Pairing Summer Produce with Pinot

You can’t build a table full of good summer food and wine pairings without Oregon pinot! Whether it’s pinot noir, pinot gris, or you’re blowing everyone’s minds with pinot rosé, there’s a pairing that’s perfect for each tasty treat on your table.

Summer Food and Wine Pairings | Oregon Pinot | Rainstorm Wines

Pinot Noir

Pinot noir is characterized by its versatility. It’s a red that can act like a white wine at times. Garden flavors are its forte. Kale is delicious alongside it, as are pasta dishes that are heavy on the basil. This makes pesto a fantastic choice for pairing.

Because pork is a versatile meat (depending on how you cook it, it takes on characteristics of red or white meat), it pairs beautifully with pinot noir. Venison or elk take on a mouthwatering characteristic as well. Avoid seafood unless it’s a fish with a very strong flavor of its own, such as salmon or trout.

For the best pinot noir wine pairing, look no further than duck. It. Is. Amazing. You can cook the duck with a plum glaze or make a cherry gastrique to make the meal sumptuous.

The best vegetarian pairing is homemade mushroom pizza and the best vegan pairing for pinot noir is a mushroom risotto. Or just cut out the middle man and go straight for a pan of garlic butter mushrooms. There’s something about pinot noir and mushroom dishes that is heavenly.

Pinot Gris

Like its red wine cousin, pinot gris is exceptionally versatile and crosses a lot of red vs. white wine boundaries. It’s full-bodied and helps tropical notes linger by way of an oily mouthfeel.

That means that the more “greasy” the meal is, the more suited it is to go with pinot gris: BBQ, french fries, hot wings, or any kind of fast food or takeout (but especially Chinese).

This doesn’t mean there aren’t healthy pairings as well. In fact, pinot gris finally answers that long-standing impossible question for summer food and wine pairings: what in the world goes with asparagus? The answer is pinot gris.

For the best pinot gris wine pairing, keep it simple and healthy: lemon chicken with a side of asparagus.

For vegetarians and vegans, try asparagus and cauliflower soup before a main course of potato ravioli with caramelized leeks. If you don’t feel like cooking for yourself and want a faster, more adventurous alternative, order meatless hot and sour soup and discover how perfectly it pairs with pinot gris.

Pinot Rosé

Here we get to something a little more unique and lighter. Pinot rosé matches a very bright taste with soft texture. It may be the ultimate summer wine. Pinot rosé matches a number of berry flavors with hints of rosé, pomegranate, and – because it’s an Oregon pinot – an aroma that suggests mountain rains. It’s a very cool and crisp wine, with dry characteristics. Chill it and break it out on your next trip to the beach.

As for pairings, this is a wine made for appetizers. Think goat cheese plates, crab dishes, and rosemary flatbread.

What’s a meal to pair with pinot rosé? Try grilled swordfish with a peach salsa. As an alternative, grilled halibut with a mango salsa is also top-notch. Push taste before spiciness on the salsa front, but don’t be afraid of a little spice. Pinot rosé balances it out nicely.

For vegetarians and vegans, let’s dive into desserts. Does it have fruit in it? Then it probably goes with pinot rosé. Fruit tarts and lemon bars are especially satisfying because of the way tartness plays with sips of crisp, fruity wine. That might be your best bet…unless you like chocolate. Now this is so dangerous a habit that you didn’t hear it from us, but try pairing vegan dark chocolate truffles and pinot rosé.

What’s on your menu this summer?

What Makes Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Unique

Experienced winemakers recognize that one of the grapes that is the most responsive to the conditions it’s grown in is the Pinot noir. Pinot noir is extremely sensitive to variations in the air and soil. It’s been found that some of the highest quality of Pinot noir can be found in Willamette Valley, Oregon. But what makes Willamette Valley Pinot Noir so unique and delicious?

