All posts by J. R. Boynton

Why High-Alcohol Red Wines Pair Well with Spicy-hot Foods – According to Science

If you’ve heard it’s a bad idea to pair high-alcohol wines with spicy-hot foods, read on… you may be surprised.

At Team Great Big Reds, we eat a lot of spicy-hot foods, and we love to pair them with higher-alcohol, lower-acidity wines that we call ‘Great Big Reds’. (See recommendations for syrah/shiraz and zinfandel below.)

So What’s the “Science”?

(We promise to keep it simple!)

Continue reading Why High-Alcohol Red Wines Pair Well with Spicy-hot Foods – According to Science

Michel Gassier Les Piliers Syrah 2016, KAPOW!

I’m in love. Lush, earthy, cool-climate syrah. A *huge* amount of flavor. If you are lucky enough to find some and you like Great Big Reds like we do, grab some! Don’t be surprised if you go back the next day for more.

Right on the label: “…seductive, brooding, and elegantly aromatic. Chock full of violets, red fruits and bacon….” Raise your hand if you want your syrah brooding and chock full of bacon. Cheers!

Continue reading Michel Gassier Les Piliers Syrah 2016, KAPOW!

Good uses for a Coravin ™

A Coravin ™ device will let you extract some wine without removing the cork. That way, you don’t have to drink the entire bottle within a few days. It uses a needle and gas to make this work. (I think they have a version for wines with screwcaps, but I haven’t tried that.)

The device is kind of expensive, and you have to buy little gas cartridges that maybe cost a buck or so per glass you pour. (Not sure about the exact cost….)

I’d say it makes a good gift for people who can afford anything they need, but wouldn’t spring for it themselves.

Here are some thoughts… good reasons to use it:

  1. Check for defects (corked, etc.) when you first buy a fancy/expensive bottle.
  2. Have a small taste to celebrate the purchase!
  3. Drink one glass at a time, maybe once a week, so you can drink extra-fancy wine every now and then.
  4. Rotate drinking one glass at a time from several bottles, so you can have variety.
  5. Show off tasting: give a friend a taste of your fancy wine. It’s educational!
  6. Comparison tasting of multiple fancy wines.
  7. Pour a glass or so to write a review, without having to open the bottle and drink it all right away. (!!)
  8. Check if your old, fancy bottle is still good before you open it at a big celebration.
  9. Check your wine before taking it out! How sad to BYOB to restaurant and be Sorry-Outa-Luck corked!
  10. Make your own blends — for example, 80-20% syrah/mourvedre — without having to open a whole bottle of the 20% wine.

Suggestions: 1) buy a base/stand; 2) buy a marker that writes on glass, in case you want to mark when you first extracted a taste… or when you bought it, for that matter.

If you check your new, fancy wine and it’s bad, I’m told a lot of wine stores will let you return it.

If you check the wine before you open it for a big celebration, it’ll give you a chance to find a good replacement.

If you can get a small glass out of a fancy bottle whenever you want and still keep the rest of the wine good for another day, that would be nice, wouldn’t it?

Updated 20181203: fixed typo and added ‘Make your own blends’ to list.

Updated 20181209: added BYOB scenario.

Understanding Red Wine: Three Categories

These three categories make red wine easier to understand:

– Big, luscious

– Big, craggy (‘structured’)

– Light-bodied

By ‘big’ we mean 1) lots of flavor, and 2) full-bodied, usually due to higher alcohol levels.

By ‘luscious’ we mean smooth and easily approachable — not high in tannin or acidity.

By ‘craggy/structured’, we mean high tannin — leaves your mouth feeling dry after you swallow — and high acidity — puckers the lips like eating citrus fruit.

Continue reading Understanding Red Wine: Three Categories

Chateau Montelena Zinfandel 2014

I liked this. Lots of wine people complain about recent zinfandel being too high in alcohol, too fruity, and too low in flavor. This is not that.

At 14.5% ABV, it’s the other side of the zinfandel spectrum from what we often drink, and it’s a very different effect. But if you go into it knowing you are getting something different, it’s clearly a well-made, interesting wine.

Continue reading Chateau Montelena Zinfandel 2014

Rhone in the USA Day One: rough notes

Like superheroes, wine makers all have origin stories. In this case, we even call the wine makers “Rhone Rangers”, though no one wore a mask.

David Margerum’s story involves being a fourteen year-old boy traveling with parents. And, oh, try some wine! In Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

Shannon Horton’s story involved “punching down” the grape skins as a ten year-old.

Randall Grahm’s story is more about journey than origin: can you make a quantum leap to achieve something beyond yourself? In winemaking.

Continue reading Rhone in the USA Day One: rough notes

Rhone in the USA Events at Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Free wine tasting at the Smithsonian? That’s a hard sell. (Not.) Maybe if you throw in Randall Grahm pouring his 30-year anniversary Le Cigare Volant…. Oh. Randall Grahm will be there, pouring that wine. (Please note that by “hard sell”, I mean “sign me up”.)

The bad news is that there’s already a long waiting list.

The good news: Team Great Big Reds will be there, and we’ll give you the play-by-play on how good all the wines were.

Seriously: two events… a free wine tasting / seminar on Monday afternoon (6/18, 3-5pm), and Tuesday evening (6:30pm-), a fundraising four course dinner (plus dessert), with each course designed to match the accompanying wine.

Continue reading Rhone in the USA Events at Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Great Big Reds of Summer: Kreuz, The Boxer, #WinePW

Summertime and the living is easy…. Do you break out the grill — ‘barbie’ in Australian? And to go with your cook-out? Great Big Reds, of course. And why not a poster-child for Australian shiraz: Mollydooker, The Boxer! (Cheers!)

Great Big Reds, Kreuz mesquite-smoked beef sausage, and Mollydooker’s The Boxer

Our family intersects with Lockhart, Texas, and Lockhart intersects with its very own style of barbeque. German immigrants to Lockhart suddenly had cheap, plentiful beef, and the secret mega-weapon: mesquite. Beef smoked over mesquite? With enough pepper to make it spicy? Hold the sauce and hand me a knife. No, really: used to be, the knives were chained to the tables. You order beef and sausage, they put it on butcher paper and hand you a knife.

Meanwhile, back before we paid so much attention to wine, Mollydooker’s The Boxer was our big treat for special occassions. It’s pretty easy to find in grocery stores and wine stores.

Kreuz sausage + The Boxer = Whoosh! (How’s my math?)

Continue reading Great Big Reds of Summer: Kreuz, The Boxer, #WinePW