Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Favorites

I guess, since this is a wine blog, I need to do some wine and food-related stuff regarding favorites of 2009. These are just some of my best moments of the last year or so:

Favorite Glass of Wine- Drinking Gruet Demi-Sec, and eating Foie Gras on crackers in a hotel room at the Moonrise on my anniversary with my beautiful bride.

Favorite Bottle of Wine- 2004 Coulee de Serrant that I was able to get on the cheap at work. It's weird stuff, but a stunning wine.

Favorite Bite of Food- the quail egg, topped with truffles and duck egg hollandaise at the Carnivorale Dinner

Favorite dinner- Getting multiple apps at Niche and at Sidney St. Cafe on my birthday, despite the deluge of rain

Favorite Bad Dinner- the "King Crab Leg" incident at the Lumiere- it just makes me laugh.

Favorite newly discovered restaurant- Nachomama's.

Favorite Restaurant- Niche

Favorite new hangout, where everyone knows your name- 33 wine bar

Favorite place to go to be shocked- Atomic Cowboy

Favorite good idea, that didn't work out as planned- Mad Men night at Eclipse

Favorite food issue that I controlled- not drinking regular soda for all of 2009

Favorite "wrong time of year" meal- making Cassoulet in the middle of the summer, when it was crazy hot outside, for Julia Child's birthday

Favorite new foodie book- What to drink with what you eat

Favorite funny moment- Getting griped at for bringing Doritos to the Slow Food luncheon

Favorite guilty pleasure- Five Guys Cheeseburgers

New favorite "layup" dinner- Beef Bourguignon

Favorite Food and Wine Pairing that I did- Pride Syrah with Barbecue at Christmas

Favorite dinner with people I love- Eating by the ocean in Mexico for my sister's birthday.

Favorite new cocktail name- Donde Estan mis Pantalones

Favorite new cocktail- This changes everytime I go into Taste by Niche, and try something new.

Favorite old-school cocktail- Manhattan

Favorite beer- Left Hand Milk Stout

Favorite new website- :)

Favorite new industry-related tv show- Three Sheets

Favorite show that I wish they made more of- No Reservations

That's all folks. Here's to an even better 2010. Raise a glass tonight, have fun, be careful, come back alive.


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009, 2010

It would appear that in the blogosphere, most people are doing recaps of the last year and decade. The decade recap would take too long- so the highlights are that, since 2000 I have moved from Kansas to California to Arkansas to Texas, studied under a pastor for a year, met the right girl, got married, got a dog, moved to Boston, got another dog, switched careers, moved to Saint Louis, bought a house, started a consulting company, and am now sitting here. My family has seen the birth of 4 nieces and 1 nephew, my dad has been laid off twice and beat cancer, by brother (through the grace of God) defeated alcoholism, got married, and moved. My sister got married, moved twice, and is now training for a triathalon. My mom started a company and still makes the best sausage/egg casserole out there. Whew.

The funny thing about 2009 is that not a whole ton happened for us. Sure, I got my CSW and Certified Sommelier designations, but the biggest thing that happened in our home was that my wife got a new job. She spent 5 years working in retail, and almost no holidays at home. In the summer, she got a job at a logistics company and now works M-F, 7-4 with holidays off. It's a great thing!

The restaurant scene in STL has seen the closing of Pitted Olive, The changeover of the Shaved Duck, and the opening of Niche Taste bar, and Brasserie. We have also seen Pi storm onto the scene, whipping the collective pizza tails of most other restaurants. 33 turned everything on it's head by starting the Dorm Room Dinner series. The stalwarts have stayed the same- Sidney St, Monarch, Harvest, Frazers, etc have all continued to pump out great food for their pricepoints.

All that being said, I'm excited about 2010. Our pastor challenged us to summarize what we think the next year will mean in one word. My word is "Change", and not in the Obama sense. I mean that I want to change the way I view my marriage, health, job, and friends. I want this to be a positive thing. I want to be a thinner, healthier, more loving, less stressed person one year from now.

That all starts on Monday. Until then, it's enjoying a great steak tonight, some Champagne tomorrow, and watching football on Friday.

Did you buy your NYE bubbly yet? You had better hurry!


Monday, December 28, 2009

Thoughts on the Holidays, etc...

