Wine Tip of the Day for a Happy Friday!

A great mnemonic device for remembering what wines are what from Esquire.com!

“For example, he’d point to the three major varieties of white wine — Riesling, Sauvignon blanc, and Chardonnay — and ask you to visualize them as skim milk, whole milk, and cream. Before you’d even tasted the wines, you had an idea of where they stood from light to heavy. Then he did the same for reds. Pinot noir: skim milk. Merlot: whole milk. Cabernet sauvignon: cream. With that information alone, you could go into a restaurant, order a thick sirloin, and know that it was wiser to muscle up to the steak with a hearty Cabernet than a willowy Riesling.”

To read more… http://www.esquire.com/blogs/food-for-men/windows-on-the-world-september-11

To Decant or Not..!?

To decant or not, that is a question most avid wine drinkers ponder when opening their favorite bottle. Decanting has been a part of historical practice within the wine culture dating back to the Venetians who brought to life the long skinny neck and wide bottom form to enhance wonderfully kept and produced wines! Although much of its appeal is within its stunning display, there is in fact a true rhyme and reason to its methodology!

Decanting, usually used to ‘open up’ red wines, is a process that creates a very authentic and romantic way of presenting and drinking wine.  Functionally, it allows the wine to aerate and removes the sediment from older red wines. Lucky for us, it’s an easy process that should be endured and valued versus viewed as a tedious practice.  To start the process, gently pour the wine keeping the same side down as it was ‘aging’, into the decanter to remove sediment.  To be more effective and precise some hold a candle along the neck of the bottle while pouring to clearly see the lingering sediment. As the wine splashes into the decanter, oxygen mixes into the wine, which creates the process of oxidation.  Let the delicious wine rest and wait a few minutes before pouring and enjoying!

So when should one decant? Here are 3 main reasons when decanting should take place:

  1. Sediment is what collects over time in an older vintage of wine.  When transferring your bottled wine to your glass decanter, you leave behind the sediment thus the decanter to glass to mouth result is clarified and filtered.
  2. Decant to let a young full-bodied wine ‘breathe’ so the wine’s magnificent aroma and taste can be enjoyed to its fullest.  When the wine oxidizes, its distinct scents are released and the tannins become a bit softer which amplifies the entire ‘tasting’ experience and process – swirl, smell, slurp, taste, YUM!
  3. When entertaining, what better way than to present your wine in an aesthetic manner through a beautiful glass decanter.  Your company will undoubtedly ‘ooh and ahh’ over what they are about to taste by its elegant presentation.

Pinot Gris vs. Pinot Grigio….

Grapes for thought – Pinot Gris vs. Pinot Grigio – your wine education for the day…

I think they are somewhat similar in taste and just pronounced differently but of course there always has to be something that stands out with each wine.. That’s why this industry is so cherishing, it’s ever evolving and continues to challenge your taste buds….

Happy reading from the WSJ.com!

Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio?

What’s the difference between Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio? On a basic level, nothing: The same kind of grape is used to make both wines. But on the palate, there lies a world of difference.

Here’s the lowdown on this versatile grape:

Around the world: The Pinot Gris grape is mostly associated with white wine from Alsace, a French region that borders Germany. In northern Italy, the same grape is known as Pinot Grigio. But the varietal is also grown in cool-climate areas in Australia, New Zealand, Germany and the U.S. Pacific Northwest.

Sometimes big, sometimes light: Pinot Gris grapes ripen with plenty of sugar, which means that the wines tend to be either on the sweet side or, if the sugar is left to ferment for a drier wine, relatively high in alcohol. But the wines produced from this grape vary in taste, depending on the region in which they are grown. The wines from Alsace are rich, slightly oily on the mouth and full of flavor. The wines from Italy, where the grapes are harvested before they fully mature, are light-bodied and crisp.

Pinot Gris and Grigio wines from the New World tend to split between the two styles, and the way a maker labels a bottle can be a signal. For example, a wine labeled Pinot Gris from California will be more full-bodied than a wine called Pinot Grigio from New Zealand, which likely will be brighter and more acidic.

Follow the menu: Salads, mild fish and shellfish are great matches for the lighter Pinot Grigio, and like other crisp whites, it goes especially well with goat cheese. Oilier fish and roasted chicken are good pairs for the heavier-style Pinot Gris. Either way, serve slightly chilled.

Bocca di Bacco… Wine on Tap!

