Thursday, May 29, 2014

Weekly Wine Review - Spanish Red - 2011 Bodega Virgin de las Vinas Ribera del Duero Tierra Aranda

My search for a wonderful Ribera del Duero wine in my "Everyday Wine" category - under $20 continues.  I found this one at my local Total Wine shop - and had not seen it before (but then again I'm not that observant sometime).

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sweet Wines - be Careful What You Ask For... You Just Might Get It!

I have never been a big fan of sweet drinks. Oh, I've polished off my share of sugary soda as a kid to provide fuel for hours of hyperactively playing Starsky and Hutch in the backyard, but I drink coffee and tea without any sweetener and club soda is my soda of choice these days.  I am probably more of a rarity than those who prefer sweet tea, a nice cold sweet soda, or multiple packets of sugar in their Starbucks.

I believe this preference for sweeter drinks leads many new wine drinkers to gravitate toward sweeter wines.  First off, there is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking out the kind of wines that you like... that's the most important goal in becoming a wino.  However, I have learned from friends who asked me for recommendations for a sweet wine (ugg, I hate dry wines! they say), and who I have pointed toward wines to wines like late harvest Zinfandels, Petite Sirahs, or Viogniers that sugary sweet wines like these are not what they mean.  (Hey wino, I asked for sweet wine, not syrup!!!).

Monday, May 26, 2014

Wine Tip of the Week - Springtime Means Fresh Fruit...Wine me Please!

Springtime is upon us again. One of my favorite parts of spring is the abundance of fresh fruit at the grocery store and Farmer's markets.
Need a wine that pairs well with fresh fruit - either solo or in a fruit salad?  Some great white wines to accentuate fresh fruit are:
  • Riesling
  • Gewürtztraminer
  • Viogner (especially with peaches).
  • Moscato
  • Chenin Blanc
Also, keep Rosé in mind for savory dishes that include fresh strawberries. If you are going for a sweet dessert made with some wonderful fresh fruit- you will need to go to dessert wines for your pairing. Remember, the wine needs to be sweeter than the dish served with it. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Weekly Wine Review - Washington Syrah - 2010 Stevens Winery Black Tongue Syrah

I am a big fan of Syrah, and am becoming a bigger and bigger fan of Washington State wines, including their Syrah wines.  Those were two of the reasons I picked this wine to try, but the third was that I love the name.  Why you may ask?  Try some and take a look at your tongue after a few (OK, dark purple) tongue!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The World of Wine...Delivered! The International Wine of the Month Club

Throughout my quest to learn about wine and to try new and exciting wines I have come across various wine of the month clubs that offer memberships that will bring different wines to your door each month.  One of the biggest factors I face living in the desert climate of Chandler, Arizona is that the window for shipping wine safely is less than half the year. With temperatures that are already over 100 degrees in April this year, any "of the month clubs" other than maybe pet rock of the month club are just not possible.  For others out there that may reside in a more hospitable climate I wanted to at least identify these type of clubs as an option.

Full Disclosure:  For this writeup, I will be reviewing two bottles of wine that were sent to me for free from The International Wine of the Month Club.  They provided the wines, but I have absolutely no affiliation with them as far as promoting sales of memberships or any other business arrangement. So, per my samples policy - I will review honestly, just like the wines that I purchase and review.

I have received offers to review wines from other wine clubs in the past, but was not very intrigued.  When the International Wine of the Month Club contacted me, the wines they offered were very intriguing and quite unique - something missing from the other wine clubs I've read about.

So first, let's sample the wine to get an idea of the wines offered by this club. 

2012 Cellaro Lumà Inzolia-Chardonnay. 
The white wine was immediately intriguing to me, first because it was an Italian wine from Sicily - not one of the best known wine regions in Italy, and second because it was a blend that featured Inzolia, a grape that is basically only found in Sicily.  Often from a wine club perspective, the choices are much more mainstream, and would probably offer a generic Pinot Grigio for an Italian white.  Nothing wrong with a good Pinot Grigio, but if you are looking to expand your wine experience and palate - something unique like this Inzolia/Chardonnay blend is really awesome.

Let's give this wine a try.

First a little sniff. The first thing I notice is the aroma of minerals like a nice wet rock, followed by a bit of lime and quite a nice floral aroma - a lot going on but a nice combination.    Now a drink!  A nice level of acidity, and a finish that is pure mineral, but with nice fruit in a supporting role - definitely a pleasantly long finish. This wine is 60% Inzolia and 40% Chardonnay - and that seems to be a great ratio, as this is a very tasty wine.  Very unique and very impressive... so far good!

