CultureMap Wine Guy Chris Shepherd shares the wines he loves for Labor Day

Editor’s note: Long before Chris Berger became a James Beard Award-winning chef, he developed enough of a passion for wine to work at Brennan’s in Houston as a sommelier. He maintains this interest to this day. When Chris expressed interest in writing about wine-related topics for CultureMap, we said yes.

In this week’s column, he shares some of his favorite porch hammerers. Take it away, Chris.

Alright team, let’s go. Let’s talk about summer in Houston. I know we’re almost at the end of the season, but here in Houston it’s still hot.

After my first column, I received a few messages from people delighted that taxi season is approaching. I’ll be excited for this time too, but wait. We are not there yet. It’s punching season, baby!

What is a porch hammerer? Wines that will drop your internal temperature by 10 to 15 degrees, put a smile on your face, and pair perfectly with a cheese and charcuterie board or food straight from the grill. Frankly, these wines are also damn good on their own.

We’re going to explore through four wines that I love right now, from classic to fun and funky. These are four drastically different styles, but they are all porch pestles.

Let’s start with the classic: Chateau Ducasse Bordeaux 2021.
When we talk about white Bordeaux, we are talking about Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and in this case, a small amount of Muscadelle. But what does this mean for you? What does this label say?

Traditionally, these wines are very dry, without residual sugar, super crunchy. Think racy acidity. They can be grassy, ​​lemony, have hints of tropical fruit, but really, really easy to drink. This is what we call crate wine – you should buy a crate.

This wine is chicken wing wine – grilled, fried, smoked, air fried, I don’t care. It is perfectly paired with a chicken wing, the most perfect food group.

Next : Xarmant Txakoli.
The wine is pronounced chak-oh-lee and comes from the Basque region of Spain. The main grape variety for this wine is Hondarrabi Zuri, and you can find it in white and rosé. The beauty of these wines is that they have a slight effervescence, which really helps to cleanse the palate. Think not-so-sparkling champagne.

These wines typically have flavors of grapefruit, apple, and crisp acidity. The perfect pairing for this, in my opinion, is ribs. Smoked pork ribs.

Plus, wine lovers love Txokali, so you’ll fit right in with the cool kids.

Our third wine: Beurer Rosé Trocken 2021.
This wine is rather fresh. It’s a German rosé. When looking for wines like this, look for the word Trocken. This means that this rosé will be a dry style rosé without a lot of sweetness but with a nice structure and depth. The main grape varieties are Zweigelt and Spätburgunder.

The producer describes it as a zesty, biodynamic Gatorade. And they are not wrong. It’s delicious and perfect with a turkey sandwich. Without avocado since the avocado is the fruit of the devil. (Editor’s note: Chris Shepherd’s views on lawyers do not reflect the views of CultureMap.)

Fun and fun: Glou Glou of Las Jaras Wines.
Las Jaras is one of my favorite producers right now. This is a fantastic wine club to join as they collect a lot of really cool wines.

Their goal is to “make delicious wine that has tons of energy and balance.” This wine perfectly illustrates this objective. Zinfandel makes up 50% of this wine and a blend of five other grape varieties makes up the other 50. Traditionally, when 50% of a wine is made from Zin grapes, it is heavy. But they press lightly and don’t extract too much tannin from the skin, which makes it really easy to drink, especially with a slight chill. Put it in the refrigerator for 45 minutes before opening it. It has great acidity – you can see that’s a trend. because acidity goes well with food and hot weather.

What do I want to eat with this? Little known fact: the wine label was designed by Joe Beddia of Beddia Pizzeria in Philadelphia. I’ll let you connect the dots.

The big takeaway from today’s column – I’m not telling you where to go and buy these wines. I’m not even suggesting you buy those specific producers. Go to your favorite local wine shops and ask for wines that match those styles.

Enjoy the end of summer. Take advantage of early fall. Hell, all of these wines would even be perfect for Thanksgiving, and they’ll lead you right into taxi season. Cheers!


Contact our Wine Guy via email at [email protected].

Chris Shepherd won the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest in 2014. He recently parted ways with Underbelly Hospitality, a restaurant group that currently operates four restaurants in Houston: Wild Oats, GJ Tavern, Underbelly Burger and Georgia James. The Southern Smoke Foundationa nonprofit he co-founded with his wife Lindsey Brown, has distributed nearly $10 million to crisis-hit hospitality workers through its emergency relief fund.

Shirley M. Pinder