Wine Column

  • Sporting & Sipping in Hood River, OR!
    Gotta Crush! wine adventures to swirl, sniff and sip by By Stefani Jackenthal The town of Hood River, OR, about an hour’s drive east of Portland, has the makings outdoors oenophile’s dream and perfect place for a romantic getaway. Home to super surf shops, great cycling, charming B & Bs and wineries, Hood River is also a foodie’s favorite with restaurants serving wine friendly food prepared with local produce and fish, served in a contemporary, yet relaxed atmosphere. With wind speeds averaging 20 to 30 miles per hour, Hood River is a hotspot for world-class windsurfing and kitesurfing. There are local outfitters who will get you geared up and cruising across water. The area also has plenty of stand-up paddling boarding, kayaking, rafting and endless hiking, cycling and mountain bike routes topping out at mountain tops with magnificent bird’s eye views of the rolling farms, riverbeds and vineyards below. One of my favorite cycling routes around wine country is the scenic thirty-five mile Fruit Loop. It makes is a terrific morning ride or a great spin and sip day of connecting wine tasting room on two-wheels breezing past orchards, fields of fragrant lavender, verdant forests and farm stands selling seasonal produce. The South Bank Kitchen on Oak Street is your picnic-planning place. Selling sandwiches, salads and scrumptious baked good made from scratch, it’s easy to stop – load up – and go! Some standout wineries on the Fruit Loop include Pheasant Valley, Phelps, Wy’East Cathedral Ridge, know for their Huber Pinot Noir and double-gold winning Syrah. While in town, new kid on the block Marchesi has created quite a buzz with their 2008 Emma Sangiovese that won Double Gold at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition 2010. In downtown Hood River, The Pine Vineyard’s tasting room is a great stop for a luscious old vine Zinfandel and good swirling and sipping fun, head over to the Naked Winery who “aims to tease,” as their website says, for a pour of their Foreplay Chardonnay, Vixen Syrah or Oh, Orgasmic. Cold shower, optional. Wineries Cathedral Ridge Winery 4200 Post Canyon Drive, Hood River, OR * 541-386-2882 * 800-516-8710 * www.cathedralridgewinery.com Award-winning Syrah and Huber Pinot Noir. Marchesi Vineyards 3955 Belmont Drive, Hood River, OR 541-386-1800 * www.marchesivineyards.com Growing Italian varietals on the foothills of Mount Hood, Barbera, Pinot Nero, Dolcetto, Pinot Grigio and Sangiovese. Naked Winery Tasting Room 102 2nd Street, Hood River, OR 541-386-3700 * www.nakedwinery.com Live music at night. A fun, festive fiesta packed into a wine tasting room in downtown Hood River where you can get Naked with Sugar Daddy Muscat, Blazing Straddle Rose and Dominatrix Pinot Noir. They “aim to tease.” Pheasant Valley Winery 3890 Acree Drive, Hood River, OR, 541-357-wine * www.pheasantvalleywinery.com Don’t miss the double-gold winning Chardonnay, organic Pinot Noir and zesty Zinfandel. Phelps Creek 1850 Country Club Road, Hood River, Oregon * 541-386-2607 * www.phelpscreekvineyards.com Bugundian specialists whose reserve and Ceilo Chardonnay Estate Reserve and Becky’s Cuvee Pinot Noir get top ratings. The Pine Vineyard 202 State Street, Hood River, OR 541-993-8301 * www.thepinesvineyard.com Schmooze around the high bistro tables, admire the art gallery or belly up to the cherrywood tasting bar and sip their sips and mouthfilling Viogner and dark, spicy Old Vine Zinfandel. WyEast Vineyards 3189 Hwy 35, Hood River, OR *541-386-1277 * www.wyeastvineyards.com Award winning Pinot Noir located on the Fruit Loop. Cheers! Stefani Jackenthal, President of NTS Wine Tasting LLC and author of WANDERLUST WINING, a fun, delicious guide to outdoor activities in wine regions across the USA. Jackenthal crafts private & corporate wine tastings and teaches wine classes at 92y.org. www.stefjack.com * www.wanderlustwining.com www.facebook.com/wanderlust.wining *Twitter: @stefjackenthal
  • Sporting & Sipping in Hood River, OR!
