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December, 2006

A Champagne Primer

100 Wine Tips: New Year’s Eve approaches, and there is no better way to toast the coming New Year than with a glass of Champagne. Here is a quick guide to understanding this most magical of drinks! Comment.

On Giving Wine

100 Wine Tips: I’m often asked for recommendations on which wine to give as a gift. As with all gifts, I think that we should know something about the person whom we are giving to so that we can pick out a present that they will enjoy. Now, don’t panic and say “But, I don’t know what wines they like!” Wine is a very practical gift, and finding a wine that will delight your friends is actually pretty easy. Let me give you a few examples that should help you to select a bottle that will be Comment.

The Top Ten Reasons For Buying My December Best Buy Four Pack:

100 Wine Tips: 10. It’s less of a mess than three French hens, and sounds a lot less campy than “Seven Lords a-Leaping.” Comment.

Porto, Simplified

100 Wine Tips: There are many winemaking countries that make Port, but only Portugal makes Porto. Porto, known formally as Vinho do Porto, is a sweet fortified wine from the Duoro Valley, located in northern Portugal. The name Porto comes from the city from where Porto wine was exported, beginning in the late half of the 17th century. Comment.

Corked!

100 Wine Tips: Just imagine the response, if the whole wine industry had been using screw-tops for generations and some bright spark popped up to tell us there was this great new thing called cork. Of course, it means that about ten per cent of wine will be tainted, there will be dulled fruit flavours, musty odour problems and variation in wines as they age. But hey, it makes a great sound when you pull it out of the bottle! Comment.

November, 2006

Here are Darrin’s November Best Buys!      

100 Wine Tips: Grüner Veltliner, Berger Organically grown and a full litre for under ten dollars! Imported by our friend Terry Theise, this fresh, lively white wine has abundant citrus, floral and mineral notes on the nose and on the palate. There are darned few wines that deliver so much “bang” for so few “bucks”! $9.95 Comment.

Wines for Thanksgiving     

100 Wine Tips: Matching wines for your family’s Thanksgiving dinner is really easier than you might think. Don’t get your head spinning by trying to match a wine with dishes as dissimilar as cranberry sauce, sausage stuffing, oyster dressing, Brussels sprouts, giblet gravy and creamed onions. Concentrate on the main course. Keep your mind on the bird — the glorious, American, roasted turkey. Also keep in mind that this is a holiday and a celebration, a time to simply have a drink and share in good c Comment.

Hooray for the Nouveau!      

100 Wine Tips: Mark your calendars, and save the date: Thursday, November 16th is a day to celebrate! Wine lovers all over the world know that on the third Thursday of November, the Beaujolais Nouveau is released for sale! The first wine from the 2006 vintage will be here for us to enjoy! Comment.

Red, Red Wine      

100 Wine Tips: Autumn is here and, as the leaves turn color and fall from the trees, many a young man and woman find their thoughts turning from white and rosé to red... red wines! Many of the light, crisp, lively white wines and crisp rosés that we love to drink chilled on a hot day simply don’t seem as enticing once the leaves are on the ground and sweaters come from the closet. Many of the foods we eat during the colder months naturally call for a red to accompany them, too. Think: stews, roasts, b Comment.

October, 2006

My Best Buys for October

100 Wine Tips: There are some things that make each one of us proud that other people might not understand. Some wine merchants brag about the super-expensive “trophy” wines in their cellars. With me, I’m most proud of the values that I find for my customers every month. Sure, it’s easy to go for the “big bucks” wines, or the ones that some writer or critic has given a high score to: all you need to do is pick up the phone and place your order. That’s just not good enough fo Comment.

Did You Say WHITE Burgundy? Part 3

100 Wine Tips: Our tour of the Chardonnay vineyards of Burgundy now brings us to the Côte de Beaune, a geologically mixed strip of land that is one of the most elaborately classified and historically documented parcels of real estate on earth. In the center is the medieval, walled town of Beaune, with its colorful, Flemish–inspired tile roofs, is the center of the Burgundian wine trade and the heart of the Côte d’Or. Comment.

Discovery Wines for October

100 Wine Tips: I love to discover new things! Life is just too short to limit yourself to a routine of the same old things, over and over. While I do have a few “old favorites,” when I’m in a restaurant and I see a dish I’ve never tried, I’ll order it. I’ll go to a gallery or museum to see the works of an artist I may have read about or heard of, but whose work I haven’t seen before. To me, discovery is one of the true thrills of life, one of the things that really makes Comment.

