Tuesday, August 31, 2010

For some people, the perfect match is chocolate and peanut butter, for me it's wine and football

As a wine lover who also happens to be a football fanatic, this happened to catch my eye:

"PRESENTING THE NEW YORK JETS RED WINE 'JETS UNCORKED CABERNET SAUVIGNON.' Stop in to any one of the three Gary's Wine & Marketplace locations between the hours of 1 and 5pm on Saturday, September 11th to taste this exciting new "fan favorite" wine, meet Jets Legends and Flight Crew, and have your CHANCE TO WIN premium tickets and Jets memorabilia."

For someone who is the commissioner of a Fantasy Football league, a member of a second Fantasy Football league and a certified wine snob, how can I resist? Do I expect the wine to be good? No. Am I even a Jets fan? No. But this sounds like a great time. Plus, any opportunity that allows me to drink wine and possibly win football tickets, I'm there!

So look around your respective towns. You may just find an event that mixes wine with another one of your passions.

Until the next sniff, sip, quaff or the release of McNabbernet Sauvignon,


Alli M.

Monday, August 30, 2010

As Summer Winds Down, One More White to Add to Your Repertoire

This past weekend I celebrated my annual "Girl's Weekend" with several good friends. There's something about good friends and beautiful weather that can elevate any bottle of wine.

On Saturday night I picked up one of my favorite summer whites, Burgans Albarino, to share with my friends. Between the weather, the company and the fun that is a never ending game of Bananagams, the wine seemed to be even better than I remembered. Light gold with floral and citrus notes, Albarino has a good amount of acid and a medium, well rounded body that pairs perfectly with a summer night and almost any food you'd enjoy on a summer night (particularly seafood or salad). Burgans is a particular favorite of mine because it's a wine that has great distribution and is a great value for the quality of the wine. Moreover, it's a terrific alternative for your friends who are burnt out on Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and/or Pinot Grigio.

As summer starts to wind down and there are fewer nights to get in some good porch sitting, grab a bottle of Albarino and extend the good times for just a few more hours.
Until the next sniff, sip or quaff,
Alli M.
Until the next

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Still not sold on store brand wine

Earlier today I read an interesting article from The London Observer about Tesco's push into their own branded wines. As I understand it, this is a growing trend throughout the UK as both Sainsbury and Asda (owned by WalMart), two other regional chains, also have their own branded wine.
As a food marketer, I'm well versed in the battle of the store brand vs. the manufaturer's brand. Though I should be staunchly "pro-brand," I believe that for some products, the store brand is no different and in some cases, better. However, when it comes to wines, I firmly believe that the fewer layers there are between the winemaker and the consumer, the better. This trend makes me a little sad and I sincerely hope it does not "cross the pond."
I know I'm being a bit harsh. The Observer wine critic, David Williams, found some bright spots in his tasting. However, Tesco, Sainsbury and Asda are not winemakers themselves and when you have non-winemakers weighing in on the product because of cost or stocking needs, it will ultimately have an adverse effect on the wine. It's the same reason why we don't let our retail customers into our product development meetings in my line of business!

One day I sincerely hope to have a tasting note for you on a Tesco, Sainsbury and/or Asda wine (especially because this means I will be traveling) because I think it's only fair for me to give them a shot. But I'm skeptical.

Until the next sniff, sip or quaff of non-store brand wine,

Alli M.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

It's Even in the Treaty of Versailles

In my ongoing mission to spread the good word that not all sparkling wine is Champagne, I found the following tidbit of information really interesting:

"Though people often refer to all sparkling wines as Champagne, only sparkling wines produced in the Champagne region of France are the real deal. Indeed, in 1891, the Madrid Agreement, which dealt with the international registration of trademarks, declared that only wines originating from the Champagne region could use the name "Champagne" on their labels, and this was reiterated in the Versailles Treaty of 1919, after World War 1."

I had never heard this before though it figures that the French would work something like this into a major treaty. Though, the fact that they take their wine as seriously as they take their wars shouldn't really surprise any of us!

Until the next sniff, sip, quaff or pop of the cork,


Alli M.

Excuses, excuses

This summer is flying by and I apologize I haven't been as diligent as I should be given all the lovely, refreshing white wines I've been enjoying. My excuse is that it helps me get through the heat wave but to be honest, do you really need an excuse to drink great, white wine?

This past Sunday night I enjoyed a glass of crisp, Viognier with dinner. The Viognier grape originates from the Northern Rhone region, but it's currently being made in several different regions and the one I enjoyed on Sunday was a surprisingly dry, crisp and restrained one from Argentina. I say surprisingly because it was from the Mendoza region, which gets quite hot which can make it very difficult to make a dry, crisp white wine! In typical "summer weekend and thus brain dead" fashion, I didn't write down the info. That said, the wine was good, not great and the best thing about Sunday was the meal, not the wine.

