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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Tasting Room

Exercise Your Beer Know-How

Organized roughly from least to most intense—from mild Hefeweizen all the way to robustly sweet and bitter Imperial Stout—this chart gives a general sense of beer style so you can train yourself to be a better taster. Dave McLean also rates hops flavor from one dot (peppery or citrusy) to five (full of “green” tastes, like pine needles) and malt flavor from last to most toasty.

Beer Chart

 

Related:
Train Yourself to be a Better Beer Taster

Awesome Canned Craft Beer
Cooking with Beer

Ray Isle's Tasting Room

Wineries Not to Miss: Piedmont Picks

Wineries Not to Miss: Piedmont Picks

Photo © Martin Morrell

Piedmont, in northern Italy, is known for two things: wine and truffles. Traditionally, when people make pilgrimages to Piedmont, that’s why they come. They visit the vineyards and the wineries, they drink Barolo and Barbaresco, they eat pasta buried under snowdrifts of white truffle shavings and they laugh as they listen to that eerie whistling sound a bank account makes as it deflates, which is what happens when they pay for all those truffles. Here, wineries not to miss.

Giacomo Borgogno e Figli
At Borgogno, one of Piedmont’s oldest wineries (founded in 1761), a shop sells current bottles of its elegant Barolos, plus vintages going back to the 1960s. Cellar tours are just five euros. Via Gioberti 1, Barolo; borgogno.com.

Boroli
After tasting Boroli’s impressive Barolos and Barberas (make sure to try the single-vineyard Fagiani Barbera), travelers can eat at owner Achille Boroli’s nearby Michelin-starred restaurant, Locanda del Pilone. Fraz. Madonna di Como 34, Alba; boroli.it.

Michele Chiarlo
In 2011, this top producer opened the gorgeous Palas Cerequio resort adjacent to the renowned Cerequio vineyard. Guests can try excellent wines from the region, as well as Chiarlo’s own bottlings, in the on-site tasting room. Palas Cerequio, Borgata Cerequio, La Morra; palascerequio.com.

Elvio Cogno
Stop by this hilltop winery (tastings by appointment) for superb single-cru Barolos and a remarkable Barbera made from vines planted in the 1800s. Località Ravera 2, Novello; elviocogno.com.

Ceretto
Every wine made by this producer outside the town of Alba is impressive. So is the estate itself, which has a translucent, hemispherical tasting room that extends out over the vines, and a colorful chapel designed by artists Sol LeWitt and David Tremlett. Località San Cassiano 34, Alba; ceretto.com.

Fontanafredda
Unusual for top European wineries, the tasting room and shop here are open daily with no appointment necessary. Visitors can also take nature walks on the estate, originally a hunting retreat for King Vittoro Emanuele II. Via Alba 15, Serralunga d’Alba; fontanafredda.it.

Related: Bold Beers in the Land of Barolo

Ray Isle's Tasting Room

I ♥ Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc

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

At-Home Sommelier

Almost-Extinct Grapes to Try Now

Winemakers across Europe have worked to save indigenous grape varieties from extinction, often bringing them back from a few surviving vines. Here are four to try.

Almost-Extinct Grapes

Illustration © Alex Nabaum

Malagousia
In the late 1970s, winemaker Vangelis Gerovassiliou of Greece helped rescue this silky variety from one remaining vine. Now, wineries around the country make wines with it. Bottle to Try: 2011 Zafeirakis Malagousia ($16)

Nascetta
Native to Italy’s Piedmont region, citrusy Nascetta was virtually gone when winemaker Valter Fissore of Elvio Cogno first started experimenting with it in the mid-1990s. Bottle to Try: 2011 Elvio Cogno Anas-Cëtta ($33)

Godello
Only a few hundred vines of this crisp, minerally white variety were left when Spanish vintners revived it; now there are more than 3,000 acres. Bottle to Try: 2011 Gaba do Xil Godello ($17)