Did You Say WHITE Burgundy? Part 2

100 Wine Tips: Last week when we began to explore the white wines of Burgundy we started in the north with Chablis, just south of Champagne. Let’s see how the wines change as we travel south. Comment.

September, 2006

Did You Say WHITE Burgundy? Part 1

100 Wine Tips: If I had to limit myself to only one white wine to drink for the rest of my life, it would be white Burgundy... and I wouldn’t hesitate for a second making that choice. Comment.

Which wine is “the best”?

100 Wine Tips: I can’t tell you how often I’m asked, “Which wine is the best?” Usually I reply, “Best for what?” What may be the best wine for drinking at the shore while you’re shucking a pile of fresh oysters won’t be the same wine that I’d consider the best for sharing with friends when we’re grilling steaks on the barbecue... or the best for sharing in a great restaurant while having a remarkable meal. But there’s even more to it than that. Comment.

My Best Buys for September

100 Wine Tips: There are some things that make each one of us proud that other people might not understand. Some wine merchants brag about the super-expensive “trophy” wines in their cellars. With me, I’m most proud of the values that I find for my customers every month. Sure, it’s easy to go for the “big bucks” wines, or the ones that some writer or critic has given a high score to: all you need to do is pick up the phone and place your order. That’s just not good enough f Comment.

A Sherry Primer

100 Wine Tips: If I were to make a list of the most misunderstood wines of the world, I’d have to include Sherry. Sherry can be either dry as dust or sweet as sin, or almost anything in between. Sherry is a fortified wine, made stronger by the addition of brandy, and can age for years, or even decades. Sherry is a blended wine, made from wines of different ages. Sherry can be a mid-afternoon “pick-me-up”, a pre-dinner aperitif, a wine to enjoy with foods savory or sweet, or an after-dinner drink. On Comment.

August, 2006

Choosing wine in a restaurant

100 Wine Tips: How do you make the average worldly, confident business executive or professional squirm? Hand him a wine list! For years I worked as a Sommelier in some very good restaurants, and I always took pride in helping diners choose a wine that they would enjoy with their meal. Many of my customers were successful business owners and executives: people who made plenty of money because they were decision makers, and their decisions were usually right. So many of them quickly lost their confident mien as soon a Comment.

My Featured Organic Wine for August:Domaine St. Nicholas, “Gammes en May”

100 Wine Tips: Certified Biodynamic! So much more than simply “organic”, Bio-dynamic viticulture includes understanding the ecological, the energetic and the spiritual in nature. Biodynamic vineyards have healthy, fertile, “living” soil. Weeds and “pests” are managed without the use of commercial chemicals. Organic fertilizers are applied at different times of the year to nourish the roots, the leaves and the fruit of the plant. Harvesting is done by hand, and no sulphites are added Comment.

Get my August “Best Buys” and save $$$!

100 Wine Tips: Richly flavored with honeyed notes, the secret to the complexity of this wine comes from aging the wine for a few months on Viognier lees! You’ll taste this dry, delicious white and get notes of honey and white peaches on the nose and palate. Crisp “green apple” acidity makes it a great summer wine. – $9.95 Comment.

Discovery Wines for August

100 Wine Tips: I love to discover new things! Life is just too short to limit yourself to a routine of the same old things, over and over. While I do have a few “old favorites”, when I’m in a restaurant and I see a dish I’ve never tried, I’ll order it. I’ll go to a gallery or museum to see the works of an artist I may have read about or heard of, but whose work I haven’t seen before. To me, discovery is one of the true thrills of life, one of the things that really makes me f Comment.

July, 2006

Chardonnay, California Style: Part 2

100 Wine Tips: I wonder how many of you were shocked last week to read that many of those oaky tasting Chardonnays from California never see the inside of a barrel but get their flavor from oak chips, tossed into the wine like a teabag into hot water. We’ll talk more about California Chardonnay today, and maybe we’ll uncover a few more little secrets and clarify a few more misconceptions. Comment.

Chardonnay, California Style: Part 1

100 Wine Tips: One of the current forms of wine snobbery is to refer to yourself as a member of “The ABC Club”: Anything But Chardonnay. When you press one of these people for an explanation and ask why they won’t drink a Blanc de Blancs Champagne or a White Burgundy, both made from 100% Chardonnay, they’ll usually say: “Oh, not those. I mean California Chardonnay.” Comment.

I Hate Margarita Mix!

