Tag Archives: riesling

#Wine and #Halloween candy pairings are frightening. There. I said it.

28 Oct

The scariest thing about Halloween is not goblins, ghosts or Donald Trump’s hair. It’s Halloween candy and wine pairings. I mean, seriously. Why would I waste a perfectly good glass of wine on a bag of candy corn?

Spider.jpg

No offense to candy-wine-pairing aficionados (and the serial “infographickers” that inspire them), but nothing makes me want to reach for the Pepto more than the thought of chasing a mouthful of miniature marshmallows with a glass of Pinot Noir. And in case you’re wondering, that was an actual pairing suggestion I found in the Googlesphere.

So as October winds down, I’m calling Halloween candy/wine pairing for what it is–an unpalatable excuse to sell wine. Now that I’ve finally put it out there, I will sit back with a glass of Riesling and wait for the backlash.

[Sound of crickets chirping]

While I wait, I wanted to introduce you to two Rieslings I just met over dinner. Relax and Blue Fish. I know, they sound like they could be  80s indie-pop bands. But they’re German Rieslings done in two different styles. Relax is on the sweet side, while Blue Fish is dry.

Riesling-front.jpg

What I thought was clever about the packaging is that you can tell how sweet or dry the wines are by looking at the back label:

riesling-meter-sweet

And if you’re as frazzled as I am after a long week of work insanity and midterms, these wines calm you down even before you open the bottle.

Riesling-bottle cap.jpg

All joking aside, I gotta tell you that the Blue Fish was a fan-TAB-ulous pairing with my dinner: a sesame-crusted seared ahi with mashed potatoes and asparagus delivered by Four Daughters restaurant in Manhattan Beach. You’ve probably guessed that it’s time for El Full Disclosure: The vino was a free product sample sent to me by a publicist, but (say it with me, chicas y chicos) the opinions stated in this post are mine. And while we’re on this topic, Four Daughters did NOT comp my dinner. Nor send me a press release. Heck, they have no idea Señorita Vino exists or that I’m writing about them. So there you have it.

But back to the wine, if you’re into wine ratings, the 2013 Blue Fish won 91 points from Wine Enthusiast magazine. I sampled the 2014–a solid value wine for about $8.50 a bottle.

The Relax was, well, a great way to relax after a satisfying dinner on a Thursday night at home. This one’s light but sweet enough to enjoy solo. You could even have a glass for dessert, although technically it’s not a dessert wine. Tell ya what–on Monday when the chiquitos come a-knockin’ for their sweet treats, pour yourself a glass and sip your own sweet reward. And remember–if you dare to pair it with candy, Señorita Vino will come haunt you.

¡Salud!

8 #ThanksgivingWines for all budgets

26 Nov

Darlings, it’s been a hectic month, but here’s a reblog of last year’s Thanksgiving wines post. Note that prices may have changed since then, and some of these vintages may be harder to find. May you have lots to be grateful for this year. ¡Salud!

It’s the day before Thanksgiving. The day that feels as if no one has gone grocery shopping the entire year. The day that plays out like an epic flash mob at grocery stores across the nation, with armies of people seemingly synchronizing their smart phones for 3 p.m. to begin spontaneously stocking up for the apocalypse.

This is not the day you want to stress out about finding the right wine for your Thanksgiving fiesta, chicas y chicos. Because Señorita Vino loves you mucho, here’s a quick guide to help you shop for wine this week.

And in the interest of El Full Disclosure, only one of the wines listed below was received as a sample, and that would be the Mencía. Loved it, and no, they did not pay me to say that.

White Wines

1. Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling 2011. $6.99. This wine is off-dry, so you’ll get some sweetness on the palate. You’ll also get lovely peach and citrus notes with a hint of minerality. Riesling is a wine that “plays well with others,” so you’ll be able to pair it with a variety of Thanksgiving dishes.

