Wine Profile: Why is Riesling a Super Grape?

Pronunciation:[reece-ling] Origin: Originating in Germany’s Rhineland in 1435, when a German count bought six vines making it the first documented varietal sale Styles: Dry, semi-sweet, sweet and sparkling white wines Profile: Colour: Bright, pale yellow when young or gold when aged Sweetness: Wide range from bone dry to very sweet Acidity: High Body: Light Alcohol: Low/Medium Ageing: From 5 to 30 depending on style, vintage and producer There is almost nothing better than sipping a cold glass of delicious Riesling on a hot summer day. No matter what the style, Riesling is the ideal wine to enjoy throughout the spring and summer months. Many connoisseurs consider Riesling to be the world’s finest grape because of its versatility, its food-friendliness and its ability to age gracefully. When young, these wines are aromatic, refreshing, and known for their intense fruit and floral aromas. They are crisp and juicy, with aromas of lemon, apricot, pear, honey-crisp apple, and nectarine. With age Riesling becomes fuller and richer and the fruit forward notes develop into notes of honey, petrol, mineral and smoke. This grape is extremely versatile; making excellent dessert and off-dry styles that we have come know and love in North America, however, the majority of Riesling produced in Germany and France are dry and similar in body and style to a light, aromatic Sauvignon Blanc. The consistent element through all styles of Riesling is its high acidity, making your mouth water as much as a glass of lemonade would. The different styles of Riesling depend on several factors such as the vineyards farming methods, soil varieties, climate, and winemaking techniques. For example, the grapes to make Spätlese, meaning late harvest in German, are picked at least seven days after the normal harvest, so they are riper and have higher sugar content than the grapes used to make a dry Riesling. No other grape variety in the world provides such a stylistic range. Where does Riesling come from? While the origin of Riesling is a bit of a mystery (like most varietals), many point to Germany as the country of origin. The earliest documentation of the German production of Riesling dates back to 1435. The region known as the birthplace is along the Rhein River, in the Rheinhessen wine region. Where does Riesling Grow? The delicate nature and slower growing pace compared to Chardonnay makes Riesling suited to grow in cooler climates and strives in places such as Germany and France. However, over time, Riesling has adapted to grow successfully in warmer climates, such as Australia, where sometimes the grape skins are seven times the thickness of German grown grape. Here are the regions that Riesling grows best: Germany Mosel Riesling production – 12,891 acres Pfalz Riesling production – 12,508 acres Rheinhessen Riesling production – 7,889 acres In addition to being known as the place of Rieslings origin, Germany is known for its production of some of the world’s best Riesling. In 2006, Riesling was the most grown variety Germany producing 20.8% of the country’s …

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Why Buy from A Wine Agent?

ontario wine agent

  The world of wine is vast. It is produced in virtually every country, from perhaps up to 10,000 grape varieties, not including hybrids. Yet, only a fraction of the wine produced in the world is carried at the LCBO. Restaurants, though, have long known where to find unique and interesting wines from boutique producers — they buy from their local Ontario wine agent. Wine Agents Offer Wines Not Found At The LCBO Have you ever been in a restaurant or a wine region in another part of the world and tried a wine that you just loved? The chances of finding it at your local LCBO, though, are slim, since they only carry a fraction of the world’s wines. And the ones they do carry are usually from large wineries. A wine agent is passionate about wine. They search the world to find hidden gems that demand to be shared. Their job is to develop relationships with small wineries, assist them in bringing their fine products into Ontario and find customers for them. Restaurants love dealing with wine agents because they can always find something new and interesting, and they love the service of having these wines delivered to their door. More and more private customers are realizing they can buy wine through a wine agent, great wine made by artisans with a story to tell. Imported Wine from The Small Winemakers Collection We’ve covered how a wine agent can get bottles not found at the LCBO. Here are a couple other benefits that you can take advantage of when ordering exclusive wines through the Small Winemakers Collection in Toronto.  1. Personalized approach  We take the time to find out your wine preferences, whether you have a cellar, and how you intend to drink the wine. This allows us to recommend a wine that is just right for you.  You may want wine for a wedding, or as a gift for a colleague. No problem. We can recommend something that will be perfect.  2. Understand the story  Small wineries are often steeped in history, with interesting characters that are expressed in the wines they produce. When you buy through The Small Winemakers Collection you learn that your wine is not a mass produced commodity, but an artisanal product lovely grown and produced to the highest quality. 3. Impress your friends Your guests will be amazed when you offer them a wine that they cannot get at their LCBO, and when you are able to relate the story of the winery and talk about how it is different from other wines, even the most wine-knowledgeable guest will be impressed. 4. Enjoy door-to-door delivery  The Small Winemakers Collection is an Ontario wine delivery service that is able to ship right to the door of your address. Discover which wines of the world you’d like to serve or view our full price list here.

