Oct 27

Choosing a Sweet Red Wine

Chocolate Torte with Port Wine Sauce

Chocolate Torte with Port Wine Sauce

When shopping for red wines, you’ll notice that there are a lot more dry red wines than red wines that are sweet. But, if you’re a sweet wine lover, you can find some red wines that will suit your palate.

The sweetest red wines are ports. These wines are fortified (usually with brandy) and have a higher content of sugar and alcohol. Port wines are perfect for drinking after dinner or with dessert. Port wines come in the following categories:

  • Ruby – Ruby ports are the youngest. They are not casked for very long, so they keep their bright color and fruity flavors..
  • Tawny – These are aged longer and are less sweet than the Ruby. The time they spend in the cask makes them a darker color and gives them a nutty flavor.
  • Vintage – These ports are aged the longest and have the least sweetness. They are smooth and mellow.

In addition to port, there are some other red wines that tend to be sweet. Lambrusco is an Italian red wine that is served chilled. It has quite a bit of sweetness and the flavors of blackberry and plum. It’s considered the perfect red wine for a picnic or barbecue when you want something cold, but with the complexity of a red wine. Beaujolais is a French wine that is also usually quite sweet. If you want a light variety, choose the Beaujolais Nouveau.

When choosing other red wines, there are some characteristics you should look for if you’re trying to find a red wine that is a bit sweeter. First of all, steer clear of anything labeled as “dry”. But, you can also find sweeter wines by choosing red wines that are:

  • As wines age, the fruit mellows, making the wine less sweet.
  • Check the tasting notes on a red wine before you buy. Any wine listed as fruity is likely to be somewhat sweet.
  • Choose a wine labeled “dessert”. Dessert wines are usually quite a bit sweeter than other wines.

When we think of red wines, we often think more of dry wines than sweet. And, it’s certainly true that, as a rule, there are more dry red wines than sweet. But, that’s no reason for the lover of sweet wines to avoid drinking red wines. Just be a bit more selective in your choices, and you’re sure to find red wines that are sweet and satisfying.

Oct 25

Polenta Rounds With Stilton Pate Paired With Cabernet Sauvignon



Polenta, a native dish of Friuli, Italy, is a wonderful ingredient to utilize for hors d’oeuvres and appetizers. It’s simply cornmeal that’s made into porridge or mash. But when boiled, polenta may be left to set, then baked, grilled or fried. Polenta is a fabulous base ingredient that can be partnered with a variety of ingredients and paired with wine.

I’ve been editing my cookbooks to make the Kindle savvy and came across this recipe this morning. It’s so easy and delicious and a harmonizing partner for any austere red wine.

You’ll need to make the polenta rounds from cornmeal. The pre-prepared polenta tubes available at supermarkets won’t work here; the rounds made from those tubes are too large to serve as bite- sized morsels. The ready-made polenta also can’t be punched with a cookie cutter. Besides, slow-cooked polenta is much tastier, in my opinion.

Polenta Rounds with Stilton Pate

Serves 4-6 (makes 16 rounds)


  • 8 oz – 250 g – cream cheese
  • 4 oz – 125 g – crumbled Stilton
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tsp – 5 mL – finely chopped fresh rosemary


  • 1 cup – 250 mL – milk
  • 1/2 cup – 125 mL – fine cornmeal sea salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste corn oil (for frying)
  • rosemary sprigs (for garnish)

To make the pate, combine the cream cheese and Stilton in a bowl. Mix them together until they’re well blended. Mix in the garlic and fresh rosemary. Cover the mixture and refrigerate it until it’s needed.

To make the polenta, bring the milk almost to the boil. Add the cornmeal in a very slow stream, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low. Continue stirring in the same direction while the cornmeal thickens, about 15 to 20 minutes. The polenta is done when it peels easily off the sides of the pot. Season it with salt and pepper. Remove it from the heat. Pour the polenta onto a sheet of aluminum foil. With wet hands, smooth it into a thin, even sheet. Let the polenta cool. Cut out 16 rounds, using a 2-inch (5 cm) cookie cutter or the rim of a wine glass. (Fancy cookie cutters work nicely, too.)

Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry the polenta for about 2 minutes on each side, until lightly golden.

Meanwhile, spray a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Set the fried rounds on the baking sheet.

Top each round with 1 tsp (5 mL) Stilton pate. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake the rounds until the cheese is melted, 3 to 5 minutes. Watch closely so the pate just melts, but doesn’t slide off the polenta. Garnish the rounds with the rosemary sprigs. Serve them warm.

Suggested Wines: Barolo, Barbaresco, Amarone, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc

Building Blocks

The predominant building block is fattiness and saltiness from the Stilton. An austere red has enough tannin to nicely offset the fat and salt in Stilton.


Choose an austere red with berry flavors to complement the piquant flavor of Stilton.


Shari Darling just released the Kindle version of her cookbook “Wine Pairing Club Presents The Wine and Cheese Lovers’Cookbook. To purchase this book go to:


Article Source: EzineArticles.com

Oct 18

Choosing Red Wine Glasses

red-wineNovice wine drinkers may be a bit confused when it comes to buying wine glasses. There are big glasses and small ones, those with stems and those without.

Red wine glasses are larger than white wine glasses. This is not because you drink a larger portion of red wine than white wine. Whether you’re drinking red or white, a serving is considered five ounces.

Red wine glasses have a larger bowl for three primary reasons. The first is to better allow the wine to breath. As red wine breathes, the flavors are more apparent and the tannins are mellowed. This makes your glass of red wine taste much better and have far more complexity. It is for this same reason, that experts recommend that red wine be decanted before serving.

The second reason that red wine glasses are larger is to allow you to more fully enjoy the aroma of the wine. The bouquet is much more evident when the bowl of the glass is larger.

Finally, red wine glasses are larger to allow you to tip them partially on their sides during tasting. When you can tip the wine glass, the wine can coat the inside of the glass so that you can see the color and the “legginess” of the wine. Try that with a smaller glass and you’ll end up with a spill.

The new trend in red wine glasses is stemless. There is no real advantage to a stemless glass except that it is less likely to spill. The disadvantage is that your wine may become too warm because you cannot hold the glass by the stem to keep the warmth of your hand away from the wine. For this reason, stemless glasses should not be used for white wine. However, there is no reason why white wine cannot be served in a red wine glass with a stem.

Wine glasses come in several colors, which can make for a beautiful table setting. However, it’s important to remember that unless the glass is clear, it will be difficult to view the color and other visual characteristics of the wine.

Beyond these guidelines, you should choose the wine glasses that best suit your taste, your style and your budget. Wine glasses come in a wide range of styles and prices, so it’s easy to find glasses suitable for red and white wines that suit your budget and your preferences.

Oct 18

Red Wine & Food Pairing

Steak with spices, thyme and chiliThere are so many kinds of red wines to choose from. Grapes that are suited to making red wines come in many varieties, so there are great ones for every palate. In fact, there are so many varieties, that people often find themselves overwhelmed in choosing.

Red wine is also one of the best wines for pairing with meals. Because it is complex and can have many different nuances, it holds up well to being paired with foods. Choosing the right red wine for your meal can make both the food and the wine taste even better, but can, for the novice, be confusing. Here are some common food and red wine pairings that never miss.

• With beef – When beef is simply prepared, such as a grilled steak, you can’t go wrong with Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel, Shiraz, Pinot Noir and Merlot also go well with beef. It is important to balance the boldness of the wine with the preparation of the beef. Beef with a heavy sauce, for example, might not be as good with a bold Australian Shiraz as with a smoother Pinot Noir.

• With Pork – Depending upon the preparation of the pork, many people drink white or red wine with it. An earthy Zinfandel, a smooth Pinot Noir or a French Syrah all work well, too.

• With Barbeque – Zinfandel pairs beautifully with foods with barbeque sauce.

• With Spicy Foods – A little sweetness can balance spicy foods very well. Fruity Australian Shiraz works well with spicy foods, as does some Sangiovese.

• With Lamb – Nothing beats Pinot Noir with lamb. Try it with grilled salmon or duck, too.

• With Cheese – Some of the mellower cheeses are perfect with full bodied wines. Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Havarti and Gouda are all wonderful with Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Sangiovese.

