Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Running Around....

If you've ever been in sales, you know how crazy the last day of the month can be, especially when combined with starting a consulting business! That being said, I simply offer up a wine recommendation for this beautiful weather:

Try the 2006 Barco Negro blend from Portugal. This is a really cool wine that blends the grapes normally used to make Port. However, they have been fermented through to dryness- it's earthy, leathery, with a good dose of black and blue fruits to it and a touch of raspberry. It will cost you around $10 retail, and they pour it by the glass at Atomic Cowboy.

More tomorrow, I promise!


Monday, September 28, 2009

Late breaking info about Sip of Knowledge

Alright wine fans, here's the skinny on the new venture:

Sip of Knowledge


Logo looks like this:

email me at


A Syrah By Any Other Name...

This one is for Eliot and Bill.

Some of the most powerful, manly, forceful wines in the world today are made from the Syrah grape. "But wait...I thought some of them were made of Shiraz.." you might ask. They are. Syrah and Shiraz are the same grape, just with different names. There is a story that the grape was originally grown in the Middle East, near the town of Shiraz. It then moved to the Greeks and Romans, who eventually planted it in Southern France. Nice story, but if it were true, it's more likely that the grapes in Frace would be called Shiraz. However, in this area they are called Syrah. The truth is, we don't really know why the grapes have two different names. We do know that they taste good, though! I once had an interesting conversation with a Spanish winemaker on whether to market his wine as Shiraz or Syrah. Several of us agreed that, if he wanted to sell more bottles, call it Shiraz. If he wanted it to be seen as higher quality, call it Syrah. That's honestly how the American public views the two names right now.
In France, especially in the Northern part of the Rhone region, syrah produces wines that are gutsy, earthy, with tobacco and tar notes. I especially adore the ones from Cote Rotie (where it is often blended with viognier), and Hermitage. In the Southern Rhone, it is often blended into Chateauneuf-du-Pape (a whole other blog post for another day). There are dozens of producers to look for- if you want to play it safe, ask for Guigal. If you are feeling crazy, just go to the store, and ask for anything from the 2007 Rhones, you will likely be impressed. These wines can cost anywhere from $10 to $1000.
In Australia, a bulk of the Syrah is known as Shiraz. Although I despise the brand, Yellow Tail has done wonders for bringing this varietal to the forefront of America's attention. The wines from Australia tend to be a bit jammier, much more fruit forward, and can have flavors that range from bubble-gum to dark, rich, cassis and plum. Again, wines from here can range from $4 to $1000. I suggest staying away from anything with a cute little critter on the front. Try the Shirazes from Yalumba, Ben Glaetzer, Jim Barry, and Killikanoon.
South Africa has come onto the scene with a few Shirazes. Some of them are pretty good (if you can find it, try the wines from Graham Beck), but some of them have a very strong tar note to them that people often find off-putting.
Now we come to America. Although there are some wonderful Syrahs coming from Washington, focus on the ones from California. There have been a number of "Rhone Rangers" whom have made wines from typically Rhone varietals (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, etc) but grow them in California. These wines are mysterious, brooding, paint your teeth dark, eat with steak, John Wayne types of wines. Less expensive options are Morgan, HdV, and Neyers. The higher end stuff with the 99 point ratings you will either have to have a friend on their website, or get lucky at an online auction. However, try a bottle of Sine Que Non, and it will be worth it.
Finally, there is starting to be some quality juice coming out of South America. I think I have suggested it before, but try the Luca Laborde Double Select- it's delicious!
One quick note about Petite Syrah- Although it produces similar wines, this is actually a different varietal than Syrah. It is most likely the same as Durif (a cross of Peloursin and Syrah from France). These wines can be big, but not quite as expressive as regular syrah. For less than $15, Bogle actually makes a decent one.

That should give you enough to try for the next day or so. Until tomorrow, Cheers!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Russians Dress Like That?

When I was a child, and even to some extent now, I had a very active imagination. I used to get in trouble all the time in class for finishing my work early so I could stare out the window and daydream. I would fantasize about all sorts of stuff- being the first kid in 4th grade to be allowed to have a driver's license and a Delorean (big Miami Vice fan, I was), catching the winning touchdown in a Superbowl from a pass thrown by Jim McMahon, building my own separate house out back so my parents couldn't bug me know, boy stuff. One particular day, when I was in 2nd grade, I decided to announce to my friends that we had a Russian stowaway living in our house and I was going to bring him to school. How a man from Russia made it all the way to Littleton, CO fresh off of a boat didn't concern me. Now I had a problem- I didn't actually have a Russian living in my basement, so I would have to improvise. I would be the Russian, and talk to my class. Surely nobody would notice.
The next morning, I gathered up my necessary disguise. I took an old pair of jeans, and cut the bottoms into ribbons of denim (surely a Russian's clothes would be tattered after months in the cargo hold of a ship I thought). I also took a red and black flannel shirt, and did the same things with the sleeves. I figured a Russian would have a 5:00 shadow after such a long journey, so I took some dark make-up from my mom's drawer, and added that to my supplies. I would just fill in the beard at the opportune moment. I put this stuff in my backpack, and went to school. As the kids were going out to recess, I slipped into the bathroom, and put my disguise on. This was working perfectly- they would never know! I ran out to recess, as surely a Russian would enjoy some fresh air before his big speech. I was about 3 steps out the door when the big ol' black lady that was the recess moniter looked at me, and said "Kyle- did your mom let you go out the door dressed like that?" Damn, they caught me. I lowered my head, said "no", and sulked back inside- changing my clothes. Looking back, it's amazing to think that I had formed some notion of what a Russian would look like, even as a child in Colorado- 12,000 miles from the Cold War. Incorrect as it may have been, it still makes me smile that I did that- at least I tried!
If my wife and I are ever blessed with children, I don't know how I will react when they do stuff like this. I will likely think that it's hilarious, and laugh.

Friday fun facts:
I am horrible about keeping our bedroom straight, but almost fanatical about having a clean kitchen.

I once placed 7th in a poker tournament that started with 120 people.

Once, at the Model UN in middle school, I got a resolution passed by telling everyone that if they just pushed it through, we could go to lunch.

I keep watching "Step Brothers", and laughing harder each time I watch it.

I proposed to my wife next to a moss-covered well at a picnic on a 45 degree, rainy day in Arkansas- it still worked as she said yes.

In high school, for a brief time, I had a cross shaved into one side of my head, and a smiley face shaved in the other.

I love french fries- good, bad, ugly, who cares- I could live off of those little pieces of goodness.

