Pairing wines with Thanksgiving dinner can be a tough (and controversial!) task. Some swear by a fruity and light Pinot Noir or Beaujolais Nouveau, while others wouldn't dream of drinking anything but a crisp white with their turkey and taters. How about you?
Instead of serving a spirits-based specialty cocktail at my Californian Thanksgiving, I'll be pouring a wine-based drink that's garnished with icy grapes. The recipe is somewhat like sangria, but without the addition of liqueur. White wine is infused with fresh rosemary, mint, and lemon zest. It sits overnight until the wine has an aromatic herbal quality. It's a light, refreshing, and fruity start that will offset the heavy and rich meal perfectly. Don't skip the frozen grape step; it's a festive presentation and they end up looking like floating jewels in the infused white wine.
Keep reading for the easy, make-ahead recipe.
When the weather turns cool, I normally gravitate toward red wine. However, the other day, I was enjoying a rich and delicious pasta with mushrooms and anchovies that begged for a crisp white. Thus I opened this bottle, the 2009 New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc from Matua. It tastes young and grassy with a citrusy aroma and zippy finish. The liquid is straw yellow in color with a creamy body and delightful acidity. I drank this wine slowly because each sip was truly enjoyable. At just $9, it's a real steal!
Do you like Sav Blancs from New Zealand?
If you think the assortment of food in the tasting tent at the New York City Wine and Food Festival was overwhelming, wait till you hear about the drinks! There was sparkling wine, red wine, white wine, tequila, rum, flavored vodka, kombucha — basically every spirit and drink imaginable. As your fearless representative, I sampled and sipped my way through the tables. Here are the most exciting liquids I tried.
Did you know that mussels are one of the most affordable proteins around? But that's not the best thing about them: they're also quick cooking and simple to season. A hearty, brothy bowl of mussels can be on the table in under half an hour. There are many variations, the most classic perhaps is the French preparation that involves French fries. When I make them at home, I prefer to pair them with a crusty bread to soak up the succulent juices. Oftentimes, chorizo or bacon is added to the base, but this recipe, which involves fresh tomatoes, is pescaterian-friendly. Served with a mixed green salad and nice white wine, these mussels are special enough to entertain with. Interested in experimenting with shellfish? Here's the recipe.
On Saturday I headed down to Fort Mason for San Francisco's seventh annual Golden Glass wine and food tasting. Hosted by Slow Food, the event promotes classical wine varietals and their indigenous regions. Some of the city's top restaurants, like A16 and Flour + Water, were on hand supporting the cause, serving up bites that paired with the delicious wines. One of my favorite wineries on hand was Mendocino's Terra Sávia. The passionate winemaker told me about the sustainable organic practices of the winery while I sipped this icy cold sparkling wine.
To take a look at what else I enjoyed, browse the gallery after the break.
According to Wines of the World, the definition of Sauvignon Blanc is "a dry, crisp, and intensely aromatic variety with a firm streak of acidity." The 2009 bottling from Forefront by Pine Ridge Vineyards is exactly that. Although it's a textbook Sauvignon Blanc, it's far from boring and one of the best whites I've sipped in a while. It's a refreshing, clean wine with a rich body and tropical fruit aroma. The finish is smooth and lush, while the color is light butter. I paired it with a mixed green salad with blue cheese, but it's the sort of versatile white that can go with everything from grilled shrimp to roast chicken. At $16, it's an affordable bottle that's so wonderful, I would recommend it as a hostess gift.
Have you enjoyed any memorable Sauvignon Blancs recently?
Readers, meet your new Summer sipper: Opala's Vinho Verde. A couple of weeks ago, I happened to grab a bottle of this wine on sale for only $6.99 at Whole Foods. I picked it up because I've developed a recent interest in Portuguese wine, the price was right, and I thought the label was pretty.
Boy, did I score a winner with this one! It's a wonderfully refreshing white with a slight effervescence. It has a light body, crisp finish, and fresh apple flavor. It's easy to drink and versatile. I've enjoyed it with everything from seafood to cheese to chicken tacos. It even tastes good alone.
It's the perfect bottle for picnics, barbecues, and other outdoor activities. I highly recommend you stock your fridge with this likable white. Has anyone else had it?
Last Saturday afternoon I grabbed some girlfriends and headed down to Fort Mason for the SF Vintners Market. Although I've attended countless large tastings, this one was different because it was the first tasting where all of the wines were for sale. If you tasted something you loved, you could walk away with a bottle. It's a dangerous concept, but also a fun one! My favorite bottles were two whites from winemaker Yannick Rousseau. The grapes are from Napa Valley, but his winemaking style is classical French, resulting in lush, soft, and sophisticated sippers. The Chardonnay is rich and wonderful, while the Colombard is light and had me craving oysters on the half shell.
To take a look at some of the other wines I enjoyed, browse my gallery after the break.
The other day I found myself at my parents' house and I was thirsty for a cocktail. However, it had to be a simple recipe that didn't require fussy syrups or fresh citrus. There wasn't time to run to the store or make anything complex, so I grabbed Food & Wine Cocktails '09 and started browsing.
I knew my parents had St. Germain, the deliciously aromatic elderflower liqueur, and I settled on this uncomplicated recipe with a complex-sounding name. Like sangria, it perfectly combines wine with spirit.
Don't be intimidated by the gin; I served it to three non-gin drinkers and they loved it! The sweetness of the St. Germain and the crispness of the white wine balance it out. What I love most about this refreshing concoction is that it's not hard to batch; one could easily make a pitcher. It's also a great way to use pomegranate juice. Interested in the recipe? Read more.