Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Halloween Candy and Wine Pairings

By Joy Neighbors

It’s October, that time of year when our craving for chocolate and all things sweet magically coincides with Halloween.

Although most adults tend to limit their dressing up to adult gatherings and escorting the kids through the neighborhood, we don’t have to give up the candy. Especially not when we can pair it with the perfect wine.

Here’s a few popular candies paired with a couple of wines each to make your Halloween gathering even sweeter.

Favorite Candy                              Perfect Wines

Butterfinger Bar                              Chardonnay or Sherry

Candy Corn                                    Chardonnay or Moscato

Carmel Apple                                  Chenin Blanc

Hershey’s Chocolates                       Merlot or Port

Kit Kats                                          Sparkling or Merlot

M&Ms (preferable Autumn variety)    Merlot or Syrah

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups              Zinfandel or Cabernet

Skittles                                           Riesling or Sauv Blanc

Snickers Bar                                    Malbec or Zinfandel

Sweet Tarts                                     Moscato

Tootsie Rolls                                    Merlot or Syrah

Twix                                               Cabernet or Malbec

Stock up on your favorite wines now because Halloween’s less than 3 weeks away.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

October Headlines: Pub’s Specter Stolen

By Joy Neighbors

Welcome to the annual Joy’s Joy of Wine spooktauclar series of October-themed blog posts. This is the time of year for tales of hauntings and things that go bump (or burp, as the case may be,) in the night.

Bolton, England
Some people brag about having a ghost, others don’t want to discuss the subject, and then there are those who relish the thought of a haunting. The folks in Bolton, England take their ghosts seriously. So seriously that when one went missing, they demanded he be returned!

Ye Olde Man and Sythe Pub
Last year a Chinese student contacted Ye Olde Man & Sythe Pub claiming that he had stolen their ghost. The specter is said to be that of James Stanley, the Seventh Earl of Derby who has haunted Bolten’s oldest pub for centuries. According to the student (who possibly had a dram too many), the Earl agreed to go with him and willing went into a metal canister so that he could be “exhibited” at the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art in Manchester.

Richard Greenwood
Richard Greenwood, the pub’s owner wrote a letter to the student saying, “I feel very strongly that James Stanley’s ghost should remain in Bolton and at Ye Olde Man and Scythe to preserve the natural order of things.”

Greenwood continued, “That said I do believe that your exhibition should travel and be seen by many people around the world and I would like to contribute to this as long as at the end of your exhibition it returns home.”

Apparently, Greenwood didn't mind being accommodating but he’s not willing to “give up the ghost.”

James Stanley
According to lore, Stanley spent his last few hours in the pub before being beheaded outside the building for his part in the 1644 Bolton massacre. Why is the Earl attracted to the pub? His family owned it at the time of his death. The chair he sat in to eat his last meal is still there. And Greenwood, (very generously, I think) volunteered to allow the chair to accompany the traveling art exhibit.

No word if his offer was ever accepted or if the Earl has been returned, but here’s a  short video clip from the pub’s interior camera with what the staff believe is their ghost dropping in for a visit.

Pour a glass of wine, or something stronger because there's more to come next week - Enjoy the season!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Four Fabulous Midwestern Reds

By Joy Neighbors

When you think of “wine country” in the U.S. California immediately comes to mind followed by one or all of the following - Washington State, Oregon and New York. Unfortunately, it takes a while for wine aficionados to remember that the Midwest is another great wine destination.

This region might garner more respect if wine drinkers knew something about the grapes that grow here, what the resulting wines are similar to and a flavor profile.

So with that in mind, here are four Midwestern red wines that are sure to make a delicious impact on your taste buds paired with fall's hearty foods.

Chancellor Grapes/Wine        
This is a hybrid red-wine grape originally developed in France in the mid-1800s, but the French did not utilize the grape and Chancellor found a new home in the U.S.

In the 1970s, New York State renamed the grape Chancellor and it became popular in the East and Midwestern wine regions because it's cold hardy and very prolific. The states that produce the most Chancellor grapes include New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois and Nebraska.

This wine is crafted like a Cabernet with an earthy flavor profile and hints of berries. Chambourcin ages well and pairs nicely with a steak or a hearty beef stew. Prices can range from $10 to $50 per bottle.

