#DrinkPink! Rose season is here

Rose, rosado, rosato, vin gris, blush… whatever you choose to call it, it’s the season for drinking pink.  Like seeing the world through rose-colored glasses, we enjoy seeing the summer through a rose-colored wine glass.

drinkpinksingleWhile rose is delightful year round, it is especially popular during the summer months. Perhaps the image of sipping Provence rose on the Mediterranean beaches comes into play, but most likely it’s because rose is refreshing, unique and an ideal wine for aperitifs, picnics, BBQs and just about everything else going on in the summer.

Rose is most often (and almost always looking at the rose sold by Wine.com) made using red grape varietals. These grapes most often correlate to a wine’s region. Southern France focuses on Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault. Rosado from Spain is often Tempranillo or Grenache. Sangiovese-based Rosato from Italy, and then the California rose, which can be made from Pinot Noir, Rhone varieties and just about anything else.

Rose finds its pink color by utilizing brief contact with the red grape skins – much less contact than red wines. The length of time the wine spends with the skins, as well as the grape variety, determine the color of the rose. Longer time of course leads to a darker color, while shorter time results in a lighter-hued pink.  Rose presents a range of colors, from orange-salmon to deep-almost-purple . After skin contact, the juice is separated and fermented like a white wine.

With that in mind, rose is served cold, like white wines. Due to the short time they spend with the grape skins, These wines lack tannins, but maintain a lovely structure.  Pink wines offer bright acidity, red fruit flavors and excellent texture – flavors and structure of course vary by region and variety, but the wonderful variety offer up something for every one and every summer occasion. So stock up and drink pink!

Braving the Willamette Valley front: Oregon Wine Month

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There is a belief among wine cognoscenti that grape vines must suffer before they can produce great wines. In the Willamette Valley of Oregon, not only does that happen, but everyone in the wine business undergoes an annual pain called, “The Harvest.” Is Mother Nature going to be good to us, or will we be left to our own devices and suffer unruly weather? Unlike other regions in the world, such as Australia and the Napa Valley in California, the Willamette Valley proves unpredictable, and provides vintners with unhappy grapes from difficult vintages. While all wine growing regions suffer good and bad years, Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley, just like the varietal in Burgundy, paints a picture of extreme variance.

Why do it? Just like writers, photographers and chefs, it is because of the challenge. Many of the greatest wine growers and winemakers aim their sights at the Holy Grail and pursue Pinot Noir with unrelenting faith because when Pinot Noir is great, there is nothing better. This is where the geekiest of wine folks live. It is an on-the-edge behavior that puts them in another realm. Two recent vintages in the Willamette Valley underscore this theme. 2011, which was a cool year, yielded many ungenerous wines that most “normal” wine drinkers may not enjoy. Yes, they may pretend to like it at a party, but it lacks the big, ripe fruit characteristic of say, a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2012’s were a much different animal, and produced a wine that everyone would drink happily. For the most part, the 2012 wines are rich, rounded and juicy as can be. I already know a few purists who are scoffing at the wines for their uber-enticing style and seemingly early drinkability. Oh yes, I forgot to tell you, wine geeks often like wines that are crisp, high in acid, great with food and have potential to age over decade’s time. I am okay with both, I would just have to change my food pairing choices.

Pinot Noir is always a challenge. The wine is one of fussiest on the planet. The wine folks in the Willamette Valley are used to being on the outskirts of life and have come to love all their vintages for what they are. One fact is undeniable – unlike Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Zinfandel, it cannot hide. Vintners cannot use oak, sugar or other varietals to make it better. It is what makes us love it or hate it. Here are a pair of favorites from my notebook. The classic and red-fruited 2013 Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir from Dundee Hills, the fine and complex 2012 WillaKenzie Aliette and the cool vintage 2011 WillaKenzie Pierre Leon. Give them a try and you too will discover how nifty the Willamette Valley vintners are!

 

Food & Wine Fridays | BBQ

Low and slow with wine.

Summertime is synonymous with BBQ, but do you always have to have it with beer? No, I say! There is plenty of room on the table for a great glass of vino to go with everything from brisket to ribs. Here is a quick guide to some BBQ terms, foods, and the wines to go with them!


First a few definitions that should help guide you through any BBQ recipe:

  • Barbecuing is a low heat, slow, indirect cooking method that uses wood and/or charcoal embers to both cook and smoke meat.
  • Grilling is a high heat cooking method where food is cooked directly over open flame.
  • American pit BBQ traditionally has the heat source or “fire box” attached to the cooking chamber.
  • Dry rub or spice rub is a mixture used to flavor and/or marinate the meat, which has salt and sugar as its base.
  • Marinade is an acidic based sauced that is used to flavor and tenderize the food.
  • Brining is a process of marinating meat in a salt-water solution that may be flavored with herbs and spices in order to flavor, tenderize, and preserve the meat.
  • Bark is the dark crust that forms on BBQ’d meat. It is highly prized by BBQ aficionados.
  • Boston butt or pork butt is a cut of pork that comes from the upper part of the shoulder from the front leg and may contain the blade bone.
  • Spare ribs are the long cut from the lower portion of the pig orcattle, specifically the belly and breastbone, behind the shoulder, and include 11 to 13 long bones.
  • Baby back ribs are taken from the top ofthe rib cage between the spine and the spare ribs, below the loin muscle. They are more lean and tender than spare ribs.
  • St Louis cut ribs is a rectangular cut of the ribs, which contains the spare ribs and part of the baby back rib area. To many people, this is the best of all rib worlds.
  • Burnt edges or ends are cubed bits of meat from the point end of the brisket served with sauce on top or on the sides. They are a Kansas City specialty that is either served alone or in a sandwich.

