National Taco Day!

There really is a day for everything, and what better to celebrate than TACOS! According to NationalTacoDay.com and NationalDayCalendar.com, October 4th is #NationalTacoDay. I’ve chosen three delicious taco recipes and their perfect wine pairings you can enjoy today and all year long.

Roasted Veggie Tacos

Whether looking for vegetarian options or otherwise, roasted veggies are always delicious no matter what your preference or whatever time of year. The deep roasted flavor allows the veggies in these tacos to stand up to heavier bodied whites, roses, and reds alike.
Try this delicious recipe from InspiredTaste.net.
Photo cred: InspiredTaste.net

Suggested varietals: Chardonnay, Viognier, Pinot Noir

Slow Cooker Carnitas Tacos

The juicy tenderness of the pork shoulder is a natural pairing for the spectrum of our red wines, from the lighter bodied with red fruits to the fuller bodied, bold deep fruits and spice.
Try this delicious recipe from CookingLight.com
Photo cred: cookinglight.com

Suggested varietals: Syrah/Shiraz, Malbec, Zinfandel

Chicken Tinga Tacos

From the spice of the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce to the savory roasted red peppers, these tacos will dazzle the palate with a refreshing off-dry white or a dry rose.
Try this delicious recipe from PinchOfYum.com
Phot cred: pinchofyum.com

Suggested varietals: Riesling, Torrontes, Chenin Blanc


Cheers!
Missa
winedowntastings.com

International Grenache Day

International Grenache Day is celebrated on the third Friday each September. According to DaysOfTheYear.com, The Grenache Association established Grenache Day to celebrate this grape and all the varieties and vintages of wine that were produced from it. In fact, over the ages that have passed since it first began being used and cultivated, new varieties have appeared.

Photo courtesy of DaysOfTheYear.com

Grenache (known as Garnarcha in Spain) is one of my absolute favorite red grapes. The first time I sipped this varietal was as a Spanish Garnarcha, and I immediately fell in love with it’s deep, juicy plum and red berry flavors and soft texture upon first sip. Since then, Grenache/Garnarcha has held a very special place in my heart, and it’s a rare day that I see it on a restaurant’s wine list and pass it over.

Grenache/Garnacha is the second most widely planted red grape in the world. How can that be, seeing as so many of us are unaware of its existence? Grenache is one of the world’s most popular blending grapes. Although it is an absolute superstar as a single varietal wine, it is also widely blended with other grapes the world over to provide luscious fruit and to help boost alcohol levels in the finished blend.

Grenache/Garnarcha is the most widely planted red grape in Spain, and a powerhouse in our own Desvia, where it is blended with Tempranillo. This grape is also one of the trio known as “G-S-M” that comprise many popular Southern Rhone blends  (Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre). Grenache is also commonly vinified as a rosé .

Grenache has it all, from juicy blackberry, plum, cherry, strawberry and currant, to spicy black pepper and licorice, as well as floral and earthy notes (think violets and rose petals over tobacco and leather), and when oaked, lends notes of cocoa and vanilla. The soft tannins lend a velvety texture on the palate that even the most fickle can’t help fall in love with.

Grenache/Garnarcha can stand up to rustic and earthy dishes with game meats, pork, and beef as well as those with tomato sauce, or even a hearty paella. Hard cheese and dark chocolate are simple pairings that will make this grape variety shine.

The official hashtag used to celebrate this day is #GrenacheDay.

Cheers!
Missa
winedowntastings.com

National Tailgating Day!

Football season is finally back! National Tailgating Day falls on the first Saturday each September. Nothing makes game day more complete than the perfect food. Sure, you could just grab a random six pack of beer, but why have an average food experience when you can have an extraordinary one? This is a job for wine!  Let’s take a tour of some of the most popular game day foods and the wines that make them shine.

Buffalo ANYTHING!

