Ice Ice Baby

Photo courtesy of Inniskillin’s Facebook page. Over the weekend, I baked a Honeycrisp apple pie and faced a pairings conundrum. Fortunately I had the perfect pick in my cellar: 2008 Inniskillin Winery Riesling Ice Wine ($70, 375mL half bottle, Niagara, Ontario, Canada), which I’ll admit I’d been saving for a special occasion but doesn’t a fresh-baked pie count? As a dessert wine, it’s certainly sweet – with tropical-fruit notes and Meyer lemon flavors – but the finish features a nice lift and round mouth feel marked by crisp, juicy apples.  Grapes for this ice wine were harvested in December 2008…

Sin Zin

Can you really go wrong with a California Zin? It pairs well with hearty winter foods like a bowl of chili or squash dishes, even a take-out pie from your favorite pizzeria, yet it’s also a nice solo wine that doesn’t need fat, sugar, spice or salt to improve its performance on your palate. Here are six of my favorites this year. 2010 Frei Brothers Reserve Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley, California, $17) is full-bodied with dark chocolate emerging towards the finish, preceded by soft black-cherry notes. Expect a clean finish with no tannins. (www.freibrothers.com) 2010 Frank Family Vineyards Zinfandel (Napa…

No Place Like Home

Pointing to your 60-inch Wolf Appliance cooking range and proclaiming it was manufactured in humble Dane County, Wis., has a certain cache. Many high-ticket items for the home are made thousands of miles away, but enough are assembled in this state, steeped as it is in manufacturing, that there are plenty of opportunities to invite the buy-local movement into your abode – right down to the fireplace screen and the bathroom sink. Glass Fireplace Doors  Varies by dealer / Design Specialties, Milwaukee Keep it cozy this winter with fireplace doors made on the city’s Northwest Side. Styles include satin nickel…

Sweet Door County

Wine glasses by Chris Kessler Outside of farm-fresh cherries, local wines are the sweetest things in Door County. I took a little overnight trip to the region last week to scope out some old favorites and newcomers. Red Oak Vineyard, which moved into its new tasting room off Highway 42/57 in Sturgeon Bay about two weeks ago, thoughtfully arranged its tasting room to look out at its barrel-aging facility. My favorites: 2004 Door County Cherry Beaujolais ($16), with a round mouth feel, beautiful burgundy shade and too as sweet as you’d expect; 2005 Russian River Valley Zinfandel ($27), which uses…

Santa Barbara Funk

Oreana Winery Forget everything you know about a Central California Coast tasting room, like the scent of ocean air wafting across the vineyards or the sun bathing you as you waltz out, that memory of Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay or Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir imprinted on your palate. In the heart of Santa Barbara (pop. 90,000, and a haven for Hollywood celebs) and two blocks from the Pacific Ocean is the newly created Funk Zone where boutique wineries are wedged between art galleries and seafood shacks. Only two (Pali Wine Company and Au Bon Climat) sell their wine in…

Bull’s-Eye Wines

Think about this. Next time you’re at a Target store you can pick up laundry detergent, socks, cat litter and wine. Wait. Did I just say wine? As of last week, Target is now in the wine business. On Monday, Estancia Estates – which is a Central California Coast winery – began selling a wine exclusively at Target stores around the country. That wine is 2011 Estancia Moscato (California, $11.99) expresses orange notes on a balanced palate with some savory herbs appearing near the finish, which would make this a fun wine pairing (perhaps with stone fruits, such as the…

New Wine Lover’s Spot in Mequon

Kohler Food & Wine Experience, our event of the week. A country club might not be the first venue you consider for a night out drinking wine, mostly because of the exclusivity factor, but the brand-new Nines at River Club of Mequon throws that theory out the window. After Nov. 6, you can walk right into the contemporary space and, in the upscale sports bar, order a flight of wines poured from a beautiful, gorgeous machine with 44 taps that the club says is the largest in the state. (For the record, this satin stainless-steel beauty of a machine is…

The Perfect Autumn Wine

Often when I’m sipping a glass of California or Oregon Pinot Noir, I think the baking spices on the nose, which carry through to the palate, mimic autumnal goings-on in the kitchen, like hearty breads, pumpkin dishes and liberal uses of spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg. And as a lighter-bodied red, Pinot Noirs are great transitional wines into fall when you might be letting go of the chilled white wines but are not quite ready for a bold Shiraz, Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon. Here are three Golden State Pinot Noirs to try out this fall (stay tuned for a…

White-Hot Patio Pounders

Paired with gorgeous autumn weather, the porch and backyard are still plum opportunities to sip wine chez-vous. What better way to close out the summer months than with a patio pounder? These are white wines that don’t cost much at all yet deliver a lot on the palate. From Italy to California, and even Australia, here are a few selections. All cost under-$14. 2010 Mark West Chardonnay (Central Coast, California, $13) delivers a floral backbone on a light, almost delicate body, as well as gooseberry and tropical-fruit notes that are paired with bright acidity. (www.markwestwines.com) 2011 Hahn Estates Winery Chardonnay…

Wine for Packers Fans

This is definitely done in his off time, but you should know that Green Bay Packers cornerback and safety Charles Woodson’s other engagement has everything to do with wine. And, as the Packers first game of the season on Sunday is against a team close to the mother lode of U.S. wine production, it’s especially fitting. As the story goes, Woodson developed a love affair with Napa while playing for the Oakland Raiders from 1998 to 2005. The first vintage release from TwentyFour Wines, which fans know as his jersey number for the Oakland team, was in 2001. Included in…