Laura is a Certified Sommelier who abandoned NYC for the foothills of California’s Sierra Nevada, where she writes & dabbles in winemaking. Find her (mis)adventures on VinePair,Palate Press, and her blog, Laura Uncorked.
It’s time to give the classic wine cooler an at-home update, and it doesn’t need any bizarre ingredients or neon coloring agents. Like the original, this remake delivers sweet, ripe peach flavors accented by a dash of fresh orange. As it turns out, peach schnapps and OJ are the PB&J of the drinks industry. Unlike some wine spritzers, the Fuzzy Navel has a true history in bars and homes across America.
It doesn’t get more classic than sweet White Zinfandel when it comes to wine coolers, and quite honestly, they’ve never tasted better. Whether you’re a White Zinfandel lover, or despise anything labeled “blush,” there’s a reason this sweet pink stunner was the highlight of 1980s drinking culture, and it comes down to taste.
Some people say timing is everything, but I’d argue language is everything — especially when it comes to wine. We’ve all been there — standing in the wine aisle, paralyzed by the wealth of choices and dumbfounded by confusing language describing every bottle. Wine-speak can be intimidating, but it need not be. Here are 10 critical wine words that make talking about wine, whether for Taco Tuesday or a fancy dinner out, a little bit easier — i.e.
Craving the slightly sparkling hard lemonade of summers past? We were too, and happily discovered that it can be recreated with ingredients already buried in our pantries and bar cabinets. Finally, a use for that dusty bottle of limoncello — a wine spritzer that melds candy-coated flavor with a grown-up palate. Lemonheads characterized my youth, and this spritzer is a tribute to formative years spent chomping on the bright yellow candies.
Wine glasses can be confusing. Beyond the basics — with stems or without, white wine and red wine — there are glasses for specific varietals. A Cabernet glass is different from a Bordeaux glass, and while most white wine glasses are more tapered, a Burgundy glass (ideal for Chardonnay and Gruner Veltliner) has a very generous bowl. Who can keep all that straight? But here’s a little secret I’ll let you in on: None of this matters when it comes to how much wine to pour.
There are many great wine gifts for the wine-lover on your holiday shopping list — and there are a few that you should never give. While handmade glass charms and other wine paraphernalia might seem like a good idea, most simply add clutter to countertops, and don’t enhance the wine-drinking experience. To make sure your gift is used and cherished, instead of relegated to junk drawers or re-gifted, here are five wine-related gifts to avoid — and some suggested alternatives.
When the weather outside is delightful, sangria is a host’s secret weapon. Pull a pitcher out, fill it with a combination of wine, liquor, and sliced fruit and voila (or, rather, ahi esta!): an easy, crowd-pleasing cocktail that’s made for sipping all day long. Pity there isn’t an equivalent when the weather outside is frightful … or is there? Allow us to nominate mulled wine for the role. Besides the fact that both these drinks are wine-based, they have much in common.
Sometimes the best things in life are also the simplest. Case in point? The waiter’s friend. While there are plenty of fancier options on the market, this wine key is a restaurant standby for a reason: it’s durable, easy to use, and affordable. In short, wine doesn’t need to be complicated — and neither does your opener. Plus, saving money on your wine key just means a bigger budget for the stuff you’re actually drinking.
This time of year is simultaneously the most joyous and the most nerve-wracking. When family gatherings, fourth-quarter deadlines, children’s pageants, and caroling collide this season, wine is basically essential — and not just to ease the holiday stress. Having a go-to bottle on hand can make impromptu get-togethers easy and (dare we say?) enjoyable, even. There’s no need to make a mad dash to the liquor store when your mother-in-law shows up for a surprise visit.
Pinot Noir is a Thanksgiving dinner staple, and for good reason. Reliable and versatile, this red brings wild berry and cherry flavors to the party, often tinged with campfire smoke and hints of vanilla. And while there are myriad versions ranging from super-delicate to more fruity and lush, it’s a natural with white meat — not to mention conveniently available in every wine shop.
Cider (the hard stuff) is finally making a home for itself in the United States — and on the Thanksgiving table. Beyond tasting great, dry cider satisfies the trio of Thanksgiving drink requirements: it’s inexpensive; it’s low-alcohol; and it pairs magically with everything from marshmallow sweet potatoes to cornbread stuffing. Although it’s having something of a renaissance, dry cider isn’t anything new.
With Halloween behind us, the Thanksgiving countdown has officially begun. And since it’s never too early to make a beverage plan, we’ve rounded up a few tips to help you get this one part of holiday planing under control. (After all, unlike that big ol’ bird, which takes up the entirety of your freezer, alcohol is easy to store.) Get started now and you can turn hosting the annual bash from stress-fest to family fun — and isn’t that the point of Thanksgiving?
“Beat the heat” takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to alleviating the burn of spicy food. The myriad heat-inducing ingredients and their varying intensity can make matching cuisines with liquid counterparts seem like a constant battle. But the cultures that developed irresistibly spicy foods also developed ways to relieve scorched palates. From creamy Mexican horchata to light lagers, complements exist that tame even the most tongue-searing dishes.
