Archive for April, 2010

Beer pairs better with food than wine…

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

…or so says Brooklyn Brewery Brewmaster Garrett Oliver.  As Wine Tasting Guy I naturally have to disagree, but I can’t completely diagree…

I have been hearing commercials on the radio with Bewmaster Oliver making his beer pairing proclamation.  It seems the brewmaster is a bit of a beer & food aficionado, and hearing his position regarding beer & food pairing (over and over again), I really got to thinking.

I’m excited about the approaching warmer weather for so many reasons.  While most of them are obvious, one reason I’m excited is that I will be drinking more chilled beverages outdoors.

Sure some of the chilled beverages I’ll be drinking will be beer, but a lot of it will also be wine.  And the exciting part is that I’ll be drinking a lot more white wine in the coming months.

So what does my white wine drinking have to do with beer being a better pairing for food than wine?  Well, though my favorite overall wines are red, I do believe that white wines … pair better with food than red wines.

There I said it.  I can’t take it back.

And beer is more similar in style/freshness to white wine than it is to red wine.

Spicy food, tart foods, creamy foods, fruits, veggies, etc – all better with white wine (or beer) than red wine.

Sure there are some fresh, acidic, low tannin red wines that can pair with the aforementioned foods.

There are also weighty white wines – wines that have been barrel aged or have undergone malolactic fermentation.

But as a whole, light, fresh, crisp, acidic white wines pair better with foods than red wines do.  As do, beers…

Happy food & wine (or beer) pairing!


CRUSHPAD is tasting wine online…for charity

Monday, April 19th, 2010

I received an email over the weekend.  It seems to have come from an employee of Crushpad, an urban winery based in San Fransisco that I have been casually following over the years.  The sender told me about an upcoming live online (on twitter) wine tasting event.  A portion of the proceeds from this online event will go to a charity supporting children’s literacy (, so I was happy to help promote the endeavor.

To hear (via video) or see more about this tasting event, you can go here.

Several aspects of this story really peak my interest.  I like the idea of tasting wine & supporting a good cause.  I think tasting wine online with others is kind of cool.  And I really like that the four samples will allow people to compare (and contrast) wines that are made from the same fruit but have been made differently.

The way I understand it, participants will receive four mini-samples (50 ml.) in total – consisting of 2 different wines.  Each of the two wines however had some that has been moved into oak barrels for aging, while some remains in their original “home” – stainless steel tanks.

This is a great way for people to learn about the effects oak barrels have on wine before it is bottled and made into its finished product.

But there is something else here that fascinates me; the little 50ml. (about 1.75 ounces)

I’ve spent several years running around “tasting” (sampling) wine professionals on wines I was selling.  I’ve also watched critics open bottles of wine that barely have a dent put in them before they are unceremoniously poured down an unappreciative drain.  And finally, the expense of mailing journalists wine samples can be so cost prohibitive that some wineries skip the effort & stories often go untold.

The aforementioned uses for these mini-samplers just scratch the surface of their potential uses.  I’m curious how these test-tube like vessels are filled.  Is it done manually or do they have a special bottling line?  Either way this can only be a further positive development for the wine industry & something to keep an eye on.

So go out there, get your very reasonably priced ($14) 4-pack of samples & participate in this educational online wine tasting event!

Happy educational & charitable wine tasting!


I’m ba’ack…with Burgundy +

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

The Passover season now behind me, I’ve run out of excuses for my prolonged absence from the blogging sphere.

In recent weeks I’ve attended two meetings of my Burgundy wine club, and though in the midst of the Passover selling season, I broke away for an hour to visit a favorite portfolio tasting – the annual Polaner tasting on March 16th.

The Polaner tasting is one I’ve written about several times before.  The folks at Polaner have amassed a very impressive portfolio of producers, and the annual tasting is an amazing showcase for those in the industry to speak with the producers and taste the new releases.

