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Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

Soo…after the freakish snowstorm of Saturday it hardly feels like fall. Weird weather aside, however, ’tis fall and, even spookier, ’tis Halloween!

It’s much too cold to dress up like a skanky firefighter this year, so  instead I got myself all gussied up as some sort of wine expert over on Refinery 29.

So head on over and check out the collection of perfect-for-fall wines that are all available around the city and even better (!) are all available for $15 bones or less. And in honor of Haloween they can be like scary zombie haunted bones.

 

 

 

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Growing up, I spent 9 years at a Catholic school run by nuns of an Irish order called the Sisters of St. Louis (pronounced Loo-ee). St. Patrick’s day was as much about running around and pinching kids and teachers who dared to forget to wear green or who lazily grabbed a green marker and colored a swatch of their skin with it as it was about Sister Patricia.

Sister Patricia was our principle –hearty, stern, and mostly terrifying in only the way that a Catholic Nun can be. St. Patrick’s day also happened to be her “feast day” on which we showered her with appreciation and were, in turn, rewarded with donuts. For me, the coming of St. Patrick’s day usually brings with it a good deal of nostalgia and fond memories and so remains one of very few holidays on which I will willingly dress like I’m colorblind (ie lots of green). However, I realize that it’s a perennial favorite because it provides an excuse for carousing and binge drinking on a week night.

In honor of St. Patrick’s day, I have not only created the cute little graphic you see above (you’re welcome), but I have also decided to bring up the topic of Green Wine.

No, I’m not talking about getting a bottle of white wine and adding a few drops of green food coloring (although that is surely one way to go) a la the ubiquitous pitchers of green beer that will be consumed by people pretending to be Irish all across this great nation of ours (Note: I am actually, in fact, about a quarter Irish).

Instead, I’m talking about wine that has a “green” flavor profile. Though wines that are called “green” are usually being insulted, there are a few exceptions and today I’m going to tell you all about two of them.

 

Cabernet Franc is an interesting little grape that can count among its achievements its very famous offspring, Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Franc is typically grown as a blending grape for Bordeaux-style wines but growers across the wine world have, in the past couple decades, begun to produce single-varietal Cabernet Franc wines that are often noted for their uniquely vegetal quality that can evoke green bell peppers or leaves.

Try:

Wildekrans Walker Bay 2005 (South Africa) – $14

  • In a blind taste test, it would be hard not to taste Cabernet Franc’s fingerprints all over this wine with its signature rush of wet leaves and an herbal, almost minty, nose that gives way to some easy drinkin’

Chateau de Coulaine Chinon Bonnaventure 2008 (Loire Valley) – $18

  • The Loire Valley, and specifically Chinon, has been in the game of producing Cabernet Franc based blends and single-varietals longer than anyone else, so they’ve really got the formula down. Cabernet Franc’s from this area tend to be more refined and less “green” but still have that kick of bell-pepper spice that sets this grape apart.

Shneider Vineyards Cabernet Franc La Bouchet 2005 (North Fork Long Island) – $20

  • I’ll be honest – I didn’t know that Long Island produced wine until I moved to New York and I didn’t know they produced anything other than Rose until fairly recently. The North Fork, however, makes for ideal Cabernet Franc conditions, and the wines coming out of the area are serious enough to start garnering some serious attention for New York wines.

 

Vinho Verde is another interesting grape, this time grown specifically in the Minho region of Portugal. While the name of the wine roughly translates to “green wine”, it’s a reference to the sprightly quality of the wine rather than to its color. These are wines that are meant to be consumed very young – and they’re fun, flirty, and can even be slightly effervescent. With flavor notes that tend to be citrusy (think lime zest) and grassy, these lovely wines are also going to cost you about just as much as a pitcher of green beer but with a higher alcohol content (9% to your typical beer’s 5%) and, chances are, a better taste. And! It’s called green wine! Win.

Try:

JM Fonseca Twin Vines 2009 – $7

  • Slightly fizzy with lots of green fruit and a splash of lime zest, this wine will wake you right up.

Famega Vinho Verde 2009 – $8

  • Very light and on the drier side, this version of Vinho Verde has a mineral tang to go along with its lime inflected flavor. Think Perrier Lime – that gets you tipsy.

