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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

Wine Wednesday

3 Rieslings Fit for a German Wine Queen

All hail Nadine Poss, the 65th German Wine Queen! 

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Wine Wednesday

Fantastic Australian Wine Values

2012 Yalumba Y Series Viognier

American wine drinkers, I think, largely labor under the mistaken idea that Australian wine can be summed up in one word: Shiraz. Not that I’ve got anything against the grape—Shiraz (known as Syrah pretty much everywhere else) is one of the great wine varieties of the world.

What people don’t realize, unfortunately, is the extraordinary variety of other wines that Australia produces. It’s not actually a surprise, when you think about it—after all, you can fit France into Australia about 17 times over, so wouldn’t it make sense that the Aussies might have enough different climates and terrains to grow more than one kind of grape? Besides, people have been making wine in Australia since 1791; if the only thing to put in the bottle were Shiraz, Australia’s winemakers would have long since expired from boredom.

With that in mind, here are a few great non-Shiraz Aussie values I came across on a recent trip there:

2012 Jacob’s Creek Riesling ($8) An appealingly juicy Riesling in a dry style, it’s got bright lemon-lime citrus flavors—simple, but tasty. The winery’s Reserve bottling (about $13) is a notch more complex, with floral notes and a lingering finish.

2012 Yalumba Y Series Viognier ($12) Viognier can easily become overripe and cloying, but Yalumba’s affordable Y series bottling comes off fresh and light-bodied, with juicy pineapple fruit.

2011 D’Arenberg The Stump Jump Red ($13) Chester Osborne, the guiding force behind D’Arenberg, is one of Australia’s most innovative winemakers (and marketers, for that matter). This spicy blend focuses on the deep plum-cherry flavors that are a benchmark of McLaren Vale Grenache.

2010 Heartland Cabernet Sauvignon ($15) Made by Barossa winemaking star Ben Glaetzer using fruit from the Langhorne Creek region, this is classic Aussie Cabernet: deep cassis fruit, firm tannins and a hit of spice on the finish.

2011 Innocent Bystander Pinot Noir ($17) Innocent Bystander is located in the Yarra Valley, one of Australia’s best Pinot locales, and this cherry-inflected, crisp red offers true Pinot character for under $20, a rare thing.

Related: Napa Valley Wineries to Visit
Greatest Australian Wine Producers
Spectacular New Wine Shops
Where to Drink Wine Now

Wine Wednesday

What to Drink with Dessert

Double-Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

It’s quite something to take a brisk walk on a cool September morning through Soho in New York City and come across a line of at least 150 people waiting patiently for the opportunity to buy a cronut. For me at least, the sight of all these cronut-loons raises a number of questions. One is, “Really? That’s how you’re going to spend your morning?” Another is, “Wow—is civilization doomed?” Then there’s the crucially important, “Gosh, I wonder what wine would go with a cronut?” READ MORE >>

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Wine Wednesday

Ray Isle's Favorite Wines for Lobster

Steamed Lobster with Lemon Thyme Butter

There’s been a fair amount of news about the unexpectedly low price of lobster this summer. Due to warming waters and, apparently, a whole lot of randy lobsters as a result, we are in the midst of a lobster glut. The current wholesale price for the things is about $3 a pound, give or take. While your local restaurant’s so-called “market price” for a lobster may not remotely resemble that number, retail prices are good in fish markets and grocery stores, and in Maine, where I visit every summer, they’re absurdly low.

So what wine goes best with these happily hypnotizable crustaceans? (Seriously: If you stand a lobster on its head with its claws out in front, and stroke its back, it will just balance there, motionless, for quite some time. Excellent party trick.) To get an answer to that question, I stopped by to see Scott Worcester, who runs Sawyer’s Specialties, a bizarrely good wine store in Southwest Harbor, Maine; bizarrely good, because he stocks several hundred terrific wines in a town with only 1,700 people or so.

“With lobsters? I like Chenin,” Worcester said immediately. “Chenin Blanc. Particularly a Chenin that’s a little bit off-dry and has four to five years aging in neutral barrels.”

This is very specific. For those who don’t happen to have an off-dry Chenin Blanc with four to five years aging in neutral oak barrels sitting by their elbow, he also suggested Chenin Blanc in general, as well as Grillo (a white variety from Sicily), and Chignin (an obscure white from France’s Savoy region). The key thing is that none of these suggestions feature new oak. People often suggest big, buttery Chardonnays as a partner for lobster, but in my experience oak and shellfish aren’t friends; if you do go with Chardonnay with your lobster, go oakless. And I’d also suggest Muscadet—as always, it goes brilliantly with anything that comes from the sea.

