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Posts tagged ‘port wine’

Port Wine and Chocolates

June 26th, 2008

By Giuliano Bortolleto - 6/26/08

Undoubtedly, there is no better wine to pair with chocolates than a port one. May the chocolate be bitter or not. The Port wine is the only one which can support the high sweetness of the chocolate, due to its great intensity and complexity of strong flavors, making the port a potent wine, capable of pairing with so many foods of strong flavors. Although the chocolate might be very sweet and delicate, it stays on the mouth and on the tongue of whoever eats, forming a layer which is very awkward to be removed by a wine, even that this wine is a very strong one, such an urugayan tannat
That`s why the Port wine is the best choice on pairing wines with chocolates, in my opinion. Another good pick is a sparkling wine. The sparkling produces the perlage, which is very good to clean your mouth, no matter what you have eaten before. Sparkling wines are very versatiles and pair with almost all types of foods. However, only a Port can clean your mouth and tongue an at the same time harmonize with the chocolate, creating a strong, but delicious combination, emphasizing the flavors of both chocolate and Port wine. Port can be paired with other heavy foods such gorgonzola cheese and also ice creams.
Port Wine

Try yourself. Cheers!

Italian Red Wines

February 21st, 2008

Red wines are a wonderful addition to many different types of meals. Although one may automatically think of pairing a red wine with a meat or pasta dish, this type of wine goes nicely with a wide array of foods. Italian red wines in particular are a specific wine selection that is a great accompaniment to almost any meal. There are various types of red wines from the Italian region which are quite splendid. Some of these popular wines will be discussed in some detail below.
Italian Red Wines


If one is looking for a nice, dry red wine from the Italian region, Chianti may just be the perfect choice. This medium-bodied wine is made from the Sangiovese grapes and comes largely from the Tuscany area. Chianti goes perfectly with red meats, pasta and shellfish as well as certain types of poultry dishes.


Another medium-bodied red Italian wine is Valpolicella. This type of wine due to its dry characteristics and medium body will go best with flavorful, heavy varieties of food. Valpolicella is an extremely popular Italian red wine, coming in right behind Chianti with regard to being a highly favored wine.


For those individuals who prefer a less dry red Italian wine, the Amarone variety might be the perfect wine to try. Although Amarone is somewhat dry it has a variety of flavor combinations which give it a sweet taste. This is paired nicely with various cheeses and foods which are full in flavor.

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

This type of Italian red wine is medium-bodied yet fruity in flavor. The tone of the wine will depend on the specific producer as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines can be drier or less dry depending on the vineyard. This is a type of red wine that can go with a wide variety of meals and food genres.


If a wine drinker is looking to pour a glass of red Italian wine that is a bit different in nature, Lambrusco is the way to go. This wonderful red has a slight fizz to it and is not as dry as some of its red wine counterparts such as Chianti or Valpolicella. Lambrusco is a medium-bodied wine which is fruity in nature. The consistency of the Lambrusco makes it a wine that is easy to drink and unique in and of itself.


These are just a few of the many red wine options which come from Italy. Many of the red wines are dry and medium-bodied in consistency yet one will find a few that deviate from the norm with regard to taste and body. With all of the wonderful options the Italian region provides with regard to red wines, it is hard to go wrong with an Italian red wine selection.


Cabernet Franc | Red Wines

February 19th, 2008

Cabernet Franc | Red Wines From Stacy Slinkard,
Your Guide to Wine.

Definition: A thin-skinned red grape that grows particularly well in cooler climates, and is originally from the Bourdeaux and Loire Valley regions of France. The Cabernet Franc has been grown with success in Australia, Chile, Canada, South Africa and California and Washington, producing a fruity wine that is softer and more subdued than its regal relative, Cabernet Sauvignon.

Flavor Profile:

With lower tannin levels and more distinct berry (mainly blueberry, raspberry and sometimes plum) flavor, Cabernet Franc is an ideal candidate for blending with other varietals such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. However, more producers have been selling Cabernet Franc as a stand alone, single varietal on merchant shelves with notable success.

Food Pairings: poultry, lasagna, couscous with meat, Middle Eastern fare, veggie pizza, and Greek cuisine.

Cabernet Franc Recommendations:

Couly Dutheil Chinon Les Gravieres, Loire Valley $12
Stonegate Winery Cabernet Franc $16
Walla Walla Vintners Columbia Cabernet Franc $30
Cosentino Winery Cabernet Franc $35

Pronunciation: Cah-bur-nay Frahnk
Also Known As: Chinon Cabernet Frank
Alternate Spellings: Cabernet Frank


Pinot Noir Glass | Red WinesFrom Stacy Slinkard,
Your Guide to Wine.

