spotlight Chardonnay

                Sometimes chardonnay is just the first white wine that comes to mind but it is the most popular white wine in America for many reasons.  Firstly it can take on a number of flavors; there is no real set taste or bouquet.  Secondly it can be drunk immediately after being made or aged 5 to 10 years.  This versatile wine is clearly an American favorite because it is unexpected and surprising just like the American spirit.  This white wine goes great with almost anything because of its flexibility. Drier ones go great with lighter savory dishes or heavy savory dishes that need a refreshing light point. The sweeter chardonnay pairs fairly well with sweet things because of the ripe fruity flavor.  It is possible to host a tasting party of just chardonnay and not even bore the red wine fans that came.  In bacchus white wine glasses can swirl chardonnay that can taste anywhere from semi-sweet to completely dry.  It can also be heady or light and contain flavors like apples, citrus fruit like lemon and orange, melon and oak.  The oak typically develops later when a chardonnay is aged but can be present in new vintages too.

Plan a Brunch

Easter is not too far away and even for families that are not religious, Easter Sunday is a big holiday.  The traditional way to celebrate Easter is with having a big family gathering for brunch.  Not just a simple brunch but something that requires planning, some are surely starting on the planning of it now.  Of course this is a holiday so it makes sense to have wine with the grand meal, but this can also pose a bit of a challenge.  Brunch can consist of so many different food items, all with a different taste and wine compliment.  A lot of breakfast foods like scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, fruit salad and waffles pair well with light but crisp wine. Lunch foods on the other hand can need more flavor to stand up to cheeses, or red meat.

For those wanting to not go for the champagne because it would seem too formal of out of place, just try a red and white; this is a holiday after all.  Two bottle wine carriers along with a good plan are all that is needed to pull off Easter brunch without a hitch.  Maybe it will be so easy that egg coloring will get more time this year.

The Right Wine In A Hurry

There is also a bit of a panic when a new wine is needed that night, and it has to be good. But panic not, rather than look for a good wine online and hope some local shop has it, or look at the shop blindly and hope the workers know wine; try using the internet to its fullest to make for a more hassle free wine shopping experience. Many large stores will have a website nowadays with the current wines on selection available to peruse or even reserve. Any wine of interest can be than be researched, see what other people thought of it. Write down the exact name of the wine, maybe a backup option just in case, and those wine carriers to take care of one thing that could easily be just a small part of a very hectic afternoon spent in preparation.                 While not a fool proof way to get the best wine every time, it is the most trustworthy way to get a good bottle of wine or two the day they are needed. Perfect for impromptu visits from family or friends or when nothing in house suits the meal for that night.

Entertaining Differances

Having guests and entertaining are broad terms; they really do not say to be able to give to advice on. A more specific definition, especially of the guests needs to be given for any advice, because it is really the guests that dictate the wine selection and etiquette of the evening. Hosting a dinner party for parents or in-laws for example is almost bound to be a little more formal than a simple cheese and wine thing with some friends. The difference between these two events is like night and day when the wine selection is concerned.                  A simple gathering of friends can involve an adventurous new wine; a risk may not be as good of an idea with guests to impress.  This is not to say that a conservative, tried and true wine is the only way to serve parents, but maybe have one on hand just in case.  Friends on the other hand are likely to enjoy anything from the two bottle wine bags because they are having a good time. But of course it is a matter of knowing the guests and some idea of what they would want in either a fun evening or a formal dinner.

Orange Wine

Normally there is only two options when picking a wine, white or red. But an ancient technique used to make a white wine for the red wine lover’s palate is making a comeback. While technically a white, orange wine is becoming more and more popular as the common person’s taste for wine becomes more developed.                 Finding orange wine can be a real challenge though, if found it is a good idea to fill those six bottle wine carriers.  Orange wine is a great choice for parties or those that like both white and red wine because of having tannin structure similar to a red but with flavors more like a white. This bridging of the two typical wine varieties is achieved by leaving in the skins of the grapes just a little longer than typical and by oxidizing the wine a little for good measure.  Normally oxidizing wine is thought of as a bad thing, but when done in a controlled environment it can make a white wine with a tannic character and beautiful coppery color. Don’t expect to find a bottle of orange wine for cheap, but also expect the wine to live up to its price as making orange wine is a very painstaking process that is not undertaken by winemakers lightly.