Today's wine reco comes from a bottle that I took around yesterday. If you can, try the 2006 Morgan Cotes-du-Crows. It's a blend of 55% syrah, and 45% grenache from Monterey in California. Think smoked meat notes, mixed with blackberry and raspberry. It's delicious, and should cost less than $20 retail.

Until Monday, Cheers! Come see me pouring wine at the Wine Chateau on Saturday from 12-4.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Italian Wine Primer: Abruzzi

As we move through central Italy, we are bound to hit a couple of small areas that aren't known for a variety of different things. Such is the case with the focus of today's writing- Abruzzi (or Abruzzo.) Located at the "back of the knee" on the Italian boot, Abruzzi would seem to be the perfect place to grow grapes. It is right on the Adriatic sea, it has a variety of different soils and topographies that call for grapes, it gets a ton of sunshine, and it has many little microclimates. However, we are getting into an area of Italy that is more rural, and has much less money than the Northern areas. As a result, the bulk of the wine that is grown in Abruzzi is the normal, everyday, uninspired table wine that you buy in plastic jugs at local markets. There is however one standout grape, and it happens to be a personal favorite. This would be Montepulciano D'Abruzzo. It is made from the Montepulciano grape (remember- don't confuse this with the Vino Nobile de Montepulciano, which is made in Tuscany out of sangiovese). The Montepulciano from (d') Abruzzi is a wonderful value, and probably one of the best "bang for the buck" wines from Italy. It is a medium weight red, with great dusty cherry, briar, blackberry, and mushroom notes to it. Another great thing about this wine is that it is relatively cheap. You can easily find examples for $10-15 retail.

That's about it for Abruzzi- short, I know. Next week, we will likely take a look at Puglia.

Since Montepulciano is about the only wine of note from Abruzzi, that's what I'm going to recommend. Check out the Cantina Tollo "Valle d'Oro" Montepulciano. You can buy it retail at Friar Tuck and Kayas, and they pour it buy the glass at Newstead Tower Public House (at the corner of Newstead and Manchester- killer place for burgers, too!)


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A New Venture

This post will be short today, as I am running around like a crazy man. However, I did want to let the followers of my blog know about a new venture that I am going to attempt. Basically, I want to start a beverage consulting company. Next week, the papers for incorporation of our LLC will be filed with the state of Missouri, and a subsidiary of my familiy's consulting company will be called Sip of Knowledge. Through my new company (I will keep my job with my current distributor), I will be able to do things like in-home tastings, corporate training on fine dining etiquette, sommelier services at private functions, cellar organization and valuation, restaurant wine program consulting, etc, etc, etc. I am incredibly excited about this side project, and will post more details to come. I have already been versed in such things as web design, domain names, logos, and the such- pretty crazy!

As soon as I have a website, phone number, etc set up, I will let you all know.

For today's suggestion, celebrate with me by buying a 2005 Ramey Napa Cab. I opened one yesterday, and the wine is rockin'! It should cost roughly $50 retail, but it's worth it.

Cheers, and more info to come!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Picking Wines for a Party

Last night, I did a bit of consulting for a couple that is having a wedding in October. I showed them a number of different wines at a couple of different price points. As I was doing this, it occured to me that many people can get overwhelmed when planning a party, especially when it comes to the quantity and types of wines to pour. Let me offer just a few tips.

First of all, it's important to figure out how much wine you need to buy. A typical 750 ml bottle of wine has 25.4 oz of liquid. This means that there are about 4 glasses of wine per bottle. If you are thinking in terms of 12-bottle cases, then there are roughly 50 glasses of wine per case. I would suggest buying case-loads, since many retailers will give you a price break if you buy a case or more. Now you have to consider your audience. Are they light or heavy drinkers? Do they mostly drink wine? Will you also be offering beer or liquor? For a "normal" crowd, you can plan on about 2-3 glasses of wine per person. Some groups will drink a lot more, others will drink a lot less, you will have to make the call.

Next, think about the selection. My suggestion for a big party is to have a breakdown of about 10% bubbly wine (especially if you are going to do a toast, there are about 6-8 servings of bubbly in a glass for toasting purposes), 40% white wine, and 50% red wine. When it comes to the types of white wine, don't go too crazy- I would do mainly "crowd pleasers", with a couple of other bottles thrown in for picky people. If you do about half chardonnay, and half pinot grigio, with a couple bottles of riesling thrown in, you will cover most everybody's likes. This also is the same for the reds- go with easy to drink varietals (cab, shiraz, malbec, pinot noir), with a couple bottles of something off the path (spain, bordeaux) for the wine geeks. Trust me, unless you have a crowd of all sommeliers or wine reps, it doesn't matter what you throw out there- people will drink it. I almost always have inexpensive bubbly, and a case of cheap (like around $10) white and red at the house, just for people to drink. If you get something from Italy or Spain, people have no idea what you paid for it, and automatically think it's good.

This leads to my last points- don't spend more than you have to. Most people don't care if it's a $40 syrah that scored 94 points from Parker. They see it as red wine, and it tastes good. That's okay. A large party isn't necessarily the time to teach people everything you know about wine. Instead, just pour them something inexpensive that they will quaff, and have a good time. I usually open something good for myself, and people "in the know", and hide it. Oh, one other thing...don't let people just start pulling stuff out of your rack and opening it. That's a great way to have someone crack open a bottle you were saving for later. I literally keep all of my "trophy" bottles at my office. This way, I have to consciously think about bringing it home to drink, since I'm not going to leave my house and make an hour round trip to grab a bottle while I'm throwing a party. It also keeps us from opening something special at the end of the night, when nobody will be able to taste it anyway.

