Posts Tagged ‘bordeaux’

Wines for Easter

March 28th, 2010 No comments

The Easter Bunny is hopping our way, bringing with him (or is it her?) eggs, chocolates, and of course, a big Easter feast. Whether you view Easter as a meaningful religious event, the day that frees you from your Lenten sacrifice, or simply as a time to get together with family and friends and celebrate springtime, Easter always involves a great meal.  And if you’re reading this blog, to you, a great meal calls for great wines.

Ham is one of the most traditional Easter dishes.  Ham’s dominant flavors are saltiness and, especially if your ham is glazed, sweetness.  Ham calls for a wine that can cut through those strong flavors without overwhelming the more delicate flavors of the actual meat.

Highly acidic wines are your best choice.  Wines that also fall on the sweeter side can be great choices too, because nothing balances salty flavors better than sweet ones.  But be careful–if your ham is glazed, the combination of sweet glaze and sweet wine could be too much for your guests to handle–and if they’re overwhelmed with sweet flavors, they won’t be able to enjoy their Easter candy!

Riesling and Gewurztraminer are classic choices for a reason–their crisp and acidic but delicate natures make them the perfect companion to ham.  If you aren’t looking for a sweet wine, make sure that the bottle you’re choosing is dry–many wines of both varietals are sweet.  A Pinot Grigio or a lightly-oaked Chardonnay could also be good choices to accompany ham, so if one of those varietals is your favorite, don’t be afraid to serve it.

Tender, flavorful spring lamb is also a popular choice for the Easter meal.  Lamb is earthy yet delicate, with a powerful, lasting flavor.  Lamb is made for red wine.  The perfect red can vary with the method of preparation and cut of meat you’re using.  Sauteed veal medallions will require a more delicate red than roasted rack of lamb.  Grilled lamb (and grilling is a great way to celebrate the beginning of nice weather and capture the fresh nature of springtime) needs a wine that can stand up to the smokey and charcoal-y flavors it creates.

Bordeaux is the classic pairing for lamb, and it’s a good choice that will match well with this meat no matter how you are preparing it.  Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Tempranillo and Malbec can also be great choices.  Look for a wine with the structure (read: tannins) and finish to handle the strong flavors of lamb without overpowering it.

If you’re celebrating a traditional Passover or will have a Jewish guest in attendance, you might be thinking about Kosher wines to serve.  You’ll be happy to learn that kosher wines have moved on from that sweet, syrupy grape juice stuff that was the only available choice in the past.  Kosher wines today are produced around the world and in all classic varietals.  Because of kosher wines’ bad reputation, the good ones often won’t advertise the fact on the label.  Look for the U in a circle, meaning kosher, or the U in a circle followed by the letter P, which means that the wine is kosher for Passover (its makers had to adhere to ever stricter standards).  These symbols will usually be located on the back label.

Whatever you’re serving or whomever you’re serving it to, there are great Easter wine options out there.  Happy Easter!

Wine for St. Patrick’s Day

March 17th, 2010 No comments

Sure, the traditional beverage of St. Patrick’s day is beer.  Usually it’s a frothy pint of Guinness.  And if it’s not Guinness, it’s most likely dyed green.   And there are some who love their St. Patty’s day beer and wouldn’t consider parting with it for anything.  But others, faced with a pint glass of green beer, would prefer to opt for something else.

Why not try wine for St. Patrick’s Day?  Many wines match just as well as beer–if not better–with traditional Irish foods.  And if your friends tease you for not following tradition, just remind them that there’s nothing very traditional about green beer, either.  Here are some St. Patty’s Day food and wine pairings that will help you decide what to make or order tonight:

Corned Beef and Cabbage with Pinot Noir: Even though this dish has a recipe as a highly traditional Irish food, it’s not.  The Irish were introduced to corned beef once Irish immigrants to the U.S. used it in place of bacon.  But traditional or not, corned beef and cabbage is a long-standing–and delicious–part of St. Patrick’s Day.  The best complement to this dish is the earthy flavors and velvety texture of Pinot Noir, which will complement the salty, meaty flavors, not fight with them for dominance.  Try one from Sonoma County.

