Might want to clarify with the customer what he truly means by "sweet", such as:
1: Flavor nuances such as chocolate, cherry, etc.
2: Truly sweet in the same sense honey or sugar is sweet.
You can find the 1st to some degree in some dry red wines. I would add valpolicella ripassa superiore to the other suggestions on this thread.
However, you really can't find the 2nd to any meaningful degree in DRY reds. If he's really looking for a sugar-sweet red wine he'll need to look at red wines that are crafted for that flavor profile. For example, I recently posted on a truly sweet Italian red called "Vino di Visciole" or "wine with cherry" (see pic of such).
Another thing you might ask him is how he intends to use the wine: i.e. as a food accompaniment or to sip straight. That would definitely help point you towards a particular varietal or style: dry reds will pair with different foods and courses than sweet reds.
Just when I think I've seen it all....
Attended a birthday party for a friend from Italy yesterday. So we're opening some wine bottles and he first passes around a very unusual (for me), sweetish red wine to get things going. Name: Visner di Pergola Vino Di Visciole, picture here: http://www.21food.com/products/visner...
Anyway, this stuff is a delicious / sweetish red wine that everyone enjoyed. Did some research afterwards and looks like cherries are added to the wine to give it the distinctive flavor.
Trying to interpret the label, it looks like Visner Pergola is the vintner (not the only maker of visciole), and Visciole refers to the addition of cherry to a base of sangiovese and montepulciano wine.
Ironically, our gift to the birthday boy was a bottle of 1994 Graham's VP. Ironic because Visciole is reminiscent in flavor to a mildly-rich port although not as viscous. Very interesting, inexpensive, and I can see use for this in both party and dining settings.
I'm predicting that within reason you'll be able to throw darts at the 2012 Napa vintage and hit a good cabernet... But be patient... you're going to have alot more 2012 wines on the shelves in another 6 to 12 months.
My never-ending search continues Fri, Aug. 12 with a Blind Tasting of four new PA / IPA's. All were tasted poured from a bottle (none on tap). Tasting was single-blind: I knew the varietal (PA/IPA), and the 4 brews, but not which was in which glass.
With reminder this tasting series focuses on mid to lighter ABV beers (generally 7% or less).
I note off the bat that historically TFAK and VHD have been major go-to PAs for me. They aren't currently available in my current state of residence, so brought some back from a recent trip to Chicago.
ACTUAL TASTING NOTES FOLLOW:
Beer B: Not much style... medium bitterness and not much else.
Beer C: Fir, nothing remarkable. 2nd taste was worse.
Beer D: Indistinct, muddled flavor.
Walking away after this flight and re-sipping, Beer A was the clear winner. Was no really close second. Others sampling these same beers tended to prefer C.
IDENTIFYING THE BEERS:
This was quite a surprise and wake-up call for me, considering in such regard I've held Alpha King. Anyway, only Caldera will move on into an eventual taste-off with Deschutes Fresh Squeezed, my current top pick in the medium-ABV PA category.
Interesting question...With caveat that I have no personal experience with NA wines...
NA wine for grilled steak: cabernet sauvignon, merlot,or a "rich red blend".... there are quite a few of these.
For cheesecake you need a sweeter wine... not as many NA options in dessert wines, but I'd try something like this: http://www.frewines.com/wines/moscato OR try a SWEET sparkling NA wine if you can find it; most of the sparklers I see are drys.
Here's one website that distributes several brands of NA wines:http://www.nonalcoholicwinesonline.co... You might call them and see what they recommend.
This all said, if you just want to "tip-toe" in and are willing to suffer a little alcohol, then your choices increase greatly. The good news is that especially if you're having the wine with a meal, you can have a very small pour and still get the food and wine matching benefits. Just pour about 2 fingers worth and sip it with your food, you'll enjoy the enhancement in flavor without risking intoxication or a headache the next day. You can buy those tiny bottles, it's not the best wine on it's own, but matched with food they work.
As for a wine-buying site: wines-searcher.com it's a meta-site with numerous retailers, not just one.
Re 2011 Ports, definitely looks to be a better vintage than 2012. If 2011 truly proves to be a landmark year as first tastings are showing, then almost every major producer will have great product: Croft, Taylor, Dow, Grahams, Fonseca, Niepoort,QdN, QdV, Warres among others...
With caveat that in all regions, many of the best 2012 bottles won't be released for awhile...
