#WineWednesday Review – 2014 Peter Zemmer Pinot Grigio

From time to time, I receive wines samples from wineries or their public relations agencies for review.  I feature such samples on here on #WineWednesday Review. This week I’m featuring the 2014 Peter Zemmer Pinot Grigio.

The Winery

Peter Zemmer is one of the Alto Adige’s most respected wine-grower/winemakers. He’s been running the eponymous winery founded in 1928 by his grandfather in the tiny 600 person village of Cortina.

He is a third generation winegrower/winemaker who has carried on the traditions of his family by bringing the Zemmer estate into the 21st Century with new techniques that display the great minerality and acidity components of their terroir.


Image courtesy of PeterZemmer.com

The estate vineyards are sustainably farmed with an average elevation of around 1600 feet.

The Wine

The fruit for this wine comes from both the mountain valley floor and the steep slopes near the estate.  It is fermented in stainless steel on native yeasts, and aged on lees for several months.

The soils are a mixture of stony, sandy and extremely chalky soil. The low yields (60hl) and growing conditions give the wine a concentration and minerality that are the hallmark of Alto Adige.


My tasting notes follow:

Very pale green color with pear skin, melon, and citrus zest aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, refreshing, and harmonious with wonderful texture and concentration. It shows ample pear, melon, and grapefruit zest flavors with a lingering mineral tinged finish.  13.5% alcohol; Retail – $16

Rating: Very good; 86-88 pts.; This is anything but the ubiquitous insipid Italian Pinot Grigio I’ve avoided for years.  In fact, this reminds me more of an Alsatian Pinot Gris in terms of texture.  The wine offers great QPR at $16

Pair with: We brought this wine with us on a trip to Hawaii. Over the course of a couple of days it showed a remarkable affinity for seaweed salad, spicy poke,  and macadamia nut crusted tuna with lilikoi dill sauce!

Follow my wine reviews on Vivino and Delectable

Wine provided as a sample for review.  Many thanks to Creative Palate Communications

Related posts you might enjoy:


Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

2014 Pinot on the River Tasting Favorites

Last month I attended, as a media guest, the 11th Annual Pinot on the River Festival in Healdsburg, California.  Pinot on the River is a Pinot Noir-centric event that offers an opportunity taste highly allocated, limited-production Pinot Noirs from up and down the West Coast.

There are a lot of stellar wine events held each year, but because of their size, none can offer the focused, intimate tasting environment we’ve created with Pinot On The River,” The combination of the small event size and opportunity to taste a focused lineup of specially selected Pinots Noirs creates the ultimate event for Pinot lovers.– Gregory S. Walter, co-founder/organizer of the event and editor of the Pinot Report newsletter

In addition to the tasting, the event included local artisan food vendors, raffle and silent auction.  Proceeds from food sales, silent auction and raffle benefit Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Sonoma County.

Favorites from the 2014 Pinot on the River Tasting

A gorgeous day on Healdsburg Square!

I’m a huge fan of Pinot Noir and this event has been on my radar for a few years but for one reason or another, I hadn’t gotten around to attending.

When I checked out the list of wineries pouring, it created what I’d call a “delightful dilemma”.

There were several wineries, whose wines can be a challenge to find in the marketplace because they are sold via a mailing list only, that have been on my “Wines To Taste” list for years…

There were plenty of wineries with big-time Pinot Noir reputations (some I’d tasted and many I hadn’t)…

And there were lots wineries whose names were new to me…

I typically go into such big tasting with a plan, but since this was an all Pinot, all the time event, I didn’t have a plan…Ok, well I didn’t have a plan other that hitting the wineries on my “Wines To Taste” list first!

Favorites from the 2014 Pinot on the River Tasting

Brian Mast of Waits-Mast Family Cellars

It was an absolutely perfect day for the event too!  Cellar temperature weather – sunny and in the upper 60s would be my guess.