Willamette Valley Pinot Noir | Oregon Wines | Rainstorm Wines

Oregon wines are known throughout the country as being clean, refreshing, and surprisingly complex. One of the reasons is that Oregon enjoys four glorious seasons. The changes in temperature and sunlight allow the soil to help produce grapes that have a depth of flavor that you can’t find in other regions. The time of harvest is also key and is different in Oregon than in other vineyard states, including California.

The soil in the Willamette Valley varies from having marine sediments to decomposed lava. A good amount of it has sandstone and mudstone in it and most have almost no carbonates. This makes it so that the soil drains fairly quickly, which helps the grapes grow and ripen beautifully. Because of it’s short growing season and the fact that it requires a cooler atmosphere, the grapes are able to grow in their optimal condition which makes them ideal for the winemakers.

When you’re looking for Oregon wines, specifically an amazing Pinot Noir, check out the Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. The vineyards are often blended because the sizes are small due to the angled and sloped land.  This blended mixture makes for a deep and rich, full Pinot Noir that you can’t find anywhere else.

How Do You Pick a Good Rosé Wine?

Rosé has long been a summer favorite. It pairs perfectly with sunny days, trips to the beach, backyard barbecues, and chats on the patio. The truth is, though, that rosé wine is essentially a lighter version of red wine. It’s fermented just as red wine is, only for a shorter amount of time. A good rosé wine will have a nice, pink appearance but will have that rich red wine flavor that we all enjoy. It’s perfect to pair with a variety of treats, including Asian food, cheese, fish and even turkey dinner.

Good Rose Wine | Rose Wine Brands | Rainstorm Wines

How do you select rosé wine brands that will meet your needs – regardless of what season it is?

To begin with, it’s always a smart idea to select your wine from a trusted region. Province, California and – our personal favorite! – Oregon are premier rosé-producing regions.

Should you be concerned with age? Some people believe that the older the vintage, the better the wine. While this holds for some types of wine, it isn’t necessarily true for a good rosé wine. If you want the best rosé wine, look for a fresher vintage. This usually means you’ll have to purchase a wine that was made a year prior to the current year. The fresher the vintage, the more delicious the rosé.

If you would rather have a fruity rosé, look for a darker color. The darker rosé has a more rich mouthfeel and can often be much sweeter than a lighter colored rosé.

The best way to find your favorite is to explore! Why not host your own tasting event with friends? Buy a selection of rosé wine brands, prepare some appetizers, and see which bottle comes out on top. It’s a fun way to discover your new go-to for summer, for picnics, for quiet evenings, and for just about every event you can think of.

What’s So Special About Oregon Pinot Noir?

The pinot noir grape is one of the most commonly grown wine grapes in the world – but the Oregon pinot noir is uncommonly delightful. What makes this grape, and the wine it produces, so special?

Pinot Noir Oregon Brands | Oregon Pinot Noir | Rainstorm Wines

The Land is Perfect for Pinot Noir

When it comes to cultivating the pinot noir, Oregon brands have an advantage. Willamette Valley, for example, features a special microclimate that combines intense sun with the cooling effect of Pacific Ocean breezes. This gives the wine produced a perfect blend of fresh “greenness” without a sharp, bitter flavor.

Oregon pinot noir needs little chemical interaction, and winemakers work with nature – instead of against it – to cultivate exceptionally aged wines that are among the finest in the world.

Microclimates Make the Difference

While microclimates give Oregon pinot noir producers an edge, it also gives the region’s wine incredible versatility and diversity. There are differences you can smell, taste, and savor depending on the conditions in which the grapes are grown each  year, and Oregon wine brands have the wisdom to let nature take the wheel with minimal interference. This creates flavors that may be unique to a season, and wine lovers applaud the region’s ability to defy convention – and, of course, craft gorgeous vintages!

Oregon Makes It Special

Oregon hit the wine scene in the 1960s and 1970s when intrepid growers sought to maximize the versatility of the land. While a cooler climate, they worked to make the region not only viable but a world leader. With pinot noir, Oregon brands established themselves as innovators in the field.