2005 Casa Silva Carmenère Microterroir de Los Lingues. 
I was equally intrigued by the red wine the International Wine of the Month Club sent me. First of all the grape variety was Carmenère, at one time the sixth red grape commonly found in Bordeaux wines, and now one of the focus areas of the wine industry in Chile.  This grape is similar to Merlot, and in fact much of the Carmenère in Chile was at one time thought to be Merlot until DNA testing proved otherwise.  Secondly, the fact that this wine is not a recent release.   Most South American wines are ready to be consumed when released, as opposed to other wines that need a few years to reach their full potential.  It's not easy to find South American wines that are a few years old like this one.

So let's give this one a try. 

Of course, first a sniffy. Wow, one of the most unique set of aromas I've ever encountered in a wine and I'm struggling to identify what I'm smelling. A sweet smokiness that I can only classify as what fresh cherries that spent some time in a smoker would smell like. There is also an herbal characteristic, maybe a touch of sage? But more like dried sage than fresh... wow.  On to the taste though my mind is still reeling from the aromas.  The taste shows a lot of the smokiness with the cherry flavors peeking through.  A little bit old world in that fruit takes a bit of a back seat to the the other characteristics of smoke and spice.  Very nice level of acid, still a good amount of tannins so this wine could still age some more.  Very different than any wine I've tried before, but quite delicious.  As I continued to enjoy the wine and it got a bit more breathing time... a lot of dried leaves maybe even tobacco came out in its aroma...just keeps getting more interesting.

I was hoping these wines would provide something new and different, and that's just what they delivered... I am very impressed. My mind is still spinning thinking of what type of food would pair with the Carmenère - maybe a nice burger with some smoky gouda? I can't wait to find out.

  • Premier Series. This level costs $32.95 a month plus shipping and you can select two whites or two reds or one of each.
  • Collectors Series.  This level costs $69.95 a month plus shipping and offers limited production and exclusive offering wines 
  • Master Series. This level costs $49.95 and is a mix of the offerings from the Premier and Collectors series to provide a middle of the road option.
In the months offered, the white wine I tried was available to the Premier and Master Series while the red was offered at the Master and Collectors series memberships. 

If I end up in a cooler climate some day in the future - I will be seriously considering this wine club based on these two sample wines. For now, I'll just stick to trips to my local wine store in the early morning hours with the air conditioner on full blast!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Wine Tip of the Week - Seek Out a Winemaker's Dinner

What better way to find out about wines than to talk to the people that make the wine or own the winery?  If you can't travel to visit a winery - let them come to you?  Wine savvy restaurants will sometimes pair up with a winemaker to hold a winemaker's dinner. 

You will enjoy the wineries wares, paired with food that is typically prepared especially to pair with the wines.  Check out your local newspaper or try a website like to see where you can experience one of these great events in your area.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Weekly Wine Review - Malbec from Argentina - 2009 Riglos Gran Malbec

During a recent trip to sunny California we were meeting up with some family for lunch, and I wasn't sure if it would be an opportunity for some BYOB to go with lunch - so we found a wine shop close to the restaurant just in case. The Wine Exchange in Orange, California is a great shop - I only wish I had more time to shop there.  One of the sales people asked where we were from, and when we told him hot, hot Arizona he let us know we could order wine anytime and they would hold and ship when the weather is right. If you live in that area - check them out! If you don't, check out their website.

I purchased two bottles, a Reserve Muga Rioja, and looking for something versatile, I went to my all time favorite versatile grape - Malbec.  We didn't end up doing BYOB at lunch, but brought this baby home to enjoy.

Wine: 2009 Finca Las Divas Riglos Gran Malbec
Region: Mendoza, Argentina
Grape Varieties: Malbec
Obtained from: Purchased at Wine Exchange, Orange, CA
Price: $22.00
Wino4Life Category: Weekend Wine
Aeration before tasting: Just a swirl or two, no special aeration.

Cork Condition: Natural Cork - no defects or issues.
Appearance: The wine is clear with a purple core and pinkish rim.
Aroma: Dark fruit like blackberries and plums, licorice and a hint of smokiness.  Not restrained at all - very nice!
Taste: Wow! What a great find.  Just a random Malbec from a winery I didn't recognize in the spirit of trying something new.  Absolutely wonderful - lots of fruit, with a very long, very excellent finish. Great balance, nice level of acidity and firm but not too harsh tannins.

