Category Archives: Learn About Wine

The Top 3 Wine & Chocolate Pairings

Drink wine with chocolate, we say. Not just because it’s Valentine’s Day. But because the two are great together – when you choose wisely – and they should be enjoyed in tandem whenever you’re in the mood. Not just on February 14th.

How to Pair: Though wine and chocolate are great on their own, it can be challenging to make them sing together. For a balanced pairing, select a wine that is sweeter than the chocolate (the percentage of chocolate will give you an idea of its sweetness: The higher the cacao, the lower the sugar/sweetness). When in doubt, pair milk chocolate (high sugar %) with lighter-bodied wines. Pair fuller-bodied, fruit-forward wines with darker chocolate (high cacao %).

And as always, toss all guidelines out the window if your palate tells you otherwise. The best pairing is the one you like.

To help you get your creative juices flowing, here are our top three chocolate and wine pairings:

chocolatecake_wineDark Chocolate Cake with Marenco “Pineto” Brachetto d’Acqui

A prime example that illustrates the beauty of choosing a wine that’s sweeter than the chocolate. This bright red sparkling wine from Piedmont is slightly sweet, with fine citrus blossom and stone fruit notes, all of which complement the cake’s dense, rich flavors and mouthfeel.

chocolatepieces_wineValrhona Chocolate with JL Chave “Mon Coeur” Cotes-du-Rhone

This is a fun one for all you serious dark chocolate lovers. It’s rooted in the trusted “What grows together goes together” wine pairing adage, as Valrhona chocolate is made just miles from where the wine in made, in France’s Rhone Valley. Use the chocolate in your favorite (not so sweet) homemade dessert, or simply let a minimum 70%-cacao square melt on your tongue while sipping this bone dry grenache/syrah blend.

chocstrawberries_wineChocolate Dipped Strawberries with Tintero Moscato d’Asti

Though this fizzy, slightly sweet wine can stand on its own as dessert, we love it when paired with fruit! The fresh, lively character of this white wine, again from Piedmont, is a natural partner to the light, tart strawberry fruit, and the creamy chocolate.

We hope you enjoy our pairings – and encourage you to share your thoughts or ideas on others!

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Comfort Wine for Comfort Food, Part II

Fact: More comfort foods are eaten per capita in January than in any other month. Post-Fact: OK, we have nothing official to back that stat up, but it certainly feels right, doesn’t it?

Because it does so to us, here are more Comfort Wine and Comfort Food pairings that get our team through trying times and blustery weather. They’re the equivalent of the down-filled couch you lose yourself in, the cozy sweater worn fireside, and the hug from a life-long friend.
meinkklang

Meinklang Frizzante Rosé ($19.99), with Chicken & Waffles 
It’s about balance, people. You’ll find me at my happiest when eating piping hot fried chicken with waffles smothered in maple syrup and butter while simultaneously sipping ice-cold, light-as-air, pink bubbles. The fizz cuts through the dish’s richness and the entire composition can make any bad day do a 180. By the way, your chicken & waffles aren’t complete if you’re not drizzling them up with Cholula’s just before consuming. Just sayin’. – Alex

pujol

Pujol Izard Minervois Vieille Vignes ($15.99), with Shepard’s Pie 
The herbal notes you get in every Languedoc wine, combined with the bright lively fruit in this particular bottle, make the Pujol Izard extremely food friendly. It’s particularly great for medium bodied casserole-type dishes, and my favorite, Shepard’s pie.  – Nick

pegoes

Pegoes Red Blend ($6.99), with a Grilled Cheese Sandwich 
I use a ton of butter (and sometimes mayo) on the outside of the bread when making my grilled cheese. To balance all of that rich, creamy and salty goodness, I drink this jammy red, which is bursting with juicy, ripe fruit. And that it is under $7 a bottle is a comfort to my post-holiday wallet, too. -Katie

