I blinked, and all of a sudden it was Summer! That means the smell of barbecue is heavy in the air, and the days are long. While I'm excited for outdoor cookouts, frozen desserts, and refreshing mixed drinks, there are a few items that I am currently totally obsessed with. These five must haves are sure to make June more delicious. Find out what they are now.
It's amongst the dry, high plains that the grapes of Peregrine are hand-harvested to produce wines such as a luscious 2007 Pinot Noir ($29). The silty soil allows for exceptional drainage, producing a Pinot that's Burgundian in style, yet even darker and more concentrated. I noted the wine was soft on the nose, with cherry up front, some red plum in the middle of the palate, and a supple finish. It's a reserve-quality bottle with an extremely reasonable price tag. Have you ever had a New Zealand Pinot Noir?
On Friday, I hightailed it up to Sonoma County for Pigs & Pinot, an annual event held by renowned chef Charlie Palmer to benefit Share Our Strength and the Healdsburg School. A Taste of Pigs & Pinot brought hundreds of guests to the Hotel Healdsburg, all of whom were prepared to sip some serious Pinot Noir in between heavenly bites of pork. A dizzying array of pork dishes, stellar Burgundies and Pinots, and a star-studded chef lineup easily made Charlie Palmer's charity event the party of the season. Feast your eyes on the food that was served when you keep reading.
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My current favorite "pink Champagne" is actually a sparkling Cava Pinot Noir Rosé from Spain. It's refreshingly dry with light airy bubbles. It's an elegant, yet playful wine that is both crisp and fruity. The aroma is reminiscent of berries and it has a light body that coats the tongue.
What I love most about this sparking Rosé is its easy drinkability. I've enjoyed it with everything from cheesy rich appetizers to roast chicken to a light green salad. The affordable $15 price is the icing on the cake. Do you sip sparkling Rosé?
Last week I attended a huge wine tasting hosted by the San Francisco Chronicle. The event showcased wineries from over 25 states that competed in the nation's largest wine competition. After the judging takes place — at another location on an earlier date — the newspaper hosts an impressive, almost overwhelming, public tasting. Although I tried countless wines, here are the bottles I plan on seeking out in the future.
Not hosting Thanksgiving, but in charge of bringing wine to a family member or friend's dinner? I highly recommend seeking out a bottle of Mark West's 2007 Pinot Noir. It's not only affordable ($11.99), but its also delightfully drinkable and silky smooth.
Described as Pinot For the People, Mark West's manifesto is to "demand rich, fruit-inspired, easy-drinking wine." With its jammy black fruits, full perfume, vanilla undertones, and light acidity, this Pinot delivers. I enjoyed it with cheese fondue, roast chicken, and mushroom pasta making it extremely versatile — a necessary characteristic for a Thanksgiving wine.
Last night I attended Jack Falstaff's first Farm to Table Grower's Dinner. The special menu features seasonal ingredients from local producers. The most exciting part of the meal (besides the delicious food) is that the farmers and wine makers dine with you.
I was lucky enough to speak with Audrey Sterling, the grande dame of Iron Horse vineyards. After fabulously describing the wines, she told me about how Iron Horse is served at the White House! Their varietals have been selected by the past five presidencies, dating back to Ronald Regan. It's a fun fact to tell guests when serving Iron Horse.
While I enjoyed all the wines they poured, my favorite was the 2006 Estate Pinot Noir ($40). It was subtly complex and incredibly smooth. Like the perfect little black dress, it's elegant, but stylish. It rolls through the mouth with fruity, earthy flavors and a rich aroma. The wine's made with a special precision-harvesting technique that closely examines each vines needs, resulting in a silky, wonderful wine. The wine was served with an intensely crispy, suckling pig porchetta, but I think it would be lovely with everything from comforting macaroni and cheese to braised beef.
If you are looking for an interesting new wine to try, I highly recommend this sparkling Austrian Pinot Noir. I tasted it at a recent party for CandyBar — San Francisco's new dessert-only restaurant — and instantly fell in love with the pink champagne. Fizzy, light, and refreshing, this wine paired perfectly with savory appetizers and small sweets. Flavors of citrus mingle with a mineral undertone making it a complex, yet easily drinkable bubbly.
Michlits Frizzante 2006 Rose Burgenland is a popular wine-list wine, so look for it at your favorite wine bar. An exotic import that retails for only $19 — reasonable for the taste and quality —it's also a great wine to seek out for a celebration.
We all have a favorite wine. Some of us have a favorite white and a favorite red. By special request from a dear friend, I am going to quiz you on two very poplar varieties (her favorites): Chardonnay vs. Pinot Noir. I want to know which variety of wine you think has more calories.