November-December 2011 | GRAPE EXPECTATIONS

The Wine Rack's Steve Shockley



The Wine Rack’s Steve Shockley shares a host of wine selections for ideal pairings while entertaining family and friends this holiday season

Written By: | Photographer: Stephen Cherry

The time has arrived that all chefs, gastronomes, cooks, wine geeks and general “food-gadabouts” have been eagerly awaiting…The fall and winter wine-and-dine season! With the vast array of flavors and wide variety of tastes, matching food and wine can get overwhelming. It can really be hair-pulling and hand-wringing when many hosts are searching for the perfect food-and-wine pairing. But despair not, help has arrived! The Wine Wizard would like to share some ideas and suggestions of wines that might be a source of relief.
Nothing tells guests to relax and enjoy the evening more than greeting them at the door with a glass of champagne or sparkling wine. Three of my favorite “fizzies” are Roederer Estate Sonoma Brut, Segura Viudas Brut or Extra-dry from Spain, and Sorocco Moscato d’Asti from Italy. Roederer and Segura are both made in the traditional champagne method, which assures you of a fine, quality fizz. Keep in mind that Extra-dry and Moscato are sweeter in style thus sweeter foods would be the fare.
Something else to consider is that folks who rarely have a glass of wine will enjoy a glass or two at this time. Perhaps a semi-sweet wine would appeal to everyone. A German Riesling such as St. Urban-hof from the Mosel region would fit this occasion. Mosel wines offer clean, crisp Granny Smith apple and pear flavors with a nice, tidy finish. Also, another choice is the Hogue Winery Gewürztraminer from Washington State. The German word Gewurtz actually means “spicy.” This wine shows hints of spicy clove and nutmeg together with notes of pear and peach. The wide variety of food seasonings team well with Gewürztraminer. These two wines can also pair with ham dishes or seafood dishes of any kind. And speaking of seafood, a dryer-style Sauvignon Blanc wine creates a perfect marriage. The inherent feature of Sauvignon is citric acid, the crisp, lemony flavor we all enjoy. This clean, fresh taste has a way of enhancing the flavors of both the wine and the dish. I invite you to look for Sebastiani’s Sivas-Sonoma Sauvignon Blanc. 
Ole, Ole, Rose! Let’s not forget the pink stuff. The semi-sweet berry notes from a quality White Zinfandel can be enjoyed by everyone. On the other hand, an elegant dry Rose’ from France’s Provence region is more than appropriate with many foods. Domaine de Jarras 2010 is a wonderful choice, offering crisp strawberry notes and a clean finish.
Meat dishes such as rib roasts, venison or other game call for a bigger, bolder wine. I recommend Hope Estates “The Ripper” Shiraz from Western Australia. Shiraz has a richly warm, spicy and peppery flavor, along with the full-bodied quality that simply shouts, “where’s the beef.” Another fabulous selection for this food category is a great wine that is often overlooked by many wine lovers: Chateauneuf-du-Pape. The depth and complexity of this powerful red justly manifests itself in the fact that the French law allows up to 13 grape varieties in the blending of this wine. The most well-known varieties are Syrah, Grenache, Cinsaut and Mouvedre. Only a handful of producers blend all 13 varieties, and it is evidenced by their superb quality. Chateau du Beaucastel is arguably the premier producer — with a premier price tag, I might add. More affordable, yet fine producers, are Domaine Vieux Telegraphe, Louis Bernard and Etienne Guigal. I really enjoy E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone Rouge, a Syrah- or Shiraz-blend from France is a similarly styled wine and a fine food match as well.
And now, for the full-blown, no-holds-barred turkey feast — and, naturally, the wine choices are numerous. However, I think a Pinot Noir wine is the perfect pairing for the vast variety of flavors that accompany the feast. Pinot offers a clean yet assertive flavor but not so full-bodied as to overpower the many food subtleties. Moshin Vineyards from Sonoma is a premier wine with deep, intense flavors and always yielding mid-90 ratings. Another appropriate Pinot is Pennywise from Sebastiani, again rave reviews, great flavor and nicely affordable. Two other reds that would admirablely suit your turkey dinner just happen to be my personnal favorites. White Oak Vineyards Napa ’07 Merlot and Chateau La Cardonne ’03 Medoc, Bordeaux. Each of these elegant quaffs are richly flavored Merlot-Cabernet blends; both boast of a classy, noble structure and are truly worth treating yourself to.
And now, a special treat to end the evening: a little dessert and a sip or two of Heinz-Eifel Beerenauslese, Rheinhessen Germany. Without a doubt, one of the most the rich, alluring, luscious dessert wines in the world!
Happy holidays from The Wine Rack! Cheers!

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