Favorites from the 2014 Pinot on the River Tasting

Waits-Mast – a “new to me” producer that had an impressive line-up of vineyard designate wines…

Favorites from the 2014 Pinot on the River Tasting

Thralls Family Cellars is a very small producers (Ed still has a day job) that’s making some elegant, and harmonious wines

Favorites from the 2014 Pinot on the River Tasting

Littorai has been on my “Wines to Taste” list for years – The wines are available via mailing list only and tasting is appt only – so great opportunity to taste these world-class wines…Score!

Favorites from the 2014 Pinot on the River Tasting

Skewis – was another “new to me” producer that was quite a revelation. The wines were well-balanced, delicious and made for the table!

Favorites from the 2014 Pinot on the River Tasting

Failla is another producer that has been wine “To Taste” list for years. They produce mostly vineyard designate wines. Another mailing list only producer…The wines lived up to their considerable reputation…

The event was a walk-around tasting held in beautiful Healdsburg Plaza.  According to the event’s organizers there were about 100 wineries pouring.

It was pretty well-organized.  The wineries were mostly in alphabetical order, and there was handy tri-fold listing for taking brief notes and/or rating wines.

I’ve become fond of using a 1-5 scale for big event like this.  It makes it simpler for me to rate the wines, and consequently taste more wine.

I ended up tasting about 50 wines from about 40 wineries…far from a comprehensive tasting of all the wines available, but definitely a representative sample of the wines available.

My favorite wines (rated 4.25 or higher) from the event were:

  • 2012 Black Kite Pinot Noir Stony Terrace
  • 2012 Bruliam Pinot Noir Soberanes Vineyard
  • 2012 Failla Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
  • 2012 Failla Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir Hirsch  Vineyard
  • 2010 La Rochelle Pinot Noir Dutton Ranch
  • 2012 Littorai Pinot Noir Savoy Vineyard
  • 2013 Littorai Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast
  • 2012 MacPhail Pinot Noir Rita’s Crown
  • 2012 Skewis Pinot Noir Wiley
  • 2012 Skewis Pinot Noir Salzgeber-Chan Vineyard
  • 2012 Thralls Pinot Noir Bucher Vineyard
  • 2012 Waits-Mast Family Cellars Pinot Noir Oppenlander Vineyard

It was a fantastic “deep dive” into Pinot Noir (along with a few Pinot Gris and even a Pinot Meunier). I love it when you can try wines back-to-back and decide (though sometimes the answer is “all of the above”) which wines you prefer.  Especially if you’re trying to decide whether it’s worth signing up for wines only available via a mailing list.

It’s an experience I highly recommend!  I’m already looking forward to Pinot on the River 2015!

Wine of the Week; 2013 Copain P2

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  My Wine Of The Week is the 2013 Copain P2

The Winery

Copain Winery was founded by winemaker Wells Guthrie in 1999.  According to the Copain website…

Wells Guthrie discovered early on that his taste in wine gravitated toward Europe in general and France’s Rhône Valley in particular. So much so, he picked up and moved with his new bride to the region to learn from the best. For two years, Wells apprenticed for esteemed winemaker and living legend Michel Chapoutier in France’s Rhone Valley. During that time, Wells was deeply inspired by the traditions and practices of French winemaking, not to mention the European attitude that wine is an essential part of life.

Guthrie started the winery with an old friend, and named it Copain, which means ‘friend” in French.

Copain is focused on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir,and Syrah. They offer three lines of wines, the entry-level “Tous Ensembles”, mid-level “Les Voisins”, and their top of the line “Single Vineyard” Wines.  In addition to this interesting blend they also produce an interesting and delicious estate Trousseau Gris.

The Wine

This is an interesting blend of 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Pinot Gris.  The fruit was sourced from the Hein, and Klindt vineyard located in the Anderson Valley. The grapes are co-fermented and aged for five months in neutral French Oak barrels.

You get more Pinot Gris on the nose and more Pinot Noir on the palate.

