Here is the third in the series of grape profiles - Pinot Noir. (See them all here.) It covers the typical Pinot Noir characteristics and the main growing regions. Use this to learn more about a grape you love or to explore a new one! (Click on the graphic for a larger view.)
Friday, May 24, 2013
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Thursday, May 16, 2013
I first encountered the concept of an infographic when I attended Edward Tufte's seminar "Presenting Data and Information." Tufte is an expert in "the graphical display of quantitative information" and also an artist. This seminar introduced me to the idea that data should not only be accurate, clearly communicated, and useful, but it should also be beautiful. It seems that idea stuck with me...
Tufte's favorite example of a great infographic is "Napoleon's March to Moscow" from 1869. It's a map showing Napoleon's route to Moscow and his subsequent retreat. It is not only beautifully designed but also includes data on the weather (it was very cold) and the casualties in his ranks. It looks like this:
(larger view here)
I love beautiful art that communicates interesting data. Next month, Christie's will be auctioning bottles of port alongside a map of the Douro Valley in Portugal. This map by artist David Eley illustrates all the primary winemaking estates and "flora and fauna" of the area. It's beautiful and educational and communicates lots of information. You can see a larger version of it at the link above, but here's a preview:
I think Tufte would approve.
Saturday, May 11, 2013
“Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene…”
I was fortunate to be invited to lunch this week with Italian winemakers Andrea Sartori and Franco Bernabei who create the wines of Sartori di Verona. Over lunch they discussed their philosophy of winemaking and shared 7 of their lovely wines.
The Sartori family has been making wine for 4 generations, and Franco Bernabei has been a consulting winemaker with Sartori di Verona for 11 years. They want their wines to reflect the character of the grapes as well as the uniqueness of the region (its terroir). They minimize the use of pesticides and fertilizers to keep the soil healthy and produce high quality fruit. Bernabei says that when you drink the wine “you should feel like you’re chewing a grape.” They focus on elegance and balance, and it shows in their wine!
The biggest surprise for me was the Pinot Grigio. I’m usually not a fan of these, since many of them have so little flavor. Not this one! This is quite possibly the best Pinot Grigio I’ve ever had. It retains its crisp freshness while having a lot of juicy fruit on the palate. So yummy. (Update: I'm told the Pinot Grigio is available at certain HEB locations in the Houston area.)
The most unusual wine we tasted, called “Ferdi,” is made from dried Garganega grapes and fermented on the skins (very unusual for a white). The inspiration for this wine was to make a “white Amarone.” Amarones are made from dried grapes and very concentrated in flavor. As a result, Ferdi is a full-bodied white wine that can hold its own when paired with heavier foods that would normally require a red wine. This is a “super white” – a white wine that can do nearly everything a red can. And it’s delicious.
The only wine we tasted that I know for certain is available in Houston is the Sartori Amarone della Valpolicella. Amarones can be overpowering because of their intensity and sometimes high alcohol; they often need to breathe for a long time or to be served with very hearty food. This one was rich in flavor, but easy to drink. It maintained its fresh, crisp fruitiness along with the signature earthy flavors of an Amarone. Spec’s in Houston sells the 2008 vintage for $42. It is also available by the glass or bottle at Sorrento Ristorante on Westheimer just east of Montrose.
drying grapes for Amarone
We also tasted a Pinot Noir, a Valpolicella, and 2 other Amarones. All the wines had a lovely balance of fresh fruit and earthiness, with good acidity. These are incredibly tasty wines, food-friendly, and a great value for the price. If you run across a Sartori wine, get it! I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. And if I learn more about where to get them I will post the information here.
Here are the details on all the wines we tasted:
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
I love the chart below, from CraftBeer.com, which offers beer and food pairing suggestions. But what I like best about it is the information about the beers themselves! It shows 28 different beer styles, along with their typical alcohol content, flavor intensity, color, and level of bitterness. It even suggests glassware and serving temperatures.
Here's a link to the chart in pdf for easy printing.
Saturday, April 27, 2013
I recently read The One Minute Wine Master by Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, Master of Wine. The book aims to help all of us – beginners to professionals – quickly identify our wine preferences and find new wines we will like. This is accomplished by an 11-question (1 minute) quiz about our food and drink preferences.
People differ in how many taste buds are physically present on their tongues. This accounts (at least in part) for why some of us can tolerate spicier and/or more bitter flavors. Supertasters/hypertasters have the most taste buds, are very sensitive to strong, spicy, or bitter flavors, and make up about 25% of the population. Tasters are in the middle, making up about 50% of the population. Non-tasters have the fewest taste buds, can tolerate the strongest, most bitter, most spicy flavors, and make up about 25% of the population.
The quiz works by asking questions that reveal our tolerance for various characteristics in our food and drink. If you like dark chocolate and black coffee, you can tolerate a good amount of bitterness. If you love lemon on your fish, you like a lot of acid. If you add sugar to your tea and prefer apple juice, you probably like things mild and sweet. And so on…
You used to be able to take this quiz online, but the link given in the book no longer works, so I’ve reproduced the quiz here: