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By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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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.

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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.

Beer

Craft Beer in Cans

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It’s very easy to imagine some beer-drinking alien from the planet Xorx arriving on Earth and saying, “Let me get this straight. You have 1,716 independent small brewers in your ‘country’—whatever that is—and until now they never thought of putting their beer in cans? Hmmm. You really are lesser beings, aren’t you. I shall now vaporize your cities.”
 
Thankfully, the craft brewers of America are finally relenting on this bottle-only approach to beer, which (a) will save us all from early vaporization, and (b) will allow people like me to drink their beer at the beach. 

Now it’s possible, even likely, that beer purists will insist that the bottle is theonly way to go, that the complex nuances of a fine beer are made flat and anemic by aluminum. I will insist in turn that coming across Brooklyn’s Six Point Brewery’s terrific Bengal Tiger IPA in cans at my local supermarket is a mighty fine thing indeed.
 
So if you meet a Xorxian (blue, tentacles, loves pale ale), offer him/her/them/whatever a fine craft beer in a can. Unless you want to be known as the dope who got our fair nation wiped from the face of the planet. Here are a few that ought to do the trick.
 
New Belgium Fat Tire Amber Ale. The craft-ale-in-can movement has proved so successful for Fort Collins, Colorado’s New Belgium that it just announced the addition of a 16,000-square-foot canline to its brewery. Fat Tire is malty and on the richer side: a good burger beer.
 
Six Point Craft Ales Bengali Tiger IPA. Sixteen-ounce cans for this one, and why not—it’s a terrific beer (as noted above), balancing its piney hops notes against a fair amount of richness. It’s particularly appealing because Six Point’s ales haven’t been available in either bottles or cans, just on tap or in growlers, until now.
 
Anderson Valley Brewing Company Hop Ottin’ IPA. Classic West Coast India Pale Ale with a zingy dose of citrusy hops. I’m a little sad the Anderson Valley folks retired their Poleeko Gold Pale Ale in cans in favor of this IPA, but it’s still a darn fine brew.
 
Harpoon Summer Beer. This is a kolsch-style beer, which basically means it’s a lighter Germanic ale—an ale that drinks a bit like a lager, if you will. If you were on a boat on a scenic lake with a cold six-pack of these cans and a fishing rod/book/tuna sandwich/whatever makes you happiest, then your life would be an enviable one.
 
Porkslap Pale Ale. That is it about the name Porkslap that says so elegantly, “Buddy, are you kidding me? Of course I'm in a damn can”? Regardless, this lightly gingery ale from New York’s Butternuts brewery was way ahead of the curve—the first release was in 2005. And yes, it is sold only in cans.
 
Related Links: Best American Beer, Bourbon and More
Great Beer Pairings
Cooking with Beer Recipes

Entertaining

Tailgating 101: What to Drink with Barbecue

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© © James Baigrie
Barbecued Brisket with Burnt Ends

Some time ago, I had the odd honor of being a judge at the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue, one of the bigger meat-fests in the barbecue circuit. I can’t recall who won what, but I vividly recall walking up the stairs to my second-floor motel room, listening to two portly fellows loudly discuss themerits (and drawbacks) of possum and raccoon barbecue. In that context, pairing wine instead of beer with barbecue seems a bit twee, sort of like playing Chopin nocturnes at a Nascar race, but what the heck. What are cliffs for but to fling oneself off of?

Brisket. Being a Texan, my heart believes that real barbecue is made from cow, not pig, despite a lot of Southern evidence to the contrary. Anyway, that’s a battle to be fought by diehards. Ignore them. Drive to Louie Mueller’s in Taylor, TX, order yourself some of their sublimely excellent brisket, and then figure out some way to drink a good Cabernet blend with it. The 2008 Cameron Hughes Lot 249 Alexander Valley Meritage ($12) is a fine choice.

