Divine Wine of the Desert: Zarpara Sauvignon Blanc

Today’s post on a “Divine Wine of the Desert” is a twofer…. Since it is an Arizona wine that I consider “divine”, it gets categorized as both a “Wines of the Desert” post and a “Divine Wine Sunday” post. (Yes, I know it’s Monday. I’m running behind.)

I was introduced to this lovely bottle of Sauvignon Blanc at the Willcox Wine Festival. After taking a bottle home and finding that I was savoring every sip, I felt the need to highlight it here on W2WK.

Zarpara Sauvignon Blanc

Zarpara Sauvignon Blanc

Divine Wine of the Desert: Zarpara Sauvignon Blanc

Price Range: $26 from Zarpara Vineyard

Wino Assessment: I am typically “wowed” by red wines more often then white wines. But when I first tasted this one, I had to take that mental pause before enjoying the  second and third sips to make sure I wasn’t just thinking that I liked it as much as I did. But it was confirmed by the time I had a full glass. I really loved this Sauvignon Blanc. The winemaker’s describe it as “crisp and bright”. I definitely agree – but I think that’s an understatement. To me, it was more complex than many Sauvignon Blancs I’ve tried. While it was easy to drink, the bottle seemed to developed with each glass. (In fact, I mentally marked it as a red wine drinker’s white wine for this reason.) It was very aromatic and I tasted honeysuckle-like flavors in addition to crisp pear flavors. I really enjoyed it immensely…

Winemaker’s Tasting Notes: I’m a sucker for great life change stories… So I must share. As explained on their website, the Zarpara Vineyard owners retired from the “daily grind” to start their own vineyard in Cochise County (southern Arizona) where they planted vines and started making wine. And this Sauvignon Blanc is their first wine from grapes harvested solely from their vineyard.  To that I say, Bravo!

Ok, back to the wine.  Zarpara describe it as:

“Crisp, bright, and bursting with citrus and pear on the nose and palate.”

They also note that there were only 37 cases of this wine produced, so it might be tough to find.

UPDATE: For you Phoenicians, Zarpara Vineyard commented below that their Sauvignon Blanc is available at Wedge and Bottle in Ahwatukee.

Divine Bite: Sauvignon Blanc is a very “food-friendly” wine. It is a dry white and can accompany spicy foods and other dishes with strong flavors. Because the wine is low in acidity, it is enjoyable with foods that have high acidity, like goat cheese or tomatoes. Try this with a salad that includes an acidic cheese. It also pairs very well with most seafood dishes. I enjoyed this bottle with grilled Mahi seasoned with Chesapeake Bay seasoning and some steamed vegetables. The winery recommends having their wine with garlic marinated shrimp or with feta cheese and some olives. Enjoy!

Divine Wine Sunday: ViNO Pinot Grigio

For those of you who have been following W2WK for a while, you may remember past posts on Charles Smith wines including, Kung-Fu Girl Riesling and The Velvet Devil Merlot. Well today’s post is on yet another Charles Smith wine… ViNO Pinot Grigio.   What can I say, I have a weakness for the way this winery smashes its grapes into drinkable liquid. (And at a great price, I might add.)

ViNO Pinot Grigio by Charles Smith

ViNO Pinot Grigio by Charles Smith

Divine Wine: ViNO Pinot Grigio, Charles Smith Winery, Washington State

Price Range: $10-15

Wino Assessment: When I picked up a bottle of this white wine delight, it happened to be on clearance at the wine shop.  Although I hadn’t tried this particular wine before, I couldn’t resist grabbing several bottles at that special clearance price, and walked away from the wine shop just hoping I’d enjoy it enough to consume several bottles (over a period of weeks). Conveniently, I did.  (I know, I know. I’m such a risk taker.)

This Pinot Grigio is very crisp and refreshing.  I think the crispness of it reminded me of apples, but it has a lot of melon flavor and honeysuckle aromas.  It was a nice balance between fruit and flowers.  For me, this is a wine I’ll look forward to enjoying on summer afternoons.  (Which, by the way, has arrived here in Phoenix already… it’s 100 degrees today!)

Tasting Notes: Here’s what the winemaker says about its ViNO Pinot Grigio. 

