Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Let's open another bottle...

Blogging about wine is fun, but sometimes at the end of the day you just want to drink a glass and not think too hard about why it's good or not. When one of you is finishing a competitive masters program and the other is doing the work of an entire creative team, then that sometimes can turn into some months. So, it's been several months since our last post. Sorry.

Not to worry. The degree has been earned(yay!), the job is still hectic but more reasonable, and it's almost Friday night - time for a great wine. We'll be back real soon with bad pun headlines, thoughts on drinking wine and another bottle.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A tail of two pairings

Wine: Malivoire, 2006 Courtney Gamay; Niagara bench, Canada

Paired with: Pernil(roast pork), fennel brussel sprouts

Comments: It seems that this year we are on a pernil kick. Pernil is a delicous roast pork dish that requires a little bit of prep, and a fair amount of waiting as the house slowly fills with one of the greatest food smells ever. Of course, any meal that requires that much time and effort needs a good wine. Early this year we chose a great syrah. While we could have played it safe this time and stuck with the formerly successful pairing, that would be boring. So we decided to try the gamay that had been calling our name from the wine rack. It was a success.

The simple fact is that the pairing that has worked before or the one that the book recommended will work just fine, but it shouldn't be just fine. It should be surprising or exciting or just plain new. Worst case, it doesn't work and you open a different bottle or have water with dinner. Best case you build a library of pairings that work and you're able to pull out as needed. 

That's all we have to say today: try something different with your pairings.

Tasting Notes - pre-food: A hint of raspberry on the the nose that carries through on the palette where there is also some light cherry. Very tangy straight out of the bottle with hints of raspberry and cherry. A little air softened it up.

Tasting Notes - with food: The food brought out a little tartness, in a good way. It was really beautiful with flavors of soft red fruit and cranberries.

Color: medium red

Price: $18

Verdict: Friday, and don't you forget it

Friday, January 28, 2011

A "Super" MiniTuscan.

Wine: Verrazzano Rosso, 2007 Minituscan (Sangiovese, with small quantities of Canaiolo and Merlot); Greve in Chianti, Italy

Paired with: Episode of Iron Chef America

Comments: I've long felt that the Italian concept of a thinking wine (as summed up in our first post) was created after tasting either a Barolo or a Super Tuscan. Super Tuscans are so much I like in a wine - big, complex, and the result of winemakers saying, "We're not doing it your way no more."

Quick history lesson. In the 1960s the Italian government set up DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) and, soon after, DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita). Following the lead of the French, they wanted to keep regional specialties pure by setting up a certification system that ensured products are made in a certain place a certain way. Good for shoppers wanting a quick easy way to get the real stuff, not so good for the winemakers who could only make wine the way the government said they could. 

Enter the rebels, the guys who probably got bored making Chianti. Granted, there are some great Chiantis, but how boring is it always doing the same thing? These wine makers started playing around, throwing out the required grapes and using what they thought would work. Likely, this resulted in a lot of swill, but the end result for a few was some of the world's best wines, Super Tuscans. Big, bold, complex. The type of wine that you can get lost in.

Fast forward a few decades. Super Tuscans, like any successful rebel, are now entrenched in the establishment. Regulated, somewhat. And, as the careful skill and small batches warrant, expensive.

Now we have Verrazzano winery, supposedly once the winery of the same Verrazzano who discovered New York harbor and now has a bridge to Staten Island named after him. Not sure if that's an honor or not. The wine makers at Verrazzano decided that Super Tuscans had gotten a little stuffy, a little rigidly defined. So, they introduced the MiniTuscan. These wines are designed as an entry-level Super Tuscan. Not as bold or complex, but nonetheless interesting. And for the price, we were willing to experiment. 

And, honestly, this experiment is worth the price. It's not something you're going to crave, but it's still one of the better $11 bottles we've found at our local wine store.

