Spring Cleaning Your Wine Collection

The way the weather has felt most of 2015 makes it seem like we are already in the middle of summer but in reality, spring just arrived! It’s that time of year where most people begin the annual spring clean of their house and garage but don’t forget to spring clean your wine collection.  It’s time to review your wines that may have slipped past your use during the winter months and make sure you use them before they go bad and you waste your investment.  This may mean pushing those full bodied reds (Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlots)  to the back of the line and reviewing your whites, lighter reds and rosés you still have had hibernating for the winter.

It may sound silly, the idea of changing the wine you drink with the season like you change your wardrobe for seasons change, but most people change their diet seasonally and we should consider seasonally changing our wine selections to match our new palate. Again, you will always like what you like when it comes to wine and I still drink my favorite wine all year long (a Kenwood wineries Tesoro – just in case you were curious), but part of wine tasting/drinking is about the experience and trying new things.  You most likely bought these wines for a reason and need to give them a shot, so here are a few you might want to consider opening on an upcoming sunny day.

Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon blends – Best paired with goats’ cheese, asparagus, burgers (try a Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc) grilled fish and other seafood.

Albariño – Best paired with shellfish, light fish dishes, spring and summer soups like gazpacho and tomato salads.

Unoaked or lightly oaked Chardonnay – Best paired with oysters (try a Dry Creek Chardonnay), pork, shrimp, apples, creamy sauces and sushi.

Grenache Blanc – Best paired with halibut, shellfish and citrus chicken.

Riesling – Best paired with smoked fish (especially salmon), crab, trout, smoked chicken, salads, Cantonese and lightly spiced south-east Asian food.

Pinot Grigio – Best paired with antipasti, light seafood pastas and risottos, and fresh tomato-based pasta sauces.

Rosé – Best paired with vegetable dishes, ceviche and grilled tuna.

Pinot Noir – Best paired with duck (try a Sonoma Valley Pinot), mushrooms, salads that include fresh or dried red berries or pomegranate seeds, and seared salmon or tuna.

Food & Wine Pairing

We live in the Wine Country and have unlimited access to the absolute best wine and food in the world, which can be overwhelming when trying to figure out food and wine pairing. Recently I was asked by a local winemaker if I pair food and wine in order to make the wine taste better or for the food to taste better. I thought for a minute and sheepishly replied, “umm make the food better.” The winemaker agreed and I smiled proudly but internally I was shocked that I didn’t already have an established goal for food and wine pairing.  I’ve tried both approaches in the past and I have been a little disappointed trying to create a meal to make a wine taste better. My greatest pairing success usually occurs when I am at a local tasting room and one of the wines stands out and triggers the flavors of one of the staple meals I make at home (where I know the flavors), causing me to instantly want to cook that meal and pair the wine. Wine should be a compliment to food and paired together they should enhance your overall experience.

I live with the belief that when it comes to wine, you like what you like. As long as you enjoy the wine you are drinking you are doing something right! Here are a few general tips you should take into consideration when pairing food and local wine: 1) Wine and cheese pair perfectly, especially when from the same region (Redwood Hill Farm Three Peppercorn Chèvre and a Rockpile Zinfandel = awesome!). 2) Match the flavors of the wine with those best paired with the food. 3) Champagne tastes amazing with anything salty. 4) Sauvignon Blanc goes well with tarty foods. 5) Pinot Noir is fabulous when partnered with earthy flavored dishes. 6) Cabernet Sauvignon and juicy red meat are best friends. 7) Syrah likes to be matched up with highly spiced dishes. 8) Tomatoes are acidic and can be tough on wine, so you need a wine with acidity to match (for fresh tomatoes use Sauvignon Blanc, with tomato sauce use Barbera and for sun-dried tomatoes use Rieseling).  9) Dessert wines should be sweeter than the dessert. 10) Most importantly – there are NO rules when matching your favorite wines and recipes. Ultimately the best match is what pleases your palate.