Wineries in Berks County got into the holiday spirit Saturday and Sunday pairing cookies and wine with Christmas gifts and charitable donations.
Wine enthusiasts took advantage of the event to sample prized wines paired with select cookies for a sweet experience, and for each bottle of featured wine purchased, each winery donated $1 to a charity of its choice.
The donations from sales of Kog Hill Winery’s featured wine went to help the Alpha Omega Players of the Alpha Omega Performing Arts Center in Birdsboro. The winery selected Sweet Spiced Holiday Blend and Blue Merlot red wine paired with Meghan’s Famous Chocolate Chip Cookie.
“We have our blue Merlot, which I know they’ve won awards for; very popular,” said Carrie Gudikunst, server at Kog Hill Winery. “A lot of people come in here specifically for that wine. We also have Harmony, which has clove and cinnamon in it as well.”
Gudikunst said some people enjoy it chilled, which brings out the fruity flavors, and some people enjoy it warm, which brings out the spice flavors. She said it is a unique blend.
“There are different ways that wines perceived on the senses,” said Gudikunst. “Obviously aromatics and the way that it smells. Another thing interesting about wine is a wine may smell a certain way, but taste totally different. Wine kind of hits every sense a little bit differently so it’s very complex, I should say.”
According to Gudikunst, this is why people check out the color, the smell, the taste on the palate, and even the clarity of the wine.
People on the trail not only sample new or award winning wines, but they also learn about wines and the senses and what wines are best with different foods.
At Manatawny Creek Winery, the staff made home-made lavender shortbread cookies cut into festive shapes and paired with blanc de blanc sparkling wine and a vidal blanc white wine.
“You’re going to be pairing so that you can taste two different wines with the same cookie, and you’re going to try a dry wine and a sweet wine, and they’re going to change as you taste the cookie with the particular wine,” said Colleen Norheim, server and cooking class instructor.
Norheim also said you may not necessarily like the dry wine, but when you have it with a cookie you may find that you really actually like it. According to Norheim, the winemaker Joann Levengood likes to be hands-on with all the wine and came up with the pairing of the lavender cookie with the two wines after they collaborated on the idea. Norheim also said that lavender grows really well in vineyards and is seen around France, Spain and Italy, so it was only natural to pick lavender cookies.
Norheim explained that the blanc de blanc is made with a natural fermentation process with a lot of steps involved. The process is referred to as methode champenoise, translating to “in the method of champagne.”
“The blanc de blanc is our dry Champagne-type wine. It’s a sparkling wine, and it’s made the traditional way where we turn the bottles a quarter turn every day. It’s the way they make it in France,” said Janet Levengood.
Levengood said the vidal blanc is a sweeter wine that has more of a floral bouquet to it.
“We like sweets and semi-dries,” said Bill Heffelfinger, of Wernersville.
“Wine and cookies, what could be better?” said Nina, Bill Heffelfinger’s wife.
Like with the other wineries, for each bottle of the featured wine sold, $1 was donated to Wounded Warriors, an organization that provides support to wounded recovering veterans.
The Christmas Wine Tour was an opportunity for more people to discover the different wineries and to help charities in the process.
To learn more about the Berks County Wine Trail, go to http://www.berkscountywinetrail.com.