It is said the month of March is “in like a lion, out like a lamb.” Seems here on 30A, one day Spring has arrived and the next a cold front keeps winter temps around a bit longer. So what is a good wine to sip on during these in-between seasons? I find myself in favor of a medium bodied red like Zinfandel.
Lest you are confused, I don’t mean White Zinfandels (a sweeter blush-style wine that became popular in the United States in the 198os.) I’m talking about the juicy red varietal with “jammy” flavors such as raspberry or strawberry and frequent finishing notes of smoke and spice. While not native to the United States, California has embraced this grape and Zinfandel wines are produced in 10% of the state’s vineyards. Another great bonus to serving Zinfandel? Their food-friendliness of course. Below are a few we’d recommend enjoying on cooler March nights.
The 2012 Zinfandelic Old Vine Zinfandel from the Sierra Foothills has a great conversation starter: its fun label reminiscent of 1960s rock posters! But more importantly. this wine has wonderful balance: highlighting bright berry and cherry fruit and finishing with zingy acidity. It would pair well with smokey, barbequed meats like your favorite cut of beef.
Next we suggest trying the Bonterra Zinfandel from 2012. With aromas of blueberry and black pepper, and cherry on the palate, this wine is medium bodied and finishes with a kick of spice. Try serving this wine with a starter course of cured meats and Spanish sheep’s milk cheese like Manchego.
The 2013 Francis Ford Coppola “Director’s Cut” Zinfandel is actually blended with Petite Sirah grapes to add structure to the wine. You’ll experience blackberry and cherry on the nose and then complex notes of mocha, licorice, anise and raspberry on the palate. This wine will marry well with bold flavors. Try it with a spice-rubbed leg of lamb encrusted with rosemary and garlic and let us know what you think.
Moscato wines are known for being lighter-bodied, effervescent, and on the sweeter side. But they can be complex and their aromas range from tropical blossoms to ripe stone fruits. They typically showcase low to medium acidity and should be served well-chilled. Their flavors are fruit-forward and work well alongside dessert courses. Think about pouring it with a treat of homemade fruit crumble or an apple tart. Cheese platters also marry well with Moscato wines. Add some toasted candied nuts and you’ll bring out toasty notes in the wine. Moscato is made in many wine regions, but primarily produced in Italy, the United States and Australia. We’ll share a recommendation from each of these countries this week for your wine wednesday on 30a.
The 2014 Prunotto Moscato d’Asti is an Italian sparkling wine with a bright yellow hue and aromas of pineapple, honey and a floral background on the palate. It is a celebratory sip and would go nicely as an aperitif with a simple snack of spiced nuts and dried fruits.
The 2012 vintage of St. Supery is a Californian Moscato with subtle lime-hued streaks and a sensual, tropical aroma. Think melons and mango and rainforest blooms. As soon as warmer weather hits, you’ll want to get a bottle of this to try. Grill some peaches and plums and serve with a lovely fruit and cheese tray, or try it with a starter of fresh tuna tartare seasoned with punchy ginger and garlic.
Australia’s Brown Brothers Moscato will be your new summer go-to with a spritzy body and sweet citrus sorbet flavors. This wine is crisp and light and not overly cloying. It is versatile too: it could start your dinner party off by accompanying a creamy tangy cheese like brie or sing with your dinner course and cool palates roaring from chili-flecked sauces or marinades.
Let us know what Moscatos you enjoy and if any of our selections make it into your repertoire.
Looking for another way to kick off the weekend? NEAT Bottle Shop and Tasting Room in Alys Beach is holdings its grand opening celebration this Friday from 2PM-4PM. Attendees can expect live music performances by Schatzi + The String Boffin as well as samplings of artisan wines, craft cocktails and local brews. Admission is free and be sure to register for some unique vino selections from Wines that Rock.
Our Wine Wednesday on 30a this week presents suggestions for gifts of special bottles this season. Wine aficionados and novices alike are sure to be thrilled with any of these exquisite choices.
The 2013 Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a big and bold cab from Napa Valley. This is a collectable wine that is a very popular, upscale red. It is full of lots of red ripe fruit and cocoa, aromas of wood and vanilla, and a long finish. The 2013 growing season was a wonderful one in Napa Valley. This wine opens with tons of tart dark cherry and should breathe for about an hour.
The 2012 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay is an amazing choice for Chardonnay lovers. It has layers upon layers of flavor ranging from fresh peach, apple, and bright tangerine and finishes with a hint of delicate spice and honey. This wine has little to no oak and is aged for over two decades. The year’s climate and weather allowed for exceptionally aromatic characteristics to come through in this vintage.
Trouillard Brut Extra Selection Champagne will put a sparkle in the eye of anyone who receives it. The esteemed Trouillard family has been in the Champagne business since the 19th century. This classic Brut bubbly is a gorgeous pale amber hue. It is full-bodied with apple, lemon, and toasted bread notes. This delicate and elegant champagne would also serve as the perfect toast to begin your holiday meal. Cheers!
