Happy Wine Wednesday! For the final installment of our Winter Whites Series, I am following my previous advice of letting the weather influence my palate, and have decided on white rum. Since it’s currently freezing here in Chicago and we are expecting enough snow to host a Winter Olympics, my thoughts naturally wander to a warm and creamy toddy.
Rum is an interesting thing. There are four different styles: light rum, dark rum, Demerara rum, and rhum agricole. All are a thing of liquid beauty, but since this is a love story about winter whites, I am sticking to light rum. It’s also the easiest to find, least expensive and mixes fantastically with a variety of ingredients.
White rum is the perfect foil to most foods, and it symbolizes “happy hour” in a glass. Pale, light-bodied and lightly sweet in flavor, you are instantly seduced by sugarcane juice and molasses. It originated in the Caribbean in 17th Century and quickly spread to Central and South America. Cachaça is a popular white rum you may be familiar with and it is also the base spirit for the Caipirinha, the national cocktail of Brazil.
I know you are thinking of warm, sunny islands and swaying palm trees when you think of rum based cocktails…..daiquiris, piña coladas and rum punch but they also make great warm cocktails that can cut a chill like a hot knife through butter.
Here are three of my favorite warm weather-inspired rum cocktails that are delicious and easy to make. Enjoy!
Hot Buttered Rum
1 oz rum
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp butter
Put the sugar, butter and cloves in a mug. Add rum and stir. Fill with hot water and stir again.
1.5 oz rum
1 tsp powdered sugar
1/2 tsp lemon juice
Pour the rum, powdered sugar and lemon juice into a mug and stir. Add hot water and stir again.
Grand Rum Toddy
1.5 oz rum
3/4 oz Grand Marnier
1/4 oz lime juice
Pour rum, Grand Marnier and lime juice into a mug and stir. Add hot water and stir again.
Happy Wine Wednesday! This week I am in West Palm Beach, Florida and it’s hard to imagine that some areas of country are expecting snow when there’s not much evidence of winter here. In fact, the bartender at the hotel bar actually asked me if January was springtime in Chicago. He claims that the average temperature ranges between “warm and warmer” and therefore has no idea what season it is anywhere. So what wine is a winter white when you don’t really have a winter?
My task today, as I prepare for three days of non-stop meetings in West Palm, is to reveal a Rockette line-up of winter whites for non-winter climes. But at the moment I have another topic to tackle: what do I want to eat. The answer will determine the wine I choose to pair with my meal. It’s 75 degrees outside in South Florida, however, my business meetings are in board rooms that are the temperature equivalent of what it currently feels like in Chicago. So what to order? As I peruse the Morton’s takeout menu, I opt for the colossal shrimp cocktail, sautéed Brussels sprouts, and a sliced beefsteak tomato salad. And no Morton’s meal can be complete without a warm loaf of our world-famous onion bread! Now that my meal has been decided, it’s time to consider the wine. Here’s a little known vino fact: In most states you can carryout a bottle of wine from a restaurant along with your meal. So to complement my eclectic entrees of sea and soil, I opt for a cold glass of Pouilly-Fuissé, a dry French white wine made from Chardonnay and possesses a strong oak influence
French whites, often referred to as “Frenchies”, are the well loved wines made from Chardonnay grapes but go by a different name. Fantastic winter whites. Full, fresh, elegant. I normally dislike this reference but I have to use it now: pretty. French Chardonnays are pretty and delicate…..”a rose by any other name…..” Thank you, Gertrude Stein!
So when perusing the restaurant wine list or shopping for a new vintner, here are a few whites to consider that will make your cold – or warm – winter sizzle:
Puligny-Montrachet. Nestled in the middle of the Côte de Beaune in France, it is also home to one of the most famous vineyards in the world, Montrachet.
Chablis. [also Petit Chablis, Premier Cru Chablis, Gran Cru Chablis] The grapevines of Chablis, France are almost all Chardonnay, which makes for a dazzling dry white wine embodying a pure aroma and full-bodied flavor.
Meursault. Hailing from France’s famous Burgandy region, Meursault produces award-winning white wines from Chardonnay grapes. Possessing a stark oak influence, many have described Meursault wines as “buttery” and “bold” in flavor.
