Bride and Groom Starter Kit, exclusive

June 27, 2011

Now that you made a smart buy and joined Everyday Cellars Wine Club for Women, you’re ready for “The Bride & Groom Starter Wine Kit,” which is all you need to turn your home into a wine destination.

Wine wasn’t on our registry, but for our wedding gift, a friend gave us 6 artisanal bottles of white wine. It was her “starter wine kit” for us. Inspired by that gesture, Everyday Cellars Wine Club for Women teamed up with to offer  an exclusive wine starter kit, which features  wines that every new couple should have on hand in their home.

Ladies, this is not your father’s wine cellar. I’m not going to ask you to start an expensive, dusty wine collection but something much more fun and yes, dare I say, practical. I’m going to help you start a go-to-wine stash with the essential must-have wines for your new home. The point of having “The Bride & Groom Starter Wine Kit” is to simplify and demystify wine and always have the right bottle at home for any occasion.

1. Sparkling… There are many different ways to sparkle. Choose from Prosecco (the name of both place and grape in Veneto, Italy); Cava (Named for the cellars where the wines are made, Spain’s sparkling is produced by the traditional method and from indigenous grapes); Champagne (French sparkling wine made by the traditional method where second fermentation takes place in the bottle); California sparkling made by the top Champagne houses with outposts in California; Chenin Blanc-based Crémants from Saumur & Vouvray Loire and Chardonnay & Pinot Noir-based Crémants from Burgundy (bottle-fermented Sparkling wines from other parts of France); or Franciacorta (same method but made in Lombardy, Italy, always a favorite because price to value is where it’s at). Key styles to look for in Champagne: “Blanc de Blanc”, which in French means white wine made exclusively from the white Chardonnay grapes or “Blanc de Noirs” which in French means white wine made entirely from the black Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes), Non-Vintage (NV) blends from across multiple plots and vintages, considered ideal as they help maintain a house’s individual style.

2. Anything Pink…Pink Champagne or still Rosé from Southern France. Try a Tavel. The Loire makes wonderful Rosés made from the Pinot Noir grape. Try “THE TSARINA”, my pinkalicious cocktail (simple ingredients: Rosé wine, St. Germaine, pink Sparkling wine and ice).

3. Basic Red…Classic Pinot Noir from top regions: Burgundy, Central Otago, New Zealand or closer to home: Russian River, Sonoma.

4. Star Producers…Ridge (one of the best Zinfandel producers in the world), Helen Turley (iconic California wine consultant & winemaker makes her own wines–50/50 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir—on 10 acres of land on the Sonoma Coast under the Marcassin (French for ‘young wild boar’) Vineyard label), The Ojai Vineyard (makes great Pinots and Syrahs), The Santa Barbara Winery (makes gorgeous Pinots and Northern Rhone inspired Syrah blends), Château de Beaucastel (eminent Chateauneuf-du-Pape producer and only one three to use all 12 grapes allowed in the region, and unlike others who use the region’s chief grape, Grenache, one to use predominantly, Mourvèdre) , Benton-Lane (superb Oregon Pinot Noir), Domaine Leflaive ( top in the region and top in “green wine”, Burgundy, France), Domaine Huet (Loire, France) Huber (Baden, Germany), Bruno Giacosa (Barolo & Barbaresco, Piedmont, Italy) & Ca’ del Bosco (Franciacorta’s top Sparkling wine producers in Lombardy, Italy).

5. Any French Wine…I want to dispel the misconception that French wine is too expensive. That’s just not true! Many exciting “value wines” come from France, specifically from Languedoc-Roussillon, Southern France, Loire and Bordeaux (yes Bordeaux!). Give the classed growths from Bordeaux a try. You get the pedigree but more value in the 3rd, 4th and 5th crus.

6. Cool White…Cool-climate white Burgundy made from Chardonnay (possibly the finest expression of the Chardonnay grape), Russian River, Sonoma; Sancerre and Chablis, both appellations are based on a 100 percent Sauvignon Blanc grape. Try a Graves (hailed by Thomas Jefferson as the finest dry white wine Bordeaux had to offer in the late 18th Century, is situated on sandy soils & is made from the Semillon & Sauvignon Blanc grapes). Riesling (not sweet anymore, Mosel in Germany, Wachau in Austria, Clare & Eden Valleys in Australia, Marlborough & Nelson in New Zealand make the greatest hits).

7. Keep it American … Inspired by the gorgeous reds and white wines of France’s Rhône Valley, the wines from California’s “Rhone Rangers” are made from one the twenty-two Rhone grapes, but the mainstay grapes are Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. If you love the complex, dense and multilayered flavors of Syrah from Northern Rhone appellations like Hermitage, Côte-Rôtie, Cornas, or St.-Joseph, look for these founding producers: Bonny Doon Vineyard (various Cali. AVAs), The Tablas Creek Winery (a joint venture between the Perrin family, owners of Château de Beaucastel, and Robert Haas, founder of Vineyard Brands), Fess Parker Winery & Vineyards (Santa Barbara County, Calif.), Zaca Mesa Winery (Santa Ynez Valley, Calif.), Tablas Creek Vineyard (Paso Robles, Calif.),  Joseph Phelps (St Helena, Calif.), & Qupé (Santa Barbara County, Calif.).

8. Green Wine…Do something special for the planet! Organic/Biodynamic/Sustainable wines aren’t just a trend. Wines made by “green practices” are reducing their carbon imprint and helping the environment. They taste delicious! Try wines from Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County California.

9. “Value Wine”…Wine doesn’t have to be expensive to be good. Wines from Argentina (signature red Malbec and white Torrontes grapes), Spain (based chiefly on the low-tannin, leather & strawberry scented red Tempranillo grape, look for Rioja Reservas & Priorat (powerful & delicious, these wines are made from indigenous & International grapes of Grenache, Carinena, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah & Pinot Noir), Portugal, Chile and my favorite, Greece (the floral, mineral flavors of white Assyrtiko grape is unbeatable).

10. Dessert Wine…There’s always room for dessert! No bride & groom should go without the magnificent flavors of Tokay from Hungary or the sublime Sauternes from Bordeaux or the unctuous Chenin-based sweet wines from the Loire Valley.



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