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3 Reasons Why We Drink White Wine – in Winter

Few think of white wines as a winning choice any time of year, let alone now in the heart of winter here in New England. Red wine somehow seems the natural way to soothe the impact of the cold, dark days we experience.

In fact, once we shed our own similar inclinations, we discovered a surprisingly wonderful coping mechanism.

Here’s why adding white wine to your repertoire right now will help assuage your winter woes:

1.   Dry Air Begs for a Palate Pick-Me-Up

If you’re like us, you’re heading for the water cooler on the regular. Nothing seems to quench your thirst. Guess what? Many white wines can. Add a little zip to your regularly scheduled wine-down and you can refresh your taste buds (and your spirits) with the natural burst of mouthwatering acidity whites are best known.


2.    Hearty Fare Hearts Robust Wines

The importance of texture should not be underestimated either. Just as you reach for that soft, cozy blanket to wrap yourself up in, many white wine styles offer the same satisfaction. Here we're talking about wines that have a touch of heft, and can be deemed oily, or fleshy.


Robust whites complement the weight of heartier fare. Think Chowder or thicker soups like pumpkin, cauliflower, butternut squash, etc. Gratin potatoes. A tangy, goat-cheese quiche. Monkfish or Swordfish. Chicken casserole. Even an old-school (or re-imagined, newer school) Mac & Cheese.

You get the idea. Just be sure the weightier wine you select also has that essential acidity we talked about above, too. You’ll need that element to cut through the fat of such bold dishes.


3.   Winter Helps Ensure Whites are Enjoyed at the Right Temp

One guest at an event we hosted said oh-so-sagely, he feels “whites have to work harder to woo” him. When he tasted the white wine flight we had curated, he mused at how much more depth the wines had – he could taste their nuance.

So often whites are served way too cold. Whites show more layers of aromas and flavors when they are served at the ideal 50ish degrees Fahrenheit. And in New England many of us are blessed with enclosed vestibules or unfinished cellars that naturally ensure wines are stored, and then easily served, at the right temp. You don’t have to fuss with the fridge. Nature works to your logistical advantage. Meanwhile you’re able to discover what so many whites really have to offer.


Certainly white wine is a huge category, just as red wine is. The winter simply proves an unsuspecting time to explore the possibilities.

Satiate your cravings for comfort food, resuscitate your senses and otherwise bring life back to your body and soul by giving whites the chance they deserve this winter!

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Fine Wine, health and reality TV

The Winemakers, care of: week Decanter "wins" for the most captivating wine news. Tune into these fast-paced articles over your morning coffee. These headlines are sure to get you sailing right into your weekend! Here's a preview:

Reservatrol, the compound found in red wines that often gets plugged for its health cache has made headlines once again - as having anti-inflammatory properties. But does everyone agree? Find out here.

I'm more likely to be watching the Red Sox or Sports Center than any mainstream TV program. But I am a sucker for Top Chef and Project Runway, and this fall I may have to add another one to my list of "must-sees": The Winemakers!

Last but not least, as we continue to watch Aussie wine sales dwindle at the shop (it seems the public might be over "it" and onto South America for cheap, satisfying wine finds) some wines from down under are proving quite tasty, albethem at a higher price point. Now it seems a concerted effort will be made by top wineries to establish Australia as something much more than plonk-worthy. Read more here.

Will you be tuning in to "The Winemakers" this fall? What's your take on Aussie wines these days?



Drinking red after Memorial Day

Lambrusco at Pour Favor's March Wine & Style eventFolks have been coming by the shop with great gusto for warmer temps;  and they have been seeking out red wines for the occasion! No, we're not just talking about "BBQ wines". We're talking about wines to sip and enjoy with or without a meal while you sit on your porch watching the sun go down. Today I'm going to share some lesser known varietals or unique regional offerings (hybrids or blends) perfect for just such an occasion. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is taking this list (or a modified version, as you see fit) to your local shop to see which offerings they have on offer. These are some cool wines to keep your summer fresh - but they aren't necessarily available at every shop. They are, no less, worth seeking out.

