summer drink

LABOR DAY – WHAT WINE TO SERVE WITH YOUR BBQ

Labor Day with our family sometimes begins local craft brews; such as not your NOT YOUR FATHERS ROOT BEER and you most defiantly can’t go wrong with good, cold beer in a tub of ice. My husband like me, are committed to being wine fans. Choosing the right wines isn’t as easy as you might think.  Often times, he would say it’s totally about the meat, the technique, and the sauce! I happen to agree

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There are many flavors you’ll come across while barbecuing: umami, smoky, salty char, and sometimes sweetness and savory. They’ll vary by which area you are eating the BBQ like in Texas barbecue, beef rules, either brisket or ribs, and is often served with a sweet, hot tomato-based sauce. The flavor is deeply smoky, the meat rich. On the other hand Southern-style like North Carolina pork barbecue, hang on on vinegar-based sauces and lighter spice rubs.

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So for a stern wine-and-barbecue conversation, big, heavy, high-alcohol reds seem heavy with rich meat goes great with chilled rosé.

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What you want for all types of barbecues are wines that rub the smoke and sauce off your tongue so you can take another fresh bite.  So with dense, ingratiating brisket needs the difference and refreshment of acidity and bright fruitiness. We are great drinkers of Super Tuscan wine barbecue pairing. These big, heavy, high-alcohol reds seem ponderous with rich meat. We feel biased just thinking about the combo. Here are some tips on what to try instead:

  • Rosé (“the beer of the wine world”) with barbecue.  Me, too—and the fruitier the better, to hold its own with smoked meat.
  • Syrah or some people call it Shiraz with your spicy chicken wings
  • White wine with barbecue only if it’s grilled shrimp or chicken with citrus-y rubs can be delicious with tart, floral-scented vinho verde, we’d rather drink bubbly or a chilled rosé.
  • Reds – Save big, bold, tannic, high-dollar reds, such as cabernet, for char-grilled steaks. The quick cooking doesn’t break down the meat’s fat the way hours in a barbecue pit do, but the wine’s tannin will do the trick.
  • Forget oaky wines. The meat is already smoky enough, and a spicy sauce will make the wine’s oak character stand out even more.
  • Keep your choices simple. Grilled foods and barbecue have so many intense flavors that wine nuances will be lost.
  • Pulled pork and succulent ribs go very well with lively pinot noir and with other high acid, lighter reds or rosés that can be chilled.
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Rosé: The Best Summertime Wine

Now that summer is well and truly upon us, (and in fact, has been for some time,) we at Mel & Rose thought it appropriate to take the time to talk about that oft-ignored member of the wine family: the Rosé.  In that liminal space between red and white, the pink wine is rarely mentioned when discussing wine.  (After all, when was the last time you went to a restaurant and saw a “Rosé” section on their wine list?)  But, to discount this entire category of wine is to miss out on some of the most enjoyable libations that wineries have to offer, and it is the perfect accompaniment to a backyard barbeque, a pool party, an evening on the porch: basically, anything that has to do with a hot summer’s day.

A little background on rosé wine.  Like red wine, it is made from red grapes, but receives much less color from the grapes during its making.  It can be made using three separate processes: skin contact, saignée, and blending.

The skin contact method is the most common, and is the closest to the way red wine is made.  After the grapes are picked, they are crushed to extract the juices, skins left on.  Then, the skins and juice are left to soak together for a short time, usually around a couple of days, in a process called maceration.  The pigments and tannins in the skin impart some color to the juice, but not nearly the amount that a red wine would receive.  (A red wine would have the skins soak with the juice for weeks or even months before fermentation.)  After the short soak, the process is the same for most other wines.  Like white wine, the lack of extended maceration means that the wine is less oxidized and has less potential for aging.  Rosés should be drank soon after they are made and ought to be enjoyed right now.