Whether  buffalo wings, buffalo chicken dip, or buffalo pizza, you will dazzle your taste buds by pairing this flavor with an off-dry white wine, such as Riesling or Chenin Blanc. Sweet loves heat, and the perfect hint of sweetness in each of these wines will compliment the spicy kick of anything buffalo.

Featured recipe and photo cred: Crispy Baked Buffalo Wings from JessicaGavin.com
Shop medium-dry wines here: VINOvations


Jalapeno Poppers/Stuffed Jalapenos

A crisp white wine dominated by citrus, herbs, and minerals, such as a Sicilian Grillo, makes a fantastic sidekick for jalapeno peppers stuffed with goat cheese or cream cheese. Wrap them in bacon for an even fruitier taste and smoother texture. Equally as delicious with jalapeno poppers is a crisp, refreshing Pinot Grigio from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of Italy, typically fruit-driven, approachable,

clean, crisp, refreshing wine with aromas of white flowers, melon and mineral.
Featured recipe: Baked Stuffed Jalapenos by SimplyRecipes.com
Photo credit: Elisa Bauer
Shop Pinot Grigios here: VINOvations


Pizza

Your favorite cheese, pepperoni, sausage, or margherita pizza is a natural compliment for Italian red wines, such as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Nero d’Avola, or Sangiovese. Italian reds pair exceptionally well with red sauce Italian, and pizza is no exception. The acidity of the tomato sauce, along with the salt and fat content of the cheese and meat will smooth out the wine’s acidity, leaving a beautifully soft fruit flavor on the palate.

Featured recipe and photo cred: Classic Margherita Pizza by SallysBakingAddiction.com
Shop Italian wines here: VINOvations


Chili

A hot, spicy pot of chili can often be tricky to pair perfectly, but you can’t go wrong with a fruity, aromatic varietal. Although dry, a well balanced Viognier can give the impression of sweetness that works to balance and compliment heat and spice. Prefer a red? A lighter, fruity red that is lower in tannins, such as Pinot Noir or Gamay, would be the perfect match.

Featured recipe and photo cred: The Best Classic Chili by TheWholesomeDish.com
Shop Viognier here: VINOvations


Bacon Cheeseburger Sliders

South African grape Pinotage produces inky, bold flavored wines with plum, blackberry, bacon and smoke flavors. This makes it an ideal varietal to pair with red meat and with bacon. Add a tangy cheese into the mix, and we’re talking heaven!

Featured recipe and photo cred: Bacon Cheeseburger Sliders by TheBlackPeppercorn.com
Shop Pinotage here: VINOvations


BBQ

The tangy, yet smoky flavors of pulled pork can be beautifully complimented with a wine that exhibits red fruit supported by black pepper, smoke & tobacco. Syrah/Shiraz is exactly that wine and is a crowd favorite with BBQ dishes such as pulled pork or chicken. Top the pulled pork with a heaping spoonful of cole slaw, and taste the magic!

Featured recipe and photo cred: Perfect Pulled Pork Recipe by kevinandamanda.com
Shop Syrah/Shiraz here: VINOvations


Visit NationalDayCalendar.com for more information on #NationalTailgatingDay

Cheers!
Missa
winedowntastings.com

International Albariño Day

Today, August 1, 2019 is International Albariño Day! This Spanish grape variety (Alvarinho in Portugal) is vibrant and refreshing. It is loved for its crisp acidity, distinct aromatics, bright citrus notes, and subtle salinity. This is the perfect wine for these hot August days.

Typically vinified in a dry style, Albariño offers vibrant, fresh citrus fruit flavors of lemon, lime, and grapefruit, tree fruits such as pear and apple, and stone fruits such as peach and nectarine. Generally not a wine intended to be aged for a long period of time, Albariño is best consumed relatively young. Spain produces a significant amount of Albarino in Rias Baixas DO, as does the Vinho Verde region of Portugal.

