Wine of The Week

Versatile, charming Pinot Blanc

Posted on: Sunday 7/8/2012 8:32am

Scott Greenberg, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Pinot Blanc originally hails from the Burgundy region of France, where it was commonly mistaken as chardonnay. Through modern DNA testing, it was discovered that pinot blanc is actually distantly related to pinot noir.

Today, pinot blanc is very popular in the Alsace region of France where it tends to be more aromatic and floral. However, it has also found a home in Austria, Italy, Spain, Eastern Europe and the United States, predominately in California and Oregon.

Pinot blanc is a remarkably versatile grape that can produce wines with different personas depending on region and winemaking techniques employed. They range from dry and refreshing to almost dessert-like.

Regardless of the country of origin, one common theme is their extraordinary fragrant bouquet and bright acidity, making them one of the most food-friendly white wines around, particularly when paired with seafood, pork and mild cheeses.

Jean Trimbach is from one of the most knowledgeable wine families in the Alsace region of France. He should be, considering that he is the 13th generation of the Trimbach family in the business. With that wealth of generational history, it is no wonder that the 2010 Trimbach Pinot Blanc from Alsace is one of the best values in France. It displays a wonderful bouquet of green melon and orange citrus blossom. Flavors of pear and crisp apple attacked the front of the palate while creamy flavors of apricot, citrus and peach combine with a touch of mineral to provide a long, memorable finish. $16

Oregon's Willamette Valley is famous for their fruit-driven pinot noir wines, but the 2011 Bethel Heights Pinot Blanc is an excellent example of how brightly pinot blanc can shine in this region. It is a lighter styled version that features a fragrant bouquet of citrus, apple blossom and Asian pear scents. Flavors of green melon, pear and apricot shine through on the core of the palate while notes of smokey undercurrents combined with nice acidity that leaves a lasting impression on the finish. $18

The wine that inspired this column is the 2009 Weinbach Pinot Blanc Reserve from the Alsace region of France. What I really like about this wine is the aromatic nose of fresh melon and ripe stone fruit and the remarkable balance between the refreshing acidity and the luscious flavors of apple, pear and apricot fruit. Tangy minerality on the long, mouth-watering finish keeps the tongue invigorated. $22

The central coast of California has been a hotbed for pinot blanc for several decades. One of the oldest wineries in California to plant pinot blanc is Chalone Vineyards, who began planting the varietal in 1946. Today, the 2009 Chalone Vineyards Pinot Blanc from Monterey County, California is made with newer rootstock but the same dedication, showing off pure flavors of orange blossom, white peach, pineapple and Kadota fig on the front of the palate. Notes of vanilla are enhanced by crisp acidity on the complex finish. $26

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

Sparkling wines make perfect Fourth of July beverages

Posted on: Friday 6/29/2012 9:53pm

Scott Greenberg, Wine Columnist for the Washington Examiner

American Sparklers for the 4th of July

Posted on: Friday 6/29/2012 6:36pm

Scott Greenberg, wtop.com

I was recently part of a three-person panel of judges at the 32nd San Francisco wine competition. Since there are 16 panels, you never know what your group will be asked to evaluate. Fortunately, our panel was blessed to begin the second day of judging with an assortment of Brut Rose sparkling wines.

After working our way through the first dozen entries, I commented that there were definitely some "keepers" in that flight. I then made the mistake of wondering out loud if there were any really good domestic sparkling wines.

I literally regretted making the comment before the words had left my mouth. Of course, I know that the good ol' U-S-of-A produces some of the best sparkling wines around, but it was too late and my fellow judges pounced on my faux pas faster than I could retract my statement.

So, I thought with the Fourth of July just around the corner, what better way to make amends for my foolish statement and celebrate the founding of our country than with a few all-American sparklers.

The Non-Vintage Chandon Brut Classic from California is all dressed up for the Fourth of July. Sporting a festive red, white and blue bottle, this sparkler is made in the traditional method, or méthode champenoise as its famous Champagne parent, Moet & Chandon, refers to it. The wine is blended with 10 to 20 percent reserve wines from prior harvests in order to produce a consistent "house" style that exhibits aromas of brioche and nectarine and flavors of apple and pear that leads to a soft, dry finish. $17

