France, and specifically Bourgogne, what we in the great USA call Burgundy, is where the world's best Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays are grown. And I say "grown" because Burgundy is all about the vineyard rather than the chateau or winery. Not to say that there aren't some excellent Pinots and Chardonnays from other places - old world and new, oaked and unoaked, cool climate and hot climate, austere and crisp.  Of course, there are also sweet, caramel-y, and in my view pretty much undrinkable wines from those places, too. Think Yellowtail, or, actually, don't. I've tasted Pinots from New Zealand and Oregon that rival the best from Burgundy, and recently I had a Chardonnay from Italy that I might have…

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At a lunch last week hosted by Cooking by the Book , I was reminded why I like Chilean wine so much.  Or at least I was reminded that I like Chilean wine so much.  And I was also reminded that wine and food "matching"  (as wine writer Randy Caparoso likes to say instead of "pairing") really can make a fun meal even more fun, interesting and delicious with just a little thought and effort. Our host at at "Cooking's" loft space in Lower Manhattan was  Ruth Van Waerebeek, born in the medieval city of Ghent and originally known for her cookbook "Everybody Eats Well in Belgium."  Maybe, but Ruth has made her reputation with wine people in another place, 73oo miles to the…

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This delicious non-vintage Chardonnay is an outstanding value at $13 (at the winery, and as cheap as $9 in some stores) and one of the best wines you’ll find on Long Island’s North Fork.  Great body, just enough oak, with flavors of apple and melon wrapped in light butter. As a non-vintage wine, it's a combination of Chardonnays blended from a number of vintages. I visited Osprey’s Dominion a couple weeks ago and was very impressed. Not all its wines were this good, but many were impressive—the Carmenere 2010, the Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, and the Sauvignon Blanc 2011—and this one stood out as the best.

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What are the only grape varieties allowed to go into Champagne? Maybe not what you think.
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So how's that glass of Seyval Blanc I just poured you? What d'ya think of that Baco Noir? Care to purchase another bottle of Norton? It's on special today only." You've probably never heard these words, unless, perhaps, you live in New York's Hudson River Valley and you get out a bit. And if you want to expand your tastes and wine experience a bit, here's a primer to get you started. Seyval Blanc is a French-American hybrid that's a little reminiscent of Sauvignon Blanc, and can produce outstanding, crisp dry white wines as well as slightly sweet ones. When mixed with Chardonnay, as they do very well at Baldwin Vineyards with their Mist de Greco, or Clinton Vineyards where…

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You may shop for wines using one of the well-known point systems. Let's look at them a little bit.
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It's almost Thanksgiving eve, and you're probably putting together your menu.  And if you're not...get on it!  And no matter what you're having, you'll need some wines to go with the big meal. Vouvray/Chenin Blanc:  This is among the best wines in the world for Turkey.  Vouvrays are Chenin Blanc-based wines from France, and come in a variety of styles, from dry to off-dry, semi-sweet and sweet.  South Africa makes great Chenin Blancs, too: try Raats Family, Indaba or Cederberg.  And Napa's Pine Ridge makes a wonderful mixture of Chenin Blanc and Viognier that I recommend highly.Rose:  If you're having ham by any chance, try pairing it with Mulderbosch Rose, from South Africa, made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. And if…

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This Chianti, mostly from the Sangiovese grape, is a classified wine, and the DOCG means Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita.  That ought to mean something but it doesn't mean all that much. Still, this is a very nice bottle of wine, especially for 11 bucks, which is about what you'll pay of for it in most wine stores, though you can find it in places for as little as $9.  A great value either way. A nice ruby red color, this is a medium-bodied, easy-drinking wine that won't bowl you over.  But it's got some tannin for structure, a little leathery, and fresh black cherry and plum flavors. What I noticed above everything else is that it's nicely acidic…

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Spain grows great wines—Grenache and Carignane from Priorat, Tempranillo from Rioja and Ribero del Duero, and Albarino from Rias Biaxas to name a few. But Mencia is a grape you've probably never tasted and maybe never even heard of.  This 100% Mencia is from the large Castilla y Leon region, but you can find other excellent ones from the Bierzo, Ribeira Sacra and Valdeorras Denominación de Origen appellations. Aroma of violets and flavors of black cherry and black raspberry; a little smoky and peppery, fresh, bright and crisp, with a long finish.  There's tannin there, but this is a fruit wine with just enough oak influence. Although the Mencia grape is native to Spain, and Mencia wines have been around a…

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This off-dry, which naturally means slightly sweet, white wine is the perfect pairing for spicy food and Asian food. And of course spicy Asian food (not all of it is).  It goes great with Indian and Thai food, and lo and behold, they're Asian. It's pronounced "guh-vertz-trah-meen-er" by the way. It's got enough acidity to balance the sweetness, despite being known as a grape that lacks acidity.  It's got honey, melon, and pear flavors and a really lovely floral nose.  Two glasses made an OK meal at P.F. Chang into an absolutely wonderful lunch.  Need I say more? Covey Run is in Washington State's Columbia Valley, but there are many excellent wines (Trimbach, and Hugel & Fils to name two)…

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