Easter is a sign that spring has finally arrived and also is a time for family celebration. Traditional Easter menus center around either a roasted ham or lamb, begging the question, “Which wine goes best with either the roasted ham or lamb?”

For roasted ham, the best “tried and true” companion wines are Riesling or Gewürztraminer. Both tend to offer fresh, flavorful taste profiles with enough sweet fruit to balance the salt in the ham and enough acidity to support the combination, without compromising the flavor in either the ham or the wine. If choosing a red wine, fruit-forward Zinfandel would be the perfect choice to handle ham’s sweeter side.

Lamb, the traditional meat of the day, whether it be spring lamb, leg of lamb, rack of lamb or stuffed lamb, the strategy is to stick with well grounded reds such as Burgundy, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Tempranillo or Shiraz. These have decent tannin structure, good fruit and a long finish. The over-all goal is to have a red wine with enough fruit and acidity that handles the robust flavors of the lamb, but not overpower it in the process.

Hop in and celebrate Easter by pulling the cork on that special bottle of wine – something new you haven’t tried!

Valentine’s Day – Pairing Wine with Chocolate

When pairing wines with chocolate for Valentine’s Day match lighter, more elegant flavored chocolate with lighter-bodied wines; likewise, the stronger the chocolate, the more full-bodied wine.

White Chocolate
White chocolate tends to be mellow and buttery in flavor, making it ideal for Champagne, Sparkling Wine, Orange Muscat or Sherry.

Milk Chocolate
The classic milk chocolate pairing is Port; other considerations are lighter-bodied Pinot Noir or Merlot, as well as Riesling, Muscat, and of course Champagne or Sparkling Wine.

Dark Chocolate
Dark or bittersweet chocolate need a wine that offers a slightly robust flavor itself, with a hint of its own chocolate notes. Cabernet Sauvignon and intense, in-your-face Zinfandel perfect the dark chocolate match, resulting in an unparalleled tasting combination. Also Pinot Noir, Merlot, Champagne and Sparkling Wine can handle dark chocolate around the 55% cocoa mark. Tawny or Vintage Port also offers a well-balanced pairing approach to dark chocolate dessert or truffles.

My Pick for Valentine’s Day
Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé, Champagne (Mareuil-sur-Ay, France) This non-vintage brut rosé is delicate and is impeccably balanced and guaranteed to have your taste buds singing.

Both Champagne and fine dark chocolate are two of life’s greatest pleasures. There is nothing quite like a popping the cork on a perfectly chilled bottle of bubbly and digging into a box of exquisite dark chocolate in front of a roaring fire with your Valentine while the snow falls outside.

Liz Palmer
Wine and Travel Writer

Event – Wine Panel Tasting with: Liz Palmer, Paul Singer (Wine Baron) of Wine and Leisure and Hilde Singer

Event Wine Panel Tasting with: Liz Palmer,  Paul Singer (Wine Baron) of Wine and Leisure and Hilde Singer
Date/Time June 13, 2009 – 2:00 PM – 4:40 pm
Venue Aboard Déjà vu (PCYC)
The Food Various cheeses, crackers, baguette and nuts – they were posed against the wines listed above.
Quote of the Day “These are the longest legs I’ve ever seen” – Paul Singer
1 Neusiedlersee Gewürztraminer Fuchsloch (Fox Hole) 2008

From Lake Neusiedlersee, Austria

Tasting Notes:  Appearance: clear, gold with glitters of pink, high intensity, clear rim. Nose: Typical honey-fig with hints of grapefruit and mineral;  Palate: Refreshing – not overly floral, slight creamy due to (light oak treatment), long and in harmony.

Fresh and Fragrant!

Suggested Food Pairing:  Smoked salmon and other
seafood, Asian cuisine and light curry dishes, fresh fruits and
variety of cheeses.

2 St. Laurent von Wet  2007
From Lake Neusiedlersee, Austria

Tasting Notes:  Appearance: You cannot ignore the deep intense ruby, clear rim with exceptional legs. Nose: medium intensity, red/purple berries with vegetal notes. Palate:  medium acid, intriguing tannins, (nose carries through to palate) with brambly red fruit peeking through, earthy, well- balanced.  Cellar Worth.

A beautiful wine with lots of red fruit!

Suggested Food Pairing: Lightly seasoned meats, slightly spicier foul and dark natural vegetable flavours.

We are very excited  to participate in a nose-to-nose comparison of two Clos de Vougeot (Domaine R. Dubois et Fils) Pinot Noirs – both are: 2006, 13.5%, 100% Pinot Noir variety –  one is Grand Cru

Clos-Vougeot Grand Cru 2006
AOC Clos de Vougeot
Domaine R. Dubois et Fils

From one of the most prestigious areas!

