'Food and Drink'

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The World is waking up to German Pinot Noir!

I’ve been wondering how long it would take for this to happen.  German Pinots offer some of the most affordable and pleasurable discoveries any Pinot lover could wish for.  So it was no surprise to see this headline in today’s issue of “The Drinks Business” publication out of the UK.

According to chef Martin Lam, interviewed for this article, it has helped tremendously that German producers are switching their labeling from the traditional German word “Spätburgunder” (SPATE bur gunder) to the more internationally recognized “Pinot Noir” (same grape, different name).  But a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

I particularly liked Lam’s quote “…the top drops from Baden should be treated with the same respect as a top Burgundy“.  And while this quote dips its toe into hyperbole, the truth is that the grape’s German name is a direct nod to the vines that gave birth to their vineyards, and the style is similar in its lightness.

German States with major Cities - worldatlasbook.com

German States with major Cities.  Baden is Southwest, just above Switzerland.  Image from worldatlasbook.com

The Baden area (Southwest Germany, see map) is East and a bit North of Burgundy, and this area is home to some of Germany’s best Pinots.  I encourage you to ask for these from your favorite wine merchant, and to keep a watchful eye for some of them to appear in the Pinot section my own curated inventory at DaveTheWineMerchant.

Read the full article here – Lam: World is waking up to German Pinot.

Cheers!

www.DaveTheWineMerchant.com 

P.S. For a regular source of new Pinot Noir discoveries, please consider my Pinot-Only wine club – click here for more info!

Duck Breast With Mustard Greens, Turnips, And Radishes

Duck Breast with Mustard Greens, Turnips, and Radishes Recipe

This Bon Apetit recipe is easily adapted – don’t care for turnips?  Try small red potatoes (sauteed or roasted in the duck fat!)  Not big on Mustard Greens?  Substitute Frisee, or a mild rocket/arugula, or if you strive for “painfully hip”, chopped kale in the sweet Asian dressing you’ll find in my recipe (search this blog for “pork belly kale”.  But whatever you do, try this recipe for the duck breast.

Ingredients
SERVINGS: 8
3 pounds boneless duck breasts (3–4)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
¼ cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons English mustard powder
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 radishes, thinly sliced
4 small turnips, scrubbed, thinly sliced, plus 2 cups torn turnip greens or kale
6 cups torn mustard greens; plus any mustard flowers (optional)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Flaky sea salt

Preparation

ACTIVE: 1 Hour  TOTAL: 1 Hour
  • Preheat oven to 400°. Score the fat side of each duck breast ⅛” deep in a crosshatch pattern; season both sides with kosher salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a large ovenproof skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium. Cook 2 duck breasts, skin side down, until fat is rendered and surface is deeply browned and crisp, 10–15 minutes; transfer to a plate. [Note, I ALWAYS save the rendered fat before proceeding!  DC]  Wipe out skillet and repeat with remaining duck and 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil.
  • Arrange all duck breasts in the skillet, fat side up, and roast in oven until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of breasts registers 135° (~5–8 minutes). Transfer to a cutting board and let rest at least 5 minutes and up to 2 hours.
  • In a small bowl whisk Dijon mustard, mustard powder, lemon juice, and (while whisking) gradually add 3 Tbsp. olive oil; season mustard sauce with kosher salt and pepper.
  • Toss radishes, turnips, greens, flowers (if using), vinegar, and remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large bowl; season with kosher salt and pepper.
  • Thinly slice duck. Scatter greens over a platter (or two) and top with duck. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve with mustard sauce alongside.

Recipe by Alison Roman

Photograph by Christopher Testani

Cheers!  Dave

Everything in moderation (including moderation?)

Today’s NPR news feed includes a story I’d call “news-ish”.  That’s my term for what the news/entertainment industry calls “human interest stories”.  Such stories get more viewers/listeners/social media likes, and therefore they’re replacing solid news.  But who am I to complain?  I sell wine for a living, and what could be more “Human Interest” than that?  Despite the wine industry’s unique internecine squabbles, we rarely make headlines outside the “human interest” category.

This particular article reported on how women (not men?) who actually COOK the recipes they see demonstrated on TV’s cooking shows tend to be 11 pounds heavier than the women who simply WATCH the shows.  For the record, correlations have also been found between the number of people who drowned in a swimming pool in a given year and the number of films Nicholas Cage appeared in during that year.  That’s the thing about statistics – it can be tricky stuff.

The trim Giada de’Laurentiis

The writer thought this finding called into question the wisdom of cooking at home to obtain healthier food, and even called into question the writings of food proponents such as Michael Pollan.  But in the end, the story concludes on a note of common sense.

When asked how she can cook such high-fat dishes on her show and still maintain her trim figure, celebrity chef Giada di’Laurentiis replied “I eat a little bit of everything and not a lot of anything.  Everything in moderation.”