“Italian inspired, locally produced. Cut summer grass gives way to white nectarine, honeysuckle, Italian melon and white anise, crushed seashells and minerals.”

“Minerals” is an interesting way of describing wine – and one I see often.  If you’re curious what a “minerally” wine might taste like, try this one.  It’s sort of like when you get a bottle of water that has that extra mineral-ness to it… but in wine.  (And in a good way.)

Divine Bite:  So what to enjoy with a glass of ViNO? Pinot Grigio tends to be a great wine for lunches and appetizers, or foods with high acidity.  Try it with salads or a shellfish dish.  The winery recommends oysters, which would be complementary with regard to the mineral flavors in the oysters as well as the wine.  I enjoyed this wine with salmon topped with arugula/parsley/lemon pesto.  The crisp herbal and citrus flavors of the pesto accompanied the ViNO very nicely.

Divine Wine Sunday: Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon

In my humble Wino opinion, a birthday should always be celebrated with a good bottle of wine. When I first enjoyed this week’s Divine Wine, it was during a birthday celebration with a bunch of friendly Winos. We ordered the bottle, none of us knowing quite what to expect.  We had the obligatory birthday “cheers’ing”….  and then we each took a sip.  Although it was now five years ago, I remember the moment clearly. I took a sip, and then – with the glass still held up in front of my face, I lifted my eyes from the glass and made eye contact with one of the other winos at the table. We held that eye contact for a moment, knowing we were both thinking the same thing. We were both in love…. with the wine.  Since then, I’ve had this wine a number of times and each time, have found myself savoring each sip (or gulp) from my glass.

Divine Wine of the Week: Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon

Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon

Price Range: $15-20 at Costco, Total Wine, and most likely your favorite wine shop.

Wino Assessment: As previously noted, upon the first sip, there was nothing but love for this wine.  It is dry – has that woody/oaky flavor. But not at all chalky.  It also has a bit of that dark fruit flavor (plums, perhaps) that balances the dryness without making it too jammy or sweet.  In a way, this wine goes down like a smooth cup of coffee.  As you enjoy a few sips of the Franciscan Cab, the swirl of flavors are so satisfying that I swear you’ll suddenly start taking smaller sips because you just want it to last longer.

Tasting Notes: Here is what Franciscan Winery says about their Cabernet Sauvignon:

Aromas: Complex and vibrant aromas of red plum, anise, cherry, violets, and tobacco accentuated by notes of black currant, dried herbs, toasted oak, and cocoa.

Flavors: Elegant and supple texture on the palate make the frame for generous flavors of sweet plum and dark cherry, with notes of vanilla and mocha. Silky tannins and well-integrated structure tie together and linger in the finish.

The winery also has a nice write-up of the history of this wine, if you’re interested in reading more.

Franciscan Cab with tasty burger

Franciscan Cab with tasty burger

Divine Wine Bite: So now that you have the wine in hand, what should you eat with it? Cabernets generally have a lot of tannins, which typically make the wine taste a little more bitter (in the same way that dark chocolate might taste bitter), and also makes it taste dry. Because of that, Cabs tend to go well with red meat. The red meat’s protein and fattiness balance the bitter/dryness of the wine.  So try this wine with a nice grilled steak or grilled lamb.  I personally enjoyed it with this delicious burger tonight!

Divine Wine Sunday: Dr. Loosen Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling

Sweet white wine drinkers… this is post is for you!  And hey! Yeah you, red wine drinkers who think you don’t like sweet whites enough to keep reading! I recommend you read-on, Reader (as my 5-year old niece would say).  In his book, “The Wine Lover’s Cookbook”, Sid Goldstein says about rieslings…

“Riesling is one of the less-appreciated grape varietyals in the Western world. Considered one of the world’s great white wines since the nineteenth century, Riesling currently enjoys precious little popularity among American wine drinkers.”

Let’s add some worldliness to our palettes, and a little precious popularity to this wine while considering its potential delights!