While Cristal may be the most well-known wine in the Louis Roederer portfolio in France, the Non-vintage Roederer Estate Brut from Anderson Valley in Sonoma, Calif. is definitely getting a lot of attention here at home. It is made from chardonnay and pinot noir, with small amounts of previously vinified reserve wines blended in for consistency. The nose is full of pear (chardonnay) and red apple scents (pinot noir). Flavors of ripe green apples and nectarines mingle with nuances of pineapple, toasted hazelnuts, and honeysuckle. The finish is long and elegant with hints of ripe pear and vanilla notes. $20

The legendary Champagne house of G.H. Mumm has been making sparkling wine in Napa Valley for over two decades using the same méthode champenoise as their French counterpart. Their Non-vintage Mumm Napa Valley Sparkling Wine Cuvee M was a Double Gold winner at the 2009 San Francisco International Wine Competition and it's easy to see why. Starting with the elegant bouquet of white peach and baked bread on the nose and heading in to the flavors of pear, nectarine and peach on the palate, the wine sparkles and shines. Bright acidity holds up the telltale hints of brioche and vanilla on the crisp finish. $20

I know that I have praised the virtues of the Non-vintage Thibaut-Janisson Blanc de Chardonnay Sparkling Wine from Charlottesville before in this column but it is definitely worth mentioning again. Made by French expats Claude Thibaut and Manuel Janisson, this delicious sparkler is produced exclusively from chardonnay grapes. The wonderfully yeasty nose boasts scents of Gala apple and ripe pear while the tiny, fine bubbles deliver waves of delicious apples, peach and brioche highlights. The finish is balanced, crisp and refreshing. $26

Many people consider Jack and Jamie Davies the founders of the high-end American sparkling wine movement. In 1965, after painstakingly restoring the historic Napa Valley Schramsberg winery in St. Helena, they introduced their Blanc de Blanc sparkler. Today, the Schramberg portfolio includes a variety of sparkling wines, but my favorite is the Non-vintage Schramsberg Brut Rosé. Made from a blend of pinot noir and chardonnay, it displays gorgeous flavors of strawberry and bright cherries on the front of the palate and notes of mango and papaya on the back end, adding delicious depth to the lovely, long finish. $38

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

Summer sippers: She said, he said

Posted on: Sunday 6/24/2012 1:27pm

Scott Greenberg, wtop.com

According to the sun's position, the summer season officially began at 7:09 p.m., June 20 when the summer solstice sun reached the furthest distance north of the equator, providing the longest daylight hours of the year. This can only mean one thing: More sunshine to chill out with the right summer wine.

But which wine to tame the high temperatures with is a constant source of heat in our household.

She likes white wines that are crisp and dry, he prefers wines that are off-dry and refreshing. Since both styles definitely have a place in the wine bucket and on the palate, so I will each share both of our favorite picks so you can decide which wine style will help you keep your cool this summer.

She said: 'Crisp and Dry'

I can't think of any better way to beat the heat than with a glass of well-chilled dry white wine. White wines that have higher acidity act like a natural fire extinguisher for the tongue, refreshing the palate with every pass and leaving the impression of crispness on the finish. Here are a few that I reach for when the heat is on.

Torrontés is one of my favorite summertime heat busters. Traditionally grown in Argentina, it is usually produced in stainless steel tanks to preserve the fresh fruit flavors. The 2011 Andeluna Torrontés from the Mendoza region of Argentina is produced in collaboration with world-renowned winemaking consultant Michel Rolland. It has lovely aromas of acacia flowers, jasmine, peach and grapefruit. Abundant acidity keeps the bright flavors of tropical fruits, nectarine and citrus fresh and the finish crisp. $10

I also like the 2010 Neal Family Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley, Calif. Produced exclusively from organically framed grapes, this wine is a beautiful example of warmer climate style. The fragrant bouquet of papaya and kiwi paves the way for the lovely tropical fruit and pineapple flavors that glide across the tongue. Pitch-perfect acidity refreshes the palate with each sip. $18

He said: 'Off-Dry'

I want my off-dry wines to be refreshing but not cloyingly sweet. The secret is balance. When there is balance between the fruit, the residual sugar and abundant acidity, few wines shine as brightly on the tongue as these wines do when it comes to beating the steamy temperature of summer or the heat of spicy fare.