Norton Grapes/Wine
This grape was first cultivated in Virginia in the 1820s by Dr. Daniel Norton. It is the oldest native grape in the U.S. (Sorry, Zinfandel lovers.) In the mid-1800s, the grape was taken by settlers to Missouri where it acclimated well to the Midwestern climate including cold winter temperatures; the grape is also resistant to mildew and rot, making it a “perfect wine grape” for the Midwest. Norton’s popularity grew through the early 20th century until Prohibition was enacted in 1920. Once alcohol was illegal, vines were pulled up and it wasn’t until 1989 that the grape caught on again, fittingly enough, back in Virginia.

Riedel Norton Glass
Today, world-class Norton wines are crafted around the U.S., especially in Missouri where it has been designated at the state grape. (The Norton grape is also known as Cynthiana.) Norton wines are so popular in the Eastern and Midwestern sections of the country that Riedel has created a Norton wine glass.

Norton wine is similar to a Merlot or Cabernet. The grapes are thick-skinned with fruity flavors and hints of vanilla. Norton goes well with rich red meats, game and spicy foods.

Maréchal Foch
This hybrid French grape was developed in 1910 by Eugene Kuhlmann. It was named after WW1 French General Marshall Ferdinand Foch and arrived in the U.S. in 1946.

Foch produces early yields and can withstand cold temperatures - two pluses for Midwestern growth. It is, however, vulnerable to mildew. It grows well in Canada, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois and Oregon. This is another Midwestern wine that ages well and is similar in style to a Pinot Noir.

The flavor profile leans toward jammy, berry flavors, with a touch of spice and earthy, almost smoky undertone – pleasant, not foxy. Foch goes well with roasted chicken or venison.

Chambourcin is a French-American hybrid grape that is versatile enough to be crafted like a big-styled Rhone, a full-bodied Burgundy or as a soft red table wine. The origins of the grape are unknown, but it has only been available since 1963.

The grape is very popular in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and southern Illinois. Prominent fruit flavors can include cherry, berry, currents and plums. There's a spicy element of cinnamon, pepper or cloves with aromas of tobacco, leather and smoke.

Chambourcin is food-friendly. A heavy-styled wine pairs well with beef, pizza and barbecue. A lighter-styled Chambourcin goes nicely with lighter pasta dishes or ham.

Next week, a look at some outstanding Midwestern white wines to sip and savor this autumn.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Join In the Month-Long Celebration of Our Native Spirit

By Joy Neighbors

September is National Bourbon Heritage Month. Known as America’s “Native Spirit,” Bourbon has an extensive history in the U.S., especially in Kentucky.

Elijah Craig
While Bourbon can be made anywhere, Kentucky holds claim as its birthplace. It is said that Baptist minister Elijah Craig first aged whiskey in a charred oak barrel imparting that reddish hue and distinctive taste that is the mark of a fine Kentucky Bourbon.

White Oak Barrels
Bourbon’s taste appeal comes from the amount of time it spends aging in charred white oak barrels extracting those perfect flavors of caramel, wood, nuts, spice and smoke – the taste profile of a fine Bourbon. And that caramel color is the real thing. Unlike Scotch, Bourbon is bottled the way it comes out of the barrel – in all its amber tones and rich flavors.

Just as Portugal is the only country that can call a dessert wine Port, and only Spain can craft a Sherry; only the United States can produce Bourbon Whiskey, thanks to an act of Congress in 1964. In 2007, the U.S. Senate passed the resolution decreeing September as National Bourbon Heritage Month, and so we celebrate.

In honor of the beverage, a weeklong celebration known as the Kentucky Bourbon Festival is held each autumn in Bardstown, Kentucky – “Bourbon Capital of the World.” This year will mark the 25th anniversary of the festival, which will be held from September 12- 18.

Take time this month to hoist a glass of Kentucky Bourbon and celebrate National Bourbon Heritage Month in style with our only designated “Native Spirit!” 


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Wine Review: Sterling Vineyards

By Joy Neighbors

Sterling Vineyards
Rising 300 feet above the town of Calistoga, California, Sterling Vineyards offers guests panoramic views of Napa Valley. Peter Newton, a British international paper broker, founded the company in 1964 after purchasing a 50-acre vineyard. Newton decided to increase the vineyard’s production from Cabernet grapes to also include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and the area’s first significant planting of Merlot.

