town.  That was fun.  Oh, and boiling water over a hot stove to wash dishes.

Sigh.

Finally the water heater arrived and Nick’s dad, Phil, came over to help replace the tank.

First they drained the tank.

Draining the tank with pump

The hose connected the water heater to a pump and then another hose, which snaked up the stairs, out of the house, across the driveway and over to suitable yard space.

Draining the tank with hose

Then the closet door and right side of the door jamb came off since, unfortunately, the new water heater is just a smidge wider than the clearance.

Taking off the door jamb

Door jamb off

Finally, out with the old!

Out with the old

In with the new!

In with the new

Now all we have to do is refit the door jamb, put down new carpet padding, and reseam the carpet.

As I said on a recent Facebook status update:  I henceforth swear that I shall never again take having a nice hot shower in my own home for granted.

2011 Evohe Tempranillo & Glass

Guest Post – 2011 Evohe Tempranillo

Today I’m happy to introduce guest poster The Desert Wine Guy.  He contacted me a few weeks ago to inquire about doing a blog post exchange.  If you came here by way of The Desert Wine Guy blog then welcome!  Take it away Marc.

In today’s article you will all be let in on on a little secret as well as a little discovery I made, a hidden treasure in the form of a wine I discovered. The discovery I am going to let you in on is that of a grape. You say “so what Desert Wine Guy, that’s why we read your blog anyway“. That is true but this is not just about just any grape or for that matter, just any wine.

Let’s first start with the the Treasure. This treasure I speak of is the 2011 Evohe Tempranillo. To make this treasure a little more precious, I am talking about a wine that sells for $10-$12. You say you’ve never heard of this Vineyard/Winery well that’s O.K. that is one of the reasons it is a treasure and also why we are here. I am here, to expose you to new wines, ideas and news of the wine world and hopefully you are here, discover and to learn from this information.

Now we are on to the the discovery, or a secret. The discovery or secret we are going to discover is the varietal named the Tempranillo. Here is a short run down on this beautiful grape. The Tempranillo, nicknamed “little one” due to it’s early flowering, budding & ripening is actually a Black grape and is Spain’s most popular and famous native grapes. This is a grape that is normally used for blending in deep reds and “Jug Wine”. Don’t let the “Jug Wine thing throw you. This is a grape that, in my opinion people have simply just overlooked. When I first tasted this varietal I was at South Coast Winery in Temecula (Southern) California. I was doing a tasting and this wine was poured along with Cabs and other reds. I was in Heaven quickly and even though the wine was not inexpensive I simply had to buy a bottle. If you are a deep, peppery, spicy red then you have hit pay dirt here. You can take your secret and discovery, to the store and  buy a bottle of the 2011 Evohe Tempranillo today and impress your friends tomorrow.

The idea of Evohe Winery began in 2006 when three wine lovers Ricardo Mosteo, Henrik Heikel and Alfonso Mort got together and decided to “share the wisdom of generations of winemakers”. The Vineyard/Winery is located in Aragon, Spain. The winery itself was actually built in 1912 and uses the fact that there are natural concrete deposits to keep the wine cool while fermentation to it’s advantage by making a great wine. The wine also uses wild yeasts that occur naturally in the grapes. The weather in Aragon is very dry and therefore gets very little rain. According to Evohe Vineyards this along with the big temperature swings ensure that the vines that do survive are strong and produce only the best grapes for wine. Evohe Vineyards makes three varietals of wine such as a Grenache, a Tempranillo and a Sparkling (brut) Wine.

Now for the moment you have been waiting for, the review. Let’s begin at the beginning with the pour. This wine is a dark purplish in color but seems to darken around the edges of the wine while it rests in the glass and tends to become a deep, rich looking enticing red. It was both visually appealing to see the deep red and at the same time made it even more appetizing. Unlike most deep, rich red wines there is no oak used in making this wine. A deep red without oak, interesting. The bouquet of the wine was peppery and did have the aroma of oak even though, as I said there is none that touches the wine. Let’s step deeper into this wine by getting to the heart of this review which, of course is how it tastes in your mouth. Happily this is a classic Tempranillo, spicy peppery, black current, cocoa. The first flavor that came to my palate was that of blackberry which was followed closely on the heels of a moderate amount of black current. If that isn’t a great combination there is more to follow. How about a touch of pepper with some cranberry thrown is for good measure? If this isn’t sounding like a complex wine that should be costing more that $10 you are right. Tasting this wine is like tasting a nice, dark, red  powerhouse of a wine that comes across as if it were in your cellar for years, aging and becoming nearly perfect. The black current mixing in with the spice really, I think sets this wine off. The wine is simply smooth, elegant and delicious. Hold on though this review isn’t over just yet, no this wine is not done. The wine also opens up a little and brings a little cocoa along with it for good measure. The cocoa doesn’t linger too long but it’s presence is definitely felt in the wine. I think it might even add to a sense of softening of the wine just before you swallow. If you are starting to feel as if you are in need of a glass of this wine as you read this article don’t feel bad you are not alone. I am wishing I had a bottle with me right now, or at least one in the cellar along with one to put away. There is most definitely a lot going on in this wine and you would think that there is so much going on that it would be overpowering but you would be wrong. This is what a good Tempranillo should taste like and the reason I fell in love with the grape in the first place. I am so infatuated with this grape that if I wasn’t growing two different varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon & Sauvignon Blanc) right now or if I had room for a third I would be purchasing some vines come springtime. This grape is known to be a challenge to grow but the way the 2011 Evohe Tempranillo expresses this varietal so wonderfully makes you just want to go out and want to at the very least grow the grape. I think the 2011 Evohe Tempranillo has done a lot to advance this grape as a standalone grape. I highly recommend that if you have never had a Tempranillo that you start off with this wine so that you get a feel of what the varietal is supposed to, or can taste like like if time is taken with it. Before ending this review there is one last thing I wanted to throw out there that makes this wine unique. As I stated earlier, Tempranillo has been used as a blending grape but was rarely ever attempted as a standalone wine, at least in this country. Lately there are two wines that I have tasted that are 100% Tempranillo this happens to be one of them, the second being the 2011 ST AMANT Tempranillo that I have a review pending on.

