Cool Climate Wines Perfect for Flannel Season

There are certain things you can always trust about wines in a particular region. They’ll always be a good fit for the kind of weather that the area experiences. So what wine could possibly be better for flannel season than Portland wine? These cool climate wines are made to suit a number of fall and winter experiences. We often think about how wine pairs with food. How a wine pairs with a season can be just as important.

Portland Wine | Cool Climate Wines | Rainstorm Wines

The climate in which the grapes grow directly affects the wines that are created:

Cool Climate Red Wines

Cool climates mean that certain grapes will enjoy the temperatures and weather more than others. For instance, you’re going to have a tough time growing grapes for Cabernet Sauvignon in a cool region.

Cool climates provide perfect conditions for growing grapes for Pinot Noir, Merlot, Schiava, Gamay, Cabernet Franc, Rondo, Regent, Lagrein, Chambourcin, and others.

These wines are characterized by having a higher acidity. This makes them perfect for meals with roasted vegetables, and most meat – especially fish. They also have more spice to them than warm climate wines.

Their bodies are lighter and they’ll have lower alcohol content – a perfect excuse to have just one more glass.

Try This:

As an extra tip, the blend of spice, light bodies, and high acidity in Portland wine makes these reds exquisite with dark chocolates, chocolate caramels, or desserts that feature these flavors. You know, just in case that information proves useful! Try Merlot with dark chocolate or a Pinot Noir with chocolate caramel.

If you like the effect, think about a wine & chocolate tasting party. These are a great way to celebrate the holidays or ring in the New Year. Comparing favorite choices and pairings is an immediate party icebreaker.

Cool Climate White Wines

Cool climate wines of the white variety tend to possess some of the same qualities: they have higher acidity, light body, and lower alcohol content. There is another element they add, however. Instead of standout spicy notes, white wines grown in cooler climates will tend to have a bit more fruit and tart to them. Both in taste and aroma, you’ll find hint of lemon and lime flavors that are exceptional.

Cool climate white wines include Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Muller-Thurgau, Chasselas, Solaris, Madeleine Angevine, and Bacchus.

Try This:

Pinot Gris pairs very well with roasted veggies and seared fish. The higher acidity and complex flavor of the wine complements more straightforward methods of cooking. What many don’t think of is how well it pairs with cream sauces.

This is because of how its acidity plays with the fat content of the sauce. The mouthfeel that results from alternating a bite from the dish and a sip of the wine builds throughout the meal. Oregon Pinot Gris also tends to have pear flavors, which are some of the most exquisite to pair with cream sauces.

Or This:

If you try the wine & chocolate pairing party above, you don’t have to banish white wines from the festivities. White chocolate is often made with citrus flavors. This goes well with a Sauvignon Blanc, where the fruity notes of the two help complete that connection.

What Oregon Fall Wines Should I Choose?

The Willamette Valley is well known for its richly rewarding Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris wines.

Pinot Noir: The Pinot Noirs of Portland wine typically feature great spice notes. There may be no better wine for fall than Pinot Noir and its berry tones. Best of all, Oregon Pinot Noir isn’t all the same. There’s a cultural focus to wine growing in Oregon that highlights the creation of a variety of options.

This means you’ll find Pinot Noirs that offer a number of different spice elements and body. What’s remarkable is how the quality remains high across them, with a focus on features that are perfect with hearty meals. Get some with a few different flavors and tones, to mix and match with your fall and winter favorites.

Pinot Gris: The Pinot Gris wines of Oregon take a different bend. These are remarkably fruity wines with complex flavors and bodies. Fall is also a time of harvest, and the Pinot Gris options pair exquisitely with a range of dishes from the vegetables that come in. Some of the hardiest vegetables make it well into fall, and these often make some of the most flavorful seasonal meals.

Chardonnay: Oregon Chardonnay blends smoky textures to its pronounced fruit flavors. Ideal for late summer days, this Chardonnay also has a strong argument for fall when you want something full-bodied.