100 Wine Tips: There: I said it, loud and clear. I hate Margarita mix! Now, I love a good, cold Margarita, straight up, salt the rim, please. It’s one of my favorite cocktails, and one that becomes even more popular when the weather turns hot. It’s potent without being overpowering, refreshing, and has a delicious balance of sweet and sour that keeps you coming back for just one more sip. But, make a Margarita with one of the mixes and you end up with something other than a Margarita. Take a minute to r Comment.

Côtes du Rhône

100 Wine Tips: Real wine lovers take delight in well made, unpretentious wines, and so many of my friends in the wine business love the wines of Côtes du Rhône. This large, widely diverse appellation stretches 125 miles, from the slopes of Côte Rotie in the north, near the culinary Mecca of Vienne, to Chateauneuf-du-Pape, south of the walled city of Avignon. It encompasses 170,000 acres of vineyards and produces 14% of all the wine made in France. Most of these wines are red, with about 5% of the total Comment.

June, 2006

The Pleasures of Gin

100 Wine Tips: There is a scene in Ernest Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms” where Frederick Henry, away from the horrors of the front lines of the First World War, walks into the bar in a grand hotel and orders his first Martini. He drinks it, has two more and says “I have never tasted anything so cool and clean. They made me feel civilized.” Hemingway got it right. Comment.

My Best Buys for June

100 Wine Tips: Is there a business that can seem snootier than the wine business? You know what I mean: that dreaded “wine snob” attitude that some shops seem to thrive on? Some clerk finds out that you aren’t conversant in, oh, let’s say the different soils of the right bank of the Dordogne River and he gives you “Are you sure you’re ready for a Bordeaux?” Give me a break! This is just so sad, because wine people whom I deal with, the grape growers, wine makers and importers Comment.

A question of balance

100 Wine Tips: I’m often asked “What makes a wine good?” It’s an excellent question, so let’s address it. What does make a wine “good”? When I taste wines the first thing I look for is balance, so let’s discuss what exactly it is that should be in balance. Comment.

Is it Dry?

100 Wine Tips: There’s an old poem that I came across that only someone in the wine trade could truly appreciate: it’s the lament of an old man who has spent his entire life in the wine business, traveling, tasting, learning and buying. He knows the soil of the vineyards the grapes have grown in, he knows the cellars they were made in. He has worked with great Chefs matching wines perfectly with their dishes. He has filled his cellar with outstanding wines from the best vintages, cellared them so that th Comment.

May, 2006

The Enemies of Wine

100 Wine Tips: When we built Red White & Bubbly we installed what I believe is the largest climate controlled room in New York City for fine wines. People often ask why we went to the trouble and the expense just to keep wine at 55 degrees and at 50% humidity, and if they need to keep their wines under those conditions at home. Let’s take a look at how wine can go bad and what we can do to prevent it, and see how that brings us to a better understanding of how to protect our bottles. Comment.

I’ll Have Vouvray

100 Wine Tips: Vouvray is another of those delicious and wonderful white wines, known to connoisseurs, often misunderstood by most, that breaks almost every wine stereotype. Vouvray can be bone dry, off dry (often labeled tendre) or nutty sweet. It is most often a still wine, but it can also be pettilant (just barely fizzy) or mousseau, sparkling. While the accepted wisdom is that white wines must be drunk while young, well-made Vouvrays can be cellared for Comment.

Everything’s Coming Up Rosés

100 Wine Tips: It’s a hot summer day, and you’re enjoying a well deserved vacation. The sun is shining, there’s a light breeze blowing in off the Mediterranean. It’s lunchtime, so you take a table outside a small café and wonder what you should drink. Looking around you, you notice that at every table everyone is drinking... Rosé! Rosé wines, dry, not sweet, are the “official” casual Comment.

The Importance of Tasting

100 Wine Tips: I won’t buy a wine without tasting it, and why should you? (That thumping sound you hear is the sound of other wine merchants collapsing on the floor.) One of the things that I’m the most proud of with Red White & Bubbly is that my customers so often tell me that every wine they buy from me tastes good! Wine is an agricultural product: the quality of the wine is determined in the vineyard by grapes that re Comment.

April, 2006

When in Doubt, Choose Beaujolais!

100 Wine Tips: So... these four Parisians walk into a Bistro for a meal. One orders Salmon, one has roasted chicken, one wants a small steak while the fourth chooses the pasta with mushrooms. Which wine do they order? No, this isn’t a joke: it’s what a Sommelier faces on the restaurant floor every day. Well, what well-made, tasty and affordable wine will compliment each of the four dishes without clashing with the flavors of Comment.