Pouilly-Fuissé. Not to be confused with Pouilly-Fumé (Sauvignon Blanc-based wines), Pouilly-Fuissé is 100% Chardonnay with a pretty and refreshing finish.
We commence our “Wine Wednesday – Winter White” series through the month of January with essential tips and pairings on white wine grapes, as recommended by Morton’s Certified Sommelier and Beverage Manager, Sara Fasolino. Drink well and enjoy responsibly!
So far this winter has been mild for most of us but that is soon to change. As the temperatures dip down many of us may choose to stick to red wines to keep warm but keep in mind that there are many “Winter Whites” that can be a perfect companion to enjoy inside as it snows and blows outside!
In choosing a winter white, consider the weight of the wine. Typically for summer we are drinking wines that have the same mouth feel as say…water…or green tea…or skim milk. These wines rely more on acidity to be refreshing than they do on creaminess for warmth.
For winter we want to step that up a bit. The mouth feel should be more like 2% milk – you should be able to feel the weight of it on your tongue. This weight comes from certain processes in wine making like malolactic fermentation where the harsh, tart malic acid is transformed into the softer (weightier) lactic acid. There are other processes that increase this molecular weight like Battonage (stirring the lees which are dead yeast cells) that cover the acidity in a creamy cloak.
Chenin Blanc is another great winter white story. The versions from Old World…say France and New World….say California can be very different in flavor but both will be sure to warm you up. Champalou, Vouvray is made from the Chenin Blanc grape with layers of green apples, earthy minerality and a lingering caress of creaminess.
Chappellet from Napa Valley makes a Chenin Blanc worthy of an encore. If you had joined me on the Napa VIP flight last year, you tasted it in the winery – everyone in the group loved it. This wine is more tropical in flavor with less minerality – with bursts of bananas, guava and pineapple. Perfect as aperitfs and pairs wonderfully with fish and chicken dishes.
Torrontés from Argentina is also a perfect winter sipper. It can be reminiscent of Gewürztraminer – it’s floral and a little spicy and has a heady quality that makes it perfect for cold temperatures and warm hearty soup….think French onion or beer cheese soups. Susana Balbo Winery makes one called “Crios” that is simply amazing.
Viognier is another over looked winter white that deserves to be quaffed. Think honeysuckle, apricots, peaches all of which that are ripe and juicy with low acidity and great richness. I once heard this grape described as a “1980′s prom queen”…..perhaps they just meant it’s very floral and pretty.
French and American white versions of these can be very different. The Condrieu region of Rhone, France produces some of the finest – and rarest – versions in the world. Several California versions worth a good look are Araujo, Caymus and Qupe.
Viognier pairs very well with lighter meats, chicken, shrimp, lobster and even pork in rich, creamy sauces. Enjoy!
It’s the time of year where we segue from one celebration to the next. So for those of you gearing up for this weekend’s New Year’s Eve, I thought I would use today’s issue of ‘Wine Wednesday’ to provide some tips on champagne and sparkling wine. Hopefully you’ll consider the New Year enough of a special occasion to try something a little more bubbly than what’s usually in your glass!
Here are some Q&As on this topic that we featured around this same time last year. If you read these simple tips, you’ll be ready to venture away from your typical glass of Cabernet.
What types of champagne are available?
- Non-Vintage Champagne
- Sparkling wine
- Extra dry
What’s the difference between Champagne and Sparkling Wine?
While many people call all sparkling wine “champagne,” a sparkling wine must come from the Champagne region of France and meet other specifications to earn that designation.
What’s the difference between Brut and Extra Dry?
Sparkling wine is made from three grape varietals: chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. Brut is the most popular variety and goes very well with food. Extra Dry means it’s sweeter and is usually blanc de blanc, meaning it’s made with Chardonnay grapes.
What is Rose?
The reason most sparkling wines are white is that the grapes and their skins do not make contact in the crushing process. Rose sparkling wines actually take a portion of the wine and mix it with the skins.
What’s the difference between Vintage and Non Vintage?
Most champagne and sparkling wines are non vintage. This simply means that it is made every year. Non vintage wines, Dom Perignon being the most popular, are not made every year. Instead, they are made during years in which the environment is especially ideal. This usually only happens about three or four years out of 10, which is why vintage wines are more expensive.