Semi-sweet sparkling wines are one of the best kept secrets when it comes to taming summer's heat. I'm sure that the 2010 Fratelli Moscato d'Asti Moscato d'Asti, Italy DOGC won't be a secret for long. Fragrant aromas of acacia and white peaches explode on the nose and in the mouth, where notes of apricot nectar and nectarine join the fun. The pop of acidity and the bright bubbles keeps the palate refreshed. $17

I am usually not one for gimmicky wines, so I approached the 2011 Kung Fu Girl Riesling from the Columbia Valley in Washington State with a healthy degree of skepticism. I was knocked out by the juicy apple core and bright citrus flavors. The balancing act between sweetness and acidity is perfect, giving the finish a delicious highlight of lemon zest and ripe nectarine. $14

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

Father's Day wine recommendations

Posted on: Friday 6/15/2012 6:24pm

Scott Greenberg, wtop.com

"Live from San Francisco, It's Wine of the Week!"

I am in San Francisco for the fourth year to judge the three-day long San Francisco International Wine Competition.

This year, there are over 4,500 entries, but fortunately, I am only responsible for about 450 of them. It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it.

So in between sips and spits, I thought I'd call in and provide a few recommendations for Father's Day.

If all dad wants to do this Father's Day is hang out in a hammock, then bring him an ice bucket with a bottle of 2011 Chateau de Segries Tavel Rosé from the Rhone Valley, France in it. Made from a blend of grenache, cinsault, mourvedre and a touch of syrah, this dry rosé features strawberry, cherry and watermelon on the nose and on the palate. A hint of orange peel on the pretty finish gives it a little lift on the end and keeps you coming back for another sip. $16

If dad needs to chill out, try the 2010 Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc from the Dry Creek region of Sonoma, California. This wine is a perennial favorite around our house. We love the scents of green melon, citrus and passion fruit. The crisp, clean flavors of grapefruit, melon and nectarines stay bright on the palate and the lemony hints on the back end make this a perfect pairing with fresh shellfish. $17

I am in the land of fresh seafood, so grilled salmon is on the menu for my Father's Day dinner. I plan on pairing it with the 2009 Forrest Pinot Noir from the Marlborough region of New Zealand. This Down Under beauty is bursting with flavors of plum and red cherry up front and loads of wild strawberry and red raspberry on the beautifully balanced finish. The wine has remarkable structure, so it will cut through the richness of the salmon but still feel delicate in the mouth and on the charming finish. $25

A big, fat juicy steak is always a sure-fire way to reward dad on his special day, especially if you pair it with the 2009 Paraduxx Napa Valley Red Wine, Napa Valley, California. The blend of zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc make this wine sing. The palate, driven by red plums, cherries and boysenberry, is medium-bodied and balanced by the sweet tannins. Notes of spice, roasted coffee and dark chocolate carry the lush finish. $50

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

White wine tour of Italy

Posted on: Saturday 6/9/2012 10:18am

Scott Greenberg, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Last week, I talked about touring Italy with red wines, which is great, but Italy, the second-largest wine producing country in the world also makes world class white wines.

When most people think of Italian white wines, they think of Soave and Pinot Grigio - which is fine, but there is so much more to explore in Italy.

The grapes used to make Italian white wines are numerous and include both native and non-native varietals, including Arneis, Cortese, Moscato, Chardonnay, Picolit, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, Ribolla Gialla, Sauvignon Blanc, Tocai Friulano, Verduzzo, Muller-Thurgau, Nosiola, Traminer, Garganega, Trebbiano, Vespaiola, Malvasia, and Vernaccia.

While it may seem like a challenge to keep them all straight, the broad assortment of white wines gives consumers the luxury of selecting wines that pair with a plethora of cuisines and taste preferences.

Abutting the Swiss border at the northern edge of Italy is the region of Trentino where Torre di Luna excels in producing value-oriented wines. The cooler daytime temperatures provide an ideal climate for the 2011 Torre di Luna Sauvignon Blanc Delle Venezie IGT. The straw colored wine has an intensely aromatic bouquet filled with aromas of tropical fruit and citrus blossoms. The bright acidity accents the grapefruit and lemon/lime flavors and gives the wine a refreshing boost. The medium-bodied finish is crisp and light and just cries out for a plate of seafood risotto. $10

Also located in Trentino is the Istituto Agrario San Michele, where the vineyards are dedicated to the education, experimentation and preservation of native varietals. The winery of San Michele is located as an extension of the research facility and focuses on the modern production of wines from indigenous grapes, like the 2011 San Michele Pinot Grigio Trentino DOC. The nose has distinctive scents of peach and nectarine fruits and wet stone. The fruity-yet-dry mouthfeel supports notes of peach nectar, pear and citrus flavors. The bright finish displays a nice mineral undertone that allows this wine to stand on its own or enjoyed with roasted chicken. $16

