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

 

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!

Virtual Wine Pairing Dinner Party #1 Concludes

The inaugural W2WK Virtual Wine Pairing Dinner Party has – like all good things do – come to an end. I gotta say, this party was full of fun people from all over… we had participants in Arizona, Virginia, and North Carolina!

Virtual Party Recap: As a quick reminder as to what this Virtual Party is all about… I post a recipe and specific wines to try with it. You make the food and enjoy it with the wine. Then fill out a questionnaire sharing your thoughts about the wine-food pairing. At the close of the party, I post the results (anonymously) and in the end, we all gain a little Wine Know.  See original post for more details.

The Recipe: Pizza with Peppered Shrimp, Canadian Bacon, Mushrooms, and Feta Cheese (Recipe from Sid Goldstein’s, The Wine Lover’s Cookbook)

The Wine: Red Zinfandel and/or Sauvignon Blanc (W2WK Recommendations: Tobin James Ballistic Zin and Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc)

W2WK Virtual Wine Pairing Dinner Party #1 Photo Gallery

Oh, the memories! Click on any photo to see the full size.

 

—————————— The Results ——————————

  • 11 Winos filled out the questionnaire
  • 8 of the 11 followed the recipe, and 3 got a little creative with it.
  • All 11 enjoyed either Sauvignon Blanc or Zinfandel with their pizza.

The Winos were asked about how specific flavors that they may have noticed while drinking the wines with the pizza: 

  • Sauvignon Blanc: The majority of the Winos noticed peach and nectarine flavors. 60% noticed apple and pear flavors.
  • Zinfandel: The majority noticed smokey, tobacco flavors in the wine as well as black pepper, cloves, and cinnamon.

The Winos were asked which specific flavors in the pizza were brought out by the wine:

  • Sauvignon Blanc brought out flavors of the: Shrimp and Feta
  • Zinfandel brought out flavors of the: Canadian Bacon, Feta, and Pizza Sauce

Additional comments regarding the Zinfandel:

  • “I noticed woody/earthy flavors.” 
  • “The Zinfandel was very peppery and added a nice spiciness to the pizza!”
  • “I tasted grape, but I feel a bit silly saying that because, well, duh! (or not?)” (This one is my favorite comment.)
  • “Strongest flavor was a smoky flavor.”

Additional comments regarding the Sauvignon Blanc:

  • “I thought the white paired better by being a fruity flavor.”
  • “The Sauvignon Blanc seemed to balance it in the opposite way from the Zinfandel – it smoothed out the flavors of the pizza and made it more mellow.”
  • “I noticed apricot flavors when tasting it with the pizza.”
  • “Tanginess – maybe from the lemon zest we added”
  • “I don’t usually like white wine, but i liked the pairing of Sauvignon Blanc with the flavors in the pizza.”
  • “I thought it was refreshing! I loved the mix of the roasted garlic and crushed red pepper with the fruity wine!”
  • “The white wine was amazing…very surprising that the red didnt pair more with pizza.”

 Additional comments about the food:

  • “We noticed we didn’t really taste the cheese, which is quite odd since we used extra. I was generous with the red pepper flakes, though, so perhaps the spice detracted from the cheese. We did taste the garlic, mushrooms, Canadian bacon and shrimp.”
  • “We also made a pepperoni pizza, which brought out a mango flavor in the sauvignon blanc. The sauvignon blanc also complements the dill very nicely.”
  • “I usually HATE Dill, but I decided to be brave and try is (albeit half the amount listed). I actually thought it was really delicious but would not have wanted any more of it.”
  • “I don’t think it needed the bacon.”
  • “We were excited to note how different the wine tasted depending on what we ate (i.e. shrimp alone brought out citrus flavor; sauce and garlic brought out smokey flavor).”

————————————————————

W2WK Virtual Party Tasting Notes: Everyone had such great comments above and basically said the same thing the experts say! Because this pizza has so many different flavors, it is a good example of how pairing two very different wines (a dry white and a big fruity red) can go well with the same dish. The Sauvignon Blanc serves as a contrast to the smokey canadian bacon flavors and accompanies the shrimp and feta flavors. The Zinfandel, on the other hand, really brings out the tomato sauce while working with all the other peppery flavors in the pizza. As Mr. Goldstein (the recipe originator) noted, these wine pairings are “an intriguing food and wine conundrum…”!  I don’t know about you but I am a fan of finding myself in food and wine conundrums.

General Comments regarding the W2WK Virtual Wine Pairing Dinner Party:

“We truly had a blast with this experience, from picking out the ingredients at the store, to choosing the wine and, of course, putting everything together. This is our first wine pairing experience and we absolutely loved it. I purposely stepped out of my comfort zone by choosing the Sauvignon Blanc. I much prefer red wine but thought this would be a great opportunity to give a white a chance. I’m very happy I did!  Our final comment is to ask when the next virtual wine pairing party is so we can mark our calendars… :)” -Virtual Party-Goer

Thank you much to everyone who participated!! I hope you all enjoyed your virtual party experience. And a special thanks to the Dreamer, who wins the prize for hosting the most  actual parties! If you missed this one, don’t worry… another Virtual Wine-Pairing Dinner Party is just around the corner!

If you have any more feedback you’d like to share about this event, please email me at WinoToWineKnow@gmail.com.

 

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:

————————————————————————————————-

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!