Regional wine is worth your time!

February 27, 2014

Did you know wine is produced in all 50 states? That’s right, wine country is closer than you think. And just like different countries offer unique styles and varietals of wine, so do different regions. Often the styles of wine you’ll find in a specific area or state are defined not only by the climate and growing conditions, but also by the winemaking style local vintners have developed over the years. For example, Missouri wine doesn’t taste like California or French wine or any other kind of wine. It tastes uniquely like Missouri wine, and has been garnering national and international acclaim for years. Similar stories can be found in many states in the Midwest.

Regional wine markets have grown exponentially. The number of wineries in the US has quadrupled in the last 10 years according to research done by the University of Missouri. With this growth, attention is being paid to the exciting offerings available in different areas of the country. Whether it’s a Missouri Norton, Michigan Riesling, Ohio Ice-wine or Indiana Traminette, regional wine with a local flare is making waves., a non-profit organization, was founded in 2008 with the purpose of telling the story of local wine. Its founders, Jeff Siegel (A.K.A Wine Curmudgeon) and Dave McIntyre (wine columnist for The Washington Post) are dedicated to the LocaPour movement, encouraging wine-lovers to support their local wineries through campaigns such as Regional Wine Week, held annually in the late fall.

Jeff and Dave aren’t the only wine enthusiasts heralding the importance and benefits of regional wine. The movement is growing, and slowly but surely, more people are giving local wine a chance. Another excellent opportunity for regional wine to strut-its-stuff is through the Jefferson Cup Invitational, hosted by renowned wine expert, Doug Frost (MS/MW). From its creation 14 years ago, the goal of this wine competition has been to create a more equitable contest for wineries from less-famed states to compete, culminating in the showcase of America’s best wines. The Midwest consistently brings home Jefferson Cups, supporting the reality of increasing quality and notoriety of regional wines.

Do you have a thirst for local wine? Join the LocaPour movement by supporting your local wineries. Drink local!

Missouri Wines: Sustainability for the Future

February 21, 2014

What does sustainability mean to you? Does it mean recycling those Missouri Wine bottles when you’re done with them or buying local products?

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines sustainable as involving methods that do not completely use up or destroy natural resources or as able to last or continue for a long time. Whatever sustainable means to you, we can all agree that we want Missouri Wine around for the foreseeable future.  Missouri Wineries are employing lots of different kinds of sustainable practices to ensure just that.

It starts from the ground up. Many wineries in the state have re-purposed and refit existing structures rather than building new. Wineries can be found in buildings that claim past lives as everything from homesteads to churches, schools, barns and even orphanages. Some wineries that are building new structures have considered sustainability when from the start by incorporating energy efficient equipment and geothermal heating and cooling while building.

When it comes to the vines themselves, there are so many different things that are done in Missouri vineyards to ensure good stewardship of the land, it’s impossible to list them all. Some wineries choose earth-friendly weed control despite the extra time and effort it can require. Others employ sophisticated moisture sensors and irrigation to discourage wasted water. Many have composting programs, but one of the most important things that most wineries and vineyards in the state do is grow grape varieties that are suited to our demanding weather patterns.

The sustainable practices don’t stop in the vineyards. Whether it’s a company-wide recycling initiative, using solar power, or buying locally sourced and made barrels, many Missouri wineries are committed to making choices that are good for the environment and their customers.

Missouri wine pairs well with sustainability.

It’s True, Missouri’s Cherry Wines Are Delicious!

February 17, 2014

Most people know the story of a young George Washington not being able to lie to his father about cutting down a cherry tree. This popular tale started a tradition of people eating cherries on February 22 to honor Washington's birthday, a holiday now observed on the third Monday of the month. February is also National Cherry Month. What better way to celebrate the fruity festivities than with a glass of Missouri cherry wine?

Cherry is a predominant flavor profile found in many red wines. You're likely to discover the aroma and flavor of cherries in earthy Chambourcin. Cherries are also the main ingredient in some of Missouri’s well-known fruit wines. Wineries such as Pirtle, Sainte Genevieve, St. James and Wenwood Farm produce award-winning cherry wines that have become favorites for their distinct flavors. Each winery that produces cherry wine has a little bit of a different spin on it, such as Hermannhof's cherry wine that is sweet and crisp, while OOVVDA Winery offers cherry wine with intense, spicy characteristics. Montelle Winery's award-winning cherry brandy is great for gourmet cooking, and sipping before or after a meal.

