Archive for the ‘ Thirsty Thursday ’ Category

Try on some sparkling wine for the summer. More wines of summer

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Drink it up!

It’s hot out there and sometimes a cold beer or super chilled white just won’t do. And forget about a red. A bold red just won’t do in the summertime.

What about sparkling wine? It’s light, refreshing and appealing to the senses. Just the sound of a popping cork can turn a boring  evening into a an unexpected evening of merriment.

Believe me when I speak of sparkling wines, I’m talking American sparkling wines. Remember Champagne is a term only reserved for the French ( produced exclusively in the Champagne region of France). And when I’m speaking about American sparkling wines I’m speaking California bubbly. California  boasts great microclimates that are suitable for sparkling wine production. Many of California’s bubbles are award winning and less expensive than their French counterparts.

So when you’re itching for something new and just plain old tired of the same old cold brew, reach for some bubbly to  enhance your senses and expand your wine vocabulary. It’s great with small appetizers at a party.
Read on below to discover just a sampling of some of California’s great sparkling wine houses:
  • Domaine Caneros – from the house of Tattinger
  • Gloria Ferrer– owned by the Ferrer family, owners of Spain’s Freixenet
  • Iron Horse-small family owned winery renowned for their sparklers. Their sparkling wines were served at the famous Reagan-Gorbachev meeting.
  • Mumm Napa – a great tasting experience
  • Roederer-A classic rich sparkler
  • Schramsberg– America’s first sparkling wine house
Food pairings with great bubbly:  Spicy Thai, caviar, oysters, parmesan or feta cheese and ceviche

Try this  sparkling wine cocktail on  for size for a summer evening treat:
Black velvet
1 part chilled stout beer
1 part Brut sparkling wine

Pour the stout into a pint glass or flute. Carefully add the sparkler on top. The effect is layered and eye catching!

-Cheers! -Adrienne

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Shiraz or Syrah; what’s in a name?


Good question! Basically they are the same grape varietal, genetically, but the flavor profiles are quite different because of the different climates, terriors and wine making techniques. The Australians call it Shiraz  while Americans and French call the varietal Syrah.
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Now to the flavor profiles:
French Syrah is planted in the Rhone region, which is divided into 2 halves; the Northern Rhone and the Southern Rhone. Northern Rhone wines are made primarily from Syrah grapes and can command a hefty  price e.g. Hermitage. The wines are tannic and leathery with spice and pepper over tones. Generally these wines take a longer time to age than Southern Rhone wines.

Southern Rhone wines are generally made with more Grenache than Syrah but produce wines that mature earlier than Northern Rhone wines. Here we have the Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Cote-du-Rhone wines. Southern Rhone wines are mellower with some spice overtones.

Australian Shiraz is famous in the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale areas. Their wines are rich with fruit and very smooth. Many times these wines are even blended with Cabernet Sauvignon for added aging and complexity. The Barossa Valley produces Shiraz with big fruit and chocolate overtones.

California Syrah-Enter the famous Rhone Zone of California. Here we have producers that produce Rhone style wines with earth, spice and pepper overtones. Some notable areas are :Sonoma County, Paso Robles, Edna Valley and Santa Barbara County, leading the way in production. Some winemakers swear the climate of Paso Robles mimics the southern Rhone area of France. A few California Rhone producers have cult status and command a hefty price. Examples include: Saxum, Sine Qua Non Syrah and Alban Syrah Edna Valley.

My favorite Syrah/Shiraz picks ( somewhat affordable):

  • Carlisle Syrah Russian River Valley 2007  About $50 (if you can find it)
  • Qupe Syrah 2007  A classic Syrah for under $20. A great value
  • Two Hand’s Bellas Garden Barossa Valley 2007 Classic Barrosa Valley. About $60. Treat yourself!