ciacci

Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona Toscana Rosso ($14.99), with Chicken Parmesan 
Ciacci Piccolomini is in the town of Montalcino in Tuscany. The house is best known for their Pianrosso, which is one of the world’s most renowned brunellos. They can’t help but make great wine and this one, their most affordable option, is spectacular! It’s a blend, and has all the elegance of a brunello, but with a bit lighter and fruitier finish. It’s my go-to wine for my favorite comfort food: Chicken Parmesan. Be sure to load up the cheese! – Kate

borealis

Montinore Borealis White Blend ($14.99), with Sauerkraut with Roast Pork and Dumplings
A match made in my own perfect heaven!  Borealis is an organic wine made in Oregon from grapes more traditionally found in Alsace.  Brimming with both ripe fruit and savory flavors, this beautiful wine sings and dances around the rich sauerkraut, dumplings and pork.  This is where New World wine and Old World food collide!  Bam!  -Eric

Comfort Wines: Now, more than ever.

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Comfort Wine for Comfort Food

There are no two ways about it. 2016 was a doozy. Which is why we’re easing into the new year with the cozy-wool-blanket bottles we call Comfort Wines. They’re the uncomplicated, easy drinking wines we crave when we just want to tune out, sit back, and feed our souls.  Herewith, a few of our team’s favorite Comfort Wine and Comfort Food pairings that do just that.

curator
The Curator Red Blend ($10.99) with Mom’s Beef Stew
“Mom’s hearty beef stew is my favorite dish. The Curator, with its juicy fruit flavors, is my favorite everyday red. I put the two together and get a smile on my face. If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad. Unless you get the bay leaf in your mouth by accident.” – Mia

hugel

Hugel Pinot Blanc ‘Cuvee Les Amours’ ($17.99) with Mushroom & Asparagus Risotto
“Asparagus has always been a tricky vegetable to pair wine with, but the creaminess of this dish (coupled with mushrooms’ earthiness) really lets the individual components shine. Don’t forget to start your rice off with a splash of this outstanding Pinot Gris – it will help spotlight the wine when it comes time to eat!” – Liam

prima

Primaterra Primitivo ($11.99) with Polenta with Rabe Sausage 
“The rabe sausage is available at Anthony’s Sangwich shop on Admiral street,  across from Lasalle Bakery. It is the best. I pair it with the full-bodied Primaterra Primitivo. You can’t go wrong with this one.” – Don

pouilly

Louis Latour Pouilly-Fuisse  ($27.99) with Pa Ralph’s Ultimate Chicken Soup
“When the weather turns wet, icy and raw, I need a healthy dose of my father’s chicken soup to warm me up!  And with its great blend of roasted chicken, orzo, cheese and spices, I reach for a white Burgundy.  More specifically a great Pouilly-Fuisse like Latour’s. Its slight touch of oak doesn’t dominate the chardonnay, but instead adds a note of creaminess that is the perfect marriage for the world’s best chicken soup.” – Josh

Stay tuned next week for another batch of our favorite Comfort Wines.

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Top Hanukkah Wines for 2016

In selecting the wines we feature each Hanukkah, the first thing I consider is the same thing I think about when selecting any of the wines we sell at Bottles: taste. Does the wine taste good, will it fit my customers’ tastes. The second is how it will pair with a traditional Hanukkah menu. Will it enhance the flavor and textures of fried latkes and donuts, will it stand up to a rich brisket. Will it add to festivities and celebration at the table. Once a wine has hit those benchmarks, then and only then do I check to see if the wine is kosher.

Here are my picks for wines that will be great for Hanukkah this year.  It’s my hope that they’ll bring much joy and happiness to your Hanukkah table.

eric_instaNotte Italiana Prosecco, Italy – Perfect bubbly for the holidays and great with brunch, or just standing around the kitchen and talking. But this extra dry bubbly really shines when it’s paired with latke!  $17.99

Dalton Rosé, Israel – Who says that rosé is just for warmer weather?  This is a perfect party wine – dry and light and a good way to start a celebration or to pair with lighter first courses. $19.99 (on sale from $22.99!)

