Wine Talk

Snooth User: Honeybells

My dilemma with wine...

Posted by Honeybells, Sep 21, 2009.

Ahhh... So many wines, so little time, and such a small budget... I am trying so hard to learn the world of wines as best I can, but this experience is truly one I have to take on my own. (Thank goodness for Snooth!). So my dilemma... I am trying to find reasonably priced wines that suit my tastes as well as my food preference. I do not eat red meats, (rarely any meat at all really... except for fist). I'm more of a portobello burger kind of girl. I cook everyday, from scratch, (mainly organic), and my versatility in the kitchen far exceeds my versatility with wine. I've begun to bore myself with sticking to a single pinot noir I know I enjoy. I WANT SOME EXCITEMENT in my life! What to pair when I make sushi for instance? Or when I make homemade pizza or a cheese ravioli with sage cream sauce??? Also, what is just a good wine all by itself on a hot afternoon? So, to add to it, I'm seeking wines under $15 and that are able to be chilled, (even if just mildly so), as I live in the "HOT" part of Maui and enjoy being refreshed by my chosen beverage...
Forever Learning,


Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Sep 21, 2009.

Ono Burger at Paia Fish Market.

Just had to get that out.

Sucshi? Muscadet of Txacoli.

Pizza, I really like beer with pizza, it's yeasty and yeasty but sparkling wine works well and sparkling red wine even better! Lambrusco is worth seeking out though make sure it's dry.

Cheese ravioli in sage cream. Something to go with that sage. Freisa from Piedmont or perhaps a lighter styled nebbiolo. Seeing as your on the Hot side maybe a Rose of Nebbiolo!

Ok, but now remembering you are on Maui and limited in your selections lets see. I'm pretty sure Sansei serves the Müller Thurgau, CF Wines “Eurasia” by the glass, at least they did in August. See if you can it it's a good sushi wine as are lighter styled Grner Veltliners though some preparations and fish are more wine friendly that others. Pinot Blanc/Pinot Bianco can also be a good sushi match and is certainly a good fish match.

With pizza, especially veggie pizza look for a Barbera, all bright and with acids that can slice right past the acidity of the tomatoes it's generally a good match. And with grilled veggies served with really nice olive oil it's a killer match. Lighter Barbera is great with a bit of chill too.

For the pasta perhaps a nice Valpolicella can be found, or a nice Rioja from Spain or Chianti. All three are blended wines with good to great acidity and light red fruits that can have an herbal edge.

OK. that should be a start!

Next year I'm coming with a sampler case of great wines!

Reply by Honeybells, Sep 21, 2009.

Aloha Greg!
I knew you wouldn't let me down. I will be busy, (and tipsy), for months to come with your wonderful recommendations. Thank goodness I can stop with the Pinot Noir for awhile! As for the Ono Burger from Paia Fish Market... that happened last week. ;-) Paia is a great food town. When you come back, DO NOT, I reapeat, DO NOT miss Flatbread's Pizza. Homemade with local ingredients in a wonderful wood fired oven. As for beer with pizza, I AGREE! When I make mexican food I drink beer as well, (I just didn't know if I was missing out on some awesome pairing oppurtunity!). All my friends go to Sansei, (for happy hour), so next time I'll be sure to join in and try the Eurasia.

I look forward to hopefully meeting you next year... As I become more educated, I will be sure to interact more with this lovely site I've grown so fond of. Once again, MAHALO for your suggestions! Time to hit the Super Store and start pouring!

Reply by dmcker, Sep 21, 2009.

Honeybells, welcome to Snooth.

With sushi I've had some success with bonedry champagne, prosecco, and good sparkling wine from California. When you say 'sushi', though, there are all sorts. So are we talking nigiri (and good for you if you can shape those little bitefuls successfully), or temaki or oshizushi or mazezushi or...? The ingredients, and degree of vinegarization may make adjustments a good idea. In line with Greg's recommendation above, beer can work well with sushi, too. Whether from Mehana or the Kona Brewing Company, plenty of good microbrews from the Big Island, and I hear there are more in the works. Then there's always Sake, an excellent go-to with sushi, that can chill well, too.

Greg's recommendations of Barbera for the tomato sauces and the like is always a good one. If you're chilling, you might also want to try to find some roses/rosados made from Sangiovese, whether from California, or Italy. If not chilling so much, some good Chianti Classico reserves are a good call, too. Have you tried any wines from the Rhone in southern France? Cotes du Rhone or Chateau Neuf du Pape or Hermitage or Cote Rotie or Gigondas have varying degrees of syrah, grenache and other grape varietals in them, and bring a lot of interesting experiences to the nose and mouth. The Cotes du Rhone are generally the cheapest, and a good place to start. A little north of them, on the southern edges of Burgundy proper, is an area called Beaujolais, where the wines are made from the gamay grape. The make a lot of very good, very undervalued wines that will stand up well to chilling. Avoid the over-priced-for-what-it-is, basically-still-grape-juice beaujoais nouveau, and look for examples from Brouilly, Morgon, Moulin-a-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles and Julieanas. And grenache (or 'garnacha') from the Priorat or even Calatayud in Spain are worth trying.