Zweigelt. Austrian fruity goodness. Some earth. Often a touch tart. Lively. A hybrid of  St.-Laurent and Blaufrankish.

Dole. A Swiss wine, which blends Pinot Noir and Gamay. Fresh, ripe redberry fruits and cherries. Distinct in its own right, it has a unique identity I think many palates will embrace.

Dornfelder. Some argue this is the new "hottness" out of Germany. Another red berry-fruited wonder, but with a great spice. Terrifically light on its feet - without ever leaving planet Earth.

Gamay. Low tannin, light style red. Very fruity and THE grape in Beaujolais red wines. Seek out Beaujolais Villages offerings to get a bit more depth in your glass (aka a dash of Burgundian earthiness).

Lambrusco. An Italian, frizzante style wine. Vinified sweet and dry - so ask to accommodate your taste or intentions. A lovely spectrum of depth and redberry fruit flavors on the market.

Some of these may be familiar to you as we've bantered about several in the past. But I've been known to get stuck in traditional ruts when on a mission for an aperitif or a lighter style red to accompany a meal on a hot day. So, go on! It's a big bad world of refreshing RED wine out there.  Remember these options and... experiment!

What other reds do you like on a hot day? There are several more out there... please chime in!



En fuego...


I'd say I'm largely a glass is half full kind of person. (And no, I wasn't just referring to my wine glass! That's probably more often half empty... ;) ) As you know from last Friday's post, I celebrate little victories as they arise, am told I have "abundant enthusiasm" and have an ability to laugh at even the dopiest of things (a few commercials come to mind...).  But this week has been a sobering one.

A world away, I can't help but feel devastated by the loss of life, nature and livelihood due to the bushfires ravaging Australia. Many Americans understand this devastation personally as California wildfires have become a common summer ocurance; no matter where we live, we sit with fingers crossed, waiting for the intense heat and unseemly winds to abate. If nature was simply running its course as it should, I would have a much more optimistic outlook. It's when criminal acts may be to blame I become absolutely unglued. I am my father's daughter - and as he says often, "I hate waste."

Certainly there is ample news coverage on the fires this week. But if you want a closer look at how the vintage has been impacted by the heat or how wineries are coping with the fires in particular, Decanter's done a nice job of covering the events.

If you find yourself sipping from the Australian cup often or are interested in the business of Aussie wines, a good resource for you is Winebiz.

For those of you who want to "(re)visit" Australia in a gesture of solidarity this weekend, pop into your local wine shop and ask them what's worth trying. If you're not a fruit-bomb lover, we've found a few treats on offer lately and have been lucky to rediscover a few other selections with just the right touch of age on them.  See what you can find!

Will you grab an Aussie selection from your local's shelf this weekend?



another one bites the dust. oenological research heads down under (again)

And... she's back! And I haven't let the jetlag from my trip to Istanbul and Cyprus slow me down a bit. Afterall, I have your needs first! I launched right into tasting season here in Beantown on Wednesday afternoon, spitting so you don't have to.  Being out in the "field" does challenge a girl to stay on top of other wine related news. But in the fray, I found something this week I thought might be interesting for us to banter about: oenolgoical research. A few weeks ago I posted about dogs in the vineyard and their role in sniffing out vine mealy bugs. Additional research for that post really got my curiosity up about other projects underway to help winemakers and viticulturists do what they do best. Then a couple of days ago I saw an article on Wines & Vines (my source for nerdier information about what's do'n in the trade) about Dr. Kennedy abandoning ship in Oregon for better funded research opportunities in Australia.

