At Louie's Wine Dive, we do more than serve great wine, we learn about great wines every day. We do this through conversation – with winemakers, with each other, and most importantly, with our guests. We hope that the articles here will continue the discussion and help demystify the world of wine.
Learn about wine grape varieties and the regions around the world where they grow best.
The history of winemaking is also the history of trying to find the words to describe the amazing variety of flavors, aromas, and sensations in every wine glass.
Wine and food are the perfect combination – they both elevate the other and open up new possibilities for enjoying a good time with friends and family.
Whether you're out on the town or whipping up a homemade feast, the right wine can make all the difference on Valentine's Day. But what wine can follow you from course to course, from salad to entrée to cheese? The folks at Wine for Normal People have a thought or two. Read on for a few pointers, then set aside a few minutes to listen to the whole show – it's well worth your time!
Fuller Albariño, with its famed minerality and salinity, will remain relatively consistent throughout a meal. Lightly sweet Riesling, however, will evolve from course to course as it warms.
Chardonnay may not be everyone's first choice but unoaked New World Chardonnay, particularly from the Central Coast in California and Australia, will bring a great balance between acidity and creaminess.
Bubbles and pink are a perfect match for the holiday, that’s for sure. But they also make for unexpected pairings with a variety of meals! Look for sparkling of all varieties, leaning toward acid over breadiness, and still rose, especially from the south of France – think Provence.
Certain red wines will be light enoguh to match up to an appetizer and salad, while still bringing enough power to stand up to your main course. Consider Beaujolais Villages or Cru (not Nouveau). The Gamay grape has floral notes, acidity, spice, but not the earthy notes of many Burgundy wines, which can overwhelm certain foods.
Pinot Noir can be tricky but rewarding. Oregon is a good choice, but avoid the heavier styles and avoid acid. Barbera, medium bodied with cherry flavors, high acid, and smooth tannins, matches nicely with the cuisine of its native Italy.
Regardless of your preference of grape, the key concept for successful pairings is to experiment and let your menu drive your choice! Food and wine can work together in perfect harmony, complement each other, or challenge each other and create unexpected flavor combinations – there's no one right answer. After all, the mantra is Food and Wine, not Food vs. Wine!
Sometimes we luck out and find a gem of a bottle that you just won’t be able to find anywhere else. This is such a jewel. St Clement’s beautiful Napa vineyard was bought by the owners of Quintessa from the owners of Stag’s Leap Winery and Beringer. (Did you follow all that?) They did not, however, buy the name, St. Clement. That means this is the very last vintage of this creamy wine with this name. We were so fond of it, we bought all we could get our hands on.
In Italian-American tradition, Christmas Eve is celebrated with Festa dei Sette Pesci or La Vigilia, Feast of the Seven Fishes. Its origins hail from southern Italy and were first mentioned in America in the early ‘80s in the New York Times. It is unclear whether there are seven, nine or even thirteen fish dishes in the feast. It depends on your particular family tradition and ability to translate Italian dialects. This big, aged, oaky 2014 St. Clement Reserve Chardonnay will be a flawless match with almost all of the courses. Try it with baccalà. (the fried salt cod is an Italian Classic) If that doesn’t sound festive enough, it will be lovely with the caramel Topsy’s popcorn your boss gave you, or a quick linguine with clam sauce.
Lujan de Cuyo is a wine region just on the west side of Mendoza Province, Argentina where the Cuatro Vacas Gordas Ranch and Winery lies.(Cuatro Vacas Gordas translates to Four Fat Cows. We think that would be a great band name.) It sits high up in the Andes at about 3200 feet. For comparison, Howell Mountain in Napa is at 1683 feet. The adorable polka-dotted cows found in drawings on the label wander fields adjacent to the winery. The land is kept pristine and healthy by the use of organic farming so the winery can produce these vegan wines.
We are showcasing Argentina this month, but we know most wine drinkers are familiar with the standard Malbec that Mendoza is famous for producing. The 2018 Cuatro Vacas Gordas Malbec Rosé is a jazzy, rust- colored rosé version. It smells of petroleum and tangerines (which is also a cool album name) and balances the fruit with a bitter note romping around in the back. Try some vegan empanadas or veggie lasagna with this fresh juice.