Divine Wine: Dr. Loosen Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling, Mosel, Germany

Price: Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling, $35-40, Dr. L Riesling, $15-20

Wino Assessment: So I was preparing for a dinner party one day and had planned to make a recipe out of Karen MacNeil’s cookbook, “Wine, Food, & Friends”. The dish was a pork tenderloin with nectarine-apricot sauce and it recommended the meal be paired with  the Dr. Loosen Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling.  So I mosied on down to one of my favorite Phoenix wine shops (Sportsman’s) in pursuit of a riesling that may serve as a decent substitute for this pairing recommendation. After all, I never thought that of all the gazillion rieslings that are on the shelves out in the wine world, that I’d come across THE WINE that Ms. MacNeil recommended in her book. Especially not at this small wine store that probably carries only a dozen rieslings in total.  But, much to my giddy delight, right there on the riesling shelf was THE WINE…. Dr. Loosen Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling.  Now I don’t often go spending over $30 for a bottle of wine… but how could I go on knowing this wine was sitting on the shelf at my local wine shop and recommended by a world famous wine expert with the dish that I was making that evening for dinner? I couldn’t. So in my wine bag it went, along with that winery’s less expensive riesling.

There’s no doubt about it. This wine is sweet. Rieslings have their own classification/style designation that indicates their level of sweetness. This one is a Spätlese, which is one of the drier rieslings. But to me, and to the other Winos around the table, this wine still tasted very sweet. What was interesting to me was the complexity of the wine despite its sweetness. While almost like liquid sugar, it also maintained a sort of crispness that reminded me of honeydew melon.  There were lots of soft peach and apricot flavors in it as well.  So while I ordinarily don’t love sweet wines, I feel that this one piqued my interest in sweet white wines, especially when paired with the right dish. The Dr. L Riesling was also sweet but seemed to have more of that crisp fruit flavor to it. Both went down very easily!

Dr. Loosen Ürziger Würzgarten RieslingWinemaker’s Tasting Notes: I couldn’t find many tasting notes from the winery itself, but here are tasting notes from www.wine.com:

“Peach, mango and a hint of honey on the nose. The sweet, but austere peach flavor with its subtle spiciness is highlighted by the slate. Well-balanced, extremely elegant and nicely persistent.”


Dr. L Riesling

Dr. L Riesling

The Dr. L Riesling is described by the winery as:

“Citrus blossom, lime, and crushed stone aromas are followed by apple and citrus flavors in this just-slightly-sweet wine.”

Again, perhaps relative to other rieslings, both of these may not be terribly sweet. But if you pick up a bottle, expect it to be a sweet white wine with lots of citrus and melon flavors.

Diving Wine Bite: Riesling generally pairs well with sweet or spicy dishes. That goes back to the pair sweet wine flavors to sweet food flavors, or complement the spicy factory in a dish with the sweet wine. So rieslings tend to go well with Asian or Latin dishes. As noted above, I enjoyed this wine with pork tenderloin with the nectarine-apricot sauce, which included some jalepeño. This sweet flavors in the sauce aligned nicely to the sweet flavors of the wine, while the spicy factor with the jalepeño served as a contrast to the riesling. It was a great pairing!

Give either of these bottles a try! Let me know what you think! And let me know if you have other rieslings that you’ve enjoyed!

Divine Wine Sunday: Cartlidge & Browne Pinot Noir

Wine is always best when enjoyed with good company… and I had the pleasure of enjoying this week’s Divine Wine with several of my favorite people over a long dinner (and several bottles of happiness).

Cartlidge & Browne Pinot Noir

Cartlidge & Browne Pinot Noir

Divine Wine of the Week: Cartlidge & Browne 2010 Pinot Noir, Healdsburg, California

Price: $14.99/bottle available at Sportsman’s Fine Wine & Spirits, $12.99 at Total Wine (both based on prices in Phoenix, AZ)

Wino Assessment: Pinot Noir is one of my favorite overall wines (oh wait – most wines fall into this category for me!).  It is great with appetizers, with a meal, by itself, in the afternoon, in the evening. It’s just versatile.  And who doesn’t love good versatility?

The Cartlidge & Browne Pinot is a great “standard” Pinot Noir. It has all the typical flavors that you might find in a Pinot – a little earthy/oakiness while also having some soft fruit (strawberry/cherry) which balances the overall flavor. While enjoying with my friends, we all agreed that it was very smooth, easy to drink wine.

