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THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Wine

TIP OF THE DAY: Pairing Ice Cream & Wine

We’ve written extensively on pairing wine with desserts, from apple tart and chocolate cake to cheesecake and tiramisu. There’s a brief mention of two sweet wines that go with ice cream: Nigori saké, a sweet, milky style, and Pedro Ximénez* dessert sherry.

But the problem with those limited ice cream and wine pairings is that ice cream comes in many flavors, and you wouldn’t pair the same wine with chocolate ice cream as with strawberry.

So since then, we’ve devoted lots of time to pairing wines with ice cream. The recommendations are below, and also include pairings with sorbets.

ICE CREAM & DESSERT WINE: A NEW CONCEPT

How alien is the concept of wine and ice cream? So much so that we couldn’t find a photo of a dish of ice cream together with a glass of wine “for love or money,” as the expression goes. The closest we got was a bowl of rum raisin ice cream, over which Pedro Ximénez sherry had been poured as a sauce.

It is widely thought that ice cream and wine just don’t mix. One reason given is that the butterfat from the cream dulls the palate; but foie gras too is even fattier and sweet wines are splendid with it. The other reason is that the coldness of ice cream numbs the palate, and this can be true.

   

/home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/px sherry BodegaJoseDeLaCuesta 230

Pedro Ximénez, a sweet sherry, goes well with chocolate, ice cream and numerous desserts. Photo courtesy Bodegas José De La Cuesta Pedro | Spain.

 
However, if you wait at least 10 seconds to sip the wine, following a spoonful of ice cream, your palate can be “primed” for wine. Use sorbet instead of ice cream and avoid the butterfat issue altogether.
 
The Tradition Of Sweet Wine For Dessert

Sweet wines date to ancient times. The finest wines in Rome were sweet white wines. Bonus: The higher the sugar content, the more a wine can withstand aging, temperature shifts and transportation; so sweet wines held up better.

Also, then as now, sweet wines pair with any course, depending on the particular dish. Today, wine connoisseurs pay big bucks to attend dinners where different vintages of Chateau d’Yquem, the priciest sweet wine (it’s a Sauternes from the Bordeaux region of France), is poured with every course.
 
The Tradition Of Sweet Wine For Dessert

For centuries at refined dining tables in Europe, dessert consisted of a glass of sweet wine, alone or with fresh fruit. A glass of Port with cheese is another time-honored tradition. Wherever a sweet wine is made, you can bet that it is enjoyed at the end of dinner.

We respect that tradition: A glass of Sauternes with sweet summer apricots or peaches is divine; ditto with Port and Stilton or other blue cheese. Over time, we’ve switched our guest menus away from serving a substantial dessert after a big meal (including a cheese course), to a dish of sorbet and a glass of dessert wine.

More recently, we’ve been inviting friends to an “ice cream social”† to try different wine and ice cream pairings. It’s a delightful occasion, and we highly recommend it. Consider it for adult birthday parties.
 
*Pedro Ximénez, pronounced him-AY-nez and also spelled Jiménez and various other ways, is a white Spanish wine grape used to make fortified wines like sherry. It’s also the name of the sweet dessert sherry made from it. Pedro Ximénez is often abbreviated as PX. The identity of the original Pedro Ximénez and his relationship to the grape is lost to time.

†Ice cream socials—parties where people came to eat ice cream— were popular events in the U,S. They date back to the 19th century before freezers, not to mention electric ice cream makers (i.e., they were a laborious undertaking, and thus a real treat). Some churches and communities still give them, but today it’s an easy party to throw at home. Here’s how to have an ice cream social.
 
HOW TO PAIR WINE WITH ICE CREAM & SORBET

While we’ve paired specific sweet wines with specific ice cream flavors, below, you first need to seek out what your local wine stores stock. Explain the specific ice cream flavors you’d like to serve and see what they recommend from their inventory. You can bring them this list, to make the selection process easier.