A-chateausm

2. Blue Fin Gewürztraminer 2012. $3.99 You’ll get a bouquet of white florals and some spicy peach notes, along with light sweetness on the palate. The finish is a little on the short side, but hey, it’s $3.99!

A-Gewurz

Like your white wines dry? Here are a couple of alternatives:

2. Zocker Paragon Vineyard Gruner Veltliner 2010. $19.00 This one’s a winner; I’ve been enjoying its delicate melon and fruity aromas all year long. There’s a crisp acidity and a lovely minerality that would complement your turkey, turducken, or if you’re so inclined, tamales.

A-zocker

Zocker Paragon Vineyard Riesling 2009. $20.00 This Central Coast version of a French Alsatian classic has an elegant, peachy flavor with the typical Riesling petrol aroma. It has a lingering, clean mineral note and will complement just about any Thanksgiving dish, including spicier foods that appear on multicultural Thanksgiving menus such as my own.

A-zocriesling

Red Wines

5. Estancia Pinot Noir 2012. $12.99 This is a fruity Pinot Noir that’s easy to drink and pairs well with a variety of foods, which is why Pinot Noir is one of my favorite Thanksgiving wines. And the price is right, too.

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6. Argyle Pinot Noir 2012. $27.00 ($19.99 at Trader Joe’s). After spending last September in Oregon’s Willamette Valley for Señor Jim’s family reunion, I’m convinced that some of the best New World Pinots come from Oregon. You’ll get raspberries, red cherries and a touch of spice with mild tannins.

A-Argyle

7. A Portela Mencía 2011. $16.99. If you want to add some international flavor to your Thanksgiving feast, this Spanish blend is the ticket. Gorgeous black fruit with hints of violet and and a whisper of vanilla. You’ll enjoy granite minerality and a lingering finish.

A-mencia1

8. Beaujolais Nouveau. You should still be able to find Beaujolais Nouveau out there, which has become a bit of a tradition with the typical American Thanksgiving dinner. Prices vary, and if you want a quick and easy-to-understand story on Beaujolais Nouveau, check out last week’s Beaujolais Day post.

No matter what’s in your glass, may you enjoy a happy Thanksgiving in the company of those you love most.

¡Salud!

¡Mucho Gusto! Get to know #Riesling

3 Oct

One of my favorite wine-tasting-gone-wrong stories happened a year after starting my blog when I was invited to join a group of women bloggers on a day of vino tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley.

In the tasting room of a winery whose name I won’t mention, the gentleman pouring our wine opened a bottle of Riesling and said, “You girls will love this one because it’s sweet. All Rieslings taste sweet.” True story.

Of course, not all “girls” love sweet wine, and certainly not all Rieslings are sweet. At the risk of making waves in this group I was just getting to know, I decided to very diplomatically note that some Rieslings are in fact dry.

You can guess where that led. Annoyed that I had corrected him, in a condescending tone he argued that ALL Rieslings ARE INDEED sweet. I decided not to ruin the convivial mood and dropped the matter. To prepare you in case you find yourself at the same winery with the same twit pouring your wine, it’s my pleasure–no, it’s my duty–to present the 411 on Riesling.

Loosens

HOLA, ME LLAMO: Riesling (pronounced REES-ling, not REEZ-ling)

MY ROOTS: According to the Oxford Companion to Wine, the earliest known mention of Riesling was found in Germany’s Rheingau region on an invoice dating back to 1435. The Riesling grape is believed to have originated in Germany, and DNA testing shows that it is an offspring of the grape Gouais Blanc. Noteworthy Riesling is produced in Germany, Austria and  in France’s Alsace region. Riesling  also is made in New World countries including Canada, Australia’s Clare Valley, and in the states of Oregon, Washington, California, and New York’s Finger Lakes region. Riesling vines have hard, resilient wood, which allows them to thrive in cold climates such as New York, Canada and Germany.

