Have No Fear...I'm Still Here

The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s tends be a little hectic, and things have finally slowed down to a more manageable pace. Despite not having posted about booze in a while, trust me…I have been sampling plenty of good stuff and you deserve to know about it.

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So today I am keeping it very simple: here’s a three-bottle flight of French wines I have tasted since Thanksgiving that is worth your time, money, and effort to find in your local beverage depot. Three different styles from three different regions of France. Ready…go!

Domaine du Petit Clocher Anjou Blanc ($14): Chenin Blanc continues to be an underrated grape variety, and you get 100% of it here. Lemon curd flavors and a fleshy texture are countered by a zing of acidity to balance things out. A solid way to introduce yourself to the Loire Valley’s style of Chenin Blanc.


Pascal Aufranc Chénas Vignes de 1939 ($16): The “Cru” level wines of Beaujolais have always been some of my favorite light reds as they have more substance than village-level Baeujolais and definitely more depth than the candy-like Nouveau. This wine is made from 80 year old vines, featuring violet aromas, vibrant strawberry fruit, and a stony/earthy character with gentle tannins.


Chateau d’Arcins Haut-Medoc ($25): A 50-50 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot., this wine shows textbook blackberry and cedarwood flavors and aromas with noticeable tannin and acid that are synonymous with Bordeaux from the Left Bank. The wine I had was from the 2014 vintage, which is a damn fine year for Bordeaux, but you may need to let the wine air out a bit to soften (pour this into a decanter and let it sit for a couple of hours before drinking). With time, the texture becomes more plush, the blackberry fruit seems riper and more powerful, and a dark chocolatey note seems to come out on the finish.

Ask Tony: What's The Deal With Asparagus And Wine?

In my best Jerry Seinfeld voice, "What's the deal with asparagus?"

In my best Jerry Seinfeld voice, "What's the deal with asparagus?"

Welcome to my newest segment: Ask Tony! You have questions, I (maybe) have answers.

Spring's arrival means the first bounty of green vegetables. While these don't make it to the forefront of a meal for some, certainly this is an important time for the vegetarian and vegan diners out there. Still...you should be having greens on the side with your meat dishes! Listen to your parents for once!

Asparagus: rough stuff if it comes in contact with the wrong wine. Proceed with caution!

Asparagus: rough stuff if it comes in contact with the wrong wine. Proceed with caution!

So among the leafy harvest of kale, Swiss chard, collards, and salad greens also comes the distinct, stalky vegetable called asparagus. It's chemical composition is unique; there are things called "asparagusic acid," "asparagosides," "asparagine," and "asparenyol" involved. These are group of building blocks that make asparagus so asparagus-y. To boot, 60-80% of the asparagus-consuming American population notices quite the "aroma" that emerges when you need to use the potty. All of these asparagus-y chemical components become the bane of many a wine pairing enthusiast. One has to be careful when marrying wines to these spears of green goodness. The wrong choice leads to overly tart, metallic, and astringent flavors on your palate. It's a beyond unpleasant chemical reaction for your senses.

I know...it doesn't sound like there is a lot of upside to getting wine into the equation when asparagus is being served. However, there is always a way. It's not impossible to enjoy both. A really simple guideline is to go for fresh, fruity, unoaked white wines. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Finger Lakes or Alsace Riesling immediately come to mind. You can even go with a Grüner Veltliner, which has always been an equalizer when it comes to greens.

A Grenache-based rosé wine, such as those coming from Navarra (Spain) or from the Côtes du Rhône in France will give you fruitiness if you are not a fan of white wine. If you must have a red, it can be a tougher pairing; any tannins will create chaos. Mild, unoaked, low-tannin reds such as the Gamay-based wines of Beaujolais would be useful in this spot, but go simple. If you spend for the "cru" wines, some (such as those from Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent, Côte de Brouilly, and Brouilly) have tannin in there; you might want to search for cru regions like Fleurie, which are lighter and gentler.

If all else fails, wrap a piece of prosciutto around a bundle of asparagus or cover asparagus with cheese. That will make life easy and you can just drink whatever you want!

Here are a few specific options for you. Try them for yourself and let me know what you think!

If you have questions you want answered, get in touch with me and maybe I will feature your question in another segment!

Silver Thread Finger Lakes Dry Riesling ($18)

Vibrant and peachy, this dry example from New York finishes clean and should help tame the green monster.

Dog Point Vineyard Marlborough (New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc ($20)

Bursting with passionfruit, herbs and a hint of stony earthiness, the ripeness will work wonders with asparagus.

Vega Sindoa Navarra Garnacha Rosado ($11)

Not having any part of white wine? This simple pink wine gives you lots of strawberry and spiced flavors at a terrific bargain.

Chateau de Pizay Beaujolais ($15)

A producer who has been a longtime favorite at the store, this is straightforward raspberry and baking spice that will satisfy the red wine fan.