food & wine pairing grapes reviews Wine Blogging Wednesday wineries

Wine Blogging Wednesday #40: Petite Sirah

Peirano Estate Petite SirahLovely Wine Blogging Wednesday, you are everything I ever wanted homework to be: only slightly challenging, involving some field research and ultimately delicious. Why did I pick The Bell Jar for my senior research paper, and not Petite Sirah? Thanks to host Sonadora at Wannabe Wino for a great idea for this month’s tasting, and to Lenn Thompson at Lenndevours for inventing this virtual tasting that brings the wine blogosphere together every month.

I found this Peirano Estate Vineyards “Heritage Collection” Petite Sirah 2005 at Grapevine Market, where it was one of a 6 bottle discounted case I bought, so I got it for $12.59. Tasted with carnitas on brown rice with sides of acorn squash mashed with gorgonzola and cornbread baked in a poblano cup.

Inky maroon in color. On the nose, mint is very strong, but not as strong as the waves of blueberry jam pouring off of it. There’s some coffee there at the end too, but really this is all about the minty blueberry madness. The palate presents juicy, sweet blackberry fruit, roundly passive tannins and a dark chocolate finish of medium length. This is a fairly rich wine, not flabby but certainly chubby.

food & wine pairing grapes reviews wineries

Yes, Ma’am

Praxis ViognierWhen the Doctor tells me to eat takeout, I don’t ask questions. I just scamper my way on down to Pao’s Mandarin House and pick me up some Three Cup Chicken, because that is the SHIT, my friends. Can I get a witness? Testify!

The other night I was sitting on the couch with my sweetie, and he had a craving for the brie we had in the fridge. I was reading Spittoon’s post on how well Sauvignon Blanc does with cheese, and thought, I wonder how that Praxis Viognier I have the the fridge would go with this? So I poured myself a glass, lickety-split, took a bite of Brie, and sipped some Viognier. Gentle Reader, listen closely: Never. Do. This. Oh, lawsy me, stay away from this evil combination of flavors!

Poor Praxis Viognier; it’s not your fault I wasn’t using my noggin. I finished the glass, wondering what I’d pair it with that might actually work, and it occurred to me that I hadn’t had any Pao’s in a while. Hmm…

Thus it felt like Fate had slapped me upside the head when I read Good Wine Under $20 the next afternoon and saw that Dr. Debs was recommending takeout as a way to treat oneself right during the holidays. AND she was recommending Viognier with non-incindiery Asian food! I was suddenly On A Mission From God.

food & wine pairing industry reviews

Tasting Goes With: Beef

Goes with beefGot my first sample for review the other day, from Fred Schwartz in sunny California. Fred’s company Riddling Bros. has this unreleased wine, really a wine brand concept, called Goes With Cellars, which is one of those food pairing-focused wines like the Wine That Loves brand that came out earlier this year. I thought it was rather funny of Fred to send me this wine to sample, as I had already kinda-sorta gone on record as thinking the Wine That Loves concept was weird in a comment at Good Wine Under $20, when Dr. Debs posted on it.

Whereas the “Wine That Loves” brand focuses on pairing wine with more everyday fare (pasta with tomato sauce, pizza, grilled steak, etc), the “Goes With” line includes a shopping list and an upscale recipe that one presumes will be a perfect pairing with the wine in the bottle. My husband’s take on the concept was, “Oh yeah. Back when I was single, I would totally have bought that to make dinner for a date. That’s a Get Laid Wine.” Aha! Market positioning insight!

Jeff at Good Grape was also a part of Fred’s little marketing campaign, which included sending us little graphics of well paired icons, like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, along with a tag that said “Matched Perfectly.” The Wine Broad got a sample, too: she thought the whole “Wine That Loves” brand was a crock, so you can imagine her opinion of this seeming re-brand attempt.

food & wine pairing industry reviews

Your Beaujolais Bandwagon, let me jump on it

Dr. Vino is so right. Beaujolais Nouveau is an ecological nightmare: this marketing ploy invented by Georges DuBoeuf in which all points of the planet receive “new,” raw wine from Beaujolais on the third Thursday of November, the globalizing of a tradition that dates back to the seventies, just POURS carbon into the atmosphere through shipping millions of bottles of wine by plane rather than by boat.

There is no redeeming aspect to the tradition of Beaujolais Nouveau, except that of sentimentality and the gateway aspect of the wine. It’s simple and accessible wine, and yearly the “nouveau” hubble-bubble causes many new people to try wine that wouldn’t normally. I will always be a fan of any wine or wine event that helps wine-shy folk able to try a wine they’ll like. But at what cost to the Earth?

basics food & wine pairing

Giving Thanks, Not Advice

Traditional ThanksgivingOK, so I love love love love love Thanksgiving. It’s a secular holiday that is not corrupted by snarly patriotism, and it’s the only US holiday that has an integral relationship with the seasons. Sold, and sold. And then, it’s all about food and cooking, which is really how I relate to any holiday anyway: Easter is eggs, 4th of July is barbecue, Halloween is candy, etc.

