Wine Pairing Recommendations For Global Street Food #SundaySupper

This week’s #SundaySupper theme is all about Global Street Food. You know – that ready-to-eat food served up at mobile street carts, food trucks, movable market stalls, and food parks.

One of the things I love about living in the San Francisco Bay Area is its diversity.  It’s a (mostly) delightful, if sometimes quirky mash-up of ethnicities, cultures, politics, religions, you name it.  The gastronomic scene reflects that diversity.  Name a cuisine and you can find it in the Bay Area.  And of course

And of course, there are a multitude of opportunities to sample street food in the San Francisco Bay Area, including Off The Grid, SOMA Street Food Park, among many others.

One of my favorites is Sanguchon, a Peruvian Food Truck that serves a killer pulled pork sandwich. I usually get it with yucca fries.

Many local wineries have gotten in on the act, none more so that Rock Wall Wine Company, which regularly hosts “Food Truck Frenzy” with 6-8 gourmet food trucks, a DJ, and plenty of their award-winning wines.

Yes…wine goes with damn near anything.

Especially street foods from around the world.

Global Street Food #SundaySupper

Rock Wall Wine Food Truck Frenzy – Image courtesy of Rock Wall Wine Company

Global street food deserves a global wine selection.  My wine pairing recommendations include wines from Argentina, France, Germany, Italy, and California

My wine pairing recommendations  and this weeks slate of scrumptious #SundaySupper street eats follow (click on the name of the wine to find):

Pair these dishes with sparkling wine.  One of my favorites is Scharffenberger Brut Excellence.  It’s a great value that’s a blend of 67% Pinot Noir and 33% Chardonnay with a full-bodied golden apple, ginger and honey character.  And remember sparkling wines are one of the most friendly wines there is!

Pair these dishes with a Pinot Blanc, a white grape variety that is a mutation of Pinot Noir. The first time I had it with food prepared with typical Indian food spices I was skeptical, but Pinot Blanc and such dishes rock! Look for the 2011 Paul Black Pinot Blanc d’Alsace from France.  It opens up with appealing apple, lemon and ginger aromas that follow on the palate with a lively mouthfeel, a kiss of tropical fruit and mineral undertone.

Pair these dishes with a wine made from the Torrontés grape variety, Argentina’s only indigenous grape.  Look for the 2011 Bodegas Colomé “Estate” Torrontés Valle Calchaquí Salta.

One of the tried, tested and mostly found true tenets of wine and food pairing is that “Riesling goes with anything”.  Arguably Riesling is the most versatile white wine at the table. That’s certainly the case this week.  Pair this diverse range of dishes with an off-dry Riesling.  I like the 2011 Von Hovel Oberemmeier Hutte Riesling Kabinett (is that a mouthful or what?).  It has a stone fruit, tropical fruit, sweet lime, and spice character and racy acidity.

Pair these dishes with a dry Rosé, a very versatile partner at the table.  Look for the 2012 Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare. This an atypical Rosé in that it’s a blend of  both red and white Rhône grape varieties.  A typical Rosé is composed of solely red grape varieties.  It has an appealing strawberry, white peach, melon, spice and mineral character.

Pair these dishes with Chianti, the classic Italian red wine. Look for the 2011 Coltibuono Cetamura Chianti.  It’s a blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Canaiolo with a beautiful black cherry, spice, and licorice character with a kiss of rusticity.

Pair these dishes with Malbec, or more specifically, a blend of Malbec and Tannat, a little known grape variety, that today is best known as the national red grape variety of Uruguay.  Look for the 2011 Domingo Molina Hermanos Malbec-Tannat from Argentina. It’s a dark and delicious full-bodied wine with a blackberry, plum, and chocolate character with soft texture and a mineral undertone.

Pair these sweet treats with Banyuls, a lighter style fortified wine made in France.  It’s a Port-style wine made from Grenache, and is a great match for chocolate.  Look for the 2009 Les Clos de Paulilles Banyuls Rimage.  It has rich, dense blackberry, plum, caramel, and vanilla aromas and flavors. 

Pair sweet treats with Moscato d’ Asti. I like the 2012 Vietti Cascinetta Moscato d’Asti.  It has a lovely rose, and peach character with a soft effervescence.

Pair these sweet treats with the 2011 von Hovel Riesling noted above:

Let’s hit the pavement this Sunday in search of the best street food from around the globe!  Join us for a #SundaySupper event featuring Global Street Food that we’ve made in our own kitchens, in honor of our favorites and/or those we would love to try! We’ll also be holding our live #SundaySupper twitter chat at 7pm (ET) on Sunday evening.  We’d love to have you join us as we discuss the best and the worst of Global Street Food!

Tasted – A Winning Trio From Smith Madrone Vineyards

Smith Madrone Vineyards, a family run, estate-bottled winery located in St. Helena, California was founded in 1971 by brothers Stuart and Charles Smith who are the Managing Partner/Vineyard Manager, and Winemaker respectively.  The name of the winery is a tribute to the Smith brothers and the predominant tree on the ranch. The Madrone is an evergreen with a red-brown trunk and branches.