The other process is the saignée method.  When making a red wine, the winemaker may wish to create a richer, deeper color and flavor than a normal maceration would allow.  So, he will “bleed” off a portion of the juice from the must (the mixture of juice, stems, skins, and leaves created after the grapes are crushed) to intensify the remaining juice.  This pink juice can then be used to make a rose.  While amazing rosés can be made with this method, it is traditionally considered to be inferior to the skin contact method, in that the rosé made is created from the “leftovers” of the “primary” red wine.

Finally, the blending method is exactly what it sounds like: a red and white wine are blended together to create a “pink.”  This method is very rarely used and is in fact illegal in the prominent rosé-producing regions of France.

Though you might not think it, rosé is most likely the oldest style of winemaking.  The ability to cleanly skin grapes (in order to make white wine) and to concentrate the must sufficiently (in order to make red wine) takes a lot of technical know-how that the earliest winemakers simply didn’t have.  They mostly likely were only able to crush the grapes by hand is barrels and then shortly after made wine out of the juice, which is essentially an early version of the skin contact method.  As winemaking progressed, rosé has always been present.  France, that great winemaking country, has been making rosés for hundreds of years in virtually all its winegrowing regions.  Provence, in the south of France, currently holds the reputation for the greatest roses in the world, but Rhone and Champagne are also known to make fantastic roses.  Italy makes rosé versions of many of their wines, including their Proseccos, while the Spanish make “Rosado” wines, some of which are made by a process called “dolbe pasta” (double paste), which is basically a reverse saignée method.  (The rosé is made by the skin contact method, and then the dry remains of the must is added to a macerating red wine must to concentrate the red wine.)

Rosés are made in the New World as well, though their reputation has been marred in the wine community by something called a White Zinfandel.  Also often called a “blush” wine, a White Zinfandel is a much sweeter version of a rosé made by a different process called a struck fermentation.  Often when making wine, a struck fermentation mean disaster.  After the juice has been drained from the must, it is mixed with yeast, which digest the sugars in the juice into alcohol.  The yeast, though, requires a very particular concentration of alcohol and sugars in order to thrive.  If the concentration is off, the yeast can die before they transform all the sugars into alcohol, leaving the remaining wine much sweeter than usual.  In 1972, a Californian winemaker named Bob Trinchero managed to salvage a struck fermentation of Zinfandel, which had resulted in a sweet, pick colored wine.  He marketed this as a new style of wine, dubbed “blush” by wine writers of the time, and reaped the benefits of its remarkable success in the 1980s.  Unfortunately, most wine connoisseurs did not enjoy this very sweet wine, and the reputation of rosé was swept along with it.  Now though, and in fact, throughout its wine making history, New World rosés of all styles, from bone dry to dessert sweet, can be found and enjoyed, whatever your taste.

Now, for some actual recommendations.  Although we have rosés of most every style and origin available, we have a particular fondness for those from Provence.  Of the rosés of Provence, our favorites would have to be from the Chateau d’Esclans Winery.  They have a range of four wines, starting with the entry-level Whispering Angel, followed by the mid-range Rock Angel and Clans, and ending with the luxurious Garrus bottling.

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But, our favorite, both for its flavor and its value, is the mid-range Rock Angel.  Their newest bottle, Chateau d’Esclans wishes for this to be their flagship offering, and it is certainly worth that title.  A bright and crisp wine, with soft red-fruit notes on the nose and front of the palate, it matures nicely to a dry, refined finish that leaves one exceedingly refreshed.IMG_1067

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If you are looking for something a little sweeter, Provence has another fantastic offering with Domaine Ott.  Their Chateau De Salle rosé is a pale pink color with gold highlights, that starts fruit forward, with notes of peach and lemon, before giving way to warm red fruits and soft vanilla notes, all wrapped up in the sublime terroir that only Provence is capable of.IMG_1062

So, now, as summer is winding down, if you ever are looking for something to drink that is cool and refreshing, while bright and flavorful, don’t forget about Mel & Rose and that dark horse of wines, rosé.  We promise it won’t disappoint.

AMERICANO – A Classic Campari Cocktails for a nice hot day.

