Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Two End of Summer Wines

Nothing says summer like a well-chilled white wine served with a fresh salad and grilled seafood. These two offerings from Ferraton Père & Fils Côtes du Rhône put the perfect examination point on the end of summer wining and dining.

Ferraton Père & Fils began in 1946 when Jean Orëns Ferraton purchased a vineyard in the Southern Rhone area of France. Ferraton’s son, Michel expanded the vineyards located in the appellations of Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage and Saint-Joseph Ferraton. He converted them to organic viticulture and had them certified in 1998. Michel Chapoutier purchased the estate in 2004 and oenologist Damien Brisset now crafts the wines. If you’re visiting in the area, the tasting room is located in the village of Tain-l'Hermitage, France.

Both Ferraton Père & Fils Côtes du Rhône Samorëns are grown in a vineyard soil comprised of limestone and clay, which adds a mineral component to the taste. The wines are cold stabilized after pressing for 48 hours and fermented in stainless steel tanks for bottling at the end of winter.

Ferraton Père & Fils Côtes du Rhône Samorëns Blanc 2016
This Côtes du Rhône Samorëns Blanc is a crisp white wine that includes a blend of Roussane (35%), Viognier (30%), Grenache Blanc (25%), Clairette (5%) and Marsanne (5%) grapes. Light straw color in the glass, green apples and orange blossoms are heavy on the nose. Nicely acidic in the mouth with the flavors of citrus, fresh grass and minerals on the palate, and a fresh, lingering finish. We served it with fresh seafood and received rave reviews. (This was my favorite of the two wines.) Sells for $14 a bottle at wine shops in the U.S.

Ferraton Pere & Fils Côtes du Rhône Samorëns Rosé, 2016
The Côtes du Rhône Samorëns Rosé is a blend of Grenache (50%), Syrah (30%) and Cinsault (20%). All three of the grapes are used in this classic rosé blend attributed to the Southern Rhone region. The bright coral color attracts attention in the glass, and the aromas of  cherry and red berries tempt you to taste. The flavor profile includes raspberry, strawberry, and flint with a hint of tea on the finish. Good acidity makes this an enjoyable late summer vino that pairs well with tacos or burgers. This wine sells for $14 per bottle in the U.S.
~ Joy

(Editor’s note: Both wines were received for media review.)
My new book The Family Tree Cemetery Field Guide will be hitting bookshelves in September. Click here for book information.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Five Fast Wine Chilling Tricks

There’s something wonderful about a perfectly chilled glass of wine on a sultry August day. But if you forgot to put that special bottle in the fridge, there are other ways to cool it down.

Here are five ways you can sip chilled wine in minutes.

Salt of the Earth
Remember watching an adult putting ice in the ice cream machine when you were growing up? That was to help it freeze faster, and it's a trick that works well with wine. Simply grab an ice bucket or a deep pan, place the wine bottle in it and fill with ice. Toss in a couple handfuls of salt and fill with cold water up to the bottleneck. The salt melts the ice, which makes the water get colder faster. (It works like putting salt on an icy sidewalk.) Let it set about 15 minutes before serving.

Freeze In
It seems I rely on this method most of the time. Take that room-temperature bottle and place it in your freezer. (Better yet if you have a large chest-type freezer where you can place the bottle down among bags of frozen veggies.) Wait 15 to 20 minutes, pull it out and pour. (Just don’t forget and leave the bottle in there.)

Frozen Fruit Fix
Grapes work best for this trick although other fruits can be used. Freeze red grapes for red wine and white grapes for white wine. Just drop a few in the glass and pour your room-temp wine over them. No more ice cubes in the wine. Now you have a classy alternative that looks and tastes great. You can use other fruits, just be sure to pair with the wine grape with the frozen fruit used. For example, serve Chardonnay with frozen peaches.

Beverage Stones
These little jewels may also be marketed as wine pearls or whiskey stones, but the moniker doesn’t matter. Simply keep the stainless stones in the freezer until needed. Place a couple of cubes in your glass for a quickly chilled vino. Now, how cool is that?

Prep the chiller by filling the inner and outer stainless steel chambers with water, twist in place and place in the freezer overnight. Pour your room temp vino in the top, swirl and you’ll pour out a nicely chilled wine in less than 60 seconds – with no dilution. This chiller will also work with whiskey, juice, even hot coffee.