The pairing of cherries with luscious milk chocolate is delightful. Ladoga Ridge Winery's award-winning Chococherry Kiss wine blends the sweetness of black cherries with the decadent flavor of chocolate. The chocolate cherry dessert wine from Riverwood Winery has hints of cinnamon and clove.

In addition to chocolate, cherry wines are a good match for grilled pork, Thai food, curry and sushi. Cherries marinated in red wine that is seasoned with orange peel and cinnamon are tasty with ice cream. Or try pairing your favorite Missouri varietals with cherry dishes. For example, the richness of a full-bodied Norton is excellent with a sauce of dried cherries and port over lamb chops. Sweet Catawba compliments a slice of cherry angel food cake well.

If you're looking for a fresh way to enjoy Missouri wines, try cherry!

Missouri wine pairs well with cherries!

Pork and Wine Pairing Guide

Kickoff the Super Bowl with Missouri Wines

January 31, 2014

Chicken wings, pizza and nachos are foods you might expect to see at a Super Bowl gathering, but have you thought about adding Missouri wines to the starting lineup for your football festivities? Good food and good wine are made for each other. Missouri wine is sure to be a crowd-pleaser when paired with traditional game day snacks.

Chicken Wings: From sweet barbecue to spicy buffalo, wings are a must-have for many fans on Super Bowl Sunday. Brut sparkling wine, and semi-sweet varieties of Vignoles and Traminette will tame the heat of classic hot wings. The intense grape flavor and candy-like aromas of Catawba are a match for honey barbecue wings.

Pizza: Super Bowl Sunday is one of the top five days of the year to eat pizza. A full-bodied red like Norton will score major points when paired with pepperoni pizza pockets. Fiery chipotle chicken pizzablends nicely with the fruit flavors of Vignoles and Chardonel. A hearty meat-lovers pizza piled with Italian sausage, pepperoni, Canadian bacon and salami calls for a medium-bodied, dry red such as Chambourcin.

Nachos: A plate of crispy tortilla chips loaded with savory fixings like cheese, salsa and guacamole is almost as exciting as a touchdown. You might need a coin toss to determine which tasty variety of this popular Tex-Mex cuisine to serve on game day. Sweet Vignoles or Traminette will cut the heat of tangy nachos, while Norton pairs well with cheddar cheese.

Veggies and Fruit: Include some healthy choices, like fruit and vegetable platters, in your Super Bowl spread. Sparkling wine complements the fresh, juicy toppings on a slice of fruit pizza. Catawba is the perfect accompaniment melon, grapes and cherries. The crisp, herbal flavor of Seyval Blanc pairs well with citrus fruits, asparagus, broccoli and green peppers. Pour a glass of Norton with cherry tomatoes or a fresh salsa.

Brownies: By the fourth quarter, you’ll be ready for dessert. Brownies are a decadent way to satisfy a group. Treat your guests tochocolate fudge walnut brownies paired with Norton. A batch of fudgy cherry and port brownies will get more attention than the commercials. For a less rich option, try apple brownies with Chambourcin or Traminette.

No matter the outcome of the big game, your championship celebration will be a winner with Missouri wines.

Missouri wines pair well with the Super Bowl!

Missouri Wines: From Barrel to Bottle

January 27, 2014

When you think of winemaking, you might picture rows of rustic, wine-filled barrels hidden away in a chilly, dark cellar. For a couple thousand years, barrels have been storing wine and also contributing to its flavors, colors, textures and overall character.

Before wood barrels, ancient Greeks stored their wine in clay jars. Celtic society started using wooden barrels for wine storage around 50BC. Eventually, Roman winemakers also realized that wooden barrels were more durable, easier to transport and could hold more wine than pottery. By the second century, wood barrels were the wine containers of choice. Palm wood was used to make some of the earliest wine barrels, but it didn't take long for winemakers to realize that oak was a better option. Today, American and French oak are the most popular materials for wood barrels.

Missouri is a leading producer of wood barrels for wineries around the world. A&K Cooperage in Higbee, Bratcher Cooperage in Liberty, Hoffmeister Barrelworks in Ste. Genevieve County and Independent Stave Company's Missouri Cooperage in Lebanon all manufacture white oak barrels. McGinnis Wood Products in Cuba provides wine barrel-makers with narrow, curved strips of wood, called staves, which are used to form the sides of a barrel.

In general, American oak barrels produce bolder flavors, while French oak barrels give wines more subtle aromas. Vanilla is a common flavor that comes from oak barrels. The aromas of spices, coffee, caramel and chocolate are also prevalent. Wood barrels are often heated on the inside to create levels of toast from light to heavy. Wines that mature in heavily toasted barrels typically have more layered, complex oak flavors.

