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Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category

Please Pass the Turkey, Cranberry Sauce, and Give Thanks for Great Inexpensive Wines

Like many families, our Thanksgiving table will probably look a little something like this:

  • 1 gigantic, heavily seasoned turkey (Method of cooking still to be determined.)
  • Mounds of mashed potatoes
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Possibly sweet potatoes
  • A vegetable…Brussels Sprouts, anyone?
  • A new mystery dish that we stumbled across that sounds quite good.
  • And of course – WINE

As for our Thanksgiving wine – I usually go for something relatively inexpensive and something that will complement (keep my fingers crossed) our traditional feast.

There’s one minor problem though:  check out the menu – it’s all over the place!  How do you find a harmonious and perfectly delicious wine that will jive with this bountiful and wildly contrasting array of food and flavors?

I’d like to recommend abandoning a few things this Thanksgiving:

  1. Forget Wine “Rule” #1:  White wine goes with White meat.
  2. Forget Wine “Rule” #2:  Red wine with Red meat.
  3. For now, leave that expensive first-growth Bordeaux in the cellar or rack.

Why?  Because this bruising kaleidoscope of flavors has the ability to wreak havoc on even the best wines.  Unfortunately, there’s no ‘sure rule’ that is going to work perfectly with this wide open spread – which is why I suggest not putting the ’76 Lafite on the dinner table.  If you’re eager to impress your family or friends with the fancy stuff, share a toast before the actual meal or save it for the end of night.  It’ll have a better shot to shine when the spotlight is focused squarely on the wine and not the holiday meal.

Here are a few wine picks that should measure up to the meal, go easy on your wallet, and please most of the people grazing at your dining room table.

1.)   On the “I only drink white wine” side of the fence, I’d suggest either a dry or slightly sweet Gewurztraminer or Riesling from Alsace, France.  Even better, a white wine blended with either one or both.  The delicious and refreshing floral notes, coupled with grapefruit and peach flavors, should go the distance with the meal and your crowd of discriminating palates.

2.)   In the red corner, I tend to think that bigger and bolder style red wines such as American Cabernet Sauvignon, California Zinfandel, or any of that deep, ruby red stuff that’s not at all translucent work better.  However, my ultimate heavyweight contender for this nightmare of a menu would have to be an earthy, herbaceous, and spicy red wine from France’s Cotes Du Rhone wine region.  These wines can take a beating – no matter what you throw at them!  I’m sure there are a number of folks that may beg to differ and would suggest a Pinot Noir, but in general, I feel that most Pinot Noirs under $20 cannot match up to a meal like this.

So go out there and find a great little place where the focus is on selling premium wine, and don’t be afraid to ask for some help.  Most store owners and their wine staff can offer some terrific suggestions to at least take some of the pressure off of you while you try to decide whether to deep-fry, oven-roast, or smoke your holiday bird.  :)

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Trust The Pour

Wait for it, wait for it, wait for it…Stop.  A perfect pour every time!

One of the most helpful wine gadgets that I’ve had the pleasure of using over and over again this past year have been these terrific portion controlled pourers from Drinker.com

These little babies are fantastic for conducting any size wine tasting.  Can I tell you how many tastings that I’ve been to where I’ve been poured practically an entire glass of wine?!  Not a bad thing when I like the wine, but otherwise wasteful.  The greatest beneficiaries, though, of this gadget are definitely any commercial businesses that serve wine and spirits that are interested in controlling over-pours in their establishment.

It’s simple:  You just push the pourer into the neck of the bottle, tip the bottle so that the bottom is turned to a 1-2 o’clock position, and pour.  The liquid flows out and stops when it’s reached the right amount based on the pourer size you’ve selected.  Another excellent feature about these super accurate pourers is that they’re also great for drip and spill control.  FYI, I’ve been using the 1 oz. pourers, but there are several different measurement sizes (and colors!) available.

Well, enough of my rambling and on with the show!  Checkout the “Hi-Profit-Pour” in action for yourself:

If you’d like to learn more, please visit Drinker.com.  If you’re interested in purchasing these dandy little pourers, don’t forget to use coupon code D005 to get a 5% discount on orders up to $150 and coupon code D010 to get a 10% discount on all orders over $150.

10 Bottles of Bubbly That Got Swagger!

 

New Years Ball - Times Square

New Years Ball - Times Square

Tick Tock.

 

It’s that time of year again when most of us go wandering around in the “Champagne” aisle looking for that perfect bubbly to toast with loved ones.  You ask yourself, should I purchase the genuine article from Champagne, France or just something modeled after it?

