Wine shouldn’t be intimidating. To use the words of Borgata’s Wine Manager Laura Turenne, “The first thing to remember is that wine is just grapes in a bottle. It should not scare you.” Chances are that if you’ve spent time at Borgata, you’ve seen Laura assisting guests by answering their go-to wine questions. We sat down with Borgata’s Wine Manager to experience “Wine 101.”
Wine can be intimidating for some people. What’s the best way for an “amateur” to start exploring wine? Wine should not be any more intimidating than any other food or beverage. It’s just another piece of your meal and your day out. I’m a big believer that if I see a wine that I’ve never tried before on the “by the glass” menu, I’m willing to try that glass instead of having to buy a whole bottle. If I’m going to have folks over for a BBQ, I will invite them to each bring a bottle within a certain perimeter, like, “Everyone bring a bottle of California wine,” so we have a category and we can compare and contrast.
What are some of your favorite wines for the changing fall season? The classic answer is Rhône varieties, that come from a valley of France. This time of year, those wines are savory and they have a nice weight to them that’s not over the top, so it is a nice transition: Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Syrah are all red, and Roussane and Viognier are both white. For me, personally, I transition into dessert in a glass. This is the time of year I might have a little Icewine from the Niagara Escarpment, or I might have some port, or French Sauternes, a little something that helps round things out.
What are some basic tips for pairing wine with food? If you go back and look at the classic Better Homes and Gardens magazines, you’ll see red with meat and white with fish, and there’s truth to that, but it’s not a hard and fast rule. The biggest rule is to drink what you like. If you drink what you like, you’re going to be a happy person. However, a big bold flavor needs a big bold wine to counter balance. For instance, if you’re drinking a Pinot grigio with a ribeye steak, you’re probably not going to experience the full impact of the wine. Another good rule is that what grows together, goes together It’s just the nature of nature that these things are all grown together in the same fields and valleys. So, when they come together in the plate and the glass, they balance each other well.
What is your “go to” wine when you are at home? I will admit that I don’t have a single go-to, just like you might not have the same shirt you pull out to wear every day. Every day when I get home, it’s what I’m feeling like. If I’ve been busy all day and helping guests, maybe I want something lighter and more refreshing. Mood is the defining characteristic. However, if I had to pick my deserted desert wine, it’s rosé champagne. Wine drinkers aren’t quite a pigeonholed as, say, beer drinkers.
What’s your favorite cocktail to make with wine? There’s always a good sangria for every season, but I am a fan of classic: a French 75. It’s light, it’s enjoyable, and yet you get this elevated feeling because you’re still drinking champagne.
Visit theborgata.com for more!