I’m taking a trip around the world, and I’m not going to stand in a single airport security line. You can travel this way, too. Just swing by your local wine shop and pick up wines from various regions of the world. Then as the summer days go by, visit various countries with one night of international sipping each week.
More often than not, when we find a wine we really enjoy, we buy it again and again. I understand the value of sticking with what works and having a go-to varietal, but I’m also an advocate for spreading your palate’s wings.
Around here, we have extraordinary local wine markets stocked with the best international options. It’s a shame not to embrace the entirety of these markets’ diverse aisles by sampling wines from around the globe.
To get you started, I’ve created an itinerary. The majority of my suggestions are wines best served chilled, which aligns with the summer season. Embarking on a similar wine journey in the fall and winter that focuses more on wines that pair with cold-weather eats would be wonderful, too.
When you’re ready for fall and winter wine travel, let local wine-section employees serve as travel agents of sorts. I often encourage people to get to know the wine professionals at their neighborhood markets – here’s another chance to rely on their knowledge. I’ve offered a food pairing to go with each wine suggested.
Torrontés from Argentina is an overlooked white wine available on local shelves. The long-lasting fruit flavors and balanced acidity of these South American wines make them a fresh companion for spicy foods. Producers describe Torrontés as a “fun” wine – and the way a well-made Torrontés bounces around in the mouth is certainly fun.
When done with care, the wine balances its acidity with wonderful perfume notes. When done poorly, it is somewhat sour and overly alcoholic. Drink Torrontés young, and look for producers from Argentina’s La Rioja region. I’ve matched a chilled 2011 Lamadrid Torrontés from Whole Foods Market with a simple Grilled Chorizo Quick Pizza (see recipe on page 35).
Don’t just keep your adventures to yourself. Invite friends over for some of your taste travels, or bring a bit of the world with you when you attend parties.
I arrived at a recent backyard dinner party with chilled 2013 Huber Terrassen Grüner Veltliner. It was kismet that another guest brought her incredible jalapeño and bacon cheese ball.
Grüner Veltliner is a white-wine varietal that produces dry, somewhat peppery wine. The 2013 Huber Terrassen is a zippy wine with citrus-zest qualities and a lasting finish. These attributes were elevated when paired with the spicy, salty, creamy jalapeño and cheese appetizer. Our host proclaimed the combination a refreshing zing of bright flavors.
Rosés continue to enjoy a meteoric rise in popularity, but Rosés from Italy remain unexplored by many. The 2013 Rocca di Montegrossi Rosato from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City is produced using primarily Sangiovese grapes.
I like this wine simply on its own, but it is full-bodied enough to serve with all sorts of food, too. It is rich and fruity with an incredible ripe-cherry flavor, nice tannins and long finish.
I recreated one of the antipasti platters I fell in love with in Tuscany, which included fresh focaccia, cured olives, roasted red peppers, chunks of parmesan cheese and a variety of cured Italian meats, such as mortadella, capocollo and prosciutto.
Vinho Verde from Portugal is crisp and fabulously citrusy. The name “Vinho Verde” translates to “green wine,” but that moniker does not relate to the color of the wine nor a grape varietal – it means that the wine is young, or green.
It is most commonly made by blending grapes native to Portugal, such as Alvarinho, a white grape. Vinho Verde is available in Rosé and red versions. They are intentionally faintly effervescent and often times lower in alcohol, making Vinho Verdes wonderful wines for hot August nights.
On a recent trip to Draeger’s Market in Los Altos, I found an assortment of Vinho Verdes to choose from. I was thrilled to find the 2013 Quinta da Aveleda Vinho Verde, a favorite of mine. I opened it to enjoy alongside my Shrimp and Mango Tostaditos (see recipe below). The quick and flavorful dinner requires very little time near an oven.
Put away your passport and stop worrying about whether or not your mouthwash can fit in your carry-on. Take a trip around the world from the comfort of your own kitchen and with the help of your local wine shop.
Mountain View resident Christine Moore learns more about wine every day. To read her blog, visit sheepishsommelier.blogspot.com.
Shrimp and Mango Tostaditos
• 1 mango
• 1 avocado
• 1 red bell pepper
• 1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and veins removed, finely diced
• 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
• 1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
• 1 clove garlic, crushed and diced
• 1 pound cooked jumbo shrimp (16-20 per pound), shelled and deveined (you can buy raw and poach at home; allow to chill prior to use)
• Juice of one lime
• 1 teaspoon coconut oil
• Salt and pepper to taste
Gently combine all ingredients in large bowl.
For cream sauce
• 1/4 cup sour cream
• 1/4 cup mayonnaise
• 1 teaspoon chili powder
• Juice of 1/2 lime
Mix all ingredients in small bowl. Assembly Heat tostada shells according to package directions. Spread small amount of cream sauce on each tostada shell and top with shrimp and mango mixture.
• 1 package store-bought flatbread or lavash
• 2 teaspoons olive oil
• 1/2 cup jack cheese, grated
• 1 (6-ounce) link of dry Spanish chorizo, thinly sliced
• 1/2 cup arugula
• Salt and pepper to taste
Heat barbecue or gas grill to medium.
Drizzle olive oil evenly over flatbread and sprinkle cheese and chorizo on top.
Carefully place directly onto grill and cook until cheese is melted. (Keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t burn.)
Place arugula over hot pizza. Drizzle additional olive oil and salt and pepper, if desired, on top.