• With Dessert- In general, desserts should be served with sweeter wines. Bittersweet chocolate desserts, however, are perfect with a good dry red wine. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Zinfandel can all taste great with chocolate as long as the chocolate is not too sweet.

Of course, the most important rule of pairing wine with food is to always drink what you love. Red wine works well with so many foods that it really pays to experiment until you find the combination that best suits the foods you love to prepare and your individual palate. Before long, you’ll have your own perfect combinations of great foods and the perfect wines to enhance them.

Oct 16

Good Red Wines to Serve with Beef

Steak and Wine - A Perfect Pairing

Steak and Wine – A Perfect Pairing

Red wine and red meat are a classic combination. Even the most novice wine drinkers usually know that you pair white wine with fish and chicken and red wine with beef. But, the choices in red wine are so vast, it can still be hard to narrow down the right red wine to serve with that beef dish.

Of course, any red wine is acceptable with beef, providing you like it. It’s far better to choose a wine you love than to choose the perfect wine that you hate. However, if you like a variety of red wines, there are some guidelines you can use to help you narrow down your red wine choices to better suit the meat you’re serving.

Here are some examples:

• Fatty Meats pair well with astringent wines. A wine with plenty of tannins, like a Cabernet Sauvignon, will cut the fattiness of a well-marbled ribeye. In fact, Cabernet Sauvignon is almost always appropriate with a steak, or any beef dish that is very simply prepared.

• Lighter meats are better with lighter wines, and vice versa. Pinot Noir is perfect with pork and lamb, while Merlot or Zinfandel are better with a good roast.

• Spices matter – If you’re cooking a flank steak that is somewhat spicy, you may want a slightly sweeter and fruitier wine as a balance. A very fruity Australian Shiraz is a good combination with a flank or flat iron steak that has been marinated in spices. The same sort of wine would pair well with fajitas. Mediterranean food, however, will pair much better with a Sangiovese.

• Consider sauces, too – Barbecued meats work very well with Zinfandel, and some bold Shiraz, too.

• Red wines can also go well with heavier meats that are traditionally thought of as “white wine” meats. For example, a Pinot Noir works very well with grilled salmon, though it would overpower a lighter fish. Duck is a heavier, somewhat greasy poultry that pairs beautifully with Zinfandel, Malbec and Pinot Noir. Most poultry dishes could not hold up to such bold wines, but duck can hold its own.

Though these guidelines should help you choose the best wines with your meals, experimentation is always helpful, too. Though these wines are good in theory, you must choose wines you love, first and foremost. So, start with these rules and then narrow down to your own preferences.

Oct 16

Take an American Tour on How to Make Red Wine

Oregon Pinor Noir Grapes

Oregon Pinor Noir Grapes

Novice wine enthusiasts are usually quick to tell you that they have much to learn, and many are very curious not only about tasting wine, but in learning how to make wine.

An interest in learning how to make wine doesn’t necessarily indicate that you ever plan to make any yourself, but rather that you want an understanding of the process.

One of the best ways to get an understanding of how wine is made is to visit a winery. Many wineries offer complete tours that include seeing the vineyards, walking through the areas where fermentation takes place and seeing how the wine is processed and bottled.

By touring a winery, you can learn much about how wines taste different based on processing techniques, soil and other factors.

Most Americans think of California’s Napa and Sonoma counties when they think of touring wineries. Both of these areas offer lots of opportunities to see vineyards, tour wineries and taste locally produced wines. But, Californian is not the only area of the country that produces great wines or that offers the chance to see how to make red wine. In fact, wines are made in all fifty of our US states.

Here are some of the other popular areas of the country where wines are made:

• Arizona’s Verde Valley – The area around Jerome is quaint and has some great winery tours. Caduceus is a popular winery there, and makes great wine.

• New York’s Finger Lakes Wine Region – Any winery along the Cayuga Wine Trail will be a pleasure to visit.

• New York and Canada’s Niagara Region – Most Niagara wineries are small, and few offer tours. But, it’s worth the visit to try some of their ice wines.

• Washington State – There are several great wineries in Washington. Some of the very best are in the Columbia River Gorge. Pheasant Valley and Phelps Creek are two great ones.

