Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Our Mission and Purpose
Uh oh! The secret must be out. You found us. We are the
from all different walks of life. Some of us know a lot about
wines, some a little and still others know absolutely nothing at
all, but we all come together for the experience of wine. Most
of us do not have any experience at all in the wine industry.
We are just ordinary people, like you, that somewhere along
the road of life, stumbled upon one extraordinary bottle of wine
that changed our lives forever. Maybe it has already happen to
you. If not, I’m sure it will!
There is just something magical about a bottle of wine. What
other beverage can you think of that is different from year to
year and comes in so many styles and flavors? The varieties
are endless. Wine brings us great pleasure, relaxation,
enjoyment and fulfillment. It is also a wonderful way to pass
time with good friends or that special someone.
On this website, you will learn about the different styles of
wine, food and recipes that are a perfect match for particular
styles of wine, wine tips, wine terms, wine as it relates to you in
health, stories and adventures we have shared with wine, and of
course our frequent events and outings that occur once or twice
a month. Our purpose is to bring the wine buying and enjoying
public together. We also intend to introduce new people to the
exciting world of wine by breaking down the ridiculous
stereotypes and misconceptions about wine through education
and fun. Above all else, we want to meet new friends as well as
some old ones and share a glass or two of wine together.
So please feel free to peruse our website. Learn a little; maybe
even give us your ten cents worth! But, by all means, please
come join us and get on our mailing list. Then you will be able
to raise a toast with us the next time we meet over a glass of
Dallas Secret Wine Society
The Dallas Secret Wine Society is a FREE wine club, there are no
membership fees, nor will there ever be! However, it does cost money
to run the club and maintain the website, so if the mood strikes, we
do appreciate any donation you make!
A Reader quickly provided me with a response... she even has her own wine website in Dallas! Dallas Secret Wine!
was looking forward to it because, only having a
limited amount of experience with the wine, I wasn’t
sure what to expect. Our staff members with the
exception of maybe just one, had never even tried a
Valpolicella wine before and that always makes
these tastings a bit educational as well as
interesting. We had the usual assortment of Italian
appetizers to compliment the wines. This consisted
of smashed cherry tomato bruscetta, Portobello
mushroom pizza, and tiny pepperonis with Port and
smoked Fontina cheese.
We tried seven different Valpolicella wines ranging
in price from $6.00 to $24.00 and covering the three
basic styles, Valpolicella, Valpolicella Classico and
Valpolicella Superiore made in the “Ripassa” style.
For the most part, the quality of the wines broke out
along the lines of their categories with the best being
the lone Superiore style and the worst being a
regular Valpolicella. I think we all thoroughly
enjoyed the wine style and would recommend the
first five wines in our tasting results with glowing
Check them out and decide for yourself:
Since I started tasting wine in the 70's on a trip to Italy, I have always like Italian Wines. Bolla is a shipper who selects wines to sale here ...
Valpolicella is one of my favorites for an Italian dinner. Bollo Valpolicella is a consistently good wine choice. However, remember that Valpolicella is a wine region in Italy and tell me if you fine a better one!
Remember to open this rich, full red wine at least an hour before dinner.
"85 Rating. Highly Recommended"
"Brilliant red hue. Cherry, plum and violet aromas. Fresh and clean, this has ripe berry fruit and a clean round finish with tart acidity and light tannins. A nice quaffer."
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Let me help you with a quick guide to the most popular and readily available wines in the world. I’ll start with two famous white grape varietals that are very popular in the United States, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
White Wine Grape Varietals
Chardonnay is the grape responsible for greatest dry white wines of the world, the white Burgundies, like Chablis, Pouilly-Fuisse, Macon-Villages and Puligny-Montrachet. Make a note to try these famous French wines in 2010.
In the US, California is the epicenter of U.S. wine production, and has the most perfect locations for Chardonnay, which is a cool-climate grape. Oregon and Washington are not far behind, turning out wonderful wines every year. Why not try some Oregon and Washington wines this year?
Chardonnay is a dry (not sweet) table wine that not only goes well with food, but drinks very well by itself. Chardonnay typically comes in three styles: the most popular has some peach and tropical flavors, and no noticeable oak, which seems to hit the “sweet spot” for most Chardonnay lovers. The second is medium-light, pleasant, and the taste runs toward white peaches and pears. The last is barrel fermented, aged in oak and tastes of tropical fruits like guava and mango. I usually associate the taste to "flint" with this wine. Notice that there are three types of Chardonnay, not just the classic two types that most wine experts call "oaked" and "un-oaked." Oak used to be from the barrel that contained the wine. Chardonnay is frequently highly processed and might not ever "see" a barrel, giving new meaning to having a "refined" wine.
Now grown world wide, Sauvignon Blanc got its start in France’s Loire Valley. To make the white wines of Bordeaux, it is always blended with Semillon. In California, it was always a blending grape, until Robert Mondavi opened his winery in the ‘60s and produced a 100% Sauvignon Blanc called “Fume Blanc”. A Sauvignon Blanc or a Fume Blanc from California is usually all Sauvignon Blanc, although some winemakers do occasionally add a dollop of Semillon for a soft and rich note. Make note that Robert Mondavi might be a good base line for your tastings this year. Compare all of your tastings to the Robert Mondavi standard wine in that Varietal variety. Another hint, by law, if the name of the varietal is on the label, it only needs to be 65% of that variety grape. If it is vinteaged by date, i.e. Sauvignon Blanc 2007, it must have at least 75%.
French Sauvignon Blancs are more acidic and have more grassy flavors, while examples from New Zealand tend to taste of gooseberries and grapefruit. All should be experienced, but some of my favorites come from California and may have hints of fresh grass or grapefruit, but are predominately noted for their ripe fruit flavors. Note: I prefer New Zealand and Oregon Sauvignon Blancs, because they have MORE fruit flavor.
Keep in mind, we are not talking about sweet fruits. When wine articles start going on and on about the flavor notes in the wine, I get bored. But I am old and losing my sense of smell and taste. Note: at your next wine tasting put out glasses with the suggested flavor note in the glass: put out some grapefruit, gooseberries, fresh grass, peaches (fresh) or coffee beans in tasting note glasses. Spice up the tasting! Have some fun with it!
Red Wine Grape Varietals
The three most famous red wines in the world have their roots* in France, but have spread world wide, as they offer great taste and drinkability. Cabernet Sauvignon is rightfully loved by people world wide, as it offers delicious, complex flavors. Pinot Noir and Merlot are popular with most folks who drink wine, and are sure to please your guests as well.
*ROOTS Interesting historical note:
Cabernet Sauvignon is the famous grape of Bordeaux and reigns supreme there. Bordeaux tends to taste of cassis and dark fruits accompanied by smells of cedar, sweet tobacco and sometimes a nice vanilla finish from aging in French oak. Cabernets from California are usually higher in alcohol and have riper fruit flavors because the fruit gets riper in the California sunshine. They also tend to show more black cherry flavors and sometimes smell of chocolate and black currants.
The well known French red grape, Pinot Noir, got its start in Burgundy. It is also widely grown in California and Oregon, and there are some fantastic wines available to drink. Cooler climate areas are best for Pinot Noir, since it needs a longer, cooler growing season like Chardonnay. Pinot Noir generally tastes of earth (some say forest floor), mushrooms, foie gras, leather and cherries (the last particularly noted in American Pinot Noirs).
