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Archive for the ‘Wine Pairing Guide’ Category

Moscato ~ The Perfect Spring Wine

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

Moscato, Muscatel, Muscat… what’s the difference between them? Just the names, actually. Rather than just being one grape, Muscat includes a family of grapes in a range of colors (from white to brown, or to near black.) For instance, Moscato is the Italian name and Muscatel the Spanish.

Here in the U.S., Moscato is making its mark and has become the hot wine of the moment. Some would say sweet versions of Moscato are ideal for the American sweet tooth; it’s also an easy wine for the new wine drinker to love.

For a perfect spring day, pack a picnic with a chilled bottle of Temecula Valley Moscato and pair it with good cheese, buttery crackers and seasonal fruit.

Here are five fun facts about Moscato:

1. Muscat is the only fine wine grape that doubles as a table grape.

2. Twitter buzzes with an average of 250 tweets an hour about people drinking their Moscato.

3. In addition to Moscato, Muscatel and Muscat, this common white variety is also known as Muscadel, Muscat Blanc and Muscat Canelli.

4. Virtually all pink Moscatos gain their hue from a splash of red wine, not skin contact.

5. The breadth and number of varieties of Muscat suggest that it is perhaps the oldest domesticated grape variety, and there are theories that most families within the Vitis vinifera grape variety are descended from the Muscat variety.

Some Temecula Valley Moscatos and Muscat Canelli’s to try:

Avensole Winery – 2014 Muscat Canelli
Callaway Vineyard & Winery – 2016 Special Selection Muscat Canelli
Europa Village – 2015 Estate Muscat Canelli
Leoness Cellars – 2015 Muscat Canelli
Maurice Car’rie Vineyards & Winery – 2015 Moscato
Monte De Oro Winery – 2015 Muscat Canelli
Oak Mountain Winery – 2016 Muscat Canelli
Ponte Winery – 2016 Moscato
Robert Renzoni Vineyards – 2015 Moscato
South Coast Winery Resort & Spa – 2015 Muscat Canelli
Thornton Winery – 2015 Muscat Canelli
Wilson Creek Winery – 2016 Muscat Canelli

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Top Wines Paired with Top Aphrodisiac Foods

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country gets into the Valentine’s Day spirit by going one step beyond the chocolate and wine pairings so prevalent this time of year – aphrodisiac pairings. The popular wine destination shows the diversity and versatility of the region’s wines through suggested pairings with certain foods believed to be libido-enhancing.

“One of the things that makes Temecula Valley so special is the number of different grape varieties we can grow successfully here, thanks to our Mediterranean-like climate, as well as the broad spectrum of wine styles we produce. This makes experimenting with food pairings – even the most challenging ones – really exciting,” said Devin Parr, Wine Country Marketing Director for Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country. “We thought it would be fun to throw around some ideas about which Temecula Valley wines might go with foods rumored to be natural aphrodisiacs, given that Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Jury is still out on whether or not the foods actually work, but we had a lot of fun coming up with the list of pairings.”

Oysters + 2016 Hart Winery Arneis

Although the science behind this mollusk’s libido-boosting properties is murky at best, Oysters are one of the foods most commonly thought to have aphrodisiac effects. This is thought to be because they contain zinc, which is necessary to produce testosterone, as well as amino acids and serotonin, which enhance the body’s response to pleasure. Pair these briny bivalves with a crisp, mineral driven white, like Hart Winery’s 2016 Arneis.

Avocado + Thornton Winery Brut Reserve Natural NV

Avocado’s reputation for being an aphrodisiac dates back to the Aztecs, who believed in it so much that they prohibited virginal women from leaving the house while they were being harvested. Avocados are also rich in vitamin E, which boosts the immune system and helps give skin a youthful appearance, perhaps making us look more attractive to the objects of our affection. Pair a bowl of rich, creamy guacamole with something bright, bubbly and capable of cutting through the fattiness of the avocado, like Thornton Winery’s zero dosage Brut Reserve Natural Methode Champenoise sparkling wine. For extra oomph, sprinkle on some maca powder, whose libido-driving powers have been more firmly established in science.