Winemaker’s Tasting Notes: The winemaker describes this wine as follows:

“Cherry, strawberry and rhubarb notes define the aromatics of this wine and are backed by hints of cinnamon and oregano. Bright flavors of cherry, raspberry and ripe tomato are balanced by a layer of earthy mushroom. Smooth and silky!”

Divine Wine Bite: Now that you have the bottle, you’re wondering what the heck to eat with it. (And yes, I firmly believe that all good meals are planned around a good bottle of wine.) Since this particular Pinot Noir has the earthy flavors as well as soft fruit and spice flavors, it can really go with a variety of dishes.  Enjoy it with hearty meats such as lamb or veal. It also pairs beautifully with salmon.  Keep in mind that to pair wine and food together well, look for common or opposite characteristics in both.  Maybe prepare your meats with a mushroom sauce (matching smooth flavors in the food to that of the wine). If you pair this wine with salmon, try it with a rich red wine reduction or a glaze of sorts.

Looking for a specific recipe? Try this Sesame Encrusted Salmon with Pinot Noir Reduction.  This is the dish that I enjoyed with friends and this bottle (or bottles) of wine and we all agreed the combination of the dish with the wine brought out flavors in both!

Give it a try! Let me know what you think!

Divine Wine: Ridge Lytton Springs 2009

“Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat…. [errr… I guess I should look up the rest of the words.]

Does anyone actually eat a goose on Christmas? I don’t think I’ve ever even had goose, holiday or not.  Hmm.  However, I believe many people have turkey or a roast of some sort on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. So with that thought in mind, I offer what I consider a fine wine suggestion to accompany your holiday meal!

Ridge Lytton Springs 2009

Ridge Lytton Springs 2009

Divine Wine: Ridge Lytton Springs 2009, Ridge Vineyards, Sonoma, California

Price Range: $37.00 (2010) Lytton Springs via Ridge Vineyards, Approximately $35 for 2009 bottle at Sportsman’s Wine and Spirits

So I’m making a liar of myself on W2WK.  In my relatively recent Thanksgiving post, I noted that I planned to bring the Tobin James Ballistic Zinfandel to my Thanksgiving celebration with the family.  However, I ran out of time to hit up Costco, where I know they carry that bottle…. Instead, I went to Sportsman’s Wine and Spirits – one of Phoenix’s best wine shops!  And I have to say, I’m pretty glad for my time crunch.  Sportsman’s is one of those places where the employees know their stuff and provide great suggestions.  I ended up with four bottles of wine for our four-person celebration. The Ridge Lytton Springs was the one I was most excited about, and turned out, the one I loved the most!

The Wine: This wine is a blend – 71% Zinfandel, 23% Petit Syrah, 6% Carignane. (Note to Wino self: Learn about the carignane grape and pretend like you have heard of it before.) 

Uncorking on Thanksgiving Day!Wino Assessment: I was scouring my wine books for what to eat with a Turkey dinner. And the books (specifically, What To Drink With What You Eat), suggested a Zinfandel.  And as soon as I read that, I could feel my taste buds getting happy.  The savory, salty dinner that usually makes up a traditional Thanksgiving meal, and likely a similar set of savory dishes for Christmas meals, is an excellent balance for a big, bold, fruity Zinfandel.

The Ridge Lytton Springs was, indeed, divine.  The wino-helper at Sportsman’s noted that this wine is a Cabernet drinker’s Zin.  It is smooth while maintaining that bright fruitiness that one might look for in a Zinfandel.  Between the turkey, the stuffing, the mashed potatoes, and all the salt and butter that goes into those dishes, the Ridge Lytton Springs added to the happiness of each bite.   I would say it had some strawberry/raspberry kind of flavor to it, but not in a sweet way. It was balanced by something that made it so pleasantly smooth. (Can you hear my head searching for the word, but failing!?)

Ridge Vineyard’s Description: Here’s how the winery describes their 2009 Lytton Springs blend:

Ripe black cherry/raspberry nose, with notes of pepper, licorice, chaparral, and tobacco. Rich black fruit on the palate. Full, viscous. Well-coated tannins and a long, layered finish.