Whether you shared them as gifts or served them with meals, let us know what you thought of these suggestions. We hope you and yours have a magical holiday filled with lots of love and laughter.
30afoodandwine is excited to promote one of the favorite fall events of the year. The incomparably serene town of Seaside, in partnership with Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation, is hosting the 25th annual Seeing Red Wine Festival. And it’s coming up very soon: November 5th-8th! Tickets are still on sale for the Friday and Sunday events, Saturday’s festivities are already sold out.
Produced in partnership with the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation to support local children’s charities, this hugely popular and highly-anticipated event is not only a ton of fun, but it helps tackle important local causes and provide much needed services to kids.
The four days of festivities will showcase world renowned vintners as well as popular local restaurants with tasting and pairings of delicious food and wine. New this year is the addition of a VIP tent to the Grand Tasting; allowing wine connoisseurs access to celebrity winemakers. The festival includes rare reserve wine tastings and dinners and a brunch with guest winemakers.
Like we mentioned, proceeds from the event will be donated to the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation. The DCWAF’s signature event, the Destin Charity Wine Auction, is held each year at Grand Boulevard in South Walton. In April of 2015, the amazing efforts of this auction raised $2.3 million for local children’s charities! It is ranked by Wine Spectator as among the top five charitable wine auctions in the entire country. Their mission is to connect wine enthusiasts with fundraising opportunities benefitting children in need in our region of Florida. So you see, Seeing Red equals lots of “green” for those who can use it most! It is a wonderful way to give back and also enjoy exquisite wine and weather this fall season.
Often when we plan the perfect wine to match our meal, echoing the entrée is our focus (red goes with beef, whites go with fish, you know the drill.) But the side dishes shouldn’t be overlooked. Both of these wines we recommend this week would pair nicely with many sides including fall favorites like caramelized roasted sweet potatoes or pan blistered Brussels sprouts. Try them and let us know what you think!
While notoriously challenging to grow, Pinot Noir grapes result in a versatile, food-friendly sip. This red wine is often complex with rich berry fruit and includes earthy, oak and spice notes. Below are a couple Pinot Noirs we think you’ll enjoy.
The 2012 Biltmore Pinot Noir is made in Asheville, North Carolina on the grounds of the Biltmore Estates. This popular Pinot is made using fruit from their own vineyard as well as partnering with northwestern vineyards in California and Washington.
Another Pinot Noir we think you will enjoy is the highly rated Siduri’s 2013 Sonoma County Pinot Noir. Founded in 1994 by Adam and Dianna Lee, Siduri Wines have grown from a small operation to handcrafting over 10,000 cases a year. Siduri Wines have received the Wine Spectator’s “Critics Choice” recognition multiple times since 2004.
And remember, when you are searching for new wines to sample, from one end of 30A to another there are great spots to go to find new favorites. Chan’s Wine World in Watercolor boasts an award winning wine list as well as a popular daily happy hour special: a half carafe for the price of a glass (between 11am – 6pm!) And Wild Olives on the eastern end in Rosemary Beach offers a happy hour between 3 pm and 6 pm Tuesdays – Sundays including special prices on selected wines by the glass. Cheers to that!
Home Sweet Home
At 30afoodandwine we mostly focus on all the delicious cuisine available through our excellent local restaurant scene. But some autumn evenings just call for staying in, inviting friends over for a relaxed dinner party, and sipping wine porch side. I have a couple of fun wines to recommend this week for an evening experienced in the comforts of home.
The B Side Cabernet blend will be a mega hit for sure. This wine gets 90 plus scores from many different wine publications and I can certainly see why. Their new Bordeaux-style red—a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petite Syrah hails from Napa’s “flip” side – the valley’s eastern hillsides. This wine is really smooth with lots of dark chocolate and cherry. It is wonderful all on its own, but would also pair beautifully with a variety of food pairings from lighter fare like smoky grilled vegetables on to a meal of hearty beef stew served with garlicky roasted potatoes. Either direction will keep your guests’ toes tap pin.’
The 2012 Apothic Red from California is a blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It will surprise you with its notes of strawberry jam and fresh stone fruit with a bit of spice. This decadent blend has a soft mouth feel and you’ll also pick up subtle hints of oak and vanilla. This wine has really great mass appeal for lots of wine drinking palates. It would also pair nicely with many foods perfect for casual entertaining. You could serve it simply with a cheese plate filled with pungent rich varieties like Stilton, or go the barbeque route and enjoy with sticky ribs or chicken or lastly, combine both these sentiments and serve with gourmet lamb burgers topped with melty gorgonzola cheese. Any of these options it is sure to be a conversation starter and crowd pleaser.
Aaaah. Like many of us, this week I reveled in these first cool moments of fall weather. For me, each breeze was filled with nostalgia and the anticipation of autumn activities and home cooked comfort dishes. And of course it also beckoned the beginning of enjoying red wine again. I sipped on a couple this past weekend that you really must try.