Sausage. On the day that New York’s Hill Country BBQ decided it was a good thing to import sausages up from Kreuz Market in Lockhart, TX, the clouds parted, the sun shone, and all was good upon the land. Seriously. And if one were going to pour a glass ofwine to go with these juicy, sublimely spiced links, I think a Zinfandel—itself a spicy number—would be the answer. The 2009 Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel ($12) is an in-your-face example, in a good way.

Pulled Pork. An excellent counter-argument from the South to this whole Texan beef-business. Good pulled pork (Sweatman’s, in Holly Hill, SC, about 50 minutes outside Charleston, is hard to beat) has a sublime balance of porkiness, juiciness, and smoke thatought to make Pierre Gagnaire wonder if perhaps he picked the wrong cuisine to specialize in. In South Carolina the sauce is mustardy and a bit sweet; in North Carolina, it’s more vinegary. I’d eat both with a dry rosé, though honestly if I did that I’d probably get my butt kicked. Try (if you’re willing to risk it) the fruity 2010 Frog’s Leap La Grenouille Rougante ($14).

Ribs. Frank Zappa, in his little-known but much-loved (ok: by a few freaks) anthem “Muffin Man,” intones this immortal line: “There is not, nor ought there be, anything so exalted on the face of God’s gray earth as that prince of foods…the muffin.” Hm. Let’s change that to ribs, ok? I can think of almost no instance when I wouldn’t trade whatever is on my plate for some truly great bbq ribs, like the ones from Mike Mills’ 17th Street Bar & Grill in Murphysboro, IL. Lots of flavor, lots of juice, and, admit it, lots of fat—if wine is on the table, make it a big, brawny Syrah, like the robust 2008 Cambria Tepusquet Syrah ($19).

Related:Tailgating Recipes

25 Perfect Pork Recipes
Best Burgers in the U.S.
Ultimate Burger Recipes

Tasting Room

Age-Your-Own Whiskey: Week 1

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Woodinville Whiskey Co.'s Age-Your-Own Whiskey Kit

© Tomi Omololu-Lange
Woodinville Whiskey Co.'s Age-Your-Own Whiskey Kit

Whenever I tell people that I’m from Kentucky, the response is always, “Whiskey or horses?”—not altogether an unfair question. (It’s horses, by the way.) Generally, American whiskey doesn’t stray too far from the Kentucky-Tennessee border. That’s why, when I opened a package from Woodinville Whiskey Company, I was doubly mystified. Not only had they sent a Washington State whiskey, but a Washington State age-your-own whiskey kit, complete with two bottles of unaged whiskey, an adorable miniature barrel and a funnel. Curious, I decided to give it a go and I’ll be reporting on any changes over the next few weeks.

Whiskey can be made from various grains—corn, wheat, rye and barley. Blenders come up with their own personal recipes and whip up a grain cocktail, called the mash bill, that’s distilled, resulting in a clear, high-proof spirit. This is then aged in charred wood barrels for a varying amount of time—typically eight years or more. The mini-barrel in Woodinville’s kit, however, is said to speed-age whiskey—10 times faster than the great big barrels used in distilleries.

So after soaking the little barrel in water (per the instructions), last week I funneled the bottles of white whiskey into it. Over time, it should deepen in color and pick up lovely hints of vanilla, smoke and nuts. Allegedly, in just a few weeks, I should see significant changes in both the color and the flavor of the whiskey. I’ve set aside some of the original white whiskey as a control, so I can see just how quickly the barrel influences our little batch.

The clear, unaged whiskey in the kit is a mash of corn, wheat and malted barley—the traditional bourbon whiskey mash bill used in Kentucky. For now, all I have is this raw white whiskey (a.k.a. moonshine, white dog, white lightning, albino, whatever), which, in recent years, has become quite popular on its own. And I don’t mean the old bathtub version. Three to try:

Woodinville Whiskey Company Unaged Whiskey (the one we’re aging): Sweet butterscotch on the nose and powerful at 110 proof.