Side note about Ridge Vineyards – they have several vineyards throughout California, but Lytton Springs is in the Sonoma County area.  I was first introduced to their wines by my Brotha Brian (he’s actually my brother… not a priest. However, he does hold internet-approved certification as a wedding officiant!).  Anyway, we were celebrating his wife’s birthday at my house one year (2008, I think) and he picked up a bottle of a Ridge wine. I don’t recall if it was this one or another. But whatever we drank that day has stuck with me as a memorably divine wine!

Over the past year, I’ve grown to become a fan of Zinfandels.  In my book, these are wines that are meant to be enjoyed with food. I think I may have been turned off by Zins before because I was probably just drinking them on their own and, therefore, may not have appreciated the flavors that would have come out if I had it properly paired.

The Bite: So… we know this goes well with a Turkey dinner. It probably goes well with one’s Christmas goose. (If you have goose for Christmas, or in general, please let me know. You may need to guest blog about it.)  But try this wine (or other Zinfandels) with other heavy, savory meals like a roast, steaks, lamb, and even burgers.  It will also be a nice balance for spicy meals – especially spicy Asian beef dishes.

Ridge has kindly provided an actual recipe to pair with this wine! They suggest Wine Country Tri-Tip. Yum.  Click here to find the recipe from Ridge…

Let me know if you give this bottle a try! It will not disappoint!!

Divine (Sparkling) Wine of the Week: Zardetto Prosecco

This weekend marked a milestone for my family… my Dad officially entered “retired” status as of Saturday… a change that will allow his impressive energy level to be dedicated to other lovely life activities… like boozing on sparkling wine on a Saturday afternoon.  And that’s exactly what we did to celebrate his new life “status”. Seriously, is there a better way to spend your first Saturday of retirement!?!

Divine Wine of the Week: Zardetto Prosecco, Conegliano, Veneto, Italia

Zardetto Prosecco

Price Range: $12.99 at Total Wine

Wino Assessment: I am admittedly  a bad judge of sparkling wine.  I like them all!  And I struggle to find the differences in taste… so my Wino Assessment is going to be lackluster at best.  It is a dry sparkling wine, but not bitter – it hint of a honey like sweetness to it that balances the dryness nicely.

The (Sparkling) Wine: 

Zardetto Winery says of its Proseccos: “Simple, fragrant and light, they are at the heart of happy get-togethers and are perfect as an aperitif.”  (I must agree!)

Total Wine says: “Crisp, Pear, Dry, Light-bodied”

Wine Advocate says: “One of the finest widely available Proseccos in the marketplace, this fresh, lively wine exhibits notions of orange rind, brioche, and honeyed grapefruit. Light-bodied, effervescent, and packing plenty of flavor in its delicate personality.”

I presume you are already grabbing your keys to run out and grab a bottle of this enjoyable bubbly, given all these great descriptions!

The Bite:

So what to munch on while enjoying this Prosecco?  Since sparkling wine is normally enjoyed as an aperitif, these pairing suggestions are in the nature of appetizers/small bites.  Most lighter bodied Proseccos, like this one, go well with salty foods like prosciutto or smoked salmon.  You might even consider enjoying this with a bit of sushi (which seems counterintuitive to me, but now that I’ve had the wine, I wish I would have had it with sushi!).  If you’re looking for a lighter snack, try it with some a little bowl of mixed nuts!


May we all celebrate the little things and the big things in life with a delightful bottle of bubbly! And many congrats to my Dad and looking forward to sharing many more bottles of bubbly with this new retiree!


Source: Source for all wine know (particularly with The Bite section) is What to Drink with What You Eat.

Divine Wine Sunday: The Velvet Devil Merlot

Did you Winos ever see that movie, Sideways?  It’s about two dudes taking a road trip into wine country as a sort of bachelor party for one of them.  The other is a bit of a Wino (or perhaps a Wine Know).  And throughout the movie he talks about his dislike of Merlot.  Because the movie had a sort of cult following, it actually did make an impact on the wine industry due to less popularity with Merlot purchases.  Oh Hollywood… you ARE powerful after all.