Chateau La Colonne, Lalande de Pomerol, France – A big, powerful wine from one of the best areas of Bordeaux.  This full rich wine calls for big hearty mid-winter celebratory meals and can be enjoyed by everyone at the table, connoisseur and novice alike.  $39.99

Happy Hanukkah!

-Eric

What to Drink While Watching “A Christmas Carol”

Whether you’re watching the 1951 Alastair Sim version of the Dickens classic, or taking in a live performance at Trinity Rep (which we highly endorse – it is just fantastic this year), we’ve got a pairing that will make your enjoyment of this holiday must-do that much better.

curt_xmas

Curt Columbus, Artistic Director of Trinity Rep (and a wine lover with a great palate) selected two sparklers to go with the show. Said Curt: “Two celebratory wines for the year’s most festive production! One’s sweet and one’s dry, but both are sparkling and just spectacular. The dazzling Francis Ford Coppola Winery’s Sofia Blanc de Blancs is dry and full of bright, fresh and juicy pear flavor; the sensational Centorri Moscato d’Asti has a crisp honeycomb-scented sweetness. Both are bubbly and echo the joyful spirit of the holidays at Trinity. Happy Holidays!”

Both the Sofia and Centorri are available to drink during the show. If you purchase either in store, Bottles will donate 20% of your purchase back to Trinity.

We’re proud and thrilled to be the Official Sommelier of Trinity Repertory Company. Happy Holidays from all of us at Bottles!

Top Holiday Wines for 2016

There’s a lot of eating that will be done over the next 30 days, what with the festive observances of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve and Day, and myriad other wonderful winter celebrations. And if you’re reading this blog, stakes are that you’ll be drinking wine with those feasts. Here are our picks for the bottles that pair beautifully with holiday menus of all tastes and styles.

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Domaine de Grisy Bourgogne Rouge (Pinot Noir), Burgundy, France
What a great value for a red Burgundy, full of the traditional tart cherry, mushroom, and forest floor aromas and flavors. It’s a superb option for your holiday cocktail party, and is also incredibly winter-food friendly. $21.99

Gracciano, Rosso di Montepulciano, Italy
An elegant Rosso with cherry, raspberry and eucalyptus notes, balanced by earthy tannins. It wants to be on the table during your traditional Italian feasts. Mangia! Mangia! $16.99

The Fableist Merlot, Paso Robles, CA
A big, ripe merlot that’s ready to party. It’s silky with notes of black tea, blueberries and a saturated minerality, and has hints of sweet plums, warm cedar planks, and freshly ground spices. We’ll be opening bottles of this to enjoy while eating pizza, stringing popcorn and watching Die Hard. Do the same! $24.99

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Penya (Grenache, Carignan and Syrah blend), Cote Catalanes, France
You say you’re making a roast? Welcome to your new best friend. It’s a rustic country wine, loaded with herbal, spice and blackberry flavors that go terrifically well with roasts of all stripes, from pork to lamb, to vegetables. $13.99

Justin Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, CA
An overflowing glass-full of black cherry & currant, blackberry jam, violets and herbs. Serving a big steak with bordelaise or hearty beef stew? Need an impressive gift? Justin’s your guy. And, it’s on-sale! $24.99 (compare to $34.99)

Ampeleia ‘Unlitro,’ Costa Toscana, Italy
A newcomer to our shelves and one that we can’t stop drinking. It has notes of cherry, roses and juniper, and a bright, “alive” quality that makes it refreshing and extremely pleasant to drink, especially when paired with roast chicken. It’s uniqueness means it’s a great gift for the hard-to-please wine lover, too. $19.99 (1L)

tabel23

Domaine de Bel Air, Pouilly Fume, Loire Valley, France
Need an impressive gift for the boss, or a special wine for a crowd? This stunning French white is incredibly expressive with white peach and lilac aromas, and citrus/herbal flavors. It’s a rounder and very elegant expression of Sauvignon Blanc.  $22.99