Here is a break down of the 4 basic styles of American BBQ:

Memphis
BBQMeat of Choice: Pork
Wood of Choice: Hickory (Oak, Pecan, Apple, Cherry also used)
Famous Dish: Pork spare or baby back ribs “Wet” (slathered with sauce after smoking) or “Dry” (no sauce, just dry rubbed with seasonings and smoked) and pork shoulder.
Sauce Style: Tomato & Vinegar Base
Wines to go with: Spanish Grenache, Dry Creek Zinfandel, or Nero d’Avola

Texas
image4Meat of Choice: Beef
Wood of Choice: Oak or mesquite
Famous Dish: Sliced Beef Brisket served with thick cut white bread, Link Sausage
Sauce Style: Tomato Based Sauce with Some Sweetness and Chili powder
Wines to go with: Malbec, Australian Cabernet, Washington Syrah

Kansas City
image3Meat of Choice: Beef and pork
Wood of Choice: Mix
Famous Dish: BBQ Chicken, Ribs (St Louis cut), and burnt edges or ends
Sauce Style: Sweet Tomato Based Sauce with Molasses
Wines to go with: Lodi or Paso Robles Zinfandel, Cotes du Rhone, Spanish Monastrell

Carolinas
image2Meat of Choice: Pork
Wood of Choice: Hickory or Oak
Famous Dish: Pulled Pork or whole hog for “pig picking”
Sauce Style: Vinegar Based in East; Tomato Based in West; Mustard Based sweetened with sugar, molasses or honey also Served in Georgia & South Carolina
Wines to go with: Australian Shiraz, California red blends, Languedoc reds


Here are some current release wines that I love with BBQ:

Hurray for #Chardonnay Day!

14_04_11 1100 Pebble Beach Food & Wine_4000_BlogOh, it’s finally here – Chardonnay Day. The day I absolutely love and adore. Yes, I am the unabashed Chardonnay lover. I was hooked after my first sip of white Burgundy. Since then I’ve been searching the world for the same sensation for a lot less dough. It’s been tough. See, I fell in love with Chardonnay just after college when I traveled to Burgundy for a wedding. It was just the carafe of table wine they were pouring in the cafe, but I vividly remember thinking, this is so. dang. good. Much different than the Kendall Jackson and Columbia Crest we so often brought to dinner parties to seem sophisticated in college. I had very little wine vocabulary at the time, so I believe I called it, “deliciousness,” but I can’t be sure.

Now I know more about Burgundy and more about why I love wine from Burgundy. The terroir there is not a myth. Something about the soil, sun, aspect, grape clones and more help to create one of the best wines in the world – creamy but crisp, with layers of complexity between fruit and oak and spice… And yet, these wines are often unattainable in price.

And so, I try Chardonnays. I try any I get my hands on, seeking that wine that has the balance, the complexity and the je ne sais quoi that I can I love in Burgundian wine, but in a bottle I can afford. It will never be just like my Burgundy favorites,  but I have found many value Chardonnay that achieve balance and a loveliness that are a decent second… here are my favorites under $50!

Iron Horse Estate Chardonnay
From the Green Valley part of the Russian River, this cool-climate gem is affordable (under $25) and absolutely delicious. No malo, and a perfect balance of fruit and very light oak.

De Wetshof Bon Vallon Chardonnay
I absolutely loved this wine! And there are not many unwooded Chardonnays I like (Iron Horse an exception), but this did a fantastic job.

Esk Valley Chardonnay
Represents what New Zealand is doing in Hawkes’ Bay, and at an affordable price.

Catena Alta Chardonnay
Argentina is known for values, and this $30+ Chardonnay acts like a $60+ from California. It’s kind of a mild splurge…

Dierberg Chardonnay
A fantastic find for me! A small boutique wine with incredible character and complexity.

Hamilton Russell Chardonnay
This coastal winery delivers a ton of depth, balance and complexity on this high quality bottle from South Africa.

Craggy Range Kidnapper’s Vineyard Chardonnay
Chablis-like in style, can’t get enough of this New Zealand wine.

In general, for my style of Chardonnay, I love exploring the wines of Oregon, New Zealand, South Africa and little pockets of California

 

What Chardonnay will you drink for #ChardonnayDay?

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