Thursday, August 14, 2008


Does it seem like every time you send an email, you get 10 "out of office" replies? Where is it, you wonder, that everyone's gone off to…and why can't you be there? I know the feeling.

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.


Anonymous said...

Great party idea! Can you recommend some non-sulfite wines?


Trevor Corson said...

I really, really, really want a bottle of wine with Blake Lively's head coming out the top! This is genius.

Hester said...

I just discovered the Rías Baixas Albariño this summer, and IMHO it can do no wrong. I'm having a glass now and can definitely say it goes with this blog....and steak, tomato salad, pizza, italian sausage, and whatever else comes off the grill. If you're looking for a great white, I agree with Anu and Marie 100%.

Ladan said...

Do you do events near but not necessarily in the city, i.e., upstate? If I'm going to have a Javier Bardem with my dinner, the setting must be perfect.

Anu Karwa said...

what would a dinner with both Javier Bardem and Blake Lively be like...any thoughts? Of course, we would ask them to come with their regular bodies, not their bottles. shame if they didn't!

Anu Karwa said...

My suggestion for non-sulfit wines - go to a reputable wine merchant with a wide selection of organic wines. then turn each bottle over and read the label to see if sulfites have been added. almost every wine has sulfites added because it's a preservative. i'll keep my eye out for more.

How to Pick a Summer Wine: The Gentler, Lighter Side of Wine

Summer’s soaring temps beg you to step away from heavy Cabernets and check out the gentler, lighter side of wine. When choosing the perfect summer wine for your outdoor engagement party or wedding, think light, crisp, refreshing--and because people tend to drink more in the heat--lower in alcohol. Nothing more prettily suggests summer than a dry (i.e. not sweet) rose. Avoid the simple, syrupy versions and try French roses from the Mourvèdre grape or roses made using the Saignee method for more complexity. Pick wines from countries where you imagine the locals sipping leisurely at sidewalk cafés while basking in the sun, like Spain. A Spanish fave is Albarino from the Rias Baixas region. Made to drink young, Albarino is a crisp, white wine with intense fruit, lively acidity and generally a lower level of alcohol. It pairs perfectly with summer foods from seafood to grilled vegetables. But you don’t need to swear off red wine for summer. Look for light bodied wines like Pinot Noir from Oregon or a Valpolicella from Italy, both capable of standing up to barbequed foods. And don’t be afraid to put a slight chill on your red wine. It is summer after all!

Rías Baixas Albariño from Spain, “Exceptional with Everything” Oh Really?

There's nothing we love more than a challenge. It's in our makeup. We're two women, thirties. One Indian. One Filipina. The first, founder and CEO of a business in the arguably male-dominated wine world. The second, building experience to be a future proprietess of a wine store. Add to this: In New York City. So when presented with the opportunity to play wine and food critic for a night—to pair Rías Baixas Albariño wines, proclaimed to be "exceptional with everything" with Mercat’s offerings —it is impossible and simply against every ounce of who we are, to refuse.

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:

Alba Rosa Martinez Serantes Albariño | Scarlett Johansson: "Sparkling with surprising depth"

Alba Rosa Martinez Serantes Albariño | Scarlett Johansson: "Sparkling with surprising depth"
This golden blonde hued wine gives an almost effervescent quality that shoots racy brightness into your mouth. It has the usual grassiness and citrus qualities one expects from this wine. The reason why this wine fits Scarlett most is because it has the quality of lightness but comes with surprising depth of character and fullness in body. The comparison would be perfect were the wine to show great legs, but its light-bodied, lower alcohol nature doesn’t allow it.

Pazo San Mauro Albariño | Cameron Diaz: “Livens up your springtime picnic”

Pazo San Mauro Albariño | Cameron Diaz: “Livens up your springtime picnic”
Cameron would be a fun addition to any springtime outing. Her lightheartedness would make everyone smile and this wine does the same. The light yellow straw color gives way to granny smith apples, peaches, melon, and citrus scents that jump at your nose, smelling like springtime in a glass. This wine begs to be explored further. The crisp and pleasantly tart apple is balanced with pear and makes it the perfect brunch wine.
Now, we move on to the heart of our challenge: Exceptional with everything? Oh really? How do these two beauties handle themselves in company? After the three and a half hours of glorious sipping, chewing, and chatting, among ourselves and the restaurant staff, here are our findings:

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

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