Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Quick Review: Channing Daughters Rosato

US, NY, Long Island, Channing Daughters Rosato 
+ // Crisp // Strawberry // Peach, Apricot // Light

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Glass of Rose for Summer

We've said it before, and we will say it again: Rose is an amazingly versatile wine.

A new restaurant has opened not too far from us, Pacifico's Fine Foods. We liked the look of the menu: finely crafted dishes with a South American bent. But with an international menu, we didn't expect much in the way of local wines. It was a pleasant surprise then, when we found two different glasses of wine from Channing Daughters on the menu--a white and a rose.

When we are looking for a complicated bottle of wine to linger over, we often turn to red. When we want something simple we can just sip, a light white is in order. But when we are looking for something that blends the two--that has some complexity but is still light enough that it goes down easily--we seek out a nice rose. And Channing Daughters manages to deliver. Making just a few hundred cases of their Rosato's each year, we've started to look forward to catching these wines wherever we can each summer. So as fall approaches, it was great to find yet another chance.

The South American cuisine was an interesting twist for us. The menu was small, with only half a dozen entrees, and even fewer appetizers. Since we were starting with our wine choice and working from there, it limited our choices even further, but it seemed easy enough to find some good pairings. Pork and yucca seemed to fill the menu, along with some spicy sauces. Hoping for a bit of crisp to combat the heat of the sauces and the fat of the pork, with maybe a hint of earthiness to match the yucca, we were optimistic.

In this case, it worked, but maybe not much more. The wine was great. The food was great. In combination, they worked. It wasn't a sublime experience, where the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. But that's okay. We were looking for a good, casual dinner and we got that. Maybe there were subtle flavors that didn't mesh, or maybe we were just more focused on our evening out than analyzing the complex interactions of our food and wine. We enjoy that, but sometimes just enjoying a fun night out is enough.

Friday, August 15, 2014

How-To: Tell What Wines are in a Blend

Americans like to know what wine they are drinking. While the Old World labels their wine based on region, sure in the knowledge that everyone knows the grape that ends up in a Burgundy or a Barolo, in the New World we want our wines to be labeled by the varietal.

In most cases, that's easy enough. But when it comes to blended wines, its not always so straight forward. A blend may be made up of a range of grapes, so the wine makers will often use a proprietary name useful for marketing, but not always informative. But there are tricks you can use to help pick out the grapes.

Look for typical styles: Bordeaux or Meritage blends are typical, made of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Champagne will be made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

Labeled: Since Americans demand the info, many wine makers will include the list of varietals used. It may be hidden on the back label, but especially with New World wines it may be there.

Guess: If you know a bit about wine, you can start to guess what grapes make up a blend. In a red wine, soft red fruit flavors might be a high percentage Merlot or Pinot Noir, while a buttery white wine might be based on a Chardonnay.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Quick Review: Castoro Cellars "East Meets West" 2012

US, CA, Castoro Cellars, East Meets West Reserve 2012

+ // Spicy // Clove, Old leather, Tobacco, Dried cherry // Cherry cola // Medium to full-bodied

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Quick Review: Tess Winery Red & White Blend

US, CA, Napa, Tess Red&White Blend
++ // Spicy - Sweet // Maraschino cherry, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Clove, Candied apple // Cinnamon, Cherry, Rose petals // Medium

Monday, August 11, 2014

Red Wine In Summertime

When the summer rolls around, we don't drink a lot of red wine. Red wines tend to be heavier in flavor and body, and often a little bit higher in alcohol content. On a warm day, we are usually looking for something a bit more refreshing. There are reasons to still enjoy red wines in the summer. With grilled meat, sometimes you need a big red wine. A nice sangria is great for a casual weekend afternoon. And sometimes, you can find a red wine that works well chilled, allowing you that cool drink you so desperately need.

We are told we should avoid chilling red wines. They say that the fruitier, earthier flavors in red wines become subdued when chilled, so you lose a lot of the subtleties of the wine. This is true. (White wine tends to be more forward with its flavors, and chilling can even reign in a more aggressive acidity.) But some red wines can stand chilling, especially ones with sweeter fruit flavors. Even better are blended wines that use both red and white varietals. Chilling that sort of wine will help the flavors from the white varietals "pop" to augment the smoother flavors of the red varietals.

Why does this matter? Sometimes when you are lounging around, you might want to drink something a little more substantial. White wines can be refreshing, but they often go down a little too easy: the glass empties too quickly. A glass of red wine might catch your attention a little more, and remind you to savor your drink while you savor the warm weather. The trick is to give your red wine just a slight chill; leaving it in the fridge 15-20 minutes should be enough. If it comes out a little too cold for your tastes, simply let it sit a few minutes or hold the glass by the tumbler to raise the temperature a little.  To each his own: this is one of those subjective areas where experimentation is necessary and there is no right or wrong in what you like best.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Did you know?.... What We Mean by "Hot" Wine

Sometimes, a wine is referred to as "hot". Unless you are drinking mulled wine, this isn't a reference to the wine's temperature, or even its spice level (which is common vernacular in the food world). Instead, "hot" wine is wine higher in alcohol content than normal, and in most cases means you can feel that alcohol in your mouth. The reason it is referred to as "hot" is both because of the warming effect of the alcohol, and the fact that the high alcohol content is due to grapes that were riper than usual, most likely from a hot summer.