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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: Try Some Cold Saké

Saké Cider: a saké cocktail for harvest
season. Photo courtesy Haru.

 

Today is National Saké Day, or “Nihonshu no Hi,” as it’s known in Japan.

In Japan, October 1st is the traditional beginning of the new saké season. Brewmasters across the nation begin the process of producing their saké.

Today, forget the hot saké served at restaurants. It’s bulk saké, and often has an alcoholic burn of a lower-quality product.

Instead, try saké flights or saké-infused cocktails made with a higher quality product. Chilled, premium saké is as appealing as white wine, and pairs easily with non-Asian cuisine.

We’re doing flights, trying some different saké brands. We have a supply of traditional saké cups (masu), although any wine glass or shot glass will do. The traditional toast: “Kanpai!” (pronounced con-PIE).

 

 

Consider this harvest-themed Mr. Beam’s Saké Cider, created with Jim Beam Black, Reiko Cold Sake and fresh apple cider. It was a seasonal special last autumn and winter at Haru Saké Bar and the Haru restaurants in New York City and Boston. We liked it so much, we’re reviving it on THE NIBBLE (although you’ll have to choose something else on the menu at Haru).

SAKÉ CIDER COCKTAIL

Ingredients For One Drink

  • 1.5 ounces Jim Beam Black
  • 1.5 ounces cold saké
  • 3 ounces apple cider
  • 2 ounces sour mix
  •  

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously.

    2. STRAIN into a rocks glass or Martini glass.

     

    Quality cold sake. The cup is called a masu. Photo courtesy Tedorigawa Brewing Company.

     

    SAKÉ 101

  • Although some Americans think of saké as “Japanese wine,” it is brewed, just like beer. Traditionally vinified Japanese wines include rice wine and plum wine.
  • Saké, the drink, has an accented “e,” and is pronounced SAH-kay. Sake is the word for salmon, has no accented “e,” and is pronounced SAH-keh.
  • Learn all about sake and how to understand restaurant saké lists.
  • Glossary of saké terms and types of saké.
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Sorbet Dessert Cocktails

    Drinking your dessert is especially delightful on a warm summer night.

    Start with a scoop of your favorite sorbet in a wine glass or stemmed dessert dish; top with sparkling wine and an optional garnish.

    You can have a higher proportion of wine to sorbet, as in the photo at right—a glass of sparkling wine with a scoop of sorbet.

    Or, take the other approach: A dish of sorbet with a sparkling wine pour-over, as in the photo below.

    Either way, you’ve got something light and luscious, with no more effort than scooping sorbet and pouring Champagne. That’s a win-win in our book.

    Beyond the simplicity of sparkling wine and sorbet, you can add a scoop of sorbet to a conventional cocktail:

  • Peach sorbet in a Bellini (Bellini Cocktail Recipe)
  • Orange sorbet in a Mimosa or grapefruit sorbet in a Grapefruit Mimosa (Grapefruit Mimosa Cocktail Recipe—substitute orange juice for the grapefruit juice in the recipe)
  •  

    A glass of Prosecco with strawberry sorbet. Photo © Auremar | Fotolia.

     

    You can also add the sorbet to non-sparkling cocktails, for example:

  • Lemon or lime sorbet in a Margarita
  • Raspberry sorbet (cranberry, if you can find it) in a Cosmopolitan
  • Pineapple sorbet in a Piña Colada
  •  
    Seek inspiration by looking at the flavors of sorbet in your market. Don’t be scared off by exotic flavors. One of our favorite creations is a French 77 (Champagne and St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur) with lychee sorbet that we found in an Asian market. (Elderflower tastes a lot like lychee.)

    And then, there’s the ice cream cocktail. Two of our favorites:

  • Coffee ice cream in a Black Russian or White Russian (recipe)
  • Godiva chocolate liqueur with chocolate and vanilla ice cream
  •  

    Lemon sorbet with a Prosecco pour-over.
    Photo © Auremar | Fotolia.