Tasting Notes - no-food: Honestly, we'd have to say it smells like tannin, no fruit or flowers here, just dryness. The taste wasn't bad, a little dry and tart but with a pleasant currant finish

Color: deep plum fading to pink on the edges

Price: $11

Verdict: Tuesday, though to be fair, this could probably be a Friday with the right pairing.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

In the dish, in the glass

Wine: Jean-Luc Colombo, 2007 Les Abeilles (grenache, syrah, mouvedre); Côtes du Rhone, France

Paired with: Coq au vin

Comments: Here on Tuesday/Friday we often pair our wine with food, but don't always explain why. There are many people who will go on about rules for pairing - the cliché of white with fish and red with beef being the most well known. The truth is there are no rules. If you like the wine with the food, it's a success.

That being said, there are some guidelines that will help you find wines that the majority of people will enjoy with certain foods. Probably the simplest of these guidelines is: if it's in the dish, it's in the glass. Anytime we're making a meal that involves wine in the recipe, we always buy an extra bottle to drink with dinner.

Tasting Notes - pre-food: This was very light-bodied, pleasant in a bland sort of way. Even on the nose, it was kind of generic with just a general red fruit smell

Tasting Notes - with food: The food gave it a little more presence, particularly following the bacon in the Coq au Vin where a smoky boldness was present

Color: medium-red, fairly light color considering the grapes

Price: $11

Verdict: Tuesday, a French red that doesn't start singing with French food is only okay.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Que Syrah, Syrah

Wine: Jackson Triggs 2006, Delaine Vienyard Syrah; Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada

Paired with: Pernil (roast pork), chorizo-yuca mofongo

Comments: We've expressed our love of Jackson Triggs in the past. The winery and people are wonderful, the wines are better. So, we expected to get a good wine when we first tasted this. We got a great wine.

But first, let's clear something up. Syrah? Shiraz? Um, both.In the northern Rhone area of France, they call it syrah and the wine is more tannic with slightly smoky flavors. The Aussies, however, have embraced shiraz, with a fruity style that is often more approachable to new wine drinkers. Like everything else in the wine world - outside France - there are no hard and fast rules for labeling syrah/shiraz. However, most wine makers will call the more tannic version (often from cooler climates/years) syrah and a fruitier version (often warmer climates/years) shiraz. Now that we've made that completely clear...

Interestingly, we bought this shortly after it was released and it was already in short supply. So, sorry reader(s), you're not going to be bringing a bottle home. But recent vintages are reportedly just as delicious.

Tasting Notes - pre-food: leather and red fruits, nicely balanced with just enough tannin to let you know it's there. An unusually large bouquet for a syrah that held hints of cherries and currents

Tasting Notes - with food: Very interesting. With the mofongo and meatier pieces of pork a sour cherry aspect came out and the tannins softened to almost nonexistent. However, with the fattier pieces of the roast, the tannin was much more intense. It's exciting to drink a wine that changes with every bite of food (which we also think is the sign of a good pairing, if we do say so ourselves).

Color: Deep garnet

Price: Around $30, for current vintages (anyone having a bottle of the 2006 is welcome to share)

Verdict: Friday, though we expected this to be more of a Tuesday wine - most syrah and shiraz are to us - the complexity of this one pushed it well into Friday territory

Friday, January 7, 2011


Wine: Veglio Barolo, 2005, Italy

Paired with: Charcuterie and cheese plate with garlic & dill chevre, Uncle Joe's Cheese (aged cheddar); elk rillette, Moroccan lamb coppa

Comments: Barolo is THE wine as far as I'm concerned. Desert island, one bottle for the rest of my life, last meal wine. Nebbiolo is of course a great wine on its own, but when grown in the clay hills of the Barolo region and properly aged, one sip is enough to make my eyes roll back in my head. Even the thought of a sip of good barolo distracts me from whatever I'm doing. Amy, knowing this, was kind enough to provide me with a bottle for the holidays.

Barolo is still being bottled in two styles. The traditional style, my preference, is aged up to 3 weeks on the skin and creates a heavily tannic wine of light color. The growth of wine on the international market in the 70s and 80s lead to a modernist style that's lighter on tannin and fruitier. Still good, but not a thinking wine.

