Tag Archives: wine pairings

Winebits 664: Fast food wine pairings, ancient wine, pandemic wine sales

Fast food wine pairings

No, this was not the WC’s favorite hat of all time, though the uniform did turn me off polyester forever.

This week’s wine news: Are fast food wine pairings the next big thing? Plus, 7th century BC wine, and more confusing numbers about pandemic wine sales.

Bring on the Whoppers: Who knew the Wine Curmudgeon would be able to discuss the fast food of his youth two weeks in a row? But Christine Struble, writing for the Foodsided blog, asks: “Are fast food wine pairings becoming the newest food trend?” Perhaps, but the concept isn’t new. I received a release in the blog’s early days from a brand called Fat Bastard touting fast food wine pairings; I’ve written about it here several times; and I taught them to wine classes at the late Cordon Bleu and El Centro. Because if you’re trying to reach people whose diet consists of fast food, what better way to teach pairings? Or, as I asked one group of Cordon Bleu students, “What do we pair with a Burger King cheese Whopper?” The consensus was supermarket-style merlot; plus, they got to hear about working the broiler at the Burger King on Skokie Road in Highland Park, Ill., resplendent in my polyester uniform and paper hat.

2,700 years ago: Archeologists have discovered the first Iron Age wine press in present-day Lebanon, reinforcing the idea that wine played a key role in the ancient world. They found the press, used to extract juice from grapes, during excavations at the Phoenician site of Tell el-Burak near the present day city of Sidon (an important trading hub in wine and other goods in the Mediterranean region). Grapes were grown in and around Tell el-Burak, which was inhabited from the late eighth to the middle of the fourth century BC. Researchers have also found amphorae, ancient wine bottles, in the area. But no one was quite sure how the grapes were turned into wine until this discovery.

More conflicting statistics? Blake Gray, writing on Wine-Searcher.com, finds even more conflict in wine sales during the pandemic. He cites research from California’s Sonoma State University, which found that even though U.S. wine sales overall are up, 57 percent of U.S wineries say their own sales are down. Or, as we have noted here, there’s little sense in trying to make sense of any of the numbers. Ostensibly, “Big wineries are taking more market share at the expense of small wineries,” said the report. You will also be happy to know, according to one analyst at the same seminar, that Americans may have had more disposable income than ever, despite the pandemic. I wonder: What country is he living in?

Photo courtesy of MeTV, using a Creative Commons license

Ask the WC 2: Health, food pairings, weddings

Because the customers always write, and the Wine Curmudgeon has answers every month or so. Ask a wine-related question by clicking here.

Dear Wine Curmudgeon:
Why do doctors say red wine is more heart healthy than white wines? I have acid reflux and whites, roses, and light bodied red wines seem easier on me than heavy red wines. I want to drink heart healthy if possible.
Aging as well as I can in Texas

Dear Aging:
Red wine has more resveratrol, which comes from grape skins, than whites, and roses. Which makes sense, since the skins are used in making red wine more than they are in rose and white. Doctors think resveratrol helps prevent blood vessel damage, cuts bad cholesterol, and can even help with blood clots. Having said that, wine and health remains a controversial subject, and some physicians figure the bad things about wine outweigh the good. I don ?t, and I firmly believe in a heart-healthy lifestyle ? wine in moderation, walking the dogs, and lots of fiber.

?

Dear Cranky Wine Guy:
You offer wine and food pairing suggestions with your reviews, but also write that we should drink what we want and not worry about stuff like that. What am I supposed to think?
Confused reader in the Midwest

Dear Confused:
That contradiction has always bothered me; the last thing I want to do is scare people away with food pairing rules. On the other hand, to paraphrase Paula Lambert, one of the world ?s great artisan cheesemakers, there is a relationship between the two. She says to look for wine that makes the food taste better and for food that makes the wine taste better. Most pairing suggestions will get you close, and you ?ll often be surprised by how much better each tastes. Though, if you want big red wine with crab cakes, who am I to stop you?

?

Dear Wine Curmudgeon:
My daughter is getting married next year, and we ?ve already had problems finding wine for the reception. It ?s expensive, I don ?t understand the process, and I ?m afraid we ?ll get wine that no one likes. Can you help?
Perplexed future mother-in-law

Dear Perplexed:
The WC gets that question all the time, which is why I wrote a wine for your wedding post covering caterers, hotels, pricing, and suggestions about what to serve. In general, It’s your wedding — pick the wine you want and can afford, and don ?t worry about what people think. Anyone who goes to a wedding and complains about the wine probably shouldn ?t have been invited.

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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Winebits 153: Japanese wine, chips and wine, Kluge Estate

? Yes, the Japanese make wine: The Japanese have made wine for years, but few people outside Japan wanted to drink the sweet wine made with a native grape called koshu. That may be about to change, reports the New York Times. A wine importer and several family-owned Japanese wineries, working under the banner Koshu of Japan, are trying to be the first to produce koshu well made enough to succeed in the world market. And, somehow, an intriguing story about a little known Japanese native hybrid manages to work in Robert Parker. Amazing, isn't it?

? Potato chips and wine: I can't link to this — only have a news release. But Sokol Blosser, the well-regarded Oregon winery, has launched a marketing drive that pairs its wines with Kettle potato chips. There is a certain goofiness to this that the Wine Curmudgeon appreciates (though the news release has entirely! too many! exclamation points!), and Sokol Blosser has scored some social media points by using Facebook and Twitter in the campaign. The bigger question, though, is not pairing potato chips and wine. it's pairing expensive wine with potato chips. Sokol Blosser's least costly bottle is $15, and as much as I enjoy goofy pairings, potato chips and a $24 bottle of pinot blanc seem a bit out of balance.

? Virginia's Kluge Estate for sale? My pal Dave McIntyre has the sad news. Kluge, a key winery in Virginia that makes quality rose and sparkling wine, is in financial trouble. Writes Dave: "This winery's collapse could send the message that Virginia is not a good market for wine investment, even as the overall quality of the wines improves to impressive, world-class levels." The regional wine business has mostly avoided the recession-based devastation that has hit California and other wine regions, but apparently, it isn't immune.