Today's wine suggestion is a perfect example of a good party wine- try the Bodegas Olivares "Altos de la Hoya". This is a 100% monastrell from Jumilla, Spain. It has a good balance of plum and blackberry fruit, along with old-world rusticity and charm. It should cost you roughly $11 retail.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Wines for the changing seasons

It's bound to happen. As you are mowing, you notice more and more brown leaves on the ground. The morning has just a bit more of a chill to it- your car even has more dew on it. Football is officially in full swing, and you are digging out that old chili recipe that you think you have memorized, but don't. Fall is approaching. With the annual popping up of apple cider and those little Brachs pumpkin candies, it's a great time to also change up the wines in your "drink now" rack at home.
This is the time to put down the pinot grigio, unoaked chardonnay, and torrontes that you have been drinking by the bucket-full all summer. Put on a fleece, your old reliable jeans (if they still fit), and a pair of boots, and head to ye ol' reliable liquor store. For the fall, I like to drink light to medium body red wines. The first thing that you might start hearing about is Beaujolais. Let's clear this up- some of this wine is good, some of it isn't. Beaujolais is an area on the south end of Burgundy, and the grapes that are grown here are called Gamay. This is basically a kissing cousin to Pinot Noir. On the Third Thursday of November, Beaujolais Nouveau comes out. Known as the "youngest wine in the world" these grapes were only crushed 8 or 9 weeks earlier. It is cheap, brightly acidic, fresh, and frankly pretty gross. I tend to get a lot of pink bubble-gum flavors, and a strong banana note out of these. These wines are quite a bit different than Beaujolais AC and Beaujolais Villages that are available. There are 10 individual villages in the area, each producing a higher-level, finer wine. These also have the fruit-forward characteristics, but less of the flavors previously listed. They are the perfect transition wine from summer to fall- I would recommend throwing it in the fridge for about 45 minutes prior to drinking, just to put a slight chill on it. Labels to look for are Chateau de la Chaize, and Chateau de la Terriere.

The next wines to look at are Pinot Noir. This gets interesting, because there is interesting stuff from Burgundy, California, Oregon, New Zealand, and even South America out there. In general, the wines from Burgundy and Oregon tend to be a bit earthier, the ones from Cali have a bit more body and alcohol (many are pumped up with a good dose of syrah or merlot), and the ones from New Zealand are a bit more acidic. Burgundy requires several days of blogging to explain, so if you are tentative, just ask your retailer for some help (or call me). From California, there is a huge variety of price ranges. For the lower end stuff, I like Saintsbury and Laetitia. Oregon-wise, check out Iris, Panther Creek, and Ayres. New zealand fans should try to find Saint Clair.

Finally, I have written previously about malbec. There are tons of them out there- just start buying and trying. The plum and smokiness of the ones from Argentina fit fall foods really well.

Stay tuned this week for a big announcement.


Friday, September 18, 2009

The Best Meals I Have Ever Eaten

Since, on Fridays, I want to write out of personal experiences, I would like to tell about some of the best meals I have ever eaten in my life. These aren't in any particular order, and I'm not able to tell all of them.

Wedding Rehearsal Dinner-
We had a sit down dinner for about 40 people at the Wildwood Inn in Denton, TX. The menu consisted of a spinach and goat cheese salad, filet with lobster thermadour, and white chocolate creme brulee. It was awesome having the people that mean the most to me and my wife all in the same room, eating great food and drinking good wine together. One note- the head table drank much better wine than the rest of the room. Hey, it was our party!

Dinners With Josh-
I had a buddy in Boston that had done something like a 2-year stage in a 2-Michelin Star French restaurant. Plus, he was 5th generation Harvard, and spent all of his time and money on food and wine related things. Needless to say, the boy could cook. One time, he made a 7-course meal for 6 people, each course paired with ridiculous wines (Lafite, y'quem, etc). Another time, he called me and said that his freezer had gone out. He whipped together a ludicrous meal with foie fras, lamb, duck, and dozens of other things. I specifically remember a white fish souflee that was amazingly rich, and delicate at the same time.

My 29th Birthday-
I have been known for throwing some serious birthday bashes, and this one was the most memorable. We had 12 people over for a sit down dinner that included over 30 bottles of wine. It was a ton of fun, and nobody got too out of control- just lots of friends laughing, telling stories, eating steak and shrimp, and having a blast.

Italian restaurant in Dallas-
When I worked for Smith and Wollensky in Dallas, I used to have a local Italian chef come in and eat. One night, I picked up the tab for his meal, just to be nice. The next week, he told me and my wife to show up at his restaurant. We walked in, sat down, and he literally ran to the table to take menus out of our hands before a waiter could take any sort of order. He just started sending stuff out to the, wine, everything. I think his orders were "send them a course every 10 minutes until they die, then every 15 minutes after that." It was the first time that I really got a "hook up" at a restaurant, and it was amazing.

Thanksgiving in Boston-
When we lived in the Northeast, we were in an apartment complex that had quite a few transplants from all over the country. Most of these folks were about our age, and we all became quick friends. One year, 13 of us got together for Thanksgiving. It was quite the motley crew, and quite the eclectic dinner. Besides the 21 pound turkey (huge!), there were enchiladas, potato salad, and yes...Jaegermeister. We were all stuck in Boston for the holidays, so we just had a great time together. I miss most of those folks!

Now for Fridays Fun Facts:

I don't know if it's some sort of Pavlovian response, but walking into a bookstore makes me have to use the restroom.

I secretly like Natalie Merchant's music

My favorite car of all time is the Ferrari 360 Spider

I can't stand cheap tequila- one bad night in Waco, TX caused this

It makes me sad to see poor people buying lottery tickets

I will drink all levels of coffee- from gas station coffee to starbucks to french press stuff, it pretty much all tastes the same to me

I think Rachel Ray would whip Bobby Flay's ass in a fight.

That's it for the week. Have a great weekend, drink something good!


Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Shin of the Boot

Today, I will briefly be discussing the "shin of the boot" on the Italian Peninsula- Campania. Best known for the city of Naples, Campania is right on the Thyrennian Sea, and contains the famed Amalfi Coast. The sun-drenched vineyards contain quite a bit of volcanic material, as they lie literally in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius.
Because the days can get so hot, most of Southern Italy isn't really known for white wines. However, three of my favorite obscure Italian whites come out of this area. They are- Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo, and Falanghina. Fiano and Greco are both grown pretty near the town of Avellino. They are both dry, medium acid whites with a touch of a nutty flavor. I think that the Fiano grape tends to produce a lighter, more minerally wine. Greco, when done correctly, makes a bit richer wine that is flat out delicious. Falanghina is my favorite of the three. It is a medium weight, minerally white that can sometimes have a really cool note of ripe bananas. For any of the three, try to find wines from the producers Mastroberardino, or Feudi di San Gregorio (kind of a hippie compound of winemakers).
Campania also makes arguably the best red wine in Southern Italy- the Aglianico grape that is used to make Taurasi. These are deep, dark, rich reds with black cherry and chocolate notes that are ageable for a few years. Again, look for Mastroberardino.

That's about it on Campania- It's a small place that makes very little wine.

If you aren't watching Top Chef, you need to be. The cooking talent on the current season is ridiculous- these guys really kick ass in the kitchen.