And that’s just sound advice whether putting food on your plate or wine in your glass.

Happy Merchant Cropped for webCheers,

Dave the Wine Merchant

“Honey, what was that wine we liked??”

That question is an increasingly common one among wine fans over 40.  I like to tell them they’re experiencing memory difficulties because they have a lifetime of memories stored inside their heads, like a hard drive that’s getting full, and it takes longer to scan through everything and access a specific piece of information when it’s needed.  (There’s actually some brain research that supports my theory, which is surprising as I thought I’d made it up)

But here’s a useful article that provides helpful clues on how to cement something into your memory regardless of its vintage.  If you’re taking the SWE/WSET/MS/Etc. certification exam, this is required reading.  If you’re just interested in a better memory then yeah, you too!

2/27/15 Food & Wine Article by Charles Antin “How To Improve Your Wine Memory

“Wings Get Stuck In Your Teeth!” & Other Perils of Pairing Wine & Bugs

I didn’t intend to read it.  I had lots to do when I saw the article come across my news feed.  But there’s something about the idea of eating bugs that makes it difficult to look away.  Even more so when you combine them with wine.

Which is what the UK reporter Adam Lechmere did, with the help of the buyer for UK’s large wine retailer Laithwaites, Beth Willard.  Beth helped Adam pair wines with Cricket Pad Thai, Mealworm Tacos, Grasshoppers on Toast and Frangipane of Pear, Cinnamon and Queen Weaver Ants.

Fair warning – the images are a bit off-putting.  Despite their drought resistance, near zero CO2 footprint (relative to our preferred protein sources) and overall abundance, the little critters are so unappealing that I fear the food marketers, powerful as they are, may have many years of hard rock mining ahead before they can convince Western populations to include bugs in our diets.  With the possible exception of the painfully hip, of course, who will outrace each other to be at the tip of the next foodie trend.  They can take my baton and head to the front of the pack, with my blessing.

For more information on Adam’s investigative journalism, read the full story here or copy paste this – http://www.wine-searcher.com/m/2015/01/matching-wine-with-bugs-yes-bugs. 

And, as we’re short of Laithwaites around these parts, I’m always pleased to help with your next wine selection, whether your tastes run toward the adventuresome or the more traditional.  Peruse and plunder my portfolio here.

Dave Chambers

Dave@DaveTheWineMerchant.com 

Wine vs. Beer – the Definitive Infographic!

This week I was sent a link to a most useful infographic comparing America’s trends for wine consumption and beer consumption.  It makes for interesting reading…

Beer & Wine: Comparison Of Popular Brands, Surprising Facts And Market Trends
 

Brought to you by: http://comparecamp.com Author: David Adelman Subscribe to our: FriendFeed

New Union Wine Co. Ad Campaign Pokes Fun At Wine Snobs

Every once in a while, if you’re lucky, you get to see an ad campaign that changes your industry. You may have to set your way-back machine all the way back to the Bartles & James Wine Cooler era before you’ll see a series of ads to match the “Pinkies Down” series from Union Wine Company out of Oregon.

I find the ads to be hysterical, poking fun at the techniques and (often) pretense that a thorough knowledge of wine requires. After the various actor-snobs establish their unabashed and off-putting wine bonafides in four amusing scenarios, salvation is delivered in the form of the Union Wine Co product – wine in a can.

Kudos to the agency Story Manufacturing Company out of Portland. Even if you don’t have the time to watch all of them right now, do it anyway. Especially if you’re in the wine industry. Here’s the first one to get you started. Just look for the links to the remainder after this one finishes.

Wine Snob - Ad for Canned Wine

Cheers!  Dave the Wine Merchant

Take care: wines are getting stronger | Life and style | The Observer

Last weekend’s article from the Guardian’s ‘The Observer’ justifies a skim by any wine lover.  But before you click the link, my two cents…

First, please note the article’s premise – that the global average alcohol in wine has increased by 2% over 20 years – is greatly misleading.  It refers to an increase in average alcohol from, say, 12.5% in 1994 to 14.5% in 2014 (a 16% increase), not merely a 2% increase OF the base rate (or in this example, 12.5% x 1.02 = a more modest 12.8%). [Disclaimer, my numbers are for example only, yet are roughly accurate, based on my memory of prior research and reading.]

Also, the article understates the contentious nature of the “low alcohol vs high alcohol” camps within the wine world – the intra-industry vitriol launched between the two opposing camps is the sort of stuff you can’t read out load in front of the kids.  

As a wine merchant, I’d appreciate your feedback regarding the wine style you prefer, if any.  I welcome all wine lovers into our camp.  It would also be helpful to hear whether you usually drink wine on its own (as a “Cocktail”) or with food, and if you drink wine in both settings, whether you prefer the same or different wine styles.  Many thanks…

Take care: wines are getting stronger | Life and style | The Observer.

