June 2009

Wine AromasWhy should I swirl wine in my glass before I drink it?

When you swirl your wine in your glass, you invite oxygen into it and allow the aromas to escape.

Some of the best-known grape varietals and their characteristics:

Sauvignon Blanc – Sauvignon Blanc is a white wine best known for its grassy, herbal flavors. Sauvignon Blanc is also called Fume Blanc, and is a popular choice for fish and shellfish dishes.

Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio) – The low acidity of this white varietal helps produce rich, lightly perfumed wines that are often more colorful than other whites. The best ones have pear and spice-cake flavors.

Chardonnay – Chardonnay is a white wine which can range from clean and crisp with a hint of varietal flavor to rich and complex oak-aged wines. Chardonnay typically balances fruit, acidity and texture.  This varietal goes well with everything from fish and poultry to cheeses, spicy foods and nut sauces.

Muscat – The white Muscat grape produces spicy, floral wines that often do something most other wines don’t: they actually taste like grapes. Muscats can range from very dry and fresh to sweet and syrupy. This varietal is often served with puddings and chocolate desserts.

Gewurztraminer – Gewurztraminer is a white wine that produces distinctive wines rich in spicy aromas and full flavors, ranging from dry to sweet. Smells and flavors of litchi nuts, gingerbread, vanilla, grapefruit, and honeysuckle come out of this varietal.  It is often a popular choice for Asian cuisines and pork-based sausages.

Riesling – Rieslings are white wines known for their floral perfume. Depending on where they’re made, they can be crisp and bone-dry, full-bodied and spicy or luscious and sweet. The flavor is often of peaches, apricots, honey, and apples and pairs well with duck, pork, and roast vegetables.

Champagne/Sparkling Wine – These wines are made effervescent in the wine-making process. Champagnes and sparkling wines range in style from very dry (Natural), dry (brut) and slightly sweet (extra Dry) to sweet (sec and Demi-Sec). Many sparkling wines are also identified as Blanc de Blancs (wines made from white grapes) or Blanc de Noirs (wines produced from red grapes).

Pinot Noir – Pinot Noir is a red wine of light to medium body and delicate, smooth, rich complexity with earthy aromas.  They are less tannic than a cabernet sauvignon or a merlot.  Pinot Noirs exude the flavor of baked cherries, plums, mushrooms, cedar, cigars, and chocolate.

Zinfandel – Primarily thought of as a Californian varietal (though recently proven to have originated from vineyards in Croatia), Zinfandel is a red wine with light to full body and berry-like or spicy flavors. The Zinfandel grape is also widely used in the popular off-dry blush wine known as White Zinfandel. The Red Zinfandel pairs well with moderately spicy meat dishes and casseroles.

Syrah (Shiraz) – Syrah can produce monumental red wines with strong tannins and complex combinations of flavors including berry, plum and smoke. It’s known as Shiraz mainly in Australia and South Africa.

Petite Sirah – Petite Sirahs are red wines with firm, robust tannic tastes, often with peppery flavors. Petite Sirahs may complement meals with rich meats.

Merlot – Merlot is a red wine with medium to full body and herbaceous flavors. Merlot is typically softer in taste than Cabernet Sauvignon.  It’s flavors and aromas include blackberry, baked cherries, plums, chocolate, and mocha.

Cabernet Sauvignon – Cabernet Sauvignon is a red wine known for its depth of flavor, aroma and ability to age. It is full-bodied and intense, with cherry- currant and sometimes herbal flavors. Cabernet Sauvignon may have noticeable tannins.

Information from www.800wine.com.


Please join us Friday, July 31 for our Wine Dinner with Barsotti Selections Wines!

Barsotti Wines

Joe Barsotti is another “local” that has been employed in the wine business since 1980, selling quality wines to restaurants and country clubs throughout Pennsylvania for Gateway Wines and Winebow.  Joe has taken that step that many in his industry dream of and has opened his own company representing unique, outstanding producers from California.  We will sample premier organic selections from Preston, and savoring and comparing Robert Young Estate Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon with the comparable selections from the X Winery!  Come out and support Joe’s debut representing unique California Wineries!

Please join us Friday, July 17 for our Summer Wine Dinner with Geyser Peak!

Geyser Peak

Enjoy samples of the wonderful Sonoma County wines of Geyser Peak! Founded in 1880, Geyser Peak is perched across from Geyser Peak Mountain.  Today it remains one of the most awarded wineries of the region under the hand of Mick Schroeter, who got his start in Australia working at Penfolds!  In addition to the highly rated current vintages (Walking Tree Cabernet received 91 points in Wine Enthusiast), we are reaching into the cellar for the “93” rated Reserve Chardonnay from the 2003 vintage and the Reserve Merlot from the heralded 1997 vintage.  If you like unique California selections, this is a dinner that you should not miss!

