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Wednesday, July 23, 2014         

By the Glass

With summer in full swing, I asked several wine professionals for recommendations appropriate for warm-weather sipping. Here are their replies:

The wine scene, like the food scene, is greatly affected by current trends. The media usually sets the momentum, the speed and the duration of these trends.

Although a virtual ocean of wine is available to the consumer today, it can still be quite the challenge to find wines that over-deliver on quality for your dollar.

I recently asked several of Hawaii’s top sommeliers for their insights on syrah. I hope this inspires readers to try something different.

I love touring wine country. One of my latest visits was to Ama­dor County, Calif., in the Sierra Foothills. What a beautiful, panoramic countryside.

I remember being asked in the mid-1980s to serve on a judging panel for California chardonnays for a wine magazine. It certainly was a grueling two days of tasting; there were an overwhelming number of bottlings, from inexpensive to very pricey.

I asked several of Honolulu's top wine professionals for recommendations that would help readers select California chardonnays for home use. Here's what they shared:

Rolling into January brings to mind ice wines. This is the time of the year when grapes, left on the vine to freeze, are usually harvested.

One of the fast-growing trends carrying into 2011 is an appreciation for wines and foods that are more naturally grown and produced. Organic, bio-dynamic, sustainable?

During the past few weeks I have been mentoring a Roosevelt High School student for her senior project. Her topic: Where does wine get its taste and flavors? It's a simple question, one that I never consciously asked myself. Of course, my challenge was to give her an experience of wines using senses other than taste.

The holiday season is fast approaching, and it is time to stock up on the bubbly for the festivities.

People often ask me to name my favorite wine and wine region, and though it's the most common question I get as a sommelier, I can't provide more than the vaguest answer.

Fall is here, a time when California zinfandel comes to mind. On the mainland this grape variety is popular not only for its nickname "America's grape," but because of its gusto, honesty and heartiness.

I lived in Portland, Ore., for a short time a few years back, and I loved day trips and weekend escapes to Willamette Valley -- wine country. My tasting companion was a longtime Marine Corps friend just starting to learn about wine. I have fond memories of those excursions; it's a beautiful place with warm people and great wines.

A customer asked me the other day, "What is 'terroir'?" The word is a French term that refers to a sense of place one can smell and taste in their wine. Why the fascination?

For the next few weeks, our Hana Hou menu of Chef Mavro's six most-requested recipes will include two wines from Washington state wine regions, a considerable feat since there are only eight wines on the menu. This is a testament to the quality of wine making and wines being produced in the state.

Master sommelier Roberto Viernes recently conducted a champagne tasting for Oahu's wine professionals at Hiroshi Eurasion Tapas. Champagnes in August? The answer is a definite yes -- many people would love to sip on this French bubbly all year long.

A recent guest at Chef Mavro visiting from New Zealand suggested I write about the wine there, and since I love New Zealand wines, I decided to take the suggestion.

The other day, someone asked what type of wine I feel deserves more attention than it gets. There are many, but for this unusually warm summer, I think it's Beaujolais.

This year's FIFA World Cup in South Africa really caught my attention. I am by no means a soccer fan, but I watched more soccer in the past three weeks than I have my entire life. It also reminded me that it's been a long time since I've had a wine from South Africa, so maybe now is the time for a revisit.

Most of the questions we receive about wine concern pairing it with food.

We recently did our staff food and wine pairings for the summer menu at Chef Mavro. One wine, the Grof Degenfeld Muscat Lunel from Tokaj, Hungary, was a runaway favorite with a new Kona Kea Shrimp recipe, garam masala and hearts of palm-green apple remoulade. The just-off-dry Muscat Lunel is a light straw color, with lemon and orange flavors and floral notes. It has crisp acidity and is very refreshing.

It is summertime. Although the seasonal change is not as climactically different here in the islands as on the mainland, one has to agree the sun is more glaring and the weather noticeably hotter from June through August.


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