This time of year, I often really want a wine and food combo that is light and refreshing. A white Vinho Verde and Mussels is an excellent pairing for summer. Vinho Verde is a light, Portuguese wine that is meant to be consumed young and is often a terrific value. The wine typically has citrus flavors and low alcohol. As far as the mussels go, I suggest serving them in a sauce or broth with a little kick to pair with the wine.
One bottle of Vinho Verde that I really enjoy is 2011 Aveleda Fonte Vinho Verde. It has wonderful crisp, citrus notes that really complement the mussels. The best part is that you can grab a bottle for under $10. So relax, enjoy your meal, and savor every last day of the summer!
My favorite wine shop has an extensive collection of French wines at all price points. I can get lost in the section exploring all of the incredible, expensive bottles on display. But right as you enter the cellar there is always a selection of French wines for under $20. Last week I picked up a bottle of 2010 Les Vignes de Bila-Haut from Cotes-du-Roussillon for around $12 and was very happy with my choice.
This blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Carignan pours a deep garnet in the glass and has aromas dark cherries, berries, and spice. The palate is rich and elegant. There are layers of dark fruit and spice with hints of dark chocolate. This bottle proves that a nice wine from France doesn’t have to be expensive! (B+, $14%)
Good Italian wine for around $10…I’m in! That is exactly what I found when I uncorked a bottle of Stefano Farina 2009 Chianti “La Ginestra”. This blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Canaiolo is very balanced with 13% alcohol. The nose has bright aromas of cherries and strawberries with hints of sweet spice. The palate comes alive with flavors red cherries, earth, and pepper. The finish is long and the pepper lingers.
This is an excellent Chianti for the money. It offers a beautiful harmony of fruit and spice that tastes like it cost twice as much. Pair it with grilled pork or pasta with marinara and enjoy this easy drinking Italian red! Cheers! (B+, $10)
I will eat crab legs just about any time of the year but, for some reason, I always seem to eat them more often in the summer. I love crab legs…even more so than lobster. I grew up by the ocean and my family used to set crab traps in the morning and, by night, we would have more than enough for an incredible meal. As I grew older, I learned to appreciate how a great bottle of wine could make the crab legs taste even better.
One of my favorite wines with crab is Pinot Gris. I like to find a Pinot Gris with a rich mouth-feel and notes of citrus. One bottle I recommend is Elk Cove 2011 Pinot Gris ($15) from the Willamette Valley. This wine is packed full of citrus flavors and is very balanced. A great combination with crab legs. So good that I might just have to have this pairing over the weekend myself!
I have spent the last week tasting through some inexpensive, white wines that have landed at my front door and, believe me, I have had some pretty bad bottles. In the midst of all of the not so good wines, I did manage to find a couple of bottles that are definitely worthy of uncorking (or unscrewing!). These next two wines are perfect for summer sipping and very easy on your wallet!
Big House 2011 Unchained Naked Chardonnay
Aromas of pear, green apples, and melon dominate this fruit forward white. Unoaked and uninhibited by boring, buttery flavors, this wine shines with tastes of pear, pineapple, white pepper, and lively acidity. Pair with shrimp, scallops, or a fruit salad. (B, $10)
Folonari 2010 Moscato
I am not a big Moscato fan but I can appreciate the refreshing flavors in this bottle. The nose has sweet pears and melon. The palate is sweet but not too sugary. Flavors of pear, melon, and honeysuckle will appeal to Moscato drinkers and a glass makes for a nice aperitif. (B, $9)
It has been a while since I have posted a new pick from Trader Joe’s but, to be honest, the wine I have tried lately hasn’t been too impressive. Luckily, last week I found a bottle that I think is a good wine if you like a jammier red. Peachy Canyon Incredible Red 2010 Zinfandel definitely did not disappoint for under $10.
About the Wine- From the Winery
Peachy Canyon Incredible Red 2010 Zinfandel is 100% Zinfandel from Paso Robles. It has 14.9% alcohol and retails for $8.99 at Trader Joe’s in California. For more information visit www.peachycanyon.com.
Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine
This Paso Zinfandel pours a ruby color in the glass. The nose has sweet aromas of toffee and strawberry jam. At first sip, you taste bright, jammy raspberries cherries, and strawberries. As the palate develops, there are flavors of chocolate and black pepper. The spice lingers in the medium-long finish. Definitely well worth the $9…grab a bottle and give it a try!
My Wine Rating- B
Food Pairing Suggestions- Pair this Zinfandel with burgers, cheese pizza, or steak fajitas.
Who doesn’t love paella? And if you don’t, I will definitely eat your serving! When it comes to pairing wine with paella, there is one varietal that stands out from the pack to me…Tempranillo. The smokiness of the wine and the saffron in the paella is a match made in heaven. Add a little chorizo and the pairing is even better!
There is a lot of great Spanish Tempranillo out there but I am going to recommend one from Oregon. I never knew how wonderful American Tempranillo could be until I tried Tempranillo from Abacela. They have a few different bottles but, for Paella, I am going to suggest their 2009 Tempranillo because it is a steal for only $20. Bright cherries, plum, oak, and mineral notes with lively acidity and a little bit of spice and smoke. Grab a few bottles, make a huge pot of paella, and enjoy with family and friends!
I am wrapping up a tasting of Napa Cellars’ latest releases with my favorite of the line up; their 2010 Pinot Noir. A great wine from a vineyard close to the San Pablo Bay, which is known for its fog and cool breezes.
The nose has earthy aromas with notes of cherries and hints of oak and spice. At first sip, flavors of pepper, tobacco, and strawberries come alive. Tastes of cherries and fig develop as the finish lingers. A very impressive Pinot Noir from Napa Cellars! (A-, $18)
I have been mentioning grilling a lot over the past week because it is one of my favorite parts of summer. There are a lot of red wine and burger combos that are really good but I want to share one combination I really enjoy. I personally think that nothing beats a grass-fed burger topped with dry jack cheese and a spicy Zinfandel. Something about the intermingling of those flavors makes my taste buds extremely happy!
When looking for a Zinfandel to pair, try to find a wine that features a lot of spice and fruit (but not a jammy Zin). One Zinfandel I recommend is Napa Cellars 2010 Zinfandel. There are flavors of cherries, currants, pepper, and cocoa with balanced acidity. A great combination with the burgers and a very tasty Zinfandel! (B+, $18)
Grill, grill, grill…that is all we do during the summer and I am quite happy about it! I received a bottle of Cabernet from Napa Cellars and was pretty excited since it seems lately that white wine and rose have been abundant (not that I am complaining because I do enjoy both!). This wine is a perfect complement for grilled meats and priced well for a California Cabernet!
About the Wine- From the Winery
Napa Cellars 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon is 100% Cabernet from Napa Valley. It has 14.1% alcohol and retails for $22. For more information visit www.NapaCellars.com.
Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine
This Cabernet has aromas of cedar, blackberries, and cassis. At first sip, your palate is hit with intense spices. Tastes of anise, pepper, and nutmeg come alive on your tongue. The spices are followed with rich, dark berries and lingering cocoa. A really enjoyable Napa Cabernet that won’t break the bank!
My Wine Rating- B+
Food Pairing Suggestions- Pair with grilled steaks, bison burgers, or dark chocolate.