It's amazing to me that it's almost 2010. Didn't Arthur C. Clarke say that we were supposed to be running around in spaceships and stuff by then? I don't have a spaceship, or one of those silver jumpsuits that you are supposed to wear on them. Oh well.

So, Christmas was last week, in case you didn't notice. My wife and I flew to Houston, and I noticed a few things:

-Southwest airlines, although they are the cheapest and let your bags fly free, is truly the Cattle Car of the industry. I have never been so crowded and uncomfortable on a flight. Being a dude with broad shoulders, those seats are really horrible.

-Sometimes a bottle of Pinot Noir that was bought at a grocery store tastes just fine with a steak, especially if everyone is laughing and enjoying themselves.

-I'm constantly humbled at how much my In-laws really care for us, and want us to be comfortable and happy.

-I got the chance to see an old friend that is going through some struggles. He brought along his two daughters, whom are very sweet. I got to learn how to speak "parent code" very quickly. Example- we went to a liquor store, so I could grab a couple of bottles of wine for dinner that night. I thought they would stay in the car, but they wanted to come in. "What is a liquor store?" one daughter asked. "It's kind of like a candy store, for adults" was the reply.

-We went to a Delbert McClinton concert (look up his song "Rita Goes Away"- it's classic). Instead of having an opening band, they showed a 40 minute documentary about harmonicas. Now, if I would have been watching this on the History Channel, I would have totally been engrossed. However, I was getting ready for a country and blues concert. Cool documentary, bad timing.

-There's a place called Downing Street Pub in Houston- look it up. This is the type of place that STL needs! Please, someone loan me a million dollars, so I can get one going!

-Looking at my calendar, I realized that I have something scheduled every night this week, until Saturday. One of these parties just might not make the cut.

-If you read this, you probably like wine. Go buy some bubbly wine to open on New Years. It doesn't have to be expensive. Just throw it in the fridge, pop it at midnight, and help me bring in a year that is going to be fantastic. 2010 is the year when the recession ends, I get skinnier, my customers buy a lot of great wine from me, we actually travel some of the places we always say we are going to, and I learn to chill a bit.

-How far into 2010 is it appropriate to say "Happy New Year"? I think only a week or so, but I have gotten it in February before.

That's all I got for today. This week is funny, as pretty much all wholesalers are done selling for the year, and most retailers are done buying. Every year, I have bosses that push hard for sales the last week of the year. They rarely materialize.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Holiday Spirit(s)

My two families are really interesting, especially when it comes to the differences in how we spend the holidays. This is even more evident when it comes to how wine is involved with each family. For example, we just spent the weekend in KC with my parents, my grandmother, my brother and sister, and their respective families. On Saturday evening, by dad looked over at me, and said "Well, I guess we should go ahead and pick out the wine for dinner"- we were eating in an hour and a half, and we were going to have Barbecue. He then said "Pick out whatever you want- the cellar is yours". In the past, this would not have been a very exciting proposition. Five years ago, my parents had the greatest collection of cheap, crappy wine that I have ever seen. Since then (and since I have started selling wine professionally), they have changed their tastes, and their price point. Now my dad has a collection of about 130 bottles, 99% of which I would be more than glad to open on any given day. For appetizers, I chose a bottle of Oregon Pinot Gris for my mom, as that is just about all she will drink, and a bottle of Fisher Unity Napa cab for me and dad. My brother doesn't drink, and my sister only likes moscato when it comes to wine. With dinner, to match the spicy barbecue, I grabbed a Pride Syrah. It matched perfectly, and we were tempted to open another bottle. Later in the evening, my dad said "how about an apertif"? I corrected him, called it a digestif, and poured him some limoncello, myself some Navan (he loves that stuff, and always has some on hand- it's not bad at the end of the night), and some Moscato for the ladies. It was a pleasant way to add wine to a meal that you normally wouldn't care about wine with. The point to all of this is that my dad and I have something in common that we can talk about in wine- he is interested in learning, even if the rest of my family doesn't give a rip.

My in-laws are a different story. Even when they lived in Monterey, CA they didn't care much about the wine industry. They have a little bit on hand, and it's a mixture of "okay" and "decent". Because they focus on other things when it comes to entertaining (they cook really well), they don't spend much energy or money on their in-house wines. They will each have maybe a glass with dinner, and that's about it. After dinner drinks are all but non-existant there. This isn't a bad thing, it's just how they are. In fact, I don't even know if they will have a Christmas tree, whereas my mom has one that looks like it came straight out of Martha Stewart Living.