When the Smith brothers purchased the  200 acre ranch in 1971, it included a vineyard that had been planted over a century before.  But the forest had reclaimed much of the land. The brothers had to call in loggers to clear patches of land that would become vineyards.  There remain numerous historical sights on the ranch, as well as the huge array of natural beauty and wildlife.

SmithBros

Stu and Charles Smith – Image courtesy of Smith Madrone

All their wines are produced exclusively from their 34 acres of hillside vineyards planted by the Smith brothers.  The vineyard is planted to 6.25 acres of Riesling, 10.25 acres of Chardonnay and 13 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, with the Merlot, and Cabernet Franc available for blending.

The vineyard sits high atop Spring Mountain, west of St. Helena in the northern Napa Valley. The vineyards sit at elevations between 1,300 and 2,000 feet, on steep slopes which range up to 35%.

Smith Madrone Vineyards at Twilight

Smith Madrone Vineyards at Twilight. Image courtesy of Smith Madrone Vineyards and Winery

Smith Madrone offer four wines, Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a special Cook’s Flat Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. The wines are available for purchase at the winery or on their website.  They produce about 4,000 cases/yr. The winery is open for tasting by appointment Monday-Saturday, 10 – 4:30.

Smith Madrone Trio

I recently had the opportunity to taste a trio of their latest releases, which included the 2011 Riesling2010 Chardonnay, and 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon.

My tasting notes follow:

  • 2011 Smith Madrone Riesling Estate Bottled - USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District
    Pale golden yellow color with peach apricot, mineral and a hint of lychee aromas. On the palate, it’s between light and medium-bodied, and dry with fresh peach, mineral, and a hint of citrus rind flavors. Medium-long finish; 12.6% alcohol. Retail – $27; 521 cases produced (90 pts.)
  • 2010 Smith Madrone Chardonnay Estate Bottled - USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District
    Pale golden yellow color with citrus, peach, spiced oak and a kiss of butterscotch aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied, and balanced with vibrant acidity, and peach, lemon, guava, mineral and vanilla flavors. Medium-long finish. 100% Chardonnay, barrel-fermented in 100% new French oak. Retail – $30; 703 cases produced. (90 pts.)
  • 2007 Smith Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Bottled - USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District
    Opaque violet color with lovely cassis, dried herb, roast coffee and eucalyptus aromas. On the palate it’s light-bodied, focused and balanced with youthful tannins and cassis, blackberry, and roast coffee flavors. Medium-long finish. 14.2% alcohol. 97% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc. Aged 22 months in new American oak. Unfiltered and unfined. Retail – $45; 1,434 cases produced (91 pts.)

I really enjoyed these wines.  The Riesling is the best American Riesling I’ve had.  The Chardonnay was delightfully different, and i was surprised it was aged in new oak because the oak manifests itself so judiciously.  The Cab is an elegant delightful now, but will improve with some additional aging.

Before trying these wines, I wasn’t familiar with Smith Madrone.  I’ve tended to stay on the beaten path when visiting Napa.  My bad!  I’m looking forward to getting off of the beaten path, and if you are too, I highly recommend a visit to Smith Madrone. 

Wine provided as a sample for review.  Many thanks to Smith Madrone Vineyards and Winery and Julie Ann Kodmur

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 2013 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Wine of the Week – Bedrock Wine Co Heritage Compagni Portis

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.  For this week, my Wine Of The Week is the 2011 Bedrock Wine Co. Heritage Compagni Portis

 The Winery

Bedrock Wine Co. is an “itsy-bitsy winery making wine in a converted chicken coop”. Though recently Morgan Twain-Peterson, the winemaker/owner of Bedrock Wine Co. announced some big changes including building a new winery, and hiring of close friend, Chris Cottrell to work with him.  Sounds like Bedrock will be moving from the “itsy-bitsy” level to a higher level production-wise.  The wines are already major quality-wise!

There are two things that make Bedrock Wine Co. special in my view – the first is Morgan (you can check out his full bio here), but suffice it to say he’s been making wine since he was “knee-high to a bug” including working harvests in McLaren Vale, Australia and worked as a visiting winemaker at Chateau Lynch-Bages in Bordeaux before returning to California to focus on revitalizing California’s heirloom vineyards. The second is his vineyard sources. I did a post last year entitled Bedrock Wine Co: Where Old Vine Love And Transcendent Wine Making Come Together, wherein I focused on the sources of Bedrock’s grapes.

In terms of the wine making process itself at Bedrock, it’s surprisingly Ole Skool (or as Morgan might put it “Cro-magnum”).  Grapes are pitch-forked into a small Zambelli destemmer, the punch-downs are manual, after fermentation the wines are basket pressed in an Italian press that is manually operated.   It’s a very manual and time-consuming process, but I can vouch for the results.  Peterson is making some unique distinctly Californian wines that are spectacular!