Why You Should be Buying Your Wine Online

Wine has been enjoyed for centuries. While it is still fermented grape juice, every so often there is a new innovation, a blend, a hot variety, or something else new in the wine world. Recently, buying wine online has become increasingly popular among wine lovers in Ontario. There are many Ontario wine agents who make it their mission to source the world’s best wines from unique and hidden gem wineries. The Small Winemakers Collection has been doing this since 1991, and brings these exclusive wines directly to your door in Ontario. Here are a collection of benefits you can stand to gain from ordering your wine online. 1. It saves the trip According to the Canada Post, 76% of Canadians shopped online last year. The simple truth is driving, fighting for a parking spot, heading to the store just to find out the store doesn’t have what you want in stock is becoming more unacceptable. In recent years, the click of a mouse has saved shoppers from countless quarrels over finding the last parking spot. The best way to get your wine is to save the trip and have it delivered right to your front door. 2. Easier to search Shopping for your favourite wine is much easier when done online. Browsing through multiple offerings from the world’s best wineries can be done in a mere matter of minutes. Looking for a favourite wine or wine region? Searching on the Small Winemakers Collection website can narrow your search in seconds. You can also do your shopping in the comfort of your own home – not much can beat that. 3. Access to more wine For many Ontario wine enthusiasts, their favourite wines are yet to be discovered or may exist in another county. The LCBO only carries a certain number of wines from some of the world’s largest wineries. However, the smaller wineries are not as well represented. By ordering through your Ontario wine agent, you have access to far more wines that you would not be able to find at the LCBO. Treat yourself and your guests to an exclusive bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from Stellenbosch, South Africa, or a 2015 Raimat Albarino from Penedes, Spain. Check out some of these offerings from the Small Winemakers Collection. Chateau Saint Dominique Puisseguin Saint Emilion 2011, FranceThe wine shows a very deep ruby colour. The nose is ripe and opulent, showing strawberry and raspberry fruits, pepper and scents of other spices. This complex wine will drink well over the next 4 to 6 years. Raimat Albarino 2019, SpainThis is one of Raimat’s more exciting wines; the varietal is rare in this part of Spain. The wine is pale yellow in color with greenish hues. The are intense citrus aromas, dried flowers and spices with an additional hint of sweet vanilla. Very brief ageing in stainless steel tanks to preserve fruit vibrancy and maximize freshness on the palate. Appleby Lane Pinot Noir 2014, New ZealandThe second most produced wine in New Zealand is …

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The 8 Keys to Home Wine Storage Success