• Oregon – The Columbia Gorge makes up much of Oregon’s wine country too. Phelps Creek Vineyards and Cathedral Ridge Winery are two great ones to see.

• North Georgia – The most widely recognized wines from North Georgia come from the Chateau Elan winery and resort. These are also Georgia’s most undrinkable wines, so don’t even bother going there. Check out Wolf Mountain or Frogtown Cellars instead. Frogtown makes great wine and has a great tour and wine dinner, too.

• North Carolina – North Carolina makes mostly sweet wines, and many come from the Muscadine grape, which is easy to grow in the region. Duplin Cellars is the Southeast’s largest winery, and is located just outside Wilmington. They offer a great tour. The Biltmore Winery at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina has a great tour, too.

Oct 13

What is Red Wine?

Red wine and grapesThe study of wine has become a popular hobby for many people. As wine has gained popularity in the US, and as the US has become a major wine producing region, people are clamoring to learn all they can.

It’s important to start with the basics and understand the differences between red wine and white wine. This primer is designed to help you understand just what is red wine and how it differs from white wine.

Red wine is produced primarily from red grapes, sometimes known as black grapes, while white wine is typically produced from white grapes. However, the type of grape used is not the most important factor in determining whether a white is red or white.

Red wines differ from white wines in the fermentation process. When white wine is made, the stems, seeds, and grape skins are removed from the grape juice after pressing. When red wines are made, the stems, seeds and skins are left in the juice. This allows the tannins and pigments to be present in the wine. These tannins are what make red wines so much heavier and more complex than white wines. The tannins also give red wine a more astringent flavor. One of the reasons that red wines are often aged before drinking is to give the tannins time to age. As these tannins soften with age, the wine becomes mellower, allowing you to experience more of the flavors without the bite of the astringency.

If you’re a novice wine drinker, you may want to start with white wines. Many people begin their wine drinking journey with whites, but develop a taste for red wines as their palates evolve. Because white wine is lighter and often a bit sweeter, it tends to appeal to a wider range of palates.

There are two more common terms that new wine drinkers should understand, in addition to red versus white:

• Dry vs. sweet – Sweet is just what you would expect, and dry wines are the opposite of sweet.

• Still vs. Sparkling – Sparkling wines have bubbles, like Champagne. However, only sparkling wines produced in the Champagne region of France can carry the term champagne. Other examples of sparkling wines include Prosecco, Cava and Asti. Still wines have no bubbles.

There is much to learn about wine. However, if you understand the difference between red and white, dry and sweet and sparkling versus still, you’re well on your way to choosing and understanding good wines.

Oct 13

Is Red Wine Bad for My Diet?

glass of red wineEveryone, it seems, is watching his or her weight these days. And, when you’re trying to keep the pounds in check, drinking wine can be a concern for many people.

Wine is often thought of as empty calories, so many people stop drinking it to help them lose weight. And, while there’s no question that too much wine can pack on the pounds and cause other health issues, there is good reason to keep a glass of red wine in your daily diet.

Red wine is filled with anti-oxidants, so it can help protect your body in many ways. The anti-oxidants found in red wine have been shown to prevent heart disease, strokes, and even some forms of cancer. All in all, red wine is a good anti-aging drink, so long as it is taken in moderation. Most experts recommend one glass a day for women and up to two for men.

When you look at the red wine nutrition facts, one or two glasses per day is not really a lot of calories. One ounce of red wine contains about 25 calories. So, the standard five ounce glass is only 125 calories, which is easy for most people to budget into their daily allowance of calories.

A glass of red wine may have some great psychological benefits, too. Not only is a glass of wine relaxing, but since many people who are dieting exclude it from their allowed foods, being able to have a glass at night may feel a little like a “cheat”, helping you to stay on your diet a little longer.

Many cultures that have far fewer weight problems than Americans drink wine on a daily basis. In fact, doctors have long studied what is known as the “French Paradox”, which questions why the French are able to eat such a high fat diet and have few problems with obesity and heart related illnesses. The answer appears to lie, in part, in red wine’s anti-oxidants.