On Freezing Wine

Frozen wine may seem like a tragedy but it is really a fast and easy way to keep wine fresh in a pinch. A partial bottle of wine can simply be stopped or recorked and put in the freezer and saved for another time.  Interestingly enough freezing wine does not damage its delicate tastes or smell. Time would harm a wine more than freezing.  The only possible chance of damaging a wine in the freezer comes from long term freezing or the bottle getting popped open or cracking from the expanding water. Even wine that may have been altered by long term freezing can still be cooked with, if drinking it doesn’t seem appealing anymore.                 Fill three bottle wine totes with care still though. Freezing cannot replace a good wine cellar for aging wine. In fact open bottles are the only ones that can be frozen. Due to water expanding as it freezes an unopened bottle could easily crack or shatter in the freezer.  Of course it is still a great way to save a partial bottle. For best results, let the wine thaw slowly over a day or so, otherwise some dissipation may occur.

Paprika in Pairing

Sometimes the spices of a dish are the real stars, and pairing the wine with the spice in that case would be a tragedy to the enjoyment of the wine and the dish. Paprika for example can be a dominating flavor in a dish like chickpea stew or a traditional Hungarian fish and paprika soup that is red with the spice.                  Paprika is a common Hungarian spice and a great addition to any dish that needs warm pepper smokiness without too much spice.  Dishes where paprika is the dominant flavor, pairing it with chardonnay is a simple and great choice. An oaked chardonnay compliments the smoky perfection of good paprika.

                Trying to fill six bottle wine carriers based on favorite spices can be done. A spice can determine the whole tone of a meal, just as easily as meat can.  Think about the tone of the spice and wither it would be best for a wine to compliment or contrast the spice. The snappy, green woodiness of thyme would be a good note to have complimented in a wine, whereas the kick of chilies may want to be mellowed by a more refreshing wine. Use pairing with herbs and spices as an easy way to find the right wine when more common ways don’t quite hit the mark.

Wine Punch, Not Just Sangria

While normally called Sangria, a wine punch is more than just the Spanish classic drink of fruit and red wine. Breaking this thought can create some tantalizing wine punches that are suitable for occasions all year round. Instead of sticking to the traditional ingredients, add things based more on whim and season to create succulent wine punch that goes with anything. Wines punch really only needs to contain wine, added flavors from fruit and fruit juice, and hard liquor. That leaves the specifics up to personal preference.                 Good wine punch has a more complex flavor than the wine originally used in it, and while good wine is essential to a good punch, and using an extraordinary wine is not a guarantee for success.  Instead go for seasonal flavors, like in fall use apple and darker fruits like cherry to make a distinction from the summer favorite. Versions of wine punch can even be made with two bottle wine carriers full of white wine; it doesn’t have to be a red wine and fruit concoction. Experimenting with different flavors like cranberry or raspberry juice and fruits like apricot or pineapple  that are usually not included in sangria could make for a wine punch more suited to the season of occasion.  

The Pleasure Of Homemade Mulled Wine

                Mulling is the method of adding spices to a drink by heating it slightly and infusing it with other flavors. While cider, mead and many other beverages than wine can be mulled, they all bring to mind warmth and comfort. Mulled wine is very popular in colder climates because of this warming characteristic. But mulled wine isn’t just one drink; there are as many varieties of mulled wine as there are varieties of wine.                  In fact picking the right spices to go into mulled wine takes some thought. Different wines will make distinctive mulled wines if made with spices that suit the wine.  For example a strong red benefits from the perk of citrus, in particular orange. But each wine will have unique tastes that could benefit from the addition of unconventional spices like rosemary or anise or even sugar. Two bottle wine totes seem to be more filled with more warmth already than the refreshing roses of the summer. But even more warmth and holiday feeling can be found in a good mulled wine. But always remember that it is better to steep the spices in the wine for a long time than heat the wine too much.

Wine and Mood Relationship

A lot of children are resistant to trying new foods, they seem to know for a fact that just the look or smell of the food means it is going to taste bad. On a lesser scale even an adult can pull this mental trick on themselves, even when they don’t try to, because the mood one is in can affect the way they perceive tastes. While no one, hopefully, goes into a wine tasting or sits down with a glass planning for it to taste bad; but a foul mood can make even a beautiful wine taste unbalanced.                 To avoid this mental trick take a few minutes to de-stress before taking out the wine accessories, maybe even consciously try to be put in a more positive mindset. This will make for a more enjoyable wine tasting experience or a more delightful glass of an old favorite. Even a short cool down time at a wine tasting before any wine gets taken out, may improve perceptions overall. As an added benefit, happier guests at a tasting or party will talk more and make for a generally more jovial time.