wine storage options

Anyone who buys and enjoys wine can accumulate quite a collection over the years. Inevitably, when you get a new bottle you want to know “how long should I keep this for? and how should I store it?” How Long Should I Store Wine? Many fine wines, particularly reds, can improve with age. Ageing allows the various structural components (acid, tannin and alcohol) to become more integrated, making the wine easier to drink. It also changes the nature of the aromas and flavours. As wine ages, fruit flavours tend to fade or dry out and tertiary flavours (leather, humous, mushroom, soy) become more prominent. Eventually, a wine becomes completely tertiary. Not everyone likes these tertiary flavours, so the first thing you need to ask yourself is whether you like aged wines or young/fresh wines. If the answer is the latter, then don’t age them. Enjoy them the way they are! However, if you like your wines with the flavours imparted by bottle ageing, then, by all means, store them for a few years. Not all wines need to or can be stored. In fact, over 90% of red wines are better enjoyed within a short 5-year window. If you’re building a collection of wine that you plan to age, you should consider adding the wines that have this capability. As you can see in the following chart, some of the following wines vary in their ability to age well. In reality, it all comes down to the producer and your personal choice. Many wines will have a recommended cellaring time printed on the label. If that is not the case, however, refer to the winery for ageing suggestions. Keep in mind that some of these numbers can be quite subjective. Chardonnay 1 to 5 years Cabernet Sauvignon 4 to 20 years Merlot 2 to 10 years Pinot Noir 2 to 8 years Riesling 2 to 30 years Vintage Ports 20 to 50 years Red Bordeaux 8 to 25 years Source: Wikipedia How Should I Store My Wine? Building a wine collection can be the source of considerable pride. And it can even be a good investment if the wine is properly stored. Roughly 7% of affluents living in North America own their wine cellar or wine refrigerator. There are even facilities that will store your wine for you. The ideal place for storage is a dark place that has the right, consistent temperature with the right level of humidity, proper ventilation, and is secure. If you are looking to establish a suitable environment to keep wine in your house or restaurant, consider the following: 1. Regulating a cool temperature Not too hot It is vital that your wine is kept at a consistent and cool temperature. Too hot (18 to 22 degrees Celsius plus) and your wine will likely age more quickly, resulting in flat flavours and aromas. Not too cold But don’t keep your wine too cool. When wine is kept in a regular fridge (well below 7 degrees celsius), the …

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Wine Country Profile: New Zealand

new zealand wine

New Zealand’s population is just a mere 4 and a half million, and their experience in producing wine dates back only 40 years. Yet, the country’s contribution to the production of wine is remarkable, so remarkable in fact, that New Zealand has become the number 2 exporter of Sauvignon Blanc in the world. New Zealand is home to 10 great wine producing regions that have combined to make New Zealand’s world passion for wine-making known worldwide. The Lay of the Land New Zealand is a beautiful remote island country sitting a thousand miles to the south-east of Australia. Its tall mountain peaks and lush green forests are truly a sight to behold. Due to its long and narrow shape, most of the wine regions are close to the ocean and experience a Maritime climate. Since the majority of vineyards are in close proximity to the cool breezes of the oceans, the acidity in well preserved in most bottles of wine. The Central Otago wine region at the south end of New Zealand is interesting as it is the most southerly wine region in the world and the only region of New Zealand that features a continental climate. And in contrast to the rest of the country, Central Otago is almost exclusively focused on creating the best Pinot Noir. New Zealand Wine A common theme of freshness will prevail when consuming different glasses of the countries wines. While New Zealand is now well known for its great sauvignon blanc, the country has also become a great producer of Chardonnay, Cabernet/Merlot blends, and Pinot Noir. Sauvignon Blanc In 1975, the first Sauvignon Blanc was first planted in Marlborough – on the North end of the South Island. With its unique combination of crispness and intense fruity and herbaceousness, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has come to be seen as some of the world’s best. It’s such a popular wine that it accounts for just over 70% of all wine production in the country and is the second largest exporter of Sauvignon Blanc in the world. Try Some of These Authentic New Zealand Wines New Zealand has the ability to produce wines as wonderful as its gorgeous landscapes. Unfortunately for us in Ontario, the flight from Toronto to Auckland is 14,100 kilometres and just under 20 hours long. Fortunately, the Small Winemakers and their Toronto wine delivery service, has made great New Zealand wine is just a click of the mouse away from arriving at your doorstep.   Appleby Lane – Sauvignon Blanc 2014 $20.70 / Bottle This Sauvignon Blanc is aromatic with characters of citrus, lime, gooseberry and herbaceous. A mouth-filling palate showing delicious gooseberry, grapefruit and citrus fruit flavours with a typical minerally edge. Rich and concentrated, the mid-palate shows a genuine breadth and the overall impression remains clean, ripe and fresh.   Mt Difficulty – Roaring Meg Sauvignon Blanc 2014 $26.35 / Bottle While the name can suggest difficulty, this wine is a simple pleasure to drink. The warm summer growing conditions have …

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Best Food and Wine Combinations for the Cottage

