Stranger Wines For Halloween

Photo: Netflix

October is the perfect time to binge watch (again) season three of Netflix’s Stranger Things. I mean, what could be more Halloween-adjacent than a little weird and retro romp through Demagorgon-infested Hawkins, Indiana? Exactly.

Season three of Stranger Things brings the advent of The Mall, that glorious beacon of the 1980s. It’s new, it’s flashy, it’s...strange! Everyone in Hawkins loves it and the Starcourt Mall is really the center of some of the juiciest, most climactic moments in the season.

In the final scenes of the season, the Stranger Things gang splits up into smaller groups to more effectively kick the Mind Flayer's butt. Each group gets a code name to communicate with the others over walkie talkie: The Griswold Family, The Scoops Troop, and Bald Eagle (of course!). So, in the spirit of trying new and strange things, I’m recommending a super off-the-beaten-path wine to pair with each of the Stranger Things factions that face the Mind Flayer in this spooky and totally rad...

[WINE SPOTLIGHT] Peterson Winery

Photo: boxerbrand.com

What gets winegrower Fred Peterson out of bed in the morning? “For me, the motivation is that every day is so different in the wine business,” he says. And it’s true. Fred Peterson and his son, winemaker Jamie, never set out to make the same wine twice at Peterson Winery in Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma County.

Fred and Jamie thrive on the fact that each day, each year, is a new adventure in the vineyard. They consider it their job to harness whatever is naturally occuring at any given time and put in a bottle for you to enjoy.

This gentle way of winemaking is what the Petersons call Zero Manipulation. This philosophy emphasizes traditional winemaking practices in order to maximize each wine’s naturally occurring flavors and textures. As their website states, “Fred and Jamie celebrate vintage differences and don’t tweak or homogenize the wine to obtain consistency of flavors, a common practice in mass-market wineries.”

Fred says that this delicate balance all starts in the vineyard,...

[RECIPE + PAIRING] Quick Roasted Tomato Chutney

Photo: Emily Rentsch

It's September and the tomatoes are poppin'! Here's a fast and tasty way to get into the spirit courtesy of my friend Chef Mike Shannon. This quick tomato chutney recipe doesn't even require fresh tomatoes (although you could certainly roast your own and gain some more bragging rights) and it makes a crowd-pleasing appetizer. Spread it on crusty bruschetta, add to fresh ricotta (as seen above) or goat cheese, serve it with fish or on top of a hearty burger. This is an all purpose delight.

Oh, and don't forget the wine! After the recipe below, you'll find some of my favorite pairings to tomatoes and other late summer fare. 

QUICK ROASTED TOMATO CHUTNEY
from Chef Mike Shannon
Make about 4 cups

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar 
1/2 teaspoon smoked salt
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
2 cans (28 oz) fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
 
Heat oil over medium heat in a medium sauce...

What Makes A Wine Natural?

Photo: Trevor Gerzen

There are all sorts of wine buzzwords on the wind these days, but one that you might hear floating around more than usual is the term “natural wine.” Um, what?! The word “natural” means different things to different people. And it also applies to all sorts of different things in the world. So...what makes a wine natural? Let’s dig in.

I like to tell my wine students and friends that they should think about wine in the same way that they think about food. Some foods are whole, untouched, and come from pesticide-free land. Like an organic Honeycrisp apple! Other foods are processed and packaged, include preservatives, lots of salt, and other things that might enhance the food’s flavor or shelf life. Like, say, Cheez-Its!

Now whether you reach for the Honeycrisp apple or the Cheez-Its (or both!), you make your decision based on having lots of information about how each food is made. Right? It’s the same with wine!

There is a group of wines out there that are made to taste exactly the...

5 Wines to Grill and Chill With This Summer

Photo: Jo Jo

Sure, you could have beer at your next barbecue. But why not play the wild card and pair your smokey outdoor eats with WINE?

Pairing wine to grilled meats and vegetables is a lot easier than you think. Just make sure neither the food nor the drink overpowers the other. So, if you've got a super savory marinated steak, you'll need a heartier wine--like a Cabernet or Zinfandel--to stand up to its big ole flavor. Similarly, try a lighter bodied wine that's full of fruit when enjoying the more delicate flavors of grilled zucchini or pork chops.

Pro tip: Try chilling light-bodied reds (Pinot Noir, Gamay, Frappato, lighter Nebbiolos) before serving them. They'll taste extra fresh and keep you cool while you man the grill.

Below are some of my favorite red wines to grill and chill with in the summertime, complete with some handy little pairing ideas:

1. Elk Cove 'Estate' Pinot Noir Rosé | Willamette Valley, Oregon
This sunset-colored rosé of Pinot Noir is all juicy, tart cherry and rose petals...

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