Merlot is the most plentiful red grape of Bordeaux, and is used as a blending grape in many outstanding Bordeaux wines. While Merlot is used as a blending grape in the U.S., it is also widely sold by itself, or at least as the primary grape on the label. Merlot can be confused with Cabernet Sauvignon in “blind” tastings as it has some of the same color profiles and smells emanating from the glass. Merlot ripens earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon, is a little smoother (less tannic), and usually tastes of ripe plums.
Remember that wine is fun, not hard, and meant to be drunk and enjoyed! Start with the varietals above, and try a few of each. Did you like that Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand? Try one from Australia with your next meal! Experiment, and above all, have fun!
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Why do you never suggest a French Wine? Because no one pours one for me; however, I will suggest a good basic French Table wine and great cooking wine.
The Best Wine Region Since the Dark Ages
Why Knowing French Wine Law is Key to Finding Good French Wine
Where the Name of the Wine is Where it's From
A recent Wine Pocket List search showed that - in general - the wines with higher ratings tended also to be those with higher prices. But, we found that more than one A- wine (white and red) was represented in the "bargain" category of under $10. And while not many of these highly rated wines are widely available (over 20,000 cases imported), when you do find them they are worth the effort.
L'Epayrie. I don't know if it's the least expensive, but it's definitely one of the least expensive French wines
Pronounced "L'Perrier" - but if I were you, I'd write it on a piece of paper and show it to the clerk because no one here knows how to pronounce it.
A friend told me about it (she's been using this brand for years). I am a good cook, but the flavor of my cooking was vastly improved when I began using this brand. They also make a white wine which I use just as frequently.
You certainly can drink it, but the flavor when used in cooking is quite different from the flavor as a beverage.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
How to "taste" wine without buying it? Go to FREE wine tastings and CRUISE wine shops and up scale grocery stores on weekends for wine demonstrations
Why not put on your own wine tasting?
Keep it simple. Have everyone bring one each of the following crackers, fruit, cheese, LOTS of small, clear plastic cups and BYOB (bring your own bottle)... pick a varietal and bring one of that classification. Have a bottle of water for each guest and slices of lemon or lime. Having plenty of plastic (clear) cups available, don't rush the tasting process: let the guests discover that red wine tastes better after 30 minutes in the cup (breathing). Ice the white and rose types, or don't. Recycle the plastic cups for the next tasting!
Don't forget to give everyone a pen and a pocket size memo spiral notebook for note taking.
" You will forget it, unless you make a memo of it."
Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland
There are few national wine tasting event newsletters: here is the one that I was recommeded and have found useful for the DFW area; and, it publishes editions for all major cities: http://www.localwineevents.com/
They publish a weekly newsletter, called The Juice.
My FREE trial of The Juice: Grand Cru is up this month, so I will be downgraded to REGULAR issue; however, here are the details for the GRAND CRU issue for $2 a month:
•Receive The Juice for as many cities as you want.
Standard subscribers are limited to 2 cities.
•Only include events in categories of your liking.
Events are designated as: Food, Wine or Wine and Food, Spirits Beer or Other (coffee, chocolates, tea tastings, etc) If you are not a beer drinker or do not care for hard spirits, you can opt to not have them in your issue.
•Only include sections of The Juice that you are interested in.
We have added a lot of content to The Juice over the years, but some sections may not interest you. We offer the options to close sections of The Juice Grand Cru that you would not read anyway.
•Only include events that are in a specific price range for your budget.
If $150 is out of your price range for an event to attend and you would rather not be teased, you can be notified of only events within your price range.
•Include a brief description for each event right in your issue.
In efforts to reduce the overall size of The Juice, we removed the snippets of descriptions formerly included in the calendar. As a The Juice Grand Cru member, you can have them included.
•Block posters you are not interested in.
If every week's "Wine Down Monday" at a distant venue that you have no interest in visiting, you can simply choose to "block" that venue and no further postings will be included in your issue.
•Block events focused on singles.
As an added designation for event postings, we ask the hosts to indicated if the event is focused on singles. You can choose not to see them if you wish.
•Eligible to win free tickets to selected events in your area.
At LocalWineEvents.com we are often offered complimentary tickets to events that are posted. Sometimes two tickets and sometimes more. Some events are big and some are small. We are going to, with permission from the hosts, randomly select a The Juice Grand Cru member in the areas of the events and give those tickets away, no charge, to the first randomly selected member who can attend.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Suggest a "healthy red wine"... I had heard that Pinot Noir was the top dog ... a google search found otherwise.
Is red wine the fountain of youth or a potent poison?
Is enjoying a glass of red wine with dinner each evening beneficial to your health? Current research suggests that a glass of red wine each day may be providing you with more than just a little relaxation.
What are the health benefits of drinking red wine?
For over 10 years, research has indicated that moderate intake of alcohol improves cardiovascular health. In fact, in 1992 Harvard researchers included moderate alcohol consumption as one of the "eight proven ways to reduce coronary heart disease risk." However, research has suggested that specifically red wine is the most beneficial to your heart health. The cardioprotective effect has been attributed to antioxidants present in the skin and seeds of red grapes.
Scientists believe the antioxidants, called flavonoids, reduce the risk of coronary heart disease in three ways:
by reducing production of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (also know as the "bad" cholesterol)
by boosting high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the good cholesterol)
by reducing blood clotting.
Furthermore, consuming a glass of wine along with a meal may favorably influence your lipid profiles following that meal
Recently, researchers have found that moderate red wine consumption may be beneficial to more than just your heart. One study found that the antioxidant resveratrol, which is prevalent in the skin of red grapes, may inhibit tumor development in some cancers. Another study indicated that resveratrol aided in the formation of nerve cells, which experts believe may be helpful in the treatment of neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Which wines should you consume to reap the most benefits?
Researchers at the University of California, at Davis tested a variety of wines to determine which types have the highest concentrations of flavonoids. Their results concluded that the flavonoid favorite is Cabernet Sauvignon, followed closely by Petit Syrah and Pinot Noir. Both Merlots and red zinfandels have fewer flavonoids than their more potent predecessors. White wine had significantly smaller amounts than the red wine varieties. The bottom line is the sweeter the wine, the fewer the flavonoids. Dryer red wines are your best bet for a flavonoid boost.
How much red wine should I drink?
A four-ounce glass of wine is equivalent to one serving. Men will benefit from consuming one to two servings per day. Women should consume only one serving per day to reap the maximum benefits.
Should I start drinking, if I have NEVER drank alcohol before?
This is not to say that you should start drinking alcohol if you presently do not.
Occasional or binge drinkers have higher mortality rates than those who drink moderately on a regular basis. In those who consume three or more drinks per day, there is an increased risk for elevated serum triglycerides (fat in the bloodstream). Long-term, excessive alcohol consumption can damage nerve cells, the liver and the pancreas. Heavy drinkers are also at risk for malnutrition, as alcohol may substitute for more nutritious foods.
What if I have other health problems?
Recommendations to consume moderate amounts of wine are limited to individuals with a clean bill of health. It is clear that people with medical and social conditions worsened by alcohol should not consume any alcohol at all. Hypertryglyceridemia, pancreatitis, liver disease, uncontrolled hypertension, depression and congestive heart failure are diseases that may be worsened by alcohol. Those individuals at risk for these conditions should consult with their physician before consuming any alcohol at all.