11th Release of ‘Coro Mendocino’ – Collaborative Winemaking

We all know the significance of certain dates.  July 4th.  December 25th.  June 28th.

Wait.  June 28th?  

Oh yeah. Big day, historically speaking.  The day TV Evangelist Robert Schuller attacked a flight attendant (1997).  And when Houston Astro’s Craig Biggio got his 3000th hit (2007).  It was also the day the first woman was admitted to the Air Force Academy (1976).  Like I said – a big day.

And it’s about to get bigger.  On June 28th of his year, at Mendocino’s charming Little River Inn, the 11th vintage of “Coro Mendocino” enjoys its coming out party.  Sort of makes all that other stuff pale by comparison.  

Little River Inn

Little River Inn, Mendocino Coast. Location for the 2011 “Coro Mendocino” release party.

Never heard of Little River Inn?  It’s a place worthy of a weekend. Super Wife and I have celebrated a number of anniversaries here, and we can’t recommend it highly enough – Chef Marc Dym earned five stars before settling at this resort hotel on the Mendocino coast, and his food alone is worthy of a full blog post.  But I digress – let’s get back to the wine.

Consider yourself fortunate if you’re familiar with the wine, as not many are.  It’s a cool concept – Old-World meets New-World wine making and marketing.  This year, the Coro label has been granted to eight wines produced by eight different Vintners.  It is also the Spanish/Italian word for Chorus, a community of synchronized voices that is similar to the concept behind Coro Mendocino –  winemakers coming together to set standards for a class of wines to represent their wine region.

 

Coro 2010 vintage release

Last year’s Coro wines stand at attention during their release party.

Though typical in Europe, in the U.S. such regional restrictions are unique to Coro Mendocino.  Winemakers producing a wine under the “Coro” label must comply with the following requirements, which you’ll likely find evocative of similar requirements in Old World regions such as Rioja, Bordeaux, Champagne or Burgundy:

Coro Mendocino Requirements:

  1. All grapes must be from Mendocino County
  2. Zinfandel, the county’s heritage variety, must make up at least 40% and no more than 70% of the blend.
  3. Nine other types of grapes may be used (a range of Rhone and Italian Varieties)
  4. All wines must age for a minimum of one year in barrel and one year in bottle
  5. All Coro wines must be in the approved bottle, with only the Winegrower’s information to define its birthplace
  6. No wine can be released to the public before all the winemakers in the consortium have deemed each entry as worthy during a blind-tasting.
  7. More fine print essentially insists that the group’s production protocols and bylaws be followed

So June 28th marks the first public tasting of these eight different “Coro” wines.  The entry price tag is steep, but before you move on to the next thing in your inbox, note that the $500 fee includes dinner for two AND a bottle of each of the eight Coro wines.

2011 Coro Mendocino Release Party

WHERE:               Little River Inn — Little River, CA

WHEN:                 Saturday, June 28th, 2014 — 6 p.m.

WHAT:                 Multi-course, progressive dinner for two prepared by Chef Dym using local and seasonal ingredients

PRICE:                   $500 per couple – Ticket info here

WINE:                   Coro Mendocino 2011 vintage collection (and other wines) by

  1. Barra of Mendocino
  2. Brutocao Cellars
  3. Clos du Bois
  4. Golden Vineyards
  5. McFadden Vineyard
  6. Parducci Wine Cellars
  7. Fetzer Vineyards and
  8. Testa Vineyards

Enjoy!

Dave ‘the Wine Merchant’

‘Second City’ Bests New York. Again.

When I lived in Chicago, we got used to being the “Second City” – the derogatory honorific granted the city that became accustomed to eating New York’s dust.  

Beard Awards Move To ChicagoThis position in history was often reinforced in daily life – Chicago has to celebrate independence day on the 3rd of July because New York has their desired fireworks production company under contract for the 4th.  Even the city’s best known and most prolific comedy club is named “Second City” (though comedy fans familiar with its alums would be hard pressed to find a better launch pad in New York).  Even New Yorks sports teams dominate their Second City competitors.  Of course, every team dominates the Cubbies.  But then, Cub fans don’t go to see the team, they go to see Wrigley.

But Chicago’s second place is about to move up a notch in at least one important category – culinary tourism.  Chicago already has two important feathers in its culinary cap (toque?) – Grant Achatz’ restaurant “Next” was named the top restaurant in 2012, and chef Paul Kahan was named “Best Chef” in 2013.  It’s about to add a third.  It was announced earlier today that next year’s James Beard Awards (best chef, best restaurant, etc.) will be moved from New York to Chicago.  It’s the first time in a quarter century the awards have not taken place in New York.  Read the full story, here.

Cheers,

Dave



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