    By Stefani Jackenthal
  • Pinotage! South Africa's Pride
    Gotta Crush! wine adventures to swirl, sniff and sip by By Stefani Jackenthal Known for its rustic red hue and smoky, earthy overtones layered with dark fruit, Pinotage is a berry-rich, smoky, spicy sipper that was created in South Africa. Over the past couple of decades, it has become the country’s signature varietal it’s terrific pairing with braai (South African BBQ), grilled meats, mushroom, eggplant and bold cheeses. A cross of Pinot Noir and Hermitage grapes, the Pinotage (pronounced Pee-noh-TAHJ) grape dates back to 1925. It was then that Abraham Izak Perold, the first professor of viticulture at Stellenbosch University - in the Western Cape of South Africa - physically brushed a male Hermitage (also known as Cinsaut) flower against a Pinot Noir pollen donor to create an unusual hybrid grape – Pinotage. It’s speculated that Perold’s goal was to combine the rich burgundy flavor of Pinot Noir, a finicky grape to grow, with hearty Hermitage, a sturdy, disease-resistant and easy-to-grow grape, to meld their best features. It was not the success he’d hoped for and the grape was mostly forgotten for several decades. But Pinotage was “rediscovered” in the early 1990s has been widely replanted across South Africa’s wine regions. It has become the pride of South African viticulture. Some of South Africa’s top wine regions include: • Stellenbosch: South Africa’s leading wine region with vineyards planted on the flanks of the surrounding mountains with several sub-regions and soils. • Paarl: Northwest of Cape Town, this is one of the country’s largest wine growing areas, known for its Mediterranean breezes and relatively, hot climate. • Constantia: Nestled in the southern suburbs of Cape Town, this is where South Africa’s first wine grapes were grown, and a terrific town to visit with to golf courses, restaurants and wineries. • Franschoek: A petite winegrowing region, west of Stellenbosch, with quaint shops, restaurants and wineries. Let’s go! Stefani Jackenthal, President of NTS Wine Tasting LLC and author of WANDERLUST WINING, a fun, delicious guide to outdoor activities in wine regions across the USA. Jackenthal crafts private & corporate wine tastings and teaches wine classes at 92y.org. www.stefjack.com * www.wanderlustwining.com www.facebook.com/wanderlust.wining *Twitter: @stefjackenthal
  • Chianti Classico!
    Gotta Crush! wine adventures to swirl, sniff and sip by By Stefani Jackenthal Remember when leisure suits, pet rocks and Chianti wine bottles dressed in frilly wicker baskets where on the hot list? Well forget about it. Meet today’s Chianti Classico. Made from mostly Sangiovese grapes, this medium-body, ruby red, savory sipper with nice acidity is making Italy proud and making its way onto dining room tables across the USA. The top wine exporter and second largest wine producer in the world, excellent Italian Chianti’s are available nationwide. Chianti Classico is among the elite Italian wines classified DOCG, meaning Vino di origine controllata e garantita or “controlled and guaranteed origin.” As you peruse the wine list or wine store shelves, be aware that there is a difference between DOCG Chianti and a DOCG Chinati Classico. The latter, tends to be higher quality and price. By law, Chianti Classico can only be produced in the Chianti region, using only black grapes with a minimum of 80% Sangiovese. Chianti is nestled in the Tuscany region of Italy. While, wines labeled DOCG Chianti can be produced outside the region, only need to have 75% Sangiovese and can blend in white grapes, such as Trebbiano and Malvasia. DOCG Chianti Classico is labeled by a black rooster logo – the logo of the Chianti Classico producers association - on the neck of the bottle, so you can be sure you’re getting the real deal. Whereas, winemakers crafting Chianti Classico Reservas must adhere to the same rules as Chianti Classico, but the wine must be oak aged for a minimum of three years, which typically refines top pours to a savory, silky smoothness. Let’s go! Cheers! Stefani Jackenthal, President of NTS Wine Tasting LLC and author of WANDERLUST WINING, a fun, delicious guide to outdoor activities in wine regions across the USA. Jackenthal crafts private & corporate wine tastings and teaches wine classes at 92y.org. www.stefjack.com * www.wanderlustwining.com www.facebook.com/wanderlust.wining *Twitter: @stefjackenthal
  • Bon Gusto! Friuli
    Gotta Crush! wine adventures to swirl, sniff and sip by By Stefani Jackenthal With a big reputation for fresh, fragrant, opulent white wines and refined, luscious reds, the pocket-sized wine region Friuli-Venezia Giulia in Italy’s furthest northeast region, is surely one of the country’s hidden jewels. Bordering Austria, Slovenia and Croatia - between the Adriatic Sea and the Giulie Alps - Friuli’s (pronounced free-oo-lee) sloped vineyards allow for ultimate sunshine and breeze – while protecting grapes from frosty winter winds. There area also gets plenty of spring rain and a relatively dry summers, which allows it for optimal grape growing to produce fresh, zesty wines with bright acidity and depth of flavor. Many of the lip-smacking white wines are crafted from varietals such as Sauvignon blancs, Malvasia, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco, Ribolla Gialla and Tocai (different from Hungarian Tokay). Among reds, Pignolo has achieved cult status – rivaling the fav-raves of Tuscany and Piedmont. Other reds include Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Refosco, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Nero. However, most of the area’s exports are white wines. Friuli’s wine and rustic fare has