Tasting Notes - pre-food: This is definitely a modernist Barolo, fairly light with a a hint of cherry. Perhaps this is also a reflection on the price point. Aromas are also of cherry with a little leather and Twizzlers licorice thrown in

Tasting Notes - with food: The barolo had a slight sweetness when paired with the spice of the Moroccan lamb coppa and also complimented the cheeses very nicely.

Color: light ruby, like a pinot noir

Price: $15 for a 375-ml bottle

Verdict: Tuesday, though it pains me to say it this is not a Friday Barolo. It's a perfectly acceptable wine, but   doesn't live up to what the nebbiolo grape can be, especially from this region.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"We can only hope this starts off a craze of storing wine inside shipwrecks. If you really care about your wine, I don't see any alternative."

As a teaser for more Tuesday/Friday Wine posts coming soon, here's a little something to wake up your palate. (Click the headline.)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Clayhouse is a very, very, very fine house

Wine: Clayhouse Vineyards Adobe Red 2007, San Miguel, CA

Comments: We picked out this wine with the hopes it could be good -- and the understanding it could be a hot mess. Check out the guest list at this party: Zinfandel, Petit Syrah, Syrah, Malbec, Grenache and Mourvedre. They're all grapes that play nicely with others, but with six combined into one wine, chances are that you're going to lose what you like about each one.

Happily, hopes granted. The winemaker's notes promised a rustic wine "created for that rebellious hedonistic red wine lover inside of you." I don't understand what's so rebellious and hedonistic about loving red wine, but someone is apparently feeling a little guilty. Not us!

Tasting Notes: This is definitely a wine that needed some time to breathe. Patience not being our (OK, my) strongest trait, I dug right in. Initially, lots of tannins with flavors of leather and tobacco. Those are perfectly OK with me in a red wine, but first impressions can be misleading. After a few minutes, those strident flavors morphed into a much fruitier blend with lots of blueberry and cherry flavors.

Color: garnet

Price: approximately $13

Verdict: Friday, thanks to the wine's ever-changing flavors. Every few minutes we found something new to like about it, and that (to us) puts it in the Friday column.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Old Vines = Good Vines

Wine: Atteca Old Vines 2007, Calatayud, Spain

Paired with: a little of this & a little of that (leftover night!)

Comments: I feel like we don't see a huge selection of Spanish wines in our travels through the LWS circuit. I'm sure they're around, but somehow, they don't have a huge presence (I suspect the Spanish are keeping the best for themselves). Anyway, I'm very glad that this particular Spanish wine caught our attention. The phrase "old vines" will do that every time.

So, how old are "old vines?" Well, there's no legal definition of the term, so some newer producers use it on vines that are 20 years old; other growers wait until the vines are in the 40+ range. Some of it depends on the type of grape, some of it depends on the region. (You'll see it a lot on California Zinfandels, especially.) In this case, these Spanish garnacha (grenache) vines are supposedly 120 years old, so I'm perfectly OK with that designation.

So, why get excited about old vines? Grapevines, as they age, produce less and less fruit. And what they do produce develops extremely concentrated flavors. If there's a varietal you like, and old vines version of the wine should be all the things you like about the wine, squared.

Tasting Notes: Lots of plum/prune/raisiny flavors. Good balance between tannin and flavor. Initial nose had lots of leather & spice. Wine definitely benefits from being opened prior to drinking; give it at least 20 minutes for the wine to open up. Initial pruney/raisiny flavors mellowed into more berry-like notes.

Color: movie-prop-blood red

Price: around $15

Verdict: Friday, with the right food. We didn't do the wine justice with random leftovers, but I think roast meats would match very nicely with the big flavors here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

And the medal goes to...

Wine: Jackson Triggs Esprit, Vidal Icewine, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada

Paired with: No pairing. We consider icewine dessert on its own.

Comments: You have to appreciate a country that has an official wine supplier for their Olympics. Yes, that's what the packaging (and the complimentary corkscrew that came with it) claim. So was the $1.25 donation from our purchase of this one bottle of wine what pushed Canada to the gold medal in hockey? Alas, we'll never know.

