Check out the radio show on The Ranch 107.1FM or 97.9FM in The Bitterroot Valley. How about a live stream feed at www.107theranch.com. The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© with Scott and Paula on The Ranch airs weekly on Wednesday mornings at 8:20AM MST.
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Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip. Find them online at www.CiaoMambo.com
This week’s winners are; Sue Bergmeier and Donalee Labar
This week’s show; “American wines, the first 200 years.”
With Thanksgiving Day just one day away I thought it would be fitting to share with you the great American story of wine, featuring the Pilgrims. The Pilgrims are the forefathers of the American wine industry; they are the pioneers who laid the ground work for today’s wine industry as we know it.
The early American settlers were Europeans who came to and colonized America. Pilgrims were a very hardy lot and were forced to be self reliant. One of their first discoveries was America’s very own native species of grapes, Vitis lambrusca. There are more native species of grapes in North America than on any other continent.
This discovery was very important as it meant that the Pilgrims would be able to cultivate their own resources rather than to rely on trading with Europe for wines that were for their time very expensive. Even with today’s very tough economic climate wine still sells and is consumed just as it was in colonial America. In spite of the economy of the moment during any time in history people are going to consume wine.
The Pilgrims were America’s very first winemakers. They were very disappointed in their first vintage of American wine, the “fruit” of their labor and tender loving care did not have a good result. We need to remember these colonists came from Europe and were used to drinking wines that for their time were quite sophisticated.
The grapes that the Pilgrims were making wine with were entirely different than that of their European counterparts. They recognized immediately that the poor quality of wine they produced with their first vintage was a direct result of the vines that they were dealing with.
Being the resourceful settlers that they were they sent word back to their homeland in Europe that they needed rootstock and vine cuttings from the vines of their homeland. The European rootstock, Vitis vinifera, was a known commodity that was recognized by the Pilgrims. These vines had produced good wines that were very palatable.
The vines were planted, grown, cultivated, and harvested from American terrior. The vine’s to the incredible disappointment of America’s Pilgrims were not nearly as hardy or disease resistant as the native rootstock from America. The Pilgrims were at a major disadvantage compared to today’s skilled craftsman we call winemakers. The winemakers did not have the advantage of today’s technology and understanding of disease and pest control. They also failed to recognize the effects of the right soil, weather, slope of the land, prevailing winds. All things today’s winemakers pay a great deal of attention to and know as terrior. Winemakers today also have a complete understanding of what, where, and how varietals grow and thrive.
The Vitis lambrusca species of native American grape varietals that you might recognize are the Concord, Catawba, and Delaware grapes. This species produces much better grape juice than it does wines to drink. Vitis vinifera strains of grapes are Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. We all know that this strain of grape vine produces extraordinary wines. There is also a hybrid of these two strains that produce much lesser known varieties of grapes; Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc, Baco Noir, and Chancellor. I know they make wines from these varietals, mainly back East, but I myself have not had any wine produced from these varietals.
After 200 years of failed winemaking attempts to grow non-native species of vines the settlers returned to the native strain of Vitis lambrusca. A small wine industry existed as a result but the colonists never grew to like the wines that they produced. The demand for wines began to diminish as European import wines were very expensive. The early American settlers began to drink wine only at special occasions rather than every meal like they preferred. This was a direct result of the fact that they did not like the wines they had made.
True to the American spirit though early winemakers forged ahead with tenacity and resolve, and as a result their winemaking, vine grafting, and viticulture skills evolved. Thanks to those Pilgrim winemakers we have one of the strongest and most prolific wine industries in the world today. America also produces some of the finest wine in the world today and for that WineGuyMike™ is truly thankful on this day before my favorite holiday. I want to wish all of my WineGuyMike™ fans a Happy Thanksgiving Day, I’m very thankful for all of you.
I want to also take a moment to recognize and say Happy Thanksgiving Day and thank you to all of our American troops fighting for our freedom and keeping us safe. I am thinking of all of you and your families on this Thanksgiving Day.
Last week’s show revisited, hey it is Thanksgiving and someone may still need advice for their wine lineup.
Today is an important Wine Wednesday, why you might ask? Well this is the week WineGuyMike will help you answer two of the most important and widely asked questions each Thanksgiving prior to the actual holiday. So here it goes; #1. What wines shall I serve to my guests with Thanksgiving dinner, and question #2., what wines should I bring to Thanksgiving dinner if I’m a guest at someone’s home?
Okay now we know what the most important questions of the day are, so what are the answers? WineGuyMike™ really prefers to keep things as simple as possible and in doing so let’s consider a few things before I recommend which wine types are best suited for your particular Thanksgiving Day wine selections.
When one considers wine and food I like to think of balance. Balancing wine and food is a good place to start when determining what wine works best with what food. Here are a few other things to think about when choosing a wine too:
- What wine do you like?
- Food Texture, Heavy or Light?
- How is the food prepared, Grilled, Baked, Sautéed, or in the case of Thanksgiving dinner roasted?