Albarino, Albarinho, Vinho Verde, Rias Baixas

Albariño’s high acid content and subtle phenolics make it a perfect food wine. Its aromatics allow it to perfectly pair with ethnic cuisine such as Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, and other Asian cuisine. Seafood is a natural pairing to highlight the slight saline quality. Think shellfish such as oysters, mussels, clams, lobster and crab as well as white flaky fish and a variety of sushi and maki rolls. I believe Albariño to be a very underrated variety here in the US, however that allows you to enjoy a beautiful high quality wine at an inexpensive price point. Click here for some delicious suggestions available to ship directly to your door from VINOvations.


Perfect Pairing Recipes

Galician Mussels in White Wine from CuriousCuisiniere.com
https://www.curiouscuisiniere.com/mussels-in-white-wine/


Click here for more info on Albarino Day from TapasSociety.org


Cheers!
Missa
winedowntastings.com
vinoislife.com

Wine & Your Backyard BBQ

As we wrap up June and head into July, we are fully immersed in BBQ season. Offer your guests an explosion of flavor by enhancing your foods with the perfect condiment, wine!

Smoked Meats

Red wines that show significant oak, spice, or smoke lead me to immediately think smoked meat, for obvious reasons! The oak and/or spice of many Syrahs, for instance, will enhance the smokey flavor of the meats beautifully, as will its fruit forwardness. My pick is DeLoach Private Collection Russian River Valley Syrah.

Grilled Red Meat

Many California Red Blends such as Full Rack and The Prospector are crafted to be quintessential backyard BBQ blends. Both of these particular blends combine some notorious big reds that will make grilled red meat like burgers and steaks shine!

Grilling adds a bitter charred taste to foods, and the fruit forwardness of Full Rack and The Prospector will contrast that bitterness.

BBQ Sauce

When I consider foods with BBQ sauce, my mouth waters when I picture a big jammy, juicy Zinfandel in my glass. Pulled pork or pulled chicken, BBQ ribs, burgers smothered in BBQ sauce.

The blackberry, raspberry, and plum notes of Zinfandel will compliment the tangy and often sweeter flavors of the BBQ sauce, and whether lightly or heavily oaked will enhance a smoky flavor. My current pick, Saints and Zinners Zinfandel from Paso Robles.

Seafood

Summer seafood is often dipped or drenched in melted butter, and nothing pairs better with buttered seafood than a nice Chardonnay! Whether you prefer the vanilla notes and creamy, buttery texture of an oaked Chard, or you prefer the crispness of an unoaked Chardonnay, you will find a home run with either wine at your clam bake or crawfish boil. Francis Ford Coppola’s Cafe Zoetrope Chardonnay is simply divine.

Antipasto Salad

“If it grows together, it goes together!” When serving Italian meats, cheeses, and olives, think Italian wine, either red OR white! The fat and salt components of the meats, cheeses, and olives in antipasto salad will smooth out the acid in any white, allowing the wine’s fruit to come to the forefront while still offering a crisp zestiness. I suggest Il Poeta Gavi from Piemonte or Saracosa Vermentino from Toscana IGT.

If you prefer a heavier wine and deeper fruit flavor, you will find Italian reds such as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Chianti Classico (such as Lornano Le Macchie Chianti Classico), Nero d’Avola, or Barbera (such as Casa Taurini Barbera d’Asti Superiore) to be magical with this dish!

Pasta and Potato Salads

Pasta and potato salads, whether dressed with a vinaigrette or light mayonnaise, pair deliciously with crisp, fruity white wines, such as Zapapico Torrontes from Argentina or Sonnenstrahl Gruner Veltliner from Austria. Matching the medium bodied weight of the wines with the medium weight of the salad will ensure one doesn’t overpower the other’s flavors.

Green Salads

Pinot Grigio (such as Paolo Valle Pinot Grigio from Colli Orientali del Friuli DOP) and Sauvignon Blanc (such as the Chilean Riversong Sauvignon Blanc) are particularly pleasing with lemon drizzle. Pairing a green salad with a lemon vinaigrette would be refreshing to the palate while enhancing the flavors of a variety of crisp vegetables.

