Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Food + Wine = Perfect The 2nd day of wine training, 3 of 3

This is the third and final entry of a 3-part post on my second day of wine training. This day we touched on three rather basic, but immensely imperative, ideas in the wine world; the evaluation of wine quality, food and wine matching and the classic white grape. Today I’m going to talk about some food pairing ideas.

Matching the weight of the wine to the food is probably the core of doing food and wine pairing properly. You have such a sliding scale with intensity, flavors and other properties but as long as the weight of the wine on the whole scale is factored in you should do just fine.

Light wine for light food like champagne and smoked fish.
Full body wine for rich heavy food like cabernet sauvignon, merlot and shiraz with red meat and gravy

Just a word of warning, the sides with what the wine is paired with should be taken into consideration as well, as things like gravies and cream sauces can change the dynamic of the meal.

Now, on to the big flavors in food and wine

Acidic food requires rich acidic wines, or else the wine can seem flabby. Watch out for lemon, lime and vinegar flavors in food, as they are hard to top, but not impossible. Italian reds can pair well with tomatoes dishes due to their high acid levels, where the acid from the tomato and the acid from the wine complement each other. It’s always good to pair oily foods with high acid wines, a great example of this is sauvignon blanc and calamari

Spicy foods pair well with wines that are chilled and that are intensely aromatic, a touch sweet or very fruity. Hot spices reduce sweetness in a wine. Chilling can take the initial bite out of a spicy dish, and the slightly sweet or fruity follow through will take the lingering sting out as well. Riesling, sauvignon blanc, gewürztraminer all go well with spicy food but be warned high tannic reds can make spicy dishes even spicier. I would never recommend big full reds with Mexican food.

Sweet foods should be paired with sweeter wines because it will make the food taste drier. It can also pair well with savory foods, where reds would be too tart in structure.

Salty Foods pair well with light body, crisp white wines. Some good traditional matches are olives with sherry, oyster with muscatel, and shellfish with Chablis. Sweet wines have the ability to balance off overly salty foods
When tannins clash with salty food the outcome is typically very bitter

With tannins and food the big thing to remember is that proteins softens tannins, and tannins in a wine help it stand up to a richer meat. Just be careful that you don’t pair a tannic wine with oily fish, as it has a tendency you give and unpleasant metallic flavor.

Basic pairing notes
·         Match weight
·         Complement flavours
·         Contrast intensity and texture
·         Sweetness, the wine should always be sweeter then the dish

How is it prepared guide
Cold food = cold wine
Steamed/poached/boil = light wine
Oil fried = high acid, light wine
BBQ, grilled, roasted = fuller body, oaked
Braised, stewed = big body

Stronger seasoning = fuller wine

This about sums up how I think people should go about pairing wines with meals. I think it’s a rather complicated process when you break down each individual item but if you look at the meal as a whole, and the entire dining experience and use your best judgement, you shouldn’t go wrong. And if you’re out for a meal at a restaurant ask your server or the sommelier, it’s what they are paid to know, do and help you with. And if you having some dinner with friends and/or family and you get that perfect match between meal and drink its fantastic but in the end it’s not really about what you’re eating and drinking now is it? It’s about the people and the experience so go with what feels right. 


Saturday, February 25, 2012

A quick note on the Gris and Grigio

This is some thing that has been bothering me for a few days so i though i would just lay it out here for you.


Pinot Gris has been around for a long bloody time, like middle ages long time. Emperor Charles IV, the holy roman emperor, was drinking a gris with his roasted pheasant. But it wasn’t until the last 40 years that we began to see the real part in the ways it was made. Perhaps it was way before that, but nobody bothered to make note of it.  

Both of these wines come from the same grape. Anyone who tells you other wines is wrong, and deserves to be made fun of. Period. End of story. Done.
Okay, yes, they may blend other grapes into it and not list them all on the label because the bottling and labeling standards are different between countries, states or even provinces. But when it comes down to it, the gris and the grigio only differ in style.

Grigio Profile – The Italians truly perfected this dry, lemon drop of a wine. Typically this style is light to medium acidity, soft fresh flavor, and plenty of sunshine and straw yellow color. This wine is just plain light in general, and you can’t help but get the impression that it was made to be soft and easy drinking in the hot summer days. 

Gris Profile – France, specifically Alsace, is the 'true' home of Gris but it’s well done in other places like Oregon and Niagara falls.  Typically lemon in color with flavors of apricot, ocean beach notes, lots of sunshine, fuller and older acidity make up this wine. Interestingly enough gray grapes can often make a pink wine as seen with some Oregon Pinot gris that have these copper-pink tones.

Perhaps some of the confusion comes from the Pinot gris in California, they are often called Pinot grigio because of its similarity in style to the wine of Italy.

