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.

Smoked Fish Pairing, Tricky

Strong flavors can be hard to deal with sometimes, smoked fish being an example of a harder flavor to pair with wine.  In fact for most pairing advice smoked fish seems like a paradox. Fish is full of delicate flavors that are typically paired with a white wine, but smoking foods almost always adds deeper notes to the fish as well as heightening the fish’s natural flavors in a way that could possibly make it too strong for some white wines to be enjoyed thoroughly in a pairing.  The chance of just a random wine from the six bottle wine totes suiting smoked fish is slim, as smoked fish is known for not working with wine well for a reason. Thanks to the great variety of smoked fish available though, there is a possibility for a match.                 The classic smoked salmon matches rather easily with a mildly dry red with light herb flavors and maybe even citrus notes.  This combination works so well because fresh wines clean the mouth between bits of fish, but salmon can stand up fairly well to a red.  More white meat fish like trout that have been smoked pair better with smoky, oaked whites like chardonnay. 

Sweet Cheeses Paired with Wine

Fruit is common at wine tastings and on cheese boards, but they are usually the only bits of sweet on a sea of savory, even when served with sweeter wines.  But just like there are sweet wines, there are sweet cheeses, but sweeter cheeses usually are not found at the normal parties’ cheese boards. This is a tragedy that seriously needs some help, because sweet wines are probably tired of being relegated automatically to being paired with cakes and other desserts. Wine naturally so it makes sense that sweet wine should be paired with similarly complicated and fruity cheese.  The complex flavors of wine are meant for equally complex flavors, so if it is too far out of the comfort zone for some to leave brie and the like off the menu, try just a simple dessert with cheese; like pears and stilton.                 This little thought about variety of pairing is a real treat to get into. More satisfying than the average piece of cake or doughnut, and with the added benefits of calcium in the cheese and antioxidants in the wine, these sweet pairings are one of the smarter ways to satisfy a dessert craving. Getting the hang of picking out the right cheeses can take some time, but there are a plethora of resources there to help.

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.

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.

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. 

Pumpkin Pairings

Late summer and early fall is harvesting time for pumpkins. Indeed they are everywhere around Halloween time, and not just for jack-o-lanterns.  Cooking with pumpkin can be a rewarding experience for any home cook, and even restaurant goers will enjoy professional chefs’ creations with the iconic taste of fall.  Pumpkin is as versatile in cooking as its wine pairings are.  Some great ways to prepare a hearty meal with pumpkin include making a blended soup with cooked pumpkin and spices. Recipes like this often need chicken stock in them for best flavor, making it a perfect match with a dry chardonnay. A more adventurous way to prepare pumpkin though taps into its international roots. While a classic fall taste in America, pumpkin enjoys a rich history in Asia and India. Tap into this by making a pumpkin and pork stir fry or curry. The pork goes great with the pumpkin and a glass of pinot noir.                 Embrace local produce as soon as the pumpkins start appearing. The fall squash is easy to cook with and can soak up flavors from ginger and pork to cinnamon and pastry. Not to mention hauling around heavy little pumpkins and full six bottle wine bags may keep away the winter weight gain for a while longer.

The Late Summer Flavors

The blazing heat that is ever present in the middle of summer is slowly loosening its grip to make way for calm and sweet autumn. It makes sense that tastes for wine will change according to the seasons a bit, similar to the way watermelon is great in the summer but as the heat fades something more like apples sound good. Look for wines with flavors more like apple, spice, and earthiness to make fall seem all the closer. Or hang on to summer for a little longer with fruitier wines, just let them be a little deeper of a flavor to still hit the spot; think of something like a red with earthy dark berry flavors or a buttery and lemon accented white.                 Easing in the coming fall makes the change feel even more welcomed and exciting; even more so if the change in wine selection accompanies a shift in food. Finally again allowing nut crusted cheeses to go on the cheese boards makes the scorching days of summer fade into the past. Since it is easy to get tired of the ever present heat, welcoming autumn seems like an almost necessary celebration to some; so go with it and enjoy.

Football Season

Football season is upon its fans, some of who happen to also enjoy wine better than the more traditional beer when watching the game. But a lot of tailgating and game day food can be a challenge to pair with wine. Since it is a rare football fan that doesn’t like buffalo wings or chips it makes more sense to think of a wine that goes with them to forgo the tempting snacks for a favorite drink. Pick the snack that has the most appeal and try the corresponding wine, they are some great matches out there.                 Fans of both mild buffalo wings and nachos should try chardonnay. Not only does it compliment the chicken but it can cut through the cheese of nachos. For potato chip fans a slightly dry red of any kind cleans the mouth nicely, leaving no greasy chip aftertaste. Of course there is always the option of breaking open the champagne even before the home team has won, call it wishful thinking or simply champagne pairs great with almost anything. But a real easy way to keep football wine fans happy is just to fill the glasses and cheese board sets.