Would stay away from 2012 Port.
But... the single-best overall pick for 2012 for me right now are the Aussie Syrahs... it's looking to be an awesome vintage in McLaren / Barossa. In good years the wine across the board tends to be exceptional and for $40 you can find some nice very age-worthy bottles. Enjoy, and please report back in 25 years :)
Tried it recently at a monthly get-together where we often sample some new (and not so new) beers.
We didn't sample it blind or vs. any other similar beers, and I didn't take any tasting notes. From memory it was solid, no complaints, but nothing sensational either. Definitely a mild reddish hue, otherwise thE "red pale ale" label didn't seem to mean much taste-wise.
I wouldn't say you're missing anything if you don't try a bottle, but on the other hand I wouldn't discourage you from it either. Of the current Sierra Nevada line-up on the shelves, my favorite right now is definitely Hoptimum.
Hope this helps.
Full disclosure, never had this exact chicken dish...
However, from prior tasting dinners with similarly-spiced foods, if I have to pick just one varietal here it's riesling (kabinett or Spatlese). Second would probably be roussanne.
Also think gewurztraminer would be a good match here, but of the two I'd choose riesling just based on more experience with the precise spice pairing.
I'd be reluctant to pair either chardonnay or nebbiolo with the dish. I love chenin blanc but the dish may be too busy for it.
Please report back.
High 5. Try a couple quads alongside it. Please report your tasting impressions.
What are the vintage years of these wines?
Also as previously asked, what's on your food menu??
Pending those answers, all of the red varietals are potential candidates (pinot, merlot, cab, malbec, syrah, etc.). If I had to pick one varietal, without a vintage year and with no knowledge of the menu it would probably be pinot or cabernet.
However, in the whites I'd tend to rule-out sauvignon blanc and pinot grigio; instead favoring chardonnay and especially riesling due to it's food-friendliness.
Moscato also tends to be quite food friendly, so in a sparkler I'd choose that, though I have no experience with the specific bottle on your list.
If you have the vintage years and the especially the food list a more definitive answer can be provided.
Savory tempeh: chardonnay or riesling
So, to my palate, bottom line the two safest wines to match the components of this meal are chardonnay and riesling. When I look at the totality of the meal, I get the sense there may be a fairly high spice level (savory, roasted, garlic-sauteed, gremolata)... the spicer the meal becomes the more riesling is the single-most fool-proof match.
1st course: Several wines match sweet potato, but with the curry I'd really narrow it to riesling.
2nd course: If it were just the pork belly I would be looking at some reds (as well as whites). But given the pear and fennel I'm sticking to whites... Also I'd like to switch the cheese out as the most brilliant wine pairings for parmesan aren't necessarily great with pork. Bottom line, I like riesling here, but substitute emmental for the parmesan to better match the wine. If you want to switch from riesling then go gewurztraminer and substitute the parmesan with gruyere. Ultimately I'd leave the riesling on the table from the first course and just add gewurztraminer for the 2nd.
3rd course: Moscato d'Asti, otherwise a dessert muscat. The port and sherry recs are nice too.
I like pinot noir with grilled tuna... like it alot... but in general I pair "seafood" with white wines.
However when it comes to pairing Pinot with "meat" I generally prefer it with dark turkey, chicken or duck as opposed to lamb or beef...
So ultimately the best wines for your dinner will depend on the specific meats and seafood you plan to serve.
While I can't argue with your motto "to each his own"... I'm just wondering what you base your claims on... do you have extensive experience pairing a wide range of wines with different foods... and as a result of actual food & wine tasting you've reached your conclusions?
Or... do you have little such experience (perhaps by choice) but find the notion that certain wines might pair with certain foods goes against your notion of "palate independence" ?
I definitely have found a difference from bottle to bottle... but in most cases I think it wasn't a bad bottle, but rather that either: A) my "palate memory" of the prior bottle was not accurate (usually over-glorified otherwise I wouldn't be buying the second bottle)... OR B) I was serving different dishes (even just moderately different), and the difference on the food side resulted in a different impression on the wine side.
Pap I can only speak to how common "hand pumps" are at the microbrew bars I frequent: answer is "not very common". You might find 1 or 2 beers on hand pump at even a good microbrew bar.
Of course a hand pump is just one aspect of cask ale at a bar...
