Faustini Wines Blog
Welcome to the Faustini Wines blog. Here you will find info on what's happening at the winery, our thoughts on winemaking, food, life, and wine industry news. Let us know if you want us to post on any topics....
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Growing and Harvesting Grapes
Naturally, the wine making process begins with the acquiring of its most essential ingredient: red grapes. It’s not an instantaneous process though; grape vines will only produce fruit after three years, minimum, of growth. Inversely, the individual stalks on which the grapes grow will only produce before it turns 1 year old. Since this process is so time-sensitive, many viticulturists (the people who study & grow grapes) will prune their vineyards yearly to prompt growth. The grapes are either cut from the vine by human hands with shears or they are removed by a machine. At this point in the process, the grapes are still intact with their stems, along with some leaves and sticks that made their way from the vineyards. These will all be removed in the next step.
After the grapes have been harvested they typically have their stems and leaves removed to reduce the potential of hash tannins making it into the final product. After they’re all sorted, the grapes are crushed in huge presses and moved to a location that’s favorable to yeast growth. The skins are left on the grapes to help give red wine it’s bold, rich coloring.
Simply put, fermentation is where the sugar converts into alcohol. There are plenty of techniques and technologies used during this process to accompany the different kinds of grapes. In red wine making carbon dioxide is released during fermentation which causes the grape skins to rise to the surface. Winemakers must punch down or pump over the “cap” several times a day to keep the skins in contact with the juice. Some wineries prefer their yeast growth to happen naturally, whole others will add specific strains in a process called inoculation, to provide greater control over the red wine’s flavor. Red wine is fermented at a much higher temperature than white wine. The length of the fermentation process is used to control the wine’s dryness. The longer it ferments, the less sugar there is, and the dryer the red wine will be.
Aging the Wine
Winemakers have lots of choices in this step, and again they all depend on the kind of wine one wants to create. Flavors in a wine become more intense due to several of these winemaking choices:
Aging for several years vs. several months
Aging in stainless steel vs. oak
Aging in new oak vs. ‘neutral’ or used barrels
Aging in American oak barrels vs. French oak barrels
Aging in various levels of ‘toasted’ barrels (i.e. charred by fire)
While a wine ages, additives are usually added to remove certain proteins, resulting in a clearer wine. This process is called “fining.” Next the red wine is usually filtered for any errant particles and bottled. Some wines are not fined or filtered, to create bolder wines with a stronger body.
Bottle the wine
When we feel that a wine has reached its full expression in aging, then it’s time to bottle the wine for consumption. Most dry reds need 18-24 months of aging before bottling. And the rest is history, my friends.
On a warm August afternoon, the big reds that normally match with red meat are about as refreshing as hot coffee, yet white wine seems a little wimpy next to a rib-eye. Grilling adds different levels of smokiness and char, and those are flavors that you want to consider. They can definitely overwhelm more timid wines. Here are pairings that will take your meal to the next level. Cabernet Sauvignon is a classic with steak (our 1023 or Due Finali will work with just about any grilled red meat) but grilling isn’t strictly about meat. When you’re adding vegetables, or even salad greens like crispy heads of Romaine to the grill grate, you’ll often need a more versatile wine.
2012 Opportunity Collection Pinot Noir. A Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley is generally on the lighter side, so it won't overpower more delicate grilled foods, and it often has smoky flavors that really work with the grill. The wine’s earthy, savory notes and good acidity also make it a match with balsamic vinegar.
2013 Play Date Chardonnay. Usually, oysters are served with sparkling wines, but the intensely flavorful grilled component here allows for a more full-bodied wine. The Play Date Chardonnay has simplistic texture with flavors ranging from citrus to mild tropical fruits, accompanied by crisp with soft floral notes on the finish
N.V Velvet & Vinyl Brut. The crisp acidity, effervescence, and moderate alcohol level of our brut sparkling wine will be perfect with smoky grilled fishes or even a grilled chicken burger with fresh cut salty fries.
