August 15, 2016
Back-to-school Wine Pairings
It’s that time of the year – summer break is coming to its end, and children are getting ready to go back to school. That means you should also be getting ready to spend a few evenings helping out with homework. This can easily become a chore, and sipping on a glass wine would definitely ease the pain. Check out our back-to-school wine pairings:
Garganega + Terbbiano + Chardonnay + Pinot Bianco = Soave. Sounds like a delicious addition, right? Soave is an interesting blend, a great alternative to Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay. Its minerality and kicking acidity come from the soils of Soave – a small area in Northern Italy constituted of hillside vineyards. The wine is made primarily from the Garganega grape – the DOC laws stipulating that a minimum of 70% of the wine must be from Garganega. Chardonnay, Trebbiano di Soave and Pinot Bianco can compose the remaining 30%. It is a light to medium-bodied wine, often associated with almond and lemony flavors. Depending on the age and vineyard site, Soave can also offer fruity and intense flavors of honey, or dry mineral tones.
Practice your reading and pronunciation skills along with your child, with a glass of Gewürztraminer – aka one of the hardest wines to pronounce, but great to enjoy. Gewürztraminer literally means “spicy grape” in German. And this is exactly what makes the wine so unique. It is Alsace’s signature variety, and has been produced in the French region for hundreds of years. Although this is where you can find some of the best Gewürztraminer wines, they are also widely produced in Germany and the United States, especially in Washington State – the grape growing best in cooler climates.
Gewürztraminer is what Wine Folly refers to as the “grown-up version of Moscato”, except with lower acidity and higher alcohol content. It is one of those very distinctive grapes, often recognized thanks to its very strong lychee aroma and its strong exotic and fruity flavors, such as peach, citrus and grapefruit. Although its heavily perfumed aromatics can leave an impression of sweetness in the taste, the wine is not always sweet. Gewürztraminer generally ranges from off-dry to semi-sweet.
What better way to go back in time than with an Old World wine? Georgia is one of the world’s oldest winemaking regions, with over 6,000 years of viticulture history. Located between the Black Sea and Caucus Mountains, bordered by Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia, the small country is characterized by a wide and diverse range of climates, from temperate to sub-tropical. This makes it a particularly interesting region for winemaking – which Georgians have understood! Grapevines are grown almost all over the country, but the most significant region for winemaking is Kakheti, which produces 70% of Georgian wine.
Try one of their most popular reds, semi-sweet Kindzmarauli or dry Mukuzani, both made from the saperavi grape. But its grapes are not only what makes Georgia so unique – its traditional winemaking technique, specific to the region, gives stability and complexity to its wines. What is there not to love about history…?
It’s Wednesday night, and your child asks you to help them study for a map quiz. This may not seem like the ideal hump day evening, but grab a bottle of Pinot Noir and it’ll make it all better. While the uninitiated might think that Pinot Noir is just Pinot Noir, wine enthusiasts know the varietal varies drastically based on where it’s grown and produced. You’ve probably already found yourself wondering whether you prefer French or California Pinot, or perhaps how Pinot from Oregon compares to New Zealand or Australia or South Africa. Pinot Noir is a nuanced variety that can express itself in dramatically different ways even within the same region (and even in different blocks in the same vineyard), and that’s exactly what makes it so beautifully fascinating – and a great way to review your geography, with regions that matter. So just get lost in that world map with a glass of Pinot in hand!
While explaining chemical reactions and biology to your confused child, make sure to experiment yourself – with a glass of blue wine... Yes, blue wine. The wine world is full of choices – red or white, sparkling or still, refreshing rosé or spritzy vinho verde; but it’s also full of surprises! The blue vino, GiK, is the latest wine world’s experimentation, developed by a group of six entrepreneurs in El Bierzo, Spain. The winemakers have never before actually made wine – not until now. Remember, it’s all about experimenting! Instead, they’ve spent the last two years conducting research in collaboration with the University of the Basque Country and Azti Tecnalia, the food research department of the Basque Government. The wine’s base is created with both red and white grapes, then anthocyanin and indigo are added, along with sweeteners. The goal with GiK was to create a wine that suited the tastes of creative and daring individuals, rather than elitists or connoisseurs. Can’t wait to try it? If you happen to be in Spain, you can purchase a bottle for about ten euros. A US expansion is also in the works, but in the meantime, you can preorder directly on the company’s website.
Music goes hand in hand with champagne, no doubt. That frizzy sound the bubbles make when they hit the glass – isn’t that a sweet melody? The French deliciousness is made from three main grapes: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. You can pick your level of sweetness, ranging from Doux (as in a sweet dessert) to Brut Nature (aka no sweetness at all). You can even go ahead and try some non-traditional styles, such as Blanc de Blancs, which is made completely of white grapes, mostly Chardonnay; or Blanc de Noirs, made completely of black grapes, such as Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. While your child practices the flute, you can enjoy a flute de champagne… Or maybe two. After all, every day is a celebration!
Channel your inner artist with this other colorful wine… Your child bought home some artsy homework; and that obviously calls for some orange wine. Orange what? If you haven’t heard of orange wine yet, it’s okay. You will soon – its popularity has reached a crescendo in the past few years, and the wine has made its way through the wine list, often being referred to as “the hipster of the wine list”. No, it’s not fermented orange juice, and no, it’s not a bizarre blend of red and white. So what is orange wine? To put it simply, orange wine is made from white grapes, but is produced like a red wine. Instead of separating the pressed juices from the skins as for white wines, the grapes are left to macerate on their skins for days, weeks and sometimes even months. This is why orange wines are also known as contact wines or skin contact wines. This contact is what gives oranges wines their orange-amber hue and, more importantly, their impressive tannins. Orange wine is nothing you would expect. If you look forward to a refreshing and floral rosé, skip the orange wine, because it is the complete opposite: the wine shows similar texture to a red, with high tannins, complexity and depth of flavor. Orange wine is the perfect creative companion to some art class' homework.
Time for Spanish homework. What better way to practice than with a glass of Ribera Del Duero, the forgotten Spanish red? While Rioja has been famous for centuries among wine drinkers, Ribera Del Duero only began to become well known in the 1980s. Quite interesting, since the regions are relatively close to one another, Rioja being located just Northeast of Ribera del Duero; and the wines are made mostly from the same grape, Tempranillo. Ribera Del Duero is rich, big and ripe wine, with a bold fruit-forward profile and strong tannins.