What about grape juice and non alcoholic red wine?
In 1997, researchers at the University of Wisconsin concluded that purple grape juice also reduced blood clotting. Another study by researchers at University of California at Davis, confirmed the findings that non alcoholic red wine contains the same antioxidant profile as red wine.
However in a 1998 study, Japanese researchers found that while grape juice still had antioxidative benefits, it did not significantly lower LDL cholesterol levels compared to red wine.
The debate continues on whether it is the components of the wine, the way the wine is consumed, or the lifestyle traits that is the most responsible for the long healthy lives of many wine drinkers.
However, the evidence seems clear that regular, moderate consumption of red wine is beneficial to your health.
So here’s a toast to your health!
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Top 10 Bad Things That Are Good For You LiveScience:
"Red Wine -
A crucial ingredient in the diets of the world's heart-healthiest populations-like those Bordeaux-guzzling French-red wine has long been known to have potent anti-cancer and artery-protecting benefits. The key, some studies indicate, is an antioxidant found specifically in the skin of red wine grapes, called resveratrol. The latest studies even link resveratrol to greater endurance, a reduction in gum disease and Alzheimer's. Unfortunately, White wine, which is fermented after the skins are removed, is less beneficial according to some studies."
Friday, December 18, 2009
The wine is deep golden straw colored, with a nose of dried apricot, spicy peach, a touch of rose petal and honeysuckle. In the mouth, crisp green apple, honeyed apricot, and peach flavors meld with the traditional spicy flavors of Gewürztraminer. This medium-bodied wine’s off-dry style strikes the perfect balance between its sweetness and bright, crisp acidity. This fresh, soft wine is a true delight to sip, especially when paired with many ethnic food styles, such as Asian or Hispanic cuisines.
"It’s often called gavurtz because it’s hard to say, and even harder to spell. This wine, though, is a secret weapon, great for taming spicy foods or sipping on its own. Enjoy the honeyed apricot and peach flavors in the glass, and breathe deeply to capture the aromas of rose petals and honeysuckle. Lots of people love this wine, even if they’ll never spell it. Just ask for gavurtz. We’ll know what you mean."
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
by William Ernest Henley
If you are watching Invictus in the theater this month, maybe you would like to try a South African Wine with an interestng character....
Welcome to The Goats Do Roam Wine Company
There’s no stopping Fairview owner/vintner Charles Back when his interest in a creative, entrepreneurial project is piqued. It all started with a suggestion by a wine buyer... the man humorously suggested the vinification of a Rhône-style blend called 'Goats do Roam'. Back, already known for his panache with Shiraz and always looking for new styles of wine to woo adventurous and discerning consumers, took the ruby ball and ran with it.
Goats Do Roam Red Blend South Africa 2007 750ml
Varietal: Red Blend
Wine Type: Red
Goats Do Roam Red Blend South Africa 2006 is a vibrant ruby red. Ripe red fruit, with a fragrant lift and spice notes. Rich medium body, with subtle oak influences and soft tannins. Red fruit and plums on the palate, with soft tannins. Smooth lingering finish.
The 2007 vintage is a blend of primarily Shiraz (50%) and Pinotage (20%) with Cinsaut (10%), Mourvedre (10%), Grenache (5%) and Carignan (5%) being used to achieve a style consistent with what Goats do Roam has become famous for. The wine is lightly oaked before being carefully blended and bottled.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
2007 Pinot Noir Deep garnet with purple hints. A rather brooding nose of ripe raspberry countered with earth, toast and dark perfume... maybe deep red rose petals. The palate displays a plush, cushioned silkiness, with interplay of juicy, mouthwatering acid and ripe, rich raspberry and boysenberry fruit, offset with dusty bramble leaf. The finish is long and relatively complex for such a youthful wine, displaying minerals with dusty tannin and a kick of mocha.
Monday, November 23, 2009
By allowing wine to mix and mingle with air, the wine will typically warm up and the wine's aromas will open up, the flavor profile will soften and mellow out a bit and the overall flavor characteristics should improve.
Which Wines Need to Breathe
Typically red wines are the ones to benefit most from breathing before serving. However, there are select whites that will also improve with a little air exposure. In general, most wines will improve with as little as 15-20 minutes of air time. However, if the wine is young with high tannin levels, it will need more time to aerate before enjoying. For example, a young Cabernet Sauvignon will likely require around an hour for proper aeration and flavor softening to take place. Not that you cannot drink it as soon as it is uncorked, but to put its best foot forward give it more time to breathe. Mature wines (8+ years) are another story all together. These wines will benefit most from decanting and then will only have a small window of aeration opportunity before the flavor profiles begin to deteriorate.
How to Let Your Wine Breathe
Some erroneously believe that merely uncorking a bottle of wine and allowing it to sit for a bit is all it takes to aerate. This method is futile, as there is simply not enough room (read: surface area) at the top of the bottle to permit adequate amounts of air to make contact with the wine. So what's a Wine Lover to do? You have two options: Decanter or Wine Glass
Decanter - use a decanter,a flower vase, an orange juice pitcher, whatever - any large liquid container with a wide opening at the top to pour your bottle of wine into. The increased surface area is the key to allowing more air to make contact with your wine. Keep this in mind while setting up proper "breathing" techniques for your favorite wine.
The Wine Glass - Pour your wine into wine glasses and let it aerate in situ. This is certainly the low-maintenance method and typically works quite well. Just be sure to keep the glass away from the kitchen commotion, while it breathes in peace. * Tip, for pouring wine into glasses make sure that you pour into the center of the glass with a good 6-10 inches of "fall" from bottle to glass to allow for further aeration during the actual pour.
In general, the Aeration Rule of Thumb: the more tannins a wine has the more time it will need to aerate. Lighter-bodied red wines (Pinot Noir for example) that have lower tannin levels, will need little if any time to breathe.
No hiding behind the oak
If you like you Chardonnay with true expression of fruit then this is the one to love! This wine does not hide behind any oak. It’s a crisp wine that tastes of the succulence and freshness of the grape.
White peach, grapefruit and melon with a hint of pineapple flavours are supported by a soft and textured mouthfeel (achieved through malolactic fermentation). It may have no oak, but this wine has an abundance of character. Drink it with all seafood, delicate white meats and creamy pasta dishes.
Ripe stonefruits and malolactic characters.
A rich full-length palate with hints of apricots, peaches and pears.
Uncluttered by oak the wine is a great match for seafood, white meats and ‘fusion’ food.
Two years with confidence.
Doesn’t follow the rule book
New Zealand is now acknowledged as one of the few countries to have successfully come to grips with this fickle, but supremely aristocratic grape variety. A combination of dry and moderate climates gives near perfect cool climate growing conditions and assists with the intense varietal characters in Marlborough grapes.
This wine puts the NOIR into Pinot; a fine combination of dark cherries and red fruit abound. This is a fruit focused and velvety wine with rich flavours and soft tannins. Lean meats such as veal, venison or turkey, are a great match.
Medium depth of colour with purple and crimson notes.
An aromatic wine with black cherries, red currants and strawberries on the nose, complexed with well-integrated oak.