     

    TYPES OF SPARKLING WINE

    Asti or Asti Spumante, from the Asti region of Italy, is a sweeter style of sparkler made from Muscat grapes. The sweetness is perfect for dessert pairings, and the lighter body and low alcohol content (about 8%) help.

    Cava, from Spain, is available in white or pink. As with Champagne, it is made in different levels of dryness/sweetness.

    Champagne, the world’s most famous and costliest sparkler, is produced in the Champagne region of France. Although even the least expensive bottles are pricey, you can find something in the $25 range. Unless you’re a rock star, don’t pour Dom Perignon into a sorbet cocktail: The sweet sorbet will overwhelm the complexity and finesse of a great Champagne.

    Cremant, from France, is a sparkler that can be produced in any region. It has lower effervescence than Champagne, giving it a creamy mouth feel.

     

    Espumate, from Portugal, is light-bodied and very affordable sparkling option ($6-$8).

    Prosecco is an Italian version of Asti (using the same production method), but it is dryer due to the grapes used. Light in body, it is available in lightly sparkling and fully sparkling varieties.

    Other sparklers, less frequently found in the U.S., include Methode Cap Classique from South Africa, Sekt from Germany, Sovetskoye Shampanskoye from Russia, Sparkling Shiraz from Australia and Trento Doc from Italy.

    When you’ve created your signature sorbet cocktail, please share the recipe with us!

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: CapaBunga Wine Bottle Cap

    CapaBunga is an airtight cap for open wine bottles. No leaks ever again! Photo courtesy CapaBunga.

     

    Cowabunga dudes: We just love the Capabunga.

    We get lots of pitches for gadgets that are also-rans. But every so often, we find something that’s simply superb. That’s how we feel about CapaBunga.

    And most of us can use a few of these inexpensive wine bottle resealers, so consider your stocking stuffers and small house gifts taken care of.

    CapaBunga is a reusable silicone cap that reseals a bottle of wine—no need to jam the cork back in, grab the Vacu-Vin, or other technique. It fits any wine bottle. And it just slips on, like a silicone sock.

    Once you remove the cork and re-seal the bottle with a CapaBunga, it creates a vacuum in the bottle and is liquid-tight. The bottle can be stored upside down without leaking (or more realistically, on its side in the fridge).

    At $7.95 for two, it’s a no-brainer gift for anyone who drinks wine.

    Read the full review.

     

      

    Comments

    WINE: Summer White Wines You’ve Never Heard Of

    This guest post is from Jim Laughren: wine collector, former president of a Florida-based wine import and distribution company and founder of WineHead Consulting. A Certified Wine Educator, Jim has conducted hundreds of teachings, tastings and training sessions, and has visited wine regions throughout the world. He is the author of A Beer Drinker’s Guide to Knowing And Enjoying Fine Wine. He recommends three exciting white wines you’ve probably never heard of.

    As a kid in New England, growing up within earshot of chilly North Atlantic waves crashing onto the rocky shoreline, “summer whites” referred to lightweight, summer uniforms donned by the swabbies at nearby Newport Naval Base. While I’m sure the sailors were glad to trade in their peacoats and winter woolens for something a bit more comfortable, many modern day sailors—of the culinary variety—have grown tired of their summer whites and would love to find some delicious new wines for onboard entertaining.

    Whether grilling in the backyard, welcoming friends to the summertime table or lounging next to the pool. If you’re still reeling from the ABC syndrome (anything but Chardonnay), and have had your fill of not-too-exciting Pinot Grigios, take heart. There are some wonderful white wines out there just waiting to be discovered.

     

    Txakoli, pronounced cha-ko-LEE, from Spain’s Basque region. Photo © Jose Ortuza.

     

    Today’s recommendations are delicious, affordable and uniformly hard to pronounce. Pronunciation keys are provided, of course, so you can inquire with confidence at the wine store.

    Txakoli

    The Basque country of northern Spain us one of the world’s centers of great cuisine. When a light white is needed, the locals call for Txakoli. Ppronounced cha-ko-LEE, it’s a lively, light-to-medium bodied wine with a slight effervescence.