captured the attention of top restaurateurs worldwide. As Friuli is amongst Italy’s biggest consumers of scallops, it makes sense that its dishes flaunts fabulous seafood like seared scallops, rock shrimp and eel served with a glass of zesty Sauvignon Blanc, opulent Pinot Bianco, or Tocai flowing with perfectly ripened pear. All are a wonderful beginning to any meal. On the heartier side, Friulian dining would not be complete without risotto, roasted rabbit or melt-in-your mouth tagliolini tossed with Prosciutto di San Daniele paired with an herbaceous Refosco or dark, spicy Pignolo. And, Friulians loves their pork. In Carnia - a mountainous area of Friuli - many families still raise their own pigs, which are slaughtered in ritual ceremonies and then morphed into a grab-bag of pancetta, salami and sausages, such as Musetto; a boiled sausage made from ground pork, secret seasonings, a splash of wine and the pig’s snout – don’t think about it too much! While “Frico,” a seasoned local Montasio cheese that is chunked and fried in butter will do you right partnered with an herbal Cabernet Franc. To top off the meal, savor a sumptuous glass of Picolit, considered Italy’s top dessert wine. Often compared to Sauternes for its succulent, subtle sweet silky body, Picolit is often enjoyed alongside Montasio, a creamy unpasteurized, cow’s milk cheese. Perfecto! Cheers! Stefani Jackenthal, President of NTS Wine Tasting LLC and author of WANDERLUST WINING, a fun, delicious guide to outdoor activities in wine regions across the USA. Jackenthal crafts private & corporate wine tastings and teaches wine classes at 92y.org. www.stefjack.com * www.wanderlustwining.com www.facebook.com/wanderlust.wining *Twitter: @stefjackenthal
  • A French Wine Lesson!
    Gotta Crush! wine adventures to swirl, sniff and sip by By Stefani Jackenthal Bottling Wine ~ the French Way You can judge a French wine by its bottle! The shape of the bottle of a French wine can often tell you what the wine’s originating region. In fact, many wine producing areas across Europe have unique bottle shapes, which have become traditional. Looking at France, the major regions like Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Rhone have their very own special bottle shape – and glass color – making it a bit playful for searching down your fave-rave French sippers. Here’s a little cribsheet to get things pouring. Bordeaux Bottles typically have tall sleek, high shoulders and ruler-straight sides. Red wines like blends, meritage and single varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Merlot tend to sport dark green glass. While, white wines and blends, often Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc live in green glass. This bottle shape is widely used by New World winemakers and some in the Old World; Italy being one. Burgundy Bottles typically have gently sloping shoulders with a plump center. Both reds, often Pinot Noir and whites, most likely Chardonnay – both prime varietals in this area. This shape also widely used in bottling New World Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and Loire Valley wines. Rhone: Similar in sloping shoulder style to the Burgundy, but a bit more angular up top and svelter through the body, traditional Côtes du Rhône wine bottles are known for their intricate designs. Châteauneuf du Pape, for instance, sports a coat of arms around the neck. FYI about the Bordeaux Region! Called Claret by many Brits, Bordeaux’s are made from a single red grape or a blend of grape varieties, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot - typically in that order of quantity. The Bordeaux style of winemaking originated centuries ago in France's southwestern Bordeaux region, Bordeaux is classified as being from the “left bank” or “right bank” of the Gironde River. This refers to the local of the vineyard. Pauillac (POY-yack): Just north of St. Julien, is known for its a variety of terroir (soil-type). In the north, home to Lafite-Rothchild, the soil is gravely with bits of limestone. Bordeaux from that region is generally 70% Cabernet, 20% Merlot and trace of miscellaneous grapes. To the south, Pichon Lalande is known for its clay-gravel soil, producing Bordeaux with 45% Cabernet, 35% Merlot and mish-mash of regional red grapes. Wines here tend to be round, fleshy and packed with ripe berry. Margaux (MAR-go): Situated on the left bank of the Gironde River, it is Bordeaux’s most southern winemaking region and the largest territory – encompassing five villages. The wine from this area tends toward delicate, elegant and silky with beautiful balance of acid and tannins. St. Emillion (San emil-YON): Just a stone throw from the Pomerol appellation, St. Emillion is located in Bordeaux in the Southeast of France - considered the “Right Bank.” Unlike the flat, flowing terrain in Medoc and swoopy rolling hills of Graves, St. Emillion’s vineyards sit on somewhat steep terraced hillsides (the cotes), with full-on limestone outcroppings and lush plateaus. The minerally soil is peppered with sand, quartz, clay and chalk to give their big boy Bordeaux a deep breath of style and flavors. The region specializes in growing Merlot grapes, which is an early ripening grape, as the area receives an earlier frost than most other’s in the Medoc region. Cheers! Stefani Jackenthal, President of NTS Wine Tasting LLC and author of WANDERLUST WINING, a fun, delicious guide to outdoor activities in wine regions across the USA. Jackenthal crafts private & corporate wine tastings and teaches wine classes at 92y.org. www.stefjack.com * www.wanderlustwining.com www.facebook.com/wanderlust.wining *Twitter: @stefjackenthal
  • Sipping & Cycling in Southern Portugal!
