wine pairing with food

7 Wine tips to increase your palette

Have you ever been to a restaurant with the intention of buying a glass of wine, only to be handed a binder full of selections to choose from? Well, it’s times like these where knowing a bit about wine can go a long way.

  1. Try not to exclusively drink the best (read: expensive) wine that you can find at all times. Sometimes, you will notice that some of the best tasting wines are medium grade and not the creme of the crop. Explore all types of wine and try them with different meals to determine your favorites. Also note that when you ask for a server’s recommendations, a good server will not exclusively recommend the most expensive.
  2. If you are having red meats, stick to red wine. This is the general principle, and should rarely be veered away from. Red wine helps to bring out the flavor in the steak or meat that you choose and vice versa, giving you the best possible experience. While red wine may also be appropriate for fish, white is never a good balance for steak.
  3. wine and food pairing

    Always pair red wine with steak

    When purchasing a wine for dinner, make sure to ask in the merchant if the wine is ready to drink. Some wines need to age in order for their true flavor to come out. This might mean months or even years should go by before the bottle is enjoyed. By asking if the wine is ready to drink, you have a better chance of walking out with a bottle you will enjoy.

  4. Read everything you can get your hands-on with respect to wine. Check out blogs and reviews. New ones are coming out all the time, and they can be very valuable in helping you select wine that you might enjoy. Hint: when you find a wine you like from a certain reviewer, make a note that you have similar tastes and this a reviewer you should heed reviews from. There are even apps for your phone that can help with wine selection.
  5. Choose your food and wine pairings carefully. Typically, white wine is suitable for light dishes, salads or fish. Red wine goes well with heavier dishes and dark meats. The rule of thumb is the heavier or darker the dish, the darker the wine that you choose. If you have having a multi-course dinner, start with white wine and progress to red wine.
  6. Be mindful of wine experts and what they say, yet also take their considerations with a grain of salt. Any expert worth his weight in salt will admit to his own fallibility. Also, their personal tastes will never identically match your own. You should never allow an expert opinion to override your own feelings.
  7. Go to wine tastings. There are plenty of free wine tastings at restaurants to get patrons in on slower evenings. Check these out to taste wines you may not otherwise, feel comfortable purchasing a full bottle. Here you can also network and make friends with other wine newbies.

As you now know, there is a lot of information to deal with when it comes to wine. However, when you have the right information and put in a little effort, you can be a wine expert in no time. Just make sure to enjoy your wine education, as it is supposed to be fun!

Texas wineries

Texas Terroir: Hill Country Wineries

Texas Wines are a Secret in Hill Country

While most of the country believes the best wine can be found on the West Coast, the Texas Hill Country has been quietly building up an abundance of lovely wines. In fact, the Hill Country has nearly 40 wineries. The under the radar destination even hosted the wine marketing tourism conference this year.

Texas wineries

Enjoy the view at Becker Vineyards

What makes Hill Country Wineries unique?  They aren’t the kind where a huge tour bus lets a bunch of people out. In fact, they suggest making appointments, so you can truly savor the experience. Co-0wner, Chris, of William Chris vineyards says “We’d rather people not come, than us not be able to give them the attention they deserve.”

Wine is not produced in quantities large enough to be exported. So, you must visit Texas to imbibe. Here are three of the best wineries in Texas to visit.

Becker Vineyards (Nature / Scenery) If you like Instagram worthy spots, then Becker Vineyards should be on your list of spots to sip on wine and take in the lovely scenery. Must try wine: The Prairie Rotie. A Silver Medal winner in the San Francisco International Wine Competition, it is a light bodied red with a hint of spice and cherries. Tastings are $15 for 6 tastes.

Kuhlman Cellers (Fit for Foodies) If you have a foodie in your midst, then you don’t want to miss out on this Texas winery. Each wine is expertly paired with a small bite. The winery works closely with a chef to create delectable bites to bring out the best of the wine. Think Pumpkin Pureé in a Phylo shell with Wild Mushrooms. Cost is $20.00 per guest ($5 will be waived from the cost of the tasting for each bottle purchased). Upgrade to the $27.50 tasting to experience one additional wine and one additional taste.

Wiliam Chris Vineyards Texas

Roussanne at William Chris compliments desserts nicely.