Chili Peppers + 2015 Baily Rosé of Sangiovese

Chili peppers are known to stimulate endorphins, speed up heart rate and increase sweat production, all similar to what we undergo when we are getting in the mood. Spicy dishes can be tough to pair with wine. Stick to a wine with some acid, which can soften extremes in richness, fat or spice, as well as some fruitiness or residual sugar, which can help temper spicy heat. Try Baily’s easy-drinking, slightly off-dry Rosé of Sangiovese.

Coffee + 2012 Fazeli Cellars Shiraz

Much like chili peppers, coffee is a stimulant that increases heart rate and blood flow, contributing to feelings of an enhanced libido. Since an actual cup of coffee is one of wine’s worst enemies, try something like coffee-rubbed brisket paired with a complex, juicy red like Fazeli Cellars’ 2012 Shiraz, which also just received 92 points in the Wine Enthusiast.

Chocolate + 2008 Leoness Cellars Cinsaut Dessert Wine

It wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without chocolate, and probably for good reason. Chocolate is thought to boost passion levels through phenethylamine, the stimulant that is released in the brain when we fall in love, and tryptophan, which helps produce serotonin, a brain chemical associated with elevated moods and arousal. Choose a dopamine-spiking dark chocolate and pair it with something sweet and luscious, like Leoness Cellars’ 2008 port-style dessert wine of Cinsaut grapes.

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Temecula Wine Pairings For Your Thanksgiving Table

Friday, October 28th, 2016

Autumn table setting with pumpkins. Thanksgiving dinner and autumn decoration.

In just a few weeks, your tummy will be rumbling and your mouth salivating with the promise of the once-a-year feast that is Thanksgiving. America’s biggest food holiday serves up the chance to do some serious (and seriously fun) wine and food pairing. Here in Temecula Valley, Southern California’s Wine Country, we’ve got the perfect wine pairings to go with each Thanksgiving course. No matter what your budget, this simple guide will have your friends and family giving thanks to you for making their holiday meal extra special.

Light Appetizers + Mellow Whites

These bright yet mellow whites pair well with lighter dishes to kick off your Thanksgiving meal. The floral notes of light white wine complement a fall salad of pears, blue cheese and walnuts; a selection of fruit and cheeses match nicely with a Chardonnay; and light Pinot Grigio will sing next to your pumpkin soup.

Callaway Vineyard & Winery 2012 Special Selection Chardonnay; $25.00

Danza Del Sol Winery 2015 Pinot Grigio; $28.00 (1st Annual People’s Choice Blind Tasting Award Winner)

Monte De Oro Winery 2015 Nostimo; $23.00 (1st Annual People’s Choice Blind Tasting Award Winner)

Herbacious Side Dishes + Spicy Reds

The spicy notes derived from these unique wine grapes pair especially well with stuffings and gravies seasoned with holiday herbs like sage, thyme and rosemary. Having a vegetarian Thanksgiving? These wines work well with earthy mushroom and winter squash dishes too!

Mount Palomar Shorty’s Bistro Red; $20.00

Avensole 2012 Second Block Zinfandel; $60.95  (1st Annual People’s Choice Blind Tasting Award Winner)

Doffo Winery 2013 Syrah; $58.00

Poultry & Meats + Bold Reds

Whether it’s wine or food, everyone looks forward to the main course. The dark fruit flavors in these big reds will enhance similar flavors in your herb-rubbed turkey or peppered roasts. Whether you’re serving poultry, lamb or beef, all three are bold enough to stand up to a rich meat course.