Oregon pinot noir is widely acclaimed and enjoys tremendous success. And for good reason. It offers a wonderful taste experience, pairs beautifully with a variety of dishes (making it an excellent fit for our foodie culture), and tastes like… well, home.

5 Tips for a Fun Willamette River Paddling Trip

River paddling has become extremely popular in the last handful of years, and for good reason. There is a river that is perfect for paddlers of every experience level, from novices to experts. The amazing views you’ll find on the Willamette River are ideal if you’re looking for a relaxing paddle that has beautiful, sweeping vistas and all the flora and fauna you could ever want to see. Keep your eyes open and you’ll even find some wildlife using the river for refreshment.

Willamette River | Rainstorm Wines

If you want to try a paddle down the Willamette River, here are five tips that can help to make your trip go smoothly and be enjoyable.

  1. Make sure you pack correctly for an overnight trip. If you plan on paddling down a long stretch, you may want to spend the night camping. Bring everything you’ll need, including a tent, sleeping bag and enough food to ensure you’re comfortable and covered during the nights, which can get cool on the river.
  2. Use a guidebook. Even if you’re someone who has a great deal of experience paddling it’s always a good idea to bring a guidebook with you. Guidebooks will not only help to keep you on the right path, they also help show you when the best float times are so you’ll be able to enjoy a riverside siesta!
  3. Keep your eyes out! There are all sorts of unique sights to see on the Willamette River including petrified wood and agate. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to take home a shiny gemstone as a souvenir.
  4. Bring water! Paddling and soaking up the sun for long periods of time can make you extremely thirsty. Don’t get dehydrated.
  5. Have fun! You may find that you’re tired after paddling a number of hours, or you’re getting warm. The joy should be found in the journey, so slow down if you need to, dip a toe in the water, or stop on the side of the river and enjoy a bottle of Rainstorm wines responsibly.

Are you excited for your next Willamette River paddle?

How Soil Affects the Taste of Wine

Why is the soil in Oregon so special – and how are the best Oregon wines influenced by this exquisite dirt? The famous Willamette area has been both a seabed and a massive lava flow. As the Missoula floods washed Oregon down, complex soils were revealed. It makes for remarkable growing conditions – and some of the best pinot wine in the world.

Pinot Wine | Best Oregon Wines | Rainstorm Wines

Jory Soil

Soil influences how grapes grow and what characteristics they take on. The reddish Jory soil features volcanic elements. It’s high in nutrients, clay, and iron. These soils are excellent dry farming because the soil itself retains so much moisture. This is the go-to soil for growing Oregon pinot wine. Jory gives pinot wines rich cherry and red fruit flavors. These present dynamically with a high acidity and silky tannins that make Oregon pinot perfect for pairing.

Willakenzie Soil

Next are the marine soils, also called Willakenzie. These are very old soils that retain many qualities from when Oregon was a shallow seabed. Oregon’s mountain ranges were formed when tectonic plates ground into each other and pushed the land up over millions of years. This left Willakenzie soil with loam and sandstone.

If you realize that makes for poor soil, you’d be correct. The advantage here is built over years and years. Vines that are well cared for eventually form very deep roots to seek out nutrients and moisture. These vines provide unique flavors to the wine. Flavors like blackberry and black cherry abound. These wines offer require a bit more aging for a perfectly balanced profile.

Loess Soil

Finally, Loess dirt is an extremely soft loam that’s blown in by the wind. It’s often blown out, too, but over centuries it’s formed a good amount of farmable land. This soil needs to be tended very carefully – it erodes with ease. It’s difficult to plant in Loess dirt, but when you can, the reward for all that hard work is worth it. Pinot wine from Loess soil balances three characteristics: red fruit, white pepper, and earthiness. These wines are an achievement of patience and expertise for any vineyard, and they make for a delectable pinot noir that’s unlike any other.

The best Oregon wines have these three soils to thank. They’re a stunning result of the Willamette Valley’s microclimate combined with millions of years of the earth’s geological movement. In many ways, the exposure of these soils in this climate is unique to this era in the planet’s history. Our palates are very thankful for that.