I saw a deer get hit on the highway the other day- it didn't end well for either the deer or the car. Stupid deer.

Today's wine selection- Try Tangent Sauvignon Blanc. It is made by a group that only makes white wines, they don't make any chard, and they don't use oak anywhere in their program. Because the wines are from Central California, I can actually handle their Sauvy. It should cost around $12 retail, and is for sure available at Friar Tuck, 33, and Robust.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

just not having it

Do you ever have one of those days where you're just not having it? You wake up, and nothing is necessarily wrong, but nothing really seems right either? It's the type of day where you feel the perfect breeze and sunshine on your face as you take the bags of yard waste to the curb, but you also think about your credit card balance as you are driving to work in silence. It's the type of day where your hair actually turned out okay, but you are down to your last dress shirt that is still in season. It's the type of day where you are proud of yourself for eating healthy at lunch, but kicking yourself for the second portion of taco salad at dinner last night. You aren't happy, you aren't sad, you are just kind of......there. This, my friends, is one of those days. In this spirit of "fair to midline", I offer some tidbits of wine and restaurant stuff, as I got nothin' else-

-Its rumored that Gerard Craft of Niche fame is going to buy the Chez Leon space in the Central West End. I will be by Niche today, and will post more info if I get any.

-Speaking of the CWE, Sapphire Pan Asian closed this last weekend. Honestly, I never really liked the place. I had to say that I did, because they bought wine from me. One night, my wife and I were eating there and the food was so bad that we left our plates full, paid up, went across the street, and had dinner at Dressels.

-Jeff Stettner continues to blow people away at his monthly "Dorm Dinner Series". If you can figure out a way for a reservation, I highly recommend it- it's a lot of fun.

-If you are a fan of Cachaca (Brazillian Rum), try a new one in the market called Velho Barreiro. I know they use it in the Caipirinhas at Yemanja Brazil, and also at Coco Louco. It has a really cool, slightly sweet vanilla note to it. Atomic Cowboy carries it, and I think Eclipse might pick it up.

-I ate at Jim Fiala's new place downtown. I won't give a full review, as the place just opened- but the space is funky in a good way. It's a big, glass box with lots of sculpture art. I hope it does well for him.

-Meritage is an American term, combining the words "Merit" and "Heritage". It rhymes with Heritage, not the pseudo-french "Meri-tahje" that some people say. A Meritage is a blend of two or more Bordeaux grapes, made in America- it should be the winery's best wine, and limited to 25,000 cases or less production annually.

-The new menu at Terrene looks outstanding. I had the Shitake and Miso soup yesterday- my serving just needed a touch of salt, and was pretty darn good. I'm glad that Terrene is still kicking right along- I really like John, Sunny, Jaime, Melissa, and the rest of the folks over there.

-I don't recommend the hot wings from Papa John's. They are wierd, and don't taste very good.

I do, however, recommend the 2008 Mapema Sauvignon Blanc. I'm usually not a huge sauvy fan because a lot of them have too much acid, and taste like grapefruit (i don't like grapefruit). This one, however, has a roundness to it that is really refreshing. It should cost you about $12 retail.

Tomorrow, we talk Italy again.

Cheers, peace, and grease.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

All Riesling is Sweet, Right?

When I say the word "riesling" what is the first thing that comes to mind? If you are like most people, your first reaction is "sweet". Other folks might think of the stuff in a blue bottle they stole out of Granny's liquor cabinet. Wine geeks probably say "acidity". I would like to take a couple of paragraphs to write about what is quite possibly the greatest white wine-making grape in the world. Native to Germany, Riesling is one of those grapes that can take on just about any form. It can be anywhere from bone dry to cloyingly sweet, light and airy to syrupy, watery and flavorless to deep, dark, and concentrated, and can cost anywhere from $3 to well into the $1000's per bottle.
The riesling that most people think of is from Germany, which is where a majority of the quality juice is produced. The wines from there, in a very general and over-simplified sense, tend to be a touch fruit-forward, showing apricot and lemon candy flavors with a dose of slate and minerality. I won't go into the fine details of reading a German wine label, but I do want to address some terms. In the QmP wines (the top level), you will see the terms Kabinett, Spatlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Eiswein, or Trockenbeerenauslese (also called TBA). Simply put, this is just a term that indicates the ripeness level of the grape at harvest. They loosely translate into the sweetness level of the wine (going from the driest style (kabinett) to the sweetest style (TBA), however this doesn't have to be the case. Remember, sweetness in wine depends on the sugar level at harvest, and how much of that sugar was fermented out to create alcohol. There are plenty of spatlese level rieslings out there that have been fermented completely dry. Confused? Sorry, I digress. The one common thing that you will see in Riesling, no matter where it is from, is acidity. This is a high-acid grape that in its finest forms can literally age for decades. I have had the chance to drink old rieslings, and some are absolutely stunning.
Germany isn't the only place that makes this wonderful grape. Just look to some of the cooler growing places in the world, as Riesling doesn't do well in heat. Here in the old U S of A, there are some wonderful versions coming out of New York State, Washington, and Oregon. They tend to be a touch sweet, with low alcohol contents, and really pleasant to drink. I also like the almost bone-dry wines that come from the Clare Valley in Australia. These are always easily identifiable in blind tastings because they have a distinct lime note to them. They can also get a note of "petrol" to them- think of the smell on your hands after you fill your gas tank, but in a good way. Many Germans get this too- JJ Prum is known for it. Finally, there are really cool, drier versions coming out of New Zealand and South Africa.

One thing that I love about riesling is how utilitarian it is. It goes great just drinking a cool glass after work, and can match a huge variety of foods. In the last couple of weeks, I have drank riesling with cajun pasta, bratwursts, and Chinese takeout. In fact, most of the foods that you would drink a light beer or margarita with will generally take well to an off-dry riesling.

The trick to rieslings is to just start buying some. The labels are confusing, and have big German words on them, but don't be scared. I will address this soon enough.

Today's suggestion- go out and buy two bottles of Riesling- one from America (try Chateau St. Michelle), and one from Germany (look for Monchhof), and try them side by side. Let me know the similarities and the differences that you see in them.

Until next time, Cheers!

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Tale of Two Tastings

I have once heard of wine being described as "Art that only reaches its full potential by being destroyed". I somewhat agree with this. Wine in a bottle, just sitting there (assuming that it has been aged properly) doesn't do anybody any good. It only reaches its potential when someone opens the bottle, pours it out, and drinks it. This weekend, I saw this in action at two very different venues. I have two different friends (lets call them E and M) that invited me to two different styles of events that had similar outcomes.