Anyway, I admit that this Wino is just returning to Merlot drinking after seeing that film.  And yes, I am embarrassed to admit that. But I’m here to say publicly that I  have reopened my taste buds to Merlot and, so far, have very much enjoyed them!  So today’s Divine Wine is a personal celebration of Merlot and one that I think you Winos will enjoy as well!

The Velvet Devil Merlot

Divine Wine of the Week: The Velvet Devil 2009, Charles Smith Winery, Walla Walla, Washington

Price Range: $12 from the winery, $9.99 at Fry’s Food

Wino Assessment: Ok, so this will sound a little cheesy.  But I swear upon trying this wine, I truly understood what it meant when someone described a wine as “velvety”.  It is literally a soft smoothness to the wine that quite frankly tastes like you’re drinking liquid velvet.  This wine is obviously smooth, and while it has some fruity flavors (I’d say a hint of strawberry), it also maintains a nice – but not overwhelming – dryness.  I suppose the “devilish” part about this wine is that you just want to guzzle it.

The Wine: 

You might recognize the style of this wine label due to a previous Charles Smith Divine Wine of the Week on W2WK – Kung Fu Girl Riesling.  I have tried a couple of this winery’s other wines as well, and have been more than delighted by all of them! This is what Charles Smith says about The Velvet Devil:

“PURE VELVET! Milk chocolate, wild blackberry, baking spice, rose oil…beautifully perfumed Washington in a glass….Velvet Devil? HELL YEAH!”

I kinda wish all wine descriptions were as exciting as this one.  Obviously, I agree – it IS pure velvet!

The Bite:

Merlot has a lot of tannins which gives the wine  a bit of a bite (among other characteristics that give the wine “structure”).  But because it is rather hearty, Merlot goes well with hearty dishes such as lamb or beef tenderloin.  For my veggie Winos, try some Merlot with your next eggplant parmesan or portabello burger.  You will enjoy!

Divine Wine Sunday: Horton Vineyards Viognier

As noted in posts from last week, I was in the midst of a lovely beach vacation in the great state of Virginia.  Sadly, it has now come to an end.  But while there, as a good little Wino would, I made it a point to try some Virginia wines. Now some of you may be surprised to hear that Virginia has wines, but let me tell you, Wino Friends, that Virginia has many a fine wine and many beautiful vineyards.   As a former resident of Northern Virginia, I frequently visited the fine vineyards in the area and thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful scenery and the delightful wines.  That’s right… Virginia isn’t just for lovers.  It is also for Winos.  (See the Virginia Wine website here!)

While hanging out with family along the Chesapeake Bay, it is practically a requirement to have a CrabFest.  If not, it would just be a downright pity.  So, of course, we had a CrabFest (to avoid pitying ourselves), during which I popped open a bottle of this week’s Divine Wine of the Week.  And I was rather delighted by this pairing!

Horton Vineyards Viognier (with a crab!)
Photo by: Sister Krissi Kai

Divine Wine of the Week: Horton 2011 Viognier, Horton Vineyards, Virginia

Price Range: $20 from Horton Vineyard, $13.99 at Harris Teeter in VA Beach

Wino Assessment:

This wine was delicious! As W2WK followers may know, I’m a big fan of Viogniers in general.  But I was first introduced to them via Virginia, so perhaps my heart is connected to Viogniers from this region.  The Horton Viognier was particularly delightful. It was creamy and smooth but had that buttery honeysuckle flavor.  It’s easy to drink, especially with something salty and fishy (such as blue crabs).

The Wine:

Horton Vineyards describes their 2011 Viognier as such:

“Exotic honey and tropical fruit aromas jump from the glass. Full bodied, viscous mouthfeel.  Matching the right grape varieties with the right climate is the essence of viticulture.  Our warm growing seasons in Virginia ripens our Viognier perfectly every year, producing a wine full of floral aromas, exotic tropical fruit surrounded by subtle oak nuances from barrel fermentation.”

I hope some of my fellow tasters of this wine (slash family members slash W2WK loyals) comment regarding their thoughts on the wine.  “Honey and tropical fruit” are definitely what I recall (just didn’t think of that fine ‘tropical fruit’ descriptor when writing my assessment!).

You can read more about Virginia’s Viogniers in this very interesting article from the Washington Post which talks about Horton Vineyard’s Viognier beating out California Viogniers in a tasting contest a few years back.