To Mix or Not, On Combining Wines

While it may not seem like a big deal to the average person with only a half class of one bottle left and a want for a glass of wine. Pouring the remainder of that bottle in with a little of the new bottle though can actually be seen as an insult to winemakers and even devout wine drinkers. This is not to say that it is a bad habit, just be aware that not everyone will want to drink mixed wine and that the mixing may not always turn out good.                  A wine is already a delicate balance of so many compounds that mixing it with another wine is really a roll of the dice.  If two flavors or compounds clash with each other or if the two wines have high levels of one flavor, the result will take on a very unpleasant unbalance.  There is a place for wine cocktails, a good mix can be perfect for parties, but make sure to let guests know that it is not all of the same wine. It would be a disappointment to a guest to ask what the wine was and have to look through three bottle wine carriers

Small Harvest for California This Year

When knowledgeable wine drinkers talk about “a good year” they may still be talking about this year despite California’s meager grape harvest.  This is because even though yields are at the lowest in years, the weather has been delightfully mild. While a gauntlet of bad luck gave the grapes a hard start, what did survive got a mild growing season that promises low, stable sugar levels. Heat and cold spikes make the plants push sugar into their fruit, a lack of excessive sugars gives winemakers the green light to let the flavors develop.                 This season’s wine is going to be a considered a really sought after. Years like this may make it hard to find wine made from thin skinned grapes like Viognier may be in short supply but the wine that is for sale is expected to be quickly taken home in six bottle wine bags.  This may be a good year to invest in a bottle to age for a few years. The anticipated quality of this year’s wine will mean a slightly higher price on everything, but a chance too for some extraordinarily deep and developed flavors in the wine.  

All in the Aftertaste

The tastes and smells that linger with the drinker after the sip of wine has left their mouth, either having been spit out or drank, if the most important factor in truly enjoying a good wine.  The aftertaste is also called the “finish” and expert wine reviewers pay extra attention to how long a wine’s finish lasts. This is because a quality wine will have a long and complex finish, often which includes tastes not even present in the initial sip.                 Wine with a good finish make a great part of wine gifts to those just starting to appreciate the subtleties of wine drinking. Paying extra attention to how long a wine leaves its impression on the palette is how to really taste the wine like a professional.  They take note of any taste that lingers in the mouth, or any taste that appears only in the aftertaste. All too often people will take a sip of wine and not wait patiently for the aftertaste to finish before taking a bite of food, or another sip of the wine. Not only is this an amateurish move to pull at a wine tasting, but also a way to get cheated out of a lot of the wine enjoying experience. Give thirty seconds between sips minimum to really take in a wine’s true flavors.

Autumnal White Wine

For months all of the talk has been about crisp white wines and bright, juices roses. But now that the weather is cooling off, tastes seem to have turned suddenly to autumnal reds. But there are certain foods and people that seem to only get along with whites. They seem to get left out in the developing cold during the fall. But all is not as it seems, there are a variety of good whites that are suited for the brisk yet comforting cool of the season.  Chardonnay is a great example of fall white; its commonly oaked richness makes it stand up better against the cold.                 Other flavors to hunt out to pour in those wine glasses for this season are butter and vanilla. Some wines will even brag about boasting roasted or stewed fruit flavors, what could be better in fall than a white wine with a slight taste of stewed apples? Well maybe that same wine served with apple pie that mimics its flavors. Aside from Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc has earned a name for being a good white to enjoy in colder months. This is because many Chenin Blanc have a deep and luscious peach note that adds depth to this wonderful white. Enjoy these unusual cold weather whites on their own or paired with foods like butternut squash and strong flavored bird like guinea fowl to showcase the uncommon strength of these white wines.

Pairings Based on Regions

Knowing French wine and knowing French wine regions are really one in the same. Like most of Europe, France labels wine based on region rather than variety like in America. This means that knowing the wine regions of the country gives one a greater knowledge of the actual wine that the country produces.  The Loire Valley for example is one of biggest wine producing regions with vineyards scattered along almost the entirety of the Loire River. The key trait of wines from these regions is that they come from very old vines; this area of France has been developed for a very long time. In fact the Loire Valley is home to large collection of the castles in France.                  Taking note of what foods are favorites in each region is a great and easy way to pair with the wine from those two bottle wine totes.  For example wine from Provence would go great with a seafood dish because Provence is right along the Mediterranean Sea.  Taking knowledge like this and pairing them based on regional tastes is not only a unique way to pair wine with food but also a great way to seem like an expert in wine and the region in question.

