Friday, January 29, 2010

The Church of Burger, Food Blog Mafia

If you get the chance, look at the right hand side of your screen, and scroll down to the "Blogs I Read" section- there are a couple of new additions. Check out Andrew Veety's blog- he's choosing a different hamburger each month, and trying it in order to find Saint Louis's best burger. It's really entertaining! The girls at Food Blog Mafia are pretty funny (and opinionated/informative), too.

More to come later!


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Elizabeth Spencer Winery

Last night, I swung by 33 wine bar for a tasting of some of the Elizabeth Spencer wines. Angie from Appellations Wine Co was there pouring them, and I ran into several friends. I had never tried the wines from Elizabeth Spencer before, and was pleasantly surprised. Here are my thoughts (sorry, I don't remember many of the vintages- all current releases):

Sauvignon Blanc- This is the style of sauvy that I like. It wasn't over-acidified, but rather had a roundness to it that was very pleasant. It had a touch of creaminess to it that, to me, indicated a small touch of malolactic fermentation- it could have also just been the fact that it was the first wine that I tried.

Chardonnay- This was the least impressive of the bunch. It was okay, ubiquitous California Chard.

Grenache- this was probably the easiest drinking of the lot. It had the bright, bing cherry note, and was really a "guzzler" instead of a "sipper". My only wish is that is was about $10 less (I think it rang in at about $26).

Pinot Noir- This wine was kind of weird. The normal pinot fruits were there, but the tannins seemed a bit out of whack. They were a touch too harsh, and not in balance with the fruit.

Syrah- I liked this one as well- great initial nose of eucalyptus, mint, and chocolate covered strawberries. It was medium bodied, and not paint-your-teeth-purple in its extraction. I will likely buy some

Cab- In 3-4 years, this wine will be really nice. Everything was in balance, it was just too young to be drinking now. Give it a few years in the bottle, and the fruit and tannins will meld together nicely.

All in all, the wines were pretty nice. They are small production, thus causing a bit of an increase in price.

That's all I got- Cheers.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Upcoming Events

The next official event that I will be teaching at has been announced:

What- a class comparing Old World and New World versions of the same varietals
Where- Foam, at the corner of Jefferson and Cherokee
When- Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 7 pm
How much- $12 per person (a strikingly good bargain, if I do say so myselft)
Why- because you love wine, and this is a really cool, chill place to learn about it
Who- You, and everyone that's mildly interested in wine that you know

I have a couple of other things in development. I will be doing a 5 or 6 week series at 33 wine bar, more info to come. I am also working with the owners of Ernestos on setting up some events, and even talking to the folks at Entre Underground about doing something.

If you have any ideas for classes that you would like to take, please let me know- write comments on here, or send me an email at

Thanks, Cheers!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Work-With

I can't remember if I have posted about this before, so if I'm repeating myself, sorry. As a wine sales rep, one of the things you get to/have to deal with are "Work-Withs", also called "Ride Alongs." This is where somebody from one of your suppliers works the day with you, as you see your accounts, and you only focus on their products. I bring this up because I have a work-with today, and I'm taking around a guy that I have never met before. Sometimes these days can be really fun. If the person is cool, you can get into a lot of accounts, sell some wine, and they usually buy me lunch. If they aren't cool, then the day can be about 10 hours of pure torture. I can usually tell how the entire day is going to go based on my first account-call with the person. A good supplier realizes that we know our accounts intimately. We know what makes them tick, and also what will keep them from ever buying the product being featured again. A good supplier also listens to us when we say what to focus on, or what not to bring up. A bad supplier ignores our experience with the account, because they think they know everything there is to know about sales.

For example, I once rode with a German wine supplier in Boston. This chick (who only worked there for about 6 months) literally brought along 11 different rieslings to sample, in the middle of January, with a foot of snow on the ground- not the optimal time. I would say to her "This next stop is Bargain Spot. He knows some about wine, but not enough to know the difference in all 11 rieslings. Pick 3 that you want to show him, and focus on those." The idiot rep still drug out all 11 bottles, and the owner gave me a look that said "get her the hell out of here." I did, and he bought nothing.

I have had two suppliers fall asleep in my car because they drank too much the night before.

I have had several suppliers try to throw their weight around in an account, resulting in them getting all of their product permanently banned from the store.

I have had one supplier that talked so rudely to an account I kicked him out of my car 3 hours early.

I had one supplier that drank so much during the day, I was worried dropping her off at her rental car because she was obliterated at the end.

Bad suppliers get what I call a lot of "windshield time." I will sacrifice being alone in a car with them for extended periods, just so I don't have to tarnish my relationships with my accounts. The way to do this is to act like you have an account call first in Chesterfield, then downtown, then lunch, then out to Wildwood, then maybe Clayton. By this time, they get the point, act like they have work to do in their hotel room, and ask to be dropped off.

This is not to say that all work-withs are bad. I had an amazing lunch talking about wine with a winery owner from Alsace. I had one of the top meals of my life eating dinner with a rep from Chicago. I got in a car wreck with a supplier in the car (not my fault), and we still laugh about it to this day. I had another rep set my parents up with an incredible winery tour and dinner. I have sold hundreds of cases of wine by putting the right rep in front of the right account.

