Archive for the ‘review rose wines’ Category

What Winos Sip with Sushi

Thought you couldn’t find a wine that tastes great with Sushi? Think again! Even though wine is a decidedly Western tradition, the right selection can create a knock-out combination with Eastern food. Try experimenting with one of these great wine choices the next time you order up some Sashimi or your favorite Sushi Roll.


The flavors on a Sushi menu run the gamut from light and buttery to pungent and earthy, but you can enhance almost any dish with a crisp, fresh white wine. The only white to steer clear of is Sauvignon Blanc — the strong grapefruit or cat pee notes (yes, cat pee!) are too much for delicate fish. But you can’t go wrong with un-oaked whites and (believe it or not) a few light reds.

You will never be disappointed with a Sparkling wine such as Cava, Prosecco or Cremant de Alsace. The tangy, tingly bubbles are a great counterpoint to Sake (Salmon) and a lot of fun with a California Roll.

Whites from cool climates such as Alsace, Austria and Germany have great acidity and minerality, which balance the richness of more strongly flavored seafood. Look for a Pinot Gris, Dry Riesling or Gruner Veltliner (this wine is relatively new to U.S. wine drinkers, but is well worth seeking out as an alternative to Sauvignon Blanc). Any of these are a killer combo with Hamachi (Yellowtail Tuna).

Go for a Gewurtraminer with spicier dishes such as Spicy Tuna. You’ll love how the stone fruit and spice in the wine work with the heat of the roll, and it even stands up to Wasabi!


And for all you red wine lovers, yes, you can sip red with your Sushi, especially with stronger, more pungent dishes such as Maguro (Big Eye Tuna) or Unagi (eel). Stay away from the heavy, tannic reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon (which bring out the metallic “fishiness” in fish), and go for a lighter, fruitier red. Think French Beaujolais or California Pinot Noir; the wine’s berry notes and hint of earthiness will bring out the best in the seafood.

And don’t pass up the pink winesDry Roses from France or Spain have just enough fruit character to stand up to complex flavors, while still being snappy on your palate.

Any way you pour it, there’s a wine that will take your Sushi experience over the top. Find out for yourself what can happen when East on your plate meets West in your glass. Cheers and Kanpai!

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Dare to Drink Pink!

Thanks to SmartFem Magazine, who originally published this story…

Online Magazine for Women – Informative, Entertaining, Intelligent!



It’s official: Rosé wine is trending. In big-city bars and upscale bistros, Rosé is now at the top of the wine list. But make no mistake about it: this is not the sweet, cheap White Zinfandel that’s given pink wine a bad name in North America.  These are crisp, dry wines from places like Provence, Tavel and Mendoza.

“Real” Rosés are dry wines traditionally made and consumed as the “wine of summer” in Europe. They show delicate fruit notes — think strawberries, cherries or melon — and finish crisp and clean. If you haven’t enjoyed a chilled glass of Rosé by the pool, with brunch, or as an aperitif, then it’s high time you did.

TIP: Rosés are meant to be consumed young and fresh, so look for vintage dates just a year or two old. And you don’t have to spend a lot: there are plenty of nice still Rosés in the $10-$14 range, and sparkling from $16-$20.

Rosé wines can be made from almost any red grapes, but typically use Grenache, Mourvèdre or Pinot Noir. The juice from these grapes is clear, but picks up pigmentation as it soaks with the skins. So very simply, the amount of skin contact determines the depth of color in the finished wine. That’s why you’ll see Rosés that vary in color from pale salmon almost to magenta.

You should start your exploration of Rosés by sampling a few classic styles. Provence in Southern France is known for the very pale and delicately flavored Rosés that are favored by the owners of the yachts that dock at the French Riviera. Compare this to a Spanish or Argentine Rosé that’s deep in color and intense in its fruit character. (If you typically drink bold, dry reds, you’ll probably enjoy these Rosés.)

