Thanksgiving wines! It’s that time of year, again…

Tomatoes shriveled on the vine

Thanksgiving is one of the toughest meals to pair with a single wine. At a traditional meal you have savory elements (stuffing/gravy), and sweet elements (cranberry dressing), as well as a good amount of fat (flavor) but also delicate white meat.

In addition, throw in some items that are hard to pair with anything (Brussels sprouts, turnips) and you have a challenge on your hand.

 Challenge accepted!

First off, Thanksgiving is really about your loved ones, around the table, and you should serve wines that your family/friends enjoy drinking.  Secondly, the food is really the star, and in my opinion wines should take a backseat.

 Safe Bets for Thanksgiving if you can only serve ONE wine… Continue reading

#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…

​For Rosè Lovers Only

On a recent wine trip to the North Fork of Long Island we discovered a fantastic new (to us) winery, Croteaux Vineyards.

Unlike many of the other wineries in the area they do not allow larger groups (more than 8), and do not accept limos, buses, taxis, or any hired car services.

These ‘rules’ provide for a calm, relaxing vibe to sit back and enjoy delicious Rosè-only, wine.

Even though Rosè is generally given its own category, it is technically a very light Red wine.

All of the Rosès at Croteaux Vineyard are made as the final product. As they say, “Rosè on Purpose!”

This distinguishes their wines, from the majority of Rosès, which are often made as a by-product of  red wine production using the saignée (pronounced ‘sonyay’) method, which means to “bleed off”.

Basically the red wine maker has a big vat of grape juice and skins that they leave fermenting together to make a darker colored and more flavorful wine. They remove some of the liquid to let the remaining liquid and skins become more concentrated.

Normally what is removed becomes Rosè wine.

NOT so at Croteaux, where they grow Cabernet Franc and  Merlot specifically for the beautifully colored wines, of various styles, to be enjoyed by all.

The Wine Menu

Not to be outdone by the wines, the packaging of EVERYTHING- from the logo and their colors, to the bottle labels, t-shirts, and garden outside, is trendy and elegant.

Next time you are in the neighborhood I highly recommend you visit and buy someone special a gift here. Since they are fairly small production you probably won’t find them anywhere else.

I plan on making  Croteaux Vineyards  a regular stop to sip and chill…

Tolerant Taster approved!

 

 

 

 

American Thanksgiving wines- “Red”, White, and Orange?

Everbody has their opinions about which are the “best” wines for the Thanksgiving table. I love Old World wines (Spain, Italy, Germany, France) but this is an American Holiday, so my choices for Thanksgiving are usually all-American.

All of this years interesting selections came from a recent visit to the North Fork of Long Island, New York.

THE “RED”
2010 Shinn Vineyards- Anomaly. White Pinot Noir? Yes, you can make a white wine from a red grape. Just like champagne the reason this wine is not red is because the juice is not fermented with the skins (which would give the wine a pink/red color).
http://www.lenndevours.com/2009/05/anthony-nappa-wines-2008-anomaly-.html

THE WHITE
2007 Lenz Winery- Gewürtztraminer- often referred to as Gewürz which means “spice”. It is a pink-red grape which produces a white wine that goes great with white meats, like turkey, as well as Asian food!
http://www.lenzwine.com/Home.htm

THE ORANGE
2010 Channing Daughters, Ramato- “Orange Wine”-made from Pinot Grigio or “Gray Pinot”- wines produced from this grape vary in color from a deep golden yellow to copper and even a light shade of pink. All grape juice is clear, but this particular wine is called “orange” due to the color it picks up from from being kept in contact with the skins.
https://www.channingdaughters.com/wine_order/index.php#2010%20Ramato

By the way, the “best” Thanksgiving wine is whatever is on the table with family, friends and food.

Happy Thanksgiving.

What adult loves a big pile of leaves…Cabernet Franc anyone?

This weekend I traveled to the North Fork Wine Trail but when I returned home I needed to clean up  the many scattered leaves that are a constant reminder that winter is soon approaching.

The smell of the leaves swirling in the fall wind took me back to the vineyards and tasting Cabernet Franc.

Cabernet Franc is native to Bordeaux, France. Generally it is used as a blending grape along with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  But in some areas of the Right Bank of France (Pomeral and St. Emilion) along with the Loire Valley, they use Cabernet Franc to make a single varietal wine.

These wines have aromas of fall leaves, potting soil, wet bark as well as tea, and some other spices. If you have ever stuck your head into a damp pile of raked leaves you will recognize the scent.

Cabernet Franc is called by many names: Bouchy (in the Southwest of France), Bretton, in the Loire Valley, and Bouchet on the Right Bank of Bordeaux.

The grape has more recently found a home on Long Island where the conditions are well suited for growing single varietals that share the same woodsy components of the French wines.

Cabernet Franc actually crossed with Sauvignon Blanc, to create Cabernet Sauvignon, but it is lighter in tannin and color (pigment) than Cabernet Sauvignon. The lower tannin makes it is easier to drink on it’s own, yet it is also very food-friendly, easily pairing with a number of fall dishes like roasted butternut squash or pumpkin soup.

 

Some of my favorites producers of Cabernet Franc in New York :

Castello di Borghese

Shinn Vineyards

Paumanok

If you would like to try an example of a French Cab Franc, Bourgueil Nuits d`Ivresse Breton is an easy drinking excellent value from the Loire Valley. The name of the wine translates into “Drunken Nights”.

 

 

Lessons learned at Wine Camp- A look back…

Last year, my wife and I traveled to the North Fork of Long Island to attend wine camp– 3 days of access to some of the best winegrowers in the area.

Welcome!


If you love wine
and have never been to a wine growing region- plan a trip, now!

It is enlightening to see how wine grapes are grown. Visiting a winery allows you to appreciate the effort required to produce wine and to enjoy the passion, of everyone involved in the process.

Every glass of wine you drink afterwards will taste better.

What I learned at wine camp:


Wine growing is FARMING. It it is HARD work
and a difficult way to earn a living.

Most wineries are not chateaus
but rather modest, generally clean environments for producing  a reliable, consistent product.

“Chateau” Old Field- lovely people live/work here

Wine people (producers, owners, tasting room managers) are fun, patient people who LOVE to talk wine and answer questions, so feel free to ask away.

Vintage does Matter
The vintage year (the year listed on the bottle) is ALWAYS the year the grapes were harvested, not when it is released (available on shelves). Therefore it is a snapshot of what happened in the vineyard during that growing season.

The North Fork has a cool, sometimes cold, maritime climate. Similar to Bordeaux it is greatly  influenced by dramatic, unpredictable weather shifts.   In 2010 when we visited, winemakers were anticipating a fantastic harvest. For the entire spring, temperatures were moderate, they had plenty of sun, and the grapes were ripening very well. Literally the day we left, a hail storm hit and some wineries lost as much as a third of their crops in one day!

Check your grapes! Europeans have spent thousands of years determining what grows best in a certain area. Most have laws that restrict what can be grown, and how it can be grown, to maintain the integrity of a specific region.

We do not have many of these laws in the United States so you will be well served to ask winemakers what grows best in their region, and stick to wines made with those grapes.

The PRODUCER is important (Look at the name of the winery)
A good producer provides quality and consistency. Many factors are out of their control: weather, temperature, hungry birds, etc. But a good producer can make a good wine in a not so good vintage. And a reputable producer won’t even make wine in a poor vintage!

Read on for some of my favorite producers from the trip: Continue reading