Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What Is?... Tannat Grape

Tannat is a uncommon grape, found predominantly in the Madiran region in south west of France. It can also be found in Uruguay and in a few places in the US. In France, it tends to be an astringent wine, and is often blended with other grapes. It seems more suited to the warmer growing climates of the new world, and can create a more balanced, aged-worthy wine there.

By Pancrat (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Quick Review: Barboursville Vineyards Pinot Grigio 2004

US, Virginia, Barboursville Vineyards, Pinot Grigio 2004
- // Crisp/Fruity // Lemon // Petrol, Grape, Grapefruit // Light

We made a mistake, didn't notice it was so old. Too old for Pinot Grigio. The flavors were not at all balanced, a very aggressive attack without much fruit. Sat very heavy on the tongue.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Old Virginia Wine

Most of our adventures in wine tasting are fun, educational, and exciting. But sometimes they can be a miss. After a recent trip to DC where we had a chance to try some Virginian wines, we came across a bottle at our local wine shop. We excitedly snapped it up. We failed to note that the bottle of Pinot Grigio we had selected was from 2004, far too old for most wines from a local wine shop.

Some wines need a few years in the bottle. Some can hold up okay. Most wines, though, are meant to be drunk right away. Especially whites. Pinot Grigio is almost always in that last category, the crisp acidity mellows out over time, and there is seldom much fruit or other flavors to act as a backbone to build character for the wine as it ages. This bottle showed that--a nearly flat, slightly bitter flavor.

Thankfully, this is by no means a common problem. Most wine sellers will mark down a young wine if its stuck on the shelf, to keep it from sitting there past its best point. But sometimes things get lost in the shuffle, so just keep an eye out, and don't let your excitement in finding an old wine overwhelm your best judgement.

Friday, October 26, 2012

How-To: Tell if a Wine Should Be Aged

This is one area of wine we are still learning about. At its simplest, you can rely on the opinion of someone more knowledgeable. Winemakers will often advise on when they think the best time to drink a wine is, after they've crafted a wine they think will benefit from a few years of aging. Professional reviewers will give an idea of what they think the perfect drinking window is for a particular wine. But it's helpful to know what they are looking at, when they are talking about why an wine should be aged.

The way we understand it, a perfect wine should be a balance of flavors: acid, fruit, and other notes working well in concert together. In a young wine that can stand up to aging in the bottle for a few years, those flavors might each be perfect on their own, but be out of balance. Time spent in the bottle will allow the flavors to mellow and blend. Voila!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Quick Review: Cardinal Point Reserve Cabernet Franc

US, VA, Monticello, Cardinal Point Reserve, Cabernet Franc 2006
++ // Fruity // Cherry, Apple // Red Apple, Green Pepper, Oak // Full

This was an eminently drinkable wine. With deep fruit flavors balanced with a strong oak backbone, it was a great sipping wine. While winemakers consider it a flaw of the grape, it even had a hint of green pepper that we enjoy in Cabernet Franc, as a special character that sets it apart from other red wines.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What is ... Meritage Wine?

Meritage is a red blended wine in the same style as Bordeaux wines. As Bordeaux is a region in France in addition to a style of wine, it's a protected name and cannot be used outside of the approved region of France. "Meritage" is the name given to wines of the same style, made in the New World.

The blend can include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.

Though often pronounced with a French twist, to rhyme with "garage", technically it should be pronounced like "heritage."

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Quick Review: Delfosse Winery Meritage 2005

US, VA, Delfosse Winery, Meritage 2005
++ // Fruity // Cherry, Spice // Cherry, Raspberry, Oak // Full

This was a great example of Meritage: ripe fruit flavors, balanced with hints of oak and spice. Still strong bodied, it probably deserved another couple of years in the bottle to truly balance the flavors.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Coming of Age in Virginia

We don't often get a chance to try aged wine. Coming to our interest in wine only recently, our own wine rack is usually only stocked with the bottles we mean to drink right away. And, we don't really order the oldest wine on the menu. But every once in a while, we get a chance to try something a bit older. On a recent trip to DC, a friend invited us over for a special treat. In the past, he has shared us with some of the secrets of Virginian wines. This time around, he attempted to show us the true strength of the wines of Virginian by delving into his collection, and opening a few bottles that he had set aside for a few years. And it worked.

A trio of bottles; a Meritage, a Cabernet Franc, and something we've never tried, a Tannat. At 2005 for the oldest, these weren't the most aged bottles we have ever had, but the oldest we had ever tried from anyone's personal collection. And that added something special to it. One of our favorite things about wine is the shared experience. Sitting around a table, talking about the wine and its merits. Talking about the story behind the bottle or a chance encounter with the winemaker. Or just using it as a starting point for a bigger conversation about the simple joys in life. Wine is a great way to share a special time with others, and someone taking the effort to open something extraordinary makes it even better.

As an added bonus, the wines were all great. We are getting to know the NY wine scene well, but we haven't had a chance to explore the wine regions of other states much, so getting a guided tour through some specially selected wines from someone who shares our dedication to "the local" was a treat. And each of the wines showed the strength of state, a trio of wonderfully lush yet subtle reds in more of an Old World style, avoiding any comparison to the full bodied and aggressive wines of the West Coast. Despite all the national attention going to West Coast wines, and our own attention focused on the merits of New York wines, it was great to be shown just how mature Virgina winemakers can be. And as an interesting counterpoint, it was informative to see the strength of Cabernet Franc in a different region, with a climate more suited to the grape.