France’s vintners produce a wealth of sweet wines:

  • Banyuls, a fortified red wine (Roussillon, France)
  • Champagne Sec, the sweetest style of the sparkling white wine (Champagne, northeast France)
  • Bonnezeaux, white wine (Anjou, Loire Valley, France)
  • Maury, red wine (AOC†, Roussillon, France)
  • Muscat de Rivesaltes, a fortified white wine (AOC, Roussillon)
  • Muscat-de-Beaumes-de-Venise, white wine (AOC†, Rhone Valley, southeast France; not to be confused with the dry red AC wines labeled Beaumes-de-Venise, formerly known as Côtes du Rhone Villages)
  • Sauternes, white wine (Bordeaux, southwest France)
  • Vin de Paille, white wine (Jura, France)
  •  
    Dessert wines from other countries include:

  • Amontillado Sherry, fortified red wine (Spain)
  • Brachetto d’Acqui or Lambrusco, slightly sparkling red wines (Italy)
  • Black Muscat, red wine (California and elsewhere)
  • Ice-Wine/Eiswein, red and white (Austria, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and elsewhere)
  •  
    *AOC, an abbreviation for appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC), “controlled designation of origin,” is an official designation that assures that a product was produced in the specified region according with specific ingredients, according to traditional techniques. The analogous word in Italian is denominazione di origine controllata abbreviated, DOC.

     

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    Nigori saké is unfiltered, creating a cloudy, or milky, appearance. The style is brewed to be sweet. Photo courtesy Takarasaké.

     
  • Late Harvest Wines (made the world over from Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Semillon, Viognier, Zinfandel and other red or white grapes)
  • Madiera, fortified red wine (Portugal)
  • Moscato d’Asti, sparkling white wine (Italy)
  • Moscatel de Setúbal, red wine (DOC, Portugal)
  • Muscat, red and white (grown in many locations in Europe, Australia, U.S. and elsewhere)
  • Nigori Saké, milky white and sweet [the name means cloudy] (Japan)
  • Pedro Ximénez Sherry [abbreviated PX], fortified white wine (Spain, Andalusia region)
  • Reciotto de Valpolicella, red wine, very raisiny (Amarone, Italy)
  • Ruby Port, fortified red wine (Portugal)
  • Sparkling Shiraz (Australia) or Lambrusco (Italy)
  • Sweet Madiera (Bual or Malmsey), fortified red wine (Portugal)
  • Tokaji (Tokay) 5 Puttonyos‡, white wine (Hungary)
  •  
    ‡Puttonyos is the Hungarian word to denote the level of sugar in wine; the comparable word used in the U.S., France and other countries is brix.
     

    WINE & ICE CREAM PAIRINGS

  • Any flavor of ice cream matches with its corresponding liqueur (e.g. raspberry with raspberry liqueur) or complementary liqueur (e.g., chocolate ice cream with coffee liqueur, peach ice cream with raspberry liqueur)
  • Apricot ice cream, Bonnezeaux, Sauternes, Vin de Paille
  • Berry ice creams match with Champagne, Muscat, Nigori Saké
  • Butter pecan, maple walnut or other nutty ice cream with PX Sherry, Sweet Madiera
  • Caramel or dulce de leche ice cream with PX Sherry or Sweet Madeira
  • Chocolate ice cream with Banyuls, Nigori Saké, PX Sherry; or Brachetto or Lambrusco with bittersweet chocolate ice cream
  • Chocolate chip ice cream should be matched to its base flavor: chocolate, coffee, mocha, raspberry, vanilla, etc.
  • Coconut ice cream with Late Harvest Semillon, Nigori Saké, Sauternes, Beerenauslese (or the pricier Trockenbeerenauslese)
  • Coffee or mocha ice cream with Amontillado Sherry, Nigori Saké, Madeira, Ruby Port
  • Floral ice cream—Earl Grey, jasmine, lavender, rose—with Ice Wine
  • Ginger or pumpkin ice cream with Sweet Madiera
  • Mint ice cream with Nigori Saké, Madiera or Late Harvest Zinfandel
  • Rum raisin ice cream with PX Sherry or Reciotto de Valpolicella
  • Stone fruit ice cream—apricot, cherry, mango, peach, plum—with Muscat-de-Beaumes-de-Venise
  • Vanilla ice cream with Nigori Saké, PX Sherry, Sauternes, Sweet Madiera, Vin de Paille (bonus: Scotch also works!)
  •  
    HOW TO SERVE WINE & ICE CREAM

  • Serve the wine in a glass.
  • Drizzle it over over the ice cream.
  • Soak dried or fresh fruit in the alcohol overnight and use it as an ice cream topping, along with a glass of the wine.
  •  
    WHAT ABOUT PAIRING WINE WITH SORBET?

    You can use the same wines and liqueurs as with the analogous ice cream flavors; or with a sweet sparkling white wine. For citrus sorbets (grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange—not represented in the ice cream list), pair with the sparkling wine or the matching liqueur.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Wines For Easter Dinner

    lacryma-christi-mastroberardino-230

    Lachryma Christi, “Tears Of Christ,” a
    delicious red for Easter. Photo courtesy
    Vinmoldova.md.