My first recommendation is the 2012 Gouguenheim Malbec. This Argentinian beauty is aged for four months in French oak and is made with 100% Malbec grapes. It is a gorgeous, rich purplish red hue with distinct aromas of plum, cherry, and dark chocolate. It has a long smooth finish on the palate and would pair nicely with a snack of super sharp cheddar or with your entree of peppercorn-encrusted steak. This bottle is also affordable so you can splurge on a fine cut of beef. (It’s making my mouth water just typing about it!)
Another nice bottle I recently tried was the domestic darling from Washington State: Milbrandt Merlot 2012. Washington state Merlots are commonly full bodied and this one is no exception. It showcases notes of blackberry and other dark stone fruit like plum and finishes very smooth. This wine is a blend of 89% Merlot, 8% Malbec and 3% Petie Verdot grapes and the result is balanced, juicy , and delicious. While many times red wines are recommended for pairing with red meats, try this gem with an herbaceous perfectly roasted chicken and side of caramelized root vegetables. I think you will be surprised how well they marry together. It may just become your new fall staple!
You’ve enjoyed a fabulous meal and yet one last glass of vino sure would make the evening complete. A number of wines are considered “dessert wines” and probably the most well-known is Port.
Port wine is a fortified wine made in Portugal. Fortified means the fruit is first fermented in open tanks where the grapes are stomped daily. When the correct level of sugar is achieved, port wine is blended with grape spirits like brandy to stop fermentation and thus creating a fortified wine. Most Port wine producers use a ratio of about 30% brandy.
A Ruby Port is a great beginner’s style of Port wine because it isn’t overly sweet. Our recommendation is Sandeman Fine Ruby Port. It is young, richly red -hued, with a nose of strawberry and plum. Serve it slightly chilled and once the bottle is open, it will stay fresh for about a month. Ruby Ports are wonderful paired with dark chocolate, making it a win-win for your meal’s ending. This wine is also nice with fruit-laden desserts or cheese plates consisting of brie or other creamy cheeses.
The definition of “hub” is the center of an activity. In just shy of two months since their May 5th opening, The Hub on 30A is positioning itself purely that way: with the heart of this new operation being its tremendous food. Executive Chef Nick Walton is thrilled to serve at the creative helm, and together with Hub Partner and cookbook author Brys Stephens, collaborated on the direction of a fun, diverse, and satisfying menu.
Mile Marker Fifteen takes widely-favored Mexican cuisine and assures it is not only delicious but prepared healthfully with lots of grilled meats and fresh vegetables. This isn’t your typical queso-smothered, order-by-number Mexican food. Think bright, clean, and big flavors in every bite. Mile Marker Fifteen’s Mixed Salad is brimming with crisp veggies like arugula, kale, grape tomatoes and avocado. It is dressed with a tangy mustard vinaigrette. This salad is perfect beach break food – tons of seasonal produce and no guilt.
The ever-popular quesadilla comes garnished with authentic Mexican crema and a verde salsa. All the favorites are represented and then some: cheese, chicken, steak, as well as mushroom and seasonal veggie versions. Oh and lest I forget! The Mexican Street Corn is quickly picking up a cult-like following: it is sauced with a buttermilk cream and sprinkled with cojita cheese after being spiced and grilled with chiles and oregano. Don’t miss it.
Red’s Chicken Shack is serving up premium Joyce Farms free-range chicken straight from Winston-Salem. This yields some juicy fried and roasted bird. It’s highlighted on the Big Chicken Biscuit with Red’s jalapeno-cabbage slaw. The sublime house made biscuit’s layers are tender with buttermilk and baked to a golden crunchy brown. The Chicken Shack’s Chicken Fingers are all-white meat and cut on premise. Available both roasted and fried, they are excellent and aren’t just for your kids!
Crave Roadside Burgers are crafted using grass fed beef and served on yummy H & F Bread Company buns from Atlanta. The result is a really excellent classic burger available with a variety of add-ons. Try the “Crave” with mushrooms, bacon, Fontina cheese, and arugula. The well-seasoned fries and tempura-battered onion rings are not to be missed either. Mouthwatering action for sure.
Here at the beach, year round, many a sweet tooth beckons for ice cold treats and Mr. Freeze doesn’t disappoint. They serve everything from sea salt and chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches to multi-colored shaved ice masterpieces. Their pastry chef is mixing it up with other decadent desserts like Key Lime pie too.
Ready to eat up yet? You can order at each restaurant entity and you’ll be paged or texted when your food is ready. And get this: The Hub also takes orders directly from their mobile website. You can max and relax on their lawn or pavilion until your treats are ready to be picked up. Now that’s convenience and service one could quickly get accustomed to enjoying.
After sampling The Hub’s flavorful fare, I certainly know what all the hub-bub is about. They truly offer something for everyone and are taking great lengths to ensure their guests leave happy and full. Oh and if for some reason you can’t find me, I’m probably at Red’s eating another of those chicken biscuits…