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Northwest Cellars Blog

Award-winning wines and custom wine labels. Wine. Now it gets personal.

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Every year, Wine Press Northwest (a fantastic online publication that we included in our ‘Top Northwest blogs’ post) holds a year-end competition. Appropriately dubbed the “Platinum Judging,” this competition is meant to determine and showcase the best wines the Pacific Northwest has to offer from the previous year. In order to be eligible, a wine has to have been certified gold or better at a professionally judged wine competition sometime during 2014.

Unsurprisingly, our highly skilled winemaker, Robert Smasne, took home nine platinum certifications in all, two of which were for wines from Northwest Cellars! That’s right, our 2013 Sonatina and our 2011 Verhey Vineyard Malbec were both certified platinum at the competition!

Our 2011 Verhey Vineyard Malbec was certified double gold this year at Seattle Wine Awards. According to Wine Press Northwest, “The complexity is overwhelming in this truly fabulous wine!”
Our 2013 Sonatina, which also received a certification (gold) at this year’s Seattle Wine Awards, was characterized by Wine Press NW as “...wildly aromatic on the nose and rich on the palate.”

We were also fortunate to have our 2011 Petite Sirah and our 2011 Intrigue both certified as Double Gold this year. Our 2010 Syrah, and our 2012 Chardonnay, were also honored this year, each receiving a gold certification.

All in all, we are so honored and incredibly humbled to be included in this competition. There are so many great wines from the Northwest, and it’s really a treasure to share ranks with some of the region’s best. Ultimately, the crafting of wine is not about competition to see which wine is best, which one pairs better with a particular dish, etc. The crafting of a truly great wine is about sharing the passion we as vintners feel towards wine and the experience it gives us. And that’s exactly what competitions like these are all about: sharing the love for wine that abounds in this region. Thanks again to Wine Press Northwest!
You can read up on the complete results from the competition here!

Pairing food and wine is a highly esteemed long standing practice that, in certain contexts, is only trusted to professionals. In some of the top restaurants in the world, the head sommelier is on par with the head chef in terms of strategy and decision making. This might seem obvious to you, wine is, afterall, an important part of our culture. But what aren’t so obvious are the myriad of different nuances and subtleties that are present in the taste profiles of every wine; even less obvious is how each of these nuances may line up with the particular flavors present in any given dish. This is why it’s left up to the professionals...there’s just too much to keep track of. BUT, there are ways and means by which you can experience a perfect meal, paired with a delicious wine without having to spend a ton of money and time at a high-scale restaurant.

First of all, you can learn the basics of pairing yourself, experiment on your own, and go from there. Sure, you won’t be blowing anybody’s culinary mind anytime soon, but at least you can get a taste of the experience in choosing the components of a pairing.

Weight: the most basic variable in pairings, it’s basically the “heaviness” vs the “lightness” of both the wine and dish in question. This one basically follows common sense: Darker, more robust wines are heavier, whereas clearer, more subtle wines could be thought of as lighter. When matching the weights of wine’s vs dishes, it’s important that one not overwhelm the other, i.e. an extremely heavy wine, with a very light dish or vice versa. The character of each component ought to be present, but of course, you’re never going to get a perfect 50/50 balance, as this would leave your pairing uninteresting.

Focus: While some think that the ideal pairing will bring the entire meal more together, even more wine experts seem to lean on the idea that wine and dish pairing is more akin to a conversation, rather than building a house. Ideally, you want one aspect of the meal to underlie and complement the other. For example, if your pairing means to focus on a very light wine, a good complement might be a small plate of something heartier, more robust, like an appetizer with a kick. Enough of a dish to be present and set the wine in a certain context, while still focusing primarily on the taste of the beverage.

Of course, there’s always the safe route, which is to trust Northwest Cellars with your pairings, as we have a number of delicious, free recipes from featured on our website, each of which are cleverly paired with one of our wines! Check out our most recent feature, here, it’s our 2011 Oscuro paired with Mascarpone Polenta and Pork Shoulder Ragu, YUM! You can also head to our Wine and Food Parings page, on our website for a complete list of all the recipes from Chef magazine!

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