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St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner and while there are many delicious Irish meals to look forward to eating on this holiday, not everyone may be too enthusiastic about the customary dyed-green beer and Irish Lagers that accompanies them. Try something a little different and pair some of these scrumptious meals with a wine instead.
Classic Corned Beef and Cabbage
This is a must for St. Patty’s Day. Pair this classic with a Cabernet Sauvignon that has a distinct black current flavor to bring it to life. Or if you prefer, a delightful sweeter blush does well too.
The simple flavors of this dish are dying to be paired with a bold, red wine. Try that intense Pinot Noir you haven’t been able to pair with any other dish. Or if you want a fun twist, try one of the many fruit wines out on the Uplands Wine Trail too!
Pair this unique dish with a crisp, dry wine like a Sauvignon Blanc, Vignoles, or Vidal.
This hearty, comforting soup deserves a buttery Chardonnay that has hints of oak.
Irish Cream Cheesecake
If you need a wine for the absolutely decadent dessert, go for a light and fruity Pinot Grigio, or for something special, pair with a nice glass of Port style wine.
Many of us in the Indiana Uplands American Viticulture Area are walking the rows in the vineyards at this time of year with our pruners in hand. How we cut and snip our vines has a direct effect on the quantity and quality of our grapes. With wines containing upwards of 1500 natural chemical compounds, precision in the vineyard is of utmost importance.
Additionally, many of us are preparing our lands to plant new vines. Planting vines normally occurs in the Uplands area from March through May. Basically, the plants need to be planted during their dormancy phase to ensure proper adaptation to their new environment.
At this time of the year, we get many questions about our vineyards and what goes on during this active time of the year. So we thought it might be kind of cool to give you an idea as to what is going on with our vines.
A grape vine growth cycle occurs in 6 distinct stages. Each stage is crucial for the outcome of the grape during harvest and for future grapes on that vine the following season. During each stage, a vineyard manager will monitor and manipulate the vine to affect lifecycle, flavor, and growth capacity of the grapevine.
Stage 1: Weeping
When temperatures begin to rise during early spring, stored starch (stored in the vine during dormancy) converts into sugar, making sap. This sap begin to weave through the vine and “bleeds” out of any pruning wounds it finds. This is the first sign that the vine is ready to start growing.
Stage 2: Bud Break
The stage occurs when buds begin forming on the vine. When temperatures begin to get warmers, the buds swell and then burst. Shoots emerge and grow rapidly at this point. However, the vines are very vulnerable to damaging frosts at this time, and precaution must be taken.
Stage 3: Early Grape Development and Flowering
During early grape development, sugars are not forming but the maximum yield for each vine is set. The flowering stage follows, which can vary greatly in length depending on conditions. Once the flowers abscise, small grapes begin to form.
Stage 4: Fruit Set
This stage signifies the grapes’ maturation process. The grape flesh and skin tannins begin to develop at this time, and a vineyard manager will prune and fruit that is not maturing properly.
Stage 5: Veraison
During this stage, the grapes will begin to change color. While still sour in this stage, the grapes are actively collecting sugar and softening. This stage is extremely critical to the outcome of the grapes during harvest. Vineyards workers must prune the canopy and excess grape clusters to ensure that the grapes will continue to mature at the correct levels for harvest.
Stage 6: Harvest
The vineyard manager will decide when harvest will occur, but it traditionally happens 100 days after flowering. The manager will decide on a harvest date based on the grape variety, sugar, and acidic levels of the grapes. Another factor is how quickly the chemistry changes in the grapes. For instance, Pinot Noir ripens extremely quickly and can fall apart in a blink of an eye whereas chambourcin ripens more slowly so we can be more patient with this grape. Once the harvest is complete, a new life cycle of the vine begins.
Stage 7: Hardening off for Dormancy
The vineyard’s leaves will start turning colors. Some varieties give us some nice red colored leaves, others yellow, and others simply brown. But brown is the color we want to see on the canes – the new wood that started off as green shoots which produced both the fruit for this year’s harvest and the buds for next year’s fruit. A good hardening off cycle means that the vines are fully preparing for winter’s dormancy phase. Once the fall frost arrives, the vines quickly drop any remaining leaves and the vines stay as they are until we’re ready to walk the vineyard again to prune.
Chambourcin may be the most popular red wine grape variety grown in the Indiana Uplands American Viticulture Area. Interestingly, unless you are familiar with Midwest and Eastern US wines in general you may not have heard of Chambourcin before. What's the history of the grape? Does any other area grow it? What kind of wines can consumers expect from Chambourcin?
Chambourcin is what is called an intra-specific hybrid grape, a cross of European and American grape varieties. Designed to both taste good and be disease hearty, the grape gained immediate popularity in French vineyards, especially in the Muscadet region, where, in the 1970’s it became the third most planted grape variety by acreage behind Melon and Folle Blanche varieties. However, with politics as they are, the French government only wanted “pure” European varieties to be used in wine, regardless of how tasty these hybrids can be, so Chambourcin became banned even for making the very basic Vins De Pays (aka table wines) of France.
