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Wine for Thought: Our newest guest blogger joins Cocktail Fodder with a value Rosé you can’t miss!

July 21, 2010 1 comment

Spain's wine regions.

In today’s Wine for Thought segment, I would like to introduce Sarah as our first guest wine blogger. I’ve wanted to give Sarah a guest spot on the Fodder since her arrival at the East Village Wine Geek‘s shop a month ago. Sarah splits her time as a wine manager at the shop and as an intern at WineChap; a slick online resource that gives you reviews of restaurant’s wine lists throughout New York City. (Definitely worth a look!) A passionate student of wine with an already enviable palate, (“Sarah, I still don’t get the citrus fruits in this wine!”) Sarah will be helping out on Wednesday’s Wine for Thought segments. Here is her first post about a 10 year old Spanish Rosé that is worth a try for the daring and curious wine drinker. Enjoy!

Wine is not just for drinking. Obviously, wine is great for just drinking, but there comes a time in a drinker’s life when the urge to get something more than intoxication out of a bottle may arise. The desire to taste something new, better and different can overcome even the most apathetic boozer and encourage them to find a new experience.

Enter López de Heredia. One of the oldest bodegas in Rioja, López was founded by Don Rafael López de Heredia y Landeta in the late 1800s during the post-phylloxera exodus from France to Spain. While the bodega is decently large, with three vineyards covering 170 hecatres, the López family continues to make traditional wines with care and attention that are released only when deemed ready.

Viña Tondonia Rosé Gran Reserva 2000

The López de Heredia Viña Tondonia Rosé Gran Reserva 2000 is love in a bottle. Bottled love is a pretty good experience, and this blend of Garnacho, Tempranillo and Viura is the best lover that you can get at this price point. She has been waiting for years to become exactly what you want and need; to fulfill desires you did not know that you had. Most rosé is made to buy young and drink yesterday, but this is primed to give you all the nutty caramel goodness you could possibly want.

The day-glo orange hue and distinctive oloroso-style nose come from the purposeful oxidation of the wine throughout the ageing process. When oxygen comes in contact with wine, it beats the poor drink into submission. However, in a controlled environment, oxygen can be used to add complex flavors and aromas. While hints of burnt sugar and sweet spice are evident on the nose, the palate is dry and tangy; she is surprisingly fresh for her age. Drink chilled but not cold, with food or without, but definitely in good company.

To be clear, this wine is a bit bizarre. This is especially true if it is your first time with an older one. That said, the López rosé – which is aged for four years in barrel before being tucked away in some dank, dark corner for another six in bottle – offers a chance to taste age at a ridiculously low price. While $26.99 may exceed your normal wine budget, remember that this weird, orange wine has been lying down in the cool dark for ten years waiting for you.

Until next time, keep on sipping and swirling the good juice.

*For those of you in the Tri-State area, September Wines in New York City currently carries the 2000 vintage. Be on the lookout at your local wine shop to see if they carry any of this producer’s wines.

Wine for Thought: An introduction to wine and cheese

July 14, 2010 Leave a comment

Wine and Cheese

In this week’s Cocktail Fodder “Wine for Thought,” I want to talk about pairing wine with cheese. Wine and cheese just makes sense together and have been enjoyed that way since the beginning of time. The Greeks were even known to grate cheese directly into their wine goblets! Blasphemy by today’s standards, but maybe they were onto something like they were with democracy. Anyway, if paired correctly, wine and cheese can enhance your overall food experience and allow you to better appreciate both. Discovering new tasting notes on a wine, by way of cheese, is quite the rewarding gastronomical experience.

A Caves Saint-Pierre Vacqueyras

I came into the shop yesterday and enjoyed an impromptu wine and cheese pairing with my co-worker Sarah. We chose a southern Côtes du Rhône from Vacqueyras that was 50% Grenache, 50% Syrah. After letting the wine aerate for some time, we took a sip and made our initial tasting notes: the nose was earthy and vegetal, while the palate exhibited a prominent yet balanced acidity with hints of ripe berries. Acidity is the chemical property (pH) in wine that makes your taste buds perk up and tickle. After the initial taste, I strolled over to Barnyard to pick up two cheeses to match up with the wine. Since the wine had a bright acidity, I decided that semi-soft cheeses were the order of the day. With pairing, you can either mirror or contrast the wine and cheese. In this instance, I chose to contrast. I went with a delicious French goat cheese called Bucherondin and a triple-crème-style cheese known as Pierre Robert. The Bucherondin was delicious with a crumbling claylike consistency and slight tangy flavor, while the Pierre Robert was creamier with an even more pronounced tanginess.

