A Friendly Wine Taste-Off

A Friendly Wine Taste-Off

6 red wines from Germany, Spain, and Australia

A great selection of very diverse reds.

Six winemakers from Germany, Spain and Australia walk into a wine bar and order a round of each of their wines. After three glasses of each, they still can’t decide which one they like best. Here’s my call:

2011 Vina Zaco Rioja tempranillo ($13). A lovely fruit-and-savory aroma, almost like that of a burgundy, with dark cherry flavors, medium body, a taste of mature oak and lots if tannins. Pleasantly rides the edge between fruits and spices.

2008 Rioja Bordón reserva ($15). My Pick of the Litter. While tempranillo is the majority grape in Rioja, this one also blends in 20 per cent of garnacha and mazuelo. The result is a classic-style wine with gamy, tart flavors, lots of cherries, dusty tannins and a lean finish. It’s a great steak wine in the same way that wines from Bordeaux and Chianti are.

2009 Bilbainas "Vina Pomal" Rioja reserve ($17) Lots of aromas and flavors of mellow fruit and mellow oak with a few savory notes. A very pleasant, well-rounded glass.

2010 Franz Keller "Franz Anton" Schwarzer Adler pinot noir ($23). A pleasurable light food wine with good leanness for a pinot, yet with lots of cherry flavors in the finish.

2009 G.H. von Mumm Assmanhäuser Höllenberg spatburgunder ($33). A big wine for a German pinot with 14 per cent alcohol, lush, gamay-style aromas of blackberry and strawberry fruits. Moderate tannins and good balance — will improve in the bottle.

2010 Hardys "Nottage Hill" south eastern Australia shiraz ($12). Very red raspberry bright fruitiness in the start finishing with black raspberry firmness. It’s juicy, a little tangy and spicy around the edges. Good balance.

Summer Pasta Salad with White Wine Vinaigrette

Pasta salad is easily transportable and stores well, making it a great component of any meal schedule. Prepare the salad early in the week for quick lunches or serve it alongside dinner. Either way, it holds up well to three or four days of storage in an airtight container.

Arugula and garlic give this salad a spicy kick, while the simple white wine vinaigrette enlivens the flavors.


1 pound small pasta noodles (such as penne, farfalle, elbow, or rotini)

1 large cucumber, cut lengthwise and sliced into half moons

2 cups arugula, coarsely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tablespoons extra‑virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Black pepper, freshly ground, to taste

¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated


  1. Fill a large stockpot halfway with water, and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and run the pasta under cold water to stop the cooking.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the noodles, cucumber, arugula, and garlic. Drizzle the olive oil and vinegar over the salad, and season with pepper. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and serve.

Cooking Tip

You can use any number of salad greens in this salad. Baby spinach greens, romaine lettuce, and red- and green-leaf lettuces all swap in nicely.

Nutrition Info

Nutrition Info

Makes: 8 servings Serving size: 1 serving

Hawaiian Barbecue Chicken Pizza

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In 1964, we saw the advent of the screw cap.

There&aposs a big misconception that screw caps were invented simply because they are cheaper, and therefore the wines that use them are of cheaper quality. The real reason screw caps (also called Stelvin caps) came into popularity is because natural corks that hadn&apost been properly sanitized started picking up a chemical called TCA (an abbreviation for the compound 2,4,6-trichloroanisole). Corks contaminated by TCA give a musty smell and flavors of moldy cardboard to the wine. so when sommeliers say a wine is &aposcorked&apos, they are talking about the presence of TCA (TCA it&aposs not harmful if consumed, but it&aposs not pleasant to drink). Screw caps were a great alternative for wineries that wanted to avoid the risk of TCA in their wines.

Screw caps didn&apost become popular with wineries until the 1990s. At that time natural cork quality was declining and winemakers were tired of having their hard work in the vineyard and winery ruined by shoddy corks. Screw caps eliminated these issues-and today 4.5 billion bottles a year use screw caps, according to trade publication The Drinks Business.

9 Wines to Avoid on the Ketogenic Diet

If you plan on drinking wine while on a keto diet, these are the ones to stay away from.

  1. Port wine: 9 grams of carbs[*]
  2. Sherry wine: 9 grams of carbs[*]
  3. Red sangria: 13.8 grams of carbs per glass, plus 10 grams of sugar[*]
  4. White Zinfandel: 5.8 grams of carbs[*]
  5. Moscato: 7.8 grams of carbs[*]
  6. White Sangria: 14 grams of carbs per glass, plus 9.5 grams of sugar[ * ]
  7. Pink Zinfandel
  8. Some Roses
  9. Dessert wines
  10. Wine coolers
  11. Frozen wine pops

Drinking alcohol like wine coolers and frozen wine pops is like consuming alcoholic sugar bombs. These drinks will certainly put you over your carb intake for the day.