An Overview of a Challenging Wine

Pinot Noir (pronounced Pee-noh-n’wahr)
Pinot Noir may be the toughest grape to grow, but the effort is well worth the investment. It is a fickle grape that demands optimum growing conditions, calling for warm days consistently supported by cool evenings. Pinot Noir is a lighter colored and flavored red wine, well-suited to pair with poultry, ham, lamb and pork. Its flavors are reminiscent of sweet red berries, plums, tomatoes, cherries and at times a notable earthy or wood-like flavor, depending on specific growing conditions.

Pinot Noir’s forerunner and modest inspiration hails from red Burgundy, one of France’s most prized wines. Today, Pinot Noir is planted in regions around the world including: Oregon, California , New Zealand, Australia, Germany and Italy .

Due to the stringent growing requirements for Pinot Noir, it is produced in much smaller quantities than other popular red wines. Traditionally, you will also pay a little more for Pinot Noir, as the “supply and demand” theories kick in. However, for an excellent value you may consider Castle Rock Carneros Pinot Noir 2003 at just $10 a pop, you will be hard pressed to find a better price for a truly delightful Pinot Noir.

Merlot | Red Wines

February 19th, 2008

Merlot | Red Wines Merlot (’MERL-oh’ in British English and French, mer-LOH in American English) is a red wine grape that is used as both a blending grape and for varietal wines. Merlot-based wines usually have medium body with hints of berry, plum, and currant. Its softness and “fleshiness”, combined with its earlier ripening, makes Merlot an ideal grape to blend with the sterner, later-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon. This flexibility has helped to make it one of the most popular red wine varietals in the United States and Chile.

Origins and genetics

Merlot leaf.The earliest recorded mention of Merlot was in the notes of a local Bordeaux official who in 1784 labeled wine made from the grape in the Libournais region as one of the area’s best. The name comes from the French regional patois word “merlot”, which means “young blackbird” (”merle” is the French word for several kinds of thrushes, including blackbirds); the naming came either because of the grape’s beautiful dark-blue color, or due to blackbirds’ fondness for grapes. By the 19th century it was being regularly planted in the Médoc on the “Left Bank” of the Gironde.

It was first recorded in Italy around Venice under the synonym Bordò in 1855. The grape was introduced to the Swiss, from Bordeaux, sometime in the 19th century and was recorded in the Swiss canton of Ticino between 1905 and 1910.

Researchers at University of California, Davis believe that the grape is an offspring of Cabernet Franc and is a sibling of Carménère.

Until 1993, the Chilean wine industry mistakenly sold a large quantity of wine made from the Carmenere grape as Merlot. In that year, genetic studies discovered that much of what had been grown as Merlot was actually Carmenere, an old French variety that had gone largely extinct in France due to its poor resistance to phylloxera, which as of 2006 does not exist in Chile.

The labeling Chilean Merlot is a catch-all to include wine that is made from a blend of indiscriminate amounts of Merlot and Carmenere. With Merlot ripening 3 weeks earlier than Carmenere, these wines differ greatly in quality depending on harvesting.


Merlot Glass | Red WinesAfter a series of setbacks that includes a severe frost in 1956 and several vintages in the 1960’s lost to rot, French authorities in Bordeaux banned new plantings of Merlot vines between 1970 and 1975.

In Merlot early history with California wine, the grape was used primarily as a 100% varietal wine until wine maker Warren Winiarski encouraged taking the grape back to its blending roots with Bordeaux style blends.

A mutant that produces white grapes has been found, and white wine is made from this mutant by Beringer in California and Skalli in France. It has nothing to do with the rosé wine made from red Merlot that is sometimes sold as “White Merlot”.

Major regions

Merlot is produced primarily in France (where it is the third most planted red grape), Italy (where it is the country’s 5th most planted grape) and California, Romania and on a lesser scale in Australia, Argentina, Canada’s Niagara Peninsula, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa, Switzerland, Croatia, Hungary, Montenegro, Slovenia, and other parts of the United States such as Washington and Long Island. It grows in many regions that also grow Cabernet Sauvignon but tends to be cultivated in the cooler portions of those areas. In areas that are too warm, Merlot will ripen too early.

