In ancient Rome, wine drinkers used to drop a piece of
toasted bread into each wine glass
to temper undesirable tastes or excessive acidity.
Currently, I live in Hawaii and it is hot – especially in the late afternoon, say around 5-6pm when dinner preparation should be going down. Supposedly, I live on the “windward side” of the island but of late the winds have not been so forthcoming so I’m very interested in any recipe that does not include cranking up the oven.
This evening I decided to try a recipe I stumbled on through Facebook. It was originally published by Jennifer Fiedler of Wine Spectator utilizing the quintessential pairing of goat cheese and sauvignon blanc. Jennifer also included a tomato salad stating the wine stood up to the raw tomato. I’m not so sure my taste buds agreed so I’ll just focus on the sandwich which paired beautifully with the wine.
Jennifer suggested a high acid, citrusy sauvignon blanc but I didn’t do my homework before purchasing and ended up with a 2011 Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough New Zealand. In my opinion, it paired very nicely.
This is the perfect dinner if you’re looking for something simple, loaded with flavor and perfectly paired. It definitely put me in my happy place.
Grilled Goat Cheese Sandwich
3 TB butter
2 pieces of flatbread
6 oz goat cheese
1/4 c. minced green olives (don’t be scared they add the perfect subtle tang)
~Using a vegetable peeler, slice long ribbons of zucchini lengthwise
~Split each flatbread into two slices (4 pieces total) and butter both sides
~For each sandwich, spread the goat cheese on the inside of each piece of bread. On the bottom slice, spread 1/2 of the minced olives and a thin layer of zucchini. Cover with top slice.
~Heat a grill pan on medium-high heat on stove top. Place sandwiches in pan and press down using a can
~Cook until the butter has browned (around 2-3 minutes) and then flip carefully with a spatula
~Cook until the butter has browned on the second side and the interior is heated through
~Slice in half diagonally and serve immediately with a chilled sauvignon blanc of your choice.
This Olympics is epic in that it is the first time in history the games have their own official wine. UK wine merchant Bibendum was given the job of selecting the wines – a white, a rose and a red. The decision making didn’t come without controversy as the commercial director insisted the wines be from the 2012 vintage to avoid having confusion of the vintage date and 2012 Olympic date both on the bottle. In addition, since the wines would be available in event areas, they had to be contained in recyclable PET bottles and the alcohol level had to be lower than normal to promote responsible drinking (11.5% instead of around 13%).
To make the deadline, the wines had to be from somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere and the grapes had to be picked early by a couple of weeks. For the white that meant the potential of too much acidity and green flavors. To overcome this winemakers fermented the wine with yeast strains from sauvignon blanc to enhance the aromatics knowing full well the wine would be drunk soon, age-worthiness not being a factor.
So what wines made the cut? The white and rose are from Stellenrust, the largest Fair-trade wine estate in South Africa located in the oldest, most respected region of Stellenbosch. The white is a Chenin Blanc that is easy drinking with tropical notes and just a hint of acidity. The rose is a blend of Pinotage, Shiraz and Merlot.
The red is from Seival Estate in Brazil, a nod to the 2016 Olympics. It’s a blend of Shiraz and Tempranillo with a dash of Gamay Nouveau to keep the otherwise earthy wine vibrant and lively.
If I were lucky enough to be at the Olympics, I’d have the white while watching beach volleyball, the rose while watching swimming and the red while cheering on the gymnasts.
Go Team USA!
I had no intention of stumbling on yet another great bottle of wine so soon after my infatuation with the Priorat red but tonight’s dinner wine has basically forced me to write about it.
The first sip flowed down with an over-whemingly refreshing zip that left me…..well, it simply left me stunned. I hadn’t expected such a beautiful wine for a weekday meal.
This time it was a white – 2011 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand. I found this wine at a Whole Foods that opened today in my town (a direct gift from God!). As I eyed the wine aisle for something that struck me this white jumped out because it was from New Zealand, Marlborough specifically, and Kim Crawford to be exact. I knew I had heard of this winery for producing superb Sauvignon Blanc but had yet to try it.
You may or may not know that New Zealand is known for it’s Sauvignon Blanc and Marlborough, on the South Island, boasts growing about 85% of all the acres of Sauvignon Blanc for the country. The Sauvignon Blanc of New Zealand is generally of supreme quality and is distinct in that it exhibits combinations of tropical fruit, stone fruit, and grassiness to name a few. Kim Crawford was no exception bursting with tropical fruit, especially passion fruit, citrus, fresh cut grass and delicious ripe stone fruit.