12.7% alcohol; Retail – $25

My tasting notes follow:
Light ruby color with strawberry, a bit of cherry and hints of floral and spiced orange rind aromas. On the palate, it’s light bodied, fresh and balanced with strawberry, spice flavors complemented by a tangy minerality and touch of tannins round out this well structured wine.  Satisfying finish. It’s very good on its own, but really shines with food!  Serve slightly chilled (~55 degrees).

Rating: A-;  An interesting blend that works so well! Positioned as a chillable summer red (which it is), but this also make a great Fall wine too!

Pair with: Thanksgiving dinner!

Sample purchased for review

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 95-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 92-95/Outstanding
(A-) – 89-91/Very Good to Outstanding
(B+) – 86-88/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Seafood Gumbo and Wine Pairings for Soul Warming #SundaySupper

This week’s #SundaySupper theme is all about soul warming foods.  You know, those soups, chili, stews, and other soul warming treat we seek when the weather turns cold.

When I first saw the theme, my first thought was of “Soul Food”. I’d  bet that “Soul food” is one of those phrases that if you ask 10 people what it means, you’d get 10 different answers!  Soul Warming foods and Soul food are one in the same to me, and when I think of Soul food, the first dish that comes to mind is Gumbo!  We have a tradition in our family of making Gumbo each New Year’s day, but it’s  a soul-satisfying meal whenever there’s a chill in the air.

Since I’m a Wino with latent foodie tendencies, I decided let my foodie nature rise up, and do a dish, and wine pairings this week!

Here’s my Seafood Gumbo (we …OK make that “I”, call it “Yumbo” – lame right?..but I like it!)

Seafood Gumbo

Seafood Gumbo

For me, there are two things you’ve got to get right to make a gumbo – the “roux” (I prefer mine to be dark brownish), and you must have stock that is chock full of flavors.  Sure you could take a short-cut, and go with store-bought (I’ve done that for a  ” quick and dirty” version of this dish, but the flavors are not as complex and intense for me. If you get those couple of things “right”, it’s clear sailing thereafter!

Seafood Gumbo and Wine Pairings for Soul Warming #SundaySupper
Recipe type: Stew
Cuisine: Cajun
Serves: 10-12
Adapted from Emeril's Classic Seafood Gumbo recipe
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups finely chopped onions
  • ¾ cup finely chopped green bell peppers
  • ¾ cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • One 12-ounce bottle amber beer
  • 6 cups Shrimp and Crab Stock
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 small Dungeness crabs
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tablespoon Emeril's Original Essence
  • 2 cups shucked oysters with their liquor
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ cup chopped tender green onion tops
  1. Follow directions for cleaning and prepping crab to be cooked (click here, except remove crab legs and claws. Follow directions for Shrimp and Crab stock, except add crab shell and crab butter (roe) along with shrimp.
  2. Place an 8-quart stockpot over medium heat, and add the oil. Allow the oil to heat for about 5 minutes, then add the flour to the pot. Stir the oil and flour together with a wooden spoon to form a roux. Continue to stir the roux for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the color of milk chocolate. Add the onions, bell peppers, and celery to the roux and stir to blend. Stir the vegetables for 5 minutes, then add the garlic. Cook the garlic for 30 seconds before adding the beer and Shrimp and Crab Stock to the pot. Season the gumbo with the thyme, bay leaves, crabs legs, Worcestershire, salt, and cayenne. Bring the gumbo to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Continue to simmer the gumbo for 1 hour, skimming the foam and any oil that rises to the surface.
  3. Season both the shrimp with 1½ teaspoons Essence. Stir the shrimp into the gumbo and cook for 2 minutes. Add the oysters to the pot and cook, stirring often, for an additional 5 minutes. Taste the gumbo and season if necessary.
  4. Garnish with the parsley and green onions and serve in shallow bowls over white rice.
Recommended Wine Pairings - I paired this with the Navarro Vineyards Edelzwicker, a blend of Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris. It would also pair well with Viognier, a dry Rosé, or White Zinfandel. If you elect to go with a less spicy version try a Pinot Noir!


