Thursday, September 25, 2014

Weekly Wine Review - California Red Blend - 2012 Dirty Pure Project F-Bomb

I will admit that what made me pick up this bottle at our local gourmet grocery store was the name - The F Bomb.  What made me want to try this wine was that the wine is listed as a "California Red" which means the grapes could come from anywhere in California, and you will see this designation on many cheap and not so good wines. This wine however was listed as a small batch project with only 3,000 cases made which wasn't consistent with a bulk producer of low price/low quality wines. Hmmm.... let's give this a try!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Wine Tip of the Week: Taste the Wine, But Don't Forget to Experience the Wine

While perusing the Fall 2014 edition of Wine & Spirits magazine I came across a quote that I really liked and decided I needed to share it.  On the cover of this issue is "Nose, Tongue, & Cheek, The Art and Science of Wine Tasting," and the magazine is chock full of articles about various aspects of wine tasting. One article "Learning to Taste" consisted of wine professionals sharing their experiences of learning to taste wine.  The quote that most caught my eye came from Talia Baiocchi, editor-in-chief of Punch, an online wine and spirits magazine.  She shared her story of staring to learn more about wine and shifting from collecting her impression of wine for the more structured analysis that is typically taught when you learn to evaluate wine.  In the article she says "In a way, approaching wine from a purely evaluative standpoint is like wandering through a neighborhood with your face buried in a GPS, never looking up to experience where you are."

What a great analogy! It is necessary to learn about the components that make up a wines aroma, taste, and structure, so it is important to understand the role of acid, sugar, and tannins as well as the different aromas of different wines. All these elements help us in selecting food and wine pairings,  and help us in suggesting wines for others based on their personal preferences.  But knowledge of these elements are just the GPS of the wine world - they will help you along the way, but your goal should not only to be to arrive at the final destination,  but to enjoy the ride and truly experience the destination once you arrive.  For different people the destination may be different things - finding a great wine, buying a great wine for a gift for a picky drinker, creating a great food and wine pairing... the list goes on.  So, taste the wine - but please, please don't forget to also experience the wine.  On your next vacation would you ever dream of driving for hours under the guidance of your trusty GPS, only to arrive, and immediately head back home? No way! The same for wine, don't forget the element more important that acid or tannin levels or if the wine smells more  like red apples or green pure enjoyment! 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Weekly Wine Review - Australian Red Blend - 2011 Thorn-Clarke Terra Barossa Cuvée

My meanderings through some interesting red blend wines continues today with a Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petite Verdot team up from Australia. This winery also offers many single variety focused wines, so if this goes well then I may need to try some of those in the future.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Wine Tip of the Week: Don't Fear! Be Daring with Pairings!

Food and wine pairings - if you read about them or talk to people about them, you will hear about all sorts of rules. These rules have led to standard pairing suggestions which are OK, but staying within only those standard suggestions limits you and your potential food and wine pairing experiences.  You can't throw out all the rules, as many are based on how certain elements of food interact with certain elements of wine.  Spicy hot food with a big tannic red wine is simply never a good idea, but red wine with fish - sometimes is a good (or even a great) idea!  This week's tip was inspired by a wonderful dinner we enjoyed this week during our time in Spain.  

A small nearby town just happens to be home to two different Michelin starred restaurants. We were able to get reservations at El Corral del Indianu, a fantastic place that I can't recommend highly enough.  Our tasting menu was focused on great local products, with several dishes featuring tomatoes and several featuring fresh sardines and other fresh seafood.  The restaurant did not offer dish by dish wine pairings, but offered to select a sparkling cava, a white, and a red wine to pair with the meal. The completely outside the box pairing was when smaller glasses were brought to the table along with a bottle of Amontillado sherry. What is this in the middle of our meal???  Amontillado sherry is a darker dry sherry with an oxidized nutty flavor that can be an acquired taste, but one that I have definitely acquired.  I have used, and seen this type of Sherry used before or after meals, typically with cheese or nuts. 

The daring pairing with the sherry for our meal? A dish of slowly cooked goat with herbs, mushrooms, toasted onion and a red onion broth.  The dish was delicious - rich goat, earthy mushrooms, a first ever for me red onion broth that complemented the rich dish very well.  Now the pairing with the sherry.  WOW!  The excellent Amontillado sherry focused the nutty flavors in the meat and the mushrooms, and accentuated a tiny bit of sweetness in the onion broth. One of the most interesting and transformative pairings I've had in quite some time.  Think outside the box (or bottle) and don't be afraid to try a pairing that may be a bit wild and crazy, but also may be absolutely delicious.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Weekly Wine Review - French Rhone Red - 2011 Michel Gassier Syrah Les Piliers

Today we'll be trying a Syrah wine from the Southern Rhone.  This bottle is not labeled as a "Rhone" wine, but rather as simply a Vin Rouge although the grapes are grown in Costières de Nîmes, the southernmost AOC of the Rhône.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Wine Tip of the Week - Add a Corkscrew to your Packing List

Does this happen to you as much as it happens to me?  You're on vacation, and you run across a nice bottle of wine to enjoy perhaps as a little pre-dinner treat. You take it back to your hotel room, and there is no corkscrew... or worse one of those terrible "T" shaped hotel corkscrews that have cost me more in dry-cleaning that I care to admit.

After having this problem for years, we now finally put corkscrews in our luggage, and never take them out. For bigger bags that will always be checked, you can include the model with the small knife for cutting foil. If your bag is small enough that you may carry it on, find a bladeless version, otherwise you may be donating it to the TSA at the security checkpoint.   There are versions that have bladeless foil cutters, or your can always cut the foil a bit at the bottom with the corkscrew worm. Wine snobs will gasp at this method- but as long as it does the trick!

With airline travel things are always changing, so please check the TSA website for specifics on what you can bring onboard: TSA When I Fly Can I Bring My...

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Weekly Wine Review - Washington State Red - 2011 Hestia Red Blend

During my latest trip to my favorite wine shop, I spent quite a bit of time browsing the "Red Blend" section.  Some look at blend wines (several different grape varieties used) as somehow inferior. For me, a blend gives the winemaker more flexibility to create something wonderful vs. being locked in to a certain percentage of one grape variety in order for the wine to be labeled as that variety.  Let's see if I'm right!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Wine Tip of the Week: Enjoy Your Labor Day!

I wish a relaxing, fun, and safe Labor Day for all my readers out there.  Summer is winding down, so here is a great last choice to get out an Picnic (Don't forget the Rosé and the Sparkling Wine!), or a great chance host an outdoor party for your friends and family (maybe throw in a fruity, light bodied red for your red wine lovers). Most importantly - stay hydrated and stay safe!