Got Glögg? Hudson Valley has Hetta

By Christopher Matthews

In the early part of this Interminable Winter of 2014, I received a fitting assignment for the season from Edible Hudson Valley: to write a piece on Hetta Glögg, a bottled mulled wine in the Nordic tradition, produced in a small batches in Rhinecliff, NY (Dutchess County).

Hetta Gloegg

Hetta Gloegg

Traditionally offered during the holidays and cold-weather months, this spicy, aromatic tipple is served warm to arriving guests in Scandinavian countries, a gesture of hospitality, and an effective way of “breaking the ice”! This the spirit behind Hetta, which means “to heat” in Swedish.

“Researched” during January’s deep chill, Hetta’s story was, indeed, a warming experience… Continue reading

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Mountain Wines from Napa and Sonoma

By Christopher Matthews

Bacchus amat colles — Bacchus loves the hills.WMGlogo

This piece of wisdom comes from antiquity, when the ancient Greeks, then Romans, figured out that hillside vineyards, despite greater degrees of difficulty (challenging topography, labor intensity, erosion, etc.), often produce more compelling wines. Better sun exposures. Better drainage (both soil and air). More vine stress. Cooler nights. Lower yields. Higher quality fruit.

At the March 2014 Wine Media Guild (WMG) lunch, held recently at Felidia’s in Manhattan, members and guests were treated to some modern-day examples of this received wisdom, from the “mountain wineries” of (mostly) Napa Valley and Sonoma County, including: Jericho Canyon (Calistoga), Laurel Glen Vineyard (Sonoma Mountain), Smith-Madrone  and Philip Togni Vineyard (both Spring Mountain), Vinoce Vineyards and Mount Veeder Winery (Mount Veeder), Summit Lake Vineyards and Cimarossa (Howell Mountain) and Wise Acre Vineyard and Castello di Amorosa (Napa Valley Appellation).

Jericho Canyon (and Winery)

Jericho Canyon (and Winery)

As one might surmise, most of the wines, both at the walk-around tasting preceding the lunch, and those offered at the table, were Cabernet Sauvignon or Cab-based blends. Nevertheless, the standout wine for me at the tasting was a white: Smith-Madrone’s 2012 RieslingContinue reading

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Chinese Chili for the Year of the Horse

By Christopher Matthews

Chinese New Year is something we observe by way of a home-cooked Chinese meal, now guided by Kathryn’s “clean Chinese” adaptations of some of her family’s favorite recipes, like her mother’s roast pork (Char Siu), her father’s Sichuanese “strange taste chicken” (Guai Wei Ji) or other random favorites, like steamed fish with ginger and scallions.

Last week I got into the spirit of the Year of the Horse myself, inspired by, of all things, the New York Times’ weekly wine feature, this one on Syrah from California. At the end of each column, there is always a food pairing offered by Florence Fabricant; her choice for Cali Syrah? Chinese chili. Intrigued, I clicked on the recipe, and saw lots of flavor potential — Five Spice powder, Sichuan peppercorn, fresh ginger and chili peppers. I immediately started doing a makeover in my head. A project for Saturday took shape…

Chinese Chili Ingredients

Chinese Chili Ingredients

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Bargain German Pinot Gris: Villa Wolf

By Christopher Matthews

I’m always looking for quality, inexpensive wines…with some character (which is the tricky part).

And, truthfully, I have found quite a few such bargains at Sipperley’s Grog Shop, a somewhat disorganized, but bustling shop in the center of Red Hook Village (Dutchess County). My most recent find there is probably not front-of-mind for most — Pinot Gris from Germany’s Pfalz region. But at $11.00, the 2012 Pinot Gris from Villa Wolf, a line of value-priced varietal wines owned by Ernst Loosen (of Mosel Riesling fame), is worth seeking out.

VWPG3

2012 Villa Wolf Pinot Gris

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Heritage Zin and Shiner’s Holiday Cheer: A Few of my Favorite Things

By Christopher Matthews

“Heritage” is a word that’s tossed around a lot these days, especially during the holidays — heritage recipes, heritage x-mas cards, heritage turkeys…etc.

But one piece of heritage I’m comfortable with, whether during the holidays or not, is Dry Creek Vineyard’s Heritage Vines Zinfandel.

2011_heritage_zinfandel

DCV’s 2011 Heritage Vines Zinfandel

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Beaujolais Nouveau? OK, But Do a “Cru” for Thanksgiving

By Christopher Matthews

I’m not here to bury Beaujolais Nouveau — many have tried to do that already, and to little avail — but I’m not here to praise it, either.

Designed for immediate gulping to celebrate the Beaujolais harvest (internationally), the cheap and cheerful Nouveau does have its place, despite all the marketing hype, and especially as an excuse for a party (hangover guaranteed!). Depending on the producer and vintage, it can be a decent quaffer or aperitif, best slightly chilled. But given the timing —Thanksgiving is exactly one week after Beaujolais Nouveau’s annual official release — and coupled with its wide availability, the Nouveau is considered by some a Thanksgiving thing, similar to, say, a Butterball turkey (yikes). And hey, at $8.99 a bottle, why not?

This is where I take a stand. Beaujolais (and its Gamay grape) is a savvy choice to accompany the Great American Feast, but please, skip the dumbed-down Nouveau version.

Gamay Noir, the grape of Beaujolais

Gamay Noir, the grape of Beaujolais

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What Wine with Rabbit Pappardelle? A Mercato Test

By Christopher Matthews

Last week was completely exhausting for me — and for many others, too.

It was the annual madness of the United Nations General Assembly Ministerial Week, where a record number of world leaders descended on Manhattan’s Turtle Bay, bringing heavy security (and traffic jams), and discussing issues like Syria, Iran’s nuclear program, achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 (and what comes after), climate change and global counter-terrorism, among many others. I was in the thick of it all week, chasing Presidents, Ministers and media; when Friday arrived, I couldn’t leave NYC soon enough to head up to the country.

And my immediate destination for a restorative repast? Mercato Osteria & Enoteca, our go-to boite upstate.

Mercato Osteria & Enoteca

Mercato Osteria & Enoteca

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