Best Wine Temps for Serving White Wines
Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Moscato and sparkling wines should be served around 45º degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees Celsius)
Chardonnay is best served between 48 - 52 degrees Fahrenheit (9 - 11 degrees Celsius)

Best Wine Temps for Serving Red Wines
Merlot, Pinot Noir and Red Blends serve at 62 - 65 degrees Fahrenheit (15 - 18 degrees Celsius)
Zinfandel, Syrah and Cabernet chill to about 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius)
Now pour a glass of wine and chill.
~ Joy

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

"After Dark" Sips for the Summer Eclipse

The Great American Eclipse takes place this Monday, August 21. During the afternoon, the sun, moon and earth will line up to give some of us a rare glimpse at a total eclipse – in other places, we’ll see a partial eclipse, which still means a great show!

A total solar eclipse is a unique visual occurrence and not only is North America in the path, Western Europe, Northern and Eastern Asia, Northern and Western Africa, a large section of South America and the Arctic along with islands in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans will experience the eclipse in some form.

Solar eclipse parties are planned around the world and Frontera saw the perfect opportunity to celebrate with their After Dark wines. Parent company Concha y Toro is Chile’s best-selling wine brand, and the company is now targeting directly to millennials with a new look on the shelf. The classy black and gold label is appealing and stands out in a sea of typical wine labels. In fact, the dark trend has registered an almost 30% sales increase over traditional white and cream labels, so look for store shelves to become more intriguingly mysterious with those darker labels. The new Frontera tag line says it all: “The day starts to come alive at night!”
My tasting panel, which included two millennials, sampled two of these newly released wines, both bearing names that befit the coming lunar event. 
After Midnight
This wine is a blend of Cabernet (55%) and Syrah (40%) with a hint of Merlot (5%), and is very approachable for the new wine drinker.
True to the name, the grapes are harvested after midnight when temperatures are lower to preserve the flavors of the grapes. The juice is aged in stainless steel and then put into oak barrels.
The wine is dark purple in the glass with berry and cherry on the nose. This medium-bodied vino was a bit sweeter than I expected, but appealed to my millennial tasters and that’s the market its targeting, so kudos. Dark berries on the nose with a flavor profile of cerise and elderberry along with a hint of vanilla and spice. A lingering taste of strawberry rounded out the experience. Great with burgers or pizza. Or plan to enjoy a glass during the darkest part of the eclipse.
This white blend is comprised of mainly Moscato with a small amount of other white grapes. (Possibly Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris?) Again, the grapes are picked at night when temperatures are cool.
Moonlight is a straw-colored semi-sweet wine with a fruity, floral aroma. The palate consists of ripe fruit in the mouth with a touch of honey and a citrusy finish. This was a bit too sweet for me, but the younger crowd loved the wine. Serve with a nice curried chicken to balance out the sweetness, or revel in it and enjoy with pork chops.
Another idea, pour a glass as the eclipse starts and watch the show unfold.
Both wines are very budget-friendly and retail around $6 a bottle, and are available at wine shops across the country.
~ Joy

And a note: My new book The Family Tree Cemetery Field Guide will be shipping out next Tuesday for early orders. Click here for more.
(Editor’s note: Both wines were received for media review.)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Hotcha Summer Nights with a Glass of Red Wine

August is a month that sizzles, thanks to high temperatures, lots of greenery, a healthy dose of sunshine, and long, languid nights. But if you’d like to ignite a lustful late summer rendezvous then pop open a bottle of red wine and see what develops.

Hands down, red wine is said to be the drink of seduction. A study performed at the University of Florence discovered that red vino may actually increase sexual desire in women. The report indicates that by heightening blood flow to erogenous areas, women may become more amorous. And the study reported that red wine tends to stimulate desire in women in their forties, fifties and sixties more than those who are younger.
Red wine also affects men by increasing blood flow and escalating testosterone levels. But keep in mind, too many glasses of red wine and the libido takes a nosedive.

Your Brain on Wine
Another explanation for the erotic kick red wine supplies may be linked to the stimulation of your brain’s hypothalamus, which controls body temperature, hormone levels and basic human functions including your sex drive. Either way, this aphrodisiac works best in moderation with a max of two drinks, which works out perfectly if you’re sharing that bottle of red wine. 

Something else to consider, sniffing red wine might be considered foreplay. Wine aromas stimulate that hypothalamus and certain smells trigger the libido. For women, it’s the aromas of earth, wood, cherry and licorice that can fuel desire, so serve her a rustic Zinfandel, an earthy Barbera or a musky Pinot Noir. For men, it’s more baking aromas (seriously) like caramel, butter, orange and vanilla that prove to be arousing. Pour him a glass of Syrah, Moscato or Tawny Port to sip and savor for a provocative August evening.