Posts Tagged ‘ wine ’

Summer + White = Chardonnay, Could Be

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Delishcious'ness right off the Vine!

There aren’t many other grape varietals that conjure up such strong feeling of love or disgust, at just at the mere mention of its name than the Chardonnay grape.

People who hate Chardonnay, typically have had a bad experience years ago with one of those big, butter-laden, oak-monster wines. Good news if you are one of these people, there is so much more to Chardonnay that is just waiting for you to discover.

Chardonnay is one of the most food-friendly, versatile varietals. Styles can range from tangy and acidic, to lush and buttery; sparkling to still; and tropical to citric. You can see where this broad spectrum can come in handy when pairing food with wine. The trick is to know what kind of style you are getting.

*Unoaked Chardonnay* is the answer to the recent anti-oak backlash. Many producers are adding this wine style to their repertoire and will advertise it as such. “Unoaked” or “Stainless Steel” will appear on the back label, which means this wine will be void of any of those butter, nut, spice, or other oak aromas. Instead it will be crisp, refreshing and intended for
immediate enjoyment. This style of Chardonnay is best paired with summer salads, lighter fish, and as a counter-balance to creamy dishes.

*White Burgundy* is Chardonnay produced in the motherland of Chardonnay – Burgundy, France. Sure if you think of “Burgundy” as a color, this may seem like an oxymoron, but “Burgundy” (or “Borgogne” in French) is a geographical region in the middle of France, south of Paris. Here, you won’t find “Chardonnay” on the label, but instead the specific village that it comes from like “Chablis”, “Puligny Montrachet”, or “Pouilly Fuisse”. Most producers use minimal oak and aim to express the* terrior* of their vineyard. White Burgundy tends to be minerally (notes of chalk of wet stone on the nose), crisp but round, and balanced. This style is best suited for seafood dishes, roasted chicken, lighter pork preparations (especially with mustard), cheese, and fried food (believe it or not there is nothing finer than french fries or potato chips with a glass of Meursault).

*Oaky Chardonnay* was extremely popular in California in the late 1980s to 1990s. Here, wine makers wanted to push the envelope and achieve high alcohol percentages, utilize expensive oak barrels, and create a big, in-your-face style of Chardonnay. Most wineries have realized that too much oak is not a good thing, so many have toned it down in the last decade. But that is not to say that they have dropped their oaking ways, and it is good that they haven’t.

These wines are delicious with the right food. Typically, if you look at a California Chardonnay wine label and the alcohol is over 13.5% and the back label indicated that the wine has been aged or fermented in oak, you are going to be in for a big, buttery, oaky wine. These wines are best with lobster, grilled and smoked fish or chicken, and even red meat – yes, red meat. If you are not a red wine drinker, but want something to go with your filet mignon, oaky Chardonnay is going to be your best pairing option.


-Jaclyn Stuart, YN Chick Blog- Certified Sommelier & WSET-Certified

PIWC Chardonnay Pick of the Week- Newton 08, and Newton 07 Unfiltered Chardonnay- Tasted by us, and only a HINT of oak on the buds

Thumbs Up!

Have A Grape Day!

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Pinot Noir

A British study recently presented at The Experimental Biology convention in California noted that consumption of grapes lowered blood pressure, improved heart function and reduced other risk factors for heart disease and metabolic syndrome in rats. Metabolic syndrome is a condition associated with impaired blood sugar regulation and the development of complications previously associated with diabetes per se. In many ways it can be considered a diabetic “precursor.”

This is not really a surprise as this mirrors many of the benefits associated with wine that we had previously discussed. American researchers think the benefits of grapes could be due to phytochemicals and antioxidants. These are the same compounds that are thought to produce the positive health effects of wine. It seems the benefits of grapes are preserved in alcohol.

What is interesting is that the animals were fed the fruit in addition to a high-fat, American style diet for three months. A control group had a similar diet without the grapes. At the end of the three-month period, the grape-fed rats had lower blood pressure, lower triglycerides, improved glucose tolerance, better heart function, and reduced indicators of inflammation in the heart and the blood than the rats who received no grape powder.

There is always a danger in extrapolating across species, but this data seems to correlate very well with human observational studies looking at the beneficial effects of wine. So go have a grape day; I’ll take mine fermented.

Doc AKA Micheal Fenster- What’s Cooking With Doc (‘Have A Grape Day’ was used with permission)

Wine Down Wednesday- Give The Gift Of Spice & Wine

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As old as time, ancient time- Wine and Spices had begun to be paired together. In not so obvious ways, but as man began to move across lands conquering, taking their spoils and riches back home, a merge of the two took form. Even in today’s time we have begun to cross barriers that only the very adventuresome might try in their own kitchens. These global ocean trials have swept into the realm of wine and food pairing.

Sometimes as simple a few ingredients having been blended in a country such as the African Islands. Ingredients that we have had in our own spice cabinet for hundreds of years are being discovered to have been right in front of our noses. One such blend is Za’tar- known by many spellings and uses, is mostly used for a condiment made from the dried herbs, often Thyme, mixed together with sesame seeds, salt, as well as other spices. Used in Arab cuisine since medieval times, both the herb and spice mixture are popular throughout the Middle East and Levant still today.