Why Spring and Rosé Wine Trend Together

It’s time to shake off a long, cold winter and soak up the sun! For many of us, the perfect spring tonic involves whipping up a fresh herby salad and pouring a glass of rosé. We think this delicious drink pairs perfectly with all seasons, but it does seem like the perfect complement to long, warm days and relaxing evenings.

Rosé wine trend | Glass of rosé | Rainstorm Wines

The Rosé Wine Trend: Spring Is In

Why are rosé and spring fused together in our minds?

The Color: After months of brown, beige, tan, and white, it’s nice to see some color! From the soft greens of budding trees to pastels blooms, we crave a  new palette. Rosé’s beautiful pink tones are perfect for this time of year.

The Temperature: Late April/May temps hover around 60 – 65 degrees. Ah, lovely! This is also the best temperature at which to serve rosé. It allows the red flavors to enjoy a bit more warmth than when we serve whites (which is best at about 50 degrees).

The Alcohol Content: Summer whites, like Muscadet, Moscato, or Riesling, have an alcohol content of 12% or less. This may be too light for some, but options like Chardonnay, Shiraz, and Pinot Noir, may feel like too much for a temperate spring day. Rosé is a great balance at about 13.5%.

The Food: We tend to turn away from big hearty dishes (roasts, thick soups, etc.) and think about fresh farmer’s market salads, fish, and fruits. Rosé is ideal for these flavors and offers a light, refreshing mouthfeel.

The Celebrations: Does your mood improve in spring? Ours too! Sparkling rosé is the perfect pour for graduations, engagement parties, or Tuesday after a long day at work! This delightful drink can even give champagne a run for its money.

It’s spring, ya’ll! Pour yourself a glass of rosé and savor the flavors of the season.

May Is Oregon Wine Month! Let’s Celebrate

In May, we celebrate a major benefactor of our economy. A bringer of tourists. A creator of jobs. The Oregon wine industry generates $5.6 billion (with a “B”, ya’ll!) in economic activity annually. It’s only fitting we honor our winemakers’ incredible contributions. And what better time than May, when the natural world is reawakening and bursting with beauty – and possibility?

Oregon Wine | Willamette Valley Wine | Rainstorm Wines

A Month of Love for Oregon Wine

Oregon Wine Month is a 31-day love fest that encourages aficionados to taste, learn about, and support their favorite Oregon winemakers. It’s also a great opportunity to dive into the local food scene as nothing pairs with a bottle of delicious Willamette Valley wine quite like farm-to-table selections, whipped up by one of our many excellent eateries – or in your own kitchen.

Our tips for enjoying Oregon Wine Month:

  • Visit a vineyard. Willamette Valley is a prime destination for folks who want to see how their wine is created – and, of course, sample the best the Valley has to offer. Take a tour, indulge in a tasting, and bring a bottle of your favorite varietal home with you.
  • Treat yourself to an excellent meal. As mentioned, our food scene is hot. Ask about great wines to enjoy with your locally-sourced and expertly prepared dishes.
  • Hit Walla Walla Valley Spring Release Weekend. Here, you’ll be able to sample exclusive, newly released wines.
  • Visit Willamette Valley, home of exceptional wines, including one of our claims to fame – Oregon pinot noir.
  • Learn about grape-growing and winemaking from Cascade Foothills Winegrowers. You can also enjoy live music!
  • Tour Umpqua Valley by bus as you sample wines with perfect pairings – and soak in the beautiful spring scenery!
  • Find more great activities and events here.
  • Take the opportunity to chat with fellow wine-lovers, whether they’re connoisseurs or beginners, you’ll be sure to love the conversation and beverages! The wine community is strong in Oregon.
  • Buy a bottle (red, white, and blush – just to cover your bases!) and learn how to pair them with local foods. Cook up a feast, pour wine for friends and family, and savor life.

How are you going to celebrate Oregon Wine Month?