Take a look at the culinary cornucopia the #SundaySupper team has put together for this week’s gathering around the #SundaySupper table! My recommended wine pairings (click on the name of the wine to find out where to purchase) are italicized.

Main Entrees: 

Pair these main dishes with Pinot Noir.  Look for the 2010 Davis Bynum Pinot Noir. It’s a silky smooth Russian River Valley Pinot Noir with a core of raspberry  and spice aromas and flavors, with caramel edge. Why it works: Pinot goes with just about everything.  It’s a white wine, in red wine clothing, which makes it incredibly flexible with dishes and methods of prep.  Pinot is sublime with poultry, and complements foods that are slow roasted, or braised.

I recommend a Chardonnay for these dishes.  Look for the 2009 MacMurray Ranch Chardonnay Sonoma Coast. It’s a medium-full bodied Chardonnay that’s undergone malolactic fermentation, that’s moderately oaked.  The oak aging brings vanilla and caramel notes to the party to go along with its ripe apple, tropical fruit and lemon cream character.  Why it works: The texture, and weight of wine complement the dish, and it has enough acidity to “cut” the dish a bit and prepare the palate for the next mouthwatering bite.

Pair this dish with a Tempranillo from Rioja Spain.  I really like the 2007 Viña Eguia Reserva. It’s shows great balance between oak and fruit with a cherry, dried herb, spice, leather and vanilla character.  Why it works: Tempranillo is an underrated food pairing partner.  It’s tends to be a light-medium bodied earthy red wine. It’s between a Pinot Noir and Cab.  It’s fruity with moderate tannins, and acidity making it a good fit for somewhat spicy fare like Spanish, Mexican and similarly spiced fare.  

Pair this classic Italian dish with Sangiovese.  Try the 2010 La Mozza I Perazzi Morellino di Scansano. It’s a blend of 85% Sangiovese, 5% Syrah, 5% Alicante, plus a couple of other indigenous Italian grape varieties from Tuscany  It shows juicy red and black berries, with some licorice and spice notes supported by soft dusty tannins.  Why it works: The food of a place and the wine of a place is always a good place to start when pairing wine and food.  On top of that, its high acidity, together with its medium-bodied character enable it to stand up to more substantial dishes.  Sangiovese is a wine that loves dished prepared with fresh herbs, rich thick soups, mushrooms and tomato based dishes

Pair this dish with an Edelzwicker, a blend of the “noble” Alsatian varietals of Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris.  Look for the 2011 Navarro Vineyards Edelzwicker. It’s an aromatic white wine with a stone fruit, spice, and hint of citrus character. Why it works:  The spicy character of the wine, along with some sweetness (spicy likes sweet) and acidity make a great match!


Pair these hearty dishes with Cabernet Sauvignon.  One of my favorites is the 2010 Columbia Crest Cabernet Sauvignon “H3”  It’s from Washington State, and is a bold wine that delivers delightful floral, dark fruit, cocoa aromas followed by plum, black cherry, vanilla and cocoa flavors. Why it works: Cab works well with red meats, dishes with earthy, herbal elements.  This youthful wine has plenty of fruit which make it a nice complement to longer cooked meats and stews.

Try these dishes these with a Cru Beaujolais (not to be confused with Beaujolais Nouveau hitting the store shelfs soon), a wine from France made from the Gamay grape. Look for the 2010 Georges Debœuf Moulin-à-Vent with a wild red fruits, and white pepper character that a juicy easy drinker.  Why it works: Like Pinot Noir, the Gamay grape is naturally high in acidity, and is light-medium bodied with low tannins. It pair well with dishes with veggies,earthy flavors. Great picnic wine too! Er..but I digress;-)

Syrah is a good match for these hearty flavorful dishes.  I like the 2009 Jacob’s Creek Reserve Barossa Shiraz from Australia. It’s has a fruity core of black cherries, plums, baking spices, and vanilla that balanced by some oak.  Why it works: Syrah is an ample full-bodied wine that likes thicker, fuller dishes like slow braises, stews (especially tomato-based), and one-dish meals.