2012 Beach House Sauvignon Blanc. The sea mist breezes, cooling off the Rutherford Valley floor at night tend to give the grapes good acidity, creating tangy citrusy wine. Perfect for any type of grilled fish taco with fresh Pico de Gallo and guacamole.
2011 Opportunity Collection Malbec. Of course when grilling up a Texas rib eye or a kobe burger with blue cheese you’ll need a wine that can stand up to these big bold flavors. The Malbec lays down a violet bouquet with dark fruit flavors of ripe blackberry and plum accompanied by subtle notes of smoke & cocoa powder. An ideal match for those heavy hitters.
What I like to tell people about food pairing is to go with your gut and be a little adventurous. When thinking about the weight and cooking technique of your main item, try to think of a wine that will have those similar flavors. It’s all about balance. Chances are you know a big cabernet is not going to pair nicely with a grilled piece of Dover Sole. But a coastal Chardonnay might or for some fun you could always try a sparkling. Stepping outside of your comfort zone with wine is something I would definitely recommend to everyone.
Don't Forget to check out our wine of the month 1023 paired with an awesome grilled rack of lamb. Click here http://www.faustiniwines.com/recipes/Grilled-Rack-of-Lamb-with-Carmelized-Onion-Jam
Although every season is a good for pairing food and wine, summer, with its lighter food offerings seems to be perfect for pairing refreshing crisp white or rosé wines. In summer, we tend to eat lighter and simpler -- fresh garden salads, grilled vegetables, fresh fruit, and simple cheese platters. A crisp cool wine offers a refreshing option for these lighter foods. There is nothing better than the look of condensation on an elegant wine glass, and savoring that first cool sip of wine. Add in a comfortable patio chair, on a boat or at the beach I think we can agree that nothing could be more relaxing!
White wines tend to have a crisper finish than reds, which leaves our palates feeling more refreshed. When we eat a food, our palate is coated with the flavors of that food. The crisp finish on a white light bodied wine washes over our palate and intermixes with the food, creating a unique food and wine pairing experience. If a wine is too heavy, it can overpower the flavors of the food. So for lighter foods, a lighter wine offers that perfect combination of flavor and body. For Summer white wine drinking we recommend pairing our 2012 Beach House # 34 Sauvignon Blanc, 2013 Play Date Chardonnay and of course our Velvet & Vinyl Brut Sparkling. The Sauvignon Blanc is the lightest, perfect for any kind of grilled fish or vegetable, followed by the Chardonnay, unoaked in style it’s a great match for most light sauces and pasta dishes, last is the bubbly which is of course great anytime but also excellent with any raw bar items or sushi.
If you crave a wine with a little more fruit quality but the same crispness and food pairing quality of a white, rosés are also a great summer option. Rosés are once again becoming a popular wine style and the offerings are far more expansive. The Play Date Syrah Rosé is crisp and dry (almost like a light Pinot Noir in a way) and can definitely suit either a white or red drinker’s palate. Nowadays if you browse the Rose section of a wine shop will find that rosés that come from many different regions and are made from a wide variety of grapes. Summer is a great time to explore your taste buds and try different styles of lighter wines.
As the weather heats up we find ourselves reaching, more often than not, for some crisp, zingy Sauvignon Blanc. It’s a perfect way to cool down and is versatile enough pair with appetizers, cheese, salads, light seafood and the like.
The name Sauvignon Blanc literally means “Wild White” and the grape is related to Traminer with origins in the South of France. Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most widely planted wine grapes in the world and because of this it has a wide range of styles and flavors. As we know the wines of Napa Valley are very complex and full bodied. The heat of the valley and the diverse soils of the region enhance the aromas and flavors of the wines. The warmth contributes to the texture and character of the wine. Sauvignon Blanc is not grown everywhere in Napa Valley but it is grown in St Helena, Chiles Valley, Rutherford, Mt. Veeder, Oak Knoll District and Los Carneros.
