Sorry we're late!
Your 30 Second Wine Advisor is late today because a garbage-truck driver's careless moment this morning made a mess of our Web and E-mail connectivity for the day. The truck's extended trash-bin lift sliced through an overhead fiber-optics cable, cutting off service to more than 10,000 telephone customers in Melbourne, Florida - including our Web server's T1 cables - leaving WineLoversPage.com (and our E-mail access, too) in the dark until workers could reconnect the cable. We're glad to be back!Red or white, fish or fowl?
"Red wine with red meat, white wine with white meat." One of the most basic "rules" of matching wine and food, this old wisdom is accurate, but it's also incomplete.
Stick to the rule, and you will rarely fail to make an adequate match when you're selecting a wine to go with dinner. But follow it slavishly, permitting no exceptions, and you'll miss your chance to enjoy a pairing as perfect as red Pinot Noir with salmon or a rich White Burgundy with pork. Hey! Is pork red or white meat, anyway? You see the problem we're working with here.
Just as there is no better way to learn about wine than pulling corks and tasting the stuff, there's no better way to sharpen your wine-and-food matching skills than pouring a couple of glasses and sitting down to a good meal, trying a little of this and a little of that to see what works.
The other night, even though it wasn't Thanksgiving, we fashioned a turkey dinner. A turkey thigh, actually, braised with lots of onions until tender as butter. Thigh meat is rich and oily, dark but neither red nor white, throwing an offbeat variable into the traditional matching rule.
Then, for the sake of science, we opened both a red and a white, just to see which combination would better ring our culinary chimes. The wines, both California Wine Club selections from Sunstone Winery in the Santa Ynez Valley, were a ripe, powerful Viognier and an aromatic, sweetly oaky Bordeaux-style red blend.
The results? Both wines went well with the turkey, demonstrating once again a happy corollary to the "red with red" rule: "Most wines go with most foods most of the time."
But here's the thing that made it fun: Each wine went with the food in a different way, much like corned beef makes a great ingredient in a Reuben sandwich with sauerkraut on rye and in corned-beef hash with a poached egg on top.
The white wine, sharp and cleansing, made a refreshing palate-washer between bites of turkey. The red wine, aromatic and fruity, seemed to turn up its contrast and brightness settings when it met the meat, amplifying its natural fruitiness as if it were an extra ingredient in the dish.
One food, two wines, two different experiences. That's the real story of food-and-wine matching, its moral is a simple one: Don't be afraid to experiment. You're not likely to go far wrong, you're likely to learn something, and the lesson will be a tasty one.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR WINE-MATCHING EXPERIENCES
If you prefer to comment privately, feel free to send me E-mail at email@example.com. I'm sorry that the overwhelming amount of mail I receive makes it tough to respond personally every time, but I do try to get back to as many as I can.
Sunstone 2000 Santa Barbara County "Sunterra"
Very dark garnet in color, almost black at the center, this flavorful California Bordeaux-style blend is a mix of 51% Merlot, 33% Cabernet Franc and 16% Cabernet Sauvignon. Ripe black-cherry aromas rise from the glass, with oak adding notes of aromatic vanilla and a pleasant herbal whiff of dill. Fresh and juicy fruit flavors focus on blackcurrant, with a good acidic structure and substantial tannins somewhat cloaked by the forward fruit. (Feb. 21, 2004)
FOOD MATCH: A classic "red-meat" wine, but it also showed very well with long-braised turkey thigh meat, which showcased the wine's luscious black fruits.
VALUE: A fine value as a California Wine Club package with the Viognier below for $32.95 plus shipping.
WHEN TO DRINK: The forward fruit makes it hard to keep hands off now, but structure and tannins suggest that it's good for several years in a temperature-controlled cellar.
