Obvious wine choices for Valentine’s Day

Rather than being obscure, I am going to be obvious. Here are some easy choices for selecting wines for Valentine’s Day, or any other romantic occasion…

RosesRosé- Pink wines are easy to drink, and sexy, whether they are still or sparkling.

First, the 3 basic ways of making Rosé wine:

ALL grape juice is virtually colorless, it is the grape skins that give a finished wine their color.

  1. Skin maceration- leaving crushed grapes in contact with their skins (maceration) gives the wine depth of flavor, and of course color. Red grapes with short maceration can produce rosé wines, white grapes can produce orange wines. My favorite still wines are created this way as they they are the intended final product (see alternative saignée method below)
  2. “Bleed off” red wine that is fermenting to create a lighter red (rosé) wine. This is called the saignée method in France and most of these wines are created as a byproduct to make use of grapes intended for finished red wines
  3. Miix red and white grape juice before final fermentation. This method,used to for rosé Champagne, is allowed for some wine production but not all.

roseintheglassMixing finished red and white wine, to make a pink wine is not a generally accepted method to create rosé wine and is therefore not legal in most wine producing regions.

My favorite Rosés are from Provence, France or the Loire Valley (Sancerre Rouge).

Dessert wines

2005CoteauxduLayonDessert wines are wines intentionally finished with residual sugar and are meant to be drunk after dinner. These wines can be paired with sweet foods, cheeses, or drunk alone, as dessert. Some of the most famous examples of dessert wine from around the world. Some of my favorite dessert wines, to drink solo, are Coteaux du Layon, from the Loire Valley or Italian Vin Santo. Because they have high acidity, in addition to sugar, they are not overly syrupy or cloying.

Splurge wines- $$$

2000CalonSegur 2000CalonSegurcorkCult Napa Cabs (USA), Burgundy, Bordeaux (France), Barolo, Barbaresco, Brunello, Amarone (Italy), and Rioja (Spain) are all classic wines. They are expensive to produce, and/or need a long time to develop, and are therefore usually very pricey. One of my favorites is Calon Ségur.

This estate came to be owned by Nicolas-Alexandre, marquis de Ségur who also owned Chateau Latour and Chateau Lafite. Despite his ownership of these two First Growths, the Marquis said that “I make wine at Lafitte (spelling) and Latour but my heart is at Calon Segur.” The wine’s label today includes a drawing of a heart around the Chateau’s name.

 

 

 

#Super Bowl XLVII- BEER vs. WINE

I rarely drink wine at live sporting events.
Wine doesn’t taste great in plastic bottles and cups.  And it just doesn’t feel right.

In the privacy of your home you should drink what you want, but wines are sometimes a better match with food. Try it for yourself, beer vs. wine,  with your favorite Super Bowl dishes.

 If you normally drink lager beer…

(Budweiser, Corona, Stella Artois), you are drinking beers that are light bodied, bright and crisp.

Similar white wines would be Pinot Grigio (from Northern Italy), or Sauvignon Blanc (try the Loire Valley, French version). Drink with Chips and Dip!

If you want to try some reds look for low tannin, fresh acid wines like Barbera or Beaujolais (not Nouveau, please). Great with Doritos!

Summer ale (Sam Adams) or Belgian White (Blue Moon) is your thing?

Try white wines with more aromatics like Albariño (Rías Baixas, Spain) or Torrontés (Argentina).

For a slightly more aromatic red you may like a chilled Tempranillo (Rioja/Ribera del Duero), or unoaked Sangiovese.
All great with nachos or chili!

Hefeweizen (wheat) beer fan?

For whites, try Gewürztraminer from Alsace, France. Gewürz (guh-vorts) for short, is spicy and can be dry, or have a little sweetness. Perfect with asian flavored chicken wings.

Another option is Zweigelt, a funky, spicy, but floral red from Austria.

IPA (hop) head?

You might want to try the New Zealand (Marlborough) style of Sauvignon Blanc, grassy with Juicy Fruit (the gum) flavors. Another white wine option is Chenin Blanc (French, not South African) if you want a fuller bodied wine.

“Go to” reds could include Cabernet Franc or Carmenere from Chile.
Also great with chili!

For traditional Ales/Stoudts…

Since they are full bodied there are only a few whites for you, Viognier (northern Rhone, France) or oaked Chardonnay (Burgundy, France).

On the red side, go big or go home! You would probably enjoy full bodied reds like Aglianico (Italy) or Australian Shiraz.
Save these wines for the main course…

For some of my other “Super Bowl” favorites see previous recommendations:

Super Bowl XLV

Super Bowl XLVI

 

As always, please let me know what you think…

July 4th- A NY State of Mind…Summer Wines

To celebrate July 4th, or any hot summer day, I recommend drinking American beer/wine. Our economy needs it!

Here are a few of my “local favorites”; all wines from the North Fork of Long Island, New York.

Riesling (Dry)- Paumanok 2007- $22

From the producer:
“Aromas of lime, green apple, lilies, lilac and other white flowers and a hint of ginger. Bone dry with flavors of lime, green apple, white apricot and intense acidity.”

Paumanok also makes a nice Chenin Blanc as as well- $25

 

Sauvignon Blanc (NICOLA’S CUVEE)- McCall 2010- $24 (pictured)

The wine had just been bottled and they didn’t have labels yet but I convinced the winemaker to let me buy it. He improvised and “created” a label from an existing Chardonnay label. Gotta love it.