Oak barrels are porous and cause wine to evaporate. Wine makers frequently add wine to their barrels in a process known as "topping off." This prevents the wine from spoiling due to too much contact with oxygen. Oak barrels lose their flavor after about five to seven years of use. Old oak barrels can be stylishly re-purposed into items like planters, tables, chairs and light fixtures. Wine barrel staves are used in grilling to add a smoky, red-wine flavor to steak and seafood.

Barrels are an important part of the winemaking process. Without them, many of Missouri's award-winning wines wouldn't have their distinctive and delicious qualities.

Missouri wines pair well with barrel aging!

Save a Place at the Table for Missouri Norton

January 16, 2014

Norton is Missouri's signature wine and grape, and January is its official month of celebration. There is no better way to recognize this one-of-a-kind, full-bodied red than to enjoy it with the many foods that bring out its rich flavors.

The flavors of Norton vary by winemaker, but notes of berries, spice, chocolate and vanilla are often identified in this complex varietal. Most Norton wines are dry, but can sometimes be found in other styles. Norton's firm tannins allow its many aromas to unfold slowly on the palate. It pairs best with foods that have bold qualities such as blue cheese, and red meats that are grilled, smoked or barbecued.

Norton is the perfect wine to share with friends and family at your next gathering. Norton's uniqueness is a conversation starter alongside these complementary zesty tomato tarts. For another Norton-friendly appetizer, try sunflower seed and rosemary crackers served with caramelized onion dip.

A dry, smooth glass of Norton will complement the sweet, tart and spicy flavors of sausage with smashed potatoes and cornichons, and the Cajun kick of blackened salmon and rice. Norton not only tastes great with beef bourguignonne, but can also be used as one of the main ingredients in this hearty meal.

If you resolved to eat healthier in the new year, don't worry. Pair Norton with the tomato sauce, garlic and ground sirloin in a reduced fat, high-fiber version of spaghetti and meatballs.  Norton will also enhance other wholesome meals such as steak with green beans, tomatoes and chimichurri sauce, or lean grilled lamb chops with mint.

Norton excels with desserts that master the balance of sugar and salt. After the main course, pour a glass of Norton with an elegant chocolate glazed chocolate tart. Or sip it with this simple dessert of red wine-poached pears. Sweet, Port wines that are made from Norton grapes go well with creamy cheesecake or drizzled over scoops of vanilla bean ice cream.

Missouri's award-wining Norton wines are an excellent companion to any culinary adventure.

Norton pairs well with good eating!

Ready, Set… Upcycle! Wine & Candles

January 14, 2014

The temperatures are finally rising after what seemed like a never-ending winter. As the bright colors of Spring begin to emerge and the light breeze wafts the smell of new growth past, you know it’s about that time… time to once again enjoy the outdoors. Is your patio, deck or porch ready for the new season? Here are some great DIY ways to take your outdoor entertaining to the next level:

Pallet Wine Rack – Repurposing wooden pallets is all the rage. Why not join in the fun with this useful and outdoor friendly wine rack. (Source: Virginia Sweet Pea)

Recycled Wine Bottle Bird Feeders – Prep your patio for ultimate bird-watching enjoyment with these beautiful and eco friendly bird buffets. (Source: The Garden Roof Co-op)

Mountable Wine Bottle Torches – The days may be getting longer, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had after dark, especially when you have these awesome wine bottle torches to light the way. (Source: Design Sponge)

Wine Barrel Ice Chest- This DIY project isn’t as difficult as it sounds. The hardest thing may be getting your hands on a wine barrel. It’s totally worth it though, because not only will it keep your beverages cold as the temperatures begin to rise, but it also serves as a great conversation piece for those backyard get-togethers. (Source:

Wine Bottle Candle Covers – There is just something wonderful and whimsical about candlelight. Keep your candles lit outside with these candle covers made out of recycled wine bottles. (Source: Invite & Delight)

Outdoor Wine Glass Holders – Ever feel like you could really use a third hand. This super simple DIY project will provide just that while you enjoy spending some time with Mother Nature. (Source: Catch My Party)

Missouri wine pairs well with DIY projects and getting back outside!

Pairing Bread with Missouri Wine

January 09, 2014

Bread comes in many delectable forms, and January is a month devoted to honoring this staple. The first 31 days of the year have been declared National Bread Month. January also includes National Croissant Day (January 30).  Missouri wines are the perfect accompaniment to fête this classic comfort food.

