With Cinco de Mayo right around the corner, many of us will be indulging in delicious Mexican food. One of my favorite things to eat on Cinco de Mayo (and pretty much any other day of the year) is a fresh, grilled fish taco. While a nice IPA is always a great pairing, I really enjoy finding a great wine to pair with tacos as well. Here are a few of my favorite combos:
Grüner Veltliner with Mahi Mahi and Guacamole Tacos
Grüner and fish tacos generally go perfectly together…especially when guacamole is involved. The acid in the Grüner cuts the fat in the avocado and brings the Mahi to another level! I suggest a bottle of 2012 Bernhard Ott “Am Berg” Grüner Veltliner Wagram. Fresh and crisp with notes of green apple and peach! ($18)
Sparkling Wine with an Ahi Taco topped with Papaya Salsa
One of my favorite taco spots seasonally features a grilled ahi taco topped with fresh papaya salsa. The salsa is a bit spicy and full of vibrant, tropical flavors. I think sparkling wine pairs best with this fruit salsa style of taco. It really complements the fruit without overpowering it. Try a bottle of Fermi Bohigas Galda Finca Mas Macia Brut Cava. With notes of stonefruit and pear, this Cava really is a nice match with fruit salsa! ($10)
Cool Climate Syrah and Braised Pork Tacos
Braised pork tacos need a wine that has some depth yet not too big of a personality. I love pairing cool climate Syrah to bring out the flavors and spice in the braised meat. Look for something without new oak and low in alcohol so it won’t overpower the pork. Grab a glass of 2012 Yves Cuilleron “Les Vignes d’à Côté” Syrah. Good acid with earthy notes of black currents and pepper for under $20!
Late last year, we had an awesome tasting with Kevin Kelley of Salinia Wine Co. and Natural Process Alliance. His juice is nothing short of brilliant and we are anxiously (yet patiently) awaiting to open some of the bottles we brought home with us. A couple of weeks ago we were in a celebratory mood and decided to open up a bottle of NPA 2012 Sparkling Rose. It was just as impressive as when we last sipped it at NPA’s tasting room in Santa Rosa.
This naturally produced Rose hails from Mendocino County and weighs in at 12% alcohol. Kevin bottled it straight from the barrel for us (the wine is part of his bottle exchange program) and crown capped it. The wine opens with aromas of strawberries and red cherries surrounded by hints of minerals. The clean palate has beautiful minerality along with tastes of bright, red fruit. Balanced, delicious, and refreshing…I would sip this all summer if I lived closer!
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to taste 6 different sparkling wines from Franciacorta. Franciacorta, a wine region in Northern Italy, is a relatively new region for sparkling wine by European standards as it has only been producing them for the last 50 years. This being said, the wine being made is very exciting. I think the region has been able to produce wines that rival what comes out of Champagne for a portion of the price.
Overall, I really enjoyed the tasting. There was only one of the six bottles that I wouldn’t sip again. Below are my tasting notes from a couple of my favorites in the lineup. I really hope you get the chance to check this region out soon!
Villa Franciacorta 2007 Brut
The Villa Franciacorta Brut was the shining star of the night for me. It is a blend of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir. Smooth texture and balanced acidity with flavors of apple, toast, ginger, and lemon. Elegant, complex, and drinking way beyond the $35 price point!
Fratelli Berlucchi 2008 Rosé
This bottle of Rosé is blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Blanc. There are soft tastes of strawberry, raspberry, and citrus with hints of toast. Very food friendly and well-priced at $27.
There are lots of reasons to celebrate this time of year. Graduations, vacations, sunshine, beach days…the list goes on! I am always excited to find a great sparkling wine that is priced exceptionally well for summer celebrations. Albert Mann 2010 Cremant d’Alsace Brut definitely fits the bill!
This sparkler is a blend of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Auxerrois grown in the Alsace region of France. Made in the traditional Champagne method, it has 12.5% alcohol and retails for around $22.
This pale, gold wine has aromas citrus and pear with hints of fresh-baked bread. On the palate, there are delicate bubbles surrounded with fresh tastes of citrus, green apples, spice, and yeast. Vibrant acidity and a lot of value for your dollar! Perfect for any summer celebration!
My Wine Rating- B+
Food Pairing Suggestions – Pair with oysters, lobster, or sip as an aperitif.
If your pockets are empty after the holiday season but you still want to indulge in a tasty bottle of sparkling wine, I definitely suggest you uncork a bottle of Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut Rose. This Washington state sparkler is 100% Pinot Noir and retails for around $12. It really delivers an enjoyable experience that is hard to beat for the price.
Aromas of fresh strawberries and slightly creamy in texture. Soft tastes of strawberry and citrus are lifted with crisp acidity. Refreshing and super food friendly! (12% alcohol)
My Wine Rating – B
Food pairing suggestions – Enjoy with a turkey burger, eggs benedict, or as an aperitif.
I am rounding out my sparkling wine picks with a terrific value from Alsace. As I have mentioned before, sparklers from Alsace are made in the same method as Champagne but generally retail for a fraction of the cost.
Pouring a brilliant gold color in the glass, Gustave Lorentz Cremant d’Alsace has aromas of citrus, apple, and a hint melon. The palate has lively tastes of crisp apple, brioche, lemon, and lime and the fresh finish shows lingering lemon peel. So delicious, I would be happy to serve this sparkler at my own house over the holidays! (12% alcohol, $25)
Some of my fondest memories of North Carolina (I grew up a Carolina girl) are visiting the Biltmore Estate during the Christmas holidays. The 8000 acre estate is simply magical this time of year…elegantly decorated with attention paid to every detail. I can’t think of too many places that are more enchanted during the holidays. When I received a bottle of Biltmore Estate 2008 Chateau Reserve Blanc de Blancs Methode Champenoise, I hoped uncorking it would give me a little piece of the Biltmore’s holiday wonder.
About the Wine- From the Winery
Biltmore Estate Chateau Reserve Blanc de Blancs 2008 Methode Champenoise is 100% Chardonnay. 88% of the grapes come from North Carolina and 12% from California. It has 12.4% alcohol and retails for $35. For more information see www.biltmore.com
Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine
This sparkling wine pours a pale gold in the glass. The nose has soft notes of citrus and a hint of baked bread. The palate is a myriad of citrus flavors with lots of lemon, lime, and pineapple. Notes of toasted almonds linger in the slightly bitter finish. The small bubbles makes this brut easy to sip and I enjoyed the semi-dry finish. This is definitely a great sparkling wine for the holidays and I would encourage you guys to grab a bottle if you are lucky enough to visit the Biltmore (or you can purchase a bottle off of their website).
My Wine Rating- B/B+
Food Pairing Suggestions- This brut pairs perfectly with oysters, baked brie, or truffled popcorn.