4 French Wine Finds $20 and under paired with Croque Monsieur and Monte Cristo Grilled Cheese

4 French Wine Finds $20 and under paired with Croque Monsieur and Monte Cristo Grilled Cheese and a simple summer salad

Many of us think of French wine and food as fussy and difficult and expensive. But that is definitely not true as you can tell from a visit to your nearby Trader Joe’s, Costco, and Bevmo where you can find a number of French wines under $20 as well as heat and eat food. However, with a little effort, you can have an amazing gourmet yet causal meal without spending a great deal on food or wine.

So! What do you get for $5 or $10 or $20 for a bottle of French wine?

Recently we tasted four wines in four glasses — all at $20 or under and we paired them with grilled cheese — French style two ways. Continue reading

Cheers with Two from Chile for International Rose Day

Two on the right from Chile for today’s International Rose Day; 2 on the left from the Central Coast which I wrote about on August 12

Yes! We do need an International Rose Day! And today, August 14 is it! If that’s not a #MondayMotivation I don’t know what is!

P.S. I do know that there’s a NATIONAL Rose Day — and it’s second Saturday of June. And here’s what we did for National Rose Day in 2017 and what we did in 2016.

But we love rose so much we will celebrate it every chance we get!

So last week, when we tasted central coast rose wines for our wine pairing weekend post which we paired with thes scrumptious shrimp and corn fritters, we also popped the cork on two wines from Chile — one with bubbles from Valdevisio and one without bubbles from Casillero del Diablo. Continue reading

Hooray for Central Coast Rose for #WinePW

Have you caught the rose’ train yet?

With the current wild proliferation and profusion of rose wine on today’s market, many people have discovered that the rose you find today is not at all like the sweet characterless wine you found in grandma’s glass a few years ago.

Even Brangelina and Drew Barrymore are on the rose train. In the video below, Drew explains how to taste wine and then…

well and then she puts her foot in her mouth and makes a number of ridiculous and false statements while holding her glass by the bowl which warms the wine (and smudges the glass!). Read about everything that’s wrong in the video here.    

Scroll down for a much better video about how to make rose– from someone who is a winemaker first and not an actor.

So if you don’t have rose in your glass yet, you will soon: according to data from Nielsen Co., “rosé has been one of the fastest-growing segments of the market for two years running.”  And Bloomberg reports that  rosé outsells red  wine AND white wine in France while in Australia rosé is the fastest growing wine style.

But it’s not white zin that’s caught our fancy because white zin’s market share is dropping rapidly: instead we are in the pink with ones more similar to the rosé wines of Provence: while more expensive, these pink wines are sophisticated, dry, and crisp, they cut the heat to leave us refreshed, and they pair well with food.

To help you sort through the proliferation, we’ve tasted four from the Central Coast  and paired them with SHRIMP CORN FRITTERS (OMG so good!) and have some ideas for you when this month the #WinePW crew once again say HOORAY for Rose with our theme for August Wine Pairing Weekend Chat is Rosé and… because there are so many ways to pair food with a Rosé.  And because there is so much to say on the subject, we have two  from Chile that I will be publishing about on Monday which is International Rose Day! (Not to be confused with NATIONAL Rose Day which is in June and we wrote about here and more about rose from France and Lodi  here.)

Continue reading

Explore Wine and Cuisine of Portugal in September with #WinePW

Until October 2009, I had no idea there was so much more to wine in Portugal than Port: in fact I knew practically nothing about wine from Portugal except that I liked Port.

And then I was selected by Jo Diaz and Enoforum wine to attend the European Wine Bloggers Conference in Lisbon followed by travel throughout the Alentejo region to taste wine and experience the culture and countryside before returning to Lisbon where we saw a few sights and then flew home.  During the conference I visited a cork forest and learned about the production of corks from tree to table, discovered how fabulous the cuisine of Portugal is, experienced the deep appreciation they have for the literary arts, explored castles and gazed on Roman aqueducts, and of course, developed a palate for wine from Portugal that is not Port.

