Posts Filed Under Wined Down (Playboy.com)
We’re back to more controversial topics on my latest Playboy.com Wined Down column. Admit it, you like it controversial, don’t you…?
About two weeks ago, PB published my list of Four Wine Traditions That Need To Die. And the sooner that those traditions shuffle off their mortal coils, the better.
Those traditions are, in order of appearance:
- Sniffing the cork (isn’t that kind of like sniffing a jar lid?)
- Paying any attention whatsoever to a wine’s “legs” (especially when you could be paying attention to your dinner date’s legs)
- The overly-generous (but overly-stupid, for many reasons) “overpour”
- Going for a loud “pop” when opening a bottle of sparkling wine (you paid extra for those bubbles, so why the hell are you letting so many of them out when you open the bottle?)
I am absolutely serious about each and every one of them, too.
I’d add a fifth, which would be that online wine writing is just as valid and has just as much reach as writing that appears in print, but we both know that one is a losing battle at the moment, right? Ahh… maybe someday…
Anyway, would love to hear your thoughts on those long-standing traditions – so go on over and read the details, and come back here and let me know if I got it right (or wrong!).
When Playboy.com asked me to put together a primer on Champagne (for the NYE celebration holiday season), I was sporting a seriously large sh*t-eating grin on my face.
I mean, c’mon… the homework involved in that requires me to raid the sample pool for all of the Champers I could get my grubby little paws on; and while there are many strong contenders outside of the region, when it comes to sparkling wine, a strong argument can be made that Champagne still reigns supreme. Just try finding wine geeks who don’t like it… (now there’s a needle-in-the-haystack treasure hunt for you).
Put another way: there are far worse assignments, okay?
Interestingly, while the annual New Year’s Eve run-up on sparkling wine articles was in full-force (I think there were more of those in the last week of December than Lindsay Lohan rehab stints), the most interesting piece of bubbly news at the close of 2012 came from NPR, of all places…
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“You can beat the sh*t out of something, and all you get is powdered sh*t!”
– Johnny Graham
As part of some prep work for recently-published Playboy Port Primer (For Your Holiday Port-ing Pleasure), in November I was a guest of importer Frederick Wildman for a lunch/tasting and dinner/tasting with Johnny Graham, the force behind relative Port newcomer Churchill’s.
The F-W folks didn’t actually know that I was sort-of on assignment for my Port Primer, but it turned out that Johnny Graham – to whom I now owe a return on a much-needed pre-dinner beer that he bought me en route to the evening event – had so much Port worth talking about that I wanted to highlight him here. I think I also owe him a beer for providing the above quote, which slipped out when we were tasting through some of the Churchill’s lineup at F-W headquarters before our dinner, while we were discussing wines that exude finesse as well as natural concentration, versus those that simply display an overly-extracted sense of concentration (for an example of the former, try Churchill’s elegantly understated Ten Year Tawny Port, which I likened to Sancerre – seriously – in terms of its prettiness).
Anyway, the highlight of the visit was a trip to NYC’s Hearth restaurant, where I finally got to see/taste what all the (well-deserved) fuss was about when it comes to Paul Grieco (and his massive soul patch), who did an admirable job pairing an entire multi-course meal to vintage Port selections from Churchill’s (not an easy feat, even if the wines are quite good, since they’re also quite demanding, and in some cases quite sweet – in short, a culinary mine field).
Graham’s family Port biz started in the 1800s, and he told me that he was “fortunate, in my youth, I was able to taste vintages like the 1908s; Vintage Port can age 20, 50 years or more, and there just aren’t many wines that can do that.” To that end, given the sh*tload of non-sh*tty wines we tasted that evening, I hope you’ll forgive me the list-and-review style format post, but I thought it worthwhile to give you the scoop on several past vintages of Churchill’s Vintages… including a sneak-peak at the yet-to-be-released 2011…
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