How Oregon Pinot Gris Came to Be

Oregon pinot gris often gets overshadowed by the exceptional pinot noir for which the state is renowned. Yet pinot gris has an intriguing history that’s resulted in a unique and characterful wine. Among white wine types, pinot gris from Oregon may be the most overlooked wine of exceptional quality you can find at a reasonable price.

Oregon Pinot Gris | White Wine Types | Rainstorm Wines

How Pinot Gris Came to Oregon

Pinot gris comes from a very different region of France than pinot noir. The two have some overlap but are generally grown in different conditions. This didn’t deter David Lett, who first planted the grape in Oregon in 1965. This didn’t lead to immediate success. Even 15 years later, he was only producing 25 cases a year. He admitted he traded most of it at that point to fishermen, getting salmon and other fish in return.

Flavors of Oregon Pinot Gris

We imagine he kept a few bottles back to enjoy with that trade. Oregon pinot gris is one of the most exceptional pairings for seafood available. The key to this is the Willamette Valley’s combination of microclimate and rare soils. Among white wine types, it’s rare to find something that combines green apple and pear tastes with more tropical features such as papaya and pineapple. Elements of citrus also play into the flavor profile, with lemon and lime a prominent feature.

Perfect Pairings

Beyond the flavor profile alone, this Oregon treasure has a beautiful acidity. Pinot gris from Oregon complements foods with healthy fats – seafood, shellfish, stew, white sauces. The more you alternate taking a bite of food and having a sip of pinot gris, the more flavor and mouthfeel each brings out in the other.

Lett was ahead of his time. Oregon now sees 13,000 tons of pinot gris harvested each year. That’s a far cry from just 25 cases. It’s one more success story of a transplant now calling Oregon home!

Underrated Value

Pinot gris from Oregon was perhaps best understood by Eric Asimov of the New York Times. He once praised Oregon pinot gris as one of the most overlooked and undervalued wines available. He described it among white wine types as follows: “You would be hard-pressed to find other American white wines with as much character in this price range.” It’s hard to come to any other conclusion.

4 Most Popular Rosé Wine Varieties

If ever there was a more drinkable, versatile wine than rosé, we’ve yet to come across it! Rosé has risen to prominence in recent years – thanks in part to its appeal as a summer favorite, as a perfect addition to a wide variety of appetizers, main courses, and desserts, and as a go-to when we’ve had a long day and need to savor some relaxation. Let’s look into some popular rosé wines so you can find your new favorite.

Popular Rosé Wines | Pinot Noir Rosé | Rainstorm Wines

Pinot Noir Rosé. Yum! You’ve got flavors of strawberry, lemon zest, white cherry, orange zest, watermelon, and even celery for a delectable treat. In a word: refreshing. This variety tends to be dry, delicate, and fully armed with wonderful aromas. It pairs well with herbs like thyme, and it will be the perfect complement to your famous corn chowder – or even a cob of fresh corn with butter!

Grenache Rosé. Sweet, sweet Grenache. You’ll enjoy strawberry, watermelon, lemonade, cucumber, and raspberry flavors with a zesty lemon finish. This wine will make your spicey, aromatic dishes come to life. If you love Indian, Moroccan, or Middle Eastern cuisine, this is the bottle to serve along side your creations.

Sangiovese. A taste of one of Italy’s hidden treasures. Sangiovese bursts with cherry, strawberry, raspberry, clove, cumin, and allspice flavors with a bit of a meaty note. It can hold its own with more rich dishes. Craving caprese salad and prosciutto? Chinese? Currie? Pour a glass and savor!

Syrah. This is a pink wine that acts like a red. It’s meaty, rich, and thickly textured. Let the white pepper, red pepper, cherry, and lime zest bite give you an unexpected experience. It is a must if you are serving lemon garlic shrimp, olives, anchovies, hearty stews, and more.

The best way to find your favorite is to sample all of these popular rosé wines! Which one grabs your attention? If they all do – even better! Just pair them with amazing food, sip, and enjoy!