In areas free of government interference, such as New South Wales, Australia, and the United States, chambourcin has prospered mostly because it tastes great and gives us winemakers lots of flexible wine making options.
Like France, the United States’ West Coast has some built in prejudices against hybrid varieties. However, as consumer personal preferences have started to overtake wine pundits opinions as to what wines are bought and consumed, we can imagine someday that chambourcin vines could make a trek across the Rockies.
The Indiana Uplands Wine Trail wineries grow Chambourcin for many reasons. Number 1, we think it makes an excellent wine on its own, be it a blush or a red. Second, many of us have found it to be a super blending wine, adding balance and character to a whole host of wines we produce and sell. The vines are relatively easy to grow, are cold hardy, and provide a substantial amount of crop per acre to make it worth our while.
Mainly though, we grow it because it tastes good, and because we can do a lot with it. There are many styles of Chambourcin on the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail. In interviewing the winemakers, I saw multiple examples where Chambourcin was used to make Port and other fortified dessert wines, dry red blends, dry red wines made of 100% Chambourcin, blush wines, and sweeter wines. Chambourcin provides a very berry delicious fruity character, with a moderate to lighter balance of tannins. This gives us winemakers a lot of flexibility and a lot of play in crafting our wines. And we wouldn’t do so much with it if the customers didn’t like it so much! So the next time you’re traveling the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail, ask each winery to pour you a taste of Chambourcin, in all its styles. I think you’ll be amazed at what you taste!
Cajun Cuisine is known for being rich, buttery, spicy and full of flavor. So when you are searching for wines to step up to the pairing challenge, traditional rules focus on crisp, cool selections that will not compete with the intensity and savory flavors of favorite Mardi Gras dishes. On the Indiana Uplands Wine trail, we have just the right wines to fit the bill, and maybe a few non-traditional choices that might surprise you.
Getting Specific: Going for Gumbo?
With a sizzling bowl of gumbo you'll love a lively Pinot Gris, such as the one that hails from the Huber vineyard, or perhaps Brown County’s Traminette. They will do their best to balance the heat of this classic Cajun soup. As for red wine selections, opt for a versatile Chambourcin, Pinot Noir, or blends such as Huber’s Generations, Butler’s Red Select, and Owen Valley’s Old River Red which aren’t heavy in tannins and have an easy-going palate presence that will sustain and complement a sizzling gumbo filled with shrimp, chicken or sausage. Also, French Lick’s Norton, a dark red with nice berry notes and lower tannins would be another option.
Opting For Cajun Catfish, Shrimp Creole or a Crayfish Entree?
If you are trying something seafood or shellfish-based, then try Cabernet Sauvignon! Usually its suggested you stay away from big reds, as shellfish are especially loaded with savory flavors which tend to make tannic red wines bitter and produce a metallic finish for some. However, keep a salt shaker and lemon wedge handy and sprinkle a little of either or both on the food, and voila, the tannins will be demonstrably subdued and you can forget about the bitter metallic finish. Cabernet Sauvignon is popular on its own or in blends with Indiana Upland Wine Trail wineries. Wineries with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc on their list include Oliver, Brown County, Best, Huber, Butler, French Lick and Turtle Run.
From a traditional standpoint, an array of white wines always seem to pair well, including Chardonel ( Best, Oliver, Huber, Butler, Turtle Run all have them), Vidal (French Lick, Owen Valley, Oliver, Best, Huber, Butler) to the blush Chambourcin’s (Butler, Best, Oliver, Turtle Run, Huber). Each winery also provides additional blush wines which are too numerous to mention here, but Owen Valley’s Valley Blush offers a tasty sweeter blush option to think about. These wines typically offer both refreshment and a brisk component in their structures.
We’ve given you a broad base of wines from which to choose, and a little tip on flavor balancing food with good ol’ lemon and salt to soften tannins.
The Wineries and Vineyards of the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail
Comments Off on IUWT Wine and Chocolate Pairings for Valentine's Day!
There’s nothing like a little wine to set the mood for this special Valentine’s Day! When you enjoy decadent chocolate alongside a wine specially selected to bring out all its nuanced flavors, you create a delicious experience for all the senses.
All of the wineries of the Indiana Wine trail has provided samplings of delectable chocolate treats to entice your taste buds. Each winery has catered to create a different experience.
French Lick Winery: The French Lick Winery Kitchen has made homemade Fudge. Oh My!! Try the delightful Cheesecake Fudge, The Leon Millot Wine Fudge with it’s pale purple and smooth finish and the Dark Chocolate Norton, made with Norton wine! Hint: Try the Dark Chocolate Norton with the Heaven’s View Port. Been there, done that!
Huber Winery: Schimmpf’s Chocolatiers in Jeffersonville has made 4 specialty chocolates for the occasion, including the delightfully tasty Black Currant Milk Chocolate Pinwheel; a Raspberry Dark Chocolate Heart that’s got the right touch of raspberry added to the mix; and a White Chocolate Heart. Three wines have been nicely selected, so carefully choose one wine and enjoy with all three chocolates. Huber Wine Club Members add brandy soaked Maraschino cherries drizzled with white chocolate. Hint: sign up for the wine club while visiting so you can indulge yourself with this last delectable!
