Wine Tips

Come Back to the Middle

There's so much to say about Bordeaux that I'm not sure where to begin! First things first, I'm a wine girl.  That should be obvious since I'm braving freezing cold temperatures to prance around the region like it's spring.  I think it's safe to say that anyone visiting the Bordeaux region in January is an oenophile (lover of wine).

My oenophilia began at age 19 when I spent the summer in Burgundy, France.  Burgundy--home to the BIG red wines.  My love of wine started with some serious, complex wines.  However, my return to California, and the 7 subsequent years that I spent in L.A. erased my love of reds.  I became a sweet white wine drinker (gasp!).

I needed to come back to the middle.

Of the many things I accomplished during my Bordeaux weekend, I have a renewed appreciation for red wine.

Viva les rouges!

Beaujolais Nouveau 2010


This is a great wine that will help white wine drinkers transition into red wine.  It is light and fruity, and released in late Fall every year.

Beaujolais Nouveau is released annually on midnight, the third Thursday of November.  Many wine sellers have release parties on midnight, and the public can taste the vintage for the first time.

Because this wine is released just one week before Thanksgiving, I was able to enjoy it with my numerous Thanksgiving meals.

Though this is a red wine, it is particularly light since the gamay grapes are fermented for only a few weeks.  (The shorter the fermentation time, the fewer the tannins). For this reason, many red wine enthusiasts do not enjoy this wine.  I like to think of this as a red wine for those who enjoy fruity, white wines.

Due to the short fermentation time, this wine should be consumed within six months.

Pairing Red Wine and Chocolate

Red wine and chocolate is currently the "darling" of wine pairing. My roommate was having a red wine/chocolate craving, so we made chocolate souffle and paired it with a red wine. Though the chocolate we used in the souffle was "bittersweet" and had a 60% cacao content, the recipe called for sugar, so the actual souffle was much sweeter than the chocolate.

The amount of sugar in the chocolate is important because the key to a successful red wine/chocolate pairing is that the wine be sweeter than the chocolate. What red wine is sweeter than chocolate? Try a port or a dessert wine.

Just remember: The wine should be sweeter than the chocolate.

If you are eating a bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, try a Merlot. I paired the 2006 vintage of Sterling Vineyard's Merlot with bittersweet chocolate and it was divine! (It was also on sale at my neighborhood grocery store for $10.99).

My absolute favorite port is sold by the V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena, CA. It's "Madeira," solera-made, wood-aged brandy. The solera was actually recently discovered, and is over 120 years old. The after taste of caramel makes this wine especially great if pairing with a chocolate with caramel. You can visit the V. Sattui website at They don't sell their wines to mass distributors, so you'd have to order straight from them (or better yet, go visit their tasting room!)

I ended up pairing the souffle with the Merlot, and it worked out great. Another popular red wine for chocolate pairings is Cabernet Sauvignon.

If you are intimidated by all of this, but you would like to pair a wine with your dessert, you can never go wrong with a sweet sparkling wine (sweet Champagnes are indicated by "demi-sec" or "extra dry"). Be adventurous and try new things--the only way to learn about wine is to drink it ;)