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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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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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Wine Wednesday

It's Summertime, Drink Riesling

Trendspotting

Great Wine Collaborations

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Husband and wife Joey and Jennifer Tensley of Santa Barbara county, CA, each have their own winery and their own collaborators from France. Here, two of their unique blends.

Great Wine Blends

© Antonis Achilleos.

Deux Terres (photo)
French for “two soils,” this earthy bottling blends Jennifer’s Pinot Noir with Roger Belland’s premier cru Burgundy. ($45).

Détente
Joey’s Rhône-style wine blend combines his weighty Colson Canyon Syrah with fruity Grenache from France’s Domaine de Montvac ($45).

More from the July issue >

Wine Wednesday

Wine Pairing Simplified

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Wine Pairing Simplified

© John Kernick

Danny Meyer shares his strategy: Go for the smile.

“With a show of hands, who thinks the Riesling was the best overall for pairing with food?” Danny Meyer asked the audience at Sauce on the Side: Wine, Wieners & the Works. During his seminar at last year’s F&W Classic in Aspen, attendees tasted a range of wines with a hot dog and several toppings to find the ideal matches. My hand shot up, and I was sure that nearly every other hand in the room would shoot up, too. Was I wrong: The Riesling got about as many votes as the Syrah and Pinot Noir. Even the Sauvignon Blanc received hefty crowd support, and I thought it’d been god-awful with just about everything. And that was exactly Meyer’s point.

 

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Wine Wednesday

California Wines Net $20 Billion

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California wine.

© Kate Mathis

 

 

Americans are drinking more California wine than ever before—nearly 212 million cases in 2011.

Here's how to choose a bottle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wine Wednesday

5 to Try: Real Bottles from Burgundy

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Photo provided by the U.S. Attorney's office for the Southern District of New York.

The wine world can't stop talking about last week's arrest of Rudy Kurniawan, a Los Angeles–based collector who had allegedly been selling counterfeit wines for years. The U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI announced five counts of fraud charges that could each result in 20 years behind bars, and bloggers swarmed over the government's photos—most notably, a shot of a file cabinet in Kurniawan's home that was stocked full of brand-new-looking labels for highly desirable old wines, like 1950 Pétrus. Guess how much these bottles would have gone for...

 

 

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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.

Wine

Spanish Value Wines—Before the Price Spikes

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A vineyard in Spain's RÍas Baixas region.

© Courtesy of Encarna Méndez.
A vineyard in Spain's RÍas Baixas region.

Spain's grape prices are up 15 to 20 percent from last year, Bloomberg reports, suggesting that wines produced in 2011 will be pricier than average. As an easy precaution, you can stock up on value bottles from previous vintages now. Here are five excellent, $15-and-under Spanish wines featured in the new F&W Wine Guide 2012.
 
2010 Luzón Verde ($9)
Aging without oak keeps the bold red-berry flavors in this organic Monastrell center stage—and the price low.
 
2010 Marqués de Cáceres Rioja Rosé ($10)
A hint of sweetness underscores this earthy, crisp rosé.
 
2009 Bodegas Nekeas Vega Sindoa Chardonnay ($14)
Silky baked pear and stone fruit mark this great-value white.
 
2010 Condes de Albarei Albariño ($15)
Its clean, minerally lemon-lime flavors aretangy and brisk.
 
2009 Emilio Moro Finca Resalso Ribera del Duero ($15)
An earthy red with firm tannins, spice and acidity that make it ideal for burgers, lamb or steak.

Related:  Spanish Recipes
More Value Wines

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

Wine

AOC Wants Winemaker in Jail

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Olivier Cousin.

© Courtesy of Jenny & François Selections.
Olivier Cousin.

Popular Loire Valley winemaker Olivier Cousin faces prison time after boxes of his wines turned up labeled with the initials AOC, which happens to be the acronym for France's superstrict wine classification system Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée. Cousin opted out of AOC Anjou status several years ago, giving him the freedom to make wine however he wants, but under the less prestigious vin de table designation. For years, one of Cousin's labels has included the name of the region Anjou, the use of which is also restricted, but authorities seem to have turned a blind eye to the infraction until this more flagrant offense.

Cousin's American importer, Jenny & François Selections, says that a European distributor is to blame for taking a jab at France's governing wine authorities by labeling boxes with initials that stand for Appellation Olivier Cousin. The official AOC was not amused. Cousin's charges could result in a fine of more than $50,000 and a two-year imprisonment.

The AOC system is, to say the least, controversial. (When we interviewed writer Alice Feiring last week she told us it should be abolished.) Cousin, who works his vineyards with horses, is part of the natural winemaking coterie that has a history of run-ins with the organization. For example, the Beaujolais producer Jean-Paul Brun failed an AOC tasting panel in 2008 after being told his wine wasn't representative of the region. The wine is critically acclaimed, something that is not characteristic of Beaujolais.

Jenny & Francois is circulating an online petition in support of Olivier Cousin here.

Related: Loire Valley wines
Natural Wine: Weird or Wonderful?

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