Archive for the ‘wine tasting’ Category

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.


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.

Anatomy of corkscrews

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

With so many corkscrew styles available, it would be childish to attempt to decide which type is absolutely best. Here is some light on the subject with a description of common designs.

The corkscrew is such a simple, essential tool in the kitchen that most people don’t realize the differences in the styles available. Knowing why each corkscrew is shaped the way it is and what benefits it offers might help consumers in choosing one that best meets their needs.

The Wing Corkscrew:
Wing CorkscrewOnce the screw mechanism is inserted into the cork, this design has two wing-like levers that pull the cork up through its frame when depressed. This model is easy to use and an excellent version for anyone.

The Power Corkscrew:
A wire screw mechanism is inserted into the center of the cork and pulled out with sheer force on part of the user. This one piece design is very portable and has no mechanical parts to lose or break. The design and function are simple but require strength, as the name implies, and some practice. Beware not to spill wine when opening! You may wish to just avoid it.

The Waiter’s Corkscrew:

Waiter's CorkscrewThe waiter’s corkscrew gets its name due to popularity with restaurant staff and bartenders. This compact model folds like a pocket knife and includes a knife for removing wine seals. Its handle is hinged and one end has a support, which rests on the lip of the bottle. Requires some skill but if pulled straight up it works very well. Excellent for those with small kitchens and limited drawer space.

The Twin Prong Cork Puller:
Twin Prong Cork PullerPreferred by wine enthusiasts because it does not damage the cork. This is useful for recorking the bottle or of for closing up new wine.
Instead of using a screw mechanism, this version features two prongs that are wedged into either side of the bottle between the cork and the glass. With a quick twisting motion, the cork is removed from the bottle unscathed. However, this style requires practice to keep from punching the cork into the bottle.

Dinner party: the wine etiquette you need, not more

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Shall you bring wine? or discuss wine?

Tackled! - Kingsbridge v Withycombe, by bored@workLet’s first tackle the delicate business of taking wine to a dinner party, not to drink yourself, of course, but as a gift to the hosts. Don’t be offended if they whisk it away for another party, one to which you may not be invited.

Most people plan a dinner carefully, right down to the wine they want to serve. Unless you called in advance and were asked to bring something specific, don’t expect them to change their meal plan for you.

Of course, if it’s a small party, you can make a big hit by offering to bring all the wine. No right-minded host would turn you down.

If spending too much on glasses is foolish, spending too much on wine for guests is even more so. Not possible? Oh yes it is. Rare wines are not for everyone’s taste. Unless the guests are demanding connoisseurs, and who invited them anyway?

Wine for a group should be moderately priced, not just to save money but to provide something everyone will like. Great Bordeaux is like chamber music; great Beaujolais is like Rodgers and Hart. And make sure there is enough. Count on a bottle a person at a dinner. That sounds like a lot but, divided between white and red, and spread over a long evening, it’s not much at all.

Family tackle, by legdogLet’s now fell wine as a discussion topic.

One irritating lapse in wine etiquette is making wine the center of the evening. Wine should be part of the meal, not the reason for it.

Beware the host who lectures on his wines or, worse, plays wine games with his hapless guests. A considerable part of the populace has no objection to a bit of the grape now and then, but little or no interest beyond that.

Blathering on about the recent vintage is boring; asking someone to guess which glass is the merlot is boorish. Makes you want to call for a beer.

Yet wine can be the supporting partner: you’ll enjoy your friends and discover wine at the same time.

Here are other images of falling rugbymen.

Wine Pairing Rule 1 – Match Weights of Food & Wine

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

This film is the fourth in a series of eight by Neil Smith, owner of the WineSmith wine shop in Ashburn, Virginia. At the end of the video, you will have the opportunity to click to watch the next one.


Neil Smith: Hi, My name is Neil Smith with WineSmith and today, I am showing you how to pair wines with food. Right now, I am going to talk about the first rule which is the most important and that’s to match the weight of the wine with the weight of the food. The reason why this is an important rule is because you don’t want the wine to overwhelm the food. So if you think about something like a very lightly prepared fish, like a Tilapia that has been baked in the oven, you wouldn’t want to pair that with something very heavy like a Cabernet Sauvignon because the weight of the wine will overwhelm the food.

So let’s illustrate this point by doing another taste test. So we are going to use the grilled chicken and the barbeque sauce and the same Cabernet that we talked about in the intro and what I want you to do is take a bite of the chicken first, just by itself, small bite. Very simple, just a grilled chicken breast, not much flavor, very light and then take a sip of the Cabernet. It immediately washes away any of the flavor from the chicken. Now let’s do another taste test. Take another piece of the same chicken and now dip it thoroughly in the barbeque sauce to get it covered. Take another bite. Then immediately take another sip of the wine. The wine actually stands up to the barbeque sauce and the barbeque sauce stands up to the wine. So you can see how something like a sauce or a side item with your meal can really effect which wine you would want to choose to pair with it. So chicken breast by itself, perhaps a lighter white wine or a very light red wine like Pino Noir, but if you are going to have it with barbeque sauce or some other kind of heavy sauce, you might do a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Shiraz or a Zinfandel or something like that. So that’s an example of the first rule of pairing wine with food which is to match the weight of the wine with the weight of the food. Now we are going to talk about the second rule of food and wine pairing which is to either complement the flavors or contrast the flavors when pairing wine with food.