 

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Trust me – This is not a espresso made with hot water for the coffee lover.

This is the story of the  cocktail Americano. A creation of Americans abroad and the bartenders who served them in Italy.  An Americano was first served in Gaspare Campari’s bar, Cafe Campari in The Campari region of Italy. It was the 1860s and there were plenty of American expatriates around. The drink was originally known as the “Milano-Torino” because Campari is from Milan, where Cafe Campari is located.

Campari creator Gaspare Campari was from Torino and he settled in Milan, where he created the startling orange Campari – the world’s top-selling bitters. He brought sweet vermouth with him from Torino and combined the two signature liquors into this drink, stirring them with soda water – hence the original name. The Italians soon noticed that many Americans enjoyed the cocktail. Eventually the cocktail became known as the “Americano”. The Americano is also a classic aperitif, often served before dinner to cleanse the palate and awaken the appetite.

We love the Americano too. It has a  low alcohol content, and we can easily adjust the bitterness. The bitter citrus flavor of the Campari is incredibly refreshing – a palate cleanser on a hot day. The sweet vermouth balances it out just enough with a sweet muskiness, and the soda water makes what could be a very strong and overwhelming drink into a tingling refresher for a hot evening. Serve with citrus slices.

The Americano

makes 1 cocktail

1 1/2 ounces Campari
1 1/2 ounces sweet vermouth
Club soda or seltzer
Orange slice for garnish

 

Fill up an old-fashioned tumbler with ice. You can also water this down a bit more and use a highball; we often do this when we want a long cool drink but not a lot of alcohol.

Pour the Campari and vermouth over the ice and top up with seltzer.

 

 

FROZEN VODKA DRINK

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Great Frozen Vodka drink for impromptu entertaining on our roof-top throughout the hot Summer months. Your guests are always thoroughly impressed when something so delicious is just waiting in the freezer for them and can be enjoyed at a moments notice.

 

Frozen Vodka Slush
Recipe Notes: Prepare this recipe a day or two in advance so the slush can freeze and be extra delicious when served. You also may want to double the recipe -yes, it’s that tasty- so pick up 2x’s the ingredients when you’re at the market!

Ingredients:
8 cups water
3 cups white sugar
juice of 2 lemons
juice of 2 oranges
one 48oz can of pineapple juice
one 12oz can frozen Minute Maid grapefruit juice
one 12oz can of frozen Minute Maid lemonade
26oz Vodka – I prefer Ultimat vodka http://www.melandrose.com/istar.asp?a=6&id=90752

Method:
First, make a simple syrup. Boil 8 cups water and stir in 3 cups white sugar. Continue to stir until the sugar incorporates with the water, for about 15 minutes. Let cool.

In a separate bowl, combine the juice of 2 lemons, 2 oranges, 1 48oz can of pineapple juice, 1 12oz can frozen Minute Maid grapefruit juice, 1 12oz can of frozen Minute Maid lemonade and 26oz Vodka.

Once the simple syrup is cooled, add the juice/vodka mix to the syrup. Stir and transfer into an air-tight tupperware container(s) with lid(s). Freeze.

When your guests arrive, stir the slush and fill the glass half-full with frozen vodka slush. Fill the rest of the glass with diet 7-Up. Enjoy!

Dark ‘n Stormy

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According to a Gosling’s Rum tale, this drink was invented more than 100 years ago when members of Bermuda’s Royal Naval Officer’s Club added a splash of the local white rum to their spicy ginger beer.  They described its ominous hue as “the color of a cloud only a fool or dead man would sail under.”

  1. 2 ounces dark rum, preferably Gosling’s
  2. 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice (optional)
  3. Ice
  4. 1 candied ginger slice
  5. 3 ounces chilled ginger beer
  6. 1 lime wheel
  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the rum and lime juice and shake well. Strain into an ice-filled collins glass. Stir in the ginger beer. Skewer the ginger slice and lime wheel and garnish the cocktail.