January is my birthday month and I plan to spoil myself with great wines! I am often asked what I like to drink, and that makes me think. If I could drink anything for my birthday, what would I drink?
Don’t think I don’t know what you are all thinking. “Well, she’s going to say Champagne! She’s a bubble head!” You are right, but for my birthday, I would go for what those in the industry call Grower Champagne. I do love Moet & Chandon and Veuve Clicquot. They are straight-up good Champagne, but Grower Champagne, like Barnaut and Philippe Fontaine, changes every year and is a new experience each time. Grower Champagnes are produced by the grape growers themselves and are more terroir driven, giving the true flavor of the origin from which they come.
When it comes to red, I love good Petite Sirah. It’s the underdog of the wine world. Think of it as if the wine world were The Breakfast Club. Molly Ringwald would be Chardonnay; Emilio Estevez, Cabernet Sauvignon; and Judd Nelson would be Petit Sirah, bold and in your face, with layered complexity. Peppery spices overlay inky blue-black fruits with intense richness and gripping tannins; this is a full-throttle wine. Though it is big and brawny, Petite Sirah is a popular blending grape. In fact, it’s a partner in some of my favorite wines like Bonny Doon’s A Proper Claret and Michael David’s Petite Petit.
On the lighter side of things, I can’t get enough of a good, racy Sauvignon Blanc. New Zealand and the French region of Sancerre make my favorites, but I wouldn’t say no to a California or Chilean one, either! I love it because it is so very fragrant. In New Zealand-style Sauvignon Blancs, you get a nose of bright, fresh pink-and-white citrus and fresh-cut grass undertones. Sancerre, with white soils similar to my other white favorites–Burgundy and Champagne, imparts more minerality, creamy texture, and finesse.
Flinty notes are accompanied by white citrus, slight herb, and snappy acidity. Just writing about it is making my mouth water! Summer favorites, such as grilled shrimp and ceviche, go well with Sauvignon Blanc, but I will most likely enjoy it with freshly shucked oysters and my dad’s infamous seafood pasta on January 11. I think I’m good at my job because I love wines and can decipher between the good-quality ones and the bad. From slatey, dry Riesling and elegant, bright-white Burgundy to spicy Carmenere and rustic Barolo, I am lucky enough to try them all. But these few have been my favorites recently.
Have you had a magical wine experience lately? Let me know by tweeting me at @ninoswineexpert!