Viognier: Viognier is gaining a foothold in Oregon. Its tropical flavors may seem like an odd choice for Fall, until you consider the fruits and vegetables we often eat at this time of year. Viognier’s flowery notes go best with fruits and veggies that have strong flavor – such as cranberries, apples, squash, and even lighter pumpkin treats. If you opt for a ham for any feast, Viognier pairs better with it than almost any other wine.

One Last Thing

Get yourself a few different options so that you have variety and don’t repeat. We all have our comfort wine for the season. Just make sure you can change it up a little for different meals. Find reasons to celebrate the season – first snow is as important to many as more traditional holidays. Use these little moments as opportunities to celebrate with friends, and to share your favorites in everything: wines, meals, music, desserts, films.

Fall and winter can be a very cozy time to huddle with your loved ones, to heal, celebrate, and share. Take advantage of these moments. Treat yourself kindly over these months.

25 Funky Holiday Gift Ideas

The best holiday gift ideas are presents that can be shared with others. This is why wine for the holidays is always so popular. Other gifts might include something handmade or those that help others. Gifts help us draw closer. Here are 25 ways to do just that:

Holiday Gift Ideas | Wine for the Holidays | Rainstorm Wines

1. Donation to Charity: For those who can’t stop giving of themselves, make a donation to to their favorite charity in their name.

2. Book of Local Art: A book featuring local art that can be seen in person gives your recipient a checklist of fun trips!

3. Tea: Tea lovers like nothing better than to try new varieties. Get an idea of whether they enjoy herbals, caffeinated teas, or just like to experiment with new flavors.

4. Brownie Mix: What’s better than brownies? Making brownies together! Mixes are easy to add to, and their simplicity ensures that baking can be social.

5. A News Subscription: It’s more important than ever to be informed. A subscription to a favorite newspaper means a lot.

6. Wine for the Holidays: After reading the news, you might want some wine! It’s always more delicious when you can throw around words like “bouquet,” “tannic,” and “mouthfeel” with a friend afterward.

7. Chocolates & Wine: It’s astounding the number of people who haven’t paired chocolate and wine together yet. They’re missing out. Unique dark chocolates with the right wine pairing can draw out flavors you never even thought of tasting.

8. Drawing Supplies: By the same token, art can be extremely social. Go on a trip to a garden, the shore, the mountains, or the woods and start drawing together.

9. Painting Classes: Same thing here, except more structured. Painting classes can help you pursue a way of de-stressing while developing a talent.

10. Workshops: More hands on? There are workshops for everything these days. Learn to make candles, fish, create, intricate dessert decorations, or become a metalsmith.

11. Self-Defense Classes: A lot of people would love to know more self-defense. It’s a good way to stay safe and be more confident. Try taking the class together!

12. Honey: Honey is flavored by the flowers the bees feed on. They can be further flavored with nuts, cinnamon, and other additions.

13. Flavored Olive Oils: Cooks will love espresso, rosemary, chili, and truffle olive oils. Each can give a familiar dish an incredible amount of new flavor.

14. Board Games: Anyone out there who likes board games has another that they want. Find out what it is, and you’ll be their hero. Just be sure you’re ready to play it with them.

15. New Wallets: Everyone keeps their wallets way too long. Chances are they don’t even need 90% of what’s in there. Try streamlined wallets that are thinner and easier to carry.

16. Coloring Books for Adults: This is so 2015, right? Who cares? These are still superb gifts to help relax in stressful times.

17. Translated Books: Is there a book series that’s hard to get because it’s translated? Seek it out – few holiday gift ideas will be more meaningful to an avid reader.

18. Chemistry Kits: Chemistry and other science kits are engaging educational gifts for girls and boys who dream of becoming scientists.

19. CSA Shares: A farm share can keep someone stocked in fruit and veggies throughout the year. There are also farm shares for beer, ice cream, and flowers, so be inventive!

20. Fully Stocked Spice Rack: If you know cooks who are constantly out of spices and only have salt and pepper on hand, now’s the perfect time to help them out.

21. Coffee: Let’s be real. No coffee lover has ever been disappointed at receiving…more coffee! A gift basket of coffee, kahlua, and either whiskey or Irish cream (keep chilled!) never goes wrong.

