Ray Isle's Tasting Room
Illustration © Alex Nabaum
I don’t understand why Cabernet Franc is less popular than its offspring, Cabernet Sauvignon—I love its herbal, tea-leaf scent, its lighter body and its vivid acidity. It grows well in a wide range of places, like France’s Loire Valley, northern Italy and Tuscany, California, Chile, even New York’s Finger Lakes. Here are three to try.
2010 Russiz Superiore Collio Cabernet Franc ($26) Friuli, in Italy, makes aromatic, medium-bodied, herbal Cabernet Francs. This one is a great example.
2010 Lang & Reed North Coast Cabernet Franc ($24) Bright berry flavors are the hallmark of this red from California Cabernet Franc specialist John Skupny.
2008 Arcanum Toscana ($100) A layered, complex Cab Franc blend from the vast Tenuta di Arceno estate in Tuscany; it more than rivals super-Tuscan bottlings of the same price.
Related: Ultimate Guide to Wine Pairings
French Wine Regions: The Loire Valley
F&W's Wine Tasting & Travel Guide
Potato Chips with Nori Salt. © Frances Janisch
Keep your carrot sticks and jugs of juiced kale, I say; give me potato chips. As far as I’m concerned, they’re the ultimate snack food. And, in general, America seems to agree, since we eat about 17 pounds per person per year of them (according to the USDA). And—the key consideration here—they actually go well with wine. So in a kind of nod to public service, here are some suggestions for potato chip pairing. »
Australia has more than 65 wine regions, each of them with its own climate and soil type. As a result, the wines from each region have their own distinctive characters. Here’s a geographic guide to Aussie Shiraz:
Shiraz: A Regional Guide. Art © Alex Nabaum.
Warm Climate (Pink Dots)
Regions: Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Heathcote, Langhorne Creek
Character: Ripe blackberries, massively rich, lots of power
Wine to Try: 2010 Torbreck Barossa Valley Woodcutter’s Shiraz ($22)
Food Pairing: Braised short ribs
Moderate Climate (Green)
Regions: Eden Valley, Clare Valley, Margaret River
Character: Tangy blackberries, substantial body, licorice and black pepper notes
Wine to Try: 2010 Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Clare Valley Shiraz ($19)
Food Pairing: Lamb chops
Cool Climate (Blue)
Regions: Great Southern, Yarra Valley, Coonawarra, Frankland River
Character: Raspberries, medium-bodied with higher acidity, herb and white pepper notes
Wine to Try: 2010 Innocent Bystander Victoria Shiraz ($20)
Food Pairing: Roast duck
Related: In Defense of Australian Shiraz
It’s easy, with wine, to drown in the details. Most of us want to know what grape a wine is made from—Cabernet Sauvignon, say—and where it’s from. Knowing the vintage doesn’t hurt either. And before buying a wine, people usually would just as soon have some idea of whether it’s any good. But beyond that, there’s a hyperabundance of information that is fascinating to the few (wine writers, for example) and mind-numbing for almost everyone else. Try saying “You know, it's kind of amazing, but the grapes for this Central Coast Syrah were grown on a combination of decomposed granite and sandy loam soils!” to someone you're on a first date with. You’ll definitely be watching TV later, alone. 5 refreshingly unpretentious reds that are just plain good. »
Fruit-based sauces like the apricot-onion pan sauce in this recipe pair well with a ripe Chardonnay from a warm region. / © Lucy Schaeffer
Admittedly, pairing wine with chicken breasts is kind of a pump fake topic, since as anyone with a nose or a tongue (or both) knows, chicken breasts on their own are about as intensely flavorful as water, or air. But it’s a fine way to illustrate one of the basic wine pairing rules, which is “Sometimes it isn’t the meat, it’s the sauce.” Since we have about nine billion chicken breast recipes on our site at Food & Wine, I’ve hijacked some favorites as examples. »
Illustration by Kathryn Rathke.
We don’t usually think of wine and the US military as going hand in hand (I doubt many of our guys are pouring themselves glasses of Napa Cabernet while on duty in Afghanistan), but there are actually a quite a few top-notch winemakers who also served in one of the branches of the armed forces. Why not buy one of the wines they’ve made and lift a toast to them—and everyone else who’s a veteran this week? 5 great veteran-made wines for Veteran's Day. »
Pair chef David Burtka's frighteningly human-like beef back ribs with one of these spooky Halloween wines. / © John Kernick
Here’s the way I see it with Halloween wines. There are plenty of wines out there that are propelled by some sort of marketing gimmick—Dracula’s favorite Transylvanian Zinfandel, 2012 Mr. Bones Bug Juice, what have you—but there are also some wines that more organically have a spooky Halloween vibe to them. Here are a few possibilities that would be appropriate served out of black glasses in a Haunted House, and that also actually taste good. The list of Halloween-ready booze. »
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Though that's not normally a wine-related subject, in fact several wineries have made commitments to help fight breast cancer. Some donate profits to help fund mammograms, some help support medical center, and some contribute to breast cancer research—no matter which route they've chosen, it's a good road to take. Here are four that are doing their share »
Here in the U.S. of A., we drink a lot of Chardonnay—over 53 million cases of it from California alone. Cabernet Sauvignon, too; we love the stuff. Merlot, Pinot, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, bottle after bottle of those, too. And that's all well and good. But there are thousands of different wine grapes out there in the world, and with all that abundance, why not take a flier on an oddball but tasty option? Here are five lesser-known but nifty varieties to look for. »
Wine and Chinese food tends to promote a strange response among wine writers, which can be summed up as “pair Chinese food with off-dry Riesling. Or Gewürztraminer.” Well, fine, but isn’t that sort of like saying “pair French food with white Burgundy” or “pair Italian food with a red wine?” Last I heard, Chinese cuisine had enormous regional variety and a culinary tradition that extends back, oh, a few thousand years or so. 7 wine pairings for everything from Americanized Kung Pao Chicken to traditional salted baked duck tongue. »