All I know is my first sip unexpectedly had me saying “Wow, that is absolutely delicious!”
photo by Joe V. Overstreet
I’d like to welcome “Tasting Room” (www.tastingroom.com) to my wine affiliates. This is a great site because it lets you sample wines before you splurge on a bottle.
It basically works like this….you purchase unique wine samplers that contain six mini bottles that let you taste and discover new wines before buying the bottle. Pick your favorite wines and buy the bottles you know you’ll love – it’s that simple!
After living in Italy for 3 years and learning as much as I could about Italian wine I figured out a few keys that may be helpful for people trying to unlock the secrets to Italian wine and find something really good to drink.
It was an arduous task…tasting, traveling and conversing but I was able to work through it and set up a delectable nearly 500 bottle wine collection. So let me fill you in on a few important keys to consider when purchasing Italian wine.
Inexpensive Is Good
Now don’t get me wrong there are hundreds of delicious bottles of Brunello di Montalcinos, Amarones, Barolos and Barbarescos in the Italian wine market but if the recession is catching up with you do not despair – your days of craving complex, bold, beautiful Italian wine will not have to come to an end. The wonderful thing about Italian wine is there are many that cost sub $20 and are really rather lovely. For example, if you like the spice of Zinfandel – try a Primitivo from Puglia or if you prefer Sauvignon Blanc – try a Greco di Tufo or Fiano di Avellino from Campania.
Don’t Let Classification Fool You
In the states American wine classification is not as widely prominent as for European wines which deem their classifications quite important. The whole classification system could take pages to explain so let me just briefly give you the guidelines for the Italian classification system (which is designated on the wine bottle).
The system has a 4 tier structure which labels the lowest level as basic table wine (VdT or vino da tavola), the next higher level as wine having a specific geographic indication (IGT or indicazione geografica tipica), the third highest level being DOC (denominazione di originie controllata) meaning it not only grows vineyards in a specific geographical area but follows several other quality control guidelines and the final and highest level DOCG (denominazione di origine controllata e garantita) means the wine is not only controlled it is also guaranteed. This designation is usually set for the historical wines of the country.
For you visual folks out there it looks like this:
I’m giving you the wine pyramid basically to tell you to toss it out the window when buying Italian wine. Why? Have you ever heard of Super Tuscan wines? These are highly regarded wines yet they are not DOCG or even DOC wines – they dwell on the second to the lowest level of the wine pyramid as IGT wines. So don’t be fooled there are many excellent Italian wines with the IGT or even the VdT classification that could blow your socks off.
Plan A Trip
I am sure many of you would kill for a trip to Italy and let me encourage you to try to make that become a reality but not just because of it’s historical claim or the great food. The real key to finding great Italian wine is in visiting the country. Not only because there are hundreds of small family run wineries that don’t import any of their fabulous wine but also because if you go over there and drive up to one of these small wineries, you take with you not only some fabulous wine but probably a full belly, a new friend and a memory that can’t be beat!
Wine Cellarage is one of the leading wine services companies in the United States, offering enthusiasts and collectors a single point to purchase, store and sell fine wines of exceptional quality at a competitive price with unparalleled service.
Take advantage of this unique experience and save $25 off your first purchase of $250. Enter code $25offCJ in the promo code area during checkout. Click on the above link to start your shopping experience. If your dad is not the type to enjoy a fine bottle then I’d call this the perfect excuse for you to treat yourself!
Jess Jackson who built a wine empire around Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay died in Sonoma County yesterday at the age of 81. Jackson reportedly had been undergoing treatment for melanoma for several years. He was a self-made billionaire and one of the most influential and controversial producers in the United States.
A big loss for the world-wide wine industry and a void in Sonoma County.
We’re on a roll….we have just added Wine Cellarage as our newest wine affiliate.
Wine Cellarage is a diversified wine services company offering a single point to source, store and sell wines. With an emphasis on customer service, Wine Cellarage is committed to providing outstanding quality and value in the wine service industry. Whether you are storing, purchasing, selling or moving a wine collection, their team of fine wine experts have the experience and knowledge to assist you with your wine needs.