The Wine

The grapes for this wine were sourced from Compagni-Portis vineyard, one of the many vineyards from which Bedrock Wine Co. sources grapes that are listed in the registry of the Historical Vineyard Society.  It is one of the few remaining mixed-white vineyards.

Here’s what the Bedrock Wine Co. says about the wine…

As I have written in the past I am just smitten with this vineyard.  The eclectic field blend of Gewurtzraminer, Riesling, Chardonnay, Roter Vetliner, and others was planted in 1954…The dry-farmed vines yielded a scant 1 ton to the acre in 2011.  The wine was whole-cluster pressed and native yeast fermented in a combination of stainless steel and older French barrels.  As one would expect from a cooler year this is a more delicate version of Compagni; it is beguilingly fragrant and expressive…

Not familiar with Roter Vetliner?  Neither was I.  It’s an ancient grape native to Austria of unknown parentage. Today, there is little acreage planted to this grape in Austria.  I imagine there is even less here in California. From what I glean from a bit of research it’s similar to a pungent version of Sauvignon Blanc that ages well.  It’s part of the Vetliner family, the most well-known is Grüner Veltliner.  But there are also  Brauner Veltliner and Frühroter Veltliner grape varieties

BWC Compagni Portis

My tasting note follows:

Pale yellow color with aromatic, lychee, tangerine, spice, and a hint of floral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and fresh with a great mouth feel followed by white peach, tangerine, and spice flavors. Med/long finish.  - 92pts

Rating: Highly Recommended.  This is a great example of Bedrock achieving it’s objective to channel the fruit of ancient vines into powerful, elegant, and distinctly Californian wines

Pair with: The evening I enjoyed this wine, I paired it with Tandoori Chicken, Dal (yellow lentil) Curry, and Boti (Lamb) Kabab.  I’d pair with other spicy Asian cuisine, Seafood Gumbo, or Roasted Roots and Fruits.  It’s also just fine on its own!

The Wine Geek Stuff:

  • Alcohol: 13.8%
  • Closure: Cork
  • AVA: > CaliforniaSonoma CountySonoma Valley
  • Grape Varieties: Gewurtzraminer, Riesling, Chardonnay, Roter Veltliner, and several others.
  • Cooperage: Aged in SS and neutral oak for 5 months
  • Retail: $25
  • Cases produced: 130
  • Drink: now – 2015

Related posts you might enjoy:

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 2013 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

 

Wine Pairings for Home for the Holidays #SundaySupper

This week’s #SundaySupper theme “Home for the Holidays”, and is all about holiday traditions. Americans are such a diverse people.  As such, we have diverse holiday traditions that reflect our multitude of heritages. I prefer to focus on the common threads that run through the our diverse national fabric.  Among those common threads are family and tradition, and that’s  #SundaySupper movement is all about.

Our family tradition is to gather on Christmas Eve for our holiday meal and opening gifts (it used to be one gift when I was a kid, and when my kids were small – since we all adults now, and getting together can be like herding cats, we just open all the gifts on Christmas Eve). We’ve enjoyed Prime Rib, the last couple of years, but don’t really have a long-standing standard holiday meal. I guess, it’s more about getting together than what we eat.

Wine Lights Candles

Image courtesy of winecellarage.com

For this week’s “Home for the Holidays” theme, as best as I can, my wine pairing recommendations will reflect our diversity.  Aside from wanting to make my wine pairing recommendations congruent with this week’s theme, my reason for doing so also reflects some pragmatic food and wine pairing advice…that is pair the foods of a place with the wines of that place (Spanish wines with Spanish food, German wine with German food, etc).The flavors of food and wines that have “grown up” together over centuries (at least primarily in the case of the European “Old World” countries) are almost always a natural match. So where I could readily discern a heritage of the dish, my wine pairing recommendation(s) will be for a wine from that country. Of course, there are exceptions, but keeping this guideline in mind is a great place to start.

Here is this week’s stellar line-up of dishes.  My wine pairing recommendations are italicized.

Breakfast

Pair these breakfast dishes (except the coffee cake) with sparkling wine. Nothing like adding some sparkle to your morning to start the day!.  Look for Scharffenberger Brut Excellence, a California sparkling wine from Mendocino County.  It’s a blend of Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir with a lovely red fruit, apple, citrus and a touch of honey character.  

Pair the coffee cake with the Broadbent 10 year Malmsey Madeira. One of the things I appreciate about Madeira is that it’s relatively indestructible.  Once opened, it will keep for at least 6 months.  It’s a great dessert wine to keep on hand because it has a backbone of natural acidity.  It a great match for fruitcake, or rich desserts made with cream or chocolate. Or it can be the dessert in and of itself (If you have a sweet tooth, Madeira can satisfy it, and it has few calories too most other dessert choices!;-) 

Appetizers & Snacks

Pair these dishes with the Scharffenberger Brut Excellence

Main Dishes and Sides

Pair this dishes with a white Rhone blend. What’s great about blends is that the combination of grape varietals creates vinous synergy – a wine that is greater than the sum of its parts. Look for the 2011 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Blanc. It’s a blend of Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Marsanne, and Roussanne. It’s a crisp and aromatic wine with honeysuckle and stone fruit aromas that follow onto the palate. It also has very good acidity and an appealing minerality that make it versatile food partner.

