Sunday, January 31, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
I always figured that I'd buy a Jeroboam (that's 4 750-ml bottles worth) of nice Champagne for the birth day (sometime in June), but then I thought (as I often do...some may argue that's a lie), "maybe I need to get a celebration bottle for the boy/girl thing..."
So, I was wondering, oh 3 loyal readers: what's the prototypical "male" wine and the corresponding "female" wine? Red Bordeaux vs. Red Burgundy? Zinfandel vs. Pinot Blanc? If the kid is a hermaphrodite, do I need to buy a Rosé?
Just fishing for ideas and suggestions. I think this could be a fun experiment to see how everyones' thought processes go down. Points for creativity, humor, and reasoning.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
PETA advocates, raw foodists, and vegans need not apply. As Bourdain often says [paraphrased], "if you're slower than me, dumber than me, and tasty, then you're fair game."
Syrah (otherwise known as "Shiraz" in parts of the New World, especially Australia) is a wine dominated by complex bouquet, intense flavors, massive tannins, and- at times- absurd alcohol levels that shame Hannibal Lector's wimpy Chianti and overpower those outmatched fava beans.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Yes, it's Ron Popeil, founder of Ronco, and crown-prince of spray-on hair, food dehydrators, and the Showtime Rotisserie, a device whose 3 AM infomercials have surely given many a college stoner a food-motivated stir in the britches.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
The biggest problem with business travel is that it can be, well, unsettling. It can throw you out of your groove. Your rhythm; your routine...ruined. And then, John Candy is spooning you.
Sleeping in my own bed is nice, too. And, I'm getting to kiss my wife every day, and I'm around to rub her belly...safely harboring our first child.
Monday, January 18, 2010
Experimenting with two loves of mine: wine and music (booze and rock n' roll together at last...who knew?!).
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Originally, it was Coke, Sprite, or root beer. Then, somewhere along the way, the "root" was lost in translation, and the harder stuff- likely a cheap domestic brew- became the poison of choice. Sure, by themselves they were adequate (especially the beer, in quantities I wish not to, nor probably can I, remember), but when paired with the quintessential gathering food- pizza- our drinks become more than thirst-quenchers or buzz-generators. Pizza has always been Friday nights, college post-bar scene, simple, honest, rustic, and satisfying. Seems fitting the drink along with it would fit the bill as well.
Perhaps that's why Chianti has long been the perfect match for a flat of dough with some stuff on it. With all due respect for malted barley and hops, Chianti, and the Sangiovese grape from whence it's vinted, tends towards rustic, honest, and unpretentious. And I guess that's why the two make such a classic pairing. Either that, or like so many groups of students scarfing down slices at 4 AM seeking one last shot of loudmouth soup, some Italian kids found it in the pantry as a last-resort libation, and the rest- as they say- is history.
Not quite as desperate, but equally as hungry (as is often the case), we fired up the oven to its inadequate 500+ degrees, procured some dough from a local bakery (I'm not confident enough in my homemade dough, or baking in general at this point), and sourced a cornucopia of fresh veggies and tasty, fattening meats. A quick preparation of canned Italian plum tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, fresh basil, dried oregano, pulverized fennel seeds, salt, pepper, and sugar (in secret proportions, or more accurately, in quantities I neither remember nor wrote down) yielded a flavorful base-coat for our discs of punched-down and flattened out dough (none of which ended up on the ceiling, as far as my wife knows). We then went to work- Picassos and Rembrandts in our own minds- layering buffalo mozzarella, pecorino, hot sausage, sopressata, pepperoni, cappicola, spinach, onions, green pepper, kalamata olives, anchovies, hot peppers, sliced tomatoes, dollops of marscapone, or whatever else we could find. Brushed the edges with some extra virgin, a sprinkle of salt or crack of pepper, and into the blistering oven for 8 minutes (convinced a wood-burning outdoor oven that reaches 1000 degrees would be a necessary purchase in the future).
In the end, given the equipment, the pizzas turned out great. Especially the crust, which really in the most important part of a good pie. Ours were crunchy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside. The flavorful sauce, rich meats, and runny cheeses melded to create a familiar taste of comfort. They called for a wine of equal simplicity. We poured Fèlsina Berardenga Chianti Classico, and the clear (but subtle) cherry, orange peel, and herb flavors, along with bright acidity worked great to counterbalance the firecracker of tangy tomatoes, italian herbs, yeasty dough, spicy meats, charred veggies, and unctuous cheese...