WEB LINK: The winery Website:
FIND THESE WINES ONLINE: Order as a package from California Wine Club,
Sunstone 2002 Santa Ynez Valley Viognier
This is a very clear straw-color wine, breathing the lovely, characteristic floral quality of Viognier with an intriguing "chalky" minerality as a backdrop. Luscious white-fruit flavors, ripe pineapple and peach, with a hint of spice from judicious French oak treatment, are borne on a firm acidic backbone with substantial alcoholic content (14.5 percent) adding body and a touch of warmth. Distinctly "New World" in character, an imposing white wine. (Feb. 21, 2004)
FOOD MATCH: The wine's power and body might be a bit much for most seafood and fish dishes; try it with pork or poultry.
VALUE: Good value in the mid-teens range.
WHEN TO DRINK: No rush, but I would enjoy it in the next year or two.
WEB LINK AND BUYING INFORMATION: See above.
Southern California's Wine Country:
Taste, style and indulgent fun are redefined - Southern California Style -in the Temecula Valley wine region. If you're the kind of person who likes to think "outside the box" when it comes to the things in life that you enjoy, Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association invites you to think Temecula!
Not just another of California's "other" wine regions, Temecula makes it easy for you to enjoy great wine in an unpretentious atmosphere. Temecula is neatly convenient to Los Angeles and San Diego, with easy travel connections from just about everywhere. Temecula's 18 award -winning wineries offer an eclectic selection of premium award-winning California wines on a compact, scenic wine road that you can do in a day, if you're in a hurry, or extend to a relaxing long weekend of wine touring, fine dining, golf, ballooning and luxurious hotel or resort living under the Southern California sun.
There's always something interesting going on in Temecula. Coming up next is our popular annual New Release Weekend, April 24-25, 2004:
Appropriate for all levels of wine knowledge.
Ticket is good for one visit only to each winery over the two-day event. All sales are final; no refunds or exchanges. Adults 21+ only.
California Wine Club
Win a 3-Night Getaway to the Inns of Monterey!
The California Wine Club is giving you a chance to win a free 3-night stay at the luxurious Inn of Monterey. Big Sur, Carmel, Pebble Beach and the famed Cannery Row...isn't it time to check-in to a weekend of relaxation? Click here and enter to win (if you are unable to view the Raffle, please call 1-800-777-4443 to enter)
Not yet a member of The California Wine Club? Their wines are 100% guaranteed and not typically found in local stores. Why not give them a try? Just $32.95 plus shipping and includes two bottles of award-winning wine and 8-page newsletter, Uncorked. Mention The 30 Second Wine Advisor and the first month is on them!
Wine Advisor's Premium Edition
If you've been putting off subscribing to our new 30 Second Wine Advisor Premium Edition, today would be a good time to start: The second edition of this exciting new publication goes to subscribers by E-mail tomorrow, featuring an exceptional red wine from France that can be enjoyed for a special occasion now or put aside to enjoy after years of maturing.
Our first edition, now available in the subscriber-only archives, yielded a lot of favorable comment from charter subscribers. "Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your first edition," one reader wrote, along with a few good suggestions to make future issues even more useful. "Nice job! I'm already thinking that I've made a wise choice in subscribing," wrote another online pal.
For just $24 - less than a single bottle of special-occasion wine - you'll get 26 biweekly issues loaded with the consumer-oriented, plain-talk buying advice that you need to shop with confidence when you're spending a little more. Your subscription will pay for itself the first time you celebrate a special occasion with a wine like the one we'll feature tomorrow: Priced in the $30s, tastes like the $60s.
If you're not already on the subscription list, I hope you'll join us soon:
This week on WineLoversPage.com
Here are links to some of our recently published articles and features that I think you'll enjoy:
Words About Port: World's rarest Port?
Wine Lovers' Discussion Group: Name that tune: Wine Music
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index
The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns:
Introducing Burgundy: Accruing status (Feb. 20, 2004)
2002 Rhone: Lemonade from lemons? (Feb. 18, 2004)
Edmunds St. John (Feb. 16, 2004)
Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:
Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Sausages and potatoes (Feb. 19, 2004)
Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:
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All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.
Monday, Feb. 23, 2004