Wine coolers, for example, contain 34 grams of carbs and 33 grams of sugar per 11 oz. can[ * ]. Alcohol pops, such as frozen rose, also clock in high at 35 grams of carbs and 31 grams of sugar[ * ].

If you really want to enjoy frozen bubbly, understand that it will probably kick you out of ketosis. When that happens, follow the tips in this guide to a keto reboot.

A better idea is to stick with keto-friendly wine brands, which can help lower your risk of being knocked out of ketosis altogether.

Red Wine-Braised Lamb Neck

Recipe adapted from Chris Shepherd, One Fifth, Houston, TX

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Prep Time: 25 minutes, plus cooling time

Cook Time: 3 hours and 35 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours, plus cooling time


2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 pounds lamb neck, cut into 2-inch pieces (22 pieces)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

4 celery stalks, roughly chopped

2 carrots, roughly chopped

1 yellow onion, roughly chopped

2 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped


1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a 6-quart Dutch oven, heat the oil and butter over medium-high heat. Season the lamb neck pieces liberally with salt and pepper. Sear, turning as needed, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes, then transfer to a plate.

2. Add the celery, carrots and onion to the pot, and cook, stirring as needed, until golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic. Cook until fragrant, 2 minutes, then add the tomato paste and cook until caramelized, 5 minutes more.

3. Deglaze the pot with the chicken stock and red wine. Bring to a simmer, then add the seared lamb, thyme and plum tomatoes. Return to a simmer, then cover and place in the oven. Cook for 2½ hours, then remove the lid and stir in the shallots. Continue cooking for 30 minutes more.

4. Remove the pot from the oven and transfer the lamb and shallots to a bowl. Strain the cooking liquid, discarding the vegetable solids, then return it to the pot, along with the cooked lamb and shallots, cherry tomatoes and olives. Season with salt and pepper, then serve.

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon

Courtesy of Robert Mondavi Winery

Robert Mondavi offers a value-driven California Cab that brings plenty of dark cherries, plum, and blackberry fruit to the table. The Mondavi Private Selection tier focuses on fruit-forward, approachable wines that make their mark as "everyday" wines for dinner or impromptu gatherings. This one also happens to be a brilliant companion to milk chocolate.

The VegNews Guide to Vegan Wine

Here at VegNews, we make it our job to be on top of the newest products, the must-try sweets, the gotta-have-it items. And just as important as it is to know what those new items are, we want to share them with you, so that you can be the most current conscious consumer out there. So we present to you the VegNews Guides, a series of lists dedicated to the things vegans love most&mdashwine included. Below is an up-to-date, ever-expanding roster of the vegan wines offered nationwide.


Bluenose Wines


Carmel Road

Pinot Noir
Liberated Chardonnay

Charles Shaw

Charles Shaw Cabernet Sauvignon

China Bend

2005 Leon Millot Reserve
2005 Lake Roosevelt Red
2004 Marechai Foch Reserve
2002 Merlot
Royal Rapsberry
Blackberry Velvet
Proprietor’s Reserve 2004 Grand Red
Proprietor’s Reserve 2004 Marechai Foch

Domaine Carneros

Fresh Vine Wines

Cabernet Sauvignon
Pinot Noir

Frey Vineyards

Dessertage Port 2002
Late Harvest Zin 2007
Library Syrah 2002
Zinfandel 2008
Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Syrah 2007
Sangiovese 2007
Merlot 2007
“Natural Red” Table Wine NV
“Natural Rosé” Table Wine NV
Sauvignon Blanc 2008
Biodynamic Syrah 2005
Biodynamic Merlot 2006
Biodynamic Pinot Noir 2007

Gerard Bertrand

Naturae Cabarnet Sauvignon
Naturae Chardonnay
Naturae Corbières
Naturae Grenache
Naturae Merlot
Naturae Syrah
Naturae Syrah

Girasole Vineyards

Chardonnay 2008
Muscat Canelli 2007
Pinot Noir 2008
Sangiovese 2007
Zinfandel 2007
Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Harney Lane Winery

Hip Chicks Do Wine

Whole Berry Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Malbee 2007
Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Cabernet Franc 2007
Wine Bunny Blush
Pinot Gris 2008
Vin Nombril
Muscat 2008
Bad Girl Blanc
Riot Girl Rose
Drop Dead Red


Vintner’s Reserve Sauvignon Blanc
Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay
Vintner’s Reserve Merlot
Vintner’s Reserve Pinot Noir
Vintner’s Reserve Rose

Layer Cake

Cabernet Sauvignon
Pinot Noir

Michael David Winery

Ancient Vine Cinsault 2011

Metro Wines

A collection of both popular and rare vegan wines hand selected by an expert wine staff.