William Chris (Get to Know the Winemaker)  The names of the two founders of the wineries, these guys know what they are doing, with 35 years experience under their belts. As noted above, the owners are quite involved in the business and often give tours themselves. Tours are daily and are $20 per person, but reservations are recommended.  Try the Mouvedre and Roussanne. Mouvedre wine is popular in France and Spain, but this Texas winery has put its own spin on the full bodied red. Roussanne is the perfect dessert wine you’ve never tried.

The lovely town of Fredericksburg, Texas makes a terrific home base for exploring the Texas wineries. Make sure to put Texas Hill Country on your vacation list for 2017.

 

north-georgia-wineries

Stunning Georgia Wineries

While most think the west coast has the market cornered on the best wine, a wine renaissance has been happening in the Southeast. Several wine makers purchased land in North GA and built some stunning wineries. And the wine doesn’t disappoint.

“Wines from Georgia?” Yes, Georgia is more than just fried foods and moonshine. Here are three wineries in North Georgia that are worth the one and a half hour drive from Atlanta.

Kaya Vineyards
Kaya is a lovely new Georgia winery with arguably the best view of the mountains. The 1600 square foot tasting room includes a large patio, perfect for a lazy weekend afternoon. Future plans include building cabins for weekend getaways. Whatever you try, don’t miss the Oola red wine at Kaya. On weekends, Kaya features a guitarist with a velvety voice to serenade you while you enjoy the dog friendly patio. Tastings start at $11, and the winery is open Wednesdays through Sundays.

montaluce-winery-ga
Montaluce Winery
The winery is open daily and tours are free, but it’s best to book the $45 tour and five-wine tasting. Then enjoy dinner at Le Vigne, the posh restaurant overlooking the vineyards. The cuisine at this Tuscan-style winery is just as outstanding as the vivacious wine. The property even has beautiful villas on site where you can stay overnight.
Yonah Mountain Vineyards
Yonah is the beautiful mountain that can be seen from the many wineries in Cleveland, close to Helen. Want to see a magnificent winery that has spared no expense? Yonah Mountain Vine yards is it. Built for special events (mostly weddings), there are even wine caves where some special wine dinners take place. Not a Chardonnay fan? The un-oaked, buttery Chardonnay at this Georgia winery might just change your mind. But the Genesis 7, a blend of Malbec, Merlot and several other reds was is stunning. Tastings start at $10, and the winery is open every day.

Since it is only a one and a half hour drive to these wineries from Atlanta, a day trip is feasible. But what’s even better is taking time to enjoy each winery for its merits. Do the tasting and pick your favorite vino, then relax and enjoy a glass or two at each of the wineries. Many wineries have live music or festivals (especially in the fall), so totally worth spending the afternoon or even overnight.

oak-steakhouse-foie-gras

7 Dishes You are Mispronouncing

Sure, we all know how to pronounce “chipotle” now. But if you are a foodie, then there are lots of other items you eat regularly. It’s always good to know the correct pronunciation as you dine with friends and during networking.

  1. A common appetizer at Italian restaurants is bruschetta, a tomato mixture almost like a salad or salsa that sits atop toasted or grilled bread. Most of us in the U.S. take the letters “sch” and pronounce them “shh,” but the correct Italian pronunciation is “brew-skeht-uh.”
  2. Charcuterie: Popular at many restaurants, it is a selection of cured meats. These can be salami, chorizo, ham, and other meats. These high-quality meats are cured for long periods of time and have a salty, nutty flavor. They are often served with a selection of cheese too. It is pronounced “shar-koo-tury.”
  3. Even if you’ve never heard the word crudités, you’ve had it. It is basically fresh vegetables, like carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, and others, that are colorful and look good on a platter for parties. They are usually served with a dip, like ranch. The French word is pronounced “cru-dih-tay.”
  4. Foie gras: This controversial food is a rich, decadent, and expensive dish that is served in fine-dining restaurants, often as a starter. The dish has a special kind of buttery taste that is from the liver of a duck or goose. It is often served with bread and jam. It is pronounced “fwah-grah.”
  5. Haricots verts: These are like the French version of green beans. They are often fancied up and served with items such as almonds or bacon. As often with French words, you can pronounce it by dropping the last letter of the word: “ah-ree-koh-vehr.”
  6. Jícama: This Mexican root vegetable, similar to a turnip, is not only full of flavor but also quite healthy too. Full of fiber, it is great for weight loss, with only 35 calories for 100 grams. It is also full of nutrients and helps to regulate blood pressure. It is pronounced “he-caw-ma.”
  7. Sommelier: Like wine? If you are really good at detecting tastes and deciphering smells, then you could have a career as a sommelier. Sommeliers work in restaurants and make recommendations for wine to pair with meals. They also travel and lecture about wine at food conferences. Pronounce it “saw-mall-yay.”
wine festival greenville, sc

