Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Archive for the ‘Wine & Food Pairing’ Category

Wine of Small Interest…

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Posted by Burke Morton On December - 10 - 2010

...which should be of larger interest, but these are the realities, I suppose. Matteo Correggia, who is himself no longer with us (a tragic loss of a young winemaker, father, and regional standard bearer), is one of the Italian Piedmont's most important producers. Based in the Roero, the Correggia estate makes a broad range of wines, one of which is a red table wine made from the Brachetto grape. Brachetto is mostly used in Brachetto d'Acqui, a red, off-dry (well, it's just plain sweet), lightly fizzy wine in the mold of Moscato d'Asti. Correggia's version isn't sweet and fizzy, but rather a still, light-bodied, quite dry, elusive, and wildly exotic wine, so they have to call it a proprietary name, Anthos. It's less than $20 (usually about $18 in most markets), and is a beautiful wine with, of all things, okra (one of the few vegetables that I cannot abide), as well as asparagus (one of my favorites). I've also enjoyed it immensely with Taleggio cheese.

Popularity: 10% [?]

Franco-Italian Wine

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Posted by Burke Morton On July - 8 - 2010

I apologize for the infrequency of posting of late, but summer break from school keeps me occupied with my kids, and much as I love writing about wine, they deserve better than an absentee father, which is what I'd be otherwise. However, greater frequency is imminent. Speaking of patriarchs, yesterday I was drinking a lovely glass of '09 Domaine L. Chatelain Chablis when my father, a bottle of '08 La Toledana Gavi in hand, topped up my Chablis, thinking, not unfairly, that Gavi already occupied my glass. I'm game for this kind of thing (there was more Chablis to be had, so it wasn't a big deal), so I drank--with some relish as it turns out--what was roughly a fifty-fifty blend. We were having swordfish steaks (from the USA of course...gotta be sustainable about your fish), and while neither the Gavi nor Chablis had been particularly scintillating with the fish, the combination was, as you have probably guessed, spot-on.

The Chablis on its own was crisp and lively, with a brilliant texture that seemed lighter than usual. The Gavi, conversely, came across as more intense and robust than I consider typical. This combination was singular and really quite fun. It yielded something more akin to a Marsanne from a cooler vintage. A marriage of Chardonnay and Cortese (the two grapes involved in the impromptu blend) cannot be a common one, but the result was enlightening, and in the event that I had forgotten, it would have been a reminder to keep experimenting--even in some unusual ways--with wine and food.

Any experiments and discoveries of your own?

Popularity: 20% [?]

World Cup of Wine

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Posted by Burke Morton On June - 11 - 2010

What to drink during the World Cup.... Does soccer immediately suggest beer the way that baseball does (or football, or hockey for that matter)? Not really, though now that I think about it, I have noticed that in England there is much imbibing of beer during soccer matches. I suppose this is what usually leads to the tragic stampedes at stadia around the U.K. that we hear about every so often. Let's hope no one gets trampled, but I guess you can--to quote one of my rugby-loving friends--"give 'em a beer afterwards and they'll shake it off." Clearly beer and soccer do have a history, but what about all the cross promotion with wine that has been going on in South Africa? I've never seen anything like it. I don't remember it being such an important facet of the marketing blitz when it the World Cup was in Germany four years ago, and I was just as rabid a consumer of soccer then as now.

Clearly I'm going to be guided by a glass of wine as I negotiate the games of the World Cup (when work doesn't interfere, of course), so I already plan to have some fun. A plan for wine consumption occurred to me as I was drinking the marvelously delicious Ridge 2007 Zinfandel Carmichael (which BTW, makes an excellent pairing for Oreos with the green mint creme): each of the Groups, save one, have at least one major wine-producing country, so you could, were you so inclined, drink wines associated with each group. People often ask me how should they go about learning about wines from other countries, so here is a great way to get to know the wines of the world, and at a minimum, it would be lots of fun. So when you watch a game in Group play, you might drink a wine from one of the sources in that group. Here's the breakdown:

Group A
France
South Africa
Uruguay (a younger, usually forgotten sibling of its South American neighbors, Chile and Argentina)
Mexico (produces a fair amount of wine that makes it to the States, and even England)

Group B
Argentina
Greece (Skip the Retsina...there are many other excellent Greek wines in the market--have fun with these)

Group C
United States of America

Group D
Australia
Germany

Group E
SAKÉ!!!! Japan's rice wine (I know, it's brewed like a beer, but has more in common with wine) that is not just for sushi, and it shouldn't be served hot. Or you could skip saké and get a beer--The Netherlands puts out plenty of it, as does Japan.