     

    What’s a holiday feast without memorable wines? THE NIBBLE’s wine editor, Kris Prasad, has come up with special recommendations for your Easter dinner.

    Whether your main course is lamb, ham, beef or poultry, these affordable red wines are not only tasty, they’re clever: You’ll have an anecdote to share with your guests as they taste and comment.

    Here are three wines with religious significance that should be on your table.

    RED WINE FROM ITALY: LACHRYMA CHRISTI, “TEARS OF CHRIST”

    With lamb or ham, you need a medium-bodied red wine.

    Legend has Lucifer grabbing a piece of heaven as he was being cast out of it; he dropped it near Naples. When God found that a piece of heaven was missing, He shed tears and vines grew where his tears landed—on Mount Vesuvius.

    The vines bear both red (Aglianico) and white (Coda di Volpe, Falanghina, Greco and Verdeca) grapes that produce wines called Lachryma Christi, “Tears of Christ.”

     
    The grape variety is mainly Aglianico, one of the noble red grape varietals of Italy (along with Nebbiolo and Sangiovese).

    If you can’t find the Lachryma Christi from the producer Mastroberardino, substitute another producer.

    RED WINE FROM FRANCE: ST. JOSEPH “OFFERUS”

    This red wine from the acclaimed Rhone producer Jean Louis Chave has a religious reference to Joseph of Arimathea. St. Joseph, canonized by the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages, was allowed to remove Christ’s body from the cross and bury him; he was supposedly present at the time of the Resurrection.

    According to the Gospels, Joseph, a man of wealth, donated his own prepared tomb for the burial of Jesus after his crucifixion.

    This is the St. Joseph for whom the great northern Rhone wine appellation is named—a west bank appellation that primarily produces red wines from the Syrah grape, along with some white wines made from Marsanne and Roussanne. There’s a faint illustration of him behind the print on the label.

    The doubly-aptly-named “Offerus” is a wonderful Easter offering. Pair it with either lamb and beef.

     

    WHITE WINE FROM GREECE: MERCOURI REFOSCO

    A Greek wine for Easter? Absolutely! There are important connections.

    The very word “Christ” is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word “Messiah,” the Anointed One. Paul the Apostle spread the gospel throughout Greece.

    Refosco is a grape variety indigenous to the Friuli region of northern Italy. In 1870, Theodore Mercouri imported Refosco cuttings and planted the first vineyard in the western Peloponnesian Mountains of Greece.

    This wine has velvety tannins and uncomplicated red cherry fruit flavors, which pair well with lamb.

    FOOD TRIVIA: The Peloponnese region of southern Greece is known for its currants—the Mercouris also grow them. The word “currant” derives from the nearby port of Corinth, from where the currants were shipped.

     

    st-joseph0offerus-winenoir.blogspot.com

    A double offering: Offerus from St. Joseph. Photo courtesy Winenoir.Blogspot.com.

     

      

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    VALENTINE’S DAY: Drink Pink

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    Chandon California Rosé is a sparkling rosé wine that’s less than half the price ($24) of a French rosé Champagne. The company also makes Sparkling Red from Zinfandel ($30), Reserve Pinot Noir Rosé ($35) and Etoile Rosé ($50). Photo courtesy Chandon.

     

    Heading out to the liquor store to pick up a bottle for Valentine’s Day? Here are some tips:

    Don’t purchase a vintage year Champagne. Vintage champagnes typically need to be laid down for 10 or 15 years to reveal their glorious nuances. Knowledgeable people who buy them don’t plan to drink them anytime soon. Instead, you’ll save money and have a better taste experience with nonvintage Champagne.

    Do look for rosé Champagne, as “real” pink-hued Champagne is called. Fuller in body with a deeper flavor, it’s our personal favorite. (It’s also pricier due to the extra steps required to extract the pink color. Taittinger Brut Prestige Rosé is a beauty, with the greater roundness that rosé Champagnes have. It’s priced in between the nonvintage and vintage Taittingers, around $65.00.

    Don’t buy anything called “Pink Champagne.” It is not French but inexpensive wine, carbonated and colored pink. Authentic rosé Champagne (and other natural rosé wines) get their color by extracting it from the grape skins into the white juice.

    Do look for non-Champagne rose sparklers. Two of our favorites: [yellow tail] Bubbles Rosé from Australia (yes, it’s spelled lower case and in brackets) and Martini Sparkling Rosé Wine from Italy. Both are not much more than $10 a bottle, but don’t let the price fool you. They’re delicious! Another favorite, Chandon Rosé, from California is about $22.00.