The Bite:

So beyond blue crabs from the Chesapeake Bay with extra Old Bay Seasoning on them, what does one eat with Viogniers? Well, since Viogniers are typically very aromatic, they go well with dishes made with aromatic ingredients.  This may include things like ginger, lemongrass, chile past, fish sauce, curry powder, cilantro, and lime (and yes, Old Bay Seasoning). Pairing sweeter wines with salty dishes can be a nice balance.  While Viognier isn’t particularly sweet, it has that floral element that accompanies the salty and spicy dishes nicely. So next time you’re enjoying a Thai dish or another spicy Asian dish, try it with a Viognier and report back!


(Source for Wine Know in this post unless otherwise stated: Wine, Food, and Friends)

Divine Wine Sunday: Gazela Vinho Verde

Winos!  Oh how I have missed you! My apologies for the unplanned W2WK hiatus… Let’s chalk it up to needing a little time to transition from spring to summer wines… Now “seasonal wine” is not an official categorization of wine or anything.  (Well, not as far as I wine know.)  But I do know that for me there is a direct correlation between the increasing heat and the increasing desire for crisp and cold white wines.

So let’s consider this post the first W2WK post of the summer.  Why? Well, (a) it is hot out… at least in Arizona, (b) I’m on a beach vacation while writing this post, and how does that not scream summer?!, (c) I’ve been wanting to post about one of my favorite “summer” wines…. Vinho Verde.

Divine Wine of the Week: Gazela Vinho Verde, Portugal

Gazela Vinho Verde

Price Range: $7.99 at Total Wine (cheap… I mean, inexpensive, and delish!)

Wino Assessment: This wine is great for a hot afternoon by the pool or by the beach.  It is crisp and light with an appley/peachy flavor.  And it also has a little bubbly factor to it, making it taste more like a “wine spritzer”.  It’s definitely one of those wines that you keep drinking thinking it is fancy flavored soda, but then you stand up and realize that, no, it is in fact a beverage with alcohol.

The Wine: Vinho Verde is from the northwestern part of Portugal (Minho) – agriculture country.  Most of Portugal’s white wine is made in this region… and if you are an astute Wino, you may be thinking, “but isn’t Vinho Verde a green wine?”.  Well, Winos, I’m here to tell you it is not.  (Even though they usually bottle Vinho Verde in a light green bottle possibly leading you to wonder about its color twice over.)  So while it does mean “green wine”, the green is in reference to the fact that it is a young wine that is meant to be enjoyed very soon after it is made.

In general, Vinho Verdes are a neutral wine and often have “light peachy and floral characters”. (The Wine Bible)  I definitely think this general description of Vinho Verde applies to Gazela’s as well as all other Vinho Verdes I have tasted.  (I will take this moment to admit that I’m not sure I can say I could taste much difference between Vinho Verdes – I enjoy them all, but there’s not a lot of complexity there to make them particularly unique.)

Here’s what Total Wine says of the Gazela Vinho Verde:

“Here’s a zesty, light and crisp white offering bright lime and pear flavors with subtle spicy notes of ginger and even a hint of tangerine on the lively palate. Pure and clean, this is a truly refreshing wine.”

Woot! Spot on, baby.  Then again, as noted above, this is a very simple wine that I think most people could sip and instantly describe as it has been described here.  (But I’ll still pat myself on the back for a fairly accurate description.)

The Bite

So what does one eat when enjoying some Vinho Verde?  While I generally think any sort of summertime cook-out or BBQ could be enjoyed with a bottle of Gazela, it will go best with seafood or a more oily dish with a lot of strong flavors.  Try it with grilled salmon or shrimp.

Bonus Fun Facts on Vinho Verde:

1. While Vinho Verde has a little spritz to it (coming from a dose of CO2 just before bottling), it is not classified as a sparkling wine.

2. “A large percentage of Vinho Verde is not white but red.” (The Wine Bible) This was definitely news to me.  Apparently the red Vinho Verde is not exported outside of Portugal, so if you happen to be galavanting around Europe, stop in Portugal for a little of this special blend and report back!


[Source for Wine Know in this post is from The Wine Bible.]