Feasts are my favorite, and I love cooking for guests; so I’ve been hosting Thanksgiving for my entire adult life, ever since I had my own place — even making tofu turkey back in my Greenpeace days. I revel in the recruiting & inviting of guests, the planning of the menu, the shopping, the preparation, the cooking and staging of the meal.

Color me surprised that I am so cheerfully looking forward to being hosted this year: my darling and I are going to a friends’ house for Thanksgiving. They’re some of our best friends, and the cook in their marriage is my closest foodie friend. He’s a vegetarian who expertly cooks meat for his wife and loved ones, and his parents are going to be visiting for the holiday… so I’m anticipating a grand meal and lots of fun, fun times. (And no clean up at my house, which I admit is a decadently fine prospect.)

food & wine pairing regions reviews Wine Blogging Wednesday

Wine Blogging Wednesday #39: Silver Burgundy

Domaine Michel Cheveau Mâcon-Solutré PouillyI got a big jump on WBW #39 this time, tasting my wine nearly immediately after the theme was announced. Except it was that fantastic Domaine Michel Cheveau Macon Solutre-Pouilly 2006 that Brooklynguy wrote up this last Friday.

Hey, that was MY wine! Why he gotta be like that?

Well, Brooklynguy is right — this wine is sick. Sick, we say in thronging chorus! And all for about $24 per bottle, in Texas at least.

Pale straw gold in color. Lush, vibrant aromas of quince, lemon, cream and a brisk steeliness. On the palate, there are hard corners of minerality, with intense flint character, as well as pear, smoke, lemon and golden delicious apples. Usually a wine inspires me to either sniff or sip repeatedly; this wine demanded both, exhaustively. The finish just didn’t stop; this is exactly what I want from a white Burgundy, but more so. Run, don’t walk, to buy it. I got mine at Vino 100 Lakeway.

events food & wine pairing reviews

Blind Pinot Noir Tasting with the Winebats

Another fine time at the Winebat Blind Pinot Noir Tasting last Thursday: at Green Pastures again, as they will be for the next 4-6 weeks, with a turnout of about 20-25 people.

The evening began at 6:30 with very tasty apps of bacon-wrapped scallops and a mushroom duxelle on puff pastry, and generous pourings of a rather atrociously over-oaked Canyon Road Sauvignon Blanc.

At 7:00 we were seated. Host Damon spoke briefly about Pinot Noir, and we were all given a one-page handout on the iconic grape. In the first round of bites from Chef Charles Bloemsma, served with the first flight of three wines, were a fairly austere Sesame Tuna on Cucumber with Soy and a stunningly well-paired Brie Tart with Raspberry and Hazelnuts. With the second flight of three wines (still blind of course) we got a delightful Crispy Chantarelle with Almond Pesto and a very elegant, well-balanced Pork Tenderloin with Goat Cheese and Cranberry Chutney.

food & wine pairing restaurants reviews

Pairing Perfection

Peanut butter and jelly. Car and driver. Movies and popcorn. Wine and food. Each of these pairs are lesser without the other. Sure, they can stand on their own if need be, but when joined, the whole is MORE than the sum of its parts. Case in point:

My husband and I had a lovely night out a week or so ago, stopping off at a wine bar for an aperitif, and then dining at Ciola’s in Lakeway. I had researched Ciola’s before for a potential company dinner I was asked to organize, and had wanted to go there for a while. Their menu looked interesting and their wine list was very well written. Back in my wine rep days, I did a lot of wine list analysis, and the wine list at Ciola’s shows a lot of careful, thoughtful selections.

Ironically, though, I didn’t really order wine off the list. Liberty School Cab labelOur waiter happened to be the wine steward, Tommy Williams, Jr., and once we ordered our entrees he told us about some wines he was pouring that weren’t on the by-the-glass list. One was a Vermentino, which he particularly recommended with my linguine & clam sauce, so I took the leap of faith (not a very big leap, considering the list) and acquiesced. T wanted a Cab, though, so he ordered a glass of the Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon , always a solid choice.

The calamari we ordered for starters was very well executed: the squid was tender, the breading was light and crunchy, and two dipping sauces came with: a marinara and an aioli. Both delicious, but I stuck to the marinara… there’s something semi-obscene about dipping fried food into mayonnaise sauces, even if it is fish.

T’s Rigatoni Genzano was a heck of a meal: large chunks of Italian sausage, with what looked like quartered peppers. His Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon (didn’t get the year) gave sweet oak and blackberry aromas, with some green pepper and clack cherry notes. The color (difficult to see in the very romantic lighting in the restaurant) was a nice dark red with some garnet highlights. Soft tannins on the palate with a black pepperyness, and big currant flavors. Slight taste of raspberry, as well. Overall, a rich & soft Cabernet with a very decent finish for $9 per glass. Tom liked how his wine tasted with his food; I could see how the green pepper of the wine matched nicely with the red peppers in his dish, but I thought the bite of the Italian sausage wasn’t all that flattering, wine-wise.

MY wine and food pairing, though, was phenomenal.