Owen Valley Winery: has created four pairings for you to sample-n-savor.
White Chocolate Mousse - A sweet creamy white chocolate mousse which they recommend pairing with their Persimmon Heritage wine.
Double Chocolate Caramel Fudge Brownie - A chewy rich brownie with a hidden layer of chocolate and caramel. Paired with Zinfandel, it will bring to life tannins within that wine!
Cocoa Dusted Almonds - Roasted Almonds lightly dusted with cocoa powder and paired with Dark Cherry wine will send your tastes on a sensory journey like no other. That’s a hint!
Choose one truffle from Nate's Candy Jar, including Amaretto, French Silk Dark, Raspberry, and Irish Crème. From Old River Red to Harvest Moon, just go for it and come up with your own perfect pairing!
Oliver Winery: is offering customers their choice of one truffle from Bloomington chocolatier Peacetree Mountain Truffles: Dark Chocolate Balsamic, Milk Chocolate Pear or White Chocolate Blood Orange – and will offer pairing suggestions based on their wine tastes. Also sampling chocolate sauces from a variety of specialty food producers including Robert Rothschild Farms, Stonewall Kitchen and Best Boy Fudge Sauces (assortment depending on day). Complimentary tastes of their Ice Wine for an added treat! Hint: lots from which to choose, but try the Ice Wine with the White Chocolate Blood Orange. What a combo!
Best Vineyards: enjoy Cream Cheese stuffed Chocolate cupcakes, flourless brownies, chocolate banana whoopie pies (Oh MY!!! – hint, this goes awesomely great with concord), & a Mexican chocolate pound cake. For the non-chocolate folks or for folks who want a break from chocolate, try their Orange Shortbread Cookies. Also, if you would like the recipes, check out their website’s recipe tab!
Turtle Run: what else but chocolate Turtles! Also using Schimmpf’s Confectionery in Jeffersonville, Laura has put together Dark Chocolate, White Chocolate, and Milk Chocolate Turtles. Each turtle contains two pecans and a decadently decent amount of caramel inside. Choose one turtle and pick a wine or two to try with the turtle of your choice. In addition, Turtle Run has some other tasty “normal” chocolates including Hershey Kisses! Hint. Pop’s Port #4, the tawny port, goes very well with the white chocolate turtle.
Brown County Winery: they have gone overboard by coming up with a Chocolate Cheese Pretzel. That’s got everything going for it! Brilliant idea! Personally, the entire wine list might go with this awesome chocolate choice!
Butler Winery: Choose from a delectable selection of delicious chocolaty treats, featuring Brookside's Pomegranate and Blueberry chocolates. Hint: Try the Blueberry chocolate with the Vineyard Rose, a blend of chambourcin, catawba and concord. The very tasty and creamy good Lindor truffles pair well with an assortment of wines, but save room for a chocolate moose cup, a few chocolate pretzels and perhaps a delicious brownie.
Be sure to enjoy the second weekend of Chocolate Lover’s weekend February 15 + 16!
Happy Valentine’s from all of us at Indiana Upland Wine Trail.
The following pairings are recommendations only. Please feel free to pair the chocolate with the wine of your choice. The following chocolate selections are subject to change. In the event that a selection is not available we will replace it with a similar or like item.
White Chocolate Mousse
A sweet creamy white chocolate mousse
Recommended Pairing – Persimmon Heritage
Double Chocolate Caramel Fudge Brownie
A chewy rich brownie with a hidden layer of chocolate and caramel
Recommended Pairing – American Zinfandel
Cocoa Dusted Almonds
Roasted Almonds lightly dusted with cocoa powder
Recommended Pairing – Dark Cherry
Choose one truffle from Nate's Candy Jar
Smooth dark chocolate filling with a hint of almond and cherry
Recommended Pairing: Any Dry Red, Vidal Blanc or Dark Cherry
French Silk Truffle
Dark chocolate outside with a smooth dark chocolate filling
Recommended Pairing: Any Dry Red or Dark Cherry
This truffle is bursting with dark chocolate and raspberry
Recommended Pairing: Old River Red
Irish Cream Truffle
White chocolate outside with a smooth chocolate cream filling
Port wine, or wines fortified with grape or other fruit wine brandy, are a hallmark of many years of winemaking in the Indiana Uplands Viticulture Area. With these frigid winter temperatures, try savoring a port sometime with chili, stew, with dessert or before or after dinner. Recommendation: If you have a fireplace, light it up and sit back and relax and unwind to the crackle of the fire and the warming sensation of port.
Chocolate? Wine? Fine! Yes, what a treat for my Valentine! Come join us for our 11th annual chocolate and wine pairing, Chocolate Lover’s Weekend! Or weekends! This year, there’s a twist, and Olympic twist. Each winery has selected a fun Olympic trivia question. Answer all the questions correctly, and your name will be added to a drawing for our Gold, Silver, and Bronze prizes.