Have you ever been surprised when a glass of wine you ordered was much different than you expected? A single varietal can express many different characteristics depending largely upon where it was grown.
Although this difference can sometimes be affected by cellar manipulation, usually it’s a matter of what wine people call “terroir”.
Terrior is defined as “the complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including factors such as the soil, topography, and climate. The characteristic taste and flavor imparted to a wine by the environment in which it is produced.”
Have you ever compared your favorite varietals from different locations? What words come to mind when you see “Chardonnay”? “Oakey” and “buttery” are overwhelmingly used to describe this versatile grape. However, they’re the last words that come to mind when I taste a crisp Chardonnay from Chablis, France!
If you’re interested in learning more about how terroir affects your favorite wines, check out my next event, “Vino vs. Vino”. We’ll be blind tasting 4 wines from California and France and discussing some of the major differences in these esteemed wine producing regions.
When did a wine last surprise you?
Because sometimes 2 hours in the fridge is just too long!
We’ve all made the mistake of putting a bottle in the freezer to chill only to forget about it, but did you know there’s actually a quicker way to chill a bottle down?
Since water is a better temperature conductor than air, it’s actually quickest to cool down a room temperature bottle in an ice bath. I usually use about 1/3 ice to 2/3 water for my ice baths.
The addition of salt (which lowers the freezing point of water) speeds up the process even more! To really maximize the chilling effect, twist the bottle of wine around in the ice bath every so often.
This trick will take your bottle from room temperature to drinking temperature – about 45 to 50 °F- in about 15 minutes!
Have you ever let a bottle sit for too long in the freezer?
I know I have before using this method…although there are worse things in this world than champagne slushies!
Head on over to DC Wine Week for a Bon Vivant guest post where I share some of my favorite tips on how to achieve an elegant night in, following these 3 simple rules:
1. Keep it Focused!
2. Keep it Simple!
3. Keep it Fun!
What are some of your favorite party planning tips?
A Cal-Italian with a Rich Family History of Winemaking
I recently attended a “Meet the Winemaker” event at Veritas Wine Bar. It was wonderful to taste so many new wines, but it was even more interesting to hear the stories behind the bottle.
Mario Monticelli is the winemaker at Trinchero, a winery located in California’s Napa Valley.
Chatting with Monticelli over a glass of the well-balanced and easy drinking Chicken Ranch Merlot, he told me an incredible history of wine in his family.
His great grandfather immigrated from Italy, importing wine into America before later returning to Italy during prohibition. 2 generations later, Monticelli’s father came to the States from Italy as a child.
Monticelli told me of growing up drinking wine around the dinner table, a glass of water with just a splash of wine mixed in as a young child, progressively graduating to proper glasses of the family grown wine.
Trinchero produces around 12,000 cases of wine a year, including five single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons. Monticelli described these single vineyard productions as a “Cabernet for every occasion.” Some skew decidedly old world in style- a nod to the Old Country with subtle and earthy notes. Others exhibit the big, bold, juicier characteristics one would expect from a Napa Cab.
When asked his favorite wine, Monticelli hesitated. He’s obviously proud of his single vineyard productions, as he should be, but described the Meritage as his “desert island” wine. One of the most versatile wines in the Trinchero portfolio, the Meritage is intensely approachable. “You can pair it with anything you like: salmon, steak, chips…”
Tasters at the event agreed, “I would definitely take this to a dinner party if I didn’t know what was being served- it’s easy drinking and hard not to like!”
Visit the Trinchero website for even more family history, photos, and information about their wines.
What would your “desert island” wine be?
So Many Favorites…
I often get asked what my favorite wine is. To which I invariably respond: “What’s the weather? What am I eating? Who am I with? What is the occasion? Am I inside? Outside? On a boat? What is my mood?”
I have a different favorite for each of these occasions and combinations!
On one recent day I was asked- somewhat jokingly- by three separate people what wines to pair with an emotion or life circumstance. There’s a wine out there to complement virtually any emotion or occasion!
1. From a dear friend nearing the culmination of her PhD:
Q: I need some consultation on what red pairs best with abject hysteria upon approaching an impending 5-year deadline?
A: I’m feeling like you need an Italian. They just do abject hysteria better than most! A Barbaresco or Brunello is the way to go!
She agreed that she did, indeed, “need an Italian”!
2. From a sister who was recently given the brush off by a guy she was dating:
Q: What wine pairs best with being dumped?
A: Easy. A cava. It’s light and celebratory! You clearly dodged a dating bullet, plus those bubbles say, “Who cares, I’m fabulous!”
Bohigas cava is a family favorite!
3. From a neighbor whose wife was in the hospital, seeking a wine with which to unwind:
Q. I know you’re not supposed to drink heavy, dark reds when it’s this warm out, but that’s what I generally enjoy.
A. Nonsense! Drink what you like! A heavy, brooding red fits perfectly with your current situation.
I brought him a bottle of Trim Cabernet Sauvignon. For medicinal purposes, naturally.
When was the last time you paired a beverage to your mood?