My favorite pairings:
Ausssie Shiraz with big fruit-BBQ
California style Syrah-lamb or grilled steak
French Rhone style Syrah with big spice- roast leg of lamb

Cheers! –Adrienne

Thirsty Thursday-Argentinean Cabernet Sauvignon

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Argentinean Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon, the king of red wines has a home in Argentina. Argentina, long known for producing great Malbec, produces Cabernet Sauvignon as well. Known as a land of meat lovers and Malbec production, Argentinean wines also offer consumers a wide range of value oriented and more distinctive Cabernet Sauvignon.

Bodega Luigi Bosca, Mendoza, Argentina, is a family run enterprise, long considered for producing high quality wines from the area. The family strives to be one of the most biodynamic wine producers from the area and offers distinctive wines at different levels for every occasion. Luigi Bosca offers three labels: Finca La Linda, Luigi Bosca Reserva and Selectos Familia Arizu.

Finca La Linda Cabernet Sauvignon 2008: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged in French and American Oak. Deep maroon in color with aromas of dark fruit with a hint of spice. Young tannins, not overpowering, yet subtle in mouthfeel. Should age well over the next 1-3 years. A lovely everyday drinking Cabernet Sauvignon paired well with a steak or other red meat. An outstanding value from Luigi Bosca.

Cheers, Adrienne

Thirsty Thursday-A light red for the summer-Dolcetto D’Alba Priavino

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Think lighter reds for the summer

Light red wine for the summer? When the heat of the sun makes you think twice about a good old Cabernet Sauvignon, it may be time to look towards something a little bit lighter and refreshing. Think about an Italian red; Dolcetto. The Dolcetto grape may be considered one of the workhorse grapes of the Piedmont area. Dolcetto wines are lighter in body with some nice tannins and literally mean “little sweet one”. Some may even chill this wine. The Italians think of Dolcetto as an everyday wine that goes well with grilled pizza and light pasta dishes

The Dolcetto D’Alba Priavino 2005 is produced by Roberto Voerzio and has a wonderful deep ruby color in the glass. In the glass,the bouquet had chocolate, cherries and other black fruits. The tannins were soft with nice refreshing complexity and a medium finish. -90 points IWC.

The day I had this Dolcetto the temperature in my backyard was a modest 95 degrees. The sun was blazing but yet my other half and I had to eat dinner and opted for a grilled pizza which I bought from a local Italian chain restaurant.

The Dolcetto was opened approximately 1hr before we feasted on our pizza. Great, delightful bouquet with a nice finish. Went perfectly with our grilled pizza of roasted tomatoes and goat cheese.

Would I buy this wine again? You bet your dollar, though at $20 some may not think this as an everyday wine. Whatever floats your boat! Cheers and Tweets, Adrienne

Thumbs Up!

Thirsty Thursday-The Wines of Summer

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Great New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

You heard of The Boys of Summer, now get ready for The Wines of Summer.
Some of us love big California Cabernet’s. There’s nothing better than one with a big, juicy steak. Yet, when the temperature soars you may want something a little bit more refreshing.

As the warm weather approaches, the thrill of the grill takes center stage. BBQ and grilling may be a little bit more forgiving when if comes to cooking styles, but it usually means lots of rubs, sauces and marinades. When pairing wine with BBQ or grill remember the dominate flavor of the dish. A lot of BBQ and grilling will consist of heavy sauces and marinades that dominate the plate, so it’s best to match the wine to the topping. Still, when it comes to a big juicy steak, who can argue for anything less than a big red wine.