Regardless, I think they should stick to one standard for naming and realize the the gris vs. grigio is like oaked vs unoaked. It’s not a different grape it’s a different style. That is all.

/end rant/


Friday, February 24, 2012

All Dressed in White - What does day 2 cover? Part 2 of 3

This is the second entry of a 3 part post on my second day of wine training. This day we touched on three rather basic, but immensely imperative, ideas in the wine world; the evaluation of wine quality, food and wine matching and the classic white grape. Today I’m going to break down the basic white grape for you

We have a multitude of grape varieties, each one with its own scope in structure elements, flavor characteristics, growing requirements, and “blend-ability”. Below I’ve listed some of the most common types of white grapes and a very brief summary of them. 

Sauvignon blanc
Great with food! Always dry, crisp, acidic, intense aroma, light to med body,  - tannins, acidity, sugar. Typically this kind of wine is unoaked, unless its fume blanc (primarily from California) Also there is Sancerre which is 100% sauvignon blanc. Some of the top Sauvignon blancs are produced in New Zealand and California

Typical flavors via climate
·         Cooler - Green fruit flavors, herbaceous, asparagus, fresh cut grass.
·         Warmer - Grapefruit and peaches, gooseberry and asparagus/cat pee

Chardonnay is in all likely-hood the most widely produced, toyed with and know white wine in the world. It grows nearly everywhere in world, but thrives particularity well in cool climates, like Canada and New Zealand. Even coastal regions of the states like Sonoma and Marin County. Montrachet, in south burgundy produces some of the words best chardonnay.
Chardonnay is often seen in blends done by wine makers, to achieve a certain flavor or profile. I find it to be a bigger and more robust grape typically, so it is often used to “fill out” a wine. It is also one of the 3 grapes that are allowed to be used in blending champagne
One of the big techniques seen in chardonnay today is letting it age in oak barrels, this is particularly seen in French and American wines in a variety of oaks. In my opinion this is way over done in the states, chardonnay grapes grow on vines, not oak trees.

Typical flavors via climate
·           Cool – Chablis – green apple, lemon
·           Hot – Peach, tropical fruit
·           Oak – toasty, butter cream = Malolactic fermentation

                Riesling is another incredibly versatile grape, going from the “Dr. LosenÜber sweet wine (You see what I did there?) to the bone dry Australian Rieslings.  On the nose you often get diesel and petrol, which can sometimes be hard to get past but on occasion it’s similar to a sauvignon blanc, intense fruity aromas from bone dry to very sweet in nature.  Typically this is a lighter to medium body wine and higher acidity to balance the sugar content. This varietal is typically unoaked and the vine excels in cool climates and high altitudes.
·           Green apple
·           Citrus
·           Peach, mango and honey spice when on the vine longer
·           Mineral
·           Australian Riesling – more diesel smell then French Rieslings

These are 3 of the bench mark wine varietals found throughout Europe wine super powers like France, Italy, and Spain, as well as new world wines in the USA and Canada. But there are sooo many different kinds wine grapes that listing them all here right now just isn’t possible. But as time goes on I will have more information on varietals as they come up.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Review - 2006 Trefethen Family Vineyards Merlot, Oak Knoll District, USA

2006 Trefethen Family Vineyards Merlot, 
Oak Knoll District, USA 

SKU: 716300  
Origin: United States  |  California

Trefethen is the largest family run estate in Napa. How ever, they produce only 25% of what they grow, selling the rest to other wine makers in the region. Because of this we can expect to see a high level of quality and precision coming from their wines.

This wine is 95% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Malbec, and 1% Petit Verdot. With that 95% of the grapes are harvested from the main ranch and  5% are harvested from the Hillspring vineyards. It spends about 17 months in French oak before being bottled

Oak knoll is a cooler region of Napa. Merlot typically flourish in cool growing regions with humid soil the Oak Knoll district is actually perfect for it, a “sweet spot” between its warmer north and cooler south regions. This season in particular seeing a large amount of fog leaving the afternoons cooler drew out the harvest for one of the longest growing season in 40 years.

On the Nose - pepper, herbs and pie spices, chocolate and fur
On the Pallet – beautiful mouth feel medium to long finish, full blackberry, boysenberry and white pepper and hearty chili spices. 

Now the website listed “olallieberry fruit” and I had to wiki what that was but oddly enough I ate these things all the time while I was growing up, and I remember liking them more then any other berry. I just never knew what they were called! Neat!

This wine can more then hold up on its own with or with out food, but I would love to pair it with a duck chili, or true Italian sausage spaghetti.