Pair the following dishes with the 2011 Burgáns Albariño Rias Baixas a crisp, fresh food-friendly white wine from Spain with a crisp apple, apricot and peach character. 

Pair these dishes with Gruner Vetliner (Groo-ner Velt-Leen-er), the primary white grape variety of Austria.  It is typically medium-bodied, high-acid mineral driven wine that is very food friendly.  Look for the 2011 Laurenz V. Singing Gruner Veltliner. 

Pair these dishes with Sangiovese (that is if you prefer wine over the delightful Martinis;-). I recommend the 2010 La Mozza I Perazzi Morellino di Scansano. It’s a “Super-Tuscan blend of 85% Sangiovese, 5% Syrah, 5% Alicante, 2% Colorino and 3% Ciliegiolo.  It shows a wonderful mixed berry, and spice character with a bit of smoky tobacco, and licorice aromas. 

Pair this dish with the Scharffenberger Brut Excellence sparkling wine:

Pair these dishes with Torrontes, a white Argentine wine grape variety that produces delightful, spicy, perfumed wines.  Look for the 2011 Bodega Colome Torrontes. It’s off-dry with an aromatic fresh citrus, kiwi, and white flower character. 

Pair these dishes with a Riesling.  One of my favorites is the 2011 Josef Leitz Rüdesheimer Drachenstein “Dragonstone” Riesling. It’s an off-dry Riesling with an apple, pear, citrus, and mineral character with great acidity. 

Pair this dish with the 2009 Boas Vinhas Tinto Dao, a red wine from Portugal that is a blend of the indigenous Portuguese grapes Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro and Tinta Roriz with a  plum, dried berry, blackberry and spice character that is layered with supple tannins and good acidity.

Pair this dish with a Moscato d’Asti Moscato d’Asti from Italy.  Look for the 2011 Saracco Moscato d’Asti. It shows a sweet, fragrant, delicate, floral, tropical fruit, and a hint of honey character.  It’s “frizzante”, which means it’s not as effervescent as most sparkling wines. It’s also a wonderful example of why I love sparkling wines, they can work with all the courses of a meal from appetizers through dessert. 

Desserts

Pair these desserts with a Sauternes,  a sweet wine from the Sauternais region of the Graves section of Bordeaux. They are made from  SémillonSauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle grapes affected by noble rot.  Look for the 2005 Guiraud Sauternes.  It has a full-bodied, honeyed, lemon tart, baked apple, baking spice, and  vanilla cream character

Pair these desserts with an Oloroso Sherry, a denser richer style of Sherry.  Look for the Lustau East Indian Solera. It’s a provocative sweet creamy Sherry with a toffee, fig, caramel, raisin, and baking spice  (cinnamon and clove) character. 

Pair these Italian desserts with the 2011 Saracco Moscato d’Asti.

Pair this dish with a late harvest Riesling.  Look for the  2011 Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese. It’s a has an elegant, floral, spicy, exotic, and tropical fruit character. 

Pair this dish with an a German Red wine made from the Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir) grape variety. Look for the 2009 Friedrich Becker Estate Pinot Noir.  It’s a spicy treat with a strawberry, cherry, and earthy character that will stand up to having the Pfeffernusse dipped in it, or used as a based for gluhwein, a spiced red wine drink!

Drinks

What does it mean for you to be Home for the Holidays?  Please join on us on Twitter throughout the day during #SundaySupper on December 23rd.  In the evening we will meet at 7pm EST for our #SundaySupper to talk about our Holiday Traditions.  We are so excited to have you join us.  All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag or you can follow us through TweetChat.

Please feel free to share with us and our followers your favorite Holiday recipe on our #SundaySupper Pinterest Board.  We are excited to have you!

Beat The Heat #SundaySupper – Hot Wine Pairings for “Cool” Food

It may be the hottest summer on record in the U.S.  When it’s THAT hot, the last thing you want to do is turn on the oven or the stove.  I don’t know about you, but I tend to eat more salads or anything I don’t have to cook inside.  This week’s #SundaySupper is all about salads, refreshing drinks, desserts and foods that don’t require baking.  I’m pleased to offer wine recommendations for this great lineup of foods that beat the heat!

Image courtesy of portablefarm.com

Check out this week’s lineup of “cool” recipes!  My recommended wine pairings are italicized.

