Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Let's Talk About Acid

Whenever I get to the part of a wine tasting where we need to look at the acidity levels I always start to imagine some cheesy movie out of the 1970's about the party culture- and then I giggle.  My tour participants must think Im nuts.  It's a fair assessment.  

After the giggles though- acidity in wine is a big deal.  How much or little acidity is a big influence on what will pair best with the wine.  Earlier we talked about the body of wine, and how that must match closely with the body of your food, here we follow the same principle- the acidity of your food and your wine must be close.  

How do you tell how much acid is in your wine?  This is one of the more challenging items to get right.  However, at its base, acid will present in wine as saliva congregating under your tongue.  So if you have a high acid wine you'll feel saliva pool under your tongue.  A lower acidity wine and you won't feel too much.  

We measure this amount by what we call "The Drip Test".  Sounds pretty awesome right?  It's actually insanely disgusting.  Basically the idea is that if your wine has a high acidity level then your mouth will continue to "water" after you've swallowed your sip - so much so that if you tip your head forward and open your mouth you may drool.  Yup- Drip Test.  My fellow classmates and I finally called enough on that one and learned to just pay careful attention to the area under our tongues.  Generally speaking if you feel that you need to swallow a second (or a third) time to clear the saliva from that area before talking- it's a high acid wine.  

Higher acidity wines are largely found in cooler climates.  Acid bakes out of grapes as they mature on the vines so the warmer the grapes grow in, the less acidity will be present in your wine.

So when you find yourself face to face with a highly acidic wine, don't pair it with your favorite cup of New England Clam Chowder.  Your mouth won't be able to adjust quickly enough and the intricate flavors of the chowder will be lost.  Instead- pair it with a food that has its own punch of acidity- lemon sauces, tomato sauces, vinaigrettes.  

Do your best to match acidity levels- wine to food and you'll find a pleasurable experience.  But please, don't feel the need to perform The Drip Test at your next dinner party- or if you do please leave me out of it ;-)  

Monday, December 18, 2017

Wines for Holiday Fun!

Happy Holidays!

It's that time again to host and toast! There are parties aplenty and gifts to be given, but everyone knows the best gifts are those that can be drunk.  I'm here to help you navigate the wine stores and score the perfect bottles to be given and shared.

For the occasion that sparkles:
When you want your wine to complement the twinkling lights popping a bottle of bubbly is always the right decision.  Wowing your friends will be easy with sparkling wine from France called Cremant.  Made outside of the Champagne region so it can't use the fanfare of the name, it is made using the same practices but clocks in around $20.00 a bottle making it much easier on your holiday budget.

For a cookie tasting:
Hundreds of sugar cookies all lined up and ready to be devoured calls for a special wine. Those fancy desert wines, usually hidden away in the bowels of your wine stores are the perfect accompaniment.  I would highly suggest splurging on a bottle of Sauternes.  They are small bottles- 375 mL, and are typically found for about $40, but their sweet style and flavors of almonds and orange marmalade make them a perfect complement to a cookie eating afternoon.

For reunions and catch ups that last for hours:  
These are the nights we dream about -friends and family back in town, and hours can be wiled away with good conversation.  These occasions demand a sipping wine- a wine that doesn't require intricate pairing, a wine that can be drunk on its own and is presents a pleasing palate.  Valpolicella is the perfect wine for these nights.  This Italian wine has medium high acidity, coupled with medium body which makes this easy to drink glass after glass. The bright fruit flavors of plums cherry and often chocolate make it a pleasure to enjoy.  Valpolicella can normally be found for about $20 a bottle and be sure to find one marked with the DOC or DCOG label for the best quality.

No matter what wine you choose to accompany your gatherings and gift to your hosts, I wish you the merriest of festivities!!

Questions on what bottles will pair with your meals?  Send them over- I'm happy to help you plan!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Kitchen- At the Heart of It

I've been thinking a lot about the idea that I mentioned last week- that food is home.  For me, it always has been.  Certain, many, tastes and smells can bring me the same comfort that being home does.  They can make me feel that same warmth, love and acceptance as being surrounded by family can do.  If that is the case, if food is truly the key to home, than in the physical home it comes as no surprise that the kitchen is the epicenter of the household.  

Some of my favorite memories as a child are watching my mom cook.  We had this great kitchen in my childhood home- where the stove sat on a peninsula separating the room.  We had put these two wooden stools, ones enhanced by stray paint brush marks from art projects and spray paint from Halloween costumes of past years, on the backside of the peninsula so when my mom was cooking I could talk to her.  I would sit there for as long as she cooked- trading stories about the day, observing her methods, breathing in the scents.   In a time when "open concept" wasn't a thing- we're talking the 80s here kids- we were ahead of the times.

Today so many homes are designed to create this exact feel.  Every renovation I see, and all of the new builds, have this central idea in mind- to open the kitchen to the living space.  We take down the dividing walls and create a flow- a flow of space to foster a flow of conversation, of camaraderie, of family.  All of this stems from having that kitchen open.  Islands and peninsulas are far more common now than missing in kitchen designs so that in our busy lives we still have time, even if we're multitasking making dinner, to trade stories and make plans.  

What do you think of the open concept idea?  Anyone miss the formal dining room (I do sometimes!)?  When you think of your dream home- is it open or more traditional?   


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