Who doesn’t love a good wine party? We think wine parties are the best way to learn about wine, and wine for food. With that in mind, we bring you Wine Party of the Month, a monthly article detailing wine and food recommendations from one wine varietal or region. Each article suggests three categories of wine that will pair beautifully with food (seasonal recipes included). All wines are likely to be found in your local wine shop in a range of prices. Grab your friends, take our recommendations, and throw your own Wine Party of the Month! Be sure to take pictures and tag us @Wine_4_Food.
October’s Wine Party of the Month explores the grape varietal Pinot Noir, most notably known as Burgundy’s red wine grape. This beloved grape has old roots, and has been cultivated in Burgundy since 100 AD. Now, it can be found worldwide and is one of the top 10 most planted varietals. Pinot Noir has an avid following of wine novices, enthusiasts, and aficionados alike. Celebrities are known to love it too. We tasted Drew Barrymore’s curated bottle from the Monterey, California estate Carmel Road, along with 20 other Pinot Noirs from all over the world.
Pinot Noir Tasting Note
Pinot Noir is typically clear garnet, with aromas of ripe raspberry, violet, mushroom, and mild spice. On the palate, the wine has flavors of ripe cherry and blackberry. It is dry and light-bodied, with medium acidity and light tannin.
What you need to know about Pinot Noir:
• One of the oldest and most widely grown grape varietals in the world
• Pinot Noir is most often found in Burgundy, California (Sonoma), Oregon, New York (Finger Lakes), New Zealand, and Germany
• Grown in cooler climates
• Best enjoyed within four to five years of the vintage date
• Versatile and food-friendly
• Pairs well with goat cheese, terrines, mushrooms, salmon, chicken, pasta, and duck
This wine party is intended to demonstrate the differences between Old and New World types of Pinot Noir. Since Europe has been making wine for thousands of years, wine made in Europe is known as Old World wine. Old World wine is terroir-based, or highly influenced by the place in which it was grown (soil, climate, weather conditions). It’s also steeped in tradition and made by long-standing estates. New World wine is made outside of Europe. It’s also varietal-based and growers are more likely to utilize modern techniques.
If we compare the two in very general terms, Old World wines are more earthy, subtle, complex, lower in alcohol, and food-friendly. New World wines are bolder in flavor, full-bodied, fruit-forward, and higher in alcohol. Both Old and New World Pinot Noirs can be exquisite. It’s a matter of taste. In this wine party, we showcase a Burgundian Pinot (Old World), New Zealand Pinot (New World made in an Old World style), and a classic Californian Pinot Noir (New World). Save some wine from each category. Taste them all with every course. By the end, let us know if you can taste the difference between Old World and New World Pinot Noir.
FIRST COURSE: New Zealand Pinot Noir
We start this party with a New Zealand Pinot Noir because it displays a mix of Old and New World styles. Pinot Noir from New Zealand is typically earthier and lighter than a Californian Pinot but also is likely to have bold fruit. Choose any Pinot Noir from New Zealand for this course. As a recommendation, we love our Golden Ram Imports New Zealand Pinot Noir (it scored the best out of all twenty bottles we tasted): Greenhough Hope Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014.
FOOD: Pair this pinot with a light charcuterie plate. Go your local meat counter, and ask for ½ pound each of thin-sliced prosciutto, speck, and jamón Ibérico (to serve 6). If you’re feeling adventurous, make a fricassee of mushrooms to serve alongside the charcuterie. For the adventurous folk, here is a recipe: Raymond Blanc’s Fricassée of Wild Mushrooms. Notice how each bite changes with the wine.
SECOND COURSE: French Burgundy Pinot Noir
Now you are in for the gold standard of all Pinot Noir. Choose any French Burgundian, or try one of our favorites: Louis Jadot Gevrey-Chambertin 2005, $98 (Kobrand Corporation). Notice the subtleties, complexities, and the way it pairs with food. It will be lighter in color than the other two, earthier, and not as fruit-forward.
FOOD: Burgundy Pinot pairs beautifully with crispy, roast chicken. We chose this recipe because of its simplicity, and use of parsley and lemon (adding herbaceousness and acidity to the dish). The recipe below is for 4 people. Feel free to double the recipe if your guests are hungry.
Recipe: Sara’s Roast Chicken with Sage and Garlic on Saveur.com, adapted from a recipe in Olives and Oranges by Sara Jenkins and Mindy Fox.
THIRD COURSE: California Pinot Noir
In this course, we showcase bold, luscious California Pinot Noirs. Typically very fruit-forward, dark, bold, heavy, and rich with ripe berry, these Pinots stand up well to dessert. Our recommendation is Anderson Valley Jackson Estate Pinot Noir 2014, $32 or try what Drew’s drinking: Carmel Road “Drew’s Blend” Pinot Noir 2013, $23.
FOOD: Heavy spices and figs pair well with fruity Pinots, which make this recipe a perfect fit. Double if you are serving six.
Recipe: BBC’s Good Food Sticky Cinnamon Figs
As you step into fall, we hope you bring along Pinot Noir. Enjoy this excursion into the Old and New Worlds of wine, and let us know if you are an Old World or New World Pinot Noir fan on Facebook or Instagram!