For once and for all, let me say it loud and clear: dry red wine and chocolate do not go together. Why would someone lie to you and try to convince you that this is something you should enjoy? Why would the powers that be—the red-wine pushers and the chocolate coercers—set you up for such flavor failure, particularly around Valentine's Day when presumably you want to impress the object of your affections? I don't know. But I'm here to help.
Many of us would confess to possessing a sweet tooth (or two), but when we mix the words "sweet" and "wine," things can get nasty pretty quickly. But there's no reason to be afraid: there's a whole world of wines out there that can be delicious with dessert, without bearing any resemblance to the wine coolers and white Zinfandels of our nightmares. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to start exploring. Here are a few recommended bottles to serve with classic Thanksgiving pies.
Once upon a time there was only Champagne, the king of bubbles, to consider, but now there are so many great options that we wanted to give you the run-down on the who, what, where and why. Sparkling wine is made all over the world, and all of the different regions, grapes, and methods of production can be a bit daunting, so we have endeavored to bring you a quick and easy guide to the differences between bottles of bubbly. Let's start popping corks!
Work at the winery has slowed and we had our first two-day weekend since Labor Day. The extra free hours gave me some time to reflect on what the whirlwind of a harvest season I've had. I have spent almost three months coming home physically exhausted absolutely drained at the end of the day, and I am left with a feeling of accomplishment and pride in what my coworkers and I have accomplished. But, does anyone who is going to buy the wine care?
The vineyards have been stripped of their fruit, the juice is in the winery, and I am no longer getting attacked by berries and fruit flies; the harvest part of harvest is over. So what am I still doing here?
Between bad weather and drudgery, there is another important thing to keep in mind while working in a winery: not dying. This is not an attempt to be ghoulish nor morose, but rather a simple fact. Winemaking is dangerous, and there are many pits into which an intern can fall.
Every growing season—every vintage—is different, and while some are good and others not so good, 2011 is shaping up to be one of the worst in Napa's recent history. It's a popular adage that a good winemaker can make good wine even in a poor year, but sometimes it's just bad. Grapes struggle every year with the whims of nature and the weather she doles out, and disease can be a problem at any time. Some vineyards have gotten away without too much pain, but this year there has been a major problem with rot.
Before I came to Napa, wine was a job and a passion, something tasty and sometimes transcendent. I would talk with friends and coworkers about great wine and winemakers like they are magicians, transforming fruit into a beverage that is much greater than the sum of its parts. The winemaker as artist, the winemaker as genius. I'm starting to believe that winemaker as workhorse is a more appropriate comparison.
Pictures of winemakers always show them triumphant in the vineyard or proudly tasting a wine from barrel. Rarely do we see the mess that goes in to making wine, but that may be because it's the intern who's covered in goo and red juice, looking like a madwoman grape killer. No one want to see a picture of that.
I started babysitting them when there were only sixteen, checking in twice a day to see what they were up to. At first they were kind of boring, just lying around doing nothing. But they are now off and gurgling, full of interesting—and disturbing—smells. It feels nice to have traveled across the country to find a new family already waiting, even if they are only barrels of fermenting grape juice.
Wanna start work at 6:30 am? Work for 12 hours? Walk outside and be surrounded by beautiful rows of grapes? Have I got a job for you! Or for me, as the case may be. I look forward to sharing my attempts to not ruin the harvest with you all over the next few months.
Throwing some fish on the grill and spritzing it with a squeeze of lemon is an easy way to celebrate the waning days of summer. For drinkables, the rules had always been "drink white wine with fish." An inevitable backlash brought red into style, but there is room for both on the porch, soaking up the last illuminated evenings of the year. Here are a few of our favorite wines to serve with grilled seafood.
Succulent ribs can be prepared from pork or beef, but in terms of selecting a wine to drink with them, the sauce and spices are the most important consideration. Dry-rub ribs have spicy notes that respond well to earthier wines. The wet ribs need something fruitier or off-dry to balance and enhance the sauce. Here are a few of our favorite wine picks for your next rib dinner.
Fresh off the grill, with their casings straining to keep all the juicy goodness inside, sausages scream summertime communal eats. But what to drink? We've already rounded up our top beer choices, but you're sure to have at least one guest or family member (or, maybe even yourself) who prefers a glass of wine. So what should you serve?
Summer time means grilling time, and there's a wine that goes well with just about anything you can put on a grill. Our first challenge: the burger. A grilled burger gains some extra flavor from the char and smoke of the grill. Add to that the multitude of topping options (cheese? onions? mushrooms? tomatoes?) and you've got a whole lotta flavor going on. But fear not, there are plenty of wines that can stand up to the behemoth you are going to create.
Barbecue potato chips are such classic American junk food: they're cheap, crisp, and sweet. You probably usually wash each greasy handful down with a soda or a beer, but the slight sweetness in this snack makes it an excellent partner for slightly sweet or fruity wines.
Often compared to Syrah both in flavor and its favored growing conditions, Nero d'Avola thrives in the island warmth of Sicily. This heat-loving grape can produce lush yet balanced wines with smooth tannins, friendly acidity and plummy flavors.
Syrah hails from the Rhône region of France but has made its home all over the world. Syrah wines from cooler regions are evocative of blackberries and black pepper, with age-worthy tannins. Syrah from warmer areas tends to offer full and jammy blueberry flavors with a softer structure. We tried a handful of affordable California bottlings and found a few delicious choices.
To pick the wine that will complement your beef, consider the cut and level of doneness of the steak. If you prefer a leaner steak like filet mignon or some cuts of sirloin, look for a wine with a bit less tannin, because the steak will not have enough fat to soften it. However, a cut with more fat, like ribeye, New York strip, or skirt steak can handle a more brawny wine.
The name Dolcetto means "sweet little one" in Italian, but don't let that fool you: wines made from this grape are dry and easy drinking. Mostly cultivated in Piedmont, Italy, Dolcetto wants to be sipped while young and cheerful and full of fresh cherrylike flavor.
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