Group F
Italy
New Zealand

Group G
Portugal (There are plenty of table wines that you can drink besides the more famous Port, or you could open a bottle of port and call up your inner-Robin Leach and break out the cigars, Stilton cheese, and walnuts and pretend you're living someone else's dream)

Group H
Chile
Spain
Switzerland (Swiss wines are hard to find, but Chasselas is a great white alternative, if you can locate one)

I hope that you watch the World Cup, whether you drink any wine or not. I'll probably be drinking an obscene amount of rosé (stretched out over many days, not all at once...I hate being drunk), and that'll be as fun as the soccer.

Is it me, or does Wayne Rooney play like someone used his head for a soccer ball? One minute he's an incredible player, another he's doing things that'll get him arrested. I'd just as soon he wait until AFTER the match with the USA to get arrested, because I would prefer the U.S. to beat England WITH him, then I could really pour some high-acid Riesling in my Brit friends wounds....

Popularity: 8% [?]

Strange Partners

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Posted by Burke Morton On May - 23 - 2010

I've been drinking a fairly old wine this evening--middle-aged would be a better description, as it is but 14 years old, in its prime, and not likely to improve further: the Château de Beaucastel 1996 Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It is really quite beautiful, and as this wine is unlike most Chateauneuf-du-Pape anyway (it is mostly Mourvèdre while the preponderance of Chateauneuf is principally Grenache), its silken expression is not entirely a surprise. It has a lovely and much lighter texture than it did when it was young, but that is not uncommon with mature wine. The aromas and flavors have clarified themselves over the years, simplifying the experience of the wine while showcasing and magnifying its complexities. It has become an open transmitter of the growing season and the efforts of the people making the wine. This wine has entered a fascinating phase: there are some notions that swirl in and out of the overall picture of the wine, while other elements--expressly the gossamer luxury of its red fruit qualities--are constants. Its character is volatile (though not scary volatile) and exuberant, yet mature and graceful. Think Cuba Gooding Jr. as he ages--that'd be this wine.

Matching for Dinner
So I've got an unusual food pairing here, one I chose based on having tasted the wine first. I made grilled butterflied chicken alla Diavola, which was an even better match than I had hoped. That might give you some indication of the "weight" of this wine--it feels like (but does not remotely taste like) a fine Pinot Noir at its peak, and this opened the door to the pairing with the grilled chicken. The essence of lemons inherent to Chicken alla Diavola united the flavors with such succulence that dinner seemed to fly by. It was like a ray of sun through the experience, lifting our spirits, which we needed because...

Matching with Entertainment
...as we ate our late dinner, we watched Children of Men, which isn't necessarily (if you knew nothing about the film) the feel-good movie that the title might imply. I had seen it before, but my wife had not, so I soldiered on. It turns out this wine was an excellent pairing for the movie, too!

Popularity: 11% [?]

Drinking Scheurebe on May 5

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Posted by Burke Morton On May - 8 - 2010

A couple of days ago, Cinco de Mayo to be exact, I drank a Scheurebe--a classic if obscure wine from Germany. Seems ludicrious, I know, when you consider that I had cooked honest-to-goodness Mexican food, and had even prepared the story of Cinco de Mayo for my kids. Turns out they learned about the Battle of Puebla in school, so once robbed of a tentpole for the evening, I figured that it didn't matter than I didn't have a Mexican beer or Tequila.

But Scheurebe? Many of you may be saying, "What the %#&! is that?" Well if you are unfamiliar with Scheurebe (SHOY-ray-beh), it's time to change that. Not that Scheurebe is easy to find, because too many outlets for wine retail don't carry one, or have never even heard of it themselves, but Scheurebe is available, and you can ask them to order one.

Anyway, since it seemed like the right time, I popped open the Lingenfelder 2001 Großkarlbacher Burgweg Scheurebe Halbtrocken from the Pfalz region of Germany. And it was good. [NOMENCLATURE: Lingenfelder is the producer; Großkarlbacher Burgweg specifies the vineyard known as Burgweg in the town of Großkarlbach; Scheurebe is the grape; Halbtrocken literally means 'half-dry', but for purposes of American drinkers, it equates to 'dry']

Scheurebe is a hybrid crossing of Riesling and Sylvaner [a common hybridization--other results of this cross include Ehrenfelser (a great but nearly impossible wine to find), Müller-Thurgau (completely uninspired in Germany, but tasty from Italy), and Rieslaner (which can be fabulous)] perpetrated by one Georg Scheu. Thank goodness this guy came along, because he gave us one of the lustiest wines around. How lusty? There are some versions of Scheu (shoy) that if you put it in a black glass, you'd think it was red wine, as the aroma is often dominated by black currants. The range of aromas for Scheu is quite wide, though: the Lingenfelder I drank with my chicken in red mole effused a beautiful, angelic scent dominated by candied pink grapefruit. It was a marvelous pairing.