#BeatTheHeat Appetizers:

Rosé is my favorite summertime quaff – it offers the soul of a red wine because it’s predominately made with red wine grapes, but with the cool refreshment of a white wine.  Try the following appetizers with the 2011 Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé from South Africa. It’s a fabulous wine, and a great deal at less than $10 too!

Try these delightful appetizers with Prosecco, which tend to be fruitier than other sparkling wines produced using the traditional method. That makes them the ideal foil for slightly spicy foods and smoked fish.  Look for La Marca Prosecco.  It has apple, peach and honeysuckle aromas followed by fresh, fruity apple, citrus flavors.

Pair the following appetizer with a Riesling, arguably the most food friendly white wine.  Look for the 2010 Columbia Crest Two Vines Riesling – it’s distinctly off-dry with tropical fruit and citrus aromas, followed by  stone fruit and mild orange flavors rounded out with a crisp refreshing acidity.

The grilled and the cheesy goodness of a baked potato skins will work best with a red.  Look for the 2010 Ménage à Trois, a blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.  It’s an easy drinking red that can take a chill too because it’s fruity, lower in tannins with good acidity!

#BeatTheHeat Salads, Soups, & Sides:

Try the following dishes with a Sauvignon Blanc.  Look for the 2011 Veramonte Ritual Sauvignon Blanc from Chile – it’s an elegant Sauvignon Blanc that sees a bit of oak, with pineapple, stone fruit, and citrus aromas and flavors.

Riesling will be a nice match for the following dishes.  Go with the 2010 Columbia Crest Two Vines Riesling mentioned above.

Pair  the following soup with a Rosé, or a sparkling Rose either the Mulderbosch, or the Gruet respectively mentioned above.

#BeatTheHeat Main Dishes:

Pair the following main dishes with a Sparkling Rosé.  They are among the most versatile food wines.  I recommend Gruet Rose.  It’s shows lots of red fruit, and the chilled effervescence will have you ready for the next bite of your entrée!

Pair the following main dishes with a crisp refreshing white blend, in this case the 2010 d’Arenberg Stump Jump White – a blend of 28% Riesling, 27% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Marsanne and 20% Roussanne from McLaren Vale, Australia.  It’s very food friendly with juicy citrus and tropical fruit aromas balanced nicely with good acidity.

#BeatTheHeat Desserts:

I differentiated between the frozen and other desserts because frozen desserts are a treat unto themselves, especially when it’s so hot!  

For these non-frozen desserts my wine recommendations are as follows:
  • Elegant Fruit Jellies ~ Happy Baking Days  – La Marca Prosecco will be a fruity refreshing match for this dessert
  • Raspberry Mousse ~ Basic and Delicious - Pair with Banfi Rosa Regale, a lovely Italian sparkler that offer rose and berry aromas, along with strawberry and raspberry flavors.

#BeatTheHeat Drinks & Cocktails:

Be sure you join the conversation on Twitter throughout the day on Sunday, and at 3:00 p.m. EST for the weekly #SundaySupper Twitter chat!  All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag, or you can follow us through TweetChat!  Or check out the #SundaySupper Pinterest board.

What Are The Best Types of Wines For Picnics?

Now that Memorial Day weekend upon us.  And it’s widely considered to be the unofficial beginning of summer.  And summer is primetime for picnics….well you get the picture.  Here’s a list of the types of wines that will be a good match for picnic fare, along with some recommendations to get you started!

12 Most Picnic Friendly Wines

After a couple of weeks of much-needed rain, Spring is finally getting “Spring—ish” here in Northern California. For the first time this year, temperatures in the 80s are being forecast and my thoughts have turned to warm temperatures and al fresco dining, especially picnics.

Picnic wines are different than BBQ wines. BBQ is all about bold and spicy flavors, whereas picnic foods compose a broader range of lighter foods like salads of all kinds, cold fried chicken, charcuterie, cheeses, ripe fruits etc., mostly served cold.

Great picnic wines are 1) Light and refreshing, 2) A good match for a variety of foods, and 3) Inexpensive ($20 or less).

Image courtesy of thriftysolutionsforanurbangal.blogspot.com

1. Rosé

A dry Rosé would be my first choice. Rosé combines the best of white and red wines, while maintaining their own unique charm. They possess the crisp acidity, delicacy and freshness of white wines, and the body, and flavors of red wines. Look for Bodegas Muga Rosado.

2. Cava

Cava is perfect for picnics. It’s produced using the traditional style Champagne method, which can lend a bit of complexity to it. And bubbly will add that extra celebratory feel to your picnic. Here’s another advantage of sparkling wines — Forget the corkscrew? — No problem with sparklers!! I recommend Segura Viudas Gran Reserva Cava.

3. Rose Sparkling Wine

For some vinous synergy, go with a Sparkling Rose wine. They go with virtually anything you serve for your picnic. I recommend Mumm Napa Brut Rose.