Rutherford (where our Sauvignon Blanc is grown) is 50 miles north of San Francisco. The soils are composed of alluvium and marine sediment with some volcanic influence, particularly on the east side of the region. The climate is warm although there can be as much as a ten degree difference between the northern portion of Rutherford which is warmer and the southern portion. The Elevation is about 500 feet.
The intense flavor of this Sauvignon Blanc grab’s your attention. Rutherford's Sauvignon Blanc has the classic characteristics of citrus, green apple, floral, mineral and lemon grass aromas and flavors. The 2012 vintage of Beach House #34 is possibly one of the prettiest Sauvignon Blancs that Faustini has produced. Gorgeously perfumed, the aromatics are vibrant yet delicate at the same time. The stunning white peach note is accompanied by apricot and citrus zest. The palate is very persistent, dominated by a fresh and bright entry, with a great acid pop that lingers for over a minute. Flavors of honeydew melon, lemon grass, and grapefruit all play well together to top off this wine. An endlessly long finish.
So my wine friends after spending a long day at the beach or on the boat (or even while you’re there) kick back and relax with family and friends over a bottle of Beach House #34 Sauvignon Blanc. It’s crisp, refreshing and will sure help you create that memorable summer moment.
Till next time oneophiles…
Read more about the story behind “Beach House #34” here! http://www.faustiniwines.com/Our-Story/Beach-House-34
Looking for a great dish to pair with this wine? Check out our featured recipe! http://www.faustiniwines.com/recipes/Beach-House-Clams
People always ask me how it is that I taste and remember different wines/grape varietals. Aside from trying to taste as many wines as I can the key is to train your palate. Remember, wine tasting, wine drinking, or evaluating wine are related, but they are all different skill sets. Tasting wine is more for education to help you understand the wine and let you know if you do like the wine, or not. Evaluating wine is for a deeper, more critical look at the wine, or wines in question. Drinking wine is for pleasure. Hopefully, you will be spending a lot more time drinking wine than evaluating or tasting wine. The best wines in the world are meant to be enjoyed with friends and family over a lovely meal. The following wine tasting tips are practiced by most sommeliers to refine their palates and sharpen their ability to recall wines. Even though this method is used by professionals. It’s actually pretty simple to understand and can help anyone to improve their overall wine palate.
Through the Looking Glass
Just like food, your initial taste of a wine starts with your eyes. The color of a wine can tell you a lot about the wine itself. One helpful hint is, when looking at a wine, hold out the glass and tilt it a bit. Try to hold the wine over a white surface like a white table cloth, or napkin other blank surface. At this point, you need to notice the depth of color from the rim to the center of the glass. To fully understand the ramifications of the color, in this case, it helps to have a slight understanding of how a wine should look for its grape varietal & age. Color and opacity of the wine can give you hints as to the approximate age, the potential grape varieties, the amount of acidity, alcohol, sugar and even the potential climate (warm vs. cool) where the wine was grown. As wines age they tend to change color towards more yellow and brown colors. Red wines also tend to become more translucent. Throughout the blog we will use the 2010 Faustini Cabernet Sauvignon as an example. This wine is ruby in color with a light pink rim. As with most cabernets as the wine ages the grape will become more of a brick color and the rim will become almost orange.
The size of the tears or legs and the length of time they remain in the glass give a glimpse into the wines potential alcohol level and sweetness, as well as the viscosity of the wine. Thin legs that dissipate quickly are usually found in lighter, less concentrated wines. While fatter, are usually an indicator of more concentrated wine with lots of fruit, sweetness and length. The 2010 cab will have more rounded tears.