Since you led with the pinot noir, my recommendations have been mostly for red. For whites, you can look for some French sauvignon blanc from the Graves/Entre-deux-Mers areas, as well as the Loire. I don't like the New Zealand versions anywhere near as much, but that's a matter of personal taste. I like Chablis and Muscadet and Pinot Gris/Grigio with various seafood preparations, both from the kitchen and off the grill. Good California chardonnay--not the bigger, blusterier ones, but tighter, more 'French'-styled versions from the Sonoma Coast, Russian River, Napa and even south of San Francisco--can work well, too. There's a lot of good wine out there, and if you follow the suggestions here you'll have a lot of fun exploring...

If you can't find them in your local liquor stores perhaps you can find a couple of reliable online merchants on the Mainland who will ship them out to you. You can find some merchants listed on Snooth, and others through a web search. It would also help you to search on the Snooth Forum or in the Snooth Articles for wines you're interested in. You can find some descriptions and recommendations in threads and articles on Beaujolais, Chateau Neuf du Pape (which also mentions Cotes du Rhone), etc.

Enjoy, and let us know how you're doing finding new excitement through wine discoveries in that lovely, if laid back, place where you reside! Any questions are welcome.

Finally, eating 'fist'? ;-)

Reply by Honeybells, Sep 22, 2009.

Thank you so much dmcker! One question though... are you guys trying to get me drunk? =] I will be busy for quite sometime with these wonderful recommendations. All are appreciated, and I will anxiously wait for more pairings to add to my Looooonnng list I've begun. As for the sushi, I make the standard nigiri rolls, (such as the classic spicy tuna roll is a favorite of mine). However, your reply led me to look up oshizushi and that is very intriguing. I think I will give it a whirl. Sake has never been a good experience for me. I think it is the fact that I've only had it warm. Perhaps I'll try it chilled to give it a chance to redeem itself.

I have visited the Kona Brewing Co. and I really like about a third of the selection the main brewery offers. Sometimes they will come out with a special brew that I love, but unfortunately they mainly stick with mass producing their 4 classic brews. Do you live in Hawaii?

A lot of my favorite wineries will not ship here, but there are a few places that carry an extensive selection. As for reds vs. whites, I like them both immensely. Reds just seem to impress me more often, although sometimes a white will come along that will steal the show and I'll buy a few to keep around. I actually prefer white recommendations, as I struggle more to find one's that I enjoy... (perhaps I'm looking on the wrong shelf). =]

So once again, thank you so much for your help and words of encouragment in my dilemma. I did not understand your last statement until I just read it all over again and then I literally laughed until I cried... Damn me for never proof-reading! I made a few typos... but who's counting? :) Fist.... Ahahaha... I think I'll continue to not proofread for the sake of a good belly laugh. ;-)

Reply by John Andrews, Sep 22, 2009.

So many good recommendations already but I felt I have to chime in as well ...

- As dmcker has already mentioned ... can't go wrong with sparkling and there so many great offerings at all price points. However, under $15 I'd focus on cava ... big fan of Freixnet for an every day bubbly

- Since you already admitted to liking Pinot, I'd recommend Rose of Pinot Noir from Russian River Valley producers. La Crema is definitely one I like. They only sell it through the winery but I do think they ship to Hawaii. Come to think of it, I'd recommend the La Crema Chardonnay's too.

- I'd also recommend Erocia Riesling from Chateau St. Michelle in Washington for it's flexibility but still very complex flavors.

- Lastly, along the lines of dmcker, don't over look Syrahs. Central Coast California and Santa Barbara area and Russian River Valley have some great offerings but they tend to be more in the $15 to $25 range but offer great flexibility in food parings.

We're not trying to get you drunk, just giving you lots of options ... if you do happen to get drunk you'll have done it of some great wines! ;-)

Of course ... I did forget about a nice chilled Sauvignon Blanc ... that is always a great wine for hot Maui days.

Reply by Honeybells, Sep 22, 2009.

Thanks John! I'll be sure to look in to La Crema and see their shipping standards. I see that you are lucky enough to live in California! I visited Sonoma last year on a road trip and had some very great experiences there.

