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.

Wine Serving Temperatures

Most people seem to automatically assume that wine temperature works like this: reds are best served at warmer temps, and whites are to be chilled. Well, it’s a bit more complex: there are temperature distinctions that should be made among different types of wine in order to bring out optimal flavor. So pour yourself a glass of chilled pinot noir (yes, chilled), and read on to learn which wines should be served at which temperatures.

Wine Temperature | Chilled Pinot Noir | Rainstorm Wines

A good rule of thumb to follow when serving wine is this:

  • Serve red wine between 60 and 68 degrees
  • Serve white wine between 45 and 55 degrees

Of course, the exact temperature to serve a specific bottle of wine depends on the varietal you have. For instance, pinot grigio is recommended to be served at 45 degrees, while chardonnay should be served at 50. Even though they’re both white wines, there’s a 5-degree temperature difference for optimal flavor.  Now you see the challenge when serving wine!

The reason we even pay attention to wine temperature is because different temperatures bring out different flavors. When whites are too warm, they can taste flat; when served too cold, the flavors aren’t fully developed, leaving the wine tasting “simple.” Reds face similar problems. Too cool, and your wine will taste overly acidic; too warm, and it will taste excessively alcoholic.

Now you’re probably wondering, “How on earth is the average wine drinker supposed to find the optimal temperature for their wine?!” It’s easy, really. Look on the bottle. Many wine labels come with serving suggestions, so you know exactly at what temperature your wine will taste the best. And, if it’s not the on the label, a quick search online should turn up an answer.

But there’s one lingering aspect we need to cover, and that is whether or not these wine temperature rules should always be followed. The quick answer is, nope!

There are certain reds that can handle a bit of a chill, and in fact, the colder temperature can actually help the flavors develop. When you want to serve a chilled red, opt for a light-bodied wine with low tannins, and preferably one that has fruity or floral notes to it. Chilled pinot noir is a popular choice, as are malbecs and zinfandel. Opt for a temperature of about 50-55 degrees, as this will make fruit aspects pop without elevating the tannins to the forefront.

For the best tasting experience, it’s important to always pay attention to wine temperature. We’re not suggesting you run out and buy a wine fridge right now (although they are pretty awesome), but just take a minute to get acquainted with your bottle of wine and it’s optimal serving parameters. You’ll thank us later.

Portland Hikes: Top Trails in Forest Park

If you’re looking for a list of some great Portland hikes, look no further. We’ve got you covered with a list of the top trails in Forest Park, just west of downtown. All you need to do is lace up your boots and hit the trail!

Portland Hikes | Rainstorm Wine

1. Maple Trail

With autumn right around the corner, it’s only right that Maple Trail get mentioned first. This 2.6 mile trail twists and turns underneath towering red alders and bigleaf maples, transforming the whole area into a sea of crimson and yellow each fall.  

2. Wildwood Trail

Accessed rom Washington Park, this paved trail is great for a leisurely stroll amongst the old-growth trees. There are lots of benches along the way so you can stop and admire the natural beauty. From Wildwood, you can also connect to Nature Trail, which offers up some ideal picnic spots. Spread out a blanket, open your Rainstorm wine, and you’ve got yourself a perfect afternoon!  

3. Ridge Trail

This 2.8 mile out-and-back trail is best known for its insane views of St. John’s Bridge. The bridge is one of Portland’s most photographed features. Be prepared to climb, though. It’s downhill to start, then uphill to make it back to the trailhead. But trust us, it’s worth it.

4. Lower Macleay Trail

One of the most popular trails in Forest Park, don’t let the heavy foot traffic deter you. The 5-mile path showcases the amazing diversity of the park’s plantlife, with waterfalls and wooden bridges found along the way. And then there’s the old Stone House, which is actually an old Public Works building date from the 1930s. All that’s left is the stone framework, but nature has been slowly reclaiming it since the early 60s, giving it an eerily beautiful appearance.

