Recently in Wine Pairing Category

The Holidays: Wine Pairing Suggestions

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Whitehall Lane Winery has several suggestions for keeping holiday meal planning and wine selection stress free!

whitehall-lane-winery-wine-bottle-medley.jpg(1) Don't Interfere
Select wines with low tannins that won't make the mouth pucker (like biting a banana peel) and overpower the meal. Avoid big, buttery chardonnays and young cabernet, syrah and petite sirah that can have a lot of bite. Light-to-medium reds, such as pinot noir, Beaujolais, Burgundy and tempranillo, rosés, and steel-casked whites mix well with abundant holiday meals.

Select a wine that complements the sauce.
The darker the sauce, the darker the wine. Giblet gravy is great with a savory white while a well-aged red brings out the flavor in red-wine and red meat sauces.

(2) Consider Audience
Is the table full of foodies who love to experiment or Aunt Opal who has an opinion on everything? Always consider whether or not your guests like to stick to the tried and true or if they're willing to experiment with something new.

(3) Don't Break the Bank
Both quality and quantity are important. Keep in mind that there are many high-quality, reasonably priced wines out there and the professionals at your local wine store or favorite winery online shop can help you stay on budget while also helping you find everything you need to impress your guests.

(4) Go Big!
Big bottles, such as magnums, three-liter and six-liter bottles, are ideal for holiday meals. Many people are intimidated by big bottles but they're great for budget-conscious consumers looking to save time and money while at the wine store or favorite winery. It will leave your guests feeling impressed and you feeling like you hit a home-run.

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Uncork The Thanksgiving Wines

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Press Release

thanksgivingDinnerSpread.jpgThanksgiving is almost upon us, which means now is the time to select wines for the big feast. Fortunately, choosing wines that pair deliciously with Thanksgiving dinner can be quick and easy; all you need do is let your dinner and your preferences be your guide.

The traditional Thanksgiving dinner encompasses a range of flavors: rich, herbal, sweet and creamy. Wines that handle such diversity best are those that complement or accentuate, but don't overpower. The key is moderation; less - in terms of power, alcohol, tannin and oak - is actually more in achieving scrumptious Thanksgiving wine matches. And because Thanksgiving is a truly American holiday, it deserves to be celebrated with American wines.

Those who love white wines have a few choices when it comes to making a stellar Thanksgiving wine match. One is a vibrant Chardonnay with just a hint of oak character that echoes the richness of Thanksgiving dishes, such as the 2012 Kenwood Vineyards Sonoma County Chardonnay. Another is a medium-bodied, unoaked Sauvignon Blanc with fruit and herb character to enhance the foods' flavors. The 2012 Kenwood Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc captures this style perfectly, as do other unoaked Sauvignon Blancs from Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake Counties. The last is a fresh, fruity off-dry Pinot Gris, Riesling or Gewurztraminer that lets the food shine and refreshes the palate. The hard-to-find 2012 Kenwood Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Gris is one option, but there are plenty more from cool vineyard regions across the United States. 

Pinot & Mushroom Weekend at Chateau St. Jean

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event_ChateauStJean_PinotMushroom.jpgNo need to forage for mushrooms on your own this season. Join local Sonoma County mushroom experts at Chateau St. Jean February 23rd and 24th for a weekend of discovery with perfect pairings of fine St. Jean Pinot Noir and artisanal mushrooms. This special event will feature special wine and mushroom flights, a bountiful, mushroom-centric marketplace, informative lectures on fabulous fungi, an incredible Station-to-Station tasting experience, and a sumptuous Earthly Wonders luncheon, all which will leave you with a renowned sense of awe for the so-called simple mushroom and Pinot Noir. See more details below!


Merlot Masters the Thanksgiving Wine Challenge

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thanksgivingDinnerSpread.jpgThanksgiving is almost here and with it the challenge of selecting a wine to go with the Thanksgiving feast. So what red wine will complement the turkey, the stuffing, the cranberry sauce and the other traditional Thanksgiving dishes? The surprising answer is Merlot.

Merlot's character and style pair deliciously with most Thanksgiving dishes. Generous fruit and modest structure enable Merlot to match the flavor of the turkey without overwhelming it, as powerful reds like Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah do, or being overwhelmed by it, as often happens with delicate reds like Pinot Noir. The fresh, ripe raspberry and black cherry fruit of Merlot echoes cranberry sauce's bright fruit, and the smooth style of Merlot works well with both turkey stuffing and Thanksgiving side dishes.