22. Incense: People who like incense will burn right through this gift. You can be sure it’ll get used.

23. Beautiful Throws: Blankets. Must have more blankets! In the colder months, you can cover pretty much every sitting surface with a ready-to-use blanket and still not have enough.

24. Dog Walking: Are friends having trouble getting home from work to walk the dog. Give them a month (or a few months) of dog-walking services so they know their loved one is getting enough exercise!

25. Lunar Calendar: This shows the phases of the moon throughout the year, a perfect reminder for stargazers who get too busy to remember to look up at the night sky.

Best of all, give the gift of yourself this season. Spend time with family and friends, taking the time to enjoy each other’s company – with a glass or two of wine for the holidays!

The Best Wines to Pair with Grilled Salmon

There’s no single wine that’s absolutely right for a particular pairing. Chances are, there will be a range for you to enjoy when wine pairing with fish. This gives you plenty of delicious options. Whether pinot pairings or something else, different choices will give the meal a unique flavor and attitude. This means you can be creative in your pairing approach! Experiment!

wine pairing with fish, pinot pairings

Salmon has a depth of taste, so it pairs very well with a richer white wine. You may not have thought of it before – fish and white wine is so ingrained as a rule – but lighter reds can work wonders, too.

Pinot Noir

This is the most tried-and-true pairing. The wine has rich fruit flavors and gentle spice tastes. The salmon’s preparation matters a great deal when choosing pinot pairings. If the fish is prepared in a simpler, more traditional or savory style, or over charcoal, then the salmon will taste bold. A wine with a pronounced cherry and hint of spice turns the entire experience succulent.

Don’t go too oaky with your pinot pairings. An oaky pinot noir will overwhelm the flavor of the fish and won’t be a pleasant choice. A bit of oak is OK and part of what provides that light spice. Just don’t go overboard with it.

Pinot Gris

Wine pairing with fish is about complementary flavors. Pinot gris boasts flavors that lean into the tropical variety, delivered with a complex texture. It’s not only its taste that works well with salmon; the mouthfeel is exceptional, too.

Pinot gris goes well with salmon that’s been prepared with mustard or ginger flavors or that has salad as a side.

Pinot Rosé

Wine pairing with fish doesn’t often bring reds to mind, but a very fruity, pink pinot rosé often has a delicious, melon taste to it. This is one of the very best matches you can make with salmon.

This works well particularly when there are grilled vegetable sides, or the dish includes grilled vegetables. Grilled salmon tacos are also popular, and people are finally brave enough to try making them at home. Pinot rosé is absolutely the best pairing with these.

Who’s hungry?! Wine pairing with fish needn’t be intimidating. Explore and see what strikes your fancy – and your palette.

Why Pinot Noir Is the Best Thanksgiving Wine

Thanksgiving wine selection can be deceptively difficult. You know what you want, but this feasting holiday offers so many different plates that each deliver a different texture and taste. The first rule is that you don’t have to make wine pairing for Thanksgiving more complicated than it needs to be. Pair the wine to your main dish. For most, that’s turkey – and the best Oregon pinot noir!

Thanksgiving Wine | Best Oregon Pinot Noir | Rainstorm Wines

Thanksgiving Wine Should Bring Out Flavors

Think of it this way: the rest of the meal revolves around your main dish. The wine should, too. Some will want a wine that leads the tastes of every single dish on offer. This can get confusing, especially when you start trying to pair exactly with gravy, cranberries, and sweet potatoes. You’re looking for a wine that brings out other flavors; the wine itself isn’t the main dish.

So why does pinot noir work so well? They’re light- or medium-bodied. Something fuller like a cabernet sauvignon is too overpowering. It won’t set off right with the range of flavors on offer at Thanksgiving. A lighter wine doesn’t try to take over.

How Pinot Noir Elevates Large Meals

The best Oregon pinot noir will serve many of the same roles as a Thanksgiving side dish. It’s a wine characterized by berries, cherries, and a juicy mouthfeel. This can help bring out the moistness of turkey (and can even help save a turkey that’s come out too dry). It also has a bit of spice and a floral note that serves the holiday setting well.