Immediately to the south of Trentino is the Veneto region, home to the Bisol family, where over 21 generations have been involved with the historic winery located in the ODGC area of San Stefano di Valdobbiadene. From their 300-plus acres of vineyard comes the stunning white sparkling 2010 Brisol Crede Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOGC. The blend of glera, pinot bianco, and verdiso come from a single vineyard where the sub-soil is composed of marine sandstone, known as "crede." The terrain acts as a reservoir for the vines, pulling water away and giving it back as the fruit needs it. The elegant nose offers up honeysuckle and bright apple while the medium-sized bubbles carry flavors of apple, pear and baked bread over the entire palate. Perfect for making Bellinis (the famous sparkling cocktail with pureed peaches) or paired with sushi. $18

In the northwest corner of Italy is the famous wine region of Piemonte, best known as the home of the red grape nebbiolo. But this is also where the Broglia family estate of La Meirana makes the delicious 2011 Broglia La Meirana Gavi di Gavi DOGC from 100 percent Cortese di Gavi grapes from a single vineyard. The wonderfully aromatic nose is filled with scents of wildflowers and ripe peaches. In the mouth, the wine feels richly textured as layers of ripe peaches, apricots and nectarines vie for attention on the tongue. The bold structure and substantial acidity make this wine a candidate for aging a few years, but if you must drink it today, try it with grilled Branzino. $17

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

A red wine tour of Italy

Posted on: Saturday 6/2/2012 9:38am

Scott Greenberg, wtop.com

I have a difficult time keeping Italian wine regions and their varietals straight.

Part of the reason for my confusion is the labyrinth of vineyard designations and the complex regulatory governance that defines and enforces the various levels of quality from each region.

But recently, I had the pleasure of sampling a variety of wines from across Italy. And thanks to Deena of Vias Imports, my personal wine tour guide, I finally started to get a grasp on what goes where.

In the northern edge of Italy is an area carved out by the Adige River where the estate of Teunta San Leonardo has been under the ownership of the Guerrieri Gonzaga family since the mid-eighteenth century. Today, the estate is planted to international varietals that thrive in the various microclimates on the nearly 50 acres. The 2008 Terre di Tenuta San Leonardo Vigneti Delle Dolomiti IGT is an outstanding value. Vinified in cement vats using a blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot, the wine delivers loads of simple-yet-elegant flavors of black fruit, dark plum and wild cherry. The pretty finish shows off just a touch of mocha for good measure. $15

A quarter of the way down the coast is where you'll find Fattoria del Cerro, the largest private estate producing Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The star of the show in this region is the Prugnolo Gentile, a clone of the Sangiovese grape. The 2008 Fattoria del Cerro Vino Nobile di Montepulciano spends a good bit of time in Slovenian oak which gives the nose a distinctive toasty oak accent. The smooth palate shows off flavors of black cherries and smoky plum. The mellow tannins offer up hints of vanilla on the easy, medium-bodied finish. $16

In the dead center of the country is the region of Abruzzo where the vineyards of Cataldi Madonna sit in a valley blessed by exceptional exposure to the sun. The 2010 Cataldi Madonna Montepulciano D'Abruzzo DOC is made from 100 percent Montepulciano and exudes richness and depth with every sip. Flavors of dark cherries and black currants dominate on the tongue. Rustic notes of earthy spices add complexity on the medium finish. $17

Founded in 1979 by Gianni Cantele and sons Augusto and Domenico, the vineyard, located in the southern tip of Puglia - in the "heel of the boot" - is home to varietals that include primitivo and negroamaro. Today, Augusto's son, Gianni Cantele, is the winemaker and is responsible for the wonderfully balanced 2009 Cantele Primitivo Salento IGT. Made exclusively from primitivo, considered by many to be the precursor of zinfandel, it features a toasty oak nose and flavors of succulent red and black fruit on an extremely well-balanced, fat frame. The extra-long finish, with sweet tannins and notes of smoky cedar, belies is price. $11

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

White wines for summer chillin'

Posted on: Thursday 5/31/2012 10:12am

Scott Greenberg, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - While the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, may mark the official start of summer as June 20th this year, Memorial Day weekend kicks off the psychological beginning of the season.

And while I drink white wines just about any time because I really like white wines, the arrival of the summer season just gives me a great excuse to pretend to be vogue.

