Thursday, December 12, 2013

DiGrazia Vineyard Wind Ridge Seyval Blanc White Wine

Welcome to CT! I picked up this little beauty from my local package store for a bit less than the $15.99 retail price you'll pay at the vineyard. That vineyard would be DiGrazia Vineyard in Brookfield - clear across the other side of the state for me, so I'm glad Harry's had a bottle on their shelf. I really like that Harry's devotes some shelf space to local wines - not enough, but some. Spendless Discount Liquors on Spencer St. in Manchester has a much broader selection of local wines, but I digress.

I know I've said this before, I'm not really a sweet wine lover, but I love me an off-dry or semi-sweet any day! The Seyval Blanc hybrid varietal is very common here in these parts, as it ripens early and stands up to the cold admirably.

The Wind Ridge is a light bodied, off-dry wine, with a nose of apple & pear, and also a distinct mineral-y-ness to it. The taste is also apple & pear - fruity, nice, and a pleasant finish that hangs around for a bit, but is still rather light. It is so fruity, it will fool the palate into thinking it has a higher sugar content than it actually does.

I would pair this with a light pasta meal, or even a roast chicken or holiday turkey. Yes, I'll bet it would be yummy with turkey! But honestly, it's nice and light just to sit and sip. Hey DiGrazia - winner!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Little Black Dress Pinot Noir, California, 2011

Notes from the distributor's website -

Region: California
Vineyards: California, USA.
Winemaking: The grapes are harvested throughout the month of September. The wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks and aged in a combination of stainless steel and oak barrel (approximately 33%) for 6 months.
Tasting Notes: Bright, ruby-red in color with aromas of cherries, cloves and light floral notes. A delicate, light-bodied wine with a lingering finish of strawberry jam and pomegranate.
Food Pairing: Little Black Dress Pinot Noir is an ideal match for chicken, veal and lamb dishes, as well as roasted beef and pork.

Also noted is that these wines are "designed in a fruit-forward style with the female palate in mind."

Sadly, I know exactly what they mean. Most women like cheap, sweet, fruity stuff that they can sip with their girlfriends at the end of a long day. Most women buy wine based on a cutesy label, or an emotional reaction based on the wine-makers or the distributor's description. Are you "most women?" I don't consider myself "most women."

Little Black Dress doesn't disappoint with the price tag. I paid $8.96 for this bottle. But Pinot Noir is supposed to be delicate and flowery, with cherry & red berry fruit and some food friendly acidity. This has an almost acidic cherry harshness that grabs my entire tongue shortly after the first sip, and then doesn't let go. In fact, it tightens its grip all through the finish. There is a wee bit of spice to make it a bit more interesting, but not much.

I think I like my Pinot Noirs a bit better cared for, and aged a bit longer in oak. All in all, Serious Wining is not impressed. But hey - it's under $10 a bottle, so why not pick one up and see if you like it! After all, we all don't have the same palate. Just because I don't like it, doesn't mean 10 others might.

Serious Wining gives this 2 out of 5 stars. Sorry LBD. Love your label, not your wine.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sampling the local flavor in North Carolina - Part 1

My family is vacationing this week in Kitty Hawk, NC. As is always the case when I visit other parts of the country, I love to sample the wines in the region. This week I managed to try 3 different ones - today I'll talk about the oldest wine made in this country - the Scuppernong white from Duplin Vineyards, NC.

From the vineyard - "Duplin Winery's Scuppernong is the most famous variety of Vitis Rotundifolia and the oldest wine made in America. No plantation dinner would have been complete without this delicious sweet wine."

And yes, it IS sweet! My sister-in-law said to take the grapes, eat one without the skin, and that is exactly the taste of this wine. From me, in one word, it is delicious and refreshing! OK - that's 2, so sue me. She did warn me, however, that it's got that sort of flavor that people either love, or they hate - no middle of the road here. If you enjoy eating grapes, and you like that sweet grape taste - then you will love this wine. Try it for the history - enjoy it for the taste. And the price tag! A mere $7.49 a bottle! Duplin Winery does ship - but be prepared to pay through the nose. Over $31.00 to ship a case via UPS ground.

Here's another tidbit for you health conscious folks. Muscadine wines, both red and white, contain 40 times the resveratrol when compared with ordinary red wines. So toast to your health!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Good for me, not my guests

It's still summer in these parts. For some reason, summer and warm temps bring out the sweet wine lover in me. Normally, I prefer a dry riesling - along the lines of The Traveling Vineyard's "Calamity Sue" Riesling. I find the dry ones much more food friendly, so do keep that in mind when planning meals. But for sipping after a long day with my feet up on the deck? A sweeter Riesling is called for.

I occasionally wander down the inexpensive and economically packaged wine aisle at my local package store. Translation - cheap, big bottles! Most of the time, to be honest, the quality of this mass produced wine is pretty sub par. Sub par, that is, unless you're looking for something sweet. If it's sweet - it's sweet, and it doesn't matter if it's $5.00 or $55.00, it will taste fine because it's sweet.