Saint Peyre Viognier, Languedoc, France
We love this soft, full-bodied white for its floral, peachy and tropical notes, and for its versatility. It’s special enough for fancy holiday occasions, and low-priced enough to drink on a weeknight, say, while you’re wrapping gifts.  $12.99

Oyster Bay Chardonnay, Marlborough, New Zealand
A beauty from down-under that’s best enjoyed under a down blanket in front of a warm fire with a big bowl of popcorn. It’s lush with ripe apple fruit flavor, and rich with a creamy body. That hallmark Kiwi “crispness” can be found in the finish. $14.99

A toast to you and yours from all of us at Bottles!

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The Top White Wines For Thanksgiving

Our entire team gathered one Sunday night after closing to taste through the Thanksgiving wines that our Wine Director, Nick, selected this year. The consensus? They’re all winners. There wasn’t a loser among them (and we have a really opinionated staff. Really. Opinionated.) That said, there are marked differences among each bottle. We encourage you to grab a staff member for help in selecting the style that will match your palate.

Last week we shared our red wine picks. Herewith, the whites:

terre
Corvezzo Terre di Marca Prosecco, Italy
Delicious, organic sparkling wine, new to the store, which has just a whisper of the fruitiness
you want to enhance Thanksgiving flavors. Perfect for toasts, pairing, and cocktails. $13.99


Domaine Bernier Chardonnay, The Loire, France
A tasty, un-oaked chardonnay that’s loved even by those who don’t typically like chards. (Believe us.) It’s perfect for when you want an all-around great white with value. $11.99

godeval_white
Godeval Godello, Galicia, Spain
A versatile dry Spanish white that will go with everything on the table and stands on its own as an aperitif. Great minerality! $17.99

eden_white
Mount Eden “Wolff” Chardonnay, California
A great barrel aged chardonnay that has a bit more structure for the oak-loving ‘Cali-Chard’ drinker at the table. $21.99

Cheers!

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The Top Red Wines for Your Thanksgiving Table

Everyone has opinions about which wines pair best with Thanksgiving dinner.

Some say only drink Beaujolais, some dictate pinot noir. Some suggest drinking bubbly wine throughout the entire meal (let’s have dinner at their house!), some suggest pairing a different wine with each course.

None of the above are wrong, of course. The only wrong wine to serve with the most written about meal of all time is the one you don’t like.

The tack we take for you, our loyal, trusting friends, is not to demand that you drink one style, but rather to suggest a variety of turkey-and-fixins’-friendly wines to meet all palates. Want to serve Italian wine? We have one for you. Rather show your love of the USA? We got that, too. Any of the wines below will be do what a good Thanksgiving wine is supposed to do: taste good and support the glorious flavors on the table.

Herewith, our top red wine picks for Thanksgiving 2016.

domain_red
Durban Beaumes de Venise, Rhone Valley, France

A crowd-pleasing red blend of grenache and syrah that’s not too light nor too heavy. Its ‘old world’ finish (i.e., dry, subtle and earthy) won’t dominate the meal you’ve slaved over, either. $19.99

primarious_red
Primarius Pinot Noir, Oregon
This is the wine that will be so popular on the 24th that you’ll chide yourself for not purchasing more. It’s a velvety, well-crafted pinot noir from a great producer that everyone will enjoy – the classic turkey pairing that never disappoints. $16.99

tami_nero_red
Tami Nero d’Avola, Sicily

Looking for an off-the-beaten path wine with great pedigree? The Tami has that distinctive Italian feel without a crazy price tag. And it’s made by Arianna Occhipinti – the current darling of the wine world. $19.99

yon_red
2012 Chateau Yon, Saint-Emilion, Bordeaux, France

A classic style, this merlot / cabernet blend is everything you would expect from a Right Bank Bordeaux (balanced fruit, smooth) that is ready to drink now, at a phenomenal price. $21.99

anitgal_red2
Antigal Uno Malbec, Argentina

A smooth and supple red that perfectly compliments the more bold dishes on your table. Malbec is a Thanksgiving best seller for us year after year. If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it!  $19.99

Tune in next week for our top picks for the white wine drinkers at your table

Cheers!

