Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dark Purpley Goodness

Whenever I think of cheap wines, Portugal immediately comes to mind-and I don't say that disparingingly. I think most wine lovers would agree that this country is producing some of the highest quality, most affordable wines out there right now. For instance, the 2006 Barco Negro from Domaines Francois Lurton, is a terrific bottling from the always-exciting Douro region. This is a medium-bodied wine, with mind tannins and dark cherry flavors. I think its structure is balanced enough to pair well with short ribs or even a homespun meal like shepherd's pie. Best of all, I shelled out less than $10 for this wine at Cost Plus World Market. However, it won't take long for prices like this to become a thing of the past, as Portugese producers and their creations become more appreciated and well known here in this country. In other words, drink these wines now, folks!

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Sublime Pairing

Yesterday, I enjoyed one of the best food and wine pairings in recent memory. I brined some boneless pork loin chops in a salt and brown sugar water mix for an hour. After patting them dry, I brushed the chops with olive oil, then coated the meat with a mix of cocoa powder, brown sugar, kosher salt and ancho chile powder. Grilled them for 15 minutes on medium heat and served them with grilled squash and cheesy potatoes. The wine? A 2005 Liar's Dice Zinfandel, courtesy of Murphy-Goode Winery in Sonoma. Perfection!!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Weaning myself away from cheap beer, enjoying a blind tasting or two and the search for the next great Chateauneuf

My intense love affair with wine began shortly after college, when I was desperate to escape the doldrums of a lonely, beer-addled lifestyle. I thought to myself, there has to be a more suitable drink for a woman about to embark on a life of luxury and excess (those were my thoughts BEFORE the first paycheck from my small town TV gig). Alas, I began a new beverage relationship, and unlike the steaminess of a summertime tryst that ends before it begins, my interest has never waned. I have an admitted weakness for Tempranillos, Amarones and jammy California Zins, but my undying love is reserved for the gorgeous and velvety reds of the Rhone, particularly the divinely-inspired Chateauneuf du Pape. This wondrous blend of grenache, syrah and mourvedre will always have my heart. What I really enjoy is gathering a group of fellow oenophiles at my place, each armed with an eager smile and a special bottle. Sometimes the tasting is blind, other times we know exactly what each of the others have brought to the table. Every one of these occasions turns into a special evening to remember. I don't know of any other beverage on earth that evokes such energy and that intense feeling of community that arises from the sharing of good wine. With that being said, I would love to hear your thoughts on wine: what types you like to drink, maybe about the time you marked a special occasion by opening a terrific bottle; perhaps you can tell me about an incredible producer you've just been turned onto that you'd like the rest of us to discover. Either way, talking about wine is fun and can take your mind off of more pressing issues: like scraping together enough cash to pay for that next great Chateauneuf that might be waiting for me at the next tasting.