Monday, March 30, 2009
Here is an interesting article about Chateau Lafite's intent to make a Grand Cru wine in China, a country that is supposedly poised to become one of the world's biggest wine regions in the next fifty years. Apparently Lafite is not alone as there are a number of other European wineries who see great potential in the region of Penglai on the Shandong Peninsula. It will be interesting to see what comes of this.
I find the prospect of Chinese wine extremely intriguing so I did a little research and discovered China has more the 450 wineries in various provinces across the country. The industry is highly concentrated with four wineries accounting for 60 percent of domestic production and sales. The big four are Great Wall, Dragon Seal, Changyu and Huadong. Foreign partnerships are common. The French multinational Pernod Ricard helped create Dragon Seal in 1987and Seagrams and Remy Martin have also been involved in joint ventures.
Changyu Winery, located in the city of Yentai - also in Shandong has been making wines since 1892 and in 2002 they opened a wine museum to honor their 110 year anniversary. Their website offers a virtual tour of the winery and museum and it's pretty mind blowing to see what they've done.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Adrian Bridge, Managing Director of Croft Port stated: “The port industry needs innovation to raise awareness of port as a contemporary product which is why, three years ago, I came up with the idea of producing a lighter style of port. This will attract new consumers to the port category and at the same time de-seasonlise consumption."
When I first got wind of this product, I was really skeptical as the idea of pink Port reeks of a white zinfandel-esque marketing ploy - make it light, pink and sweet and timid palates will drink it up. I've had white Port before which is extremely tasty and underrated but pink fortified wines always taste like cough syrup to me which is not a good thing no matter how well Robitussin makes you go beddy-by.
Well as the saying goes - don't knock it till you try it so I did and I must say I was pleasantly surprised. It's an extremely well made product with sweet strawberry and raspberry flavors. It's also refreshingly light and easy to drink - almost too easy which is a problem considering it registers at 20% alcohol. Charles, our friend KC and I polished off an entire bottle in one sitting with some strawberry cake that I had made - tasty pairing.
They say there is a story in every bottle of wine so grab a glass and get lost in these fascinating books chock full of mystery, greed, family bickering and all the juicy bits that make wine more than just a beverage.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
We were at the Common Threads World Festival Benefit on Monday night and Curtis Stone was there. He was kind enough to pose for a picture. I don't know about you but if Curtis came up to me in a supermarket and offered to go home with me, I would offer to pay for the groceries myself. THC is one of Charles' favorite shows and he's not the jealous type especially if there is food involved.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Friday, March 20, 2009
For this week's Bottle Service column in the RedEye, I paired each astrological sign with a wine. Your astrological sign can say a lot about you but can it also reflect your taste in wine? Click here to read the column and decide for yourself.
For next week's column, I'll recommend my favorite new wines for the spring season. Be sure to check it out in next Wednesday's edition of the RedEye.
If you're looking for a fun and convenient way to learn about wine then I suggest checking out winecouch.com, a wine education site run by my friend and fellow Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein. Evan is one of the best when it comes to teaching and demystifying wine in an entertaining yet informative manner. He created the site as a forum for users to learn more about wine at their own pace. You can access weekly wine and food tasting webisodes hosted by Evan, recipes and suggestions on wine pairings, a weekly wine quiz to test your knowledge as well as a really superb wine blog to get the inside scoop on the world of wine - all without leaving your couch.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
This is a holiday wine segment that I did for Chicago Tonight but most of the wines can be enjoyed year round as well.
And yes, I do have a giant goose egg in the middle of my forehead. I woke up with it on the morning of the taping and I'm not really sure how it got there.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Please feel free to leave any suggestions or comments on wine apps.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Cuvaison Winery Chardonnay ‘07
Cuvaison Winery Block F5 Pinot Noir ‘06
Cuvaison Winery Cabernet Sauvignon ‘06
Selection of Artisan Cheeses
Cuvaison Winery Syrah ‘06
Brandlin Cabernet Sauvignon ‘06
For more information or to make a reservation contact Brad Wermager at 773.398.6960.
Wildfire Chicago - 159 W Erie in Chicago
$95.00 per person (tax & gratuity included)
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
As for the stuff that is in the bottle: First Love Red is an unusual Barossa Valley blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Barbera. It is medium bodied with ripe fruit flavors. It certainly holds its own.
