Lioco Winery Carignan Sativa, 2016, Mendocino
Who, what, where, and why does it matter?
Lioco is a winery founded about 15 years ago and now owned by Matt and Sara Licklider. The focus on the winery is to produce wines in a style that is more about nuance, finesse and flavor, rather than power and alcohol. Sourcing fruit from cooler, coastal regions in Santa Cruz, Sonoma and Mendocino, they are able to craft wines that are more in the pleasure than pain spectrum. This Carignan is a prime example of that.
Sourced from a vineyard planted just after WWII, and at elevation of about 2400+ feet, Carignan is not one of those grapes that immediately comes to mind when thinking California wine. Carignan is a grape that is most often seen in blends coming from northern and western Spain and southern France. A compliment to grapes like Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre, it is often a powerful wine with deep color and flavor. Grown on a higher site (think cooler climate), such as the Pine Meadow AVA vineyard owned by Jim McCutchen, the fruit becomes elegant and berry focused, developing deep intensity, but not high sugars. The back label on the Lioco Carignan boasts tons of information, including the 22.6* Brix, which correlates to the 13.2% alcohol in the wine. Be careful, this wine is a pounder for sure.
Beautiful black raspberry fruit develop on the palate, with supple tannins, giving and immensely drinkable wine. Easy to have this wine with a steak or pizza, it will stack up to more sophisticated dishes as well due to the length of fruit and juicy acidity.
Found at retail for $28 (you may need two bottles)
Check out the winery website here
This Week's Staff Training Focus - Food and Wine Taste Interactions
For those studying food and wine, especially when trying to navigate the rigors of an exam and blind tasting experience such as for WSET training - Umami is a sensation that is not easily digested.
When you place food in your mouth your taste buds adapt so that the perception of the levels of sugar, salt, acidity, etc. in what you taste next can be altered.
An extreme example of this is the unpleasantly acidic taste of orange juice just after you brush your teeth. Similarly, chocolate and thick creamy dishes have mouth-coating effect that can impair the sense of taste.
There are two components in food that tend to make wines taste ‘harder’ (more astringent and bitter, more acidic, less sweet and less fruity). These are sweetness and umami.
There are also two components in food that can make a wine taste ‘softer’ (less astringent and bitter, less acidic, sweeter, and more fruity). These are salt and acid.
Lets focus on one of these components…UMAMI
What is Umami?
Umami is a taste, and is distinct from other primary tastes (sweet, salt, sour, bitter), but is hard to identify sometimes when other components are present – which is often. Umami is essentially the savory side of taste, and is most present in foods that have been aged (parmesan cheese, cured meats, soy sauce), have certain kinds of sodium (MSG), or have earthy flavors (mushrooms, especially when cooked). It is also present in wines that have been aged over time, especially those aged in wood, such as Chianti, Rioja, Ports, and older Cabernet based wines.
Umami foods low in salt, such as asparagus, eggs and mushrooms, tend to be a challenge when pairing to wines. Conversely, foods with umami and salt, such as cured or smoked seafood or meats and hard cheeses, tend to work better with wines.
Generally, food has more impact on the way a wine will taste than the other way around.
As an example of how this interaction and perception can work in different ways: I remember a dish I once had that was an omelet filled with smoked salmon and brie cheese – which we enjoyed with a bottle of Chianti Classico. Not the first thing you may think to drink with that dish, but the pairing worked incredibly well. The dish, which had three umami rich components, was able to off-set the tannin in the wine and allow the fruit to come out. It was such a good pairing, I still remember the experience 25 years later.
Yes - almost anything is a "National...Day", these days. But people like chowder, so who is to argue. But what can a drinks pro offer to pair with the inimitable CHOWDER? Here are a few thoughts.
Soups and chowders are typically a challenge to pair with beverages as the combination of liquid and liquid is often not easy to match – especially on the palate and the mouthfeel. But it is doable:
Walk through any restaurant kitchen in the morning and you will inevitably see someone breaking down a salmon. They are smoked, baked, grilled, poached, souped, ceviche, crudo and pizza-ed. Occasionally we serve them on a bagel.
But what to offer for beverage suggestions?
Aside from a cup of coffee to go with the bagel, schmear and lox, there are any number of choices that can work really well with this versatile fish – a lot depends on how it is cooked and plated.
Salmon is a large fish, dwelling in the ocean except when it travels up fresh water rivers/streams to spawn. The part we eat is the muscle, and large fish such as this have much less connective tissue than land animals, as such there is less fat in the meat, and this means it can cook much quicker. It is also “lighter” when compared to beef and other meats. Therefore, when looking to pair with certain wines, it is important to consider what will work best with the various factors involved in the palate.
Important factors with salmon:
Salmon is a fish, and therefore the weight and fat content would almost always mean starting with something in the white wine category.
Texturally, though, it is medium in its overall weight on the palate (this may be obvious or not, but remind your guys that weight refers to the texture and feel in the mouth – not to actual pounds of fish).
Often grilled or cooked like a steak, so the smoke and char from the grill will allow it handle oak.
ABOUT THE Author
Brian Mitchell runs The New England Wine Academy, and is responsible for the content of this blog. With over 25 years of drinks industry experience, Brian has learned a few things, but everyday he is learning more. This blog helps to bring that knowledge to you.