Muscadet is a dry, white wine made in the Loire Valley. But for what is really a modest wine, the label can be confusing.Because Muscadet is neither a grape nor a region, but instead the name of a wine from the Nantais region in the western Loire Valley, near the Atlantic. Melon de Bourgogne is the only grape allowed, but it originally hails from Burgundy. Read More
Since summer is officially here, I’ve decided to ignore the fog and acknowledge that there are summer wines. These wines usually imply crisp, unoaked light whites, rosés and very light reds.
For whites, wines from the Vinho Verde region in Portugal and its neighbor, Galicia in Spain, along with Muscadet from France’s Loire Valley, rieslings from all over and Italian vermentino, are some of the more popular selections. Read More
We’re ready for another round with rosé, and this time around pink wines made in the United States are the focus. A few things first:Rosé can be made from any red grape, and white grapes can be in the mix as well. Some red grapes must be used as it is the pigmentation in their skin that adds color. As a rule, rosé is best when consumed within a couple of years of the vintage. Most people like rosé that is fresh and vibrant. A few can become more interesting over time, but they are usually expensive and rosé that is meant for aging is an acquired taste. Read More
Rioja is one of the few regions left that still ages its wines for many years before releasing them to the public. It is not uncommon to see wines from the late 1990s on the shelves at local retailers, and even crianzas, which require less aging, are still stuck in the aughts.
Jovens must follow the same rules as the rest of the region and use only permitted grapes — tempranillo, garnacha, graciano, mazuelo (carignan), the very rare maturana and, with special permission, cabernet sauvignon. Also, the wines must come from one of the three subzones — alta, alavesa or baja. Read More
Zinfandel used to be known as an inexpensive alternative to other California red wines. Josh Greene, the publisher of Wine and Spirits magazine, said in the 1990s that zinfandel was undervalued. Many others shared this view, especially producers, and as its popularity has risen, so have the prices.
Granted, there are not too many zins priced at more than $40, yet the days of under-$10 bargains — or even $15 — largely went away when “Melrose Place” called it a day. Read More
From supermarkets to Michelin star restaurants, Argentine malbecs are all over the place. The grape rose to prominence in the 1990s, thanks in part to winemaker Nicola Catena, who I wrote about last fall. Until then, malbec was a French dominion, presided over by the Southwestern appellation of Cahors, and to a lesser extent the Loire Valley. The wines were rustic, bordering on funky and tannic. Read More
Many people still think of Chianti as the Italian wine that comes in a straw basket. Yet while I’m sure this gimmicky packaging can still be found, Chianti has gone through a dramatic change in the past two decades. Read More
Mysterious and fragrant, torrontes has become Argentina’s premier white wine grape varietal. Once thought to be related to a grape of the same name from Galicia, Spain, it has been confirmed that indeed, torrontes is a grape indigenous to Argentina.
It comes in three varieties: torrontes riojano, torrontes sanjuanino and torrontes mendocino, with the first being the most common and aromatic. Read More
When I was younger, I spent many nights and afternoons at Shea Stadium with my grandfather, eating peanuts and pretzels and discussing the nuances of the game.
Since then, stadiums have become much fancier and the gastronomical experience has significantly improved. Beer was once limited to mass-marketed domestic brands, but now microbrews and artisanal imports can be found in every ballpark in the country. And if you would rather have wine, AT&T Park has a surprisingly large selection to accommodate a variety of tastes. Read More
A few months ago, someone told me he loved Silver Oak’s cabernet sauvignon, Alexander Valley in particular, but at $55 a pop it was a little steep for everyday drinking. Since then, I’ve been on a quest to find cabs that are similar in style for $20 or less. Read More
The Cotes de Gascogne is a culinary epicenter. It also happens to be the home of the Armagnac, my favorite region for brandy. Much as I wish I were sipping some at the moment, it is the white wines from this area that are on my mind today.Although the wines from the southwest of France, whites in particular, are generally overlooked, they represent some of the best values from a country that also gives us Champagne and Montrachet. The Cotes de Gascogne in particular has a host of inexpensive white wines that might not be supercomplex, but are perfect for spring sipping. Read More
Spring is a great time for riesling. Fava beans, pea shoots, black cod and creamy goat cheeses are just some of the things we can look forward to in greater abundance during the coming months, and all of these foods are fantastic with this noble grape variety. Once cast off as a super-sweet wine that came in oddly shaped and strangely colored bottles, riesling has become much more accepted in the past decade. Ten years ago, I had to twist my friends’ arms to join me in a glass, while today some of those same people are ecstatic when I open a bottle. Read More
A student asked me recently if any rosés are worth more than $20. My answer was yes, but just a few. Rosé can be more complex than credited. However, some that fetch a pretty penny are priced based on reputation and supply and demand, more than quality. You can get superb rosé for less than $20, and perhaps even less than $15.Most wine drinkers expect rosé to be fresh and lively. If it has a few other characteristics, all the better. I look for these qualities as well, but revelations of varietal character and/or terroir are what makes some rosés stand out. Read More
Italy’s premier wine publication, the Gambero Rosso, traipses out the wines that received its highest rating on an international dog-and-pony show. Although many of the wines are overoaked and formulaic, there are always gems.Ruggeri’s Giustino Bisol Prosecco, 2010 ($25), was a fabulous way to start this year’s tasting of wines that received the “Tre Biccheri,” or three glasses. Aromatic and fresh with a long, crisp, almondlike finish, it is a reasonable, high-quality alternative sparkling wine. Read More
I’m a pescatarian. That means I don’t eat red meat or poultry, but am good with most creatures from the sea. I know plenty of people both in and out of the wine and food industries who eat in a similar fashion.
I was at a wine lunch the other day at which the last course was duck with a delicious slice of what I would call a mushroom bread pudding, which was served with a flight of pinot noirs. When I let the server know that I do not eat meat but that fish was fine, I was instead served pan-roasted dorade, a pungent, seasonal fish. Read More