Death's Door White Whiskey: Wisconsin’s Death’s Door debuted one of the first white whiskeys on the market in 2008. Since then, their version has become extremely popular with mixologists. It has a grape-lollipop note that makes it perfectly fun for cocktails.

Bully Boy White Whiskey: Spearminty and twiggy, with notes of basil, this is a great palate-cleanser.

I should add that in the process of feeding our baby barrel the unaltered whiskey, I had a little accident that resulted in shattered glass, spilled whiskey and a crack down the center of Food & Wine’s tasting table. Looks like I’ve got the devil’s luck just in time for Halloween. Then again, I’m not convinced that the devil’s luck is such a bad thing to have when you’re in the business of aging whiskey.

Wine

Food & Wine Remembers Joe Dressner

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Joe Dressner sought out genius winemakers like Thierry Puzelat.

© Antonis Achilleos
Joe Dressner sought out genius winemakers like Thierry Puzelat.

The pioneering, super-influential, widely admired wine importer Joe Dressner died of cancer last weekend, and the wine world has been bursting with remembrances. Dressner was famously (or infamously) blunt and opinionated, and though he championed a style of winemaking that could appear to edge on dogma (traditional methods, wild yeasts, low sulfur), he was no ideologue. Dressner's bottom line was that these wines tasted better—so, as our tribute, F&W editors salute the Louis/Dressner wines they've loved.
 


Ray Isle, Executive Wine Editor
Marco de Bartoli Vecchio Samperi Marsala
It's hard to land on one specific wine from Joe Dressner's portfolio to write about—there are so many that are so good. But if I have a sentimental favorite, it's Marco de Bartoli's Vecchio Samperi Marsala. De Bartoli, who also passed away this year, was occasionally known as the wizard of Marsala—a nondescript mass-produced dessert wine that in his hands (and in this particular bottling) could become a kind of exotically aromatic, layered liquid, all hazelnut and dried orange peel and wisps of smoky tea, and, contrary to expectation, not sweet at all but dry. The nickname was deserved, in other words. I also love this wine because when I was in Sicily for my honeymoon twelve years ago, I visited the winery with my wife and chatted for an hour with de Bartoli, who was unexpectedly friendly despite his obvious surprise that two Americans would turn up unannounced at the doors of his (rather difficult to find) winery. For years it was essentially impossible to find his wines here; why am I not surprised that in the end they wound up with Joe Dressner?
 
Megan Krigbaum, Associate Wine Editor
Agnès and René Mosse Moussamoussettes
I can't claim responsibility for discovering Agnès and René Mosse’s Moussamoussettes, but I will fully accept responsibility for buying most of the cases allotted to New York City. A few years ago, myboyfriend picked up a bottle of this sparkling rosé on the way to dinner at our neighborhood BYOB Middle Eastern place on a whim. We popped open its soda cap top and were entirely delighted. Now we beg our local wine shop for more. It’s a happy wine, a wine that makes it easy to drink the whole bottle. The Mosses are one of my favorite organic producers of top-notch Chenin Blanc in the Loire—they bottle Chenins from several different AOCs, essentially a study of that grape grown in different terroirs. But Moussamoussettes is not this sort of thinker's wine; it’s a pure pleasure wine. And it’s completely different every vintage. The first year, it was quite dry with juicy strawberry fruit. Last year, it was more earthy than fruity, and more bubbly. And this year it was shockingly sweet—better for dessert than with spinach pie, admittedly. There probably aren’t any more bottles of this year’s Moussamoussettes on shelves, but I’m already waiting for next year.  
 