     
    If you want Champagne with dessert, look for a sec- or demi-sec Champagne*. These are vinified for sweeter foods (i.e., extra dosage is added for sweetness). Brut Champagnes are not vinified to pair with desserts, and will seem too astringent if you drink them with sweeter foods. Sec Champagnes also go well with foods that typically pair with sweeter wines, such as foie gras, lobster and double-creme/triple creme cheeses (our idea of a perfect meal).

    If you don’t want sparkling wine, buy rosé, a pink still wine.

    MORE VALENTINE WINE IDEAS

    Here are some of our favorite Valentine wines.

    More of our favorite rosé Champagnes.

    Whatever is in your glass, have a delicious Valentine’s Day.

     
    *While sec means “dry” in French and demi-sec means “half dry,” as the terms refer to Champagne, they indicates sweetness.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Alternatives To Champagne

    You’ve just spent a pile of money on Christmas. Do you have to spend a mini-pile on Champagne for a crowd on New Year’s Eve?

    Nope. For starters you can head to Costco and pick up Kirkland Signature Brut Champagne for $19.99 a bottle, compared to a minimum of $27.99 or more for our favorite nonvintage Champagnes, Pol Roger and $32.99 (prices from Wine.com).

    Made in Champagne for Costco, Kirkland Champagne lacks the toasty complexity of a name Champagne, but unless they travel in connoisseur circles, most guests won’t notice the difference.

    There are other more affordable sparklers that also deserve attention—if not a place in a lineup for a New Year’s Eve bubbling tasting. Head to your wine store and check out the options in:

  • Asti Spumante and Prosecco from Italy
  • Cava from Spain
  • Cremant d’Alsace from the Alsace region of France
  • Sekt from Germany
  • Various sparklers from Austria, New Zealand, South Africa, the U.S. and other countries.
  •  

    cava-bucket-bottles-WSwineclub-230

    Cava, Spain’s alternative to Champagne. Photo courtesy WS Wine Club.

     
    Ask for recommendations from a staff member and look forward to the voyage of discovery. Here’s our recommendation:

    One of our favorite sparklers, Yellow Tail Sparkling Bubbles Rosé from Australia, can often be found for $10.

    You can also serve red bubblies such as Italian Brachetto and Lambrusco or sparkling Shiraz. For us, a fun New Year’s Eve involves tasting the different options.

     
    THE LARGEST CHAMPAGNE BRANDS

    According to a ranking compiled by industry publication The Drinks Business, the world’s largest Champagne brands in 2013 were:

    1. Moet & Chandon
    2. Veuve Clicquot
    3. Nicolas Feuillatte
    4. G.H. Mumm
    5. Laurent-Perrier
    6. Taittinger
    7. Piper-Heidsieck
    8. Pommery
    9. Lanson
    10.Canard-Duchene

    There are many smaller vintners who make beautiful Champagnes; you just don’t hear of them in the media. Instead, rely on recommendations from store personnel and friends.

    Head there now. The closer you get to New Year’s Eve, the longer the lines!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Rose Champagne With Turkey

    Each year at this time we get queries about the best wine to serve with turkey. Click over to see our list of “turkey wines”: delicious, affordable choices in red, white and sparkling wines.

    One wine we left off of our original list is a crowd pleaser: rosé Champagne. The dark fruit flavors make it a delightful match for turkey, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, butternut squash soup, roasted Brussels sprouts and the rest of the menu.
     
    Party Favors

    Not only will it thrill at the table; if you’re into nice party favors, you can use splits as place settings. Tie a ribbon around the neck and thread a card with the person’s name. We’ve seen rosé splits from Nicolas Feuillatte’s and Moet & Chandon and Pommery (from $12-$15); your retailer may have others.

    But for only $10 for a full-size bottle, we really enjoy [yellow tail] Bubbles Rosé from Australia (yes, it’s spelled lower case and in brackets) and Martini Sparkling Rosé Wine from Italy.
     
    Dessert & Brunch

    For dessert, the delicate sweetness of a demi-sec rosé, such as Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte’s D’Luscious and Moet & Chandon Nectar Imperial Rosé, pairs with most desserts. Those who don’t indulge in dessert—or have no room left for it—will enjoy sipping a glass.

       

    nicolas-feuillatte-brut-rose-split-230

    Quarter bottles of Champagne are sparkling party favors. At left, Brut; at right, Brut Rosé. Photo courtesy Nicolas Feuillatte.

     

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    Sparkling rosé wines from Australia and Italy are very affordable—some just $10 for a full-size bottle. Photo courtesy Martini.