4. Vinho Verde

Vinho Verde is a wine from Portugal. Vinho Verde isn’t a grape variety. While it literally means ‘green wine”, it translates into “young wine” – as in it’s meant to be consumed within a year of bottling. It’s made in white, red, and rose styles. Vinho Verde has a hint of effervescence which is further enhances its refreshing qualities. Go with either a white or rose Vinho Verde. Look for Quinta de Aveleda.

5. Torrontés

Wine made from this grape (Argentina’s only truly indigenous grape) produces a juicy fragrant wine with citrus pineapple and spice flavors. This would be a great match for a seafood, or spicy Asian salad. I recommend the Bodegas Colome Torrontés Estate.

6. Riesling

It’s probably the most food-friendly white wine. Choose either a dry or off-dry (slightly sweet) style. Look for Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Riesling.

7. Chardonnay

Look for a lighter style, either an un-oaked or a lightly-oaked, chardonnay because it will be a better match for a broader range of foods than the heavily oaked style. I recommend Joseph Drouhin Macon Villages.

8. Sauvignon Blanc

This is a classic picnic wine because it’s fresh and crisp, with a citrusy flavor profile and lively acidity. It’s a great match for goat cheese! Look for Casa Lapostolle Sauvignon Blanc from Chile.

9. Moscato

If your taste in wine leans toward the sweeter side, try Moscato. It’s like summertime in a glass with its fruity orange blossom, tropical, citrus, or melon aromas and a touch of effervescence. If you’ve got something spicy in your picnic basket, the sweetness will tame the heat. The best are from Italy. I recommend Martini and Rossi Moscato d’Asti.

10. Albariño

Albariño is a refreshing light, juicy and aromatic Spanish wine. I like it because, along with some citrus, it brings melon or peach to the party. Look for Burgans Albariño Rias Baixas.

11. Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir, a.k.a. the “Chef’s wine” is so named because it goes with such a wide range of foods. It’s also a red wine that takes a bit of a chill well (put it in an ice/water bath in your cooler for 10-15 minutes) if the alcohol level is not too high (preferably below 14%). It’d be great with anything with mushrooms. Look for 2008 Gloria Ferrer Pinot Noir.

12. Sangria

For a bit of home-made flavor, make your own sangria. It’s easy to make and can be made with either red, or white wine. Sangria is a great way to capitalize on the bounty of fresh fruits coming into season — and make sangria that’s all your own! Click here for some recipes.

Happy picnicking! What are your favorite picnic wines?

This article was previously featured on 12 Most and is republished, by the author Martin Redmond

What Are The Most Food Friendly Wines?

It’s my pleasure to share this post of mine recently published by 12most.

12 Most Food-Friendly Wines

In my recent post entitled “12 Most Practical Wine and Food Pairing Guidelines”, one my recommendations for sensibly pairing food and wine is to get to know “food-friendly” wines. Food-friendly wines have three primary characteristics 1) Palate-cleansing acidity, 2) Lots of fruitiness with low tannins, and 3) Balanced components (i.e. fruit, acidity, and tannins).

Try these wines for those times you don’t want to put a lot of thought into what wine you’re having with weeknight meals, or more casual gatherings. There’s something here for everyone — Whites, Reds, Sparkling and Rosé. Keep in mind that each of the wines come in broad range of styles. Let your palate be your guide for the style you prefer.

Reds

1. Beaujolais

This wine, made from the Gamay grape is named for the region from which it hails. Think Beaujolais when you want a red that you’d normally have with a white wine. Many top crus go for around $20
Recommended Region(s): France – Cru Beaujolais (non-Nouveau)
Profile: Light-bodied with moderate to high acidity, and low tannins with aromatic red plum, cherry, raspberry, hints of black pepper aromas/flavors.

2. Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is the most well-known food friendly red wine.
Recommended Region(s): France – Burgundy, California, Oregon, and New Zealand
Profile: Light/medium-bodied with high to very high acidity with aromatic with floral, cherry, red currant, raspberry, and sometimes gamey aromas/flavors when young, aging to vegetal and mushroom when mature

3. Sangiovese (san-jo-veh-zeh)

Generally speaking, Italy makes a plethora of food friendly wines, especially reds. Sangiovese is the most planted red grape in Italy, and the most important grape used in the great wines of Tuscany. It is one of the wine world’s great gifts to the culinary world! It’s a natural for dishes containing tomatoes, or acidic tomato sauces
Recommended Region(s): Italy (Tuscany), California
Profile: Light/medium-bodied with high to very high acidity with black cherry, spice, smoky, herbal savory aromas/flavors.

