For the past couple of months, we’ve been touring the world of wine. We signed up for the weekly, introductory Wine Appreciation “mini course” at Northwestern University’s student center to start drinking wine like adults instead of college kids. Below is a regional run-through of what we learned, as well as descriptions of some of our favorite bottles, most of which cost under $15. This is by no means an exhaustive tour, but you have to start somewhere!
- Hold the glass by the stem so your hand doesn’t warm the wine.
- White wines in this price range are better when younger (more recently bottled).
- The term “estate bottled” means the grapes are grown and bottled by the same vineyard. This ensures quality.
- Reserve (or reserva) means the producers kept it back a year or so to age before distributing it. Drink them right away; there’s no need for extra aging.
- Gewurztraminer is the current trendy choice in white wine. It’s hearty and aromatic, and is one of the rare few that goes well with Asian cuisines (BYOB, anyone?).
Sparkling and dessert wines at Wine Appreciation, by Karina for TKGO
United States: West Coast
Chardonnay is the most popular grape in America. Pinot noir originated in Burgundy, France, but also grows well in Santa Barbara.
- Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc 2008
- Bonterra Mendocino County 2008
- Turn Four Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2007
- Chateau Ste. Michelle Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Washington
You won’t be able to discern the varietal (or type of grape) from the label, which is a departure from wine labeling in the rest of the world. What’s important in France is where the grapes grew and the wine was bottled. French people themselves tend to drink wines from the Loire Valley.
- Muscadet Henri Poiron 2008, Loire Valley
- Cotes du Rhone Jean-Luc Colombo 2007
Chilean and Argentine wines are famously delicious and easy on the pocketbook. Malbec is a varietal used in blends all over the world, but Argentina is the only producer to bottle it alone.
- Santa Ema Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Reserve, Maipo Valley, Chile
- Terrazas Malbec, 2008 Argentina
Australia and New Zealand
Chiraz is the national grape of Australia. Though rieslings are often German, New Zealand makes some rieslings to reckon with.
- Yard Dog White Blend 2008 Australia
Champagne is sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France. Anything fizzy made elsewhere is just called sparkling wine. In order from dry to sweetest, the classifications are brut nature, brut, extra dry, sec/dry, demi-sec and doux. Brut is most common, and it’s typically 60 percent pinot noir and 40 percent chardonnay.
- Method Champenoise Gruet Blanc de Noirs
- Heidsieck & Co. Monopole Blue Top Champagne Brut
Grab some bottles and start tasting. Cheers!
–Tara and Karina for TKGO
Posted in Food, Nightlife
Tagged Argentina, Australia, Cabernet Sauvignon, California, Chardonnay, chile, dessert wine, France, Germany, Loire Valley, Maipo Valley, Malbec, Napa, Northwestern University, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, South America, sparkling wine, Washington, wine
We’re both big fans of the German influence on Chicago (Tara especially when it comes to the sausages and brats a-plenty available in the city), and Christkindlmarket is a prime example of why. The annual Christmas market, which runs from Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve, is the largest such bazaar outside of Germany. The goods and grub — and even the vendors, many of who come to Chicago annually just to sell at the market — are authentically Deutsch. We escaped from final exams to spend a couple of hours wandering past the booths and, of course, eating along the way. (Hot mulled wine — a.k.a. “glühwein” — in Christkindlmarket boots! Potato pancakes! Sausage soup! Candied nuts! Bavarian soft pretzels!)
Check out our photo slideshow below of hand-painted ornaments, cuckoo clocks and Daley Plaza decked out for the holidays. It runs through December 24.
Happy Holidays from TKGO!
–Tara and Karina for TKGO