KenwoodVineyardsMerlot.jpgSonoma County produces outstanding Merlots and Kenwood Vineyards Merlots combine Sonoma County quality, fine value and ready availability. The Kenwood Vineyards Sonoma County Merlot's forward fruit and polished texture make it ideal for Thanksgiving. For those who prefer a Merlot with a bit more concentration and structure, the Kenwood Vineyards Jack London Vineyard Merlot - from the famed author's Beauty Ranch overlooking Sonoma Valley - would be a tasty Thanksgiving choice.

As one would expect of a winery with wines worthy of Thanksgiving, Kenwood Vineyards also knows about Thanksgiving foods. Kenwood Vineyards Chef Robin Lehnhoff-McCray suggests this flavorful Thanksgiving side dish to accompany the turkey.



Summer Wine and the Living is Easy

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We're already a full week into summer and what better way to enjoy the weather then with a glass of "light, crisp, and refreshing" wine. Winemaker Cameron Parry from Chateau Montelena Winery makes some recommendations on his favorites and possible wine and food pairings.

chMontelena_Blog_SummerWine.jpgExcerpt from Blog Post:
So what is a "summer wine?"  Well, the snarky (but accurate) answer is that a "summer wine" is whatever happens to be in your glass from June 20th to September 21st.  However, most of the time we're talking about anything that is light, crisp, and refreshing - a wine that can benefit from a bit of time in the refrigerator (or even - *gasp* - the occasional ice-cube in the glass). For me, most often that means Sauvignon Blanc nice and frosty right out of the 'fridge . . . Close runners-up for summer time R&R are Riesling and Rosie . . .

Try the Riesling with some Memphis style ribs - you'll be pleasantly surprised; the Sauv Blanc, on the other hand, is a great match for barbequed oysters.   As far as the Rosie goes, it is a small production Rosé of Zinfandel that is great with grilled pork chops. 

Now, don't worry, I'm not leaving out the Chardonnay, and no it is not 4th place on my summer (or any other) list, but it is far too versatile to be pigeon-holed as a "summer wine."

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The Summer Grilling Wine Guide

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grilledSteak.jpgSummertime . . .and the grilling is easy. The long, warm days of summer are reason enough to fire up the grill - or barbecue - and enjoy some of the tastiest food on the planet with family and friends. Serving a good wine with fare hot off the grill turns dinner into a feast to be savored and making a good wine match is easy if you know how.

Making that good wine match begins with knowing the food to be grilled. While grilling imparts smoky, caramelized flavors, it is - with a few major exceptions - the food's intrinsic character that suggests good wine choices. As with most wine and food matches, the key is to select a wine that both complements the flavor and approximates the flavor intensity of the food.

For example, grilled steaks offer rich, hearty, mouthfilling flavor that pair well with Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, which offer similar richness, heartiness and depth; Kenwood Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon, Kenwood Jack London Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Valley of the Moon Sonoma County Syrah and - for more smoothness and complexity - Valley of the Moon Cuvée de La Luna Red Wine are all terrific matches.

Press Release: Kenwood Vineyards: The Easter Brunch Wine Guide

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easterbrunch.jpgSONOMA, Calif., March 22, 2011  -- For many across the United States, Easter Brunch is a family tradition. Two or three - and sometimes more - generations gather, the cooks of the family outdo themselves and everyone enjoys the feast. Whether plain or fancy, Easter Brunch deserves to be served with a wine worthy of the food and company, and - with a little know-how - picking the perfect Easter Brunch wine can be a snap.

Two aspects of Easter Brunch make selecting the perfect wine different - though not more difficult - than most meals. First, the Easter Brunch menu can be primarily breakfast foods, primarily lunch foods, or a mixture of both. Even dinner dishes may sneak into the mix. Second, Easter Brunch may have two or three main courses rather than one. The diversity of Easter Brunch puts the focus on versatile wines that complement a range of dishes and those wines are where perfect matches will be found.

Two Hot New Pairing Programs at Napa Wineries

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lmrwines.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

I enjoy wine tasting, but I definitely perk up substantially if there's food pairing involved.  Thankfully, there are plenty of other people who feel the same way, and our growing numbers are prompting great changes in the way wineries present their products to the public.  I recently had the good fortune to be invited to two of the best winery food and wine experiences in Napa, and can't wait to spread the word.  