Neither approach is better or worse, just different.

Have a Merry Christmas- don't stress too much, and drink something good.

I'll be having Champagne, whether anyone drinks it with me or not.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Thoughts on the weekend...

This weekend was pretty dang busy. I worked as a sommelier at a private dinner on Friday night, travelled to KC on Saturday, then back home on Sunday. Some thoughts on the weekend:

-There is a saying that "The Lord works in mysterious ways". I found this out, again, over the weekend in reference to my little sister. Now, a lot of you who know me know that I'm a Christian, and that I'm fairly involved with my church. I rarely bring religious-type stuff up on this blog, since I recognize that I have followers that don't follow the same views that I have. I simply don't want people to think "oh cool, a blog about wine", and then I whack them with religion. These sort of bait-and-switch tactics aren't my style, so I don't do them. That being said, if you don't care to hear my view on this particular subject, you might want to skip to the next paragraph, where there is wine-related matter. Some of you also know that I have a sister that lives in the Wichita area. She is a stay at home mother with three little girls, and my brother in law is a high school teacher and basketball coach. To say that they are on a limited budget is putting it mildly. Frankly, I have no idea how they even survive. Last week, I was talking to her on the phone, and she lamented about how her minivan was broken again, and had now idea how they would be able to afford a new car. I would have loved to help her, but I'm a bit strapped for greenbacks myself these days. That night, a friend of theirs called, and said that they were bringing pizza over for dinner. They showed up with a bunch of people, and up into their driveway rolled a beautiful, slightly used Tahoe. Essentially, some friends of theirs from their church, and from a high-school ministry that they are involved in all pitched in and bought my sister's family the car, as well as money for insurance and taxes. Some might say that it's a really neat story about the generosity of others. I agree, but I also think it was God providing something that my sister desperately needed.

-Pride Syrah is a fantastic wine, and it goes great with Barbeque!

-Sometimes, Grandma gifts aren't the most useful, but they are the best.

-Working a private dinner for a bunch of drunk Democrats, when you are a Republican, can actually be a lot of fun.

-My wife said she was in her "happy place" last night- curled up on the couch with a comfy blanket and our dogs, a stomach full of Chinese takeout, napping while football played on tv. I liked that.

-Do they ever really sell the statues of dragons, rattlesnakes, fairys, etc that are at truckstops?

-I might have recommended it before, but go out and get "What to Drink With What You Eat". It's a fantastic book about food and beverage pairing.

-Evidently, dogs don't like Scope.

-I was tempted to get a bulldog over the weekend, buy my neighbors would have been pissed.

That's all folks. Blogging will be spotty this week, with travelling, Christmas, and everything else going on. If I don't see or talk to you, then have a very Merry Christmas!


Friday, December 18, 2009

How we met

For some reason, I have been telling the story of how I met my wife a lot lately, so I figured I would tell it here as well. In 2000, I moved to Denton , TX to study under a pastor for a year. During that time, a friend of mine was working with the college ministry at the church. He was taking a group of college kids to do a mission trip in Kentucky, building a house for Habitat for Humanity. Because I was fresh off my stint as a mountain guide, I had a lot of experience doing teambuilding activities with groups. My buddy asked me to do that with his group of college students. While doing a "trust fall", I noticed a cute girl that was crying because she was scared of heights, and the activity wasn't exactly in her wheelhouse. I mentioned later to my friend that I thought she was cute. "She's too young for you" was his reply. At the time, I was 23 and she was 19.
I didn't really think much else about that girl for a few months. That summer, I moved into a duplex with some friends. I had heard a rumor that there were "hot college chicks" that lived in the other half of the building. Being curious if this was true or not, I grabbed an icecream cone, walked next door, and knocked on the door. Lo and behold, the cute girl from the teambuilding exercise opened the door. She may not say this, but I was smitten.
We started dating shortly afterwards, were engaged 7 months later, and married in May of 2003.

I literally married the "Girl Next Door". I wonder if it was my sparkling personality, or the fact that I liked icecream?