     

    Recork any leftover bubbly with a Champagne recorker and mix it with pink grapefruit juice for a Grapefruit Mimosa. There’s a recipe below.
     
    WHAT IS ROSÉ WINE?

  • Also referred to as blush wine, rosé can be made as a still, semi-still or sparkling wine.
  • Still rosé wines can be made from almost any red grape varietal, or from a blend of varietals. Sparkling rosé wines, including rosé Champagne, are exceptions because they also can be made with white grapes. The wines get their rosy color from contact with the red grape skins.
  • Depending on the grape, terroir and winemaking techniques, the color can range from the palest pink to deep ruby red to hues of orange or violet. Styles range from bone dry Provençal rosé to sweet White Zinfandel and other blush wines from California.
  • Still rose wines are not made to age, and should be drunk at 1-3 years old. The exception is top-quality rosé Champagne. A 15-year-old Dom Perignon Rosé, for example, is a joy.
  •  

    RECIPE: GRAPEFRUIT MIMOSA COCKTAIL

    This recipe, from Emeril Lagasse, can be made sweeter by adding more juice and less Champagne—a proportion that also stretches the Champagne if you don’t have enough left over.

    Ingredients For 4 Flutes

  • 4 tablespoons triple sec or other orange liqueur (e.g. Cointreau, Grand Marnier)
  • 1/2 cup pink or red grapefruit juice
  • 2 cups Champagne
  • Garnish: grapefruit wedge
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE 1 tablespoon of liqueur in each flute. Top with 2 tablespoons of grapefruit juice and 1/2 cup of Champagne.

    2. GARNISH with a grapefruit wedge and serve.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Have Some Grenache

    brunello-230BSP

    A glass of 100% grenache is a new
    experience for most wine lovers. Photo ©
    Dusan Zidar | Bigstock Photo.

     

    Grenache (pronounced gruh-NOSH), called Garnacha in Spain, is one of the most widely planted (and highest-yielding) red wine grape varieties in the world. It’s most commonly found in blends, where it’s used to add body and sweet fruitiness. It’s not easy to find a 100% garnacha wine in many U.S. wine stores.

    But look for Las Rocas and other wines from the Aragon region of northeast Spain (where the grape probably originated, although Sardinia also claims it as a native grape). Five D.O.* regions in Aragon (Calatayud, Campo de Borja, Cariñena, Somontano and Terra Alta) are producing quality wines that are at least 85% Garnacha. (A wine that is at least 85% of a particular varietal can be called by that varietal’s name.) Las Rocas, at $15, os well priced.

    Grenache grows in hot, dry climates; Spain, Sardinia, the south of France and California’s San Joaquin Valley are prominent growing regions. It is the dominant variety in most Southern Rhône wines, especially in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

    BLENDED INTO VERY POPULAR WINES

    In Spain, Grenache is blended into Rioja. It is used to make rosé wines in France and Spain. If you’ve had a bottle of Tavel (a district in the Côtes du Rhône), you’ve had grenache.

     

    Grenache was one of the first grape varieties introduced to Australia in the 18th century. It was the country’s most widely planted red wine grape variety until it was surpassed by Shiraz in the mid 1960s.

    In was also one of the first grapes to be successfully planted and vinified during the early development of the Washington wine industry, in the early 20th century.

    Wines made from Grenache tend to lack acid, tannin and color, which is why they are usually blended with Cinsaut, Syrah, Tempranillo or other grapes. In addition to the better-known red wine, there is a white grape, Grenache Blanc or Grenacha Blanca. A wine made with White Grenache is similar to White Zinfandel.

    White Grenache is a very important grape in France, where it is the fourth most widely planted white variety†. Like red Grenache (Grenache Noir), it is used as a blending grape in the wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

     

    CELEBRATE INTERNATIONAL GRENACHE DAY

    To celebrate International Grenache Day—the third Friday in September, which this year is September 19th—the producers of Las Rocas Garnacha sent us a bottle of red. The brand name, which means “the rocks,” refers to the steep, rocky slopes where the grapes are grown.

    The flavors of grenache are typically spicy (look for white pepper) with berry fruit, often raspberry and strawberry (we found blackberry and black cherry in Las Rocas). The lower tannins make it softer on the palate; the alcohol content is relatively high (this year’s Las Rocas has 14.9% alcohol).

    GRENACHE & FOOD PAIRINGS

    Pair grenache as you would any medium-body red wine: with beef, chicken and turkey, lamb or pork, including stews. Its spicy qualities also pair well with international spices, such as garam masala and milder curries. The fruitiness also makes them a natural for dishes with dried fruit, such as Moroccan tagines; and with general sweetness, such as barbecue.