Pair these dishes with the Sangiovese noted above:
Pair these dishes with the Pinot Noir noted above:
Pair this dishes with the Tempranillo from Rioja noted above:


Pair these soul-warming soups with a Sauvignon Blanc from the Pouilly-Fumé region of the Loire Valley in France. Look for the 2011 Patient Cottat “Le Grand Caillou” Sauvignon Blanc.  It has a lovely tropical fruit, citrus, spice and mineral character with a tangy acidity.  Why it works: Sauvignon Blanc with its “green” (gooseberries, lime, green olive, papaya character and a mineral component attributable to the terroir of the Loire Valley make this a good match for vegetarian soups, spicy (hot) fare, dishes with acidic ingredients.  It’s a very versatile food pairing partner in that it work nicely as a complement or a contrast.

Pair these satisfying soups with Pinot Gris.  I recommend the 2011 King Estate Pinot Gris Signature Collection from Oregon. It has juicy lemon-lime, stone-fruit, green apple, pineapple and spice character.  Why it works: Pinot Gris likes ethic foods, especially coconut-milk based curries. 

Pair the rest of the soups with the aforementioned wines as noted in parentheses:


Pair this Hot Fudge Pudding Cake (That Skinny Chick Can Bake) with the Terra d’Oro Zinfandel “Port”, a dessert wine made for chocolate! I like the what the Wine Enthusiast says about it…”The first duty of a Port-style wine is to be dazzlingly rich and sweet yet balanced in acidity, and this bottling is all that. Waves of blackberry jam, cassis and dark chocolate are brightened with zesty acidity

  • White Hot Chocolate with Orange – GirliChef

Join on us on Twitter throughout the day during #SundaySupper.  And join us at 7pm EST, for our live weekly #SundaySupper chat.   All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag or you can follow us through TweetChat.

And be sure to check out the #SundaySupper Pinterest board. We’d love to feature your Sunday Supper Soul Warming Recipes and share them with all of our followers.

T.G.I.F. Champagne And The Like….Mumm Napa Brut Prestige

This week’s bubbly is from Mumm Napa, a joint venture between G.H. Mumm & Cie, of France, and Joseph E Seagram & Sons.  G.H. Mumm & Cie was founded in 1827, ironically by the von Mumms, German winemakers who trace their ancestry back to medieval times. The Napa location was founded by in 1979 by Guy Deveaux, who passed away in 1995.  Mumm produces an upscale line of “DVX” sparkling wines in his honor.  In addition to a diverse lineup of sparkling wines, they also produce Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay still wines.

Mumm Napa is one of five sparkling wine producers in the Napa Valley and Carneros, that aside from Mumm, includes Gloria Ferrer, Domaine Carneros, Chandon,  and Schramsberg.  The five compose the Sparkling Wine Trail.  Each has its own charm.  If you visit Mumm Napa they offer three seated tasting experiences (click here for more details), rather than the typical standing tasting at a bar.  The seated tasting experience, which is more typical when you visit one of the sparkling wine houses, is one of the things I appreciate about going wine-tasting at a sparkling wine house.

This is an interesting wine in that the fruit is sourced from 50 vineyards, and 80 vineyard blocks throughout Napa Valley.  .

Mumm Napa Brut Prestige

Where it’s from: California>Napa Valley

The grape(s) Pinot Noir (51%), Chardonnay (46%), Pinot Meunier (2%), and Pinot Gris (1%)

Production method: Traditional Method 

Alcohol: 12.5

Dosage: Brut

Aging: 18 months on less; 3 months bottle aging

 Retail: $22 (I purchased on sale for $17 – it’s frequently on sale)

My tasting notes follow:

Light golden tinged straw color with biscuit, sweet citrus, red fruit and subtle floral aromas. In the glass it displays lots of tiny bubbles. On the palate it is medium-bodied with fairly creamy mousse and cherry, vanilla, and citrus flavors. Medium finish. – 88pts

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their versatility with food, because of their palate cleansing quality (think scrubbing bubbles;-). This one would be wonderful as an aperitif , but it has enough body to continue drinking into the main course.  I’d bring this along on summer picnic in a heartbeat as it would pair nicely with picnic fare.  It would also be wonderful with a seafood pasta salad.

