#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…

Top 100 VALUE wines of 2012

It’s that time of year…Wine Spectator recently released their list of the Top 100 wines of 2012.

Due to personal preferences I can’t tell you whether you will really love all of the wines on the list or not. However, if it is under $20, (I also include exactly $20) and makes this list, it probably is a solid value.

Last years list only contained 12 wines under $20- this years has 27. Also, I am noticing a large number of wines coming from South America.

Hint: just because they might not have made this years list- the 2011 list are still good wines to try!

Here are the VALUES (ranking/Score/Price)…
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Beaujolais- you should be drinking it more than once a year…

“Introductory” Beaujolais is labeled Beaujolais Nouveau. All Beaujolais is made from 100% Gamay grapes, but Nouveau (which means new) is specifically produced to be drunk young (within a year of release).

Hint: If you buy Nouveau make sure it has the current vintage year on the bottle, older is definitely not better with this wine!

What many don’t realize is that Beaujolais is actually part of Burgundy (where all those great Pinot Noirs are grown). Pinot lovers should give them a try!

The wines of Beaujolais are produced in levels- the lower level vineyards produce generic Beaujolais and Beaujolais Nouveau. Next up in elevation, and quality of soil is the Villages designation. These wines are better, although often mass-produced. At the top of the hierarchy are the Beaujolais Cru wines.

For serious, food worthy, and age worthy wines, look for one of these Cru regions on the bottle: Moulin-A-Vent, Chenas, Julienas, Morgon, Fleurie, Saint-Amour, Cote-de-Brouilly, Chiroubles, and Regnie.

Because Gamay is fruity and lower in tannin, these are great wines for white wine drinkers switching over to reds.

Georges Dubœuf is probably the king of Beaujolais wine producers, these wines are a good value, well made, and easy to find.

Here are a couple (both under $15) I can recommend for your Thanksgiving table…

Georges Dubœuf Morgon Jean Descombes






Georges Dubœuf – Moulin-à-Vent Domaine des Rosiers


If you have a quality wine shop near you, the best Beaujolais are brought in by the following importers: Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits, Louis/Dressner, Alain Junguenet, and Kermit Lynch-look for their names on the bottle (usually on the back).

Wait…this isn’t dessert wine? Lost in Translation

A prime example of how confusing and complicated wine labels can be for consumers:

After having “a few glasses” of wine for dinner I decided to open up a special bottle of dessert wine that we brought back from a trip to the Loire Valley.

I thought the label read Coteaux du Layon which is a well known area (appellation) for sweet white wines made from Chenin Blanc.

Opened it and thought, “this doesn’t smell like dessert wine” (rich and honeyed). “Maybe it needs to open up”?

Drank it and immediately knew it was a dry wine and unfortunately, a pretty good one.

Looked again at the region on the bottle which read Coteaux du Loir. This appellation produces mostly dry wines.

Looking at the label of a traditional Old World wine is NOT helpful. Many times I advise people to turn the wine around and look at the “second” or back label. This is usually put on by the importer so it is more American friendly with copy in English and the information that we are used to seeing on the label (grape variety, tasting note, food pairing inf0). Not this time.

Oh well …happens to us all…at least it was the right color!

Picking Pinot with a Master of Wine (MW)

“God made Cabernet Sauvignon, whereas the Devil made Pinot Noir,” a quote from America’s most influential winemaker, André Tchelistcheff.

I recently attended a fantastic event at Astor Center with Christy Canterbury, MW.

Master of Wine is an IMPRESSIVE title, there are currently only 30 Americans who have it. The program takes a minimum of three years to complete, and most never achieve the certification.

I am often asked to recommend a great, affordable Pinot Noir. This is usually an oxymoron.  Pinot Noir is a thin-skinned grape which means it is susceptible to frost, wind, and too cold or too hot temperature. It is also a very low yielding grape which means you get very few grapes per vine.

All of these factors make Pinot Noir very difficult to grow and therefore it is expensive to turn into wine.

Most agree that the best Pinot Noir comes from Burgundy, France but they are also some of the priciest. I have found some really good, affordable Pinot from Washington State and Central Otago, New Zealand that I recommend to others.

I was curious to taste all 8 expressions of Pinot Noir and also to hear how “the Master” would handle the challenge.

Her Pinot Selections…
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This wine is like a great red Bordeaux only BETTER and CHEAPER!

My wife was out of town so being a “bachelor”… I grilled my dinner (steak). I was looking for a good wine to pair with it and after I tasted this one, it blew me away.

May de Lencquesaing, then owner of the famous Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande (Bordeaux), purchased this South African property in 2003.

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Excellent summer white wines! Memorial Day Part Deux…

Two years ago I setup a Rosé wine tasting for family and friends to see if we could all agree on a summer favorite. Click to read.

The group asked if we could do it again, with white wines, so I was happy to oblige.

The 5 wines I chose are all wines that I recommend to people on a regular basis for these reasons:

They are inexpensive, all under $15, and a few under $10 on sale.

All are relatively easy to find- they are carried in most wine stores in the country.

They are consistent-not too much variation from vintage to vintage.

Granted, these wines aren’t going to blow you away with layers of complexity, but let’s be honest… summer wines should be simple, well chilled, and refreshing.

*All wines were tasted blind with tasting sheets for the drinkers to circle flavors, grape variety, country of origin and to write comments.

So here are the wines with some “professional” tasting notes along with comments from all of us non-professional wine drinkers who just want a great summer white…
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