ALL ABOUT ME:  Riesling is a white wine that can be made in a variety of styles, from bone dry to sweet. The classic aromatic profile is a heady mix of lychee, white florals, citrus, white peaches and a distinctive petrol or kerosene smell in older wines. Rieslings have low to medium alcohol, rarely exceeding 12.5 percent ABV. This is a wine with a crisp acidity. Cool-weather Rieslings are especially zingy, and in Germany and Canada, some grapes are allowed to freeze on the vine to produce a beautifully sweet Icewine. The sweetness of German Rieslings is ranked according to a classification system that ranges from Kabinett (dry) to Trockenbeerenauslese (super-sweet). In France’s Alsace region, grapes may be harvested late (Vendage Tardive on the label), producing a rich, honeyed wine. Sometimes, but not always, American Rieslings will have “Dry Riesling” on the label if it’s, well, dry. When in doubt, ask your wine merchant or server to be sure.

FOODS I LOVE: Riesling is a versatile wine that pairs with all kinds of foods. Try a sweet or off-dry Riesling with spicy Mexican or Thai food to cool the burn. Rieslings go well with charcuterie plates, roasted duck and mildly salted cheeses. It also works with crab, shrimp or lobster. And Riesling holds the distinction of being one of the few wines that pairs nicely with eggs.

DO TRY THIS AT HOME: Riesling can cost anywhere from $16 to $60 a bottle. See last week’s post for four Finger Lakes Rieslings you may want to try. For Old World Rieslings, you can’t go wrong with Germany’s Dr. Loosen from the Mosel region. And from France’s Alsace region, I enjoyed the 2012 Hubert Meyer Riesling.

What are some of your favorite Rieslings? Don’t be shy–let me hear from you. Enjoy the weekend and as always, ¡Salud!

Riesling, New York style #FLXWine

27 Sep

If you’re verklempt about Derek Jeter’s last day as a Yankee, I’ve got something to help cheer you up. Besides being home to one of baseball’s most legendary teams, New York is also where you’ll find the Finger Lakes AVA (American Viticultural Area), billed as “North America’s premier cool-climate wine growing region” by the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance.

Riesling FLX Map

Even better, I’m about to introduce you to four rockin’ Rieslings from the Finger Lakes region. ‘Scuse the short notice, but in about 50 minutes, there’s a Twitter party to launch the 2013 vintage, with the hashtag #FLXRiesling. Can’t make it? No worries–you can read up on four of the wines here, and if you like what you see, you can always enjoy them after the fiesta.

Rieslings_4

Before we go on, here’s El Full Disclosure: I received these four bottles as samples from the fine folks at the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance. I was not paid to write this post, and the opinions expressed below are my own. So with that said, here’s the scoop on the Finger Lakes, or FLX.

For you science geeks, the Finger Lakes were carved out by glaciers over hundreds of thousands of years. This not only affects the soil where the grapes are grown, but the large bodies of water help moderate temperature year round, protecting the grapes from extremes. Riesling grapes are grown on 848 acres, and 220,000 cases of Riesling are produced annually. Each of the 115-plus wineries produces two to three styles of Riesling.

Next week, I’ll provide more details about Riesling in “Mucho Gusto: Get to Know Riesling,” so stay tuned. In the meantime, you can get acquainted (in alphabetical order) with each of the four Finger Lakes Rieslings I tried.

Riesling_Fulkerson

2013 Fulkerson Estate Semi-dry Riesling

Fulkerson Winery owner Sayre Fulkerson is a descendant of Caleb Fulkerson, a Revolutionary War veteran who established a farm on the west side of Seneca Lake in 1805. Grapes were first grown on the property in the 1830s, and winemaking operations formally began in 1989. The 2013 Fulkerson Estate Semi-dry Riesling displays peach and floral notes with crisp acidity and a distinct minerality. The alcohol by volume is 12 percent. Learn more at http://www.fulkersonwinery.com.