The first event was one that E invited me to several weeks ago. It was a celebration of his birthday, as well as for him taking his third round of boards as a physician. He invited several serious wine folks to a blind tasting- they covered 15 bottles in foil, and tasted through them. There were offical note-taking sheets, scoring, and even a winner was declared. Unfortunately, I arrived late and just got to drool over the boneyard of empty bottles that I didn't get to try. The wines that were opened ranged from good California Cabs to a 100 point Chateauneuf.

The second event was definitely last minute. I got a text at about 6:30 Sunday night, saying that M had gotten ahold of a 6 Liter bottle of 1990 Bryant Family Cabernet. I don't know if this means anything to you, but Bryant is a highly collectible, sought after, very expensive wine from California. The current offerings go for about $500/regular sized bottle. Add in the fact that their first release to the public was in 1991 (this bottle was made the year before, and only available through the family that owns the winery), and you have an extremely valuable bottle. I heard guesses from people "in the know" that put the bottle between $3k and $10k at the right auction. Did M have formal tasting notes, etc? Nope. He opened it at a bar, poured it into Falstaff pitchers, and started calling friends to come and share the experience.

It was really cool to see that the result of both events was the same- people with different occupations, backgrounds, ethnicities, and income levels all were sitting around chatting, laughing, and having a good time. E's event was planned, catered, and thought about weeks in advance. M's group came together in two hours via texting and word-of-mouth. E's group was full of doctors, lawyers, rich folks, and wine snobs, with some restaurant folks sprinkled in. M's group was mainly waitstaff from local restaurants and bars. E's group followed the tasting with bottles of 2005 Flor de Pingus. M's group followed the tasting with shots of Grand-Ma and loads of whiskey. E's group didn't smoke, M's did.

As different as the groups were, there was an amazing similarity of discussions- How much people don't like their jobs, new and old restaurants, health care reform, and tattoos were talked about at BOTH locations! The other common thread was laughter. Wine causes this, which makes me happy. Just because it is "bottled poetry" doesn't mean that it has to be serious. It is made for people to enjoy, and these people did.

Have a great week, folks. My recommendation today is the 2006 Tikal Patriota. It's a blend of Bonarda and Malbec from Argentina. You can get it at most local retailers, and I know its carried at Niche, Sidney St. Cafe, and by the glass at 33.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Brushes with Fame

I was going to talk about all of the automobiles that I have had in my life, but last night I was talking with some friends about "brushes with fame." These are the times when you talk to or interact with someone famous. I figure mine are more interesting than talking about the Chevy Beretta that I totaled in college.
The greatest opportunity that I had to meet famous people was when I worked at Smith and Wollensky in Boston. Because we were a high-profile restaurant, lots of rich and famous people wanted to come in for dinner. Some of these interactions were pretty funny. For example, Rick Schroeder came in (yep- the blonde kid from Silver Spoons, and later NYPD Blue) with his manager. They were eating dinner, and all of the sudden the manager approaches me and Jim, the GM of the restaurant. He came right up to us, and asked "Hey guys, do you want me to set up a photo op with you and Rick?" I looked at Jim, tried to control my laughter, looked at him, and said "Nope, I think we're okay." The manager sulked off.
I did have the chance to meet Green Day. They were really pretty cool guys. I talked to their keyboardist for quite a while, and he was pretty humble for a rock star. George Wendt (Norm on Cheers) was a good guy, as was Matt Pinfield (they bald guy that used to host Headbanger's Ball on MTV). Justin Guarini, of American Idol fame was kind of a dork, and Jack Welch was pretty quiet. The wildest experience though that I had there was managing the rookie dinner for the New England Patriots.
It's often a ritual that the newly drafted rookies have to buy dinner for an NFL team. After the Patriots won the Super Bowl in early 2005, they had this dinner at our restaurant. I have never seen such an example of excess and wanton waste in my life. There were about 60 guys, with one PR rep and no coaches at the dinner. In just under 3 hours, they spent almost $46,000 on dinner, booze, and wine. The problem came when the rookies said that they would only cover $40,000 of the tab. I had to go to Tom Brady, Wilie McGinnest, and Ty Law (team captains), and ask them to pony up $6,000. Willie looked at me, and said "you look nervous man, don't you do these things alot?", not really. If they didn't pay up, I would lose my job! Finally, Tom Brady threw his Amex black card down, and said just to take care of it. I did, and handed his card back to him. About 1/2 hour later, he came up to me, asking about his card. I told him that I had given it back to him.
"No you didn't"
"Yes, sir I did"
"Man, you didn't"
"Mr Brady, I assure you I handed you your card back"
"Dude, I don't have the card"
"TOM. Look in your wallet."
"Oh, here it is. Sorry, man."
One thing that I learned is that most of the veteran players were pretty cool. The younger guys were the drunken idiots.

Well, this weekend, go open a bottle of 2007 Saintsbury Carneros Pinot Noir. The '07 wines out of Carneros (and cabs out of Napa) are really proving to be good wines. This particular one comes from a 28 year old winery. I have heard that aged Saintsbury wines literally drink like fruit forward Burgundy. This wine should cost you in the mid-20's.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Italian Wine Primer- the Tre Venezie

Having looked at the importance of Piedmont and Tuscany to the Italian wine scene, let's shift gears a little bit and head to the Northeastern corner of Italy. Today, we will briefly look at the "Three Venices": Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Trentino-Alto Aldige, and the Veneto. These three areas are tied together not only by similar geography and political boundaries, but also by their style of wine making. Whereas the rich lush red wines come from the previously studied areas, we are now going to talk more white wines, with some reds sprinkled in. Let's start with Friuli-Venezia Giulia (which I will call Friuli for my finger's sake in typing.)

Located North of the Adriatic sea, Friuli has numerous vineyards in the foothills of the Alps. It is home to some of the local whites like Tocai, and also to some of the best of the international varietals like Pinot Grigio. It's funny though- almost half of the area's production is in red wines, particularly Merlot. The combination of warm, sunny days and cooler nights in the foothills makes Friuli the perfect place to make a local favorite- Tocai. Think of a wine that is about the weight of chardonnay, with some spicy and herbal notes. It's really cool stuff, if you can find it. The area also produces much of the Pinot Grigio that people drink by the bucket at Applebee's. A couple of sweeter wines to keep an eye out for from Friuli are Picolit and verduzzo di Romandalo. Neither are cheap options, but they age decently well, and are delicious.