Go fall in love this weekend by drinking Tikal "Amorio". It is a big, bold, delicious malbec from Argentina. Your retail cost should be roughly $30.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

French Wine 201- Cotes de Nuits

Last week, we started looking at the areas included in Burgundy, and discussed Chablis. Moving South, we now hit what is arguably one of the most important wine producing regions in the world- the Cotes d'Or. The word "Cotes" loosely translated means "slope", and this aptly describes the "Slope of Gold" where these fantastic wines come from. The Cotes d'Or is broken into two smaller sections, Cotes de Nuits, and Cotes de Beaune. We will be looking at Cotes de Nuits briefly today, and the Cotes de Beaune next week.
When looking at the Cotes de Nuits, the first thing to notice is that it produces nearly exclusively red wines. One easy way to remember this is that "nuits" can mean "dark"- thus, it makes dark wine. The wines that come out of this region are absolutely stunning. They have a range of flavors varying from dusty cherry to licorice to tobacco to barnyard. It really is amazing to see how the wines from individual vineyards can all be made of Pinot Noir grapes, yet taste so vastly different. Since we are just looking briefly at the area, we will just mention the major ones. The easiest way to tell how good of a wine a vineyard will produce is to look at where it lies on the hillside. Essentially, the vineyards toward the top of the slope are better, as they have much more drainable soil and sun contact. Most of these vineyards are first recognized by the villages that they are near. The villages with Grand Cru vineyards are:
Morey-St. Denis
Flagey-Echezeaux (which contains the remarkable Echezeaux vineyard)
Vosne-Romanee (which contains the Romanee-Conti vineyard, often one of the most expensive wines in the world)

Remember that a Village wine often has a hyphen in the name, whereas a Grand Cru wine sometimes will, sometimes not. It's confusing trying to know that a Gevrey-Chambertin is a village, and that Charmes-Chambertin is a vineyard, I know. At least you don't have to memorize it for a test!

So, there you have it- a brief overview of some of the top red wines you can possibly buy. Go buy one, and toast on Christmas!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

One big rock

I just had to put this on here- it has nothing to do with wine. This is a picture of a gift that one of my wife's co-workers received from a supplier that likes him. I don't even know what I would say if someone gave this to me, other than "Wow, I hadn't ever thought of asking for one of these before."
If you were thinking of giving one of these to me for Christmas, ummm...Don't.

Port Cider

A quick way to warm you up in this holiday season:

Port Cider

To make this, simply take a 1/2 gallon jug of your favorite apple cider, and put it in a sauce pan. Add as little or as much of port (don't go expensive, the cheap stuff is fine) as you want- I like a pretty stout cider, so I use probably 2-3 cups. Then add a couple cinnamon sticks, and sprinkle some nugmeg over it. Warm the concoction up, and serve in mugs.

This also goes well in a crock pot or a percolator (sp?) for a party.

Cheers, and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Now on twitter

I'm now on twitter:
I'm just figuring out how to work this thing, so be patient

Atomic Cowboy

I want to briefly thank the folks over at Atomic Cowboy for their generosity. I have gotten to know the ownership and staff of this place over the last couple of years, and I really like this place. If you haven't ever been there, you should check it out. At first, the vibe can be a bit intimidating. Don't let the tattoos and piercings scare you, though. Think a mixture of just about every section of population- businessmen, construction workers, hipsters, pimps, transvestites, preachers, and wine sales reps- all in a place where the food is good, the drinks are great.

Two years running, they have invited us to their Christmas party. The food was fantastic (we ate way too much), there was an open bar, and everyone is really cool there.

So, everyone who reads this from the Saint Louis area, please say to yourself "I'm going to head over to Atomic Cowboy for a drink and bite to eat sometime soon", then keep true to your word.

That's all I got- I'm grumpy today.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Thoughts from the weekend...

This weekend was full of helping people in need, whether it was a friend having a fight with his wife, a low-income family in need of affordable Christmas presents, or a buddy meeting up with me when I needed to get out of the house. My random thoughts are as follows:

-The juke box at the Bleeding Deacon is amazing. Where else can you get Hank Williams Sr, GnR, Snoop Dogg, and the Smiths all in one place?

-Sometimes, if a friend is a bit down, all they really need is a well cooked steak, a glass of really good red wine, and to laugh until they snort at a stand-up comedian.

-Most people's relationships (including my own) would go so much better if we would just quit being selfish, and start being nice.

-We have crafted a drink called the "Donde estan mis pantalones", and it is delicious- Patron Cafe XO, Creme de Cocoa, and egg nog. Perfect for the holidays.