The Bucherondin succeeded in softening the wine’s acidity on the palate while allowing the fruit to come through. (Success!) The Pierre Robert was an interesting pairing with the Vacqueyras in that it seemed to prop up the acidity on the palate. I honestly think I came up short with the Pierre Robert pairing. Sarah and I were both craving soft cheeses — goat cheese in particular — so both cheeses allowed us to discover what worked and what didn’t. To add a wrinkle to the story, Sarah preferred the Pierre Robert over the Bucherondin with the wine. The moral of the story: to enjoy wine, there are no rules just guidelines.

Here is an informative website with general guidelines for pairing wine with cheese.

Sip on!

Goat Cheese & Mint Bruschetta: the best thing to happen to bread since it was sliced

July 14, 2010 Leave a comment

A delicious, easy summer bruschetta.

Hey there Cocktail Fodder readers! I went to my favorite East Village café, Paradiso, the other day for an iced coffee and ended up having bruschetta with goat cheese, caramelized onions and a side of olives. (I’m admittedly forgetting some of the other key ingredients but this should give you an idea of the goodness.) Once finished, I decided that I should post a recipe for both the bruschetta-lover and bruschetta uninitiated. Now, I’ve had bruschetta before in the past, but never really thought much of it until my recent encounter at Paradiso. I cannot think of a better light and flavorful dish to whip up this summer to impress your own taste buds as well as the others in your presence. Great as a summer appetizer, everyone should have a quick bruschetta recipe up their sleeve. (Kudos to Marisa and epicurious.com!) What’s that you say? You don’t have one? Well then, you’re in luck today!

How does crispy bruschetta with goat cheese, tomatoes and mint sound? Hopefully as good as it does to me.

**SIDE NOTE: Goat cheese is the perfect pairing with a rosé wine — I implore you to get a little goat cheese on your next grocery trip and stop by your local wine shop for a nice, dry rosé.**

Anyway, back to the recipe:

Ingredients:

12 1/2-inch-thick slices of Italian or French bread (Preferably, from about a 3-inch-diameter loaf.)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large garlic clove, halved

6 plum tomatoes, seeded, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

4 ounces soft fresh goat cheese

3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Find a baking sheet and put the bread slices on it. Use a brush and spread olive oil on both sides of the bread slices. Bake the bread until they reach a golden hue; about 6 minutes on both sides. Remove the bread and rub the halved garlics on them. Take the plum tomatoes and fresh lemon juice and combine them in a medium-sized bowl; season with salt and pepper to taste. Up the temperature of the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the goat cheese over the toast and place the tomatoes on top, dividing equally between slices. Bake the bruschetta for another 8 minutes. Once done, place on a serving platter and garnish with the fresh mint.

Et voilá!

Quick hit wine recommendations: French Rosé, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and any Chenin Blanc.

Ladies and Gentleman: Cocktail Fodder!

July 8, 2010 Leave a comment

AWC’s wine jefe, the East Village Wine Geek, promoting your daily Fodder.

Wine for Thought: Gamay from the Beaujolais!

July 7, 2010 2 comments

Beaujolais Nouveau: Good to chill

In this week’s Wine for Thought, I am going to touch upon a red wine that you can put on ice and chill. I mentioned Gamay in last week’s recipe of the week. It still stands as a perfect compliment to that Pesto Shrimp Penne recipe. Today, though, I’ll give you a bit more on the grape’s history and current state in the wine market.

Joseph Drouhin's Beaujolais Villages.

Gamay is grown all over the place but its ancestral homeland is in Beaujolais, located in the southernmost part of Burgundy, France. Although technically a part of “Greater Burgundy”, its soil, topography, and climate are distinct from the noble area to the north. The red wines produced in Beaujolais are predominately made from the Gamay grape. The Gamay grown in Beaujolais produces a wine that is light and fruity with a bright acidity on the palate. All three of these characteristics make it a great wine to have chilled at a picnic, at the beach, or at a barbecue in the park or rooftop.