Let's just hope that today's guy is more of the latter, and less of the former. If you see me cruising back and forth on 40, you know how my day is going.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Quick Wine Suggestion of the day

Last night, my wife made the Chicken Spaghetti recipe from weight watchers (check out for the recipe). I knew that we needed a white wine to match with it. Since the dish has a decent amount of spice and heat to it, I wanted something that was unoaked, and had just a touch of residual sugar.

I found a bottle of Hey Mambo "Swanky" White in my fridge, and it did the trick. Check it out if you get the chance, it's a blend of viognier, muscat canelli, chenin blanc, and sauvignon blanc from California. It has just enough of a floral note and sweetness to it to make it pleasant with a spicy dish, and enough acidity to make it refreshing.

If you want to buy some retail, it should be around $10, and I know they have a bunch of it at Paradise Valley wine and spirits in Fenton.


Friday, January 22, 2010

A foie gras limerick

Just a little something to lighten your day. Due to my current goals of dropping pounds, my trainer has suggested that I not eat foie gras. Maybe it's because it has 500 calories per ounce?

There was an old gourmand of Crediton
Who ate pate de foie gras having spread it on
A chocolate biscuit
He boomed "Hell, I'll risk it!"
His tomb bears the date that he said it on.

That being said, go out and buy some foie, and raise a glass of Sauternes or Sherry with it, and think of me.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

It's been a while

I know, I have been sitting at your computer, anxiously checking every 30 minutes to see if I blogged at any time in the last week. Sorry, no such luck. Between work stuff, trying to get my fat butt in shape, and travelling to Texas for a wedding, I have neglected by dear friends here at Sippin Saint Louis.

Never fear- to soothe the pain, go out and get the 2007 Fisher Unity. I talked a while back about the '06. Forget it. The '07 smokes it. It's a good dose of cab, made by one of the most wonderful families in Napa. It is also only available in far I know that Eclipse, Veritas, 33, Niche, and Niche Brasserie carry it. I hope Sidney St. Cafe will soon be added to that list.

Enjoy, and cheers!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Drinkers and Thinkers

Last night was the first of a series of classes I'm going to teach at Foam, located on the corner of Jefferson and Cherokee. The management has dubbed this series as "drinkers and thinkers", which I really like. Truth be told, this was the most laid back, fun "Basics of wine" class that I have ever done. 8 people attended, and we all sat around in comfortable chairs, just chatting about wine, and trying some new stuff. The cost was only $12 for 6 wines, and it took just a shade over 2 hours.
If you want to try wine in an atmosphere that is truly pretension-free, come check it out! We will continue the series next month (date TBA) with a class on "Old World vs. New World" wines. I hope you all can make it!

Today's wine recommendation- Since it's warming up a bit, go try the Napa Station Sauvignon Blanc from California. I like this because it doesn't taste like the over-acidified stuff from New Zealand. It is a bit rounder, has subtle citrus notes, and a green apple thing going that is really refreshing. It should cost around $11 retail.

Until next time, Cheers!!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Wine Myths Debunked- "Legs"

At every wine tasting that I have been to, without exception, there has been someone who swirled wine in their glass, looked at it, and said "wow- look at the legs!" For the uninitiated, the "legs" or the "tears" are the droplets of wine that run down the glass after you swirl it, it sheets on the glass, then forms into droplets. I don't want to say that the legs cannot tell you anything about the wine. Under the right circumstances, they can. However, at a wine tasting at your average liquor store, with some dude that is just spouting something he heard another "expert" say, it's highly unlikely. In that instance, the legs most likely tell you how clean the glass is, and what kind of detergent the store used in washing it.
In a perfect setting, a fuller, more developed tear is an indication of higher alcohol. At Shop-n-Save, it's an indication of someone just talking.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Wine Myths Debunked- Sulfite edition

I think that, in light of me trying to be more informative about the subject that gives me my paycheck, I would like to start progressively addressing some of the myths that are out there about wine. Many of you have been to a dinner, wine tasting, etc, and heard someone say "Oh, I don't drink red wine, the sulfites gives me a headache." Sorry, charlie, the red wine you drink might give you a headache, but it ain't the sulfites.

Sulfites are a naturally occuring chemical compound that are on various parts of the grape. They are also added to the wine in the form of Sulfur Dioxide, as a preservative. In the early 70's, the FDA determined that about 1% of the population has an allergy to sulfites, therefore requiring that the words "Contains Sulfites" appear under the government warning on the label. Because of the proximity to the warning, some people incorrectly assume that these sulfites are a bad thing, then blame a headache after drinking red wine on them. The trouble is that this warning appears on all wines, not just reds. There is such a phenomenon as a Red Wine Headache, but it isn't the sulfites that cause it. You don't hear about people saying they get "White wine headaches", yet white wines typically have more sulfites in them than red wines do. This also goes for dried fruits- sulfites are used there for preservatives, but people don't talk about "dried fruit headaches" either. Even for those that have an allergy to sulfites, the results would not be a headache- but rather shortness of breath. The only people that would get a headache from sulfites would be those that had a really rare combination of a sulfite allergy and asthma.