Lovely fresh fruit on the palate with hints of oak. Good firm tannins give the wine length and weight.
Up to five years.
Ideal with lamb or pork chops. Suited to most rest meats and not bad as a wine to enjoy all on its own.
Monday, November 16, 2009
for Scotch whisky in the Antarctic
By TOM PHILLIPS - Monday, November 16, 2009
Would you like ice with that? The team is set to drill for Shackleton's Antarctic booze stash
A team is set to drill through Antarctica's ice sheets in search of precious, valuable liquids. But it's not oil they're searching for - it's a lost cache of vintage Scotch whisky that has been on the rocks since a century ago.
The drillers will be trying to reach two crates of McKinlay and Co. whisky that were shipped to the Antarctic by British polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton as part of his abandoned 1909 expedition.
Workers from New Zealand's Antarctic Heritage Trust will use special drills to reach the crates, frozen in Antarctic ice under the Nimrod Expedition hut near Cape Royds.
Restoration workers originally located the whisky reserves under the hut's floorboards in 2006. At the time, the crates and bottles were too deeply embedded in ice to be dislodged.
Only some bottles will be rescued in the drilling expedition - under Antarctic conservation guidelines, the rest must stay put.
Whyte & Mackay, the drinks group that now owns McKinlay and Co., has asked for a sample of the 100-year-old Scotch for a series of tests that could decide whether to relaunch the now-defunct Scotch.
But Al Fastier, who will lead the expedition in January, said he did not want to sample the contents.
'It's better to imagine it than to taste it,' he said. 'That way it keeps its mystery.'
Richard Paterson, Whyte & Mackay's master blender, said the Shackleton expedition's whisky could still be drinkable and taste exactly as it did 100 years ago.
If he can get a sample, he intends to replicate the old Scotch and put McKinlay whisky back on sale.
'I really hope we can get some back here. It's been laying there lonely and neglected. It should come back to Scotland where it was born.
'Even if most of the bottles have to remain in Antarctica for historic reasons, it would be good if we could get a couple,' Paterson said.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
A Hint of Hype, A Taste of Illusion
They pour, sip and, with passion and snobbery, glorify or doom wines. But studies say the wine-rating system is badly flawed. How the experts fare against a coin toss..
By LEONARD MLODINOW
Acting on an informant's tip, in June 1973, French tax inspectors barged into the offices of the 155-year-old Cruse et Fils Frères wine shippers. Eighteen men were eventually prosecuted by the French government, accused, among other things, of passing off humble wines from the Languedoc region as the noble and five-times-as-costly wine of Bordeaux. During the trial it came out that the Bordeaux wine merchants regularly defrauded foreigners. One vat of wine considered extremely inferior, for example, was labeled "Salable as Beaujolais to Americans."
It was in this climate that in the 1970s a lawyer-turned-wine-critic named Robert M. Parker Jr. decided to aid consumers by assigning wines a grade on a 100-point scale. Today, critics like Mr. Parker exert enormous influence. The medals won at the 29 major U.S. wine competitions medals are considered so influential that wineries spend well over $1 million each year in entry fees.
According to a 2001 study of Bordeaux wines, a one-point bump in Robert Parker's wine ratings averages equates to a 7% increase in price, and the price difference can be much greater at the high end.
Given the high price of wine and the enormous number of choices, a system in which industry experts comb through the forest of wines, judge them, and offer consumers the meaningful shortcut of medals and ratings makes sense.
But what if the successive judgments of the same wine, by the same wine expert, vary so widely that the ratings and medals on which wines base their reputations are merely a powerful illusion? That is the conclusion reached in two recent papers in the Journal of Wine Economics.
Both articles were authored by the same man, a unique blend of winemaker, scientist and statistician. The unlikely revolutionary is a soft-spoken fellow named Robert Hodgson, a retired professor who taught statistics at Humboldt State University. Since 1976, Mr. Hodgson has also been the proprietor of Fieldbrook Winery, a small operation that puts out about 10 wines each year, selling 1,500 cases
A few years ago, Mr. Hodgson began wondering how wines, such as his own, can win a gold medal at one competition, and "end up in the pooper" at others. He decided to take a course in wine judging, and met G.M "Pooch" Pucilowski, chief judge at the California State Fair wine competition, North America's oldest and most prestigious. Mr. Hodgson joined the Wine Competition's advisory board, and eventually "begged" to run a controlled scientific study of the tastings, conducted in the same manner as the real-world tastings. The board agreed, but expected the results to be kept confidential.
There is a rich history of scientific research questioning whether wine experts can really make the fine taste distinctions they claim. For example, a 1996 study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology showed that even flavor-trained professionals cannot reliably identify more than three or four components in a mixture, although wine critics regularly report tasting six or more. There are eight in this description, from The Wine News, as quoted on wine.com, of a Silverado Limited Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 that sells for more than $100 a bottle: "Dusty, chalky scents followed by mint, plum, tobacco and leather. Tasty cherry with smoky oak accents…" Another publication, The Wine Advocate, describes a wine as having "promising aromas of lavender, roasted herbs, blueberries, and black currants." What is striking about this pair of descriptions is that, although they are very different, they are descriptions of the same Cabernet. One taster lists eight flavors and scents, the other four, and not one of them coincide.
That wine critiques are peppered with such inconsistencies is exactly what the laboratory experiments would lead you to expect. In fact, about 20 years ago, when a Harvard psychologist asked an ensemble of experts to rank five wines on each of 12 characteristics—such as tannins, sweetness, and fruitiness—the experts agreed at a level significantly better than chance on only three of the 12.
Psychologists have also been skeptical of wine judgments because context and expectation influence the perception of taste. In a 1963 study at the University of California at Davis, researchers secretly added color to a dry white wine to simulate a sauterne, sherry, rosé, Bordeaux and burgundy, and then asked experts to rate the sweetness of the various wines. Their sweetness judgments reflected the type of wine they thought they were drinking. In France, a decade ago a wine researcher named Fréderic Brochet served 57 French wine experts two identical midrange Bordeaux wines, one in an expensive Grand Cru bottle, the other accommodated in the bottle of a cheap table wine. The gurus showed a significant preference for the Grand Cru bottle, employing adjectives like "excellent" more often for the Grand Cru, and "unbalanced," and "flat" more often for the table wine.
Provocative as they are, such studies have been easy for wine critics to dismiss. Some were small-scale and theoretical. Many were performed in artificial laboratory conditions, or failed to control important environmental factors. And none of the rigorous studies tested the actual wine experts whose judgments you see in magazines and marketing materials. But Mr. Hodgson's research was different.
In his first study, each year, for four years, Mr. Hodgson served actual panels of California State Fair Wine Competition judges—some 70 judges each year—about 100 wines over a two-day period. He employed the same blind tasting process as the actual competition. In Mr. Hodgson's study, however, every wine was presented to each judge three different times, each time drawn from the same bottle.
The results astonished Mr. Hodgson. The judges' wine ratings typically varied by ±4 points on a standard ratings scale running from 80 to 100. A wine rated 91 on one tasting would often be rated an 87 or 95 on the next. Some of the judges did much worse, and only about one in 10 regularly rated the same wine within a range of ±2 points.