    Gotta Crush! wine adventures to swirl, sniff and sip by By Stefani Jackenthal The Alentejo region of Portugal is celebrated for its cork forests, sleepy historic towns, craggy coastline and rich, ripe and decadently delicious red wines. Renowned for its dark, spicy, berry- rich vinho tinto (red wine), wines are made with sun-baked indigenous aragonez (tempranillo), trincadeira, periquita – and Syrah and Cabernet. This sprawling arid agricultural wine producing area in south-central Portugal, nestled between Lisbon and the Algarve, is a terrific cycling destination. Though at times challenging, the out-of-the-saddle climbs are rewarded with stunning views of valleys and hillsides are quilted with wildflowers, silver-leaved olive trees line paving winding roads and scores of cork groves - Portugal houses nearly 30 percent of the world’s cork trees. In the dreamy, sparsely populated countryside, ox-drawn carts traipse steep, twisty roads and windswept wheat fields and open rolling plains are saturated with sunflowers and fiery red poppies. While, exploring stonewalled cities offers great viewing of historic churches, hilltop castles and whitewashed buildings. There are frequently colorful, bustling outdoor markets, which are great to shop for locally made pottery, leather and handmade papers. In larger villages quaint cafes serving a local Chaminé or a port paired with smoked presunto ham. Most vineyards are clustered on the fringes of towns, often down unmarked, narrow side streets so an adventurous spirit is encouraged. Cheers! Stefani Jackenthal, President of NTS Wine Tasting LLC and author of WANDERLUST WINING, a fun, delicious guide to outdoor activities in wine regions across the USA. Jackenthal crafts private & corporate wine tastings and teaches wine classes at 92y.org. www.stefjack.com * www.wanderlustwining.com www.facebook.com/wanderlust.wining *Twitter: @stefjackenthal
  • Paddle to the Hooch ~ A romantic river trip to a distillery!
    Gotta Crush! wine adventures to swirl, sniff and sip by By Stefani Jackenthal After a long week in the office, what could be more refreshing and fun than kicking off shoes and taking your date on a kayaking river trip that ends at a local distillery? If you live in the Washington DC-Virginia-West Virginia areas or are planning a visit, check out River & Trail Outfitter’s Paddle to the Hooch tour. Drafting on the success of microbreweries, craft distilleries are popping up across the country. Known for their creative thinking and leadership in the kayaking market for over four decades, River & Trail Outfitters (www.rivertrail.com) has teamed up with the award-winning Bloomery Plantation Distillery (www.bloomeryplantation.com), in Charles Town, WV, responded this high-test demand by launching their inaugural and fabulous Paddle to the Hooch Tour this summer. The trip is crafted to delighted outdoor enthusiasts with a culinary hankering. The fun, festive and flavorful day begins with a mellow, wilderness paddle on the Shenandoah River – that’s perfect for kayakers of all levels - and wraps up with tour a local distillery with tastes of their handcrafted limoncello and savory cordial goodness. The splash and spirit day kicks off at 11:00 am at Millville, VA with a guided 3-to-7-mile mellow kayak or canoe tour – depending on water levels - down the winding tree-lined Shenandoah River. Nestled in lush wilderness of the picturesque Shenandoah Valley, the river is encircled by the sprawling Blue Ridge Mountains. Deer, otters and beaver are often spotted along and beyond the shoreline, while there are plenty of Blue Herons, Egrets and Osprey on the water - and an