Going on a vacation to a wine region is not only a great lesson in what goes into making wine, but a great way to taste new wines. Of course though a whole vacation based on that would mean that a good deal of the beauty and entertainment in the wine region would just get passed over. Incorporating other activities into a wine tour is easy because many wine regions also have rich histories or pristine natural beauty to lure visitors away from the grape plants. The Loire Valley of France has a great history of being one of the biggest wine producing regions of France, but most of its tourists are more interested in the castles that are scattered along the Loire river and surrounding valley. Finding a nearby castle when on a vacation to Loire’s winemakers could even inspire the wine enthusiast. Some of the wine cellars in the castles are the stuff of stories. And even if making a wine cellar is not an option, maybe wine accessories as reminders of the style and natural beauty that is the Loire valley. Adding other activities makes for a more well-rounded vacation full of memories of all kinds.
Many are surprised to find that Canada has a thriving wine producing region. But indeed it does have a handful of suburb vineyards that are trying very hard to make a name for Canadian wine. Some of the regions known within Canada for their wine are Okanagan Valley, the Niagara Peninsula and Nova Scotia just to name a variety of them. For those looking to put some Canadian wine in those wine carriers, a trip up North may be the easiest way to really experience the wine of Canada. Maybe Nova Scotia, the coldest wine region in the world, may be a bit of stretch for a wine tour vacation; try the Niagara Peninsula. The Niagara Peninsula grows over three quarters of the grapes in Canada and has a variety of climates often compared to the Loire valley of France. They grow chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot noir in this area as well as the classic ice wine that more people link to Canada than other wines. Not to mention this region is known for its pleasant villages and country inns make it feel more like a normal wine region to vacationers. Giving a new wine region a try makes for not only a unique experience but maybe a sneak peek into some of the best upcoming vineyards.
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.
There is something about cold weather that makes well cooked pork tenderloin even more enjoyable. But getting a pork loin to its tender and still juicy perfection can seem like more work than a simple weeknight meal is usually worth. Really though, a succulent pork loin can be just as easy as any other imaginable meal. All that is needed is some crisp white wine, a pork loin, seasonings of choice and a couple of varieties of vegetables. Start by browning the pork in a pan with the seasonings, just enough to keep the juices sealed in when it is cooking. In an oven pan add a little bit of oil and a cup and a half of the white wine. Thinly slice some onions if desired and add them to the pan with the pork. Cover all this foil and put in the oven on a low setting. Every now and then check the pork and pour some of the juice at the bottom the pan on it, adding the vegetables during the last 15-20 minutes of cooking. The wine helps make for a succulent and tender cut every time. Serve the meal with the remaining white wine showcased with wine accessories; it is after all, the star this meal.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We couldn't agree more. The element of surprise goes a long way.
Why I No Longer Buy Expensive Wine (Wine Spectator)
Expensive wines rarely surprise. But modestly priced wines—the best of them, anyway—are endlessly surprising.
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.
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.
Wine should not be exposed to large amounts of sunlight, this is common knowledge. A little indirect sunlight is not going to ruin wine immediately, or else stores would have them in a cave; but if ever wine bags are not an option and sun is a danger there are more options than just hiding wine bottles from the sun. Say the wine cellar needs work done on it or a collection needs transported; instead of hoping there are enough wine bags around to store it all, try paper bags. Either the ones from grocery stores or even lunch bags both block out the sunlight that could otherwise damage the bottles’ contents. While they cannot provide the controlled climate of a good insulated bag, paper bags are even okay from long term storage if the proper climate can be achieved but darkness cannot. Just remember to label the bags because jostling the bottles too much can be just as damaging as the light. Labeled bags stop the need to check which bottles is what, similar to indicators on the top of the cork or the bottle’s neck. Protecting wine when first taking it home is just obvious, but protecting it in the home is just as important.
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 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.
There is a good deal of work that goes into making any bottle of wine. From the bargain to luxurious there are a plethora of expenditures of time and effort for the vintners. But what is it that makes extraordinary wine makers? They take special care to produce the best possible wine from the grapes given. The lengths they can go to can be rather great too. It is master vintners who know to do things like carefully inspect all grapes coming in but still ensuring not to pop any, determine if a batch needs more fermentation or maceration. Some of these terms can be confusing to someone that only gets to enjoy the finished product, but to someone who makes a living filling crystal wine decanters it is life. While the work that goes into making wine can be demanding, tiring and even dirty; all of it is done for the sake of the finished wine. All of the grapes coming in to be used need to be picked over carefully for bugs or sour little grapes that would ultimately ruin the wine they ended up in. This is just a sampling of the work gone into a good glass of wine though, something to think about before balking at a high priced bottle.
Even the only occasional wine drinkers require a few wine accessories to enjoy a glass of wine. While a growing number of bottles are screwcaps, corks are still widely used; so at the very least a wine glass, corkscrew and stopper are needed. Rather than think of these tools as a necessary evil, think of how they can enhance the experience of popping open a bottle of wine and relax. Wine tools can make a huge difference in how enjoyable wine actually is. A good corkscrew makes opening a bottle less of a battle and more like opening any other bottle or jar in the kitchen. Find a corkscrew with a good handle to give the best grip. Another good tool to have for a wine fan is a bottle stopper. It is illogical to expect a bottle of wine to not need put in the fridge; even with company there is always part of a bottle left when the night is over. This is where it is a good idea to have a stopper; otherwise any leftover wine at the end of the day is basically trash. Don’t waste good wine, put a stopper in it. This keeps the wine fresh longer in the refrigerator. Appreciating wine tools just got easier.
Studies have shown over and over again that low to moderate wine consumption leads to lower weight gain as one ages, but exactly why remains a bit of a mystery. It is believed to be a combination of factors that the right balance has to be achieved to benefit fully from them. These factors include the antioxidants in the wine, red wine’s ability to inhibit sugar to fat conversion and the fact that wine drinkers may have a healthier overall diet than drinkers of other things and nondrinkers on average. Of course this is all scientific speculation but it never hurts to go with what science is pointing to as a good idea. After all gaining weight can lead all sorts of health problems. And if staying away from these problems recommends that a glass of wine now and again is a good thing, who is a wine lover to tell science no? Of course it would also involve eating healthy still and only enjoying the reasonable amount of wine. Oddly enough the low to moderate wine drinkers were the healthiest group, not the nondrinkers. This contrasts somewhat with the traditional knowledge that alcohol directly leads to weight gain. So give wine gifts and embrace the food and drink loving crowd that are wine enthusiasts by using those two bottle wine bags.