And don’t forget the pink bubblies. While Rosé Champagne starts at $40 and can go much higher, there are great pink sparkling wines from Burgundy (called  Cremant de Bourgogne), Alsace (Cremant d’Alsace), Spain (Brut Rosé Cava), and of course, California and Washington.

Pink wines are great for sipping, but also make good food wines. Try them with an appetizer like Smoked Salmon and Boursin Cheese Crostini,  or a tray of fruit, nuts and soft cheeses.

Here are a few good choices to get you started on your Rosé adventure:

Chateau de Nages Buti Nages Rosé — Costieres de Nimes, France    $12

Crios de Susana Balbo Rosé — Mendoza, Argentina. $13

Belle Glos Rosé of Pinot Noir — California  $18

Gruet Sparkling Brut Rosé — New Mexico (It’s from New Mexico and it’s great!)  $18

And of course, the BrAngelina wine, Chateau Miraval –– Provence, France. $24

Dare to drink Pink!

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chinon rose

chinonI converted a whole room full of people.

But don’t be thinking we were saying “Hail Mary’s” when we were done.

What everyone was saying was, “I never thought I’d like pink wine.”

Here’s what I did: I was hosting a summer-time wine tasting, and when I say “summer” I mean 90 degree temps plus 90 percent humidity. This is the kind of weather that makes you want to float in a pool with a very cold drink in your hand.rose

So predictably, my wine list included a snappy, grapefruit-y Chilean Sauvignon Blanc. But it also included Le Grand Bouqueteau Chinon Rose 2010. This wine is a beautiful pale salmon-pink color, and for many American wine drinkers, pink wine = sweet wine. At least out here in the Great American Heartland, the vast majority of pink wine is White Zinfandel, which my regular, wine-taste-attending customers wouldn’t touch with a ten foot straw.

So when I pulled out the Chinon Rose they looked at me like the heat had cooked my brain. But when I poured it, and they tasted it, their faces lit up.

This rose comes from the Chinon appellation, which is tucked into the Touraine region of France’s Loire Valley. In Chinon, the most widely-planted red grape is Cabernet Franc, and that’s what this rose is made from. It undergoes the same winemaking process as any other dry wine, except that the skins (the component that gives red wines their color) are removed after soaking with the juice for just a few hours. That’s why the color is so pale.

The Loire is one of the more northerly — i.e. cooler — wine-growing regions in France. And if you’ve been following my blog, you remember that cool temps create more acid in the grapes. Add to this the limestone soils of the central Loire, and you get grapes with bracing acidity and flinty minerality. Read the rest of this entry »

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Great Format, Great Wines: Wente, Murietta’s Well and Tamas Estates

karl wentePart of this story is about The Wonders of Modern Technology.

The other part is about good wine.

I’ll start with the technology part. A few weeks ago I was invited to participate in something called a Twitter Tasting. The invite came from Wente Vineyards, and although I didn’t have a clue what a “Twitter Tasting” was, I was keen to find out, because I’ve tasted and liked many Wente wines..

So our Twitter tasting happened last night, and now I can tell you what it is — it’s a blast! Turns out Twitter has this feature called TasteLive that’s like a video conference call. On my laptop the TasteLive page shows a live streaming video of the folks hosting the tasting, in this case Karl Wente and a young woman from their PR firm. He sipped his way through five wines, commenting on each. And we in the “audience” could comment or ask questions through the Twitter feed. A commentator off-camera read our questions/comments to Karl as they came through, and he replied or commented back. This is a fun and efficient format, and a great use of Twitter. Thanks to the folks at Wente for initiating it.

So let’s get to the wine. We tasted through five wines, and that’s more than I want to review in one post. I’ll look at two today and the others in a day or so.

The first two wines don’t bear the Wente name, because the family also owns Murietta’s Well (also in Livermore, California) and Tamas Estates in the Central Coast. Each winery has its own personality, wine style and price point, so let’s start with the entry level wine.