So if you're firing up the barbeque this weekend and you're looking for some fun wines to share with family, friends and neighbors this weekend, here are a couple of really delicious and affordable white wines to consider putting in your frig or on ice.

In the eastern part of Veneto, Italy, there is an area of especially fine vineyards with a wine-making tradition extending back to Roman times. This is home to Cantine Torresella winery, where the temperate climate and clay soils produce some of Italy's best wines. The 2010 Torresella Pinot Grigio hails from this prestigious pedigree and offers up flavors of white nectarine, ripe peach, Gala apple and Bosch pear all wrapped around a core of acidity and minerality. The finish is crisp and bracing. $10

Torrontés is a white wine that is often overlooked, but it shouldn't be, particularly if you're looking for a charming summer wine to chill out with. The 2010 Bodega Tamari Torrontés Reserva comes from the Fatima Valley in La Rioja, Argentina where the days are warm and the nights are cool, resulting in bright acidity that lets the true nature of the fruit shine through. Stylish scents of white flowers and tropical fruits shine through on the bouquet while citrusy flavors of grapefruit, nectarine and mango fall on to the wonderfully refreshing finish. $12

Michel Chapoutier is considered one of the most highly regarded winemakers in the Rhone Valley of France, particularly for his remarkable Hermitage wines. But Michel can also produce some incredibly value-oriented wines that deliver a lot for the money. The 2010 M. Chapoutier Belleruche Blanc from the Côtes-du-Rhône appellation is made from a blend of Grenache Blanc, Clairette and Bourboulenc and delivers an explosion of green apple, orange blossoms, papaya and guava on a remarkably well-balanced frame. The rich mouthfeel carries weight and depth through the medium finish. $13

I have a hammock in the backyard that needs two things in it this weekend; me and a glass of 2011 Boxwood Winery Rose. This local beauty hails from Middleburg, Virginia where winemaker Adam McTaggart blends together merlot, cabernet franc and malbec to develop aromas of wild strawberry, kiwi and apricot and flavors of strawberry, bright cherry and watermelon that stay light and bright on the palate, thanks to the extraordinary balance. Abundant acidity keeps the finish refreshing and focused. $14

The Marlborough region, located in the northern tip of the South Island of New Zealand, is home to two valleys that produce world class Sauvignon Blanc wines; Wairau Valley and Awatere Valley. Villa Maria takes grapes from both areas and blends them together for the 2011 Villa Maria Estate Private Bin Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. The aromatic nose of green grass and grapefruit pave the way for flavors of gooseberry, passion fruit and tropical fruit on the palate. A pop of lemon/lime acidity on the finish is lip-smacking delicious. $15

Rieslings routinely get a bum rap among American consumers, probably since many inexpensive rieslings cover up their flaws too much residual sugar, resulting in a sweet, cloying mess. But the wonderfully balanced 2010 Chateau Ste. Michelle Eroica Riesling from the Columbia Valley in Washington State is just the thing for summer grilling. Originally conceived as a collaboration between the world-renown German winemaker, Dr. Ernst Loosen, and the winemaker for Chateau Ste. Michele, Bob Bertheau, this riesling delivers fresh and tangy flavors of orange blossom, white peach, lemon/lime undertones. A touch of wet stone seeps in on the lengthy finish. $20

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

2009 Bordeaux vintage is a splurge

Posted on: Friday 5/18/2012 6:34pm

Scott Greenberg, wtop.com

One of the things that really sunk in about the past decade in Bordeaux is that for the first time in recent memory, Bordeaux did not experience any "off" vintages. Not a single one.

Of all the good-to-great vintages, 2009 seems to be the best of the bunch, with a perfect combination of a gentle, cool winter, a warm spring and an even rise in temperature throughout the summer months.

As a result, both red and white grapes developed beautiful flavors that made spectacular wines. The bad news; wine prices for this vintage have pushed the limits of most consumer's budgets. But, as with all things Bordeaux, buying these wines now to enjoy five to ten years down the road could actually be a tasteful investment.