And a whole lot more including a reasonable explanation for why we in the US are so unfamiliar with wine from Portugal: because they have always drank all of it themselves!

Until recently, the Portuguese drank up almost all of the wine they were able to produce. It is only recently that they have been able to make enough wine to export.

Lucky us!

 

To state that the trip was transformative is an understatement.  Continue reading

Off to the Alps for #ItalianFWT

photo of Merano in the Italian Alps by Brittany Wallace

Far, far above, piercing the infinite sky,
Mont Blanc appears—still, snowy, and serene—
Its subject mountains their unearthly forms
Pile around it, ice and rock; broad vales between
Of frozen floods, unfathomable deeps,
Blue as the overhanging heaven, that spread
And wind among the accumulated steeps;

— Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mont Blanc: Lines Written in the Vale of Chamouni

Can’t get away to the Alps this summer to eat, drink, and see Mont Blanc?  Travel virtually with us!

THE LAND

Formed when the Africa plate slammed into the Eurasian Plate over 700 million years ago, today the Alps span 750 miles in length and 160 miles in width (more or less) crossings the borders of eight countries: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Slovenia, and Switzerland  along a ridge with high passes and with eight peaks over 14,000′ tall.

The red zone is 1000-2000 meters while the white part is 2000-4000 meters; Mt Whitney, the tallest point in the continental United States is 14,494′ — above 4,000′

When the two plates collided, for 300-400 million years, layers of rock of European, African and oceanic origins formed the mountains; for example, the Dolomites or Pale Mountains in northeastern Italy, are made of  a type of limestone while to the south and west granite makes up the Mount Blanc Massif which straddles France and Italy. Glaciers scraped away layers leaving behind piles of stone or glacial moraines which created subalpine lakes and valleys as well as influencing the large verdant plain where the Po River flows from the Alps to the Adriatic Sea.

THE PEOPLE

Home to humans for over 10,000 years, these mountains shape 14 million people and unite them with strong traditions in farming, forestry, woodworking, baking, sausage and cheesemaking; the region’s steep terrain secluded and protected them so that their culture and cuisine has barely changed since the medieval period and is similar no matter which side of the mountain you are on.

During the medieval period, the Romans built roads and developed monasteries, which in the 19th century, sheltered travelers, and became tourist destinations.

Which brings us to the subject of this blog post: the wine made in the northern-most monastery and one of the oldest in Italy– Abbazia di Novella along with the cuisine from Alpine Italy to pair with it. Abbazia di Novella in Varna, Italy has been in operation for nearly 900 years; today the abbey houses 27 monks. We tasted two wines, Alto Adige Valle Isarco Kerner – 2014  and 2015 SRP $19.00 and Pinot Grigio 2014.

Continue reading

Celebrating Albarino Days 2017 with Atlantis, Sextant, Harney Lane

Was Albarino Day yesterday August 1 or today August 2? Or every day? Depends on who you ask!

With the “Sixth International Albariño Days” set for August 2-7, 2017, TAPAS invites you to celebrate the Albariño grape with the hashtag #AlbarinoFiesta or check out one of these TAPAS events.

Harney Lane Albarino paired with fish tacos with mango? YES!

Celebrating Albarino this week coincides with the Fiesta del Albariño held in the small coastal town of Cambados, Spain, a traditional home for Albarino in Rias Baixas, Galicia region of northwestern Spain known for producing crisp, acidic white wines ideal for seafood and other pairings.

 

The back of the Atlantis Albarino sports a handy map of the region of Spain.

Close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean means high annual rainfall and extreme humidity. Fortunately, the Albarino grape has a thick skin and small berries making it tough enough to survive the damp conditions of the rain-lashed coast without the threat of fungal disease, writes the Market Report which also predicts the ascent in popularity of Albarino as folks begin to ask for it:

Continue reading