Don’t save a great bottle for anything more than a rainy day. One of the great fallacies of wine is that waiting makes it better. No doubt, there are many wines that get drunk too young, and patience can be a virtue when it comes to the most important wines. But even most top wines today can be enjoyed relatively young.
3 Types of Sparkling Wines
Different sparkling winemaking techniques emerged thanks to technology and popularity at their respective times in history. Each offers up a unique style of tasting adventure. Traditional Method, so named because it became the norm; Pétillant Naturel, often shortened to “Pét-Nat”; And Tank Method, sometimes called “Charmat Method” which originated in France and Italy.
The Traditional Method – the Rise of Champagne
As we approach turkey day a week from today, I am sharing my thoughts about wine and food for arguably the biggest feast of the year. Hopefully at this point you have a plan of what you’re doing and preparing, but have you thought about what wine you will be serving and with what foods. Most of us are headed to our family’s house with instructions on what to bring (or not) or hosting the festivities. Maybe you’re in charge of the wine allotment. I’m sure there are mixed emotions of excitement to gather, but also a sense of feeling overwhelmed.
As the annual grape harvest begins to wind down here in the Finger Lakes (except for those grapes still hanging for late-harvest or ice wines/dessert wines) and many other Northern Hemisphere wine regions, it is a great time to talk about the different aspects of viticulture and winemaking. Oh! the magic of transforming grape juice to wine! I certainly don’t tout myself as being an expert in these areas and not a winemaker or viticulturist, but I’ve been around for different harvests at different wineries and each vintage is unique and different and has its own set of challenges.
Don’t try to pair just flavors of food with wine all the time. Nice rhyme there. The best pairings can come from many other factors. Think about the acidity, spice, texture, weight, and dryness/sweetness (sugar)/fruitiness. Remember sugar in wine can help cut through and balance spice and acidity in food. Try a semi-dry/off-dry Rieslings, semi-dry Gewurztraminers, and Moscato with Thai food or other spicy Asian cuisine or high acid bubbly with, believe it or not, pizza. And traditional Champers and rose bubbly has enough structure and tannin (from grape skins) to stand up to fatty steak.
How do you buy wine when you don’t know what it tastes like? A lot of folks rely on reading wine descriptions to get an idea of what a wine will taste like. What do they actually mean? If you are relatively new to wine, it is quite helpful to know what to expect from a bottle, which is why some retailers highlight this in the name, although mainly at the cheaper end of the price spectrum.
As a follow up to my recent food and wine post as well as a request from long-time follower and friend Jim. Here is a short food and wine pairing primer. Jim asked me to expand on what it means when a wine reviewer states “this wine needs food” in her/his review. What was it about that wine that made them say that? The example he used was the magical pairing and flavor enhancement he experienced on New Year’s Eve when he paired a local Meritage (red blend) from Thirsty Owl with steak. When this happens, it is a “wow” moment.