Thursday, August 18, 2016

Refreshing Summer Sippers

By Liza B. Zimmerman

When the weather is hot and humid you are going to want a nice, cool glass of wine to wind down after a day’s work. Color choices could be white or pink, with perhaps a touch of light red served somewhat chilled thrown in for good measure.

Sauvignon blanc from all over the world is always a great place to start. It has balanced ribbons of acidity as well as lots of great fruit notes. You could try a handful of from Napa and Sonoma Valley, as well as take a varietally inspired trip down the California Coast bottle by bottle, ending up with some choice bottles in from the Central Coast.

Chile and South Africa also make some of my favorite Sauvignon Blancs. They tend to both have some of the best New and Old World attributes. All of these types of wine tend to pair well with a range of hard cheeses of all types as well as crudités plates and Middle Eastern-inspired dips.

Rose Around the World
Drinking a glass of rose is almost like taking a Mediterranean vacation. A huge variety of grapes are used to make these wines all over the world and run the gamut from Grenache and Sangiovese to Pinot Noir and Cinsaut.

Provencal roses tend to be the lightest in color and on the palate. Grenache-based ones from Spain tend to be bigger, more intense and fruit juicy. Some of my favorites also come from Bordeaux and are made with the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes used for the region’s noted red wines.

South Africa is also making some delicious roses, primarily from Cabernet Sauvignon. They tend to have intense fruit flavors like the Mulderbosch. And don’t forget those rose bubbles, which are made in beautiful styles everywhere from Champagne to France’s Loire Valley.

Roses are among the most flexible wines in the world in terms of food pairings. They can be divine with everything from fish if is a meatier version. Bluefish, salmon and monkfish would all be good choices. Roses also shine with a beef tartare and are perfect with a hamburger.

Red to End an Evening
Almost any red that is served slightly chilled is going to drink beautifully on a hot, summer evening. The Beaujolais Crus, my favorite is Morgon, are just the ticket. Fizzy Aussie Shiraz or touch of Lambrusco will also do the trick. These wines can be paired with all types of meat dishes, as well as roast chicken and grain and green salads that take advantage of summer’s bounty.

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, August 4, 2016

Savory Sicilian Pairings

By Liza B. Zimmerman

Sicily has long felt like my Italian home away from home. Everything tastes better and seems fresher in this island that is actually geographically closer to North Africa than mainland Italy.

Intense climatic conditions have set this ancient land up to beautifully produce wines of all types: from big, fruit-juicy reds to saline and well-balanced whites. After years of experimentation and research local producers are also coming to better conclusions about what grows well in each microclimate with some stunning results.

Diving into the Island Delights
Some of Sicily’s best grape varietals are ancient and indigenous ones. There is also quite a lot of overlap between a handful of great red grapes producing a range of solid reds as white. The hot and sometimes humid climate here can send locals on the hunt of a refreshing wine.

Nerello Mascalese, as well as Frappato, has long been one of my favorite grapes. These two are cool-climate stunners with balanced acidity and gracious fruit flavors. So it is so surprise that the Di Giovanna "Gerbino" Rosato di Nerello Mascalese 2014 is light, bright and floral and full of intense fruit flavors.

“Nerello Mascalese offers a distinct pop of fruit and minerality without the weight of a denser red wine,” says Ryan Manna, the wine director at Osteria Morini in New York City who has worked with many Sicilian wines. These synergies with Nerello Mascalese allow the wine and food to support each other he notes.

He adds that he also finds that, “There's a certain freshness I relate to Sicilian wines.” As a result he likes to “pair them with foods that have a similar freshness and delicate complexity.” One of his suggestions would be, “grilled oysters with sparkling Grillo,” which he notes is hard to find, yet easy to remember. He adds that the lighter Nerello Mascalese blends also work well with raw meat dishes.

The Charm of Nero d’Avola
Some of the island’s greatest reds are made from Nero d’Avola. It is a grape that has zigged and zagged in terms of wine prototypes seen on the U.S. market. I would like to think over the last decade, and particularly the past five years, that it is finding its way home.

Cantine Colosi makes a classic style of Nero d’Avol in the Eolian island archipelago, long from this grape’s general home-turf of Noto in Southeast Sicily. This wine is intense and full of big black berries, almond and chocolate covered cherry with soft tannins.

Given the island’s abundant coastlines, "I'd say that they fit right in with the food of other coastal countries; especially France and Spain and the United States. There is such a wide variety in these wines from very sweet to very dry. Sicily is at a geographic and historical crossroad, having been influenced by Europe, Asia and Africa for centuries,” adds Manna.

Passito di Panetelleria is one of the island’s great and meditative—read thought-provoking—of the Italians-dessert wines. The island has an intensely hot climate that reminds visitors more of North Africa than elsewhere on the Italian Peninsula.

Pellegrino’s Passito di Pantelleria 2010 is a great example with notes on apricot, fig and candied citrus on the nose. It is a great way to wrap up a meal on its own but at Morini; Manna also likes to pair it with a bread pudding.

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.