    In recent decades, the total acreage of Garnacha in Spain has been on the decline, with the vineyards being replanted with the more fashionable Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tempranillo.

     

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    Celebrate International Grenache Day. Photo courtesy Las Rocas.

     

    Show your support of Grenache today: Enjoy a bottle with dinner.

     
    *D.O., short for Denominaciones de Origen, is similar to the French Appellations. Production of products produced in a particular D.O. are regulated by specific laws meant to ensure quality and consistency.

    †The first three are Ugni blanc, a blending grape; Chardonnay and Semillon.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Wine Glass Types

    red-white-champagne-brinvy.biz-230

    Ideally, you’ll have three wine-specific
    glasses for red, white and sparkling. Photo
    courtesy Brinvy.biz.

     

    “Why the different shapes and sizes of wine glasses?” writes a reader. “Can’t I just use one generic glass?”

    The bottom line is: You can serve wine in a juice glass, if that’s what you have. It’s how wine is served in many working class eateries the world over.

    Just as you can drink soup from a bowl or a mug, you can drink wine from a tea cup, a vessel used by some during Prohibition lest the neighbors spot them drinking alcohol.

    But for more elegant consumption that helps show off the qualities of the wine, three different shapes work best. Here’s why:

    Larger Bowl Wine Glasses For Red Wine

    Red wine glasses hold a minimum of 12 ounces. The wider bowl shape allows the wine to breathe more, opening up the flavors of red wine.

    Those balloon glasses at 24 ounces may look impressive and appeal to major imbibers; but they take extra space to store, extra care to wash, and are more showy than useful.

     
    Narrower Bowl Wine Glasses For White Wine

    White wine glasses range between 10 and 12 ounces. The shape’s narrower bowl helps to keep the wine cool longer.
     

    Flutes For Sparkling Wine

    Champagne and other sparkling wines are best served in an 8- to 12-ounce flute. The narrow shape keeps the bubbles from dissipating quickly (which is exactly what happens in a Champagne coupe), and focuses the bubbles to rise in a festive display.

    In some better stemware lines, tiny dimples are etched into the bottom of the bowl, which produce more bubbles and help to improve the way it tastes.

    In fact, the added effervescence increases the volatile compounds that are released when the bubbles burst, enhancing the bouquet.

     

    The Science Of Stemware

    For some time, the design of the best wine glasses has been a matter of science. At Riedel, the pioneer in stemware engineering and the glass of choice among connoisseurs, the bowls are designed to show off the qualities of each style of wine, enhancing the flavors and aromas. It’s scientific, and it works (it’s easy to do a side-by-side comparison between Riedel and a generic glass).
     
    More Wine Glass Tips

    Stems. The stem length will vary based on the designer. While tall stems look elegant, they may not be the most comfortable to hold. Also consider if they will fit easily into your cabinet and, if you hope to wash them mechanically, your dishwasher. On a similar plane, novelty stems—in the shape of cubes or diamonds, for example—are not as easy to hold.

    Bowl designs. Avoid colors and designs. If you’re serious about wine, you need to be able to focus on the subtleties of its color.

    Engineering. Experts look for thinner glass and a lip that curves in slightly to focus the aroma.

    A final tip: Wine glasses should be filled only about two-thirds full, not to the brim.

     

    riedel-assorted-reds-230

    Riedel engineers each glass to show of the quality of the varietal—Cabernet versus Zinfandel, for example. Photo courtesy Riedel USA.

     

      

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    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Moscato Day

    It’s National Muscat Day, celebrating a wine that hasn’t been discovered by enough Americans—especially those who enjoy a fruity wine with a touch of sweetness.

    We’ve enjoyed white Moscato for years, as well as the sparkling styles like Asti Spumante and its semi-sparkling cousin, Moscato d’Asti (both made in the Piedmont region of Italy).

    But we only recently received our first bottle of red Moscato, from our friends at Gallo Vineyards. It retails for about $7.99 per bottle, and we’ll be bringing bottles of both red and white Moscato to gatherings this summer.

     
    THE HISTORY OF MOSCATO

    Once upon a time, in a land called Muscat and Oman (a country that encompassed the present day Sultanate of Oman and parts of the United Arab Emirates), a wine was enjoyed so much that someone brought the grape seeds back to Rome for cultivation.

    In turn, the Roman Legions brought Moscato to Gaul (encompassing present-day France). Today France and Italy are renowned producers of Muscat.

     

    gallo-red-moscato-230

    Red moscato is made by a number of producers. Photo courtesy Gallo.