Now we head up the mountain slopes to Trentino- Alto Adige. This is the most Northern of the Italian areas, and shares a border with Austria (in fact, there is quite a bit of German spoken in the area.) The leading white in the area is Chardonnay, which makes a leaner style than we are used to in California. They also make quite a bit of the country's spumante (sparkling) wine from this area. My favorite wines from here are the Pinot Blancs, and the Traminer (think gewurtztraminer). You can also find some neat reds from there too- try some Lagrein if you are a fan of Malbecs, and Teroldego if you are a fan of Merlots.

The third piece of the puzzle in the Tre Venezie is Veneto. There are several wines that are wildly popular that come from here, including Soave, Valpolicella, Amarone, and Prosecco. The leading white wine is Soave, which is made from Garganega and Trebbiano grapes. Although it used to be considered a simpleton wine, a couple of producers, Anselmi in particular, have really made strides in creating richer, creamier Soave. They have gotten away from the green, weedy wines that gave the area a bad name. Valpolicella is a wonderful, bright, mid-weight red wine made mainly from Corvina, Molinara, and Rondinella. They are usually fairly inexpensive and can be widely found. Now, if you take the same grapes, dry them out, and crush the raisins (a process called Recioto), you get Amarone- deliciously dark, heavy, and pruny wines from the area. The fantastically light bubbly wine that you use in your Bellini is called Prosecco, and also comes from theVeneto. This is a blend of mostly the Prosecco grape, along with some pinot grigio.

So there you have it- the Tre Venezie, an area that makes wines that range from light, almost watery pinot grigio to dark, brooding Amarone.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Stages of Wine Development

No, I'm not talking about how wine develops within the bottle. I'm going to talk about how a wine lover develops- literally, the stages that most people go through in their love affair with wine. Much like a person develops from a baby into a toddler into a child, followed by teenager, young adult, mature adult, old person, so goes a person's development in the wine world. Here are the comparable stages as I see them:

This is a person that is barely into wine. They have tried white zinfandel, maybe some riesling. They know little to nothing about wine, and honestly don't really care. All of us started at this point. What they drink- Beringer White Zinfandel, over ice, out of a paper cup.

This is the person that has had a couple of wine experiences. The phrase you hear a lot from them is "I don't like red wine- it gives me a headache." No, the quantity of red wine you drank the last time you had it gave you the headache. They are starting to show a spark of interest in wine, but bright shiny objects may distract them as well. What they drink- Yellow Tail Shiraz.

This is where it starts to get a little more serious. This is the person that has tried a couple of varietals, and knows that they like one in particular. Think of your friend that, no matter where you go, she orders a glass of Pinot Grigio. You could pour an unoaked chardonnay in her glass, and she would never be able to tell the difference, but that's okay- it makes her happy. These people eat at Olive Garden a lot. What They Drink- Mondavi Coastal Chardonnay.

You will recognize the change from childhood into teenager by a couple of different things- first of all, they will start talking about specific labels of wine. This is the one that says "oh, I had the Baileyana Chardonnay last week, and really liked it." The second indication is that they will also utter the phrase "I never thought I would spend $24 on a bottle of wine. Can you believe it?". Finally, they will get a subscription to the Wine Spectator. This is a fun stage to interact with people in. They admit that they have a lot to learn, and are willing to try new things. What they drink- Crios Malbec.

Young Adult-
This is the most irritating phase. This is the person that not only has subscriptions to Wine Spectator, but also Wine Enthusiast, Wine Advocate, Wine and Spirits, etc, etc, etc. They are also shown to be "point whores" and will not buy anything that scored less than 90 points somewhere. They will toss around winery names like Silver Oak, Jordan, Opus One, and Caymus because they think it makes them sound like a big player. The best test to see if someone is in this stage is to ask them "What do you think of the Grand Crus out of Gevrey Chambertin from '04?" and see if their face goes pale or not. Even though they can be annoying, retail shop owners and restaurant owners love this person- they are the one spending way beyond their means on wine, and hiding the credit card receipts from their wives. What they drink- the 1997 Caymus Special Select, decanted in their "crystal duck" decanter, out of their Riedel "Cabernet" Glass, at exactly 64 degrees, because that's what James Laube told them to do.

Mature Adult-
This is the person that has actually thought about their wine collection at home. They have organized it into wines to drink now, over the next 5 years, and wines to age. They have moved beyond the big labels, and have started searching out wines that they really like, including Burgundy and Bordeaux. They will likely be on a couple of mailing lists, and can honestly tell you the difference between the three different syrahs they bought from their favorite producer last week. These folks really like to do blind tastings with their friends- they may, however, try to "one up" each other by pulling out some ridiculous stuff every once in a while. What they drink- 2007 Decendientes de Jose Palacios "Petalos", because it's good and few people have heard of it.

Old person-
This is the wine lover that has been doing it for a long time. They drink particular Bordeauxs or Burgundies, not because its fashionable, but because it's what they have done for decades. These are the folks that love to pull out the 1959 Romanee Conti, just to see a younger person's face light up at the chance of drinking a once-in-a-lifetime wine. I love talking to these type of people, and relish looking at their collections. What they drink- Whatever they want to. They have been at this for too long to worry about what others think of their selections- maybe a 1998 Jaboulet La Chapelle, just to see if it's improving.

So, no matter what stage you are at, don't worry. Like I said yesterday, if you think it tastes good, then drink it. Your tastes will likely change over the years, as will what you consider acceptable to pay for wine. For now, enjoy the stage you are in, find some other people that want to learn, and open a bottle.

Today's suggestion-
Try the 2006 Whitehall Lane Napa Cab. However, don't drink it right away. I opened a bottle yesterday, and it showed chocolate, cassis, and a bit of a vegetal note that comes from its youth. I would give this wine at minimum a year or two in your basement before cracking it. It should cost you $35-$40 retail.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Price to drinkability ratio

