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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Tasting Room

Ice Wine, That Peachy-Lychee-Tropical-Honeyed Nectar

Illustration by Kathryn Rathke.

Illustration by Kathryn Rathke.

Yes, it’s that time of year again, when hearty Ontario winemakers (and others) freeze their—well, their somethings—off, in order to bring you bottles of the sweet, unctuous liquid known as ice wine. Fantastic Ice Wines. »

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Tasting Room

Wine with Fajitas, Otherwise Known as “Fa-HEE-tas”

© Iain Bagwell. Food styling by Simon Andrews.

© Iain Bagwell. Food styling by Simon Andrews.

When it comes to pairing wine and fajitas—a situation that might occur for some people only after every last margarita on earth had been drained—here’s a general thought. Fajitas, which are typically served with onions, grilled bell peppers, cheese, pico de gallo, possibly guacamole, maybe sour cream and who knows what other fixings, fall into the broad pairing category of “It isn’t the meat, it’s the sauce (or condiments).” Essentially, you’re picking a wine to go with a mass of wildly different flavors. So you want one that goes with, more or less, anything. How to pick that fajita-pleasing wine. »

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Tasting Room

Great Winter Beers That Don't Taste Like Spiced Pop-Tarts

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale

Courtesy of Sierra Nevada

Few issues in the world are truly black-and-white. Cats, for instance. Some people think they’re nice pets; some people think they’re furry little narcissists who’d happily dine on your face if there were ever a complete collapse of civilization due to a nuclear apocalypse.  But one thing that can be divided into simple, black-and-white categories is winter beers. Basically, there are the ones that taste like something your grandmother would bake, and the ones that don’t. Here, six great winter beers.>>

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Trendspotting

Where to Drink Champagne Now

Portland, Oregon's Pix Pâtisserie/Bar Vivant.

Bar Vivant, Portland; Photo © Dina Avíla Photography.

Festive and versatile, impressive Champagne selections are now everywhere, from a tree house in France to Chicago’s O’Hare airport. F&W’s Megan Krigbaum celebrates the news. Plus, Champagne Lexicon so you can know what you're ordering.

Chicago: Bubbles Wine Bar
Finding a good glass of wine at an airport is nearly impossible, but at this new spot in O’Hare, travelers can order Champagnes like Taittinger’s NV Brut La Française and sample artisanal cheeses while waiting for flights. Terminal 3, O’Hare Airport.

 

New York City: Corkbuzz Wine Studio
Owner Laura Maniec (whose expertise we tap for Tasting Workout), wants everyone to drink Champagne every day. So she’s started her Champagne Campaign: Each night starting at 10 p.m., every bottle of Champagne on her list is half-off, including pricey têtes de cuvée like the 2002 Dom Ruinart Brut. 13 E. 13th St.; corkbuzz.com.

New York City: L’Apicio
At his new East Village restaurant, co-owner and sommelier Joe Campanale serves 30 sparkling wines by the bottle. At least eight are grower Champagnes (small-production wines from individual estates). 13 E. First St.; lapicio.com.

Pittsburgh: Perlé
Co-owner Peter Landis developed a special draft system just for his new Market Square spot, which always keeps five sparkling wines on tap. His other 22 sparkling selections are served by the bottle. 25 Market Sq.; perlepgh.com.

Portland, OR: Pix Pâtisserie/Bar Vivant
“Every December, we’ve had 100 Champagnes on offer, but starting last year, I decided to keep them year-round,” says owner–pastry chef–Champagne fiend Cheryl Wakerhauser of Pix and the new Bar Vivant, a tapas bar. 2225 E. Burnside St.; pixpatisserie.com.

Verzy, France: Perchingbar
This unusual treehouse bar sits 18 feet above the ground in a park outside the town of Verzy. Guests can have glasses of Bollinger or Pehu Simonet in the clubby lounge or on the huge wraparound deck surrounded by trees. Plan ahead, though, as it’s open only during warmer months. perchingbar.eu.

CHAMPAGNE LEXICON

Blanc de Blancs White Champagne made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes.

Dosage A blend of wine and sugar that is added to most Champagne at the final bottling to offset the acidity of the wine.

Blanc De Noirs White Champagne made from red Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

Mousse The foam that appears at the top of a glass of Champagne when it’s poured.

Brut Dry, meaning that the wine has a minimal dosage—less than 12 grams of sugar per liter.