In all, it was a great experience. We had a chance to learn a little bit more about wine, shared something special with friends, and ended up with more stories to tell.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Is It Okay for a Guy to Order Baked Brie?


It may be okay for a guy to order a glass of rosé, but Baked Brie is a little sketchy. The idea of a meal comprised of a large pile of molten cheese may seem compelling, but expect confused looks from your servers, and ridicule from your dinner companions. But it's cheese, so it just may be worth the heckling.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Quick Review: Fox Run Reserve Chardonnay 2009

US, NY, Finger Lakes, Fox Run Vineyards, Reserve Chardonnay, 2009
++ // Smooth // Lemon // Oak, Button, Lemon, Peach // Medium bodied

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Did You Know?... About Bourgogne

Bourgogne, or Burgundy, is a region of France famous for its wine. Some people mistakenly consider Burgundy to be the name of the grape. Not so. Located in the center of France, it is a region known for both its red wines, made mostly from Pinot Noir, and its white wines, made from Chardonnay. The region includes famous Grands Crus from Cote de Nuits, Cote de Beaune, Cote D'Or, and Chablis.
Courtesy of Terrior France

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Quick Review: Giraudon Bourgogne

France, Bourgogne, Giraudon Viticulteur, Aligote 2010
+ // Crisp // Grass, Butter // Lemon, Butter, Stone // Medium

The Burgundy region of France is known for its Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the principle grapes of this area. This wine was a Chardonnay.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Wine and Baked Brie

We have heard time and again that wine pairs well with food from the
same region. To test this, Tina decided to make baked brie to pair with a bottle of French wine. The recipe is extremely simple but extraordinarily delicious.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Is It Okay for a Guy to Order Rosé Wine?


Sometimes waiters might get confused, and try to deliver the glass of rosé to your date (this has happened to us!), but a good rosé will suit nearly any palette. Many novice wine drinkers start with sweet wines, and it's easy to find a sweet rosé. But these wines get interesting where the hint of red grape flavors add complexity to the otherwise crisper wines. This means an interesting alternative to white wine for you dudes out there. So, guys, don't be shy: the next time you are out on the town, order up a glass of rosé. Ask for one that is robust or "hearty": we promise the deep complexities will compensate for the chuckles of your dinner party.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Did You Know?... About Rosé Wine

While they seldom make up as much of a wine menu as white or red options, rosé wines can be very interesting, and deserve their own special attention. Rosé wines can be made either by taking the skins out of a to-be-red-wine much sooner (within a day) than usual, or by bleeding off some of the juice while making a red wine, creating one batch of deep red wine and one batch of lighter rose. Because they require pigmentation from the skins of red grapes, it follows that all rosés are made from red wine grapes. They can run the full range of styles: from sweet, to light and crisp, to earthy and aggressive.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Bachelor Wine

When we are home, a bottle of wine, split between the two of us over dinner, has become our routine. Sometimes we have to compromise on which bottle to open, because sometimes I enjoy something not quite to Tina's taste. So on those rare opportunities when I have a weekend at home alone, I like to branch out.

While Tina was away for a weekend visiting family, I was left home, tasked with installing a kitchen back splash. The weekend of hard work required a special reward for myself, so I spent as much time planning my menu for the weekend as I did purchasing the supplies for the back splash work. Free to experiment, I planned carefully. I looked forward to a dinner of clams one evening, and a Philly cheese steak the second. Ideally, it made sense to pair the clams with a crisp white wine, and the cheese steak with a hearty red, but felt it a bit decadent to buy two bottles of wine for these wildly different meals. So, wandering through the wine shop, I decided to split the difference, and grab a bottle of rose. Not a bottle of some sweet concoction, but a bottle some crisp wine with an extra edge. Looking over the range of options, I settled on a Rosato of Petit Verdot from Channing Daughters, a Long Island, NY winery.

All told, my plan paid off. Some citrus notes in the wine played off the clams, and helped created a rich, flavorful broth. It made sense, from the idea of pairing local wine with local food, to match a Long Island wine the with fresh Long Island clams. Surprisingly, the wine was a bit aggressive when paired with the cheese steak, overpowering the light seasoning and mild cheese. Not quite the perfect pairing I was hoping for, but I guess I will just have to try the experiment again.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Did You Know?... About Wine with Artichokes

It's possible to find the right wine to pair with almost anything, if you look hard enough. Well, almost anything. Eating artichokes causes a change in the chemicals in your mouth that enhances sweet flavors, which will change the flavor balance of a wine. You might find a wine that will work, depending on how the artichoke is prepared, but it is not recommended you drink your best wine with an artichoke dish.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Quick Review: Kuentz-Bas Riesling

France, Alsace, Kuentz-Bas Riesling 2009
++ // Crisp // Bread, Petrol, Pear // Pear, Apple, Earth, Nutmeg // Medium

Monday, October 1, 2012

Wine and Summer Vegetables

With the summer wrapping up, its time to use up the last of the summer vegetables. And while we spend a lot of time talking about pairing wine with meat dishes, there is less focus on vegetable focused dishes. But its worth thinking about, as we look at our fridge full of squash and our wine rack full of the last of the summer's white wine.

Most wines are meant to be drunk quickly, usually in the year after their release. This is especially true for white wines, with crisp flavors not lasting long, as a wine ages. So as vineyards release the new vintages, its worthwhile to look over your wines, and think about the wines worth drinking now.

A vegetable dish is perfect pairing opportunity for some whites. Some, like Sauvignon Blanc have their own vegetal flavors; hints of green pepper or grass. Others with hints of mineral, like some Rieslings, can complement the earthy flavors of some root vegetables.