Pinot noir works best as a Thanksgiving wine because of its acidity and tannins. It’s the acidity that creates that mouthfeel, and accents the juiciness and unique flavor of many dishes. Pinot noir can be understood as a wine that heightens many other flavors. The tannins go well with green vegetable options, too, which can’t be said for many other options.

The Best Is Oregon Pinot Noir

Oregon has a long history of superb pinot noir that avoids being overly heavy and holds its structure well with a range of other dishes. This is the best option when it comes to wine pairing for Thanksgiving!

Why Wine and Cheese Pair Well

What’s more indulgent than a glass of wine and rich cheese? Sure, they’re each delicious on their own, and they’re even better together. Yet it’s not just that. Wine and cheese pairings go beyond that simple of an answer. What is it exactly that makes the two work so well together?

Wine Tannins | Wine and Cheese Pairings | Rainstorm Wines

Astringency & Wine Tannins

Think of it this way. A hamburger tastes really good with a pickle. You have one food that’s fatty and has oils that linger on your tongue. The other food, the pickle, can be acidic and just a little sour. These mouthfeels are complementary. They link together well and they give us a really good feeling that goes beyond just taste alone.

This is the same reason that oil goes well with vinegar, and that cheese goes well with wine. The key here is astringent compounds, such as wine tannins. These bind to proteins that act as lubricants, returning a more natural mouthfeel as we drink.

A Sensation That Builds

Every time you take a bite of cheese, your mouth is coated in lubricant proteins. Every time you take a sip of wine, those wine tannins bond to those proteins and remove them. You’re not just delivering different tastes to your mouth, you’re asking your tongue to react in different ways with each bite and sip.

Now, astringents don’t just feel the same way every time. Their effect builds so that each sip of wine you have, the effect is perceived as stronger. This is why the first sip of wine in a meal may hint at this effect, but the fifth or sixth sip has your mouth reacting to it in full.

Good Habits

Wine and cheese pairings go well because they take advantage of this effect in flavor and mouthfeel…and also in portions. Our habit is to alternate: one bite, one sip, one bite, one sip, over and over again. This repeats that astringency effect over and over so that we feel it more strongly every time. It’s a very satisfying feeling that makes us feel involved in our wine and cheese choices in a way that really does go beyond taste.

Ready for a little snack?

5 Tips for Enjoying a Wine Festival

A wine festival is a great way to kick back and have fun. Make the most of each minute – and each delicious sip!

Regional Wine Tasting | Wine Festival | Rainstorm Wines

Will You Be Tasting?

Know beforehand whether you’ll be wine tasting or not. If you change your mind there, you might not be OK to drive afterward.

In this case, bring along a designated driver. They’ll still have fun, and even though they can’t try the wines, they’ll still have delicious food and good conversation. Rely on this, or spit the wine out in one of the buckets that’s available. Even if you do this, know that you may ingest some wine, so it’s a good idea to…

Try the Sample Food

Sample some foods while you’re there. You can’t really get a bearing on which wines you like if you’re not pairing them with a bit of food. A regional wine tasting should offer scrumptious fare to highlight the gorgeous flavors. And it’ll help you avoid getting too tipsy!

Score It

One of the best parts of a wine tasting is keeping track of your favorites. Score cards will be available at most festivals. This also helps you note good pairings if you purchase wines.

You probably think going in that you’ll be able to remember the wines you like best off-hand, but after a tasting the chances are good your mind might be a little…unfocused. You’ll be frustrated if you forget all the details of your experience, so go ahead and write down what you like. Another good idea is to take a picture with your phone of the labels from the wines you like.

Diversify

A regional wine tasting will typically have a very wide selection of wines, with different philosophies behind each. This allows you to sample a number of takes on your favorite kinds of wine, as well as a range of others.

Often, someone will stay away from a certain kind of wine until they find a take on it they love. A wine festival is exactly where you’ll find that new angle on a varietal that will make it one of your favorites.

Talk to Others

Wine festivals are best enjoyed when you meet and greet other lovers of the vine. Maybe it’ll be about the wine, or maybe it will be about sports or the surrounding nature or anything else. It’s a good opportunity to relax and be part of a spontaneous community.