Baily Winery 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon; $30.00

Fazeli Cellars 2012 Khayyam; $58.00

Wiens Family Cellars 2014 Bare Knuckle Petite Sirah; $48.00

Dessert + Sweet Wines

Your Thanksgiving meal isn’t complete without dessert, and no dessert is complete without wine – at least that’s how we feel! Apple pies and pear tarts are practically made to pair with Ponte’s sweet moscato, where red delicious apples, kiwi , pears, and apricots come together nicely with honeysuckle and jasmine undertones. Or try the People’s Choice Blind Tasting award winner, Briar Rose’s Estate Riesling with your fruit tarts or pies.  And for a special treat, buy a bottle of Renzoni port to pair with a fudgy chocolate cake.

Briar Rose 2013 Estate Riesling; $25.00 (1st Annual People’s Choice Blind Tasting Award Winner)

Ponte Winery 2015 Moscato; $28.00

Robert Renzoni Paradiso Port; $49.00

One Meal, One Wine

Looking to simplify your evening by serving one wine from start to finish? Any of these four, well-priced wines fit the bill. Each is lighter on the palate, with only subtle hints of sweetness making them suitable to drink from appetizers all the way to dessert. Bon appetit!

Maurice Car’rie 2015 Chenin Blanc; $20.95

Miramonte Winery 2014 Grenache Blanc; $28.95

Falkner Winery 2015 Sauvignon Blanc; $24.95

South Coast Winery Ruby Cuvee; $22.00

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Late-Summer Salads with Wine Pairings

Friday, August 19th, 2016

LPL5U4N1TJ (1)Cool and refreshing late-summer salads make dining in Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country another great reason to visit during the month of August. Temecula Valley wine country chefs use garden fresh ingredients to make irresistible entrée salads with some surprising pairings of Temecula Valley’s finest wines. (Hint: Not all salads pair best with white wines.)

1. The Restaurant at Leoness Cellars favors the sensational figs now in season with their Fig & Goat Cheese Summer Salad. Dive into delight with this seasonal selection of mixed baby greens, julienne of carrot and cucumber, sliced red onion, baby tomatoes, house made candied nuts, with white balsamic dressing and fried prosciutto garnish. This salad pairs wonderfully with Leoness Cellars’ 2015 Viognier.

2. Meritage at Callaway Vineyard & Winery offers a unique twist on the traditional California fruit with their Beer-Battered Avocado Salad. This summer salad includes locally-grown wild arugula, Gorgonzola, and whole cloves of roasted garlic. These ingredients are tossed with a crisp house made vinaigrette dressing and are then plated with large pieces of beer battered avocado. A surprising wine to pair with this plate is Callaway’s 2012 Special Selection Mourvedre.

3. Vineyard Rose at South Coast Winery has created a juicy and refreshing selection of locally-grown ingredients for their Heirloom Tomato and Harry’s Berries Salad. The new menu feature includes a perfect balance of makes this salad paradise on a plate. South Coast Winery’s 2011 Grenache is an ideal pair for this lovely salad.

4. Annata Bistro at Mount Palomar Winery welcomes a warm afternoon with a strikingly colorful display of refreshing produce in the perfect seasonal Citrus Salad. This exquisite summer selection contains fresh and creamy Burrata cheese, blood orange, naval orange, grapefruit, purple and green kale, striped beets, extra virgin olive oil, and a white balsamic reduction. This particular summer creation is only available on the weekday menu (Monday-Thursday). This salad pairs incredibly with the slightly sweet 2013 Cinsaut Blush.

5. Creekside Grille at Wilson Creek Winery serves a light and imaginative Cucumber, Melon, and Heirloom Tomato Salad. The leaf crown lettuce head is topped with local, organic cucumber, melon, tomato, sweet onion, and feta cheese with a homemade raspberry vinaigrette. Wilson Creek’s Sparkling Rose is the predictable yet sensational recommended pairing.