Some such blends have been protected by families for centuries, and are only now being explored. These components blended with a few other ingredients such as mustard, oil, and parsley, then used as a rub for rack of lamb, and a dash of Za’atar blended with a cream sauce for Lobster ravioli can be a new discovery for the taste buds. Once this pairing has taken place- a wine pairing may develop.

Try a Charles Creek Winery- ‘La Vista’ Stagecoach Vineyard Cabernet 04, an oak aged wine that has begun its perfect journey to be a leading ballet on the taste buds. Subtle rich red fruit and spice help make the right dishes such as a ‘Surf and Turf’- the perfect marriage to prove that ancient man had began a journey long before he may have realized, and one we all can continue for many many years to come!

Something in my own personal opinion is worth more than any riches, as on the spice trade it was horrendously valuable- A good meal and a great bottle of wine- Priceless beyond any gift you could ever pass on to me!

Chef Elizabeth Stelling, CookAppeal LLC Read more of her food pairings @ Food ~ Wine ~ Fun!

The legendary Stagecoach Vineyard rises to an elevation of 1700 feet above the eastern portion of Napa Valley’s Oakville district, stretching from the western side of Atlas Peak to the southern portion of Pritchard Hill. Cabernet Sauvignon grown on this site is prized for it’s intensity and complexity of flavor.

Deep, saturated purple color is the introduction to this intense young wine. Dark fruit, baking spice and a dusting of fine tannins in a richly textured package suggest a good decade (or more) of cellaring, if one can resist the temptation to break out a bottle tonight.
In either case,beef, lamb or game would be prime partners for this classic Napa Cabernet.

Taste Of The Nation- Tuesday

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If you want to attend an event where fine dining and wine tasting is more than just a chance for Chef’s in the Princeton, New Jersey at The Westin, Forrestal Village area to shine- then you missed it last night. Share Our Strength, and Taste Of The Nation have been going strong for twenty years plus raising money for local charities that give 100 % back to make sure kids do not go hungry.They are synonymous for bringing together area restaurants to feed the local food enthusiasts something special, or not. This event shows the strength and dedication of both the charity organizations, and the culinary back up!

Share Our Strength has raised over $73 Million dollars to help keep feed local kids in neighborhood programs, and organizations around the country.

Lots of food was flowing around the large banquet room on the hotel’s downstairs side entrance. Along with a fun bottle toss. Yes, you got the chance to throw a white ring over a bottle of wine and walk out the door. Wine was donated by local wine retailers as well as New Jersey Wineries.

A few wines tasted:

Bonterra Merlot, CA
Ferrari-Carono, CA Chardonnay
Geyser Peak Cabernet, and a few good Rioja Spanish wines

We would buy them for our own cellar-

New Jersey wines were served as well, but I am partial to Amalthea Winery in south Jersey, but Louis was not there.

Just to name a few restaurants:

Elements, Princeton
The Blue Rooster, Cranbury
Eno Terra, Kingston
Rocky Hill Inn Eatery & Tavern, Rocky Hill
McCaffery’s Market, Princeton
Tre Piani
The Brother Moon
Alchemist & Barrister
Bon Appetit
Princeton School Garden Cooperative
Triumph Brewing Company
Nassau Inn Yankee Doodle Tap Room

If you want to know more come over to Food ~ Wine ~ Fun! and see a few more dishes, but otherwise next year- Buy A Ticket!

Chef Elizabeth Stelling, Chef/Owner- CookAppeal LLC

Simple Saturday foodie and wine events to consider

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Another glorious day in the Garden state. May we suggest the following foodie and wine events to please your palate in and around town. Sure palette pleasures for all:

  • -April 24th Cigar and Port Night Grape Escape, Dayton, NJ Call for information
  • -April 26th Taste of  the Nation.  Benefits Childhood Hunger Westin Hotel, Princeton Forrestal Center
  • -April 29th Taste of the Southern Hemisphere Bacchus Wines NY, NY ph. 212-835-1571  Call for info
  • -May 16th Chocolate and Wine Tasting Skylark Diner and Lounge Edison, NJ  732-777-7878  Call for info

We recently attended the One 53 Pinot Noir tasting. Read our review

Cheers and Tweets!


Wine Down Wednesday- Earth Day Pairing

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April 18th, 12 Pacific Time, Iron Horse Winery will be tweeting globally about their wines ‘From Sonoma to New Jersey’ via WineTwits’ Sip and Twit’, and about the Pinot Noir Estate Napa Valley (Green Valley) we most recently paired with food, which by the way is an excellent wine!

Adrienne and I will be posting a video this next week of some Tweets gathering together to taste the wine and discuss its wonderful notes and accolades…

Join Us!

