It’s Summer! Drink Sauvignon Blanc.

 

Happy Summer, Winos! Those of us who live in the Phoenix, Arizona area have been experiencing summer for a solid 3 months. From now until September, we accept “Excessive Heat Warnings” of over 110 degrees as just another summer day.

Whether you are experiencing excessive heat or just regular ol’ “hot and humid”, nothing goes better with heat than refreshing alcoholic beverages. And I presume that wine is your alcoholic beverage of choice. One of the most refreshing wines to sip on by the pool or beach is Sauvignon Blanc.

Q: Is “Sauvignon Blanc” a grape varietal or a region?

 

A: Grape varietal.

Wines made from primarily one grape varietal are often referred to by their varietal. E.g. [the bracketed words are not usually stated.] “That bottle of [wine made from] Sauvignon Blanc [grapes] has a lovely balance of fruit flavors and minerality.”

Like many grapes, Sauvignon Blanc can result in a large range of flavor and style in the bottle depending on where it is grown and how it is made. A Sauvignon Blanc from France, for example, has a different flavor profile than that of California. Sure, there are common characteristics across the board, but understanding the differences helps us refine our palates. Here’s a quick look at the different flavor profiles between each of the key regions that produce Sauvignon Blanc.

Note: There are, of course, more regions that make Sauvignon Blanc. For the sake of blog posting length, I’m just covering these primary SB growing areas!

General Characteristics of Sauvignon Blanc:

Dry, white wine that is typically light to medium bodied and has an herbal undertone. From there, the wine can have fruity, floral, and/or smoky characteristics.

France

  • Region: Loire Valley
  • On the Label: “Sancerre” or “Pouilly-Fumé”
  • Typical Flavors: Herbal, Smokey (gunflint)
  • Typical Characteristics: Crisp, Focused, Elegant

WINE-KNOW PAUSE: Ok – are you thinking… “Gunflint’?! What the heck kind of flavor is that?!” Well, think smoky, but that sort of metallic smokiness that you can smell after shooting a cap. This is caused by the kind of soil/gravel that the vines grow in!

  • Region: Bordeux
  • On the Label: Graves
  • Note: White wines from Graves are a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and another grape called Semillon. This changes the flavor profile quite a bit.
  • Typical Flavors: Honey, Minerals
  • Typical Characteristics: Rich, Round, Bright

Note about “On the Label”: European/French wines don’t always include the grape varietal (“Sauvignon Blanc”) on the label, so look for a white wine with these words on the label. They are regions that make white wine with Sauvignon Blanc.

New Zealand

  • Region: Hawkes Bay, Marlborough
  • On the Label: Sauvignon Blanc
  • Typical Flavors: Grapefruit, Limes, Herbs, Melons
  • Typical Characteristics: Crisp, Focused, Sharp

(I know – this is quite a range! But think green fruit and herbs)

California

  • Region: Napa Valley, Sonoma
  • What to look for on the label: “Sauvignon Blanc” or “Fumé Blanc” (<<it’s the same)
  • Typical Flavors: Citrus/Grapefruit, Melon, Herbal
  • Typical Characteristics: Refreshing, Vibrant, Clean

Chile

  • Region: Casablanca Valley, Maipo Valley
  • Typical Flavors: Melon, Floral
  • Typical Characteristics: Light, Fresh, Some Minerality
  • Note: Can be made from a different and similar grape called “Sauvignon Vert” or “Sauvignonasse”, but labeled Sauvignon Blanc.

South Africa, Italy, and Austria are also known for producing lovely Sauvignon Blanc.

Go get out there in the hot summer sun and taste the differences between regional Sauvignon Blancs! I think you’ll be quite surprised at how easily you’ll be able to pick up both the commonalities AND the differences. (Of course, Wine Star Services is always happy to help with such comparative wine tastings!)

 

Sauvignon Blanc At A Glance

Sauvignon Blanc At A Glance

 

Virtual Wine Pairing Dinner Party! Gourmet Pizza with Sauvignon Blanc and/or Red Zinfandel

You’re Invited to W2WK’s First Virtual Wine Pairing Dinner Party!! 