Riesling_Lakewood

2013 Lakewood Vineyards 3Generations Riesling

Lakewood Farm was a derelict peach and apple orchard on the west side of Seneca Lake when former dentist Frank Stamp purchased the property in 1951. He started planting grapes the next spring, and in 1989 the Stamp family opened the Lakewood Vineyards winery. With crisp minerality, a mild sweetness and delicate floral aromas, this classic Riesling has 11.6 percent alcohol by volume and retails for $19.99. For more details, visit http://www.lakewoodvineyards.com.

Riesling_RedNewt

2013 Red Newt Cellars Dry Riesling

Red Newt Cellars is located on the east side of Seneca Lake in the town of Hector. The property is home to the winery and a bistro. Founded in 1998, the winery produces mostly Rieslings, and the 2013 delivers aromas of pineapple and grapefruit, with apricot and lemon on the palate. Dry with a refreshing acidity, the wine has 11.7 percent alcohol by volume. If you pay attention to ratings, the 2012 vintage scored 89 points in Wine Spectator. Visit http://www.rednewt.com for deets.

Riesling_Wagner

2013 Wagner Vineyards Dry Riesling

I’m all about girl power, and Wagner Vineyards’ winemaker, Ann Raffetto, has been with the winery for 30 years. She’s a graduate of UC Davis’s acclaimed viticulture and enology program, and she holds a degree in fermentation science (it’s called enology now). The  2013 dry Riesling has 11.6 percent alcohol by volume. Crisply acidic with a hint of petrol, lime and delicate florals, this is a wine that pairs with anything from roast chicken to chicken vindaloo. Get the 411 at http://www.wagnervineyards.com

Now go get your Riesling on, chicas y chicos. And see you next week with a more in-depth exploration of Riesling. ¡Salud!

 

 

8 #Thanksgiving #wines for all budgets

27 Nov

It’s the day before Thanksgiving. The day that feels as if no one has gone grocery shopping the entire year. The day that plays out like an epic flash mob at grocery stores across the nation, with armies of people seemingly synchronizing their smart phones for  3 p.m. to begin spontaneously stocking up for the apocalypse.

This is not the day you want to stress out about finding the right wine for your Thanksgiving  fiesta, chicas y chicos. Because Señorita Vino loves you mucho, here’s a quick guide to help you shop for wine this week.

And in the interest of El Full Disclosure, none of the wines mentioned here paid me for the illustrious privilege of being featured on this list. In fact, I purchased these wines with my own hard earned dólares.

White Wines

1. Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling 2011. $6.99. This wine is off-dry, so you’ll get some sweetness on the palate. You’ll also get lovely peach and citrus notes with a hint of minerality. Riesling is a wine that “plays well with others,” so you’ll be able to pair it with a variety of Thanksgiving dishes.

Image

2. Blue Fin Gewürztraminer 2012. $3.99 You’ll get a bouquet of white florals and some spicy peach notes, along with light sweetness on the palate. The finish is a little on the short side, but hey, it’s $3.99!

Image 2

Like your white wines dry? Here are a couple of alternatives:

2. Zocker Paragon Vineyard Gruner Veltliner 2010. $19.00  This one’s a winner; I’ve been enjoying its delicate melon and fruity aromas all year long. There’s a crisp acidity and a lovely minerality that would complement your turkey, turducken, or if you’re so inclined, tamales.

zocker

Zocker Paragon Vineyard Riesling 2009. $20.00  This Central Coast version of a French Alsatian classic has an elegant, peachy flavor with the typical Riesling petrol aroma. It has a lingering, clean mineral note and will complement just about any Thanksgiving dish, including spicier foods that appear on multicultural Thanksgiving menus such as my own.

ZRiesling NV

Red Wines

1. Estancia Pinot Noir 2012. $12.99  This is a fruity Pinot Noir that’s easy to drink and pairs well with a variety of foods, which is why Pinot Noir is one of my favorite Thanksgiving wines. And the price is right, too.

