Thursday, September 22, 2016

Mimosa Madness

By Liza B. Zimmerman


Adding a little sparkling wine to your fresh-squeezed juice at brunch makes everything more fun on a lazy weekend. However given the number of sparkling wines on the market these days what’s in the mix need not be boring. So here are a couple of ideas about different ways to serve those drinks at home when you have guests over.

You don’t need to keep the juice monotone or the bubbly predicable. Let’s go beyond regular orange juice today and play with dragon fruit nectar or apricot juice. Banana juice is heavenly and decadent and makes for a wonderful final drink. I enjoyed way too-many banana juice-based drinks when I was introduced to the good stuff in the Dominican Republic.

You can also play with the color and consistency of the sparkling wine you use. It could be Champagne, which might be a waste to pour into such simple juice. It could also be a Cava from Spain, Prosecco or even a sparkling Lambrusco. What is on the shelves these days is better quality than ever, so it is time to experiment and have some fun.

How to Choose the Drink Mix
There is something spicy, and a bit renegade, about using a red wine in a mixed drink. All the ladies did that in the ‘70s and ‘80s with their red sangria, overflowing with floating bits of citrus on top. I grew up with my mom’s divine, and somewhat down-market, cheap Rioja-fueled sangria on the porch by a lake in Connecticut.

That less-than-tasty wine can now be replaced by some great red sparklers. Most of the Aussie shirazes are likely to be too sweet, but subtle Lambrusco can certainly play a part in a great cocktail. As could a little Blanc de Noirs, or sparkling wines made primarily from Pinot Noir.

Some of these wines can be slightly more expensive but can add complexity and richness to the drink. Try some of the less-expensive California or Spanish brands and maybe mix them with a little of that less-than-dry rose wine that is coming out of Northern Italy.

Getting Down to the Juice
Orange juice can be sugar heavy and can weigh down the palate. A slightly more acidic juice, like grapefruit, can be a nice alternative. So can lesser-known juices such as Dragon Fruit juice, which because of the fruit’s bright red exterior, that has been a favorite in trendy bars on both coasts these days.

Stone fruit juices will also make your Mimosa resemble a Bellini in such as great way that you won’t be able to turn back. Seek out fresh-squeezed and organic peach nectar.

You can also add flavors to fruit juices such as vanilla or other spices like cardamom or star anise. This can be done by dipping a little vanilla stick or star of anise in the pot while you heat the juice briefly before then chilling it down in the fridge. It is a great recipe for fall th

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.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Wines for Labor Day

By Liza B. Zimmerman

The official close of the summer is, sadly, around the corner. The last real beach days will come to a close and we should celebrate with wines that really taste like summer in a glass.

Wines from Mediterranean climes to me say summer louder than any place else. Maybe roses, which never seem to taste as good out of season, are the ones that bring it to your glass the most succinctly.

While I love the beaches of Southern France and the sea in Sicily, my favorite roses are from cooler climates. The Spanish region of Navarra produces some of the biggest, most luscious versions in town. They tend to be dripping in fresh red berries and have balanced acidity. Another favorite is South African roses, as they do seriously know how to make them around Cape Town.

Whites for the End of Summer
Sauvignon Blanc remains one of my favorite, and among the wine world’s most flexible, grapes. I could without the grassy ones and adore the fresh stone fruit flavors that you find in the New World, everywhere from Napa to Chile.

Let’s not forget that France’s Loire Valley also makes some of the finest examples in the world. While I am in the neighborhood geographically I will add the Muscadets are none too shabby and pair perfectly with fresh seafood (from both our oceans and theirs).

I am also a huge fan of the delicate and balanced whites made from Rhone varieties such as Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier. While France makes some great ones, so do California and Washington State. Thankfully winemakers are falling ever harder for these grapes so we should see them cropping up in more vineyards around the world.

In terms of esoteric whites I would also put in the good word for Northern Italy gems, such as Soave. Pieropan is a stunning example. I also think the Trentino region is making some lovely wines from the little-known Kerner grape. I would also like to put in a good word for some of those Portuguese indigenous white grapes, wow are they delicious.

Red Winners
For the last warm evenings I would keep my red choices crisp with vibrant acidity. Wines you can serve slightly chilled such as Lambrusco or one of the Beaujolais Crus are amazingly refreshing. So are some of the stunning Chinons produced in the Loire Valley.

Pinot Noir is another grape that is bewitching in so many styles, that also works so well with food. Beyond the classics in Burgundy, New Zealand is making some stellar cool-climate examples. Oregon is also crafting some elegant Pinots that are an appealing blend of Old and New World influences.

No matter what bottle you choose to open this weekend, make sure it is something you want to share with friends on the porch or in the

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.