-My church does an annual event called Affordable Christmas, where low income families can buy Christmas gifts for their kids at drastically reduced prices. It's amazing the look on these people's faces when they realize they can give their kid something really nice as a gift. We were able to help over 170 families gift gifts to 560 kids. That deserves a great big "Cheers"!!!

-It is so nice to be at a dinner party where nobody gets out of control, the food is fantastic, the wine tastes good, and everyone is laughing. We were part of that combination on Saturday, and it was great!

-7 women making cookies in my kitchen does not make for an easy time watching the football game. I would like to thank Syberg's for being there when I needed an escape route.

-I'm done planning any more activities from now until New Years- too many dots on my calendar, when I look at the month setting. If it doesn't pay, then I'm not putting it in there!

-A note to Matt Cassel- Four interceptions and 0 touchdown passes makes it hard to win a game.

Today's wine recommendation- Guigal Rose. Yeah, that's right, I'm recommending rose during the middle of winter. We had some with smoked salmon on Saturday, and it was a killer combination. Plus, you can get the bottle for around $11 retail.


Friday, December 11, 2009


So this morning I'm waiting for the U Verse guy to show up, and simply move my modem from upstairs to downstairs. One would think they could give me a more accurate timeframe than "From 8-12" as to when they will arrive. I'm a prisoner in my own home, until he gets here. The best part- I'm paying for it!

It does however give me a few minutes with which I can make up for the missed French Class yesterday. Since we are talking Burgundy (by the way, notice the spelling difference- burgAndy is a color), I think we should move North to South. This puts us in Chablis. This wonderful area is the second most northern wine making region in France (Champagne is the first), and is part of the Burgundy area. It is located about 100 miles North of the rest of Burgundy, and surrounds the town of Chablis. Nearly all of the wine produced here is white, and as we learned last week, this means it is made from the Chardonnay grape. When you are blind-tasting a Chablis, the way you can tell where it is from is the distinct "flintiness" of the wine. This comes from the fact that the area has a type of soil called Kimmeridgean Soil, basically chalk, limestone, and crushed up fossilized seashells. The wines are normally produced in either large, old oak barrels that impart very little oakiness to the wines, or stainless steel. Some modern winemakers are starting to use a bit more oak, much to the chagrin of the traditionalists.

Chablis is broken into AOC wines, labelled "Appellation Chablis Controlee" on the bottle, and then into Premier Cru and Grand Cru vineyards. The 7 grand crus are: Bougros, Les Preuses, Vaudesir, Grenouilles, Valmur, Les Clos, and Blanchots. These make up less than 3% of the wines produced in Chablis, but are stunning examples of Chardonnay. If you are looking for Chablis, your options will likely be limited in the Midwest. If you can find it, try La Chablisienne Petite Chablis (from a Junior appellation in the area)- it's good and inexpensive.

Please note that the big jugs of wine from california labelled "Chablis" have nothing to do with the real thing- those wines are gross, and should only be used to wash cats.

This weekend, try a dessert drink that we dubbed "Donde Estan Mis Pantalones"- use 1 measure of Patron Cafe, 1/2 measure creme de coco, and either egg nog or whole milk to top it off (chocolate milk works fine, too). Es muy bueno.

Have a great weekend,

Thursday, December 10, 2009

French Class Cancelled

Because it is so freaking cold, I'm running behind today. I will post about Chablis tomorrow.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fat Americans

I'm not a small guy. Anyone who has ever met me knows this. However, this last weekend, I had an experience that made me feel skinny. My wife and I were given free passes to eat at the Kitchen buffet at the Lumiere Casino. This, I must say, was quite the experience. The buffet costs $28 per person, which seems pretty ludicrous. The reason for the steep price became evident as soon as we walked in. There was a huge line of huge people all clamoring for something around a corner. What was this pot of gold that everyone wanted a piece of? Crab Legs. King Crab Legs.

I'm not kidding when I say that it was all-you-can-eat crab leg night, and boy were the people at the Kitchen Buffet excited! There were probably anywhere between 18 and 30 people in line for these things at any given time. The quantity of people wasn't the only thing that surprised me- I was shocked by how many of these things people were taking. I saw people literally with arm loads of the 2 foot long legs, walking briskly back to their tables, acting like they were foraging before going into hibernation for the winter. The shock was compounded even further when I saw one lady with a freaking soup bowl- not a ramekin- a SOUP BOWL full of butter to slosh over her legs (her crab legs, although to get out of those pants, she may have needed the butter on her real legs as well).