Some people will recognize Beaujolais Nouveau as a wine that is released on the market in September/October; right after the harvest. Georges Duboeuf, the large French negociant, is synonymous with Beaujolais Nouveau. His wines, festooned with flowers, are the quintessential quaffing wines. So if you want to try one, you can’t go wrong with a Georges Dubeoef. Beaujolais Nouveau is the most predominant example of Beaujolais on the U.S. market and is your best bet to find and throw in that waiting bucket of ice.

There are other, more serious Gamay Beaujolais wines that are also great on ice. Instead of serving them between 55-65 degrees (the preferred red wine serving temperature), serve them between 45-55 degrees and enjoy the juicy fruit and spice. So ask your local wine merchant for an affordable Gamay from Beaujolais, pop it into the fridge, wake up in the morning, prepare your snacks, get outside, and enjoy the goodness offered from the region of Beaujolais.

In the future, I’ll make sure to throw out some more examples of wines that can and/or should be chilled this Summer. Until then, keep sipping the good stuff.

A Scrumptious Salad Recipe: Caesar Salad with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

July 7, 2010 1 comment

Caesar Salad with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

It’s about time that the Cocktail Fodder crew offered you a simple, quick, and delicious salad to enjoy in the summer months. I’ve made this salad on several occasions and love the flavor sun-dried tomatoes add to it. The original recipe is from Joie Warner’s Caesar Salads: America’s favorite salad. I checked in with my wine boss (and king of wines), Keith of ABC Wine Company, about wine pairings. He reckons that a round white wine with moderate depth would do the trick. It pairs perfectly due to the creaminess of the dressing and the sun-dried tomatoes. The Pecorino from “Wine for Thought” two weeks back would do well with this salad. As would an Orvieto, a white wine from Italy, or even a Chardonnay (unoaked). So keep these pairings in mind and enjoy this quick, simple, and easy recipe.

Until next week, keep eating and sipping.

Ingredients:

1 large romaine lettuce head, rinsed, dried, and broken into bite-size pieces

2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 can (2 ounces) anchovy fillets, drained, chopped (I actually prefer tuna but go with whichever floats your boat.)

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (Only the best!)

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (Store bought lemon juice is fine as well.)

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

½ cup olive oil

10 large, halved sun-dried tomatoes, drained and diced

½ cup fresh Parmesan Cheese, with extra for plating

1 ½ cup of Croutons (You can make your own, if you’re feeling extra ambitious, but I usually go with store-bought.)

Directions:

Take a medium bowl and whisk the garlic, anchovies/tuna, mustard, lemon juice, and vinegar until well blended. While you are whisking slowly, add the olive oil in a thin stream until the mixture is thickened. Take your chopped sun-dried tomatoes and stir them into the mixture along with the Parmesan cheese. Toss the romaine lettuce in a large salad/mixing bowl with the dressing until thoroughly coated. Add croutons and toss again. Plate with added Parmesan cheese on top to taste.

Bon appétit!

Wine for Thought: A crowd-pleasing wine from Austria — Grüner Veltliner!

June 30, 2010 1 comment

A 2007 Berger Grüner Veltliner

In last week’s inaugural Cocktail Fodder wine discussion, I talked about the Italian wine Pecorino. I hope all of you have had the opportunity to try this remarkable juice and share it with your friends.

This week I am going to introduce you to a wine that is readily available on the U.S. market and is currently selling like hot cakes here at the shop in the East Village. As the most widely harvested grape in Austria, accounting for over one-third of the vineyard plantings in the country, Grüner Veltliner (GROO-ner, VEHLT-ly-ner) is an Austrian classic that is perfect for the spring and summer months.  Once known as Grüner Muskateller, Grüner Veltliner only became noteworthy post-WWII when more advanced viticulture allowed for the full potential of the grape to be realized. While there are some nice examples of aged Grüner Veltliners, it is better known for being a young wine. If your local wine shop carries it, they should have the most recent vintages of ’07, ’08, and ’09. These wines will typically be dry, light to medium-bodied, with a lively food-friendly acidity. That makes this wine great to beat back the heat and enjoy with a wide range of summer foods.  For pairings think tofu and vegetables, cold soups, Asian-influenced dishes, and lighter meat fare (veal, pork, and poultry).

"The Luncheon of the Boating Party"

Renoir's "The Luncheon of the Boating Party." That party is missing some Grüner, don't you think?