Image 3

2. Argyle Pinot Noir 2012. $27.00 ($19.99 at Trader Joe’s).   After spending last September in Oregon’s Willamette Valley for Señor Jim’s family reunion, I’m convinced that some of the best New World Pinots come from Oregon. You’ll get raspberries, red cherries and a touch of spice with mild tannins.

Image 4

3. A Portela Mencía 2011. $16.99. If you want to add some international flavor to your Thanksgiving feast, this Spanish blend is the ticket. Gorgeous black fruit with hints of violet and and a whisper of vanilla. You’ll enjoy granite minerality and a lingering finish.

MENCIA

4. Beaujolais Nouveau. You should still be able to find Beaujolais Nouveau out there, which has become a bit of a tradition with the typical American Thanksgiving dinner. Prices vary, and if you want a quick and easy-to-understand story on Beaujolais Nouveau, check out Vino 101: Beaujolais Basics.

No matter what’s in your glass, may you enjoy a happy Thanksgiving in the company of those you love most.

¡Salud!

Oregon Wine Country, Part 3: All in the Familia

19 Oct

I knew the gods were smiling on me the day I married Señor Jim. You see, his familia hails from the Pacific Northwest, land of the Pike Place Market, birthplace of Nordstrom, breeding ground for some of the world’s most delectable salmon, and home to two wine-producing states. Oh, and he’s a pretty fine hombre, too.

Oregon boasts 16 AVAs (American Viticultural Areas), or officially recognized wine grape growing regions.

So earlier this year when he told me his cousins were planning a September family reunion in Oregon’s premier wine region, the Willamette Valley, I thought it would be fun to finally get to meet some more of his family, and try some smaller label Oregon Pinot Noirs. But when I learned that two of his relatives actually made small label Oregon wines, I knew I’d hit the Spouse Super Lotto.

As it turns out, Jim’s cousin Brenda worked in the wine industry for more than 25 years, both in California and Oregon. And Brenda happens to be the proud mother of not one but two winemaking sons, Stirling and Christian.

Brenda’s son, Stirling (photo: Mad Violets Company).

Stirling Button Fox is the proprietor of  Mad Violets Wine Company, where his lovely wife, Kelly Kidneigh, is the official winemaker (Girl Power!).

Kelly, the winemaker at Mad Violets (Photo: Mad Violets Company)

Mad Violets is a family business in every sense, including its moniker, which is a mash-up of the names of Stirling’s two daughters, Madeleine and Violet. Fort-five percent of the grapes in the 2009 Pinot Noir come from the couple’s own vineyard, Buttonfield Estate (careful readers will note that Button is a family name), and 100 percent of the grapes in the 2010 Pinot Gris are also from the estate.

What’s a family reunion without family-made vino?

Both the Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris display classic characteristics. I personally loved the minerality of the Pinot Gris, and the Pinot Noir’s gorgeous strawberry notes were a hit at the reunion dinner. If you like your vino with peach and honey aromas, the 2011 Riesling is a winner. These grapes are sourced from the oldest Riesling vineyard in Yamhill county.

One of the things I adore about Jim’s family is how warm, open and genuine they are. This blog post would rival a García Márquez novel in length if I were to acknowledge each and every one of them for their hospitality and kindness during our five-day Oregon wine county odyssey.

So let me acknowledge one cousin whom I got to meet for the first time, the one whose newsy Christmas letters I’ve had the pleasure of reading in the 12 years Señor Jim and I have been together, and the one without whom today’s post literally would have been impossible.

Brenda with her fabuloso cousin, Señor Jim.

Brenda, thank you for sharing your love of wine and passion for life with us, not to mention your enormous heart.

And to the entire Button clan (I’m looking at YOU, Carolyn, Diane, Jeanie, Carlee, and your wonderful hombres), I raise a glass to you. ¡Salud!