In the traditional Bordeaux blend, Merlot’s role is to add body and softness. Despite accounting for 50-60% of overall plantings in Bordeaux, the grape tends to account for an average of 25% of the blends-especially in the Graves and Médoc. However, in the regions of Pomerol and Saint-Emilion it is not unusual for Merlot to comprise the majority of the blend. One of the most famous and rare wines in the world, Château Pétrus, is almost all Merlot.

In Italy, the Merlot grape is often blended with Sangiovese to give the wine a similar softening effect as the Bordeaux blends. The Strada del Merlot is a popular tourist route through Merlot wine countries along the Isonzo river.

In Hungary, Merlot complements Kékfrankos, Kékoportó and Kadarka as a component in Bull’s Blood. It is also made into varietal wine known as Egri Médoc Noir which is noted for its balanced acid levels and sweet taste.


Merlot grapes are identified by their loose bunches of large berries. The color has less of a blue/black hue than Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and with a thinner skin, the grapes also have fewer tannins. Also compared to Cabernet, a Merlot grape tends to have higher sugar content and lower malic acid.

Merlot thrives in cold soil, particularly ferrous clay. The vine tends to bud early which gives it some risk to cold frost and its thin skin increases its susceptibility to rot. It normally ripens up to two weeks earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon. Water stress is important to the vine with it thriving in well drained soil more so than at base of a slope.

The vine is susceptible to over cropping, and pruning is a major component to the quality of the wine that is produced. Wine consultant Michel Rolland is a major proponent for reducing the yields of Merlot grapes to improve quality. The age of the vine is also important, with older vines contributing character to the resulting wine.

A characteristic of the Merlot grape is the propensity to quickly over ripen once it hits its initial ripeness level, sometimes in a matter of a few days. There are two schools of thought on the right time to harvest Merlot. The wine makers of Château Pétrus favor early picking to best maintain the wine’s acidity and finesse as well as its potential for aging. Others, such as Rolland, favor late picking and the added fruit body that comes with a little bit of over-ripeness.

White Merlot

White Merlot is made the same way as its more famous cousin, White Zinfandel. The grapes are crushed, and after very brief skin contact, the resulting pink juice is run off the must to then be fermented. Some producers of White Merlot include Sutter Home, Forest Glen, and Beringer. It normally has a hint of raspberry. White Merlot was reputedly first marketed in the late 1990s, and should not be confused with wines made from the white mutant of the grape.

In Switzerland, a type of White Merlot is made but is often considered more a rosé.

In popular culture

Merlot was mocked by the main character in the film Sideways who prefers to drink Pinot Noir instead, which may have played a role in a concurrent slowing of Merlot sales.

In Martha, Inc.: The Story of Martha Stewart, Martha Stewart (played by Cybill Shepherd) says during a segment of her show “Who opened three bottles of wine? Do you know how much a good bottle of red wine costs? And for God’s sake, DID I NOT ASK FOR MERLOT?”

Source: Wikipedia

Cabernet Sauvignon | Red Wines

February 12th, 2008

Cabernet Sauvignon | Red WinesCabernet Sauvignon is a variety of red grape mainly used for wine production, and is, along with Merlot, one of the most widely-planted of the world’s grape varieties. If current trends continue, it may soon be the most planted of any grape variety.

The principal grape in many Bordeaux wines, Cabernet Sauvignon is grown in most of the world’s wine regions (except the very coldest), although it requires a long growing season to ripen properly and gives low yields. Many of the red wines regarded as among the world’s greatest, such as Red Bordeaux, are predominantly made from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. World-class examples can improve for decades and remain drinkable for a century.

The particularly thick skin of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape results in wines that can be high in tannin which provides both structure and ageability. This varietal, while frequently aromatic and with an attractive finish, also tends to lack mid-palate richness and so is often blended with lower tannin, but “fleshy” tasting grapes, particularly Merlot and, especially in Australia, Shiraz / Syrah. Cabernet Franc is often used in blends with Cabernet Sauvignon to add aromatics. As a group, Cabernet Sauvignon wines are generally full-flavored, with a stronger flavor than Merlot for instance, and with a smooth and lingering “finish”.


