2017 01-20

Awesome Gifts for the Wine Lovers in Your Life

 

Given the number of people in love with wine these days, you’re sure to have a wine lover somewhere on your gift list.  Or maybe you’re the wine lover in the family and want to give loved ones and friends a hint or two about your next gift.  Whatever your budget, this list is sure to have the perfect gift for your favorite wine aficionado–even if that aficionado is you!

 

Electric corkscrew

 

 

Manual corkscrews aren’t so bad, until you come across a stubborn cork.  An electric corkscrew makes even quicker work of the toughest corks.  They’re also ideal for those who have difficulty with traditional corkscrews due to arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, or other hand issues.  With models starting at around $20, this is one handy gadget that doesn’t have to break the bank.

 

Tasting flight

 

A tasting flight is a small slab, usually wood or acrylic, that holds a few wine carafes, bottles, or glasses at once.  They’re ideal for wine-tasting parties.  Some have surfaces that you can write on to identify the types of wines being tasted.  With prices starting at about $25 and going up to around $100, these flights can add an elegant touch to any tasting.

 

Unique decanter

 

 

A decanter is a throwback to a time when serving from the elegance of cut crystal was more important than showing off labels.  With fanciful designs in abundance today and prices starting around $30, a nice decanter or two can dress up any dining table.  Go with a set of four or five, matching or all different, to add more flair to tasting parties.

 

Drink markers

 

Since most of us serve our guests wine in matching wine glasses (or mostly matching, anyway), keeping track of which glass belongs to whom can be a chore.  A set of charms that attach to the stem can solve this problem.  If you’re worried that people won’t remember which charm is theirs (especially after a few glasses), look for tags that will allow you to use chalk or dry-erase marker to write guests’ names on their tags.

 

Stemware

 

 

If you’re shopping for someone whose “set” of wine glasses is a mismatched group of odds and ends, consider a nice set of stemware.  You can find sets designed for reds, whites, or champagne or larger sets that cover all three.

 

Wine and chocolate

How can you go wrong with wine and chocolate?  A number of companies offer sets that pair different wines with their perfect chocolate counterparts.  Wine and chocolate.  Enough said.

 

Wine storage

 

 

If your wine lover has limited counter or floor space, you can find wall-mountable racks that can hold a few bottles and glasses.  There are also counter top and standalone racks for those with more space.  On the higher end, any wine lover would love the best wine refrigerator to accommodate their space and wine storage needs.

 

Cookbook

If the wine lover you’re trying to please enjoys cooking, a wine-themed cookbook could be a great idea.  With recipes designed to pair perfectly with certain wines, any wine lover’s next dinner party is sure to be a hit.
Any of the above are sure to make any wine lover happy and keep you from having to stare at an endless array of bottles hoping you guess right!

2017 01-19

The Rules for Pairing Wine & Food

 

When it comes to pairing your favorite foods with the right wines, things can be confusing.  Here are a few rules to steer you in the right direction when you plan your next gathering.

 

Go dry with hors d’oeuvres or cheese

A good dry rosé features a combination of the lighter body and fresher acidity of whites with the fruitier nature of reds.  This is the perfect match for a wide assortment of hors d’oeuvres from simple to gourmet.  A dry rosé is also a great choice if your meal involves a cheese course or a dish with a heavy cheese sauce, regardless of what that sauce is covering.

 

Try lower-alcohol varieties with spicier dishes

Since alcohol is known to accentuate the oils that make spicy dishes spicy, a lower-alcohol, drier wine like an off-dry Riesling keeps the spiciness in check.  The bit of sweetness is another counter to the heat of your favorite curry, Thai, or pepper-infused dishes.

 

Keep reds with reds

 

The tannins in red wines are a perfect accompaniment to red meats and luxurious fowl like duck.  The astringent tannins are what give reds their structure or body and what make them a natural fit for such dishes.

 

Keep oaked wines away from lemon and lime

Unoaked white wines are typically made in stainless steel tanks.  The absence of any oak notes or tones keeps these wines, like Sauvignon Blanc, brighter and fresher.  The sharper acidity can be likened to a squeeze of lime or lemon that heightens the flavors of any dishes containing or a good fit with lime or lemon.

 

Match wines to sauces

Though it’s true (as mentioned above) that certain wines go well with certain proteins, sometimes the protein isn’t really the star of the dish.  If your dish features a sauce that actually defines the dish, match the wine to the sauce.  If you’re serving chicken with a robust red wine sauce, opt for a red wine instead of the usual white.