It’s said that as much as 85% of taste is derived from your sense of smell. But you cannot smell the wine without first swirling your glass gently. If you’re a beginner, swirl the glass, but keep the stem of the glass firmly planted on the table (your clothes will thank you for this) The action of swirling your glass allows oxygen to enter into the wine, which allows the wine to release its scents into the air while coating the glass at the same time. After swirling your wine, you can use whatever technique that works best for you, when nosing the wines aromatics. However, one little trick that could help is, keep your mouth slightly open when inhaling and exhaling the scents from the wine. That little secret will allow you to decipher more aromatic complexities in your wine. But at the end of the day use what works for you. Generally speaking, if a wine smells good, meaning there are no off odors such as scents of wet dogs, old newspapers, mold, vinegar or generally unclean scents, the wine is considered “clean”. The next step is to note how complex the wine smells and what scents make up its complex, aromatic profile.
Nosing what you smell in a wine can tell you a lot about the wine and its potential character. Primary aromas are from the type of the grape and the climate where it grows. For instance, The 2010 Cab will often smell of ripe jammy stewed fruits like a red bing cherry. This is because of the terrior (see last blog for more information on that word) and winemaking styles of the Napa cabernet grapes. Generally speaking, the fruit flavors in wine are primary aromas. Secondary aromas come from the fermentation process (the yeast). A great example of this is the aroma that you can find in our Velvet & Vinyl sparkling wine that is sometimes described as ‘bready’ or ‘yeasty’. This has to do with this wine undergoing a secondary fermentation inside the bottle. Tertiary aromas (classically referred to as ‘bouquets’) come from aging wine. Aging aromas come from oxidation, aging in oak and aging in the bottle over a period of time. The most common example of this is the ‘vanilla’ aroma associated with wines aged in oak. Our cabernets are typically all aged in new French oak.
Part of being a good wine taster is also being able to recognize flaws in wine, especially in corked wines. which causes a wine to smell like a wet dog, damp basement or old wet newspapers. This can happen when a wine isn’t stored at the correct temperature or if you open it up past its peak.
Taste, Taste, Taste!
With practice you could be able to blind taste a wine down to the style, region and even possible vintage! Tasting a wine involves more than just your sense of taste, which focuses on the primary sensations of sweet, salt, bitter, sour and Umami, which are experienced on the top of your tongue and through your taste buds. Remember, you are going to become a better wine taster the more you taste. You would not be reading this page, (at least not this far into the page) if you were not interested in learning how to taste wine. So go ahead, pour a glass of some 2010 cab (if you’ve already had one feel free to pour another) or any of your other favorite Faustini wines and let’s move on to the final and most fun part of this article! Here are some tips and details on what to pay attention to.
Like I mentioned earlier, wine is for drinking, right? Wine tasting tip number 1, decanting wines. Young full bodied red wines are almost always better with decanting. Decanting in advance allows the wine to breathe, which means the wine is going to soften in texture and develop more complex aromas in the glass. Decanting coupled with correct temperatures will improve your tasting experience with young wines. Wine tasting tip #2 is, taste wines at the right temperature. Temperatures, red wine likes to be served at cooler temperatures. 60 to 65 degrees is about right. When red wines become too warm, they become flabby, lacking freshness and a refreshing quality. White wines should be served 50 to 55 degrees. White wines become much less interesting as they warm up in the glass.
Keep in mind, there is a big difference between tasting a wine and drinking wine. Tasting is more like studying each component of the wine. When tasting wine, you asses the wines balance, structure, level of sweetness, acidity, complexity and length of the finish. Wine tasting tip #3, tasting wine is actually quite easy. Take a small, but reasonable sip of wine into your mouth and next, slightly open your lips and inhale some air. At that point, gently chew and swirl the wine around for a bit (don’t mind my details) Take a small swallow and enjoy. Notice all the sensations taking place in your mouth and on your palate. The best way to sense sweetness is on the front of your tongue in the first moment you taste a wine. Wines can range from bone dry to super sweet. Then you have acidity. Acidity plays a major role in the overall profile of a wine because higher acidity wines tend to taste lighter in body. High Acidity wines are more tart and taste lighter. High Acidity can also indicate a wine from a cooler climate region. Low acidity wines tend to taste smoother and have more body. Extremely low acid wines will often taste flat or flabby. For the 2010 Cab you will find that it is a dry wine with medium to low acidity.
