National Rosé Day!

I am sure at this point many of you have uncorked your favorite rosé  wine, but today there is an actual reason – National Rosé Day! Celebrated every second Saturday in June, this day was started by Swedish Rosé house Bodvár to revere this refreshing, pink wine.IMG_1174

Paired with food, rosé also stands well on its own. Dry, sweet or sparkling, tis the season for this pink perfection. Make sure you uncork your favorite bottle today – or try something new!

Cin Cin!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sauvignon Blanc Day!

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Every first Friday in May, winemakers in Marlborough, New Zealand come together to celebrate the crispy, white grape known as Sauvignon Blanc. Since the early 1980s, New Zealand has been producing some very reputable Sauvignon Blancs, especially on South Island, home to Marlborough, their largest region.

Sauvignon Blancs from this area are very herbaceous and fruit-forward, with grapefruit and tropical fruit notes. These wines are usually high in acid and are almost always dry. They pair well with young, creamy cheeses, white meats like chicken, pork or turkey and just about any fish, including shellfish. The acidity of the wine bursts through in high fat dishes like vegetarian quiche, casseroles and lasagna.

So despite the cool start to this spring season, chill your favorite bottle of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc today and celebrate this delightful white with Kiwis around the world.

Cin Cin!

World Malbec Day!

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Since 2011, Malbec fans around the world have been celebrating World Malbec Day every April 17. Established by Wines of Argentina, the day was created to help recognize Malbec as one of the leading wines in the world. 

Back in 1853, the then President of Argentina, Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, ordered Frenchman Michel Aimée Puget to bring Malbec vines and others from France to help boost Argentina’s wine industry. In 1863, France was hit with the phylloxera plague, which resulted in the erosion of many varietals; Malbec being one of them. Consequently, Argentina is one of the only countries that has original Malbec vines and they have truly prospered over the years, making Argentina a top wine producer.

A medium-bodied, red dry wine, an Argentine Malbec also has medium tannins and acidity. It exhibits lush flavors of plum, black cherry and blackberry on the palate followed by a smokey finish, while a Malbec from France will be less fruit forward and have a higher acidity.

Malbec is very food-friendly and easy to pair with just about anything. It is ideal with grilled or barbecued meats and sausages. Roasted and stewed beef or game, braised lamb, mushrooms, and spice-laden sauces are a perfect accompaniment to this versatile red.

So wherever you are in the world today, open a bottle of your favorite Malbec, and celebrate World Malbec Day!

Cin Cin!

Cabernet Franc Day!

Cabernet Franc Day
From left to right: Finger Lakes, NY; Lodi, CA; Mendoza, Argentina; Bordeaux

Since 2015, every December 4, wine lovers pay tribute to this “black” grape variety on what is known as Cabernet Franc Day or Cab Franc Day. And celebrate it we should! There is not much talk about this little known grape, but it has apparently gotten around in the wine world, making a reputation for itself. As one of two parents, Cab Franc is responsible for Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carmenere. Now, these are not just rumors flying about the vineyards; DNA analysis at UC Davis has proven this to be true. 

Best known as a blending grape used in Bordeaux-style wines, Cabernet Franc’s red fruit and herbal flavors are the ideal complement to two of its offspring, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It is less commonly bottled as a varietal wine, but in cooler regions where it is difficult to ripen Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc is one of the main red grapes. We see this in some parts of California, the eastern United States, and Canada. Argentina is also putting out some high quality, light-bodied Cab Francs, which come in second to their fuller, well-known Malbecs.

As a varietal, Cab Franc is a dry, medium-bodied wine with medium-high acidity and tannins. Aromas of raspberries, blackcurrants, violets and graphite are part of Cab Franc’s taste profile. Uniquely, a herbaceous or green bell pepper aroma can also be detected because of the presence of methoxypyrazines. This compound is found naturally in Cab Franc and is an inherent defense against pests, which allows this grape to grow in a diverse group of places.

Cab Franc is also a great food wine, but just as good on its own. It pairs well with most meats – grilled steak or lamb, roasted pork, or smoked ham. Grilled salmon works well or any earthy mushroom dish will bring out these same subtle flavors in the wine.  