A Wine Lover’s Festival in Greenville, SC

If you fancy yourself a wine connoisseur, one of the fun things to do is attend food and wine festivals, right? There are a couple reasons food and wine festivals are a fantastic and fun way to enjoy wine. For one thing, you get to try new wines you’ve never heard of. Plus you can totally geek out with other wine enthusiasts. And of course, it’s wonderful to see the different pairings of food with wine and attend educational seminars. If you live in the Southeastern United States and love wine, you should plan to attend Euphoria, Food, Wine and Music festival in Greenvill, SC.

Happening during late September, which is the optimal time to be outdoors in the south, this year’s festival runs from September 22 through 25. Friday evening begins with a food tasting on the banks of the beautiful Reedy River. Just steps away are expertly selected wines to sip on while you enjoy a concert at the adjacent pavilion.

wine festival greenville, sc

Taste of the South at Greenville’s Euphoria Food, Wine and Music Festival

Rest up Friday night, because Saturday is full of adventures for wine lover’s at this Greenville festival. Beginning in the early afternoon are the wine seminars. They curate topics on specific varietals that delve deep into various components like region, production, pairings and more. These seminars, taught by master sommeliers, allow you to learn from some of the most knowledgeable wine experts. Past seminars have included “Perfect Pinot” and “Rosé Renaissance.”

wine seminar euphoria greenville

Wine Seminars are Taught by Master Sommeliers

Wine Dinners. Euphoria selects only the best restaurants to host these coveted wine dinners. A well known chef prepares a unique menu to compliment the wines. Tipsy? No need to worry about transportation as nearly all the restaurants are close to host hotels. Basically, every festival event is in walking distance to the Greenville hotels, though you can Uber it if you don’t feel like making the short walk.

wine-euphoria-sunday

Sunday Supper at Euphoria Greenville

The Sunday Supper is well worth sticking around for. It is the bittersweet culmination of a fabulous weekend sure. But it is also the opportunity to taste a one-of-a-kind collaborative dinner from chefs all across the South.

You’ll be hard pressed to find such an intimate, yet magnificent feast offered by big name chefs. Past chefs have included Sean Brock and Frank Lee. One of the great things about this wine festival in Greenville is that tickets can be purchased to individual events. You can buy your tickets here.

 

tasting-in-the-dark-wine

Tasting in the Dark: A Blind Wine Seminar

Tasting in the Dark with Francis Ford Coppola Wines

You’ve no double heard of a blind wine tasting before. This involved tasting wine where the label is covered. The idea matching how good of wine connoisseur you are to be able to discern the wine. But this wasn’t the kind of wine tasting I attended. And no, it wasn’t anything kinky either. This was all about elevating your senses by taking away one. This was Tasting in the Dark.

You know the name Francis Ford Coppola from his legendary films. What if he were to take away all of the images? Your senses would suddenly enhance aspects you never noticed—the sound of a child laughing in the background of the scene, the scent of the perfume of the woman in the row behind you, and the saltiness of your popcorn. This is the premise of Tasting in the Dark.

blind-wine-tasting-francis-ford-coppola
As we all gathered in the corner of the restaurant, we were each given blindfolds to put on. Instructed that we’d put our hand on the shoulder of the person in front of us, we slowly and very carefully walked into to our seminar room. First we were given glasses of different items to smell, to get our sense of smell activated. Anise was easy to identify as the strong smell of licorice was present. Vanilla bark was harder to discern. But one thing was for sure, it really helped us focus in on that sense of smell.

Next were three different wines placed in front of us. The white with fruity notes was easily identifiable. The reds, although easy to pick out different hints of cherry, vanilla and other notes were not as easy to identify. This was a neat way to explore wines. The subtle nuances of wine are no longer subtle, instead having our full attention. You can smell the fruit. You can feel the tannins. You realize how much more you get out of tasting wines like this.

Hoby Wedler, recently awarded Forbes Magazine 30 under 30 for Food and Drink, was our host of the unusual wine tasting. Hoby says blindfolds help participants concentrate on the wine, accentuating the sensory experience of its flavors and aromas.“You’re really focusing just on the wine and not on the visual cues,” Wedler says. You bring your curiosity we’ll bring the blindfolds.

guide to wine buying

Introduction to Wine Buying

Tips for Finding and Buying the Best Wine

When it comes to wine, there are literally hundreds if not thousands of different types to choose from. Determining what wine is best suited for you can be quite difficult if you are new to this the wine buying world. Here are 8 ways to buy the best wine possible.