S’mores

What’s a backyard BBQ without s’mores? You can really pair these with a variety of wines. Bigger, bold reds such as A Tavola Cabernet Sauvignon, or lighter, fruitier reds such as The Arch Pinot Noir, and even sweet and fruity if you choose.

Cheers!
Missa
winedowntastings.com

Pairing the New England Clambake

As a lifetime New Englander, I basically grew up on everything you’d find at a traditional clam bake: a variety of steamed quahogs and littlenecks, mussels, boiled lobster, crab legs, corn on the cob drenched in melted butter, boiled red potatoes, clam chowder, potato, macaroni, and green salads… the list goes on and on. To me, this is the epitome of summertime dining in New England. Little did I know as a child, this culinary tradition would only get better once I was an adult and had a knowledge of wine to add even more enjoyment.

Let’s Talk Wine Pairing

Clams (quahogs, littlenecks, cherrystones) and mussels are absolutely delicious steamed and dipped in melted butter. Often times I’ll grab an oaked, buttery Chardonnay (such as DeLoach Private Collection Chalk Hill) for that melt-in-your-mouth experience, or I’ll grab a zesty and lively Sauvignon Blanc (such as Riversong Sauvignon Blanc), with a bit more crispness and acidity than a Chard. It’s really a matter of my particular mood and preference that day, but either one provides a home run pairing that is sure to please.

I recently posted an entire blog for Lobster Day, highlighting various lobster dishes and my favorite varietals. There are so many delicious choices for perfect pairing, although my absolute favorite is a dry sparkling wine, particularly Cremant de Loire (such as Abbesse Cremant de Loire), which provides the perfect note of salinity to compliment shellfish.

King crab legs are one of my faves, although a bit interactive. When I don’t mind getting my hands dirty and working for my food, I grab my nut and seafood cracker and get to crackin’ those spiny bad boys. Next to my plate of crab legs and pool of melted butter is a perfectly chilled glass of dry Riesling from Alsace, France, or a fruit forward, fuller bodied Pinot Gris (such as Hillersden Pinot Gris from Marlborough, New Zealand).

Clam chowder all year long… comfort food in the winter, beachy goodness in the summer. My suggested wine pairing is equally as versatile. Two of my favorites, Bees Knees Chenin Blanc/Viognier and Lobster Shack Chardonnay/Viognier, both from South Africa offer a beautiful balance of refreshing fruit and lively acidity with a weightier mouthfeel appropriate for both summertime and wintertime dining.

The Sides

Corn-on-the-cob, boiled potatoes, salads of all sorts. Every wine mentioned above would pair beautifully with all of these sides. Have fun with the experimenting! No clam bake would be complete without a rosé , and I am absolutely digging Paris Street Rose from Romania. A few more notable suggested wines would include The Arch Pinot Noir, for all you die hard red wine lovers, and Sonnenstrahl Grüner Veltliner from Austria. Happy pairing!

Join Our Clambake and Wine Pairing

None of the work, all of the fun! Enjoy the cuisine of Chef J. Rex poolside at Lantera Boston Landing on Wednesday, July 31st at 6:30pm as I guide you through the perfect wine pairings with each course!
Click here for tickets and more information or find our event on Facebook

Cheers!
Missa
winedowntastings.com

Summer Grillin’ and Sippin’

It’s grill season! Summertime wine pairings are some of my absolute favorites, but it’s not all about the protein. The spices and sauces are the stars of my wine pairing show. I have chosen five popular grilling spices to highlight for your summertime grilling needs.

Jamaican Jerk: the heat of Jamaican Jerk spices beg for a touch of sweetness in a wine, such as an off dry Riesling, Chenin Blanc, or even a Moscatel.

Bacon Molasses: Bacon Molasses spice rubs and sauces are a tasteful twist on traditional barbecue flavors. The smoky yet salty qualities of the bacon combined with the subtle sweetness of molasses makes this a fabulous pairing for a variety of wines, such as Pinotage and Spanish red blends.