Old vine Cabernet Sauvignon at Chateau Montelena in Napa Valley. As the grapes mature they will darken to a purple hue.Cabernet Sauvignon has a well defined aroma. In Old World wines, particularly those made in Bordeaux, this is characterised by a smell of violets, blackcurrant, cedar and spice. New World wines of this grape can often share the aromas of their Old World counterparts, but are more often dominated by aromas of chocolate, ripe jammy berries, oak, pepper and earth. In Australia, there is often a strong smell of eucalyptus, particularly in wines made in Coonawarra. One of the most characteristic aromas of warm-climate examples is cassis (blackcurrant), while cherry and other red berry notes are not uncommon. Cooler-climate examples often reveal greener, herbaceous notes, such as eucalyptus or green pepper/capsicum. There is, however, a great deal of variation in flavor depending on the region, winemaking technique, seasonal weather, and bottle age. Nonetheless the wines retain a remarkable ability to be recognizably Cabernet.


Cabernet Sauvignon, like all noble wine grape varieties, is of the species Vitis vinifera, and genetic studies in 1997 indicated it is the result of a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.

In 1961, a cross of Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache produced the French wine grape Marselan.

In 1977 a vine producing ‘bronze’ grapes was found in the vineyards of Cleggett Wines in Australia. They propagated this mutant, registered it under the name of Malian and have sold pale red wines under that name. In 1991 one of the Bronze Cabernet vines started producing white grapes. Cleggett registered this “White Cabernet” under the name of Shalistin.Compared to the Cabernet parent, Malian appears to lack anthocyanins in the subepidermal cells but retains them in the epidermis, whereas Shalistin has no anthocyanins in either layer. It has been suggested that a gene involved in anthocyanin production was deleted in the subepidermis of Malian, and then subepidermal cells invaded the epidermis to produce Shalistin. It is not unusual to have these kinds of ‘gris’ and ‘blanc’ mutants of ‘black’ grapes - the Pinot and Grenache families are examples, although the ‘Malian’ deletion is bigger than the mutation found in Pinot blanc.



Cabernet Sauvignon is most directly associated with the wines of Bordeaux, and especially those of its Left Bank, which includes the top tier appellations of St.-Estephe, Pauillac, St.-Julien, and Margaux, among others. It makes up the majority portion of the blends of all of the Grand Cru wines of the 1855 classification.

In Bordeaux, though, blending is common with the other allowable varietals: Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Pettit Verdot, and Malbec.

Cabernet Sauvignon is also cultivated in other areas in France, notably Languedoc-Rousillon, and has great acclaim the world over.


Traditionally, Italian wine-makers have long regarded the Cabernet Sauvignon grape with suspicion, despite a long history there, and it appears in very few of Italy’s DOCs. In Tuscany in the 1970s however, a number of top winemakers deliberately introduced Cabernet Sauvignon into their wines, despite knowing that it fell outside of the DOC system, and produced the top class wines that are often known as “Super Tuscans”. Famous examples include Sassicaia, Ornellaia, Saffredi, Vigna d’Alceo, Guisto di Notri and Solaia.

A bottle of Stag’s Leap Cask 23 Cabernet Sauvignon, a California Cabernet.

United States

Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon | Red WinesCalifornia is, after Bordeaux, the world’s largest grower of Cabernet Sauvignon, most notably in the Napa Valley and warmer AVAs of Sonoma County. In California the area of Cabernet Sauvignon planting doubled in the 1990s, precipitously lowering prices and disrupting the health of the wine industry. As in Bordeaux, it is often blended with Merlot and Cabernet Franc to produce world-class wines. More commercial versions may be blended with Ruby Cabernet or other varietals that provide more structure and richness than Cabernet Sauvignon can provide. The grape has also found a home in Washington, though it requires the warmest vineyards such as the Red Mountain AVA in the lower Yakima Valley for it to ripen fully.

Other New World Producers

The grape’s most notable success over the past decade has been its use in the wines of the “New World”. The consistently optimal climates (more so than in Europe), strong investment and innovative winemaking techniques have allowed countries such as Canada’s Niagara Peninsula, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia to produce very good and at times, outstanding, quality Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines at competitive prices. Cabernet Sauvignon is also the most planted grape in Israel and other Mediterranean countries.

Cabernet Sauvignon and Health

In late 2006, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology published the result of studies conducted at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine that showed the beneficial relationship of Cabernet Sauvignon in reducing the risk factors associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The study showed that resveratrol, a compound found in all red wine, can reduce levels of amyloid beta peptides, which attack brain cells and are part of the etiology of Alzheimer’s. Resveratrol has also been shown to promote the clearance of amyloid-beta peptides. It has also been shown that non-alcoholic extracts of Cabernet Sauvignon protect hypertensive rats during ischaemia and reperfusion.

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