Friday, March 6, 2009
I don't know about you but when I was growing up I learned to equate sushi with the food of the yuppies. I'm pretty sure it was because of the movie Wall Street and that campy scene with the automatic sushi maker. Daryl Hannah takes on the task of decorating Charlie Sheen's new Manhattan apartment with bad wall paper and gold foil because he's suddenly filthy rich and that's what you did if you had gobs of money in the 80's. Later on they celebrate with a dinner that includes Talking Heads, white wine, fresh pasta and balls of rice and raw fish spewed from a sushi-o-matic. The love fest is suddenly interrupted by Martin Sheen who played Charlie Sheen's honest, no-nonsense, blue-collar father who certainly does not approve of his son's new high-falluting lifestyle. Martin spots the raw fish on the coffee table, picks it up to take a sniff and then puts it back with a disgusted look on his face. Gordon Gecko had brainwashed his son to the point where he was eating raw fish and thinking it was cool. My 11 year old brain then made a mental note - only crazy rich people with money to burn eat sushi.
Of course I no longer feel this way about sushi and I count it as one of my favorite types of food. The art of Japanese cuisine has come a long way since the 80's and much of this is thanks to great Japanese chefs like Nobu Matsuhisa. His Nobu restaurants can be found all over the world including Miami and I had the great pleasure of doing a sushi and wine pairing seminar with the guy in charge of Nobu Miami, Chef Thomas Buckley. Chef Buckley also co-authored the Nobu Miami Party Cookbook. Here's an interesting bit of trivia from Chef Buckley - it take two years of training just to learn how to properly make sushi rice.
Toro Pastrami - Tuna Belly lightly dusted in pastrami spice and cold smoked for 10 mins, sliced sashimi style and served on raw asparagus salad with Yuzu Ponzu. We paired this with a white wine sangria. The fruitiness of the sangria provided a nice contrast against the pastrami spice. Serving sangria is also something fun and a bit different.
Here is wine and food lineup from the seminar. In general, when it comes to pairing wine with sushi, I prefer light whites high on acid with some fruitiness and absolutely no oak or butter. This would include Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Gruner Veltliner, Pinot Gris, Albarino, etc. I also like reds wines and rose provided they are also light and refreshing and easy on the oak and tannins.
Tuna Nigiri - Simple classic Tuna on rice. This classic staple is best eaten upside down with the fish hitting the tongue first in order to truly appreciate the texture of the fish. Chef Buckley also pointed out if you want soy sauce, you dip the fish part not the rice other wise the whole thing will fall apart. We paired this with Seven Daughters white wine. For sushi, I prefer crisp, clean white wines with a hint of fruitiness, just like this blend. No oak and certainly no butter.
Flounder Sashimi Salad with Yuzu Honey Aji Limo - Sliced white fish, red bell pepper, red onion, hint of dry white miso and a dressing of Peruvian chili with yuzu and honey finished with a splash of extra virgin olive oil. We thought out of the box with this one and paired it with a Pisco Sour. Many of us enjoy sushi with friends when we are looking to whoop it up and want something a bit stronger than wine. This sweet/sour cocktail proves you can pair the hard stuff with your food.
King Crab Daikon Roll - Rice-less roll of king crab leg with cucumber, shiso and avocado, jalapeno dressing is used instead of soy. Lois Gruner Veltliner was our choice for this pairing because the mineral notes of Gruner is a perfect match with shellfish, especially crab.
Yellowtail Maki - Classic roll - Nori, rice, wasabi Salmon Inside out Roll - I specifically wanted to showcase a red wine with sushi so Chef Buckley created this roll with salmon. Many of us prefer red wines with our meal yet the perception with sushi is you have to do white wine. Pinot Noir is a great match with many types of sushi since it is lower in tannins and lighter in body. I thought this pairing was one of the best in the lineup.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Just keep pouring
It takes a while to get used to tasting wine with the feeling of sand in your toes
Charles obviously had no problem adjusting to the crowd.
To all the Tyler Florence fans out there, I know it's hard to believe but he's even better looking in person. I first met Tyler Florence back in 2002 at the James Beard Awards ceremony when we were both nominated in our respective fields. I don't have to tell you but a guy this handsome really stands out in a crowd. We ran into him at an after party in South Beach. He's just really very sweet and of course extremely talented.
We also met Chef Daniel Boulud and Spike from Top Chef at the same party.
Chef Daniel is a good friend of Chef Jean Joho of Everest. It's amazing the connection French chefs have with one another. Chef Daniel's face just lit up when I mentioned Chef Joho's name and how I used to be the sommelier for his restaurant.
Top Chef Chicago contestant Spike is just so cool. We talked about his new restaurant in Washington DC. It's sounds really good and is appropriately named, Good Stuff Eatery. I'm planning a trip to DC this year and its on my list of places to try.
I didn't realize Maximilian Riedel of Riedel crystal fame was also a fan of Sandra Lee. I had not seen him in a few years so it was nice to catch up. Maximilian created the stemless O Series for Riedel after moving to a tiny apartment in Manhattan. The traditional stemware did not fit in his cupboards and as a result he was inspired to create a more space friendly line. We also talked about his latest decanter. It's certainly a wowser.