Compare Wine to Bread

 Bread and wine, not cheese and wine can teach a simple wine drinker a few things about the art that vintners perform. Good bread has well integrated flavors and a silky texture inside despite its sturdy crust; a superior wine has many similar traits and the way they are made has a lot to do with how good both turn out.  A good bread gets a complex note of acidity from the starter, a bread dough that bakers let ferment. A little bit of the starter is added to each batch of bread to instantly age the bread, making it more developed than it may otherwise have been. But with wine acidity and complexity have to be present in the very earliest stages for an extraordinary wine, the grapes themselves have to have the acid.  While adding acid during the creation process is allowed, this would be like adding a sourdough flavoring rather than painstakingly obtaining the best starter, but the flavors will never be exactly right. A good acidic grape makes for a wine were each flavor has its own moment to shine.                 The odds that a smart shopper will not end up with a wine with added acid in those two bottle wine carriers though is low. It is common knowledge among winemakers that good grapes, and not additions, are the key to good wine.

Decanter Science

While it is clear that decanting a wine softens and improves it, what happens to the wine on the molecular level?  That is, why does merely sitting in a crystal wine decanters change a good wine so much?  The changes to a deep red wine can be so dramatic that it can seem like some form of wine magic, but science can quickly explain all that is going on here.  Most of the change to a wine while it decants comes from mild oxidation and some evaporation. While it seems like decanting softens the tannins, it actually does nothing of the sort. But the slight oxidation that occurs does makes the tannins seem more fitted to the rest of the flavors and aromas in the wine; the reason for the smoother illusion. Also a little bit of evaporation gets rid of some of the rubbing alcohol or other unpleasant tastes that are caused because of too much alcohol in the wine.                 This amazing and totally natural process called decanting is truly a gift for wine fans, but certain types of wine flourish in decanters while others only twinkle a little.  Reds love decanters while whites can be rather indifferent to them, and of course there is no point in putting a sparkling wine in a decanter. But that is just a general rule; try anything in a decanter for a good experience.

Fix a Wine

There are a number of funny things that can happen to a wine, and even though the wine may still be good there are not many who would drink an off wine. Luckily are there fixes to many of these problems that are simple and make the wine drinkable and indeed enjoyable.                  Wine, young and old alike, can have compounds in it that can give off smells or tastes or sediment that gives it a poor appearance. A lot of the time these conditions can be fixed with decanting. Wine decanters are a true gift for wines; they settle sediments and aerate the wine. Aeration dissipates a lot of the unpleasant compounds that can be smelled in wine.  One fairly common problem that cannot be taken care of with a decanter is a rubbery smell caused by a compound called mercaptans, which are often found in young wines. But this sulfur based smell can still be banished with some copper. A clean penny, dated before the 1980s can be dropped in the decanter for a minute to salvage the wine. Of course while a lot of wine can be saved, if ever a smell or look is too unappealing it is just fine to open a different bottle of wine. 

Intro To Entertaining

Entertaining guests can be hard for those that do not cook often, knowing the way around a kitchen can be faked though by following a simple plan.  Keeping things simple make even a novice at entertaining seem more cool and collected when the guests arrive. Honestly, seeming to have things under control is one of the keys to being a successful host.                  Keep things simple and remember to remain calm with guests around to give off the air of a great host and the perfect party. Wither for a full meal or as part of a more snack buffet or tapas style get together, take advantage of roasting for easy and delicious sides. Roasted potato wedges are a classic, but just as easy as roasted pumpkin or sweet potato fries. Coat the desired vegetable in oil, salt and pepper and leave to roast; it’s as simple as that. Given all the extra time now available it will be easier to handle accidents or other mishaps, like realizing all the wine left in the three bottle wine bags is red and everyone wants more of the white. Holiday season is just around the corner so this is a great time to get the hang of having the best dinner parties possible. 

Worried Growing Season

This growing season has been hard for grape growers, who are hoping for as much heat as possible before summer fades into the past. The late spring and poor weather in many growing regions means that many Northern western locations are still trying to ripen grapes on the vine, but dropping temperatures are forcing them to think about the worst possible outcome. There is little that can be done by workers at vineyards except trim back the leaves; this exposes the grapes to more sunlight.                 This trouble ripening the grapes though doesn’t mean that the 2011 offerings are going to be a flop; it is more likely to mean slightly less sweet whites from the North and little else. Ripening the grapes properly, after all, develops the sugars more.  But the thing about vintners is that something magical could still happen with the less than supreme grapes to make wine fans eager to put them in three bottle wine carriers. Proper manipulation to the grapes could still create a wonderful vintage. So while wine makers are worried at the moment there is always a chance in the wine industry for unusual things to happen. Worse years have produced still wonderful wine.