Pairing with Chinese Food

There is a booming wine industry in China’s bourgeoning middle and upper classes. This new group of wine drinkers has brought a whole new depth to the region of pairing wine with Chinese food even in Europe and the Americas. While it is hard to pair with Chinese food because of the intricacies of flavor present in most Chinese food, there are a few general rules to follow.  Find the basic flavor of the main dish; it affects the wine selection if the main dish is spicy, soy based, or mild. Also the meat, or lack of, in the main dish effects wither a white or red is more appropriate.  Like more familiar foods, white wine goes best with chicken or fish whereas reds are still more fitting for beef or pork.                 It is best with Chinese food too to make sure that the wine has a bright but not sharp flavor to cut through the soy sauce or other sauce without overpowering the flavors.  Bright citrusy wines make a good impression with the traditional way of combining tastes. Also while it may not be fitting with a lot of Chinese food, it is more fitting for the wine to be slightly sweet. Sweeter wines, after all, are what the average Chinese wine fan seems to look to put in their wine carriers.

Pairing with Childhood Favorites

There are foods that everyone associates with the happy moments of childhood.  Macaroni and cheese is the perfect food to any five year old, but could an adult love it as part of a sophisticated meal with friends and wine?  Well of course it can.  Wine can pair with the hot, gooey pasta dish just as easily as it pairs with well, cheese. After all, cheese and wine is the most classic combination.  Take into account though that good wine will make cheap mac-n-cheese taste just that. For best results in transforming this kid favorite meal into a nostalgic adult one, it is best to make the pasta dish homemade. This gives more control over the cheeses and keeps out any preservatives that could give an off taste when paired with wine.                  Modern cuisine is in love with grown-up versions of these classic kid dishes too. Some restaurants are even serving mac-n-cheese but with things like crumbled bacon and bits of green onion in them for a more complex flavor. Take a clue from the hot chefs of the day and reinvent a nostalgic food but with touches for the more discerning palette. Next pair them with wine decanters of simply bright wine that also has subtle hints of more complex things, it makes for a close and casual feel at dinner parties without seeming too laid back.

Port in Summer

In the heat of summer, advised pairings for port can seem far too heavy; especially pairings with chocolate. The late summer weather can easily make chocolate and port seem like a heavy and cloying dessert; far too much. This isn’t to say though that port and chocolate is never good during the summer. There are a variety of ways to enjoy the classic combination even in the summer. Think of lighter ways to enjoy chocolate, like ice cream or mousse. Chocolate ice cream and chilled chocolate mousse pair nicely with port when they are made with quality chocolate, because it is overly sugary dishes as well as hot dishes that would make this inappropriate feeling for summer.                 Of course for the more adventurous of fans of the port and chocolate pairing, a port and chocolate mousse could make a sophisticated dessert.  But the easiest way to appease the port fans out there in the summer is to top a cool and light dessert with a dark chocolate top and serve with port. A drizzle of dark chocolate makes strawberries and cream a whole new experience, as well as perfectly accepting to being paired with port. Either way, fill those wine totes without regard for the season because where there is a will there is a way.

Oysters For the 4th

Something for those tired of the usual, here is a great unique idea for Independence Day food; fried oyster sliders. Crispy fry good sized oysters and put them on little hot rolls or petite hamburger buns along with sharp tasting condiments like pickled onion or lime juice for contrast. To get the oysters extra crisp, make sure that they are dry before putting on the flour and cornstarch coating. Also dredging them in only egg whites instead of whole eggs keeps the food from absorbing as much of the oil that gives frying its bad name.  These adorable little sandwiches pair quite nicely too with the wine of summer, juicy and fruity rose wine.                  The oysters go with the rose because the saltiness of the sandwiches perks up the fruits in the rose, just like people who like to put a little salt on their slice of watermelon. Also the myth about oysters not being good in summer is a thing of the past, making this unusual 4th of July meal a good new tradition. Oysters can now be produced in more controlled conditions, making them good quality all year round. So break out the wine accessories this 4th instead of the beer bottle opener for a more sophisticated holiday.

Independance Wine

Independence Day is a huge holiday in the US and it coming up quickly, but a common problem for the American wine lover is what wine pairs well with the traditional American classics that are served on the 4th of July.  Things like hot dogs are hard to pair with wine, but sometimes the normal pairing of beer is not what a devout wine lover, or someone that cannot have beer for other reasons.                 The classic 4th of July menu can a veritable wine pairing challenge with grilled meats, creamy potato salad and sweet watermelon. Some good wine to go with meat dishes like hot dogs and hamburgers are sharp reds or crisp whites that can cut through the grease of it but these wine choices would completely overpower a slice of watermelon. A better choice for juicy watermelon would be a rose or white with a bit of tart but a generally easygoing note. Pick a variety of wine to go in four bottle wine carriers so that people can pick the wine that works with what they want to eat. The addition of some good wine can really make for a happy 4th of July holiday for everyone.

