random wine info i like
Read @ Andrea Robinson's Wine Site She's tops. Writes great cook/winebooks, too.
Read Eric Asimov at the New York Times
Amazon's List of Wine Buying Guide Books
Amazon's List of Books about Wineries
Nathalie MacLean's Wine Blog
Oz Clarke Enjoy Wine site
Wall Street Journal Wine Blog
my favorite books about wine
Andrea Robinson's 2011 Wine Buying Guide for Everyone (Andrea Immer Robinson's Wine Buying Guide for Everyone) by Andrea Robinson (Nov 1, 2010)
Nathalie has a new book out, too; I haven't read it yet.
Windows on the World Complete Wine Course by Kevin Zraly updated regularly
If you're only buying one, this is it; buy Windows on the World.
about pairing and ordering in restaurants
15 Rules for Pairing Food and Wine
Top 5 Bad Wine Pairings from Epicurious
Dos and Don'ts for Ordering Wine
For some good pairing videos, check out Andrea Robinson's site (scroll up).
Still lost? Two ideas for pairings: 1. Go to the wine shop and talk to the sales folks; they'll help. 2. Be bold
and creative. Match the prep, not the protein. For instance, if you have a steak that you're slicing
and throwing into an Asian dish with lots of soy and hot peppers, don't serve a big red wine
because big reds go with beef. Those flavors will ruin a tasty red wine and you'll wish you
hadn't done it. Try an off-dry Riesling or a beer. Alternately, fish goes with white; right? Not
always. Check out one of my Provencal fish dishes that are sauced with lots of tomatoes, garlic,
onions, kalamata olives, and so one. In this case, what grows together goes together: open a
French Rhone or a light Italian red.
about wineries and regions
Map and Basic Wine Regions of the World
Best Wines from Each of the 50 States
Oregonwines.com (All About Oregon Wines!)
California Wine Regions
French Wine Regions: The Rhone Valley
While expensive wine is easy to buy and often lovely to drink the problem is more often how to be sure a bottle of less-expensive wine is worth buying. For 50 wines under $20, check out this article from FOOD AND WINE.
Great Chardonnay Values
Best pink sparklers under $20
Wine Enthusiast Web Site
Moscato d'Asti Pairings (Dessert)
Virtual Wine Tasting (via Snooth)
This is a huge topic that I don't begin to want to tackle. And I think people make it incredibly complex. But-- people ask. So, if I have to answer, I have two pieces of advice:
1. Go to the wine store and talk to someone. Do not read the myriad of stuff in magazines and online. You need to speak to someone in person about what your preferences are--foodwise, moneywise, and so on. Go a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, not on Wednesday.
2. If you don't want to figure anything out at all and are preparing a typical American sort of meal: buy two kinds of wine and sparkling water, as well as sparkling apple/pear juice for kids, nondrinkers, and designated drivers. Make sure everyone at the table has fancy glasses; they needn't match.
Sparkling apple/pear juice
I won't get into specific wineries or prices. Visit the wine shop, give them your budget and tell them how many people are coming. Let them suggest their best options. Don't be shy and be honest. If you'd like, and can afford to, try out a couple of bottles ahead and see what you think. Remember they'll taste differently with Aunt Lola's Cauliflower Puree, turkey and dressing.
You'll make nearly everyone happy (or at least they can live) with those choices. Except for the one person who doesn't drink wine and you'd better have beer for him. How much wine? Generally speaking, you'll need 1/2 bottle per person if you plan on a couple of glasses per person for the meal itself. There are 4-5 glasses per bottle. A little extra won't hurt, particularly if you think folks might sip a glass before the meal, too. In that case, buy some sparkling wine, while you're at it. People drink less of that (3 oz servings) and there are great buys in Cavas from Spain or a Gruet from New Mexico if you'd like an American sparkler. It's Thanksgiving; live it up.
What to drink for Valentine's Day from WSJ
Aphrodisiac Wine Pairings from wine gurus Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg
Red and Pink Drinks for Valentine's Day
wine and cheese party--have one--go ahead--no cooking!
This is another big subject with lots of expert opinion available. Expert: I'm not. That said, you should eat the cheese and drink the wine YOU LIKE! Try some out and see what you think. But really, if you want the lowdown: my advice is go to the library and take out Laura Werlin's book (see above.) Or buy it; it's not downloadable currently, but there are inexpensive used copies at amazon.
Check around; there are a few other wine and cheese pairing books.
If you don't want to get a good book, the easy way is to go to the cheese shop or grocery and pick about six cheeses you like. A good cheese shop will let you taste. Choose a wide variety that might include a blue cheese, a goat's cheese, a sheep's cheese, an aged cheese, a soft brie or camembert, etc. Take the list to the wine shop and let them help you. You can choose to pair with dessert wines, wines that compliment, wines that contrast, or all three--or other ways.
Some wonderful, traditional pairings (or ones I like) are Sancerre--my favorite wine-- with goat cheese and Port with blue cheese--and ripe pears! I love Champagne with brie--and potato chips! An aged Vermont cheddar (or an English cheddar) is perfect--for me-- with Syrah. That gives you a white, a sparkler, and a red option.
I do not like big red wines with cheese, but some people do. In fact, I think (overall) white wines are more cheese-friendly. Riesling (any) is about the most versatile cheese wine on my table. (There are dry Rieslings, too!) I think this is because cheeses are often salty; Rieslings offset that with their sweetness or near-sweetness in the trocken or halb-trocken varieties (Dry or half-dry--Americans might say "off dry" and Washington makes some of those.) Don't like Riesling? Try Chenin Blanc or Pinot Gris. Oregon produces the perfect Pinot Gris and it's not expensive. If you do pair older red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon with cheese, try the aged cheeses like aged Gouda or Parmesan, which is lovely shaved into thin slices. The more cheese-friendly reds for me are things like Italian Dolcettos, particularly, or California Zinfandels.
Things you might need: Lots of glasses (use good ones--borrow from friends to have enough,) wine charms, extra cheese knives (borrow or go to thrift stores), some way to label the cheese and/or make lists of suggested pairings for guests, different kinds of nuts (some flavored or toasted), dried and fresh fruit, unflavored crackers, rosemary crackers/bread, walnut and/or raisin bread, baguette, small chocolates--dark and milk, chutney or fruit compote, honey, quince paste.
Things to remember: Chill your whites for just 2 hours before the party; 3-4 hours for sparkling wine. Some reds benefit from a tiny bit of chilling, but no more than 20 minutes. Open all wine except sparkling wine before people arrive. You can put whites in a wine bucket with water and ice to keep them cool or just leave them on the table. Take out your cheeses an hour - hour and a half ahead; they should be at room temperature and/or more. Get your serving things out early in the day and make sure you have enough for the the cheese, bread, etc. you've bought. If not, antique or thrift shops often have a fun variety of glasses, platters, cheese knives, and so on. Set the room(s) up with cheese and wine in different places if possible so that people move around from place to place. You can figure on people staying several hours and drinking several glasses of wine before they leave, though often the glasses are small pours for tasting.
Non-alcoholic drinks: Make sure you have sparkling water or soft drinks/coffee for designated drivers and for those who want to taste a lot more cheese than wine.
Wine Enthusiast's Wine and Cheese Party Pairing List for a quick overview