 

Sparkling wine is the term used when talking about all of the other bubbly stuff made outside of the Champagne region of France.  Some examples of sparkling wine include Cava from Spain, Prosecco from Italy, and French inspired Brut from California estates.  The choices and style differences from around the globe can be endless and pricing can also be all over the board, depending on what you’re looking for and how much you want to spend.

 

Here’s a list of 10 reliable Sparkling wines/Champagne that know how to make it pop year after year.

 

  1. Segura Viudas Brut Extra Dry Cava (Spain) Price: $10.  For the money, this might be the most delicious sparkler on the market.
  2. Freixenet Brut de Noirs Cava Rose (Spain) Price: $8.  Another great Spanish sparkler with a touch of sweetness.
  3. Mionetto DOC Prosecco (Italy) Price: $12.  Italian sparklers really got my attention this year, and this one is totally fantastic.
  4. Domaine Ste. Michelle Extra Dry Sparkling (USA) Price: $12.  A real crowd pleaser and very reliable year after year.
  5. Domaine Chandon Brut Sparkling (USA) Price: $20.  Can be a bit too dry for some, but very French in style and taste.
  6. Roederer Estate Sparkling Brut and Rose (USA) Price: $25-$30.  This stuff starts to move into French Champagne pricing – but so does the quality!  Both the Brut and Rose are superb and its as good as the best that France has to offer.  If your wallet runneth over with Benjamins, you may want to try a bottle of their Cristal (Rappers sold separately).
  7. Gruet Blanc de Blancs (USA) Price: $25.  The Gruet Winery is located in Albuquerque, New Mexico – reason enough to try this American sparkler.
  8. Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label NV (France) Price: $40.  Some may argue that this French Champagne is overpriced, but it has established a benchmark in quality for itself that a lot of other producers have imitated.
  9. Pol Roger Blanc NV Brut (France) Price: $40.  I love this Champagne!  It’s rich, interesting, and tastes even better after two days in the fridge after being opened.
  10.   Bollinger Special Cuvee NV (France) Price: $60. At 60 bucks a bottle, this Champagne delivers the goods!  The Bollinger is about as good and reliable as it gets when it comes to rich tasting French Champagne. 

Happy New Year! 

 

Santa Claus is Coming to Town – Here’s Your List

…Making a list and checking it twice!  I posted a wine tip earlier this year, and thought that it would be a useful and helpful piece to share again for your holiday party planning.

  

1.    What’s considered a “full” glass of wine?  Answer: About a ½ glass.  A half full glass allows the swirling folks to play “merry-go-round” with their wine.

 

2.    How many bottles of wine should you purchase for a full evening of entertaining?  Answer: Assuming you have a bunch of wine drinkers – at least 1 bottle (750ml) per person.  Note:  You gotta know your crowd and plan accordingly.  If you’ve got guests coming that you know can throw’em back; best to buy more wine or be prepared to holler “Last Call! But you’re welcome to stay for a cup of Nescafé Crème de Menthe coffee…”

  

3.    What’s the approximate number of servings in a standard size (750ml) bottle of wine?  Answer: 5. The pour is a tad light at 5.  But generally speaking, you get about 4-5 glasses per 750ml bottle depending on the generosity of the person pouring the wine.

 

4.    How many calories are in a glass of wine?  Answer: A standard bartender’s pour is considered to be 5 ounces. The approximate number of calories based on a 5 oz pour is between 100 and 150 calories.

  

5.    How many different glasses do I need?  Answer: 1 red and 1 white wine glass.  Or, just one great all-purpose glass.  If you like the bubbly stuff or wear an ascot and a smoker’s jacket, then you’ll need a Champagne flute, a brandy snifter, or maybe even a cocktail glass too!

 

6.    How long do I need to fully chill a white wine in the fridge before serving it?  Answer: About 2 hours.

  

7.    How long do I need to fully chill a red wine in the fridge before serving it?  Answer: None.  Most red wines should be served at room temperature unless you’re dealing with a “cross-dresser” red wine like Beaujolais or Pinot Noir.  It all depends if you prefer to serve these particular types of reds at room temperature or with a little chill on them.

 

8.    What’s the best storage temperature for wine to not freeze or “cook” it?  Answer: Generally speaking an ideal storage temperature would be somewhere in your home that is constantly between 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit.  That’s why the basement makes for an ideal cellar.

  

9.    How many days do leftover wines keep?  Answer: Generally speaking, about 2 days. White wines tend to last a little bit longer than reds. I would say that red wines should be finished the day after opening it.  If the wine comes in a box, you’ve got a month to suck it all down.

 

 

10. How many different bottle openers do I need?  Answer: One that is sturdy and capable of opening several bottles over the course of an evening.  Any wine bottle with a cork enclosure can be opened with a decent and relatively inexpensive Spinhandle Screwpull.

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