The Grade: I give this one an A+ I really love this wine. I only wish I tried this wine with some food, I think it would have rocked. Amazing value at under $25 - if you get a chance you should try this wine - especially if you are a fan of Malbec. If you aren't a fan - this wine may convert you!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

One Wine Two Faces - 2012 Daou Grenache Blanc

I spend a lot of time looking for ways to learn more about wine. I look for new articles or books to read, new certifications I may want to purse, new topics to include in this ole' blog... I am searching all the time.  Sometimes, an opportunity to learn sneaks up on me... as it did last Friday night as we dined at home.  

Looking for something fairly easy to whip up for a Friday night, I opted for Mario Batali's Spaghetti with Artichoke and Pancetta (recipe).   We buy and blanche a ton of baby artichokes once a year when they are available at the Scottsdale Farmers Market, which makes the recipe a breeze. Oh, and it is soooooo good.  This dish is definitely built for a white wine, so I decided to pair it with a bottle of Daou Grenache Blanc that we picked up the last time we visited the winery. 

I have tried a few Grenache Blanc wines recently, including a very nice example from Chateau Potelle in Napa.  I didn't know much about the grape, other than its home is in the Rhone region of France, and that more winemakers have been dabbling in the varietal.  

The nose on this wine was very interesting, served right out of our wine fridge at about 50 degrees, there was some lemon, but also something a bit nutty - like hazelnut and another aroma I just couldn't figure out.  I have never experienced quite this same nutty type aroma in any dry white wine, so I was very intrigued, but at the same time wondered how well my pairing was going to taste.

The acid and lemon flavor profile elevated the taste of the pasta, and the parmesan cheese has a nutty component to it that paired really nicely with this wine.  Mostly luck - but I was very pleased with my choice...whew!

Without really looking to learn any thing new, I was so intrigued by this wine that I did a bit of reading about it. The wine is actually aged in French Oak for 7 months.  Outside of Chardonnay and a few versions of Sauvignon Blanc (sometimes bottled as Fumé Blanc), most white wines don't see much time in oak.  The time in oak is what must have imparted the nutty characteristic to this wine.  Based on other tasting notes I found, another aroma component identified was banana - which might have been the baffling aroma I noticed. You think you would be able to smell banana, but thrown in with many other aromas it does get difficult to distinguish.

A new wine that led me to learn more about a varietal I had just started trying... very cool, but the learning was not done for the night. After dinner the wife and I still had a glass each, and as we sat down to enjoy some cultural TV like Orphan Black or something else, the warmth of an Arizona spring brought up wine up over the usual white wine serving temperature.   The result - bye bye fruit and hello nuttiness in the nose and the taste. I have never experienced this with a wine before where the character changed so dramatically with a few degrees temperature change. If you read my posts you will know how important serving temperature is, but this change was amazing. The change was so dramatic in fact that I found myself with two glasses of the wine to enjoy, as Wino4life wife wasn't finding the change in the wine pleasant.  I could have stuck it in the fridge for 5 minutes, but I was fascinated by the new profile of the wine, so took one for the team and polished it off by myself. 

I do recommend this wine, as the change was due to temperature and if you keep the wine at the correct serving temperature you will find yourself enjoying a very delicious, interesting, and dare I say educational wine!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Wine Tip of the Week - Better Late Than Never for Mother's Day

What? You didn't get your Mother anything for Mothers Day??? Come on - fess up, did you just get one of the last three cards at your neighborhood Hallmark store at the last minute?

You can do better than that! Get that wonderful woman a nice bottle of wine - after all, you may be part of the reason she started drinking!  Don't know what to get? How about a German Riesling with a hint of sweetness - pleasing to most palates out there... and even if it's not her favorite, it's the thought that counts.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Weekly Wine Review - Spanish Red - 2011 Bodegas Ordonez Tineta

My quest continues to find a good Ribera del Duero for under $15.  More in the $20 and above category there are some great wines like those from Emilio Moro. Sometimes, like with Pinot Noir, you just can't successfully go below a certain price point and find a really good wine - it just costs a certain amount to make a good example. In my last online order to the Ultimate Wine Shop, I saw this $11 wine and wanted to give it a try.

Wine: 2011 Bodegas Ordonez Tineta
Region: Ribera del Duero, Spain
Grape Varieties: Tempranillo
Obtained from: Purchased online at Ultimate Wine Shop
Price: $11.00
Wino4Life Category: Everyday Wine
Aeration before tasting: Just a swirl or two, no special aeration.

