Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Quick Review: Juan Gil Monastrell

Spain, Jumilla, Juan Gil, Monastrell 2010
+ // Earthy // Chocolate, Tobacco, Cherry // Earth, Raspberry, Cola // Medium

With Ethiopian food, the earthiness matched the meat, while the fruit notes balanced with the spiciness.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Culture and Ethiopian Food

Unless you plan ahead, dinner and a show can be tough. All theaters are on the same schedule, and people generally want something to eat and drink before or after the show. Because of this, there may be great restaurants near the theaters, but if you don't have reservations you'll have to fight for a seat--no matter how many options there are. After an evening show at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, we knew we faced this challenge ourselves.

As soon as the curtain dropped, we darted from the theater, nearly knocking elderly patrons out of the way, in our effort to be first out the door. We didn't have any clear idea on where we wanted to eat, but we headed into the Fort Greene neighborhood, knowing we could find some good options there. Keeping one eye over out shoulder for the approaching hordes, we marched quickly, looking for an interesting option. Normally, we might wander from restaurant to restaurant looking at menus, but one of our first stops was at Bati, an Ethiopian restaurant, a cuisine we hadn't eaten in a long time, so we took it as a good sign and darted in, just ahead of the wave.

It worked out in our favor, definitely. Ethiopian cuisine can make for a fun evening; a big family style platter of sauced foods served on top of a thin, gooey bread, eaten with your hands. Maybe not the best meal for a first date, but easy to nibble on over the course of a casual evening with someone close. The dishes tend to be rich in flavor, so I selected a Monstrell from the small but interesting wine menu, looking for some deep flavors to match. The restaurant was small and busy, but despite the waves of people who followed us in looking for a seat, we never felt rushed.

One of the reasons we love Brooklyn is because it is so easy to improvise a fun evening. Last minute tickets to a show, and a frantic search for some place to eat makes for just as much fun as a carefully planned adventure into Manhattan.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Quick Review: Oreana Winery Project Happiness Syrah 2006

US, California, Oreana Winery, Project Happiness Syrah, 2006
+ // Fruity // Cherry, Leather // Chocolate, Cherry // Medium bodied

A gift from friends who thought the bottle looked a little cheesy, we found we enjoyed the smiley face and the wine wasn't so bad, either.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Did You Know?...About Cotes du Rhone Villages

Cotes du Rhone-Villages is a sub-region of the Cotes du Rhone AOC in France, near Avignon. Comprised of a handful of villages, the vineyards here are considered to produce higher quality wine than the general region.The wines must contain mostly Grenache grape.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Quick Review: Domaine Grosset

France, Cotes du Rhone, Domaine Grosset Villages Cairanne
++ // Fruity// Raspberry, Cedar // Chocolate, Raspberry, Cedar // Full

Paired with a rabbit dish at Mesa Grill, this wine was well balanced with the spicy southern sauce. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Twenty Hours in Las Vegas

Its been said before, and said often, but Las Vegas is a city of excess. On a recent trip for business, I had a chance to give a bit of it a try.

I was already late in the day when he plane landed, so my coworker and I headed straight to the hotel at Ceaser's Palace. We dropped off our gear, re-gathered ourselves from the flight, then wandered about the casino looking for bit of food to reset our clocks. We were tempted by the Pub, but decided that the club-like music was a bit too much. Instead we decided that the expense account could cover a bit of meat from Mesa Grill. Some rabbit and wine for me, pork loins and beer for my coworker, with some roasted brussel sprouts to round out the meal, we dug with abandon to combat the jet lag. It was a great meal, but extra special for my coworker, who doesn't get as many opportunities to enjoy a nice meal out. It's good to be reminded from time to time how lucky I am, to experience so many amazing meals.

After dinner, we wandered the mall, marveling at the high end retailers gathered in one place. Interesting, for architects like ourselves, as each retailer is careful to construct their jewel box like shops to maintain their carefully crafted brand image, even in the unique, carnival-like atmosphere of the casinos. And like the restaurants, casinos, and entertainment, its part of the sensory overload of exceptional experiences.

Breakfast was our greatest encounter in excess though. Still on New York time, we were up early, with only the most hardcore and elderly of gamblers. With a couple of hours to kill before we could get to work, we decided to find a breakfast worthy of the city. By design, we didn't have to venture far: we found ourselves at Serendipity3 just outside the casino. Spoiled for choice, we went with Fried Chicken & Waffles, and the aptly named "French Toast Log." After what seemed an eternity, a pair of heaping platters were delivered, each containing more food than a human should consume in a day, let alone a single meal. We struggled to rise to the task in front of us, but in the end we had to admit defeat. The plates returned to the kitchen, half full, but in the end, there were no real losers, as we relished every moment of the ordeal.