Next we’ll look at the tannins. Tannin is a red wine characteristic and it can tell us the type of grape, if the wine was aged in oak and how long the wine will age. Tannin comes from 2 places: the skins and seeds of grapes or oak aging. Oak Tannins will often taste more smooth and round. It typically hits your palate in the center of your tongue. Grape Tannins Tannin from grape skins and seeds is typically more abrasive and tastes more green. The 2010 cab has had some time to age in the bottle so its tannin levels won’t be overpowering. In this case the tannin you do see will be more smooth and round. Next we have the alcohol level which can sometimes tell us the intensity of a wine and the ripeness of the grapes that went into making the wine. Most wines typically range from 5% – 16% alcohol. The alcohol Level is directly related to the sweetness of the grapes prior to fermenting the wine. Warmer growing regions tend to produce sweeter grapes which have the potential to make higher alcohol wines. The 2010 cab is around 14.5 % because the grapes are from a warmer growing region. Lastly we have the body and conclusion of the wine. Body can give us clues to the type of wine, the region it was grown in and the possible use of oak aging. Body is the summary of all of the wines characteristics as well as the profile of the taste from start to finish. It is here that we also asses the beautiful fruit flavors we get on the wine. For the 2010 you’ll get that ripe jammy fruit as well as that vanilla and baking spice note from the French oak aging.
Lastly, we have the length of the finish. The longer the good, enjoyable flavors remain in your mouth, typically the better the wine. Did the wine taste and feel good from the start, (the attack) to the finish? Was the wine complex? Complex means that there were multiple flavors at once. The average wine delivers a finish that is often not longer than 5 to 10 seconds. Very good wines last in your mouth for at least 20 to 30 seconds. Hello 2010 cab!
Now that you have thoroughly tasted the wine, ask yourself, do you want to drink it? Does each sip make you want another taste? Do you want to buy the wine? Do you want your friends to buy the wine? With the 2010 cab we know the answer is obviously yes yes a million times yes!!! But generally speaking if you answered “yes” to all of these questions then you have found a wine you truly enjoy. Tasting wine and drinking wine are passions many people all over the world enjoy. Using these tips and guidelines will help you better understand what is in your glass and why you liked a wine ultimately making you become a better wine taster.
Till next time oneophiles....
Many winemakers and sommeliers alike use the word “Terroir” pronounced “TARE-WHAr” lets find out the meaning behind this fancy wine word so you too can use it in everday wine conversation.
Terroir at a Glance
Terroir is how a particular region’s climate, soils and aspect (terrain) affect the taste of wine. Some regions are said to have more ‘terroir’ than others. What is ‘terroir’ and how does it affect the taste of wine?
The basic idea is that some regions or vineyards have a quality that makes them special - so that if you took the same grape variety, followed the same winegrowing practices and winemaking practices but grew it anywhere else it would never taste quite the same. While this has somewhat to do with the 'earth' in terms of the soil composition, grade and exposure of the piece of land, terroir also encompasses the microclimate of that area and some other factors
Where Does the Word Come From?
‘Terroir’ is one of the most used but least understood wine words. A complicating factor in understanding terroir is that it is a French word (derived from “terre,” meaning land) Originally it was associated with earthy notes in many Old World wines. The recognition of terroir dates back to the ancient Greeks as they noticed wines made from the same grape variety exhibited different characteristics when grown in different regions. Over time, the more celebrated regions were held in higher acclaim based on the superiority of their wines.
The concept was eventually adopted in Burgundy by the religious orders that farmed the vineyards. It became the basis of France’s “Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée” (AOC) and subsequently all other appellation laws throughout the world including our AVA designations in the U.S.
