Archive for May, 2013

Wine and Food Pairing – Part 1

This begins a 5 part series on “Wine and Food Pairing.” For some of us pairing the correct wine with a certain food seems overwhelming. But don’t be discouraged, there are just a few basic rules that can help you find that perfect match! Additionally there are numerous books, websites and apps that can also help you.

A few things to keep in mind….

  • Its your taste buds and likes/dislikes that are most important. You might not always agree with a suggested pairing.
  • The wine you like may be vastly different than someone else’s preference. (example – a sweet, fruit wine drinker versus someone who enjoys a full-bodied, high tannin Cab)
  • Grape varieties/wines vary among producers and vintages, and therefore can have an impact on the food pairing.

Food and Wine Pairing Rule #1: Its all about balance. You want to make sure the wine does not overpower the food, or the opposite, the food does not overpower the wine. You want both to complement and stand up to each other…BALANCE!

A poor example of wine overpowering food would be a full-bodied, high tannin Cabernet Sauvignon with a light, white fish. You aren’t going to be able to taste the fish, just the wine. A good pairing would be an unoaked Chardonnay or a Sauvignon Blanc. Both of these wines have mineral and citrus notes which pair well with a white fish.

A poor example of food overpowering wine would be a light-bodied, low acidity Pinot Gris with a hearty beef stew. All you will taste is the stew. The wine will seem bland or feel flabby in your mouth. A good pairing with the stew would be a Syrah, Tempranillo or one of Colorado’s signature grapes, Cabernet Franc. The richness of the stew will pair well with these medium tannin, medium-bodied red wines.

So get out your recipe books and begin pairing wine using the rule of BALANCE. Enjoy!!



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Manitou Springs Wine Festival

The place to be this Saturday, June 1 is the Manitou Springs Wine Festival. Here’s an opportunity to sample wine from 25 of Colorado’s wineries, all for the low price of $30. In addition to wine tasting there will be vendors selling wine-related merchandise and  delicious food. I’ll be there selling and signing my book – Exploring Colorado Wineries for a discounted price, and can also answer questions you might have about Colorado’s 105 wineries.

The event is held in Memorial Park, located just east of downtown Manitou Springs from 11:00 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Come join the fun this Saturday!

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Plum Creek Winery

Ever wonder about all the various aromas and bouquets associated with wine?? Plum Creek Cellars had an incredible display of “smells” at their “Barreling into Spring” event last weekend — May 18 and 19. (see pictures below) Its amazing to think how many smells and tastes can be experienced in a wine. Plum Creek’s display included fruits such as black current, raspberry and cherry as well as those associated with oak aging such as smoke, tar, chocolate and leather and samples of herbal and floral aromas. Anytime you have the opportunity to experience a “wine aroma wheel” take advantage of this as it will help you increase your nose’s ability to perceive a variety of smells.

But let’s talk about what Plum Creek Cellars really has to offer…delicious wines! In case you are not familiar with Cabernet Franc its a grape that grows very well in Colorado, in fact it could be Colorado’s signature grape. Many wineries here as well as around the world use Cab Franc more in their red wine blends. It was in 1992 that a former winemaker at Plum Creek was the first to bottle the grape on its own in Colorado, and since then Plum Creek has continued this practice. The winery offers a variety of  other wines….Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc for their whites and a wide variety of reds including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese and Syrah. They are also known for their “Palisade” series….Red, Festival and Rosé and their Grand Mesa Meritage.  Since 1998 all these wines are produced under the watchful eye and expertise of winemaker Jenne Baldwin-Eaton.

Plum Creek is in the heart of Palisade, being one of the first to open up a tasting room and plant their vineyards in the area. Owner Sue Phillips and her late husband, Doug, were pioneers in producing wine from only Colorado-grown grapes. The winery has vineyards in the Grand Valley AVA and West Elks AVA (near Paonia). FYI – AVA stands for American Viticultural Area, a USA  designated area for growing grapes, of which Colorado has two.

The tasting room staff is knowledgeable and welcoming, and Sue Phillips makes you feel like you just arrived at her home to share a good time and a delicious glass of wine. Plum Creek Cellars is a “definite stop” when in Palisade!! Their wine is also available at many liquor stores throughout Colorado, so if you can’t get to Palisade in the near future, pick up a bottle of their wine and hold your own tasting party!


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DeBeque Canyon Winery

Combine tasting wine right out of the barrel, delicious food, talking with the winemaker and what do you have?? “Barreling into Spring!” The Grand Valley Winery Association‘s event is over for 2013 (happens once in April and once in May) but you can put it on your 2014 calendar to make sure you don’t miss it next year. The event is limited to 400 people for each month and sells out quickly, so check the association’s website often for ticket sales.

I had the privilege of selling and signing my book – Exploring Colorado Wineries at both DeBeque Canyon Winery and Plum Creek Cellars during the May event. Today’s blog is about DeBeque and my next blog will highlight Plum Creek.