To sum this all up in a nutshell. The 2011 Evohe Tempranillo represents the varietal very well. The wine is put together very well and makes for a wonderful wine to enjoy a great porterhouse or rib eye steak with special company.  Then again you might just want to keep this wine our little secret.

On The Desert Wine Guy rating scale I give this wine 93 points.

The Desert Wine Guy

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This is a special review for me because this is my first guest blog I’ve ever been part of and I am very grateful to Michelle Leonardson the owner of WineDineDIY.com who was adventurous enough to take up me up on the invite of actually doing a guest blog. Michelle is going to send me an article she will write for her own site (WineDineDIY.com) and I will put it up on my Blog. I have to say, Michelle is one of the few Bloggers that I have contacted with this invite who is confident enough in her ability and online presence to branch out of her comfort zone and open her world up to other wine lovers. There have been a few wine writers who have websites whom I have contacted who rejected the idea of swapping articles for whatever reason. Perhaps they forgot that they started small at one time as well and they were given opportunities to expand by people who were also adventures and were able to “think outside the box” so to speak as Michelle is. Once again thanks Michelle.

grapes close up in pot

How to Make Grape Juice

I almost titled this post “If I Never See a Grape Again….”

Grapes are tiny and time consuming and when you have nearly 15 gallons of them you should carve out a couple of weeks for the preserving process.

You may recall that my buckets looked like this after all the vines were picked:

grapes in buckets

Bucket by bucket I dumped my harvest into the kitchen sink, then went to work separating the good grapes from the bad.  The bad ones were tossed out while the good ones were destemmed in preparation for washing.

grapes in sink

A few people have told me they skip washing and destemming because they find it unnecessary. Here’s why I do it: tannins.  I’m trying to create the sweetest and purest grape flavor.  This excerpt on tannins is from a post a few weeks ago:

Tannins are a natural compound contained in many plants, including grapevines.  They are extracted from grape skins, seeds and stems, and the strength of the tannin increases as the grape ages.  They are also categorized as an astringent, meaning they constrict body tissue (like taste buds) on contact.  If you have ever taken a sip that left your mouth feeling dry and puckered, you were probably drinking a wine made with mature grapes.

I washed them because they were capital D – DIRTY and I have a thing about dirt.  When cooking grapes, dirt foams up and must be skimmed off, so in my opinion, a quick rinse after destemming is an easy and worthwhile step as it lessens the foamage.

What I’m saying is that it’s a matter of personal preference.

Back to juice making.  Once the washing was done I measured out two 3lb “bundles” of grapes and emptied them one after the other into a large pot, then poured in water until the topmost layer of grapes were just barely submerged.

weighing grapes

grapes in pot

grapes with just enough water to cover

I brought the water to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally.  I could see the grapes begin to split and soften.

grapes split

grapes simmering

After about fifteen minutes I removed them from the heat and mashed them gently in the pot.

mashing grapes in pot

Next came some elbow grease.  First I used a mesh colander to strain the grapes with water (“grape water”).  My colander allowed for 2 cups of grape water at a time.

scooping grapes from pot

Then I used a potato masher to begin smushing the grapes through the colander.

mashing grapes in colander

When that was no longer effective, I grabbed a small 4oz jelly jar and used it like a mini wine press to extract the remaining juice (a method I learned from my great-grandma).  I had to really put my back into it!

mashing with jar

I discarded the pulverized grapes into a small colander to collect any remaining droplets.

discarded pulp

At this point I strained the juice through cheesecloth to fine the pulp.

pulp  on cheesecloth

Then I repeated the process with the next 6lbs of grapes.

Again.

And again.

And again.

grape juice before cooking

Believe me, this was just the tip of the iceberg.

Now I had all this lovely juice.  But I wasn’t done.