Four years later Sterling Vineyards released the first California vintage-dated Merlot. By 1972, a new winery had been opened and featured a salon-style tasting room with an aerial tram to take visitors from the parking lot to the tasting room at the top of a hill.

Then, as today, when guests arrive they are given a glass of wine and allowed to stroll through art galleries and elevated walkways, winding their way through visual displays that tell the story of the Sterling winemaking process from grape to glass.

Sterling Vineyards released their first Vintner’s Collection Chardonnay and Merlot in 2000. Today, nine varietals make up the Vintner’s Collection, which sells a million cases annually. A few years ago, Sterling began crafting “Reserved" wines and has established a dedicated winery for that production.

2014 Chardonnay, Vintner’s Reserve
The Chardonnay is barrel-fermented for 12 months resulting in its oaky aromas and crisp mouthfeel. The pallet is composed of melon, pineapple and citrus with a rich hint of spiciness on the finish. This full-bodied wine is wonderful with grilled chicken and seafood. Retails at $14 a bottle.

2013 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
The Cabernet grapes are hand-sorted before undergoing barrel fermentation of 12 to 24 months in the wine caves. Cerise and pepper on the nose lingers with hints of cedar before the flavors of plum, berry and cherry deliver a full pallet surprise. And a touch of chocolate tantalizes at the finish. With its rich texture and supple body, this is one Cab that delivers all it promises. Excellent with roast pork; also serve with grilled meats and hearty autumn dishes. Retails at $32.00 a bottle.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Experience an Olive Oil Tasting

By Joy Neighbors

Wine drinkers love tastings! They are the perfect opportunity to sample a few different wines, experience the flavors, and decide what you like. But have you ever experienced an olive oil tasting?

Olive oil has been used for thousands of years in cooking. Today olive oil has garnered a lot of press due to its health benefits. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil increases good cholesterol (HDL), aids internal digestion, slows cerebral aging, and prevents heart disease.

And just like with wine, there are several factors to consider when selecting an olive oil: the type, the color, and the tasting profile, which will help you discover some new favorites.

Types of Olive Oil

Virgin – This oil is extracted directly from the fruit and has not been refined.

Extra-Virgin – The oil is extracted using only cold pressure, known as cold pressing. With less than 1% acid, it's derived from the first pressing for the freshest, fruitiest flavor of any olive oil.

Fino – A blend of virgin and extra-virgin olive oils.

Light – This term refers to the color not calories, and has been filtered to remove any sediment.

Pure – A blend of refined virgin and extra-virgin oils.

Any oil bearing the North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA) logo is certified to be the grade promised.

Flavor Profile
Olive oil falls into two different tasting profiles – grassy and floral.

Grassy – Look for the vegetal flavors of artichoke, cucumber, tomato, fresh grass, or green apples. (Think Granny Smith.)

Floral – This type of oil provides a sweet smooth light flavor similar to almond milk. Fruity flavors include pear, pineapple, citrus, almond, and hazelnut.

Red or White
When compared with wine, a grassy olive oil is more like a young red wine with bright flavors - a bit immature but still charming.

A floral olive oil compares to a mature white wine (think Riesling),
with a light flowery flavor.

How To Taste Olive Oil
There are the five tasting steps, just like with wine.
(And it is suggested to taste a true extra virgin olive oil (EVOO.)

1) Pour a tablespoon of oil into a wine glass.

2) Swirl the oil like you would wine, but place your palm over the glass to contain the aromas.

3) Sniff those aromas! Just like wine, olive oil has a “nose.” These are the most prevalent notes that help you detect the oil's flavor characteristics. (Yes diehards, there is also an olive oil tasting wheel!)

4) Sip the same way you taste wine by taking in a small amount of air and mixing with the oil.

5) Swallow; the oil should have a smooth finish and a tingling sensation in the back of your throat, thanks to the polyphenols (antioxidants) in the oil.

Now head to your local olive oil shop (if you’re so lucky to have one), visit a specialty/gourmet food store, or go online and select a variety of olive oils to begin your exploration.