Ready for your next wine festival? Above all – just enjoy (responsibly)!

A Guide to Halloween Wine and Candy Pairing

Remember when you were a kid? You’d go out for Halloween and come back with a bag full of treats. Best. Night. Ever! As an adult, it’s difficult to capture the same magic. Or is it? Four words: wine and candy pairing.

Halloween Wine and Candy Pairing | Rainstorm Wines

Candy Corn and Prosecco Contrast

For candy corn, try prosecco. The bubbles complement the sweet, smooth candy. The candy corn will have a creamy texture to it that the prosecco brings out by contrast.

Snickers and Syrah Find Balance

Yum… chocolate, caramel, peanuts, and nougat. This is perfect for a rich red wine that mixes each of these flavors. You’ll taste everything become more pronounced – both the Snickers flavors and the complex red.

Skittles Love Sauvignon Blanc

Skittles delightful blend of flavors is perfectly offset by a dry white wine. Try a sauvignon blanc. It helps accentuate the flavor so much that you may, at long last, be able to really taste the rainbow!

Tootsie Rolls & Port

Anyone else have metric ton of Tootsie Rolls after trick-or-treating? Pair them with port. It’s a perfect complement because the Tootsie Roll will help that smooth, sweet taste linger on your tongue all the longer.

Butterfingers Need Chardonnay

Here’s something that’s tougher. Butterfingers aren’t a complex candy. Their taste is a pretty straightforward butterscotch flavor. A more acidic, less oaky chardonnay cuts through this flavor perfectly for a really unique mouthfeel.

Even More Halloween Wine and Candy Pairings

Experiment! Peanut butter tastes exquisite with jammy fruit flavors, so Reese’s candies pair well with dry, quality lambruscos evoking raspberry and violet flavors. Lots of candies have almond in them. Fortified sherries fold in an element of a whiskey-like taste, which pairs perfectly. Milk chocolate pairs well with light and medium reds, while dark chocolate deserves a peppery syrah or leathery malbec.

Experiment with wine and candy pairing. You know your candies. You know your wines. Become a Halloween wine scientist, and test out your maddest creations!

Can You Drink Rose All Year Long?

You already know if you can drink rose all day (or at least any time of day! Moderation is our friend!). But can you drink it all year round? Rose is summer’s pink wine, pairing perfectly with sunshine and long days. Can you drink it in the Autumn? Will people look at you funny if you’re having rose over the solstice?

Rose All Day | Pink Wine | Rainstorm Wines

Perfect Pairing for Hearty Meals

Just as you can drink rose all day, you can have it whenever you like throughout the year, too. They’re not stopping in the Mediterranean when December rolls around, and neither should you! Who cares if you aren’t on a sun-drenched beach? Rose goes beautifully with the staples of winter: hearty meals full of meat or roasted veggies, stews, sauces, rich desserts. They all need a light, refreshing pairing.

Winter Pick-Me-Ups

Winter needs pick-me-ups. Those heavy meals need something light and inspiring. Rose has finally taken its place right alongside more “serious” wines precisely because it’s a year-round wine with versatile flavor and a broad range of delicious pairings.

Gourmet Roses

Choose gourmet roses both to rhyme and to impress guests with just how complex that summery pink wine can be. Finer roses have been surprising as of late because they’re an unexpected and satisfying choice. They combine complex structure with silky delivery that nobody expects to be in the same wine!

Spicy Food

The hidden secret about rose? It’s the wine you’ve been looking for when it comes to pairing with Southeast Asian cuisine and spicy Mexican dishes. Unlike most wines, rose excels at complementing spice. It doesn’t conflict with it the way so many other options do. It refreshes and stimulates.

A Winter Escape

The fruitiness of many roses will remind you of summer throughout the long Autumn and Winter. They’re an escape. Singing festive songs, looking out the window at light snow, the holiday lights making the night fun…it pairs well with a rose in hand.

So go ahead. Drink rose all day, whenever you like, whatever the calendar says. You’re in charge of your own free time. Enjoy what you enjoy.