Mountain Cove Vineyards

Skyline White
Skyline Rose

Obvious Wines

Nº01 Dark & Bold
Nº02 Bright & Crisp
Nº04 Rich & Oaky
Nº05 French & Bubbly

Orleans Hill Winery

Our Daily Red
Cabernet Sauvignon
Cote Zero
Trader Joe’s Organic Well Red


Proudly Vegan

Red Truck Wines

Organic Zinfandel
California Red Wine
Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon
California Pinot Noir
Central Coast Merlot
Sonoma County Zinfandel
Medocino County Syrah
Organic California Petite Sirah
White Truck California White Wine
White Truck Chardonnay Mini-Barrel
White Truck Santa Barbara County Chardonnay
White Truck California Pinot Grigio
White Truck Organic California Sauvignon Blanc
Pink Truck California Pink Wine

Ripken Vineyards & Winery

Santa Margherita

Pinot Grigio
Prosecco Superiore
Chianti Classico Riserva
Sparkling Rosé

Scout & Cellar

Bernhard Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Bookbinder 2nd Edition Red Wine 2016
Conte De la Terre Pinot Noir 2017
Cooper Mountain Chardonnay 2017
Dove Hunt Dog Chardonnay 2018
Etnico Gran Reserva Malbec 2017
Etnico Gran Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2018
Etnico Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
Fieldhouse Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
Fieldhouse Chardonnay 2017
Fieldhouse Rosé 2018
Fieldhouse White Blend 2018
Gallivant Chardonnay 2017
Hushkeeper Red Wine 2017
Hushkeeper Zinfandel 2017
Inizi Hi-Jump Rose 2018
Middle Jane Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
NV The Resident White Blend
Punkt Genau Blauer Zweigelt 2017
Punkt Genau Grüner Veltliner 2017
Qvinto Arrio Tempranillo Blanco 2017
Solar del Alma Malbec 2017
The Resident Pinot Gris 2018
The Resident Pinot Noir 2017
The Resident Red Wine 2016
The Resident Zinfandel 2017
Val De Resa Blanco 2017
Verdad Tempranillo 2016


Reisling 2009
Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Cabernet Merlot 2008
Chardonnay 2009

Stellar Winery

Cabernet Sauvignon
Chenin Blanc
Sauvignon Blanc

5 Favorite Recipes: Hearty, Main-Course Summer Salads

By the time we’re deep in August, standing in front of a hot stove holds little appeal. What you want in the heat of summer is an all-in-one dinner—only a glass of wine on the side—with minimal cooking time and maximum flavor. These five salads bring together assortments of fresh, seasonal produce and healthy, filling protein, with creative add-ins for flair—ensuring that you leave the table with both your appetite and your palate satisfied.

All five recipes come from our 8 & $20 series of weekday go-to meals, with ingredient lists kept to a minimum, supplemented by pantry staples. Not only do the recipes allow for the flexibility that these times demand, but each recipe features a wine pairing under $20, ensuring dinner is also easy on your wallet.

8 & $20: BLT Salad with Feta and Avocado

The bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich is an American classic, a simple can’t-miss summer repast. But in this era of adapting and improvising, reimagine that old standby as a crisp, refreshing salad, throw in a few new players, and it’s a whole new ballgame for the BLT. This recipe spruces up the classic combo with tangy feta cheese, just-ripe avocado and sweet corn, all tossed with a tart lemon vinaigrette. This version also swaps in soft butter lettuce mixed with bitter arugula for pizzazz, but if those aren’t in stock, traditional romaine or iceberg lettuce will provide satisfying crunch and act as a sturdy foil to this medley of flavors.

The creamy, healthy fats—and the indulgence of crispy bits of bacon—are balanced by the bright acidity of plump cherry tomatoes and the jolt of citrus from the dressing. For the wine pairing, a dynamic, dry Verdicchio, a Central Italian white, makes a well-balanced match with its aromas of peach and citrus and mineral undertones. Try this new take on a cultural icon for your next backyard dinner!

8 & $20: Turkey and Strawberry Salad with Baked Goat Cheese

Not just for desserts, the sweet-tart flavor of strawberries makes a delicious accompaniment to a variety of meats and cheeses. Here, standing in for the more common salad topping of chicken, lean turkey breast cutlets cook up quickly, sautéed to a golden brown. The pieces are mixed together with the berries, refreshing romaine, basil and sliced almonds, then topped with a classic balsamic vinaigrette.

But this isn’t just an easy toss of ingredients a few extra steps give the salad decadent flair and are worth the little added time and effort. Some strawberries are macerated in the balsamic vinegar used for the vinaigrette, giving the dressing a hint of fresh seasonal fruit. Goat cheese logs are sliced into rounds, rolled in breadcrumbs and ground almonds, and baked (in a toaster oven if you prefer) for a firm, nutty crunch on the outside and a creamy center on the inside. A summery glass of vibrant Provencal rosé, with strawberry notes and herbal accents, speaks to all the elements in the salad. Pour a glass and enjoy the interplay of flavors!