occasional Bald Eagle overhead. Upon arriving at the award-winning Bloomery Plantation Distillery, thirsty you and your date will join a Hooch Guru for a tongue tapping taste of five of the distillery’s cordials, such as Original Limoncello, Raspberry Limoncello, Cremma Lemma, Lemon Ice and Dark Chocolate Raspberry liquor, which are paired with “great storytelling” and sweet treats. Following a guided tour of the farm, which is peppered with lemon trees and raspberry shrubs, it’s time to chill out in the shady picnic area listening to live music and sipping refreshing ice tea, lemonade or – childhood favorite – a Slushie, which can be spiked with your favorite handcrafted hooch, cost $4. Then refuel with an Italian nibble feast, prepared by “So Angelina!” that may include an assortment of bruschetta with pepperonata, mini Italian meatballs in gravy, caprese crostini, procuitto wrapped melon, caprese on a stick, Tuscan chicken salad and pepperoni rolls. Cheers! Stefani Jackenthal, President of NTS Wine Tasting LLC and author of WANDERLUST WINING, a fun, delicious guide to outdoor activities in wine regions across the USA. Jackenthal crafts private & corporate wine tastings and teaches wine classes at 92y.org. www.stefjack.com * www.wanderlustwining.com www.facebook.com/wanderlust.wining *Twitter: @stefjackenthal

  • Rose’ Uncorked!
    Gotta Crush! wine adventures to swirl, sniff and sip by By Stefani Jackenthal Rose’ wines could be the most misunderstood style of wine ever. Are you reading this and frowning - thinking, I don’t like rose? Are you a rose’ fan? Perhaps, a rose’ convert? Ah, rose’ a delightful picnic and warm-weather sipper welcome at my dinner table, deck and picnic blanket most any time. There is a common misconception that rose’ wine is syrupy sweet. But rose’ wines come in a variety of refreshing styles from bone dry to fruity, sweet and savory. They can be a bolder than white wines, yet more restrained and subtle than red wines made from the same varietal (grape) – showing cherry, strawberry and raspberry flavors. Rose’s are typically served chilled and are the perfect picnic, BBQ or dinner partner with everything from surf to turf, spicy Thai, ketchupy burgers and your favorite pizza or sushi. What’s makes rose’s such a great and versatile wine food is its natural acidity and the residual tannin from the winemaking process. Most rose’ wines are made from the same grapes used to make red wines, such as syrah, pinot noir, malbec and the list goes on. The reason rose’ is pink, rather than red is due to the amount of time the juice stays in contact with the grape skin – a process called maceration. There are several methods to making rose’ wine. But, the simplest way to think about rose’ wine making is that after the grapes have been de-stemmed and crushed, the winemaker leaves the juice in contact with the skin until it reaches a desired color. The skin is then removed and the winemaking process continues. Lighter wines may macerate for a few hours, resulting in for a pale or light pink rose’, while darker wines could be for days or weeks. The longer the solids stay in the tank, the darker the wine. So, rose’ wine may just be your next picnic, party or perfect dinner companion this summer. Cheers! Stefani Jackenthal, President of NTS Wine Tasting LLC and author of WANDERLUST WINING, a fun, delicious guide to outdoor activities in wine regions across the USA. She crafts private & corporate wine tastings and teaches wine classes at 92y.org. www.stefjack.com * www.wanderlustwining.com www.facebook.com/wanderlust.wining *Twitter: @stefjackenthal
  • Paddling, Wine & Concert ~ an intoxicating Trio!
