We all know a great BBQ hinges upon variety – that means LOTS of sides, ranging from macaroni salad to fruit salad and everything in between, plus multiple options for the main fare. How in the (new or old) world can you get the right wines when you have no idea what people will be eating while they drink them?
Luckily, there are a few wines that are reasonably priced, easy to find and pair well with a whole slew of foods:
By this time, we’ve all heard it, some of us will even admit to saying it: “Rosé all day!” and where is that more fitting than a holiday weekend where we can really enjoy our day drinking! Rosé pairs well with shellfish (did you just say throw another shrimp on the barbie? Me, too.), pork chops, spicy and salty (hot dogs! chips!) foods, fresh air...EVERYTHING. But, we get it, not everyone loves Rosé. May we suggest finding a dry or off dry Riesling? These typically have great acidity, citrus-y flavors & are very versatile with food including BBQ chicken, sausages, grilled vegetables and of course, grilled pineapple (everyone is doing it). Both of these whites will also pair nicely with those BBQ staples like pasta and potato salads.
Moving on to reds, Pinot Noir is a great option for your Labor Day weekend grilling. Light enough to pair with fish but can stand up to some of your meatier items as well, including your friends eating Portobello mushroom burgers (this is a match made in heaven, in my humble opinion). Pinot's from Oregon tend toward fruitier flavors and aromas like cranberry and tart cherry, making it a nice match for ribs and brisket as well.
Of course, we’d be remiss not mentioning a classic pairing like Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon with steak and burgers! These are bigger wines but still drinkable in the warm weather, just be sure to avoid serving them too warm. If you need to chill down your reds, we’ve got you covered there, too!
For more recommendations and specific wine suggestions (insider tip, there's a Cab from a renowned winemaker for $20!), listen to Miss Fox on the Twisted Cork podcast!
The one and only time it's okay to talk about weight...
Here at SAVVY, we are pretty classy (we only observe Casual Friday five days a week because we are overachievers) so you’ll never find us discussing a person’s weight or body, but when it comes to wine, we discuss the subject ad nauseum!
You may remember our Same Weights, Great Mates post awhile back, where we shared a couple of easy pairing tips. Today we want to dive a little deeper into what ‘body’ means in the wine world, what creates it and a few suggestions for lighter bodied reds that will be the perfect complement as we transition into fall.
How do you get a great body? No, it’s not endless pull-ups or 5-minute plank holds - sorry to all the CrossFit and yoga lovers out there, wine plays by its own rules! Body describes the way a wine feels in our mouth – a good way to think about this is considering the different mouth feels of skim milk, whole milk and cream (to see this in action, go here and use code SAVVY to gain free access to this module, part of our Wine Diva course). The main contributor to body is the alcohol content - alcohol is responsible for the viscosity in wine, the more viscous, the heavier wine feels in our mouth.
Let’s dive into the fermentation process a bit here, so we can understand how differing levels of alcohol are achieved. As we learned in last week’s Facebook Live Tasting, the more time the grapes spend on the vine, the more sugar they’ll store. During fermentation, yeast feed on the sugar in the grape juice and alcohol is a byproduct of this feeding process so, more sugar = more alcohol in the final product. This means that typically, wines from warmer regions will have a higher alcohol content and thus, result in bolder, heavier bodied wines (think Napa Cabernet & Zinfandel) and cooler regions will likely have lighter, more refreshing wines (think Beaujolais & Cabernet Franc from Northern France) that pair perfectly with our summer and early autumn weather and cuisine.
A few fun, lighter bodied reds to add to your rotation:
Domestic Pinot Noir (California, Washington, Oregon), Beaujolais, Barbera, Cabernet Franc, Grenache…Lambrusco. Yes, you read that right – Lambrusco! Lambrusco has come a long way since it gained that bad reputation in the ‘70’s (but so did denim on denim and we’ve certainly embraced that). For more information on lighter bodied reds, how Beaujolais came about, what 'tannin' really means and the specific wines Miss Fox tasted (including the Lambrusco, which was only 8% alcohol, making it a wine you can practically drink for breakfast) listen to this episode of the Twisted Cork podcast!
Cheers to a great weekend!
Penny, a SAVVY Staffer
P.S. Thirsty for more? Check out our SAVVY Wine Shopper page for helpful shopping hints, live events and to join our private SAVVY Tasting Club, with Sommelier guided tastings, informative educational materials and like minded wine lovers!
These days, most wine the typical consumer purchases is best enjoyed within a few years. Of course, there are fine wines out there that will benefit from long-term storage but it is a small percentage of the market. This means most of us can follow a few basic guidelines to ensure our wine is ready when we are – minimize light, heat, temperature fluctuation and vibration.
Both heat and light can prematurely age a wine and may result in flat aromas and flavors, which is why most wine bottles are colored, it’s like sunscreen for wine!
Extreme temperature fluctuations cause the wine to expand and contract, putting pressure on the cork which could push the cork out or cause seepage. Ideally, your wine storage would be between 45° F - 65° F but it isn’t an exact science. Avoiding dramatic temperature variations is more important than achieving the perfect temperature.
As for vibration, there are theories that the motion can speed up the chemical process in the wine but we wouldn’t worry about this one too much. Heat, light and extreme temperatures are far more destructive than the bass from your impromptu dance party disturbing wine nap time!