So, if you have only tried one of the offspring – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Carmenere – and never the wellspring, now is a good time to get yourself a bottle of Cabernet Franc and celebrate! Happy Cabernet Franc Day! 

Cin Cin!

Give Thanks With Wine!

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On this Thanksgiving Eve, with your pies in the oven and your turkey (I hope) brining, many of you are probably thinking about what you will be drinking with your divergent feast tomorrow. If you are entertaining, I am sure you are all set by now with a variety of libations, from aperitifs all the way through to dessert. But, what wine have YOU decided to drink during the main event? This year I have given this a lot of thought. 

Pinot Noir  Long a Thanksgiving staple for red wine drinkers, Pinot Noir is a good choice because of its light body and versatility; it will go with just about anything on the table.

Gamay As I mentioned last week, Beaujolais Nouveau was just released and is a fine accompaniment to Thanksgiving. Similar to Pinot Noir, the Gamay grape is also very versatile. If you do not want the fruitiness of a Beaujolais Nouveau, try a more mature Gamay and pick up a Beaujolais Cru.

My Pick I know I have proclaimed myself a seasonal wine drinker, but after much thought, I have decided to drink a white wine with tomorrow’s Thanksgiving meal. With the variety of dishes and flavors on the table, I just feel a cool, crisp white is a better pairing for the actual meal. My pick is a medium dry Pinot Gris from Alsace, France. With hints of peach, spice and minerality and a long, crisp finish, I think this wine will be perfect with the various items on my plate.

Pinot Gris for Thanksgiving
Pinot Gris for Thanksgiving

Whatever it is you decide to drink tomorrow, make sure it is something you enjoy; whether it pairs well is secondary. May your Thanksgiving be filled with peace, love, laughter and good wine. Happy Thanksgiving!  

 

  Cin Cin!

It’s Beaujolais Nouveau Time!

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Since 1985, every third Thursday of November, the Beaujolais region in France releases a red wine at 12:01am (local time) made from recently harvested Gamay grapes. Known as Beaujolais Nouveau, this very fruity, young wine is celebrated throughout France with parties and fireworks; the main festivities are in Lyon. Millions of bottles are also shipped around the world beforehand, but kept under lock and key until the official day.   

Hand-harvested, the whole grape is used in production (no bitter tannins from the skins) and the wine is bottled 6-8 weeks after harvest. Meant to be drank immediately, it is best served with a slight chill to bring out all the red fruit flavors – cherry, strawberry and raspberry.

In France, the celebration will run through the weekend and revelers will enjoy platters of charcuterie and cheese. Smoked ham, dried sausage or mild, soft cheeses are a perfect pairing for this young wine. Dinners of hearty stew and roasted meats (chicken or pork) will also be consumed throughout the long weekend celebration.

Beaujolais Nouveau has been around as early as the 1950s, but it was not until the 1970s that a national event was established. With all the media coverage surrounding the event, it became known internationally in the 1980s. Thanks to a group of marketing gurus, the official release date was finally established in 1985 as the third Thursday in November, the week before Thanksgiving.

So whether you have it this weekend or with your Thanksgiving dinner, make sure you have a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau before it disappears until next year.

Cin Cin!

International Merlot Day!

California Merlots
California Merlots

Every November 7, lovers of this globally grown dark blue-colored grape come together to celebrate International Merlot Day. Getting a bad wrap in the 2004 book and movie, Sideways, Merlot’s reputation did take a slight hit, but is now one of the most popular red wines amongst consumers and is successfully produced in almost every country around the world. Utilized as a blending grape, Merlot is also used on its own in varietal wines.

One of the primary grapes used in Bordeaux wines, Merlot is the most widely planted grape in this region. An early ripener, it produces a medium-bodied wine with intermediate alcohol levels and acidity, and red fruit flavors. Merlot planted in New World regions like California are harvested later and produce wines that are fuller in body, with higher alcohol and deep plum, blackberry fruit tastes and aromas. 