What are the best pairings with Champagne?
A general assumption, given that sparkling wines are so sweet, is that they pair best with foods like fruit, chocolate and cakes. However, because of the acidity they actually pair much better with salty, savory foods like seafood and most appetizers.
If you’re more of a visual learner, check out this TV segment of Tylor Field, III, Vice President of Wine and Spirits for Morton’s. last yer, he gave FOX News viewers some great information on champagne and cocktails, so I thought I would “recycle” the footage.
If you choose to spend New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day at your preferred Morton’s location, our Sommelier or General Manager would be happy to help you navigate our champagne and sparkling wine selections. If you’re celebrating at home this New Year’s, I hope you have what you need to make an informed decision when you go to your local wine store.
Wherever you’ll be celebrating, please make it a safe and happy New Year!
What’s the most indulgent, decadent bottle of champagne or sparking wine that you’ve opened for a New Year’s Eve celebration? What food did you pair it with? Or was the bubbly so good that it didn’t even matter?
In yesterday’s blog, I recommended Pinot Noir as a red wine for your holiday party, because it’s a well-liked wine by most everyone. So I wanted to feature a Pinot in today’s issue of ‘Wine Wednesday’…the Ponzi Tavola Pinot Noir. It’s a nice choice for any get-together, and we also offer this on our ‘Wines by the Glass‘ list.
- Ponzi Vineyards is a family-owned and operated winery
- Their Pinot Noir is recognized by top critics, and every vintage receives strong accolades
- They have a long-standing reputation for delivering the highest quality
- LIVE certified sustainable vineyards and Salmon Safe
“Perfumed nose of spiced cherry, red raspberry, clove, licorice and sandalwood. A bright mouth of red currant and plum lead to a soft, lingering finish.” – Winemaker Luisa Ponzi
Best of luck as you prepare for your holiday feast with friends and family. If you choose to pour Ponzi Pinot Noir, I think you and your guests will be highly satisfied. Happy holidays!
Have you completed your holiday wine shopping? What are some of the labels you’ll be pouring this Christmas? What are you most excited to offer your guests?
Or is it “Pair of Ducks?” No matter how you pronounce it, you’re going to enjoy this wine. For today’s issue of ‘Wine Wednesday,’ I’m talking about Paraduxx Red Wine (which can be found on Morton’s ‘Wine by the Glass’ list).
Duckhorn Wine Company
Napa Valley, CA
Paraduxx is a boldly elegant Napa Valley Red Wine. Fusing the robust flavors of California’s native Zinfandel with the grandeur of Cabernet Sauvignon, Paraduxx embraces the best of both varietals. This benchmark blend has developed its own personality as symbolized by the artist series label that changes with each vintage.
Aromas of raspberry, cherry, cedar, spice, caramelized brown sugar, and sweet oak accented by a hint of white pepper. Dark cherry and raspberry flavors mingle with rich layers of blueberry, cedar and molasses. Smooth entry followed by a full mid-palate with integrated nuances of fruit and oak leading to a long finish with balanced resolved tannins.
72% Zinfandel, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc
AGING & OAK
15 months in oak
60% French oak, 40% American oak
50% new, 50% second vintage
Click here to view our entire “Wines by the Glass” selection, available in most Morton’s locations. During the hectic holiday season, we invite you to take a break and enjoy a glass of Paraduxx or anything else on our list in the comfort of Morton’s bar. We also offer specially-priced Bar Bites that pair perfectly with our wine and spirit selections.
For today’s issue of “Wine Wednesday,” I wanted to feature one of our ‘Wines by the Glass’ selections. It may not be familiar to you (outside of your Harry Poter books), but I encourage you to taste why this wine is so magical!
PROPRIETARY NAME VARIETAL, VINEYARD DESIGNATION
Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Grenache, Petite Verdot
Created by the same team behind Evening Land Vineyard’s acclaimed Pinot Noirs and Chadonnays, movie producer Mark Talov and winemaker Sashi Moorman take on Provence with this special Cabernet blend.
Modeled after the sun-drenched, spicy, full-bodied wines of Provence, the Sorcerer is predominately a Cabernet wine with Syrah, Grenache, and Petit Verdot blended in for complexity and distinction. The grapes were harvested from the Napa Valley and Central Coast. Silky tannins and flavors of ripe, dark colored fruits and toasted spices follow the bouquet of cassis, tobacco, grilled toast and crushed pepper.
A New York Strip steak with Au Poivre sauce. The soft tannins and full body will pair well with the richness of the meat and the heat of the sauce.
Click here to view our entire “Wines by the Glass” selection, available in most Morton’s locations. We invite you to try a glass or Sorcerer or anything else on our list in the comfort of Morton’s bar. We also offer specially-priced Bar Bites that pair perfectly with our wine and spirit selections.
We are approaching the year anniversary of establishing our Sommelier Team. This group of talented and passionate employees from around the country assist in creating, enhancing and maintaining a strong and vibrant wine and spirits culture for their Morton’s colleagues and our guests. I’d like to introduce you to a member of this team in today’s ‘Sommelier Series.’
Meet Carla Monroe, Morton’s Sommelier and Sales and Marketing Manager of our Indianapolis location. She took the time (during her busiest time of year!) to answer five simple, but interesting, questions.
1. What’s your favorite Morton’s food/wine pairing?
The Bone In Ribeye with a glass of Ladera Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain …Yumalicious! (The Ladera Cabernet Sauvignon is available on our ‘Wines by the Glass’ list if you’d like to try a glass during your next visit!)
2. What are you drinking now?
Right now my wine cabinet is stocked with Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon, Orin Swift, The Prisoner, Newton Claret & King Estate Domaine Pinot Noir!! (We also offer the Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon on our ‘Wines by the Glass’ list.)
3. What’s your favorite wine that’s less than $20 a bottle?
A to Z Pinot Noir from Oregon
4. What’s the most common question about wine/beer/liquor that you get from your guests?
The most common lately has been, “What is Meritage?” I love telling them the story & history of Meritage!
5. What was your favorite ‘fun fact’ that you learned during your Sommelier training?
I loved learning about Terroir and how it affects the wine being produced in a particular region.
You can learn more about what Carla’s sipping on her personal blog, thewinesipper.com.
Stay tuned and meet another member of our Sommelier Team next month! Until then, you can ask the General Manager of your preferred Morton’s location whether they have a Morton’s Sommelier on staff. Most locations do, and they can help take your dinner experience to the next level. You can also visit our website to learn more about our wine and spirits program.
As you gear up for the holiday season and any in-home entertaining that you have planned, what kind of wine are you stocking up on? What’s your favorite wine find for under $20 a bottle? Do tell!
For today’s issue of ”Wine Wednesday,” I thought I would focus on the upcoming holiday that’s one of the best opportunities to showcase great food and wine pairings…Thanksgiving!
I broke it down by the many, many courses of a Thanksgiving meal. Granted, everyone’s menu will be different, but hopefully I’ve touched on enough of the more common dishes.
If you’re getting the feast started with something like chips and dip, baked brie or stuffed mushrooms, consider a Prosecco or Cava. These are very popular and in the right price point. They make a nice aperitif to get the appetite going.
People typically make Chardonnay their wine of choice with salad, but a nice change of pace would be a Sauvignon Blanc. Cakebread is a nice treat for the holiday, or if you wanted something from New Zealand, try Kim Crawford or Villa Maria. If you are looking for a Sauvignon Blanc from France, look for the regions “Sancerre” or “Pouilly Fume.” These will guarantee you a quality Sauvignon Blanc with a variety of price points from which to choose.
For most people, the star attraction of your Thanksgiving meal will be the bird. The “B” List celebrities for your dinner will likely include stuffing and the beloved cranberry sauce. So we’re talking lean turkey, rich stuffing and acidic cranberry sauce…
One wine that quickly comes to mind is the Argyle Riesling. This wine makes me swoon a little when I taste it! It has bright acidity to highlight the lean flavors of the turkey but will elevate the flavors of the stuffing, too. It also has a hint of sweetness that will meld well with the tart cranberries. It is one of my favorite Rieslings for the price. If you would like to sample a glass before buying a bottle at your wine store, stop by Morton’s…it’s on our ‘Wines by the Glass’ list!