Bocca di Bacco…. My go to wine bar in Hell’s Kitchen.  With an amazing atmosphere resembling a traditional and authentic italian wine bar, this diamond in the rough attracts the trendy West Villager’s along with the sophisticated Upper West Sider’s…  With wine barrels hanging from the wall, bottles of wine outlining every corner, and dim lighting, Bocca di Bacco is a great after work, relaxing wine spot where sitting at the bar splitting dishes and a bottle of wine is VERY enjoyable and casual!

At the bar the bartender was lovely and very helpful!  There are about 40 wines to choose from here (all italian) with small complementing assorted bites from an array of cheeses, meats, olives, and nibbles. They have an incredibly extensive Italian wine list where you can order many by the glass of 1/2 glass.

What I really love about BdB is that the majority of their wines are on tap which makes it easy to taste wines before ordering and always promises a fresh glass – you never risk getting a ‘corked’ glass! Phew!  I actually had a corked glass the other night, I thought I wouldn’t realize it even if I did… but I did – you can’t help but smell that strong moldy/corky smell in your glass – if this should happen – this is a case where you send your glass back without feeling bad about it!

So overall, a simple yet classic wine bar that is worth the venture over to Hell’s Kitch for!

Beaujolais – Intro to the Gamay Grape

To continue on this journey through France, take a look at this educational article from the WSJ about the Beaujolais wine region…  I actually had this wine in Wine Essentials and it was the first of this kind I had ever tasted.  It uses a “gamay” grape that has a sweet strawberry/sour cherry taste.  It is a type of wine that you drink while it is young, a casual wine to enjoy with pizza, pasta, or ceasar salad…  It has a short finish however, I thought it would be a great picnic wine as the sweetness is just right so you can enjoy a lot of it for most of the day! A great “go-to” / “multipurpose” type of wine. Here is a quick wine 101 from the wsj.com… Enjoy!!

Wine 101: Beaujolais

Few red wines are as easy to drink as Beaujolais. Here’s a primer on one of France’s most idiosyncratic wine regions:

The grape: Tucked just south of Burgundy and north of Lyon in central France, the Beaujolais region is the land of the Gamay grape, a varietal that is rarely grown elsewhere in the world. A sturdy fruit that is easy to cultivate, Gamay can produce wines ranging from light and fruity to dark, bold and full-bodied. But it has its detractors: Some say Gamay produces less-refined wines than those made with the Pinot Noir grape of nearby Burgundy. In 1395, the Duke of Burgundy outlawed Gamay from the region, preferring that the land be used to grow the more elegant Pinot Noir.

Not Nouveau: Today, most associate the region Beaujolais with the young, easy-to-drink wine Beaujolais Nouveau. Released every year on the third Wednesday of November to much marketing fanfare, the wine was spectacularly popular in the 1980s, but it has been snubbed in the past decade by critics who say it is too sweet. Others criticize the wine for its “short finish” — its flavors disappear the moment it hits the palate.

Stick with the Crus: For great value and excellent drinking, look for Beaujolais Crus, a designation given to just 10 small winemaking villages in the region. Julienas, Chiroubles, Morgon and Brouilly are the better-known cru towns.

Cru-designated vineyards are known for making high-quality wines that are affordable. These wines range from the dark berry and cherry flavors of Brouilly (and go well with poultry or grilled fish) to the more full-bodied and darker wines of Morgon and Julienas (which pair well with hearty red meat dishes).

Wine Essentials – Class #1

So, I started this blog not only because of my affinity towards wine but because I wanted to use it as an opportunity to teach myself and learn the value and treasures of the ‘ins and outs’ of wine and the industry.  I started reading ‘wine for dummies’ and realized, it’s just not all that fun “studying” wine without tasting and getting to know how to taste and match foods without an expert giving you a hands on experience…. So, as an investment, I signed up for a Wine Essentials class at ICE (Institute of Culinary Education) in NYC.  My first class was last night and I had the most amazing time listening about wine’s “accidental” creation and how regions were suddenly created as secrets for wine making were not shared and each “region” had to come up with their perfect balance themselves.  We started slow and with background and the wine making process (Location, harvesting, cursing, fermentation, storage, bottling) then went into the fun stuff… TASTING!

Here are a few FUN FACTS from the class along with wines we tried w/ my reco’s…

Fun Facts:

Port
- Port if fortified before it is finished. It is spilled into a barrel that contains brandy
- Alcohol helps wine age more slowly hence why port has a very long lasting life

Red
- Red wines fade as they get older hence the sediment at the bottom of your glass – wine is dropping/loosing it’s color so drink up!
- Red wines get lighter as they age (Purple – Red – Brick – Brown) Don’t drink it if it’s Brown!