Pair with Pozole

Wine pairings become a tad challenging when the food in question has a large range of flavors, a cuisine known for this in particular is genuine Mexican food. With the combination of hominy, pork and chilies topped with cilantro, lime, avocado and radish the classic Mexican comfort food called pozole is a real challenge for pairing. One of the easiest ways to pair with this dish is to find a crisp white with lime notes that will make all the flavors in the dish pop like the spritz of lime juice on top of the stew does.  But this is a classic Mexican dish that deserves a lot of thought too, a dry white would not help any to calm the chili fire of pozole. For this reason a juicy rose would be a good pick, one with apple or lemon on the palette. This way the spiciness is calmed as well as the flavors complimented.                 But either way this traditional dish makes for an impressive one pot meal when served with an excellent wine pairing. Single bottle wine totes are perfect for transforming a simple traditional dish like pozole into a wonderful new Mexican dining experience.

Wine Preferences

While wine is a great drink that can make a dish taste even better, or at least provide a spark of elegance to the meal, not all people like all wine. There are people with a preference for reds, or a dislike for anything other than crisp white wines. These people of course do not nessecarily only like the foods commonly paired with the color wine they like though. This brings up a bit of a problem.  People who like only white wine can still get a craving for red meat, but that is usually paired with red wine. There are ways to pair them, but it requires a bit of unconventional thinking but is actually quite easy. Just drink what feels right and eat whatever happens to sound good. This is emerging and freeform way of pairing wine with food, just go with favorites. The old adage of reds with red meat and white with fish has clearly become stale with the broad range of wines and food available to people today.                  Of course this way of pairing also takes a bit of courage because there is a chance that a wine will be too weak to properly go with the spicy rubbed steak or too overpowering for the creamy chicken casserole. But for the most part knowing the wine is a fool-proof way to make a great pairing, just a will bullas wine art is a fool-proof way to add a touch of fine art.

Wine with a Big Mac?

Wine is typically focused on its pairings with haute cuisine or at least fine food; but the subject on peoples’ minds is actually if there are wine pairings for fast food. While it may seem weird to some, it is a genuine question. Can good wine even pair with foods like the famous, or rather infamous, Big Mac?  Well according to a tasting, there are a few combinations that can improve the quick grab burgers and fries. An unusual fate for the wine in those two bottle wine bags, but a good thing to try still.                 The simple and sensible choice for the classic Big mac is an easy white like sauvignon blanc. This basic white goes well with the greasy burger because of its crispness, it cuts through the grease to let the actual flavors of the burger come through for enjoyment.  Or for those that like reds better instead of whites can go for a mildly dry, distinctively oaked merlot.  Of course these pairings can also teach wine lovers a lot about pairings with things that are a little more sophisticated but equally decadent. Sharper wines with a lot of flavor can actually cut through the grease of certain foods. Look for a wine with moderate tannins and a good acidity. This would work well with pairings for ribs, pulled pork, or roast that are a little higher in fat. 

Diet Pairings

Wine is not usually one of those things that get kept in a diet when people decide to try and lose weight. But keeping that daily glass of wine can still be a good option for a healthy diet, not to mention it is a great way to keep sane when dieting. Pinot Noir in particular is good for dieting wine lovers because it pairs so well with many lower calorie foods. In fact salmon is a classic pairing for pinot noir, and salmon is a great food to eat while trying to lose weight.  So don’t pack up those decanter accessories just to help fit look good this summer because wine can easily be a part of a healthy diet. Other pairings with pinot noir that are good news for the dieting individual are mushrooms and leaner meats like chicken and turkey. Clearly these are great foods to eat for those trying to lose weight and fit into that swimsuit or light summer clothes.                  Yes, even higher calorie things like wine can be a great part of a healthy food regime just in the same way it is bad to restrict oneself too much. A simple glass of pinot noir with that healthy dinner can do wonders to keep dieters from abandoning their diet. 

Perfectly Paired Picnic

A great picnic is not too far away for those looking for just that right romantic way of showing that summer is here for sure. While it may seem like more of a celebratory thing, an inexpensive bottle of champagne can be perfect for throwing in wine picnic baskets with some sandwiches and other simple food for a date, special lunch or day with a close friend.  Champagne comes in a variety of sweetnesses from brut to almost dessert like. Some foods pair well with any variety of champagne, leaving that choice up to personal taste and budget. Poultry like chicken pairs well with all champagne so try pesto chicken for the sandwich; it is different than the usual chicken salad.  Add some fruit and a side like roasted sweet potatoes. Champagne pairs well with fruity desserts, but beware because only sweeter ones go good with chocolate desserts.                 Simple picnics like this are a great way to enjoy the early summer weather and some good company. A lunch like this could even be had in the back yard and still seem special. Champagne adds a sense of luxury and uniqueness to the lunch but few know that it actually pairs well with all sort of everyday foods like chicken, egg, cheeses of all kinds and bread. So plan a lunch that fits with the tastes of those that are going to enjoy it.