Another option is Georges Duboeuf, Moulin a Vent. It’s from a small region of Beaujolais, France and is made from the Gamay grape. It’s ripe and juicy with some nice acidity and a hint of herbs de provence. Beaujolais is highly underrated because of the whole “Beaujolais Nouveau” thing, but it really is great wine, especially from the smaller regions within Beaujolais. It’s light enough to go with Turkey and has enough backbone and fruit to marry well with the other side dishes.
Chances are, your dessert course may include a pumpkin pie, apple pie or gingerbread concoction. GE Massenez from Alsace, France makes liqueurs that are lower in alcohol and really have great flavor, because they are made from all natural products. There is one called Creme de Gingembre that can be used a thousand ways…you can mix it with a little with soda or even use it in place of Sweet Vermouth in a Manhattan. With dessert, we want something that is a digestif…especially after a big meal. You could even go with a sipping spirit like Zaya, Gran Reserva, Rum or one of my personal favorites, Tuaca - a vanilla and orange liqueur from Livorno, Italy. Don’t be afraid of these because of the alcohol – they are meant to be sipped slowly and in small portions, and will really help you digest and finish off the meal nicely.
The Final Round…Leftovers!
I would suggest a beer. Orval, Trappist Ale would be great, or you could try something seasonal. There are so many great locally-brewed beers that always have seasonal brews out for a limited time and in limited quantities. If you want wine, go with a Rose….still or sparkling would be fantastic. Charles Smith makes a great Rose that can be found easily. But if you want something different, look for a region on the label like Provence, France, and you should find quality at a decent price point.
As you can see, there are plenty of opportunities to pair an incredible wine with your Thanksgiving grub. I hope that I’ve provided enough ideas to make your wine shopping a little easier this holiday season. I wish you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving!
It’s not a varietal that easily rolls off your tongue, that’s for sure. But if the right Viognier grape passes your lips, you’ll want to shout its name from the rooftop. So for today’s issue of “Wine Wednesday,” I’m featuring one of our ‘Wine by the Glass’ selections, the Jean-Luc Colombo Viognier, La Violette.
As explained on VinoGusto.com, ”Jean-Luc Colombo, a native of Marseille, is a man of warmth, energy, passion and zeal, and an insatiable appetite for the Good Things in Life.” (We can relate!) “His dedication took root early, stemming from many long and happy hours spent as a small boy, assisting his mother (a talented restaurateur) in the kitchen. Jean-Luc’s subsequent decision to pursue the study of enology was inevitable, the only possible outcome of a lifelong fascination with all aspects of cooking and hospitality.”
After graduating from college, Jean-Luc and his wife, Anne, established their own winemaking laboratory in Cornas. They soon purchased their first vineyard, overlooking the village of Cornas. His first release in 1987 took the French wine making world by storm, and he’s now hailed as the winemaking wizard of the Rhône. He’s achieved a high-profile international reputation for making innovative wines that are original, memorable and bursting with personality.
Vinogusto goes on to say, “He pays careful attention to every step of the winemaking process from the vineyard to the glass. A true epicurean, Jean-Luc and his wife love to pair their wines with fantastic food, from simple and fresh local foods to more elaborate plates and the fine dining experience.” So it makes perfect sense that we would choose to feature his Viognier on our ‘Wine by the Glass’ list!
It’s described as “Brilliant, light straw. The nose offers intense aromas of acacia, yellow peaches and exotic fruits. Very elegant and harmonious, its freshness allows the fruit to fully develop” that pairs well with appetizers and hors d’oeuvres. You can read an earlier blog post that includes our decadent recipe for the Velvet Lobster Bisque, an incredibly tasty pairing with Jean-Luc’s Viognier. (Or to learn more about the basics of Viognier, click here.)
When he’s not making great wines, Jean-Luc is an avid fisherman and boater, owning a Boston Whaler and keeping it in the Mediterranean. He loves animals and has 2 Golden Retrievers, 3 cats, 2 donkeys, and 1 1/2 dozen chickens!
What’s your favorite varietal that’s “off the beaten path?” If you don’t opt for the more common Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon, what do you like to explore?