Let's get sideways! When you lay a bottle down, you will notice that the wine is in contact with the cork. This helps keep the cork damp and swollen, preventing the cork from drying out and shrinking, which could allow oxygen to enter the bottle and oxidize the wine. If your bottle has a screw top or alternative cork (glass, plastic or synthetic) it is not necessary to lay it down, but most wine racks are set up for horizontal storage and it does maximize space in your cellar (aka closet).
A bit more on our Twisted Cork Radio quick wine fun fact. Listen here.
Penny, A SAVVY Staffer
P.S. Thirsty for more? We launched our SAVVY Tasting Club yesterday! This gives members access to a monthly, guided tasting via Facebook Live where a certified sommelier offers educated guidance about wines, their regions and the primary aromas and tasting profiles in a fun, interactive group setting. As a SAVVY Insider, you can watch it on our SAVVY Wine Shopper Facebook Page.
Your playlist is set, charcuterie is laid out and almost too pretty to eat, dinner is on schedule and you are feeling perfectly chilled… until you realize your wine isn’t. What is the best way to chill those bottles before your guests arrive? You can find lots of ‘tricks’ online – wrap it in a wet towel and freeze it! Add frozen grapes to the glass! Wait, are there people out there that actually have frozen grapes on hand?! Take a deeeeep breath...
Let’s think... who cares about wine temperature as much (maybe more?) as you & I do? Sommeliers and servers!
I don’t know about you, but the last time I brought a bottle of unchilled wine to a restaurant, the staff calmly and confidently put it in a bucket with ice and water and shortly thereafter, I was enjoying perfectly chilled wine. The only ‘trick’ to this is the correct water to ice ratio.
But before we go into that, let’s talk about what makes this method so effective - water is a better thermal conductor than air at about 25 times the rate, (it’s science, people!), so submerging the bottle(s) in a refreshing ice bath will bring it to temperature in 15 minutes or so, about half the time the airtight freezer will take. This method also eliminates the risk of forgetting about that bottle of bubbly in the freezer (kaboom!).
Back to the tricky part – first, fill the bucket (a large pot or bowl will do) about 2/3 full of ice then add water, leaving a little room at the top so you don’t have any spillage once you add the bottle. Be sure to submerge the whole bottle, otherwise the first glass poured will be warm. If you are worried about water-logged labels, wrap the bottle in plastic wrap before submerging in ice. Start the music, give yourself one more pat on the back for that beautiful charcuterie board and voila, 15 minutes later you and your guests are enjoying perfectly chilled wine! Life is good.
Penny, a SAVVY Staffer
P.S. Thirsty for more? We're launching our SAVVY Tasting Club on August 14th!Monthly, guided tastings via Facebook Live where a certified sommelier offers educated guidance about wines, their regions and the primary aromas and tasting profiles in a fun, interactive group setting. As a SAVVY Insider, you can join our first live tasting FREE on our SAVVY Wine Shopper Facebook Page, August 14th at 6pm MST.
(if Olivia Newton-John isn't coming to mind, we haven't done our job)
The days of pouring wine into a sippy cup to transport it to the pool, beach, park or an outdoor concert are officially behind us! Cans, Tetra-Paks and boxes have burst into the mainstream, offering great alternatives to glass bottles which can be heavy, cumbersome and sometimes prohibited, depending on the venue.
Let's talk about canned wine - once considered a novelty, sales in this category have jumped 78% over last year (see data here). A bottle of wine weighs 2.65 pounds...Two cans, the equivalent of a bottle of wine, weighs 1.6 pounds, making cans a great options for camping, backpacking or concerts! Added bonus - aluminum is easily recycled and takes up very little space, so it's a great thing for the environment as well. Many well known wine players, such as Foley Family Wines, Family Coppola and E&J Gallo are now adding canned wine to their portfolio. There's got to be something to this, right?
Shall we box? Yes! If you are looking to quench the thirst of a group, boxed wine is an easy and cost effective way to do so. The typical box of wine is 3000 ml, equivalent to four bottles of wine. Many boxed wines are scoring very well in blind tastings these days and you cannot beat the shelf life of wine in this format. The spout prevents oxidation and it is conveniently shaped to slide right into your refrigerator, making it very convenient to have a glass for one and cook with as well!
If you would like to hear more about portable wines and some of the specific wines we tasted and reviewed, please listen to our Twisted Cork podcast episode devoted to portable wine.
Selecting a BFF for your wine is easier than you think, as you can see in the video, even the cat wanted in on this action!
A critical piece in pairing food & wine is coordinating weight – lightweight food pairs best with lightweight (often referred to as ‘body’ in the wine world) wine, heavy food goes hand in hand with heavy wine…Same weights, great mates!
So, if you are serving a salad with vinegar-based dressing, think about light-bodied wines like Pinot Grigio or Albariño as great mates. Pairing a heavy wine with a light food will likely result in the wine overpowering the food and dominating the experience.
Wondering about the weight of your dish? Think about the adjectives you would use if you were to describe it to someone. If you are using words like light, refreshing or crisp – you most likely have a lightweight food. Comforting, rich, stick-to-your ribs – these are common ways to describe heavyweight foods which pair well with full-bodied wines like Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel.
Remember – 'Same weights, Great mates!' and you’ll be a savvy food and wine matchmaker in no time!
P.S. Thirsty for more? We just launched ‘Great Body – The Weight of Wine’, a module in our SAVVY Wine Diva course. Because you are part of our inner circle of SAVVY shoppers, we’d love for you to enjoy this module ($47 value) at no cost! All we ask is that you reply to this email with a brief description of your experience and what you thought of the class.