A few great lobster wines:

2012 The Curator White ($12) A blend of Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Sémillon from the talented South African winemaker Adi Badenhorst, this medium-bodied white has a juicy apple-ginger character.

2011 Feudo Maccari Grillo ($13) This Sicilian white is pineapple-citrusy and impressively crisp; a buy-it-by-the-case summer wine.

2012 Yalumba Unwooded Y Series Chardonnay ($13) From one of southern Australia’s oldest producers, this melony, full-bodied wine retains a lot of zippy freshness.

2011 Domaine de la Fruitière Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie “Petit M” ($13) Though it bears a lengthy name, this white isn’t heavy in the slightest—instead it’s lemony, stony, ebulliently crisp and light in alcohol.

2011 Denis et Didier Berthollier Chignin ($16) Chignin, a tiny subappellation of France’s Savoy region, is the source of this impressive, lemon-creamy white.

2012 Pascal Janvier Coteaux de Loir ($17) From an often-overlooked appellation in the Loire Valley that was once the favorite of King Henri IV (how can you argue with that?), this surprisingly complex Chenin Blanc has a focused, minerally appeal.

America’s Best Lobster Rolls
Delicious Lobster Recipes
Affordable Summer White Wines

Wine Wednesday

Fruity Wine Fail: Durian

Riesling Sangria with Lychees

Consider the durian. This is a fruit that smells, depending on whom you talk to, like rotting onions, roadkill, old cat box (one of our food editors suggested that one), concentrated manure, piles of unwashed gym socks, you name it. It looks like a king-size hedgehog with no legs, weighs up to nine pounds or so, and is said to occasionally kill people by falling on them from high up in the trees where it grows. Some people love it—the fruit inside is quite sweet and tasty, they’ll tell you—but then some people love fermented shark (really: Iceland). Regardless, the durian isn’t something that one naturally associates with the phrase, “Hey—let’s make this thing into wine!”

However, that is apparently what a clever gang of scientists in Singapore have done. The end result came in at about 6 percent alcohol, and lacks the durian’s debilitating smell. Now, why someone would want to do this remains unclear to me, but hey, the quest for knowledge is eternal. Nevertheless, I do think that if you’re dead set on bringing together fruit and wine, there are a number of easier and better ways to go about it, the best of them being sangria.

Sangria sometimes gets a bad rap as being cheap, fruity hooch, good for getting you cheerfully buzzed and little else, but good sangria is delicious, and also one of the best summer drinks for a crowd. Its history is vague—grapes have been cultivated in Spain for a couple of thousand years, and citrus fruit for half that, or so—but it seems pretty clear that no one in the US knew about it till it was introduced at the 1964 World’s Fair. The traditional recipe includes red or white wine, citrus juice (usually orange), sparkling water and sliced fruit, plus a little brandy and a little sugar. But thanks to the inventiveness of mixologists and chefs these days, there are also endless variations—red sangrias, white sangrias, sake-infused sangrias, mango sangrias, watermelon sangrias, you name it. Here, to spur the imagination and potentially resolve your next cookout beverage dilemma, are 15 of F&W’s favorites.

Related: 21 Summer Fruit Cocktails
Fantastic Wine Cocktails
Terrific Pitcher Drinks

Ray Isle's Tasting Room

Superb Easter Wines under $15

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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Wine Wednesday

After-Dinner Wines

Ray Isle, Food & Wine's Executive Wine Editor

Courtesy of Kathryn Rathke

Sometimes it’s nice to sit back after dinner and sip something sweet purely on its own. F&W's Ray Isle names his favorite after-dinner wines.>>

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Wine Wednesday

Sparkling Wines for New Year's Eve

Platinum Sparkle, a sparkling wine cocktail.

© Tina Rupp

Sommeliers, of course, spend a lot of their time thinking about which wine goes well with which food, or does not go well, or might go well if it weren’t Thursday, and so on. But if you ask a sommelier what wine he or she would like to drink right now, more often than not the answer is Champagne.
There’s a good reason for that: Champagne, essentially, goes with everything. It goes with salty dishes; it goes with fatty dishes; it goes with birds and it goes with beasts; with cheese it’s mighty tasty and with vegetables it is sublime; it’s ideal for celebrations and obligatory for toasts; it’s even excellent when poured on its own for no particular occasion at all. Here are some great sparkling wine options, from inexpensive to pricey, that will solve any New Year's wine issues you might have. >>

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Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.

Join celebrity chefs, renowned winemakers and epicurean insiders at the culinary world's most spectacular weekend, the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, June 19-21.