Wine 101: Pairing Food and Wine and Does It Really Matter?

With Thanksgiving soon upon us, we often get a flurry of questions about wine pairings! So many flavors, sweet and savory come into the mix! Adding wine can make the majority of us feel out of our element. So we are breaking down the basics of pairing food and wine for you today, keeping it simple and straight forward, so you don’s break a sweat.

Pair by Intensity

We tend to throw around words like “full bodied” when we talk about wine with out really knowing what it is referring to. Think of a glass of wine like a glass of milk. Full bodied = Whole Milk or Cream. Light in body = skim. It refers to the fullness and intensity that the wine . So when you add in food, make sure that one doesn’t overpower the other. Pair a robust wine with a meal that showcases robust flavors. Crisp and lighter wines, tend to pair well with lighter dishes.

Sometimes Opposites Attract

Think yin and yang when it comes to pairing spicy or savory dishes. A slightly sweeter wine is the perfect balance. Alsatian Pinot Gris or a German Riesling can be the perfect partner to spicy Thai or Indian food - even if you don’t typically drink sweeter wine. It’s all about the balance.

Acid is Your Friend

Yeah, we know. Acid just doesn’t sound appealing, right? Oh but when it comes to matching food and wine, acid is what brings it all together! Wines with acid are great with foods higher in fat content. If you don’t have that acid, the wine will taste dull and flabby. Acid in wine is that little extra spunk that makes the food flavors pop.

Red Vs White Debate

Lots of debating going on in Uptown this week with the Democratic National Debate happening at Otterbein!

The red vs white wine debate should be a lot less heated. White wines (crisp, light whites, dry Rose or bubbles) tend to pair well with contrasting dishes. Heartier red wines tend to pair better with dishes that are similar in style. All in all, the most important thing is that you enjoy a wine you like, and keep an open mind. While you may be a tried and true red wine lover, be open to trying out a white or bubbly with your next meal. It can really open up a new world of wine for your palate.

Cheers!

Decoding A Wine Label

 

With language barriers, hundreds of wine varietals, and various vineyards within a wine region, reading a wine label can be difficult. Typically, a wine bottle will have one specific focal point that tells you a little bit about what you are going to drink. To make things simpler, let’s break down the three basic categories on how to understand and skim a wine label so that you are more prepared for your next wine-shopping spree. A wine bottle will usually have one of the three following aspects on the label…

(1)  Wine type or varietal

(2)  Region

(3)  Wine name

Currently, Meza has some amazing wines on our glass pour list that can help you with wine label presentation. I have included the pictures of the wines and their tasting notes so that the next time you stop into Meza you are more than prepared to have a glass.

(1)  Allamand Malbec

 

As you can see by the label, this wine specifies that it is a Malbec, which falls under category one.

What makes this wine so amazing are the notes of plum and blackberry and hints of smoke. This wine has little to no tannins but has an intriguing finish that will make you wishing you had more.  

(2)  Roux Pere & Fils (Chardonnay)

 

This wine label falls under category two, meaning that the wine label specifies what region it originated. Macon-Villages is an appellation from southern Burgundy (France).

Currently, this wine is one of my favorite whites that we have at the shop. Although you would not know this from looking at the label, the grape is Chardonnay. This Chardonnay has notes of lemon zest with a smooth, fuller finish. Since this Chardonnay is from France, the wine is not oaky but has a slight buttery finish.

(3)  Baci Dolci

 

Baci Dolci, which means Sweet Kiss, is the name of the wine (category three).

If you like sweet, refreshing red wines, this will be the perfect wine for you. This wine has a bit of effervescence, which makes it light and enjoyable. The wine has hints of raspberry and lighter red fruits, with a nose of rose pedals. If you are looking for something different and on the lighter side, I would definitely suggest trying this sweet red.

                        Cheers!!

