Most people think Texas is all about experiencing ‘The Wild West’, the rich culture and equally rich food. But it is also very famous for its amazing wines. Wines are celebrated in Texas and October is the official ‘Texas Wine Month’ where a lot of ‘Wine Trails’ happen during the whole month. Although Texas wines haven’t entered the international markets much, they have been winning the hearts of connoisseurs and critics alike locally.
The Mustang Grape
Texas wines are made with the grapes that are strictly indigenous to Texas. Therefore, on the quest for your favorite Texas wine, you must read the label carefully to make sure of its pedigree. The Mustang Grape, Vitis Mustangensis to be specific, identified variously as a variety of Vitis Rotundifolia and Vitis Candicans, grows all over South, Central and East Texas, and Northern Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama as well.
The vines grow in the wild up to 300 feet in length. The berry clusters are very small ranging from 2 to 20 berries per cluster. The berries ripen to black with varying bloom, reddish-purple and bronze. These grapes cannot be eaten raw as the high acidity of the grape can cause mouth ulcers, skin irritation and even stains on the hands if it is not corrected(usually done by water dilution, cold stabilization and chemical intervention) and yet, it is amazing how they turn into such outstanding wines!
In South Central Texas, the first batch begins to fall from the vines by late June. The first harvest is usually between June 20-21 and the last being July 5th in this region whereas in Northern Texas and Texas Hill Country, harvest is at its optimum by July end.
The skin of the Mustang Grape slips off easily if pulled or squeezed in the right way. Therefore, it produces a high quality white wine as it can be prepared for fermentation without skin. That said, since most of the flavor is in its skin, the flavor of the white Mustang and red Mustang is entirely different from each other.
Famous Texas Reds
Llanno, called Sweet Red, is one of the favorites and makes awesome Sangria. It costs $7 per bottle.
Twin Springs Sweet Red – Is a blend of Merlot and Zinfandel that gives it a unique taste with cherry fruit flavors. This goes well with spicy food and puddings. It can be served at room temperature as well as slightly chilled. Costing $6 per bottle, this wine is one of the economical options in the ‘fruity wine’ category.
2007 KE Bushman’s Vitzin Rose– This is a very aromatic wine and comprises of kiwi and honey. With no harsh tannins, this wine can be served with a fruit salad or barbecued dishes. It costs $15 per bottle.
Pleasant Hill Winery’s Sweet Collina Rossa– It has a very fruity flavor and perfectly complements Tex-Mex food. It costs $13 per bottle.
Pedernales Cellars Texas Tempranillo, 2009 – Although a native to Spain, this wine is produced very successfully in Texas Hill Country. It is acidic with a blackberry aftertaste and supple texture. Costing $20 per bottle, this wine won a gold medal at the 2012 Dallas Morning News & TexSom Wine Competition.
Famous Texas Whites
Twin Springs Sweet White– It is a mix of Muscat Canelli and Chenin Blanc and has a hint of peach and apricot. This is another great companion on spicy foods and costing $6 a bottle, it is easy on the wallet too.
Tara Winery’s Something Sweet– This is a very citrusy wine and is served chilled.
Su Vino’s Summer Rain– Also called Texas Riesling, this wine has green apple flavor and has won accolades for its quality. This makes it one of the must have Texas wines. You can pick up a bottle for $10.
Peachy Keen is a sweet Chardonnay with flavors of peach.
Tehuacana Creek’s Mulsum – Have a date with history with this wine that is made from a 2000 year old recipe dating back to the Roman Civilization. It goes really well with ethnic cuisines.
Duchman Family Winery Vermentino 2010 – This is a crisp wine with hints of pear, grapefruit and lime zest. It is equally acidic and fruity and therefore complements seafood very well. It costs $14 per bottle. This wine was the winner of the 2012 Dallas Morning News & TexSom Wine Competition and a silver medal at the San Francisco International Wine Competition.
Both Texas Red and White wines go well with a spicy dish, cheese, salty snacks, dessert, barbecued dishes, seafood, Tex-Mex and ethnic food.
Most Texas sweet wines should be served chilled, although some are delicious at room temperature.