Winter has once again hit Shanghai with a vengeance. What better way to warm you body and soul than with a good wine. The wines we enjoy should not only entice the palate but also pair well with the heavier dishes of winter. Ideally, the wine should be full-bodied with plenty of dark fruit and earthy flavors. One wine that features these qualities is a Syrah red wine from California or Washington State. Though globally recognized as a premium variety the Syrah, or Shiraz as the Australians and some other new world producers call it, this grape in the U.S. has never achieved the success or popularity of other French red wine varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir. Read more
The Loire River runs through the heart of France and wines from this region have captured the hearts of wine lovers all around the world. In particular, the wines from the hillside vineyards around the village of Sancerre have the ability to seduce palates that desire white wines of purity and elegance. Sancerre white wines are also some of the most elegantly perfumed wines in the world that are meant to be enjoyed as much with the nose as with the mouth. If you’re a fan of some of the best French perfumes and colognes than these wines are sure to enchant you with their sophisticated aromas of delicate fruits, flowers and minerals. Read more
The end of 2010 is rapidly approaching so it’s always a good thing to reflect on and be thankful for the good things that happened over the course of the year. We wine people do the same thing with wines as we remember some of the wines that really surprised us and exceeded expectations. With decades of drinking experience, I usually know what to expect from a bottle of wine, but once in a while the color, aroma, taste or texture of a wine may cause your eyes to pop open as you exclaim “Wow, this is so much better than I expected”. In English we refer to this as the “wow factor” and it’s one of the most fun and enlightening of wine experiences. Read more
There’s a common misperception in the wine world that a darker and more full-bodied red wine is better than a lighter red wine. Nonsense. Some red wine grapes are naturally lighter in color and have thinner skins that result in lighter wines. A perfect example is a young Pinot Noir from Burgundy. While some premier cru and grand cru Burgundy reds may be darker and heavier, the young AOC or Villages level Burgundies are delightfully light and even better, much more affordable than cru level wines. The style of these wines is light, lively and stylish making them some of the most feminine of red wines.
The first Thanksgiving celebration was held in 1621 when the settlers of Plymouth Colony celebrated their first harvest after a harsh winter of privations. By November 1621 half of the Mayflower’s 102 original passengers had died. Help from local Natives in cultivating corn, fishing and hunting meant the chances of surviving the coming winter were much better, so there was much to celebrate. Written accounts of the first Thanksgiving mention the serving of venison and fowl but we don’t know what fowl was served. As a native species of the North America, it’s a good bet that wild turkeys were on the menu. Also on the menu that first Thanksgiving was venison, lobster and even seals. Read more
As the temperature in Shanghai fall, I increasingly desire hearty and flavorful dishes accompanied by robust, rustic wines. It’s somewhat ironic that the region of Campania in southern Italy that doesn’t experience very cold weather has some great winter dishes and wines. Best of all you can experience delicious Campanian foods and wines here in Shanghai at Bella Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria. Owner Guido Esposito is from a small town in Campania and the restaurant reflects his friendly and inviting character. Walking through the garden patio as you enter Bella Napoli has a calming effect that benefits your appetite. The unpretentious, warm décor of the restaurant provides a soothing sense of warmth as you embark on your winter meal. Read more
We’re in the midst of the season for the famed Shanghai hairy crab also known as the Chinese mitten crab. Once a year the most discerning of shellfish lovers get the chance to savor these delectable crustaceans. Shaoxing rice wine is often enjoyed with the crabs, however the rice wine merely neutrally accompanies but doesn’t embellish the crabs. The embellishment of the crabs is the role of the vinegar served on the side. Can the right wine act in a similar synergistic manner? My answer is an emphatic yes! Read more
A writer once said long ago that once you leave home as a young adult you can never truly go home again as home is a place in time and spirit. While that may be true for me, it’s certainly not true for Francois Collard of Chateau Mourgues du Gres. He travels have taken him from the esteemed halls of higher wine education the University of Agriculture in Montpellier to the rarified heights of the wine world as agriculture engineer and oenologist at Chateau Lafite Rothschild and finally brought him home. Before we delve deeper into the story of Francois and Chateau Mourgues du Gres, allow me to make some practical observations from a wine lover’s perspective. Read more
The most important winemaking region in the Czech Republic is Southern Moravia where wines have been made since Roman times. The northern region of Bohemia also produces wines. Due to climate and tradition most wines are white wines made from muller-thurgau, gruner veltiner and other varieties associated with Germany. Well-known white and red wine varieties are increasingly being cultivated. Popular domestically, unfortunately these wines are hard to find in China. Czech cooking tends to be quite heavy and filling and suitable for the long cold winters. Meats like pork, chicken and beef play a principal role. As the temperature dips in Shanghai and we prepare for another cold winter, the thought of hearty Czech meat dish with a similarly robust wine becomes ever more appealing. Read more
When you can afford to drink Champagne – do it! The more you drink, the more you’ll love this bubbly nectar. Perhaps the only thing you won’t love is the cost. Good, inexpensive Champagne just doesn’t exist. So what are lovers of bubbles to do? My answer is Cava, the sparkling wine of Spain.
In 1872, Josep Fatjo of the Codorniu Estate starting making sparkling wines using the same method that was already popular in Champagne. Soon other wine producers in Catalonia region around Barcelona also started making sparkling wines. Over the next century producers made some very good Cavas but unfortunately also some pretty awful ones. Cava became the world’s best-selling sparkling wine. In 1986 the Cava D.O. was established to establish regulations and oversee production. About the same time more and more producers saw the benefit of emphasizing quality not only quantity. Today, there are many good, and some excellent Cava sparklers that are very affordable. The best Cava wines are dry and tend to be more earthy and less acidic than Champagnes.