                        Hannah Clark

Vanguard Wines Mini Portfolio Show - Wine Club Member Featured Event

We had a great weekend at the shop, largely in part to our wine club special event on Saturday! For those that are regulars, you know we typically do tastings on Friday nights, but we wanted to offer something special with a focus on our wine club members. It was such a fun time and the line up was amazing, so it is absolutely something we will repeat!

As wine professionals we get invited to trade shows put on by our various distributors to taste the wines in their portfolios. This is a big part of how we decide what we sell at the shop!

We wanted to bring a similar experience to our customers by letting you try a bigger selection of wines in various styles and price points, from all over the world, so we brought in Matt Conner from Vanguard Distribution to pour and educate! He featured 15 wines ranging from bubbles to Barbaresco to Brown Zin! We opened this event to the public ($25/person) but were able to offer a special price to our wine club members of $15/person. They got to taste some amazing, small production, truly special wines for $1 per pour. 

It was a great time and we can't wait to host another special Saturday event again in the near future! Follow us on FB and IG to get updates on our upcoming events! Interested in joining us and starting your own wine club adventure? Call us today to sign up and get started!

Cheers!

Tatjana

Those Are Some Good Legs! ( a blog with some thoughts for those who conisder themselves not very knowledgable about wine)

One of the best things about working in a specialty wine shop is helping customers find the perfect wine. One of the benefits of Meza Wine Shop is that we always have at least 20 different wines by the glass and they change every few weeks. Our staff is knowledgeable in each wine and has different tasting notes, aromatic descriptions and preferences for our menu. One of the sayings we hear the most from customers is: “I know nothing about wine!!”

My response is always: FALSE! There is a TON we can learn about wine on first glance, first sniff, and first sip. After all, that’s how we all at Meza have learned: practice, practice, practice! (And by practice I mean drink a lot of wine). We all had to start at the beginning. So, if you find yourself a little lost sitting next to your friends at the bar who use words like “aromatic,” “balanced,” and “malolactic fermentation,” here are some tips to expand the way you experience wine:

1.       Check out how the wine looks. Hold up a piece of white paper behind it to notice if it’s a lemon yellow or a straw yellow, or maybe a deep purple as opposed to a rusty red. Have you ever heard anyone talk about how wine has good legs? It’s a real thing. Legs refer to the trails of wine that trickle down the side of a glass when you swirl it. If it has strong, long legs (which we all love, am I right?) it could signify a better quality wine, or, it could mean that there are some tensions happening between the water and alcohol in the wine. Ethanol is involved and there’s even some fancy science words to go with it, but if you notice legs, mention ‘em. Whatever you see happening in your glass, make note of it.

2.       What does the wine smell like? Most people start to struggle here. I often hear people say, “It smells like grapes.” Or, “I smell wine.” They get discouraged because they think they can’t go any further, when I want to say, “HEY! You can smell that it’s wine! BRAVO!” For real. That’s something. Don’t get down on yourself. Start somewhere! Does the aroma remind you of a color? A season? A place? A food? With each smell, take yourself one step further. If it reminds you of a food, which one? A grape? What kind, green, purple? Push yourself to think just one step further.

3.       What does the wine taste like? Hint: whatever you smell and taste… you’re not wrong. A wine expert at a tasting once said to me, “Canned green peas. That’s all I’m getting from this glass.” I laughed, took a sip and thought, “Huh. You’re right. Canned peas.” Sometimes we hear the weirdest descriptions, but usually, whatever someone smells/tastes is genuinely what they smell and taste. Don’t feel overwhelmed; if you can think of only one palatable description, that’s okay! It’s one more than most wine sippers.

4. Lastly, I’m going to give you a little secret of mine. When I’m tasting wine, I imagine myself walking through the produce section of a grocery store. Do I taste: grape, cherry, strawberry, peach, apricot, green pepper? I picture myself outside. Do I taste: fresh cut grass, barn yard, straw, mineral, rock, salt? I have to envision myself being somewhere where these things are out in the open. As soon as I transport my imagination outside of the bar, I can come up with tastes almost instantly. 

