A cool concatenation of circumstances are happening this week and next. Anne is attending the Television Critics Association Press Tour, because Anne has another life as a TV critic (you can check out her TV blog at YourFamilyViewer.com). So, in honor of the OddBallGrape Wine FAQ contest, she’s asking some of the actors she’s hanging around their Wine FAQ.
Up today is Kunal Nayyar – Raj on The Big Bang Theory on CBS. (Anne did get a chance to interview Jim Parsons – aka Sheldon – but didn’t remember the Wine FAQ in time.) But Kunal’s a really nice guy and was happy to share his question with us.
“What is a sweet red wine. I love rieslings and gewürztraminer grapes from Germany. So what is a sweet red wine that a white wine drinker would enjoy?”
Lambrusco wines from Italian producers have some sweetness and some fizz. Okay, some re-treads from the 1960s – Riunite springs to mind – don’t have the fizz, so look for one that has the wire cage over the cork.
And there are red wines – Zinfandel comes to mind – where some of the fruitiness may be tied to residual sugar leftover from the winemaking process. Ports are always an option as well.
One of the coolest part of this experiment is that even the folks who don’t drink had really great questions. Which means some of you guys have great questions, as well. So be sure and send us your entry. The contest ends August 9. Click here for more information and rules.
Things got a little surreal last week. Technically, we were supposed to be taking a mini-vacation with Anne’s parents, tooling around the Santa Rita Hills and the Santa Ynez Valley. Okay, if part of your business is writing about wine, and you’re taking notes and pictures for your blog, it’s kind of hard to call what we were doing a vacation. Except that the better part of the experience was sharing something we love and are passionate about with folks we love and cherish.
If enjoying wine is all about the experience (as opposed to simply analyzing the taste – which is fun, but not all of it), then visiting a tasting room is an experience and a half. What makes it even more fun is connecting, however, briefly with the other folks out tooling around at the same time. Which means a big shout out to Jon Fisher and Michael Doherty, who we ran into at Lafond Winery, on Santa Rosa Rd., in Buellton. They popped in with some female friends at the end of the day and we were really impressed by the way their eyes didn’t glaze over when Mike got rolling on the whole winemaking thing. Mike really loves talking about wine and most of the time, folks love listening to him.
Anne was chatting with another woman who was there as a limo driver, and who had spent time working with Julia Child. Alas, she got away without leaving us her name. What amazing stories. If you’re her and reading this, please, please contact us. We’d love to talk to you some more.
And that’s not even counting all the wonderful wines we tasted earlier that day and before. Those profiles and notes will be coming over the next few weeks. We still have plenty of wines from all the events we attended last spring to cover, as well.
BLD Restaurant in Los Angeles not only has a great menu and is fairly reasonably priced for the neighborhood, their wine list is something we’d like to see more often.
It’s not the selections – although they are very nice and interesting, as well. There aren’t too many, either. The list is comprehensive, but not overly long, so you’re not drowning in options. But that’s not what got us excited.
It’s how the wines are grouped – by characteristics.
Check it out here: BLD_Wine (or go to BLDrestaurant.com and click on Wines near the top).
You have Bubblies, of course, but then the whites are grouped under headings like “Elegant and Restrained” and “Crisp and Clean.” The headings for the reds include “Light and Effortless” and “Brooding and Intense.” These kinds of headings might not tell you all you need to know about the wines they describe, but if you’re new to the whole wine thing or haven’t had a chance to really get to know wines such as albarino and Barbera D’Alba, then you’ve got an idea of what you’re getting into and what might work with what else is on the menu.
Of course, your best clue to what works with what is to ask your server – and the BLD folks do have their heads on straight enough they can tell you more or less what you’re getting. You can also ask for a tasting pour – we did with the albarino and garnacha blanca.
So share with us. Does this kind of wine list help or hinder?
Type: Dry red. Made With: Syrah. Plays Well With: Meat, meat, meat and more meat.
Look at the deep red color of this wine – it even looks rich. The nose is full of berries. And you can catch some of that same fruit in the flavor, even though it’s dry. Bone dry. As in no sweetness.
Add to that flavor some earthiness and you’ve got a wine that is made for something deep and hearty, like a slow-cooked beef brisket without the sweet sauce. Or a pile of garlic-stuffed olives, some good bread and butter and a trashy murder mystery.
We recently uncovered some tasting notes from a trip up north and found that we had written up a couple of wines from Summerland Winery.
It was one of those, “Oh, what the heck, let’s stop.” kind of things. The winery’s tasting room can be seen from the 101 freeway and we’d passed it any number of times before we decided to investigate.
The crucial point here was that we weren’t intentionally working at the time. Yeah, we really do go wine tasting just for the fun of it. So we didn’t have the camera with us. We were lucky the tasting room had paper and pen.
Aside from some very tasty wines, the thing that made this little boutique on the local tourist track (Summerland is a small beachside community just south of Santa Barbara) stand out was that there weren’t that many tourists in the airy, bright tasting room. There were locals, including a teacher blowing off some steam after a particularly trying day. Well, you know the locals always know the best places. And, sure enough, we were graciously greeted and served by a rather busy young woman, who still managed to chat us up while helping a bar full of people.
As it turns out, the website has announced that they are expanding the tasting room. We can’t wait to see it.
A few weeks ago, Anne spoke at an alumni event for Northwestern University (she got her journalism degree at the university’s Medill School of Journalism). Afterward, we went out to dinner with some of the event organizers and fellow speakers. Since this blog was part of the panel discussion that Anne participated in, it’s pretty obvious we’re wine geeks.
So, naturally, we were asked to select a bottle of wine for the whole table. Figure ten different people, twelve different conversations going on at any given time and everyone is eating something different. And the idea is that you’re supposed to match individual wines with the specific food you’re eating. Even if we could pin the other folks down on what they were going to eat, how many different bottles would that entail? We went for the simple answer – and you can, too.
Bubbly. AKA sparkling wine, the stuff from Champagne, France. Most sparklers will go with just about anything. In our case, we picked a non-vintage brut Rosé “Rose d’Orfeuilles,” Domaine d’Orfeuilles, from Touraine, France. The nose had mild fruitiness – the French versions tend to be lighter smelling than our versions here in California. There was some watermelon in the taste and it was bone dry. It didn’t overpower the scallops, yet stood up to the beef short rib. Frankly, it was just yummy on so many levels. So the next time you’re in a group and they want to order a bottle – remember bubbly and you’ll have a hit on your hands.
Type: Dry red wine Made With: Pinot Noir grapes out of Santa Barbara County. Plays Well With: Grilled red meats – maybe a burger with some blue cheese.
Michael tasted this at the Pinot Days tasting in Santa Monica, California, earlier this year, and he caught something funny at the time. It was a slight funk in the glass.
How to describe funk? It’s one of those you know it when you taste it kinds of things. Something not fruity or other pops up and it doesn’t smell or taste good. Michael thinks this one could have been due to cork taint – aka “corked.” Like a lot of things, cork taint comes in degrees. You can get a bottle where it’s bloody obvious – the wine smells and tastes like moldy tennis shoes. And you can get a bottle where there’s just a squidge of something not quite right.
Otherwise, the tannins – that dry feeling in your mouth – were still pretty intense, but the acidity was moderate. There was also some nice berry character in the taste. Obviously, this is a food friendly wine, and with 13.5 percent alcohol, it should settle in as the wine ages.