You don't need to wait for a special occasion to pop a cork on a special bottle of wine. "Bubbly is actually really hot right now. Every major wine region is making sparkling wine," says Adam Fleischer, owner of the Wine Spot in Cleveland Heights, which sells curated wines from throughout the world. "People used to drink bubbly only on New Year's Eve, but now they're drinking it every night because there's always something to celebrate." He suggests a northern Italian prosecco, Spanish cava or sekt from Germany. Robust reds that stem from rocky terrains are also attracting attention, he says. Try Espelt Garnacha ($11.99) from old family-owned vineyards in northern Spain or Amavi Cellars cabernet sauvignon ($28.99) from the Walla Walla region in Washington state. "They have minerality from the surrounding stones, clay or shale that produce a more earthy, grape-concentrated taste," he says.
One sommelier makes his case for decanting wine.
Drink This Now
As vineyards start to harvest this year's crops, enjoy one of these local wines.
Golden Solstice (2014) from Sarah's Vineyard, $14
The name conjures the eclipse of summer into fall during the autumn solstice in late September. "It's made with 100 percent Niagara grapes grown in Ohio, so it's light, fruity and sweet," says Sarah Altieri, general manager. "It's perfect for sipping at a bonfire." 1204 W. Steels Corners Road, Cuyahoga Falls, 330-929-8057, sarahsvineyardwinery.com
Chardonnay (2014)from John Christ Winery, $12.49
This unoaked white is aged in stainless-steel barrels, which yield a clean, crisp taste with notes of apple butter and spice. "It's really grapey on the front end, and buttery on the back end," says assistant winemaker Zach Severns. "We sell a lot during fall because it pairs so well with clambakes." 32421 Walker Road, Avon Lake, 440-933-9672, johnchristwine.com
Meritage (2013) from M Cellars, $29.04
Vine And Dine
That bottle of wine can do more than just fill up your glass. Try it in these recipes.
IF YOU DRINK WHITE...
Once you've uncorked that riesling and have poured a glass for you and your dinner companion, set aside 6 ounces. The sweeter wine enriches the bouquet of heavy cream, clam sauce, garlic, shallots and butter that is the base for a dish with clams, local walleye, fingerling potatoes, Italian sausage and bok choy, says Todd Arnold, executive chef at Don's Pomeroy House in Strongsville. "The white wine adds a little depth and bounce to your sauce," he says. "The sweeter white complements the spicy flavor of the Italian sausage."
Local Walleye with Pan Clam Sauce
- 12 middleneck clams
- 10 ounces walleye fillet
- 3 fingerling potatoes (quartered lenghthwise)
- 3 ounces cooked Italian sausage (cut into coins)
- 2 pieces baby bok choy
- 6 ounces clam juice (reserved from cooking clams)
- 6 ounces white wine
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh garlic
- 1 teaspoon chopped shallots
- ½ stick butter
- 4 ounces heavy cream
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- celery leaves
- salt and pepper to taste
Place clams in cold water and cook on high heat, covered, until halfway open (8 to 10 minutes). Remove from water and reserve liquid. Cool clams until you are able to remove them from the shell, discard shells.
Melt half of the butter on medium heat. Season fish with salt and pepper and cook uncovered until edges start to brown. Flip fish, add garlic and shallots. Cook for 1 minute until garlic starts to brown.
Add all other ingredients except clam meats.
Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.
Add clams. Season with salt and pepper.
IF YOU DRINK RED...
If that half-filled bottle of red is cluttering your kitchen counter space, put it to good use as an ingredient to fortify a protein-forward meal. Brittany Logan, chef at Wine Bar Rocky River, suggests coq au vin, a French chicken dish with bacon, mushrooms, onion, garlic, meat stock and red wine. "You'll want to use a Burgundy, pinot noir, merlot or cabernet, which gives the dish a deeper flavor and helps tenderize the meat," Logan says.
Coq Au Vin
- 8 pieces boneless skin-on chicken thighs
- 1 cup slab bacon, cut into small cubes
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
- 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 cups demi (meat sock that is extremely reduced)
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Start by seasoning the chicken with the thyme, salt and pepper.
In a large skillet with a lid add your oil and heat pan up on high. Once the oil is hot, carefully place the thighs skin side down in the pan. Saute the thighs until golden brown on both sides. Once golden, place the chicken on a plate and set to the side until later.
In the same skillet on medium high heat, add in your cubed bacon and cook until crispy. Next, add in your onions and mushroom and saute until caramelized.
Add in your wine of choice and reduce by half. Once the wine is reduced add in your demi and your thighs. Place the lid on your skillet and cook on medium heat for 30 minutes.
Halfway through you want to flip your thighs, so that the flavor soaks into both sides.