Month: May 2012

Pairing Wine with Cheese or Cheese with Wine!!!!

 

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At our Wine Tastings, I have often been   asked to tell which wine matched with which cheese. The funny thing is I never thought about cheeses, just cheese. I recently asked my co-workers & friend a similar question about pairing wine and cheese and most of the time the answer, while so amazingly obvious, surprised me
Shawn is our proprietor at our store and as such he is often asked to pair wines with cheese. With very few exceptions, cheese in a restaurant means a cheese plate, and pairing wines with an assortment of cheeses changes the equation entirely. In truth, that’s probably what most people mean when they ask about cheese and wine pairings: not a specific recommendation for a particular cheese, but rather a wine that is flexible enough to pair with many cheeses!

And here I’ve been going on and on and specific pairings for years! I’ll follow up this article with some specific pairings. After all, there does come a time when you have a bottle of wine open throughout a meal and you want to finish off the meal with the last of the bottles and just a bite of cheese. For today, let’s take a look at wines that work with cheese in a more general sense, beginning with Shawn’s recommendation:

Marsala

When most people think of Marsala, they probably think of veal or chicken sautéed and then finished off with the slightly sweet Italian wine know as Marsala. That’s certainly a valid and popular impression of what Marsala might be and one good use for it, but Marsala, like almost every wine, has a more generic example as well as some particularly exceptional bottlings.

Marsala is a fortified wine, similar to Sherry in many ways in that it reaches its peak when carefully aged. The best examples often are vintage dated or are soleras (barrel aged wines of multiple vintages) that have ages of 10 or even 20 years noted on the label.

With this level of maturity, the generally delicate in nature Marsala becomes intensely flavored with notes of almonds, dates and figs. All of these are happy to pair with cheese, particularly ripe, well-aged wash rind cheese, though their high acidity and relatively light body makes them particularly adept with a myriad of pairings.

Sherry

Mentioning that Marsala is similar to Sherry was no accident here, as Sherry easily comes as the second option on this list and one that is both easier to find as well as more affordable than Marsala.

Sherry is a fortified wine made in Spain. It comes in many styles, from light and airy fino to heavy and sweet. The dry versions can sometimes be a little to lean to pair with anything but the most delicate cheese, but when you move onto something with a touch of sweetness, like a Pale Cream Sherry, you can really find some explosive pairings. A runny, pungent cheese is often the perfect partner for the salty, complex flavors of a Pale Cream Sherry, though the style that was once sold as rich or sweet Oloroso, both of which are now prohibited terms when it comes to labeling Sherry, was an absolute perfect match: rich but not heavy, sweet but not sugary and with a tang to match the greatest cheese.

Demi-sec

Both Marsala and Sherry are somewhat esoteric wines, which is why they work so well when it comes to pairing with a variety of cheese. The keys to their success are savory flavors and high acidity. But that is not the only option for those looking to pair wines with multiple cheeses. Sweetness, as with Pale Cream Sherry, is a fine partner for most cheese as long as it’s not taken too far, and there are several wines that are right at home with cheese.

Take for example demi-sec sparkling wine, either Champagne, sparkling wine or even Prosecco. All of these have great acidity and scrubbing bubbles that help balance the richness of the fattiest cheeses. Sugar brightened fruit allows you to contrast the funky flavors of your favorite cheese with a sweet fruit pairing as opposed to the more complimentary flavors of the Sherry and Marsala.

Riesling

Perhaps one of the greatest cheese friendly wines, Riesling often has it all: a bit of sweetness, bright acidity, sweet fruit flavors and if the wine has some age on it, a nice array of savory elements. All of this adds up to a wine that can match well with many cheeses. The generally lighter character of many Riesling really give flexibility for the freshest, buttery cheese or hard aged examples to blues, the wine stumping cheese!

One of the maxims of food and wine pairing is to try to match the intensity of the dish with the intensity of the wine. This is where the many components of Riesling come into play. With so many aspects available to compliment or contrast with the flavors of the cheese, Riesling is able to highlight one aspect of a cheese without dominating the scene.

White Zinfandel

 A well done white Zin is fruity, fresh and a little sweet, which makes it perfectly suitable for pairing with fresher cheese as well as light blues. That sweetness serves as a backstop for more assertively flavored cheese and salty hard cheese. It may not be the perfect match for any one cheese, but we’re speaking in generalities here. A light rose, you can find off dry examples from the Loire, Spain, and Italy as well, is a charming partner for so many cheeses that we simply can’t ignore it.

So what will it be for you- Wine to match your cheese or Cheese to match your wine! 

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UPGRADE YOUR HOME BAR

UPGRADE YOUR HOME BAR

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This will mean not looking down our nose at the basics. A solid FIVE-BOTTLE BAR  — gin, vodka, rum, tequila, and bourbon!!!
 