Recommendation: Recommended.  This is one of my “go to” California sparklers in part because I prefer a bubbly where the Pinot Noir, rather than Chardonnay flavors dominate, in part because it’s frequently on sale!


#SundaySupper Father’s Day

Today’s #SundaySupper is all about special recipes that remind you of Dad.  As a Dad, I can tell you that Dad wants to be appreciated, and cooking something special for him is a great way to do that.

Here’s the menu for today.  My suggested wine pairings are italicized.

Father’s Day Brunch:

There’s a reason that sparkling wines go so well with brunch, the effervescence adds a celebratory feel to the meal, and the high acidity of sparkling wines makes them an ideal companion for the melange of foods that might be served.  I recommend Mumm Napa Brut Prestige for something on the dry side, and La Marca Prosecco if Dad like his bubbly a bit sweeter.  Both are available for less than $20

Dad’s Favorite Soup, Salads and Bread:

For the Tuna Salad, and the German Potato Salad stick with the sparklers I mentioned above.  For the Roasted Beet soup, I recommend the “Chef’s Wine” – Pinot Noir.  Like sparkling wine, its got great acidity, which make it very food friendly.  The acidity has the effect of cleansing the palate and preparing it for the next mouthful of deliciousness!  It can be a challenge to find a budget friendly Pinot Noir.  Look for the 2008 Buena Vista Pinot Noir, it’s about $10 at Trader Joe’s.  It has a nice mix of cherry, and earthy flavors that will be a great complement a variety of food, especially Roasted Beet Soup. 

Father’s Day Favorite Main Dishes:

I recommend Syrah for the following dishes.  Syrah is a “big” wine that will stand up the the hearty nature of these dishes.  What I like about Syrah is that it typically has more acidity than Cabernet Sauvignon, or Merlot. That enables it to pair with a wider range of foods.  Look for the 2010 Andrew Murray Tous Les Jours Syrah.  It retails for $16.  Another great option for these dishes is a Côtes du Rhone Villages, which is often a blend of Syrah, along with Grenache and Mourvedre.  Look for the 2009 Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve Red.  It’s around $15. 

For these dishes I recommend 2010 Chateau Ste. Michelle Pinot Gris.  Pinot Gris is a “cousin” to Pinot Noir, it has good acidity, and is more full-bodied that Pinot Grigio, so it will stand of to the bolder flavors of these dishes.  

Dad’s Sweet Tooth:
When pairing wine with dessert the main thing to remember is that the wine should be sweeter than the dessert.  Since I’m not sure how sweet the desserts are I’ll propose a few dessert wines that will work with this alluring line-up of desserts.
For the all but the sweetest of chocolate based desserts, especially the Black Forest cheesecake, I recommend  Banfi Brachetto d Acqui Rosa Regale, which is a red sparkling wine from Italy, made from the Brachetto grape.  It  complements chocolate very well.  And because it’s a sparkler it has the added benefit of cleansing the palate.  Around $20
For the fruit based desserts, custards, meringue, puddings I recommend a Late Harvest Riesling.  It’s a sweeter dessert wine, but the acidity of the Riesling keeps it from being cloying.  I recommend 2010 Hogue Cellars Late Harvest Riesling. Around $10
And finally, Dad might like a little Port to go something a little bit sweeter, or that contains nuts. Try the Graham Porto 10-year Tawny.  Port has the added advantage of being longer-lived than my other dessert wine recommendations.  That’s nice because, of course you DO want to let Dad know he’s appreciated more than once a year. Right? 

To learn more about Sunday Supper, please visit Family Foodie!

Which Wines Go Best With Oysters?