Terroir is not what the grower and farmer do in (or to) the vineyard, but rather what the vineyard gives them in the most basic sense. In this respect a grapevine’s terroir is not unlike the geographic influences and surroundings we were exposed to in our childhood that were responsible for forming many of our individual traits and habits.
Nowadays, terroir is used to describe practically every wine region (e.g. Napa’s Terroir, Bordeaux’s Terroir etc..).
Great wines (and even lesser wines) are the product of their terroir. Throughout the Napa Valley we are the grateful beneficiaries of ideal climatic and soil conditions that lead to the production of world-class wines. But are all areas the same throughout the valley? Definitely not.
A closer look at the many different areas of the valley demonstrates the concept of terroir and its effect on the wines produced. We have more than 100 different soil types spanning the valley floor and surrounding hillsides. From the Mayacamas range in the west to the Vacas in the east, we can observe vastly different exposure patterns and geography that affect the entire wine growing season. From south to north on the valley floor and up to the mountain tops there are also wide variations in temperature and daylight hours.
All of these components of terroir are what makes Napa Valley unique and among the finest winegrowing areas in the world. The differences in terrior are endless and give all growers and vintners the ability to “quench their thirst” top quality fruit mirroring the vineyard to express its distinctive character in the wine, all with a broad choice of varietals and styles based on individual terroir for every occasion.
Chardonnay is the darling of white wines to many American palates. This grape and its wines are fashionable for many reasons: the name is easy to pronounce, and the wine is readily accessible and its, oak and fruit flavors make it stand out. Chardonnay is the most popular wine in the United States and it is enjoyed and admired globally.
Chardonnay was born in the Burgundy region of France, where it is known as White Burgundy, and it was there that the wine gained great acclaim for its elegance. Soon after Chardonnay’s rise in popularity, winemakers in Champagne began to grow the grape as well, using it as the dominant ingredient for their sparkling wines. While grown in the same country, the Chardonnay grapes took on a very different characteristic in Champagne than they had in Burgundy. Winemakers began to realize that the grape had a unique way for truly embodying “terroir” (that’s winespeak for the region and area where the wine is grown) No two places that grow Chardonnay produce the exact same wine, yet most regions find it is a relatively easy grape to grow. This discovery is what helped the grape quickly spread across the world.
As the grape spread, winemakers discovered that warm climates would produce a Chardonnay grape that was ripe and full of tropical flavors, while in cooler climates the grape had flavors of apple as well as earthy fall aromas such as mushrooms and the smell of fallen leaves. This worldwide variety allows Chardonnay to go extremely well on its own while sitting outside in the summer, or even on a cold winter’s night with a hearty stew. Chateau Montelena of Napa Valley even won against 9 other winemakers for their 1973 Chardonnay (half of them being French) at the Judgement of Paris a prestigious blind tasting competition, putting American Vineyards on the map.
So if Chardonnay is so versatile, then what has caused the wine to get a bad rap in recent years? One word: oak. In addition to winemakers discovering how adaptive the grape was to different regions of the world, they also found that it was incredibly responsive to being aged in oak. Some oak on a Chardonnay is a very good thing — it creates the luscious mouthfeel we expect in a Burgundian Chardonnay, and gives us just a kiss of vanilla. The problem is, if the wine gets too much oak, bad things can happen.
In California during the ‘80s and ‘90s, winemakers, especially the mass market ones, started going oak crazy. Determining what they thought was Americans’ desire for oak, oak and more oak, they over-oaked the heck out of Chardonnay and created what came to be known as butter bombs, a white wine that literally tasted like liquid butter in a bottle. This turned many wine drinkers off and caused many to say they hated Chardonnay, but that should not be the case.