Yeast is an ingredient in wine and many types of breads. The flavors and aromas of bread dough and biscuits can be detected in some varietals. In addition to similarities in taste, wine and bread have a  history together that dates back at least as far as ancient Greece, where wine-soaked bread was a common breakfast. When Greek men got together to recite poems, they drank wine with either bread or cheese. The ancient Greeks also made a bread called psadista from fine flour, oil and wine as an offering to the earth gods and goddesses.

Bread is appropriate for meals at any time of day, which gives wine-lovers many opportunities to try out pairings. For breakfast or brunch, a fruit-forward, Vignoles is a match for French toast. Pour a sparkling wine while indulging in the flaky layers of a buttery croissant or pair a fruity Catawba with a decadent raspberry white chocolate muffin. A light lunch of salad and caramelized onion and goat cheese bread calls for a crisp Seyval or full-bodied Norton. Beat the winter blues with a hot bowl of soup, a slice of old world cheese bread and a glass of Traminette. A dry white wine such as Chardonel complements the cornmeal, buttermilk and bacon drippings in southern-style cornbread. Serve this traditional side dish with a hearty chili to warm up on an icy evening. If you still have room for dessert, satisfy your sweet tooth with banana-apple bread and a crisp Chardonel.

When wine and bread come together in recipes, the results are delicious. Dry red wine, such as Norton or Chambourcin, is used to make the dough for red wine rosemary bread, and sweet and peppery-hot  wine biscuits. Leftover white wine is put to tasty use in savory olive, bacon and cheese bread that's ideal for a quick lunch, dinner or appetizer.

With so much bread to devour, January is the ideal month to explore the many delightful ways that these diverse baked goods can be enhanced by your favorite Missouri wines.

Missouri wines pair well with celebrating bread!

New Year's Resolution: Manage Your Missouri Wines

January 07, 2014

The beginning of a new year is a motivating time to make positive changes. While you are feeling encouraged, consider making a New Year's resolution to organize, inventory, properly store and restock your selection of Missouri wines. 

The first step to getting the most out of your wine in the new year is organization. There is no right or wrong way to arrange your collection. Whatever method you choose should make your wine more accessible when you are ready to enjoy it. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Varietals: Put wines that are made with the same principle grape, such as Norton, Vignoles or Chardonel, in the same space.
  • Geography: Group Missouri wines from the same region and/or wine trail together. 
  • Color and Type: Separate red, white and rosé wines into different sections. Break each section down further with more specific descriptions such as dry, sweet or sparkling.
  • Brand: Bottles that come from the same vineyard can be placed together.
  • Value: Differentiate between wines that are for anytime and wines that are for special occasions. Set aside wines that you'd like to watch age.

Once your wine is organized, it is time to create or update a record of what you have in storage. There are several ways to manage your wine inventory including free online and smartphone tools like the Missouri Wines app, which assist users in keeping notes on the state's wineries and wines. There are also restaurant-style interactive systems with barcode scanners and printers that can be installed into home wine cellars. In addition, you can use any spreadsheet program that evaluates and organizes data. Track information such as the name of each wine, the number of bottles you have, where each bottle is located, the monetary value of your collection and personal tasting notes. Color-coded wine bottle tags allow you to get information about your wines at a glance. 

Whether you are a serious wine collector or just have a few bottles, proper storage is required to preserve the quality of your wine. Wooden crates, wine racks and wine refrigerators are all adequate if you don't have a custom basement cellar. Your wine will do best in a dark, cool area that is not too damp or too dry.  The ideal temperature is a steady 45 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit with a humidity level between 50 to 80 percent.  To prevent the corks from drying out, store wine bottles horizontally.

A well-organized, inventoried and correctly stored wine collection is ripe for expansion. With so many award-winning Missouri wines from which to choose, this can be both an exciting and overwhelming task. Ask yourself these questions as you prepare to explore wines that are new to you:

  • What kind of foods do I cook on a regular basis, and which wines pair best with those types of cuisines?
  • Do I have a variety of light, full-bodied, dry, sweet, red, white and sparkling wines for entertaining?
  • How can I widen my collection to represent a diverse array of wineries, regions and grapes? 
  • Do I have at least one case of my favorite Missouri wine set aside for gift-giving throughout the year?

With your collection stocked and organized, it will be easier than ever to savor Missouri wine all year long. 

Missouri wines pair well with New Year's resolutions!

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