Category: Wine Articles

Good Cheap Wine

Good Cheap Wine

Summer-wine, summer-wine, sum-sum-summer-wine. Thats what this feature is all about. Red wines for summer sipping, backyard barbecues, and picnics in the park. Usually at these events, we just want to relax, lay back, and enjoy ourselves and give into cravings for plain ol simple stuff. And, unless your with a Martha Stewart devotee, fancy gives way to plain and complexity succumbs to simplicity.

I know that when Im scarfing down that third burger with sweet relish and ketchup, I really dont want to take time out to pay homage to the winemaker or to think about vintages. …

Wine or Beer with Chinese Food?

Wine or Beer with Chinese Food?

Whether dining in a restaurant or doing take out, the question of what to drink with Chinese food seems to be a problem for many of us. However, the answer may depend simply on how you eat this wonderful cuisine. If you approach the table (or the carton) with a ravenous appetite and shovel in the food, you might do better with a good Chinese beer like Tsing Tao. It has a wonderful plummy flavor that goes well with the mildest of Cantonese or the spiciest of Schezuan offerings. Go ahead; scarf the food, …

The Seduction of Pinot Noir

The Seduction of Pinot Noir

No wine can seduce like Pinot Noir or Burgundy. Sure you can be overwhelmed by a rich full-bodied Cabernet or teased by a coy fruity Chardonnay or even tickled silly by an unctuous, honeyed Sauternes. But none, at least in my experience, has Pinots sensuousness: the perfumed nose of red berries and violets, the ruby red colors, the silky body, the rich tastes of raspberry, strawberry, black cherry, and vanilla. And, if youre lucky, a finish that makes you long for more.

It may be for this reason that wine makers struggle with this most …

Back to School Wines

Back to School Wines

Remember those college wine and cheese parties of the late sixties and seventies, where almost no one cared about vintage or varietal? Where hearty Burgundy, Chablis, and cold duck were better known than Cabernet, Chardonnay, and Merlot, and names like Mateus, Ingelnook, and Almaden were more familiar than Mondavi, Beringer, and Caymus? Where screw caps were more popular than corks–except for straw- covered Chianti flasks, which were prized more for use as candleholders than for their contents.

Of course there was the food: cubes of Swiss, cheddar, and Gouda were mandatory, as were Triscuits and Ritz …

Barbecue Wines: Think BBQ

Barbecue Wines: Think BBQ

Almost everyone has his or her idea about what constitutes real barbecue. Across the states, indeed around the world, barbecuing styles, techniques, sauces, and even the cuts of meat differ vastly. The recently published Barbecue Bible by Steven Raichlen covers the subject thoroughly, traversing six global barbecue zones, and even attributes the birth of civilization to this type of cooking.  Barbecue is also popular on the web, where the most comprehensive site appears to be Barbecue’n On the Internet.

When I use the term “barbecue” in this feature, I am referring to plain old backyard-style barbecue …

Salad Days Wine

Salad Days Wine

On a hot summer afternoon, my aunt, who hailed from a small southern Italian town, would on occasion make for herself a salad of thinly sliced lemons drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with coarse salt, and sprinkled with chopped parsley. As a child, I wondered how anyone could ever eat lemons straight. Even today, though my culinary tastes have become more urbane, I still wonder. But I shall never forget her contented look as she indulged in that simple plate of citrus.

My recent examination of Portuguese Vinho Verde made me think of the many idiosyncratic pleasures …

California Cabs for Under $10

California Cabs for Under $10

Cabernet Sauvignon. Even the name sounds classy. In fact, I remember how pleased I was with myself, more than 30 years ago, when I ordered my first bottle in a restaurant and the waiter understood my pronunciation. (My having pointed to the wine on the list, however, may have helped just a little.) Back then, the major Napa producers were Beaulieu Vineyards, Charles Krug, Louis Martini, and The Christian Brothers. And although ordering a California Cabernet may have appeared rather avant-garde at the time, it was by no means an extravagance.

Over the years, as …

California Values

California Values

Well with all the volatility in the stock market these days, many of us are probably forgoing our plans to purchase that case of ’97 Cinq Cepages or ’82 Lafite. Heck, we’re probably even reconsidering the few bottles of our favorite house wines that we were going to consume this week. So if we have to tighten our belts along with our palates, I thought we might look at some more affordable wines this month from outstanding producers.

On my recent trip to California, I had the opportunity to sample some serious yet relatively inexpensive wines from Stag’s …

Wine for Spring

Wine for Spring

With spring having just arrived, I thought it fitting to find a wine to celebrate the season. I wanted a wine that would reflect this time of years crisp breezes, green lawns, budding flowers, and sunny days as well as its rainy ones. By this time, youve probably guessed that I dont share T.S. Eliots view that “April is the cruelest month.”

The first wine that came to mind for this feature was Sauvignon Blanc. This dry, crisp wine with its characteristic herbaceous, grassy nose was perfect. Its colors that range from faint chartreuse to pale straw …

Ive Got a Little List…

Ive Got a Little List…

There are times in the lives of restaurant goers that when the waiter or, worse yet, the sommelier presents them with a wine list, they might feel somewhat intimidated. It’s as though theyve met the Lord High Executioner from Gilbert & Sullivans Mikado, whose “little list” contains the names of “society offenders” and, should they choose the wrong wine, they “might well be under ground and never would be missed.” But is there a wrong wine?

First off, if there is a wrong wine on the list, its the restaurant owner who should feel embarrassed …