I added a gallon of juice to the large pot and brought it to a simmer, skimming the foam as it heated up.

foam on juice

Then I added 2 cups of sugar, stirring continuously until the granules dissipated.  I let that simmer for a good 5 minutes and removed it from the heat.

MEANWHILE.

I filled my largest stock pot with water on high heat.  Once boiling, I began submerging 16oz mason jars (lids included) into the water until the pot was packed tight.

boiling jars

After the jars boiled for 10 minutes, I was ready to start the actual canning:

canning prep

As you might imagine, it’s a bit of a dance learning how to best synchronize the timing between straining the juice and boiling the mason jars.

Using towels to handle the very hot glass, I transferred the fresh juice into as many jars as possible, twisted their lids tightly closed, and placed them upside down.

juice in jars

jars upside down

After 10-15 minutes I began hearing popping sounds, indicating the successful formation of a vacuum seal in the affected jars.  I manually checked the internal pressure by poking my finger against the top of the lid.

pressing the lid

NOTE:  If I had been able to push the lids inward, I would have given them another 10-15 minutes upside down, long enough for most to seal.  Then the stragglers would go back into boiling water for 5 minutes.  The “failures” thereafter would go into the fridge to be enjoyed over the next few days since the juice within could no longer be preserved.

So.  Cook, strain, mash, skim, stir, boil, fill, pop.  Repeat.  Ad nauseam.

Guess what everyone I know is getting for Christmas? Spoiler alert!

Happy canning!  What are you preserving right now? Come back next week and I’ll show you how to make grape jelly.

Jessica teaching

Snake River Valley Harvest Festival

The Ste. Chapelle Snake River Valley Harvest Festival was held last weekend, and as you may recall from this post (LINK) I was a vendor alongside Jessica Wyman to promote our new collaboration Vino & Vinyasa.

Vino and Vinyasa signs

Vino and Vinyasa table

All in all the event was a success.  The crowd wasn’t as large as we’d hoped, maybe because there were approximately one million events in the Treasure Valley that day.  However, we still met quite a few people, had some great conversations, shared our blogs, our stories and did a little yoga!

yoga in the Snake River Valley

yoga in the park

A lot of people entered to win our gift baskets and congratulations to Velinda and Lynn! The baskets  included goodies such as Jessica’s cookbook Girlfriends Organic Kitchen, wine charms, a bottle of wine donated by Ste. Chapelle, and more!

Vino

Vinyasa

I also had some of the grape juice and jelly from my backyard grapes for sale.

Juice and Jelly

Jessica was busy promoting her soon-to-be-released book Finding Your Foxy Feeling Frumpy and Unfit is so Last Season and handing out flyers for her upcoming event Sisterhood Session 2014.

The best part of the day was spending quality time with my new partner in wine and since we survived the day without driving each other nuts, I’d say we’re at the beginning of something beautiful!

Speaking of beautiful check out these park views:

park view 1

park view 2

park view 3

If you are interested in inviting Vino & Vinyasa to your winery or event, contact me at winedinediy dot com for more information.

Taste Wine Like A Pro!

When it comes to wine tasting, here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way.

To begin, try to learn a little something about the wine even before it touches your lips.  If you’re dining out, wine notes may be found in the menu; most wine tasting events will supply you with a laminated card describing in detail the wine being served.  Depending on the event, additional brochures and pamphlets may also be available.  Making time to read the available literature can truly enhance the experience.  While reading, take mental notes regarding which fruits, spices, and aromas the wine is said to display, as well as any other characteristics that might influence its taste.  Was the wine aged in wood barrels, and if so, what type of wood?  How long was it aged?  In what kind of soil were the grapes harvested?

Your server or steward will pour a small amount of wine into your glass.  Note the color and composition of the wine.  Is it faint or bold?  Thick or watery?  Based on appearance alone, how do you expect it to taste?

Holding the base of the glass flat against the countertop, swirl quickly for at least ten seconds.  This allows the wine to oxygenate, which helps draw out aromas and flavors.

Swirl

After you’ve swirled to your heart’s content, dive in nose first and smell.

SmellRemember those mental notes you made?  Now is the time to start recalling them… what do you smell?  Try to identify at least one scent. Cherry? Pepper?  Honeysuckle? Does it smell fruity at all? Can you smell any alcohol?

Give it one more big whiff, then take that first sip!

Sip

Keep the wine in your mouth and let it roll around on your tongue.  Play the same game… what do you taste? Is it spicy or sweet? What fruit flavors are present?  If it hasn’t been aged in oak, it should be crisp with a lot of fruity components. If it has, then the flavor might be smokier, even buttery or reminiscent of vanilla.

Now, for the swallow.  Gulp and then immediately exhale deeply through your nose, let those nostrils flare! Can you still taste it on your palate? This is the finish!  The longer the taste lasts, the better the finish.

Swallow

Finally savor the wine you just tasted.  Reflect on it and enjoy any lingering flavors.

Savor(2)

Have a cracker or a bite of food to cleanse the palate, then on to the next!  Now you can taste like a pro!

*Artist is Sidonia Om Dunia