White
- White wines get darker as they age (Green – Yellow – Gold – Brown) Don’t drink it if it’s Brown!
- Wines that taste ‘buttery’ have been fermented in an oak barrel, wines that taste ‘stoney’ are unoaked and most likely are stored in stainless steal!

Last Night’s Tastings (Wine’s I liked BOLDED)

Dolomiti (Trentino-Alto Adige), Pinot Grigio, Alois Lageder 2009 – Retails $22 (Northern Italy)

  • Notes: Fresh/Vibrant and ‘oaky’ in scent; Light weight, Bright acidity, ‘mineralness’, tinge of apple
  • Pairings: Very light and simple fish – Clams, oysters, chicken w/ mushrooms dish – Great sipping wine before dinner

Hawke’s Bay, Chardonnay, Babich Wines 2009 – Retails $18 (New Zealand)

  • Notes: Ripe fruit smell; sweet, ripe plum and cherry flavor with a hint of caramel
  • Pairings: Seared meat, Duck, pasta with a creamy/lemony sauce

Alsace, Pinot Gris, ‘Reserve Personnelle’, Trimbach 2001 – Retails $40 (France)

  • Notes: Smells fruity, heavy weight, earthy flavors ‘acidicly’ rich, smooth finish
  • Pairings: Aged goat cheese, roasted veal, salmon

Champagne, Brut, Nicolas Feuillatte, NV. – Retails $30 (Northern France)

  • Notes: Fruity smell; rich in weight, creamy, soft avidity, oaky, smooth well rounded finish
  • Pairings: Aged goat cheese, Brie

Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, J. Vidal-Fleury 2008 – Retails $32 (Southern France)

  • Notes: Smells of very ripe fruit; Tastes like apricots, peach, less acidity ‘syrupy’ fruitiness.  More alcohol than Champagne
  • Pairings: Salty nuts, dried apricot, apricot or peach tarts

Willamette Valley, Pinot Noir, Benton Lane 2008 – Retails $22 (Oregon)

  • Notes: smells of berries, sour cherry and strawberry; LIght some acidity, sour cherry, fades fast, simple red
  • Pairings: fish, chicken, brie, grilled salmon, light pasta dishes

Medoc, Cru Bourgeois, Chateau Greysac 2006 – Retails $19 (France)

  • Notes: Oaky, cedar smell; heavy in weight, dark fruit, tannins, taste of oak
  • Pairings: An elegant red wine that is delicious with beef, lamb (heavier meats)

Valle de Uco, ‘Numina’, Gran Corte, Salentein 2006 – Retails $45 (Argentina)

  • Notes: Heavier in smell than Medoc, ripe fruit smell (no oak); Fruity tannins, sweet, ripe plum and cherry
  • Pairings: Seared meat with a sweeter/richer sauces

Porto, ‘Six Grapes Reserve’, Graham’s, NV – Retails $30 (Portugal)

  • Notes: Dark cherry and plum smells; dark cherry, heavy vintage style, dark fruits – 18% Alcohol
  • Pairings: Great at the end of a meal paired with a rich, nutty or chocolate dessert as well as strong cheeses

BlackboardEats.com – Wine Steal

On Blackboard Eats today, pick up the passcode for $1 for a FREE bottle of wine and Guacamole when you dine at Matilda.  Pairing wine with guac is tricky however, I would suggest a crisp, dry white wine to complement the lime juice in the Guac.  A Sauv Blanc, Pinot Gris – anything acidic should do the trick!   ENJOY!

Acidity: the “sour factor”, when you sip a wine and your mouth waters afterwards.

Matilda

647 E. 11th St., New York (East Village)

bottle of wine and guacamole

Details: available daily during brunch or dinner with the minimum purchase of one entrée per person (“secondi” on the menu) or two appetizers per person (“antipasti” or “pasta” on the menu); must order from the dinner menu during brunch; available for parties of 2–4; dine-in only; one free bottle of wine and one free order of guacamole alla Toscana per party; choose free bottle from options provided by the restaurant; not valid with any other discounts or promotions; not valid Apr. 24 or May 8; cash only
Limited number of passcodes. Early bird gets the good eats.

Valid Through Close On: May 21, 2011

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