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.

 

 

 

Summer wine pairing

pesto_roseOne of my favorite (easy) fresh summer appetizers is Basil Cream Cheese pesto with tomatoes.

The fancy version involves making an “X” shape in the end of a cherry tomato and stuffing the tomato with the pesto filling.

I prefer to spread it on grilled bread and top with chopped fresh garden tomatoes to make bruschetta.

Pesto_ingredientsHere is my version of this summer favorite:

8-12 basil leaves (around 2 cups)

2 or 3 cloves garlic (depending on size)

1/4 c. pine nuts (toasted preferably)

1/4 c. Parmesan cheese

6 oz. low fat cream cheese (or Neuchâtel preferably)

1/2 c. Olive Oil

Pulse all solid ingredients together in a food processor while drizzling olive oil into the mixture. Blend until smooth.

Brush fresh bread with olive oil and grill or broil.

Spread pesto mix onto bread, top with chopped tomatoes and extra cheese if desired.

Enjoy with a low-tannin light red, or rosé wine.

IRDC_LaSpinettaMy wine pairing suggestion is a pink Sangiovese like this one. Il Rosé di Casanova- La Spinetta. Around $15.

Rosé perfect for Spring/Summer…

3RosesMost of us change wines based on the weather (seasons). Rosés are the perfect “in- between” or transition wine from Winter to Spring or Spring to Summer…

They are technically light red wines since they can only be produced from red or black grapes. The pinkish color comes from contact with the skins.

Rosé wines can be various shades of red– most often salmon or pink. They can be extremely light and easy drinking, or complex enough to pair with grilled meat and heavy pasta dishes.

Here are 3 of my new favorites if you are thinking pink.

Mellot_SancerreSancerre– most people are familiar with the white wines from this Loire Valley region made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes. Their rosés, and reds, are made from Pinot Noir and are made in a crisp, clean style. Most are stainless steel fermented.

Joseph Mellot Père et Fils – Vigne de la Demoiselle (around $15)- explore the great wines of this region.

 

 

 

IRDC_LaSpinettaTuscany– La Spinetta is extremely well known for their collectible wines from Piedmont: Barbera, Barbaresco and Barolo. The first red wine they produced (Barbera Cà di Pian) is still a great value.

This wine, Il Rosé di Casanova, fom Tuscany is a blend of 2 types of Sangiovese grape- Sangiovese Grosso and 50% Prunolo Gentile (the name for Sangiovese in Montepulciano). Aromas of flowers, honeysuckle and red fruits, this one tastes of summer and is under $20!



 

IsleSaintPierreCamargue- Domaine Isle Saint Pierre Rosé– ripe strawberry with fig. This wine is a blend of Cabernet franc, Merlot, Arinarnoa, Petit Verdot, Tannat and Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine has been produced on an island at the mouth of the Rhône river since 1927. For around $10 this would be a welcome port in any storm.

 

More rosés to come…please share your favorites

​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!

 

 

 

 

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

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!