Go to wine tasting events. This is a fantastic way to discover wines that you will enjoy without purchasing a whole bottle to find out if you like it. Many times wine cellars and wineries offer wine tasting as part of their tours. But in recent years, restaurants all over are having wine tastings for as little as $20 for a tasting of a variety of different wines.

Don’t be fooled into thinking only pricey wines are good. You should experiment with wines from all price points and ratings during your introduction to wine buying. Sticking with only expensive wines is a waste of money and could prevent you from finding the perfect wine for you. There are many wines that are tasty and are under $15.

If you are going to a party or a gathering, and you would like to bring wine, try to stick with something that is not too strong. Pinot Noir is a great choice for occasions like this, because it goes with most food. Also, if you find yourself easing into red wine during yor introduction to wine buying, Pinto Noir is a good choice as it is lighter than bolder cabernet or merlot.

Avoid wines on the eye-level shelf in your wine store or grocer. They are put at eye level for a reason. Often, these shelves will be “sold” to larger local wineries that can afford to put their wine in the prime shelf position. Smaller wineries that offer some great wine selections are usually relegated to the upper or lower shelves in the market. Don’t be afraid to experiment during your introduction to wine buying.

When thinking about a wine to pair with your meal, do not forget to include champagne and other sparkling wines while you are learning about wine buying. These wines don’t have to be relegated to special occasions. Keep in mind not all sparkling wines are sweet or dry; they can be anywhere in between. Usually these wines go well at the beginning of the meal. It pairs well with salty snacks and light dishes like cheeses and fruits. However, more and more, these have been paired with fried “comfort foods.” Think items like fried chicken or potato chips drizzled with blue cheese.

When shopping for wine, it’s great to seek advice from wine experts at your local wine store, but don’t let them sway you away from a wine you think you’d like to try. It’s best not to spend a small fortune on any wine until you have a solid understanding of what tastes good to you.

Sweet wines are referred to as dessert wine. They often have alcoholic additives in them to make the flavor even bolder. This creates a syrup-like wine which is great in small doses, one of the reasons it is served is smaller glasses. Pairing it with a savory dessert creates the best course of the meal, so try it at your next dinner party.

Unlike other wines, red wine needs a chance to breathe after opening. So, leave the bottle uncorked for about 30 minutes before your drink it. This gives the wine more time to interact with the oxygen in the air. If you are pressed for time (and willing to spend the money during your introduction to wine buying), pour the wine through an aerator and into a decanter so that it breathes properly first.

Becoming a wine expert doesn’t happen overnight. Follow the tips here and you are well on your way of becoming a wine connoisseur in your own right. Just remember to have fun during your wine education and be sure to drink responsibly.

serving wine for dinner parties

Helpful Tips for Choosing Wine

Do you feel like you’re out of the loop when it comes to entertaining or cooking with wine? Don’t be afraid to experiment when it comes to enjoying a good wine. Sure, we all have a favorite stand-by, but that doesn’t mean something different cannot be enjoyed as well. If red is your go-to wine, investigate the possibility of a Pinot Grigio tonight or be really daring and try something you’ve never even heard of!

We all know red wine is a great choice when eating red meats such as steak or beef dishes. Drinking red wine with these foods can really help to bring out the flavor of both the meal and the wine. You can also use the red wine while cooking to help add to the flavor of the meat.

If you are planning to cook with wine, examine your recipe closely. If it calls for dry white wine, this means that the recipe will not work well with a wine that is sweet. Look for a wine that states that it is dry, and you will avoid ruining a potentially fantastic dish.

Don’t shy away from ordering or buying a bottle of something that you can not pronounce the name of. The proprietor or employee is not going to judge you. Don’t deprive yourself of tasting new wines because you can’t speak the name.

When serving wine at a dinner party, try to have at least one variety of red wine and one variety of white wine on hand. While many individuals are not particular to a specific region or winery, most will prefer a red or white. By having both on hand you are sure to please all of your guests with ease.

Before leaving the house and hitting up the local venue, know what you are looking for and have a firm goal set in mind. Leaving without knowing exactly what you want might end up as a night spent hopping hopelessly from cellar-to-cellar. Have a goal ahead of time and when you find the selection that fits, purchase it and return home to enjoy the work.

