The first bottle of Napa wine that I ever purchased was St. Supery’s Estate Moscato. Of course, that was quite a long time ago. Life was simple then, and my tastes were simple, too. To paraphrase Dr. Steve Brule, the St. Supery Moscato tasted like fruit (perfectly-ripened apricots, as I recall) and that was enough for me. Although my horizons have broadened over the years, I still return to the St. Supery Moscato because it offers surprising versality. In a formal setting, this wine can be paired alongside aged cheeses (my favorite pairings include San Joaquin Gold, any Dry Jack, and cave-aged Gruyere), or it can pair alongside any salad that features stone fruit. On the casual side, St. Supery Moscato is also an ideal wine for picnics and barbecues: It’s low in alcohol, it’s relatively inexpensive, and it’s refreshing when served at ice-cold temperatures. If you end up [… read more …]
The idea for this wine quiz struck me as I was rummaging through my wine locker today. I have a modest amount of wine in storage, but when as many boxes are crammed into one space as possible, there’s limited room to maneuver, especially towards the back of the locker. In many cases, I could only see the very bottom portion of many of my wine labels (being that the bottles themselves are stored upside down). And so, in that same spirit, I’ve compiled 25 label snippets below, each one representing a Napa Valley winery. For many of the people who work here in the wine industry — as I once did — this quiz will probably be a breeze. I’d expect many of my Napa friends to score 20 or better, and a good local sommelier would likely miss only one or two at the most.
If you [… read more …]
The Chocolate-Almond Croissant @ Bouchon Bakery, Yountville. Once recommended to me by a girl who eats.
Date a girl who eats. Date a girl who spends her money on fancy cheese instead of clothes, who has problems with refrigerator space because she has so many variations of mustard (and don’t even start with all the hot sauces). Date a girl who keeps a list of faraway restaurants she wants to visit, who has been eating foie gras since she was twelve.
Find a girl who eats. You’ll know that she eats because she will always have a half-eaten bar of artisanal fair-trade chocolate in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the produce at the farmers market, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the first morels of the season. You see that weird chick sniffing the leaves of vine-ripened tomatoes at the supermarket? That’s the girl [… read more …]
Designed by architectural historian Dr. David Gissen, this wine map of France is reconfigured to resemble a modern subway map. Pure genius, if you ask me. Gissen really captures the public-transportation aesthetic perfectly, presenting French wine in a uniquely urban context. Bravo. Wine geeks can purchase a high-quality printing of this map online at De Long Wine, creators and purveyors of the equally cool Wine Grape Varietal Table.
If footnotes indicate anything, I’d argue that Susan Pinkard’s “A Revolution in Taste” is perhaps the best-researched text available on French culinary history. Pinkard has clearly done her homework, and her book is both comprehensive and concise, and for me, it represents one of the great recent surveys of food and culture. Published in 2009, “A Revolution in Taste” may prove a bit scholarly for the casual gourmet, but for the student of Western cuisine, the book offers an approachable and well-documented account of the culinary trends that evolved from the Greco-Roman Era to the French Revolution. Along the way, Pinkard explains how medicine, exploration, philosophy, and an ever-changing social climate helped to forever transform the way people eat. My one criticism with the book, though it may be slightly unfair, is that I wish Pinkard had pressed further into the 19th and 20th centuries. I do understand that, [… read more …]
We’re already two weeks into 2011, and I haven’t even discussed wine yet this year. That will all change very soon: I’ll be attending the Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux 2008 Vintage Tasting in San Francisco next week. Of course, I’ll put together a list of my top 20 wines, and then I’ll report back here. If you’re attending any of the events scheduled below, please check back to compare notes!
L-I-V-I-N: 2001 LeRoy Vosne-Romanée, 1983 Chateau Latour, 1990 Domaine Weinbach Cuvée Ste. Catherine.
Wine tasting can sometimes be counter-productive to blogging, at least in the short term. Pictured above, three reasons why I’ve been mostly absent from the internet this week. This handsome trio in the photo capped an epic Tuesday evening, which began with a blind tasting of 2007 California Pinot Noir (Kosta Browne, Papapietro Perry, Chasseur, and three others; my full report to follow next week). Before this throw-down of mailing-list Pinot, I had already spent the entire day touring Napa wine country with my friend Jean-Marie, who is currently visiting California from Europe.
It had been a pleasure to host someone who shares my same passion for wine, but with an Old World perspective. Jean-Marie’s last official gig was a three-year stint as lead sommelier at Restaurant Gordon Ramsey in Chelsea (that’s a three-Michelin joint, [… read more …]
So, I did a little web consulting the other day for my old buddy Geoff Harner at Mosher & Company Wine Importers. How it works: I help Geoff rebuild his company website, and he fuels my creativity with some European wine (nice work, if you can get it). We met up on Tuesday morning and tasted through a couple of really nice bottles, beginning with the 2005 Keller “Hubacker” Riesling, which is produced by one of the up-and-coming superstars of German wine, Klaus-Peter Keller. The 2005 “Hubacker” is a dry Riesling, and one of four or five “Grosses Gewächs” (or Grand Cru) bottlings in the Weingut Keller portfolio. It’s interesting to point out that Keller’s wines originate from Germany’s Rheinhessen region, an area most recently synonymous for its simple German table wines, usually produced from the meager Müller-Thurgau grape. But despite the overall mediocrity of the Rhinehessen, Keller [… read more …]
Ever since I posted my own insight regarding the Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) exam, I’ve been receiving hundreds of searches per week on the subject, and many folks have downloaded the study guide that I created to help myself pass the test last year. As I’ve mentioned here before, the subject of Italian wine remains one of the most challenging topics to learn. Not only does this subject require one to (a) learn all of the states in Italy, but it also involves (b) learning the sheer number of varietals in production. Then, what complicates things further is that (c) some grapes have different names in different Italian regions, and (d) many different grapes have similar-sounding names across these regions. For those people first beginning to sort out these unfamiliar terms, repetition is the only real way to establish a foothold on the subject (first master the vocabulary, [… read more …]
As part of my on-going preparation for the Certified Wine Educator (CWE) exam in 2010, I’ve continued to compose a few short quizzes that really test the depth of knowledge for the world’s most important wine-growing regions. Again, this quiz may not actually be the most difficult in the world, but it’s not amateur hour, either. Much like the 20-question quiz I created for Burgundy Grand Cru, these 25 questions concerning Bordeaux require much more than a superficial knowledge of the region. For the most part, this quiz looks beyond the five First Growths, and delves into the lesser-known appellations.
Once again, answers for each question are typed in white, so you can reveal the information by swiping each area with your cursor. For the easiest readability, it may help to change your highlight color to black in your computer’s control panel. If you wish to share this test [… read more …]