A take-along wine cheat sheet

17 Sep

On a recent visit to Señor Jim’s family in Seattle, I accompanied my amazing step-daughter-in-law (a.k.a. Miss Jenny) on a quick grocery store trip to buy wine for dinner. Miss J and I were  navigating the super-sized aisles of a super-grande market, where the wine section seemed to go on for miles. Miss J turned to me and said, “You should make a cheat sheet so that I’ll know how each type of wine tastes.”

Miss J, from your lips to Señorita Vino’s ears.

Here for your shopping pleasure are general aroma and flavor profiles for the eight most common wines you’re likely to see at a restaurant or in the wine section at the grocery store.

——————————————CLIP ‘N SAVE!-———————————————

 SEÑORITA VINO’S OFFICIAL WINE FLAVOR CHEAT SHEET 

1. WHITE WINES

Chardonnay – If you like buttery, oaky wine, choose Chardonnay. The wood notes come from the oak barrels used for aging Chardonnay. Keep in mind that some Chards  are aged in stainless steel and will not have the oaky notes. If the grapes were grown in a warmer growing climate, you’ll notice tropical fruit aromas. Cooler climate Chardonnays will have pear, apple and melon aromas.

Sauvignon Blanc – Grapefruit, grass and green pepper are aromas commonly associated with Sauvignon Blanc. If you buy a Sauv Blanc from France, you may notice some mineral notes such as flint. If the label says that the wine is oak-aged, you’ll get some toasty, smoky notes as well. Sauvignon Blanc has a crisp, acidic flavor profile, whereas most Chardonnays will feel more creamy.

Pinot Grigio (a.k.a. Pinot Gris) – Most Pinot Grigios are unoaked, so if you’re not a fan of  wood aromas, this is a good choice. You may notice hints of apple, peach, citrus and minerals. The acidity ranges from low to high. How to tell the difference? Pinot Grigios from cooler climates will be more acidic, while those from warmer climates less so.

Riesling – Floral aromas of jasmine and honeysuckle, with fruit notes of apricot and nectarine, characterize this wine. If you can detect a ‘petrol’ aroma, don’t worry – it’s normal! HEADS-UP: It’s a myth that all Rieslings are sweet. Sweetness depends on how the wine was fermented, when the grapes were picked, and other factors. If the bottle says ‘late harvest,’ it will taste sweet. Sometimes you’ll see ‘dry Riesling’ on the label. Remember that ‘dry’ is the word used to describe wines that are not sweet.

2. RED WINES

Cabernet Sauvignon – This wine is high in tannin, which means you’ll get an astringent, puckering sensation in the mouth. Some people are sensitive to tannins and can get headaches or symptoms similar to hay fever. Cabernet Sauvignon has black cherry aromas, black currant and blackberry. You’ll also detect dark chocolate and tobacco. Cabernets aged in new oak may display coffee and caramel notes.

Merlot – Less tannic than Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot has plum, blueberry and minty aromas. You may also get some coffee and chocolate notes. Merlot sales took a hit after the movie Sideways, but it remains one of the more popular red wines. Often you’ll see a Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon blend, which will be less tannic than a Cabernet Sauvignon and have a broader range of flavors.

Pinot Noir – Naturally low in tannins, this is a good choice for people who don’t care for the puckering effect of tannic wines. Pinot Noir is known for its raspberry and strawberry aromas, as well as red flowers such as rose and carnation. Older Pinots will develop what are known as barnyard aromas. And yes, it smells like what you’d smell in the stall or on the floor of a barnyard. It’s nowhere near as asqueroso as it sounds. But if you’d rather avoid it, go for a younger Pinot.

Syrah (a.k.a. Shiraz) – Another highly tannic wine, but with aromas that are much different from Cabernet Sauvignon. Choose Syrah if you like hints of violets, black pepper, lavender, blackberry, anise and smoked meat.

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