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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Wine Wednesday

Wines from the Rest of the U.S.

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Courtesy of Becker Vineyards

Courtesy of Becker Vineyards

At last count, there were wines being made in all 50 states. Now, some do face unusual difficulties—Tedeschi Vineyards in Hawaii, for instance, is the only vineyard I can think of in the U.S. located on the slopes of an active volcano—but nevertheless, there they are, wineries in every state. This fact can be easy to overlook, since California makes more than 90 percent of all U.S. wine. But as the weather has turned nicer (or, at least, is supposed to have), why not take a spin out to a local winery or two? Not a bad activity for a balmy weekend afternoon, and you’re supporting local businesses, too, which would be rather civic-minded of you. To spur you along, here are five wineries from around the country that are worth a trip. »

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Wine Wednesday

5 Grapes to Expand Your Wine Horizons

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© Cedric Angeles

© Cedric Angeles

Here in the U.S. of A., we drink a lot of Chardonnay—over 53 million cases of it from California alone. Cabernet Sauvignon, too; we love the stuff. Merlot, Pinot, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, bottle after bottle of those, too. And that's all well and good. But there are thousands of different wine grapes out there in the world, and with all that abundance, why not take a flier on an oddball but tasty option? Here are five lesser-known but nifty varieties to look for. »

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Wine Wednesday

Grilled Cheese and Wine

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Mario Batali's Mortadella and Cheese Panini

Mortadella and Cheese Panini; © Con Poulos

Imagine a world without cheese—no pizza, no mac and cheese, no cheeseburgers, no cheesecake, no grilled cheese. It would mean the disintegration of society as we know it! The end of the world! Possibly the complete implosion of the entire known universe! Well, thankfully, ExxonMobil has patented the process of “cheese fracking,” insuring that none of us will ever face a future sans cheese. And that means we can go merrily on pairing wine with our grilled cheese sandwiches. And that, my cheese-fanatic friends, is a big relief. "American cheese and white bread. Shouldn’t be scoffed at, even by foodies, and never scoffed at by seven-year-olds." »

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Wine Wednesday

How to Pair Wine and Chinese Food

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Courtesy of Kobrand.

Courtesy of Kobrand.

Wine and Chinese food tends to promote a strange response among wine writers, which can be summed up as “pair Chinese food with off-dry Riesling. Or Gewürztraminer.” Well, fine, but isn’t that sort of like saying “pair French food with white Burgundy” or “pair Italian food with a red wine?” Last I heard, Chinese cuisine had enormous regional variety and a culinary tradition that extends back, oh, a few thousand years or so. 7 wine pairings for everything from Americanized Kung Pao Chicken to traditional salted baked duck tongue. »

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Wine Wednesday

All About Albariño

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Courtesy of Condes de Albarei

Courtesy of Condes de Albarei

The signature white grape of the Rias Baixas region in Galicia, on Spain’s northeastern coast, Albariño produces crisp, aromatic white wines. Typically unoaked, Albariños are stylistically akin to Sauvignon Blanc, Vermentino, Arneis and so on, with flavors suggesting pineapple in ripe vintages, or grapefruit in cooler ones, and with a distinctive chalky-seashell mineral note. Tart and lively, it’s a great seafood wine, whether the dish is raw (oysters; sushi; whole raw narwhal, so often a weekday meal in my youth back in Greenland) or cooked. The seafood affinity also seems appropriate since Galicia is home to Spain’s fishing fleet, as well as to percebes, the odd little rock barnacles that are the signature delicacy of the region—well worth devouring, should you ever have the opportunity. 5 well-priced Albariños to get you started. »

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Wine Wednesday

Sauvignon Blanc Cheat Sheet

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Courtesy of Franciscan Estate Napa Valley

Courtesy of Franciscan Estate Napa Valley

Ah, Sauvignon Blanc. It’s zesty, it’s crisp, it’s loaded with citrusy zing, it whets the appetite and it tastes great served cold on a hot day. And, once in a while, it smells like a green pepper exploded in your glass. More on why Sauvignon Blancs sometimes have a cat-pee aroma and great bottles of it under $20. »

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Wine Wednesday

Bring on the Muscadet

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Courtesy of Domaine de la Pépière

Courtesy of Domaine de la Pépière

Ah, France. As was reported in the international press, France’s incoming president, François Hollande, is trimming back some of the bling-bling excesses of his model-marrying, Patek Philippe–wearing predecessor. Aside from brutal austerity measures like junior ministers being deprived of their bodyguards (imagine how terrifying this must make the day-to-day existence of the French Food Processing Industry junior minister, for instance), Hollande has apparently replaced Champagne with Muscadet at most official events. Sacre bleu! Madness! But actually I kind of like the idea, because I love Muscadet. »

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Wine Wednesday

Hot Dogs and Wine

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© Doug Ridgway

© Doug Ridgway

There are some folks who might think it a bit much, pairing wine with hot dogs—but think about it. What is a hot dog, after all, but a subspecies of sausage? And sausages, in all their varied everything-but-the-squeal wonderfulness, go great with wine. "I suspect the majority of corn dog consumers aren’t actually legal to drink, but for those of us adults who languish in eternal childhood and love these things, there ought to be a vinous option." »

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Wine Wednesday

Pairing Wine with Salad

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Steak Salad with Creamy Italian Dressing // © Helene Dujardin

Steak Salad with Creamy Italian Dressing // © Helene Dujardin

As a fairly carnivorous person, I tend to feel that if I’m going to be eating a salad, I might as well have some wine with it, just to give the whole enterprise some sort of point. To that end, here are a few thoughts about pairing wines with salads. As long as the wine is not so big and buttery that you ought to be pouring it on the salad itself, it would be good. »

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Wine Wednesday

Alternative Sparklers for Summer

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Image courtesy of Rustico.

Courtesy of Rustico.

Ray's top three sparkling wines under $20. Also, how to avoid fast-flying corks and unintentional champagne showers. »

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Run with chefs and wine experts in the Celebrity Chef 5K and dance all night at Gail Simmons’ Last Bite Dessert Party during the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, June 20-22.