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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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I drink sparkling wine all year long. Happily. Oh, so, happily! This year in particular has been a fun one in the sparkler-sphere, too. We've found many wines that are unique AND affordable, so my inclination to bring them home has been even greater. Long story short, while I'd never turn down an opportunity to enjoy a few gorgeous Champagnes (that is, from the Mothership of Champagne, France itself) if you travel outside this elite sparkling region you can find some real values. Now, when it comes to the traditional time of year to pop a few corks (namely New Year's Eve), I'm super psyched to have several of these options to choose from before heading to my friends' to toast 2012. Here are a few that have caught my fancy so much so that they've inspired full-fledged wine notes. Ready? Set... GO!

Finca Flichman Extra Brut ~ Malbec is the sure-fire winning grape of 2011. But we wine nerds can't forecast a reason to make a change in 2012! This trend has every right to carry on with gusto, particularly when we can also find it in an everyday celebratory (and affordable) package! Finca Flichman serves up a pretty bubbly, with terrific florals, snappy cherry and even a dash of blueberry and black raspberry fruits on the palate. This dry, redish sparkler (a blend of Chardonnay and Malbec) certainly intrigues and delights every sip of the way. And yes, for $9.99 it over delivers on quality!

Dom. Collin Cremant de Limoux ~ This is a sparkling wine (aka Cremant) with pedigree and pizazz from the Loire Valley of France. The pedigree part is that they man behind the magic has a Champagne project, but he thought it would be fun to dabble in the Loire as well. A blend of mostly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (two of the three grapes permitted in Champagne) with a little Loire-tastic Chenin Blanc thrown in for good measure, the winemaking behind the wine ensures a toasty, brioche-like flavor and texture to the wine. Tiny bubbles deliver clean fruit notes (apple, lemon pith and pear) a touch of bitter almond, plus a whopping of cleansing mineral notes bringing the dry finish all the way home. Take this bad boy home for only $13.99. A party-pleaser for sure!

Selim Spumante Brut NV ~  This is perhaps the rarest sparkler I've ever encountered. Hailing from Campania, Italy it is no Prosecco – rather it is a blend of three grapes, one white (Fiano) and two reds (Aglianico and Barbera). Such a blend delivers a white sparkler with an intriguing and delicious flavor profile and texture: its smooth mousse offers up pink roses and lemon curd aromas and then delivers lifted, delightfully nuanced flavors including citrus, raspberries and bing cherries. A touch of talc provides a welcome and balancing minerality. Selim is a complex yet approachably delicious crowd pleaser for any occasion. Grab a bottle and discover what I'm so excited about! $20.99

Oriel "365" Prosecco NV - If you want something that offers a little something more in the traditional Italian sparkler-sphere, Oriel has just the thing. Their idea is to bring you an affordable Prosecco vehicle that is affordable enough you can enjoy bubbles ALL YEAR LONG, as Prosecco should be. (And yes, to answer your question, Prosecco is an Italian sparkler made from grapes of the same name.)  This not-so-simple, but oh-so-satisfying, lightly moussed wine with ample pear, lemon cream and yellow apple fruit takes a familiar experience up a notch. $17.99

Domaine Rolet Cremant du Jura Brut 2007 ~  For a non-Champagne sparkler, even with such great competition found this year in the marketplace, this wine might be the go-to Show Stopper for a pseudo Champagne. An offering from the off-the-beaten-track of Jura, France, this wine is a blend of Chardonnay, the indigenous Savagnin, and Pinot Noir. It has a luscious, rich texture yet fine bubbles and clean fruit. Specifically, quince and honeydew melon flavors offer a nice balance of tart/clean and savory/fleshy. A tangerine zip of acidity delights to no end. This bugger comes in just under $20 at $19.99. Happiness!

If you aren't on the bubbly bandwagon just yet, this weekend is a worthy one to jump on. Grab something fun and live it up! But please, have a safe, happy and healthy New Year!



What the blanc?! Part II

With August but days away, we'll be signing off for some needed R & R for a few weeks - perhaps with the occasional insight or newsflash to whet your whistle until we get back into the full swing of things after Labor Day. But we can't NOT go out with Wicked splash first! Head over to Wicked Local today to find out about two more "Blanc" varietals you won't want to miss this summer!  Giddy-up!

Which Chenin Blanc is your summer fav?



Chenin Blanc: the "other" blanc wine to know

Image thanks to: for Sauvignon Blanc recommendations have been coming pretty steadily as the temperatures have gotten warmer this spring. What I rarely hear a request for is Chenin Blanc. Sure, I get a request for Vouvray, a French village known for Chenin Blanc among those who "know", but Chenin seems more often overlooked by white wine seekers. Here's the 411 on this great grape: Recently I argued Albarino is the most versatile white wine; what readers found out was how terrifically versatile it is as a food wine. Chenin Blanc is perhaps the most versatile style of wine. It can be dry.  It can be sweet. And it can be still - or sparkling! Oh, the possibilities! It is also grown widely throughout the world, in the Loire Valley, France, South Africa and domestically in California.

The Loire Valley delivers my favorite Chenin Blancs. They have lovely stone fruits and citrus flavors - and a unique minerality I quite adore. But remember the French don't always label their wines by varietal. So if you see "Vouvray", "Savenniers," or often "Saumur" (where  Charadonnay is the other white grape permitted), grab a bottle! Better yet, head on in to your local shop and ask for a Loire Valley Chenin Blanc to give a swirl.

"Steen" is another name for Chenin Blanc you may find on a bottle of South African Chenin. These wines have more tropical fruit flavors and a distinct 'funk' you will either love or hate. (Note: "Funk" is a great, acceptable wine term that describes a special character in a wine. Funk can range from barnyard-like characteristics to wet wool, which is the one you're more likely to find in Chenin from South Africa. It's a love/hate thing, truly. Best to try it for yourself and see if you've been missing out on the South African Chenin fun.)

Chenin Blanc from California typically comes across the tasting table in the form of a blend, like 80% Chenin Blanc and 20% Viognier. These blends are enticingly fuller bodied, and offer dramatic floral aromas. Not too shabby in their own right!

Either which way you slice it, Chenin Blanc pairs well with goat cheese, fish, grilled chicken or many vegetarian dishes. Heck - they are brilliant on their own, too! My favorite hosts always have a bottle at the ready because they are so versatile and guest-friendly. But I also often characterize them as "porch guzzlers" - where friends are entirely optional. Some things are too good to share!

Which Chenin Blanc offerings are your favorites? Any particular country that makes your heart beat a bit faster?



May's Wicked Wines Uncorked!

3 of May's Wicked (Good) WinesI can hardly believe it's already the second Monday in May - and time to unleash this month's Wicked Wines! These are some real treats to uncork through the ups and downs of the season change. Buying Tip: If you can't find the specific wines I suggest in your home market, consider the varietals (or blends) I've chosen and enlist your local wine buyer to make comparable recommendations.  These are some fun wines you won't want to miss!