 

Keep earth tones together

Find a wine that’s classified as earthy if you’re serving foods classified the same way.  Mushrooms and bison, for instance, work exceedingly well with a Pinot Noir.

 

Keep dessert wines light

Always make sure your dessert wine is lighter than and not as sweet as your dessert.  A wine that’s too heavy or too sweet combined with a dessert can overwhelm the palate, making both the wine and the dessert less enjoyable.

 

Consider champagne with salty dishes

For dishes on the saltier side, champagne’s sweet crispness can be a great pairing and can actually enhance the flavor of the saltier dish while giving the taste buds a respite from the salt.

 

A note on tasting parties

If you’re considering hosting a wine tasting party, keep in mind that some wines will seem to taste different when sipped alone versus with a meal.  You and your guests might be surprised at how opinions of one type or brand change depending on the accompanying dish.  You also might be surprised at how often lower-priced bottles fare better in blind tastings than some higher-end brands.  In other words, keep in mind that what you like should matter more than what any “experts” say you should like.

2017 01-22

The Best Beverage & Countertop Coolers for Wine Lovers

 

 

If you’re like so many others who’ve discovered the joys of wine drinking, you might be thinking of investing in a new wine fridge.  Maybe you’re not that into wine, but would like a compact cooler to keep your favorite cans and bottles nicely chilled for your next get together.  With an ever-increasing number of models available for all budgets and in an array of sizes to match any space, you’re sure to find a beverage cooler that meets your needs.

 

When it comes to wine fridges, you’ll find models with either a single compartment or two compartments, each with its own temperature control.  Contrary to some advice and sales pitches, it isn’t really necessary to store red and white wines at different temperatures.  Either can generally be stored at 45 to 65 Fahrenheit (roughly 7 to 18 Celsius).  The difference is that whites should be served in the 50 to 55 range, while reds are better served at 62 to 68.  Having a second compartment can make it easier to bring your reds up to a good serving temp in a more controlled and predictable manner.  A second compartment can also be good for storing sodas, beer, liquors, and other beverages and garnishes you’ll want handy when you entertain and that you’d like to keep very well chilled.  Since wines are sensitive to changes in temperature and exposure to light, a separate wine refrigerator can be a great way to avoid having your bottles exposed to the temperature and light changes, however minor, that result from frequent opening and closing of your regular refrigerator.  You’ll also find models with LED lights, which are less damaging to wines than traditional fridge lights but are still bright enough to allow you to read your labels.  

 

Many wine fridges offer filters that protect your bottles (corks, more specifically) from kitchen and fridge odors.  If you like to stock up on your favorites and/or don’t drink wine super often, storing the bottles on their sides can help prevent the corks from drying out and being problematic down the line, which is another advantage of having a dedicated wine fridge over taking your chances with them rolling around in a regular fridge.  

 

Wine refrigerators come in a number of sizes.  You can find compact models that will sit on a countertop or bar or mini-fridge size models that can sit next to a cabinet or bar.  You can also find models nearly the same size as a regular fridge.  There are even models that can be built into existing cabinetry if you have the space and the need.  Visit best wine fridge reviews for reviews of 6, 12, and 18 bottle wine fridges, including dual-compartment models.  You’ll get pros and cons of each model to help you make the choice that’s best for you if you’re looking for a more compact version.  When looking for your perfect fit, make sure that any wine fridge you select has room for proper ventilation.  For instance, if you want a model built in to existing cabinetry, make sure you look for one that’s designed to ventilate from the bottom rather than from the back.  Wherever you intend to park your new fridge, you’re sure to find a finish that matches or complements your current decor. A model with casters is a great choice if you’d like (or need) to be able to move your fridge readily.

 

Kegerators are another popular item these days.  With more people trying their hand at home brewing or falling in love with the unique offerings of local microbreweries, kegerators are a great way to keep larger quantities of beer cold and on tap.  With quality models starting at around $300, it’s easy to find a budget-friendly model that meets your needs.  They also come in various sizes, with one or more taps, and with or without casters for easy moving.  Check out The Cooler List for kegerator reviews and buying considerations.  You’ll find pros and cons of both single- and dual-tap models that can help you find your best match and give you even more insight into what to look for when shopping.