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Paso Robles Wines are a “Force of Nature”

The labels had us at hello.

force_label
The art was graphic, powerful, densely colored, and letterpressed onto textured paper on heavy black bottles.

We had to try them.

To our relief, the wine inside the bottles matched their intensity and originality. And we bought a bunch of them. Can’t miss them – they’re on display in the middle of the store through mid-November.

They’re the Force of Nature wines, made from fruit grown at Mossfire Ranch in California’s Paso Robles. The area has been bubbling up on the radar screens of real wine aficionados for some time now. Yes, some the wines from this central coast region can be overly big and juicy, but due to 40 degree diurnal shifts which chill down the warm Paso air at night, many of the better-crafted wines are taut with acidity.

Enjoy these rockin’ wines while binge watching Luke Cage, or hanging out around a fire pit, telling ghost stories deep into the night. We’ll be doing just that.

force_cab
Cabernet Sauvignon

This big beauty of a wine is concentrated and lush, and finishes with a subtle smoky wet-earth notes. Rob Murray, the gent who grows the grape, describes the wine as having a “farmer’s fist full of blueberry pie sprinkled with cinnamon spice.” This time of year? Yes please.

force_red
Red Blend

Comprised mainly of merlot, with bunches of cabernet sauvignon, syrah and petite sirah mixed in, the wine’s deep purple color matches its intense ripe, dark-berry fruit flavor. There’s that acid at the end, balancing all that jammy goodness. Pro-tip: for full deliciousness, decant one hour before serving.

force_zin
Zinfandel
Dusty and floral, this atypical Paso Robles zinfandel fills your mouth with smooth cherries, rhubarb, chocolate and peppercorn. Its’ zippy acidity keeps those exploding flavors at bay, thankfully, and helps make this a superb bottle for steaks, burgers and tagliatelle bolognese.

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Chardonnay
A powerhouse chardonnay made from fruit grown at the Murmur Vineyard in Santa Maria, just 12 miles from the Pacific coast. Tangerine peel, white peach and jasmine aromas jump out of the glass. Big, round flavors of kiwi and passion fruit lead to a juicy finish with a palate cleansing citrus minerality. Gulp-able for sure.

Enjoy!

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Appropriate Drinking

Heading to Trinity Repertory Company to see Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ “remarkable and devious” (The New York Times) new play? Jacobs-Jenkins, one of three recipients of this year’s MacArthur Genius Grants, is considered one of the theater world’s most important young creatives, and his Appropriate was the winner of the 2014-2015 Obie Award for Best New American Play.

It is — on the surface — an homage to the classics of the American theater canon, say our friends at Trinity. In this biting comic-drama, the estranged members of the Lafayette family return home to their run-down Arkansas estate after the passing of the family patriarch. As they sort through a lifetime of mementos, they discover a gruesome relic that turns their reunion into an escalating series of shocks, showdowns and revelations.

Intrigued? We certainly are. We’ll be in the audience awaiting the revelations. And while there, we’ll for sure be drinking one (or more) of the beverages TRC Artistic Director Curt Columbus has deemed appropriate for “Appropriate”.

Herewith, Curt’s “Appropriate” Picks:


Pine Ridge
“This unique blend (chenin blanc and viognier) is an affable, easy drinking white, with surprising fruit flavor and finish. Like the play and Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ writing, this wine will have you coming back for more.” – c.c.

Tintero Bianco
“ A delightful, refreshing white wine, one that is also zesty and fun.  This white wine, called simply ‘Bianco’ (white), is the perfect choice for an evening of dark comedy about race.” –c.c.

Glasses of Pine Ridge and Tintero Bianco are available to drink during the show. And 20% of the sale of each wine purchased at Bottles throughout the duration of the production will be donated back to the theater.

Bottles is Proud to be the Official Sommelier of Trinity Rep!

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