Archive for March, 2010

Malbec. If you haven’t tried it, you’re missing out.

March 29, 2010

Last night I uncorked a Malbec Rosé from Argentina.  Half a year ago, if you asked me what Malbec was, I wouldn’t have had any clue what you were talking about!

You see, when I first moved to California, I was very eager to get out and meet people with similar interests.  I immediately joined a women’s wine group and we met one night at the Wine Cabana, a wine bar in San Diego’s Old Town.  One of the girls recommended trying the Malbec, which I had never even heard of at the time.  I tried it for the first time and fell in love!  I began primarily as a red wine drinker and love dry, tannic red wines like a Shiraz or Norton.  Malbec is both dry and tannic, so it definitely fit the bill.

Argentina is where this varietal has gained it’s fame, but it is a little-known fact that Malbec is originally from France and was brought over to Argentina in 1868.  In France, Malbec is primarily known for being one of six grapes blended together to create red Bordeaux wines, whereas in Argentina the grape takes center-stage as a stand-alone varietal.

A purple grape variety, it’s black fruit character translates into jammy flavors such as blackberry and plum, with a hint of spice on the finish.  Malbec is full-bodied with either medium or high tannins.  The different climates in each region account for the differences in taste and wine-making techniques.  For instance, the Malbec of France is a high tannic wine, whereas an Argentinean Malbec is softer with less tannins and is more suitable for aging in oak barrels.

Because of it’s tannins, Malbec and red meat centered dishes make wonderful companions!  It also pairs well with spicy ethnic foods such as Mexican, Cajun, Indian, or Italian.  I paired mine with spaghetti and meat sauce.  See?  Food and wine pairing is easy, and you don’t even have to make anything fancy!

The interesting thing about this particular bottle of Malbec was that it was a Malbec Rosé.  So for those who enjoy a sweeter, more fruit forward wine such as a White Zinfindel or any kind of blush wine, you definitely would enjoy the Malbec Rosé.

Next time you’re in the market for a bottle wine, why not pick up a bottle of Argentinean Malbec?  Your taste buds will thank you.

Bottle Stats:

  • Company: Melipal
  • Vintage: 2009
  • Varietal: Malbec Rosé
  • Region: Mendoza, Argentina
  • Price: $10.99 at BevMo!

Cheers,

Jess

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Strange Food & Wine Pairings

March 22, 2010

Today I was making myself a quickie lunch of tomato and rice soup.  As I was eating my soup with crackers, I realized something was missing.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on craving until suddenly I thought—peanut butter sandwich!  I remember one evening back in Bloomington when I went over to a friend’s house for a chili supper and they were serving peanut butter sandwiches on the side.  My family didn’t grow up eating chili this way, so the pairing struck me as odd.  Peanut butter and chili?!?  But I gave it a try and you know what?  It was GOOD! 🙂

My experimentation with tomato soup and a peanut butter sandwich made me start to think about wine and what kind of wine would go best with a peanut butter sandwich.  Food and wine pairings are similar because opposite taste sensations can make the best pairings!  Take salty and sweet for instance.  A classic food and wine pairing would be brie and Champagne (salty + sweet).

But what about even stranger food combos?

In a recent article in Imbibe magazine, “Pair & Share: From takeout to home-cooked, how to choose wines for the way you really eat,” they explore fun and interesting food and wine combinations.

  • Chips and salsa with an off-dry German Riesling.
  • Sparkling wine with French fries.
  • Fried chicken and Sauternes.
  • Burgers and a Spanish Tempranillo.
  • Pizza and a Chianti classico.

And the perfect match for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?  Well, I had to do my research to come up with the answer, but one sommelier suggests an Argentine Torrontes.  A dry, spicy white wine, Torrontes has the perfect amount of acidity to wash down the peanut butter.  Or try pairing sweet with sweet by choosing a white wine like Riesling or Chenin Blanc.

The best way to find a perfect pairing is to play around with flavors until you find something you like, however there are a few rules of thumb to follow when doing food and wine pairings:

  • Match the weight/richness of the food and the body of the wine. Ex) Red meats with full-bodied, tannic red wines and white meat or fish with white wines or light-bodied, delicate reds.
  • Match the flavor intensity of the food and wine. Delicate wines and powerfully flavored foods don’t pair well together.
  • Match acidic foods with high-acid wines. Ex) Italian food and Italian wines go together well because both are dominated by acidic flavors—think tomatoes, olive oil, lemons and vinegar.
  • Match sweet foods with sweet wines. Late-harvest wines and Muscat-based wines are called dessert wines for a reason!
  • Avoid combining oily or salty foods with high-tannin red wines. Salty foods are best when enhanced with a touch of sweetness.  Ex) Prosciutto and figs, Fino Sherry and salted nuts, etc.

Now it’s your turn to experiment and discover your perfect food and wine pairing!

Cheers,

Jess

Wine Bars, Wineries, and Wine-ventions!

March 5, 2010

The other day I had an interview for an internship with a well-known wine bar in San Diego.  It turns out they have never actually had an intern, but they’ve been swamped lately and need somebody to step in and handle some of the catering duties such as renting out the back room for private parties and dealing with the overwhelming volume of emails that come their way about private event bookings.

I was so nervous during the interview that when I left, my entire body was literally aching!  I was that tense!  I am crossing my fingers that they give me the green light, because this job could lead to my ultimate goal of becoming an Event Planner for a Winery and Wine Tasting Room Manager!

After my interview I decided to meet up with my friend and fellow blogger of Eat Move Write, Ms. Jasmine herself.  Ok, she’s technically a Mrs. but Mrs. Jasmine just didn’t sound right!

I just recently moved to a cute little suburb east of San Diego called La Mesa.  It happens to be where I work and also where my friend lives, which is super exciting to me!  Even more exciting is the discovery I made last week when my dad was visiting.  After dinner, I happened to notice a brand spankin’ new tasting room in downtown La Mesa.  So of course I had to drag my friend along to check it out with me even though she doesn’t drink wine.

I had mistakenly thought this was a winery from Temecula that happened to open a tasting room down South.  In fact, San Pasqual Winery is a local winery that grows its grapes in Pacific Beach and is owned by a couple that lives in La Mesa.  They just opened their doors for business in late December of last year.

Wine Tasting at San Pasquel Winery

Wine Tasting at San Pasqual

The very nice gentleman behind the counter let me try their PB Passionfruit Wine made from locally grown passionfruit.  It was very light and fruity, but not super sugary or sweet.  He also let me try a batch of their Ranchero Cabernet Sauvignon/Nebbiolo Blend that had just finished being pressed and was getting ready to go into oak barrels.  This wine generally undergoes a year to year and a half aging process, so this was literally like tasting grapes right off the vine!  The wine had a very sour and bitter taste—clearly not ready for drinking!  But it was so fun and interesting to be able to taste a wine before it’s been aged… which reinforces to me just how important the aging process is to certain wine varietals.

For $8.50, you get 6 tastes of wine, $5 off your purchase of a bottle of wine, and you get to keep the wine tasting glass!  What a deal.  I will definitely be back to San Pasqual for a proper wine tasting!

Also, while you are there ask Darrell to show you his invention.  The Wine Bearer is an inflatable container used to protect your wine while traveling.  My mom and I definitely could have used that on our road trip.  Then again, I’m not complaining that she had to leave the wine in San Diego with me ;).

I’m going to leave you with a barrage of more random pictures from our day!

Cheers,

Jess