Thursday, December 31, 2015

Wines for New Year’s

By Liza B. Zimmerman

I can drink bubbles all year long. They are great on their own and pair beautifully with almost anything but steak, although a little tartare would go well with some sparkling roses. You don’t really need a reason to drink bubbles, but New Year’s celebrations do certainly provide a good excuse.

One of my favorites is Billecart-Salmon rose; it is a stunningly lush and elegant wine. Another, more affordable, choice is the Canard-Duchene NV Brut Rose with its lovely cherry notes. Dry Lambruscos are also so delicious and pair wonderfully with all kinds of sausages and sliced meats that you might like to snack on before a meal. Cantina di Sorbara "Nicchia" is a lovely choice and being low in alcohol, at eight percent, it is a great way to start off an evening.

Going White for the Holidays
This winter has been unseasonably warm in New York so I have been drinking a lot of white wine. Those from cool climates, such as Riesling, remind me of places with snow. Cave Spring Estate Riesling is a gorgeous example of what can be made in Canada, in the Niagara Escarpment in Ontario. This stunner has just a hint of residual sugar and great mineral notes.

Gavi, with its steely elegance, from Piedmont has long been a favorite wine for me. The Broglia "il Doge" reminds me of cozy dinners of rich agnolotti, a local stuffed pasta, on my visits to the regions. The Loire Valley’s classic Pouilly Fumes and sea-salty Muscadets are also perfect for this season. Any of these lovely whites would be great with both hard and soft and stinky cheeses to open or conclude a meal.

Hearty Reds
A big Spanish or French Grenache blend is great for the holidays. These blends rich and intense and tend to open up in beautiful layers. Alvaro Palacio’s big, tannic and iconic “Les Terraces” from Priorat will take on the biggest cuts of meat and make your Cabernet Sauvignon-loving friends fall in love with Spain.

Some of my other favorite wines, with a hint of Grenache, are the unendingly rich gems from the Rhone Valley. Kermit Lynch’s Cotes du Rhone is an affordable treat with a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Mouvedre. Yann Chave’s Crozes-Hermitage is even more complex and is 100 percent Syrah. These wines can stand up to the richest stew, think oxtail or beef bourguignon. Or they would be great with a rich pork shank or any meaty cut of beef.

To end an evening there’s nothing better than a rowdy and spice-filled Nebbiolo. I would take Barbaresco any day for its rougher edges over Barolo. A little Dolcetto, the daily wine of the Piedmontese, always hits the spot as well. Whatever you choose the most important part is to in enjoy in good company. Happy New Year!

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.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Wines for Holiday Meals

By Liza B. Zimmerman

My family and I have never been big fans of turkey. We have always gone for the lamb, a nice steak or a pork roast. So here’s a primer on what to serve with all of these potential holiday dishes. Regardless of what you serve as the main course, a bottle of bubbly is undoubtedly the best way to kick off a meal. A little Prosecco or Duval-Leroy Champagne could never hurt.

My mother always makes gravlax for the holidays to start the meal and the oiliness of the fish makes it a hard-pair-item. Light reds such as a Chinon or a—somewhat--low-alcohol Pinot Noir such as Lioco Hirsch from the Sonoma Coast can sidle up to the smokiness of the salmon.

Get the Lamb On
A rack of lamb looks as gorgeous as it tastes. The gamey flavor of the meat naturally pairs with a somewhat feral: read “stinky wine.” Rhones are my favorites with lamb. Perhaps a Crozes-Hermitage such as Yann Chave. Another earthy choice would be the reds of Piedmont. From Barbera to Barbaresco and those lovely ever-day-drinking Dolcettos. The sweet red fruits in many of these wines would also pair well with duck, with a hint of stewed fruits: think some dried apricots or prunes.

Other wild game, such as venison, would also be great with the some of the funkier-smelling wines of the world, such as the Bodegas Renacer “Punto Final,” Malbec.

Work the Crock Pot
The 1950s invention has become one of my favorite toys. I used it to stew oxtail and stuff cuts of beef. The sauce on the dish is the essential pairing component. With a tomato-based one you might want a simple Sangiovese, from tomato-rich countries (primarily Italy, with a splash of California and Argentina thrown in there). Bonarda might not be bad either.

