Archive for the ‘wine buying’ Category

Wine Pairing Rule 4 – Sparkling & Dessert Wines

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

This film is part of a series of eight by Neil Smith, owner of the WineSmith wine shop in Ashburn, Virginia. I have selected some material by other wine writers while I am too busy to write my own articles.

Transcript

Neil Smith: Hi, my name is Neil Smith with WineSmith and today, I am showing you how to pair wine and food. Right now, we are going to talk about our fourth rule which is to not overlook sparkling and dessert wines when you are planning a menu and let’s start by talking about sparkling wines. Sparkling wines are usually reserved for one day which is New Year’s eve which is a shame because they are very food friendly wines and they are a great way to start a dinner party or any type of meal where you have guests waiting to be served or waiting for other guests to arrive. Sparkling wines, just by the very nature of do have a salivatory feel to them. So it is a great way to get your guest in the mood for a nice occasion, but it’s also a great way to get your mouth primed, if you will for more food and wine to follow.

So let’s give an example of how sparkling wine works very well with food and what we are going to use is a bottle of sparkling wine that we talked about in the intro as well as some salty food like popcorn or peanuts and I have chosen popcorn for this example. So let’s start by opening the bottle, I am pouring a small glass and then go ahead and taking a bite of popcorn or peanuts, whatever you have handy and then follow that with a sip of the wine. So pay attention to how they bubbles in the acidity in the wine help to clean your mouth up, wash away the saltiness and the butter and again, more importantly, it gets your mouth ready for another bite of food. So that’s enough about sparkling wines.

Let’s talk a little bit about dessert wines. Dessert wines are usually enough to be served on their own and when you are serving dessert wines with another type of dessert you want to make sure that the wine has enough sweetness to stand up to the sweetness in the dessert. So for example, chocolate is a very difficult item to pair with a dessert wine and one of the few dessert wines that work with chocolate is Port. Port also works very nicely with blue cheeses especially, Stilton and then for your other main category of dessert wines things like Late Harvest Rieslings for example, those are usually best served by themselves but can also work nicely with cheeses and simple fruits. So that’s our fourth rule for pairing wine and food and now we are going to talk about our fifth rule which is to experiment and practice often.

Wine Pairing Rule 3 – Pay Attention to Acidity & Sweetness

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

This film is part of a series by Neil Smith, owner of the WineSmith wine shop in Ashburn, Virginia.

Transcript

Neil Smith: Hi, I am Neil Smith with WineSmith and today, I am showing you how to pair wine with food. Right now, we are going to talk about our third wine and food pairing rule which is to pay attention to acidity and sweetness in the wine and what I mean more specifically by that is thinking about a white wine like Sauvignon Blanc for example that has a high level of acidity. We need to think about the food and whether or not it has equally high levels of acidity or does it have sweetness. So sweetness can actually make a highly acidic wine taste even sharper and very unpleasant whereas acidity in food can actually, tame the acidity in the wine and work well together.

So I invite you to do another taste test with me to prove that point. For that taste test we are going to need the Sauvignon Blanc that we talked about in the intro. We are also going to need same grilled chicken breast with some lemon wedges and then finally, we will blow the cake doughnuts. So what we are going to do to start off this tasting is take the lemon wedge and squirt it all over the chicken. I want to get as much on there as you can just to prove the point. I am actually going to go ahead and put two on just to make sure you have lots of lemon juice on there and then take a bite of the chicken breast with the lemon juice on it. I have to chew that bite and swallow it. Take a sip of the Sauvignon Blanc and the Sauvignon Blanc doesn’t seem quite as sharp as it does without the food.

Now to illustrate the second half of that example, take a small bite of the cake doughnut which is plenty sweet and then follow that with a sip of the Sauvignon Blanc. So with the sugar from the cake doughnut followed by the acidity in the wine you can see what I mean about how the sugar really brings out more of the acidity in a wine and makes it very sharp and rather unpleasant in the mouth. So those are a couple of rules to remember when you are thinking about the acidity and the sweetness in wine. One other point is a sweet wine or a wine that has a lot of natural fruitiness to it like a German Riesling for example, can work very well with spicy food because the sweetness in the wine or the fruitiness in the wine will help to tame the spice of the food.

So next time you have something like a Thai curry or a spicy Asian dish, try pairing that with a German Riesling or an Alsatian Gewurztraminer and notice how the sweetness in the wine helps tame the spiciness in the food.

So these are some tips to remember when pairing highly acidic wines or sweet wines with your meal. Now we are going to talk about the fourth rule which is to always remember sparkling wines and dessert wines when planning a menu.

Wine Pairing Rule 2 – Complement or Contrast

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

This film is part of a series of eight by Neil Smith, owner of the WineSmith wine shop in Ashburn, Virginia. I have selected some material by other wine writers while I am too busy to write my own articles.

Transcript

Neil Smith: Hi, my name is Neil Smith with WineSmith and today, I am showing you how to pair wine with food. Right now, I am going to talk about the second rule of wine and food pairing which is to complement flavors or contrast flavors between the food and the wine. So what I mean by that is if you think about the flavors in the food and the flavors in wine they can either be similar or very opposite. So taking back to the last clip we took a bottle of the Cabernet Sauvignon and paired it with some chicken that was soaked in barbeque sauce and not only did the weight of the wine match to the weight of the food which was the first rule that we talked about but also the flavors mirrored one another. So the spiciness and the fruitiness of the barbeque sauce complemented the spiciness and the fruitiness in the wine and vice versa.

So that’s an example of compare or striving for similarity between the flavors. On the opposite side though, we can talk about contrasting flavors and to do that I advice you to do another taste test with me. We are going to start by cleansing our pallet from the red wine and the barbeque sauce that we had. So, take a little piece of cracker. I am just going to break off a little piece and take a bite of that and then follow that with a sip of water and the cracker just absorbs all the flavors and the water rinses your mouth out. So now what we are going to do is take some creamy goat cheese. You don’t need very much of it and take a little bite, very creamy, little bit sharp. Then we are going to follow that with a small sip of the Sauvignon Blanc Wine that we talked about in the intro. So the high acidity in the Sauvignon Blanc immediately helps wash your mouth out from the creaminess of the cheese and it’s a beautiful combination and it’s a great example of how opposite textures and flavors can complement one another.

So another good point to remember is to consider regional cuisine and wine when deciding which wines to select with your food. So there is a reason why Italian wines like Chianti work especially well with Italian foods. The high acidity in the Chianti stands up to the acidity in tomato sauces that you will find on things like spaghetti with meat sauce or lasagna. So it’s always good to remember to think about what wines typically go with what foods from different parts of the world. So, that’s our second rule for pairing wine with food which is to either complement or contrast flavors and now we are going to talk about the third rule which is paying attention to acidity and sweetness in the wines.

The direction is to more screwcaps and fewer bottles

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Last week Barbara Keck posted about wine packaging. She analyzed the results of a survey of Zinfandel (West Coast) producers. Herebelow are a few answers:

  • “Closures are a way you can differentiate your product”
  • “Screw caps. There seems to be public acceptance of these closures in the under-$20 segment.”
  • “Lighter bottles will reduce the cost of shipping”
  • “We are hearing a lot about the carbon footprint of heavy glass bottles, something that takes less energy to create.”
  • “Screw caps – we’d use them more if they could go on a variety of bottles, but we’d never use them for red wines.”
  • “We are going to go to screw cap on our white wines, and will use synthetic cork on our reds.”
  • “We need to move to “greener” packaging, where there is less waste.”
  • “Paper packaging has a chance now with the carbon footprint thing; I see some bag-in-box here at ZAP and I see it in the stores.”