    Typically pale straw in color with dramatic, mouth-watering acidity, expect to find honey, citrus and stone fruit notes that go beautifully with light, simply prepared seafood. It’s the answer to the question of what wine is perfect with grilled octopus.

    If the wine’s name isn’t enough to give you pause, consider that it’s made from the grape variety Hondarrabi Zuri (onda-RAH-bee THOR-ry, with a rolled “r” on rabi).

     

    Edelzwicker, meaning “noble blend.” Photo
    courtesy Domaine Mauler | France.

     

    Edelzwicker

    Edelzwicker (AY-del-ZVEE-kur) is next in our lineup of who-named-these wines. The name means “noble blend.”

    Edelzwicker is a scrumptious, fuller bodied white that easily handles foods like smoked salmon, light pork and veal dishes. Higher in alcohol than Txakolis, these wines hail from Alsace, that northeast corner of France that’s been a ping-pong ball of territory batted back and forth between Germany and France since the Romans first established the region as a viticultural outpost around 50 B.C.E.

    Edelzwickers are a free-form blend of any or all of the best Alsatian varieties, including Riesling, Muscat, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Auxerrois and/or Sylvaner. Despite the lack of uniformity in composition, these wines are usually a lovely yellow color with open, fruity aromas. A similar, and more easily pronounced, wine, called Gentil, hails from the same region and is nearly indistinguishable.

     

    Moschofilero

    It may sound more Italian than Greek, but Moschofilero (moss-ko-FEE-leh-roe) hails from the highlands of the central Peloponnese peninsula in Greece. This rather marvelous white wine is vying to become my new, new favorite.

    Moschofilero, a pink-skinned grape descended from the ancient Filero grape family, produces wine that is light in color and known for its effusive aromas of roses and violets, followed by some nicely textured, spicy fruit flavors. This wine has presence; in fact, it’s hard not to be impressed with this particular wine, regardless of the wine styles you’re normally drawn to.

    There you have it: three unique wines, three excellent summer sipping options. While you may have trouble getting all the syllables in order, you shouldn’t have any problem finding them at most good wine shops.

    Let your retailer know you want the best examples of these wines. After all, life is short; why drink anything less than excellent? Txakoli, Edelzwicker and Moschofilero are able, exotic and ready for deployment as your new summer whites. Do your palate a favor and welcome them aboard.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: Robert Mondavi’s Birthday

    Today’s the day to pick up a bottle or two of Robert Mondavi wine.

    It’s Mondavi’s 100th birthday (June 18, 1913 – May 16, 2008). The American wine pioneer and innovator made technical improvements and developed marketing strategies that brought worldwide recognition for the wines of California’s Napa Valley. Until then, California wines “got no respect”: American wine buyers were French-wine-focused.

    A bottle of Robert Mondavi Winery’s 2011 Fume Blanc is a beautiful warm weather wine and a great choice for a birthday celebration. It’s an exceptionally well-balanced, fruit-forward varietal (Sauvignon Blanc) that is enjoyable on its own or as a food wine, with fish, shellfish and lighter dishes. Fume Blanc, a name Mondavi trademarked, is made in the style of French Sauvignon Blanc (Sancerre wines), with citrusy fruit and herbal flavors, minerality and racy acidity. It’s one of our favorite wines.

    One of Mondavi’s innovations was to promote the labeling of wines by their varietal names, i.e., Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc/Fume Blanc. The European tradition is to name the wine based on its village, region or other geography (Burgundy, Bordeaux, Port, etc.).

     

    Robert Mondavi’s acclaimed Fume Blanc. Photo courtesy Robert Mondavi Winery.

     
    How It All Began

    Mondavi‘s father had a business in California that shipped grapes to the East Coast for home winemaking. The family then acquired the Charles Krug Winery in Napa, and after graduating from Stanford, Mondavi joined his father and brother Peter in the business.

    You can read the story—a saga worthy of a motion picture or mini series—in The House Of Mondavi: The Rise and Fall of an American Wine Dynasty.

