Thursday, March 30, 2017

Wines to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day for a Fortnight

By Liza B. Zimmerman

This holiday to honor the Irish has become one that almost all of us like to celebrate. I don’t bear the cold like I did when I was a kid to watch the parade but do love to fete the holiday inside with a couple of good bottles.

One of the ways to pay tribute to it is by drinking wines with Irish names as many producers from Napa to New Zealand and Australia having Irish roots. Another fun way to honor the day is to start it off with a little Vinho Verde from Portugal. This fresh and fizzy white isn’t actually green but it is a lovely pairing to start off a meal.

I also asked two sommeliers in San Francisco what some of their favorite picks are. “If you view Saint Patrick's Day as a celebration, I would suggest celebratory wine. Bubbles of any type will suffice, but there is nothing like true Champagne for a celebration,” says general manager and wine director Jon Kelble of Maybeck’s in San Francisco.

I couldn’t agree with him more that bubbles are great for any occasion. The sparkling lineup has just grown vaster year after year with lots of lovely cremants, proseccos, cavas and even delicious Lambruscos from which to choose.

“One of the things that I love about Champagne is it is easily, and happily, consumed on its own, but there are also bigger and richer styles that can be enjoyed with food. There are some Blanc de Noirs and Rosés that can be paired with heartier dishes,” adds lead sommelier David Castleberry from restaurant RN74. Some of the bigger, more fruit-forward styles can pair with almost every dish in a meal, even lighter meats or tartare.

Two Perspectives
You could go the full-on traditional route with food and wine pairing. At Maybeck’s a classic meal of corned beef cheeks with braised cabbage and roasted potatoes is served that Kelble would pair with an austere Austrian Gruner Veltliner or Riesling. He adds that “any of the more mineral based and higher acidic Pinot Gris, Rieslings or Gewurztraminers that inhabit those borderlands. Alsace also produces many excellent Cremants to continue the bubbly celebratory theme.”

Cremants from Alsace and the Loire Valley have long been favorites of mine. They deliver a lot of flavor for their price points. Another trifecta of regions to seek out good Rieslings is in the Finger Lakes region and both the Okanagan Valley and Niagara-on-the-Lake regions of Canada.

Since most of the country is just defrosting from winter by the end of March you might just want a big, hearty red to keep you warm. South African and Chilean blends are some of my favorites as they really show off the ever-improving wine making techniques in the two oldest of the two New World wine making countries.

Sláinte to you all. Let’s toast to the holiday all month long.

Cheers 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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