Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Simple Things


It's funny, despite my love of the simpler things in life, it's easy to lose one's way and forget this most basic principle. Every day we're assaulted by a barrage of desires, enticing us to do/eat/drink more. Yet when one takes a deep breath and a step back, we (re)discover how nice it is to take some time and enjoy the simpler things in life. Especially living in NYC with its hectic energy, we sometimes tend to forget to take that step back. Yesterday, I landed in Paris, and wandering the streets and shopping for dinner, I realized what I'd lost lately.


A simple croissant (delicious, BTW), eaten on the street (very declasse, truthfully), was the epitome of that go-go-go attitude we have in NYC. And while that's great for a quick breakfast, I was in no rush, so why'd I do that? My first meetings/tastings weren't until the day after I landed, so I was in no hurry. Shame on me!


So my first dinner in Paris wasn't at a Michelin-starred restaurant (I prefer smaller, simpler bistrots, frankly), or even an intricate meal prepared at home, even though I'd bought some lovely baby chanterelles and other ingredients. No, dinner my first night back in Paris was a half-bottle of a biodynamic red from the Languedoc (nice and unassuming), some stinky cheeses, a saucisson sec (how is this not imported in the US????), and a very nice baguette. And it was the perfect meal. Me happy.

It doesn't get much simpler than that.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Free Booze!

Yes, it's that time of year again, when my wholesalers plop me down in front of a table and make me stand there like a human spigot. Granted, this is the part of the job I really love, where I get to interact with the vast, unwashed masses of humanity. Most of the time, it's pretty cool. But every once in a while, you get the bozos just there to get drunk. Don't be a bozo!

So this upcoming Saturday I'll be pouring three of my wines at Diplomat Wines, 939 2nd Avenue in East Midtown, between 49th and 50th streets. I'll be performing this song and dance from 5pm to 8pm, so if you're thirsty for some interesting, inexpensive and artisanal wines, come on down. If not, go away.

Oh, yeah, I'll be pouring Felines Jourdan's Picpoul de Pinet, Clos Bagatelle's St Chinian and Chateau La Bouscade's Les Septs Vents Minervois. All are yummy and inexpensive and you should stop in and buy case-loads. Seriously.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Shameless Plug: Turkey Day Wines

Well, everyone else is doing it, so I suppose I should throw in a few suggestions for what to drink with the Bird, right? I mean, I do have some ideas of what I'd pair with a big old turkey and stuffing. Even if I am not a big fan of the stuff (see HERE).

Leaving aside my personal preferences about turkey and the sides, I figured I'd do some shameless shilling as well. I know you're supposed to serve American wines on this holiday, but I do have some wines in the US, might as well see if I can sell them, right? Best of all they all retail for under $16, so here we go...


Now, if I were to serve my wines on Thanksgiving, what would I pour, you ask? How kind of you to inquire, let me see...

While everyone gathers and the appetizers are served, I'd pour the 2007 Jean-Pascal Aubron Grand Fief de l'Audigere Muscadet de Maine et Sevre sur Lie, with beautiful aromatics, good fruit and crisp acidity. It's light enough to whet your appetite without filling you up.

Next, as the first courses appear, if you're in the mood for white, I'd pour the 2007 Felines Jourdan Picpoul de Pinet. It's also very aromatic, but heavier-bodied, and should hold up to the first dishes pretty well. Its acidity also lets it handle a ton of different flavors. I might even serve it with the turkey if you have a simple roast turkey.

If you want a red, I'd go for a light yet earthy red like the 2007 Chateau de Gaudou 1733, 100% Malbec. 2008 ain't bad either, BTW. This isn't your Argentinian Malbec, full of huge fruit and oak, this is light, earthy, and completely oak-free. It's got a darker fruit profile on a light frame, meaning it won't overwhelm lighter dishes.

Now the turkey arrives, and everyone's oohing and aaahing. If you're looking for an Old World-style red, you can reach for the 2007 Jardin de Bagatelle St. Chinian. Hitting the stores in NYC as I write, this wine offers deep, dark, earthy, funky red and black fruit with good heft and nice acidity. Assuming you don't have too many sweet sides, this should go nicely with the Big Bird.

But, you say, Thanksgiving is an American holiday, you want an American, or at least a more New World wine, to go with the Bird. OK, then try the 2006 Chateau La Bouscade's Septs Vents, a 100% Syrah from the Minervois. Big, bold, very fruity, with some hint of sweetness from the ripe fruit and slight oak, this wine should answer your request. Yet it also maintains the freshness that European wines can have from their higher perceived acidity than their American counterparts. And frankly, this well-balanced wine goes better with the foods on the table at Thanksgiving than most of its New World siblings.

So there you have it, a smattering of Vinotas Selection wines that should handle the vast flavor differences at the Thanksgiving table. But, honestly, whatever you choose to serve, have a wonderful holiday, enjoy your time with family and friends, and be thankful for what you have.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Wine Online

You're interested in wine, but you're not sure where to start. You ask a friend who is "into wine", you ask your neighbors, you ask a local wine store. If it's a good store, you'll find a salesperson who knows what he's talking about, but let's face it, unless you have their mobile number, you can't get answers at all times of the day or night. And frankly most store employees are not that educated about interesting wines. Most of them are there to move product, and that's about it.

So what to do?

Thanks to Al Gore (kidding), we have that lovely series of interconnected tubes, also known as the Interwebs. Better known for its massive quantities of porn, or so I'm told, the Internet is also the best place to learn about wine without opening a bottle. Of course, it's not as much fun, but pouring yourself a glass at 9am is usually a sign of a serious, more urgent issue.

Luckily, there are hundreds of websites that can help you learn about wine. The best ones allow you to interact with other winelovers, asking questions and getting answers at your convenience. You can start at the Wine Spectator's website, where you can take quizzes, read about news, and sign up for online classes. This is a very good starting source for people intimidated by wine and the mystique that surrounds it.

Snooth is a growing community of wine-lovers that is great for beginners as well. The interface is a little confusing, but sticking with it will offer you a world of learning opportunities. If you've started a small collection of 6 bottles or even have a huge, thousand bottle cellar, visit CellarTracker, where you can keep track of your inventory and write tasting notes, sharing them with other like-minded and like-palated people.

The wine critic Robert Parker's website is a good next stop, though it should be noted that this is a bit more technical. The Bulletin Board attached to the site is an excellent source of information, with thousands of winelovers interacting on a daily basis. It should be noted that the board is pretty loyal and defensive of Parker, so if you find your tastes differing from his be wary. That said, it's a great place to learn even more about wine.

Another good place to talk about wine is Wine Disorder. This bulletin board is fiercely loyal to the wines imported by Louis Dressner. If you like your bottles with tons of oak and fruit, this is not the place for you. If you love high-acid, esoteric, unique wines, this could be of interest to you.

Lastly, one of the best, most rough-and-tumble yet welcoming places to chat about wine would be the Wine Berserkers Bulletin Board. While it's not the most sophisticated, it is the most down-to-earth and warm site for both newcomers and experts, and boasts fora for winemakers and wine peddlers. This gives you a view of what happens "behind the scenes", and is a very good place to learn about all aspects of wine.

You can meet fellow winelovers in all these places, from newbies to winemakers, and can learn vast amounts about this beautiful thing we call wine. So visit a few of these sites and see which ones you like while enjoying a glass of your favorite bottle.