Monday, August 18, 2008
Thursday, August 14, 2008
The end of summer is approaching and that means it's time to GET - get to the beach, get to concerts in the park, get tan, and get out of town. But with the dollar in a major slump, not all of us can afford to vacation for a month in the South of France (or even Fire Island for that matter). That doesn't mean you can't GET the party going and bring the exotic locale to you. Throw an armchair traveler wine tasting party for all of your friends still in town. Pick one country and have everyone bring a corresponding bottle. Print out and laminate wine maps to use as place mats and scour vintage stores for old postcards to use as invites (or better yet, call the local embassy to see if they have anything you can repurpose)!
My pick is Argentina, where your dollar still gets you 3 pesos to 1, and subsequently amazing wine values. Argentina is known for its Malbec, the deep, delicious red that holds its own against a big, juicy steak. My favorite is the Ben Marco Malbec from Mendoza, the heart of Argentina's wine country. A bargain at $15.99, it's deep, inky purple color lends perfectly to the smoky, deep plum and fragrant berry flavors. It's a Javier Bardem to us. A bit mysterious and brooding but tempting to drink it in one big gulp. Another enticing, dark layer is revealed with each sip, which is why I LOVE Malbecs.
But don't be fooled by Argentina's darker side, it's brimming with fruit-forward, value-driven whites as well. My favorite is the organic Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontes. Susana is the "it girl" when it comes to Argentinean wine and her Torrontes shows us why. A native Argentinean grape, the Torrontes immediately brings to mind Blake Lively.
It's light and lively with a heady aroma of wild flowers, but shows a surprising dry finish. It doesn't have a ton of substance, but it's perfect for an end-of-summer evening on the terrace. You might not have a view of the Andes foothills, but this armchair traveler is sitting pretty with an Argentinean summer sipper in hand.
How to Pick a Summer Wine: The Gentler, Lighter Side of Wine
Rías Baixas Albariño from Spain, “Exceptional with Everything” Oh Really?
Mercat means “market” in Catalan, the language of the northern Spanish region where owner, Jaime Reixach, is from and where the restaurant’s menu draws its inspiration. The albariños we’ll be drinking also originate from the northern region, and so we’re already anticipating more perfect wine pairings than tragic mismatches.
It’s a beautiful warm Thursday night—and we are tasting two Albariño wines: Alba Rosa from Martinez Serrantes and Pazo San Mauro, both 2006 vintages. We take our time with each wine—assessing them alone and then side by side. At the end, we agree that both are delightful: the Alba Rosa is sparkling with surprising depth while the Pazo San Mauro would bring life to our springtime picnic. Further, we imagine that if each wine were to be personified, they might just be these two ladies, described as such:
No surprise, our lovely wines get along splendidly with their classic and traditional partners: we have raves for the nicely seasoned patatas bravas—not too spicy, not too garlicky—and the padrones/blistered shishito peppers, the char and oil offset by the tartness of the wines. One of us goes wild for the Canelons de Verdura/eggplant wrapped spring vegetables, manchego, and cranberry reduction. And then Chef Lowder sends over Trencat d’Ous/mushroom with salsa verde topped with a fried egg, which again, goes splendidly with our wines. Even the suckling pig/Cochinillo, which we think will surely clash, in fact becomes the surprise of the evening. Like the beauty and the beast, our wines and the pig make an unlikely but harmonious pair.
We ask ourselves for the last time: Rías Baixas Albariño from Spain: Exceptional with Everything?
If not for being the gluttonous bottomless pits that we are, we would certainly have answered YES with an exclamation point. But since we order those two desserts—Torrades Sta. Teresa/fried bread with lemon yogurt and Pa Amb Oli Xocolata/bread, olive oil, and chocolate, our answer must be: Almost. These two desserts with our two Albariños — are disastrous.
Rías Baixas Albariño from Spain: Exceptional with almost Everything.
--Anu Karwa and Marie Estrada
Visit http://www.riasbaixaswines.com for more info on Rías Baixas Albariños from Spain