Let's start with the best value of the vintage, the 2009 Chateau Meney from the Saint-Estèphe appellation features all the things I look for in a Bordeaux wine, including scents of black fruit and earth on the nose. The palate reveals straight forward flavors of black plum, dark currants and cedar. The medium-bodied frame displays a touch of licorice and abundant acidity provides a solid finish. $39

St. Julien may be the smallest of the four famous appellations of the Haut Medoc, but it is known for producing some big Cabernet Sauvignon based reds, like the 2009 Gloria. It sports a charming nose of red plum, orange peel and earth. The firm tannins hold the abundant red and black fruit flavors in place like a traffic cop, allowing the flavors to stop on the tongue long enough to back up for the next sip. The linger finish offers up a touch of spice and minerality. $49

Rochet takes its name from the rocks that are found in the limestone subsoil that creates the landscape of the vineyards found on the property of Lafon-Rochet in the Saint-Estèphe appellation. The 2009 Château Lafon-Rochet, is made up mostly of cabernet sauvignon with a quarter of merlot and then smidges of petite verdot and cabernet franc blended in. The nose is full of bright cherry and smoky cedar that leads to flavors of dark black fruit, plum and dark cherry on the beautifully balanced palate. Soft tannins hold up the long finish where hints of earthy minerals linger for over half a minute. $55

Rauzan-Ségla, located in the Margaux appellation, has always been known as a high-end "Second Growth" Bordeaux property, but they really stepped up their game - and the quality of their wines - when the House of Chanel took over as new owners in 1994. Since then, pardon the pun, they have been making fashionable wines. The 2009 Château Rauzan-Ségla, cabernet sauvignon based wine has a healthy dose of merlot blended in and has a nose that shows off scents of violets and red cherry. The charming mouthfeel is delicate but delivers plenty of dark and red fruit flavors across the entire palate. A touch of Indian spice and minerality on the long, clean finish is charming and memorable. $99

I have had the pleasure of knowing Daniel and Florence Cathiard, owners of the lovingly renovated Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte, for over a decade, so I am thrilled that their 2009 Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte is getting so much attention. Flavors of dark plum, smoky cassis, blackberry jam and roasted coffee all compete for space on the palate, but it is the remarkable balance between tannins, fruit and acidity that makes this a near-perfect wine. The seductive and delightful finish persists for well over a minute, leaving an indelible memory on the tongue. A genuine splurge at $179

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

Mother's Day 2012 food and wine gift suggestions

Posted on: Friday 5/4/2012 8:05pm

Scott Greenberg, special to wtop.com

I know that the old adage about gift giving is that it's the thought that counts, but this Mother's Day mom thinks it would be wonderful to receive a tasteful gift. After all, if you have a mother who loves to cook - and occasionally enjoys a delicious glass of wine along with her culinary efforts - then you'll love the idea of pairing cookbooks and wine.

And if it really is the thought that counts, chances are good that thoughtful spouses and children will reap the benefits of mom's kitchen creations.

These suggestions actually came from my wife, so I know what she'd like to take for a taste drive this Mother's Day.

  • "Taste Buds and Molecules: The Art and Science of Food, Wine, and Flavor" by Francois Chartier ($37) - What's the first thing you do when you are served a glass of wine or plate of food? If you're like me, you inhale deeply. The sense of smell is integral to the sense of taste. You can't fully appreciate one without the other. This book discusses "the basic aromatic compounds responsible for taste at a molecular level" to enhance your understanding of food and wine pairings so you may broaden the flavor combinations in your cooking.

  • "The Mom 100 Cookbook: 100 Recipes Every Mom Needs in Her Back Pocket" by Katie Workman ($17) - The 20 chapters are categorized by dilemmas, with 5 solutions per dilemma, in which a mom may find herself such as a potluck, lunches to stay or go and bake sale. The recipes have sub sections labeled "make ahead", "cooking tip" and "what the kids can do" to engage them in the process. The photographs are plentiful, colorful, and inviting.

If you want to keep mom's palate cool this Mother's Day, think Prosecco. The Italian sparkling white is vinified and carbonated in stainless steel tanks, which keeps the wine fresh and bright. The Non-vintage Soligo Prosecco Brut from Veneto, Italy has loads of floral notes on the bouquet and delivers flavors of crisp apple, ripe pear and tangy citrus with polish and panache on the palate. The medium-sized bubbles do a wonderful job of cooling off the tongue and make a great way to start off any meal. $20

Of course, every mom likes getting flowers on Mother's Day, but I prefer my flowers in the form of rosés, like the 2010 Soter North Valley Pinot Noir Rosé from Oregon. Wine maven Tony Soter co-ferments pinot gris with his estate grown pinot noir grapes to produce a wine that is full of strawberry and ripe watermelon aromas. The palate favors juicy flavors of strawberry-rhubarb, ripe peaches and a touch of orange marmalade and pomegranate on the sensational finish. Perfect with soft cheeses and summer fruits. $25

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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