Wine Wednesday

Real Names of Wine

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© Kathryn Rathke

© Kathryn Rathke

The truth about wine grapes is that they rarely have one name—Pinot Noir, for instance, may be Pinot Noir to you and me (and to the French), but to the Austrians it’s Blauburgunder, to the Italians it’s Pinot Nero and to the Croatians it’s either Burgundac Crni or Modra Klevanyka, though I’m a bit vague on why it’s sometimes one and sometimes the other. In any case, here’s a handy guide to some of the more common of wine’s identical twins »

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Tasting Room

Australian Shiraz: A Regional Guide

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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

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

Tasting Room

Molecular Pairing at Home

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Getting Pairing Down to a Science

Illustration by Alex Nabaum

Though the scientific language in François Chartier’s book can be daunting, it’s easy to test out his ideas with simple dishes.

Read more >

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Tasting Room

Wine vs. Mocktails: The Pairings Showdown

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Wine vs. Mocktails: The Showdown

 

F&W's Ray Isle tested Rouge Tomate's wine pairings against its mocktail pairings. Wine won—but it was a close call. Here, three of the matchups >

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Ray Isle's Tasting Room

Sauvignon Blanc Flavor Scale

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Sauvignon Blanc Flavor Scale

© Alex Nabaum

Sauvignon Blanc, possibly more than most wine grapes, reflects where it is grown: Warm-climate wines will have notes of melon and ripe citrus, cooler-climate ones will be more herbal and green-peppery. Some people prefer one end of the spectrum, some the other—and knowing the wine’s origin will help you find a bottle you like. Here, a visual guide to the range of aromas and flavors.

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Wine

Burgers and Wine Pairings

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Bacon Cheeseburger

© John Kernick
Bacon Burger on Brioche Bun

There’s a useful wine-pairing bit of advice which runs, “It’s not the meat, it’s the sauce.” What that means is when you've got a chunk of protein in front of you—unless you prefer your meat à la Cro Magnon, i.e. rare and dripping with blood—you're most likely pairing wine to the sauce or condiments on it as much as the meat itself. In other words, smother a chicken with mushroom-cream sauce, and you’ve got a whole different wine situation than if you take the bird, dip it in Sriracha, and roast it on a bed of limes (admittedly, I’ve never done that and it would probably taste godawful, but you get the idea). Same goes for burgers.
 
Basic Ol’ Hamburger (ketchup, mustard,lettuce, onion, pickle). Tanginess from the mustard, a little sweetness from the ketchup, a little sourness from the pickle, a whole lotta nothing from the lettuce. Plus meat. Star of picnics around the nation. I’d go with a not-too-tannic red. The plush, berry-rich 2008 Columbia Crest H3 Merlot ($12) would do the trick.
 
Bacon Cheeseburger. When I think of Heaven, I think of St. Peter at the pearly gates saying hello, and then some guy with wings next to him handing me a really good bacon cheeseburger (admittedly, I’m taking a different bus to the afterlife than the vegetarians of the world). What I’d drink with that, wine-wise, would be something with some pretty substantial tannins, which will help cut through all that bacon-cheese-beef fat. Côtes du Rhône from France: not a bad choice at all. Go for the 2007 E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône rouge ($13).
 
Avocado, Jalapeno, Pepper Jack Burger with Salsa. Spicy. The thing to know about spicy when it comes to wine is that tannic wines accentuate heat. Alcohol doesn’t help either. Barring a cold beer, I’d actually go with a juicy Pinot Noir with this burger, say from California’s Central Coast. The 2009 Redtree Pinot Noir ($10) is surprisingly good despite the modest price.
 
Barbecue Sauce Burger. Sweet, sticky, smoky barbecue sauce needs a red built like Santa Claus—massive, but in an embracing way, not in a now-Hulk-smash! kind of way. That, to me, is Zinfandel: big dark fruit, soft tannins, a kind of voluminous feel to it. The 2009 Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel ($12) has robust blackberry flavors and a dark, spicy finish.
 
Dry Turkey Burger with Nothing on It. Somewhere out there someone is trying to stay healthy by eating one of these. Madness knows no bounds. Drink water with it, then watch Papillon, the great Steve McQueen movie about being in prison on Devil’s Island in French Guiana—because that is what you are doing to your soul, my friend.
 
Related:Best Burger Recipes Ever
Best Burgers in the U.S.
Best Pizza Places in the U.S.
Best Fried Chicken in the U.S.

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