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Summer Wine Pairing Guide

Friday, July 1st, 2016

Wine glasses on picnic table --- Image by © Laura Doss/Corbis

Ah, the sizzle of summer is upon us. Whether you’re spending your hot summer days and long summer nights relaxing at the beach, chowing down at a backyard barbecue, or picnicking in the park under a shady oak tree, these cool and crisp whites, rosés and sparkling wines will please every palate. All of these wines can be purchased online or in the tasting rooms, so choose your favorites this week! Here’s our guide to beating the heat in the most delicious way:

Whites
Lorimar Winery 2014 Chardonnay – Crisp, tart green apple, Bartlett pears and honey suckle with a medium length finish.
Monte de Oro 2014 Pinot Gris –Wine opens up with peach and apricot flavors couples with pears, lemon/lime, guava and kiwi accents.
Briar Rose Winery Citronier– Aromas of exotic fruit with a brilliant lemon flavor. Sure to bring a smile to every summer celebration

Rosés
Oak Mountain Winery 2015 White Merlot – Sweet cherry and raspberry aromas characterize this wine. Soft, round, juicy cherry and berry flavors form structure and a full, rich texture.
Robert Renzoni Vineyards 2014 La Rosa (Rosé of Sangiovese) –Light strawberry citrus flavors are layered with hints of cranberry, passion & tropical fruit, and a hint of pink grapefruit.
Falkner Winery 2014 Irresistible Rosato –This semi-dry white wine tastes of ripe pear, cinnamon, apple pie, and spice.

Sparklers
Wilson Creek Grand Cuvee Sparkling Wine –Light and refreshing, and very fun. Great in Mimosas! A fun party sparkling wine.
Maurice Car’rie & Van Roekel Winery Pomegranate Sparkling Wine– This lively refreshing California Sparkling Wine is bursting with refreshing flavors of pomegranate – a perfect accompaniment to your summer picnic basket.
South Coast Winery Resort & Spa Pinot Grigio Sparkling – Finished as a “Brut” this is a Pinot Grigio with wonderful nuances of pears and apples, a touch of tropical fruitiness and crisp acidity.

Image by © Laura Doss/Corbis

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Wine & The Super Bowl? You Bet!

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

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Sure, wine may not be the first image that comes to mind when planning your Super Bowl celebration, but we’d bet that we can convince you that it should be!  Of course, when it comes to wine, we sure have a hard time imagining any celebration without it.

Here are some game day staples and some of our wine pairing recommendations:

Hot Wings ~ Riesling makes a good choice here….it will temper some of the heat of the wings!
We’d suggest: Baily Winery 2011 Riesling,  Danza del Sol Winery 2014 Riesling or Mount Palomar Winery’s 2013 Riesling

Pizza ~ Mmmm….pizza!  How about trying a Barbera with that?
We’d suggest: Europa Village 2013 Estate BarberaHart Winery 2012 Barbera or Ponte Family Estate Winery’s 2013 Barbera.

7 Layer Dip ~ Our favorite pairing for foods with Mexican flavors?  Malbec!
We’d suggest: Carter Estate 2011 MalbecDoffo Winery 2013 Malbec or Foot Path Winery’s 2012 Malbec,

Burgers ~ Those of us in Southern California are lucky enough to be able to grill on most Super Bowl Sundays.  If you get that lucky, why not grill up a burger and enjoy with a hearty glass of Chardonnay?
We’d suggest: Oak Mountain Winery 2014 Chardonnay, Thornton Winery 2013 Chardonnay or Wilson Creek Winery’s  2014 “Yes Dear” Chardonnay

So, as you can see, wine and Super Bowl fare really are a match made in football heaven!

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Thanksgiving Wine Pairing Guide

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

thanksgiving-wine-horizWho’s as obsessed with Thanksgiving as we are?  The turkey, the trimmings, the pumpkin pie and the WINE!

This is the time of year we get the most questions about wine pairings.  While there is no “right” or “wrong” wine to pair with your feast, there are a few varietals that, if paired with your favorite dishes, will send your taste buds into sensory overload.  We’re reprising this “oldie but goodie” Thanksgiving wine guide and have updated it with some suggested pairings to try this year.