Tasting Notes:  Appearance: vibrant ruby with youthful rim;

Nose: complex nose of vanilla, fungal, slight petro with slight nuances of spice. Palate: Low acid, medium tannin, some spice, fruity, and long length.

Intensity from Start to Finish – Cellar Worthy

Suggested Food Pairing: Truffle or mushroom-based dishes, game, variety of Cheeses, and red meats.


Clos de Vougeot 2006
Côte de Nuits Village Rougec
Domaine R. Dubois et Fils

Tasting Notes: Don’t let the pale color fool you, this delightful pinot noir has loads of flavor. There are multiple layers on the palate with some earthy, floral notes of roses, along with juicy ripe red and black fruits.

Suggested Food Pairing: Truffle or mushroom-based dishes, game, variety of Cheeses, and red meats.

Neusiedlersee-Hügelland is world-famous for its sweet wines and home to the oldest wine-growing commune in Austria.

I truly love sweet wines and in particular Muscat varieties and really looking forward to experiencing Neusiedlersee Gelber Muskateller Beerenauslese.

This variety is also known as Muscat, Muscat Blanc, Muskateller, Muscat of Samos, Muscat of Cephalonia, Muscat of Rhodes, Muscat of Patras, Muscat of Rio, Moscato, and Moscatto.

4 Neusiedlersee Gelber Muskateller Beerenauslese 2007

Tasting Notes:  Appearance: intense gold colour with a clear rim. Nose: rich fruit, honey and apricot aromas that carry through onto the palate.  Complex, well-balanced with a personality that needs no manipulation.

Fresh, very fruit forward!

Suggested Food Pairing: Many desserts including chocolate, caramel, ice cream, toffee, petit fours, fruit salad and also: Asian cuisine.

Liz Palmer

Summer Wine Temperatures With Tips & Suggestions

We are in the depths of summer – the sweltering heat and heavy air does something to our palates.  During these months we tend to crave a colder, lighter, more refreshing high-acid white or rosé than the full-bodied red.  I set out below an ideal wine-serving temperature chart, along with some suggestions and tips on temperature control:

Champagne &
Sparkling Wines

42-52 °F or  6-11 °C
Rosés 45-55 °F or 7-13 °C

Whites 45-50 °F or 7-10 °C


When cooling wine in a bucket use both ice and water this will cool the wine faster.

If you serve wine too cold it will lose its flavour.

Reds 50-65 °F or 10-18 °C


Keep all wines out of the sun, off the patio, off the boat deck and in a cool place inside especially reds. If you pour a big glass of red outside in the heat, chances are you’ll be drinking tepid wine by the time you get to the bottom of the glass and the wine will loose its aromas and flavours.

Keeping red wine at a good drinking temperature during the summer months is a balancing act – If it’s too cold, it will lose its flavour; If it’s too warm, it will taste rough and the alcohol will show through.

You might want to chill some light reds down a bit in the fridge to 15° C to 18° C – the bottle should be cool to the touch.


Beaujolais and other light reds are not harmed by this – It is common in the south of France during the summer months to put a bottle of light red in the fridge for half-an-hour before serving.

Do not get too obsessive about serving temperatures – just be sure you can taste the fruit in the whites and rosés, and the reds taste cool, not warm in your mouth.

by Liz Palmer
Apprentissage Sommelier

Summer Wine and Cheese Pairings

Wine and Cheese are a classic combination – both are products of fermentation. Both may be consumed fresh and young, or in their more abstruse forms when they have aged and matured.  Here are basic pairing guidelines that have been proven favorable:

1. Pair wine and cheese of the same region together, i.e., Chianti with Parmesan;
2. Pair salty cheese with sweet wines – a good pairing is Stilton with Port;
3. Pair creamy, soft-ripening cheeses with full-bodied, tannic red wines such as Red Bordeaux with Brie;
4 Pair acid with acid – this may not be obvious, but acids in food usually cancel out acids in wine. A famous pairing is Sauvignon Blanc with goat cheese;
5 My Favorite: Pairing rich cheese with Champagne  or sparkling wines, such as French port de salut or chevre;
6 When offering several cheese choices, whites fair better than reds. Particularly soft and creamy cheeses leave a layer of fat on the palate and this interferes with the flavor in reds, rendering them monotonical;
7. Most of the sweeter whites complement a full range of cheeses. The spicy zing of Gewürztraminer or the peachy zip of Riesling is ideal if you’re going for wide-reaching appeal;

8. Parmigianino or Romano cheeses pair well with most wines; and
9. If you’re a cheese adventurist and you like to eat the stinkiest of cheeses, indulge in a big red like a Bordeaux or Cabernet Sauvignon.

Liz Palmer
Food and Wine Writer
June 23, 2009

In Memory of  Ken