Archive for June, 2008

What constitutes a wine bar?

Monday, June 30th, 2008

By now many of you are aware that part of my Israel Wine project involves wine bars.  As such I went out with some business associates tonight and we both perused several wine bars then ultimately stopped for some drinks and a bite at a new place that calls itself a restaurant & wine bar.

Is a wine bar a place with a large selection of wines?  Is it a place with several offerings by the glass?  Is it a place where snobbery rules?  Does there need to be a sommelier?   How about fancy stemware?  Or even a massive wine display?

wine tower


Less know wine region(s) in the news

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Yes, I have been tempted to write about Israeli wines a lot lately given the fabulous press they have been getting with recent articles in Wine Spectator (online version only available to subscribers) & The San Fransisco Chronicle (found online at the SF Gate).

But any post about Israeli wines will be elaborate and hopefully include some specific news/update describing progress concerning my previously discussed Israel Wine Project.

So instead, I want to bring up wines from another not-too-discussed wine region – Washington state.

Washington State

Washington State, is known to produce some exceptional reds, in particular Merlot, Syrah and yes, of course, Cabernet Sauvignon (and blends including all or some of the aforementioned varietals). (more…)

Beer is out, wine is IN!

Friday, June 27th, 2008

beer bottle melting

The second part of the blog title is a little editorial on my part, but according to the UK based Harpers, worldwide beer sales has now fallen below 50 million hectoliters annually (or roughly 15,000,000,000 glasses of beer). This amounts to its lowest level since 1975

Also of note, is consumption of beer PER COUNTRY according to Wikipedia. The US is way down the list at #14 with about 80 liters per person per year. The Czech Republic & (shockingly) Ireland are one & two respectively at 156 & 131 liters.

I’m not certain how accurate these numbers are, but according to, the US is #18 on the list of wine consuming countries per capita with a measly 7 liters per year. I had heard that the most recent numbers had the US in at around 30 liters per year (about half of the approximately 60 liters consumed in France & Italy).

Finally, has some interesting stats here about wine. Of note is that while they do not list the US in their top 20 wine consuming nations PER CAPITA, in terms of total consumption per COUNTRY the US ranks 3rd, behind only France & Italy.

What does all this mean? Truthfully, I have no idea. But it sure seems to indicate that the popularity of wine is increasing at the expense of beer.

Have a wonderful weekend and Happy Wine Tasting!


Wine & BBQ

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

I have been bad about posting lately but I have a great excuse. On Monday night I went out with my some members of my wine group and had an amazing meal at a new restaurant that does not yet have a beer/wine license so we were able to bring all our own wine – no corkage! (6 bottles between 4 of us – yes, I had one too many.) Tuesday night I had the privilege of seeing Pearl Jam in concert with my sister – who got FLOOR SEATS! (Close enough to see that 1 of Eddie Veder’s 3 wine bottles was a Simi Cabernet Sauvignon.) And tonight I volunteered for an organization that through the use of solar technology is helping to power schools in Africa. Really amazing stuff.

So tonights event was a BBQ on a very amazing roofdeck in Manhattan. Quite a treat. Having recently met the woman behind this organization and being the Wine tasting Guy I was lucky enough to be asked to help out. And once again, I’m lucky to have good friends. Some friends in the wine distribution business donated wine for the event and other friends volunteered to help man the BBQ’s.


The event went off with barely a hitch. Everyone had a blast, the event raised enough money to fund the African solar panel project (and then some) and I met all kinds of amazing people.

So I hope YOU loyal readers understand and forgive my inconsistent posts. It is all for a good cause.

Happy benefit wine tasting!!!


Old wine

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

old/new wine

A quick post today revisiting something I have written about on several occasions.

I recently found a “deal” on some wine. A white wine blend, 70% Chardonnay & 30% Viognier, from a well regarded French producer. Knowing the producer and looking for summertime whites I decided to give the wine a try. The wine is from 2003, 5 years old, a lot for a white. But I figured that the wine had some oak aging (as does a lot of chardonnay & some viognier) and would still be OK.

While the wine was not dead, it was “OLD” – and tasted as such. The fruit was basically all gone and all that remained was some nutty, honey & woody characteristics.  Not terrible, but not the special wine I hoped to be getting.

I know I have encouraged people to check vintage when buying whites and I should have followed my own advice, but it was such a good deal – or so I thought. Had it been a crisp style wine, like an Albarino or Sauvignon Blanc, I definitely would have passed. But I figured I’d take a shot. OH well. You know what they say, if a deal appears to be too good to be true – IT PROBABLY IS!

Happy NEW white wine tasting!