8 & $20: Ramen Noodle Chicken Salad

Did you stock up on dried ramen noodles for emergency supplies? If so, dip into your pantry stash and create a meal with intense crunch and depth of flavor. Toast the noodles instead of throwing them in the microwave, then add them to a salad to amplify the juicy crunch of greens, with toasted almonds to assist.

Here, fresh Napa cabbage coleslaw is a crisp base for shredded rotisserie chicken, green onions and cilantro. Top it with mandarin orange slices for a touch of sweetness. In summer, a light, tart vinaigrette is the way to go with the dressing. (For picnics or if you want leftovers, just add the noodles, nuts and dressing when serving each plate, rather than pre-mixing them.) Look for a white wine with enough acidity to balance this mix a Sicilian blend of Italian and international varieties offered orchard fruit and citrus notes along with almond accents that paralleled those in the salad. You’ll go nuts for this recipe!

8 & $20: Pork Satay with Ginger-Soy Chickpea and Kale Salad

For those times when a booming summer thunderstorm rolls in to tread on your plans, this meal works outdoors on the grill or indoors in the oven. It also travels well and can be made ahead of time, so it’s well-suited to easy entertaining, advance meal prep or leftovers that only get better in the fridge.

The marinade for the pork begins with a bottle of store-bought satay, or peanut sauce (also used for dipping), elevated by add-ins of lime zest and fresh ginger. The earlier that the skewers are prepped—up to a day ahead—the more flavorful the pork will be. Chickpeas and kale make about as durable a salad as you can find, for when you need a combination hardy enough to set out at a picnic or buffet without wilting. Here, to complement the satay, it’s tossed with a ginger-soy dressing, in which it tastes even better after sitting overnight. Garnish with shredded carrots or chopped peanuts for crunch.

A refreshing, off-dry German Riesling with stone fruit flavors balances the lightly sweet notes of the peanut sauce and brings out the fragrant ginger throughout the dish. Spice things up tonight with this recipe!

8 & $20: Chicken Paillard Salad

The French bistro classic chicken paillard is ideal for this time of year. For this dish, chicken breasts are pounded thin, so they marinate quickly and cook in the pan in less than five minutes. Garnishing the chicken with a little crispy bacon adds a smoky flavor without having to turn on the grill. Accompanying the meat is a peppery salad of arugula and bright red radishes, along with thin ribbons of cucumber for a cooling element. It’s all topped off with toasted almonds, parmesan and a lemony vinaigrette.

Many refreshing white wines will enhance the lighter components of the salad and its citrusy dressing. But a Soave Classico, from select hillside sites in northeastern Italy’s Veneto region, tied in particularly well with its ripe citrus flavors and almond note while light-bodied, it had enough texture and depth to complement the complex, smoky, toasty flavors in the dish. Try it out and feel like you’re dining at a sidewalk café!

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To make this Italian dressing you’ll make a simple vinaigrette by combining vinegar and olive oil with herbs and seasonings.

Italian Dressing Ingredients

  • Olive Oil: Use extra virgin olive oil for the best flavor.
  • Vinegar: I like to use red wine vinegar because it gives this Italian dressing an authentic color. The flavor of white wine vinegar works well, too.
  • Dried Herbs: Dried basil, parsley and oregano provide lots of flavor. I like to use dried herbs because they are budget-friendly and easy to keep on hand in my kitchen. Dried herbs also hold up well when you make this salad dressing ahead of time.
  • Garlic Powder: You can use fresh garlic if you prefer, but I like to keep things easy and use garlic powder. If you use fresh garlic, your Italian dressing will only stay good for a few days in the refrigerator, rather than a few weeks.
  • Salt and Pepper: Always salt and pepper your salad dressing to taste.
  • Honey: You need to add a little bit of honey (or sugar) to balance out the acidity from the vinegar.
  • Parmesan Cheese: The Parmesan cheese is the secret ingredient that makes this Italian dressing so good! Adding Parmesan makes this dressing extra delicious, so I recommend adding it unless you need the dressing to be dairy-free.

I find that the easiest way to mix up salad dressings is to combine the ingredients in a mason jar. My jars have measurement marks on the sides that make it easy to measure the oil and vinegar. Then, seal the lid on the jar and shake until everything is well combined. If you don’t have a jar with a lid you can whisk together the ingredients in a bowl or other container.

Once everything is mixed together, taste the dressing and adjust the ingredients as needed. The dressing might need a little more honey if it’s too acidic, or a little more salt and pepper, for example. If your Italian dressing is too tangy add more olive oil if it’s not tangy enough add more vinegar.