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.  

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.

Muscato Dreams

Muscat is a variety of wild grape that is becoming very popular with wine lovers because it makes a wonderful wine.  One of the striking differences between muscato wine and more typical wine made with long cultivated grapes is the aromatic difference. Muscato is a the Italian name for wine made with this variety of wild grape which grows quite well in warmer climates like the southern US and California. Of course muscato didn’t really take off a trend in the US for a long time. It still is a small market even though muscato is a great fruity white wine not known for having a big price attached to it. While some dry versions exist, most moscato is fruity and sweet. Even six bottle wine bags though cannot capture all of the different faces of this fruit filled wine has a quality to it that non-wild grapes just cannot capture.                 The growing popularity of muscato wine is good news for people looking for something new. The almost wild taste of the wine is so alluring that often those, who try it, can’t get enough of it. Muscato wine also pairs very well with game animals and desserts alike.  This versatile wine deserves its growing reputation.

Tasting Tips

Sometimes a wine tasting can seem more like a quiz than an enjoyable evening when some of the people at a tasting keep saying words like bouquet, spicy, and oak; people unsure of the meaning of these may feel like they are missing something or not participating fully in the tasting. But with a few simple definitions and tips than those same shy people at tastings may want to fill their six bottle wine bags and host a tasting for their friends at their own place to show off all they know.                  First of all most things that people mention are not the taste of the wine but the smell that it gives off when aerated or swirled in the glass.  The aroma of the wine is also called its bouquet, one term explained.  Words that describe the bouquet are simpler than one may think. If a zinfandel reminds the drinker of black pepper it is said to be spicy or peppery while the woody smelling hints that certain wine aged in oak barrels gets is called woody. Wine gives off smells just like everything else, devour these before enjoying the actual taste and a mere wine lover can seem like a tasting pro.