Closeouts: the Good, the Bad and the Terrible!

100 Wine Tips: Here are a few tips on how to save money and not get burned when you are buying wine! There are times when our suppliers come to me with offers that are almost too good to be true. There just isn’t enough room in their warehouse, and a few containers of wine are coming in. They have to move the current stock out, and are willing to sell a big “drop” for a bargain price. The current vintage is in, and the Comment.

Don’t Fear the Riesling!

100 Wine Tips: If ever there was a misunderstood grape, it is Riesling. Whenever I get together with winemakers, Chefs and Sommeliers, it seems that we always start off with a bottle of Riesling, but most of the American public shies away from wines made from this venerable, ancient grape. Let’s take a look and try to find out why. Like many other Americans, my first experiences with Rieslings (pronounced REE sling) were anything Comment.

To Stem or Not to Stem?

100 Wine Tips: Glasses can often do much more than simply serve as the vessels we use to enjoy our wine. A clear glass shows off the color of the wine served in it. Years of experimentation have shown us that different wines do taste better when drunk from differently sized and shaped glasses. One of the world’s most widely known glassmakers put on a demonstration for us during the international Sommelier competition in Tokyo: we each had his Red Bordeaux Comment.

Decanters & Decanting

100 Wine Tips: When I teach aspiring Wine Captains about decanting wine, I tell them that there are three “Official” reasons for decanting, and one “Insider’s” reason: 1. Big bottles, such as double magnums, are awkward to pour from. It is easier, and you will spill less, if you pour from the bottle into a decanter, then fill the glasses from the decanter. I have always loved big bottles. They’re so m Comment.

March, 2006

The Trouble with Corkscrews, Part 2

100 Wine Tips: Last week, I said that a good corkscrew should put the least amount of steel into the cork, and grip the most amount of cork. I recommended the Waiter’s style of corkscrew. How about other types of cork removers? There’s a cork “lifter” that’s been around for years that has a hollow needle that you insert into the cork and then pump air into the bottle, either by a very awkward to use pump, or by pre Comment.

The Trouble with Corkscrews, Part 1

100 Wine Tips: People have been removing corks from wine bottles for hundreds of years now. Don’t you think that we would have gotten it right by now? First, though, why cork? Wine needs to be kept inside the bottle, and air needs to be kept out. If oxygen comes into contact with wine, the wine will oxidize, and turn bad. Oxidized wines turn brown and have a sherry-like smell. In ancient times, wine used to come from the winery in Comment.

Are you adventurous?

100 Wine Tips: I love to discover new things! Life is just too short to limit yourself to a routine of the same old things, over and over. While I do have a few “old favorites”, when I’m in a restaurant and I see a dish I’ve never tried, I’ll order it. I’ll go to a gallery or museum to see the works of an artist I may have read about or heard of, but whose work I haven’t seen before. To me, discovery Comment.

Who do you trust?

100 Wine Tips: I really do try to understand why some people rely so much on wine critics. As if one person’s taste could be the same as yours, and everyone else’s! Have you ever gone to see a movie that some critics loved, but you walked out, shaking your head, thinking: “Why did I just waste two hours watching that?” It’s the same with wine. I taste a wine that I think isn’t worth the bottle itR Comment.

February, 2006

Spirit of the Month: Vermont Gold Vodka

100 Wine Tips: Yes, it really is made from maple sap! There is just so much “hype” over Vodka these days. When I teach the Distilled Spirits class for the Sommelier Society of America, I have my students taste two well-known vodkas “blind”, without telling them anything at all about either one. They are always surprised that, while they taste the same quality in both, one sells for twice the price of the other. Comment.

My Best    Buys

100 Wine Tips: Did you ever go into a wine shop, ready to buy a good tasting bottle of wine and run into that dreaded “wine snob” attitude? Well, we probably all have, and I just don’t understand it. If you went into a Ferrari dealership and let on that you didn’t quite understand how electronic ignition or fuel injection worked, no salesman would ever act snooty. They’d tell you to just get in, drive the car and e Comment.

A Champagne   Primer

100 Wine Tips: Valentine’s Day is here, and no wine is as romantic as Champagne. Here is a quick guide to understanding this most magical of drinks! What is Champagne Champagne is both a region of France and the name of the wines made there. In truth, only wines made in Champagne are Champagnes. Other sparkling wines can be quite good, but they are not Champagne. A small amount of non-sparkling Comment.