by Lorri | May 22, 2019 | UnCorked
There is just something about the alluring aromas of the grill and of course anything coated in barbecue sauce.
Often these smoky, spicy and sometimes sweet flavors seem to demand a beer pairing. But cabernet sauvignons and rieslings are just as enjoyable as the cold brew for this barbecue matchup.
Beer’s appeal likely has more to do with serving temperature than flavor profile as it is usually served icy cold.
Many think chilling a red wine is taboo. It’s not. There’s nothing wrong with serving red wine chilled. Keep in mind, I am referring to chilling — not dropping ice cubes into your glass. Many red wines are served too warm even in a restaurant setting and even more at the outdoor grill. Just put your red wines in the refrigerator for a quick chill and don’t leave them sitting out in the sun while you await your grilling perfection. Some of the wines ideal for chilling are Beaujolais (gamay), pinot noir and barbera.
- 2017 Louis Tete Beaujolais Villages, France (about $13 retail)
- 2017 Adelsheim Oregon Pinot Noir, Oregon (about $29 retail)
Most of us don’t consider white wines as a match to the flavors of a barbecue sauce but most are ideal partners. Think high acidity and refreshing aromatics. Pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc are almost always safe bets with almost any sauce. If the sauce takes on spicy and sweet flavors, consider rieslings and gewurztraminers.
- 2018 Montinore Riesling, Oregon (about $13 retail)
- 2018 Daniel Chotard Sancerre, France (about $26 retail)
And then there’s the all-purpose go-to, best bet, never let you down summertime grilling treat. If you read this column regularly you can already guess this match will always be a dry rosé. It’s the refreshing, chilled, slight tannic structure of these wines that make these combinations work.
- 2017 Acrobat Pinot Noir Rosé, Oregon (about $14 retail)
- 2017 Commanderie de la Bargemone Provence Rosé, France (about $17 retail)
by Lorri | Apr 3, 2019 | UnCorked
Blending different grapes to produce wines is not a new concept considering it was how most ancient wines were vinified. The grapes were picked, thrown into a vessel and voila — wines were made. This was known as a field blend. But for modern blends the question I am most asked is: Are these wines of lesser quality?
The short answer: No.
It’s important to address because many consumers seem to have a tendency to shy away from blends for fear they aren’t as good as single varietal wines.
Today, the process for most blends is for the grapes to be picked and then fermented separately before blending. Most grapes are blended with what are known as traditional blending partners, for example you rarely will see a cabernet sauvignon blended with pinot noir, but cabernet and merlot are common blending partners. There’s more behind these partnerships than most people realize. It’s important to understand the concept and the simple agriculture rules for why winemakers chose to blend rather than use a single variety for production.
It isn’t simply because some grapes taste wonderful together. It’s also a matter of viticulture strategy. Most grapes with similar growing climate demands will generally be good blending partners. Consider if you have a crop of any grapes growing within miles of each other. Chances are very strong you will need to have some type of “insurance” against one grape variety ripening early only to be destroyed by frost or another dilemma of climate factors forcing one variety to ripen too soon while another just can’t seem to get the sunshine to gain the sugars and is racing in acidity.
Blending allows vintners to bring out the best qualities of each grape, while providing some crop (and profit) protections in the field.
Examining some of the most famous red blends of Bordeaux is a good start in “blending 101.” The top grapes grown are cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, malbec and petit verdot. Cabernet is considered the body and tannic structure while merlot, very similar to a cabernet, offers more refined tannins and juicier cherry and herbal notes. While cabernet franc and malbec can obviously stand alone, they bring complexity of peppery flavors, plum and a lot of creamy fruit flavors. Which leaves the distinct petit verdot usually used sparingly because of its intense opaque color and a splash of floral and tannins.
So, when picking up your next bottle of a blended wine consider the strategic growing practices and of course the care in the art and science of the winemaker’s direction.
- Chateau Bonnet Rouge, France (about $20 retail)
- Chateau Greysac Medoc, France (about $30 retail)
by Lorri | Nov 30, 2016 | UnCorked
I recently tasted and added to my repository of exceptional wines Purple Heart Red Wine, not only for the quality and value but the story behind the label.
Purple Heart Red Wine recognizes the sacrifice and service of U.S. military men, women and families while promoting the Purple Heart Foundation, a nonprofit that provides services to veterans and their families. The foundation, in collaboration with C. Mondavi & Family, receives a major contribution from wine sales.
Last year the foundation helped more than 19,000 veterans secure $300 million in Veterans Administration benefits with their professionally trained VA Service Officers. The foundation assists with service dogs programs, educational scholarships, resources to help cope with post-traumatic stress disorder and money for research to treat traumatic brain injuries.
