Categories
Alcoholic Drinks/Cocktails Meals

Downton Abbey Wine Collection Available in Time for Season 4 Premiere

Downton Cast PBSThe hit show Downton Abbey® has inspired an entire collection of wine that reigns from the Entre-Deux-Mers region of Bordeaux, France. The Downtown Abbey Wine Collection is the newest creation from this vineyard that has been owned by the same family for more than 130 years and continues to produce some of the world’s best wines.

Now the 120 million Downton Abbey® fans can enjoy a crisp “Blanc” white wine or a medium-bodied “Claret” red while they tune into their favorite show and follow these beloved characters through their daily lives.

Winemaker Jean-Marc Dulong used his family’s traditions from the Grand Vins de Bordeaux winery and the show as inspiration for this balanced collection of drinkable wines. Of the experience, he says, “It is exciting for me to think about my Bordelaise ancestors crafting their clarets and blancs in the Downton Abbey® era. Their know-how, passed down to me through five generations, has inspired my own winemaking. With Downton Abbey Wines, I have strived to capture the essence of Bordeaux in this collection of delicious and approachable wines.”

William Zysblat, co-creator of these palate-pleasing wines says, “We are excited to launch the Downton Abbey Wine Collection, made in the finest Bordeaux winemaking tradition.“

The connection to the show is an important aspect of this collection. Zysblat says, “Our collaboration with the Dulong family made perfect sense, as we wanted the same vines, soil and region used to produce the wines from the Downton Era. Having Dulong as our winemaker allows us to create accessible wines that we truly believe the Crawley Family would have been proud to serve at their table.”DowntonAbbeyWine_DowntonAbbeyWineCollection13

Although the show does not come back to television until January 2014, fans can still integrate their favorite aspects of it into their daily lives with these wines. The “Blanc” and “Claret” are versatile enough to drink in a variety of occasions. The wine collection is now available online and will be available at specialty wine stores like Cost Plus Work Market starting November 1, 2013. Buy your favorite now to see how Downton Abbey® can enhance your wine-drinking experience.

Categories
Alcoholic Featured Recipes Tips, Tricks, and Advice

Wine Lovers: It’s Summertime — Let’s Explore A Brew or Two

beer

Just as beer drinkers are wise to bolster their knowledge and appreciation of fine wine, so too are wine lovers well served by opening their palates (and possibly snooty attitudes–hey, if this isn’t you, cool, but if the shoe fits… ) to embrace the attributes of great beer. And with the hot and muggy season upon us, what better time to begin the exploration?

Before you get your grape-stained cargo shorts all in a twist, no one’s saying that summertime wines aren’t marvelous. A bright, lively albariño between dips in the pool is just right, and lobster with white Burgundy is clearly one of life’s great pleasures. But after scooping divots on the back nine or powering the two-stroke around that precious carpet of green, who in their right mind is going to upend a 750ml of pinot bianco to cool off?

That’s right… no one. Beer has many qualities in common with wine but on one count at least, it stands head and shoulders above the sacred juice. Refreshment. Pure and simple restoration of body and spirit after a sweaty, grueling encounter with just about anything.

So if you’re willing to concede at least a nugget of truth in what I’m saying, let’s wrap our parched lips around some top-notch, steamy day beer options.

The simplest approach to good warm weather guzzling is to look for anything with bitter, white, wit, weisse, weizen, wheat, Kölsch, lambic, summer or seasonal on the label. “Your list is like, totally incomplete,” the beer geeks will shout; that may be my friends, but we’re trying to bring a few folks over from the grape side, so cut me some slack here.

Bitter, as in English bitters or special bitters, is a traditional ale style with a good but not overwhelming dose of hops, nicely balanced with some malty goodness and showing a touch of fruit. They’re typically on the lower side in alcohol (a plus in the summer heat), light in body and gold to copper in color. Think of them like an IPA’s little brother who can’t quite hop like the monster but who still delivers tremendous drinkability and refreshment.

White, wit and weisse (or weiss), all meaning, duh… white, are made with wheat, as in weizen or wheat (and maybe a dollop of oatmeal) and often sport a complex, citrusy spiciness, rendering them stone-cold delicious and exceptionally refreshing. White beers may come from Belgium or Germany and are increasingly beloved by American craft brewers.

Straight wheat beers are likewise a mainstay of American brewers and are perfect for summer enjoyment, though for a step up in flavor and personality turn your sights to the original European versions. What’s more, in a good beer joint you can expect to get a show to go with your order for a classic weissbier or hefeweizen.

Properly served, a very tall glass is placed over the bottle and the duo is inverted in a single, smooth motion. As the beer fills the glass the bottle is slowly raised until it leaves a marshmallowy two or three inch head, at which point the bottle is removed and either swirled wine-style or rolled back and forth on its side. This little trick gathers up all the remaining yeast (these babies are bottled sur lies) mixing it with the remaining foam, which concoction is then used to top off the glass, often followed by garnishing with a slice of lemon. Once served, dive into this gorgeous brew in all its orange, banana, and clove ester-ness for a singular beer experience.

Moving from “show” beers back to our list, Kölsch describes a golden ale produced in Cologne, Germany, and, well… anywhere outside the EU, like the U.S., that makes this soft, hoppy, kinda fruity, kinda bitter, kind of not, easy and delicious, summer sipper. And then we have the lambics.

