When it's completely frigid outside, nothing is more inviting to guests than entering a heated home filled with the scent of mulled wine. Possibly easier to pull together than any punch, mulled wine consists of apple cider, spices, red wine, orange peel and juice, and . . . this particular recipe calls for a secret ingredient.
Oft cited as the most underappreciated category of wine, Sherry is a tough sell outside of its home region of Jerez, Spain. Whether you pass on a glass because you think of it as cloyingly sweet or, in the case of cooking Sherry, low quality and extremely salty, it's time to reconsider this fanciful fortified wine.
To learn more and get expert pairing advice, we consulted Kristen Capella, the sommelier at TBD, a new fire-driven restaurant in San Francisco that boasts one of the country's most extensive Sherry lists.
According to Kristen, the biggest misconception about the fortified Spanish wine is that all "Sherry is the same cream cooking Sherry that your grandma may have cooked with." Rather, she explained that it's a diverse, versatile beverage that's well suited to pairing with a variety of dishes and can also serve as a great start or end to a meal. Depending on the style you're sipping, you might taste flavors as wide-ranging as citrus, nuts, and salt; some bottles even have a savory quality to them.
Just because Summer is long gone doesn't mean you have to stop enjoying sangria. Depending on the ingredients you employ, the wine-based punch can be sipped all year round. Instead of using warm-weather fruits like strawberries and peaches, this sangria is infused with Fall's most woody herb, sage. The recipe is simple, but the resulting drink is complex and earthy, perfect for sipping in front of a roaring fire. Honey adds a subtle sweetness and the sage makes this concoction an ideal pairing for any autumnal dinner. Want the easy recipe? Keep reading.
Expecting visitors over the holidays? Consider hosting a chic wine tasting party like the one thrown by Hope at Home. Beyond the truly dazzling design choices, we couldn't help but be enamored by the event's food- and drink-related ideas. Here are three takeaways we'll be stealing for our next wine and cheese party.
Enlist a Chalkboard Table Runner
Protect your table and identify wines, cheeses, and other accouterments by writing in chalk on a black canvas table runner. Anthropologie has a disposable chalkboard table runner ($46) that covers the whole table. For some, simply naming the varietal doesn't help to understand the flavors inside the bottle. Take it a step further by writing out key wine descriptors ("dry and crisp" or "sweet and fruity") next to each wine.
Label Your Cheeses — With Wine Pairings
Most cheesemongers can help you choose the right cheeses for your bottle of wine, but when in doubt, turn to this handy Wine and Cheese Pairing Swatchbook ($15). Then, write out the name of each cheese along with its appropriate wine pairing on ceramic tags ($4 for four).
Bring Back the Wine Spritzer
Most pop a cork, pour the contents, and end things right there, but wine can and should be used in cocktails and spritzers. Create a bar complete with lots of ice; white and sparkling wine; juices like apple and orange; liqueurs like Grand Marnier and St. Germain; fresh, seasonal fruit like apple and pear slices; and herbs like thyme, mint, and rosemary. Offer some suggestions, but let guests mix, match, and doctor to their liking.
This year, don't spend countless hours deliberating over what should go into your Thanksgiving food spread only to overlook what you'll be drinking; after all, the wines served can make or break your turkey day feast.
For the ultimate holiday food and wine pairing guide, we consulted wine expert Eugenio Jardim, who offered his favorite accompaniments for every classic dish, from mashed potatoes and gravy to pumpkin pie. Want to be sure this year's your best Thanksgiving ever? Then keep reading for some of Eugenio's suggestions.
Being bogged down with a stream of adjectives and bizarre flavor comparisons doesn't help sell a wine's deliciousness. That's why when we popped the corks to every Pinot Noir we had in house, we wanted to keep things simple — only the seven best and only a seven-word description of each wine. Forget the fruity. Begone, body talk. Cheers to seven words so you can stop reading and start wine drinking!
2010 Trinity Oaks Napa Pinot Noir
Popcorn and fatty foods benefit from campfire-like 2010 Trinity Oaks Napa Pinot Noir ($9).
2011 Garnet Vineyards Monterey County Pinot Noir
Inducing happy beach dancing, 2011 Garnet Vineyards Monterey County Pinot Noir ($15) embodies coastal minerality.
Happy Champagne Day! Not only is the French bubbly a delight to sip on, but it also has a fascinating background. With that in mind, we ventured to Jardiniere restaurant in San Francisco, where Neil Michael Dixon, owner of Espirit de Champagne, shared a few outstanding Champagnes that are practically unknown to US drinkers. Along with the restaurant's sommelier, Eugenio Jardim, we learned some incredible facts about the history and culture of Champagne. Want to learn more? Test your knowledge on all things bubbly. (For extra fun, pop open a bottle to sip on while you take our quiz.)Take the Quiz
Fifty Shades of Grey has been abuzz for over a year now, but now you can get another kind of buzz, thanks to E L James's new line of Fifty Shades of Grey-branded wines ($18 a bottle). She considers the wine a "natural extension of the series" since wine "add(s) to the sensuality that pervades a number of scenes in the book," and the author herself perfected grape blends to create two bottles, White Silk and Red Satin.
When they arrived at the office to taste, the anticipation (perhaps as intense as Christian's feelings toward Anastasia?) nearly killed us. The question on everyone's mind: Would the wines taste sexy or shameful? See what we thought.
If you've tried a honey-hued glass of ice wine, then you likely need little convincing of its virtues; full-bodied and sweet — though not cloying, as it's made from highly acidic grapes — this prized dessert wine serves as a winning end to a meal. More puzzling: the unusual production process that gives this style of wine its refined flavor.
While wine harvest season traditionally runs from late Summer though the Fall months, ice wine harvest comes much later, sometimes not until February, as by definition the grapes cannot be picked until they have completely frozen on the vine. Allowing the grapes to freeze solid and remain frozen throughout the pressing process is crucial, as it produces a highly concentrated must (what the grape juice is called before fermentation) as the water in the grapes freezes (and is left behind during pressing), while the sugar-rich component of the juice does not.
Syrah, Petite Sirah, Shiraz . . . they're all the same, right? Not quite. While all of these grapes produce big, bold, spicy red wines, one of these
things varietals is not like the others. In short, Syrah and Shiraz refer to the same grape grown in two different regions, while Petite Sirah is a related but different grape.
Petite Sirah (also known as Durif) came about from cross-pollination between Syrah and Peloursin (a French red grape that's now virtually extinct) in the late 1800s by a botanist named Francois Durif. Petite Sirah never really took off in France, where it was first grown, as it isn't well-suited to the growing climate, but it became popular in California (particularly Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino), where it thrived.
Even more full bodied, tannic, and bold than its parent grape, Syrah, Petite Sirah tends to be a love it or hate it varietal due to its intensity, whereas Syrah's smoother, refined qualities make it more crowd pleasing. Pair either varietal with similarly big, bold dishes like barbecued or braised beef, and find out for yourself which you prefer.