vino faq

recent questions for joe from you:

January 30, 2009
Are Shiraz and Syrah different names for the same thing?
~ KG (Ann Arbor, MI)

In a word: Yes. Syrah is the 7th most widely planted grape variety and very commonly referred to as Shiraz, especially in New World wine-producing countries like Australia and South Africa.  While recent popularity of the “Shiraz” synonym has reignited rumours that the Syrah grape originated in or around the Iranian city of Shiraz, DNA testing has proven that the grape is a native of the region that made it famous: the Rhone Valley of France.  Cheers!
~ Joe

January 30, 2009
What wine pairs well with Sushi?
~ KG (Ann Arbor, MI)

The first and simplest rule in wine-and-food pairing is to go regional.  Choosing a wine (or other beverage) from the same region as the cuisine usually delivers a good match.  In that case, a good-quality cold sake (or light Japanese beer) is the best way to go with sushi.  As delicious as that can be, it’s not terribly exciting to a hardcore wine geek.  So, let’s move to wine-and-food pairing rule number 2:  match the weight (richness) of the food with the weight (body) of the wine.  This rule opens up a world of options for pairings.  Crisp, clean Sauvignon Blanc or Chablis will compliment the lightest fare.  Richer options, like yellowtail or lighter tuna demand a richer wine, such as an oaky California Chardonnay.  The meatiest fish, like salmon or the delicious and fatty tuna belly can stand up to Burgundian Pinot Noir (this also applies if you are geeky enough to know what Umami is). A touch of sweetness in your wine is nice if you go heavy on the wasabi.  Try a Gewurztraminer or other off-dry and aromatic white for spicy or savoury dishes.  Argentine Torrontes or BC Ehrenfelser would also be nice. If all this is too much, just go for a sparkling wine.  A fruity BC bubbly or Italian Prosecco will cover all your bases.  Champagne works, too – if you have deep pockets.  With all wine-and-food pairing, you need the courage to experiment.  Have fun with it! You might stumble upon something amazing. Cheers!
~ Joe

January 29, 2009
Any recommendations for a good Gewürztraminer? We usually drink red, but I’m a sucker for a good Gewürz.
~ CL (Halifax, NS)

B.C. Gewurz is usually quite good, and the most readily-available in Vancouver.  Not sure what might be on the shelf in NS.  Look out for Torres Vina Esmeralda from Spain.  It’s a Moscatel-Gewurztraminer blend and only $16 here.  Off-dry, floral, fruity.  Very nice. Cheers!
~ Joe

January 23, 2009
Hey, looking for a big red… what do you recommend?
~ TF (Prince George, BC)

Depends on your price range (and personal taste): for $15, go for Trivento Amado Sur (Argentina); at $20, try Errazuriz Max Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon (Chile); for $25, do the Kilikanoon Killerman’s Run Shiraz (Australia). All are available at BC Liquor Stores, ’cause I know that’s pretty much all you have in PG. Try a couple of those and let me know what you think. That’ll help me make better suggestions in the future. Cheers!
~ Joe

January 23, 2009
Is “petrol” (aroma in Riesling wine) a good thing? I guess that might be of interest to some people.
~ NS (Calgary, AB)

Great question! Many are put off by the term “petrol” as it pertains to Riesling. When young, Riesling wines exhibit pure, fruity aromas of lime, grapefruit, apple, honey and flowers. Riesling also does a very good job at expressing the terroir of its region. Flinty, mineral notes or “wet stones” are common aromas of Riesling grown in the slate soils of the Mosel region in Germany. Riesling also exhibits a very unique aroma, known in France as “goût petrol”. This petrol note, often also described as kerosene or rubber, increses in intensity with age and is not only acceptable, but is actually an indication of a high-quality Riesling wine. Cheers!
~ Joe

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