When you think of going wine tasting, your thoughts probably turn toward wineries, right? After all, that is the typical setting for sampling wine. But have you ever thought that your local grocery store could serve the same purpose? No, it isn’t conventional, but it’s a great way to try new wines in a different setting.
A few weeks ago we popped into a grocery store that we don’t typically visit and there in the wine section was a tasting counter complete with brie, crackers, and an slightly intoxicated winery representative. We sampled a line of wines from Bodega Catena Zapata’s Alamos label from Argentina and were pleasantly surprised. We even bought a bottle of the Chardonnay. Had they not been pouring wine that day, there is a good chance we wouldn’t have ever tasted wines from that winery, so it was a great experience for us. We continued with our shopping which, surprisingly enough, became a less stressful experience even at checkout.
So the next time you’re in the grocery store, you may want to stroll by the wine section. You might be surprised by what you find.
Wine: 2007 Alamos Chardonnay by Bodega Catena Zapata Region: Mendoza, Argentina Price: $10 USD Notes: This lovely wine has a very nice aroma of pear and apple, with a hint of vanilla, lemon peel, and pineapple on the palate. Although it spends 9 months in Oak, it doesn’t overwhelm the wine, which maintains it’s bright acidic character and has a pleasant finish.
Score: 88pts (B+)
Availability: (Wine.com, Gene’s Fine Foods)
Note: All of the other wines we tasted from this label were in the same category as far as quality and value.
About 49 minutes into the latest Bond flick, Quantum of Solace [QOS/Amazon], James indulges in a glass of vino while reminiscing with his old friend Mathis in Talamone, Italy. Although the conversation about the wine lead to a joke that Mathis only bought the cheap stuff, he did insinuate that he didn’t want to serve the man who tried to kill him any of his fine wine.
On a recent trip to Napa we ate at the Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America. The restaurant features professional and student chefs in a setting that allows you to view the kitchen from your table. Focus is placed on seasonal and local ingredients, which causes the menu to change from time to time. An extensive wine list is offered that includes wines made exclusively for the restaurant. Below is a description of the dishes we sampled, taken directly from the menu:
Housemade Pappardelle Pasta – Tuscan kale, wild mushrooms, cipollini onions, garlic cream and winter pesto
Peppercorn Basted Grilled Angus Hanger Steak – Roasted German butter ball potatoes, balsamic glazed onions, forest mushrooms, red wine jus Citrus Olive Oil Cake – Citrus supremes and grapefruit sauce
Don’t let the descriptions of these dishes fool you. While the ingredients may be simple, when put together they create a depth of flavor and complexity that will cause you to savor each and every bite. I knew the food would be good, but I didn’t expect to be dreaming of the flavors days after we visited the restaurant! But what else would one expect from an institute that trains some of the top chefs around the world?
Unfortunately, we didn’t have any wine with our meal. What?? you ask. Yes, it’s true, but we had our reasons and one of them is found in this article. It was clear to us though, that while the food was extremely enjoyable on its own, wine certainly would have made a great accompaniment.
The next time you’re in the Napa Valley (or Hyde Park, NY – they have restaurants there) why not make a reservation? You won’t be disappointed.
Posted by T.A.P.
Ratings, News, and more on Wine & Spirits since August 2003