Of all the alcoholic beverage options out there, beer is probably the best at quelling the heat and quenching chile-induced thirst. For starters, beer tends to be fairly low alcohol — five to seven percent ABV compared to 10 to 15 percent for wine and 40 percent for spirits. Carbonation also helps remove the fiery heat of capsaicin from the palate. But not all beers are created equal — just like not all spicy foods are created equal.
Cocktails and summertime go together like spicy food and summertime — but cocktails and spicy food? That match-up is a bit trickier to navigate. Alcohol elevates the spicy sensation brought on by capsaicin so, if you’re not careful, you’ll end up feeling the burn — and just the burn. After all, when your mouth is on fire, it’s difficult to taste anything else. But don’t despair!
Let’s be clear about one thing upfront: Any kind of alcohol — be it wine, beer, or spirit — enhances the spiciness of a food. So, if you’re really looking to quell the heat, milk is the answer. If, on the other hand, your goal is to complement the heat and enhance your eating experience, we say absolutely enjoy your favorite takeout Thai curry with a glass of wine.
At the height of summertime, spicy food feels so appropriate — beat the heat with heat — but what about when your mouth says otherwise? How to cool down when the chilies have you crying? There’s one ultimate answer, when it comes to drinking while sweating, and that’s milk. Here’s how to drink it like a grown-up.
There’s no rule that says you can’t drink your red wine chilled to its tannic bones at refrigerator temperature (around 40°F), or that room-temperature red isn’t perfectly fine — even if it is summer and you don’t have AC. That said, there is an ideal temperature to drink your red, and for most that’s cellar temperature, or around 55°F to 60°F. At that temperature, your red will open up to show you its very best self.
We love rosé as much as everyone else and yes, it’s probably safe to say that pink is the color of summer wine, but there’s no need to banish red from the summer rotation. Just throw those cold-weather sippers in the fridge and prepare to see a softer side. Yes, you read that right! Despite what often passes for conventional wisdom, enjoying red wine cold is far from blasphemy. In fact, you’re probably drinking your reds too hot.
Summer fun and wine can go together like beaches and sunscreen — until your wine starts to boil in the sun. It’s no easy feat to keep your wine at just the right temperature (it’s around 55°F), but we rounded up three wine accessories that get the job done. Tested by time, temperature, and a professional appetite for wine, these gadgets don’t disappoint — and they’re all less than $20. 1.
In putting together this list of perfect poolside wines, we looked for pours that are refreshing and light on their own, but also pair easily with summertime staples like burgers, potato salad, and popsicles. They had to be affordable and uncomplicated — daytime drinking should be fun, not fussy — and they also had to satisfy another requirement.
Europeans always seem to know exactly how to drink without much fuss. They’re not afraid to tamper with your wine, whether that means adding a drop of cassis to their sparkling wine, or cutting grocery-store vino with Coca-Cola or juice. I often wonder: Is it something in their DNA? Is there an unspoken lifestyle code that makes drinking wine — and mixing it with all sorts of ingredients — so much easier on the other side of the Atlantic?
I still remember when (long before my 21st birthday), my dad tossed me a neon pineapple-flavored wine cooler at the beach. “It’s just a wine cooler,” he said, “It won’t hurt you.” Although that statement isn’t completely true (as many of us learned in college), there is something incredibly innocent about these mesmerizingly colored, dangerously easy bottled beverages.
The internet isn’t sure exactly why wine coolers fell from grace. Perhaps White Zinfandel is to blame, or maybe their slide into oblivion was the result of a perfect storm of food trends of the 1990s. Regardless, the beverage favorite of the 1980s is staging a comeback, popping up on cocktail menus, cooking shows, and (let’s be honest) our hearts. Here are three reasons we’re betting this is the summer of the wine cooler.
Chardonnay is like Kim Kardashian: loved, loathed, and everywhere. We can’t seem to get enough of this butter bombshell, which has maintained its position as the leading varietal of wines for the last decade. Nowhere is this more true than in California, where Chardonnay is the most widely planted wine grape. In 2014, the state crushed 718,000 tons of Chardonnay and shipped 54 million cases to the rest of the United States.
To say restaurant wine lists are daunting is an understatement. Often they’re as big as phone books and filled with obscure names, confusing italics, and triple-digit price tags. But vodka need not be the answer to quenching thirst and relieving wine list anxiety — even Michelin-starred restaurants have inexpensive gems hidden on their pages, and rigorous sommelier training isn’t needed to uncover them.
Whether adored or despised, White Zinfandel is like Donald Trump: inescapable. Its constant presence on store shelves not only hooked millions of young American palates on wine instead of sweetened cocktails and sodas, but also inspired its haters to prove pink could be chic, dry, and bottled instead of three-liter box material.
If there’s one thing Americans can agree on, it’s rosé wine. No longer confined to the brief season between Memorial Day and Labor Day, rosé is poised to maintain its lead in the U.S. growth charts, beating out white wine and craft beer with imports booming for the fifth straight year. And not only is there more of the pink stuff, but there’s also more depth than ever before. So it seems like a good time to pause and consider: What exactly is rosé?