Mesquite: Mesquite gives your meat a lovely smoky flavor, and a tried and true pairing is “smoke with oak”. A fruity, jammy Zinfandel has the perfect balance of oak and jammy red fruit that is sure to please the palate when paired with grilled Mesquite flavors.

Kansas City BBQ: Many California red blends  are crafted with BBQ in mind, and Kansas City BBQ sauce provides the ideal combination of tang, sweetness, smoke, and acidity to express exactly what these blends were meant for.

Chipotle: Both a softly oaked Chardonnay and a crisp, refreshing unoaked Chardonnay will compliment the zesty spice of chipotle. Prefer a red? Opt for a juicy red wine with softer tannins, such as Merlot.  

Wine and grilling spices

Visit us at vinovations.us for the perfect wine selections shipped right to your door!

Cheers!
Missa
winedowntastings.com

Cheers To Lobster Day!

Celebrate Twice A Year

According to DaysOfTheYear.com, June 15, 2019 is Lobster Day. According to NationalToday.com, September 25, 2019 is National Lobster Day. I have zero objections to celebrating lobster on more than one day a year, that’s for sure! Being a lifetime New Englander, Maine lobster has been a staple in my diet for as long as I can remember, and pairing various lobster dishes with wine makes it that much more enjoyable.

The Ol’ Standby

When in doubt, you truly can’t go wrong pairing any type of lobster dish with a buttery and somewhat oaky Chardonnay, especially if you’re fond of dipping your lobster meat in melted butter. For obvious reasons, it really is a match made in heaven. In fact, a hot buttered lobster roll was the first food I ever paired with Chardonnay many moons ago. It literally changed my life.

I am also quite fond of creamy, savory lobster mac and cheese dishes with a full bodied, buttery, and mildly oaked Chardonnay. A true no-brainer pairing that you don’t even need to put effort into considering that is sure to please the palate. However, why not have some fun and go outside the box a bit?

Lobster Rolls

Here in New England, one of the first signs of summer is when the local restaurants start adding lobster rolls to their menu. Of course lobster rolls can be made in a variety of ways, and I enjoy pairing each style of lobster roll with a different varietal.

Traditional Maine lobster roll with light mayo, chopped celery or chives, and perhaps a drizzle of lemon on a buttered roll: I enjoy this style lobster roll with a wine that offers bright acidity and crisp fruit flavors such as a Chablis. Leaving the Chardonnay grape behind, I absolutely love pairing these rolls with a crisp, refreshing, dry Riesling from Alsace.

The hot buttered lobster roll, what a treat these are! How can this incredible treat get even better? Pair it with a Fume’ Blanc or white Bordeaux.

Lobster with fresh tarragon and a touch of lemon: Rueda Verdejo from Spain, hands down. The combinations of ripe citrus, stone and tree fruit, herbaceous grassiness, and crisp acidity of Rueda Verdejo not only supports but makes the flavors of both the lobster and tarragon shine.

Lobster Salads

Crisp medium to high acid whites with a degree of aromatics are perfection with lobster salads, such as Gruner Veltliner, Torrontes, Albarino, and Viognier. I also particularly enjoy a dry rosé from Provence.

Lobster Mac and Cheese

This is actually one of my favorite dishes in the fall and winter. No need to wait for warm sunny days to enjoy this comfort food that’s been stepped up a notch. Match the weight of your wine to the weight of this dish, meaning choose either a full bodied white or a medium bodied red. I find a dry Vouvray to be absolutely delightful, as well as a fuller bodied Pinot Gris from Oregon. If I’m in a red wine kid of mood, I’m reaching for a red Burgundy or Oregon Pinot Noir, or even a Grenache.

Lobster/Seafood Paella

I love to match my food with its country of origin, so when I’m enjoying lobster or seafood paella, I’m reaching for a wine from Spain, particularly a Ribera del Duero or Priorat for reds, and Rias Baixas for white.


Whichever way you decide to enjoy your lobster, if you can’t make a wine pairing decision, do what I do and go bubbly. I’ve never been disappointed with lobster and bubbly!