Well it turns out there’s a competition for that!  The most recent edition was the 18th Annual 2012 Pacific Coast Oyster Competition.  Are you kidding me?  They’ve done this 17 times before this year and I just found out?!;-)

Here’s what the website says…

Traditionally, restaurateurs have looked to France for wines like Muscadet and Chablis to accompany oysters on the half shell. There aren’t many wines that work with oysters but when one does…bingo!…it’s a beautiful thing. In a unique wine competition where judges taste each wine with at least one oyster and then rate the “bliss factor”, 25 top food and wine experts have selected 10 West Coast wines for prestigious “Oyster Awards”…Each wine is blind tasted with at least one Kumamoto oyster. The judge first smells and then chews the oyster well, then smells and tastes the wine, then rates the “bliss factor”, the wine’s affinity for the oyster

I think tasting the oyster first is a subtle but important point because otherwise, the judge could fall in love with the wine, and not the oyster and the wine together.

Fresh Tomales Bay Oysters

Here’s a list of the 2012 winners (listed alphabetically) from the website, which were announced April 30, 2012 (click here for full press release):

Brandborg Wines 2010 Pinot Gris (OR) – $16

**Cedergreen Cellars 2010 Sauvignon Blanc (WA) – $14

**Dry Creek Vineyard 2011 Dry Chenin Blanc (CA) – $12

**Foris Vineyard Winery 2010 Pinot Blanc (OR) – $14

**Hogue Cellars 2010 Pinot Grigio (WA)  – $11

Kenwood Vineyards 2011 Pinot Gris, Russian River (CA) – $16

**Kenwood Vineyards 2011 Sauvignon Blanc – (CA) – $12

Millbrandt Vineyards 2010 Traditions Pinot Gris (WA) – $13

Sockeye 2010 Pinot Gris (WA) – $10

**Van Duzer Vineyards 2011 Pinot Gris (OR) – $17

**Prior Multiple Oyster Award Winner 

What I found interesting about this list is that it’s dominated by Pinot Gris, a wine that isn’t admittedly “top of mind” when it comes to oyster and wine pairings.  Top of mind for me are Muscadet, and sparkling wines (see my post below).  But that’s one of the things I enjoy about the drinking wine – keeping my mind open to trying new wines, and combinations of wines and foods I enjoy!  As good fortune would have it, we’re planning an outing to the Tomales Bay Oyster Company next month.  I’ll try to find one of the winners and report back!

It’s also good to know the wine aren’t expensive.   The most you’ll spend on one of the winners is $17 (although it seems as if the competition is oriented toward restaurateurs, which means you’ll probably pay at least twice as much as the prices listed above for a bottle – I shutter to think about the per glass price).

What wine(s) do you like with oysters?

I leave you with this quote from Ernest Hemingway..

As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.

Moveable Feast , Ernest Hemingway

That my friends, sounds like a plan to me!

What’s The Difference Between Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio?

A bunch of Pinot gris grapes.

A bunch of Pinot gris grapes - Image via Wikipedia

I was having scallops for lunch the other day, and was in the mood for something other than Chardonnay, or Sauvignon Blanc.  I looked at the wine list and decided on the, Bottega Vinaia  Pinot Gris Trentino.  It was a very good wine – Nice tropical, apple aromas, medium bodied with a tropical/apple/vanilla flavors.

When I got home I was looking for some information about the wine, and noted it was referred to as Bottega Vinaia Pinot Grigio Trentino on the wine label.  That brings me to the question my wife asked me during lunch…

“What the difference between Pinot Gris, and Pinot Grigio”?

The answer?  There is no difference in terms of the variety of grape.

It’s the not so unusual case of the same grape going by different names.  Pinot Gris, as it is known in France tends to be fuller-bodied style wine with tropical aromas/flavors.  Whereas in Italy, whereas the grape is known as Pinot Grigio is a lighter, crisper style wine with citrus aromas/flavors.