Bangers and Mash with Zinfandel: This dish, sausages and mashed potatoes, is popular all throughout England and Ireland.  If you’re eating traditional pork sausages, you’ll want something fruity to contrast.  Try a Zinfandel.

Irish Stew with Bordeaux: Irish stew is a simple, traditional dish of lamb (or mutton) boiled with the root vegetables of Ireland: carrots, onions, and, of course, potatoes.  With it, try a red Bordeaux: its complexity of flavors goes nicely with the simple, straightforward ones of the stew.

If your tastes lean towards wine no matter the occasion, try these pairings.  But don’t forget to wear green!

Tips for Wine and Cheese Pairings

December 5th, 2009 No comments

As the holiday season draws nearer, we find ourselves meeting friends and family to drink, be merry, and forget how much money we’re spending on Christmas presents.  Whether you’re hosting a party or attending one, it’s a good bet that sometime this month you’ll be faced with that eternal challenge: the wine and cheese pairing.   A wine and cheese pairing can be a perfect gift for the host or a great way to start off your own party, but a good one takes planning.  Here are a few tips for doing one right:

1.  Don’t be intimidated.  Matching wine and cheese perfectly isn’t easy; even the experts disagree on what tastes good with what.  Rather than second-guessing yourself and adding to your holiday stress, just remember this: if it tastes good to you, it probably tastes good to your friends too.

2.  White wines are safer than reds.  White wine pair well with soft cheeses and stronger flavors.  Many cheese, especially the soft, creamy (and I might add, delicious) kind, contains fats that interfere with the flavors of red wine, making them seem to lose their deeper flavors.

3.  If you do want to go for a red (and don’t be afraid to!), stick to the hard, milder cheeses like swiss.

4.  Sweeter wines, dessert wines, and champagnes generally fair well with a wide range of cheeses.  The carbonation in champagne actually helps break down the fat from soft, creamy cheeses, and the mild flavor prevents it from interfering with the taste of most cheeses.  If you’re bringing wine to a wine and cheese party, champagne or sweeter wines like Gewürztraminer might be your best bets.

5.  If your harbor a love for the soft and stinky varieties of cheese (I know I do), pick big, bold wines to back them up.  Cabs and Bordeaux have flavors that can handle strong cheeses.  If you’re looking at a Bleu or other moldy or blue veined cheese, a sweet dessert wine is your best bet.

Good luck with your wine and cheese pairings!  Remember that food is supposed to be fun and pleasurable: don’t let picking a wine and cheese pair add to your holiday stress.

Why We Store Wine

December 1st, 2009 No comments

Recently after a long day shooting wine cabinet education videos, selling cooling units and putting the finishing touches on some wine cellar designs, we needed a refresher course on why we are in this crazy business. In an after hours discussion of the business, new cooling units on the market and recent wine trends, we broke out 3 wines from the Vintage Cellars wine room.

We started with a 1999 Altagracia Araujo Estate Napa Valley Red. It was amazing that after 10 years in our wine cellar, it could still use a few more. We tasted and discussed the elegance of this wine. Plump, sweet, pure black currant fruit and black cherry are a few terms we threw around. A long complex finished followed with a hint of licorice.

The second bottle had 10 more years of proper aging, 1989 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron. Intense dark fruit forward aromas from the moment it was poured into the decanter. This vintage had a fantastic nose of plum, raspberry and tobacco. The final grade: this wine is full of Bordeaux magic and this is why you age and store wine properly.

The last was a palate turner to a Spanish dessert wine, Alvear Solera 1927 Pedro Ximenez. The dark amber color almost maple syrup appearance stands out upon first pour. We discussed different ways to use this wine including poured over fresh berries and vanilla ice cream. It’s like crème brulee in a bottle topped with candied Bavarian nuts.

Yes, this is why the Vintage Cellars crew spends hours everyday talking wine and wine storage. If you store wine properly, great wine experiences will follow. Wine Tasting Wine Tasting