Monday, June 28, 2010

Pairing Wine and Food

For all you wine geniuses out there, there a new book to consult about matching food with wine, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Wine and Food Pairing. I asked Jeannette Hurt, one of the co-authors of the book (the other is Jaclyn Stuart) what she learned while researching the book that surprised her about wine and food pairing. "One of the best ways to pair is to try to match aromas of wine with flavors of food. Another thing I learned is that if you're not sure of a wine's aromas or if you are a newbie with aromas, one of the best ways to familiarize yourself with aromas is to head to a store like Trader Joe's and buy a bunch of foods that match wine aromas - dried cherries, fresh peaches, vanilla, herbs, etc. - and then to sniff the actual foods and then stick your nose in the wines. That's a much better way to gain sensory reference to aromas, and having that, it's much easier to pair wines. For example, some sauvignon blancs are known to have gooseberry aromas, but if you don't know what a gooseberry smells or tastes like, how can you pick out that aroma in a wine?"

Actually, the gooseberry comparison has always struck me as arcane -- how many people know what a gooseberry tastes like? Maybe they're more common in certain parts of the country, but I'd never seen or tasted a gooseberry until I purposely sought them out after reading descriptions by other wine writers (especially British ones) about the gooseberry component in Sauvignon Blanc.  I still think grapefruit and tart citrus such as lime describes most Sauvignon Blanc better because people are familiar with those tastes and smells.

Some of my favorite pairings: oysters and crab with Sancerre or Muscadet; Cabernet with steak; and Champagne or sparkling wine with French Fries or potato chips.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Tea for You

I've written about tea for Wine Enthusiast magazine and before in this blog. Tea and wine have many things in common -- besides being my two favorite beverages. They are both grown with the same attention to detail and require the right soil, climate and care. They are both delicate drinks that are appreciated by connoisseurs in much the same way.

Recently, two new books about tea came across my desk that I wanted to share with readers. Both by the same author, Lisa Boalt Richardson, a certified tea specialist, Tea with a Twist and The World in Your Teacup would make wonderful gifts for any tea fans.

If you enjoy tea, you're probably familiar with the English tradition of afternoon tea or the Japanese tea ceremony. What's nice about  The World in Your Teacup is that the author focuses on tea traditions in even more unexplored locales like Iran, Kenya and Morocco.

Tea with a Twist: Entertaining and Cooking With Tea presents equally unusual and creative tea partiies like an Indian Chai High Tea and a Mexican Fiesta Tea Party. Learn more about and order both these books from Harvest House Publishers.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Dry Rosés

Springtime may be a good time for dry rosé but in my book, any time is appropriate. You will see rosés in the press because it's the time when most are released due in part to the fact that writers like to write about them as springtime or picnic wines. But that's just marketing, If, like me, you like to sip on dry, French-style rosés during the spring, summer, fall and at holiday parties, look for these recent releases that I found enjoyable and reasonably priced ($7 to $18).

Rosé wines are made from red or black grapes --Pinot Noir, Syrah, Cabernet Franc -- in much the same way red wines are, except their skins are allowed to soak with the grape juice for only a short time – just enough to tint the juice that delicious salmon, pink or red color. They're not for aging, but for drinking young. The wines listed below all have the extra weight and fruit intensty that a red wine provides over most whites but with a lighter body and more refreshing acidity than most reds.

Dark as cranberry juice and most intense in flavor are 2008 Meyer Family Cellars Rosé (Napa); 2009 La Jaja de Jau, (France); and 2009 Blackbird Arrivitse (Napa). They range from 12.9 to 13.5% alcohol.

Paler in color, more delicate in flavor and a touch more acidic are 2009 Les Deux Rives Corbieres Rosé ; 2008 Domaine de Nizas Languedoc Rosé ; 2008 Chateau de Lancyre Pic St. Loup -- all from France; 2009 St. Supery Rosé  (Napa); and Antech Limoux Emotion, Cremant de Limoux (a sparkling wine from France). These range in alcohol levels from 12% to 13.5%.