Thursday, February 11, 2016

5 Wine & Chocolate Pairings Tips for Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is right around the corner.  When one thinks of Valentine's Day, you think of wine and chocolate.  At least I do. Unfortunately in my house it's a "Hallmark Holiday" so the only chocolate I will see is the bag of mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups in the cupboard.

But for many of you Valentine's Day is a day to celebrate your love for one another with wine and chocolate.

Here is some basic tips to pairing wines with chocolate.

  • Make sure the chocolate is not sweeter than the wine you are pairing it with.
  • Pair chocolate and wine according to the darkness of the chocolate.
  • Look for wines with soft tannins.  A tannic wine will not blend well on your palate with the chocolate.
  • Pair the intenseness of the chocolate with the body of the wine.
  • Match lighter flavor chocolate with lighter bodied wines.
How to taste your pairing:
  • Smell the wine. Breathe in the aromas
  • Look at the chocolate
  • Smell the chocolate
  • Taste the chocolate - Take a small bite and rest it on your tongue for 10-15 seconds. Notice the different aspects of the chocolate composition melt at different times in your mouth and concentrate on the different flavors you experience.
  • Taste the wine - Sip the wine and sense the balance and complexity of the chocolate and wine on your palate.
To get the best wine pairing with your chocolate you need to understand the intensity of the chocolate as well as the wine.

Bittersweet Chocolate which is 70% or more of cacao is the most intense chocolate. Look for bitter, roasted, fruit, earthy, woodsy and nutty notes.  The aftertaste can be bitter.  Because of its intensity it needs to be paired with strong red wines with concentrated fruit notes. Pair with Bordeaux, Malbec, Shiraz, Zinfandel and Port

Semisweet Chocolate is 50% to 65% cacao. It's a strong chocolate with good balance of sugar. It's not too sweet and the aftertaste is equally balanced. It can have a nutty, spicy, floral and earthy notes with hints of fruit and caramel. This will pair well with a Beaujolais as it will bring out the fruity notes. A Cabernet Sauvignon will bring out the fruity and peppery notes in the chocolate.  and a Tawny Port which would have the nutty and tabacco notes will make a nice pairing.

Milk Chocolate is 30% to 45% cacao. It's milder and sweeter because it's made with milk and a higher sugar content than the darker varieties. You will find flavors of brown sugar, milk, cream cocoa, vanilla, honey, caramel, nutty and malt. Since it's a lighter  and creamier chocolate you can pair it with Pinot Noir, Hungarian Jokaji or Tawny Port.

White Chocolate -  Believe it or not white chocolate has no cacao in it.  Its mellow and buttery.  It's great with Sparkling Wine, Moscato and Riesling.

This Valentine's Day, please enjoy the wine, chocolate and the love!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Wine Word Wednesday: Eiswein

Monday, February 8, 2016

2 Italian Wines Paired with Lamb Osso Bucco

What do you do when you are waiting for the winter storm that calls for a little bit of everything from snow to rain to high winds, you make Osso Bucco and hope the power stays on.  That is what I did 2 weeks ago and I paired it with 2 Italian wines.

We'll talk about the wines and then I'll share with you the braised lamb.

2012 Montefalco Rosso Romanelli DOC - This wine comes from the Umbria region of Italy. It's a blend of Sangiovese and Sagrantino.  Sagrantino is an indigenous Italian grape found only around the hilltop of Montefalco.  It is the most tannic grape in Italy. In order for the wine to be called a Rosso it must contain 15% Sagrantino, 65% Sangiovese 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot. Aromas from the glass were fruity, floral with hints of black cherry and licorice.   The palate was filled with cherry and was fruity and earthy.  A bit on the lighter side.  It paired okay with the lamb.

2010 Langhe Nebbiolo Germano Angelo DOC- From the Piedmont region of Italy, Nebbiolo wines have strong tannins and high acidity.  This wine spent 14 days with skin contact which will extract the tannins and 18 months in large old oak casks. This will not impart any oak flavors as it's all neutral.  The wine had aromas of cherry and hints of vanillin.  The wine was soft on the palate with flavors of black cherry and hint of licorice mid palate.  This wine I felt paired best with the lamb.  The pairing down played the cherry flavors and they all combined nicely.

This was my first attempt of making Lamb Osso Bucco or any Osso Bucco. I will say it came out good.  First you sear the lamb and put it into a pan that will then cook for 3 hours in the oven

When the lamb is done, in the same pan you saute carrots, onions, celery and garlic and add crushed tomatoes and a cup of wine. Yes I used the Nebbiolo  That goes in the oven for 3 hours.

