Monday, March 16, 2015

Wines for St. Patrick's Day

By Liza B. Zimmerman

While a well-pulled pint of Guinness is a joy almost any day of the year, none of us should feel pressured to just drink beer on St. Patrick's Day. Being somewhat of a lifelong contrarian, I much prefer to stay in on rowdy nights, braise a piece of meat and open a good bottle of wine.

If you want to support the Irish on the holiday, there are many families of Irish background who have great wineries in California: Murphy, Sullivan and O'Shaughnessy are just a few for starters. I adore O'Shaughnessy's complex red blends.

Another fun thing to do to properly celebrate the occasion would be to open a bottle of "green" wine, none other than Portugal's delightful, accessible vinho verde. They come from the north of the country and are generally packed with ribbons of acidity, solid fruit flavors and tend to be an exceptional value.

Other Ideas
Given that the weather has not been kind to the East Coast this year, you might want to open a bottle of a big, heart-warming red. If you have a fireplace, ideally one that you can grill meat in, maybe a little Zinfandel will be in order. Sobon Estate from Amador Country is one of my favorites, as it is rich, luscious and well balanced.

Otherwise I would do what the Italians do and dig in your cellar for an-almost-at-the-end-of-its-life Barbaresco and savor all its delicate flavors. Produttori del Barbaresco, the cooperative that doesn't make wines as if it were one, is always a great and affordable option. Inhale the peppery flavors, softened tannins and smell of the wet earth. If your budget doesn't permit such indulgences, go for a Barbera or Dolcetto.

Pinot Dreams
A touch of Burgundy or sultry Pinot Noir from California is also a great way to start, or finish, the night. Heron is a consistently good producer from California and Roar is divine. It is always fun to compare and contrast the rich, layered Pinot Noirs from the West Coast to some of the Older World and more acid-driven versions from different parts of Sonoma. Don't even get me started about the delights of Oregon.

Maybe a little Port would also be great way to wrap up the evening. If you can't find a good vintage a classic ten-year-old tawny can probably fit the bill. This genre of Port tends to be lean, spicy and a great way to conclude an evening. Or a touch of Fernet Branca depending on what you ate!

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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