Champagne for the Holidays…

DavidBowlerChampagne “insider” secrets:

Attended a recent Champagne tasting at PJ Wine. Meeting with some very knowledgeable reps provided some great wines and some new (to me) “insider” information.

Basics:

The primary grapes used for making Champagne are Chardonnay (white grape), Pinot Noir, Pinot Menuier (red/black grapes).

Most Champagnes come from a blend of all three. Meunier gives fresh fruit and energy, Pinot Noir gives body and backbone, Chardonnay, high in acid provides the ability to age.

Champagne made with only  Chardonnay (or very rarely, Pinot Blanc) is called Blanc de Blanc– white (wine) from white (grapes).

Champagne made with 100% Pinot Noir, 100% Pinot Meunier  or a mixture of the two is called Blanc du Noir– white (wine) from black (grapes).

Now for the Advanced…

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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

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).

Happy New Year, Honeysuckle!

THE “OFFICIAL” COLOR FOR 2011
Honeysuckle- Pantone 18-2120

from the Pantone website:
A Color for All Seasons
Courageous. Confident. Vital. A brave new color, for a brave new world. Let the bold spirit of Honeysuckle infuse you, lift you and carry you through the year. It’s a color for every day – with nothing “everyday” about it.

While the 2010 color of the year, PANTONE 15-5519 Turquoise, served as an escape for many, Honeysuckle emboldens us to face everyday troubles with verve and vigor. A dynamic reddish pink, Honeysuckle is encouraging and uplifting. It elevates our psyche beyond escape, instilling the confidence, courage and spirit to meet the exhaustive challenges that have become part of everyday life.

“In times of stress, we need something to lift our spirits. Honeysuckle is a captivating, stimulating color that gets the adrenaline going – perfect to ward off the blues,” explains Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “Honeysuckle derives its positive qualities from a powerful bond to its mother color red, the most physical, viscerally alive hue in the spectrum.”

Even though I would think “Honeysuckle” would be in the medium yellow family…I have changed my WINE (in the website header) to Pantone’s Honeysuckle for some good energy to jumpstart 2011!

Festive Wines for Holiday Gifts

A friend asked me if I would suggest a great wine that also had a nice holiday label.

Wine producers do not generally create special holiday labels (halloween, valentines day, christmas, etc) because any change to a label must be re-submitted and re-approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). And nobody wants to deal with that!

Although I DO NOT recommend buying a wine just because it has a cute or clever label there are many great wines that also have holiday packaging or look like they were made for the holidays.

I am a bit of a traditionalist. Holiday wine for me is red and sparkling. When I think of holidays I think of red, green, silver and gold (and maybe white- for snow).

Here are some of my traditional favorites…

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