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Archive for the ‘Gamay’ Category

Are you one of these guys? No? Then you can't sing Auld Lang Syne while drunk no matter what you say.

Are you one of these guys? No? Then you can’t sing Auld Lang Syne while drunk no matter what you say.

Alright,  here it is; the only sparkling wine advice you’ll need for New Year’s Eve. It’s all about the science of bubbles!!!  Science Friday, one of my favorite podcasts had chemist Richard Zare on to discuss the persnickety peculiarities of bubbly beverages.  Despite the overly-liberal use of the brand name “Champagne” (Remember all Champagnes are sparkling white wines, but not all sparkling white wines are Champagne.) this was a fantastic episode with numerous tidbits that you can use to tantalize your NYE cohorts.  Take special note of Ira’s suggestion of a pickup line.

Oh, and what sparkling wine should you get this year?  Apparently, sparkling red wines are trendy right now (Gamay, Pinot Noir, and blends mostly).  So there you have it.  I just knew something trendy.

Enjoy this and have a wonderful end to your 2012: The year the world didn’t end. Again.

SciFri: Get the Most Bang From Your Bubbly

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Rating: 5/5

Cornish Hen marinated in olive oil, garlic and onion then put on the grill with a risotto full of tenderly cooked onions using a dash of the red wine instead of the traditional white.

Bonus gratuitous food shot

Wine: Domaine Diochon Cuvée Vielles Vignes 2009

Notes:

This was superb.  The gamay had a surprising amount of punch and had to be left out for an hour before I started in on it.  Lots of dark berries and fig components that went nicely with the creamy risotto and the grilled hen.  The tannins, although softly apparent on their own, seemed to melt away with the extra bit of finishing salt I dashed on at the end.  For those with concern about gamay, this is a serious one.  As a bonus, the dish turned out to be pretty good looking so I’ve included the gratuitous food shot above.  As a bonus to the bonus, I’ve even included a nice infographic of this label for those of you who want to figure out what exactly the items on a typical French label mean.

Bon appétit!

Interpreting a French Wine Label

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-Norman Rockwell

Every year there are countless recommendations given out as to what wine you should be pairing with your Thanksgiving meal. These recommendations are always made with the utmost confidence that this exact wine will be the perfect match to whatever meal you have and no other wine would do. Everyone eats the exact same thing at Thanksgiving, right? The turkey, the gravy, the cranberry sauce, the stuffing; yours will taste the same as your neighbors, right? Except the pumpkin pie! Your mother makes the best pumpkin pie and everyone else’s tastes exactly the same, which is to say…not as good.  You know the scenario:

 You write down the the recommendations you found in the magazine, on-line, on the radio or on TV, while wondering if you’re spelling it right and whether that word is the producer, the type of wine or where it’s from.  Such joy you have knowing you will be bringing the perfect wines for Thanksgiving! The hunt is on! But once you get to the liquor store, the hunt proves fruitless. The store doesn’t carry those wines (assuming you wrote down the correct thing to begin with) because you live in such a small town that they don’t carry every wine in existence. Fooled again, world of wine!  You got me!  What to do? Panic? You start reaching for the boxed wine….

The idea that there are one or two wines that are a “superior” match to everyone’s Thanksgiving dinner is quite frankly ridiculous.  The problem with specific wine recommendations is that they only work for specific meals.  The specific interactions you get between the wine and food with the environment you’re in comprise the experience.  Thus, the whole point of my musings on this web log.  You have to keep in mind though that a good experience is comprised of a range of factors.  Can you have a good day when it’s raining? Yes.  Can you have a good day when it’s 67 degrees instead of 65? Yes.  Can you have a great Thanksgiving meal with a wide range of wines? Yes.

So instead of worrying yourself over whether or not you’ll be able to find the specific wines that were recommended to you, let’s give you a variety of options, shall we?  Just remember to look for the bottles that have a specific region listed on them.  First, let’s think of the flavor components of traditional Thanksgiving meals: savory, herbs, spices of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves, creamy, buttery, jams, tart cranberries, the gamey-ness of the foul.  Now what wines can work well with that?

Whites:

  • Pinot Grigio
  • Chardonnay
  • Viognier
  • Tokaji
  • or some Bubbly!
I generally lean towards the medium to heavier bodied whites so they don’t get lost in all the heavy foods.  A little acid is nice and can provide some zip through the heaviness if you want to lighten it up.  The idea is to match up wines with more stone fruit components (pears, apples, apricots, etc.) which generally happen in cooler climates than ones that have more tropical flavors (mango, pineapple, kiwi) that generally happen in warmer climates.  So could you get a Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley?  Yes, but I’d go with that more specifically if I were making a more herbaceous meal with lemon tones.  If you like your buttery chardonnay, it’ll go great with those buttery biscuits and mashed potatoes.  If you generally like buttery chardonnays, but feel like they are at the top of your butteriness threshold, go with a viognier.

Reds:

  • First pickings from the newly released Beaujolais Nouveaus (Gamay)
  • Grenache or  Grenache/Syrah blends
  • Pinot Noir
  • Zinfandel
  • Cabernet Franc

With the reds, the idea is not to get too far into the heavy body realm or too far into the big tannin realm.  The amounts of vinegar and salt in most Thanksgiving meals can typically match the bitterness in the tannins of the above varietals and blends.  The idea with the reds is to match up the red-fruit-jammy and herbaceous flavors while keeping an eye on the tannins.  For some, lots of tannins aren’t a big deal and they kind of like it.  But if you’re having a large number of people over, there are high chances that not everyone is like this.  So if you do want to try a more tannic red, just make sure those who don’t enjoy that sort of thing have a chance to get more vinegar, citric acid or salt in their mouths before they take a quaff.  If your fruits are swaying more to the darker end (blackberries, plums) then you can switch over to the medium-bodied dark fruit wines like Merlot, Syrah, Monastrell, etc.

Just remember, if you really like a couple wines, chances are that those can work for the “perfect” Thanksgiving meal.  You might have to make some small adjustments to your menu, but everything should work out fine.  Those of us who enjoy wine have an expectation bar at some level and as long as it meets that or surpasses it, we’re good.  We don’t fret over prefect pairings, especially if we aren’t doing the cooking or bringing the wine.  If you do have someone who you know has the highest expectation bar, go ahead and tell them to bring the wine.

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