...I thought I'd never use the word "unctuous". I struggled for ten minutes trying to think of something else. Sorry.Anyway, this was no time to dwell on the flavors and aromas of the wine. Chianti is meant to be DRUNK, much like pizza isn't often savored like haute cuisine. All the more reason why the two go together so well. Acidity brings flavors out of food, and it helps balance fat. Needless to say, pizza has both in spades (flavor and fat), and Sangiovese is- like many Italian wines- big on acidity. They're designed for food, and they deliver big time. Maybe not the best wines on their own, but as a "condiment at the table" (as one Italian winemaker once described it), Italian wine, and Chianti especially, finds its comfort zone....
...just like a 2nd year journalism major on a couch in a stupor at 4 A.M., half-eaten box of Domino's by his side.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
1) The wine can be found nationwide
Okay. I'm going to bed. This is ridiculous.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Monday, January 11, 2010
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Clearly, this woman is discovering Cahors: The French Malbec. Unfamilar? Scroll up. Look right. Visit all the sites on the blogroll. It's the ad campaign that's everywhere; a product of the Palate Press ad network.
Basically, "Cahors" is a region near Bordeaux, France. For hundreds of years, they have been making the "black wines of Cahors," made primarily with the Malbec grape. Malbec, one of the five allowable red grapes in Bordeaux, has enjoyed notoriety on the level of "the other guy in Wham!" or- perhaps more accurately- one of the people besides Waldo in the "Where's Waldo" books. In so many words, most normal folks probably didn't know what the hell Malbec was...
...that is, until the Argentine wine boom. During the 1990's, Argentina began to focus on the export markets of Great Britain and the United States. By the end of the 90's, they were exporting 3.3 million gallons of wine (source: wikipedia.org). By comparison, exports in 2010 are expected to be a whopping 4.3 million hectoliters!
...wait a second. Oh, here we go- conversion factor: 1 hectoliter = 26.4172052 gallons. So, with no due respect to the metric system, 2010 Argentine wine exports are expected to exceed 113 million gallons (source: http://www.calwinexport.com/node/1100)!! As Sgt. Arcot "Thorny" Ramathorn would say, "that's a lotta hooch!"
What's my point? Argentina is selling a boatload of wine, and since Malbec is the most widely planted red grape, one could further say that Argentina is selling a boatload of Malbec, and France wants a piece of the action. They've been vinifying the grape for hundreds of years. Why doesn't it sell like the South American stuff?
Ah, marketing. You sassy wench. Everyone knows what Malbec is now. Nobody knows what Cahors is. Traditionally, French wines don't show the varietal on the label. It has to do with the concept of terroir, where the "sense of place" has a much greater influence on the wine than the measly grape. To label a wine with the grape it's made out of is to spit in the face of the sacred land from whence it came.
Problem is, folks are buying wines with varietal labels. What grape constitutes the wine is perceived (often incorrectly, IMHO) as a reliable, consistent indicator of what the wine will taste like. And I suspect this is what's driving demand, because I've seen so many more stodgy French producers start to do it.
And so the case goes with Cahors. They're hoping to ride the popularity of Argentine Malbec, and I applaud the French for swallowing their pride and putting some marketing into effect. But, will it work? While I'm confident they're getting lots of exposure to a targeted demographic, a great point was brought up on Twitter by The Atlanta Wine Guy, whose wine opinions I hold in higher regard than my personal hygiene:
Argentine Malbec is big, fruit-forward, and lush. Cahors Malbec is good...but different (here are my thoughts on a bottle). Reminds me of a time I bought some Merlot-loving neighbors a nice bottle of St-Émilion. I thought I was getting them something really special, but when it didn't deliver the big, blueberry/blackberry fruit bomb, I think they were disappointed. Old World wines are another animal, for sure. They just take a little time to appreciate, especially for the novice wino.
At the very least, maybe the Cahors marketing effort will get some more people to try something new.
photo courtesy of The Broke Wino (http://thebrokewino.wordpress.com/)
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Sorry, no "eggy wegs" here. Homey don't play that. Yep, a (ugh, hate the term) "foodie" who doesn't like eggs. And a reference to In Living Color. All used to explain an A Clockwork Orange reference. Things could be going downhill fast.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Monday, January 4, 2010
The pregnant wife. The neighbors with kids. The tight budget. The need for sleep.