Rosé Wines: White Zinfandels, California Blushes, and more...
Rosés have had the misfortune of being grouped into a category of low quality, lifeless, sweet wines such as White Zinfandel and California Blush. In fact, rosés originate from France and in contrast to the mess that California producers have made of this wine, a nicely blended, good quality rosé can be quite full of depth and flavor. Rosés are made by allowing the skins from red grapes to come in contact with the juice from red or green grapes for a short period of time. The result, in most cases, is a wine that flaunts characteristics of both types of grapes, which makes it almost the perfect wine to pair with food. High acidity and a hint of tannins give rosés an extra bit of complexity that allows them to stand up well to a variety of dishes. Rosés have gained in popularity in recent years and the misrepresentation they once received has been replaced by an understanding that within the spectrum of their coral-pink hues is a surprisingly diverse, delicious, and versatile wine. Rosés are available from almost all of the great wine making regions of the world and for the most part are extremely accessible and affordable.
All About Sparkling Wine: Beyond Champagne
Sparkling wine is considered to be one of the best wines to pair with food because it ranges in flavor from dry to sweet and its effervescence does an equally great job of enhancing delicately nuanced foods and cutting through rich, strong flavors. Because it offers such a wide range of possibilities, sparkling wine has an edge and a versatility that is not found in any other wine.
The degree of effervescence in sparkling wine ranges anywhere from just slightly fizzy to so intensely bubbly it almost makes you sneeze as the bubbles slide up your nose. The sparkle in these wines comes from carbon dioxide bubbles that are either released into the wine naturally, through the fermentation process, or are added artificially through injection. While the French are credited with inventing the original process, known as methode champenoise, it is now produced in a number of different ways and is common in many wine producing regions throughout the world.
To be called champagne, a wine must be made in the Champagne region of France using a very specific methodology. Sparkling wines are made from both white and red grapes and are traditionally made into whites or rosés. Some delicious and interesting versions of sparkling wine are also made from red grapes such as Italian Brachetto and Australian Shiraz. Sparkling dessert wines are also quite lovely. The bubbles help cut through the sometimes cloying sweetness of the wine making it lighter and a nicer dessert companion than many still varieties. Two of the most popular and interesting types of sparkling dessert wines are Muscats and Ice Wines.
Fortified Wines: Port, Madeira, Marsala, and more...
Fortified wines are those to which alcohol, usually brandy, has been added, which results in a sweeter wine with a substantially higher alcohol content (17-21% as opposed to the 9-15% common in most wines). Some of the best known types of fortified wines are Port and Madeira from Portugal, Sherry from Spain, Marsala from Italy, and Vermouth from France.
Fortification was originally developed in Europe in the 16th century as a means of preserving wines that were to be exported. Much of the wine shipped out at that time was ruined by spoilage due to a relatively short shelf life or from constant exposure to violent movement and other unfavorable conditions below the decks of the ships on which they traveled. Fortifying these wines made them more stable and well preserved and better suited for treacherous travel. The process of fortification continues today because it offers a distinctive, well received flavor profile that is still quite popular throughout the world.
Fortified wines are often intensely sweet in flavor and heavy in body and are usually served mixed with other ingredients in cocktails or in miniscule portions to be sipped with dessert. These wines are also commonly used in cooking because their intense flavor adds a good deal of dimension, even when used in small amounts, and their unique and varied flavors complement a wide range of foods such as those with Sauce Madeira and Veal Marsala.