By Anita Doberman: Local columnist
You probably know by now that I am Italian, and I occasionally enjoy a good glass of wine. While I am not a professional wine connoisseur, I am going to share some basic tips, to help you pick a good bottle of wine, that my grandpa back in Italy has taught me over the years.
• Traditionally, red goes with meat and white with fish or fowl.
• If you are having lighter foods, select lighter bodied wines.
• Heartier dishes go with more full-bodied wines. This is because a heavier wine will overpower a delicate dish, and a lighter wine won’t even be felt with a heavier dish.
• Consider the way the dish is prepared (grilled, fried, roasted, etc.) and the type of sauce or spice used.
• A sweeter sauce needs a more delicate wine than one that has a zesty flavor.
• Wine by itself tastes different than wine with food and you want to find some balance between the two so that neither one overpowers the other.
• Sweet foods like a honey mustard glaze or teriyaki will go well with off-dry wines to balance the flavor because the sweet sauce makes the wine seem even drier.
• Acidic foods like salads or certain appetizers or even fish served with lemon go well with wines a bit higher in acid — not too acidic though. Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir are all good choices.
• Big tannin red wines will go great with steak or lamb chops, as the fat in the meat tones down the bitterness of the wine — a good choice would be a Syrah.
When you look at a bottle of wine you want to become familiar with the type of grape used, the year and the estate — you want to know where the wine is coming from.
Estate is used to designate grapes that come from the wine — maker’s vineyards. Reserve should indicate a wine maker’s best product, but it’s often an over-used term. Cuvee means the wine comes from many different base wines.
When you’re ready to taste your selection, start by paying attention to how it feels in your mouth. A full-bodied wine is heavy and rich, while a light-bodied one is feathery. The wine may also feel silky or dense. It can taste earthy (meaning you can almost savor the rich soil of the vineyard), fruity, sweet (due to the presence of sugar), dry or oaky with a vanilla toasty flavor that comes from aging the wine in oak barrels (like Chardonnay).
The aftertaste or the finish is just as important. Does the flavor of the wine last for a long time? (The longer it lasts, the better the quality of the wine.) Is it bitter or sweet?
As always though, what’s traditional might not be for you.