Cork Condition: Synthetic cork - no defects or issues.
Appearance: The wine is clear with a dark purple center/core and a pinkish rim.
Aroma: Dark fruit, chocolate, spices, maybe some licorice. Very complex and very surprising for this price!
Taste: Nice fruit flavor, with a mix of other flavors that mingled very nicely.  A nice level of acidity and quite a long finish.

The Grade: I give this one an A. An excellent surprise for just over $10. I'm guessing this wine will be more expensive as people discover it - so get yours now.  I need to find a local shop that carries this wine, as we are past the wine shipping window for the desert has passed...damn!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Wine Spectator Grand Tour Wrap Up - Highs and Lows

Another Wine Spectator Grand Tour is in the books. Our eighth one - all in wild, wild Las Vegas.  I am already looking forward to going back next year, perhaps with some guests? An event like this is a great way for me to show aspiring winos some new things and maybe expand their horizons a bit. I also like to try any wines that are favorites of our companions, to both try something new and perhaps find my own new favorite.  I have thoroughly enjoyed each of these we have attended, but each year there are good and bad attributes to the whole experience.  So today, I'll run through my list of the good and the bad of the 2014 Grant Tour (well, some other stuff from the weekend too just to be fair!).

Good: Dinner on Thursday night at Heritage Steak in the Mirage Hotel & Casino.

From one of my earlier posts,  you can tell that I like Heritage Steak quite a bit.  So much, we decided to come to Vegas a night earlier than usual to have dinner here. Once again, Kate the wonderful Sommelier for Heritage Steak helped us out by decanting a wine early for us - a 2010 Alpha Omega Proprietary Red. I have this winery on my list to visit our next time in Napa, so wanted a little taste to make sure it was worth visiting. Oh... it is! I went with this Bordeaux blend over their Cabernet in the hopes that the blend would have tamer tannins since they are quite young. I don't know if I was right or not, but this one still had some rockin' tannins, even after being decanted for about 4 hours.  I bet the Cabernet would have been a real Christmas wine (tannin bomb!).  

Our meal was even better than our first - the Pork Belly and Grilled Romaine Salad were both outstanding. I stuck with the bone-in ribeye, but my wife went for the filet mignon.  The filet was a knockout - the char level was excellent. 

Kate our wonderful Sommelier treated us with a couple of special dessert wines that were not on the menu, a Semillon from Australia (on the left), and a Pedro Ximenez Sherry on the right.  Both so different and both outstanding. The Semillon was a surprise, not super sweet, nicely acidic and paired nicely with my carrot cake fritter dessert (another repeat for me). The PX was dessert by itself, raisiny, complex, sweet, but not cloying.  What a great meal!

Good: Brunch on Friday at Hash House a Go-Go.

On our prior trip to Vegas we finally made it to Hash House a Go-Go, after talking about trying it for oh, about two years I think.  The Bloody Mary's and food did not disappoint.  So... yep, we went back on Friday morning. We were early enough (9:30a-ish) so the wait was only 20 minutes. 

With a big day ahead of us, I went for a light snack of the 18 tower of Sage Fried Chicken and Waffles.  I have been underwhelmed by many versions of this dish throughout the land, but this one with super soft, super tasty waffles, and two huge chicken breasts of fried chicken with just a hint of sage (that can quickly overpower a dish - especially chicken.  Next up - a long nap!

Good: Rockin' It at Rock of Ages at the Venetian on Friday Night.
A free Friday night in Vegas... lose lots of money gambling, or see a show? Since they both cost about the same, we decided to see Rock of Ages at the Venetian.  I had heard good things about this show on Broadway, but I really didn't like the movie.  Enticed by the music of my youth, we decided to give it a try, and I am so glad we did. 
"Lighter" and Alcohol Soaked Gummy Bears
This show is funny, awesome music, and they even give you your own LED "lighter" for use during those power ballads.  Plus, they have a bar inside the theater where before the show you can buy things ranging from Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers (pass, thanks) and vodka, peach schnapps and triple sec soaked gummy bears. Those gummy bears were good, DANGEROUSLY good!  I will definitely see this show again in the future (maybe after I see Evil Dead the Musical one more time??)

Bad: My Kentucky Derby Horse is Scratched

The Grand Tour is typically the same weekend as the Kentucky Derby, and on two previous occasions I have bet... and won on the Derby.  My highly scientific process to pick the winners - look for a horses name that is wine or drink related. Years ago... Barbaro sounded like a cross between Barbera and Barolo... and winner!  Last year, I'll Have Another is one of my favorite drinking phrases... and winner! This year, the horse that stood out to me was one call Hopportunity... sounding very beer-like. When we sent to the sports book to lay down my sure-thing wager... D'oh, my horse is scratched!  My other two options with my system was Wildcat Red (although I am a proud Arizona State Sun Devil, so have an aversion to anything Wildcat, even if it isn't from the University of Arizona) and California Chrome. Cali Chrome was not much of a drinking name, but there are one or two good wines made in California.  Ultimately I decided to go with Wildcat Red, and... oh well maybe next year.  What if Hopportunity had run?  We'll never know.

Good: The Grand Tour - The Opportunity to Try New Things.

A great trip to Vegas already, but now it was time for the main event. With my iPhone in hand for live tweets, we started our journey through the world of wine. I always make sure and try some new things at the Grand Tour - it's a great opportunity to branch out.

We started off the nigh with some whites. First up was a Sauvignon Blanc from Slovenia - a 2010 Opaka from Marjan Simcic.  Very old world in style, lots and lots of minerals with fruit taking a backstage. I was hoping for one of the more unusual grape varietals they make, but this was a nice surprise from an area I have never before sampled.  Next up - a quick trip to Greece. I have had a few Greek reds, but other than some $6 semi-sweet stuff we would buy in our youth - never any real Greek whites.  This wine was a 2012 Malagousia from Gerovassiliou.  This grape is very much a Greek varietal - very nicely balanced and lots of lemon on the nose.  We also tried the Greek wine next door from Sigalas - an Assyrtiko.  Another grape I had never tried, but it had an overpowering grapefruit character that was a bit unpleasant. Hey, we don't always like everything new we tried, but we were doing pretty good so far for the night!

Good: Some Great New Finds from New Wineries at the Grand Tour.

We had already exercised our "try new stuff" motto with some interesting Greek and Slovenian wines, and now moving on to the reds with a familiar grape, but an unfamiliar winery.   A 2011 Black Kite Pinot Noir from the Santa Lucia Highlands. 

Dark fruit, chocolate, nice level of acidity, and a nice long finish. My only complaint with this wine as that it was a few degrees to warm.  The weather in Vegas was over 90 degrees that day, so it may me wonder what the other wineries do to keep their wine cool - because most are served at an excellent temperate. Perhaps a rookie mistake as a new participant... so I look forward to trying again next year!

My only regret is that I already belong to several very good wine clubs from great Pinot producers like Kosta Browne, Kanzler, and Sea Smoke. I really want to add this one, maybe a throw down is in order to see if one goes to make way for some Black Kite!

Bad: Not Representing Your Product

The Grand Tour is a big event, and a lot of serious wine people show up. Granted we are consumers and not industry people, but we're the ones that actually buy the produce in the end.  To me, you need to have a good product, but also represent that product well at events such as this one.   At this year's Grand Tour, I found myself noticing more and more how the person pouring and presenting the wine made a big difference. 

My example from this year was when we visited Merus. I had read about this wine and was intrigued, but at about $150 a bottle I needed to be impressed to go from an interested party to a consumer.  After a couple of Pinot Noirs, we stopped at Merus. The girl (drinking age or not I wasn't sure) at the booth seemed like she wanted to be anywhere but here. She poured a glass and robotically told us "this is our 2010."  Really? This is our 2010 what?  I asked what region it was from, and obviously not expecting any questions she said Napa and fumbled for a bottle for the rest of the details.  The sad part of this situation is that this wine was REALLY good.  Dark fruit, chocolate, licorice,  and amazingly drinkable in its youth.  Someone with any enthusiasm presenting the wine would have had me heading to my wine shop the next day (if you can get this stuff at a retail store), but as it is I just say "meh" to Merus.

Good: Representing Your Product Very Well

On the complete other end of the spectrum from our experience at Merus was when we turned the corner a few rows down and saw none other than the rock star of the wine world in my book - Charles Smith.  Although this is a big event, I am surprised to see this guy - with his name on the label, has been here more than once.  Talk about pride in your product and presenting it in the best way - if you want it done right do it yourself!  Being the Charles Smith groupies we are, we even asked for a picture with Wino4Life wife.