Tamas Estates is a label that’s designed to come across as “hip and adventurouus,” and I’m guessing it’s aimed at a younger audience. The wines are supposed to be ‘approachable,” i.e. fruit-forward and easy on the finish. The first wine we tried in the Tamas line is very new to the market, and I think is pushing the envelope for California “fun” wines. Tamas Sangiovese Rosato 2010 is a pink wine, and those of us in the wine biz know that 95% of Americans think pink means semi-sweet White Zinfandel.tamas rosato

This is most certainly not a White Zin. It’s made from Sangiovese with a dash of Pinot Noir, and it has real character and class. The color, first, is a deep rose, which indicates slightly longer skin contact than your average American blush. In the glass it’s very pretty, and invited me to come hither. The nose was relatively light at first, suggesting watermelon and maybe a hint of cherry. And thankfully, there was absolutely no sweet edge.

My first sip was lots of fun. The watermelon jumped up and said hello, followed by delicate cherry and strawberry flavors. There was good intensity to the fruit — you didn’t have to hunt for flavors like you do with too many roses. But the best part? There’s a great burst of bright acid around mid-palate that carries all the way through the finish. It keeps this Rosato clean and snappy, and sets it totally apart from all but a few American pink wines. It was a great choice to use Sangiovese to lead this blend, because its natural cherry fruit and high acid seem ideally suited for a good rose.

Another thing I like about this wine is the packaging — it’s vaguely exotic, suggesting faraway places and European origins. It helps differentiate it from the herd of American pink stuff.

And did I mention this Tamas sells for around $10? That’s a deal and a half. I’d certainly recommend it in my retail store as a fun picnic/barbeque/patio summer wine.

Next up is a wine that’s on a different planet from Tamas. The winery, Murietta’s Well, has a great backstory, and dates almost to the beginning of California wine. It seems there was a guy named Joaquin Murietta, who was, depending on which biography you read, a Mexican patriot who helped settle the West or a renegade horse thief. While running his horses down to Mexico sometime around 1850, he stumbled on an artesian well in the beautiful Livermore Valley, just east of the San Francisco Bay. The area became known to the locals as Murietta’s Well, and around 1880 a European immigrant named Loius Mel fell in love with it. He bought 92 acres and planted vineyards with rootstock from Chateau d’Yquem and Chateau Margaux. Not a bad lineage for a winery…

The Wente family, who have been making wine next door for even longer than Louis Mel, got involved around 1930, and ended up taking total control in 1990 when they set out to resurrect the historic Murietta’s Well winery. Their mission now is to create “unforgettable estate blends from California’s Livermore Valley.”

The first blend in our Twitter tasting was Murietta’s Well “The Spur” 2008, which plays a twist on the traditional Bordeaux-style blend. There are four Bordeaux varietals — Cabernet Sauvignon (54%), Petite Verdot (23%), Cabernet Franc (9%) and Malbec (4%), but they’re joined by a classic California grape — 10% Petite Sirah. And that 10% really sets the tone.spur

The color is deep and intense, and right off the cork the nose showed that fleshy, iodine-y thing I get from Petite Sirah. Not that that’s a bad thing! That component calmed down with some swirling, and then the dark fruit started to develop. I got deep Cab aromas like blackberry and blackcurrant, and then the oak started ro suggest itself.

The palate had loads of richness, with blackberry and black currant darkened by some gamy notes. An initial burst of acidity resolved to a soft, sensuous mouthfeel. The oak came into play as the wine sat and developed: caramel and vanilla rounded out the back of the palate, with a hint of exotic spice. Tannins were… not very tannic, so I guess they were well integrated.

This is a pretty hedonistic bottle of wine. It’s a “more is more” wine — not that there’s anything wrong with that! I’d like to drink this again with some rich comfort food (Lamb Stew anyone?). But I can certainly recommend it as a unique and well-made blend.

Thanks again, Wente, and Cheers!

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