Thursday, December 10, 2015

Bright Whites for Dark Weather

By Liza B. Zimmerman

In the darker, and colder, months of the year there is often nothing as palate-cleansing as a clean and simple white wine. They are delicious whether you are warming your hands by a fireplace or an old radiator in New York City.

Bubbles—across the varietal spectrum—are among the most celebratory choices and super-crisp, high-acidity whites from places such as Northern Italy and Central France aren’t far behind. Intense, citric-driven Spanish whites are also divine with so many foods and those sweet wines are a great way to top-off an evening.

I will never say no to a touch of Billecart-Salmon Champagne at any time of the year. However a good Cava or Prosecco is also just delicious. All these wines can be delightful on their own and great with nuts, cheese Middle Eastern spreads. For fun try a Turkish or Lebanese wine: such at Chateau Musar with the spices in these foods. The bubbles in a heartier Lambrusco are also fantastic, but may be better welcomed after a meal or with a bird cooked in a sweet, fruit-based sauce (like a duck made with apricots or a guinea hen sautéed in a sweet mustard sauce!).

Steely, Bright Whites and Iberian Stunners
I adore the intense flavors of Italian whites particularly from the Northeast corner of Italy: Friuli and the Alto-Adige. Kerner is one my favorite grapes, albeit a fairly esoteric one. The Kofererhof Alto Adige Valle Isarco Kerner is a great example. These wines can take on cream-based soups and rich starting dishes.

Loire Valley whites are also a refreshing way to open an evening, or a meal. Muscadets are among the most affordable, and highly mineral, but sometimes not as crisp and linear as other more-noted Loire wines, such as Pouilly Fume.

Austrian Gruner Veltliners have their racy acidy. I am also a fan of some of the mineral whites of the Campanian Coast of Italy: such as Falanghina and Greco di Tufo. Oregon’s austere Pinot Gris have more in common with their Alsacan counterparts than domestic wines. Many Chilean Sauvignon Blancs and some of those from South Africa are also forces with which to be reckoned.

Albariños and Verdejos from Spain and the new world can be stunning. Wines from Gallica, in the north of Spain, hard on the coast, have an incredible minerality. Do Zoe Rias Baixas is a great and affordable example. I would serve these wines with zesty salads—even with vinegar—and even ceviche. It’s an acid-on-acid match off that should work. Wines like these are even refreshing matches with hard cheeses to wrap up your meal. Many reds actually fight with some of cheeses’ elemental flavors because of their tannin structure.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza B. 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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