93 points/Editor’s Choice - Steve Heimoff, Wine Enthusiast - March 1, 2011   


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Review - Peachy Canyon 2009 Petite Sirah

Peachy Canyon 2009 Petite Sirah
SKU: 724453
Origin: United States  |  California

Grown at the Mustard Creek Vineyard of Heaton, Alta Colina, which is the Paso Robles appellation. This deep purple blend of 83.5% Petite Sirah, 16.5% Syrah is quite the concoction!

From what I found in my research the markers here wanted maximum extraction from harvesting at the coldest times (which just seems like torture to me), to extended cold soak prior to fermentation (again with the cold)! After it is aged in French and Hungarian oak.
On the Nose – you are instantly hit in the face with candied blueberries, like the really sugary kids blueberry-flavored candies.
Pallet – an over load of blue fruit, ripe, very rich and extremely sweet. With a medium finish on it I would highly recommend food with this one. 

This is not a winos wine, I would say its place is for someone who likes really sweet simple wines, or wants to get fancy and move away from their Barefoot or Jackson-Triggs.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Review - 2007 Quinta De Ventozelo Touriga Nacional

Review - 2007 Quinta De Ventozelo Touriga Nacional

SKU: 720734  
Origin: Portugal

Purity…. Here we have 100% Touriga Nacional from 25 year old vines aging in 100% American oak barrels. They stay in the American oak for 8 months but are held at the winey for 6 months for aging before its released to the export market

The vineyard itself is on an elbow of the Douro River, where the grapes are harvested from both sides of the hill. This ensures plenty of afternoon and evening sun and good drainage.  There are only 10,000 bottles made.

On the Nose – Warm, spiced red fruit, with just a touch of wet stone
On the Pallet – dark strawberries and blackberries, baking spice, chalky tannins and a full mouth feel rounding out over a long finish

Makers Awards
90 points & Editor’s Choice - Joe Czerwinski, Wine Enthusiast - Dec 2005
86 points - Kim Marcus, Wine Spectator - November 15, 2006
88 points - Mark Squires, Wine Advocate #169 - February 2007
Bronze Medal - International Wine Challenge 2006


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Review - 2008 Kenneth Volk Cabernet Pfeffer Siletto Ranch Vineyard (USA, California, Central Coast, San Benito County)

2008 Kenneth Volk Cabernet Pfeffer Siletto Ranch Vineyard 
(USA, California, Central Coast, San Benito County)

SKU: 747554  
Origin: United States  |  California 

This 'quirky' little wine is 100% Cabernet Pfeffer (as in the  German word for 'pepper'). Variety reported developed in California in the mid to late 1860s as a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Trousseau in the Los Altos Hills area in California.

It is reportedly only found in the Kenneth Volk Siletto Ranch Vineyard, and has growing here over a century despite a good chunk of the vines being lost to disease in the early part of the 1900’s

This wine is biodynamic, and there are only 700 cases produced.
Also, it has won the gold medal at the Central Coast Wine Competition of 2011

On the Nose - dark raspberry, remarkably similar to a zinfandel on the nose, with berries and jam, but just a zing of some spice to imply that it's more then just that.

On the Pallet – tannins resemble pepper, smooth too. I would like fewer peppercorns in this wine and more of a cracked or crushed pepper to even out the front pallet on it, nice ripe blueberries’ and raspberries as well. But it would be a great twist for any Shiraz drinkers. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Review - 2007 Prado Rey Rueda PR3

So moving on to the second wine I tried from Lanigan & Edwards Wine Merchants last Thursday. 

2007 Prado Rey Rueda PR3 (Spain, Castilla y León, Rueda)
SKU: 739599  
Origin: Spain  |  Rueda
Agent: Lanigan & Edwards Wine Merchants Ltd.

This is a very well done Verdejo and comes with a resume as well having won the Challenge International du Vin, 2009: Silver medal and the Decanter World Wine Awards, 2009: Bronze medal along with a number of others.

This wine is 100% Verdejo grapes from old vines, which lie for 9 months in three different European oak barrels then blended back together for the bottle. After fermentation  they batonage the wine daily in these barrels to have the wine age on its own lees They hold the bottles for 2 years aging at the winery by before releasing to the public. I think giving something the time, love and care like this is really what brings a wine to the next level. After researching I would say that it’s their attention to detail that makes this wine stand out the way it does.  It is a wine that strikes me more as one that’s about the method and less about the varietal. 

In the glass it has a golden yellow core and green hued rim.
On the Nose its soft, toasty vanilla banana oak notes, not much for the vine fruit on the nose, but just a pinch of papaya
On the Pallet it’s got summer fruit (tropical but creamy), lots of toasted notes and vanilla with some spice on the finish.
This wine can easily stand alone or with food.

This will retail for under 30$ a bottle in most liquor stores