Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What to Pour with the Thanksgiving Feast

November in Paso Robles Wine Country brings cooler temperatures and morning fog, which turns the rolling landscape into a picture perfect postcard made for the Thanksgiving holiday. The long weekend brings family and friends together to eat, drink and make merry, but with a holiday feast that includes both light and dark meat and as many savory sides as the heart desires, trying to find the perfect wine can leave any host perplexed, if not riddled with anxiety. If you’re a member of the Paso Robles Wine Club, you’ve probably already set aside a few bottles for your holiday dinner, but if not, read on for a few suggestions on what to serve at your Thanksgiving feast:

Go for the bubbles! A great way to kick off the day is to pour your guests a glass of sparkling wine, Cava, or Champagne to get the festivities underway. Set out a triple cream cheese with water crackers alongside so that guests have something to munch on while waiting for dinner.

Let’s Talk Turkey:  With a mix of complicated herbs and light and dark meat, it’s hard to pinpoint what wine to serve with turkey. Here’s a few wines that will go well with the bird and the sides:
·        Viognier or Sauvignon Blanc are both refreshing and with notes of honey, pear and apple would work well with the turkey, or, even a crisp, light, fruity.   Riesling strikes a balance between sugar and acidity and it can hold its own against an array of spices, so it’s a good match for sweet potato casserole, gravy and even pumpkin pie.

Think Late Harvest: Some would argue that the best part of the Thanksgiving feast is the dessert table, but finding a wine to pair with the traditional fare of pumpkin, sweet potato and pecan pie can seem impossible until you discover the magic of a late harvest wine. With their high sugar content they’re a good match for sweet, spicy desserts.

A good Thanksgiving meal will give you leftovers for days and while it’s a good idea to get outside and get a little exercise to counter all of the rich food, the long holiday weekend is also the perfect time to gather with family and friends and embark on a Wine Wrangler wine tasting tour through the Paso Robles Wine Region—or beyond to Santa Ynez or Monterey.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Language of Wine: 5 Red Varietals

When it comes to wine tasting, whether you’re tooling around the Paso Robles Wine Region on a wine tasting tour with The Wine Wrangler or curled up on your sofa with your latest wine shipment from the Paso Robles Wine Club, knowing about the different varietals will give you a better appreciation of wine.

Read on to learn more about the top 5 red varietals and their flavor profiles:

Mourvedre: This Native from Spain is a winner with most wine drinkers who fall in love with its earthiness and flavors of chocolate, coffee and mint.

Zinfandel: A staple in Paso Robles, this varietal thrives in a climate that has hot days and cool nights. Flavors range from intense blackberry and black pepper to anise.

Petite Sirah: This varietal also goes by the name durif and originates from France. When ripened, the small, intensely colored berries are herbaceous with flavors of blueberry and licorice. This varietal is particularly suited to a dry climate and hot weather, making it a favorite in the Paso Robles Wine Region.

Syrah: In 2004, this varietal was the 7th most grown grape in the world. This hardy varietal is prized for its flavors of chocolate and spice, anise, leather and jam.

Grenache: This varietal arrived in California in the 1860s and has been a favorite ever since. A vigorous grower, it’s particularly suited to a hot dry environment. Flavors include intense fruit, menthol and black pepper.

Expanding your knowledge about the different varietals and their flavor profiles can enhance the wine tasting experience. The next time you’re out tasting wine—whether on your own or with The Wine Wrangler, look for these varietals and the common flavors they add to wine.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Language of Wine: 5 White Varietals

Many of our members joined the Paso Robles Wine Club because they wanted to learn more about the Paso Robles Wine Region and about the different varieties and styles of wine. Learning about wine is a journey that involves reading about wines, tasting wines, and letting your palate explore the different varietals.

To get you started on the journey, here are 5 white varietals, their flavor profiles and origins:

Roussanne: Native to France, Roussane is a Rhone varietal with flavors of apricot, pear and honey. Somewhat difficult to grow because it is susceptible to powdery mildew and rot, this varietal thrives in warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine.