Cottage living in Canada means clean air, star-filled nights and, of course, lots of opportunity to barbeque. And a great glass of wine goes with any of these simple pleasures. During those lazy July and August days, a chilled white or rosé wine is perfect. Not only are these usually naturally lower in alcohol than most reds, but they refresh your palate. However, many of the great summer foods cry out for red wines, and this can work if they are lighter bodied or even served a little chilled. Just picture it … sitting by the dock, soaking up the sun and enjoying a glass of wine. Doesn’t it make you forget winter? Cottage Food Cooking After running away from civilization in favour of easy cottage living, the last thing we want to do is slave away in the kitchen for hours on end. The best cottage dishes involve a barbeque and as little work as possible. Recently, The Food Network compiled a list of “24 Make-Ahead Cottage Dishes”. We thought it would be fun to highlight some of the best wines the world has to offer to pair with them. When you find yourself planning meals for your next cottage trip, try to include some of these great pairings 1. Sticky Spicy Slow-Cooked Ribs Perfect for a barbecue at the cottage, these sweet and spicy ribs are easy to make and are guaranteed to become quite messy. It’s important to have some napkins on hand in order to clean your hands before holding your wine glass. View recipe. Any red meats such as ribs are better enjoyed when served with a lighter bodied and fruity wine like a Valpolicella or Beaujolais. But these sweeter ribs call for a red with quite a bit of ripeness, like a California Zinfandel . Another option is the Zinfandel blend from Tierra Divina. This can be served slightly chilled. Tierra Divina Reds$22.40 / Bottle\ Rreds is deeply colored, aromatic, and deep, but with a lift to the finish. This description mirrors the three traditional components of REDS: petite sirrah, carignane, and zinfandel. Petite sirrah is deeply colored – is there any other varietal which makes such a black wine? Carignane imparts a white pepper, minerally component, which is distinctly aromatic and shines through the fruitiness of zinfandel, which itself provides the backbone and depth of Reds. 2. Harissa Marinated Chicken Skewers with Couscous Marinade these chicken skewers before you leave on your trip so they can soak up all the fiery-hot harissa flavour. Simply put them on the grill, place over the couscous, serve and enjoy! View recipe. To best compliment this dishes fiery-hot flavours, this light meal option will pair well with a Dry & Fruity Rosé wine such as a Chinon Rose or Rosato. This dish would be best served alongside a refreshing bottle of Rosato from the Marche region of Italy. Azzoni – Rosato 2015$16.00 / Bottle The Azzoni Rosato 2015 offers a Tuscan blend of Sangiovese with Ciliegiolo, Lacryma …

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Celebrate with the Best Sparkling Wine

Best Sparkling Wine

When we break out a bottle of bubbly, it’s often in celebration — a special occasion or milestone. New Year’s Eve, car racing victories and anniversaries have become linked with Champagne, but the drink you use to celebrate doesn’t need to be Champagne, or even traditional method sparkling wine. The type of sparkling wine you chose to drink depends on what you like and how much you are prepared to spend. What is Sparkling Wine? Sparkling wine is any wine that has bubbles in it. Unlike soda pop, though, where carbon dioxide is injected into the liquid, sparkling wine owes its effervescence to a unique chemical reaction: when grape juice ferments into wine, yeasts turn the sugar into alcohol and give off carbon dioxide. When this process is controlled, and carbon dioxide retained, it essentially carbonates itself. The result is sparkling wine. All sparkling wine start as a still wine. A second fermentation is induced by adding additional yeast and sugar to the wine before recorking. The longer the yeast stays in the bottle, the more yeasty characteristics are imparted to the wine. Sometimes a wine can lay “on lees” for up to 10 years, during which time it develops incredibly complex aromas. And depending on whether this second fermentation is done in a bottle or in a larger pressurized tank, the sparkling wine is either considered traditional or tank method sparkling wine. The pinnacle of traditional (in bottle) method is, of course, Champagne. Champagne vs. Traditional Method Many wonder what is the actually difference is between Champagne and other traditional method sparkling wines? Not much. The simple truth is that all Champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is Champagne. The only way a bottle of sparkling wine can be called Champagne is if it comes from the Champagne region of France. Even if a bottle made in the Okanagan Valley has been made the same way and with the same grapes as a bottle from Champagne, it can only be called sparkling wine. History of Sparkling Wine As with much of wine, the history of sparkling wine can be traced to religious orders in France. Once bottled, wines would occasionally, if they had any residual sugar remaining, re-ferment in the bottle. And if there was any weakness in the glass, the bottle might explode. This was not an unusual occurrence and it made the job of a cellar master quite dangerous indeed! Legend has it that Dom Perignon was the first to understand that it was fermentation that gave the wines their sparkle and another monk, Frere Jean Oudart, perfected the means for controlling the ever-important second fermentation. The process travelled to Spain in 1872 via Josep Raventos who  started producing traditional method sparkling wine in Penedes, just outside Barcelona — a wine we know today as Cava. Italians also have a number of sparkling wines made using this traditional method, such as Franciacorta. However, they are probably best known for their other great contribution to the world of sparkling …