Tasting Notes: Icewine is always a multi-sensory experience, and this wine is no exception. Lots of honey & carmelized peaches on the nose. Beautiful, viscous honey colors. Big flavors of orange-blossom honey, but with a slight tartness on the finish -- similar to the tartness left on your tongue after eating kiwi.

But as much as we love JT, and love icewine, this particular bottle lacked... something. Icewine should make you feel like you're bathing in a glorious late-summer, sleepy afternoon haze. And while this was very good, it didn't have the depth that we've come to associate with icewine. Had we bought this as a late harvest wine, it would be very impressive. But stick that i-word on it, and our expectations skyrocket to a level that this doesn't quite meet.

Color: liquid honey

Price: $25, approximately (we bought this two trips ago, and I'm estimating based on what we'll typically spend on a JT icewine)

Verdict: Tuesday. Yes, even though it's an icewine, it's a merely acceptable icewine, not a roll-your-eyes-back-in-your-head-good icewine.

We're back!

Apologies for taking a leave of absence so soon after starting the blog. A new job (despite it being a fabulous job) took precedence even over wine-drinking. But we're back, having figured out how to balance  wine and a grown-up job. Sante! Salud! Slainte!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Worst. Wine. Ever.

Wine: Pigmentum Malbec 2006, Cahors, France

Paired with: Bacon-wrapped chicken breast & herbed potatoes.

Comments: Just in case you thought we liked everything, let me now prove you wrong. I'm pretty sure I'm exaggerating in calling it the worst wine ever, but holy cow, was this wine terrible. It was a spur of the moment purchase with a thought process that went something like this: "Hey, it's malbec from France. We like malbec. And it's on sale for $9 - let's get it!"

So, we had a clunker. The first sip was vaguely "eww," but the insane amount of fat in the bacon sort of  worked with the flavors, and we got through a glass or so with dinner. And by then we were used to it, so we poured another glass. By the end of the second glass, we decided we just couldn't take it any more. We didn't even finish the bottle.

Now, there is an off chance that we just had a bad bottle. But the chances are pretty low - the producer uses synthetic corks, which have a pretty low failure rate, and the wine didn't have the vinegary bite that we've typically encountered with corked wine.

So before you run for the hills if you see a French malbec, this is not to say that spur-of-the-moment purchases should be avoided, or even that all malbecs from France are awful. But take my word for it, this is one wine you can pass by.

Tasting Notes - pre-food: Sour with vaguely plummy notes. Absolutely no tannic structure, very thin.

Tasting Notes - with food: Surprisingly, thick-cut smoky bacon made this potable. I think the smoke from the bacon stomped on the sourness and managed to yank a few palatable notes out. Supposedly, malbecs from Cahors should taste like damsons (a type of plum), tobacco and raisins. Supposedly.

Color: Dark violet.

Price: around $9

Verdict: Never. Really. Skip it.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Voulez vous Vouvray?

Wine: Domaine de Vaugondy Vouvray

Paired with: Success, baby!

Comments: I'm not sure exactly how sparkling wine evolved into THE thing to have for a celebration. I guess technically it's rare compared to non-sparkling wines, and if you are looking for actual champagne it can get pretty expensive. Oh, and bubbles are kinda fun.

But there's no need to spend oodles of cash on champagne when there are so many other great sparkling wines on the market. Take this Vouvray, for example. For about $20, you get a sparkling wine that actually tastes like something you want to drink. (I am not a huge fan of most champagnes, in case you couldn't tell.)

So anyway, Vouvray (named for the region of France in which it's produced) is typically chenin blanc because that's pretty much the only grape grown there. Vouvray is also produced as a still wine, if you decide you like the flavors, but not the bubbles.

Tasting Notes - pre-food: This is a very pleasant sparkling wine, very light with a mostly appley flavor. Not a lot of aromas - not sure if we had it too cold or if it's just not a very aromatic wine.

Tasting Notes - with food: Oops. Were we supposed to have this with food?

Color: Pale yellow-white.