     

    The are different strains of the muscat grape, including Muscat noir, black Muscat, which has a dark skin (red to dark purple) and is used to make the red variety.

    Moscato is light bodied and low in alcohol—meaning that most people can have a second glass without feeling it. Gallo’s red Moscato has a perfumed nose and a palate laden with notes of citrus, honey and peach.

    With its delicate sweetness and fresh acidity, this refreshing, medium-bodied wine is best enjoyed chilled, with anything from a cheese place to spice cuisine to dessert.

    Here’s more on moscato, including 13 different ways to serve it.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Rosé Wine & The Best Rosé Tasting Ever

    Quick: What’s a rosé wine?

  • It’s a type of wine that gets some of its rosy color from contact with red grape skins, but not enough to qualify it as a red wine.
  • It can be made anywhere in the world, from almost any grape (or a mix of different grapes); it can be made as a still, semi-still or sparkling wine.
  • Depending on the grape, terroir and winemaking techniques, the color can range from the palest pink to deep ruby red to hues of orange or violet; and in styles from bone dry Provençal rosé to sweet White Zinfandel and other blush wines from California.
  • It may be the oldest style of wine, as it is the most easiest to make with the skin contact method.
  •  
    And it’s popular.

    According to Nielsen, premium imported rosés (those priced at $12 or more per bottle) grew by 39% in volume and 48% in dollar value in 2013, capping nine straight years of double-digit growth.

    In sum, a glass of chilled rosé is now hot.

    And soon, in celebration, the world’s first large-scale rosé tasting event, La Nuit En Rosé will be held in New York City—on June 13th and 14th.

    Before then, you can set a bottle or two on your Easter table. But La Nuit En Rosé is a rosé tasting with 50 wines you won’t want to miss.

     

    rose-glass-corksandcaftans-230

    Multiply times 50: That’s how many roses you’ll be able to taste at La Nuit En Rosé (if not more!). Photo courtesy Corks and Caftans.

     

    LA NUIT EN ROSÉ: ROSE WINÉ TASTING CRUISE UP THE HUDSON RIVER
    JUNE 13th & 14th, 2014

    La Nuit En Rosé, “The Pink Night,” marks the first time a large wine event has focused exclusively on rosé. It’s a celebration of rosés from around the globe, and your opportunity to taste the different grapes and styles all in one evening—on a yacht cruise!

    There will be more than 50 wines from the world’s great wine regions.

    This tasting event will take place during an elegant yacht cruise along the Hudson River that nestles Manhattan Island. There are not only wines, but live music, optional cuisine and some of the best views Manhattan has to offer.

    There are two four-hour sessions a day, an afternoon and an evening sailing, each featuring a 90-minute cruise. The yacht departs from Pier 40 (West Street and the Hudson River).

    Just pick your day and time on Friday, June 13th or Saturday, June 14th:

  • DAY TASTING & CRUISE, 1 PM to 5 PM: Take in the summertime sun during a daytime cruise. Sip on the world’s finest rosé wines while taking in the sights of downtown New York City from the water. You can board as early as 1 and start tasting. The cruise begins at 2 p.m. and sails until 3:30 p.m.; you can then remain on board until 5, tasting and enjoying the music.
  • NIGHT TASTING & CRUISE, 7 PM to 11 PM: Prepare for an evening of wine tasting, dancing and cruising around the city. Enjoy views of the lit-up Manhattan skyline. Boarding time is 7 p.m.; the cruise begins at 8 p.m. and sails until 9:30 p.m. You can remain on board until 11.
  •  
    TICKETS

    Tickets are $60 per person and include all of the wines and the 90-minute cruise. Buy them at NuitRose.com.

    Food vendors on board will sell cheeses, charcuterie, fresh seafood, French pastries and other snacks to pair with the wines.

    The event also features a wine competition, where distinguished judges will confer honors upon the best of the wines, and you can cast your own vote for the audience award (“people’s choice”).

    If you taste something you really like, you’ll be able to order it on board from renowned wine merchant Zachys.

    Get together a group: It should be a memorable event!

     

    sancerre_rose_Wine-thor-wiki-230

    We can’t wait to taste and cruise. Photo by
    Thor | Wikimedia.

     

    HOW IS ROSÉ MADE?

    Surprise: Most wine grapes have clear juice, regardless of the skin color. The pink color in rosé—and the color of red wines—is obtained through skin contact. This means letting the crushed grape skins and fresh juice (which is called the “must”) of black-skinned grapes (a.k.a. purple or red grapes) rest together in a vat.