But outside of France, or Italy what wine makers call their wines made with this grape tend to be a stylistic decision.  It’s the same thing with labeling a wine either a Syrah, or a Shiraz when it doesn’t originate in France or Australia.  What you label the wine can set expectations for what’s in the bottle. Ironically, the wine I ordered was from Italy.  Even so, stylistically, since it was a richer wine with a tropical aroma/flavor profile the restaurant choice to refer to the wine as a Pinot Gris.  In this case, I got what I expected – a fuller-bodied wine.

Generally speaking then if you’re looking for a light-bodied wine with a citrus aroma/flavor profile – order a Pinot Grigio.  On the other hand if you looking for a medium/full-bodied wine with a tropical aroma/flavor profile order a Pinot Gris.

Thanksgiving, Wine and You!

Thanksgiving Dinner

We’ve decided to deep-fry our turkey for Thanksgiving this year. Initially I wondered if deep frying the turkey vs. roasting it one way or another would influence by decision about what wines to pair with the turkey.  My initial conclusion: only slightly because the deep-fried turkey tends to be more flavorful than a roast turkey in my experience. But then I realized I was over-thinking it.  There’s a tendency to do that, I think, with holiday meals because a) there are so many flavors involved, and b) wanting to please everyone with wine(s) selected.  Especially Thanksgiving, which can be perceived to be especially challenging, with the combination of sweet, savory, and spicy flavors.

Figuring out which wine(s) to serve with your Thanksgiving meal doesn’t have to be daunting, especially if you work with versatile wines. Here are my thoughts on the matter…

The first thought that comes to mind is to select a red and a white to keep those who are going to drink wine happy.  But indulge me for a moment. If I had to pick one wine to go with Thanksgiving dinner, it wouldn’t be a white or a red; it would be a dry rosé, and probably a dry sparking rosé at that. Dry rosés are very versatile, and can handle the diversity of flavor and “weight” profiles that are part and parcel of Thanksgiving fare. You add the effervescence of a sparkler to the mix and you’ve got the Swiss army knife of wines (See my blog about Rosés – “Everything is coming up Rosés for me” below)!

Now back to my original thought of having a mix of red and white wines. I recommend the following:

1.       Start with a sparkling wine. It’s a great aperitif to sip while waiting for the turkey to finish cooking, and it goes well with starters like appetizers, soup, and salad.  Beside it adds a celebratory note to Thanksgiving.

2.      For white wine, the safe bet is a dry, or off-dry Riesling. Rieslings play well with spicy, sweet or sweet dishes. It’s an aromatic grape that typically produces wines with almost perfumed aromas of flowers, and stone fruits (apples, pears, peaches, and apricot), and it’s high in acidity, which makes it a versatile pairing partner for your Thanksgiving meal.   Other good choices are Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris. Looking to expand you, and your guests wine palates? Try an Albarino, or Viognier.  While they lack the name recognition of Chardonnay, either will offer more versatile pairing power for your Thanksgiving meal than many Chardonnays.

3.      For red wine, the safe bet is a Pinot Noir, a traditional favorite red wine for Thanksgiving. Pinot Noir’s fruitiness, subtle earthy undertones, and acidity tend to show well with the traditional flavors of turkey and stuffing. Not a fan of Pinot Noir?, try a Beaujolais Nouveau a light fruity red wine made from the Gamay grape will pair well with turkey and all the fixings. Beaujolais Nouveau is released from France on the third Thursday of November, just in time to highlight your Thanksgiving feast!  Or even better try a Cru Beaujolais which is step up in quality.

4.      And remember about a wine to pair with dessert.  Madeira would work well with pumpkin/sweet potato pie, or pecan pie, while a port, would work with chocolate desserts.  Looking to shake it up a bit on the dessert wine front?  Try an ice wine, or late harvest Riesling, especially with cheesecake. Just remember the dessert wine should be sweeter than the dessert.

Of course, at the end of the day choosing a Thanksgiving wine is truly about what pleases you and yours. There are no hard and fast turkey pairing rules, but there are lots of options to experiment with.

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