I was surprised—kind of blown away, in fact—the other day when I went to a vertical tasting of vintage-dated, higher-end Proseccos from Nino Franco, one of the top Prosecco producers.
Wine-tasting has its own code of conduct. Here's what you need to know about all that swirling, swishing and spitting.
This spring in New York, we’ve partnered with the French Institute Alliance Francaise to present a series of panels and wine tastings celebrating Art de Vivre and the intersection of French and American culture.
You know the rest of that line, right? Well, it's with some small amount of sadness that I am saying that about this blog: It must come to an end. I've had a terrific time writing it, but we've decided that in the end it's a bit strange, for a magazine that's all about bringing together food and wine, to have separate blogs on those topics.
So, from here on out, any wine blogging that I (and Megan Krigbaum, Kristin Donnelly, and various other stalwart folks) do will instead appear in F&W's primary blog, Mouthing Off. No less wine coverage, just a different venue. See you there.
When I am the emperor of reality, after the bazillion dollars and the private island and the sudden ascent to George Clooney-like savoir faire, I am going to give Dolcetto a little boost. It’s a nifty grape. It makes juicy, lively, affordable and delicious reds, with a flavor that suggests black cherries and a faint, intriguing touch of bitterness. Dolcetto isn’t meant for deep thought but simply for happy drinking. You can chill it lightly. You can serve it with burgers. Hey, you could put it in a CamelBak and take it up a mountain. Dolcetto is fine with that. It would make me think of my Italian grandmother back in Alba and her great homemade agnolotti, except that I’m mostly Irish plus some random Welsh-German craziness and the only thing I remember my grandmother cooking was toast.
So, Dolcetto. Go buy a bottle. Invite some friends over. Get a pizza. Drink the stuff. Don’t think about it—there are plenty of other things think about. Besides, how can you not love a grape whose name translates as “little sweet one?”
5 Dolcettos to Hunt Down
1. 2009 Elio Grasso ($17) The rich fruit here recalls pomegranate rather than cherry.
2. 2008 Renato Ratti Colombè ($15) Mild tannins make this a good candidate for a light chill; an ideal picnic red, in other words.
3. 2009 Cavallotto Vigna Scot ($16) Dark fruit and soft tannins make this a good introduction to the Dolcetto variety.
4. 2009 Borgogno ($20) An old-school producer making old-school wine: earthy and herbal, rather than fruity and ripe.
5. 2009 Massolino ($20) Clear, precise flavors define this streamlined red.
Related Links:Bargain Wines Bottles from the Best Blogging Winemakers
(Pictured above: Try pairing Mario Batali's Spicy Stewed Sausages with Three Peppers with a great Dolcetto)
NV Lini Labrusco Lambrusco ($14) It’s purple, it’s fizzy, it comes from Italy, and it’s really good, the latter part being what separatesit from most Lambruscos.
2009 Crios de Susanna Balbo Malbec ($15) Malbec was made for grilled meat (that may explain its popularity in Argentina, where people eat something like 125 pounds of beef each year, per person). Susanna Balbo, one of Argentina’s greatest winemakers, has a knack for the grape, which this juicy, lightly spicy red makes clear.
2009 Foxglove Zinfandel ($14) Bob and Jim Varner make high-end, terrific wines under their own name, and inexpensive, also terrific wines under the Foxglove label. There’s a little Petite Sirah in this, which adds some backbone to Zinfandel’s lush fruit.
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(Pictured above: Cheddar-and-Onion Smashed Burger)
I think I must have been dazed by an overdose of Montrachet (a statement that will get me little sympathy from anyone), because it's taken me several days to get a handle on this wrapup post for the big event at Pebble Beach a week or so ago, Pebble Beach Food & Wine. As in years past, several thousand wine lovers converged on this idyllic spot for three days of rampant wine tasting. Highlights for me were the various tastings I helped host:
(2) a tasting of 2005 and 1999 Montrachets from Drouhin, Bouchard, Marc Colin, and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (really non-deal alert: 2005 DRC Montrachet. Pretty much nectar of the gods but it does run a cool $4500 a bottle or so...)
(3) a tasting of the wines of the Rhône's Château Beaucastel with Marc Perrin, one of the family members who own the estate. Beaucastel is arguably the benchmark Châteauneuf-du-Pape-the wines were unsurprisingly wonderful. I particularly like the aromatic, garrigue-y 2001.
Finally, my other highlight event was the dinner we hosted—along with the good folks at Robert Mondavi Winery—to celebrate our top sommeliers of 2011 (click through for the article). Good wines, well-deserved applause for the somms, and fantastic food from some of Napa Valleys star chefs: Richard Reddington, Ken Frank, Tyler Florence, Jeff Mosher, and Masaharu Morimoto (who came out and sang, accapella, a traditional Japanese fisherman's song).
Anyway, the event is over for this year but it will be back next year. If you're in the Bay Area and you like wine, you'd be crazy not to go.
© Lou Manna
NV Domaine Mosse Moussamoussettes Pétillant ($23) An unfiltered sparkler with no yeast or sugar added.
2008 Red Hook Winery The Electric ($45) The soul of a late-harvest Riesling in the body of a Chardonnay.
2002 Gravner Ribolla Gialla Anfora ($90) An “orange” wine fermented in underground clay amphorae.
2008 Domaine le Briseau Patapon ($28) Made from the rare Pineau d’Aunis grape, put through even rarer semi-carbonic maceration.
NV Pechigo Rouge ($22) An uncommon red blend from biodynamic winemaker Sylvain Saux.
2000 Domaine de Montbourgeau L’Etoile Vin Jaune ($71) An oxidized wine from the Jura, with fino sherry–like flavors.
The tasting booklet’s overall rating for each wine involved choosing its WTF?! Factor— illustrated with one to five unicorns—and came with photos depicting each wine’s wacky aspect (like a centaur for the unlikely blend in The Electric). You might love them or hate them, but you’ll never say they’re ordinary. One sip and you might blurt out…WTF?!
© Jen Murphy
Highland Park whisky tasting.
If there’s one thing that will lure me out into a New York City blizzard, it’s the chance to taste a super-rare whiskey. So the other evening, a handful of die-hard Scotch enthusiasts and I braved the snow so we could be among the first to taste Highland Park 1968 at a whiskey-tasting dinner at the Scottish gastropub Highlands. The Scottish distiller’s single malt—produced in extraordinarily small batches (only 1,550 bottles) and sold for an extraordinary price ($4,000 a bottle) will be released in May.
After we tried pours of the 18-, 25-, 30- and 40-year-old Highland Park whiskeys, the splash of '68 revealed it to be remarkably complex and smooth, with hints of ginger and clove and a fierce kick. But even with the extravagant packaging (an oak box inlaid with the Highland Park silver amulet) it still seems like an insane splurge in these recession-minded times.
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