Light Appetizers + Mellow Whites

These mellow whites pair well with lighter dishes to kick off your Thanksgiving meal. The floral notes of a Viognier complement a fall salad of pears, blue cheese and walnuts; a selection of fruit and cheeses match nicely with a Chardonnay; and a light Pinot Grigio will pair well with your pumpkin soup.

Callaway Vineyard & Winery – 2011 Chardonnay; $30.00

Danza Del Sol Winery – 2014 Pinot Grigio; $28.00

Briar Rose Winery – 2014 Estate Viognier; $25.00

Herbacious Side Dishes + Spicy Reds

The spicy notes derived from these unique wine grapes pair especially well with stuffing and gravies seasoned with holiday herbs like sage, thyme and rosemary. Having a vegetarian Thanksgiving? These wines work well with earthy mushroom and winter squash dishes too!

Cougar Vineyard & Winery – 2012 Sangiovese; $31.00

Leoness Cellars – 2012 Zinfandel; $39.00

Doffo Winery – 2010 Syrah; $52.00

Poultry & Meats + Bold Reds

Whether it’s wine or food, everyone looks forward to the main course. The dark fruit flavors in these big reds will enhance similar flavors in your herb-rubbed turkey or peppered roasts. Whether you’re serving poultry, lamb or beef, all three are bold enough to stand up to a rich meat course.

Baily Vineyard & Winery – 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon; $30.00

Monte De Oro Winery – 2010 Merlot; $32.00

Wiens Family Cellars – 2013 Tempranillo; $42.00

Dessert + Sweet Wines

Your Thanksgiving meal isn’t complete without dessert, and no dessert is complete without wine – at least that’s how we feel! Apple pies and pear tarts are practically made to pair with a sweet Moscato, where red delicious apples, kiwi, pears, and apricots come together nicely with honeysuckle and jasmine undertones. Oak Mountain’s Port has a nutty honeyed flavor to perfectly complement the nutmeg and allspice flavors of pumpkin pie.

Oak Mountain Winery – Port; $28.00

Miramonte Winery – 2014 Moscato; $25.95

Robert Renzoni – Paradiso Port; $49.00

One Meal, One Wine

On a wine-buying budget? Or just looking to simplify your evening by serving one wine from start to finish? Any of these three, well-priced wines fit the bill. Each is lighter on the palate, with only subtle hints of sweetness making them suitable to drink from appetizers all the way to dessert. Bon appetit!

Maurice Car’rie Vineyard & Winery – 2012 Chenin Blanc; $19.95

Falkner Winery – 2014 Sauvignon Blanc; $19.95

South Coast Winery – Ruby Cuvee; $22.00

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Perfect Pairings: Pumpkin & Wine

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

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October….it’s the time of year we’re dragging the kids to the neighborhood pumpkin patch, decorating the house for fall and for some of us, already thinking about all of the yummy pumpkin recipes we want to make.  From pumpkin soup, to pumpkin pie and everything in between, we’ve got a wine that will pair with it!  Here are some tips for pairing wines with your favorite pumpkin dishes.

When the cold weather returns, there’s nothing better than a nice, big, bowl of soup.  This time of year, pumpkin soup is a good choice.  We’d most likely pair our soup with Chardonnay, Viognier and even Gewürztraminer. For you red lovers, try a Cabernet or Merlot.  Try these: South Coast Winery 2011 Chardonnay Sans Chêne, Thornton Winery 2013 Viognier, Maurice Car’rie 2013 Gewürztraminer, Frangipani Estate Winery 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Lorimar Winery 2012 Allegro Merlot.

Pumpkin Risotto would pair well with Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Chenin Blanc.  You may want to eat the whole bowl of risotto by itself (and we wouldn’t blame you), but it makes for a great side dish with roasted chicken too.  Try these: Hart Winery 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, Ponte Family Estate Winery 2014 Pinot Grigio, Maurice Car’rie Winery 2012 Chenin Blanc.