Good: A Great Wine and a Possible Wine Vacation for the Future

A wine I have heard of, but did not have on my list to try this year was Col Solare.  But as we walked by the booth, I decided to give Washington State a little love - and I'm glad I did.  Their Bordeaux blend was full of dark fruit, with an excellent... long finish.  I was very glad to see this year that red blends were being shown... I find that blends like this are where winemakers can get more creative and have the flexibility to excel rather than keeping to a pre-determined percent of say Cabernet in order to have Cabernet on the wine label.  I also talked to the guy at the Col Solare booth about tourism in Washington State wine areas like the Columbia Valley. He was very honest in saying there was great wine to try, and the food scene was not there yet but was improving. I appreciated the honesty, and am intrigued to spend a little R&R time in the area some day... and I'll definitely visit this winery!

Good: Tasting a Great Example of a Classic Wine

Tucked back between the big and fruity Australian Shiraz wines and the dessert reds was a wine that was a definite on my list to try.   A classic wine region like Chateauneuf du Pape is a great contrast to the many many new world wines at an event like this... (not that there's anything wrong with that).   It seemed like the very pleasant French guy at the booth appreciated it when I asked him how he liked getting stuck by the big red Australian wines, as he enthusiastically explained the wine, that it was a "Premier Cru", and so not the very best, but still an excellent wine.  He was right - a nice break from the new world fruit bombs, this wine was more about leather, herbs, with a nice dose of plum to go along. 

Bad: Following the Crowd and Standing in a Long Line for a Taste.

Every year there are one or two wines where a crowd lines up for however long it takes to taste the wine. In all our previous visits we have never sacrificed the time to wait in line for just one wine.  This year, I had some tweeting to catch up on, and the line wasn't that long, so we decided to join the line for a sip of Chateau Margaux.  The experience as a little like seeing the Hope Diamond, step up, get your pour and move on as there are a ton of people behind you.  The wine had a great nose, but fairly closed off in taste - way too young to drink.  At probably $500 a bottle or more, I wanted to love it - but I guess I can at least tell my friends I've tried it... so here goes... "Hey, I've tried Chateau Margaux!!!!"  <Insert oohs and aaahs here>.

Good: A Great Time Leads to Anticipation.

Can't wait to do it all again next year!  Maybe I'll see you there in 2015!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Wine Tip of the Week - When you Imbibe...Hydrate!

Reflecting back on a wonderful weekend in Las Vegas for the Wine Spectator Grand Tour was the source of this week's tip. When you are going to enjoy a bit of alcohol, whether a sip or a few glasses - the biggest favor you can do yourself is to stay hydrated.  

Had a glass of wine (or beer, or the hard stuff)? Have a glass of water next - you will thank yourself (and me a little bit!) when you avoid or at least reduce that morning after the night before blahs! Did I remember to heed my own advice while in Vegas this past weekend?  I'll come back and answer that question as soon as I take my second nap of the day!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Weekly Wine Review - German Riesling - 2012 Weingut Eifel Pfeiffer Riesling Spätlese Estate

Wino4life wife made a special request for our Friday night dinner - Spaghetti Carbonara. I turned to Tyler Florence and his Ultimate Carbonara recipe because I have had excellent luck with any of his recipes that I've tried. This recipe called for straight up smoked bacon instead of pancetta, so my first choice would have been a syrah from France, which tend to have those smokey, meaty, even bacony characteristics.  Drat - I was stocked up on big fruity Syrahs from the US and Australia only, so my next choice was a Riesling.  Rieslings can pick up and accentuate a smokey flavor quite nicely.  I had both a Kabinett and a Spatlese, but opted for the sweeter Spatlese...sweet and smoky sounds good to me!

Wine: 2012 Weingut Eifel Pfeiffer Riesling Spätlese Estate Collection
Region: Mosel, Germany
Grape Varieties: Riesling
Obtained from: Purchased at Total Wine & More
Price: $16.00
Wino4Life Category: Everyday Wine
Aeration before tasting: Just a swirl or two, no special aeration.

Cork Condition: Screw Top - no defects or issues.
Appearance: The wine is clear, light yellow in the center with a water white rim.
Aroma: Logs of fruit - peaches and a bit of citrus, and maybe some green apple.
Taste: Lots of acidity, very refreshing and fruity. A nice long finish as well - pure fruit.

The Grade: I give this one a B. A solid wine, but not much there other than pure fruit, a little more like a US or Australian version rather than a German Riesling.  A nice wine for lighter food - but my pairing with the Carbonara was just OK. The smoky flavor was not really accentuated like I'd hoped, and although the crispness of the wine cut through the creamy/eggy sauce - the dish was just too heavy. I'm going to a heavier white or to a French Rhone wine next time - because the good news was the Carbonara absolutely rocked!