Wine Time

Dennis Sodomka is a guest columnist | Contact Dennis

Wine Time: Woodbridge Sweet Red and Sweet White 2011, California

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COST: $8

WHAT: If you’re planning a picnic or backyard cookout this weekend or for Independence Day, don’t forget the wine. This week’s wines are perfect for casual entertaining.

Woodbridge Sweet Red is a blend primarily of Syrah, Merlot and a mix of sweet white grapes. It’s a beautiful strawberry red in the glass with aromas of cherry and raspberry. Strawberry and watermelon flavors prevail. It should be served chilled.

The Sweet White blends Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, Viognier and Verdelho to produce lively citrus flavors, such as grapefruit and orange with some hints of green apple.

These are not wines you want to serve with elegant dinners because the flavors are plain and simple. But they are good wines, fun to drink by themselves or mixed into a wine cocktail.

I would pair these versatile wines with all kinds of food, from grilled burgers to Asian food to cheese to dessert.

I’m not normally a sweet wine drinker, but more sweet wines are showing up on the market. They are a definite trend, and a good way for novices to find out about the world of wine.

WINERY: Robert Mondavi was one of the founders of the modern California wine industry. He built the first major winery in Napa Valley since Prohibition when he founded Robert Mondavi Winery in 1966 near Oakville.

After he created masterful wines at that winery, Mondavi wanted to create good wines for everyday enjoyment. In 1979, he acquired a local cooperative of grape growers in the Lodi area and named the Woodbridge Winery after a nearby town.

Woodbridge wines are great everyday wines and are among the top sellers in the country. They make wines from many varietals.

Here are some drink recipes to try this summer:

BLACKBERRY SWEET RED WINE GRANITA

This simple, elegant dessert can be whipped together any time of the year. The blackberries blend perfectly with the Woodbridge Sweet Red wine to make an easy frozen treat.

Ingredients:
2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
½ cup water
1 cup Woodbridge Sweet Red
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Place all the ingredients in a blender. Blend on high until well combined and strain through a fine strainer into an 8-by-8-inch or 9-by-9-inch pan.

Freeze for 2 hours. Take the pan out of the freezer and scrape with a fork to form light ice crystals (the texture will be a bit like a snow cone). Place back in the freezer and scrape with a fork every hour until fully frozen. Cover with plastic when frozen until ready to serve.
Recipe makes 4 servings.

Here’s a fun way to chill your drinks.

SWEET RED AND WHITE WINE ICE CUBES WITH GRAPES

Ingredients:
¾ cup Woodbridge Sweet Red
¾ cup Woodbridge Sweet White
½ cup water
½ cup seedless red and green grapes, washed

Place the red and white wine in a measuring cup and add ¼ cup of water to each and stir to combine. With a sharp knife slice each grape into 4 or 5 thin slices. Place 5 or 6 slices in each section of an ice cube tray and fill with wine mixture. Freeze.

WINE SPRITZER
1 part Woodbridge Sweet Red or White
1 part Extra Dry sparkling wine
1 part Pellegrino sparkling water
Splash of orange liqueur or brandy
Orange slice (squeeze)

Mix all except the sparkling water and place in the refrigerator to cool. Add the sparkling water just before serving.

WINE EVENTS

JUNE 28
Wine and tapas tasting
, 5-6:30 p.m., La Maison on Telfair, 404 Telfair St.; four wines and three tapas, $19.99; (706) 722-4805

JUNE 29
Wine and beer tasting
, 4:30-6:30 p.m., Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; price dependent on flight selection; (706) 922-9463

JULY 6
Wine tasting
, 5-8 p.m., Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta; three white wines, three reds and matching cheeses, $5 with $3 rebate on purchase of a featured wine; (803) 279-9522

JULY 19
Wine tasting
, 5-8 p.m., Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta; three white wines, three reds and matching cheeses, $5 with $3 rebate on purchase of one of the featured wines; (803) 279-9522


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