    Today, the Robert Mondavi Winery produces a large variety of wines in multiple lines, ranging from connoisseur wines to everyday wines: Reserve Wines, District Wines, Napa Valley Wines and Winery Exclusive Wines, the latter of which can only be purchased at the winery.

    Learn more at RobertMondaviWinery.com. And plan a trip to visit the lovely winery. It’s an easy drive from San Francisco.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Moscato Day Cocktail Recipes

    You can celebrate May 9th, National Moscato Day, with a glass of Moscato: the slightly sweet white wine pairs well wherever an Alsatian Gewürtztraminer or Riesling would be at home (see the food pairings below).

    But for National Moscato Day, we present two cocktail recipes, courtesy of Gallo Family Vineyards, one of our favorite Moscato makers.

    MOSCATO DAY CELEBRATION PUNCH

    Serves 6-8 people.

    Ingredients

  • 6 ounces Moscato
  • 2 ounces blanco (silver) Tequila
  • 4 ounces grapefruit juice
  • 2 ounces lemon juice
  • 4 ounces strongly brewed chamomile tea
  • 2 ounces agave nectar
  • 4 ounces club soda
  • Garnish: grapefruit and lemon wheels
  • Ice
  •  

    Try a Moscato-Tequila punch. Photo courtesy Gallo.

     

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a punch bowl or large pitcher filled with ice.

    2. GARNISH and serve.

     

    A Gimlet made with Moscato instead of gin. Photo courtesy Gallo.

     

    MOSCATO GIMLET

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 3 ounces Moscato
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce agave nectar
  • Lime wedge or wheel
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a coupe glass.

    2. GARNISH with lime wedge and serve.

     

    ABOUT MOSCATO

    Moscato is a lighter-style white wine, lower in alcohol (5%-8% ABV, about half the alcohol of other wines). It is popular with brunch, dessert or as an apéritif. It is grown around the world. The Italian bottlings, from Italy’s Piedmont region, are called Moscato d’Asti: named after the grape, Moscato, and the Italian town of Asti, the center of production. Asti Spumante is sparkling Moscato.

    Straw-colored Moscato is known for its fruit (often peaches and tangerines, depending on region), its floral fragrance fragrance and its subtle sweetness.

    PAIRING MOSCATO WITH FOOD

    Don’t store Moscato: It’s meant to be drunk fresh and vibrant in the year it is vinified. Serve it with:

  • Antipasto and charcuterie plates
  • Asian foods, especially spicy cuisines such as Indian and Thai
  • Desserts, including apple desserts; biscotti and other cookies; fresh berries and fruit salad; fruit pies and cobblers including lemon meringue and Key lime pies; hazelnut desserts; loaf cakes and sponge cakes (delicious with lemon-poppy bread!)
  • Cheese, especially more pungent cheeses such as blues, Parmigiano-Reggiano washed rind cheeses; or with Brie and other double- and triple-crème cheeses
  • Shellfish, from the raw bar to grilled lobster, scallops, shrimp
  •  
    SEE ALL THE AMERICAN FOOD HOLIDAYS.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Malbec Red Wine For Easter

    Marvelous Malbecs. Photo courtesy Trapiche
    Vineyards.

     

    If you’re in charge of the wine for Easter, how about trying something new?

    Malbec, the signature grape of the Cahors area of southwestern France, has become the signature grape of Argentina. You’re likely to find a nice choice of Malbecs from both areas on the shelves of your wine store.

    Malbec is deep purple in color and lush with ripe, juicy berry and plummy dark fruit flavors. Secondary flavors can include herbal, licorice/anise and violet notes.

    Malbec will appeal to lovers of the Bordeaux grapes. It has been called “the more rustic cousin of Merlot” by wine expert Jancis Robinson. For many years it has been used in some Bordeaux blends to add deep color, tannins and plummy flavors. In the Loire Valley it is blended with Cabernet Franc and Gamay.

