As the weather warms, turn to a classic Italian aperitif, the Bicyclette, as your go-to cocktail. This orange-hued drink is both bracing and slightly bitter, which makes it perfect for whetting appetites before bar snacks or dinner. The best part? All you really need is three ingredients that you probably already have at home. Keep watching to learn how to make this picnic-perfect tipple.
Has Grüner Veltliner's consonant-heavy name put off your interest in enjoying a bottle? Fret no more! Pronounced GROO-nur velt-LEE-ner, this Austrian gem is more than worth the enunciation effort, as is evident on the first sip of the mineral-rich white. Even better, thanks to its relatively limited prominence in the US market it's often a great bargain buy, with quality far surpassing its moderate price tag — many exceptional bottles are in the $15-$25 range. But before you snap up a bottle (or two) to try, let's delve briefly in the nitty-gritty of this superb varietal:
- While Grüner Veltliner is Austria's national grape — and commands the greatest acreage of any grape grown there — it's also grown (in much smaller quantities) in the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, and regions in Washington, Oregon, and California.
- Grüners are known for having a marked sense of terroir, making the region from which they hail a particular point of interest. Much of the crop comes from the rocky terraced river banks of the Danube river in the northern part of Austria, which lends a pronounced mineral note to the wine — something we can certainly get behind.
It may not be exactly what the doctor ordered, but we'd argue that the best cure for long nights and harsh weather is a hearty helping of wine. So crack open one of these enticing bottles, pour yourself a glass (or two), and feel the warmth spread through your chest and chilled bones. Cheers!
Photos: Nicole Perry
If you've seen or read Bottle Shock, you may be familiar with Chateau Montelena's Chardonnay: the 1973 varietal won the Paris Tasting in 1976, putting Napa Valley and California wineries on the map. But the winery makes another white worth investigating: the Potter Valley Riesling ($25).
With Summer coming to a close, there is no better way to end it than pairing your favorite dish with one of our favorite wines from this month. We had so much fun back in July, celebrating wine month that we continued the tasting into August. As a result, we've added even more favorites to our list. We couldn't help but fall for honeysuckle-sweet Italian Rieslings, rich Austrian Grüners, red sparkling wine from California, and more. Take a look at what wines we tried every (week)day this month.
While Susannah will be in Germany sampling Rieslings at their source this Labor Day weekend, I'll be stuck stateside, but believe it or not, I'm not lamenting my lack of long-weekend plans. That's because I'll be taking things easy, sipping on a well-chilled glass of 2010 Arnaldo Caprai Grecante Grechetto dei Colli Martani ($20), an Italian white wine that I consider my Summer secret weapon.
While any variety of drinks might do the trick, Grecante is my wine of choice for sweltering Summer days; it's immensely refreshing, thanks to its mouth-puckering acidity and smooth long finish. I'll be pairing mine with a good book, but it'd be equally at home consumed in concert with grilled fish, burrata stuffed squash blossoms, or a simple appetizer of cheese and crackers.
What will you be drinking this Labor Day weekend?
Photos: Anna Monette Roberts
Over Labor Day weekend, while everyone in America is plotting a grillout menu or basking on the beach, I'll be somewhere in the southern region of Germany tasting Riesling with the Wines of Germany. Of course, to get myself into the spirit, there's only one thing I could possibly be drinking: Riesling, the varietal that put Germany on the wine map.
The Sugar HQ Riesling of the moment? The 2011 Armand Riesling Kabinett from Reichsrat von Buhl ($20). Despite its modest price tag, the wine hails from one of the most respected wineries in Germany, von Buhl.
In our tasting, its green-tinged straw hue belied the dynamic aromas inside the glass — notes of peach, nectarine, vanilla, lemon-lime, and even pear. The aromas gave way to a zingy sip of white stone fruit with a lot of acidity and a lingering, well-balanced finish.
This wildly quaffable bottle isn't just ideal for a sendoff to Germany; it also makes for a pick-me-up at the end of a warm Summer night, preferably with a strong, creamy cheese or a light fruit dessert.
Photos: Nicole Perry
I've always associated Georges Duboeuf — one of the largest wine producers in France — with Beaujolais, be it the young, fruity Beaujolais Nouveau that comes out every November, one of the more serious Crus, or the lighthearted Beaujolais-Villages. But after sipping on some of the brand's Mâcon-Villages, I'm now convinced that the brand makes some pretty solid Chardonnay, too.
I'll admit, I'd never have thought to buy Georges Duboeuf's 2011 Domaine Les Chenevières Mâcon-Villages: as someone who lacks patience as a virtue, the wine has far too many accented and unpronounceable descriptors for me to bother even pulling it off the shelf when, say, a California Chardonnay is also staring back at me.
But now that I've tried it, I absolutely would: from the minute the pour hit my glass, I knew this wine and I were destined to be friends. The glass had such a saturated straw hue, it was like Rapunzel spun gold! One sniff brought a bevy of aromatics — nuts and fruit like apples and pears, and floral notes, like rose petals — followed by a creamy mouthfeel, citrus midpalate, and a long, lingering finish.
I wasn't the only one: "This is maybe the best wine I've ever had. I want to drink it all day, every day," another taster told me. "It's the type of dry white I'm always looking for: dry with a very slight sweet aftertaste," she explained. Everyone was shocked to find out its sticker price was a mere $14, and we all agreed that despite having a mouthful of a name, this white Burgundy is well worth seeking out.
Are you acquainted with Grüner Veltliner? This mineral-rich Austrian white is still somewhat under the radar in America, but I'd like to change that, sofort. Grüners tend to share many qualities with Riesling, another popular Austrian grape, and are exceptionally food-friendly thanks to pronounced acidity and a peppery finish. So to say that I eagerly awaited uncorking (or rather, twisting the top off of) the 2010 Domäne Wachau Federspiel Terrassen Gruner Veltliner ($16) is an understatement.
A few notes on the rather unwieldy name: Domäne Wachau is located in Wachau, a wine-growing region whose steep and rocky terraced land is ideal for the cultivation of Grüner Veltliner grapes. Federspiel denotes the must weight, or sugar percentage of the grapes upon harvest, and indicates a wine with low to moderate alcohol (11 to 12.5 percent) and a dry to off-dry finish. Lastly, Terrassen simply indicates that the grapes were grown on terraced land, which generally produces wines with subtle minerality, thanks to the rocky soil.
Luckily, the anticipation was well-warranted. I loved this Gruner's perfume of crisp Fall fruit and grass, as well as its minerality; the slight effervescence made the wine remarkably sippable. I wasn't the only taster coming back for seconds: one taster even proclaimed the vintage to be her "favorite thing ever." The verdict? A resounding win with great value.