The practice of over-oaking Chardonnay has pretty much stopped worldwide, with most winemakers who now want their Chardonnay to spend a little time in oak reverting back to the heritage of the French Burgundian winemakers. Or chose to make an unoaked chardonnay similar to a wine coming from an area in France 80 miles of Burgundy known as Chablis. That being said, a good way to avoid the liquid butter wine is simply to avoid Chardonnay that is made by any of the worldwide mega-producers, who basically sell the stuff for under $10 a bottle, using the oak to mask the poor qualities of the fruit.
Faustini Wines has just released a new Chardonnay! This Chardonnay apart of our ever so popular “Play Date” collection is unoaked and has a simplistic texture with flavors ranging from citrus to mild tropical fruit accompanied by soft floral notes on the finish.
Whether it be oaked or un-oaked Chardonnay that you choose to enjoy, when you have that perfect bottle you’ll understand what we mean by “Chardonnay bliss.”
Till next time Oneophiles… Cheers!
We’ve had a lot of questions about “the fancy wine gadget” that pours wine from the bottle without removing the cork... (yes without removing the cork, I promise you we're not crazy) Without further ado here is an overview on the unique Coravin system.
The Coravin uses technology that keeps the cork in the bottle, where it’s been since the bottle was sealed. The capsules are filled with the purest Argon gas that has no effect on the taste of the wine and includes a cap that creates a perfect seal in the System. The gas is then pumped up through a needle and seals itself upon release. This allows you to pour glasses whenever you like, and know that instead of oxidizing, the remaining wine will continue to age naturally.
The Coravin System was inspired founder Greg Lambrecht’s love of wine and the never-ending discovery in taste and aroma that it provides. His dream was to magically pour wine from bottles without ever pulling the cork so the remaining wine could then go back in the cellar to be enjoyed whenever he desired at a later date. What followed was a decade of development and testing until he had a system that left the cork in place, but still delivered great glasses of wine, indistinguishable from untouched bottles.
Today Faustini Wines is proud to serve our wines using the Coravin system. As a Wine Ambassador, the Coravin system allows me to serve each guest like they were all getting the first sip of a new bottle. It retains the superb quality of the wine and enables you to store it for long periods of time. It is a great tool that has really been a game changer benefitting consumers and restaurant professionals alike.
Both wine and chocolate can be very complex on their own, so let’s keep it simple with three basics. The wine you select must be perceived as sweeter than the chocolate. Since chocolate coats your mouth when you eat it, you’ll need a wine that’s big enough to cut through its richness. Try looking for flavors in both that have some similarities to one another.
Pairing with Milk Chocolate
Milk chocolate, which contains a small amount of cacao, is the sweetest of the real chocolates with its high sugar content. Remember rule one and choose a sweeter wine than chocolate, or the pairing might leave your mouth tasting like a rubber band. For milk chocolate, your best match might me be he perfect bottle of Pinot Noir, but other suggestions can include a Cream Sherry, Tawny Port, Rutherglen Muscat.
Pairing with Semisweet Chocolate
Chocolate that contains about 50 to 70 percent cacao is known as semisweet, the sweetest of the dark chocolates. With tones that are nutty, spicy, or earthy, semisweet dark chocolate has a balanced and less sweet aftertaste than milk or white chocolate. A Cabernet or Bordeaux will tend to bring out any fruity or peppery tones in the chocolate, while a ruby port is also considered a classic pairing with semisweet chocolate.
Pairing with Bittersweet Chocolate
The richest, most intensely flavored chocolates are known as the bittersweet darks, which contain the least amount of sugar, and the greatest amount of cacao – anywhere from about 71 and 100 percent. Their bitter, roasted flavoring is so intense, that it really needs a strong red wine to balance the taste. Our friends Poco Dolce make a lot of delicious bittersweet tiles & bars topped with earl gray sea salt. You can find them in The Tasting Room.
Cabs and Malbecs are ideal bittersweet dark, but you might also find an Australian Shiraz or a Spanish Grenache to be a suitable companion. Since these chocolates are the least sweet, your pallet of appropriate pairings is much wider, meaning you can also experiment with many of the sweeter wines like a Port and Moscato.