4. Zinfandel

Zinfandel can go far beyond burgers and BBQ. I’ve enjoyed with Mexican, and Pakistani dishes. The style of Zinfandel is crucial for matching it with food. Look for lighter “Beaujolais” style Zinfandel at around 14% a.b.v, and “Claret” style between 14% and 15% a.b.v. for maximum food pairing versatility. If prefer “bigger” Zinfandels, then opt for pairing with richer foods.
Recommended Region(s): California
Profile: Medium/Full bodied moderate to high acidity, and strawberry, raspberry, plum, blackberry, pepper, bramble, and spice aromas/flavors

5. Syrah

Syrah and Syrah based blends do a great job of striking a balance between finesse and power. It can be full-bodied and complex like Cabernet Sauvignon, but tend to be less tannic. Cool climate Syrah is especially food friendly. And many very good examples can be found for less than $20.
Recommended Region(s): France (Rhône), California, Washington, and Australia
Profile: Medium/full-bodied with moderate to high acidity, with blackcurrant, plum, blackberry, earthy, herbal, chocolate, and violet aromas/flavors

Whites

6. Riesling

Riesling is the most well-known white food friendly wine. Thanks to its food loving nature, it’s on the upswing. If you’re looking for one wine to serve with many dishes, Riesling is an excellent choice, especially if you’re not into red wine. Look for dry and off-dry styles
Recommended Region(s): Germany, France (Alsace) Washington, New York, California
Profile: Light-bodied with high to very high acidity, and Intensely aromatic with floral, green apples, light spice aromas/flavors when you ageing to petrol and honey when mature

7. Sauvignon Blanc

Stylistically, Sauvignon Blanc tends to be the opposite of Chardonnay. That’s because it tends not to see as much oak as Chardonnay and its acidity is more apparent. It’s very versatile food wine, especially with dishes emphasizing, or enhanced with fresh herbs. Try it with guacamole!
Recommended Region(s): France (Loire, and Bordeaux), U.S., New Zealand,
Profile: Light-bodied with high to very high acidity, and aromatic, grassy, herbaceous, tropical, citrus, and gooseberries aromas/flavors

8. Grüner Vetliner

Grüner Vetliner (GROO-ner FELT-leen-ner) is indigenous to Austria, where it accounts for about a third Austria grape production. It’s a favorite of many sommeliers because of its versatility with foods. Here in the US we often reach for red wine to accompany meat dishes, but in Austria, Grüner is served with game, beef, pork, poultry and veal. Looking for a wine for tough food matches like asparagus, and artichokes? Try Grüner. And it’s great with fried chicken!
Recommended Region(s): Austria
Profile: Light/medium-bodied with high to very high acidity, with vanilla-dipped peach, grapefruit, and aromas/flavors with a distinctive spicy finish.

9. Chardonnay

This most popular wine has very good “foodability” if it is not overly oaked. In fact, more unoaked Chardonnay is being produced these days. While unoaked Chardonnay may be a bit more versatile food partner, oaked (used judiciously) Chardonnay typically makes a more full-bodied wine.
Recommended Region(s): France (Chablis, and Burgundy), California, Australia, Chile, and Argentina
Profile: Light/Medium-bodied with high to very high acidity, and floral, ripe apple, pineapple, butterscotch, lemon, vanilla, and custard aromas/flavors.

10. Sherry

Hear me out on this one. I’m not referring to your grandmother’s Cream Sherry. I’m referring to dry Sherry. And thanks to adventurous wine geeks, and passionate sherry lovers, this fortified wine is gaining in popularity because of its food friendly nature and exceptional quality/price ratio.
True Sherry, is only produced in Spain’s “Sherry Triangle”. It’s a singularly unique beverage because of its terroir, and the method by which it is produced. With its unique tangy, sometimes oxidative and saline flavors, it can be polarizing. It was a bit of an acquired taste for me, but I think it’s fabulous with food!

The principles of pairing Sherry with food are like other wines, according to weight and texture. For Fino and Manzanillo think appetizers, seafood, and sushi, and sashimi. Pair Amontillado, with its rich nuttiness, with stronger flavored foods (including spicy foods) like oily fishes and chicken dishes. Serve chilled.

Recommended Region: Spain

Profile: The main styles of Sherry are light-bodied, straw colored, dry Fino, and fuller bodied darker Oloroso. Between Fino and Oloroso in body, and dryness are Manzanillo, and Amontillado.  Typical aromas and flavors of Finos are yeasty, toasted almond, green apples, and slightly oxidative.  Oloroso tend to be more aromatic with fresh mixed nuts, dried fruit, and citrus peel.

11. Rosé

Rosés (in particular dry Rosé) combine the best of white and red wines, while maintaining their own unique charm. They possess the crisp acidity, delicacy and freshness of white wines, and the body, and flavors of red wines. Rosés are diverse bunch, produced from a wide range of grapes, in various styles ranging from simple quaffable wines to complex gems in a wide palette of colors. Don’t relegate these babies to warm weather months. Because of their versatility they’re wonderful year-round!
Recommended Region(s): France, Spain, Italy, and U.S.
Profile: Light/medium bodied with strawberry, melon, and cherry aroma/flavors

Sparkling

12. Sparkling Wines

Sparkling wines are very versatile and food friendly because of their innately high acidity levels, and their palate cleansing “scrubbing bubbles” effect. They can be served throughout the day, and throughout a meal too. The driest ones are excellent as an aperitif and with shellfish and caviar. Off-dry bubbly is suitable for brunch, lunch, salads, and many dinner entrees. The sweeter ones pair nicely with fruit- based desserts.
Recommended Region(s): France, US, Spain (Cava), Italy (Prosecco)

Profile: Light to medium-full bodied, and bone-dry Extra Brut to sweet “doux”.  Typical aromas and flavors are yeast, apple, citrus, stone fruit, and cherry depending on the blend of grape varieties used

With these 12 wines in your vinous arsenal, you’ll overcome many a gastronomic challenge! Are there any favorites of yours that I left out?