So, pour yourself a glass of red wine tonight with dinner – even if you’re on a diet. When you consider the health benefits that can come from having a glass of wine every day and those red wine nutrition facts, you’re sure to see that a glass of wine certainly won’t blow your diet – in fact, it’s likely to make you healthier while you’re losing that weight.

Oct 13

Learning About the Best Red Wine

Enjoying In VineyardWine is a fascinating subject. While the process of turning grapes into wine is a fairly simple chemical one, the nuances and differences from one bottle of wine to another can be stunning. Studying wine has become a hobby for many people in recent years.

There is a lot to be learned from reading about wine, but the very best wine education comes from tasting. When asked about the “best red wine”, for example, it’s quite certain that no two wine drinkers will agree on the answer.

While there are certain qualities that differentiate a really good red wine from a mediocre one, much of the determination as to what makes the best wine is a matter of personal preference. If you want to learn about wine, and specifically about what red wines are the best for your palate, you need to drink them.

There is no substitute for regularly tasting new wines. To develop your palate and your knowledge about wine, there are two things you should do in addition to reading about the subject.

1. Find a wine shop in your area that does regular tastings. Many wine shops open a bottle of red and a bottle of white every day for tasting. They may also have more offerings available on weekends, or they may to large tastings once or twice a month. Become a regular at these tastings so that you can become familiar with as many different wines as possible. Choose a shop that charges little or nothing for tastings. At the very least, the price of your tasting should go toward the purchase of a bottle of wine, if you buy. But, the best shop charges nothing, or only charges when they are tasting a very expensive bottle. In addition to expanding your knowledge and palate, regular tastings will help you do a better job of choosing wines for your table. You’ll likely only buy bottles of wine after you’ve tasted them, ensuring you like every bottle you purchase.

2. Join a wine club. Wine clubs offer a great way to experience new wines that you might never have chosen on your own. Most offer one bottle of red and one bottle of white wine per month, at the least. Many offer a range of amounts, so that you can choose a club that suits your budget. In most cases, wine club prices are a very good value. Because the club buys the wines in bulk, the price you’re paying for your wines each month is usually well below retail. You’re certain not to love every bottle the wine club chooses, but you’re also certain to discover some wonderful new wines along the way.

These two tactics can help you along your journey to knowledge about wine. Soon, you’ll have a wonderful list of the best red wine and wine – at least the best for you.

Oct 12

A Red Wine Substitute for Cooking

Cooking togetherIf you’re an experienced cook, or even on your way to being an experienced cook, you have some recipes that call for red wine. Some of these may even be your favorite recipes, but you may hesitate to make them when you have no red wine on hand. You’re likely aware that a bottle of red wine doesn’t stay good for very long once opened, making it difficult to keep a bottle of cooking wine on hand. And, you may not want to open a bottle just to have a cup or so for a recipe.

There’s a simple way to solve your dilemma. Rather than trying to ensure that you always have red wine on hand for cooking, try keeping a bottle of red wine vinegar instead.

Red wine vinegar is made from red wine. It is, essentially, wine that has been allowed to ferment for so long that it has soured. It retains many of the flavor characteristics of the wine that it was before souring, but with higher acidity.

Like red wines, red wine vinegars come in a wide range of qualities and prices. Investing in good red wine vinegar may cost you a little money, but it will be a very good cooking substitute for red wine. Vinegar never goes bad, and, in fact, red wine vinegars, like many red wines, get better with age.

To taste red wine vinegar, dip it into bread and then eat the bread. The bread will neutralize the acidity of the vinegar so that you can focus on the flavor left behind, making it easier to choose one you like.

When you use red wine vinegar as a red wine substitute, you will need to simmer the food a little longer. Doing so will help cook off some of the acidity of the vinegar and leave a sweeter finish.

Even when you have red wine on hand, you may want to try adding a little red wine vinegar to the recipes that call for red wine, in addition to the wine itself. The vinegar will soften to a nice sweetness, but will leave just a little tang that the wine alone would not produce.

You can find red wine vinegar at the grocery, but it will likely not have the best flavor, and you will likely not be able to taste before you buy. Instead, choose your red wine vinegar from a gourmet or cooking store that allows you to taste the vinegar first.