For the past month we’ve been occupied with planning a big move, so we haven’t had much time to visit many wineries. But, in the interest of keeping our blog updated – and to satisfy our insatiable love of wine, of course – we managed to squeeze in a few local tastings in. We’ll keep this post brief, since we have to get back to packing.
We started our Saturday afternoon wine-tasting experience with lunch at our favorite ramen place (full disclosure – it’s currently our only Ramen place). A big bowl of ramen – especially on a chilly spring day – is the perfect start to an afternoon of tasting great wines. Ramen Kumamoto is in downtown Newark, DE, within University of Delaware campus area.
For those unfamiliar with traditional Japanese ramen bowls, it’s a lot more than a block of dried noodles and a salty flavor packet. The bowls are large, filling, and inexpensive. Ingredients can include roasted pork, chicken, minced meat, bean sprouts, mushrooms, scallions and a hard-boiled egg. The broth can be spicy and/or savory, and there are multiple noodle choices.
Ramen Kumamoto’s menu also includes some Japanese appetizers, such as Charshu Onigiri (a pork filled rice ball), pork buns and edamame. They also serve donburi (meats and vegetables over rice), udon (thick-noodle soup) and chicken, beef or pork curry platters.
As we’ve discovered, typically, the further north along the east coast one travels, the lighter and sweeter the wines becomes. As a couple, we prefer our whites dry – a well-oaked Chard, a rich Viognier, a crisp Sauv blanc, etc. We’re mixed on our preference of reds, with one of us preferring jammy and fruity, and the other leaning towards drier tobacco and leather styles. That said, we’ve always been able to find good wines in the north, even if northern wines don’t always suit our tastes.
Paradocx Vineyard in southeastern Pennsylvania is an excellent representation of the regional style. Their whites range from crisp to sweet, their reds are light and fruity, and they have one of the best rosés in the area. Paradocx is one of our favorite hangouts, especially with their friendly and knowledgeable staff and newly-opened tasting room. Instead of boxed wine, Paradocx sells three-liter “paint cans”, as well as a pouch of tea-wine – a slightly sweet white wine infused tea!
And, if your tastes expand beyond wine, their tasting room also serves local craft beers and Pennsylvania distilled whiskeys. Paradocx’s event calendar also includes Sunday brunch, food trucks, happy hours, karaoke, and live music.
So, for every rule, there is an exception. We’ve said before that we tend to have low expectations for newly opened wineries, since it can take a few years to develop solid wines. And we just said that northern wines are often lighter and sweeter. Then we went to 1723 Vineyards, which has only been open for a few months. We were pleasantly surprised by the depth of the wines here, which have characteristics more in common with wines we’ve tasted a few hundred miles to the south.
We were simply amazed by these wines and the winery instantly became one of our local favorites. The staff was friendly and talkative, and after learning of our tastes, gave us some off-menu samples. The prices at 1723 are notably higher than other area wineries, but still within expectations for the quality of the wine. Every bottle was definitely worth the price, and we left with one bottle of each wine available – a full case of twelve, to be exact.
Their reds – which include the rare Chambourcin – were deep and stout, made in more traditional European styles, and satisfied both of our preferences. The whites were bold and dry. Unlike pretty much every winery we’ve ever tasted at, 1723 has no Chardonnay, but instead bottle less common whites, including a dry Reisling and an Albariño, neither of which are often found in this area of Pennsylvania. And if you’re a Chard lover, 1723’s Vidal Blanc is more than an acceptable substitute.
- If you love ramen, or haven’t had the true ramen experience, visit Ramen Kumamoto.
- Paradocx Vineyard makes excellent southeast PA wines. This vineyard also serves local beers and PA whiskeys, has a calendar of great events, has a friendly staff.
- With its list of world-class wines, 1723 Vineyards is a new jewel in the area’s wine-making crown that is well worth the visit.