Certain questions are inevitable for we who work in the wine biz. That’s why year-in and year-out, I end up writing answers to “What wine goes with turkey on Thanksgiving?”“How long will an open bottle of wine last?” and “What cheap wines taste good?”
With New Years Eve coming up and all, I felt it was probably about time to write the annual piece on hangovers – how to avoid them, that is, since enjoying wine or other alcoholic drinks responsibly is an important grown-up skill to master.
If you’re still drinking like a college frat boy or imagining yourself as one of the SATC gals slurping down Cosmos, you need to rethink things.
Oddly enough for a sommelier, I come from a Mormon family; while I feel like it’s my moral obligation to drink up tasty wines on behalf of all my deprived pioneer forbearers, I certainly don’t need to do it in a single night. So much misery is wrought from over-consumption of alcohol that I can understand why faiths like Mormonism or Islam forbid it all together.
Yet balanced against that is an increasing body of medical research that showcases how moderate drinking, particularly of antioxidant- and resveratrol-rich red wine, is healthy. From cholesterol fighting to anti-ageing benefits to the potential reduction of Alzheimer’s risks, most medical researchers agree moderate consumption is good for you.
My cute hubby and I spend each New Year’s Day at the Four Seasons, accompanied by some good Champagne and an old black journal we’ve been sharing for about ten years now.
Each year, we look back at our previous goals and have a good laugh and toast to resolutions – it’s the making and sharing of them that matters more than the fulfillment at times. In the food, wine and healthy living categories, we’ve got a few noble goals that I think are worth sharing:
1) Kick the Can. My love affair with Diet Coke is a tawdry one that began when I was just a teenager scooping ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s on the Jersey Shore. It seemed smarter to drink some soda than indulge in Cherry Garcia and I developed a love for DC that’s stayed with me throw through all my romantic travails. No more!
Sparkling wines are inherently festive – from wedding celebrations to Valentine’s romance to toasting Dick Clark for yet another Rockin’ New Year’s Eve, we tend to wait for a “big” occasion to uncork something carbonated. That’s a shame, because bubbly wines can be some of the most versatile when it comes to food and wine pairing and are well suited to celebrating life’s small moments just as surely as the big ones.
This season, resolve to educate yourself and your sparkling palate and quit blaming the bubbly for your headache too by the way. It’s not the CO2 any more than it’s the sulfites causing you morning-after misery; it’s called over-consumption. That said, el cheapo sparkling wines are just that, cheaply made and that’s a danger one can easily avoid by avoiding wines that cost the same as, say, a Big Mac.
The cosmo is so very over, as the SATC 2 sequel aptly illustrated for us. Ouch.
Move over pink and sweet, the new news in cocktails is green and herbal.
By “green,” I mean both in liquor and in mixers; bartenders (as I still insist on calling them, apologies to all those “bar chefs” and “mixologists” out there) increasingly are using herbal ingredients in addition to sustainably made spirits, or at least those that try to mix inebriation with social justice.
Products like TRU vodka and VEEV Açai liquer claim to be better both for the environment and for your bloodstream. The green theme continues with savory elements like basil and rosemary increasingly nudging out citrus and other fruits in cocktail menus all over LA.
Is it just me or has the produce at the markets been getting more and more esoteric? I am all for cooking up whatever is in season, provided I can figure out a way to cook it up.
I confess that I am really not too sure what to do with crosnes or with purslane for that matter. Fortunately, a friend gifted me with the excellent Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbok by Amelia Saltsman, a book which has subsequently become a staple in my kitchen.
Her simple approach to seasonal cooking allows the flavors of unique produce to shine without overpowering the skills of a home chef.
Welcome to Palate: Los Angeles – your local source for all the things that make life in the City of Angels, well, palatable.
As the Food & Wine Editor for Westside, Southbay, Ventura Blvd and West Hollywood magazines, I get paid to scout, sniff, snack and swirl my way around greater Los Angeles and it’s my pleasure to share some insiders’ intel with you along the way.
From the fishing boat captain I just met who tells me he’ll be selling dockside at the Farmers Market on the Malibu Pier this spring to a tour of Terranea’s impressive and prodigious resort gardens down in Palos Verdes, we hope to offer you some glimpses into what makes local life so wonderful here.
(Hint: you don’t need a Star Map or a golden statue to enjoy it.)
For those of us obsessed by wine, Saturday was an exciting day at The Taste of Beverly Hills. Eight sommeliers competed (click here for bios) in the "Boys vs Girls Sommelier Blind Tasting". Moderated by event sommelier, Bonnie Graves, teams of four girl and four boy sommeliers were playfully pitted against each other, one pair for each of the four wines tasted.
The group featured some of California's brightest, most cutting edge sommeliers. On the feminine side were Rebecca Chapa (Culinary Institute of America), Diane De Luca (Providence), Dana Farner (CUT--wearing the best sundress ever!) and Carolyn Styne (AOC, Luques, Tavern). Representin' for the boys were Chris Lavin (XIV), Mark Mendoza (Comme Ca and Sona), Jonathan Mitchell (Palm Restaurant) and David Rosoff (Pizzeria Mozza).
[...] And so it went, with the best round being round three. Rebecca Chapa and David Rosoff were completely stumped by a bottle of Two Buck Chuck Merlot, which she guessed to be a Chinon Cabernet Franc, and he thought to be a Dolcetto! Since the teams were allowed to reach conclusions by consensus; this was a great example of how group think leads wine tasters to cede their opinions to others, when they'd be better served to follow their gut instincts. Jonathan Mitchell had a thigh-slapping moment upon the reveal, when he exclaimed that his first impression was of a cheap Merlot, then went along with David.
Kudos to Caroline Styne for having a wine blog (and running three restaurants) - her Taste of BevHills' panelist take from the great gender drink-off:
So, when Bonnie Graves, a Los Angeles wine gal contacted me to join a men vs. women blind tasting panel at the Taste of Beverly Hills event last weekend, I immediately told her that there was no way in hell that I would do it. The other people on the panel were going to be individuals who I completely respect and who get loads of practice tasting blind.
I told her that I would provide a personally embarrassing amount of comic relief and would basically end up looking like a complete idiot. Of course, after about seven emails and even a personal visit at Lucques, Bonnie managed to persuade me to do it with promises of a fun, light-hearted event, a potential bottle of Krug for the winning team and loads of p.r. for the restaurant. [...]
In the end, we ladies redeemed ourselves with a totally right-on identification of a 2006 Rioja Reserva and won the match. We left the event holding our heads a little higher while laughing at ourselves a little louder.
I love this so much it hurts my heart - hysterical video. Nicely done Gramercy and Gregory Harrington, and thanks for your Taste of Beverly Hills' support!
BOOTLEG VIDEO REVEALS SHOCKING STORY BEHIND FOOD & WINE MAGAZINE'S BEST NEW WINERY OF 2010
When Food & Wine Magazine named Gramercy Cellars the "Best New Winery of the Year" for 2010, inquiring minds wanted to know: Who were the husband and wife team, internationally known as "Gramela," behind the hot new winery? And how did this pair of ex-Manhattanites wind up in Walla Walla? How the heck did they learn to make wine? Now there are answers. The secret to their success has been leaked by sources close to the couple. This exclusive video outlines their plan for global domination, reveals top secret winemaking and marketing tactics and shamelessly inflates the couples already huge egos. Watch the video THEY don't want you to see. And you thought Heidi and Spencer were strange...