The wifey and I tried a couple of the legs- they were overcooked, underseasoned, and generally pretty bad. Definitely not good enough to cause the hysteria in the room. We looked around the room and noticed that there was literally one person in the room that could be described as "fit" or "thin". He was eating sushi. Everyone else was somewhere between "big boned" and "disgustingly obese".

This brings me to a bit of an emotional point- in the year 2010, I have made it my goal to focus on my own health and fitness. 2009 was my year to get my wine career to the next level, which I accomplished by earning my CSW and my Certified Sommelier degrees, starting a blog, and starting a wine consultation company. I will keep writing Sippin' Saint Louis, because I love this industry, and I love teaching people about these things. I will also probably start another blog to track my health progress over the next year. I want to do this thing right- not some "Greatest Loser" contest, where I lose a bunch of weight, just about kill myself over the course of 30 days, and gain it all back. Instead, I just want to focus more on my caloric intake, the origins of what I consume, and a consistent exercise plan.

I hope some of you all care enough about me to be supportive. The rest of you all, no worries, I will still be around, having a glass of wine or two.


Monday, December 7, 2009

The Blind Tasting

Because I'm in the wine industry, I have been fortunate to meet and become friends with a number of people that are also very interested in learning about wine. This has lead to some really fun nights. I am part of a certain group that likes to get together once a month, and blind-tastes wine. What is blind tasting? It is simply tasting wine that you don't know what it is, and trying to, out of your own past experiences, ascertain what the wine is. Some people get all geeked out over single-blind versus double-blind. Single blind is where you know the varietal (say cabernet), but don't know anything else about the wine. Double-blind is where you don't know anything about it. The group that I'm in does both.

Here's how we do it-
we pick a night (usually a weekend, so people can sleep in the next day if they over-indulge), and a place. The host picks the theme. This last weekend, it was to bring any white you wanted, and a bottle of something cabernet-based. We then show up with the bottles covered with either foil or newspaper, and start pouring. The goal is to guess the varietal, country of origin, and vintage of each wine. It really is amazing how much stuff you taste in a wine when you are really paying attention. The whole thing is all in good fun. What I like about this group is that people bring cool, interesting things, and don't necessarily try to "one up" each other by bringing the biggest, baddest, most expensive wines. Don't get me wrong, cool stuff is definitely poured- we had 1975 and 1982 Bordeaux, Pride, Caymus, a wine from Lebanon, White Burgundy, White Hermitage, and all kinds of other amazing wines. I even tried to sneak a two-buck-chuck in there, to see what happened. Needless to say, it didn't win the "wine of the night" prize. However, the group didn't get mad- they laughed at it.

So, if you want a really simple, inexpensive party idea, give this a shot. It's a lot of fun, and you really do learn a lot about what you like and don't like regarding wine.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Things I love

My wife took the day off of work today, and I'm working from home. Since she was around, I asked her what to blog about today. Her response was "If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?" That would be a very short post, consisting of two words: French Fries. Instead, I'm just going to list some of the things that I love. Hopefully this will give you a little bit of insight into this whacked out brain of mine.

Things I love:

My wife (obviously)
My Friends/Family
A hot cup of coffee on a blustery cold morning
A perfectly cooked steak with fries and a great bottle of red wine
The feel of freshly washed sheets when they are cold, and you lay down in them
Cars that accelerate much faster than necessary
Sunrises in the mountains
A table full of people all eating, laughing, and not caring about a thing in the world
Being right
When ballpoint pens work on the first try
Hot, fresh, soft chocolate chip cookies
Hot tubs
Being able to shoot a handgun more accurately than most people
Children's laughter
The smell of a new pair of shoes
Foie Gras, Truffles, and most other foods that are bad for you
Finishing a book
Really nice watches
Seeing someone else be successful, and realizing that I'm truly not jealous of them
Playing poker
Playing Pool
Getting my hair washed after a haircut
Finding a parking space right in front
Movies where they don't give the whole thing away in the trailer
Bands that look like they're having fun on stage
Coming home to a clean house
The fact that you can turn the hot water off in the shower, and hot water will still come out of the shower head for a couple of seconds before turning cold.