We all have to start at the beginning… and becoming an expert at wine tasting is WAY more fun to practice than practicing for a marathon run or something (no offense, runners). The only way to become an expert is to practice, be open to learning and have fun with it. So crack open a new bottle, start taking some notes and enjoy the experience. Cheers!

Back to School Seasonal Wine Selections

I just took my daughter to school for her first day. It doesn't feel like summer is over but its certainly heading that way. We do have to get back to some structure and routine, but I am not ready to let go of summer just yet, which means I plan to grill out and enjoy nights around the fire pit and eating dinner on the deck as much as I can.

My wine drinking is as seasonal as my wardrobe. When its warm I crave crisp, bright whites. But after drinking white and rose all summer, I start wanting wines with a bit more weight to them. Bigger, richer whites and soft, easy to drink reds. I know tons of people that drink red wine all year round, and good for them - "you do you"as they say...but the thought of a big heavy glass of Cab in August is just not my jam. Right now I am craving the soft, juicy reds with lighter tannins and soft hints of spice, or creamy Chards and the round fruit of a Viognier. 

So for those that like to drink with the seasons along with me, here are a few of my end of summer, transitional wines that are striking a cord with me. 

H & M Hofer Zweigelt $18

I love this wine! Comes in the same pop top - 1 liter bottle as our favorite Gruner and it is the perfect transition wine for end of summer. Great with grilled foods or bbq sauce - its juicy and plush with some savory notes. 

Le Grand Clos Pinot Noir $13

I am kind of wowed by this great value Pinot from France! It is just the right balance of fruity and earthy and just a killer everyday value!!

Talley Chardonnay $25

Pretty much my favorite Chardonnay in house. I love this balanced style and while it is not big and oaky it has the weight and richness that I love along with good acid.

Batasiolo Gavi $16

Italian white wines are my love language. This Gavi is so pretty - fruit forward with hints of citrus and stone fruit and almond. 

Next time you start getting sad about the ending of another summer season, snag a bottle of one of these delicious wines and fire up the grill for dinner. Kick back and relax - kids are finally back in school!

Cheers! Tatjana

Want more ideas on what to drink? Follow mezawineshop on IG for posts on whats new on the shelves and what our staff is drinking!

So Many Wines.....How Do We Chose?

Customers are always amazed when I tell them that all of the wines on the shelves at Meza are hand-picked by shop owner/wine buyer, Tatjana Brown.  How is she able to do that?? Sounds like a fun but daunting task.  One way she is able to do it is by attending portfolio shows put on by our distributors and that is just what she did today. (Staff members are pretty lucky because we get to go along and taste and learn as well!)

Most of the Meza family attended the Vanguard Wines 2016 Annual Portfolio Tasting where there were 82 tables of wines to taste.  Most tables had a minimum of 2-3 wines and some had as many as 10 wines.  Yep, that is a lot of wine! So how do we choose wines that we want to bring in and share with our customers?

Upon arrival we get a book with all of the wines listed by table.  There is a description of the winery and all of the wines listed including prices.  We typically try to taste new wines, ones that we don’t currently have on the shelf.  If there are employees attending who haven’t tasted a certain wine that we do carry and then Tatjana encourages us to taste those wines so we are better able to describe and recommend them to you!  We all take notes and compare them after the show with the wines that rise to the top making it onto the shelves.  It is a great way to also find special wines for wine club, holiday tastings and other special occasions.

We tasted wines from all over the world including Spain, France, Italy, Argentina, California and Oregon.  Do you want to do your own version of a portfolio tasting?  Join one of Meza's four monthly wine club tiers. 