Pecorino
A full-bodied white variety, Pecorino was thought to be extinct when a few final vines were found in the 1980s. Now it’s grown in much of central Italy. Bottle to Try: 2011 Velenosi Villa Angela ($15)

Related: More from F&W's May Issue: 5 Promising New Wine Regions
F&W's Wine Tasting & Travel Guide

Ray Isle's Tasting Room

Superb Easter Wines under $15

At-Home Sommelier

Italian Wines for Chicken

Italian Wine Pairings for Chicken

Photo © Michael Turek

Before launching their much-anticipated new Manhattan restaurant, Charlie Bird, sommelier Robert Bohr and chef Ryan Hardy organized a wine tasting and dinner centered around a fantastic roast chicken recipe. Here, Bohr and his sommelier wife Jordan Salcito offer their favorite pairings.

Bohr’s Picks

2007 Bellus Girasole ($28)
Bohr loves its leafy, herbal notes.

2008 Fattorie Romeo del Castello Vigo Etna Rosso ($46)
Volcanic soil gives this red a firm acidity.

2010 Paolo Bea Santa Chiara ($46)
An intense white blend from Umbria.

Salcito’s Picks

2011 Venica & Venica Malvasia ($27)
A zesty, tart white from Italy’s Friuli region.

2010 Monastero Suore Cistercensi Coenobium Rusticum ($29)
A dense white from a convent in Lazio.

2011 Arianna Occhipinti SP68 ($40)
A vivid, slightly wild blend of Nero d’Avola and Frappato from Sicily.

Read More: An Italian Wine-Pairing Summit

Related: Taste Test Winners: Italian Value Wines
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Ray Isle's Tasting Room

Great Passover Wines Under $15

Tasting Room

Irish Whiskey

Credit: Eric Witz
Credit: Eric Witz

Green beer: a Tipperary cocktail made with Irish whiskey. Credit: Eric Witz

As an at least partly Irish sort of fellow (my mother’s father’s family), it’s heartening that Americans finally seem to have caught on to the appeal of Irish whiskey. What makes Irish whiskey distinctive (I can hear my ancestors saying besides the fact it comes from Ireland, ya big eejit?) is that it’s typically a blend of mixed-grain and single-malt whiskies, like a blended Scotch, but is usually distilled three times rather than two; also, the malted barley used for Irish is dried in kilns rather than over peat smoke, so it lacks the smoky, sometimes iodine-y character of many Scotches. Here are three great Irish whiskies, and two classic St. Patrick's Day cocktails to enjoy them in. »

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Tasting Room

Awesome Canned Craft Beer

Courtesy of Sierra Nevada.
Courtesy of Sierra Nevada

Courtesy of Sierra Nevada

There are now more than 180 craft breweries putting their brew into cans (out of about 875 total, not counting brewpubs). And that’s a fine thing. I mean, it may be 20 degrees outside, but you’ve still got to drink something at the beach, right? Here are 5 great canned craft beers. »

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Tasting Room

Yet Another Reason to Drink Beer

© David Tsay
© David Tsay

© David Tsay

It’s possible you may have missed it, but just before Christmas a team of scientists in Seattle managed to determine the absolute configurations of isohumulones in beer!

Relieved, aren’t you? Me too. But no matter what you think, it’s evidence of sorts that people’s curiosity about beer knows no bounds; and in this case, their curiosity about how hops work.

Hops (the female flower of the hop plant) impart bitterness, and also—depending on the hop strain—resinous, piney and/or citrusy/tangy notes. Most beers have some hop character; over the years various craft brewers have also been obsessed with pushing the envelope of how hoppy a beer can get. In the wrong hands, this obsession can result in undrinkably bitter haaargh-water, but for a talented brewer it can result in beers that are delicious in large part because of their complete, crazy, in-your-face hoppiness. For the adventurous, here are 9 extremely hoppy beers that also happen to be extremely good. »

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