If Colchagua Valley is the Bordeaux of Chile, Leyda is the Burgundy, or more accurately, the Sonoma coast of Chile. Cool ocean breezes caused from the Humboldt current and morning fog keep the vines at steady cool temperatures. Before 1990, the region was known for wheat and barley. Larger wineries, looking to take advantage of the ideal cooler climate and infertile soil, built water pipelines to bring in irrigation from the Maipo River. Now, vineyards dot the rolling hills on the ocean side of the mountains.
Boya translates to buoy. This is a perfect name for a vineyard overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The winemaker picks the fruit early from young vines for the Boya Pinot Noir. This keeps all the strawberry and cherry flavors bright and alive. With fall upon us, whip up some French onion soup (courtesy of Miss Julia Child’s recipe), mushroom flatbread, pumpkin soup or your favorite salmon dish.
Fun fact: Backsberg, the winemakers of our 2019 Backsberg Pinotage Rosé this month, are also producers of Kosher wine. Pinotage was created especially for SA in the 1920s. It tastes of burning rubber and sadness. It is actually lovely in this pink version with all that grit and tannin softened.
At the beginning of the last century, C.L. Back arrived in South Africa as a Lithuanian refugee. After a stint as a dock worker and a butcher, he bought a farm. By the 20s he was growing grapes, producing wine and selling in bulk to the KWV or shipping it to England. The land passed to Sydney, then to Michael and now his son Simon is on board. The business has shed the piggery, the grains, and peach orchards, but remains very much a "family farm." The land is certified carbon neutral and sustainably farmed.
Pinotage is a grape bred in the 20s specifically for South Africa by the mad scientist Abraham Perold. A cross between Cinsaut and Pinot Noir, the grape is closer in body and flavor to a jammy Shiraz than a dainty Pinot Noir. This grape variety is incredibly inky and full of tar and red pepper when produced as a red wine. The Backsberg Pinotage Rosé is a fetching rosé that has softer notes of Ruby Red grapefruit and ripe strawberries, preferring to leave the bracing tannins to its red counterpart. This juice is delightful with fresh cheese, Chakalaka, and crusty bread.
In 1865, shortly after Sicily became an autonomous state of Italy, the Tornatore family began crafting wine exclusively from grapes native to the region. Since they had been hanging out in the region since 1680, they have a pretty firm grasp of what grows well there. They can see the smoke plume from Mt. Etna, Europe's largest active volcano, from all the vineyard sites. The winery sits on the Northern slopes in the town of Castiglione di Sicilia. Each little patch of land used to grow has its own microclimate and personality and thus is harvested and sorted by hand, overseen by Guiseppe Tornatore himself.
Nerello Mascalese is probably not a grape variety you're conversant with. Often blended with Nerello Cappuccio, it is a lovely medium-bodied black grape reminiscent of old Burgundy or Barolo without the wait or the giant price tag. So much complexity for an approachable sum! The 2016 Tornatore Etna Rosso is versatile, multifaceted and multitalented! Pork, salmon, mushrooms, tuna, pasta with fresh tomato sauce... In fact, we recommend a simple tuna with bucatini and tomato sauce.
Chefs and sommeliers work together to create amazing meals with delicious pairings. Food and wines can work together in perfect harmony, complement each other, or challenge each other and create unexpected flavor combinations. Here are some tips to elevate your meals at home!
Generally speaking, you can't go wrong by pairing like with like - light dishes need a light body wine & rich creamy dishes need a heavier wine. Look for common denominators of flavor or texture. Pepper crusted meat with peppery red Zinfandel; buttery lobster with California Chardonnay; a rich Filet Minon with a rich velvety Merlot.
Make sure the flavors work together: Salty & sour flavors bring out the positive characteristics of flavor; Sweet & bitter bring out the negative.
Think of the book Salt, Acid, Fat, Heat. All of these are components of a delicious meal, and they work best in balance.
Some rules of thumb as you experiment:
But don't just take our word for it! Take notes and follow along with our tasting guide to start picking out details of the wines you love. Or come in to chat with our sommeliers at any Louie's Wine Dive restaurant.
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