Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I wish everyone the warmest season's greetings! I hope everyone is with good friends and family, and the table is full of goodies. I've always felt that good food and drink really hit their peak when shared with those you care about. Please keep those in your thoughts in our military, and those who are alone. May we all be thankful for the fortune we have, the people we surround ourselves with, and the luck of having something good to eat and something great to drink!

Here's a very profound way to describe my very full heart today:

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Season's Greetings...

...from a very odd, off-putting, and decidedly creepy duo:

Monday, December 15, 2008

This week's "Grape you need to know"

Everyone knows Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay. In fact, many folks don't stray from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay. But, did you know that there are hundreds, if not thousands of varietals of vitis vinifera, aka, wine grapes. Furthermore, SO many of them are really, REALLY good.

In other words, there's a lot of great stuff out there. In the spirit of internet wine superstar Gary Vaynerchuk's mantra to "try new wines", I thought I'd spotlight some grapes/regions/blends you need to get in your gullet, at least once.

Today's grape is Torrontés (click here for the Wikipedia page). Torrontés is pretty much the national white wine grape of Argentina. However, it only accounts for about 1.3% of all new vineyard plantings since 2000 in Argentina, a country dominated by red varietals such as Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Bonarda (I'm not linking to those...you'll have to wait to learn about them here!).

Regardless, I've noticed a sharp increase in the number of bottles of Torrontés on the shelves at better wine stores (haven't seen it in the cooler at the Quiktrip yet). This grape produces a highly perfumed, medium-bodied white wine. It's really got one of the best noses (i.e. aromas) of any white wine I've ever tried. I almost always get the peaches, honeysuckle, and flowers that are often noted in better-known white varietals like Gewurztraminer and Viognier (once again, I'll spotlight these other favorites later). But, more than anything else, Torrontés to me has an amazing aroma of the canned, mandarin oranges you always loved as a kid. On the palette, the wine is usually surprisingly dry; after smelling it, you expect it to be sweet and fruity. Usually, there are subtle flavors of citrus and peaches (to me). However, unlike a citrusy Sauvignon Blanc, this wine tends to have a much fuller, silkier mouthfeel. It would pair very well with any sort of grilled fish, chinese food, or Krystal burgers, if in a pinch.


One of the best things about Torrontés is that it's still really affordable. While you might pay $30 for a decent California Chardonnay, or hundreds for a notable White Burgundy (aka French Chardonnay), Argentinian Torrontés will only set you back about $10-15. Some easy-to-find ones are Crios Susana Balbo (sorry, couldn't find a website) and Alamos.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

What do you feed Christmas Seals??!

Thanks to my friends Amy and Scott for putting on a great wine tasting last night!

Unfortunately, I over-tasted and cannot come up with anything good to say today. The Falcons won, so that's cool, but too lazy to talk about that too. Wine tasting details coming soon, but in the meantime, watch this:

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Official Song of Friday

Everyone in the Mountain Time Zone and east can officially celebrate. I'm starting a grassroots campaign to make Kenny Loggin's "I'm Alright" the official song of Friday afternoon.

Go ahead and rock out...you deserve it!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Too High Brow?

My buddy Rob told me that "a blog about wine was too [lame and snooty]"

[lame and snooty] = gay

So, to bring it down to Earth a bit- this site IS about spitting in the eye of snootiness anyway- here's Rob, aka, "leader of the bar" doing some football cheers. Watch out: he's going to be famous someday. Just think of him as a skinny Artie Lange, but more obnoxious, in a good way.

The Fitz fires up Tempe, AZ
video

Sandwich Logic

My (at times) enviable friend Mike always gets to travel to cool places and eat delicious regional delights. Few things draw my ire than sitting in my office, eating canned soup or a bologna sandwich, and Mike sends me a picture of his lunch, a delicious pile of Arthur Bryant's BBQ, since he just happens to be in Kansas City, at the venerable mecca to smoked meats.

Today, I get a picture of the corned beef sandwich above. You guessed it: that jackass is in New York City. I think I ate an El Pollo Loco burrito for lunch. Not bad (quite delicious, really), but certainly not the perfection that is a NYC Corned Beef. I told him not to choke on it.

However, the picture of the sandwich did more than make me jealous. It reminded me of a very funny and intuitive article my sister wrote about sandwiches (or "samiches", as she calls them). Check it out HERE

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Arizona: the Next Napa Valley?