After my initial foray into "tripel - dom" I lost interest in this brew type.
Last night looking for something new to try I popped open a Westmalle Trappist Tripel and a St. Bernardus Tripel. Neither tasted blind. Actual notes follow:
Westmalle: Okay... sort of a sourish light to medium pale ale. No rush to have another... just lacks a memorable flavor.
Now, all but giving up on Tripels at this point...
St. Bernardus: Nicer than Westmalle... much less sour... almost has a "sugary" edge. I'd try this again... as close to a "benchmark" Tripel for my palate as I've found.
That's obviously a tight price range. To answer re the specific wines you mention: definitely would not pair this menu with sauvignon blanc, and in rieslings wouldn't go as ripe as spatlese... would prefer a kabinett. But at $4... I've had food-friendly kabinetts under $10 in the past, but that's been a few years, don't recall any as low as $4... you might find a domestic riesling cheaper than Germans.
In sparklers, you can get NV Moscato d'Asti's in the $7-8 dollar range. That's a very food-friendly wine.
Yes... I keep the bottles in a cool basement then give them a slight chill with about 10 minutes in the fridge before tasting.... They warm up to room temp during the tasting and I note any changes in flavor profiles.
So now with North Coast Old Rasputin, Bell's Kalamazoo, and Samuel Smith's Chocolate firmly established as baselines in this taste-off, I'm branching off to taste-test some stouts with more limited availability.
The candidates in this round are:
Ass Kisser Porter Pounder
All beers were sampled blind, actual tasting notes follow:
Beer 1: Nice texture... really good lingering soft flavor... perhaps lacking a bit of a dynamic edge in favor of smoothness.
Beer 2: Bigger, richer. Beer 1 isn't bad, Beer 2 is just more: complex, bolder....
Beer 3: More sophisticated than Beer 2... same bigness and complexity, less harshness. VERY well-made stout.
At this point it's 2 vs. 3.... re-tasting:
Beer 3: Semi-sweet, complex, big yet smooth...
Beer 2: Just less sophisticated by comparison
Another sip of 3 elicits the "yum" response...
Re-tasting Beer 1: inoffensive but not remarkable.
Clear winner of this trio is: Beer 3.
Revealing the beers:
Beer 1: Ass Kisser Porter Pounder
ILYWMS will move on in this taste-off.
Blind Tasting June 12, 2014.
Bell's Two-Hearted PA
Actual tasting notes follow:
Beer 1: Nice, fruity, almost missing a sharp bitter edge
Beer 2: Drier... almost puckery... I definitely prefer Beer 1 at this point
Beer 3: Nicely balanced... mildly bitter sweet.
Beer 4: Nice... balanced.... lingering flavor... slight bitterness predominates...
Initial results: Clear loser is Beer 2.
Beer 1 vs. 3: nearly a tie but sipping and re-sipping the nod goes to Beer 1
Beer 1 vs. 4: 4 is nice but the overall character is a little undefined in contrast to Beer 1 which is "yummy".
Beer 3 vs. 4; Somewhere around even.
Last sip of Beer 1: yes, just a more completely structured beer and slight winner over 3 and 4 which are both respectable, and Beer 2 which was just unpleasant.
Beer 1: Deschutes Fresh Squeezed
Interesting that Bell's 2-hearted was such a loser. Just found it at a liquor store across the state line where they have Bell's products... I haven't liked it in the past. Probably haven't had it for at least 7 years.... and don't care for it now. In contrast, Bell's Kalamazoo stout scored very highly in our stout tastings.
On Friday two friends and I did an impromptu blind tasting of Old Rasputin vs. Bell's Kalamazoo Stout.
In general the consensus was that Beer 1 was somewhat softer yet with a full rich flavor and texture whereas Beer 2 was similar but with richer and somewhat "harsher" flavor edges.
My friends both slightly preferred Beer 1, primarily for the relative smoothness. I'm a bit more active stout consumer, appreciate both and found it difficult to pick between the two.
Revealing the results:
Beer 1: Bells Kalamazoo
An interesting follow-on note: BK is 6% abv ! vs. 8.2% for NCOR. In a world of high-abv stouts, it's quite amazing the amount of flavor BK achieves at 6%.
It's been probably 7 or more years since I've had a BK and was very impressed... used to love Bells Expedition Stout (a 10.5% abv imperial monster) which I used to get in other parts of the country.