Vermintino: Native to the Mediterranean, especially Italy, this easy to grow varietal is resistant to drought, making it a good grape to grow in Paso Robles. Flavors range from peach and lemon, to saline and minerality.

Grenache Blanc: Native to Spain, this vigorous grower and early to ripen varietal is easy to grow. Flavors include apple, peach and licorice.

Marsanne: Native to France, this Rhone varietal arrived in California in the 1980s and is a good blending grape. Distinct flavors of melon and minerality.

Viognier: Native to France, this Rhone varietal can be difficult to grown. It requires a long, warm growing season to fully develop its natural herbaceous flavors, which also include peach, pear, violets and minerality.

Knowing a little information about common Paso Robles wine varietals will help you expand your tasting experience. Use this newfound knowledge to taste your way through your Paso Robles Wine Club shipments, or put it to the test on a wine tasting tour of the Paso Robles Wine Region with The Wine Wrangler. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Wine Makers: Who They Are and What They Do

Farmers. Chemists. Rock stars. Winemakers are a compilation of characteristics from many professions. On the one hand, winemaking is pure science, but on the other, the artistry of experimentation and expert blending is what makes for an amazing wine. Our members of the Paso Robles Wine Club experience signature wines from over 200 wineries and winemakers, from the big producers to the boutique winemakers. If you’ve ever wondered what winemakers do to get the grapes from the vine to the bottle, read on to learn more:

Hitting the Books: Becoming a winemaker involves more than just having a love of wine and an interest in how it’s made. Training includes studying both Enology (the science of wine and winemaking) and Viticulture (cultivation of grapes). A keen understanding of chemistry, microbiology, enzymes and yeasts is a winemaker’s foundation. Equally important is knowledge of grape maturation, harvesting, fermenting, bottling, blending and filtration. Finally, a good winemaker has a ‘nose’ for wine and a well-trained palate.

Working the Cycle: Winemakers are busy year round, but the two busiest times of the year for a winemaker are in the spring when the vineyard begins anew, and in the fall when it’s time to Harvest the grapes and make the wine. Winemakers are always watching over their barrels and tanks, but they’re also responsible for looking after the vineyards, surveying the growing of the grapes, managing growth, directing the pruning of the vines and even keeping pests away. 
During Harvest—which can extend for 12 weeks or even longer—winemakers work 16 to 18 hour days, 7 days a week to get the grapes from the vines and into tanks or barrels.

Orchestrating the Magic: Once the call goes out through the vineyard that it’s time to pick the grapes, the winemaker must manage multiple processes, people and personalities in a timely and organized process. Much like the maestro directing an orchestra, the winemaker needs to ensure that everyone is doing their job effectively, all while overseeing the heavy machinery need to process the grapes, both in the vineyard and inside the production facility.

Before the winemaker can even begin to play with the alchemy of the grapes, he/she must plan the logistics of where the incoming fruit will go, the placement and duties of the cellar crew and the processing schedule.

Artistry and Alchemy: In lore, alchemists had the power to transmute base metals into gold. Additionally, they were beholden with the powers to create an elixir of life that could give anyone who sipped it endless youth and beauty. In some respects, the winemaker’s craft is similar; taking the humble grape, an agricultural product, and transforming it into something of remarkable beauty and taste, requires both alchemy and artistry. Wine couldn’t be made without a deep understanding of chemistry, but good wine can’t exist without passion.

Many wine growing regions require winemakers to follow strict guidelines and produce wines that define a geographical location. Not so when it comes to winemakers in the Paso Robles AVA who have more freedom to approach the grapes with artistry, experimentation and talent to create an exceptional wine. Ready to try a few of these award winning local wines for yourself? Membership in The Paso Robles Wine Club will give you the opportunity to taste these wines for yourself. Or, book a tour with The Wine Wrangler and visit the amazing winemakers of the Paso Robles AVA.