DeBeque Canyon Winery is one of the “old guys” in the Grand Valley region, having begun their operation in 1997. Owner and winemaker Bennett Price along with his wife, Davelyn (Davy), are two of the nicest people you would ever want to meet. Bennett was one of the original 12 investors in Rocky Mountain Vineyards, the first winery here in the state to make wine from Colorado grapes. He has also planted many of the Grand Valley’s wineries’ and vineyards’ grape vines over the years, so needless to say…he knows his stuff!!

The Price’s make a variety of wines. To name a few… Chardonnay, Riesling and Viognier as examples of their whites and Cab Franc, Merlot, Syrah and Tempranillo for their reds. They also had two port-style wines they were offering during the barrel tasting…one was a port made with just Merlot that had spent 6+ years in French oak, and they offered dark chocolate to accompany it. I wish my vocabulary had better words to describe it than just “delicious.” I guess you’ll just have to taste it for yourself!!

The first stop/table at DeBeque’s was sampling their white wines, the second stop was sampling a few of their reds. You then stopped at the food table where chicken tacos and lamb puffs were featured to pair with the wine. The food was catered by Craving. Owner and chef Jonathan Rashleigh operates a mobile catering service. Contact him at 970-640-5114 to have him cater your next event!

The next and best stop, and the real reason for the “Barreling into Spring” event is to taste wine right out of the barrel! Bennett explained his wine making process and answered questions. He is thoroughly knowledgeable about what it takes to make exceptional wine in Colorado.

It was a fun day and the people attending the event had a wonderful time. Whether its barrel tasting or just sampling their wines (no fee!!) a stop at DeBeque Canyon Winery is a “must do” when you are in Palisade!!

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Barreling into Spring!

Its going to be busy in the Grand Valley this weekend….the “Barreling into Spring” event is taking place! The event is organized by the Grand Valley Winery Association, which includes 8 wineries:

  1. Canyon Wind Cellars
  2. Carlson Vineyards
  3. DeBeque Canyon Winery
  4. Garfield Estates
  5. Grande River Vineyards
  6. Graystone Winery
  7. Plum Creek Cellars
  8. Two Rivers Winery

Each winery offers a little different variety…from fruit wines to traditional wines to port. I would tell you to get your ticket and stop on in at theses wineries, but the event is sold out! If you are in the mood for a visit to the Grand Valley this weekend, there are 15 other wineries that will have their tasting rooms open and invite you to stop on by.

I will be selling and signing my book – Exploring Colorado Wineries-Guidebook & Journal at DeBeque Canyon Winery on Saturday, May 18 from 11 to 3 and Sunday, May 19 also from 11 to 3 at Plum Creek Cellars.

With our warm weather and the beginning of summer approaching, its time to “Explore and Enjoy” Colorado wines!!


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Colorado Wine Week June 2-8

The third annual Colorado Wine Week, proclaimed so by Governor John Hickenlooper, will take over Denver from June 2-8. Events include Colorado wine and food pairings at many Front Range restaurants, a farm-to-turntable (yes, turntable) party, a wine cocktail competition at Green Russell and a special tasting of this year’s Governor’s Cup medal-winning wines.

The week-long local wine affair will culminate with the Colorado Urban Winefest at its beautiful new venue at Infinity Park in Glendale (right next to the Cherry Creek Mall) with ample parking and public transit options. 36 wineries. Too-many samples to try them all. Chef demos. Great people watching. What else do you need? Buy Tickets to Urban Winefest here.

Want a more intimate setting to taste Colorado’s award-winning wines? Taste many of the medal and best of category winners from the Governor’s Cup Wine Competition on Friday, June 7, 4:30-7:00 PM, at the Hospitality Learning Center of Metropolitan State University of Denver, 1190 Auraria Parkway at Speer Blvd.

For Mother’s Day, we are offering a 20% discount off tickets to this tasting. Enter the promo code “mothersday” when buying your tickets online. Offer good through May 17.

Tickets are $55 or $100 per couple, with a $10 donation from each ticket going to support the Hospitality, Tourism and Events program at Metro State, which trains tomorrow’s great chefs, sommeliers and culinarians. Use this link to buy your tickets.

Make this summer a Colorado Wine type of summer!


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Presentation – Boulder Bookstore

A fun-filled evening is planned for Thursday, May 16 at the Boulder Bookstore. Join author Paula Mitchell of Exploring Colorado Wineries guidebook for a 30 minute presentation on “Traveling through Colorado’s Wine Country.” Following Paula’s talk will be the opportunity to taste wine from Boulder Creek Winery, which will be paired with cheeses and meats from Cured.

The evening begins at 7:30 p.m. at the bookstore, located at 1107 Pearl Street, Boulder 80302.

Spread the word and join us for an incredible evening!

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