Hi Gasp: generally I like your blog article quite alot.
However there are at least two major errors of omission IMO:
1: No mention of riesling anywhere in the article.
2: A very useful general rule is to look for "common" labels in sensational vintage years. So, for example, follow all your guidelines PLUS focus on the best vintage years to really stack the deck in your favor.
Summer Stout Semi-Finals: blind tasting for "baseline" year-round stout:
This was a close contest of similar-tasting well-made stouts. However at the end, 2 clear "winners" emerged. Actual tasting notes follow:
Beer 1: Rich, luscious... Very smooth for such a deeply-flavored stout. Still I'm not 100% on what I think of the flavor itself... as though it has edges that may not quite fit together...
Beer 2: Slightly less smooth than #1. Hint of chocolate on the rich flavor.
Beer 3: A bit "brighter" than Beer 2....
After the first 3 I'm leaning slightly to Beer 2...
Beer 4: Smooth-flavored with hints of chocolate and cherry....
Re-tasting for head-to-head comparisons:
4 vs. 2: both good, maybe a slight nod to 2 for richness and chocolate notes
4 vs 3: slightly favors 4...
4 vs. 1: slightly favors 4...
2 and 4 emerge from the above with a small margin...
3 vs. 1: slightly favor 3, but close.
2 and 4 are the "winners".... 2: Oak Aged "regular" Yeti; and 4: Old Rasputin...
Honorable mention for 3: "regular" Great Divide Yeti...
This tasting focused on stouts available in the midwest on a nearly year-round basis. I will now use these as baseline stouts to compare others that are very limited release.
My beer pattern isn't as seasonal as it used to be. I drink PA's, barleywines, and stouts pretty much year-round. If you're out of the heat (i.e. in the AC), the season isn't as noticeable beer-wise.
What's different is I probably slack off on the percentage of each of the above and swap it out for more wheats and fruit-wheats.
3rd Round of Qualifiers in blind tasting. The challengers:
AFTER tasting these, there was a follow up pitting "Regular" (non-oak aged) yeti against the winner of the above.
Actual tasting notes follow.
Beer 1: Luscious. Elegant texture. hint of lingering mocha... Rich but not overly explosive on the palate
Beer 2: Somewhat "yucky" flavor... not much else to say
Beer 3: Really nice scent that doesn't translate to flavor on the palate. Definitely better than 2 however.
Second flight pits 1 vs. 3:
Beer 3: Okay... not a readily definable flavor...
Beer 1: Really big by comparison... the winner tonite and it moves on in the competition.
Revealing the beers:
Beer 1: G. D. "regular" oak aged yeti. (The "winner")
With Beer 1 open I decided to try it vs. Regular (non-oaked) Yeti, one of the winners of a prior round. I re-poured them in different glasses and tasted blind:
Beer A: Luscious, lip smacking, coffee-ish...
Beer B: Slightly softer version of Beer A?
Re-tasting: Beer A just seems sharper and bolder than B, but not necessarily better. This is close, near a draw. It's like Beer B has 1 gear and Beer A has two but they are still about equal in overall impression.
Revealing the brews: Beer A is "Regular" non-oaked Yeti, and Beer B is Oak-aged yeti (plain, not the espresso or chocolate varieties). I guess this makes sense, that the oak aging produces a softened version of the regular bottling. Both are quite nice and will move on to the finals which will feature the following:
North Coast Old Rasputin
So the finals aren't overly represented by Great Divide I will try tasting the Yeti's alone to find the top 1 or 2, then pit that against Rasputin and SSOC. The problem being as in today's tasting, I couldn't find a preference for reg yeti vs. the oaked version :) We will see.
THEN, once this great baseline stout is established I can start pitting it against rarer stouts for which I can only get a few bottles per year.
That isn't much to go on....
If I have to pick one white here, it's riesling around kabinett. It will match "sweet" better than most, pairs well with alot of seafood dishes, and is an overall very food-friendly wine.
As for reds I'd like to know what "meats" are being served... but pinot matches the catch-all category "seafood" as well as any other red so I'm fine with your choice there.
Please report back on how you found the pairings.
1: "Midwest" just means "available on the shelf or tap in the Midwest U.S.", not necessarily brewed around here.
2: It is a mixed-bag of stout styles. I guess the reason I don't mind mixing them is that I drink them that way too... sort of inter-changeably.