At home happy hour starts with some mixers and tools such as cocktail shaker and jiggers you  can anchor one hell of a cocktail party, and is perfectly serviceable. But once you’ve mastered Mixology 101, it’s only reasonable to long for the next level: Classic cocktails with bitters and liqueurs, great garnishes, and exotic ingredients.

When you’re looking to upgrade your home bar, consider these 10 additional tools and spirits, each of which will help your cocktails reach new heights in quality and creativity.

 
Cocktail
Negroni
  • 1 oz Campari Bitter
  • 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 1 oz Gin
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass 3/4 filled with cracked ice. Add a splash of soda water if desired. Garnish with a half slice of orange.
 
1.) Juice squeezer

By now you know the mantra: All fresh juice, all the time. It just makes drinks taste better. One $10, hand-held juice squeezer will last you forever and do more for your cocktails than bottled lemon or lime juice could ever do (and will get more juice out of your fruit than you will squeezing by hand alone).

2.) Fruit peeler

A great way to add simple garnishes. Use the fruit peeler to trim a lemon twist — it doesn’t have to be in a fancy curl to make the drink look polished. When adding a twist to a drink, make sure to squeeze the piece over the drink with the peel facing the surface of the cocktail; this ensures that you get a hit of the aromatic essential oil hiding in the skin.

3.) Better ice

Stop using the trays that came with the freezer, and start thinking about what the drink itself might call for when it comes to ice.


4.) Pourers

While you’re upgrading your spirit selection, you can also upgrade the bottles themselves. Spouts help keep the stream nice and even, and keep you from uncapping and re-capping bottles during a party. They also just help the bar look tidier and more professional.

5.) Cognac

Good Cognac can be served on its own, after a meal, and it allows you to venture into the French 75. 

6.) Fruit-based liqueurs

Start with Cointreau, which is crucial for margaritas, and then upgrade further with a bottle of Luxardo Maraschino.

7.) Herb and botanical-based liqueurs

Three classic bottles will get your bar to the next level: Campari — the legendary red Italian bitter you’ll need for Negronis; Chartreuse, a hypnotically green, sweet-and-spicy cordial favored by Gatsby (so who are we to disagree?); and St-Germain, a deeply lovely, elderflower-based liqueur. The St-Germain, in particular, will give your bar a facelift, as the bottle is just gorgeous. Plus, you need it for this:

St-Germain Cocktail

2 parts Brut Champagne
1.5 parts St-Germain
2 parts Club soda

Add everything to a Collins glass and give it a stir. Garnish with a lemon twist.

8.) Sweet liqueurs

Start with the cremes — creme de cacao, creme de menthe, and creme e cassis — and you’ll be forever equipped for Grasshoppers and Stingers.

9.) Absinthe

You’ve always wanted to have a bottle of Absinthe on hand, so now’s the time to join the brotherhood of the Green Muse. Once you procure a bottle, host a Death in the Afternoon sort of brunch: Just add 1 1/2 oz of Absinthe to 4 oz of Brut Champagne.

10.) Bitters

First things first: Angostura.  Then venture out into orange bitters — which go well with anybody’s favorite martini recipe  — and a bottle of Peychaud’s. 

The Beer Cocktail- the newest thing!

June 21st  may mark the approved start of summer, but it’s been heating up around these parts for the last few weeks now and we’ve been settling toward the cold brews to quench our thirst. But rising temperature is no reason to give up on cocktails entirely this season! We thought it’d be a good time to revisit some of these beer-based drinks, while discovering new ones, to work double duty in keeping you refreshed in the months ahead.Image

And don’t worry, these aren’t going to recall bad memories of certain shot-in-glass beverages like the Irish Car Bomb and its faux Japanese cousin, the Sake Bomb. There are a lot of great ways to enjoy beer and cocktails together with taste – and not necessarily intoxication (no chugging) – in mind.

Don’t forget to tell us what your favorite beer-based cocktails are!

 

Los Feliz Michelada

2 oz tomato juice (sangrita)
1/2 oz lime juice
Spice to desired heat (Tabasco, Valentina,etc)

Pour over favorite Mexican beer in salted rim Collins glass (pint or water glass will work), half ice, garnish with a lime.

Black Velvet

1 part Guinness stout
1 part Brut Champagne

Fill an empty Collins glass part-way with a Guinness (or other stout beer), top with Champagne. Stir.

Groundskeeper

Pour 1 oz ultrasmoky single-malt Scotch, such as Ardbeg or Laphroaig, into a pint glass. Add 12 oz chilled Bud or other American pilsner.

Bee Sting

Combine equal parts beer and orange juice. A tangy brunch alternative to the Mimosa!

St. Germain Shandy

5 parts Pilsner beer
1.5 parts St-Germain
2 lemon wedges

Stir ingredients together in a pint glass filled halfway to the top with ice. Squeeze two wedges (or half a lemon) and submerge into glass. Impress revelers with savoir faire of refreshing cocktails de bière.