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Heart Of Darkness: Pairing Wine With Chocolate

by Natalie Maclean

We love chocolate not just for its taste, but also for its sensual texture. It melts close to body temperature, so sliding a piece into your mouth and feeling it seep out to coat your tongue can (almost) be orgasmic. But what about pairing different types of chocolate with wine?  Many of us don’t even try to combine wine and chocolate, feeling that the rich sweetness of chocolate is too much for any wine. But I usually buck conventional wisdom (and I like to layer my vices), so I’m determined to find some good pairings, especially for Valentine's Day.  In matching wine with any dessert the overarching principle is that the wine must be the sweeter of the two—otherwise it’ll taste bitter or dull. That’s why chocolate, with its concentrated and creamy flavors, usually goe...

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In Search Of A Teinturier Wine

by Linda Foxworth, Csw, Wset 3

Teinturier grapes are grapes that produce red juice. Most grapes have white flesh and white juice. But the red flesh and juice of the Teinturier grapes is what makes them stand out. Used to add red color to wines, Teinturier translates to 'dyer,' which is exactly their purpose, to dye or color the wine. Because of this purpose, they are found mostly in blends. Of the few that exist the most well-known Teinturier grape is Alicanté Bouschet. Developed in the lab in 1866 by Henri Bouschet, it is a cross between Petit Bouschet and Grenache. Petit Bouschet is also a hybrid developed by Henri's father, Louis Bouschet in 1828. It is a cross between Teinturier du Cher and Aramon. Both grapes are native to France. Here's where it gets complicated. In Tuscany and Sicily, Granache, kno...

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There Is More To Argentina Than Malbec

by Linda Foxworth, Csw, Wset 3

When one thinks of Argentine wine, the most common thought to come up is Malbec. It fills our Argentine sections of US wine shops, the favorite at the barbeque, so juicy and spicy. It also happens to make up close to 40% of red grape plantings in Argentina. But when Malbec first arrived in Argentina from France in the middle of the 19th century, she came with her Bordeaux sisters; Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. While neither of these grapes comes close to matching the percentage of planting that Malbec enjoys, (Cabernet Sauvignon is the closest at just over 12% of total red grapes compared to Malbec's 40%), they do have a place and each can be expressed beautifully when grown in the various Argentine climates. Cabernet Sauvignon is planted at high altitudes in the continental clim...

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Lip Smacking Wines From Australia To Try This 2020

by Sophie Mellor

For all the sommeliers and wine buyers working on their wine sourcing lists this year, here are the top 7 wines from Australia to try in 2020. Apart from its natural wonders & wide open spaces - its beaches, deserts, "the bush", and "the Outback,” Australia is also famous for its Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, and more. Here are 7 Lip Smacking Wines From Australia To Try This 2020. 2017 The Dead Arm This 2017 The Dead Arm Shiraz Magnum d'Arenberg is totally brooding & alluring. It contains plum, blackberry, liquorice, and spice entwined with a raft of dark, earthy notes. You might think where did this 2017 Shiraz Magnum get its name from. Dead Arm. So, Dead Arm is a vine disease caused by the fungus Eutypa Lata that randomly affects vineyards all over the wo...

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For The Love Of (ruby) Port...

by Claire L. Torbeck, Certified Sommelier

During these damp and chilly winter months, Port is a good beverage to enjoy while sitting in front of a roaring fire or to pair with a course of Stilton Cheese and almonds after dinner or ‘just because.’ It is one of my favorite fortified wines and crafted in varying styles and quality. The grapes are grown in steep vineyards that wind along the Douro River in Northern Portugal all the way East toward the Spanish border. The soils are stony shist that split vertically (rather than the typical horizontal orientation) which enable the roots to reach deep in search of water (irrigation is only allowed in exceptional circumstances). The slopes are incredibly steep (more than 30 per cent), which makes vineyard layout challenging, and are further limited by granite bedrock which is...

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Dry January- Is It For You?

by Alison Phillips

After a rather long, difficult and somewhat anti-social year, 2020 came to an end. To get through this annus horribilus, where we were discouraged from getting together with friends, couldn’t go to restaurants and bars because they were closed, somehow, we found ways to connect with others. From Zoom calls to social distanced driveway and garage get togethers, we arranged a time and place, grabbed our favourite beverages from the liquor store and socialized 2020 style. Everyone was talking about day drinking, or to heck with it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, it’s 2020 everywhere, and alcoholic consumption and snacking, ordering take out and picking up food became the norm. Now, here we are. January 2021. We survived the chaos, but at what cost? Are we lazier now that we don’t...

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What Sweet, Fortified Wine Are You Serving With Christmas Dessert?

by Claire L. Torbeck, Certified Sommelier

By Claire L. Torbeck, Certified Sommelier As I am a first generation American with Hungarian heritage, I generally serve the highly sought after Tokaji wine, famous for its sweet, fruity, and acidic character. It is such an interesting grape! It is thick skinned but, as it ripens, the skins stretch and thin allowing the sunlight to penetrate, increasing the concentration of sugar. The sweetness level can vary depending upon how much residual sugar the winemaker decides to leave in the wine, how botrytized the grapes become and how the wine is ultimately blended. The sweetness is measured in ‘Puttonyos’ on a scale from 1 to 6 which is noted on the label. The most common is 5 Puttonyos. Now, when I say ‘sweet’, I do not want you to think of sweet as in cloying, grocery ...

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The Night Before Christmas

by Clement Clarke Moore



'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there. The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads. And Mama in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap, had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap. When out on the roof there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, tore open the shutter, and threw up the sash. The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow gave the lustre of midday to object...

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Quick Lobster Dishes - And Wine Pairings To Accompany Them

by Kevin Fagan

Whether served hot or cold, grilled or baked, preparing lobster is surprisingly easy. From the classic lobster bisque to the most original recipes, you will find easy-to-prepare or more sophisticated ideas around this highly prized shellfish and suggestions for the ideal lobster wine pairing. Lobsters are large marine crustaceans with ten legs and come in three main varieties: Cape lobster, Canadian or American lobster, and European lobster. Lobster is generally found in deep, cold waters. It weighs between 300 and 500g for a length of about 30 cm. Its shell is very thick. The upper part of its body consists of its head with long antennae on it, and its thorax filled with a creamy material, coral. The lower part has its abdomen, presenting seven rings and two large legs, and is the sect...

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5 Tips To Ace A Wine Education Course

by Marla Durben Hirsch

Any wine tasting can be educational. But if you want to become really knowledgeable in wine, it helps to obtain a wine certification. I decided that I wanted to become certified this year. To do that, I had to take an in-depth wine education course and pass a rigorous exam. Here’s how I learned how to ace a wine education course. 1. Choose Which Course Best Fits Your Needs There are several different wine education courses to choose from. Some certification programs specialize in a particular wine region or sommelier training. Your choice depends on your objective in taking a course. I opted to take the globally recognized wine education course offered by the renowned Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) because it provided a thorough all-around instruction of the main styl...

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