Cheers!
Missa
winedowntastings.com

Rosé All Day!

Published in June 2019 issue of South Shore Senior News

National Rosé Day is celebrated every year on the second Saturday in June. When many Americans think of rosé, their first thought is the sweeter styled White Zinfandel, which was discovered by Bob Trinchero with Sutter Home in 1972, quite by accident while experimenting with the Zinfandel grape. Visitors of the tasting room found a fondness for the resulting “accidental” wine, and the masses demanded more production. He ramped up production in 1975 when for reasons unknown, the fermentation stopped at around 2% residual sugar, leaving a noticeable sweetness. People loved the resulting product, and white Zinfandel became extremely popular over the following decades.

The one perhaps unfortunate result of the rise of white Zinfandel and its style is that Americans tend to assume that all rosé or pink wines are sweet, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Dry rosés are the norm all over the world, including France, Italy, and Spain. Someone who doesn’t particularly enjoy a sweeter style rosé wine such as white Zinfandel might very likely find much enjoyment in the drier styles that are available.

There are many factors that influence a rosé, including grape variety, region and terroir in which the grapes are grown, winemaking styles, techniques, and traditions, and of course market demands. For instance, the rosés of Provence are typically made by the direct press method, which includes gently pressing the grapes and collecting the juice after it has only had about 1-4 hours macerating on the skins, resulting in a very pale colored, light and fresh style of rosé. In many other regions of France such as Tavel, however, it is more popular to use the saignée method of production, which allows the juice to macerate for a 8-24 hours, then is bled off the skins to be fermented into rosé. This results in a deeper color, fuller in body, and more aromatic than the direct press method.

Rosé wines, both still and sparkling, have been considered a trend on the rise for the past several years in the US. In 2017, rosé sales increased by 53% with no slowing down in sight. Considered a refreshing, summertime wine, rosés appeal to white and red wine lovers alike, providing the red fruit notes of a red combined with the refreshing crispness of a white. It offers the best of both worlds!

When it comes to food pairing, dry rosés pair quite well with lighter or medium weight foods and summer fare, such as salads, seafood, grilled chicken, grilled vegetables, and an array of salty cheese and snacks. Adding fresh red berries and fruit really brings its fruit flavors to the forefront. Think fresh strawberries in your salad. Or make a nice charcuterie board containing an array of meats, cheeses, crackers, nuts, and berries for a variety of textures and flavors. Rosé is typically served mildly chilled and makes for a refreshing sipper during the warmer summer months.

Enjoy some of my favorite hand-picked salad recipes with the dry rose’ of your choice for the ultimate summertime meal.

Cheers!
Missa
winedowntastings.com

National Cheese Day

June 4th is National Cheese Day! Cheese boards are a staple of my home entertaining. There is nothing simpler, yet delicious and enthusiastically received by my guests than a variety of cheeses to pair with whichever wines we will be sipping on. Cheese boards can be inexpensive with easy to find, traditional cheeses most Americans are familiar with, or they can be an eclectic spread of costly gourmet cheeses from all over the world. I often enjoy having one or two gourmet cheeses that are new or unique to my crowd of guests, accompanied by several common “ol’ standby” cheeses to offer a little something for everyone. In honor of National Cheese Day, I offer you seven simple, easy to find cheeses and my favorite varietals to pair with them perfectly.

  • Herbed goat cheese with Sauvignon Blanc
  • Delice de Bourgogne with Chardonnay
  • Gruyere with Gewurztraminer
  • Feta or Gorgonzola with dry rosé
  • Buffalo mozzarella with Sangiovese
  • Smoked Gouda with Syrah/Shriaz
  • Horseradish cheddar with Cabernet Sauvignon

Want to learn more? Join us at one of our VINOIsLife public wine and cheese pairing experiences in the greater Boston/MetroWest areas! Click here for our experience schedule.

Cheers!
Missa
winedowntastings.com