When Rose Musyoka, managing director of California Wines by Rose would return home for the holidays, she would struggle to find a bottle of wine similar to what she had been accustomed to in the US.
She spent 13 years studying and working in the US, exposing her to the world’s fourth largest producer of wine, California.
California produces approximately 90 per cent of all the wine in the US with Washington coming in second. So when Ms Musyoka decided to start a wine shop in Kenya, it was a simple choice of where she would source her wine from in the US.
Sourcing from only a few select wineries in California and Washington states, her selection of wines remains relatively rare locally. The wine segment has been picking up with the bulk of wines coming in from South Africa and Europe.
The season of gifting never seems complete without the perfect bottle of wine to toast to it.
Be it a full bodied wine, a medium or simply a sweet wine, a good bottle of wine is hallmarked by the quality of the grapes.
Buying wine, like any gift, depends on the recipient.
A full bodied wine would not be the most suitable gift to give to a first time wine taker and a Moscato may not be the best alternative for a seasoned wine drinker.
For someone who is a first-time drinker or has not experimented much with wine, a sweet wine such as a Moscato, a sweet Riesling or a sweet rose are usually the best alternative.
They tend to be softer on the palate, easing a novice into the art rather than a full on sensory attack like that of bolder grapes.
Most sweet wines tend to be a product of white grapes and therefore are white or rose in colour.
For one graduating from sweet wines, according to Ms Musyoka, a Merlot would be the best alternative.
Not only does this pair well with different types of meat whether white or red, it has a medium flavour profile. Her choice for the season being a Red Diamond Merlot which is fruit forward as with most American wines.
The boldest of the wine class is the Alloy Bordeaux-blend from California. The blend of red grapes in very specific quantities as is dictated for all Bordeaux style wines overwhelms the palate making it the perfect companion for a juicy piece of steak.
How to pair
Bold wines such as the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Alloys Bordeaux blends not only make a good gift for a man but also go well with fatty foods. They are also quite intense in flavour.
According to Ms Musyoka, a rose wine goes well with starters, canapés, vegetable salads, light pasta, rice dishes and is good for a brunch. In the hot weather, served chilled, the dry crisp rose is the perfect sip.
A Moscato is a sweet white wine, which like all white wines is best served chilled.
The sweet undertones of the wine and those with similar flavour profiles such as a sweet Rielsing are best served with spicy foods, salty foods, light meats, fruit salads and desserts with caramel, vanilla or coconut.
“When pairing wine with food, the wine should be more acidic than the food,” says Ms Musyoka.
“It should also have the same flavour intensity as the food” she adds.
This is to ensure that the wine does not overpower the meal and similarly the meal does not overpower the wine.