Every once in a while, the term QPR comes up when talking about wine. To the uninitiated, this stands for Quality-to-Price-Ratio. Basically, its a subjective measure of if a wine tastes good for what you paid for it. In wine, there is often a wide gap in qpr's- I have tried wines that cost $6 that were fantastic, especially considering the price. I have also tried $200 bottles of wine that makes me go "eh, I'd rather drink the $6 one." There is an ever increasing disconnect between the quality of a bottle of wine, and the price. The issue that I would like to talk about today, however, is the link between price and (to steal a phrase from those irritating Bud Light commercials) drinkability. I want to explore if there is a link or not between how much you pay for a bottle of wine, and if it is truly drinkable and enjoyable today.
Let me start off by saying that I contend that we tend to drink good wines way too young. Because we are rich, fat Americans that want instant gratification for everything that we do, we pop open the $150 bottle of Napa Cab upon release. Slow down, grasshopper. Let the wine age in your cellar for 10 or 15 years. I also contend that there is an over-arching connection between the price of a wine and ageability. If you look at the truly ageable wines- Classified Bordeauxs, Burgundies, good Rieslings, Napa Cabs, etc, they tend to cost more money. Now, this isn't always the case. There are definitely expensive wines that are ready to drink now, but I think that the less expensive the wine, the closer you are to having it taste good right now. Remember, only about 4% of the wines in the world are meant to be aged more than a year after their release.
So, that leaves us with a bunch of wines that are ready to drink now, and relatively inexpensive. Does the price affect what we think of these wines? Does it affect how much we enjoy them? I ran a very small experiment yesterday, and am humored by the results. Last night, my wife and I had two other couples over for dinner. These aren't wine folks at all- a couple of them are mildly interested in it, but nobody there has more than a bottle or two in their home, if any at all. Just to see what would happen, I put two bottles of white wine on the table- a bottle of Santa Julia Pinot Grigio that would retail for about $10, and a bottle of Ramey Chardonnay that would retail for north of $60. I didn't say anything about the quality of the wines, nor the price. One thing I learned a long time ago is that if you want to know what wine is preferred by the masses, set a bunch of different wines out at a party, and see which ones are finished first. Throughout the course of the meal, the wines were being drank at about an equal rate. A couple of people preferred the more expensive chard, and a couple of people preferred the less expensive pinot grigio. When they were about 3/4 gone, someone asked me what they cost. I just said that the chard costs about 6 times what the pinot grigio did. Guess which one everyone started grabbing for! They immediately talked about how much better the chard tastes, even though the same people were saying earlier in the meal that they preferred the less expensive pinot grigio.
All I'm saying folks is- let your palate be your guide. Just because a wine is more expensive doesn't mean that it's better! To be honest, I actually liked the pinot grigio better last night, especially with the food we were having. If you like it, then it's good. Granted, there are some very inexpensive wines that I refuse to drink (ie Yellow Tail, Charles Shaw, etc), but that's because I firmly believe that they taste horrible, and have little or no soul to them. So, drink what you like, spend money that is within your means on wine, and don't be afraid to try something new!

The Pinot Grigio that we drank was the 2009 Santa Julia, from Argentina (yep- not from Italy, but from Mendoza, Argentina). It is made from all organically grown grapes, and tastes great with grilled shrimp.


Friday, September 4, 2009

The wierdest gift I ever received...

If you have ever sat in my family room, you might have noticed a small bust of a man with a 70's porn moustache, and hair reminiscent of the Beastie Boys "Sabatoge" video. You might think this is a strange thing to decorate an otherwise western-themed room, and you would be correct. However, since the story behind it was so great, I had to put it out there for public display and scrutiny.
When I lived in Denton, TX I worked weekends as the head waiter at a B&B called the Wildwood Inn. One of the guys that I worked with was a dude named Ronnie Bass. To say Ronnie is one-of-a-kind is a severe understatement. He was an artist, a fan of wine, and a good friend.
One of Ronnie's favorite things to do was to scour local flea markets for items to put into his art. One day, he noticed the owners of a large flea market closing and packing up an entire booth. Ronnnie asked what the deal was, and the owners replied that the person renting the stall had been late on their payment, so they were shutting them down. Ronnie asked if he could purchase everything in the stall for the back rent. The owners agreed, and Ronnie got an entire stall for $150. As it turned out, the stall was owned by another artist named Ron Collette and included family picture albums. Ronnie decided he would use Ron's life as an art project. He put himself in the man's family pictures, and even went so far as to make himself physically look like the man- moustache, haircut and all.
One other project that Ronnie did was to take the man's likeness and create four busts of it, each about the size of a golf ball. He glued those busts to the top of four of the brass poles that you see at movie theatres with the velvet ropes between them. Why did he do this? I have no idea.
After the rehearsal dinner for my wedding, Ronnie invited me back to his place to have some wine, and so he could give us our wedding gift. At this point, he was quite drunk- he walked over to one of the poles, broke the bust off, and handed it to me. This was our wedding gift, and I must say it was the most unique one we got! We will probably keep the thing forever, and hopefully I will run into Ronnie again someday.

Okay, now for Friday's random facts:

I have broken/torn cartilidge in my nose 6 times, broken both hands and my right foot, torn up a knee, dislocated a shoulder, had two concussions, and had hypothermia in my life.

I can't stand cats. They're arrogant.

The only state of the lower 48 that I have never been in is Vermont.

I was once held in an airport in Belize because of a bomb threat on my airplane.

At almost all times in the day, I have at least one beverage within reach, but I'm trying to go all of 2009 without drinking regular soda.

Okay, for my suggestion for the Labor Day weekend, go check out Five restaurant. They are at the corner of Hereford and Daggett on the Hill. Anthony Devoti, and his sous-chef Cory are putting out crazy fresh, mainly locally sourced food that is American with a bit of an Italian twist. They are fantastic guys, have a superb staff and a beautiful place, and their food freaking rocks. Now if they would only put one of my wines on by the glass........

Have a great holiday, be good, be careful, don't wear white after Monday, and Cheers.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Italian Wine Primer: Toscana

If Piedmont is "Lighnting" when it comes to Italian wine production, then Tuscany is "Thunder". Locally called Toscana, Tuscany is responsible for about 5.5% of Italy's total wine production, but it's the wines that you have likely heard of. One cannot have a discussion about Italian wine, and not mention Chianti, Brunello Di Montalcino, Vino Nobile de Montepulciano, and Super Tuscans.
Since Italian wines are named after the places that they come from, it is often difficult to remember what grapes they are made of. When we discussed Piedmont, the most important grape to recognize is Nebbiolo. In Tuscany, the grape to think about is Sangiovese.

Chianti is probably the most recognizable wine from Tuscany. Made from Sangiovese, it can be blended with up to 15 percent of other grapes (usually canaiolo, merlot, or cabernet sauvignon.) The days of the insipid, watery wines coming from bottles covered by wicker baskets at white and red checkered-tablecloth restaurants are pretty much over. There has been a rise in quality of Chianti, and the new wines have more body, structure, and personality than before. The Chianti appelation is divided into seven subzones, which you might see on the label: Classico, Aretini, Colli Fiorentini, Colli Senesi, Colline Pisane, Montalbano, and Rufina.