And Greg, I'm not sure if I've told you, but I'm originally an East Coaster (Pennsylvania to be exact), so The Finger Lakes was always a lovely getaway for tastings. Have you been? (I'm sure you have). Any favorites?

So as far as my shopping list is concerned, today I venture out to find a mix from a combination of your suggestions. I'm basing it on my current ingredients for this weeks dinners. So, I am going on a mission to find a Muscadet for sushi, a Barbera or Lambrusco for pizza, and Cava to drink solo? Is this sounding somewhat accurate?

Also, I intend to make a squash/zucchini primavera with chicken sausages, (more of a basil based pesto style sauce than a red sauce). Would the Chianti be a good match? And for portobello burgers with a balsamic drizzle... maybe a Rose?

I'm doing my best to learn... you all have been so helpful and inspiring. Thank you for your input and lovely suggestions. In just three messages, you all have somewhat cured my hour long blank stare at wine bottles that seemed made for puzzling and confusion. I will finally be able to walk down the aisle with confidence and manage to understand what I'm looking at and hopefully make an exit in a timely fashion.

I'm looking forward to dinner for the rest of my life. =]

Reply by dmcker, Sep 22, 2009.

Aloha, Honeybells, love your enthusiasm! No I haven't really lived in Hawaii, though I have stayed for extended periods of up to a few months at a time on several islands. Mostly northern Kauai, but also Maui (Kaanapali, where I used to put on conferences, and Hana), a few spots on the Big Island and Oahu (mostly the north shore, though of course Honolulu and its environs, too), and even Molokai.

And yes, I liked Kona Brewing Co. better when it was a proper microbrewery, a few years back. I also don't like hot Sake all that much (except for when I'm coming in off the winter mountains from some ice climbing or snowboarding). Much prefer it slightly chilled, or the best varieties at room temperature.

Both nebbiolos and chiantis should work well with your Genovese (pesto) sauce dish. Roses and even larger reds should be good with your portobello burgers, though the wine will always prefer that you go lighter on the balsamico. Have you tried fresh large shiitake in place of the portobello? An interesting variation.

A couple more whites to look for, especially since John mentioned riesling. You should look for rieslings, and something a bit spicier with a different fruit experience in a gewurtztraminer, from Alsace (Trimbach is a good label for both, but there are many others from that area), and the Rhein and Mosel areas of Germany. German versions will likely seem a little sweeter, and Alsace drier. But you should give a shot to both. Certainly chillable, very refreshing, nice with or without food, and dare I say even 'exciting'! ;-)

Finally, if you are having trouble getting wineries to ship to you directly, you should also try some online wine merchants. K&L in the San Francisco area are reliable, and definitely ship to HI. Their prices are generally good, and with shops like theirs you can sometimes find prices that are better than directly from a winery. If they don't have the wines you want you can hunt for others in the Snooth listings, or Google directly on the Web, too.

Oh, and there's nothing wrong with a little buzz, now and again, is there?

Reply by dmcker, Sep 22, 2009.

If you want to spend 30 to 35 bucks for a chardonnay, I just ran across a very good offer for the type of chardonnay I was talking about from northern California:
2007 Anderson's Conn Valley Chardonnay
It's being offered by these people, who generally sell premium wines from California and Europe, though their prices are always very competitive:

The Conn Valley Vineyards wines are definitely yummy, so perhaps for a special occasion?

Reply by John Andrews, Sep 22, 2009.

@Honeybells ... yes, I am very lucky to live in Northern California. I am displaced Canadian who works in the high tech industry during the week and at winery in Sonoma on the weekends. Love the set up right now.

Just checked the La Crema website and they do ship to Hawaii but a maximum of 6 cases a year!

I'd agree with dmcker (being doing a lot of that) about K&L. I shop from them often and the prices are decent and they can source European wines that maybe harder for you to find.

You've inspired me to open a nice chilled wine today. It's going to be close 100F here in Palo Alto today so it makes complete sense to me to do so! CHEERS!

Reply by dmcker, Sep 23, 2009.

And Honeybells, that Cava might just work with the sushi, too. A drier version is better in that context.

Technically, what you're describing is 'makizushi'. 'Nigiri' is the small elongated rice balls with the slices of fish on top. Hard to put them together well without a bit of specific experience, though mazezushi and makizushi and temakizushi (undoubtedly the easiest) are easily doable by a capable chef. Oshizushi would also be easier than nigirizushi.

Reply by penguinoid, Sep 23, 2009.

I'm not certain how widely available it is, but I tried a sparkling Vouvray recently which was very good and certainly worth a look. Oddly, it seems to be made by an Australian company.

Kilkanoon 2006 Vouvray Méthode Traditionelle

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