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Wine from the Okanagan Valley

okanagan wineries

Wine lovers in Ontario recognize the strides taken by the Ontario wine industry over the last 25 years. However, the Okanagan Valley has also come a long way in establishing itself as one of the premiere wine destinations in the world. Over the past 25 years, the Okanagan Valley wine industry has flourished. And it was recently voted one of the top wine destinations in the world, second only to Alentejo, Portugal according to a 2014 USA Today report. Why is the Okanagan Valley so Popular? Often referred to “Canada’s Napa Valley” or “Napa North”, the valley offers over 250 kilometers of stunning landscape . Though the Okanagan doesn’t necessarily compete with the scope and scale of the Niagara wine industry, (2,400 to 6,900 hectares), it arguably provides a richer experience owing to its lush environments and rich scenery. Not many other wine regions can offer the visitor a chance to bask in the sun, overlooking a lush vineyard, with a backdrop of a mountain ranges and winding rivers, all the while enjoying a glass of locally-produced wine. In addition to the allure of its surroundings, the southern B.C. region is home to some of the most fertile soils in all of Canada. The dry summer heat aids in the ripening of the grape varietals that produce its renowned wine. Wine and Grape Varieties The Okanagan Valley is home to over 200 licensed wineries which produce wine from over 60 different grape varieties. The style of wine made famous in the Okanagan is rich and ripe wines made from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc. Like their counterparts in Ontario, Okanagan wineries can usually produce icewine every year. Planning a trip? If you are planning to take a trip out to the Okanagan Valley, it is always possible to fly into the Kelowna airport. However, we recommend going by train. Though 4,466 kilometers and 3 days of travel from Ontario to Vancouver may seem long, travel through Northern Ontario, prairie fields and Rocky Mountains is, for many, the trip of a lifetime. Travelling around the Okanagan is done best either by walking or cycling down the Kettle Valley Railway. This old railway line meanders along a scenic 600 kilometre route through South Central British Columbia giving visitors the opportunity to connect with many of the regions best wineries. Try to tie your visit in with one of the many Okanagan Wine Festivals. There are many events taking place all over the  Okanagan that will showcase the region’s passion for great wine making and the terrific wines produced there. For More information on the Okanagan Wine Festivals, please visit the website here: Our Favourite Wines from the Okanagan Valley Are you interested in sampling some of the great wines this region has to offer? Here are some of our favourites available for immediate delivery. While it would be great to be enjoying these wines in the mountains of British Columbia, it’s great to know we can enjoy this wine in Ontario. Red Rooster …

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The Best Red Wines for the Summer