Price: $19.75 at The Greene Grape in Manhattan

Verdict: Friday, or Monday, or whatever day you have something to celebrate.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A treat from Argentina

Wine: Torrontes 2007 Giminez Riili Perpetuum

Paired with: Panko-crusted chicken tenders.

Comments: Torrontes is Argentina's most famous white wine. The grapes love the dry climate that characterizes much of Argentina's wine country. We had never heard of the wine before our first trip to Argentina, mostly because we really knew nothing about Argentine wines. They're still a well-kept secret and an amazing value, so really, we're not doing ourselves any favors by blabbing about them here, are we?

Anyway, Torrontes is a very light, fragrant white wine, well suited to drinking in the hot weather where it grows. Stick your nose in your glass, and you'll smell flowers and/or tart fruits like green apple. Take a sip (well, two sips, since it takes two to really be able to taste a wine), and you'll find a refreshing wine that's similar in body and taste to a dry riesling.

Tasting Notes - pre-food: Very refreshing with crisp green apple as the predominant flavor. The wine had a respectably long finish for a white.

Tasting Notes - with food: This wine didn't change too much with food, which was unusual. A mistake on our part was the honey-mustard dipping sauce we made to go with the chicken. The mustard turned the pleasant tartness of the wine into an astringent, unpleasant quality. Lesson learned!

Color: white gold

Price: approximately $15 (it's part of a wine club, so I don't have an exact price)

Verdict: Tuesday for this particular torrontes. We've had some with a little more personality that qualify as Friday, but this one didn't stand out too much, so just a pleasant accompaniment to a weeknight meal.

Friday, January 22, 2010

How about cab franc, eh?

Wine: Stoney Ridge 2006 Twenty Mile Bench Reserve Wismer Vineyard Cabernet Franc

Paired with: DVR'd episode of "Three Sheets"

Comments: You know how certain things influence you to want something? You go to the movies, and the smell of popcorn makes you crave it, even though you know there's not really anything resembling popcorn or butter in that salty, goopy mess. Well, we were watching "Three Sheets," which is a show where a vaguely obnoxious guy travels around the world and drinks whatever that country's famous for producing. He was in Italy. He was drinking a Super Tuscan. (We simultaneously hate this guy & covet his job.) So we had to have wine.

Not having any Super Tuscans in our collection -- although, we wouldn't turn one down -- we went trolling for an alternate big red wine and settled on the Stoney Ridge Cab Franc. Normally, I'm not a huge fan of Cab Franc - I find the green bell pepper flavors overpowering in too many of them. But this one's an exception, not being equipped with a green pepper that smacks you in the face, crawls up your nose and takes over your brain. Instead, it's equipped with great fruity balanced flavors and, for me, just enough tannins to give it good body. I know we tasted it when we bought it, but I was still surprised by how much I liked it once we opened it.

With this wine being a 2006, there were still plenty of tannins left in the wine, so if  you like having those to chew on (yes, it can really feel like like you have something to chew, even though wine is liquid), it's absolutely a wine to drink now. The winery recommends cellaring it for up to 8 years, so I wish we had another couple of bottles to put down and try later on in another few years. Sadly, we didn't make Stoney Ridge on our recent Niagara trip, so we'll have to hope they still have some when we go back.

Tasting Notes - pre-food: The most prominent aromas are cherries and tobacco. As befits a Cab Franc, this is a big wine with lots of red fruit flavors - think cherries, strawberries, plums, blackberries.

Tasting Notes - with food: No food. We decided, after dinner, that we really wanted a glass of wine.

Color: Deep ruby red

Price: About $17 (Canadian)

Verdict: Friday, but requires food to be truly enjoyed thanks to the tannins remaining in the wine.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What it's all about

So, anyone who is following at this point may have noticed a distinct lack of Friday and Tuesday postings these last few days. Well, January is that golden time of year when Amy and I make our annual trek to the frozen fields of Canada's Niagara Peninsula.

We've restocked our selection of Canadian vino and have been once again reminded why we started this wine thing to begin with.  For us, the essence of wine is the friendship. Wine is a social drink, something to be shared and appreciated with others. The solo practitioner of the sipping arts is just, well, pathetic. So while we went for a tasting adventure, it was mostly about the friends. That's what it's always about.