 From the producer:
“Crisp and elegantly refined with minerality reminiscent of Loire Valley’s classic Sancerre. This low production wine offers exceptional quality which may prove to be the best vintage ever for Long Island wine. A must with local shellfish.”

 

Rosé- Wölffer Estate 2010- $20

From the producer:
“The floral aroma hints of a freshly cut wildflower field. The mouth is filled with fresh berries and a note of wild strawberries.”

Drinks like a glass of Summer!

 

Chardonnay:
Shinn Vineyards 2010- $20

Shinn is working toward becoming the first Long Island winery to be certified Organic. They are doing all the right things, in the vineyard, and in the production of their wines.

 From the producer:
“This unwood style Chardonnay showcases bright mineral characters washed in exotic fruit and gentle mouthwatering acidity. A long 8 month post fermentation lees contact adds spicy overtones and silky texture while pear and tropical flavors give way to a polished finish.”

 

Chardonnay Lenz Old Vines 2008- $25…but you need to be a Wine Club member (I am)

From the producer:
“The Old Vines style is intended to emphasize fruit intensity, balance and elegance.  We use very limited barrel fermentation and oak-aging tends to be ‘neutral,’ meaning we only use older barrels that allow the wine to achieve greater complexity and flavor concentration but leave less of an oak fingerprint on the wine.  Old Vines Chardonnay is focused on flavors of apple and pear with notes of fig.”

 

A note of caution: The North Fork of Long Island isn’t well known for making great wines, but they do, and they often sell out of everything they make. However, Long Island has difficult growing conditions for wine grapes and the wine quality can vary from year to year. The wines that I tasted with the producers and am drinking now are from 2007/2010 vintages which were both excellent. Some are still available in stores.

The latest vintage, 2011 was NOT a year that I can recommend yet as I have heard that it was a difficult vintage (Hurricane Irene) and I have not tried any of them.

Super Bowl XLVI – Great wine for a Great Game!

SuperBowl XLVI is this weekend and I am here again to help with winning wines for the Big Game. If you are in the mood for full bodied red wine you should check out last years picks.

Many football friendly recipes (chicken wings, chili, etc) are spicy and high in acid. This year I am suggesting Riesling wines- they are lower in alcohol and will cut right through the spice, cleansing your palate and getting you ready for the next course.

Riesling grapes are best grown in cooler climates. Some of the best Riesling wines come from Germany and Alsace, France. There are also really good Rieslings produced in the Pacific Northwest, the Finger Lakes of New York as well as New Zealand.

High in acidity, Riesling wines are very food friendly. Most people think that Rieslings are sweet but many of my favorites, including the ones recommend here, are not.

The first wine, Donhoff is from Nahe, Germany. The best German Rieslings are very expensive  ($50 to several hundred dollars). This one is from a premier producer yet can be found on sale for under $20. Look for “trocken” (German for dry) if you don’t care for wines that have some sweetness.

Classic flavors of lime, slate and sweet petrol. Drink this one with your main course or with your heaviest appetizer.

http://www.wine-searcher.com/find/donhoff+trocken/1/usa

The next wine, Pacific Rim hails from Columbia Valley, Washington State. Not as complex as the Donhoff, this wine has lots of fresh fruit flavors like apricot and peach. A real bargain- under $10 and easy to  find in most wine stores. This wine goes well with Super Sunday brunch, Huevos Rancheros, fruit and BACON!

http://www.rieslingrules.com/

The third value Riesling, Kung Fu Girl, is also from Wahington State. Charles Smith is making some really great wines, with some funky labels that everyone is sure to remember.

Great fruit flavors, with some minerality, this is another all purpose wine that will pretty much go with whatever you decide to cook, or buy, for Super Bowl snacking. Try it with Seven Layer dip or Chicken Chili.

http://charlessmithwines.com/wines.php

Enjoy the game.

Please let me know if you enjoy these wines or have your own game day favorites.

4th of July- Hot Dogs, Hamburgers and Watermelon Wine…

Ahhhh......Summer!

One of my favorite things on a hot summer day is ice cold watermelon. Read on for 2 ways to have watermelon, without the seeds, or the mess.

IZZE esque Sparkling Watermelon– I don’t believe this is officially launched (I know people at PepsiCo). But when it becomes available, you should try it. IZZE was started in Boulder, Colorado, their products use all-natural ingredients (sugars and flavors-including grapes). The IZZE esque line is lower calorie, with a light sparkle, and very refreshing. Great for making “adult beverages” like IZZE watermelon and vodka.

Enanzo Garnacha Rosé Navarra is a pink wine from the Navarra region of Spain. It is made from Garnacha (Spanish for Grenache) grapes. It is produced using the traditional “free-run” technique, where the grape must is obtained by gravity alone. When the picked grapes are dumped into the collection tank, Continue reading

My Super Bowl picks (wine and recipes)

 

Ticket created at CupCake Cards

Looking forward to Superbowl XLV? I am.

Pittsburgh and Green Bay are “old school” football teams. This is the first title game with 2 teams more than 75 years old. Combined, these two teams account for 9 Super Bowl titles.

Football, at it’s best, is testosterone-fueled, hard hitting action. To compete with this level of intensity we need BIG, BOLD, teeth-staining wine.

Keep reading for a couple of my favorite “gridiron greats”- hearty recipes and wines for the big game.

ARE……YOU…..READY???!!!

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