    The longer that the juice is left in contact with the skins (typically one to three days for rosé), the more color is extracted and the more intense the color of the final wine. When the color is the right shade for the brand, the must is then pressed and and the skins are discarded.

    The winemaker drains the juice from the skins and proceeds to make the wine in the same way most whites are made (cool fermentation and, for rosé, no oak).

    Rosé Vs. Blush Wine

    In the 1980s, American winemakers began using the term “blush wine” to sell their pink wines. The reasons:

     

  • White Zinfandel had become enormously popular (at one point it was the largest-selling wine in America), and there weren’t enough Zinfandel grapes grown to meet demand. Winemakers needed to use other grape varieties, and could no longer call the product “White Zinfandel.”
  • No one was buying, or showing an interest in, rosé at the time, while blush wines flew off of the shelves.
  • American pink wines, whether White Zin or the generic “blush,” are typically sweeter and paler than French-style rosé.

    The styles and tasting profiles of each are as varied and complex as any varietal, and richly deserve their new popularity. Get to know fifty of them this June.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Break Wine Barriers

    Most people who drink wine regularly have learned “rules” of pairing wine with food. There are very precise rules—Chablis with oysters is one—and general pronouncements, such as white wine with fish.

    You can go to the website FoodAndWinePairing.org and get guidance such as a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Malbec with lamb.

    But conventional wisdom, which also includes drinking the wines from the same region as the foods, is not the same as the latest wisdom.

    The new wisdom of wine says don’t be regimented, don’t box yourself in. Try different pairings to see what works best for you.

    The new wisdom (which has been around for a while) was proved at a lunch last week hosted by Louis Jadot, the venerable Burgundian winemaker and négociant*.

    In a private room at Lafayette Grand Café in the Nolita neighborhood of downtown Manhattan, ten wine writers joined Frederic Barnier, Jadot’s winemaker, for an eye-opening (and delicious) lunch.

    We tried eight different dishes with four Jadot wines, two whites and two reds:

  • Louis Jadot Bourgogne Chardonnay
  • Louis Jadot Macon-Villages
  • Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages
  • Louis Jadot Pinot Noir
  •  

    filet-mignon-red-wine-ruthschris-230

    If you think you prefer Cabernet Sauvignon with filet mignon, think again. Photo courtesy Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

     

    Also tasted prior to the lunch were the new Louis Jadot Steel Chardonnay, made for the American market where many people prefer the flavors of steel fermentation to oak barrel fermentation; and the 2012 Pouilly-Fuisse.

     

    jadot-beaujolais-230b

    Who new we’d enjoy Beaujolais with just
    about everything? Photo courtesy Maison
    Louis Jadot.

      MIX & MATCH

    We were encouraged to mix and match the wines with the foods. Served family style on large platters, we dined on:

  • Roasted beet root salad with mach and hazelnuts
  • Escarole and endive salad with pomegranate and truffle vinaigrette
  • Charcuterie de la maison: saucisson, pâte and jambon
  • Rotisserie chicken salad with organic grains and tarragon-poppy dressing
  • Brisket burger with caramelized onions and raclette
  • Roasted fall vegetables and potatoes
  • Brussels sprouts with bacon and horseradish
  •  
    SURPRISES

    As you might imagine, there’s a lot of conventional wisdom on which wines to pair with these foods. But we tried every possible pairing, and the results were surprising—or maybe not so surprising:

    Everyone liked something different, and many of the preferences were not the conventional ones.

    Even more surprising to us—a lover of red and white Burgundy but not necessarily of Beaujolais†—is how much we liked that Beaujolais with just about everything. It was our favorite wine of the tasting, and the nice Jadot people sent us home with a bottle.

     
    PICK A DATE FOR A DINNER PARTY

    Follow today’s tip by planning a dinner with four different wines.

    You can assign dishes to participants, so you’ll have an assortment of vegetables, grains, poultry, meat and fish/seafood. Prepare the dishes with strong flavors—like the hazelnuts, horseradish, truffle oil, spices and herbs served by Lafayette—because any wine will seemingly go with bland food.

    Of course, the exercise is a relative one. The flavors of wines made from the same grape from the same region in the same year can vary widely. So it’s best to select four wines from the same producer, like Jadot, which will provide consistency in house style and approach to winemaking.

    Bon appétit!

     
    *A négociant is the French term for a wine merchant who buys wines from smaller winemakers and sells them under his own name. Négociants buy everything from grapes to grape must to wines in various states of completion, and often blend the wines from different small winemakers.

    †Beaujolais is the one appellation in Burgundy that produces red wine made from the Gamay grape instead of Pinot Noir.

      

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