- What about a Sauce, Gravy, Crème, Tomato.
In considering balance and in this case I’m referring to weight and texture of the main food entrée and the weight and texture of the wine I would like to choose to serve with my dinner. How am I going to cook the Turkey, and today we will of course be using roasting a Turkey as an example. I’m also going to be using a sauce or gravy, and I can promise you I will be using a lot of it but my guests probably won’t be using as much gravy to garnish their entrée with. There a couple of more things to think about before we go wine shopping too.
Just as foods have a texture and firmness wines also have a quality of texture. Remember we are looking for balance and a synergy between wine and the foods they are paired with. A full bodied wine bold on texture should not be paired with delicate dishes nor should they be paired with a food dish that is big on flavor. Big wine and big flavor just don’t work well together, we are looking for harmony. A mild food dish would do well to be paired with a medium to light body wine which is what we are doing today in considering our Thanksgiving Day wine list.
Today I’m going to be recommending wines that pair well with or go with my main entrée, which are Turkey and gravy. So in contemplating these suggestions I will consider the fact that acid brings out flavors in food and helps to leave a lingering flavor on your palette. I will also consider the fact that Turkey is mild and relatively light to medium textured and in doing so I will be suggesting wines with a bit of acidity and will be light to medium bodied. Now we can talk about our wine type choices, or at least what types of wines match our criteria for the meal we are serving.
The wine types that I recommend will vary from light to full body:
Light Bodied Wine selections
- Chenin Blanc
- Pinot Grigio/Gris
- Pinot Noir
Medium Bodied Wine selections
- Fume´ Blanc
- Sauvignon Blanc
Full Bodied Wine selections
These are the wine types I believe are best suited for your Thanksgiving Day dinner. I would recommend having one white and one red wine from the light bodied category, one wine from the medium bodied category, and one full bodied Chardonnay that is not oaked to complement your dinner.
I hope that you find these suggestions helpful in putting together your Thanksgiving Day wine list. Thinking about this ahead of time will lead to a much better wine shopping experience, not to mention the time you will save not staring at too many wine bottles on a shelf. After a few minutes all the bottles begin to look the same. Having a wine focused Thanksgiving Day dinner can make it a lot of fun and remember this list of slightly acidic wines are suggested because they will intensify all the wonderful flavors of your Thanksgiving Day dinner. It will also be fun to share with your family and friends all about the wines you have carefully selected with the dinner to pour for them, they will surely feel as special as they are. Let’s not forget to take a moment to think about all that we are thankful for and that includes the very special people in our lives, because how much better is a nice bottle of wine when we a sharing a glass with someone.
If you have any specific questions about wines please message me by commenting on the WineGuyMike blog at; www.wineguymike.wordpress.com, or on my Facebook fan page; WineGuyMike and I will answer any questions you may have.
One last recommendation would be to stop in at my official sponsor Ciao Mambo, they have a great wine list with wines by the glass. You can experience some of these wine types before you serve them with your Thanksgiving Day dinner.
P.S. Here is my Thanksgiving Day wine list:
1. Chenin Blanc/Chardonnay blend from Southwest France – Tariquet
- Pinot Gris from Adelsheim Vineyard in The Willamette Valley of Oregon
- Pinot Noir from Adelsheim Vineyard in The Willamette Valley of Oregon
- Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand – Spy Glass
- Chardonnay from California – Cambria, Katherine’s Vineyard.
- Sparkling wine from Argyle Winery in The Willamette Valley of Oregon
This wine list receives The WineGuyMike™ Seal of Approval©
Light Bodied Wines
Pinot Noir is the medium bodied grape variety of red burgundian wines; it can produce wines that are incredible. When aged in oak, it should have sweetness reminiscent of raspberries, with undertones of vegetation and chocolate. The wine can stand up to aging for many years. Pinot Noir at its best will be smooth, full of flavor, and a beautiful bouquet.
Gamey Beaujolais a wine from France that is made to be drunk very young, right after bottling. This is a light bodied red that has very little tannin and is low in alcohol content. It is a fruity red wine that has berry overtones and is light bodied.
Chenin Blanc is a very versatile grape. It is very crisp, acidic, high in alcohol content, yet is smooth and full bodied. This grape exhibits slight spiciness, hint of honey, and slight fruitiness and is dry. This can be a very special wine, such as Vouvray, an excellent wine exhibiting many different styles.
Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris as it is commonly referred to is a very dry wine. Some characteristics of this wine are a slightly fruity and mild spiciness.
Viognier is a grape from the Rhone valley in France is also making a name for itself in California. Viognier is a very dry, delicate wine with floral aromas and apricot overtones.
Medium Bodied Wines
At its best Sauvignon Blanc is a very crisp, light bodied and very dry. They are also known as Fume´Blancs, and are well balanced with citrus and grassy overtones. Most of these wines are not fermented in oak, the high levels of acid balance well with the fruity characteristics of the wine.