Mr. Hodgson also found that the judges whose ratings were most consistent in any given year landed in the middle of the pack in other years, suggesting that their consistent performance that year had simply been due to chance.
Mr. Hodgson said he wrote up his findings each year and asked the board for permission to publish the results; each year, they said no. Finally, the board relented—according to Mr. Hodgson, on a close vote—and the study appeared in January in the Journal of Wine Economics.
"I'm happy we did the study," said Mr. Pucilowski, "though I'm not exactly happy with the results. We have the best judges, but maybe we humans are not as good as we say we are."
This September, Mr. Hodgson dropped his other bombshell. This time, from a private newsletter called The California Grapevine, he obtained the complete records of wine competitions, listing not only which wines won medals, but which did not. Mr. Hodgson told me that when he started playing with the data he "noticed that the probability that a wine which won a gold medal in one competition would win nothing in others was high." The medals seemed to be spread around at random, with each wine having about a 9% chance of winning a gold medal in any given competition.
To test that idea, Mr. Hodgson restricted his attention to wines entering a certain number of competitions, say five. Then he made a bar graph of the number of wines winning 0, 1, 2, etc. gold medals in those competitions. The graph was nearly identical to the one you'd get if you simply made five flips of a coin weighted to land on heads with a probability of 9%. The distribution of medals, he wrote, "mirrors what might be expected should a gold medal be awarded by chance alone."
Mr. Hodgson's work was publicly dismissed as an absurdity by one wine expert, and "hogwash" by another. But among wine makers, the reaction was different. "I'm not surprised," said Bob Cabral, wine maker at critically acclaimed Williams-Selyem Winery in Sonoma County. In Mr. Cabral's view, wine ratings are influenced by uncontrolled factors such as the time of day, the number of hours since the taster last ate and the other wines in the lineup. He also says critics taste too many wines in too short a time. As a result, he says, "I would expect a taster's rating of the same wine to vary by at least three, four, five points from tasting to tasting."
Francesco Grande, a vintner whose family started making wine in 1827 Italy, told me of a friend at a well-known Paso Robles winery who had conducted his own test, sending the same wine to a wine competition under three different labels. Two of the identical samples were rejected, he said, "one with the comment 'undrinkable.' " The third bottle was awarded a double gold medal. "Email Robert Parker," he suggested, "and ask him to submit to a controlled blind tasting."
I did email Mr. Parker, and was amazed when he responded that he, too, did not find Mr. Hodgson's results surprising. "I generally stay within a three-point deviation," he wrote. And though he didn't agree to Mr. Grande's challenge, he sent me the results of a blind tasting in which he did participate.
The tasting was at Executive Wine Seminars in New York, and consisted of three flights of five wines each. The participants knew they were 2005 Bordeaux wines that Mr. Parker had previously rated for an issue of The Wine Advocate. Though they didn't know which wine was which, they were provided with a list of the 15 wines, with Mr. Parker's prior ratings, according to Executive Wine Seminars' managing partner Howard Kaplan. The wines were chosen, Mr. Kaplan says, because they were 15 of Mr. Parker's highest-rated from that vintage.
Mr. Parker pointed out that, except in three cases, his second rating for each wine fell "within a 2-3 point deviation" of his first. That's less variation than Mr. Hodgson found. One possible reason: Mr. Parker's first rating of all the wines fell between 95 and 100—not a large spread.
One critic who recognizes that variation is an issue is Joshua Greene, editor and publisher of Wine and Spirits, who told me, "It is absurd for people to expect consistency in a taster's ratings. We're not robots." In the Cruse trial, the company appealed to the idea that even experienced tasters could err. Cruse claimed that it had bought the cheap Languedoc believing it was the kingly Bordeaux, and that the company's highly-trained and well-paid wine tasters had failed to perceive that it wasn't. The French rejected that possibility, and 35 years ago this December, eight wine dealers were convicted and given prison terms and fines totaling $8 million.
Despite his studies, Mr. Hodgson is betting that, like the French, American consumers won't be easily converted to the idea that wine experts are fallible. His winery's Web site still boasts of his own many dozens of medals.
"Even though ratings of individual wines are meaningless, people think they are useful," Mr. Greene says. He adds, however, that one can look at the average ratings of a spectrum of wines from a certain producer, region or year to identify useful trends.
As a consumer, accepting that one taster's tobacco and leather is another's blueberries and currants, that a 91 and a 96 rating are interchangeable, or that a wine winning a gold medal in one competition is likely thrown in the pooper in others presents a challenge. If you ignore the web of medals and ratings, how do you decide where to spend your money?
One answer would be to do more experimenting, and to be more price-sensitive, refusing to pay for medals and ratings points. Another tack is to continue to rely on the medals and ratings, adopting an approach often attributed to physicist Neils Bohr, who was said to have had a horseshoe hanging over his office door for good luck. When asked how a physicist could believe in such things, he said, "I am told it works even if you don't believe in it."
Or you could just shrug and embrace the attitude of Julia Child, who, when asked what was her favorite wine, replied "gin."
As for me, I have always believed in the advice given by famed food critic Waverly Root, who recommended that one simply "Drink wine every day, at lunch and dinner, and the rest will take care of itself."
—Leonard Mlodinow teaches randomness at Caltech. His most recent book is "The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives."
Saturday, November 14, 2009
What is your favorite style of beer? Do you enjoy it because it is flavorful or refreshing or for another reason? Whether it is porter, wit, pilsner or doppelbock it falls into one of two broader categories – ale or lager. These distinct types of beer divide the entire world of beer in two.
Does It Matter?
I have a friend who refuses to drink lagers claiming that they are flavorless. The only good beer is an ale, he insists. I tend agree with him that ales are tastier. They have more pronounced aroma and a wider variety of colors. Popular styles of ale are stout, porter, wit, brown ale and hefeweizen. But I am still not going to swear off lager; to do so would be to deny myself a lot of great beer.
Lagers are generally crisper and more refreshing. Where ales are sometimes cloudy, lagers are almost universally clear. Even darker varieties are, when held up to the light, noticeably clear. They are also more subtle in taste and aroma but that is not to say that lagers lack flavor and variety. Lager styles include pilsner, Vienna lager, doppelbock, Oktoberfest and American lager.
Tasting the Difference - Try these two side by side.
Consider Newcastle, a brown ale, and Negra Modelo, a Vienna-style lager. Both are brewed with medium roasted barley and moderate hops. But they are strikingly different beers. The ale lacks the crystal-clear appearance of the lager. Its nutty sweet flavor has layers and depth. The lager sits lightly on the tongue with a bright, sweet malt flavor that dances effervescently away with a gentle hoppy smack. Both are fine beers for different reasons.
The difference between ale and lager is fundamental to understanding and, ultimately, enjoying beer.
It can be compared to the red/white divide in wine but the difference runs deeper. The distinction between ale and lager happens during fermentation when the beer is born.
It’s All About the Yeast
To get our heads around the difference between ale and lager let’s begin at the brewing process. Now bear with me, this may get a little science-geeky.
Brewers put malted barley in a bath of warm water producing wort, a rich, sweet soup of proteins and sugars. Next, the grain is filtered out of the wort which is then boiled with hops. Finally the wort is cooled and ready for fermentation. Now is when it is decided whether the final beer will be an ale or a lager depending on which kind of yeast is used.