Best Red Wines Summer 2016

With so many health benefits to red wine, it makes sense to enjoy them throughout the year. When the mercury climbs above 30 degrees, you may be tempted to reach for a light rose or white wine, but a true lover of pinot noir, merlot or fine cabernet sauvignon will stay true to their love and passion of all things red. They know that just because it’s getting warmer outside, it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the wine you love! Patios, trips to the beach, and barbeques can all be enhanced with a nice refreshing glass of red wine. As the cooler winter weather becomes a thing of the past as we welcome and the coming warmer temperatures, we explore the best red wines to enjoy as well as the best way to serve them in the summer. How to Enjoy Red Wine in the Summertime Served Chilled – While not conventional, many dedicated red wine lovers have found that chilling their red wine is a great way to enjoy it. When served warm, a red wine can seem rich and heavy and overly powerful. Chilling your red to “cellar temperature” will make it taste bright and refreshing and enhance the experience. Light-bodied reds are best served at around 10 or 12 degrees and while medium bodied wine are served best at 14 degrees. If you not keen to chill your red wine, here are a couple of suggestions to keep in mind when you’re looking for a good red to enjoy. Choose Lighter Bodied Reds – For real summer enjoyment, try to avoid full-bodied and heavily oaked wines. Light or unoaked reds provide a more light and fruity taste and are easier to palate in the summer heat. Consider Lower Tannin Wine – Tannin is a compound in red wine that preserves it and gives structure. However, reds with higher levels of tannin tend to make your tongue dry out as well as leave your mouth with a dry sensation. In the heat of the summer, a lower tannic wine will be more preferred and refreshing. Lower Alcohol Content – As the temperature rises, so does the way alcohol has an effect in our system. It’s important to keep in mind that it’s best to enjoy your red wine with a lesser alcohol content. Anything below 13% would be ideal. Wines with a lower viscosity and lighter body will typically have an ideal alcohol content. The Best Red Wines to Choose While your looking through your wine cellar or ordering wine online, try to look for these red wine varieties that typically include the characteristics of lighter-bodied reds with alcohol content and lower tannin levels. In looking for the perfect bottle of red for the summer time, you cannot go wrong with a nice bottle of Pinot Noir. It is one of the more popular wide varieties of wine in the world as well as in the warmer weather due to it’s high aromatic levels, lighter body and low tannin content. Since it …

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Wine Profile: Pinot Grigio

Pinot Grigio

Its crisp, light and appealing citrus and tree fruit flavours have made Pinot Grigio one of the most popular wines in the world. However, its popularity has been met with the mass production of a lot of “cheap” versions that have sullied the wine’s reputation. When searching for a Pinot Grigio make sure to avoid these and chose one which has characteristics that helped to make it one of the most popular wines on the planet. Pinot Grigio was made popular in the Northern Italian regions of Veneto, Friuli-Venezia-Giulia and Alto Adige. It can be bottled and out on the market within four to twelve weeks after fermentation. Pinot Grigio vs. Pinot Gris You’ve likely heard that Pinot Gris and Pinot Gris are the same wine. Pinot Grigio is the Italian name for the French grape after all. They are made from the same grayish/brownish pink skin grape, however, they each offer with a different style. If a wine has ‘Pinot Gris’ on the label you can expect a more full-bodied, richer, spicier, and more viscous in texture. It also has a longer aging potential. Grapes destined for Pinot Grigio, on the other hand, are harvested earlier to retain the fresh acidity, and it is this early picking with gives this wine its fresher and lighter style. A Brief History Pinot Gris dates back to the middle ages and was discovered in the Burgundy region of France, a (grey) mutation of the (black) Pinot Noir grape. The vines soon spread to Switzerland and were discovered growing in Germany around the 18th century. It was a popular wine grape in Burgundy and Champagne for several centuries. however, unreliable crops led to a decline in popularity around the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Germany continued to produce Pinot gris due the later development of a clonal variety that allowed for a more reliable crop. The grape’s popularity quickly spread to Italy, where it flourishes today. It also currently ranks as the third most popular variety in the United states. Describing a Pinot Grigio The common words used to describe a Pinot Grigio are commonly “light”, “crisp” and “dry”. The palate is usually crisp, lighter-bodied, fresh, and vibrant floral aromas and stone fruit, but this can vary depending on the climate in which it is grown. Northern Italian Pinot Grigio tends to have a straw-yellow color while in other locations this can change to a light shade of pink to a deep golden yellow to copper. Pinot Grigio is a wine best enjoyed when served cold and is made perfect for picnic or a patio on a warm summer day. Best Pinot Grigio Food Pairings While there are many unique combinations, the crispness and acidity in the wine generally pairs well with lighter foods such as seafood, light pasta, and cheese and cracker combinations. Here are a couple of examples from our portfolio: Luigi Righetti– Pinot Grigio Pairs with: Asparagus and eggs, ricotta, risotto and gnocchi with pumpkin. La Tunella – Pinot Grigio 2014 Pairs with: Antipasti, Parma …

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