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By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Wine

China Loves Bordeaux, Could Try German Riesling

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Value Bordeaux.

© Theo Morrison
Value Bordeaux.

Decanter reports that mainland China now imports more Bordeaux than any other country—more than 40 million bottles' worth in the last year. Though China was already famous for its love of the French wine region, the figures are amazing: Including Hong Kong (which is Bordeaux's #1 customer by value, not volume), China now accounts for more than a third of all exports.

While big spenders there certainly have access to amazing food that pairs with Bordeaux, the blend of tannic Cabernet and Merlot can clash with the sweetness and heat of traditional Chinese food. For those meals, we suggest 10 alternative pairings like German Riesling and Oregon Pinot Noir.

Wine

Vineyard Shocker: Grapes People Steal

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© iStock

Here's an item that Eater might want for its series on food-world theft: Thieves in Germany have taken an entire vineyard's crop, nearly three tons of grapes. Winemaker Stephen Attmann awoke to find the vines bare, Spiegel reports. Concerned tasters should be on the lookout, in a couple of years, for a 2011 that tastes suspiciously like Weingut von Winning's well-regarded Pinot Noir.
 
This caps a long summer of wine crime, during which rare bottles disappeared from a London warehouse, scrap-metal thieves stole vineyard irrigation systems and an ex–New York sommelier went on a stealing spree that netted three bottles of Pétrus and a Picasso.

Related: Legal Wine Steals
Pinot Noir Alternatives

Wine

Where to Vacation During Wine Harvest

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Les Crayères hotel in Champagne.

© Courtesy of Les Crayères.
Les Crayères hotel in Champagne.

Harvest season started in August for much of the wine world, but Reuters reports that vintners in Burgundy and other French regions are currently divided over when to haul in the grapes. While waiting increases ripeness (which could result in better wine), it also raises the risk that storms could damage the bounty. Something easier to agree on: Harvest time, which can run into October in some climates, is a great chance to tour wine country. In addition to temperate weather, regions bustle with celebratory events like Bordeaux's annual festival in Saint-Emilion, taking place this weekend. Napa offers a string of wine-release parties (like those at Duckhorn and Beaulieu Vineyards this Friday and Saturday), grape-stomping competitions (like Castello di Amorosa's on September 24) and harvest dinners (Pine Ridge Vineyards will hold one on October 8). To help you plan, F&W presents guides on where to eat, sleep and, of course, drink in top wine regions.

WINE REGION GUIDES

FRANCE
Champagne
With picks from Master Sommelier and Champagne fanatic Laura Maniec

SPAIN
Rioja
With picks from El Bulli alumnus Lucas Paya

UNITED STATES
Santa Barbara
With picks from Addison sommelier Lucas Paya

Napa
With picks from chef Michael Chiarello and winemaker Jamey Whetstone
 
Sonoma
 
Oregon
 
Washington State

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

Entertaining

Last Call for Summer's Best Wines

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East Coasters lost the last weekend in August to tropical storm (née hurricane) Irene, so the pressure is on to get outside for Labor Day. If the weather cooperates where you live, enhance the best summer activities with these perfect wines:

Sula's 2010 Sauvignon Blanc is light and cooling.

© Courtesy of Sula Winery
Sula's 2010 Sauvignon Blanc is light and cooling.


Seafood Extravaganzas: For lobsterfests and clam bakes, there are many options beyond the ubiquitous rich Chardonnay, like melony Godello and crisp, citrusy Vermentino.

Sunning Sessions: When the weather is genuinely hot, superlight whites, like Vinho Verde and Albariño, are good bets.

Park Picnics: Awesome portable dishes include shrimp-and-noodle salad in a gingery dressing, which is great with Riesling.

Backyard Cookouts: Grilled foods need assertive wines to stand up to strong flavors. Moderately oaky wines, which can otherwise be tough to pair with food, are often great with smokey meats.

Sunset Toasts: Try wine with some color, too. There are few things more refreshing than Provençal rosé, and low-tannin Beaujolais are among the best reds to serve chilled.

Beach Trips: Pulling corks with no leverage, while sitting in sand, can be troublesome. Try these 10 excellent boxed wines, plus 10 great-value screw-capped wines.

Beer

Wines to Root for the Top US Open Contenders

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During the US Open Tennis tournament in New York, there's one question on the minds of the sport's elegant spectators: What can I drink at home (or smuggle into Flushing Meadows like this guy) to show appreciation for my favorite player? Many of the top contenders come from prolific wine-producing nations (though good luck finding Danish bottles, Wozniaki supporters). When in doubt, there's always beer. Here's what to buy:

Tennis star Kim Clijsters with wine on the sidelines.

© AFP/Getty Images
Tennis star Kim Clijsters with wine on the sidelines.


Rafael Nadal: If it's typical summer weather in Queens, Spain's Rafa would probably go for a bracing, vibrant Albariño. Open a really good one, like the single-vineyard 2010 Saiar from Benito Santos ($16).

 

Serena Williams: A toe injury forced Williams to exit the Cincinnati Open early, but she has reportedly recovered and might actually benefit from the rest. Drink an equally fresh American rosé, like the 2010 Copain Tous Ensemble ($20), to cheer her on.