My friend, Shawna, and I were braving the wilds of Baltimore to enjoy a few of my other loves - baseball and football. Yes, it seems like a major contrast, but it is possible to spout the stats of Joe Flacco while explaining what you would pair with a Stadium Dog (a red Zin, naturally). But a girl can't live on (crappy) stadium food alone and as a self-professed wine snob, I also love a good meal. We certainly enjoyed one Sunday night. Shawna and I visited Woodberry Kitchen, a farm to table restaurant in the Northern part of the city. Since this is not a food blog, I won't go into too much detail, but the corn soup was one of the best things I've ever eaten - savory and silky, yet light and refreshing. Moreover, I don't have much of a sweet tooth (except when it comes to Sauternes, Ports or Moscato D'Asti), but the peach pie with basil ice cream was incredible - the perfect mix of sweet, salty and creamy. If you live in the area or nearby and/or find yourself in Baltimore, you must "go to there" ("30 Rock" is yet another passion). http://www.woodberrykitchen.com/

Until the next sniff, sip, quaff or sports weekend,


Alli M.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Flight that Requires no Security Check In

This past Wednesday, my friend, Rachel, and I met up at Bin 14, an afore-mentioned favorite place in Hoboken, to indulge in Rachel's somewhat regular "Wine Wednesday" celebration.

One of the things I really like about Bin 14 is that they offer 3 "sizes" for each of their wines - a 2oz pour, a 6oz pour or a bottle. Rather than have a few 6oz glasses, I decided to create my own wine flight.
As it was a hot evening, it made sense to start with a light, crisp white.

1) For those who've been keeping track this summer, this meant I started with a Luc Choblet Muscadet from 2008. It was light in color and light in body with a nice crispness and some pineapple notes. Perfect thirst quencher to start off my evening!

2) From there I moved on to another of my "whites of the moment," Torrontes. I had a 2008 Laborum Torrontes and it contrasted quite nicely with the Muscadet. It was also very dry and crisp, but it had a little more body and it had a lovely nose with a ton of honeysuckle and some tropical notes. Went down a little too quick!

3) As my word of the summer has been Loire, I couldn't just leave it at Muscadet so my next wine was a Chenin Blanc: Domaine du Closel Savennieres from 2007. It was very dry with a lot of acid and though it is a very young wine, it had a lot of nutty notes mixed in with some pear. It also had some yeast notes and I have to believe it's spent some time fermenting "sur lees" or "on the yeast." Definitely a wine I plan to get back in the near future. Of the 3 whites, this was had the most depth and was easily my favorite.

As the night wore on and as our thin crust pizza came out, I decided to switch over to red and I wanted something that would hold up to the robust sauce and the fresh mozzarella.

4) Rather than go with an Italian red, though, I went with something from the Southern Rhone, a 2007 Chapoutier Belleruche. 2007 is supposed to be a blockbuster year for the Southern Rhone, but this wine was either a bit young still or the Grenache was overpowering the Syrah. The nose was beautiful - lots of spice, pepper and jammy currant on the nose - exactly what you'd expect from a young Southern Rhone. However, on the palate, the wine was out of balance and "throwing a lot of heat" as they say, which means you taste a lot of alcohol in the wine. Hopefully some age will help this wine come into balance. I probably could have let the glass breathe a little more as well, but with only 2oz, it's hard to be that patient!

5) I couldn't end my flight on that note so I decided to revisit an old friend: a 2008 Felino Malbec. For those that followed my blog during my trip to Argentina, you may recall my writing about Felino, one of the labels from Vina Cobos, a winery in the Mendoza region of Argentina that is a partnership between Paul Hobbs, one of my favorite California winemakers and a few Argentinian winemakers. For me, the Felino Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the best Cabs available in the $20-$25 range and the Felino Malbec is also wonderful. It also has a lot of "heat," but it's in much better balance than the previous wine allowing the plum and berry notes to burst through. Juicy, but dry and structured - a classic example of what a good Malbec should be.

Although you may be thinking, "Wow, Alli, you really tied one on," keep in mind each pour was approximately 2oz. A wine flight - whether you DIY or rely on an already created one - is a great way to taste a lot of different wines without putting your liver or your ability to walk upright at risk. When you try one, I encourage you to seek out a flight that has a wine that you've never heard of or know little to nothing about because it's the easiest and one of the least expensive ways to discover a new favorite or find that you don't like a certain style and should steer clear. Or you could just keep reading my blog to find out about new varietals! Of course I recommend both.

Until the next sniff, sip, quaff or "Wine Wednesday" (or "Tasting Tuesday" or whenever),


Alli M.