Category:Wine advice

Does wine make food taste better?

Does wine make food taste better?

Norton thinks Chianti makes all the difference in the world

Usually, when the subject of wine and food comes up, it’s about pairings — what goes with what, and often in such nuance that it scares the hell out of beginning wine drinkers. Which may be one reason why wine and food pairings are becoming increasingly less important to many wine drinkers.

The Wine Curmudgeon has been pondering this for a good while, trying to figure out a way to write about pairings that wouldn’t drive new wine drinkers crazy (as part of my resolution to make the blog more accessible to people who are new to wine).

Which led to the thought: Are we putting the cart before the horse? We’re telling people to pair certain wines with food under the assumption that the food will taste better. Is there any evidence to support this?

In other words, when I’m drinking an unoaked chardonnay with roast chicken, does the chicken taste better than if I had been pairing it with sweet tea or a soft drink (something I see very often in Dallas, where restaurant diners seem to drink more of the last two than the first). The answer: No one knows for sure. More, after the jump:

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Winebits 204: Thanksgiving 2011 wine suggestions

Thanksgiving wine wisdom from around the cyber-ether. My Thanksgiving wine suggestions are here.

? Food & Wine: The magazine's website offers a variety of categories (Thanksgiving box wines!) worth checking out, though navigating the Flash-handicapped site may make you give up before you find anything. Especially useful: 10 top Thanksgiving bottles, including an old favorite, Acrobat pinot gris (which almost showed up on my list).

? Jon Bonne in the San Francisco Chronicle: Once again, heads up advice (including another Wine Curmudgeon recommendation, Pacific Rim riesling). Says Bonne: "Drink whatever you like." There is lots of Inexpensive wine, including a Dibon cava, which I need to find, and even regonal wine (maybe we should invite him to the next DrinkLocalWine conference).

  ? Eric Asimov in the New York Times: An almost Python-esque look at wine for the holiday (The Argument Clinic) , since Asimov and several members of the tasting panel had completely opposite ideas of what they were looking for. Nevertheless, some fascinating wines: Regional wine (again — what's going on here?), a $9 wine from Hungary; and a chinon, a cabernet franc from France's Loire, which is a kind of wine that many of us are enjoying these days.

Book review: A Toast to Bargain Wines

TaberBuy this book. "A Toast to Bargain Wines" may not be everything you need to know about cheap wine, but it's close enough. George Taber, the author of several acclaimed wine books, including the legendary "Judgment of Paris," has nailed cheap wine in a way few others have — or have cared to.

More, after the jump: 

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Wine clubs and what their success says about the wine business

image from www.sxc.hu The one thing that has seemingly not slowed, despite the recession in the wine business, is the growth of wine clubs. Everyone, it seems, is offering them: Wineries, of course, but also newspapers and magazines, wine retailers, discounters, and even non-profits and charitable causes. Zagat, the restaurant guide, has a wine club, and a club even advertises on the blog. And, believe it or not, there are sites that rate wine clubs.

The Wine Curmudgeon did a post several years ago about what to look for in wine clubs, and most of that advice still holds. Clubs, by themselves, are neither good nor bad; it's up to the consumer to figure out whether they're getting a deal or not. Are the shipping charges fair? Do the wines seem to offer value? I miss the old Virtual Vineyards wine club, while there are several others that I don't want to even get junk mail from.

Most importantly, read the fine print. That's where you'll learn that the New York Times' wine club is run by another company, and doesn't really have anything to do with the newspaper or its wine critics. Or that the wine club rating site noted above may make recommendations based on whether it is "compensated" by the wine club it reviews.

Having said that, the growth of wine clubs raises a larger question. What's going on, and why is it going on now? More, after the jump:

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Buying wine for dinner

image from www.sxc.hu One of the things that too often confuses consumers is buying wine for dinner. They get hung up on pairings, they're flummoxed about whether to serve red or white, and wine pricing makes them nervous.

The Wine Curmudgeon has seen this many times, including an especially sad case several years ago when a youngish man stared helplessly at a liquor store employee and begged for advice on "buying wine for pasta." When someone needs help buying a cheap bottle of Italian red to have with spaghetti, we're all in trouble.

Though this confusion is understandable, given the way the wine business treats consumers, it's not necessary. Buying wine for dinner should be fun, and not approached with the same enthusiasm as mopping the floor. It's actually one of my favorite things about wine — going to the store, even a grocery store, and trying to see what I can find (and spending as little money as possible, of course).

After the jump, some tips on buying wine for dinner:

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Heat wave wine advice

Most of the country seems to be suffering from record-breaking heat: 108 in New Jersey, 101 in New Hampshire, 104 in New York. It's even supposed to be in the 90s this week in Indiana, where I'll be judging the Indy International Wine Competiton, always one of my favorites.

And we've even noticed the heat in Dallas — call it unseasonably warm. Today could be the 31st consecutive day that the temperature has exceeded 100 degrees, the second most on record. But what may be worse is that we have had only two mornings since July 6 when the temperature dropped below 80.

But never fear. The Wine Curmudgeon has a few suggestions so that you don't let the heat get in the way of your wine drinking.  (and no, none of them involve setting the thermostat to 68 — I'm even cheaper about electricity than I am about wine). More, after the jump:

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Try a wine you don’t like

Wine drinkers are creatures of habit. Once we find a wine we like, it ?s almost impossible to get us to try something different. That ?s one reason why the wine business spends so much time and money on marketing gimmicks, cute wine labels, and the like. They know how difficult it is to overcome our lethargy.

But wine should not be that way. There are, at best guess, more than 15,000 different wines on sale in the U.S., so it ?s not like we don ?t have a lot of choices. And there is plenty of quality within that quantity. Wine, whether cheap or expensive, sweet or dry, red or white, has never been better made.

Nevertheless, how many times have we said, ?But I don ?t like that" when someone has suggested we try something new. The Wine Curmudgeon is no different in that regard, and it sometimes takes all my professionalism to taste a wine I just know I ?m not going to like. And, more often than not, my preconceived notion is wrong and I do like the wine. More, after the jump:

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