The next area that most have heard of is Brunello di Montalcino. These are the darker, more brooding, ageable wines from the area around the city of Montalcino. As the name suggests, they are made from Brunello, which is a clone of sangiovese- its name means "little brown one". Brunellos are the usually the most sought after, expensive, and longest lived wines from Tuscany. They also have really long ageing requirements- they must be aged in barrel for at least 3 1/2 years before release. If you can't afford the Brunellos, try its little brother Rosso di Montalcino, which is much more accessible.

Vino Nobile de Montepulciano is named after the nobility that used to be in the city of Montepulciano, and would drink the wine. It, too is made from a clone of sangiovese called prugnolo (meaning prune), and can be blended with canaiolo, malvasia, and trebbiano. Don't confuse this wine with one called Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, which comes from Abruzzi (east of Rome on the Adriatic sea). I know, it's hard.

Finally we get to the great Super Tuscans. As discussed last week, Italian wines are broken into the quality levels of VdT, IGT, DOC, And DOCG. The wines that we have been talking about have all been DOCG level, which is considered the best. In the late 70's, some producers wanted to make wines out of grapes that didn't legally fit within the DOC or the DOCG rules. The main example of this was Sassicaia- a producer making 100% Cabernet Sauvignon out of Tuscany. Basically, the wine rocked, but couldn't be considered a top-quality wine by government standards. This started the "Super Tuscan" movement- wines being made that are of great quality levels, but are only considered IGT wines by the government because they are made of something besides 85 % sangiovese. The names you will hear bantered about are Sassicaia (made from Cab), Tiganello (sangiovese with a huge dose of cab), Ornellaia (mainly cab), and Masseto (mainly merlot) among others. The cult-nature of these rogue wines has made them very expensive, although I must admit it's worth it. They are stunning!

Other Tuscan wines worth mentioning are the wonderful dry white Vernaccia di San Gimignamo, and the sultry sweet called Vin Santo (usually made of dried trebbiano grapes).

That's enough for your probably already aching heads for today.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wine Books I Recommend

Whew. Now that I got yesterday's rant off my chest as well as caught a baseball game, watched Anthony Bourdain, and got a good night sleep, I feel much better.

I often get asked what books I recommend for learning about wine. First of all, the best way to learn wine is to buy a couple of bottles, open them, drink them with a couple of friends, and talk about them. However, many people want more detailed, nerdy type information (don't sweat it...I'm right there with you.) In that case, I would suggest getting on Amazon and ordering the following:

Windows on the World Complete Wine Course (by Kevin Zraly)-
If you are just learning wine, this is the most complete 101 style book I have seen. I have also had the opportunity to take Zraly's course, and he is one of the most passionate people I have ever met wthen it comes to wine. Plus, he's wicked smart.

Wine for Dummies-
Seriously. I pick my copy up at least once every week or two.

Wine Lover's Companion-
This is more of a dictionary style book that gives quick little explanation of wine terms. This is the book that I probably reference the most.

The Wine Bible-
This is also a dictionary-style book, with more lengthy explanations. I use mine a lot, too.

Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia-
I stole mine from my dad, and might not give it back. This really gets into some detail, but it is fantastic. This is also a large, expensive book- I suggest either stealing one from my dad, or finding a used one online.

World Atlas of Wine-
This book is incredibly helpful if you are trying to learn about the different wine areas of the world. It is by Hugh Johnson, one of the big names in wine books and wine knowledge.

Oxford Companion to Wine-
This is the book that I studied the most when getting ready for my CSW, and my Certified Sommelier tests. The articles are lengthy, but information packed. Jancis Robinson is the author, and again truly a Mensa-level IQ about all things wine-related.

That should keep you busy for a little while. One other recommendation that I have is NOT to buy all those "2009 (fill in the blank)'s Guide to Buying Wine". The books are seldom up to date, are heavily biased, and you can get all that information for free online.

Today's wine recommendation comes from Germany. Go out and find the 2007 Von Hovel Balduin Riesling. It should cost you less than $18 at a store. Think fresh green apples, with a touch of slate. It is low alcohol (only about 8%), and in theory, one could finish a bottle with their neighbor in less than an hour...or so I've heard...not that I would have personal experience with this or anything!
The winery has a cool history too. It was built in the 12th century by monks. The Von Kunow family, whom is in their 6th generation of owning and running the winery, bought it from Napolean in 1806.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

An open note to the lady from last night:

Dear lady whom tried to hold a fundraiser for money to help cancer,

If you call a local wine bar, and ask them to open on a Monday night when they aren't usually open, please bring some people. The owner doesn't know you. When you prey on his kindness by saying that 80-100 people are going to show, he will probably believe you. It is because of this kindness that he will give you the space, as well as the reputation of his bar, for FREE. When you say that you have lots of friends that are really into wine, and want to donate money to your cause, he will believe you again. He will then pass this information on to his local wine distributor, whom will also believe you. The bar owner will spend his day off preparing and cleaning the space for you, using his electricity and gas to make the room comfortable for you. The distributor will donate bottles of wine to open and pour, spending his sample budgets for you. Then, when you only have two people show up (one of whom walked in off the street), it pisses everyone involved off. You see, now the bar owner will be much less likely to hold events for people who are legitimate in their efforts. The distributor will also be less likely to donate wine for such events. I do appreciate the fact that 5 bottles of wine were sold, but we opened six bottles for you. Money was not made by the bar, nor raised by you. Plenty of time, resources, and good will were wasted though.
You asked for suggestions on what to do next time. Here are a few-
1. Call your friends and family. If they like you, they will support your event.
2. Don't make signs with permanent marker and posterboard, because your handwriting sucks and the signs look ridiculous
3. Ask for people to RSVP- maybe even take their entry fee/donation ahead of time
4. Crackers, cheese, and summer sausage do not count as "appetizers"
5. Have good stuff for your raffle- books that not even you have heard of and an invitation to a time share presentation good prizes do not make.
6. When promoting your event, look into the type of people you want to draw. If you want folks to come to a wine tasting, maybe promote it on a local wine website. Just sayin'.
7. Don't ever ask for the bar owner's or my help again. This may sound rude, but you had him come in on his night off, leaving his 7-month pregnant wife at home, so you could come drink free wine samples with your husband. You will get laughed at, and probably talked about behind your back.

Sorry for the negative tone of this post today. I'm tired and grumpy, and my shirt doesn't fit very well.

Go drink some wine!