 

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Rather than lump everyone together in one post, let’s face it: Valentines Day is one of the most divisive holidays out there – it pits singletons squarely against couples. So, in honor of the holiday’s tendency to separate us into categories, I’ve crafted three distinct versions of the same post, all with the same pairing suggestions at the end:

• If you are attached this V-day please see section A

• If you are sad and single this year please skip down to section B

• If you are single and lovin’ it, head on down to section C

A. Whether you’re the bearskin-rug and glowing fireplace type of romantic or the trail of rose petals leading to the bed type (or, erm, like some of us, somewhere closer to shaving your legs for a change), wine can only enhance your Valentines Day.  As Cher Horowitz (ahem, Clueless – duh!) so famously put it, wine makes people feel like, sexy, and so should be the obvious choice. This may also explain wine’s usual starring role in any scene-right-before-they-do-it in any romantic comedy worth watching this V-day.

Chocolate is also a star player on this particular holiday – whether it’s making its cameo in a heart-shaped box or a pot of edible body paint (and god knows you’re gonna need some wine if you’ve decided to go the latter route). Luckily, wine and chocolate go together as perfectly as you and your honey. I’ve provided some great pairing options below (just skip on past all that babbling about single people…that’s not you this year!).

B. If you’re single this year, wine has the amazing ability to get you drunk – in style. Even if you’re at home shoveling ice cream while you clutch at the carton and watch cheesy movies on TV, as long as you’ve got a bottle of wine open on the coffee table, things just got classed up a notch. And you know what else? Drink just enough wine and you’ll feel great.

As long as you’re already indulging why not throw some chocolate into the mix? Chocolate and wine get along just swimmingly and they’ll both make you feel better about things…until the next morning. For tips on just how to pair your chocolate and wine, see below.

C. Alright so that whole Bridget Jones-esque scenario I just played out above? Screw it. If you’re single this year, take the opportunity to (oh, this is gonna sound so corny) appreciate yourself. Give a little love – to yourself. That’s right…I went there. And you know what’s a great way to appreciate yourself? Treating yourself to a nice bottle of wine because you deserve it. Maybe you’re planning a night with your friends this V-day – but that’s no reason not to indulge! Don’t skimp on the frills just because you’re not celebrating with someone who is going to have sex with you later.

While you’re at it, why not expand your horizons and blow your mind by bringing in wine’s (and V-day’s) ideal companion: chocolate. See my wine and chocolate pairing suggestions (all chocolate suggestions are available to order online) below for a fabulous and delicious night.

Pairing Wine with Chocolate

Note: If you want to try to go it alone, check out this nifty wine and chocolate pairing chart I stumbled upon at TheNibble.

 

Casanova Caramel Collection from Theo Chocolate: Ginger Rose Caramel, Grey Salted Vanilla Caramel, Lavender Caramel.

 

Pair with: This whole set begs to be paired with Pinot Noir or Beaujolais.

 

Try: Mossback Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 2009 ($19) for its silky texture, notes of chocolate and caramel, and soft tannins. Also, a good bet would be the Chanrion Cote De Brouilly Beaujolais Domaine de La Voute Des Crozes 2009 ($16) with its rich body, floral perfume, and tasting notes of dark chocolate and a tinge of granite that would make the grey salt really pop.

CoCo Luxe Valentine’s Truffles: Champagne, Pure Devotion (pure dark chocolate), and Roses (white chocolate rose and honey ganache inside dark chocolate)

 

Pairs with: This is a set of truffles that could go well with either a Reisling or a Syrah depending on what flavors you want to bring out. If you choose a Reisling it will bring out the white chocolate and really emphasize the honey flavor of the Roses Truffle. A Syrah would be a better match for the Pure Devotion truffles, emphasizing the fruit and spice of the chocolate.

 

Try: Seven Hills Reisling Columbia Valley ($12) for its off-dry and on the sweeter side notes of honey and white peach. If you go the Zinfandel route, try Qupe Syrah Central Coast 2007 ($18 and one of my personal favorites) for its rich body, juicy flavors, and bright spice.

 

Gem Chocolates: 5-piece Sampler with Conquistadores (spicy citrus-flavored habanero chili, a hint of cinnamon in dark chocolate), Cha-Cha (cherry and chili in dark chocolate), Razzle (raspberry and vanilla white chocolate inside ganache), Masala (a blend of Indian spices in milk chocolate), and Praline (ground almonds and caramelized sugar in milk chocolate).

 

Pairs with: If you’re looking to turn up the heat on all the interesting spices in these chocolates, definitely go with Zinfandel.  If, on the other hand, you’re more interested bringing out all those fruity flavors, I’d suggest picking up a bottle of Merlot.

Try: Li Veli Orion Primitivo 2007 ($14) for its spicy nose, flavors of chocolate and cherries, and rich body.  For a Merlot, try Robert Keenan Carneros Merlot 2006 ($24 – another one of my personal favorites). With its silky mouth feel, notes of jammy berries and a tinge of cocoa, and subtle spice.

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