The Grüner that ABC Wine Company currently carries is the 2009 Berger Grüner Veltliner. It’s a 1L bottle in a crown cap (the same type of cap used to bottle beer).  At 11 dollars a pop, with flavorful notes of green apple and citrus and the capability of serving 6 people, this is a win-win situation for every recent graduate, cost conscious shopper and wine lover out there.

Let’s say it all together now: GROO-ner, VEHLT-ly-ner!

Wine for Thought: Pecorino from Italy

June 23, 2010 6 comments

To start off the Cocktail Fodder’s wine section I’d like to introduce our readers to an obscure, off-the-beaten-path wine varietal known as Pecorino. In this particular case the wine and grape are one and the same: Pecorino wine is made from the Pecorino grape. Grown predominately in the east-central Italian regions of Abruzzo and the neighboring Marches (see map of Italy below) this wine is a pleasant surprise for the uninitiated. With summer in full swing we all want to drink wines that are light, clean, and crisp to beat back the heat. Most people think immediately of the go-to whites of recent memory: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, etc. While these are all great varietals for the summer months, wouldn’t it be nice to find some indigenous grapes from remote places in the world that you’ve never heard of before that might satisfy your white wine craving? You might also impress your friends while you’re at it.

The official appellation of the Pecorino grape in the Marches is known as Offida Pecorino. Once cast off as being a grape that produced too astringent wines, a group of devoted young wine makers entered the region and decided to have a go at making it into a wine with a nice mixture of fruit, crispness, and minerality. The Pecorino that I recently tried was medium-bodied, appropriately acidic and exhibited a nice depth of fruit with prominent notes of white peach and pear on both the nose and palate. In terms of food pairings for this wine think rich salads, Asian-inspired cuisine, and chicken dishes. For instance, the round fruit on the palate would act as a great counter to the spiciness of a Thai dish. Enjoy!

Until next time, keep swirling and sipping.

A Feel for Cocktail Fodder

June 18, 2010 3 comments

A martini glass. Accentuate it with your mind.

Here at Cocktail Fodder, we debated whether to jump right into substantive material or to present our new readers with a inaugural entry that gives them a feel for what we’re trying to do with our nascent blog. As you can probably tell from the title of these ramblings, we chose the latter route.

Chances are, you don’t talk about only one subject with your coworkers, friends and family but rather span a vast array of nuggets of knowledge you collect reading, conversing with others, traveling, surfing the web,watching TV, etc. Keeping that in mind, everyday of the week Cocktail Fodder will be centered around a new theme….

Mondays:  “International Intrigue” – We’ll try to present you with the hottest headlines, or most unique, in the international infosphere. One week may look at the drug trade in West Africa and the next might delve into the British election system. We’ll try to stay varied and constantly viable.

Tuesdays: “Domestic Diary” – Tuesdays will bring you the must read stories of the past week’s domestic politics. From Tea Party rallies to unbalanced budgets to the upcoming November elections, the Domestic Diary will look towards Washington with a critical and, hopefully, vigilant eye.

Wednesdays: “20 Somethings Eating Well” – The vast majority of twenty somethings, including your own Cocktail Fodder authors, live on a budget. A budget that doesn’t often include the culinary accutrements that they would like to treat themselves to. On Wednesdays, we’ll try to bring to light new culinary trends, off-the-beaten path wines and budget recipes to eat like the culinary expert you are at heart.

Thursdays: “Not Your Average Sports” – The word shmorgishborg does not begin to describe the litany of sports blogs at the disposal of the average net-surfer; specifically the average American internet user. On Thursdays, we’re going to try to feature a new take on the weeks news stories in the American and international sports scenes. Be forewarned though, we are soccer fans, enthusiasts if you will, and we will invariably bring the joy of the beautiful game to you.

Fridays: “Week In Review” – This is not a unique idea, we’ll freely admit that. But everyone needs a trusty and compelling week in review to get their intellectual juices flowing before well deserved weekend laziness. We’ll try to give you that in an idiosyncratic manner that will leave you wanting more Cocktail Fodder.

So that’s it. That’s what we’re starting with. It could change, but this is our raison d’etre. We hope you enjoy the reading and come back for more. We also want to hear from you. Comment, email us at cocktailfoddertalkback@gmail.com or tweet us. Let us know what we’re doing wrong or what we should try. No suggestion or comment is a bad one.

We start daily blogging on June 21st. Get ready.