Time for Tasting
Once you’ve got a great pairing, it’s nothing but bliss. Start by tasting the wine, allowing its flavors to fully saturate your mouth. Then take a bite of the chocolate, letting it slowly melt on your tongue. Sip the wine once again, and you might never consider having one without the other ever again.
Till next time Oneophiles…
Pairing a wine with the correct food, you may think that this a tricky subject that only the sommelier can tell you but the truth is its fairly simple. When it comes to food and wine pairing, you need to know that food changes the way the wine tastes and vice versa. When improperly paired you can create undesirable reactions through the wrong pairings, but if you pair correctly, then you open a new world of amazing flavor.
First things first, it’s important to understand the fact that different people have different sensitivities when it comes to identifying aromas and flavors. Some may really enjoy tartness for example, whereas some may not. Always take into account the preferences of whom you are serving for, combine that knowledge with the general rules to food and wine pairing and you’ll be golden.
FLAVORS & TEXTURES
Sweetness: High amounts of sugar in your dish will make a wine taste more bitter and acidic, and lose its fruity flavors. This will often make the wine taste bland and boring. Always select a wine with a higher level of sweetness (or at least as much sugar) than the dish so the flavors complement each other instead of fighting against each other. If the wine is less sweet than the food it’s matched with, it will tend to taste bitter and tart. This is why a Port wine is perfect with dessert.
Salt: Salt gives the wine more body while reducing the acidity levels, it’s pretty wine friendly. The classic one to remember is seafood in this instance. Go for a nice crisp white, like a Sauvignon Blanc. Avoid pairing big bold reds with a delicate piece of seabass -this will knock the flavors and you won’t be able to taste the wine either.
Acidity: The opposite to sweetness in every way - in food this is things like lemon juice. It takes away some of the wine’s acidity while increasing its fruitiness and body. You just need to get the balance right for this one. For highly acidic foods go for a wine with a high acid, and vice versa. If you had a wine that was low in acidity with a food that was high in acidity, the wine would feel flabby and sad. Try to match the weight of the meal with the weight of the wine too, so oily fish such as smoked salmon will work better with whites and Champagne, and heavy oily dishes such as lasagna work better with reds that have a good level of acidity. A wine should have higher acidity than the food it’s matched with otherwise it will taste dull.
Spice: Everyone tolerance is different when it comes to spice (always taste your chilies before you cook with them to test the heat). Some people enjoy the heat, some don’t. A thing to remember is that the higher the alcohol content, the more intense the heat sensation becomes and vice versa.
If you enjoy this, get a 15% alcohol red. If you don’t then it’s just trial and error until you find the right alcohol content that matches your palate. A good example of a solid wine choice for spicy food is either a Sauvignon Blanc, due its acidic flavors lifting the spices or a Moscato, which is aromatic and compliments many spices. If you want red, go light. Avoid heavy oak flavors too. Heavier wines can overpower the spices, so be careful with that.
Bitterness: Foods that are naturally bitter tend to increase a wines bitterness as well. Again, this does change from person to person. Tannins add to a wine’s bitter flavor and acidity making it drier and bite the gums. They are more commonly found in red wines and the odd white depending on what it has been aged in. Tannins naturally occur in wood as well as fruit skins and leaves. For example an oak aged wine will tend to have a higher tannic level. Since our tastebuds are very sensitive to bitterness, it’s important to pay special attention to not pair bitter food and high tannin wine. If you want to pair a high tannin wine, look to foods with fat, and salt for balance. As a general rule, the more textured or fatty the meal, the more tannin you need. Steak with a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Malbec is a great example here.
The number one guideline is to bring out the best characteristics of a wine. A high tannin red wine will taste like sweet cherries when paired with the right dish. Focus on the characteristics that you want to champion and make sure that the wine will shine instead of fighting against the food.
Till next time oneophiles...Cheers!