Friday, May 23, 2008
Last week was all about the whites. This week? Time to grill, so time to roll out some food-friendly REDS. Those of you who know me well can expect to hear about ZINFANDEL, one of my favorite grill-friendly wines. If you like to turn up the heat on your meats, Zin's fruity edge makes a perfect balance to the zing of your spices. Anything Ravenswood makes (from $6 Vintner's Blend to $40+ single vineyard wines) as well as from producers like Ridge, Rosenblum and Cline (from $9) will be hits. I love to grill chicken leg quarters-try spicing with Montreal Chicken seasoning, grill, then baste with a blend of Cattleman's BBQ sauce (1 Cup) Maker's Mark Bourbon (1/4 C) and Pace Picante Sauce (1/4 C). Yummy! What else goes well with Grilling? Aussies don't say "throw another shrimp on the barbie" for nothing-reach for a food-friendly Shiraz! While some Shiraz (also known as Syrah in other parts of the world-same grape though) can be highly complex, many excellent values come from Australia. Try Rosemount, Penfolds or spend a little more and grab Peter Lehmann's Barossa Shiraz ($14-16). Paso Robles in California makes great Syrah, one cheapie is Parker Station ($6 at "Sip Wine" in Crabapple). South of the border? Try Argentina for Malbec. Mainly known as a blending grape in the rest of the world, Malbec has come on strong of late. In fact, Chile's Carmenere (another lesser known 'blending' grape) is great too. Finally, try Monastrell (like Juan Gil for $15) or a Rioja from Spain. YUM!
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
I was pleased to hear that the new wine shipping law turned out to be less restrictive than expected--these two links make it clear that we are finally out of the Dark Ages! That's great for ordering small-production wines that aren't found on local shelves, but what about 'daily drinkers'? As you know I love shopping at the Warehouse stores (BJ's, Sam's, Costco) and superstores like Total Wines & More in Kennesaw (you MUST go there at least once!). I ordinarily don't see great bargains/selection in groceries (except for Harry's/Whole Foods' 10% off on SIX bottles) but I do love wandering into Cost Plus World Market from time to time. They have great deals on Riedel-style wineglasses and cool 'stuff' & also have an eclectic wine selection with decent pricing (try Vino 100 too!) For that matter, don't be afraid to walk in ANY wine shop and ask for help! Most of the time wine people are happy to share their knowledge. In fact, I think 'winos' fall into one of 2 categories (both equally passionate)-Wine Geeks or Wine Snobs. I think WG's really want people to drink wine-any wine, be it cheapies, white zin, or whatever floats your boat. Wine Snobs, on the other hand, continue to keep wine unapproachable by the 'masses'. Yes, WG/WS's use similar lofty terminology to describe wines (approachable, mouthfeel, etc.) but overall, WG's don't make you feel stupid! They want to share their knowledge & passion; WS's tend to show-off how much they know. I say drink what YOU like!!!
So where do you shop?
So where do you shop?
As promised, no economic news this time! It's time to focus on wine! You may remember that I'm no fan of Chardonnay. Don't get me wrong, a nice Chablis or Carneros wine will make me happy, but many Chard's can be too over the top. With all the buttery/oaky flavors, some examples overpower most foods. On the other hand, a lively Sauvignon Blanc is a wonderful alternative as it will go well with food and be yummy on its own! California SB's are hit and miss, as many producers try to 'oak it up'. One interesting blend that is always a hit is Caymus "Conundrum", which is an amazing wine (though pricey at around $24). From France's Loire valley, "Sancerre" is the benchmark for Sauv Blanc. Crisp, tart, lots of underlying minerals and 'grassy' flavors will pair well with most fish dishes (as well as Caprese Salad and/or oysters!). My favorite producers tend to be from Marlborough, New Zealand (like Monkey Bay or Nobilo, both under $10). Their SB's are BOLD! Chile produces some great ones as well, such as Verramonte or even Concha y Toro's Casillero del Diablo (again, both under $10). Make sure you buy them young; no need to age them! Don't forget 'sparkles' and don't be afraid to try a nice rosé. Nope, not sweet white zin, but a nice pale pink Pinot Noir or a Rhône-type rosé. While I'm at it, a good way to find bargains is to stray off the beaten path-try something you've never heard of like Vinho Verde from Portugal or a Chenin Blanc, Gavi, Albariño, etc. Have fun and BE BRAVE!