My only regret was that it was a quick trip, and only were in town for one day. A city dedicated to tourists presents a lot of opportunities for memorable experiences, and I feel bad I didn't have time to fit a few more in.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Wine-ding Down

For almost two years, Nate and I have been sharing our stories and passion for wine with you all on a daily basis. We hope you will forgive us as we take a pause to regroup and plan even more stories for you. This month our own personal journey finds us in a new home and about to welcome a new member to our family. So, we take a short break but promise to be back very soon. Until then, when in doubt, go for what tastes good to you!

Friday, April 12, 2013

What Red Wine to Drink if You Don't Like Red Wine

Many people find they don't enjoy wine. Often, red wine in particular can be difficult for some people. But it's important to remember that there are a wide range of flavors available in red wine (as well as white). If you don't enjoy a particular varietal or style, look for something at the opposite end of the spectrum.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Quick Reviews: Channing Daughters Cabernet Sauvignon Rose

US, NY, Long Island, Channing Daughters, Cabernet Sauvignon Rose 2011
+ // Crisp // Sweet Apple, Cinnamon, Brown Sugar // Apple, Peach // Medium

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Why Does Red Wine Taste "Raspy"?

Like the coating on the back of your teeth after a glass of cola, sometimes red wine can leave a scratchy texture in your mouth. A less than generous comparison would be that it feels like licking sandpaper. This is from the astringency of tannins, a chemical compound found in plants, in this case in the skins, stems, and seeds of crushed grapes. Since red wines need to spend time in contact with the crushed skins (and stems and seeds), they pick up more tannins than white wines.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Monday, April 8, 2013

Brinkley's with Friends

As you well know, we try to focus on the local. We buy local wines whenever possible, and we try to enjoy restaurants that work with local ingredients. Unfortunately, it's tough to find restaurants around NYC that do both. Many restaurants carefully source their foodstuff from local farms, so going so far as to list the farms they work with, yet very few places really embrace the local New York wine regions. Instead, you find French, Italian, and Californian wines on those same restaurants' wine lists.

Thankfully, we know of one place to rely on for both. When we tried to grab dinner with some friends at our old standby, Public, we found that we couldn't get a seat. Thinking quickly, we decided to head around the corner to Brinkley's. A spacious bar and restaurant, Brinkley's focuses on the products of New York. The menu is filled with hearty fare from local farms, while the bar is stocked with only wines and beer from New York.

Brinkley's is a popular place. On this trip, we managed to sneak in ahead of the crowds, and found ourselves a table to camp out at for the evening. We enjoyed a long, casual evening with our friends, sharing some of our knowledge of New York wines with them among the many topics of conversation. It was fun for us to be able to show off our knowledge and make some recommendations, since it's not often that we know the wine list so intimately. We knew it here, of course, because New York wines are our bread and butter. And we're always grateful to find restaurants who showcase them as we like to do. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Quick Review: Ken Forrester Reserve Chenin Blanc 2010

South Africa, Stellenbosch, Ken Forrester Reserve Chenin Blanc 2010
+ // Crisp // Apple, Citrus // Grapefruit, Apple // Light

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Did You Know?... About Wine in South Africa

South Africa is the oldest "New World" wine growing region. In the 17th century, the Dutch East India Company established vineyards to serve sailors landing Cape Town. The industry has risen and fall through the years, and is working hard to establish itself on the international stage after the fall of apartheid. South African grows a range of French grapes with varied success, but they are most known for their Pinotage and Chenin Blanc wines.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Quick Review: Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc + Viognier 2011

CA, Napa, Pine Ridge, Chenin Blanc + Viognier, 2011
/ // Fruity // Peach, Lemon, Apple // Unripe Apple, Grape, Peach // Light

The flavor was a little muddled, the apple of the Chenin Blanc never quite blending with the citrus and honeysuckle of the Viognier, although it did open up a bit by the second glass. It tasted as if the wine was made from very under-ripe fruit.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Pairing Wine with Brussel Sprout Curry

Pairing wine with food is mostly about history. Finding a wine to pair with a meat or fish is fairly easy, with the long traditions of wine and food in France and Italy. With other dishes, it can be a bit harder.

With a tofu dish, especially one with a curry sauce, there isn't the same depth of history to draw from, so you have to be a little more creative in your wine pairing. Tofu has little flavor of its own, while curry is a strong flavor tough to match with wine. In deciding to pair a tofu and vegetable curry, we looked to the most powerful flavor among the vegetables to find our match for the wine: brussel sprouts seemed the biggest flavor in the dish, providing earth, green vegetable, and a bit of funk.

Still not an easy match, but our thought was to search for a white wine. We decided to look for something with a bit of crispness to it to counter the richness of the tofu and curry. The earth and funk can be emphasized by a bit of minerality. With that in mind, we picked a Chenin Blanc. The younger versions from the Loire Valley can be bright, with a sharp, almost metallic edge. The pairing was pretty decent.