I find Scheurebe--burlesque grape that it is (I say that because it strikes me as having a queen's bearing and stripper's sensibility yet has a rather gender neutral appeal)--so lip-smacking and tantalizing that I spread the word about it as much as possible. Have fun drinking it...or perhaps I should say don't have too much fun drinking it....

Popularity: 15% [?]

Genetically Modified

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Posted by Burke Morton On April - 18 - 2010

I'm a coach for my son's soccer team, and we just returned from a game against some genetically modified 8- and 9-year-old kids. My children go to a public Montessori school (in case you were wondering, no it's not easy to reconcile public Montessori with No Child Left Behind...), and today's opponents were from our traditional neighborhood public school. Said school is only nominally larger than my son's school, so I'm dying to know why there was such a size disparity.

We got stomped.

It was not really a fun game, and the other team's coach made it even worse. He was the kind of guy that you know actually exists, but you are still surprised when you meet him. He is an INTENSE DUDE. Now if I'm saying that, then he must have been insufferable. The guy even yelled--inexplicably--at us (the three opposing coaches). As it happened, I know the assistant coach of the other team, and I got the sense from our brief discussion today that he is there to inject a little joy to their practices.

Last night I drank the 2005 Mollydooker Carnival of Love Shiraz (from grapes grown in McLaren Vale), apparently in unwitting preparation for that genetically modified opposing team. The wine was so much more than "too much" that even "genetically modified" seems tame. Good flavors? Sure, though they had a roasted quality that didn't appeal to me. Overwhelming in that Aussie sort of way? Sure--if the wine were a person it would have been the life of a party (no one else would have gotten to talk, but still). Hedonistic? So I've read, but it strikes me more as masochistic. Apparently it has a very high Marquis Fruit Weight™, and I can only imagine what kind of unnatural manipulation was required to achieve this. I did find myself hoping it might inject a little joy into my glass, but really it tasted like an effete state of BS. If you keep assaulting your tongue with this stuff, pretty soon you'll be numb and miss out on not just the rest of the wine, but LOTS of other things.

Like your dinner.

I had been putting off drinking the wine because I couldn't imagine what the heck I would eat with it other than pancakes (on which it would seriously have made great syrup), and this is not the sort of wine I want to drink all by itself. The wine was a gift, which is really a shame, because this kind of wine, which was a 99 or 96 pointer (and no doubt bought because of that), represents everything I DON'T want in wine. My menu options were few, so I had ribs. I made the Best Ribs In The Universe, which calls for my least favorite BBQ sauce (KC Masterpiece) to be SWEETENED EVEN FURTHER with honey. Well, I've made it a few times before, and the ribs are indeed great, so I held out some hope that the wine wouldn't overwhelm the ribs. I fired up my Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker and smoke-cooked them with some Canadian maple as the smoke wood. Mmm...Good! Too bad the wine was still too much for my hyper-flavored ribs!!!

Okay, so apparently genetically modified crops are better for the environment. I'm skeptical, but open minded. Wines like the Mollydooker, which aren't technically genetically modified, are apparently better (than their peers) according the point-scores ascribed to them. I'm skeptical but NOT open minded. I mean, IT OVERPOWERED MY RIBS!!!!! In fact, I'm more than skeptical...it's just plain wrong.

So what the heck is the purpose of such a wine anyway? Knowing a bit about what I'm tasting, I understand how one arrives at this style, but shouldn't wine aspire to be about something bigger than the Mt. Everest of Wines? I realize that I'm a wine professional and all, but it's just a drink. The "Mt. Everest of Wines" seems like a pretty low and unimportant peak.

Of course, I want a wine to have a use beyond pouring it on a waffle (or a lover...titillating and tasty as that might be). And for God's sake, working with some baby back ribs shouldn't be too much to ask, even for the most self-conscious of wines. In my view, food, which is my main sustenance (in spite of the fact that I write multiple wine blogs), shouldn't be subservient to wine. Any wine that is so self-sufficient that the only thing that might go with it is Dinuguan (a delicious classic of the Philippines, though my wife--a Filipina--won't eat it), is practically worthless.

As if to underscore this, I went back downstairs and fished out a different Australian Shiraz--Hewitson Mad Hatter (also from McLaren Vale)--and it was so good with the ribs that I wanted to write a song about it.

But, as the missus is OOT and I had to wrestle the kids into bed alone...I fell asleep early and didn't get to it.

Sorry.

Popularity: 6% [?]

Video Today


You don't need to speak French to know that the iPad can double as a Champagne Sabre.... Happy New Year!

Popularity: 65% [?]

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