Ale yeast ferments at warmer temperatures – about 60 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. It also tends to flocculate, or gather, near the top of the wort which is why ales are sometimes called top-fermenting beers. It converts less of the sugar to alcohol leaving more behind to enhance the flavor, aroma and appearance.
The yeast used to make Lager or bottom-fermented beer prefers temperatures a little cooler, around 46 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit, and it flocculates towards the bottom of the fermenting vessel. It is a more efficient yeast, converting more sugars to alcohol and leaving a cleaner beer behind.
This cleanliness is reinforced by lagering. Lagering, which is different from lager yeast, simply means to store the beer in a cool place for a while after fermentation. This process contributes to the beer’s cleanliness because it causes much of the suspended proteins and carbohydrates to fall out. The final result is a very clear beer with subtle flavor and color characteristics.
Which Is Better?
My friend who despises all lagers is both right and wrong. He is correct in saying that ales have more flavor. The best ales display striking aroma and depth of taste with flavor stacked on top of flavor. They continually reveal new characteristics to the attentive drinker. But that does not mean that lagers are simple beers. A well brewed lager marked by subtly and balance displays the finest of the brewer’s craft. These beers can be both flavorful and refreshing revealing a side of beer that ale cannot.
Understanding the difference between ale and lager is not vital to enjoying beer.
But knowing which category a beer falls into can help you make a more informed choice. It can also help you understand why you like the beers you like.
•Wheat Beer – Paulaner Weissbier
•Stout – Guinness
•Porter – Rogue Mocha Porter
•Pale Ale – Bass Pale Ale
•IPA – Goose Island India Pale Ale
•Wit – New Belgium Mothership Wit
•Brown Ale – Newcastle
•Pilsner – Bitburger
•American-style Lager – Corona
•Doppelbock – Paulaner Salvator
•Oktoberfest – Spaten Oktoberfest
•Vienna-style Lager – Negra Modelo
Here is my first Draft of Wine Tips... note the word BEST is also EXPENSIVE... that is why I need a second draft of this tip sheet.
The best thing you can do is drink wine! Start by serving it with meals at your home, and pay attention to what you like. Remember where the wine comes from, and what grape it is made of. As an example, Cabernet’s from Napa Valley tend to have similar flavor profiles, so if you like one, you will probably like many of them.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t like the wine you chose for the evening; just remember it and don’t pick it again! The same thing applies; if you really dislike that Reisling from Germany, then chances are you won’t like the next one you pick.
As a guide, here are some general things to remember about the various wines of the world.
The very best wines from California have the name of an American Viticultural Area on them.
The best example would be a Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley.
There are a number of excellent wines which only have the designation, “California.”
These wines many times are made up of some percentage of grapes from the best areas, but can also contain grapes from anywhere in California, so the cost of production is lower, and thus the prices are lower.
This general principal can be applied to wines from other states.
For example, a wine denoted “Oregon” will not generally be of the same quality or price as one which exclaims that it comes from Willamette Valley in Oregon!
Generically labeled wines like California Chablis or California Burgundy, are often misleading.
A California Chablis could be a mixture of French Colombard and Thompson Seedless grape juices. While bad generic wine would probably go the way of the Dodo Bird unless it was priced at about 99 cents a bottle, thanks to superior methods and advances in wine making technology, great generic wine is common today. Most of the long-standing generic wines you find are reasonably priced and decent wines.
The very best American wines, with one exception, are labeled with the name of the grape.
For example, if a wine is labeled “Chardonnay”, then it must contain at least 75% Chardonnay grapes.
The top whites are Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling; however, Pinot Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Viognier, Pinot Gris, and others are close behind.
The best reds are Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Syrah/Shiraz, but we’re beginning to see successful efforts from Sangiovese, Mourvedre, Grenache and others.
The exception to the varietal label signifying the best wine is the Proprietary label.
Sometimes the best wine a winemaker can possibly make is less than 75% of one varietal (the most famous early example took place at the Joseph Phelps Winery in 1974, where Phelps named his 70% Cab/30% Merlot “Insignia”). That decision engendered the likes of Opus One, Dominus, Magnificat, and Endeavor, to name a few.
Cheat Sheet – Wines From Around the World
Here is a world map “cheat sheet” to help in selecting your favorite grape varietals from the best areas around the world:
1. Chardonnay – Burgundy, France (white)
2. Sauvignon Blanc – Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume from the Loire Valley, France (white)
3. Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc – Bordeaux, France (white)
4. Chenin Blanc – Vouvray from the Loire Valley, France (white)
5. Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot-Bordeaux, France (red)
6. Pinot Noir – Burgundy, France (red)
7. Syrah – Shiraz from Australia (red)
8. Grenache/Garnacha – Cotes-du-Rhone, France and Rioja, Spain (red)
9. Sangiovese – Tuscany, Italy (red)
Cheat Sheet – U.S. Wines
And a “cheat sheet” for selecting some of the best areas for your favorite varietals in the U.S.:
1. Chardonnay – Russian River, Carneros, Sonoma Coast, Sta. Rita Hills and Anderson Valley, Willamette Valley (Oregon) and Washington State (white)
2. Sauvignon Blanc – Napa, Sonoma (white)
3. Riesling – Finger Lakes, New York, Washington State (white)
4. Pinot Gris – Russian River Valley, Oregon, Washington State (white)
5. Zinfandel – Dry Creek Valley, Napa and Sonoma (red)
6. Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot – Napa, Sonoma, Alexander Valley (red)
7. Pinot Noir – Russian River, Carneros, Sonoma Coast, Sta. Rita Hills and Anderson Valley, Willamette Valley (Oregon) and Washington State (red)
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Texas Wines? When I came home from Italy in 1971, there were no Texas Wines. Whatever state you are in, you need to try your state's wines...
NOTES: Llano Estacado Sweet Red is a festive wine made from several grape varieties including Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. This deliciously fruity red wine displays an alluring blackberry and cherry flavor, with soft, round tannins that provide a rich mouth texture with just a hint of mint in the finish. Llano Sweet Red can be enjoyed either chilled or at room temperature. It's fresh & fruity character requires no bottle aging.
Friday, July 31, 2009
But on certain afternoons (or, hey, mornings! It's non-alcoholic, people, I can drink it for breakfast...), I really want a cold beer in a frosty bottle. Having not explored non-alcoholic beers before, I thought O'Douls was the standard. But Buckler is much better.
It's made by Heineken, and while it definitely has a thinner, less-bodied taste than normal beer, it's got a nice color and the flavor of a decent lager. In short, it'll do. I highly recommend it for those seeking a non-alcoholic option. Of course, like any NA beer, it has a teeny tiny bit of alcohol, so don't go crazy.
Now, I originally intended this post to be a taste test of many NA beers, but they can be hard to find—especially in singles (I don't really need eight six-packs in my fridge). So I'm recommending this one, but I'd love to hear about others that are good. I've got several months to go..."
Bud Lite was the choice of the President and Most Beer Drinking Americans... we don't know what the VP had that afternoon.
 Bud Light
Budweiser's flagship light beer with 4.2% ABV and 110 calories per 12 ounce serving. Bud Light is the bestselling beer in America.
A version of Budweiser available in Europe. See Budweiser trademark dispute.