Wine Storage

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

I received an email today from a new friend asking whether or not I thought he should purchase a wine fridge. My emphatic response was YES!

wine fridge

Wine storage is an issue that does not always come up when discussing wine but it probably should. Mistakes from storing wine upright to keeping it in the kitchen or some other hot place (I did that once – and learned a lesson) can really damage that expensive bottle you have been saving for a special occasion. (more…)

Young wine VS. Old wine

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

What is better, an old wine or a young wine?

aged to perfection

The truth is, there is no RIGHT answer to this question. For starters, some wines are made to be aged (some French Bordeaux) while others are meant to be drunk young (fresh, crisp whites such as a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc). Furthermore, even red wines that CAN be aged, don’t necessarily HAVE to be. Some people prefer a young wine, while others may prefer an aged wine. (more…)


Sunday, June 15th, 2008

I was recently made aware of an interesting article about hangovers in the New Yorker.  Needless to say I do not condone drinking in excess, but every once in a while it happens – and leads to the inevitable hangover.  Yes I have learned a lot about my own tolerance and I respect alcohol (and wine in particular) enough to ENJOY it and not ABUSE it.  BUT, that same love of wine has made saying “no thank you” very challenging when someone offers another glass of the good stuff – leading to the unfortunate “one too many” (or as the case may be and article is called “A few too many”).



Gourmet food WITHOUT WINE (and New Zealand Pinot)

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

A friend from college is running for city council here in NYC. He has a fund raiser tonight and he was able to get a well regarded published cookbook author to demonstrate/prepare several gourmet courses for the guests at tonight’s event.

When he and I first spoke about the event I thought how fabulous it would be for me to pair each of the courses with a wine. He loved the idea, but sadly, in the end the logistics made doing this too complicated. The response to this fund raiser was so overwhelming that the guests will be seated but will not have table space. They will be holding their plates on their laps and we ultimately decided that managing the food while also trying to hold onto a glass of wine would prove to be problematic.  So we came up with what I believe was the next best option – sparkling wine.  Nice and refreshing on a warm summer day, and said to be “food neutral” the Yarden 2000 Blanc du blanc would be served as the guests arrive.

Although I’m confident that we came up with the best alternative to each course being paired with a wine, and I am really looking forward to this event, I still want to sneak in some wine (I won’t). The more I come to learn & appreciate wine, the more I treasure a well paired wine with good food. The best meal in the world without any wine is simply void of what I believe to be a critical element in culinary appreciation. While I fully understand the complication inherent for today’s event, I believe that any food related event MUST have wine to compliment the food/meal.

food & wine

On a completely UNrelated note, I just finished reading another very nice article written by a wine writer whose pieces I’ve really come to like. I have linked & mentioned pieces by Laurie Daniel before, and here she talks about New Zealand Pinot Noir.  Pinot is a HOT varietal (still) and one that I tend to either love or…well, not hate, but if I don’t really like it I generally don’t care for it at all. Daniel discusses the huge increase in Pinot planting and production in recent years and discusses several specific New Zealand Pinots (all rather expensive with the cheapest being $21). A nice quick & simply read with some good suggestions for the Pinot lover. Enjoy!

Happy Wine & Food pairing!


Misinformed – what to do with a bad wine educator?

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

I attended an Israeli wine tasting at a local cultural center earlier this week. The instructor spoke both about the Israeli wine industry as well as basic wine appreciation. Among the instructor’s opening statements was a proclamation that the Israeli wine industry took a major step forward with the introduction of the Golan Heights Winery 15 years ago  (it was more like 25 years ago). Shortly thereafter we tried the first wine, a sauvignon blanc.  He began by pointing out that it is not straw in color, as a straw color indicates a flaw (not true).  Upon tasting the wine he pointed out that this wine was NOT oaky like some other whites since Sauvignon Blanc generally only spends 6 months in barrel (when in reality this Sauv Blanc was made in stainless steel tanks and saw no oak – hence the non-oakiness).  Finally he alleviated the concerns of an attendee regarding sulfites in wine informing the class that white wines, although written on the label “contains sulfites”, don’t really contain sulfites. I raised my hand and announced that i thought all wines contained sulfites, even organic wines (albeit in smaller quantities). He emphatically responded that I was wrong, reds contain sulfites but whites do not.

Speaking of his angry response, in a crowded room with over 50 people drinking (not spitting) wine, he consistently “sshhh-ed” the crowd. I can appreciate the challenges of speaking before a loud audience but while drinking wine in a crowded room did he really expect the audience to remain perfectly silent??

fire-bad-teacher.png (more…)