Thursday, February 19, 2015

Wines with which to Camp Out in the Sleet and Snow

By Liza B. Zimmerman

If you have been spending any time on the East Coast you might have thought that it was over. However we might be in for even more snow. Every time I have come back to visit my home town this time of year there is always a good snow storm. This year we have had two or three.

When it is cold outside there is nothing I want more than piles of festive bubbles, cured pork products and earthy red wines. I am spending this week at an Italian wine tasting in New York, so I have had some great Proseccos. They tend to be light, well balanced and have refreshing acidity. There are a lovely way to open a meal.

They pair nicely with vegetable-driven appetizers and can take on those green, vegetal notes superbly. If you are opening the meal with some great smoked meats from prosciutto to bresaola and even cured pastrami, a little Lambrusco is always divine. I tend to like the drier versions with food and then the very sweet ones to wrap up a meal. Cantina di Sorbara is a fruit-driven brand worth trying.

Reds to Warm You Up
Lush, opulent reds with good acidity make me want to sit at home in front of the fireplace (I wish I had one). If you having food with your wine--throwing that steak on the Barbie or making a stew of slow-cooked pork--I would go with lean, northern reds. I would be hard pressed to think of what pairs better with a huge range of meats than Piedmontese reds: from the simplest Barbera to the most ephemeral Nebbiolo. Barolos and Barbarecsos are divine, but don't overlook adjacent areas that may not be that prestigious but can make fantastic wine for the price-quality ratio.

If you want some pure sipping pleasure a rich California or Oregon  Pinot Noir can do the trick. French versions may have too much acidity for an after-dinner quaff. A rich earthiness that echoes the silence, even in New York City, of nature outside when it snows is indigent to enjoy in a snow storm. Central Coast and some Northern California Pinot Noirs have some zippy, intense fruit flavors that are almost like dessert on their own. The Roar Pinot Noir from the Santa Lucia Highlands is a feast on its own.

A Little Nightcap
A dry Port, like a vintage or a Tawny, is always a great way to end a toasty night in. Serve them slightly chilled to warm yourself up. An uncuious dessert wine, such as Sauternes or a caramel-flavored Muscat from Italy or Portugal will also satisfy that craving.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.
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