Sancerre wines come from the Loire Valley region of France and are made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes. There are two styles of Sancerre wines depending on their terrior. Some come from marl terroir and the others come from limestone vineyards. Marl (white soil) terrior Sancerre wines are fruity and well balanced while the Sancerre wines grown in limestone are full flavored but can be unstable. Both style of wines have nuances of citrus (Grapefruit) and floral aromas.
Full Bodied Wine
Chardonnay is one of the most complex white wines, thanks to winemaking techniques, and the grapes ability to draw flavor from the nutrients and minerals in the soil. Chardonnay is aged in new oak barrels, old oak barrels, and steel barrels, all producing varying nuances in the wines. New barrels produce the strongest oaking, old barrels have a slight oak influence, while the steel has no oakiness. This dry wine is rich, bold, and full of fruitiness, vanilla and a certain toastiness, just to name a few characteristics. Complexity is the word that best suits Chardonnay.
WineGuyMike™ had to mention some sparkling wine just to top the Thanksgiving Day off.
Sparkling Wines and Champagne are still wines that have been infused with carbonation. True Champagne is made in France will be noted by the capital letter “C”on the label. Other sparkling wines called Champagne will by designated as “champagne”, notice no capitalization. Three grapes are used in Champagne, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. It’s white because only the juice of the grapes are used. Pink Champagne is strained through the Pinot Noir grape skins, truly a delight. M´ethode Champenoise is the true French fermentation process. The wine is fermented twice, once in an oak barrel, and the second time the wine develops carbonation in the bottle while aging a minimum of one year.
Blanc de Blancs this true French Champagne is produced entirely from the Chardonnay grape. Also fermented using the Methode Champenoise process, producing a white Champagne.
How to “taste” your Thanksgiving Day wines
Now let’s get on with tasting the wine. Here is a simple process for basic wine tasting I call the 5 sssss’s:
- Swirl – with your glass on the table or in your hand move the glass so the wine moves in a circular motion in your glass
- Smell – stick your nose in the glass and think about the different aromas’ that you are able to discern
- Sight – hold the wine up toward light, what does it look like, color, viscosity, what do the individual streams of wine dribbling down the side of the glass look like
- Swill – take a small sip, pucker your lips and gently breath in
- Spit or Swallow – if you have a bucket spit, if not swallow
- What is your sense of the wine in your mouth
- What does the wine taste like
- What does the wine feel like in your mouth
- How does your mouth perceive the wine, all up front, in the middle, more in the back of your mouth
- Is there a lingering after taste
- This is where the brain, mouth, and eyes come together as one
- Your description of what your nose, mouth, and eyes just experienced
- How would you describe this, remember there is no right or wrong description this is your subjective experience
- Try the food now and think about how you would now describe the wine
WineGuyMike’s Wine Lingo
Astringent – This refers to a drying sensation in the mouth that may make you pucker. It is common in young full bodied red wines such as a Cabernet or a Zinfandel. This is caused by high tannin content in the wine. Tannin is a tactile sensation, not a taste.
Balance – this term is one that would refer to a harmony of fruit, tannin, acid, and alcohol. There may be a nuance of fruit in a wine but it would not be so overwhelming that it would be out of balance or harmony when considering the other characteristics of a wine.
Cheesemonger – this term refers to someone who sells cheese, in this case a specialist or purveyor of artisanal cheeses.
Crisp – Fresh, Bright, Young, and Slightly Acidic. Wine Types are Sauvignon Blanc, Vermentino, and Chablis
Grassy – Refers to Herbal Characteristics often associated with Sauvignon Blanc
Meritage – pronounced just like “Heritage”, is a proprietary term used to denote red and white Bordeaux-style wines without infringing on the Bordeaux region’s legally protected designation of origin. Winemakers must license the Meritage trademark from its owner, the California-based Meritage Alliance. Member wineries are found principally in the United States, though increasingly elsewhere.
Oaky – A reference to a nuance in a wine resulting from wooden oak barrels that wines are aged in. This term is common to Chardonnay’s and Cabernet wines.
Rose´ - “pinkish”(French). Depending on the grapes and winemakers style the wines can be colored from vivid orange to nearly a purple hue.
Terroir is a French term for the notion that the complex combination of soil, climate, exposition and local tradition define the style of wine, a taste of the earth.
Velvety – This term characterizes a wines texture. This term would be used with a wine that has a rich and supple mouth feel.
Wine Tasting Flight is a term used by wine tasters to describe a selection of wines, usually between three and eight glasses, presented for the purpose of sampling and comparison.
Match the words that you think make sense; these words are descriptors for wine:
Bright = Flinty an epiphany in your mouth
Rich = Subtle mellow, smooth, decadent, just easy and fulfilling
Lively = Crisp the wine is refreshing, a zing, literally comes to life in your mouth
Intense = Juicy big, bold, forward just tastes like fruit you could bite into
Velvety = Aromatic sexy, goes down like silk, fills the room with its aroma