And, for our personal favorite….Pumpkin Pie.  There are endless possibilities here.  A Riesling or Muscat would be amazing.  Better yet, get in the holiday celebrating mood and pop open a bottle of bubbly to enjoy with your pie. Try these: Miramonte Winery 2014 Riesling, Europa Village 2014 Bolero Estate Muscat Canelli, Wilson Creek Winery Grand Cuvee Sparkling Wine.

As you can see, although pumpkin dishes seem hard to pair wine with, there really are a lot of possibilities.  Enjoy pumpkin season, all!

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A Midsummer’s Night Dream ~ Crisp & Refreshing White Wines

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

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When you think of summer, does your palette scream for red wine or does white wine consume your thoughts?  Around here, we’re celebrating summer with crisp and refreshing white wines.  Since the weather is hot, we tend to prefer eating lighter foods, cold dishes and main course salads; which complement white wines.

From Chardonnays with flavors of green apple, citrus, pineapple and papaya to Pinot Grigios with fresh pear, melon and citrus notes, the possibilities are endless.  Perhaps, try a Chenin Blanc with its floral aromas and apple and pear flavors, or for those of you who prefer wines of the sweeter persuasion, a Gewurztraminer may suit you just fine.  And, let’s not forget about the ultimate in a refreshing beverage…a glass (or two) of sparkling wine!

Whether lunching by the pool, or barbecuing with friends, white wines perfectly pair with many summer eats.  Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc both pair well with chicken, shellfish and pasta, while Pinot Grigio would be perfect with a spicy Chinese food dish or a antipasto plate.  Pair that Gewurztraminer with a light and healthy chicken salad and your sparkling, well, we just like to pair that with anything!

Here are some suggestions for your table:

Maurice Car’rie Vineyard & Winery ~ 2012 Chenin Blanc – This light and slightly sweet Chenin Blanc is rich in floral aromas reminiscent of honeysuckle.

Ponte Family Estate Winery ~ 2014 Pinot Grigio – Medium bodied wine with the aroma of pear, melon and lemon.

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa ~ 2013 Gewurztraminer -This vintage is lightly sweet, with a solid acidity and exotic floral scents of rose and lychee fruit.

Wilson Creek Winery ~ Grand Cuvee Sparkling Wine – Light and refreshing, and very fun. Great in Mimosas! A fun party sparkling wine.

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International Picnic Day is June 18th

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

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Picnics and wine go hand-in-hand.  Which wine makes for the perfect picnic wine, you ask? One of the favorite summer wine choices of the French is rosé.  And with summer coming, it could be a favorite of yours, too.  Made from a wide variety of grapes, rosés can be made still, semi sparkling or sparkling.

Don’t be fooled by the color!  Barely there apricot or a richly hued blush, rosé wines run the gamut in shades, but don’t go thinking that they’re all sweet! Their sugar levels are extensive as well; from bone-dry Provencal style rosé to sweet white zinfandels and blushes.  Rosés are made in just about every winegrape-growing region – and there’s lots to choose from here in the Temecula Valley wine country.   So make sure to include one in your picnic basket!  It will pair perfectly with light summery salads, sandwiches and wraps.

Try out one of these great Temecula Valley rosés:

Baily Winery ~ 2013 Rosé of Sangiovese – Fun, fruity and full of character.

Callaway Vineyard & Winery 2012 Rosé of Sangiovese – Pairs with most foods; a perfect picnic wine.

Miramonte Winery ~ 2014 Rosé – Racy strawberry and candied watermelon notes, a beautiful melon and peach laden mid-palate, and long sensual finish of rose petals and flavors sugar-dusted citrus.

Thornton Winery ~ 2013 Rosé – You’ll enjoy the strawberry/black cherry and lemon-citrus aromas as well as its surprising palate weight and richness.

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