Hot Summer Reds

Summer is officially here and with it lots of sunshine and heat. Even here in the gorgeous temperate Bay Area, we’re already seeing record temperatures. We huddle inside with the air conditioner (if you’re lucky), venturing out only once the sun goes down and there is relief.

The heat changes a lot about our behavior, especially in terms of what we eat and drink. You couldn’t pay me enough to turn on the oven these days. Even standing over the stove isn’t that appealing. So it’s all about the grill or “heatless” meals for me. And even beyond cooking methods, the style of food we want to eat when it’s hot also changes. A lasagna (even if I don’t have to turn the oven on to cook it) just isn’t appetizing when it’s a sweltering, humid 90+ outside. We turn to lighter fare: salads, cold pastas, light seafoods, cold tapas/charcuterie. Even our red meat dishes go lighter in the summer, changing from braises to burgers.

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Balance

You may have noticed that I mention BALANCE pretty much in every post. That’s because balance is one of (if not THE) most important aspects of wine evaluation.

If you think back to our discussion on bad wine, you’ll understand the struggle of trying to quantify and assess a product that is so subjective.

I mean, you can’t control someone’s opinion on something. No matter how much I love a crisp, acidic, minerally Albariño, I’m never going to convert my spicy, bold, jammy Zinfandel loving friend. Not a fault of the wines. Not a fault of either of our tastes. It’s simply opinion.

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Wine Compounds: Sugar

The next compound I want to talk about is sugar. (And not just because I am majorly jonesing for any and all sweet desserts.)

Sugar is essential to making any type of alcoholic/fermented beverage, but it is also a key characteristic in choosing grapes to make wine.

Technically you can make wine from any type of fruit, but one of the reasons grapes are the most successful choice is due to the exceptionally high sugar content of their juice. Understanding how this sugar develops in a grape and then how it is used in wine making can help you quite a bit when figuring out what a wine will be like.

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Wine Compounds: Acid

I often mention the components of wine in passing as I describe a wine’s style and flavor, but we’ve never gone into them in any real depth. So I thought it might be time to really address them so you can understand what they mean about how your wine tastes, better identify them and hopefully figure out what you like/dislike about them.

The main components in a wine are: Acid, Alcohol, Sugar, Tannin and Water (we won’t really discuss this because, well…. It’s water).

When you take a grape and press it you get pulp/juice (Acid, Sugar and Water) and the skin/seeds/stems (Tannins). The sugar in the juice then undergoes fermentation (Alcohol) and Ta-Da: You have wine!

Let’s break all these down over the next couple of posts, starting with Acid.

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Vintages

Lately, I’ve encountered several questions regarding wine vintages. And I have to admit, vintages can be a little confusing.

At the surface,the vintage is simply the year in which the grapes were harvested. Sort of a nice to know… but does it matter? Should you care about them?

Vintages provide you with a couple insights into the juice in a bottle.

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Sauvignon Blanc

It’s time to profile one of my absolute favorite white grapes: Sauvignon Blanc.

This grape is incredible. It produces some of the most versatile and lively white wines. If Chardonnay is appreciated for its neutral and pliable character, Sauvignon Blanc is loved for boldly and unapologetically shouting its character.

Like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc originated in France where it is a top white grape in the Loire and Bordeaux regions. From there is has spread throughout the New World and created lauded reputations for itself in cooler climates like New Zealand and South Africa.

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The Glory of Rosé

I always get excited to go to a wine store.

But lately, I’m extra excited.

That’s because it’s ROSÉ SEASON!

Ok, so it may not quite have reached rosé sipping weather everywhere, but I’ve got my windows open and patio furniture out and as if on cue, the stores have their displays up.

Like towers of pink jewels, it seems nearly impossible to look at these beauties and not feel a lightness in your heart, like the sun has just come out.

And it doesn’t hurt that they are DELICIOUS and relatively cheap!

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More Italian Love

Ok, I know it might sometimes seem like I’m part of the Italian wine lobby, but if I do drink an inordinate amount of Italian wine it is just because they offer some of the most exciting, unusual and value driven wines out there.   

Take these three beauties. All native and almost exclusively Italian varietals (you can find some pioneering winemakers in California trying their hand at the reds). All fantastically delicious and a nice change from the typical, international varietals we all usually drink. And all under $25!

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