Anyway, expect a return to form this Friday and look for our take on some of the Canadian wineries over the next month or so. We may even slip a few of the Niagara bottles into our weekly selections. Keep an eye out.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Doctor is In

Wine: Loosen Bros. "Dr. L" 2008 Riesling / Mosel Valley, Germany

Paired with: Shrimp & Arugula Pasta (from Jamie's Italy by Jamie Oliver) aka Chris' "Get out of jail pasta" and Great Big Sea mix

Comments: Dr. L was the first riesling we liked -- I mean really liked in that "Where can we get more right now?" way. We first tasted it about four years ago, at the beginning of our real wine journey. At that point, the 2003 vintage was the one on the market. It. Was. Amazing. Up to that point, we thought rieslings were sickly-sweet and avoided them like the plague called Arbor Mist. Bleah. Ugh. Yuck. So I was a little leery when the clerk at a local wine shop (LWS) near my office recommended it. But I decided to trust him, and I'm so glad I did.

We've tried numerous vintages of Dr. L, and while the 2003 is undoubtedly the best, the 2008 (available now) is quite good. I'd probably rank it second-best of the various ones we've tried. And for around $10, you're getting a really good value from a well-regarded German winery.

Now, keep in mind that "dry" where a riesling is concerned is not quite the same as "dry" when you're thinking about, say, a cab sauv. You won't have overwhelming tannins or feel like your whole mouth has dried out. Here, "dry" translates to a tartness that creates an almost-effervescent quality. I would even serve it as an apertif in place of something like prosecco. There are no bubbles, but it is so refreshing and so much fun to drink, that you won't give the lack of bubbles a second thought.

Tasting Notes - pre-food: seriously tart, almost effervescent quality; hard to pick out specific flavors over the dryness

Tasting Notes - with food: the tartness evolves into a citrusy quality (but by no means goes away), and a mellow green apple flavor

Color: white gold

Price: estimated $10-$12, depending on the store (this one was a gift)

Verdict: Tuesday night because it's a pleasant wine that doesn't scream for attention, but is still worth savoring. Our first Dr. L was, without doubt, a Friday night wine because it was just THAT good. But newer vintages, definitely Tuesday night.

Friday, January 8, 2010

A great find in Chablis

Wine: "La Chabliesienne" 2001 Chablis Grand Cru (Chardonnay) / Chablis, France

Paired with: Serrano ham, Manchego cheese marinated in tomato & rosemary, fresh bread and MP3 flamenco mix

Comments: I'm going to get this story out of the way now because it's possibly the wine-snobbiest story we'll ever tell you.

We won a fabulous trip to France in 2006 (no, that's not the snobby part). As part of our trip, we decided to drive through the Rhone Valley on our way up to Paris. Our last stop of the day was a winery/tasting room we would normally avoid like the plague - huge, slick and with about 4 tour buses in the lot. But it was France! And Chablis! So we stopped.

I have to say, even with 4 tour buses and my embarrassing French, the staff was very nice to 2 Americans who wandered in 15 minutes before closing. We tasted several wines (chardonnay is the primary grape in that area - like most European countries, the French name their wines after the region in which they're produced), and decided our favorite was the Grand Cru. That means the grapes came from a vineyard which has a reputation for producing great grapes, and it's basically top-shelf as far as wines are concerned. The wine was about 30 euros (about $40 at the time), but it was France! And Chablis! So we bought it.

When we came home, we decided to check the availability of La Chablisienne here in the states, just in case we wanted to buy more. Good news? We could get it. Bad news? It would cost us about $1,000. We seriously debated selling the bottle to finance our next vacation, but decided to keep it for a special occasion. After 3 years of trying to figure out what was special enough, we finally said "to hell with it" and decided New Year's Eve 2009/2010 would qualify. Wine does have a shelf life, after all.

So there's our snobby story about our $1,000 bottle of wine. Done, and out of the way -- and back to our regularly scheduled $15 wines from now on!