Lawrence Marcus, Associate Digital Editor
2006 Jean-Paul Brun Terres Dorées Beaujolais L'Ancien
Odd as it might sound, this lowly non-cru Beaujolais was, for me, a bit of a revelation. I bought it expecting a simple Gamay to go with roasted chicken, but that's not what it turned out to be. This wine had none of the wild, edgy flavors that are sometimes associated with the "natural" approach favored by Dressner's producers. Instead, it had real polish. The tannins and deep berry flavors were perfectly balanced in a way that was striking; few wines have quite that much finesse. Basically, this Beaujolais was insanely good. I went out and bought six more bottles, and drank them over the next few years. That a $15 Gamay could age gracefully amazed me, and proved that price and prestige don't have everything to do with great wine.
 
Kristin Donnelly, Senior Food Editor
2004 Clos du Tue-Boeuf Le Buisson Pouilleux
I was indoctrinated into the “real wine” movement while working at Chambers Street Wines in 2004. During a dinner with some wine business people, I brought out this bottle, made by rock-star natural winemakers Thierry and Jean-Marie Puzelat. It was nothing like other Sauvignon Blancs from the Loire Valley, which were typically almost clear and very minerally. This was deep golden and cloudy. “Orange wines” were still a fringe phenomenon, so people assumed the wine was flawed. By then, I had learned not to judge a wine by its appearance so I convinced everyone to try it. It was rich, floral and exotic smelling and almost honeyed on the palate—a truly gorgeous wine that was a big hit at the dinner. When I told Joe how much I loved the “Tue-Boeuf Sauvignon Blanc,” he chided me: “You mean Le Buisson Pouilleux,” he said in his Queens-accented French. Typical Joe. He was never a fan of referring to wines the American way, by grape variety, and often made fun of the habit on his blog. Just one of the many reasons people loved him.

Wine

Chilling with Chilled Red Wine

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Beaujolais is very nice with a light chill.

It’s one of the big mysteries—up there with crop circles, the second gunman in Dallas, and why anyone on earth eats Marmite. Why don’t people drink red wine cold? It’s hot, you love red wine, so what’s the answer? A big warm glass of Zinfandel? Body-temperature Cabernet? The thing is, there are a number of red wines out there that chill down just fine. The main consideration is this: If you have a big, tannic red, serving it cold will accentuate those tannins and make it astringent and harsh. But a lighter red, not so heavy on the tannins and bright with fruit, well, chuck it in the cooler and go. Here are a few possibilities. Or you can just go on drinking that steaming glass of Syrah while you sweat in the blazing sun. Along with a big schmear of Marmite on toast.
 
Beaujolais
The perfect picnic wine, and so, unsurprisingly, nice with a light chill. The gamay grape, from which Beaujolais is made, is unprepossessing, not very tannic at all, and full of lively cherry-raspberry fruit. The 2009 Louis Jadot Beaujolais Villages ($10) is a fine option. (pictured: 2009 Georges Duboeuf Domaine des Rosiers Moulin-a-Vent ($17) is also great.)

Bardolino
Italy’s answer to Beaujolais (though Frappato from Sicily is another strong contender). Bardolino comes from the hills near Lake Garda, uses the same grape varieties as Amarone (oddly enough, given that Amarone is one of the higher-octane reds around), and has a gentle wild-cherry-ish flavor. The 2010 Corte Giara Bardolino ($11) is a good one to seek out.
 
Pinot Noir
Some Pinots don’t chill well—more robust versions, for instance a good percentage of what California produces. But find a delicate, lighter style, and Pinot tastes great chilled down. Oregon’s a good place to look; among the best choices there is the floral 2010 Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Pinot Noir ($20).
 
Sparkling Shiraz
Freaky stuff: black-purple in color, big and hearty in character, and fizzy. But for a cookout it’s a fun option, and it tastes far better cold than regular, non-sparkling Shiraz. Plus, when your friends see you holding a glass, they’ll say entertaining things like, “What the heck is that?” The best I’ve run into recently is the NV The Chook Sparkling Shiraz ($19).
 
Related Links:
Summer Drinks
More Great Summer Wines

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