    As global interest in wine has increased, Malbec has become bottled as a single varietal, vinified to be drunk young. It is excellent with Easter ham and lamb, as well as with turkey. In fact, Malbec can easily step in whenever a red wine is called for, including with spicy cuisines like Cajun.

    Malbec is also delicious with bittersweet chocolate (see our chocolate and wine pairing chart).

     

    TRAPICHE BIODNYNAMIC MALBEC

    Those who prefer organic, sustainable wines should take a look at the Malbecs from Trapiche Vineyards, Argentina’s largest exported premium wines. The company practices biodynamic agriculture.

    Biodynamic is the word used in most countries to describe what Americans call organic. It is actually the most rigorous approach among biological and ecological agricultural practices, with tougher standards than organic.

    Biodynamic agriculture supports everything that is natural and forbids the use of chemicals, herbicides and fungicides. It aims for a balanced ecosystem, biodiversity and the recovery of the bacterial activity in the soils. The only fertilizers allowed are the vegetable and animal wastes from a biodynamic farm.

    The Trapiche Vineyards Malbec is a rich red wine with aromas of plums and cherries on the nose, hints of truffle and vanilla on the palate and a smooth, full finish. The prices range from $8 for the basic varietal to $41 for the finest single-vineyard Malbecs.

    WANT TO HAVE FUN WITH EASTER WINES?

    Beyond Malbec, THE NIBBLE’s wine editor, Kris Prasad, recommends wines that are perfect for an Easter celebration:

  • Lacryma Christi, made from local grapes in red and white wines by Mastroberardino, the most renowned winery in the Campania region of southern Italy, established in the 1750s. Campania’s s by winemaker Pietro di Mastro Berardino. PiThe name means “tears of Christ.”
  • Saint Joseph “Offerus,” from the great French winemaker Jean Louis Chave, is a syrah-based wine from the Rhone region. According to the Gospels, Joseph donated his own prepared tomb for the burial of Jesus after his crucifixion. The great northern Rhone wine appellation Saint Joseph is named for him. “Offerus” means offering.
  •  
    Here’s the full Easter wines article.

     

    Trapiche is one of the popular Malbecs from Argentina. Photo courtesy Trapiche Vineyards.

     

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Chocolat Rouge Wine

    Chocolate and red wine pair well together. So the inspired producers of ChocolatRouge wines have created a line of dessert wines that blends rich chocolate flavors into quality red wine. Instead of the traditional dessert wine technique, which uses late harvest, sugar-laden grapes, ChocolatRouge infuses chocolate flavors into dry red wine.

    We tried two of the three bottlings. We enjoyed both; one in particular has made it onto our personal holiday gift list.

    Dark Red Blend: We’ll use the vintner’s description, “reminiscent of chocolate-dipped red berries with a soft velvety finish.” The chocolate notes are subtle; if you didn’t know the chocolate was there, you might think it was a conventional red dessert wine.

    While Dark Red Blend is charming, our favorite is Milk Chocolate Flavors: We ordered a case for holiday gifting

    Milk Chocolate Flavors: Looking like chocolate milk in a wine bottle, this treat is a chocolatey, creamy and rich. It reminds us of a chocolate shake blended with some red dessert wine…

     

    Dessert wines made with chocolate. Photo courtesy ChocolatRouge.com.

     

    …so much so, that the next time we open a bottle of red dessert wine, we’re going to blend in some chocolate milk to see if we can achieve something similar. Unfortunately, the contents of Dark Red Blend were consumed by THE NIBBLE team before we had a chance to make and add chocolate milk.

    While Milk Chocolate Flavors is also a dessert wine, it’s an anytime chocolate treat.

    We didn’t have the third variety, Sweet Red Blend; but based on our satisfaction with its two siblings. we’ll certainly pick up a bottle when we come across it.

    The ChocolateRouge website has recipes for lovely winetails (wine-based cocktails): Café, Cherry Cordial, Julep, Milky Way, Orangette, Red Velvet, Spiced and Winter Sangria. But we enjoyed drinking both bottles chilled, straight up.

