Posts Tagged ‘sauvignon blanc’
Want your dinner to be supremely festive? Then, instead of the still wines, offer a choice of Champagne and Sparkling Burgundy. An extra fillip, to backtrack a course or two, is to serve a special wine with the soup. This presents no problem: the wine that goes with any soup-so well, indeed, that the best canned soups already contain some-is Sherry.
When it comes to dessert, the choice is also easy, because most desserts are sweet, and so are dessert wines such as Port, Tokay, Muscatel, Cream Sherry, and the various berry wines. If you happen to encounter an especially delicious, extra-sweet Sauterne, you will enjoy that with dessert, too.
The members of my family like assorted cheeses at the end of a meal. We find that some of our guests enjoy a hearty dry red wine such as Cabernet Franc as the accompaniment, while others prefer red Port. Moving on to the bridge table, which also gets exercise some afternoons, there are many wines to sip between bids.
Cool White Port, Cream Sherry, the sweet Concord and berry wines, and those flavored specialties already mentioned are all especially popular here. A mixture of Sauvignon Blanc and lemon juice became the standard afternoon bridge drink in one California suburban community a few years back.
For guests who just drop in casually, afternoon or evening, the bridge-table beverages will also do. In hot, stuffy summer weather, however, serve them either chilled Rose or a Wine Cooler. The latter can be anything you feel like mixing, from the simple spritzer (white wine and seltzer) to wine lemonade (lemonade with red wine or Rose added), to the various wine punches that you usually can pick up at your beverage store.
In recent years many people have discovered that any wine can be mixed with any kind of sweet soda pop (especially the lemon-flavored ones) and served as a delicious light highball. Wine for the barbecue is easily chosen. Again it is Rose or any red dinner wine. If you prefer to serve white wine with those sizzling, charcoal-broiled chickens, bring out a tub of ice to keep the bottles well chilled in hot weather.
The amazing versatility of wine extends to cold winter nights also. A traditional warmer-upper in the ski country is hot mulled wine: sweetened red wine such as Grenache [http://www.wineaccess.com/wine/grape/Grenache] or Pinot Noir spiced with cloves and lemon peel, warmed and served with cinnamon sticks. Also available are hot buttered wine, Sherry Tom and Jerry, and others for this purpose.
How about quantity punches for parties? The best known, of course, is Champagne Punch. But here we must protest; there can be no excuse for wasting good Champagne in a mixture where this effervescent wine loses its identity and where bubbles can be gotten much more cheaply from sparkling water.
Use still wines to mix the punch; then add club soda, and finally a single bottle of Champagne for the use of its glamorous name. Punch recipes, with ingredients such as sherbets, frozen concentrates, canned juices, and fresh fruits, are available by the score.
A crisp, cool glass of Sauvignon Blanc on a warm afternoon is one of life’s simple pleasures. The zesty tang of the grassy, citrus notes refreshes and revives like a cool breeze. New Zealand has quickly become the favorite country for quality versions of this grape variety, but Chile and South Africa also produce delicious styles as well.
Although Sauvignon Blanc is always a reliable choice, there are other white wines that also deliver the same invigoration. Here are some suggestions for the next time you’re in the mood to try something different.
Muscadet, Loire Valley, France
The region of Muscadet is western most area of the Loire Valley and lies on both sides of the River Loire. Melon de Bourgogne is the only permitted white grape variety of the region and the best examples are grown in the vineyards of the sub-region of Sevre et Maine, where the wines are classically herbaceous, tart and mouth-watering. When a wine is labeled Muscadet de Sevre et Maine ‘sur Lie’, this means the wine has spent time ‘on its lees’ (the dead yeast cells produced during fermentation) which gives the wine a fuller body and richer flavors.
Chenin Blanc, various regions
Chenin Blanc is a fabulously versatile grape – it can be vinified into a dry, sweet or sparkling wine, all of which have great character. The Chenin Blancs that are the closest in style to Sauvignon Blanc are un-oaked allowing the citrus, tropical and green fruit to stand out. The Anjou-Saumur region of the Loire Valley is a good place to find such wines, as is Stellenbosch in South Africa where Chenin Blanc is making an impressive name for itself. Chenin Blanc is also the grape variety of another region in the Loire Valley, Touraine, where in the Vouvray AC (appellation) it will convey a smokiness in youth and with age, will become plump and honeyed. Many fine dessert wines hail from Coteaux du Layon in the Loire, the best from the villages of Bonnezeaux and Quarts de Chaume, are all made exclusively with Chenin Blanc.
Gavi, Piedmont, Italy
Gavi is a delightful crowd pleaser – it has all the style expected from fashionable Italy alongside fresh, pleasant acidity and steely lemon characters. Cortese is the grape variety whose greatest expression is found in the Gavi region. The wines are medium-bodied with crisp fruit and powerful aromas and are the perfect aperitif, but also pair well with seafood and light, summertime dishes.
England’s reputation as a wine producing country has never been as good as it is today. The sparkling wines coming from Kent and Sussex are worthy rivals to those of Champagne, but the quality of many of the still wines is lagging behind, with a few exceptions, one of those being wines made from the Bacchus grape variety. Also grown in Germany, this grape is one of few that are able to ripen in a cool climate and has taken well to the climate in southeast England. The wines have similar herbal characteristics and refreshing acidity as Sauvignon Blanc.