If you put anchovies in your stew, as the Italians love to do, you might want to go with a slightly more tannic wine such as a Primitivo from Puglia or even an Amarone. A somewhat corpulent Sonoma coast Pinot Noir or Syrah might also work: trust me.

Roast a Steak or Go Classic
A beautifully rare steak with a hint of pan-sizzle crunch on the outside deserves a big wine. Soft tannins are going to be key so an aged Napa Cabernet Sauvignon or a softer Sonoma Valley one might work. Red Douro blends are among my favorites as well: there is so much subtle structure in the blend of grapes. The Doural Red is a lovely wine and a bargain pairing.

If you are going to envelop it with butter you may even want a richer wine, such as Bordeaux blend (leaning to the Left-Bank more tannic and Cabernet Sauvignon-based style).

If you still want to make that turkey or another bird you could mix up the pairings. A mineral-focused white, such as Vermentino or some of the white Rhones, can step up to a fatty bird. Another, even less-orthodox idea might be an esoteric grape such as Kerner from Alto Adige in Northeastern Italy.

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.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Jaan Paan Liqueur: Drink Jaan. Love Life.

By Catherine L Luke

There is a word in the Hindi language that means life and love.  It is a term of endearment- a unisex expression of warmth and good feelings.  The word is jaan.  A tangible equivalent of jaan’s warmth and friendship is paan.  Paan is derived from the betel leaf, plucked from vines in South and Southeast Asia.  Combined with various spices such as cardamom, anise, clove, coconut, and candied rose petals, it is a very popular type of snack that is meant to be chewed; think of it as an ancient form of chewing gum.  Herbal and peppery, it offers a great spectrum of flavor.  Paan has been enjoyed in South and Southeast Asia for over 4,000 years.  In many cultures, offering paan is symbolic of love, respect, and friendship.

A completely unique product that embodies these sentiments has entered the spirits scene: Jaan Paan Liqueur.  Merging the ancient and traditional flavors of the East with more modern, upfront flavors of the West such as maple, vanilla, cardamom, and citrus, Jaan Paan Liqueur offers something for everyone. 

Toronto-based Raj Djanhal is the creator of Jaan Paan Liqueur.  A Project Management Consultant with a passion for being original and creative, Dhanjal had long been drawn to culinary ingenuity in cooking, fermenting, distilling, and mixology. 

The inspiration for Jaan Paan was born from a paan liqueur that was on the market several years ago.  It was a roughly executed product that didn’t have staying power in the international market as its flavors were too harsh.  That liqueur is no longer available, but it served as a muse.

Djanhal began to create his own paan liqueur at home.  It worked wonderfully, but was a kitchen recipe tested only on family and friends.  Seeing the overwhelming praise from this original test market, Dhanjal took things to the next level by working with a local food technology company to develop a scalable commercial product.  His product found success, delightfully delivering the experience of paan in a versatile style.  Djanhal says that when you add Jaan Paan to cocktails and food, you are adding life to the flavors and revitalizing them to create a whole new experience.  Relatable yet exotic, the mystique is in the explosion of flavors in your mouth.

The process of what we find in the bottle was several years in the making, including much R&D, market research, and focus group studies.  Though, Djanhal points out that considering the historical roots of the core ingredient, you could say it was 4,000 years in the making.  Jaan Paan has not only been very well received in the Canadian market, but has been widely sought and lovingly shipped to international admirers.

Since its launch, Jaan Paan Liqueur has also received numerous accolades from mixologists, celebrity chefs, and industry aficionados.  It has won top awards in spirit competitions around the world.  In addition, Jaan recently launched two new products: Jaan Ginger Liqueur and Jaan Spiced Vodka.  More exciting products are in the works for 2016.

As of very recently, and just in time to gift to loved ones, we are lucky enough to have Jaan Paan Liqueur readily available in the States.

Visit www.DrinkJaan.com for more product information and recipes.

Drink Jaan, Love Life!

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Catherine lives in Brooklyn, and has worked in the wine industry in Napa Valley and NYC. She is certified by the WSET, as well as the school of "wine in real life".  Understanding the patchwork of little-known Italian regional wines, dishes, and customs excites her most of all. She (sometimes) muses on her blog GrapesofCath.

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.