Thursday, July 21, 2016

Roses Rise to the Occasion

By Liza B. Zimmerman

Summer is made for rose consumption. It's way too hot to drink big reds and the range of roses out there can pair with almost any food, or occasion. The wine is a great vehicle for experiencing the intensity of a red wine that is cool on the palate.

Classics quaffs can range from the pale roses made in the South of France, particularly those from Provence to bigger meatier bold ones from Bordeaux or Northern  Italy.

The classic, pale pink color of the Chateau Beaulieu Coteaux D'Aix-En-Provence Rose 2015 channels long, sultry summer days on the Mediterrean. The estate was founded by Henri III in 1576 and the wine is aromatic, fruit-forward and full of berries.

On the other edge of the color, and body range, is the Chateau Penin Bordeaux Rose 2014. This wine is primarily made of Cabernet Sauvignon and has intense red fruit flavors.

In a perfect pairing, Bedford & Co.'s sommelier Sarah Tracey, says that "the food enhances the wine, the wine highlights the dish, and together they create an amazing 'third taste.' " The restaurant specializes in wood-grilled food and goes through serious quantities of rose in the intense New York summer heat.

The Perfect Balance
A wine needs to be in synch with the flavors and structure of food in order for a pairing to work. "look for wine that won't overpower the flavors of the dish," advises Tracey.  "If a dish has very delicate and subtle flavors for example, you would want to stay away from a bold and robust wine."

She suggests trying "an herbaceous and citrusy Provencal rose with Mediterranean seafood dishes, or a hearty, earthy Sicilian rose with lamb." The Di Giovanna "Gerbino" Rosato di Nerello Mascalese 2014, made with one the island's great indigenous grapes, is a perfect example. Its raspberry and red currant flavors will stand up to bigger dishes.

Another intense style of rose to sample is those South African producers are making. Their big, bold styles are often produced from Cabernet Sauvignon, like the    Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rose 2015 from the Stellenbosch region. A wine like this can even stand up to spicy Asian dishes like Thai food. 

When pairing, "think not only about the protein itself but also about the preparation! For example, a pale, dry and delicate Provencal rose is fantastic with chicken roasted with herbs and lemon."

"Grilled foods with their smoky flavor are wonderful with more savory roses: look for volcanic-soil-grown, earthy wines from Corsica or Mt. Etna. Raw seafood with its clean and pure flavors pairs well with a bright and zesty rose with lots of citrus flavors," she adds.

Another of my favorite rose regions is Navarra in Spain. Bodegas Nekeas "Vega Sindoa" Rose 2014 has intense raspberry notes and a bold color.

Tracey says that some of the most flexible roses are those with fizz. The 2013 Cavas Llopart "Leopardi" Cava Brut Rose is an intriguing blend of Mouvedre, Grenache and Pinot Noir is from Catalonia and is a great example of how easily bubbles can go down.

 "The effervescent bubbles and bright acidity pair with pretty much anything and the secret weapon of sommeliers worldwide is sparkling wine. From shellfish to fried chicken to foie gras to pizza, bubbly works with everything!," says Tracey.

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, July 7, 2016

Wines for the Red, White and Blue

By Liza B. Zimmerman

As the Fourth of July rolls around you may want to celebrate with more than fireworks. A few bottles of great domestic wine will get your guests in a celebratory mood even before you fire up the grill.

You might want to start the party with a few great sparkling wines. Domaine Saint-Vincent Methode Champenoise Brut NV from New Mexico is well-balanced and produced by a family of Champagne producers outside of Albuquerque. You might fool your friends into thinking it is actually Champagne, at a much better price point, I often do at my parties.

Rieslings, whether totally dry or with a hint of sugar, are great for outdoor gatherings with their bursts of fresh fruit and vibrant acidy. Covey Run 2013 from the Columbia Valley of Washington State is a great choice. Dr. Konstantin Frank's "Salmon Run" 2014 Riesling from the Finger Lakes is also a stunning wine with bright, succulent fruit flavors that really shows that the region can do with white wines.

The Heron Chardonnay 2012 from California is also a flavor-packed choice with great depth and complexity of white fruit flavors. Another California easy-drinking favorite of mine is the Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare 2015 from the Central Coast. It is a lovely blend of Rhone varietals, primarily Grenache, Grenache Blanc and Carignane. Roses are a ideal choice to help make a food and weather transition to slightly bigger and more intense wines for later in the evening. They can also stand up to both salads and lighter meats like pork, provided there are no tomatoes in the sauce.

Fire Up That Grill
If you are cooking up a little salmon or lighter meats Pinot is always a great pairing choice. Some of the best domestic ones today are coming out of the cooler climes of Oregon. A to Z Wineworks Pinot Noir 2012 is a soft, fruity and earthy treat and a great value from Oregon.

For bigger meats you will want to step up the wine choices to bigger, more corpulent wines. The Eastern Washington hub of Walla Walla has been making sensation blends and wines from Rhone varietals for decades and they are just finally getting the attention they deserve.

The Tertulia Cellars "Redd Brand" Syrah 2009 from Walla Walla, Washington is a great example of what this far Eastern Washington growing region can do. This wine shows great red fruit and pomegranate flavors and will also age well for the next year or two.

Hopping down to the Central Coast of California, winemakers are also making some stellar Pinot Noirs. The Roar Pinot Noir 2014 is from a family owned vineyard in the Santa Lucia Hills appellation. Dark red fruits and sandalwood notes blend on this big, luscious wine.

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.