    There’s a store locator on the website.

    You can also order it on Amazon.com for $12.99/bottle.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Autographed Champagne Bottles

    With a gold felt-tipped pen, you can turn a Champagne or wine bottle into a memento of friendship and good times.

    It’s the concept of a guest book ported to a bottle. With the gold ink, date an unopened bottle of Champagne and record the occasion (e.g., Christmas Party, 12.9.12).

    Next, have party guests or the members of your family gathering sign the bottle of Champagne. Then:

  • You can keep it as a memento.
  • You can have a prize drawing for it.
  • You can save it to serve next year…or in 5 years, 10 years, and so on.
  • You can turn the empty bottle into something else (see below).
  •  
    We use the gold (and silver) metallic ink marker pens from Sakura, available in stationery stores or online.

     

    Autograph a Champagne bottle as a memento. Photo courtesy Moet et Chandon.

    WHAT TO DO WITH THE AUTOGRAPHED BOTTLE

    What to do with the bottle after you’ve drunk the Champagne? We scoured the Internet for ideas:

  • CANDLE HOLDER. Over the years, you can “collect a set.”
  • DECORATIVE LIGHT. Fill with white Christmas lights (see how).
  • INCENSE BURNER. Drill holes to turn it into an incense burner (the smoke drifts out of the holes and the neck).
  • KNICKNACK. Add it to the knicknack shelf.
  • LAMP. With the right shade, it could be quite lovely (go to a lamp store, not Walmart).
  • VASE. Showcase a lily or gerber daisy.
  • WALL HANGING. Have someone saw the bottle in half and hang one or both pieces on a wall.
  • WATER PITCHER. Buy a decorative bottle stopper, fill with water and keep the bottle in the fridge (or use it just for parties).
  •  
    Or, simply recycle the bottle and enjoy the memories.

    WRITE YOUR MESSAGE ON GIFT BOTTLES

    Use the gold pen to write any message on a bottle, from Congratulations! to Happy Birthday to Wishing You Health And Good Cheer in 2013.

      

    Comments

    WINE: Nobilo Icon Pinot Noir & Sauvignon Blanc

    We’ve never been to New Zealand, but friends who moved there from the U.S. love it.

    It sounds like paradise: pristine waters, lots of sunshine and clean air, not to mention wonderful lamb and delicious wines.

    Considered one of the great wine-growing regions of the world, Marlborough, located on the northeast coast of New Zealand’s South Island, is one of the country’s sunniest areas. The climate is perfect for growing crisp, zesty Sauvignon Blancs and complex yet fruity Pinot Noirs.

    The Nobilo winery is one of the best in the region, with two award winning lines: Nobilo Regional Collection and Nobilo Icon. Founder Nikola Nobilo emigrated from Croatia in 1937, ordered by his uncle who saw the signs of what would become World War II.

    Nikola and his family began to plant grapes in 1943, and pioneered planting of classic European grape varieties in New Zealand that produced higher quality wines than the hybrid grapes the industry had been planting.

    We received a gift of a bottle of the Sauvignon Blanc and the Pinot Noir. Both honor their founder:

  • The full-bodied 2011 Sauvignon Blanc had a lovely nose of gooseberry, peach and lemon, with a rich palate. The citrus and gooseberry continue on the palate, along with a flinty minerality that we enjoy in Chablis. It’s impressive and well-priced at less than $20.00.
  •  

    Nobilo Icon Pinot Noir, one of two delicious wines we enjoyed on Thanksgiving. Photo courtesy Nobilo Winery.

     

  • The rich 2011 Nobilo Icon Pinot Noir has classic pinot notes: berry aromas (blackberry, cherry, raspberry), with toasty oak and spice underpinnings. A classic wine to pair with beef, lamb and pork, it was delicious with the Thanksgiving turkey. It retails for about $23.00.
  •  
    If you need to pick something nice for holiday meals and gifting, look for Nobilo Icon. The inspirational story behind it makes it even tastier.

    Learn more on the winery’s website.

      

    Comments

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