    Gotta Crush! wine adventures to swirl, sniff and sip by By Stefani Jackenthal What could be more romantic than playing in Mother Nature’s paradise, sipping wines from grapes grown nearby and kicking back on a grassy lawn to listen to live music? You want in? Head to Virginia’s Loudoun county wine country! River & Trail Outfitters has teamed with Tarara Winery, named “Best Winery in Loudoun County” for eight consecutive years, to create an ultimate fun multi-adventure day for outdoor enthusiasts with a thirst for paddling, pouring and performing. The triathlon of sensory seducing goodness kicks off with a guided 4.5-to-7 mile mellow kayaking or canoeing tour down the gently flowing Potomac River. Known for its wealth of wildlife and water birds, there are Blue Herons, Wild Ducks and an occasional Bald Eagle spottings. Upon arriving at Tarara winery, which parallels the Potomac, get ready to chill out lakeside swirling, sniffing and sipping six savory wines, such as Viogner, Chardonnay, Rose’ and Charval that are paired with artisan cheeses. For sure, it’s a good conversation-starter. The day wraps up on the winery’s meticulously manicured 475-acre farm, savoring wine and live music under the starry night. The paddle, wine and concert trip is offered most Saturday’s throughout the summer and fall. Paddlers put in at 2:30pm and the live music jams from 6:00-9:30 pm. Wine and food is available for purchase and Tarara winery extends River & Trail guests a 5% discount for purchases of 3-11 bottles and 15% off for purchases of a case (12 bottles) or more. www.rivertrail.com/wine-tour-virginia.php Landlubbers don’t fear! No prior paddling experience needed and guide, gear, boat and PFD are provided. Visit: http://www.rivertrail.com/wine-dress-directions.php for a list of “things to bring” recommendations. Stefani Jackenthal, President of NTS Wine Tasting LLC and author of WANDERLUST WINING, a fun, delicious guide to outdoor activities in wine regions across the USA. She crafts private & corporate wine tastings and teaches wine classes at 92y.org. www.stefjack.com * www.wanderlustwining.com www.facebook.com/wanderlust.wining *Twitter: @stefjackenthal
  • Cava Crazy!
    Gotta Crush! wine adventures to swirl, sniff and sip by By Stefani Jackenthal Spain’s sparkler Cava is a superb aperitif and dessert treat that won’t bust the piggy bank. A succulent summer sensation that is a bright, citrusy delight, offers crisp apple freshness that’s a patio or picnic-sipping favorite. Meaning “cellar,” Cava is Spain’s alternative to Champagne. Similar to Champagne, Cava uses the “Champenoise method” for production and must undergo a secondary fermentation in the bottle. This creates carbon dioxide aka: bubbles. Available in vintage and non-vintage, it is categorized by sweetness and aging – ranging from Extra Brut (bone dry) to Sweet. While standard Cava must spend nine months fermenting, “Gran Reserva” must age for at least 30 months in the bottle. Cava is tends to be a tad earthier and less frothy than its French cousin. Unlike Champagne, which is produced from a combination of white and red grapes (often Pinot Noir and Chardonnay), Cava is made from solely white grapes, giving it its unique ab-fab flavor. Also, You can get a great Cava for $10-20. The second largest sparkling wine producer in the world, behind France, Spain owes its popping prowess to wine enthusiast Josep Raventos. In 1872, Raventos, a Spaniard from Cataluña, independently produced 3,000 bottles of top quality sparkling wine. Today, Cava is produced in various regions of Spain, but is still most crafted in Cataluña. Let’s go! Cristalino Brut Cava, NV Its golden bubbly body delights the senses with crisp bake apple and pear flavors. This fantastic yet, frugal sipper has lip-smacking liveliness that’s great with fruit, smoked salmon, grilled chicken and even apple pie. Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut Cava, NV This light-bodied, pale straw yellow bubbly sports lively, somewhat large bubbles that tickle your nose and teases your tastebuds. Hints of tart granny smith apple and lemon make it crisp sipper that pairs nicely with shrimp, oysters, crunchy green things and lemony chix or fish. Montsarra NV Cava Brut Pale and crisp with overt fruitiness and never-ending bubbles, this sprightly Cava is a terrific way to kick off a summer’s afternoon or paired with crustaceans, chicken and flavorful cheeses. Mont-Marcal Cava Brut, Reserva Aged to elegance, this Cava shines with creamy stone fruit and apple with energetic acidity that makes it a delightful aperitif or dinner partner with roasted fish, fowl or pork. Stefani Jackenthal, President of NTS Wine Tasting LLC and author of WANDERLUST WINING, a fun, delicious guide to outdoor activities in wine regions across the USA. She crafts private & corporate wine tastings and teaches wine classes at 92y.org. www.stefjack.com * www.wanderlustwining.com www.facebook.com/wanderlust.wining *Twitter: @stefjackenthal