That’s right. This blog is so fun it’s having a virtual party. And it’s the best kind of party, as it is all about wine… and a bit about food.  Here’s how it works:

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Virtual Dinner Party Process:

1. I have posted a recipe below with recommended bottles of wine to try with it.

2. Between now and May 13th (one month!), you make the food and enjoy it with the wine (maybe with friends, maybe not). While consuming the food and wine together, you stick out your pinky, point your nose in the air, and contemplate the flavors and aromas that are (or are not) complementary in the food and wine pairing.

3. You fill out the accompanying questionnaire to share about your wine-pairing experience.

4. After the questionnaire closes (on May 13th), I post the results of the questionnaire (it will be anonymous), and we all gain a little more Wine Know.

Added detail:

  • This Dinner Party is one month in duration – until May 13th.  What does that really mean? Well, it just means that I’m going to post the results of the questionnaire in a month. The wine pairing police will not come looking for you if you decide to make this stuff after the closing date.
  • Don’t be intimidated about sharing your experience – I know the majority of the W2WK followers and we’re all a little shy about our Wine Know. But once you start talking about it, you’ll find that you know more than you think you do!
  • Yes, the questionnaire results will be anonymous. (Unless you put some secret clue in your answers to let others know who you are.  Do it. I dare you.)
  • If you can’t find the specific bottle recommended, pick up a different bottle of the same wine type! There is space to note that in the questionnaire!

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What do you say?! Are you in? If so, Welcome to the W2WK Party! Below is the recipe, the wine, and the questionnaire!

Credit: The Recipe is taken directly out of the Sid Goldstein’s book, “The Wine Lover’s Cookbook”.  He recommends a type of wine to enjoy with each recipe in the book. I’ve added to that and recommended a specific bottle of that type of wine below.

Recipe: Pizza with Peppered Shrimp, Canadian Bacon, Mushrooms, and Feta Cheese

Serves 2-3 as an entree

Pizza Dough: I’m guessing most of us Winos don’t want to make pizza dough from scratch.  So I’m modifying the receipt slightly… instead of making your own dough from scratch, head to your local grocery store and pick up some uncooked pizza dough. Or pick up a pre-made pizza crust.

Pizza Topping:

3/4 cup of tomato sauce

2 cloves chopped roasted garlic

4 teaspoons chopped fresh dill (2 teaspoons if dry)

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup diced Canadian bacon or ham

3/4 cup sliced crimini or shiitake mushrooms

1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers

2 ounces crumbled feta cheese

10 large shrimp, shelled and deveined

Red pepper flakes, crushed

Place pizza dough on a 12-inch pizza pan that has been dusted lightly with flour. Using hands, stretch dough out and press it down to a 1/2-inch thickness to fill the pan, keeping the edges a little thicker.

Whisk together tomato sauce, roasted garlic, dill, salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and lemon juice. Spread evenly on to pizza.  Top pizza with Canadian bacon, mushrooms, peppers, and feta cheese. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon black pepper on to shrimp and space them evenly on pizza. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees (F). Bake pizza on the top rack of the oven for 16-18 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Slice into pieces and serve.

Wine: Sid Goldstein recommends a Sauvignon Blanc and, as an alternative, a Red Zinfandel. I encourage you to try both and see the differences in flavor you might experience!

W2WK’s (Specific) Wine Recommendations: If you want to go with the Sauvignon Blanc, try the Kim Crawford Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. This is in the $10-15 range at wine shops and grocery stores.

Kim Crawford Marlborough Savignon Blanc

If you prefer to taste your pizza with a red, go with the Tobin James Ballistic Zinfandel from Paso Robles, CA.  This is in the $10-15 range at Costco and other wine retailers.

Tobin James Ballistic Zinfandel

W2WK Dinner Party Questionnaire: Once you’ve had a chance to enjoy some combination of this recipe with one (or both) of these wines, share your thoughts about the pairing and the party in this questionnaire.

It might be helpful to have this list of potential flavors nearby while eating/boozing.

Peach, Nectarine Flavors

Apple, Pear Flavors

Strawberry, Cherry, Raspberry Flavors

Black Pepper, Cloves, Cinnamon Flavors

Other?

Also consider what flavors in the pizza go best with the wine.

Canadian Bacon

Shrimp

Feta Cheese

Pizza Sauce

Other?

Tell us about your Wine-Pairing Party by filling in the questionnaire linked below!