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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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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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Grace in the Kitchen

Wine Braised Lamb Chops with Garlic and Dried Fruit

© Lucy Schaeffer

A jammy Zinfandel and dried fruit lend a ton of flavor to
these lamb-shoulder chops. / © Lucy Schaeffer

Food & Wine's senior recipe developer, Grace Parisi, is a Test Kitchen superstar. In this series, she shares some of her favorite recipes to make right now.

Cooking with wine has been a thread these past few days. Braising, poaching, making pan sauces…all good. I love how when heat is applied, wine goes through dramatic changes with wildly varying results. Best of all is a braising liquid that reduces and becomes a slightly sweet, silky sauce. For this braised lamb dish, I browned shoulder chops and simmered them with lots of garlic, dried apricots and cherries and a full-bodied, jammy red Zinfandel. In a relatively short time, the lamb became tender and glazed with a rich, winey, fruity sauce. SEE RECIPE »

Related: Fast Lamb Chop Recipes
Wine Pairings for Lamb
More Amazing Lamb Recipes

Wine Wednesday

Holiday Gifts: Great Wine Books

How to Love Wine by Eric Asimov

Courtesy of HarperCollins/Amazon.com.

The gift-giving season roared toward us like some mammoth sleigh piloted by a crazy old coot in a red coat, so it’s the last chance to make some choices. For the wine lover in your life—or simply for yourself—here are fantastic new wine books that make great gifts.

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Wine Wednesday

Brunch Drinks

© Tina Rupp

Try pairing the three drinks below with a fantastic brunch recipe, like this Smoked-Salmon Scramble with Dill Griddle Biscuits. // © Tina Rupp

Ah, brunch. People go bonkers for brunch. Say the word “brunch,” and your friends will say things like, “Yeah! Great! Let’s do it!” Unless they have kids, in which case they’ll look sort of morose, because instead of going to brunch with you they’re going to be at a birthday party for five-year-olds. But that’s the human condition: Sunday-morning cocktails, then offspring, and finally death.

Be that as it may, in terms of drink options, folks tend to default to one of three things: a mimosa, usually made with some Minute Maid and a bottle of random sparkling wine that someone brought over six months ago; a Bloody Mary (which I’m not knocking at all); or Champagne. Yet because life is short and the human condition is dire, why not experiment while you still have a chance? 3 Fantastic Brunch Drinks. »

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Wine Wednesday

Potato Chips and Wine

Keep your carrot sticks and jugs of juiced kale, I say; give me potato chips. And—the key consideration here—they actually go well with wine.

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Wine Wednesday

Real Names of Wine

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© Kathryn Rathke

© Kathryn Rathke

The truth about wine grapes is that they rarely have one name—Pinot Noir, for instance, may be Pinot Noir to you and me (and to the French), but to the Austrians it’s Blauburgunder, to the Italians it’s Pinot Nero and to the Croatians it’s either Burgundac Crni or Modra Klevanyka, though I’m a bit vague on why it’s sometimes one and sometimes the other. In any case, here’s a handy guide to some of the more common of wine’s identical twins »

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Tasting Room

Australian Shiraz: A Regional Guide

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Australia has more than 65 wine regions, each of them with its own climate and soil type. As a result, the wines from each region have their own distinctive characters. Here’s a geographic guide to Aussie Shiraz:

Shiraz: A Regional Guide

Shiraz: A Regional Guide. Art © Alex Nabaum.

Warm Climate (Pink Dots)
Regions: Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Heathcote, Langhorne Creek
Character: Ripe blackberries, massively rich, lots of power
Wine to Try: 2010 Torbreck Barossa Valley Woodcutter’s Shiraz ($22)
Food Pairing: Braised short ribs

Moderate Climate (Green)
Regions: Eden Valley, Clare Valley, Margaret River
Character: Tangy blackberries, substantial body, licorice and black pepper notes
Wine to Try: 2010 Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Clare Valley Shiraz ($19)
Food Pairing: Lamb chops

Cool Climate (Blue)
Regions: Great Southern, Yarra Valley, Coonawarra, Frankland River
Character: Raspberries, medium-bodied with higher acidity, herb and white pepper notes
Wine to Try: 2010 Innocent Bystander Victoria Shiraz ($20)
Food Pairing: Roast duck

Related: In Defense of Australian Shiraz

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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.

Already looking forward to next year (June 19-21, 2015)? Relive your favorite moments from the culinary world's most sensational weekend in the Rocky Mountains.