What a way to celebrate | VailDaily.com

What a way to celebrate

Vail, CO, Colorado
Special to the DailyMandolin Pinot Noir pairs well with salmon; Kenwood Sauvignon Blanc converts a staunch red wine drinker to white; Deschutes Brewery scores with their 19th anniversary Belgian-style golden ale.

Mandolin instruments are lauded for brilliant tone and great carrying power, which gives us good insight about this wine, named after the string instrument because of similar characteristics. Upon first sip the wine is balanced, with bright fruit flavors and a long, fulfilling finish. With salmon cakes on tap for dinner and a taste for red wine, Aron Weissler, one of the helpful wine guys at Beaver Liquors in Avon, recommended we try this California pinot noir full of black cherry and slight raspberry flavors.I like the balance and complexity of the ripe fruit with the acidity and tanic structure, Weissler said. This wine, grown in the cooler climates of the Santa Lucia Highlands the mountain range running from Monterey Bay to Paso Robles has a little more acidity than a hot climate American style pinot noir. Because of this, Weissler recommends pairing it with food, rather than drinking it alone. Its good to have the acids of the wine marry the acids of the food in a similar sort of intensity, he said.This wine will go well with fish, as well as chicken, pork and pasta dishes, Weissler said. And at the $15 price point, its a phenomenal value, he said.Caramie Schnell, Arts & Entertainment Writer

Each week I walk into one of our local liquor stores and ask the first sales person I see a few simple questions: what are you drinking this week? Whats new or interesting or just really, really good? On one such day a few weeks back, I was promptly handed a bomber size bottle of beer Deschutes Brewerys Golden Anniversary Ale. Smack dab in the middle of the label is the number 19. And on the back of the bottle is the explanation:Who says you have to wait 50 years to celebrate a golden anniversary? Not us. Thats why, to commemorate our 19 years of craft brewing, weve come up with one nugget of a Golden Ale. Its the first Belgian-style ale weve ever bottled, using all European hops and Belgian yeast giving it an old world flavor. So delicious, you may even be inspired to celebrate your next anniversary with gold. Or, at least, with our Golden Ale.Some people are frightened of first attempts in general, but Im of the belief they should be commended. And this straw color ale is commendable, with mild malt and honey tastes. Its very drinkable, despite its high alchohol content a good bang for your buck at 8.7 percent.Daniel Mahan, assistant manager and resident beer geek at Beaver Liquors in Avon, agreed. Im glad Deschutes stepped out of their comfort zone and tried something new, he said. Belgian brews, known for being spicy, can sometimes scare people, Mahan said, but the spice factor in this ale is subtle. Its nice to give people a feel without throwing them into the deep end of the pool. This beer is very refreshing and not too heavy, but at 8.7 percent, its definitely a beer to share with someone, Mahan said. Mahan has tried pairing the ale with cheeses it paired beautifully and also with cigars it did very well, he said. I personally paired the brew with good company, and Im happy to report, it was a good choice. Caramie Schnell, Arts & Entertainment Writer

I have never been able to find a white wine that I actually enjoyed, or even wanted to drink more than half a glass of, until the past weekend that is. I havent even finished the bottle and I think I might go get another, just to keep around the house. The wine that changed my perception of white wine is Kenwood Sauvignon Blanc 2005 from Sonoma, Calif. The Sauvignon Blanc is related, obviously, to the Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is made from grapes grown in five parts of Sonoma County and each gives the wine a different characteristic. This vintage had a long, cool growing season. Kenwood credits this with giving the wine a good structure and delicious finish. The winery has also said that the majority of the wine was aged in stainless steel in order to keep the fruit flavors, while a small portion was aged in French oak barrels to keep the oak flavor out of the wine. When this wine is very cold it is extremely light and refreshing but as it warms up a bit the flavors of grapefruit and key lime come through. They are nice fruit flavors without making the wine sickly sweet. The wine is smooth and has a taste that stays on the palette. This quality makes it perfect to enjoy on a hot afternoon because there is no need to rush and finish the glass before it warms up the slightest bit. And at $13.49 (before tax) at Beaver Liquors, it is the right price to keep around the house and drink with a late afternoon snack of cheese, crackers and fruit, but it is also good enough to compliment a fancier dinner. Jess Slosberg, Daily Correspondent

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