A Nice Pair Part 2 – What Should I Have to Drink With This?

‘Tis the season.

Depending on your cultural or religious background you might be participating in the frenzy of shopping, cooking, eating and drinking that is the Christmas Season. So many decisions still to make – like what to buy for Mom or Dad, son, daughter, boss or in-laws. Or what delectable delights we’re going to dish up for our guests. And what kind of wine should we serve with that?

Resident Sommelier, Len Steinberg, offers some helpful hints…………..

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

by Len Steinberg

Winter has arrived with a vengeance. I know weather varies by locale but when you live anywhere in Canada you just can’t escape the cold. The seasons change, as do our appetites and menu choices. Fall and winter fare tends to be on the heartier side. We move away from the lighter meals of summer to the rich flavours of comfort food, like braised and roasted meats, stews, and soups. These, along with the texture and flavours of root vegetables and hearty grains, will be on the menu for the duration.

The switch to winter fare also brings the change on our palates for wine. Not to suggest that there isn’t a place for fresh whites and lighter reds, but the seasonal changes in cooking styles call for heavier wines to match the weight of our dishes. The whites tend to be fuller and richer in texture while the reds are deeper and more structured.

Here is a quick look at a few seasonal dishes and some possible pairings.

Roast chicken is one of our favorites. We still like a dry Riesling for this one, but an oaked Chardonnay or a Bordeaux White is also a great match. If the sauce is rich, a chipotle rub for example, a medium bodied red like a Cotes du Rhone or Pinot Noir is a good fit.

Baked ham or roast pork is a fine choice for a hearty meal. Once again a white may be on the menu, possibly Viognier or an Arneis from Piedmont. Reds work too – maybe a Spanish Grenache, a medium bodied Zinfandel from California, or a Barbera.

Pasta in our house calls for red wine. A Chianti, Valpolicella or Chilean Carmenere is always nice.

Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma region in California

Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma region in California.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Stews of any sort call for bold reds. Whether lamb or beef, braised meats have that concentrated richness from the slow cook. I like to use a similar wine in the sauce while it simmers. Merlot, Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon will enhance the flavours of the dish.

Roasted beef or lamb is rich protein and the flavours demand the structure of big Reds. I reach for Bordeaux Reds or Meritage Blends, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz or Nebbiolo to round out the meal.

This is a great time of year to explore the world of wine. Try a new producer, country or grape variety. Wine can be a fun and inexpensive way to ‘travel’ to warmer climes as we endure the storms of winter.

Malbec vineyard in Cahors, Southwest France

Vineyard in Cahors, Southwest France. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Take a beautiful Malbec from Southwest France.

As you inhale the complexity of the aromas, close your eyes and imagine standing in the vineyards on a warm summer afternoon.

Works for me.

© Sue Gaviller and Not Another Gardening Blog 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sue Gaviller and Not Another Gardening Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Reasons to Celebrate

Today is the first day of summer and a lovely day it was. On days like today all seems right with the world, or at least with the garden. Our vegetables and herbs have been planted and despite the lack of any extended warmth, most seeds have germinated. Tomatoes are in, ornamental containers are done, and we’ve finally been able to determine whether those dead looking shrubs are actually dead or just really slow. Of course a gardener’s work is never done, but we’ve earned the right to rest for a bit, sit back with a glass of wine and appreciate our handiwork. If ever there were a reason to do just that it would be Summer Solstice – no weird rituals, just a really nice glass of Chardonnay, Viognier or…….okay I’m venturing into territory not my own. So please let me introduce to you, professional Sommelier, Len Steinberg as he explores why and what to sip while enjoying our gardens.

Any Excuse Will Do

…….by Len Steinberg

We all live busy lives – work, school, households and just stuff. Sometimes we just have to make time to sit back and experience the moment. Today is June 21st – summer is finally here and the longest day has just passed. It is a perfect time to sit outside on the patio after dinner with a glass of wine and enjoy the early spring excitement in the garden.  My point – any excuse is a good excuse.

In Calgary our summers can be challenging so we have to take advantage of every opportunity to spend time outdoors. While beer is always a summer favorite, along with some amazing choices for cocktails, wine always has a place on the patio, and with dining  ‘al Fresco’. Tonight when Sue gets home we have a date to sit on the patio and taste some of the open wines left over from a recent tasting. It would be a shame to let it go to waste.

We have a choice of an Argentinean Torrontes by Mauricio Lorca, Jackson Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, or a Prado Rey Verdejo from Rueda Spain. All are fresh and crisp, perfect for summer sipping. The open reds are a Merlot based Bordeaux Superior Chateau l’Esperance that has matured nicely, a Sangiovese from Amador Foothills Winery in Northern California and one of my favourites, Truchard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – a very nice selection with some aged cheese.

Entrance to the caves at Truchard Vineyards. Photo: S Gaviller

Entrance to the caves at Truchard Vineyards. Photo: Sue Gaviller

I recently finished a contract for a wine competition, The International Value Wine Awards, sponsored by Wine Access Magazine. During the competition 1100 wines were tasted over five days. The selection of styles and varietals in the competition is staggering. This inspires me to expand my tasting experience and to try new wines from all over the world. Don’t be shy, if you don’t like it you can always use it for cooking.

One of my favourite reasons to open a bottle of wine is dinner or any meal. While the meal is being prepared I take a look at what we have in the cellar and choose a wine that will pair well with the menu. Not everyone has a wine cellar but a local wine shop is usually not far away. This is especially nice if the warm summer weather is enticing you to dine al Fresco. We can talk about wine pairing another day.

Here are some of my favourite excuses to sip on wine in the garden:

My good friend Tom Firth of Wine Access really needs no excuse except, “It’s already in the fridge” or, “I think this would be fun to drink with……..works as good as any”.

Shelly Boettcher, wine writer and editor says “any night that it isn’t snowing and that I don’t have to drive my kids anywhere”.

I think we can all relate to these reasons for a sip of magic surrounded by the wonders of nature.

What’s your excuse?

To your Health,