What to Pair with Oregon Pinot Noir

The best Willamette pinot noir is the perfect pour for an astonishing array of foods. This is the secret strength of pinot noir pairings. It might be the red wine that you can use most flexibly in creating pairings that are thrilling and unexpected. Start with the tried and true so you really develop an idea of how pinot noir brings out certain qualities in unique ways.

Best Willamette Pinot Noir Pairings | Rainstorm Wines

Pinot Noir & Meat

Oregon pinot noir is straightforward, so the first key is to avoid overthinking your pairings.They all have a higher acidity. This means meats with a degree of fat goes very well with it. Think something like duck and other game birds, where the taste of the fat lingers to interact with the acidity of the wine.

In fact, pinot noir pairs very well with most meat. For a truly memorable pairing, try it with elk. One of pinot noir’s most exceptional qualities rests in how it brings out not just taste but also textural qualities of the food with which it’s paired.

With any meat, pairing it with a sauce that incorporates pinot noir helps bring the flavors closer together. Have your eye out for clever ways to bring pinot noir into your sauces.

Pinot Noir & Vegetarian Options

Many fruits, vegetables, and nuts work incredibly well as pinot noir pairings. Think of hazelnuts and roasted root vegetables: beets, yams, artichoke.

You can also try this in the form of soup. Most squash soups go exceedingly well with a pinot noir pairing, especially when they retain some of their natural sweetness. Once you get a feel for it, try it with a squash soup that has both sweetness and spice. The pinot noir can accentuate each flavor for a rare mouthfeel.

The Rare Red for Fish

One great part of Oregon is the amount of fresh fish available. Fish is normally reserved to pair with white wines, but the best Willamette pinot noir has a lightness that can complement salmon and other fatty fishes. Some recipes will dry out the salmon more than others. Pinot noir should be used with recipes that let the salmon retain its oiliness.

The fun of pinot noir pairings is learning the taste well enough that you develop your own, unique pairings. Once you try some of these suggestions, be brave and adjust recipes to incorporate pinot noir as a pairing in inventive ways!

Is Wine Really Better with Age?

One of the common misconceptions many people have about wine is that the older it is, the better it is. No! Most wine is produced to be enjoyed without having to undergo an aging process; in other words, young wine is meant to be imbibed right away. If you’re still wondering when to drink wine, read on for a more detailed explanation.

When to Drink Wine | Young Wine | Rainstorm Wines

Simply put, wine isn’t a priceless heirloom or antique that’s going to appreciate in value (99.9% of the time, anyway). It’s not going to taste 100 times better because you stuck it in your basement and forgot about it for 5 years.

Here’s the reality: most winemakers produce products that you can drink as soon as you buy. They do this for a few reasons, one of which is that only certain varietals should be aged. Most wines, from the time they hit the store shelf, should be consumed within 6 months.  Another reason is because most people don’t know squat (the technical term!) about how to properly age wine.

The aging process is actually quite complicated and involves a myriad of conditions that must be perfect in order to produce a well-aged bottle of wine. Those conditions are: sunlight, humidity, and temperature, aka, the holy trinity of wine aging.  During aging, wine should be stored out of sunlight, at a temperature of around 55-65 degrees, and at a humidity level of around 70%.

Not many of us can manage to maintain all three of these year-round. There are also other steps to done, like rotating the bottle to keep the cork moist. Truthfully, it’s not something the average wine drinker even wants to mess with, and that’s completely understandable! Nothing wrong with wanting to drink your wine ASAP.   

But if young wine just isn’t your thing and you’re truly interested in aging it, some of the wines that work well include the following: red blends, cabernet sauvignon, vintage port, and cool climate pinot noirs. Now, just because a wine falls into one of these categories, it does not necessarily mean it will age well. Before aging any wine, you must do some research on not only the aging process, but on the wine you’re considering aging as well.

When to drink wine is actually a fairly easy question to answer – drink it now! If you have a hankering to age some wine, more power to you. Just remember that the vast majority of wine is meant to be enjoyed while it’s young and at its peak flavor.