Sunday, October 29, 2006

Wine Stereotypes

I had a very interesting experience today. I got to go to the 2006 Wine Event at the Expo Center at Nassau Coliseum. [A big thank you to Marilyn Howland of Main Street Wine & Spirits who made this possible.]

The Wine Event was a lot smaller than the pharmacy trade shows that I'm used to attending, but it certainly was more fun. Rows of booths were set up, and you were handed a clean, empty glass as you entered the show floor. Basically, you could just walk up and down the rows, tasting wines until your taste buds failed you.

In another post, I'll write about some of the interesting wines I tasted, but what I wanted to talk about here was what I call "wine stereotyping" - in other words, when people ASSUME that because you look a certain way, or are a certain gender, you are going to want to drink a certain type of wine. Almost everyone I approached immediately thought I wanted white wine, a chardonnay or something. When I told them I wanted red, they asked me if I wanted a "light" red. Most of them seemed a bit surprised when I told them I wanted a big, heavy red - preferably a complex cabernet sauvignon. Meanwhile my dad, who was looking for a light, sweet white wine, was constantly being offered dry reds. Is it me, or is there some "wine sexism" at play here? Do people just naturally assume that a woman wants a sweet white wine and a man wants a big bold red? It certainly seemed that way today. Now, in all fairness, I have to report that many of the women I saw at this event DID seem to want to drink white. But still...

In any event, despite the wine stereotyping, we had a marvelous time. My dad ended up with a couple of very sweet whites, and I actually bought a bottle of mulled wine.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

"End of Bin" - The Wine Grab-Bag

Are you one of those people who is always intrigued by "grab-bags"? You know, the idea that you might get something really great for a low price. The mystery of opening that bag and seeing what's inside? If you, like myself, are that kind of person, then the end of bin racks at the wine store are for you.

When wine retailers get to the last two or three (or sometimes more) bottles of a bin of wine, they will often drastically discount those bottles in order to get them to "move" and clear out space for new stock. This can lead to some great bargains on excellent wines. The fun thing is that you never know what will be there. You walk up to the end of bin rack with that excited feeling of a child opening a wrapped package -- what will be in it? Often, this is a great chance to try a wine that you are unfamiliar with. I did this today and was not disappointed. (I'll write about the wine in the next post).

Next time you visit your local wine retailer, be sure to check the end of bin rack to see what surprises might be in store. Be adventurous!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Wilted Greens with Pinot Pears - Revamped

Here is a lower fat and calorie version of the previous recipe, plus this one is suitable for vegetarians.

Wilted Greens with Pinot Pears Redux

- 2 pears, cored and cut into wedges
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
- 1/2 cup Pinot Noir
- 6 cups chopped greens
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup walnut pieces
- 1 tablespoon sunflower or safflower oil

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add walnut pieces and cook until browned. Remove walnuts and set aside - leave remaining oil in skillet. Add pears, honey, and vinegar and cook 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in wine; cook until wine is absorbed by pears. Stir in greens; cook and stir until barely wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to plates and top with walnut pieces. Makes 4 servings.

Wine in Cooking - Wilted Greens with Pinot Pears

I came across this recipe in a pennysaver today. It's obviously sponsored by Mirassou wines. Here's the original recipe - If you're not watching calories (and you like blue cheese) you might like this. I'll do a lower-calorie revamp in the next post.

Wilted Greens with Pinot Pears

- 2 strips bacon
- 2 pears, cored and cut into wedges
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
- 1/2 cup Mirassou California Pinot Noir
- 6 cups chopped greens such as red swiss chard
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1/2 crumbled blue cheese

Cook bacon in large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove from skillet and drain all but 1 tablespoon fat. Add pears, honey and vinegar; cook until wine is absorbed by pears. Stir in chard; cook and stir until just barely wilted. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to plates and top with crumbled bacon and blue cheese. Makes 4 servings. Serve with the same Pinot Noir used for cooking.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Orfila Vineyards Sangiovese 2003

The full name of this wine is actually Orfila Vineyards Estate Sangiovese "Di Collina" 2003. Quite a mouthful, but then this wine was quite a mouthful too. We picked this bottle up last January when we went to visit the quaint town of Julian, Califonia (about an hour east of San Diego). While this isn't where you'd ordinarily think of as "wine country," there are in fact several wineries in that area. (For more on Julian, visit my archives.)

We visited the Orfila tasting room, which also doubled as a shop selling gourmet olives, oils and jams. (It turns out however, that the actual Orfila winery is right outside of San Diego.) We tasted a variety of interesting wines, and brought a bottle of this one home with us. Now, ten months later, we opened it to celebrate Mark's birthday. The bouquet was of plum, grape and spice, and it was a rich red with good legs. The first sip was very gratifying to me, because I could instantly tell that it was not a cabernet. The big, smooth cherry flavor rounded nicely in my mouth but didn't have the long finish I'd become used to from the cabs I've been drinking lately. Mark and I both really liked this wine - we felt it was full and nicely balanced, and tasted good by itself and when served with dinner. I wish we could get our hands on this again, but I'm fairly sure that Orfila doesn't make it to NY. But next time you're in San Diego, consider taking a road trip.