 Budweiser Select
Budweiser Select, or Bud Select, a light pale lager that contains 4.3% ABV and 99 calories per 12 ounce serving. Anheuser-Busch aggressively promoted Budweiser Select. Its slogan was "The Real Deal". It hired Jay-Z as a spokesman for the brand. Bud Select is featured alongside Budweiser and Bud Light in most of the family advertisements and point-of-sale material.
 Bud Ice
Introduced in 1994 as "Ice by Budweiser", it has more alcohol (5.5% ABV) than Budweiser. It is best known for an advertising campaign that involved a malevolent penguin that stalked Bud Ice drinkers and stole their beer."
 Bud Ice Light
Introduced in 2007, Bud Ice Light contains 5.0% ABV and 115 calories. It undergoes fractional freezing, which Bud Light does not undergo.
 Budweiser Brew Masters' Private Reserve
Budweiser Brew Masters' Private Reserve is an all-malt lager with a honey color and robust taste. It is based on a Budweiser brewmaster holiday tradition of collecting the richest part of the brew as it is tapped to the brew kettles to toast the holiday season."
 Bud Dry
Bud Dry was introduced nationally in the U.S. in April 1990 with the slogan of "Why ask why? Try Bud Dry." It was originally successful in test markets and was expected to be a popular beer with the rise in light lager popularity. However, with the introduction of Bud Ice in 1994, Bud Dry wasn't as heavily marketed. It has declined in mainstream popularity and no longer receives commercial attention.
 Bud Silver
An attempt to appeal to the tastes of beer drinkers in the United Kingdom, this specially brewed beer contains 4.1% alcohol by volume.
 Bud Extra
A beer with caffeine, ginseng, guarana and alcohol. It contains 6.6% ABV as indicated on the label. It was marketed as a caffeinated malt beverage, similar to Sparks. On June 26, 2008, Anheuser-Busch announced that it would remove the caffeine and guarana from the beverage in response to concerns that the product was being marketed to consumers under the age of 21.
 Budweiser/Bud Light Chelada
A blend of Budweiser or Bud Light and Clamato. This beverage became available nationally in late 2007 due to overwhelming popularity during test marketing.
 Budweiser American Ale
American Ale debuted in September 2008. The beer claims to offer complex taste without much bitterness. Budweiser American Ale is the first beer under the Budweiser name that is brewed as an ale (brewed with top-fermenting yeast) rather than a lager. The beer's darker color is a departure from the other Budweiser brands.
 Budweiser NA
Non-alcoholic version of Budweiser developed for the Middle Eastern market. Also available in Green Apple and Tropical Fruits versions.
 Bud Light Lime
Bud Light with lime flavor added. It is 4.2% ABV with 116 calories.
The Blue Moon Beer is a variety of white beer which is made by Molson Coors
Brewing Company. This beer was presented to the public during 1995. The creator of the Blue Moon Beer is an individual named Keith Villa. Originally Blue Moon Beer was called Bellyslide Belgian White. It was created at the Coors Field’s Sandlot Brewery."
And so, for the first time, Desnoes and Geddes shook hands. Neither of them could have imagined that this would mark the beginning of an extraordinary partnership. A partnership that has given the world Red Stripe Lager, The Great Jamaican Beer.
In 1927 Desnoes and Geddes announced the opening of the Surrey Brewery on Pechon Street in the heart of downtown Kingston. The first Red Stripe Beer-more like an ale, heavy and dark-was brewed a year later. The birth of Red Stripe would later be considered a milestone in Jamaican history. When the island gained independence from Britain in 1962, a columnist for The Daily Gleaner wrote "the real date of independence should have been 1928, when we established our self respect and self confidence through the production of a beer far beyond the capacity of mere Colonial dependants." The light, golden Red Stripe of today was first brewed in 1934, the creation of Paul Geddes (later Jamaica's first brewmaster) and Bill Martindale. The old Surrey Brewery on Pechon Street was phased out in 1958 when the ultra-modern plant at Hunt's Bay went into operation. This was the most modern brewery in the Caribbean.
There was no acrimony – nor apology – from any of the three: black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., white Cambridge, Mass., police Sgt. James Crowley, who had arrested him for disorderly conduct, and Obama, who declared on national TV that the police had 'acted stupidly.' But neither Gates nor Crowley backtracked either, agreeing they still had differences.
Said Obama after the highly anticipated, 40-minute chat on the Rose Garden patio: 'I have always believed that what brings us together is stronger than what pulls us apart.'
'I am confident that has happened here tonight, and I am hopeful that all of us are able to draw this positive lesson from this episode,' said the nation's first black president.
Under the canopy of a magnolia tree in the early evening, Obama joined the other players in a story that had knocked the White House off stride. Vice President Joe Biden joined them for drinks and snacks."
Hours after a "Beer Summit" meeting at the White House with the president and the police officer who arrested him, Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. wrote that he emerged with more understanding about police officers' jobs and said he "learned that we can have our differences without demonizing one another."
"'We had a cordial and productive discussion today with the president, vice president and Professor Gates. We all agreed it is important to look forward, rather than backward,' Crowley said. 'Professor Gates and I bring different perspectives to these issues. We have agreed that both perspectives should be addressed in an effort to provide a constructive outcome to the events of the past month.' The officer said that he planned to have a meeting with Gates in the near future, but he would not disclose where or when.
Obama had said he hoped the incident and Rose Garden meeting would become a 'teachable moment' for the nation.
'I have always believed that what brings us together is stronger than what pulls us apart. I am confident that has happened here tonight, and I am hopeful that all of us are able to draw this positive lesson from this episode,' the president said in a statement.
'He provided the beer. He contributed in a small part,' Crowley said. 'He really wanted to bring two people together to try to solve not only a local issue in Cambridge but also what has become a national issue.'"
"Let me say that I thank God that I live in a country in which police officers put their lives at risk to protect us every day, and, more than ever, I’ve come to understand and appreciate their daily sacrifices on our behalf. I’m also grateful that we live in a country where freedom of speech is a sacrosanct value and I hope that one day we can get to know each other better," Gates wrote on his Web site "The Root" after the meeting.
Gates and Cambridge police Sgt. Joseph Crowley found themselves at the center of a national firestorm over race when Crowley arrested Gates for disorderly conduct two weeks ago after a caller reported seeing two men breaking into Gates' home.
Gates and a cab driver were trying to get into Gates' house after Gates returned from a trip to China and found the front door jammed. When officers responded to the call, police said Gates became belligerent, questioning why they were suspicious of him in his own home.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Most interesting website:
Stella Artois (pronounced /ˈstɛlə ɑrˈtwɑː/) is a 5% ABV (formerly 5.2%) lager first brewed in Louvain, Belgium, in 1926 as a Christmas brew, and named Stella after the Latin for "star".
Although Belgium is best known internationally for its ales, the so-called "table beers", the bottom-fermented pilsner lagers such as Stella Artois head the list for domestic consumption, making up almost 75% of Belgian beer production. Stella is promoted as an international brand by its brewer, AB InBev. In its home market of Belgium, however, it is marketed, priced and sold as a regular lager. Despite its success internationally, the number 1 selling beer in Belgium is its sister beer Jupiler.