An hour is not nearly enough time to make anything more than a cursory dent in the wines offered.  In between talking kosher-wine with several industry contacts, I managed to try at least 1 wine from 14 different producers.  Being partial to the crispness of Burgundian whites I stopped by the tables of Chablis producer Domaine Gilbert Picq whose wines were fresh, bright, clean, crisp & really quite delicious – incredibly versatile wines that are perfect for the approaching warm weather.  I tried some other Burgundian Chardonnay’s and once again re-discovered why so much of the world is trying (and IMO failing) to mimic the Chardonnay of Burgundy.  These wines on the most basic level manage to integrate fruit, wood & acid better than the Chard’s from the rest of the world that are either over-oaky, over creamy (malolactic) or flabby and seriously lacking natural acidity.  But I digress…

I tried some Loire wines & some Champagne and then ventured over to the Italian wines where I had a couple more whites before moving on to the few reds I tried.  Di Barro made a “Mayolet” (not a varietal I was previously familiar with) that was nice, light & fruity.  And I tried a Carricante Bianco from Calabretta that was subtle, spicy & interesting.

Francesco Rinaldi & Figli had 2 Barolo’s whose tannins, fruit, cola flavor & bright acidity I thoroughly enjoyed.  But a producer whose wines have stood out in the past were once again being poured by the proprietor & winemaker – Luca Roagna of Roagna Winery.  I’ve been WOWed by the wines of Roagna at previous Polaner tastings and I was not disappointed on this occasion.  The white – the 2005 Langhe Bianco Solea made from 95% chardonnay & 5% nebbiolo was incredibly unique, showing bubblegum, nutmeg & floral characteristics.   The 2000 Barbaresco Paje had black cherry, tar & earthy traits, showed a bit of (pleasant) oxidation, had huge gripping tannins and a LONG finish.  The 2005 Barolo Vigna Rionda also showed red & black fruit, tar & earth, but this wine was fresh with a wild (and again PLEASANT) manure aroma.  LOVED IT!  Finally, Luca as is his custom, rinsed my glass with the next wine to be tasted and poured a Barolo Chinato (dessert wine) that had amazing dark spice characteristics ranging from nutmeg & cinnamon to basil & rosemary with appealing floral & perfume aromas.  Nice!

As indicated above, I recently participated in two Burgundy club tastings.  The first a few weeks ago and the second this past week.  A few weeks ago we did Corton…

and this past week we did Volnay…

Without getting into too many details, I continue to find most of these wines to be rather remarkable.  Lively & complex is how I would put it most succinctly.  But overall, these wines are funky, long lived, and loaded with character.

My favorite of the Corton is tough to call as these Grand Cru Burgundy’s were all uniquely special.  But if pushed into a corner I’d say the ’95 Corton Renardes (Gaunoux) Grand Cru was my favorite as this brick orange wine started with aromas of wet leaves & earthiness.  It evolved to show mocha, red berries & some cola.  On the palate it had great acidity, nice fruit & a minerally earthiness that was fresh & lively.  The only disappointment was its finish which was long but maybe not as long as some others.

The Volnay tasting was a real treat – six 1er Cru wines, all but one from the 90’s.  But here my favorite was indisputable – the Comte Armand Volnay Fremiet 1er Cru 1999.  This deep clear ruby wine had cherry pie, earth, pine needle & mushrooms aromas.  On the palate it showed cherry cola & tart berries.  It was soft, plush, lite, fresh & lively with silky tannins and a finish that seemed to go on & on & on & on….  WOW!  But there is more.  After we tasted through the 6 wines once we re-visited.  I thought all the wines showed better the second time around (maybe ’cause I was a bit buzzed at this point) and the ’99 Comte Armand opened up to show violets, roses & an overall perfume nose that was not there the first taste.  A premier Cru Burgundy that can be had for about $75 and was IMO the star of the night.

I welcome you all back following my prolonged absence.  Going forward I will probably continue to WRITE less, but I do intend to introduce a new dynamic to the blog…more details to follow…

Happy wine tasting!