The answer to the red wine headache is most likely in the other stuff in the wine. Red wine is a chemically complex item, that has hundreds of different compounds in it. If you get a headache from it, the cause is likely either:
a) You drank too much red wine, and have a hangover (most likely)
b) You are allergic to one of the other compounds in it. Try taking a Claritin before drinking red wine and see if that helps.


Celebrate the fact that we have now "Freed the Sulfites" by toasting with a glass of non-headache inducing red wine. I suggest the Hope Estate "Ripper" Shiraz- a really neat wine that is macerated in tanks on trucks while driving across Australia. It should cost you around $15 retail.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Crazy Grapes wine dinner

This is just a reminder for my throngs of loyal followers that I will be hosting a couple of events coming up:

Tuesday, Jan 12, 7-9 pm
Intro to Wine Class
Foam (corner of Jefferson and Cherokee)
6 wines, only $12

Thursday, Jan 14, 7:00
"Crazy Grapes" wine dinner
Five Restaurant (On the Hill), 314-773-5553
5 courses paired with wine, $60 plus tax and gratuity
Call the restaurant for reservations

I hope some of y'all can make one of these events- totally different vibes, but they both should be a lot of fun!


Snow day

Alright folks,

Our regular Thursday classes will begin again next week, picking up with the rest of Burgundy. As for today, most people are experiencing a snow day. Here's my suggestion. Go make a snowman, and take a picture of it holding a bottle of wine. Email it to me at . Whomever sends me the best one, I will give a bottle of wine.

Oh yeah, it is also worth noting that snow drifts are extremely good at keeping bottles of riesling cold. Just drink straight from the bottle as you create your masterpiece.

Cheers, and be careful out there!!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wanna get dangerous?

On New Years eve, I did something with wine that I had never done before. I "sabred" a bottle of Cava. You might have seen this in movies or on TV- you slide a big knife along the side of a bottle of bubbly wine, and cut the top portion of the glass and the cork off. Mythology holds that Napolean used to do this with a bottle of Champagne to celebrate each military victory he had. I don't know if it is true, but it sure is a lot of fun.

I got the courage to do this, because I had seen it on a couple of different tv shows, most notably "Three Sheets" on the Fine Living Network. It's a goofy show, but I have actually grown to like it a bit. At any rate, I figured if Zane Lamprey can do it, so can I.

Here are the basics:
Get a bottle of champagne, cava, prosecco, etc, and chill it down. I later went back and saw that you are supposed to chill the top and neck of the bottle in ice water before you sabre it. We didn't, but I'm sure it would help (our first attempt took several whacks). You then take the foil off of the bottle, as well as the metal cage off of the cork. BE CAREFUL. At this point, you are holding a "loaded weapon" as the cork has nothing but friction holding it in, and has about 4 atm of pressure behind it. Locating the seam along the side of the bottle, slide a heavy knife or sabre, if you have one, along it, striking the bottom lip of the glass, right where the seam hits it. It's all about using your elbow, not your wrist. The top of the bottle, and the cork, should break off cleanly, and everyone will be amazed. Don't worry about chards of glass in the bottle, the pressure blows those right out.

After that, yell "opah", "Salud", "Cheers", "Go Chiefs" or something else, pour, and enjoy.

In case you need another "expert's" word on it, here is a link to a video demonstration:

Enjoy the new year folks, 2010 is going to be a helluva year.


Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

Years come and go- at a seemingly increasing rate, as it turns out. It also seems as if people's New Year's Resolutions do the same. It's interesting that most people almost set themselves up for failure from the beginning instead of coming up with something that they can really stick to. Last year, I had the goals of

1) not drinking regular soda for a year- which I did, except for one drink of a coke at a wedding that I thought was diet

2) Learn how to cook French food better- which I did

3) Get my CSW and my Certified Sommelier status- which I did

4) Going to Farmer's Markets more- Which I kind of did, at least I went a couple of times

5) Eat at a locally owned restaurant once a week- which I did, whether it was in STL or somewhere else.

This year, I'm a lot less specific about my food and wine related goals. Quite simply, I want to eat and drink less, and the stuff that I do consume I want it to be better quality.

This holds true when it comes to wine. This year, I want to have a purpose behind having a glass, or opening a bottle of wine. I want to have fewer instances where I have a glass "just because", and more where I'm paying attention to what I'm doing. This is not to say that I want to be overly critical about everything that I try- that goes completely against the points I try to make on this blog. Instead, I just want to be intentional about what I drink. This is about my waistline and my checking account more than anything else.

What about you? Do you have any food or wine related goals for 2010?

If I might recommend, go find a bottle of 2006 Peter Michael "Les Pavots" Cabernet. It will be pricey. Like, special occasion, "I can't believe I just spent that", pricey. However this wine is the epitome of what "silkyness" portrays in a wine. It has a beautiful balance of fruit, tannin, and oak, and will only get better with age.

Cheers, and Happy New Year!!!!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Ninja Fingers has started

Alright folks, it's time for me to get serious about this health thing. I will still be blogging on here as frequently as possible, but please check out my new project: