Shana Speaks Wine

Wine Journalist, Copywriter, and Marketing Consultant

Drinking out loud. 

Filtering by Category: "New York City"

Pizza! Pizza! (and more dessert)

New York is a pizza town.  From the classic slice to the gourmet pie, nearly every international style of pizza is represented.  Neapolitan?  Grandma square?  Dollar slice drunkenly consumed on the street corner?  We've got 'em all.

Wine enthusiasts often debate what's the best wine to pair with pizza and more often than not, Italian wines reign supreme. With their high acidity, Italian wines are very complementary to the tomato-based dish. It also harks back to one of my general rules of thumb: when in doubt, pair like with like.  A wine from the same country of origin as the cuisine will match well. Yes, you can start to drill down to specific regions and grapes and debate what goes best with all those fancy toppings, but in general, Italian wines are a sure thing.

A recent Saturday night brought us to a new place, Sotto 13.  Perusing the wine list, we opted for a Valpolicella, a red from the Veneto region of Italy.  This wine was produced in the Ripasso method, meaning that a percentage of the grapes were dried out on mats for weeks (a technique called Passito) in order to increase natural sugars and flavors.  These grapes are then fermented with other grapes in order to increase the intensity and flavor profiles of the wines.

So, did it work with pizza?  You bet.

Impero Valpolicella Superior, Ripasso, 2009

This wine was a blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara  grapes, very traditional for a Valpolicella. Immediately, this wine revealed plums, raisins and cherries, along with some black tea and earthy notes.  It was juicy and round with notable wood tannins. The acidity of the tomato sauce mellowed out the wine's acid levels and a rich, complex wine, with a slight chocolate essence at the end, emerged.

I'm almost embarrassed to admit this, but after, we went to Minetta Tavern for that infamous soufflé.  Yep, two weeks in a row.  Feel free to stage an intervention at any point.

(this sucker didn't even stand a chance)

With it, we paired a Michele Chiarlo Moscato d'Asti.  The beautifully perfumed notes of orange blossom, honeysuckle, candied apricot and honey matched the gooey chocolatey center of the soufflé perfectly.  Heaven.

Keep tasting, friends....

Philanthropically Drinking

(This post is a little delayed, let's call it fashionably late)

"Fuggedaboudit." "Get outta hee-ah."  "No soup for you!"

New Yorkers have notorious reputations for being brusque, abrasive and downright rude.  However, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the entire city took on an attitude of "How can I help?" At its  core, New York is really a series of small towns: communities bonded through proximity, hobbies, or vocation.  When your neighbors suffer, you want to provide relief and restore a sense of normalcy.

The restaurant and bar industry immediately mobilized to help establishments that were felled by the Hurricane.  Among the benefits and fundraisers, one in particular caught my eye.  Ardesia, a favorite wine bar, was offering a taste of 6 of their favorite wines for $30, all proceeds benefiting, a nonprofit organization.  In addition, they were donating a proceed of sales of their NY-style soft pretzels to the nonprofit.  Their craveworthy pretzels and a wine tasting?   Calendars marked!

The Whites
Jurancon Sec, Chant des Vignes, Domaine Cauhape, Jurancon France 2011
The wine opened with peach, white blossoms and honeysuckle on the nose.  However, the palate showcased green apple, lemon and quite a bit of minerality.   I don't often drink such floral, aromatic wines as my nose tricks my brain into thinking I'm going to end up sipping a bridesmaid's bouquet, but this wine had a decent amount of acid and a dry finish, making it really enjoyable.

Albarino, Valdemonxes, Rias Baixas Spain 2011
I adore Albarinos and this one was no exception. It smelled of lime and slate with notes of  green apple, mineral, and lemon peel revealing themselves as I sipped. It was smooth, despite the noticeable acid, and even my friend, who almost exclusively drinks red wine, praised this one.

Ribolla Movia, Brda Slovenia 2008
Slovenian wines are completely uncharted territory for me so this was going to be an adventure.  The wine was slightly orange in color, not as deep as the "orange wines" that have been gaining popularity, but definitely outside of the deep-gold-to-pale-lemon spectrum.   Green apple and baking spices appeared immediately but were joined, almost overwhelmed, with butter and oak.  It reminded me of those bold California chardonnays that I dislike and I had a hard time getting through this glass.

The Reds
Marcel Lapierre "Raisins Gaulois" Vin de France 2011
What November wine tasting would be complete without a Beaujolais? This one was a classic, straightforward example.  Light bodied and fruit-driven, cherry and plum played around in the glass on on the tongue.   It's like conversational small talk: simple, easy and comfortable.

Tinhof "Blau+Red" Burgenland Austria 2009
This wine, a blend of Blaufrankisch and Zweigelt,  was a delicious and intriguing pour.  Cherry, plum, earth and a bit of green pepper aromas appeared on the nose.  First sips juicy sips gave way to spinach and tobacco notes, with a long finish that seemed to circle back to black cherry.  I kept going back to this one as I kept discovering something new as the wine opened in the glass.

Shiraz/Grenache/Mourvedre-Kaesler "Stonehorse" Barossa Valley Australia 2008
What happens when a Cote du Rhone blend goes on a beach vacation?  You get this New World red.
Up front, it was super jammy with scents of blueberry and stewed fruits, along with chocolate and  tobacco.  In the mouth, fig jam and stewed fruits were balanced with pronounced but well-integrated tannins and tobacco.  This wine had a lot of heft and body and was a delicious conclusion to the tasting.

Greek, Dry and Sweet

Hurricane Sandy's wrath relocated me from power-poor downtown to the Upper East Side.  Air mattress and significant other in tow, we hunkered down at our friends' apartment for a few days until lights and heat were restored.  Four people for one bathroom can definitely be a challenge and we wanted to thank them for their generous hospitality, so we took them to dinner at Yefsi, a Greek restaurant near their place.

I think Greek wines are highly underrated. There are some really great winemakers out there creating some very interesting dry wines, not to mention the caliber of dessert wines that are produced.  Excited to share this region with friends, we opted for an Argyros Assyrtiko Atlantis 2011.   Notes of lemon, lime, pineapple and mineral aromas swirled around in the glass.  With the first sip, this dry white brought the same flavors to the palate, while the high acidity felt crisp and tingly on the tongue.  Medium bodied, the wine held up to the food but was still easy to sip in between courses.

Empty bottles, empty plates.  We were getting ready to pay the bill when the hostess brought over a surprise treat - four glasses of Samos Kourtaki dessert wine.  This Muscat delighted all of us, even the ones at our table who claimed an aversion to sweet wines. The full, but not syrup-y, body dripped with honey and ripe peach juices while essences of almond, vanilla and orange blossom exhibited different layers and forms of sweetness.  My inner dessert fiend, previously lamenting the lack of dessert on our order, was immediately silenced with each sip.

Completely satiated, we headed out into the (well-lit) night, grateful for our wonderful friends and everyone's well-being.

Sandy Sippers

As I write this, Hurricane Sandy is fast approaching and scaring the hell out of me.  Course of action?  Wine consumption, lots of it.

We grabbed dinner last night at Schillers, one of the few places open in my friend's neighborhood. Still in a Spanish mood from the tasting the other night, I went with a El Coto Rioja Rose 2010.  This is always a good bet in terms of rose.  50/50 Garnacha and Tempranillo, this is a medium-bodied wine with a decent amount of acidity and zing.  On the nose there are a lot of bright berries such as strawberry, cherry and raspberry.  On the palate, the same berries come through but this also is drier and crisper than expected.  Not the most complex but definitely cuts through the gloomy and windy night with its brightness.

Today, we felt it was calm enough to venture outside for lunch.  The brave souls at The Meatball Shop (@MEATBALLERS) were open for as long as they could sustain guests.  Apparently, we weren't the only people with the same lunch aspirations:

Veggie balls and a glass (or 3) of Borell Diehl-Pfalz Muller Thurgau 2011 made the afternoon pass pleasantly and took our mind off Sandy's approach.  Medium bodied with peach and citrus notes on the nose, lively acidity melded harmoniously with the lemon-lime palate.  Refreshingly dry, it contrasted with the wet storm outside.  

And what storm isn't complete without some comforting dessert?  An ice cream sandwich with pumpkin ice cream definitely made the afternoon better, accompanied by Moscato d'Asti.  The light sparkler, redolent of peaches, apricots and orange blossom was enough fortification to fight the lines at the bodega to pick up water and batteries.

Happy Sandy-ing!