When you find a bottle of wine that really hits the spot, put away the whole case for a slightly higher price and you’ll save money in the long run. A case is usually 12 bottles of the same age and flavor. The net cost of a single case is reasonably lower than 12 individual bottles in most venues.

Next time you go to buy a bottle of wine, whether to entertain socially or use to cook, you should be more equipped with the right knowledge. Use what you’ve learned here to make things easier on you. Wine can be used to impress, and you now have the tools.

V is for Vidalia

V is for Vidalia: A Bit About this Sweet Onion

Vidalia onions were discovered accidentally in the 1930s. They’ve become extremely popular in recent decades. They are so popular in fact, that they are now widely available in grocery stores across the country from April to mid September.

vidalia onion in shrimp salad

Shrimp and Corn Salad

Here’s a sneak peak at a multi-course dinner featuring the celebrated onion. Our first course began with a lovely shrimp and corn salad and was paired with Purato Rose Sicilia, Nero d’Avola wine. The sweet Vidalia onions were the perfect touch to this starter. Another salad, this time a Wedge with ranch and bacon was another good use of the Vidalia onion and was paired with Banfi Principessa Gavi Piemonte, Cortese. Moving on to more of a substantial course was the Pan-seared red snapper with Vidalia onion, red cabbage and fennel slaw with citrus vinaigrette Satrico Bianco Lazio, Chardonnay-Sauvignon Blanc-Trebbiano.

dinner-featuring-vidalia-onions

L: Wedge Salad, R: Beef stuffed Vidalia Onion

Up to this point the dishes were impeccably paired with wines, but the highlight of the evening was the Braised beef stuffed Vidalia onion with tomato sauce and shaved pecorino. No other dish truly highlighted the Vidalia onion as did this. It was paired with a red blend – Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot-Petit Verdot-Cabernet France that was utterly delightful.

Wondering how they’d pull off an onion-based dessert? Us too. We were treated to a Vanilla bean gelato with Vidalia onion and aged balsamic jam. The balsamic an onion complimented each other quite well.

Fun facts:

  • Vidalia onions are only grown in a 20-county area of Southeast GA.
  • In 1977 they were named the official state vegetable of Georgia.
  • They are a good source of Vitamin C, are fat free cholesterol free and sodium free.

Hurry, you’ve only got a handful of weeks left to indulge in this awesome and healthy onion. What will you make with Vidalia Onions? Don’t forget about wine to go with your Vidalia Onion dinner.

Think Pink: Rosé Wine 101

We were lucky to attend a wine seminar at the Euphoria Food and Wine Festival last year. This particular seminar focused solely on rosé wine. There seems to be a bit of rosé renaissance going on in the last several years, with sales of rosé steadily increasing. While many of the drinkers of rosé are women, some men are learning to appreciate it as well.

rose  wine 101

Not sure what a rosé is exactly? A rosé is a type of wine that has some color from grape skins, but not quite enough to designate it as a red wine. Surprisingly, it may be the oldest type of wine. This is because it is the most straightforward to make with the skin contact method.

Three Benefits of Rosé:
1. It is a terrific summer option for those who love red wine but don’t want to deal with the heat that red wine brings.
2. It is meant to be consumed right away. No need to save it in your cellar. It doesn’t get better with age.
3. It is rather inexpensive. Expect to pay about $15 per bottle.

Here are some basics about rosé wine: It is NOT made from mixing white and red grapes. Instead, it is made from red grapes. The amount of color comes how long the grapes are left to macerate. The longer the grapes’ skins are left in, the darker the color of the finished rosé.

Another thing about rosé that makes it kind of interesting is that it can be made anywhere. Rosé isn’t from a specific grape or region; it’s just a kind of wine, like red or white. The biggest producer is France. However, you can find it from other regions that are just as tasty, like Spain (where it’s “rosado”) and Italy (“rosato”). In Italy the Nabbiola Rosé is a lovely orange color instead of pink. But there’s also excellent rosé wines from South America (Chile, Uruguay) and Germany as well.

Lastly, Rosé is extremely versatile. Having a party and thinking about making a special cocktail for that party? Try rosé as a base as it is incredible in cocktails. Besides that, this wine pairs well with a variety of foods too. So, you could opt for Rosé only to drink at a party instead of white or red. It is not as heavy or full of tannins as red but more complex than white. So, it goes with seafood, chicken, steak, barbecue. Really anything.