Novak Djokovic: For more than a millennium, Serbians have been making wine—and consuming most of it within their borders. Look for a lush, Zinfandel-like Plavac Mali from nearby Croatia, such as the 2007 Lirica ($20).

Li Na: Though China produces wine, its high-end consumers are now famous for buying up tremendous amounts of top-dollar Bordeaux. Avoid sticker shock with a bottle from the overlooked 2006 vintage, like Chateau Gloria St-Julien ($40). 

Roger Federer: Swiss wines can be excellent. Robert Gilliard's 2009 Les Murettes Fendent ($26), a minerally white, is both delicious and available in the US.
 
Francesca Schiavone: Choose an in-vogue grape—Moscato, whose US popularity is skyrocketing—to represent the player who hails from Italy's fashion capital, Milan. Tintero's 2010 Sori Gramela ($12) is a light, limey Moscato d'Asti.
 
Andy Murray: UK wine made news recently when outspoken French winemaker Michel Chapoutier declared that he was looking to buy vineyard land in England. Try one of Chapoutier's existing bottles, like the dependable, berry-rich 2009 Belleruche Côtes du Rhône ($10).

Andrea Petkovic: Leitz's Dragonstone ($16) is one of the best Riesling values out there. Drink the crisp, peach-scented 2010 to support Germany's Petkovic.
 
Richard Gasquet: Food & Wine's October issue calls out an incredible number of brilliant new French wines. Until the issue arrives, plan to acknowledge Gasquet's hometown in the Languedoc region by drinking the exceptional 2007 Leon Barral Cuvee Jadis Faugeres ($40).
 
Kim Clijsters: Salute the reigning women's Open champ, who is sitting out due to a stomach muscle injury, with a Belgian beer. A caramelly Quadrupel, like the 10 percent-alcohol St. Bernardus ($8), is a delicious painkiller.

Related: Sports Star Wines

Summer Wines

Summer Party Foods

Wine

Wine Pairing Guide to Shrimp, Scallops, Crab and Mussels

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New York City is a sweat-slick, hideously hot, concrete-covered steambath right now, something that actually doesn’t make me think of wine so much as igloos. So maybe it’s the idea of summer—cool breezes off the water, sunlight on white sand, nothing to do but lounge around—that always gets me thinking about shellfish. Lobster rolls…crab rolls…shrimp on the grill…a big bowl of mussels in some sort of white wine sauce with a little garlic and parsley…scallop ceviche with cilantro and a zap of lime juice…anyway, you get the idea. Here are five suggestions for great summer whites to go with all those tasty, shell-covered denizens of the sea.
 
2010 Aveleda Vinho Verde Casal Garcia ($8) Vinho Verde really ought to be described with comic-book words: ZAP! POW! KA-ZING! It’s thrillingly tart, with a happy touch of fizz and a kind of cracked-oyster-shell mineral note that makes it incredibly refreshing. Casal Garcia is a classic: Chill the heck out of it, then serve with something messy like shell-on cold boiled shrimp.
 
2010 Chateau Ste Michelle Dry Riesling ($9) Washington’s Chateau Ste Michelle makes more Riesling than anyone else in the world—close to a million cases a year. Most of that is off-dry (lightly sweet), but I prefer the winery’s crisp, peachy, dry bottling. It’s a great crab wine—cracked crab, crab rolls, crab salad, crab-on-a-stick, you name it.
 
2010 Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc ($9) Chile tends to be known for inexpensive reds, but the real secret is the country’s terrific Sauvignon Blancs. The cold winds off the Pacific give Sauvignon Blancs like this one a finely-tuned citrus zestiness, perfect for ceviche (something else they do extremely well in Chile).
 
2010 Domaine Lafage Cote d’Est ($10) This floral southern French white tastes like it costs twice the price. It’s sealed with a screwcap, handy for picnics when you realize you forgot the corkscrew. It’s also cheap enough that you could use half the bottle for steaming mussels, and still have two glasses left to drink.
 
2010 Salneval Albariño ($12) Minerally Albariños like this one are the mainstay of Spain’s Rias Baixas region. The other big industry there? Fishing, and shellfish farming—the locals raise mussels, oysters and scallops on long ropes that stretch down into the water from eucalyptus-wood platforms called bateas.
 
Related Links:
20 Fast Shellfish Recipes
16 Bargain Wines
More Value Wines
Top 10 No-Fail Tips for Picking a Stellar Wine off a Wine List
15 Rules for Great Wine and Food Pairing

Wine

A Case for Boxed Wines

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2009 Bota Box Chardonnay.

© Courtesy of DVF Wines
2009 Bota Box Chardonnay.

People have been putting wine in boxes (or rather, in bags within boxes) for years, but it's a relatively new phenomenon that the contents be worth drinking. Last week, New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov covered 10 worthy reds and whites, and for this month's issue of Food & Wine, Ray Isle tasted a slew of boxed Chardonnays and named four winners.

Why look past the cheesy stigma this summer? Boxes are lighter (therefore greener) and easier to close than bottles. That portability makes them great if you're inclined to partake at beach picnics, and researchers in Spain recently suggested that wine could even protect against sunburn (though dehydration is still something to worry about when day-drinking). The biggest advantage is that whites will stay fresh in your fridge for weeks, making it easy to squeeze off a glass whenever a new heat wave rolls into town. Here, surprisingly good boxed wines to drink now.

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