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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Great Northwest Wine: Northwest excels at crisp pinot gris

Perhaps the least-understood white wine in America is pinot gris. In part, this is because the grape normally associated with France’s Alsace region and Italy is often a bland wine when made outside of the Pacific Northwest. But here in Washington and Oregon in particular, pinot gris becomes a magical wine that is the quintessential Northwest white because of its ability to pair perfectly with our region’s styles of cuisine.

Great Northwest Wine: Tasty reds show off region’s wineries for $15 or less

Last week, we wrote about value white wines to enjoy as spring transitions into summer here in the Pacific Northwest. This week, we take a look at value reds. Finding reds in the Pacific Northwest that retail for $15 and less has become a little bit more difficult in recent years, but it can still be done.

Raise a glass to the season with range of versatile, budget-friendly whites

As we get into mid-May and early June and begin to see more warmth and sunshine, we start thinking more about enjoying chilled white wines. White wines tend to be quite versatile food wines, pairing well with fresh seafood, shellfish, chicken and pork dishes. Dry whites such as sauvignon blanc, pinot gris and some rieslings work perfectly with pasta dishes, especially in white sauces or tossed with grilled vegetables. Off-dry whites can be superb with Asian dishes such as Vietnamese soups, Indian or Thai curries or spicier Chinese cuisine.

Great Northwest Wine: Washington meets thirst for cabernet

For the first time in Washington’s history, cabernet sauvignon is king. Last fall, the state crushed a record 210,000 tons of wine grapes, of which 42,600 were cabernet sauvignon. That makes the suave red grape not only the most prolific variety in Washington, but also the most economically important, as it brings in $1,440 per ton to the farmers who grow it.

Columbia Winery looks forward

Columbia Winery has had a trying dozen years. The longtime Washington winery has changed hands three times since 2001 and now looks like it will enjoy some much-needed stability. In mid-2012, E&J Gallo of Modesto, Calif., purchased Columbia Winery from Ascentia, a wine company that’s no longer in business. Ascentia had purchased it from Constellation Brands of New York in 2008, which bought it from Corus Brands (now Precept Wine) in Seattle in 2001.

For Turkey Day wine, the more the merrier

Thanksgiving is no time to sweat about what wines to open. Our strategy is simple: Open a lot of bottles, spread them around the table, then let your guests figure out what they want to drink. The food is the focus of this meal, particularly the turkey, so look for wines that are reasonably priced and flavorful to fill your Thanksgiving table.

Welcome fall with affordable, crisp white wines

It might not be fashionable to wear white after Labor Day, but it is perfectly acceptable to drink white wine straight into autumn. In fact, you don’t need to worry about putting a dent in your bank account for many white wines, giving you great options for weeknight dinners of chicken, seafood, pasta or spicy dishes from Thailand, China, India or Latin America. And they are perfect for those last gasps of outdoor weekend dining.

Winemaker steers toward success

Sara Gagnon can’t quite decide if she is a kayaking winemaker or a winemaking kayaker. Either way, she is enjoying the adventure of life as an entrepreneur. Gagnon is the owner and winemaker of Harbinger Winery, the northwestern-most winery in the continental United States. Harbinger is just west of Port Angeles, Wash., at the top of the Olympic Peninsula.

Vintner has nose for success

Allen Shoup came into the Washington wine industry at a fortunate time, and he believes he has benefitted as much in the past 33 years as he has contributed. “I clearly think I was the luckiest guy ever to get into the wine industry,” said Shoup, chief executive for Long Shadows Vintners in Walla Walla.