Long Meadow Ranch
Adding a food component to their winery's tasting program was a no-brainer for Long Meadow Ranch Winery in St. Helena, which for many years has been producing grass-fed beef, premium olive oils, free-range eggs, and organic vegetables in addition to their wines--and which opened a Ranch-supported restaurant (Farmstead) next to their tasting room just last year.  LMR has just announced some new options for people interested in food as well as wine, with packages at practically every price point.

Holiday Entertaining

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mwdHolidayTable.jpgHoliday wine and food pairing can be tough. Figuring out which wines to pair with such a wide assortment of foods is a challenge for even the most experienced chef and the thought of entertaining on top of everything makes is stressful! Here are a few guidelines to follow to ensure your food and wine pairings are easy and fun:

Main Dish
For the white wine lover, a soft Chardonnay is a great accompaniment to poultry and an assortment of sides. Even a Riesling or Pinot Grigio could work. The minerality and apple-citrus notes common to Pinot Grigio match well with rich holiday foods. Also, while many assume white wine is the ideal poultry pairing, Pinot Noir's fruity character and lack of tannins are ideal for serving with turkey. It's vibrant and fruity character is sure to please red wine drinkers too.

If you end up serving an elegant roast meat at your holiday dinner, select a bolder red wine, like a Meritage, to match the stronger flavors of the meat.

Side DismwdRedWineGlasses.jpghes
Any of these earlier wine pairing suggestions will also work well with the myriad of rich side dishes that often accompany the main course. To complement the spices and flavors try a delightful Syrah-Malbec. This lighter red, with its own notes of spices and earthiness, will stand up well to any dish, from sweet potato mash to creamed pearl onions.

World Series Wines Part II: Player/Pairing Mashup!

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By Courtney Cochran

We simply couldn't help ourselves in pulling together wine pairings around our fav Giants players.  And why shouldn't we?  We know that you're almost as into watching our local team in the World Series as you are into quaffing the good stuff.  So with no further ado: The original San Francisco Giants Player/Wine Pairing Mashup!  

(Shout out: Thanks to my friends on Facebook whose tips helped make this piece possible!)

Tim Lincecum: Oregon Pinot Noir
Unless you're a hard-core ball fan, you don't often hear the phrase "perfect pitch" outside of a musical reference.  But thanks to Lincecum's near-perfect form on the mound, we're beginning to hear a lot more buzz about the phenomenon.  Still, the guy's known almost as well for being undersized as he is accomplished, which is why we've selected Oregon Pinot as his pairing.  Fiercely talented but often overlooked and underappreciated, Oregon Pinot is making news these days as pros (critics) and fans (consumers) alike catch on to its talents.  To wit, look for silky tannins that recall - if we may - the waves in Tim's famously long locks.

Buster Posey: Beaujolais Nouveau
As one of the youngest Giants, catcher Posey charms audiences with his youthful (dare we say "baby faced"??) visage, which means we're looking to seriously young wines to pair with this player.  With the annual release of France's Beaujolais Nouveau less than a month away, it seems only natural to pair the 2010 vintage of this popular wine with the youthful athlete.  Released every year on the third Thursday in November just weeks after it's been harvested and fermented, Beaujolais Nouveau is the definition of a "young" wine.    

World Series Wines

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What to Quaff With What to Eat While Tuning In
By Courtney Cochran

drinkingWine.jpgAT&T Park - home to SF's National-League-topping Giants - is renowned for its fancy game fare (Gilroy garlic fries, anyone?), though beer usually trumps wine as game-viewing-beverage-of-choice at the LEED-certified park.  Still, we know that vinous-inclined ball fans watching from home will no doubt reach for the corkscrew come this evening's World Series kickoff game.  Accordingly, we've put together a few suggested food and wine pairings for those of you who prefer the likes of Zin while taking in our team's next win.

Peanuts
Where would a true ball fan be without this classic game viewing staple?  When tucking into 'nuts, there's nothing more fitting with which to pair them than a crisp sparkling wine.  Why? Its acidity will deftly offset all the salt in this treat, while its bubbly profile and creamy mousse recall beer (though we know bubbly is better!).

*Make 'em gourmet: Upgrade your traditional basic nut to fancy Virginia versions.

