A sad day in Beer Land… (Michael Jackson – 1942-2007)

Vinted on August 31, 2007 binned in commentary

Raise your glass of Belgian beer and have a moment of silence to remember the venerable Michael Jackson, esteemed English journalist, author, and critic of all things related to beer.

Michael was a frequent contributer to beer periodicals and to his Beer Hunter website, and he was the author of several successful beer tomes, including the long-running Pocket Guide to Beer and the thorough and excellent Beer Companion. It is not hyperbole to say that Michael was a key figure in ushering in the ‘new beer renaissance’, the effects of which are still being felt in the U.S. in its continued proliferation of excellent micro breweries and small craft-beer brewpubs.

My friends and I viewed Michael as a bit of a legend. As English Literature majors in undergrad, who also brewed beer… well, it doesn’t take a large stretch of the imagination to envision how important an influence this guy was on us.

Cheers, Michael!



Cosimo Review

Vinted on August 19, 2007 binned in wine publications

Food critic Craig LaBan has penned a favorable review of local favorite wine haunt Cosimo in this Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer. You can check out the review at the link below. In summary: great entrees, desserts, and of course wine know-how (with a bit inconsistent food service).




Troubled Clef

Vinted on July 15, 2007 binned in Uncategorized

There’s an interesting wine invention currently on the market, targeted at the major “wine geeks” out there (I humbly & happily include myself among that target demographic).

The item is called the Clef du Vin and retails for about $100 USD – a relatively expensive wine geek toy, no doubt about it. The device is relatively small and shaped so that it can fit easily into the top of a standard wine glass and be dipped into a fully poured glass of wine.

The idea behind this device (pictured) is that it can (supposedly) emulate how a wine will taste after aging – approximately one year of aging (under close-to-ideal conditions) for every second that the device is kept in contact with the juice in your glass. If a device like this worked as advertised, it would be very exciting in the wine geek world and the industry in general, as it would provide a scientific estimate of a wine’s aging potential. The possibilities for this are varied – I suppose it’s not out of the realm of possibility for a device such as the clef du vin to debunk overly-hyped vintages, if not introduce a sea-change in how wine futures and aging potential are evaluated (i.e., moving away from vintages into wine-by-wine evaluations) – hey, stranger things have happened!

The trouble is, the device doesn’t seem to work as advertised. Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV fame has recently tested the device during one of his on-line video episodes. Gary ueses the device to “age” some wines that he knows well, and puts it to the ultimate test by severely “aging” a non-age-worthy White Zin. You can watch the original episode here.

The verdict – while the device clearly does something to the wine, it does not necessarily paint an accurate aroma / flavor portrait of what that wine might taste like in several years’ time. Alas, we’re going to have to determine that the old-fashioned way: by buying multiple bottles of wines that we like and think have decent aging potential, and then being very… very… very… patient





Give us free!

Vinted on June 3, 2007 binned in commentary, pennsylvania, PLCB, wine shipping

Any of you that have ever purchased wine in one state and tried to ship it to another will surely appreciate the efforts of Free The Grapes, a grassroots coalition of wine producers, retailers, and consumers that are fighting the sometimes arcane and always anachronistic state laws that prohibit the direct-to-consumer wine sales.

What I’ve always found especially troubling (and I have it worse than most, as I live in PA where the laws are really prohibitive and the state has a powerful monopoly on all almost wine buying) is that the wine wholesaler industry is so woefully behind the times. Anyone who has ever shopped on Amazon.com should appreciate the power of direct-to-consumer sales. It’s not the wave of the future, it’s the status quo of the present.

And yet, the state-run and wholesaler industries refuse to adapt their business models, in an effort to protect their profits. I’m not necessarily against protecting a company bottom line, but not when the trade-off is reduced service and choice for the average Joe wine consumer. It’s like we’re being held hostage – and in PA, they not only restrict the choices of what wine you can buy, they charge you a premium for the inconvenience!

If, like me, you live in a state that trends towards Communism in its wine buying options, you should check out Free the Grapes and use their website to contact your state legislators to let them know how you feel.

Finally – if you are lucky enough to live in one of the more enlightened states that does allow you to purchase wine from wherever you like, I recommend checking out NY Chateau Frank‘s Celebre Rose (a nice and fun bubbly), as well as the stellar Napa 1999 Pine Ridge Cab Sav (excellent balance overall and a magic dried prune fruit profile).




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