  • Sipping & Playing in LI Wine Country
    Gotta Crush! wine adventures to swirl, sniff and sip by By Stefani Jackenthal Once fields of potatoes, cauliflower and sod, Long Island wine country has blossomed from a petite single 17-acre vineyard planted in 1973 to over 4000 acres of trellised verdant vineyards with over 40 wineries crafting world class Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Averaging 230-day growing season annually, it’s not only ideal for nifty wine, but a fantastic outdoors destination for a romantic getaway. Located about 75 miles east of New York City, the majority of wineries pepper nearly 20 miles of the North Fork. Surrounded by sparkly waterways and scattered wooded parks, there is great kayaking, kiteboarding and SUPing on the Peconic River. If your date is hell on two-wheels, drop into BethPage Park to spike pheromones on the downhill chutes and single track. To keep it chill head to Stillwell Woods Preserve or Cunningham Park sporting mostly beginner trails and intermediate trails. While, hiking fans will love on the area’s endless miles of coastal and winding trails. The 132-mile Paumanok Path is ideal for a pre-sipping marathon hike or those seeking a spot of Mother Nature before getting down to swirling, sniffing and sipping can start along Route 25. Just past the entrance to Pelligrini Vineyards is a one-mile shady walking trail on the vineyard’s 51 acres. Also on Route 25, Laurel Lake Preserve’s 495 acres has terrific 2.7 mile “Green Trail.” (To get there: head east past Laurel Lake Vineyards, turn left at sign for preserve). Once you and your cute companion have worked up a thirst, its time to get tasting. Here are a few must stop and sip selections: Let’s go! Lenz Winery Route 25 Main Road,
Peconic, NY 11958
* 631-734-6010 * www.lenzwine.com With 70 acres of some of the area’s oldest vines, winemaker Eric Fry crafts dynamic Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, amongst other varietals grow. Castello di Borghese Vineyard & Winery, Route 48 (Sound Avenue) and Alvah's Lane, Cutchogue, NY 11935 * 631-734-5111 www.castellodiborghese.com Formerly, Long Island’s original winery, Hargrave Vineyard, started by Alex and Louisa Hargrave, it produces terrific Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Macari Vineyards and Winery 150 Bergen Avenue, Mattituck, NY 11952 * 631-298-0100 * www.macariwines.com Established in 1995, the winery’s 180 acres of organically and biodynamically farmed vines t sits on the half-century old family-owned sprawling 500 acre waterfront estate. Pelligrini 23005 Main Road, Cutchogue, NY 11935 * 631-734-4111* www.pellegrinivineyards.com Gets kudos for its barrel fermented Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Clovis Point Wines 1935 Main Road, Jamesport, NY 11947 * 631-722-4222 *www.clovispointwines.com. Sip Cabernet Franc in rustic tasting room built in a 1920's potato barn or on the patio overlooking the vineyard. Bedell Cellars 36225 Main Road, Cutchogue, NY 11935 * 631-734-7537 * www.bedellcellars.com With over 30 years dedicated to sustainable farming and wine producing, the open-air pavilion is a terrific spot to kick back, swirl, sniff and sip and listen to live music on the weekend. Picnic with your sweety on the shady lawn along the vineyards. Stefani Jackenthal, President of NTS Wine Tasting LLC and author of WANDERLUST WINING, a fun, delicious guide to outdoor activities in wine regions across the USA. She crafts private & corporate wine tastings and teaches wine classes at 92y.org. www.stefjack.com * www.wanderlustwining.com www.facebook.com/wanderlust.wining *Twitter: @stefjackenthal
  • California Crazy ~ on a Budget!
    Gotta Crush! wine adventures to swirl, sniff and sip by By Stefani Jackenthal Sitting pretty on the Pacific coast and inland, California wine country sports a wonderful assortment of varietals that are as diverse as the states countless microclimates. From restrained Pinot Noirs in Santa Barbara to rambunctious Rhone blends from Range Rover Randall Grahm at Bonny Doon Winery in Santa Cruz. While, up north, the Zany Zinfully delicious Zinfandels in Healdsburg spark savory smiles and bold Napa Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignons get down to business. The fun, fabulous sipping opportunities are endless, but selecting a great date wine does have to mean a big dent in the piggy bank. While Cali crafts barrels of pricey pourers, they also have a lovely line up of nice-priced sippers that will leave you with enough pocket change to buy dinner, which will hopefully leads to dessert. Let’s go! 1. Barefoot Sauvignon Blanc, NV, Napa, CA Minerally brightness pops with every swirl, sniff and sip. Its delicate touches of grapefruit and gooseberry make this Sauvignon Blanc refreshingly quenching and a fabulous fish partner, with crunchy greens things citrus chicken, mild cheeses - or on its own. 2. Solo Rosa, Sonoma, CA A tongue-tapping creation from wine guru Jeff Morgan, its a medium-dry rose’ sports freshly picked red cherries and raspberry that seductively linger with each mouthwatering taste. Made from 50% Sangiovese and 50% Merlot it’s enticing nose vibes with violets, grapefruit, and herbal overtones. Served slightly chilled. Terrific with smoked salmon, ripe cheeses, spicy Mexican, char-broiled fish and poultry and real winner with your favorite pizza 3. Rex Goliath Pinot Noir, Central Coast, CA The Giant 47 Pound Rooster label may be goofy, but this brawny Pinot Noir from Monteray, is a fun example of precocious Pinot Noir crafting. Named for HRM (His Royal Majesty) Rex Goliath, a legendary Texan Circus 47-pound rooster, around during the turn of the 20th Century, Goliath pinot has an unusually dark purple hue and palate pleasing ripe plum and black cherry nuances. A bit burly upfront, it finishes with a soft silkiness that’s a must with roasted poultry, smoked fish, and grilled sirloin 4. Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi CA A sturdy medium-bodied sipper with hints of cherry and spice, it’s made from 100% Zinfandel grapes that grow on old-vines. With a crimson red hue and ripe dark cherry fruit flavors the splash of pepper and spice makes it terrific with BBQ, ketchupy burgers and grilled salmon. 5. Wyatt Cabernet Sauvignon, Lodi, CA Jammoliscious! Action-packed with ripe, black plum and chewy sweet currants, this big, brooding Cab has a voluptuous soft, round finish. Its luscious, layers of dark fruit unravel with every energetic gulp, making it a partner in crime with sirloin, roasted eggplant, cheddar burgers, tuna steak and blue-lined cheese. Stefani Jackenthal, President of NTS Wine Tasting LLC and author of WANDERLUST WINING, a fun, delicious guide to outdoor activities in wine regions across the USA. She crafts private & corporate wine tastings and teaches wine classes at 92y.org. www.stefjack.com * www.wanderlustwining.com www.facebook.com/wanderlust.wining *Twitter: @stefjackenthal
  • Going BYOB for the First Date
    Gotta Crush! wine adventures to swirl, sniff and sip by By Stefani Jackenthal So, you secured a date with the hottie you’ve been admiring for weeks. Can you go BYOB for the first date? Why not! Don’t fear looking cheap or worse, worry about selecting the wine. Ugh! What to bring? BYOB is one of my favorite ways to dine. Not only do you get to bring the wine you want to sip, it’s a fun adventure figuring out the perfect selection – and you save money for that second date. Finding the right wine should be fun, not a chore. It’s like being a detective. All you have to do is gather and sort clues. Let’s Go! • Where to go for dinner? A fun choice is Thai food. Not only won’t it bust the piggy bank, but the menu offers a wide selection of sweet, spicy and savory. • How to select a wine: First, decide how much you want to spend. Be honest. What price range fits comfy into your financial situation or dating desires? Set a dollar limit and most important, stick with it. Don’t let a pushy salesperson sway you to go for the “better,” more expensive bottle. Pricey doesn’t always mean tasty. Many inexpensive wines are terrific, while there are heaps of dreadful expensive wines. • What types of wine goes well with Thai food? The rule of thumb is to select a wine that is sweeter than the food and sauce - that goes for red, white and rose wines. While dry, bold Cabernet Sauvignon may be great with a simply prepared juicy sirloin, it can taste tart or thin sipped alongside meat marinated in a pungent BBQ sauce. Similarly, sipping an oaky Chardonnay with bright, crunchy veggies may make the wine taste watery or medicinal. When pairing wine and food, a good starting point is to think “similar - similar.” Choose a muscular wine for robust grub and bright, grassy vino for crunch salads and various green things. For instance, a ripe dark fruit-driven Shiraz will match masterfully with a heady BBQ sauce, while a muscular Malbec or Zinfandel sporting a splash of spice rocks with grilled meats and dishes in black bean sauce. In white world, go for clean, crisp Sauvignon Blanc or Chablis with leafy greens and pick up a Riesling for those ooh, la-la spicy dishes. Riesling has wonderful acidity and comes in a variety of styles from bone dry – to somewhat sweet – to dessert sweet. While, Rose’s subtle red fruit, bright acidity and soft tannins go great with Asian food (picnics too), making it a sexy sipping selection. Stefani Jackenthal, President of NTS Wine Tasting LLC and author of WANDERLUST WINING, a fun, delicious guide to outdoor activities in wine regions across the USA. She crafts private & corporate wine tastings and teaches wine classes at 92y.org. www.stefjack.com * www.wanderlustwining.com www.facebook.com/wanderlust.wining *Twitter: @stefjackenthal
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