Hot Dogs
We can't imagine a ball game without 'dogs.  Accordingly, uncork a fruity, medium-bodied red like Pinot Noir or Cru Beaujolais (for the latter, we like versions from Morgon and Brouilly) when tucking into this meaty treat.  These wines' mellow tannins will stand up to dogs' chewy texture, while their fruity flavor profiles make great foils to the savory taste of this choice game fare.

*Make 'em gourmet: Opt for Polish sausage franks for a richer, beefier taste.

Grab a Slice, Pour the Wine & Celebrate National Pizza Month

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pizzawine.jpgSubmitted by Kenwood Vineyards

October is National Pizza Month, though Americans don't need a special month to indulge in this lunch and dinnertime favorite. An astonishing 93% of Americans eat pizza at least once a month, and every man, woman and child in the country eats an average of 46 slices of pizza per year. Pizza and a glass of wine are a natural pairing, yet few food and wine matchmakers have ever tried this tasty combination - pizza and Sauvignon Blanc.

Pairing pizza and Sauvignon Blanc makes perfect, palate-pleasing sense. While toppings can range from almost nothing to almost everything, tomato sauce and cheese lie at the heart of pizza's scrumptious flavors, and Sauvignon Blanc complements both. Sauvignon Blanc's forward fruit/herb character enhances the herb-infused flavors of tomato sauce, while its crisp acidity serves as a foil to the richness of the cheese.

No Wine Over $25

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calistogaWineGarage.jpgCALISTOGA, CA - Who ever said wines (including Napa Valley wines) are expensive should visit the Wine Garage located in Calistoga. They have a great philosophy that every wine buyer can raise a glass to:

  • No wine is over $25!
  • Everything must taste great before it goes on the shelf
  • No wine snob attitudes
  • Impeccable and personal customer service
  • No wine questions go unanswered, or are deemed insignificant
  • Have fun - it's only fermented grape juice!
It's quite the funky little shop - a former gas station/tire shop to be exact. They have over 200 wines available from wine regions throughout California. You may be visiting Napa Valley when you step into the shop, but leaving with limited production wines from Lodi, Paso Robles, Amador and Mendocino. These aren't run of the mill wines. The owners personally scout for small hand-crafted wines and labels you won't typically see anywhere else!


"Secret" Spring Whites

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By Courtney Cochran

Surprise pals with your vinous prowess as you uncork these lesser-known whites this spring.

AlbardoubleTreeSpecial.jpgiño
Famously made in northwestern Spain's ocean side Galicia region, Albariño is also grown stateside by a handful of adventurous growers including central coast white wine powerhouse Tangent.  A crowd pleaser thanks to its medium body, food friendliness and fruit basket aromatic profile, Albariño works as well with fish tacos as it does with fruit salad and lighter meat dishes - though it may shine brightest of all when sipped on its own. 

Arneis
Wonderfully full-bodied, this aromatic variety from northwestern Italy has surprising heft for a white wine, making it an excellent choice for food pairings where you might otherwise look to red.  But take note: Arneis' eclectic flavor profile - think blossoms, pears and herbs, punctuated by an almond finish - make it tricky for food pairings, though it may just be tailor-made for chicken salad tossed with dill, almond slivers, pear slices and a kiss of dried cranberry.
Note: look for versions from Roero DOC.

Top 10 DIY Wine Tasting Themes

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Wine glasses

Image by slack12 via Flickr

By Courtney Cochran

As a wine writer and some time hip wine party planner, I'm asked time and again about how to throw a great wine tasting at home. Naturally, I've no shortage of ideas. And given that the recession has inspired ever more tasters to turn to their own homes and devices to explore the vinous world in all its grape glory, I here submit my top recommendations for easy-to-implement wine tastings in your home. As for wrangling the troops, that's entirely up to you.  

The Wine Next Door
With wine now made in all 50 of our great states, it's never been easier to host a tasting highlighting wines raised in your own 'hood. Whether your area specializes in Rhône reds (AZ), crisp Rieslings (NY), Bordeaux reds (CO) or Seyval Blanc (GA), there's bound to be something interesting to get to know.  For a cool twist on this theme (or for those whose local wines may be far from new news), try a tasting that features wines from little-known locales around the US. 

