Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Wines for the New Year

By Liza B. Zimmerman

We all like to celebrate the passing of any year with memorable wines. However this year--given its combination of political and cultural loss of beloved musicians and other icons combined with political friction worldwide--is one to which many of us may be happy to say goodbye. So let's send it out with some festivities, including great wines.

We should all toast the New Year with wines that we love. For me, my favorites of all time would range from Champagne to the Loire Valley's austere whites and gracious reds and dipping down to Piedmont's simple Dolcettos and Barberas. Let's not forget about South Africa and Chile's stellar red blends and almost anything made anywhere in Portugal.

I encourage you to seek out and experiment with new wines and food pairings. It is always better done in company, so you can veto and embrace what you like about wines in a group. A great retailer can provide you with a mixed case to do just so.

Advice from a Sommelier
Jill Weber, owner and founder of Philadelphia's Jet Wine Bar and Rex 1516, loves to have big meals to celebrate the  holidays. She says that she "always pair the wine to the food. If I’m making a Bagna Cauda [a typical Piedmontese dipping sauce made of olive oil, anchovies and garlic] for a celebratory meal, I’ll pair that with a Barolo from Piedmont."

She adds that an intensely local dish such as Bagna Cauda is not one  that everyone would make all year long as it is super-garlic driven. Above and beyond serving wines linked to specific culinary pairings she adds that Proseccos produced in Congeliano, in North-Eastern Italy, are also another favorite of hers. It is also a favorite of mine.

Most Proseccos have a fair amount of finesse but those from Congeliano do even more than some of the best in the bunch. I would equate them with some of the  best sparkling wines produced outside the Champagne region of France: think Alsace and the Loire Valley.

For Weber most types of bubbles are phenomenal with tamales. However with her carnitas tamales, "I recommend a Lambrusco. And for the chicken green chili tamales, a Prosecco is perfect." Light meats, such as pork, with a hint of chilies do brilliantly with  fizzy wines of either color. Lambrusco is also an ever-ideal match for most  holiday  foods.

Weber is also a fan of "oysters with something sparkling or a crisp white that’s rich in saline and minerals." My favorite wines with these babies from the sea would include Muscadet, because you can almost smell the sea salt in it, as well as Loire Valley Whites and most sparklers (particularly Champagne).

Happy New Year from all of us at 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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