4PM Eastern- Partners In Wine Club will be attending the Iron Horse Tasting at:

The Wine Loft
32 Laird Street
Long Branch, NJ 07740-8100
(732) 222-7770

Hashtag #GreenValley- See you on Twitter

We have paired the Iron Horse Pinot Noir, 07 with a lightly dressed EVO Feta Cheese, olives, and Dolmas, along with an earthy black bean, mixed cheddar, crispy tortillas, and mixed green salads. The bottle of Pinot we opened was a perfect match! So we look forward to tasting more on Sunday!

Cheers and Tweets!

Chef E Stelling,, Food ~ Wine ~ Fun!

Tasting Tuesday- Wine Lingo

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It’s helpful to become familiar with wine lingo
By Heather Stober Fleming

Grape Expectations
April 08, 2010 12:00 AM

I recently found myself in a conversation with someone who very confidently stated that —¦ all wine tastes the same and descriptions are simply a bunch of nonsense.”

When I am questioned (or in this case, told) about the language of wine, I like to put it into perspective by using a car industry metaphor. If you are shopping for a car, how does a salesperson explain the difference between a Chrysler PT Cruiser and a VW Bug or the difference between a VW Jetta and a VW Passat?

Imagine how difficult it would be if you did not know the meaning of common car lingo. Domestic or foreign? Two or four door? Standard or automatic? SUV or sedan? The options are endless. The goal is to understand what each car has to offer, and select one that meets your needs. This can only be done if one understands the basic car language.

There are words and descriptors used in all industries to help the consumer understand the difference between products within the same category, and wine is no different. The language is not used to sound sophisticated or snobby, but to describe the differences between varietals, styles, regions, and flavor profiles in order to help the consumer make the right selection for any particular occasion. The following are terms and their definitions that are commonly used to describe wine.


Tannin is a term that is often used to describe red wine. It is a substance that is found in the skins, stems and pits of grapes. Red wine has higher level of tannin due to the winemaking process. When making a red wine, the grapes are usually left in contact with the skins during fermentation so the juice can pull the color out of the skins. When making white wine, the color from the skin is not needed, so the grapes are pressed and the skins are discarded, leaving only the juice.

The best way to explain tannins is to think of the flavor of tea if you leave the bag in too long. The tea becomes bitter and astringent because the tannins have been pulled out of the leaves. Technically, tannins aren’t a taste, but more of a sensation on the palate. The higher the tannin level, the drier your mouth will feel. If a wine is very smooth or silky on the palate, it probably has a very low tannin level.


Dry is a term that is used often in the wine world to describe wines that are not sweet. When something is sweet, the sugar coats your palate and causes salivation, which makes your mouth feel wet. If there is no sweetness in a wine, your mouth will not water and your palate remains dry. There are some wines that will use the term semi-dry, which in everyday language means semi-sweet.


Many people confuse fruity and sweet because we think of fruit as being sweet. To differentiate the two, think of cranberries, lemons, limes, Granny Smith apples, and grapefruit. All of these are fruity, but not necessarily sweet. The same philosophy applies to wine. A wine can be very fruity, but still be dry.


I often use the texture of milk to explain the body of wine. Think of how different whole milk, two percent, and skim milk feels in your mouth. Skim milk would be described as light in body, two percent would be medium bodied, and whole milk would be full bodied. Luscious, fat, and rich are some other terms that can be used to describe a wine that is medium to full body.


The nose of the wine is simply the smell. This is a very important aspect of tasting wine that sometimes gets skipped. We can only perceive four tastes — sweet, sour, bitter and salt — but we can identify more than 2,000 different scents, 200 of which can be found in wine. We have all had a cold at some point where our nose was stuffed up and we couldn’t taste a thing. Or as children if we were forced to eat something we did not like, we would pinch our nose and then eat the food. This would mask most of the flavor. I know many of us have seen a wine drinker swirling and sniffing a glass of wine in a manner that seemed a bit animated or over the top, but it really is the most important part of tasting wine.


The finish is the aftertaste. If the aftertaste of the wine lasts for a minute or longer, this would be considered a long finish. If the aftertaste disappears almost immediately after your last sip, this would be considered a short or nonexistent finish.


This word is often used to describe un-oaked, dry, white wines. I like to compare Granny Smith apples and grapefruit when discussing the acidic profile of white wine. I love Granny Smith apples, but I strongly dislike grapefruit. They are both acidic, but most would agree that grapefruit is far more acidic than Granny Smith apples. If I am asked to suggest a Sauvignon Blanc, that is always my first question, “Do you prefer the acidic flavor of Granny Smith Apple or Grapefruit?” Other words that will often be used to describe acid in a wine are tart, crisp, citrusy, refreshing, zippy, and mouth puckering.


Chardonnay aged in oak is often described as buttery. If you think of a stick of butter, the flavors are subtle and there isn’t much of an aroma. However, if you think of melted butter, whether it is on movie theater popcorn or being used to dip lobster, it brings a whole different flavor profile to mind and it is much easier to identify in a wine. Other words used to describe this style of wine are oaky and creamy.

Heather Stober Fleming is a wine professional who lives in Fairhaven. Contact her at
Originally published on ‘South Coast’, (permission granted via email Ms. Stober)