Another year dawns, and with it the chance for new tasting adventures. For your New Year’s celebration try some different sorts of bubblies. Maybe Prosecco (Mionetto, Nino Franco) from Italy, or Cava (Llopart, Segura Viudas) from Spain. Prosecco is the lighter and smoother of the two. Cava is more rustic and fuller-bodied. While both are enjoyable on their own, they are also outstanding complements to an entire meal, from appetizers to desserts.
By Lou Campoli
Another year dawns, and with it the chance for new tasting adventures.
For your New Year’s celebration try some different sorts of bubblies. Maybe Prosecco (Mionetto, Nino Franco) from Italy, or Cava (Llopart, Segura Viudas) from Spain. Prosecco is the lighter and smoother of the two. Cava is more rustic and fuller-bodied. While both are enjoyable on their own, they are also outstanding complements to an entire meal, from appetizers to desserts.
White wines come in all forms and flavors. If you enjoy pinot grigio, try pinot gris from Alsace in France (Trimbach, Hugel, Zind-Humbrecht) or Oregon (Ponzi, Benton Lane, King Estate). These wines are made from the same grape as pinot grigio, but are much more flavorful and fuller-bodied. Enjoy them with salmon, sauced fish dishes and white meats.
For those who enjoy chardonnay but are tired of the oaky flavors (vanilla, butterscotch) that are found in many of them from Australia and California, try Chablis (William Fèvre, J. Moreau), Saint-Aubin (Domaine Bachelet, Bernard Morey), or Pernand-Vergelesses (Domaine Rapet). These are all made entirely from chardonnay but are truer expressions of the chardonnay grape because they don’t exhibit those heavy oak overtones. Chablis is steely and very crisp, and pairs well with oysters, shellfish and seafood. Saint-Aubin is a bit fuller-bodied and has more tropical fruit flavors. Enjoy it with seafood and white meat dishes. Pernand-Vergelesses is a delicious wine that has the same characteristics as the great white Burgundies but at a fraction of the price. It matches well with richly sauced seafood and white meat dishes.
Here are some other white wines you might like to try. Arneis from Italy (Ceretto, Castello di Neive) is medium-bodied with a slight almond flavor on the finish and is great with risotto and white-sauced pasta dishes. Drier versions of riesling from Germany (Selbach-Oster, J.J. Prüm), Washington (Château Ste. Michelle, Pacific Rim), and Australia (Annie’s Lane, Wolf Blass) are now found in the marketplace and, like their sweeter versions, are high in acidity and packed with peach and apricot flavors. Riesling wines are excellent matches to seafood and sausage meals, and especially hot, spicy Asian dishes.
Cabernet sauvignon and merlot wines have long been the favorites of the American palate. Pinot noir wines are now just about as popular. Why not venture out into the rest of the world of red wines? Carmenère from Chile (Casa Lapostolle, Santa Rita) was for a long time thought to be merlot. Since its DNA was established, carmenère has become a wonderful alternative to merlot. Serve it with braised red meats. Malbec from Argentina (Bodega Colomé, Catena Zapata) is dry and flavorful, and matches well with red meat dishes.
If you enjoy paella and grilled meats and vegetables, try Rioja from Spain (Muga, Sierra Cantabria). It is made from tempranillo and has wonderful red berry and spicy flavors. Garnacha from Spain (Bodegas Borsao, Alto Moncayo) is a fuller-bodied and very flavorful red wine. It pairs well with heavier red meat dishes. You might also want to try Nero d’Avola (Cusumano , Colosi) wines from Sicily. Tomato-sauced pasta and meat dishes are excellent with this wine.
Don’t forget rosé wines. The dry ones from France (Jean-Luc Colombo, Domaines Ott), Oregon (A to Z, Ponzi), and California (Tablas Creek, Rosenblum ) have rich berry flavors and can be served with lighter meat and vegetable dishes.
And look for a twist on dessert that can be served in flute glasses. Try Prosecco or Cava stirred over lemon sherbet. What a refreshing and satisfying dessert. Also, try the wonderfully sweet, slightly spritzy Moscato d’Asti (Michele Chiarlo, Elio Perrone) on its own or with fruit desserts.
Resolve to get out of your comfort zone and explore the world’s wines. And have a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!