As a blending grape, the role of Merlot in Bordeaux is to add softness to Cabernet Sauvignon. In Italy, you will see the use of Merlot to balance out the high acidity in many Italian grapes. Similar to Bordeaux, it is blended in “Super Tuscans” to soften the Sangiovese grape. In California, Merlot was mainly used on its own as a varietal wine, but for years now, it is also being blended in the Bordeaux-style as well.

Lighter Merlots pair well with salmon, shellfish, chicken, particularly grilled or roasted, and also mushroom-based dishes. The fuller Merlots make a tasty accompaniment to beef, grilled or roasted, and filet mignon, as well as pasta dishes with tomato-based sauces.

So, don’t be like Miles in Sideways – order that bottle of full-bodied California Merlot if it is to your liking. Or try a traditional Bordeaux – 2015 is a good year. Whatever you decide to do, just have a very Happy International Merlot Day! 

Cin Cin!

National Chocolate Day!

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According to the National Confectioners Associations (NCA), there are approximately 16 different chocolate days per year, but October 28 is the most universally celebrated. Not surprisingly, surveys  show milk chocolate is the most favorite among men and women, followed by dark and then white. Studies also show that chocolate is good for our health. The antioxidants present in this sweet treat have been known to help in high stress situations and the polyphenols can increase HDL cholesterol, the good kind.  

Additionally, chocolate is a wonderful pairing with many wines:

Dark Chocolate Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Zinfandel, Syrah/Shiraz, Port, or Sherry

Milk Chocolate Light-bodied Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, medium to dry sparkling wines, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Port, or Madeira

White Chocolate Sherry, Moscato d’Asti, Lambrusco or Pinot Noir

And with Halloween just around the corner, amazingly, wine pairs well with your favorite chocolate goodies:

Kit Kat Pinot Noir

Butterfinger Sauvignon Blanc or Lambrusco

Twix Syrah

Peanut Butter Cups Chardonnay

Snickers Syrah

So grab your favorite chocolate and pair it with a bottle of wine – or vice versa – and have a very Happy National Chocolate Day! 

Cin Cin!

International Pinotage Day!

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Celebrated every year on the second Saturday of October, International Pinotage Day celebrates this distinct red grape from South Africa. Noticing that the Pinot Noir grape struggled in South Africa’s climate, scientists at Stellenbosch University developed Pinotage in 1925, crossing Pinot Noir and Cinsaut. What they created is an intensely dark grape that throughout the years experienced some highs and lows and is now the second most planted grape in South Africa.

Bottled on its own, Pinotage is also a required element in “Cape blends” (30-70%). You will also see it as a rose’, a sparkling red and a port-style fortified wine. On its own, Pinotage will produce a bold fruity, tannic (dry) wine. On the nose you should get red fruits, cherry and plum and some earthiness or smoke. Flavors that should come through on the palate are red berries and plum. Pinotage pairs well with roasted turkey, game or dried meats and aged cheeses.

I discovered Pinotage a couple of years ago and will recommend it when someone is looking for a South African red or if they want to try something new and different. If you like your red wines bold, fruity and a little tannic, then pick up a bottle of Pinotage and have a very Happy International Pinotage Day! 

Cin Cin!

 

International Grenache Day!

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Established after the first International Grenache Symposium in 2010, International Grenache Day is celebrated every year on the third Friday of September. A red grape, known to flourish in hot, dry weather, Grenache is commonly grown in southern France (Rhone especially) and in Spain, where it is known as Garnacha. 

Grenache is not usually bottled by itself; you will see this mostly in Spain with Garnacha, where the grape originated in Aragon, an area in northern Spain. In Rhone and Australia, the grape is used in the “GSM” blend – Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre. It is also made into unique roses and sweet fortified (alcohol level 15% or higher) wines.

On its own, Grenache will produce a spicy, berry-flavored wine with a fairly high alcohol content. Because of this high content, it pairs well with hearty dishes, like stew, and herbed or spiced meats and vegetables; grilled or roasted. 

Back in the day when I was a varietal drinker, I latched on to Garnacha at one point and drank my way through many cases. The chosen two bottles were Las Rocas and Vina Borgia; the latter, since then, moving to a box format as well as a bottle. So whether you choose a bottle of Grenache or Garnacha, with friends and/or family, just make this a very Happy International Grenache Day!  

Cin Cin!