What do you love?


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Number 100- the beginning of Burgundy

Since this is my 100th post, I figured it had better have some substance to it. Also, it just happens to be Thursday, when I typically write about a particular wine region of the world. These both led me to talk on one of the most complicated subjects in the wine world- Burgundy.

I'm just going to give you the basics today. Over the next several Thursdays, I will go deeper- we will never get to the bottom of the subject, as you could fill a library with the amount of information in the world about Burgundy. Nonetheless, here we go-

Most wine geeks, if you ask them what wine they would choose to drink it only for the rest of their lives, would most likely say Burgundy. The romantic notion of palacial domaines, and $1000 bottles of red wine evoke emotion in anyone that is somewhat of a wine fan. In order to understand why simply the notion of Burgundy will bring a mist to the eye of a collector, one must understand the intricacies of the area.

In its simplest form, Burgundy is about two grapes, and the soil. All of the great red wines from the area are made from Pinot Noir, and all of the great white wines are made from Chardonnay. As for the soil, there is very little manipulation in the wines. Most of the wine makers simply make the wine, and let the terroir speak for itself.
Geography-wise, Burgundy is located on the eastern side of France, and is comprised of five major regions- Chablis, Cote d'Or, Cote Chalonnaise, Maconnais, and Beaujolais. I will address each of these regions in future weeks individually.
Wines in each of these regions are broken into increasingly smaller categories:

Bourgogne- Wines made from grapes sourced from anywhere in Burgundy

Villages- Wines made from the vineyards in and around a specific village

Premier Cru- Wines from a specific, very well rated vineyard

Grand Cru- Wines from the top rated vineyards in Burgundy

The ownership of the Domaines in the area is a bit different than in other areas of France. In Bordeaux, a Chateau consists essentially of the facility, and the vineyards around it. In Burgundy, the Domaine consists of small plots of several different vineyards that they own- most not directly around the actual facility. This is further complicated by the Napoleanic Code, which states that the children of a vineyard owner all inherit an equal portion of the vineyard. You can see how, after multiple generations, the vineyards get broken up into smaller and smaller portions- each person owning a few rows of vines. One example of this is the Clos de Vougeot- which has about 125 acres, owned by over 80 people. Each of these owners will make a wine called "Clos de Vougeot", but the quality and price can vary wildly.

Confused yet? Don't worry, it gets worse. For example, if you look at the label of a wine, how are you supposed to know if it is a Village, Premier Cru, or Grand Cru wine? Most of the time, it will say 1er cru, or grand cru on the label. That's your biggest hint. If it doesn't, look at the name. If there is a hyphen, then it's likely a Village wine. For example, the village of Chambolle-Musigny used to be called Chambolle, until they noticed that people were buying wine from their famous Le Musigny vineyard. At that time, they adopted the name of the vineyard, and hyphenated it. If a wine has a "le" or a "la" on it, it is likely a Premier or Grand Cru.

Enough confusion for today. Go out, and just start looking at Burgundy labels. They are really cool, and you will eventually start getting the hang of deciphering them.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ninja Assassin

Due to lack of time, energy, and inspiration, this is going to be short.

Happy 30th Birthday to my dear friend Scott- the "guys" are getting together tonight to cook steaks, potatoes, creamed spinach, and a great bottle of red wine- I'm thinking Fisher Unity Cabernet, but time will tell. We will follow that by taking Scott to see the cinematic genius of Ninja Assassin. Nice.

Tonight we feast, tomorrow we learn more about French wine.

Cheers to all my readers- thank you again for your devotion!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Something to pair Champagne with

I found this recipe from the 19th century in England, and thought it would be something for a local chef (Gerard? Josh? Nashan?) to try:

The Monster Egg

Bread a dozen or two of eggs and separate the whites from the yolks. Tie the yolks in a pig's bladder, boil them hard, and remove them. In a larger pig's bladder, place the whites. Into the midst (Note- I love that the recipe uses the word "midst") of the whites, place the set yolks and tie the bladder tight. Boil the whole until the whites harden and then remove from the water. Serve the Monster Egg on a bed of spinach.

Sounds easy enough. Now someone cook the thing up, lets pop open some champagne and some orange juice, and go to town. I'll bring the bacon.