Pecorino, Abruzzo, Italy
This wine may take a bit of searching out, but it’s a worthwhile endeavor as the wines are aromatic, minerally, dry and zesty. Trebbiano is a grape variety that best known in the Abruzzo area, but often produces wines of a rather neutral nature whereas Pecorino tends to be more interesting, if harder to find.
Even when the warm summer evenings have faded and the duskiness of autumn and winter approaches, Sauvignon Blanc’s revitalizing appeal doesn’t diminish. So when you are looking for something different to serve your guests or if your palate simply requires a refreshing change, these five wines are a sure remedy.
There are many nuances when it comes to consuming wine. Most of the conversation centers around the actual taste and aroma of the wine, but there is a more practical area that should receive more attention than it does.
One of the key to bringing out the best in a bottle of wine is to serve it at the correct temperature. With the exception of water, practically every liquid tastes great at certain temperatures and less so at others. Warm champagne is about as nasty as it gets and wine is just as influenced by temperature.
The first thing to understand about wine is it can be either too cold or too warm. When it comes to white wine, people have a tendency to serve it to cold. The opposite is true for reds. Most people serve the wine to warm, which leads to an excessively alcohol flavoring.
Full bodied, rich white wines are best served cool. The typical classification of this wine is the extremely popular Chardonnay. Wines in this category are served best at between 53 and 58 degrees. This is essentially the temperature found in a wine cellar, which is why these wines are often referred to as “classic” whites.
Sweeter white wines, such as dessert wines and Sauvignon Blancs, are a bit different that full bodied whites. These wines are much better off when served even cooler. The ideal temperature is found more in the high 30s to middle 40 degree temperature range.
Many people believe a red wine should always be served at room temperature. This is only true if the room is a bit chilly. To really bring out the taste of the vintage, a red should be served slightly cool. The ideal temperature is just about 65 degrees. To reach this temperature, throw the bottle of red into the refrigerator about 20 minutes before you plan on drinking it.
It is important to not go overboard with the temperatures. White wines can be consumed at very cold temperatures, but that doesn’t mean they should be. If you go too cold, the wine most of the nuances of the flavor will be lost to the sharp coolness. With reds, the opposite can occur. A red that is too warm can become flat and bland with a harsh hint of excessive alcohol.
Pay close attention to the temperature of the wine you are serving. Get it wrong and an otherwise tremendous bottle of wine can end up being a disappointment.
Sauvignon Blanc wines are very different than other whites. They are very acidic for one and that is considered to be a good trait for a Sauvignon Blanc to have. They are also very herbal, often called even grassy. Rarely some fruits are featured, but these are of the more vegetable taste like green peppers and melon, rather than sweeter like apricot or peaches. The wines have a medium body but are usually quite dry. Although the majority are unoaked, you are able to find oaked Sauvignon Blanc as well.
It is very popular in France, particularly in the Bordeaux region but the Loire Valley also has several varieties of this wine as well. In California, it is sometimes marketed as Fume Blanc.
Pinot Gris is also called Pinot Grigio. The skin colour of the grape is much darker than those of the other grapes. Where as a chardonnay will be golden yellow, a Pinot Gris can be a purple or violet colour. Pinot Gris is not usually oaked and is quite low in acidity. Their flavours are very fruitful, such as peachy or orange like, but not overpowering of the grapes.
Pinot Gris is typically grown in Northern Italy but can also be found in Germany. Perhaps the most successful Pinot Gris in the world can be found in Alsace, a region in France. The wines there are welcoming, and ample with golden undertones. They are also very well structured and can be great replacements for reds. It goes incredibly well with sea food and fish dishes.
The New Zealand wine making industry didn’t really take off until the early 1970s, when the first Sauvignon Blanc was planted in the Wairau Valley. This was a major move, as the area was much better suited to white wine production than North Island, which didn’t have soils that were fertile enough and the climate had too much humidity. Many critics argue that sauvignon blanc from New Zealand is the finest in the world, with the perfect combination of exotic aroma and acidity. It is thought that during the 1980s in the Marlbrough region some of the best (if not the best) sauvignon blanc ever made, but don’t forget there is still time to improve!
If anything New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect piece of evidence to prove that wine that comes with a screw cap should not be considered ‘cheap’ and any casual wine drinker who believes that stigma and tries the wine will soon be put right on the issue. Undoubtedly Sauvignon Blanc is New Zealand’s wine, much like Argentina owns Malbec, it cannot be beat.
Sauvignon Blanc was just the beginning, however. Pinot Noir was originally brought in to help with blending sparkling wines. Pinot, however, loved the southerly region of New Zealand and happily took root, creating world-class Pinot Noirs in its continental mesoclimate.
Space, of course, will increasingly be a problem for New Zealand’s vineyards, which are currently located near ancient riverbeds. But new sites are being discovered, including Marlborough in the Southern Valley area, the limestone terraces of Martinborough, and Waitaki Valley. Pinot Gris has taken readily to the South Island area and Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon are beginning to grow well in New Zealand, too.
As the New Zealand wine industry continues to grow and mature, fewer people will resist the temptation to lump New Zealand in with Australia. That’s a well deserved development, as the country’s wines certainly stand well on their own.