I would never spend more than $20 for a bottle of sweet wine, unless it's a nice, carefully crafted dessert wine. Some sweet wines are worth the pricetag in the teens. $15.00 bottles of sweet wines can have a lot of character and complexity. But more often than not, sweet wine drinkers are looking for that cheap bottle of white zinfandel to satisfy their sweet tooth and give them a buzz at the same time.

Now, I'm not anti-white zinfandel by any means (even though I don't drink the stuff) but there are alternatives! Riesling is one of them, and lucky for you sweet wine drinkers out there, most rieslings you will find from the US are sweet. And cheap. And they get the job done.

Woodbridge 2011 California Riesling is doing the job for me right now. :-) I think I paid $12.99 for the big 1.5 liter bottle. It's sweet. Not cloyingly so, but pretty sweet. The only thing I would pair it with is a warm summer day and an Ulta Beauty sales flier. For company, I would most likely choose something a bit more interesting and flavorful. You know - it's OK for me, but not my guests. Serious Wining gives this bottle 3 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Yellow Tail Tree Free Chardonnay

I bought my first bottle of Yellow Tail Chardonnay today. I'll admit, I was drawn in by those totally cool commercials before the holidays. You know, the ones about Yellow Tail Chardonnay being the "go to" chardonnay?

I bought the unoaked version, or as they say on the label - "tree free." Cute. How did I like it? Meh, it's OK. Hints of citrus & pineapple. I'm guessing it would be refreshing on a warm summer day, as it's similar in acidity and taste to a Pinot Grigio. Paired with the right foods, it would probably be a fine choice. Personally, though, I think I'd rather reach for a Pinot Grigio - it's just a more interesting grape that "unoaks" better, in my opinion. There, I just made up my own wine verb!

The price certainly screamed "try me!" I spent all of $11.99 on the big 1.5 liter bottle, mainly because I needed more white wine on hand to cook with, but also because I was curious about all the hype. Besides, I've had Yellowtail before - their affordable Shiraz-Grenache blend is one of my own cheap affordable go-to reds.

For me going forward - Yellow Tail "Tree Free" Chardonnay is good (really good, actually!) to cook with, and take the occasional sip of when nothing else is on hand. Inexpensive enough to try if you're curious and eager to find affordable wines.

Have you tried this wine? Comment! Let us know what you think!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Basics of Wine & Food Pairing Part 1

Tired of being snubbed for your love of sweet wine? Do you find it difficult to understand how anyone could enjoy a glass of chardonnay or merlot, when all you do is pucker or wince at the thought? Have you secretly wished you could learn to like “normal” wines to pair with your meals like everyone else?

There is hope for you, my friend, and it all starts with changing your thinking about wine as a stand-alone cocktail versus wine as an ingredient in a meal. That’s the first thing we’ll talk about today - how to go about demystifying wine and food pairings.

1) Everyone’s tastes are different.

This will either come as a shock or a relief to some of you. If you crack open a bottle of chardonnay to go with that steak on the grill, the wine cops will not come to your door. They don’t exist - although, you and I probably know a handful who think they know everything about wine and believe everyone should like what they like. Invite these folks to dinner with caution, and if you do, don’t say I didn’t warn you. I digress...

Everyone’s tastes are different! Rule number one, the most important rule, is this - if you enjoy it, drink it with confidence!

2) Paired with the wrong foods, a great wine will be rendered unpalatable.

I dare you to try this experiment sometime. Get yourself a bottle of really nice Pinot Grigio. Now get yourself some green grapes. Wine - grapes - hey! They go together, right? Grapes with grapes? Well, try a bite of a grape and then a sip of the wine. You tell me if they go together. *Shudder* Please comment below with your thoughts if you actually tried this, lol! I’ve not met a single person who enjoyed this combination, but if you did, I want to know about it!

3) Paired with the right foods, a moderately priced wine can be fabulous!

When an acidic wine is paired with an acidic food (Sauvignon Blanc with goat cheese, for example) the result is divine! Get yourself that some bottle of Pinot Grigio and a lemon wedge. Take a bite of the lemon, then a sip of the wine. You’ll notice the acid of the lemon and the acidity in the wine cancel each other out, and all you taste is the pleasant fruitiness of the wine.

The same goes for reds and the tannins they contain. 
Pair a tannic wine with a tannic food, like walnuts, for example, and the result is completely unpalatable. Go ahead, try it if you need an excuse to buy another bottle of wine (really, honey, I’m doing research...). Now take that same red and pair it with a food that LOVES a tannic wine - something fatty. Fats help to mellow out the tannins, and the result is yummy, fruity and oh so pleasant, even decadent. Pair that Syrah or Cabernet with a piece of cheddar, or dark chocolate, or a nice marbled piece of beef. Ever wonder why it is that red wine goes so well with beef? That’s why!

In Part 2, we’ll talk more about great food and wine pairings. In the meantime, what are some of the successful pairings you’ve experienced? Because (remember #1) everyone’s tastes are different, please share so we can all learn and expand our enjoyment of great foods and wines!