Cheers! Yvonne

 

 

We’re (not) screwed

Just the other day I had a customer come up to me and request a bottle of wine that had light tannins and flavors of red fruit. As I gave her my best suggestion, which was a bottle of Lola Pinot Noir, she seemed to be a bit uneasy. She was somewhat taken by surprise at the fact that the bottle I suggested was a screw top, instead of the classic cork. In this day and age where there is so much technology behind the winemaking process, I was shocked that this was still an ongoing debate.

As I proceeded to tell her that a bottle having a screw top or cork does not matter anymore, she shook her head in disbelief and went on to find another bottle with her specifications. Since this incident, I have obligated myself to spread the word about corks versus screw tops … and the fact is, it does not matter!

Now, answer this honestly, how often do you take wine home for long-term aging? Well if you do this at all, I applaud you for your self-restraint, but most of us take the bottle home to drink within the week or so. Because we open the bottle, almost immediately, the concern of screw top versus cork should not be an issue.

You may be asking ‘Hannah, how can you be so certain?’, well other than the fact that my parents and coworkers have taught me a majority of what I know about wine, I have done my research. So lets think about the pros and cons of screw tops and corks …

 

Screw tops:

Pros

            Easier and more affordable to make

            Has a tight seal, which inhibits the ability of oxidation

            Easier to open

No danger of cork taint

Cons

            Has not been efficiently tested for long-term aged wines

            Less traditional

Corks:

Pros

            Proven to be better for aged wines

            Allows the wine to breathe because of the small pores

            Widely and historically more popular

Cons

            Expensive

            Bad for the environment

Has the chance of forming TCA (trichloroanisole) … the “musty” flavor and smell that taints the bottle

Allows for the wine to breath, which may increase the chance of cork taint

 

If you find yourself in the position where you are wondering if you should you opt for the cork versus the screw top wine bottle, stop yourself and instead consider flavors, regions, and aromas. To those who still are not sold on screw tops, you are missing out on some fabulous wine!

Cheers! 

Hannah

Meza Community Post: Art & Wine, with a Focus on Local

Art and wine truly do seem to go hand in hand. Or at least, the wine can make the art flow a bit more!

At Meza we love to really solidify that connection. Twice monthly we co host Sip & Sketch, an art and wine event, with the Arts Council of Westerville. With so many varrious "wine and canvas" events available right now that are growing in popularity, we love that we can offer something a bit different. Sip & Sketch offers the unique twist of utilizing various local artists and art teachers from the Westerville area to teach the classes - and each class is a bit different. One week you may be using pastels, the next acrylic paint. The artist offers up a variety of "inspiration" pieces and offers help with technique - and no one leaves with an identical piece of art work! Each piece is truly unique. 

Cost of the class is $25 - which includes the materials, class and 2 glasses of vino to enjoy while you sketch! That's one of the most affordable events of this type in town. Its such a great way to kick back and relax and take your mind off things while you sip wine and create art. Looking to register for an upcoming event? Just call us at 614.259.3101 to be added to the schedule. We also offer private classes for groups of 10 or more! A great way to celebrate a birthday, kick off a night of Bachelorette festivities or to utilize as a team building event for your group at the office. 

The connection to the artistic world is not foreign to Westerville. Coming up next month (July 8-10)  is the Westerville Music & Arts Festival, an annual community event that features over 150 local artists, food vendors and live entertainment. The Music & Arts Fest is held at Heritage Park (Everal Barn) with an exciting twist this year - the Friday evening portion will be held in Uptown! There will be a special music and arts showcase with a reception at Old Bag of Nails just a few doors North of Meza. Stroll the street and check out some amazing local art work, and stop by Meza Wine Shop for our Friday night wine tasting!

Check out the website for the Music & Arts Fest below - such a cool way to spend a summer weekend!

http://www.westervillechamber.com/events/details/2016-westerville-music-arts-festival-2409

Cheers!