These Belgian throwbacks are open fermented with wild yeast (something any true vinophile can appreciate) after a convoluted mashing process that leaves even beer folks scratching their heads. The result is a sour, somewhat earthy, carbonated brew that in overly simplistic terms is called “gueuze” when unflavored and “fruit lambic” when made with cherries, raspberries, cassis or peaches. Though it can be a love or hate proposition, the fruit flavors are rich and pure, and the higher acidity makes these summer quaffers a perfect match for any number of foods.

Finally, we have the summer or seasonal variants. A common bit of nomenclature among North American craft brewers, these are typically dosed with spice or fruit or a particularly interesting strain of hops. They’re made to refresh and encourage you to enjoy more than one. And most are excellent, a cut above the everyday pale ale or light lager. You may find rye ale or blueberry lager or any number of possibilities.

Now that you have some worthy options, trade in the wine stem for a beer tulip now and again. There are terrific beers out there, and if there’s one thing wine drinkers love, it’s finding the next new taste. If you’re not sure which ale or lager, which witbier or lambic to try, put together a mixed six-pack. One of the beauties of beer is that it’s generally inexpensive. You can mix and match and hold your own tasting of half a dozen possibilities for the cost of a single bottle of good wine. Exploration and economics, a summer combo that’s hard to beat!

Categories
Tips, Tricks, and Advice

Wine pairing basics

(ARA) — You’ve been picking up a bottle of wine along with all the rest of your groceries for years. But have you been doing it right? Ever wondered why certain wines taste so good with certain foods? You’re not alone. The answers are as simple and complex as the varietals you choose with your meal.

Let’s get right down to the meat. No, really, should we be drinking reds with our thick steak and why? It’s all about the tannins – a wine’s pucker power so to speak, which is derived from the grapes’ skins, stems and seeds. Tannins in red wine are powerful, and frankly overpowering for something as light and flaky as a white fish, says Chef Lucia Miltenberger, culinary instructor at The Art Institute of Colorado. “Tannins love a nice marbled ribeye,” she says.

Just when things are getting juicy, it’s time for a chemistry lesson. “Food changes wines in very predictable, scientifically proven ways, and that can be for better or for worse,” says Chef Jane Nickles, culinary academic director at The Art Institute of Austin, a branch of The Art Institute of Houston.

Take acidic foods like salad dressing, ceviche or anything vinegary. If you pair them with an acidic wine like a sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio or a riesling, it will make the wine less acidic – and that’s a good thing. If you’re serving sweeter foods, don’t serve a dry wine like a cabernet sauvignon, merlot or chardonnay, since the sweeter food will make your wine taste less sweet.

Chef Larry Canepa, culinary instructor at The Art Institute of Phoenix, says it’s really all about the sauce. “If you’re serving a heavy white sauce like an alfredo, choose a crisp white wine with some acidity to balance out the richness and fat of the dairy-based sauce,” he says. Conversely, if you’re serving an acidic tomato sauce, balance it out with a tannic red wine.

Another rule of thumb Canepa uses is to pair the dish with a wine from the same region. “If you’re cooking up northern Italian fare, pick out a wine from that region in Italy,” he says.

And if you’re just starting to delve into wines, Miltenberger recommends some balanced whites and reds that both newcomers and wine connoisseurs can enjoy. “If you haven’t had a lot of wine, you could be turned off by the dryness, so a nice balanced riesling or a Vouvray from the Loire Valley in France are a good start. For reds, try an Oregon Pinot Noir or a Beaujolais or Rose d’Anjou from France.” Not only will your palate be happy, but so will your pocketbook. Miltenberger says most of these wines retail for $10 to $15.

With that kind of price point, Canepa’s philosophy is on target, “Wine is not a luxury or an indulgence, it’s an ingredient.” And Nickles sums it up, “The bottom line is simple, food and wine go well together. You can serve any food with any wine and have a better meal.”

Categories
Food News Restaurants

French Food Tips from Brasserie JO Executive Chef Nicholas Calias

“Forget about dieting,” advises Brasserie JO’s Executive Chef Nicholas Calias who knows a thing or deux about the French way of cooking and eating. Take a page from the French way of cooking and you can trade diet books for a naturally healthy lifestyle. Here are some tips (with inspiration from The French Women Don’t Get Fat, The Secret of Eating for Pleasure):

1.       Use the best natural, local ingredients:

Allendale Farms, Costa Produce, Domestic Lamb, Grass Fed Beef’

2.       Focus on quality rather than quantity, enjoying one portion of a great dish rather than doubling up on processed foods

Recommended dish: French Lemon Chicken, Couscous, Crispy Almond Wrapped Asparagus (Recipe below)

3.       Eat consciously and slowly, savoring each mouthful

“Turn off the television and phone, and focus on the meal in front of you and your dining partner(s).”

4.       Allow yourself a glass of wine – especially red, which is known for the benefits of the antioxidant reservatrol

Chef’s recommendation: Trimbach Riesling-Alsacian White

5.       Enjoy dessert in small quantity, eating it slowly and enjoying it more

Whole Wheat Crepes, Flambé Strawberries, Yogurt, Toasted Pine Nuts

6.       Eat real cheese and fresh bread, avoiding processed, and it will prevent later snacking (if at a meal) or enjoy it as a healthier alternative to junk food snacks

Cheese Fondue, Crisp,  Fresh, Local Vegetables, Apples, Baguette

7.       Drink plenty of water

“This will aid digestion, speed your metabolism, and promote weight loss,” says Chef Nick.

8.       Forgive your lapses

“Indulge if you must and then return to your healthy way of eating,” Chef Nick allows.

Don’t miss Chef Nick’s recipe for French Lemon Chicken with Couscous and Crispy Almond Filo Wrapped Asparagus!