Then you have dinner. I  served it on a bed of mashed potatoes.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

My Superbowl Wine Picks & Pairings

There's 2 halves so we have 2 wine picks for the 2016 Superbowl. How will they fair?

Anytime you talk football there is also food involved.  So the menu at the moment for the game is:

  • Smoked Baby Back Ribs
  • Chili
  • Bean Salad
  • Jalapeno popper dip
  • Cheese and crackers
I would usually prepare more, but there will most likely be only 2 of us watching the game together. Perhaps we'll have others, but at the moment as I write this it's just Paul and I.

Wine Picks: I picked out a a Zinfandel and a Malbec.  Why, because I think they pair well with what I'm serving. To me a Malbec and Zin are perfect football wines.  They go with spice, they go with meet and they go with cheese.  They are my two go to for BBQ's.

The Federalist 2014 Zinfandel - Created to salute the first President of the United States. This wine is suppose to have good tannin structure with bright acidity. Produced in the Lodi region of California with 93% Zinfandel and 7% Syrah. Aged in oak for 12 months with 25% new American Oak  SRP $17.76

Rutini 2012 Malbec from the Mendoza region of Argentina.  This is 100% Malbec aged in oak for 12 months.  80% new French Oak and 20% new American Oak. It is suppose to be full and rich with black fruits. SRP $35

Who will it be?  The Federalist or Rutini?  Denver or Carolina?

Monday, February 1, 2016

Discover the Gentrification of Beacon NY

Two weeks ago I was in the Hudson Valley and stayed with my sister in Beacon. (You can't take the Hudson Valley out of me)  I haven't been to Beacon in a long time and it's hopping!  Living in LaGrange we didn't get down to Beacon for a night out on the town. I don't know why, but call it lazy perhaps and only 30 minutes away.

Back in the 80'sand 90's I worked in Beacon at a local radio station. I did everything from sales to managing it.  When ever I needed to go to the bank..Fishkill National Bank on the west end of Main Street, it was drive through only.  You didn't want to get out of the car.  It wasn't the best of neighborhoods.  Mid Main Street was fine and the East Main Street was abandon warehouses.

Fast forward to today...well a lot has changed.  Now there are some great little shops, art galleries, antique stores, wine bars and restaurants. They have what's called 2nd Saturday when the shops and galleries all stay open late. It has come a long way!

On this evening when I ended up with my sister, she and her husband took me for a night out on the town.  Our first stop was wine and tapas at The Vault.  It's in a building of an old bank that had a rather large vault.

They have a decent wine list.  I enjoyed the 2014 Gini Soave Classico, Donna had the 2014 Mount Riley Sauvignon Blanc and my brother-in-law Joe, well he had a vodka and OJ. My Soave went really well with the scallops.

Tapas is small plates so we each ordered different items.  Usually it's meant for sharing, however, none of us shared.  Maybe because we were all hungry or that it was so good, we didn't want to share.  We had the Cannellini Bean Crostini, Coriander & Pepper Melange Crusted Scallops, Jombo Lump Maryland Style Crab Cakes, Crispy Pork Belly with Apple-Bourbon Glaze and the Pan Roasted Wild Mushrooms.  The pork belly was amazing, it just melted in your mouth!

Next stop for the evening was down the street at Oak Vino Wine Bar.  What I liked about this wine bar is I felt like I was in my living room with friends.  They have tables and couches.  The only thing was it felt more like a coffee shop. I was a little disappointed that they only had one local wine on the menu and that was Millbrook Cabernet Franc and she labeled it New York and not Hudson Valley.

The highlight of my evening was Baja 328 Tequila Bar.  They have a very extensive Tequila and drink menu along with a nice Mexican flare food menu.  When we go there it was around 9pm and the place was packed.  

I braved it and ordered a shot of Tequila to sip on.  Donna had a traditional margarita and Joe went out on a limb and ordered Chupacabra's Blood.  It was made with Tequila, Malbec, Agave Nectar and fresh squeezed lime juice.  Not sure I would want to mix my wine with my tequila.

If you are in the Hudson Valley or staying at a hotel near Beacon, Main Street is definitely an evening hot spot.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Join Me On Blab - Monday February 1st and Discover the Sparkling Wines of the World

Join me on Blab Monday, February 1st as we discuss the sparkling wines of the world.  I invite you to grab a bottle of bubbly and chime in.

Some of you might ask "What on earth is BLAB".  Blab is an online platform that is kind of like having a tv show.  Up to 4 people can click to to "call in" which means they are live on video.  For those that don't want to be seen, there is the chat going on on the right.

On Monday during 'Wine Time' will talk about the different kinds of sparkling wine, where they are grown and the grapes that are in the bottle and your glass.

I'll see you Monday, live on 'Wine Time'