Wednesday, January 25, 2023

What You Should Know About Tannin

                                      In addition to grapes, tannin is found in wood

Tannins play an important part in the complexity of wine, as well as its ability to age.   These naturally occurring chemical components, found in the skins and seeds of grapes, are responsible for the astringent, or “puckering” factor, of young red wines.   Below is a quick summary of six things a wine drinker needs to know:

  • As a wine ages, its tannins soften.

  • Different red grapes contain differing amounts of tannin:  highest levels are found in Cab Sauv and Syrah.   Lowest levels are found in Pinot Noir and Grenache.

  • Tannins are important in giving wine structure, hence, they play a vital role in the balance of a wine (where elements such as fruit, acidity, alcohol are in harmony)

  • High tannin wines need to be paired with the rich, fatty foods in order to soften their astringency & bitterness…think grilled T-bone or rib eye.

  • Wine barrels (particularly new ones) also add tannin to a wine.
  • Although far less than their red counterparts, white wines also contain tannins, Like red wines, those whites aged in new oak have more tannin.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Pesto from Beet Greens

                                     Beet green pesto is a serious competitor for the basil version

If you’re hesitating at all about the possibility of making pesto from the green tops of beets, don’t.   First, a much higher proportion of a beet’s nutritional value is found in its upper green top (think mega antioxidant Vitamins C, A and K, along with minerals and lots of fiber).   Equally important, however, beet green pesto is stunningly delicious and gives the traditional basil version a serious run for its money.

Beets in a rainbow of colors are plentiful in autumn, winter and even spring months.  Regardless of color or variety, the beets’ upper greens all make divine pesto.   Beet green pesto can be used exactly like conventional pesto in pastas, sides, or even mains.  That being said, here are some of my favorite ways:

  • During the cold months when tomatoes are not at their best, I make a version of Caprese using cool-weather beets in their place, goat cheese rather than mozzarella, and beet green pesto: same color profile, but a whole new flavor spectrum…equally compelling.
  • Changing up my avocado toast by substituting a dollop of beet pesto & some sun-dried tomatoes.
  • Swirling a small amount in a bowl of hummus—it looks beautiful and perfectly compliments the complex hummus flavors.
  • Since I have the beets, why not use them in an open-faced vegan sandwich with and beet green pesto?


Drum roll please for the recipe!

~ 5 well-packed cups of beet greens

~ ¼ cup walnuts (brown them in a pan stovetop to give more depth of flavor)

~ 1/3 cup Parmiggiano-Reggiano, grated

~ 2-3 cloves of garlic (depending on size)

~ 1 teaspoon of lemon zest

~ 1 tablespoon of lemon juice

~ 1-2 anchovy fillets (or salt to taste…but the anchovy provides a definite depth of flavor)

~ ½ cup of EVOO



Mix everything but the EVOO in a blender or food processor.  Once thoroughly blended, dribble in oil, teaspoon by teaspoon with engine running, to well incorporate the oil.


Have a green & healthy New Year!

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

New Year, New Wines !

Why not kick off the New Year with new wine grapes you don’t’ know….but should know.   The four wines below, all of which are from outside the USA, need to be on your 2023 list.   Don't expect to recognize them, but do know that they are going to be among the best wine deals you buy this year.  Because there is limited demand for these little known wine gems, prices are a steal! 

There’s something for everyone in this article.  Two are white wines, and there are two for red lovers.  One is from South America, and the other three are European (Spain, Italy & Croatia.)   The PQR for all is superb.

                        Wine from Spain's Bierzo is becoming red-hot for wine lovers in-the-know

Bierzo (Spanish red)

Want a complex red that won’t break the bank?  Bierzo has your name on it.  Produced in Spain’s northwest region (near the Portuguese border), Bierzo is not only the name of the wine, but the wine region as well.  The grape is Mencia (men-thee-ah) and it’s attracted a lot of attention in the last few years from savvy wine consumers around the globe.  Mencia, the only red grape allowed by law in Bierzo, is known for high quality wines with red fruit and floral nuances.

Best producers:   Aportela, Avancia (about $15 each)

                            WineKnows have a memorable day at El Enemigo in Mendoza, Argentina

Bonarda (Argentinean red)

I blogged about this varietal in November in an article titled, “The Noah’s Ark of Wines.”   A nearly extinct varietal, Bonarda has become somewhat of a “cult” wine.  Known as Charbono in the US, Bonarda remains popular in Chile & Argentina for its black fruit flavors often with an interesting mélange of licorice.  Good acidity make Bonarda an ideal food wine.

Best producers:  Bodega El Enemigo Aleana Single Vineyard ($20), or Familia Zuccardi Emma Bonarda ($35)

                   One or two spots remain on WineKnows' private Croatian yacht in September 

Posip (Croatian white)

If you’re turning up your nose at a Croatian wine, don’t because you’ll miss a great summer wine.   Posip is an aromatic, flavor-chocked grape that screams summer-by-the-sea.   This little sleeper wine delivers big flavors ranging from lemons to figs….with apricots and almonds tossed in for a bonus.   Posip is difficult to find because it is not yet well known, but I promise it’s worth seeking out.

Suggested producers:  Merga Vieta comes to the US and it’s 20 bucks a pop.  One step up is Saints Hill, available for $37.  (Both are available via

                    A sip of Vermentino can instantly transport you to the the Italian coastline

Vermentino (Italian white)

The Vermentino grape has been a favorite of mine for >30 years.  If you’ve been to the Cinque Terre, the Tuscan coast, or the island of Sardenia and ordered a glass of white wine in a good restaurant you were most likely served a Vermentino.    It’s a taste of summer in your glass:  peaches, lemons & flowers.  If this one doesn’t grab you at ciao, you may have serious jet lag as even the modest renditions of this wine are perfect for a summer's day on the Mediterranean.

Best producers:   Argiolas or Pala (both Sardenian)


Happy New Wines in the New Year!