Winemaker Ray Coursen, a Vietnam veteran, and consulting winemaker David Grega, an Iraq veteran, share a passion for winemaking and for service to our country. As an accomplished winemaker and longtime friend of the Mondavi family, Coursen was the perfect person to lead the winemaking team for the inaugural release of the 2013 Purple Heart Wine. Coursen’s experience and his stellar history with Elyse Winery as founding winemaker and owner was the leading factor in the quality and exceptional style of this wine’s future.
Starting with the 2014 vintage, consulting winemaker Grega joined the team. After service in Iraq, he fell in love with winemaking. Grega is quickly earning a reputation as a winemaker to watch in the Napa Valley.
The wine is a traditional Bordeaux blend with 80 percent merlot, 15 percent cabernet sauvignon, 4 percent petite syrah and 1 percent petit verdot.
2014 Purple Heart Red Wine Napa Valley, California (about $20 retail)
by Lorri | Aug 24, 2016 | UnCorked
If we judged wine based on what we see on the shelves at wine shops it would seem there are very few red grape varieties worth drinking. Cabernet sauvignon, merlot and pinot noir dominate the offerings in stores and on restaurant wine lists. And because of this strong presence many wine drinkers have a mistaken impression that the world’s other red grapes are inferior in quality and flavor. The good news is this simply isn’t true. There are many other red wines to explore.
Barbera is Italy’s second biggest variety but seems to get overlooked in the wine market. Because it’s a late ripener it can be very tart and astringent. But with careful harvesting it makes wines with lovely sweet plum and cherry flavors. It can be aged but the best time for drinking is when it is fresh and the most recent vintage.
Gamay is best known as the grape behind the famed Beaujolais wines of France. It can be made into a full-bodied wine but it really shines as the star of the famous Beaujolais Nouveau. Each year this wine is bottled and on retail shelves within months of production. This red wine is intended to be consumed within a year of bottling. It is truly a white-wine drinker’s bridge to trying red wines with its light taste of strawberries, raspberries and ripe cherries.
Pinotage is South Africa’s very own red variety. It’s a cross between cinsault and pinot noir. The name is misleading because most people assume it will have taste similar to pinot noir but oddly its taste is more in line with shiraz. In the past this wine was overproduced and had a bad reputation, but its image is changing. At its best it is a deeply colored red wine with layers of bold flavors of licorice, blackberry and plum.
Cabernet franc suffers from comparison to cabernet sauvignon. It generally shows up as a blending partner in Bordeaux wines. It is defined with its strong trait of perfume where even a drop added to a blend can change an entire wine’s aroma and flavors. It generally has fragrant aromas of black cherry and chocolate. Mostly seen in blends, there are a few brilliant bottles out there to explore this enticing wine.
Baga is a Portuguese grape, and its name meaning “berry” is an accurate description of this grape. It is a small thick-skinned grape that brings a tannic structure. If you like medium-bodied red wines similar to pinot noir and nebbiolo you will enjoy this wine.
- 2014 Steller Organics Pinotage, South Africa (about $10 retail)
- 2014 Louis Jadot Beaujolais, France (about $18 retail)
by Lorri | Jul 6, 2016 | UnCorked
We all know the rule or have at least heard it time and time again: Serve red wines at room temperature.
But some rules are meant to be broken or simply redefined.
Historically this rule originated from wines being stored in damp, cool cellars in European countries long before the advent of central heat and air.
These cellars, while they were not climate controlled, were typically between 60 to 65 degrees. Except for those with cellars, it’s very unlikely an average American home has a constant temperature this time of year in that range. We also are in situations where we buy a red wine in a retail store, get home for dinner and immediately uncork the bottle and consume a warm red wine.
Of course, I am not recommending throwing a vintage Bordeaux in the freezer for a couple of hours or dropping in a few ice cubes when serving. But 72 to 78 degrees — the “room temperature” range of many homes in the summer months — is far too warm for serving wine. I like to use the word “cool” when describing how red wines should be served. Too many of us are drinking red wines too warm.
If you are privy to a cellar or wine cooler, you most likely have no worry in the correct cool temperature of your red wines. But for the rest of us, here are a few pointers about how to get red wines from the average temperature of 70 to 75 degrees (or hotter) in most homes to a cool, ideal range of 65 to 68 degrees.
- A quick bath: Fill a wine bucket with ice and water. Add a pinch of salt. Put your bottle in the bucket for about 3 to 5 minutes, any longer and the wine may chill too much. Be aware this method may damage the wine label if left in the bucket too long.
- Pop it in the refrigerator: One of the easiest methods is to simply put the wine in the refrigerator for about 30 to 45 minutes. If you are looking for a slight cool-down, just set in for about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Let your central air conditioning do double duty: Place the wine on its side over a floor air vent for several hours. This method may take a bit longer than other methods but is an easy cooling technique. (During summer months, storing your everyday drinking wines near air vents will help keep the bottles cool.)
These are a couple of red wines easily enjoyed cool and refreshing.
- 2014 Concannon Pinot Noir, California (about $12 retail)
- 2014 Louis Jadot Beaujolais, France (about $18 retail)