So, my wife and I were out in Arizona to see the Georgia Bulldawgs- spelling is correct- beat up on the Sun Devils (back before the season went spiraling into mediocrity...oh, to remember when optimism flourished). The Sunday after the game, we decided to roll up to Sedona and mess with the vortex people or eat a patchouli burrito or something. I must say, the scenery was INCREDIBLE (picture surely doesn't do it justice). The town, however...well, it reminded me of a Southwest version of Helen, GA, only lose the Bavarian kitsch and replace it with Native American/hippie kitsch.

However, as tempting as all the turquoise and silver were, we were delighted to find a wine tasting bar. The place was called The Art of Wine, and the guy who helped us out was very friendly (can't think of the name). The wines, to our surprise, were all produced locally, that is, in Arizona. Not exactly the cooler climate associated with many classic varietals. However, we were willing to give it a try...there's some decent wine in Georgia, so why not?

The first few we tried...well, they sucked. I'm not trying to protect the names; I just can't think of them. They tasted how you would expect grapes grown in such a hot climate would taste: overripe, unbalanced, with not enough acidity or structure. They were trying Rhone grapes here, but the Syrah didn't have the finesse or structure of some of France or California wines. In fact, I recall one wine being so ripe, it literally smelled like my trashcan...just a rotten-vegetable, sickly-sweet decay smell. You know the one if you've ever spent some of your less fortunate years sleeping in a dumpster.

However, I did come across a couple wines that were pretty damn good. The best was Sycamore Canyon Private Reserve Merlot. It was well-structured, powerful wine, and seemed like I could lay it down for a while to age. However, at $40, it was hardly a bargain, and I probably just bought it as an act of tourism. Furthermore, it did not have a vintage year on the label.

The other was Javelina Leap Zinfandel. Big, spicy, and full of jammy fruit, it's what the wine magazines are now saying is "overdone", and at 15.9% alcohol, they have an argument. But, can't you agree that sometimes, we all want a wine that just punches us in the face? I do, and I thought this was pretty good.


But, I couldn't at first figure out why these two stood out so clearly. Then, I took a look at the labels, some more closely than others. These two best wines were actually only produced in Arizona (Cornville, Arizona, to be exact), but the grapes were sourced out of Paso Robles, CA. Had we been utterly bamboozled?

-I'm really glad I got to say "bamboozled"...underused word-

Nah. The labels were pretty clear, and I think the idea is that there are people out there who really want to craft something great, but just don't have the resources to do so. Hell, I like to make my own beer, but I assure you the climate in Georgia is not conducive to growing hops and barley. I can't even grown my lawn.

So, Arizona may not be the next Napa just yet, but one has to appreciate a state without the perfect climate of a California, Oregon, or Washington making an effort to make good wine. I'm sure they'll get there eventually...just go into your Arizona wine-tasting adventure with an open mind and an appreciation for how truly blessed- with unique terroir, great vines, perfect climate, and masterful work of the winemaker- a great wine really is.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

"Andrew Zimmern" moment of the month (or week, depending on how adventurous I'm feeling)

Most anyone who's large and somewhat plump (like myself) likes to get a good dose of "food porn" now and again, whether it be Food & Wine, Steven Raichlen's "How to Grill", or Travel Channel's No Reservations or Bizarre Foods.

The latter, being particularly hardcore in the food porn pantheon, features chef Andrew Zimmern traveling around the world, eating the inward meats, nether regions, and [ahem] poop chutes of various woodland creatures. However, the reasoning makes not just good tellie; it presents a rather profound point. Who's to say that eating Taco Bell (commonplace in the States, i.e. "me") is any more revolting than chomping down on a plate of cold, pickled chicken feet; as completely commonplace as fast food in other cultures?

So, being the shameless boob that I am, I thought I'd buy into the aforementioned argument. Yep, that's me at a Dim Sum house in Chinatown, San Francisco, munching down on cold, pickled chicken feet. Closest way to describe it: eating cold, pickled chicken feet. What else can I say? Rubbery, gelatinous cartiledge wrapped around tiny bones. To it's credit, it tasted like chicken.

Surprisingly, I ate about 6 more of them before I threw in the towel. Not my speed, but I feel more worldly now...

...and I bet I would try them again if they were deep-fried- and I were drunk.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Writers' block...

...always make for a good blog post, huh?

I was on a roll with something about Christmas-time hangovers, and then I realize my creativity and mastery of the English language had been stymied by...Christmas-time hangovers. I was going to discuss the delicious wines I sipped, nay, guzzled over the weekend. Unfortunately, "guzzling" almost always leads to something shitty; in this case, journalism. How does that lovable drunk Bourdain do it?

So, watch this until I can think of something better. The guy who dubbed over this video is a genius who obviously put in more time than I did this post (gimme a break! At least I posted something this month!):

EDDIE VAN HALEN SHREDS! (this is too funny)