Special Bottle Sunday
Inspired by the national phenomenon that grew out of longtime, Wall Street Journal wine columnists Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher's Open That Special Bottle Night, Special Bottle Sunday is just what it sounds like: an evening to invite over your friends to share special wines you've all been saving for...you can't remember any more.  The theme makes for a wonderfully congenial tasting that focuses on great friends and great wine - and reminds you all that you don't have to have a reason to enjoy the better things in life.
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The Plight of The Cab-Drinker

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By Deirdre Bourdet

One of the biggest challenges facing a fan of cabernet sauvignon is finding foods that stand up to their bold and brawny wine. Unless you subsist entirely on red meats, you have no doubt noticed cab's tendency to overwhelm or clash with more delicate flavors and textures, particularly vegetables or white meats and fish.  Does this mean that you can never enjoy a glass of cab with these kinds of meals?  Of course not.  It just means you need to be more creative about bridging the gap between them.

Here are a few pointers on making your food more compatible with cabernet:

Mustard Wines: A Cautionary Tale

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With wine country's rolling hills ablaze in the signature yellow mustard blossoms we've come to look forward to every winter, I couldn't help but pen a piece on enjoying the famed condiment with wine. Trouble is, mustard and wine are the gastronomical equivalent of Paris and Nicole - sworn enemies.

Most of the time, that is.

Consult any reputable resource on wine and food pairing and you'll in all likelihood find mustard couched somewhere between vinegar and chili spice in the reference's list of the all-time trickiest foods to pair with wine. The reason is that, mustard, with its vinegary sourness and, occasionally, piquant sweetness, is fundamentally at odds with most wines' plush fruitiness and dry (read: not sweet!) character.

Fortunately, just as the notoriously fickle The Simple Life stars occasionally patch things up and put on a good friendship face for the cameras, so too can wine and mustard - in the right circumstances - carry off the appearance of a healthy partnership. Read on for the low-down on how to pair these fickle friends.

Crab Wines

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What to pair with the other white meat

by Courtney Cochran

Come mid-November each year, crustaceans become decidedly de rigueur as a dining alternative to all the rich savory fare that frequents the table this time of year.

I don't know about you, but I reach a very certain point of saturation when it comes to the likes of ubiquitous holiday meats turkey, ham and roast. Consuming them throughout the holiday season can be overwhelming to a lass like me who's accustomed to so-called California cuisine, with its emphasis on fresh veggies and lean meats.

Enter audible sigh of relief, then - at least on my part! - when crab season arrives. Every year it seems to come just in time to give respite to like-minded diners who're searching for a little levity amidst all the hearty foods so popular during the cool months.

Bridge Wines: The Ultimate List

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Red with meat, white with fish?  Not necessarily! 

By Courtney Cochran

For years, the annals of wine drinking 101 have told us that we must drink whites with light dishes like fish and reds with sturdier fare such as steak.  Not so!  Turns out there are many wines that manage to work well with foods on both sides of the intensity spectrum - and they're primed for your food and wine pairing pleasure.  We call them bridge wines, and we've prepared a whole list of our favorites for you below, along with tips - natch - on the best fare with which to pair them.  

Get ready to start drinking outside the proverbial wine box. 

Football Wines

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footballwine.jpegBy Courtney Cochran
Twitter: @HipTastesMaven

With New Year's bowl games nearly upon us (and Super Bowl '10 just around the corner!), we decided to offer you some suggestions for wines to pair with football.  Because while these games have long been beer-centric, we're convinced there's room for a few good wines after kick-off.

Bowl Game Bruiser
There's something undeniably masculine about Petite Sirah, the hearty grape that produces massive reds like Parducci's standout Mendo bottling, True Grit.  Crafted from gnarled old vines that deliver loads of palate-pleasing black fruit, vanilla, pepper and caramel, True Grit might as well be tailor-made for the biggest grill fare - think steak, sausage, brisket and ribs.  In other words, it's just what your football fan ordered.  Game on!
2006 Parducci "True Grit" Mendocino Petite Sirah ($20)  

Holiday Sparklers

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Tis' the season to be sparkly! Our present to you? A perfect sparkling and festive accessory- for your glass that is! After all, what could be more beautiful and festive than the red, white and sparkling wine swirling in your hand? To receive this gift, simply click to our friends below and get ready to choose that perfect holiday accessory to sparkle your glass!

