Monday, August 24, 2009

Uncorked NY ! SwirlSavvy as MC

Want to do good while drinking great wine? Join me as I host the Uncorked NY three course dinner with food and wine pairings to raise money for the local New York charity, City Harvest.

The event was started by Heidi Weaver and friends. One of her New Year's Resolutions for 2009 was to do something for someone other than herself. She found no better way to raise money for a good cause than to share a few glasses of wine with friends! Her friends started Uncorked in Washington DC a few years ago and she thought it was so great and decided to bring it to NYC. I couldn't be happier to help out by MCing for the evening.

I hope you can join us for this event. Please feel free to spread the word and invite others. It will be a fun evening and one that honors a great cause. Check out the website below for more info and photos from Uncorked DC. Looking forward to seeing you!

Uncorked NY
Sunday, October 4th, 2009
Brasserie Julien

Monday, August 17, 2009

How to Store Wine

Ever wondered how to store your wine? Well, there are a number of different ways to store your wine properly, whether it's your everyday bottles or special ones you're saving for an occasion (which your significant other inadvertently drinks with his friends on a random Tuesday night.) If you're starting a collection, I advise investing in a 12-16 bottle wine refrigerator. Set it to 55' to keep both reds and whites in top form. If you start accumulating a serious collection, invest in a dual temperature wine refrigerator and store your whites at 50' to 55' and reds between 55' and 60'.

But you don't have to invest in a super hi-tech wine fridge (like the image to the right) to properly store your wine for the short or long term.

The first thing you want to do is remove any bottles you have stored in an ever-popular place - the top of the refrigerator. Wine stored on the top of the fridge experiences fluctuating temperatures, vibration and will be hotter than ideally desired. And avoid sunlight which further degrades a wine. An ideal place for storage is a cool basement that maintains a consistent low temperature. For city dwellers who may not have a basement (like myself), a dark, cool closet should do the trick. And store your bottles sideways to keep the cork in contact with the wine which ensures it doesn't dry out and allow oxygen in. Wine bottles with corks and Champagne shouldn't be stored in the refrigerator for more than two weeks.

So, if you have a bottle of Veuve sitting in the fridge, pop it open, and enjoy it tonight - because the best place for storing wine (albeit very temporarily) is in your glass.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Enjoyed the Cupcake & Wine Pairings???

Thursday, August 13th marked Swirl Events' 2nd Cupcake & Wine Tasting event at AVEvents. Partner Nine Cakes made gorgeous and utterly delicious mini cupcakes in six different flavors.

Check out all the photos here

And see if you made it into our videos of the night right here on the blog (scroll down)

The favorite cupcake of the night? Consensus was that it's a toss-up between the Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese frosting and the Dark Chocolate Cake with Mayan Chocolate Frosting. What do you think? Drop in your vote for the favorite below in the comment section. The favorite wine of the evening seemed to be the Cerdon-Bugey sparkling rose from Lingot Martin that paired with the Vanilla Bean Cupcake with Vanilla Bean frosting - a classic combo.

Here are all the pairings (see below for where to buy):

Station 1: (first station as you entered, the rest went counter clockwise):
Coconut Cream Cupcake with Coconut Cream Cheese with Brisebarre Sparkling Vouvray$15*
Carrot Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting with the Defesa White ~$10 (a)

Station 2:
Orange Blossom Cupcake with Orange Blossom Frosting with Crios Torrontes $17*

Station 3:
Vanilla Bean Cupcake with Vanilla Bean Frosting with Cerdon-Bugey sparkling rose $20*

Station 4:
Red Velvet Cupcake with Raspberry Frosting with Angove Shiraz/Viognier $13 (b)

Station 5:
Dark Chocolate Cupcake with Mayan Chocolate Frosting with Esporao Red Reserve ~$18 (a)

* = Find it at Frankly Wines in Tribeca or
a = CALL FOR AVAILABILITY - 67 Wine & Spirits, Beacon Wines, Wine Therapy, Alphabet City Wine Co., Garnet Wines, PJ Wines, Sea Grape
b =

Cute Wine Themed Bridal Favors from Gumdrop Cookie Shop (of the Un-Cheesy Variety)

How adorable is this sugar cookie? And it tastes even better. People often ask me for recommendations for wine-themed favors for their wedding or bridal shower. I sadly have to suggest the usual wine stoppers or personalized wine bottles. There's nothing wrong with those options (in fact, they're quite cute), but it's been done before. Try these personalized "couture" cookies from Gumdrop Cookie Shop instead. They can be customized with whatever design or photo you want. This one is perfect for a wine aficionado's bridal shower.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cooking with Wine, Part III - Ways to Cook with Wine

Ways to cook with wine?

Wine can be used as a cooking liquid or marinade ingredient to subtly infuse flavors into a meat or fish and tenderize it with its acidity. Or it can be used in a stir-fry or reduction to quickly add flavor and dimension as you would with any other seasoning or spice. Adding a splash to cream sauces bring balance through the acidity of the wine. And to clear up any confusion, when you're cooking with wine much of the alcohol evaporates, but not all of it. The longer you cook with it, the more alcohol is removed.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cooking with Wine, Part II - Which Wine Should You Cook With?

Which wine should you cook with?

Cooking with wine gives you room to experiment with subtle flavors. When choosing a wine with which to cook, think about the characteristics of the wine. Those flavors are the ones imparted on the dish. The citrusy or grassy qualities of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc add brightness to a seafood dish. The creamy texture and butteriness of a California Chardonnay balances a cream sauce with its acidity while not working against it. A traditional rule of thumb suggests using a dry white wine, like a Pinot Blanc or a dry Riesling, in seafood dishes and with light meats including chicken and pork.

Use young, flavorful red wines in heavier red meat dishes, red sauces and heavier soups. Select a dry wine unless the recipe specifically calls for a sweet wine as it may in desserts. Also, keep in mind it’s not advised to use a heavily new oaked wine because of the bitterness it may impart.

Fortified wines, like sherry and marsala, which have added alcohol, are intense in flavor. That same intensity of flavor will be added to your dish.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cooking with Wine, Part I

What wine should you cook with?

Whether it’s in a long braise or a sauce quickly reduced over high heat, cooking with wine can impart subtle flavor, acidity or sweetness and depth to a dish. But be advised and step away from so-called “cooking” wines that might seem like a no-brainer when experimenting with wine in your dish.

Cooking wines, which are usually found next to bottles of vinegar, often have additives like salt that makes it undrinkable and add a saline quality to your food. It might also feel natural to reach for the half-empty bottle that has been sitting on your counter for the past two weeks. Fight these tendencies and remember this rule – don’t cook with any wine you wouldn’t drink. The same goes for really inexpensive wine. Repeat the mantra - if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it because the flavors and acidity of the wine remain and often become concentrated – concentrating poor flavors does no favor to a dish. However, it doesn’t mean you should pop open that Chateau Lafite you’ve been saving. Serve the Lafite with dinner and instead cook with a middle-of-the road, quality wine. This works well if, like me, you tend to drink a glass while you’re cooking. Cooks need to marinate too.

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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