Friday, July 18, 2014

How-To: Pair Sweet Wines with Dinner

Sweet wines may be the go-to drink for dessert, or for casual sipping for some people. But they can be a good addition to some meals as well.

The most obvious may be the pairing we talk about fairly regularly: sweet Riesling with spicy food. The thick fruit flavors of a Riesling can calm all but the most severely spicy dish.

Floral, aromatic whites like Gewuztraminer can have sweet flavors. They tend to be lighter wines, but they work well when paired with herbal dishes.

Red wines can pick up the flavor of sweet berries and red fruit. A sublty sweet Pinot Noir can work well with a pork dish. A brighter, more delicate red wine like a Rioja can work well with a cheesey dish.

And the truly sweet wines, like an Ice Wine or Sauternes are typically best as a dessert as they will overwhelm most flavors, but they can work with anything that has enormous funky flavors of its own, basically anything that includes blue cheese.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Quick Review: Anthony Road Cabernet Franc/Lemberger 2012

US, NY, Finger Lakes, Anthony Road Cabernet Franc / Lemberger 2012
++ // Smooth // Leather, Mineral, Petrol, Blueberry // Blueberry, Smoke, Leather, Black pepper // Medium

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Did You Know?... Different Wine Vintages Can Taste Different

We've enjoyed a few vintages of different wines, like the Anthony Road Dry Riesling. In 2011, we found the wine to be crisp, with floral notes and a grapefruit flavor. In all, it seemed like an exceptional wine. In 2012, we found the same crisp wine with more apple flavors.

If these are the same grapes from the same winemaker, how can this be? The answer is: weather. Unless they are heavily manipulated or crafted in a way to maintain the same exact flavor from year to year, wines are highly dependent on weather conditions. Early frosts will reduce the yield of grapes. A hot, dry summer can speed up the ripening process and create bigger, bolder flavors. A cold, wet fall can slow down the final ripening of the grapes, and dilute the flavor.

Despite all the steps that go into making wine, and the skill of the winemaker, it's important to remember that first and foremost, grapes are an agricultural product and are subject to forces beyond our control. A good vintage comes from good weather, but that can vary greatly from region to region.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Quick Review: Anthony Road Riesling 2012

US, NY, Finger Lakes, Anthony Road Dry Riesling 2012
+ // Crisp // Stone, Petrol, Pear, Apple // Green apple // Medium

Really different interpretations of the flavor between the two of us. Tina thought it was under-ripe apple, while I found it to be a really lush green apple flavor. Proves how two palates can differ and how there is no "right" answer.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Old Favorites--Finger Lakes Riesling

Once upon a time, it seemed like all we drank was Finger Lakes Riesling. It was a great introduction to wine for us: we started with the simple sweet wines, progressed to more interesting dry versions soon after, then began to appreciate the more carefully crafted depths of the semi-drys that showcase great wine making. We now feel like semi-experts on Rieslings out of the Finger Lakes region, and have continued exploration in other regions and varietals. But, every once in a while, we just have to come back to our old favorite.

There may not be a "native" cuisine of New York State to pair with Riesling, but fortunately it's a versatile wine. The sweeter styles work well with spicy dishes or with dessert, while the dry style is great for sipping or pairing with fattier dishes. We decided on a bottle with a fish stew. Mixed with rice, veggie, and a spicy sauce, the stew was a light and spicy concoction, perfect for a crisp and sweet Riesling. In this case, the spice really brought out the sweeter fruit flavors in what was a pretty crisp wine on its own.

At this point, we enjoy the comfort that comes with sharing a bottle of an old favorite, even though, with all our work at growing our wine knowledge, we've increased our options for wine selection tenfold since the days of our first post. Not every glass has to be "an adventure."

Friday, July 11, 2014

How-To: Pair Wine and Clams

Shellfish like clams and oysters can be tough for some people to deal with. But for those of us who enjoy them, wine is a classic pairing.

On their own, clams have a sweet and salty flavor. Crisp wines are vital to work with that saltiness. Of course, even steamed clams usually come with some extra flavors of spices like garlic or herbs.

-Crisp and grassy Sauvignon Blanc will work well with some more herbal flavors of Clams Provencial
-Aggressive Verdello will work well with clams with garlic
-Creamy oaked Chardonnay will complement clams in a butter sauce

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Quick Review: Glenora "Lake Series" Riesling

US, NY, Finger Lakes, Glenora "Lake Series" Riesling

+ // Sweet // Apple, Wild flowers, Fall leaves // Red Delicious apple, Super ripe strawberry, Hint of mineral // Light

Light bodied for such an abundance of sweet flavors. Felt like a semi-dry, with a slight mineral edge at the finish to help round out the sweetness.

Photo retrieved from www.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Finger Lake Wines at The Clam Bar in Syracuse

With national clients, sometimes my work means an interesting trip to look at a space in DC or Las Vegas. And sometimes it's to check out a space in a strip mall in Syracuse, NY. It may not be a bad place, but if you manage to get stuck there overnight, as I did, you might run out of well-known restaurants once you've visited Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. Spending the night alone at an airport hotel, I needed to find a place to get out for a few minutes, so I asked if they had any recommendations for dinner. It was either Applebee's or a local joint called The Clam Bar, so...seafood it was.

Walking into the place, I felt like I was entering someone's den in the 1970s. Wood paneling was barely visible beneath all the photos of sports stars. It was divey, but welcoming, so I grabbed a seat and a menu and got down to enjoying my evening. A cocktail, their version of an extra spicy Bloody Mary got the night started off right. Maybe it wasn't as spicy as the drinks I enjoyed in Mexico, but it was pretty well-crafted, and cheap in comparison to anything I could get in NYC. The caesar salad was nothing special, but a good place to start the meal. A plate of Steam Clams Provencal was much more interesting: sweet, salty and herbal. The Riesling I selected turned out to be from the sweeter style--way too much for the food, but not a bad drink on its own.

The most interesting thing for me was seeing New York wines on the wine list. Outside of the Finger Lakes, and a handful of restaurants in NYC that specialize in locally-sourced foods, we seldom encounter NY wines, even in cities as close as Rochester and Syracuse. But this is the second place on my second trip upstate this year that I have found Finger Lakes wines in an unexpected place, and it gives me hope that more Finger Lakes wines are making it into the daily conversation.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Quick Review: Madrona Zinfandel 2010

US, CA, El Dorado, Madrona Zinfandel 2010
+ // Fruity  // Cedar, Graphite, Dried cherry // Strawberry, Pepper, Graphite, Nutmeg, Candied apple // Full

Big savory flavors with a strong fruit backbone.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Quick Review: Vinum Cellars Zinfandel 2012

US, CA, Vinum Cellars Zinfandel 2012
+ // Fruity //  Ripe cherry, Raspberry, Cloves // Berry, Graphite // Medium

Feels more like a Merlot on the tongue--big fruitiness. Missing the white pepper notes we expected.