If you do find yourself outside one summer eve, thirsting for something a little different, may we suggest the following pairings:

For lightly grilled fish and shellfish try a pairing with a great New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

Suggested wine: Cloudy Bay, Sauvignon Blanc, NZ 2008, 92 points WS, 92 points W&S

For richer fish try a lightly oaked Chardonnay

Suggested wine: Signorello Estates Chardonnay-Vieilles Vignes 2007, 90 points WA

For a great grilled salmon try a lovely Pinot Noir
Suggested wine: Iron Horse 2008 Pinot Noir

For BBQ ribs or red meat with heavy sauces try an Australian Shiraz Californian Syrah or Spanish Grenache (Garnacha)
Suggested wine: Heron Terra Alta Sexto 87 points WS

Steak, no sauce, try a medium bodied Cabernet Sauvignon or Bordeaux blend
Suggested wine: Ramey Claret 2006 90 points IWC

Grilled Lamb, try an Australian Shiraz or even a Rioja
Suggested wine: Bodegas Muga Reserva 92 points IWC

For good Texas BBQ or other inspired recipes, don’t forget to visit Chef E.

Cheers and Tweets!, Adrienne, PIWC

Thirsty Thursday-Drink your way to a healthier you

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Drink wine. It's good for you

Even more good news to drink and get healthy. Now I love wine and rarely need an excuse to open a bottle, but when I get evidence that  drinking is good for me I get giddy!

As cited by Fox News (fair & balanced) a recent French study (argue with the French?) found that wine drinkers consuming up to a half a bottle a day are healthier than those abstaining. Now this is reason to celebrate.

The French found that low to moderate intake of alcohol drinkers enjoyed a higher social status (I drive a nice car), exercise more (sometimes) and suffer from less stress( what, me worry) when compared to those that abstained or drank to excess. Moderate wine drinkers suffered less depression and had lower cardiovascular disease. Most importantly the study showed moderate drinking was a powerful general indicator of optimal social status which could be a reason for improved health. ( via Mailonline)

…and there’s even more good news. Another European study cited in Wine Spectator suggests that women who drink 2 glasses of wine a day have better sex lives.

Who are we to argue with the French, they invented wine and the French Paradox (LOL). You decide. This just makes me smile and run down to my wine cellar (view more recession trends).

Cheers and Tweets!

Adrienne, PIWC


Thirsty Thursday-Wines for BBQ

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The National Barbecue Association designates each May of the calendar annually to celebrate and promote all things BBQ with MAY as NATIONAL BARBECUE MONTH.

Now that its getting warmer it’s time to fire up the Weber. There’s plenty of BBQ recipes, but what about the wine?
For white wines look for fruity whites with bight steely flavors to cut through the rich and sometimes fatty flavors of BBQ. Forget about the rich California Chardonnays. They’re usually too oakey and buttery. You are better off with a French Chablis style wine that is crisp and bright with the ability to cut through some of the rich BBQ falvors . There’s also some other white varietals that match up with BBQ:
Sauvignon Blanc
Chenin Blanc
Pinot Grigio
Muscadet
Verdichhiio
Pinot Gris

Red wines: The choice is red for BBQ. Reds should be big, well balanced, smooth and not over the top in alcohol, like a big California Cabernet. Luscious, ripe berry flavors and complex spice make an interesting marriage to BBQ. My favorite for BBQ is Shiraz/ Syrah
Syrah/ Shiraz – Same grape with a different name down under. A nice shiraz with silky, smoky tannins, red berry and ripe fruit flavors will work well with BBQ.
Zinfandel – The young spicy ones with lots of black pepper and raspberry work especially well with BBQ.
Cote Du Rhone is another good choice in the medium price range. Its smooth, well behaved tannins and smoky finish are just right with pulled pork and pork ribs.
Rioja is a great choice for BBQ. This Spanish red wine is spicy and fruity. Its bold, fresh flavors can really stand up to the assertive flavors of BBQ. Beef brisket, beef ribs and all grilled beef will work extremely well with this wine. Riojas are intended to be drunk at a coolish temperature.
Other reds:Petite Syrah.Barbara and Chianti

Try The Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, NJ for their Yappy Hour on Thursdays. It’s similar to Happy Hour but you get to bring your canine friends to romp in the back area.

Cheers and Tweets!
Adrienne, PIWC

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