Champagne & Sparkling Wine

Cooking With Wine

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When You Actually Put It In the Food

By Deirdre Bourdet

Some may consider the deliberate pouring of wine into anything other than a drinking vessel or eager mouth a shameful, wasteful act.  While I see their point, wine-based cooking also happens to be one of the most delicious, easy, and traditional techniques for creating wine-friendly food.  A splash of red to deglaze your meat searing pan, a dash of white to loosen up those all-too-quickly browning onions, and you've suddenly added worlds of flavor, depth, and sophistication to your creation.
 
Then there are the truly wine-based recipes (coq au vin, boeuf bourguignon, moules marinière, etc.) where the wine takes center stage.  Typically there is a great deal of reduction involved--simmering the wine with other ingredients to concentrate flavor and reduce the volume of liquid to a thicker, more sauce-like consistency.  These recipes make you confront the question of which bottle to use head-on, because the quality of the wine reduction really sets the tone of the dish.

What Wines to Serve for Thanksgiving

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Are you at a loss when deciding on which wine to serve for Thanksgiving? Rest assured, you're not alone! Surprisingly (or not), trying to pair the perfect wine to accompany the wide variety of food we encounter with this wonderful meal is a common dilemma.  The good news is, we can help! Watch the videos below and get expert tips from those who know best. Now, what to do with eccentric family members?  We'll leave that to you!





Boo Worthy Wines

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by Courtney Cochran

dessertWine1.jpgIn a curious twist of linguistic fate, some decidedly frightening-sounding statements have been lately transformed into vehicles of praise. Mostly refashioned, as far as I can tell, by loquacious members of the surfer/skater culture prevalent in California, the phrases run the gamut of topics and references, but given the time of year I've singled out two that undoubtedly invoke Halloween.

A sampling: .

"These [insert noun in the plural form] are scary good!"

Translation: These [things] are delicious.

"That [insert noun] was wicked bad."
Translation: That [thing] was very cool/extremely impressive. (Note: True to the ironic spirit of this group, the use of two negative descriptors - "wicked" and "bad" - in this one makes it all that much more complimentary.

And so, to borrow a page from this verbally adventuresome sub-culture, I'd like to say that the following sweet wines are scary good, and that serving them on Halloween this year would be wicked bad of you.





Swirl, Sniff, Sip, Repeat

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By Deirdre Bourdet

tastingParty.jpgWine tasting parties always seem like such a fun, good idea, particularly this time of year as the evenings get chillier, and harvest-themed wine events get pricier.  If only someone else would throw one... but actually, hosting a wine-tasting is a snap when you keep it simple.

Step 1: Pick a tasting theme--like oak vs. no oak Chardonnay, Napa vs. Sonoma, Old World vs. New World, or some other contest fraught with passion and potential conflict.  If you need thematic inspiration, or suggestions for generally-available wines at all price points that are good examples of regional or stylistic wines, check out Great Wine Made Simple by Andrea Immer (now known as Andrea Immer Robinson). 

Wine Forward: iPhone Wine Applications

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iphone_app.jpegBy Courtney Cochran

Made from scores of regions, hundreds of varieties, thousands of producers and newly released each vintage year, wine is one of the most data-challenged consumer goods we enjoy. But now, thanks to a host of fancy new iPhone and iPod Touch-compatible applications, sorting through the dizzying array of wine selections in stores, restaurants and even in your own cellar is getting a whole lot easier. Read on for our picks for top applications to fuel your Wine Country lifestyle; they make researching, scoring, sharing and even buying wine a snap - and they let you do it all from the palm of your hand.

Cayenne You Drink Wine With That?!

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Honing in on the best wines for hot fare

by Courtney Cochran

There are few places in the world where people get as excited about eclectic cuisine as they do in Northern California. This truth was at the top of my mind while I reflected on a spirited Cajun-style crawfish boil I attended at a private home in Napa a while ago.

There, an excited group of wine industry luminaries had waited anxiously while two giant pots' worth of crawfish freshly harvested from the Sacramento River cooked over several hours in piquant Cajun spices. After a protracted cocktail/cooking hour, the pots of boiled crustaceans were poured out onto newspapers spread on an outdoor table for a southern-style alfresco meal. The guests, taking cues from a host with Louisiana roots, rolled up their sleeves and dove into the crawfish, ultimately polishing off the entire batch before retiring to nurse their over-spiced taste buds over conversation and cold beer.

Wine With a Side of Fries

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What to quaff with these salty treats

by Courtney Cochran


Whatever wise guy once said "some of the best things in life are free" had it all wrong.