Tasting Notes - pre-food: Lots of green apple at first - very crisp and very dry. After about 5 minutes of the bottle being open, some of the crispness mellowed into creaminess. After about 15 minutes, a floral scent & taste appeared. (In hindsight, we should have decanted this, even though we usually don't decant whites.) Not a huge amount of oak, which was fine with me, as heavily-oaked chardnonnays just aren't my taste, but it was there.

Tasting Notes - with food: This worked surprisingly well with the Manchego. The dish was pretty salty, between the cheese itself and the salt in the marinade, and that brought back some of the initial crispness of the wine.

Unfortunately, not a great pairing with the Serrano ham. Something in the ham eliminated everything but the oak -- which was not a predominant flavor to begin with -- and left the sensation of chewing on the barrel. My guess is that the sweetness of the ham cancelled out the sweetness of the wine, leaving just the tannins. But, again, just a guess.

Color: Extremely pale yellow-gold

Price: 30 euros (about $40 at the time of purchase)

Verdict: Friday night. Not just because it was our last bottle from a fantastic trip, not just because it was apparently such a rare thing in the US. This wine kept us talking about it right up until the last sip.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Ringing in the New Year...

Wine: Lailey Vineyard Zweigelt, 2006 / Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada

Paired with: broiled skirt steak & garlic-thyme roasted potatoes and a DVR'd episode of "Glee"

Comments: Okay, so this one is kind of a ringer, but sometimes you want something safe. We first encountered Zweigelt (and have only found it to date) at Lailey Vineyards. It's an Austrian grape developed in the 1920s, and is apparently the most commonly grown grape in Austria, and making huge inroads in Niagara -- who knew?

This is the type of wine where we always buy a couple of bottles when we visit the winery because it's food-friendly and accessible. A great wine to have on hand and serve it to those people who want the great stuff but haven't yet learned the difference. Of course, it's good enough for your wineaux friends to enjoy also, so great for mixed crowds.

Like we said, a little bit of a ringer. In the past we've paired it successfully with all sorts of meals. We especially love it with those dinners that don't really call for a great wine, but you still want a wine with them: pizza, burgers, etc. It's similar to a zinfandel in its versatility, but not as full-bodied.

It's basically just a good, simple wine. Perfect background note to a relaxing meal.

Tasting Notes - pre-food: Slightly sour cherries & other red fruits, very jammy, even some licorice on the finish. Light tannin.

Tasting Notes - with food: The tannins were nicely balanced by the steak, and the cherries got a little sweeter with the meat.

Color: Garnet/pinkish.

Price: approximately $15/bottle

Verdict: Tuesday night. Not the most complex red wine, but a very pleasant accompaniment to everything we've paired with it.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Welcome to Tuesday/Friday wine!

The Italians believe that there are two types of wine – drinking wines and thinking wines. Drinking wines go with food; thinking wines are the ones that are to be enjoyed with good conversation and great company.

We agree that there are two categories of wine, but we classify them a little differently. For us, there are Tuesday night wines and Friday night wines.

Tuesday night wines are wines that are good, but not special. They’re a background complement to something simple for dinner -- burgers, takeout Chinese food, pizza, leftovers, etc. – and something entertaining on the DVR.

Friday night wines, well, they’re a whole other thing. Friday night wines deserve a meal that had some thought put into it. The kind that’s eaten at a table and requires silverware. No TV, just good music and thoughtful conversation. These wines can take center stage on their own or make the food even better.

It doesn’t have anything to do with the price, the varietal, where the wine came from, or a certain name on the label. It’s about whether we’d drink it on a Tuesday night or a Friday night.

We’re not wine experts and we’re not wine snobs. Actually, we think we’re wine geeks. The difference is that while wine snobs try to make everyone else feel bad that they don’t know as much, wine geeks are so excited about vino that they want to tell everyone else about it and get them, well, geeked up about it, too.

So, join us as we share what we’re tasting and decide whether it belongs early in the week or is the perfect way to start the weekend. We’re also planning to talk about some of the wineries we visit and other things we’ve learned along the way.

Cheers, sante, salud and chin-chin.