Booming wine biz Down Under certainly has made that part of the world a sweet haven of luscious research. Those guys aren't afraid to take a risk - applying modern techniques to their wine making approach and out in the fields. But calculated risk-taking is all the better. And so the Australian Government have done their part to fund research on a variety of topics including Pierce's Disease, one that first emerged in the US winemaking regions of California and Florida. Even a quick Google search loads numerous links to organizations like the Australian Wine Research Institute and the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation, an organization/partnership between the Aussie Government and the wine industry. If you do the same search with US inserted, you get links to information about wine and health-related research, not winemaking et. al.

In the US industry money feeds the research engine. The last I know of research funding coming from within the US federal government was an attempt to integrate a request for funding via the Farm Bill in 1995; (I don't think it was on the roster last year when this bill was up again, but please correct me if I'm wrong). I don't think that attempt was successful, either. State funding is likely another can of worms. I'd be shocked if California, for example, doesn't have some funds allocated accordingly.

I'm not terribly surprised that wine research funding isn't a national priority. And I'm not even advocating that it should be. But it is an interesting bit of news. How many more US researchers are going to abandon ship? Dr. Kennedy is making the move on the heels of Dr. Thomas Henick-Kling, formerly of Cornell.

What do you think? Should the wine industry bare the brunt of funding research? Do you know how much funding comes from which sources here in the US?



que syrah, shiraz!

You've heard me talk about Syrah here and there over the months. This is because I'm a huge fan of Rhone Valley (French) wines, both Northern and Southern alike (though for different reasons). Syrah is a grape you'll often find blended along side it's happy varietal partners Grenache and Mouvedre in the Southern Rhone in particular. I love these wines. They have boisterous fruit, a hint of spice and a rustic edge. Syrah got it's known kick off in slightly cooler parts of the Northern Rhone. What do I mean by "known"? Well, the grape's precise geographic origins aren't fully known with speculation the Greeks or the Romans had something to do with it. Nevertheless, in the village of L'Hermitage, named after the chapel that sits at the top of the town's primary hill, Syrah has its claim to fame. (The nearby Cotie Rotie is also well-known for it's Syrah.) The Northern Rhone boasts a cooler climate than its Southern counterpart because the Mistral winds bring cooler temps down from the Massif Central. Getting too technical on you? No worries... suffice to say it's consistently cooler up North with few microclimates to permit variation vineyard to vineyard. That means there's less opportunity for many different red grape varietals to thrive. In the North, Syrah can work its mojo. In the South, Syrah is one of 20 other major grape varietals that flourish - hence all the blending down in those parts (it's so fun!). Meanwhile, the French have done the only thing that could be done: mandate Syrah is the only red grape varietal permitted in the Northern Rhone's AOC wines.

Syrah is a "big" red grape. It is very dark in color, full bodied, fleshy and full of tannin. I always associate black pepper spice with these wines and look forward to picking out the myriad of potential aromas on the nose of each different Syrah wine. Sometimes it's all violets, sometimes a bit of cocoa, and other times its all big, blackberry fruit. At the end of the day, they promise to be supple, sexy, smooth wines.

I often get the question "So, what about Shiraz?". Syrah and Shiraz are the same grape, genetically. The minor name variation is just an Old World v. New World phenomenon. The flavor profile of Syrah vs. Shiraz wines certainly vary though. This is based on the winemaking style and climate of the wine's origin. For example, Syrah from the Northern Rhone (and generally, other Old World areas) tend to offer a little less fruit, a little more smoke and a bit more subtlety in the many flavors that coalesce in the glass. Typical of New World winemaking practices, Shiraz wines from Australia or California tend to put their fruit foot first, their pepper foot second and otherwise tend to be higher in alcohol (due to the warmer climates from which they hail).

Neither Shiraz nor Syrah is better than the other; it just is what it is. The trick is to taste a few offerings of each. This way you'll find your personal preference between the two styles. And before you taste, it's a good idea to decant. Younger wines will lap up the oxygen on offer and provide a more integrated, 'evolved' flavor profile, if you will. Older wines relish the chance to throw their sediment (into the decanter, rather than into your glass).

Which syrah/shiraz style do you prefer?