5. Audubon Society Loop

Located off NW Cornell Road, a 150-acre reserve is home to more than 40 bird species. Miles of trails traverse the forest, offering glimpses of birds, birds, and – you guessed it – more birds. Pro tip: Don’t forget to pack your field guide, and make sure to stop in at the Wildlife Care Center to learn more about the local flora and fauna.

Portland is so much more than a big city. With Forest Park right next door, you can escape to the great outdoors using one of the Portland hikes above, or chart your own route. Wherever you’re headed, toast to your adventure with a glass of Rainstorm wine!

A Closer Look at the Wines of Oregon’s Willamette Valley

There is a not-so-hidden treasure in our own backyard: Willamette Valley vineyards. Thanks to the region’s wet and wild conditions, diverse terrain, and loving care of expert producers, the wines of Oregon compete with any in the world. One sip will convince you.

Wines of Oregon | Willamette Valley Vineyards | Rainstorm Wines

Challenge Accepted

Crafting delicious, elegant, smooth wine is not easy in Oregon. The area is renowned for its rainfall, not its sunshine. The Pinot Noir grape, the most common here, is renowned for its sensitivity. But fortunately, our growers and producers are renowned for their passion. They know the land; they know their grapes; and, without a doubt, they know their wines.

It is this blend of expertise and zeal that empowers Willamette Valley vineyards to deliver exceptional wines, including:

Pinot Noir: This grape is beloved; it makes up nearly 75% of all of the region’s plantings. Temperatures and terrains make a significant difference in the taste of the wine. Rainstorm’s grapes, for example, are grown on ridges. This encourages robust flavor and low yields – which imparts immense character. Fruit-forward, elegant, with bright fruit notes, this Pinot Noir elevates any dish.

Pinot Gris: For fans of white, Pinot Gris packs a powerful personality – in a smooth body. Rainstorm wines use grapes harvested by hand to avoid piercing the delicate skins. Pressed and fermented at cold temperatures, the resulting wine is complex, bone dry, and completely refreshing.

Rosé: This crowd-pleaser deserves a seat at the table when it comes to the fine wines of Oregon. The Valley’s cool climate ensures the Pinot Noir grapes are elegant and earthy. For those lovely fruit tones, we use a technique called “saignée.” This means “bleeding off” a bit of red wine juice after its been in contact with seeds and skins. The result is a more robust, structured wine.

Take a closer look at the wines of Oregon. Or better yet, a closer taste.

Free Things to Do in Portland This Summer

Hello, summer! We’ve missed you – and we’re determined to make the most of every second. Here are five free things to do in Portland that’ll scratch your itch for adventure, relaxation, and fun in the sun.

Free Things to Do in Portland | White Wines from Oregon | Rainstorm Wines

  1. Chef in the MarketSummer Saturday mornings mean one thing: farmer’s markets! But PSU Farmer’s Market isn’t just a foodie’s dream full of fresh produce. You can also take advantage of cooking demos from the area’s top chefs (and a sample of the day’s masterpiece). Stock up on ingredients, buy your favorite red, rose, or white wines from Oregon, and prepare a locally-sourced feast.
  2. Concerts and Movies in the Park: Looking for great entertainment? Portland Parks & Rec has your back. Enjoy free concerts and movies in the park all summer. From blues and indie to classics and new views, you’ll get your fill of excellent music and films.
  3. Portlandia Mermaid Parade: Have plans on July 28th? You do now. This is a family-friendly event that combines everything we love: mermaids, body-positivity, and a route along the Portland waterfront. Indulge in mythology and magic!
  4. Portland Festival Symphony: Introduce the kids to classical music; impress a date; enjoy your favorite Rainstorm wine and a picnic. Whatever your goal, you’ll accomplish it with help from world-class musicians and beautiful settings.
  5. PDX Adult Soapbox Derby: Kids, it’s time for the grownups to have some fun. The third Thursday in August, the Soapbox Derby pits homemade carts against twisty Mount Tabor. Gravity, and expletives, fuel the ride, so be prepared for hijinks and hilarity.

This is only the tip of the iceberg; there are tons of free things to do in Portland this summer. From bike rides and swims with the mayor to simple picnics with your favorite white wines from Oregon, we guarantee you will savor each second!