Wine: always a fine time
At the Alden Farmers Market on June 16 and July 21, experts from the Leonard Oakes Winery in Medina will be present of offer samples and information of their vineyard’s finest offerings. Leonard Oakes recently arrived in Alden on May 12 for their first session.
“We do produce various styles, so we make sweeter stuff, blends of different varietals, and produce a hard cider also,” said Jonathan Oakes, grape grower and wine maker at Leonard Oakes, and a consultant to other wineries on the trail. “So usually we bring quite a few. We produce 23 different types.”
Given the myriad types of wine out there, different blends compliment different dishes. White wine goes great with cream based sauce, for example, while reds pair nicely with meat done medium rare.
If you are hosting a dinner party, you can pair the wine you serve along with dinner, to either coordinate or contrast your culinary masterpieces.
“[Whites] cut through a creamy texture and leave [your palette] refreshed,” Oakes said. He also says that red wines are fermented on the skins of the grapes to extract flavor that “usually allows cuts of meat that are bloodier with a medium rare cut, and works well with the tannins to uplift each other.”
Red, heavy meat gives a “drying sensation” to the palette from the tannins, which are bitter plant compounds, comparable to steeping a tea bag too long and producing a drying sensation.
It can be as simple as choosing matching ingredients, like apples or ginger, present in both your food and the wine you are sipping. For a more complex fiesta of flavors, contrast flavors and experiment with various combinations.
“If you want to do something heavily based on fruit, you can play up fruit elements in the wine as well,” Oakes said. “If you want to go with contrasting, that is more difficult, but you can pair ice wine and blue cheese. The salty blue with sweet wine gives a delicate flavor. Contrasting works well.”
Oakes suggest that if you are a novice wine drinker, to learn more you can do a comparison tasting to look for similar elements.
“When you start down the path, find one variety - my favorite is Riesling - and try lots of styles,” Oakes said. “Get together with friends, and buy eight or 10 different kinds and open them up and try them all against each other. It gets tricky with the red wines; I’d start with whites. When you get into red territory, you bring in oak and other structural elements. It’s hard to find the line where the grape starts and oak starts.”
If all this talk sounds elegant and refined, it is – but you don’t have to be a richy poo-poo to understand the varietals of vino.
“There’s definitely great wines that are low priced,” Oakes said. “The high price means how complex the wine is, the site where it’s grown, the variety of grapes used in production, and the manner in which its produced. They’re age-able and complex on the nose and palette. Cheaper wines use grapes that are not as expensive, from the site they are grown or actual variety. Quality can be found in all ranges; quality just means it’s free from faults, which are off-putting to the nose and palette. But there’s a broad range of wine on both spectrums.”
Oakes is a true wine expert, and hearing him speak at the Alden Farmers Market should be enough to make you dive into a wine glass full force.
“The best thing to do is research variety by variety,” Oakes said. “There are fundamental aromatic profiles certain varieties should have. In Cabernet Franc, you should get cranberry, cherry, some green around the edges, and some graphite on the nose.”
If this all sounds delicious and decadent, do not miss Leonard Oakes’ arrival to Alden – your palette will probably be pleased.