Tatjana

 

Meza Travels: Willamette Valley - Highlight on Chehalem Winery

For those of you who have been following along on Instagram, Jason and I had the opportunity for a short but much needed getaway to Oregon Wine Country! It has been on our list for a while and we finally decided to make it happen. We have been to Napa/Sonoma before and we just love Sonoma, but Oregon  has earned a special place in our hearts! Such nice and friendly people and a very laid back, non pretentious approach to wine. In fact I can't think of one stop we made where we felt any sort of pretense ( which can happen in the wine world). 

We were able to stay at the lovely guest house at Chehalem ( a comfy and breezy craftsman style house where vineyard interns stay during harvest), and had an awesome experience with their wines. We met with Jon Foster, from the Chehalem team, for a tasting and tour of the winery, and got to walk through and explore the vineyard ourselves. We briefly got to meet owner Harry Peterson -Nedry and his daughter Wynn Peterson - Nedry  who is now the wine maker - both nothing but friendly and gracious. 

First and foremost, one of the most impressive things about the winery was its commitment to sustainability. Chehalem is LIVE Certified ( Low Imput Viticulture and Eonology) and a participant in Carbon Neutral Challenge. You will find solar panels in the vineyard that provides some degree of their power. All weed control is done by hand - no chemicals. You can tell from looking at the site that the vines are growing in a very healthy, thriving environment. I think you cannot help but feel good about what you are consuming when it's made in this manner. I am always a little perplexed when people spend so much time thinking about eating fresh, organic food but don't think of the wine they consume in the same manner. 

On to the wines themselves! We have for quite some time stocked the Chehalem Three Vineyard Pinot Noir - their largest distributed Pinot. We were able to taste some of their gorgeous white wines as well, from their Coral Creek Vineyard Riesling that was juicy and crisp and mineral driven to their Ridgecrest Vineyard Gruner Veltliner that had a freshness and brightness to it but was also a slightly more complex, richer style than some Gruners.  The Pinot Gris also stood out due to its richer, Alsatian style.

Fruit is sourced from three vineyard sites - Coral Creek vineyard which surrounds the winery (what is pictured here).  Stoller Vineyard featured Jory Soil ( a term we heard often in this area), a red volcanic soil that lends itself to Pinot Noir that has both a balance of fruit and earthiness. Finally Ridgecrest Vineyard, known for producing richer, briary style of Pinot Noir  due to its silt and sandstone soils is the last of the three vineyards utilized. 

We loved our experience and the wines of Chehalem, and loved the laid back, friendly, and inviting nature of the people we met. Always makes me feel like I am at home or at Meza when I talk to people from a winery and they really have a team and family focus and mentality. 

Look for more offerings from Chehalem to be hitting the shelves at Meza soon! Stay tuned for our recap of other wineries we visited and our tips on exploring the Willamette Valley!

Cheers!

Tatjana

On Southern Italian Wine and Breaking Out of our Comfort Zone

I just gave our team a little homework this week, and if you know me, the homework for the shop is always enjoyable. After all, it involves drinking wine!

I was putting together our wine club packs for this month which feature wines from Southern Italy, mainly Campania and Puglia. We have so many red lovers on our team and I thought, this is a great option for them to learn a little more about this region and to enjoy wines that fit their palate. We all get stuck in a comfort zone with lots of things in life....the food we eat, with our workouts, with our personal style. Same goes with wine. Its so easy to grab a bottle of Cabernet because we know what it is and we see it everywhere. We may gravitate towards a Zinfandel - now knowing how similar (and related) a Primitivo is. Its my job to get people drinking outside of the box and learning about wine and thats totally what we are doing this week!

Next time you head into the wine shop or to your local wine retailer, ask a couple questions and have the staff find you something new. Its fun and interesting and there is something so cool about tasting a wine from half way across the world and learning about it that makes you feel like maybe you would want to go there someday.  If you don't have time for all that jazz and you live locally, then hit us up about wine club and get the adventure chosen for you each month. Trust us, you will be pleasantly surprised at how your palate and your list of favorite wines grows.

Cheers!

Tatjana