Archive for October, 2009

Drinking at Work: The Swedish Mary

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

I am not a vodka drinker.  I don’t really see the point, actually. I seek deep flavor and layers– the total opposite of what “top shelf” vodkas boast: tastelessness and “purity.” Now, there are a few exceptions, but for the most part I turn to gin when I choose clear spirits.


Wine Geek: Beaujolais Nouveau

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Ah, Beaujolais Nouveau. What originally began as a celebration of the harvest in France. Wine, just pressed and fermented, would run free from fountains, and people congregated in the streets, drinking the splendor of the year’s grapes. It was never fashioned as ‘great wine’, but was always tasty juice, special because it never saw barrel or bottle.

That is why it never made sense to me what has become of this tradition and the craze for Beaujolais Nouveau in the United States. The whole premise of Beaujolais Nouveau is defeated and deflated. Take this wine–just off the press–and bottle it. Send it across the world. So that everyone at once can celebrate the harvest…by drinking wine that’s been loaded up with sugar and sulfur to preserve it for travel. Hmmmmm. Something’s not right here.

Let’s go back the the basics. Beaujolais is a region in southern Burgundy that grows primarily Gamay, a thin-skinned red grape (and a little bit of Chardonnay. If you get the chance to try a Beaujolais Blanc, jump on it!). There are many parts of Beaujolais (known as the crus or villages), that grow Gamay and vinify it in a way that produces exceptional wine. These wines will never be the complex and elegant Pinot Noirs of the Cotes d’Or (the most prestigious growing region in Burgundy), but they can be age-worthy, exceptionally food friendly, and a delight to drink. Beaujolais is actually a cutting edge region in terms of natural agriculture: winemakers here are devoted to using natural methods to let the grapes speak for the land. No new American oak. No synthetic fertilizers. No foreign yeasts.

Unfortunately, what’s become the industry of ‘Beaujolais Nouveau’ has nothing to do with this ethos. First of all, this style of wine is made using a process called carbonic maceration. Carbonic maceration means that grapes are sallied up with CO2 before they are crushed. Fermentation begins to occur inside of the skin, before the juice ever leaves its boundaries.The flesh inside gets a little bit of color from the skins during this process. Then the grapes are crushed and have no further contact with the skins. The resulting wine is bright and fruity (sometimes cloyingly so), and has no tannins. Experts maintain that this wine needs to be drunk young, and has relatively no aging potential.

Another impact of Beaujolais Nouveau (besides creating insipid juice that has given a bad name to all of Beaujolais) is environmental: because Beaujolais Nouveau has to reach its intended audience within weeks of bottling, it is often air-freighted. Dr. Vino has written many articles on how much more of a carbon footprint this has than the traditional method of shipping wine. He suggests drinking something local to celebrate the harvest: embrace the tradition of Beaujolais Nouveau by drinking the juice that is fresh and close to home. Come to LUSH, and we’ll show you some brews, spirits, and wine from your own backyard. Cheers!

Boo! Scary Skull Wine Party…

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Twisted Oak River of Skulls Release Party
[$50 including tax, NOT tip]
Friday, OCTOBER 30th

Get Twisted. The infamous, rowdy folks from Twisted Oak are here and we’ll be celebrating the release of their super special River of Skulls. This wildly burly, sneaky and scary wine is chock full of Calaveras County Mourvedre from the Dalton Vineyard. Heady, aromatic perfume encourages you to jump recklessly, fully, into a glass of this juice. Deep, dark, dirty and sexy, this Mourvedre is earthy and funky, yet pulsing with luscious fruit and sassy spice. An ankle bone of cherries is connected to the shin bone of raspberries, which connects to the knee bone of smoky vanilla. The knee bone is connected to the leg bone of Mourvedre’s natural tabacco character, which connects to the hip bone, back bone and neck bone of a nice long finish. Oh Dem Skulls!

Warm and toasty, belly busting snacks will include some sort of chunky, gourmet chili with crusty bread, sweet cream butter with cornbread, and a custom rum cake. Rubber chickens and pirates will be here too! Bobbing for apples and pumpkin carving are optional, but recommended.  Join the fun and dress up for the costume contest…one precious, uber yummy bottle of Twisted #%@& will be awarded for the best outfit.

RSVP absolutely necessary. Space is limited and time is spiraling down to zero. Holla at Ms. Erin, or 312-738-1900. Bring friends and bring the par-tay.

Drink what YOU Like.

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

Get your GEEK on: Wine as a dialog.
For years, you have been instructed what to drink, sometimes beaten over the head with it, by carefully tabulated scores and tasting notes from big wine publications and wine ‘experts’.
This one-sided directive, or monologue about the proper and appropriate wines to drink…which label, which region is hot…the absolute best time to drink, which to hold…has been a force in the world of wine. Which is all fine and great and useful in a way.  At least we are getting advice on a very complex subject, right?  And, familiar taste, a brand you know…a region you can point to on a map, and someone endorses it?!  However, what happens when you don’t care for the juice in the bottle?  Are you wrong or weird?  Freak!  (more…)

Things I heart, take 5.

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

2005 Domain Guiberateau Chenin Blanc, Samur, Loire Valley, France
Oh Guiberateau, how I heart thee!  Now that I’ve conquered the correct pronunciation of your name (well, by my American standards anyway), I can completely, whole-heartedly love you.  I’ve loved you, sweet, sweet bottle, since we met a few months ago, and just had the chance to try you again for a tasting we were doing.  Yep, I still heart you, wonderful wine, even more so!  So weird yet so delicious.  The nose is so great and beautiful and smells like rocks with a touch of honey.  The palate shows a soft fruit, graphite and slate with a lingering minerally finish that has a hint of lime.  It paired great with the talipa I did not cook but did enjoy last night.  Suprisingly, there is still some left for me tonight, so while I’m hard at work, I’ll be dreaming of that half-full bottle of this delightful wine.


BYOB: Ciao Amore

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

Dear reader, I cannot express to you how lovely it is for me to discover a new BYOB restaurant–particularly when it is right between the store and my house. And so it is with a fair bit of enthusiasm that I left Ciao Amore last night.