Featured image courtesy of jinhai via Creative Commons.

T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like – 2008 Korbel Riesling Champagne

California sparkling wine traces its roots back to Sonoma in the 1880s with the founding of Korbel Champagne Cellars.  Today, Korbel sells the largest volume of  sparkling wine made in the méthode champenoise in the U.S.  There is always of bit of controversy around Korbel because it continues to refer to it’s product as “California Champagne”, whereas most U.S. producers of sparkling wine refer to their products as such.   Purists insist that Champagne, only comes form the Champagne region of France.  Korbel’s wines while not great, generally provide good value in my opinion.

2008 Korbel Riesling Champagne

2008 Korbel Riesling Champagne

Monterey/Mendocino

100% Riesling

$11-22, 12% abv

Production method: Méthode Champenoise; Stainless steel fermentation/aging; Disgorged 2008

My tasting notes follow:

Very light color, almost clear.  It offers aromas of lychee, spice, a touch of dry bread dough, and as I sat with it a bit, a hint of petrol (not unusual for a Riesling).  Abundant, but not particularly fine bead give the wine a bit of a harsh texture.  I picked up pear, lychee, and spice flavors.   A tad bit sweeter than off-dry, but not cloying with a refreshing average finish.  This one would be nice, fun change of pace, especially if you’re looking for something a bit sweeter that will plays well with spicy foods. At $22, I think it’s overpriced, but it can be found for less.

In terms of food pairing; you get a double dose of versatility on this one.  Sparking wines are naturally versatile food wine because of their effervescence, and acidity.  With this one, you also get food pairing versatility inherent to Riesling.  Try this one with Spicy Thai, Chinese, or Jerk Chicken or Pork.  A  Spicy Pork Tenderloins with Uniq Fruit Salsa also comes to mind.  Click to buy.


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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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Ice Ice Baby!

The other night I came home from work late. I had a light meal, but wanted something sweet after dinner.  It was a warm evening  so ice cream came to mind, but I had ice cream the night before and wanted to avoid the fat.  I decided to have a little ice wine -  2008 Alois Kracher Cuvée Eiswein from Austria.

Because it was chilled, it was refreshing.  It definitely satisfied my sweet tooth.  What I like about ice wines is that even though they are sweet, they tend not to be cloyingly sweet, as other dessert wines such as late harvest, or ports can be.  That’s because they have more acidity than other dessert wines.  And acidity tends to refresh the palate rather than cling to it.

To make ice wine, like late harvest wines, the grapes are left on the vine to ripen and raisin quite a while after the grapes are picked for the non-dessert wines.  Then the winemaker waits for a frost to come and cover the grapes.  For this reason ice wine is primarily made in limited geographies – places that frost over between November, and January (Germany, where ice wine has been made since the 1700s, and Canada make the most ice wine).

The grapes are pressed frozen. The freezing point of grapes is lower than that of pure water, because the sugar in them lowers the freezing point. Most of the water in the grape doesn’t come out in the pressing, because it’s ice crystals, so the yield of liquid is only 10 to 20 percent of what you would get from grapes that weren’t frozen, but, the liquid that does come out is very concentrated in flavors, acidity and sugars.  As you can imagine, it takes a lot more  grapes to get the juice needed to make the wine.  between the limited geography, and the larger amount of grapes required to make the wine, the ice wine is expensive to make.

Since pure grape nectar is used to make the wines, the wines are very sweet, and pour like syrup. Ice wines are generally made with Vidal and Riesling grapes.  But they may be made from other grape varietals, as was the case with the ice wine I had, which was made from Gruner Vetliner, and Chardonnay grapes.

I tend to like ice wines on their own rather than pairing with desserts because of the sweetness of the wines.  But if you want to pair with a dessert, remember you generally want the wine to be sweeter than the dessert. With that in mind, I suggest using ice wine as an accompaniment to fresh summer berries with cream, chocolate biscuits, a pear tart, raspberry mousse, or a meringue.  Depending on the grape varietal, it might even be poured over ice cream. And don’t forget about pairing ice wine with cheese if you like a cheese plate after dinner.  Because of the natural acidity of ice wines, they can work with a variety of cheeses, including blue cheese.

Ice wine should ideally be served chilled in a chilled regular wine glass – about 2 ounces a serving. Take a walk on the wild side and try some!