Most of the best things in life, in my estimation, are just the opposite: cable TV, fabulous vacations, exquisite meals in high-end restaurants and fancy cars are just a few examples of some of the better things in life that are most decidedly NOT free.

Given my realist tendencies, you can probably understand my frustration when somebody started referring to French Fries not long ago as "Freedom Fries." Although I understand the not-so-subtle political agenda behind the re-naming, I can't help but poke fun at the unintended implications of the new name. Because, as is the case with most good things in life, there's absolutely nothing "free" about fries.

Wedding Wines

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wedding.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

As every bride-to-be knows, a wedding is about much more than just the ceremony - it's also about the many special occasions (Dress shopping! Shower! Bachelorette!) leading up to "the big event." 

What's more, every oeno-inclined bride-to-be also knows that each and every one of these occasions is destined to be still more memorable when paired with the perfect glass of wine. 

In this spirit, read on for our complete list of wine suggestions for weddings - as well for all of the associated fêtes that come before happily ever after.

Burn, Baby, Burn: Best Wines for BBQ

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A Sommelier Sheds Light on the Best Wines for BBQ
by Courtney Cochran

Firing, roasting, and grilling are decidedly du rigueur during the summer months, but finding wines that work well with this tricky fare can be a challenge. Just as shining a spotlight on an actor onstage brings her features into focus for an audience, these cooking methods serve to concentrate the flavors of whatever's being cooked, necessitating a wine with both strength and personality to stand up to the food.

Read on for the low-down on some of the more common characteristics of flame-cooked fare and how to track down the perfect wines to pair with these traits.

Pinot.com

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pinot.jpgIf you love Pinot (and all it's variations), then Pinot.com is the site for you.

Discover the "sensuality" of Pinot Noir  . . .

Plan to attend upcoming Pinot wine events around the country....

Pair some of your favorite dishes with Pinot...

Read recommendations on what Pinots to buy and drink...

Remember...there can "Pinot" no others!

www.pinot.com

Don't Forget the Wine for the Holidays!

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christmaswine.jpgBy Angela Lytle

Good company, good food, and of course, good wine. What better way to celebrate the holidays than with a bottle of one of the magnificent wines available today. Enjoy the distinctive tastes of merlot and cabernet, sip the cold and flavorful white wines, like Chardonnay and Pinot Gris, and for dessert, try a nice sweet wine served ice cold.

There are literally hundreds and hundreds of varieties of wine, as remarkably different as the artful bottles that hold the wine. It is said, however, that there are eight major varieties of wine, including: Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Shiraz, Pinot Noir, for the reds, and Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc for the whites.

Turkey Wines

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turkeyWines.jpgby Courtney Cochran

It's that time of year again, and you have no idea which wines to pair with your turkey feast during the Holidays. Do you stick with your usual favorites, Pinot and Cab, and throw in a nice Chardonnay for contrast? Or do you try something you've never had before, like a Gruner Veltliner, to make a big statement?

The answer lies somewhere in between. On upcoming Turkey Days you ought to offer a blend of whites and reds, but you also ought to seek out specific wines whose flavor profiles and weight complement heavier foods, which are often laced with a combination of sweet, savory and spicy notes. Some of these wines are exotic-sounding and can add an exciting contrast to your otherwise traditional table - never a bad thing!

Wine List Anxiety

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winelist.jpgBy Robert Farmer

With only one or two exceptions among my decent-sized group of regular dining-out companions, I am always first to grab the wine list. And once I get it, I rarely let it go. Not to say others don't take a look, but instead I tend to keep hold of the list throughout the meal - occasionally prying it open to peruse depending on which stage of the meal we happen to be in.

I love looking at wine lists--the imagination of the sommelier or wine-steward is in full view in these lists, which can range in size and scope from a single-sided sheet of paper, to a handsome, leather-bound book that looks more like an Encyclopedia Britannica. This I know is not the norm. Many people shy away from a wine list like the waiter was waving a plate of liver and onions beneath their nose.

Sipping Pretty: Winning Wines for the Spring Season

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by Courtney Cochran
whitewineglass.jpg

When the weather turns warm many of us feel inclined to pursue decidedly spring-like activities. Our short list of favorites includes spending time outdoors, foraging for fresh produce at farmer's markets and seeking out new wines to pair with the season's exuberant flavors and favorable forecast. Read on for some of our favorite selections for spring, along with - naturally - advice on food pairings and occasions for sipping. Santé!


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