In the UK, a lower ABV version is available called Stella Artois 4%. This variant was launched to compete alongside fellow Inbev lager Beck's Vier and to address negative associations of the brand.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Someone is always pushing a "Brown Ale" on you? Try an original Brown Ale... English Newcastle Brown Ale. Called "DOG"
In August 2005, Scottish and Newcastle closed the Tyne Brewery, the last consignment of Brown Ale having been brewed in April of that year. Production was moved across the river to the former Federation Brewery in Gateshead.
Newcastle Brown Ale had originally been granted Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status by the EU. Since Scottish and Newcastle moved production outside of the city its PGI has been removed.
In Newcastle, the beer is often called 'Dog' (or simply 'Broon'). The 'Dog' name comes from the euphemism 'I'm going to walk the dog' - meaning 'I'm going to the pub' - and was further popularised by a 1980s advertising campaign. It is often referred to as Newcy Brown by those not from Newcastle, though never by those actually from the city itself.
Newcastle Brown Ale is traditionally sold in England by the pint (20 fl oz, 568 ml) and more recently in 500 ml (17.6 fl oz, 0.88 pint) bottles. Typically the ale is consumed from a 12 fl oz 'Wellington' glass. This allows the drinker to regularly top-up the beer and thereby maintain a frothy 'head'. In the United States, it is also sold in standard 12 fl oz (355 ml) bottles."
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Mouton Cadet - Maybe you have forgotten what the French do with the Varetial Grapes? Not a True Bordeaux, you are not paying for that price either ...
Following a poor vintage in 1927, Baron Philippe de Rothschild created the second wine label Carruades de Mouton, though this was not viewed as a success. After the acclaimed vintages of 1928 and 1929, the vintage of 1930 and the following two harvests were dire, and the wine de Rothschild felt was not worthy of the Mouton-Rothschild name was this time named Mouton Cadet. "Cadet" refers to de Rothschild place as cadet, the youngest son of the family.
Despite its lack of traditional prestige, the wine proved successful, and in order to repeat the success the following year, de Rothschild had to turn to neighbouring vineyards for sourced fruit. Initially labeled with the appellation of Pauillac, the increasing demand caused the sourcing of grapes to expand to nearby appellations Saint-Estèphe and Haut-Médoc. Over the following years, the wine came to include grapes from an even greater area, until production stopped with World War II. The wine was reborn after the war, and gained a Bordeaux AOC classification in 1947, steadily increasing in popularity due to a reputation of consistent quality. In later years the wine relies heavily on grapes sourced from the Entre-Deux-Mers district.
Mouton Cadet was marketed significantly throughout the 50s and 60s, placing the brand in the UK and U.S.. In the 70s, a white wine was added to the label, expanding the brand's concept, which resulted in 1975 sales of more than 3 million bottles worldwide.
Philippe de Rothschild died in 1988 and control of the business passed on to his daughter Philippine de Rothschild.
The label Réserve Mouton Cadet Médoc was created in 1996, offering a red wine with greater ageing potential, and a product aimed at the restaurant trade. In 1999 the Réserve line also included the white Réserve Mouton Cadet Graves.
Label detail: the poem by Baron Philippe reads, "Wine, born, it lives, but die it does not, in Man it lives on.."
One of the best selling wines in the world, in 2002 Mouton Cadet sold 15 million bottles worldwide.
In 2004 its U.S. sales were hit by changing tastes and anti-Gallic sentiment, and it sold only 2.9 million bottles in the U.S. in 2004, down from a high of 6.5 million bottles in 1992.
A reblending of the wine and redesign of the brand was undertaken in 2004. In September 2005 Mouton Cadet began a distribution agreement with the North Lake Wines subsidiary of U.S-based Constellation Brands, the world's largest wine distributor.
In 2007, Mouton Cadet made further additions to the franchise, including a rosé in the generic series, and included a further three wines to the Réserve range: Réserve Mouton Cadet Saint-Émilion, Réserve Mouton Cadet Sauternes, and a red Réserve Mouton Cadet Graves.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Why NOT STEP UP your game on Chardonnay tonight? How about the BEST $20 bottle of Chardonnay? How does it compare to YOUR Favorite? Try it...
Tasting Notes for NEWTON Chardonnay 2007 (a blend of Napa 67% and Sonoma 37%): Delicate aromas of white pear flowers, crisp apple, fresh pear, and toasted bread translate to rich fruit flavors on the palate. A burst of freshness unfolds with flavors of citrus, pear, apple, and honeydew melon. A discreet presence of oak evolves into spring-like acidity on the finish. Much softer flint tones.
It was selected by the WSJ reviewing couple as the BEST TASTING Chardonnay for under $20... however, when I asked about the price, I was told it was $22, on sale for $17.
Rich and balanced, this wine opens with enticing aromas of pear, baked apple and white peach accented by hints of nutmeg and clove. On the palate, fresh tangerine and dried apricot flavors mingle with vanilla creating a uniquely pure wine that is both refreshingly bright yet richly textured.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Looking for jug wines that are widely available in the USA?
At the end of the day, these were the five we’d recommend to friends. In each case, the price is generally representative, but prices, as always, vary widely.
Barefoot Cellars Pinot Grigio Nonvintage (California). $11. We are generally not big fans of Italian Pinot Grigio, which is often watery and charmless. U.S. wines called Pinot Grigio can have the same problem, though we have better luck with U.S. wines called Pinot Gris, which is the same grape. We had a terrific Pinot Gris from J Vineyards & Winery at Disney World recently (2007 Russian River Valley; $60 at Wolfgang Puck Café at Downtown Disney) that had hints of earthy honeydew melon, with some weight. It had a certain clarity of fruit and some richness and it was really pleasing and satisfying. In a tasting of American Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris last year, Barefoot Cellars was one of our favorites. We tried it again for this tasting in magnum size and, once again, thought it was a real winner, especially for the price. It’s fleshy and peachy, with some weight and true white-grape tastes. We’d pair it with more-flavorful, more-complex summer dishes, like salads with all sorts of toppings, and pastas.
Bolla Bardolino 2007 (Italy). $14. As we were trying to pin down what we liked so much about this red wine, Dottie finally used the perfect word: “It’s gentle,” she said. Perfect. When you think about the kind of wine you want in that tub (or, since this is red, perhaps on the picnic table after a good dousing in the tub), isn’t “gentle” a good idea? We love the color of this—lively, with fiery highlights. It looks a little like a dark Beaujolais, which is a good sign of its vibrant fruitiness. John took one sip and wanted to order pizza with anchovies. Our daughters stopped him—anchovies, yuck!—but his craving is an indication that this wine would enhance a variety of foods, including cold roast chicken; Italian subs with Genoa salami and provolone cheese; and vitello tonnato, veal with a tuna and anchovy sauce, served cold (a serious summertime treat).
Citra Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2007 (Italy). $10. We really enjoy this wine, which was a favorite in a tasting of jug reds several years ago and also in a broad, blind tasting of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (which is a great bet in general, by the way). It has a dark color that looks rich and serious, with some minerals on the nose. The taste is blackberries and blueberries, with good tannins and some body. Too many jug reds seem heavy to us, with unidentifiable tastes and plenty of creamy, vanilla wood stuff. Summer is an uncomplicated time and we like uncomplicated wines that taste like fresh fruit—and this one does. But its extra depth means it’s perfect with a rare burger off the grill or a big, thick steak.