Creative Juices Wine Blog

Summertime, and the pairing’s easy.

In case you haven’t been outside recently, it’s hot. I’m not just speaking on behalf of where we are, but the majority of the country is feeling exactly what I’m talking about every day. Many of us are experiencing 100 degree plus temperatures on a regular basis, and with it comes a sense of being overwhelmed by drink choices.

It’s too easy to reach for a cold domestic brew after 15 minutes in this heat, which inevitably lead to sweating through two shirts, and virtually passing out. Here are some recommendations for you that don’t start with ‘Bud’, or end in ‘Light’.

If there is on thing we have learned about serving wine, it’s that exploration (for the most part) died with Juan Ponce de Leon in 1521. “I know what I like” is a common phrase from many consumers. That’s not to say that knowing what one likes is a bad thing, but let’s face it, Napa isn’t the only place making wine. Hence, a need for the revival of exploration. This time, with better navigational tools.

For us, hot summertime weather means a break from Cabernet, Syrah/Shiraz, Zinfandel, and anything else that could be used as a club in the event a riot breaks out due to frost-bitten nerve endings during the winter months. It’s a well deserved hiatus for us and all of the abuser friendly wines we love so much. During the separation months, these varietals still see periodic visitation on rainy days, or cool(ish) evenings. In some cases, we get to visit them in the form of Rosés, which is nice. Speaking of Rosés, I feel the need to call men out briefly. It’s ok to drink pink wines. They’re not all sweet. They’re not White Zinfandel or White Merlots. And it by no means makes you look feminine. All you’re really doing is saying, ‘I have a sophisticated palate, and I don’t buy into stereotypes.’ The next time you’re at a wine tasting, give the pink one a go. You may be surprised.

That being said, here are some more heat friendly wines for you to enjoy. The first thing you’ll want to do is avoid heavy oaking. Sorry Cali Chards. Think White Burgundy (Chablis, Côte de Beaune) are great choices, or possibly Viognier from further south in Rhone. Try Sancerre, Alsacian Riesling, Pinot Gris, or Gewürztraminer. These are amazing choices this time of year. Looking for something a bit more crisp, and tropical? Perhaps more floral? How about Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, or some Mendoza Torrontes? If you’ve never heard of some of these, that’s okay. That’s why wine professionals exist. If you’re at a restaurant, ask your server or sommelier what they suggest. We still ask for recommendations when we go out. I frequently ask questions like, “what would you pair with 100 degree heat, a pulled muscle, and the shrimp scampi?” If someone can answer a question like that without looking at you like you’re clinically insane, drink what they recommend. They know what they’re doing. You will also find luck with Grüner Veltliner from Austria, and in a multitude of German Rieslings. Try to avoid a lot of sugar though. Lean towards the dry or Troken end of the spectrum. Don’t let me forget sparkling wine, or Champagne. A little bubbly on a hot day is always the right choice. Celebration or not, bubbles will make you smile. On that note, something a little fizzy that we find does the trick is Vinho Verde. They’re usually pretty inexpensive, and tasty.

If you can’t get over your winter Red kick, that’s okay too. Just back it off a notch. Just switch the regions around a bit. If you’re a Cab or Merlot drinker that only drinks Cali stuff, think Bordeaux for a change. If you’re a big Zinfandel drinker that loves the spiciness and high alcohol content the Zin carries, try going with a Spanish Garnacha, or Côtes du Rhône. You may find a new friend that you never knew existed. Tempranillo or Mencia may also be valid options. Malbec from Argentina or Cahors, France are quality picks for this time of year, though, I find myself avoiding  them for the most part. Pinot drinker? Love California, or Oregon? Try Central Otago, New Zealand. More good options for Pinot fans would be a Beaujolais Cru, or a Dolcetto d’Alba. You’ll find a sense of home with these lighter style reds.

All of these wines are pretty easy to find. In most wine shops, and restaurants around the country, there is someone waiting for you to come in and just ask questions. That’s what we live for. We have answers, and it’s rewarding on both ends. We get to talk about wine, which we love to do, and you get to enjoy something new. Worst case scenario, just go online and check out wine.com, 2020wines.com, winelibrary.com, or any number of other online resources. This is, of course, if you cannot find it locally.

Good luck, stay cool, and have fun.

Cheers!

-Zak

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Thanksgiving Dinner with Wine

Posted in Austria, Beaujolais, Champagne, France, Gamay, Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Noir, Red Burgundy, Sonoma County, Wine Reviews, Zinfandel by CreativeJuicesWine on November 22, 2009

Thanksgiving is this Thursday! Time to spend 7 hours making a meal that gets consumed in 20 minutes. Yay! Thanksgiving is the official kickoff of the holiday season, which means that we’re all going to eat and drink too much from now until 2010.  That being said, let’s talk a little about Thursday’s meal.

From a traditional standpoint, families all across the country are going to be preparing a turkey. There are a number of preparations that we could get into, but, we’re not going to. If you have specific questions, feel free to ask. Popular sides for Thanksgiving include potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing, etc.

A lot of people have been asking us lately what to pair with their dinner on the 26th. We are happy to give our advice, and are actually really looking forward to doing some pairing experiments of our own. However, to be safe, here is a brief list of wines that we recommend with your Thanksgiving dinner this year. We have shared some amazing bottles of wine this year that we feel would be appropriate on Thursday afternoon.

Classically we would like to recommend Champagne.
This bottle of Chartogne-Talliet was a bottle given to us on our wedding night by a friend that we enjoyed a great deal. ($42)

Secondly, we would recommend drinking a nice Pinot Noir with your dinner this year. This bottle of  2006 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir from Sonoma County is one of our fondest wine drinking memories together, and we would like you to make your own special memories with this bottle. ($68)

Beaujolais Nouveau is a traditional pairing which is released on the third Thursday of every November right before Thanksgiving. We have never paired it, but we will tell you that we will be this year, just to see how it goes. This wine separates wine snobs from wine lovers. It’s about $8 a bottle, and easy to find.

Might we also recommend an Austrian Gruner Veltliner. This is a bottle that was on our by-the-glass list at the wine bar where we met, and eventually worked together in New York. Our decision to pair a Gruner is primarily based on its compatibility, but also in honor of our friends in NY who we miss. ($18)

Finally, we would like to offer up another twist on tradition, and recommend a Zinfandel blend that we were given as a gift from another friend back in March of this year. We are recommending the 2006 vintage (for nostalgic value), though the 2007 vintage is equally as impressive. Ridge 2006 California Geyserville- Zinfandel Blend. ($42)

These are our recommendations this year. Being that this is our first Thanksgiving as a family, we are thankful that we have a lot of wine at our fingertips in case dinner doesn’t turn out like we hope it does. Happy Thanksgiving! Cheers!