Sparkling WineWhat is the ideal temperature for wine?

Whites: Chilled (45-55 degrees F) for a few hours in the refrigerator

Reds: Slightly cooler than room temperature (about 65 degrees); Younger fruity reds benefit from chilling

Sparkling Wine: Thoroughly chilled; refrigerate several hours or the night before serving

Dessert Wine: Room temperature

Chilling wine may cause it to lose some of its sweetness. If red wine becomes too warm, it may lose some of its fruity flavor.

We have a championship lineup of Summer Wine Dinners ready to go for June and July.  You can see the all three dinners and menus on on our events page!  We are kicking of the series with our “Best of Australia” Dinner on Friday, June 26 and you do not want to miss this one folks!  We will be sampling the products of some of the BEST producers in Australia!

Australian Vineyard

Our “Best of Australia” dinner features the award winning wines of d’Arenberg, Leeuwin Estate, Penley and John Duval! All of the wines featured are highly rated and represent among the finest you will sample on the continent.

d’Arenberg was established in 1912 in the McLaren Vale Region by John Osborn and today fourth generation winemaker Chester Osborn oversees the operation!

John Duval was chief Winemaker at Penfolds where he was custodian of the famous Penfold’s “Grange” before establishing his own label in 2002!

Penley Estate was established in 1988 by Kym Tolley – one of Coonnawarra’s most experienced winemakers who also spent 15 years honing his craft at Penfolds.

Robert Parker calls Leeuwin Estate “one of the benchmarks, if not the reference point winery in Margaret River.” We hope that you can join us for this kick-off summer Wine Dinner Event!

Wine Fact 

Many of us enjoy wine for its wonderful tastes and aromas – now it’s time to learn more about wine, so as you drink it, you can also impress friends with your wide range of wine knowledge as well!  Check back every week for a new wine factoid or tip, to help you enjoy your wine to the fullest!

Wine By The Numbers:
One bottle of wine is around 25.6 ounces, or if you like to think in metric terms, 0.75 liters. This is usually considered to be 4 glasses. As a rule of thumb, it takes about 2.4 pounds of grapes (usually 600 to 800 grapes) to produce a bottle of wine!

It’s not quite summer yet, but it certainly feels like it!  Here are some great outdoor activities to look forward to in the city this week and some indoor activities too! Pittsburgh Summer

Monday, June 15 – Just Paddle, 5:45 p.m. Kayak Pittsburgh, Downtown

Tuesday, June 16 – Is the Family Business Right For Me? 9 a.m. Heinz Field – Call (412) 648-1711

Tuesday, June 16 – JazzLive Featuring Kevin Howard, 5 p.m. Katz Plaza

Tuesday, June 16 – Craft Beer School, 6:15 p.m. Cabaret at Theater Square

Tuesday, June 16 – Chicken ‘N Ribs Cruise, 7 p.m. Gateway Clipper Fleet Call – (412) 355-7980

Wednesday, June 17 – CityLIVE! The Environment’s Impact on You, 6:30 p.m. New Hazlett Theater

Thursday, June 18 – Market Square Farmers Market, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Market Square

Thursday, June 18 – Lifelinks for Family Caregivers, 12:15 p.m. Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Downtown

Thursday, June 18 – Rivers Casino Thursday Noon Concert – This Week: Dan Bubien of the Sun Kings, Noon Market Square

Thursday, June 18 – Entrepreneurial Thursday, 5:30 p.m. Little E’s

Thursday, June 18 – 21 – Pittsburgh Symphony Pops: Marvin Does Motown, Heinz Hall

Friday, June 19 – Kids Play in Market Square – Hats Off to You! 10:3 0 -11:30 a.m. Market Square

Friday, June 19 – Golden Triangle Lunch Cruise, 11:30 a.m. Gateway Clipper Fleet

Friday, June 19 – Market Square Area Walking Tour, Noon Meet under the clock in Market Square

Friday, June 19 – Job Seeker: Technology Your Job Searching Friend, 12:15 p.m. Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Downtown (412) 281-5945

Friday, June 19 – Friday Night Salsa, 10 p.m. Cabaret at Theater Square

Smoke and Mirrors Exhibit Open through September 12 SPACE Gallery

Saturday, June 20 – Lift Off to Summer! 10:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

 Saturday, June 20 – Summer Solstice Party, 11 a.m. National Aviary Call (412) 323-7235

Saturday, June 20 – Saturday Family Picnic Cruise, Noon Gateway Clipper Call (412) 355-7980

Sunday, June 21 – Father’s Day at the National Aviary, 9 a.m. National Aviary

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