By Allen Dale "Ole" Olson   |   Saturday, December 3, 2016 at 12:37 pm   |   Leave a Comment »

It may not do you any good to rush out to get it because it’s already sold out and the announcement about it has barely hit the market place. The day I read about it — last week — I also learned that dealers cannot keep it in stock. What is it? A wine book, that’s what.

A big wine book. Ten-and-a-half pounds not counting its wooden case. Pages, all 200 of them, measure 14″ x 17,” even those bearing some 150 photographs. It’s the latest effort of Assouline Press, noted for its luxurious books on luxurious topics. Title? The Impossible Collection of Wine: the 100 Most Exceptional Vintages of the Twentieth Century.” The first thing I saw on the Assouline webpage was “Sold Out.”

Reviewers and, of course, the publisher’s notes, are over-the-top positive. What wine lover wouldn’t want to read about the 1928 Krug Champagne or the 1923 Yquem? Wondering about the 1951 Penfold’s Grange or the 1997 Colgin Herb Lamb Cabernet Sauvignon? Sommelier Enrico Bernardo’s notes describe them — and all the other 96 legendary vintages in the book.

For those with sturdy coffee tables, The Impossible Collection is a bargain at only $845. Or, if when reprinted, you would like it signed by Enrico, it’ll cost you a mere $1,000. But then a bottle of 1990 Romanee-Conti would run a lot more than that. Value is as value does.


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By Maria McKinley   |   Wednesday, November 30, 2016 at 11:23 pm   |   Leave a Comment »

If choosing a wine to pair with dinner is difficult, imagine what you go through when selecting a wine to use in a recipe. You often hear you don’t want to cook with a wine you wouldn’t want to drink. It’s a little more involved than that. Not complicated, but requires some thought, comparable to choosing what type of sugar to use in a recipe. Brown sugar vs white sugar. Light brown vs dark brown.  The choice you make affects the taste.

Renowned chef and food writer Daniel Gritzer writes for Serious Eats, a serious website for serious foodies. Gritzer penned an article last year about cooking with wine based on some of his own kitchen experiments. Who has time to experiment? Unless every time you cook could be considered an experiment, I don’t cook just to find out what will happen. Gritzer devised a set of experiments using different varietals of wines, cooking times, and price points. He also selected drinkable wines and wines that had started to turn.

Using wine to make a reduction sauce takes some planning. The very name “reduction” refers to the amount of liquid you start with and, using a simmer, you cook away part of the original amount, often by half or two-thirds. The remaining sauce will be thicker and have a more intense flavor. Gritzer’s experiment showed if you start with a semi-dry wine, the reduction will bring out the sweetness. A Sauvignon Blanc, when reduced, will leave a taste of freshly squeezed lemon. He experienced similar results when deglazing a pan after searing meat.

Should you cook with expensive wines? Gritzer says no. High temperatures change a wine’s taste and depth. Don’t waste those flavors you enjoy from a special bottle by cooking them away. Does that mean you can use a cheap wine? No. A cheap wine may have an unpleasant flavor to begin with while a spoiled wine may have once had great flavor. And the vinegar will cook off.

Gritzer likes to keep boxed wines around to use for cooking. I concur as I have mentioned in a previous article. They sit on a shelf, can be opened and stored without refrigeration, drinkable although nothing special, and will not overpower with cooking. Today’s boxed wines are not what you remember from the 80’s.

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By Maria McKinley   |   Wednesday, November 30, 2016 at 9:39 pm   |   Leave a Comment »

As I write this, it’s a cloudy cool day here in B’town but I know it’s a comin’ down the pike. Cold weather, that is. If you have a chance to head out to warmer climates the first three months of 2017, I have some suggestions on where you could not only pick up some sunshine but also some good food and wine.

The Travel Channel lists the Key West Food and Wine Festival as a top pick. The high-end dinners at selected restaurants look amazing but they’re pricey. And reservations are required in advance. Noted chefs, sommeliers, and wine experts are on hand to make your dining experience unforgettable. Tasting events and seminars are also available for a small fee. The festival is January 25-29, 2017. Check out for more information.

Does 90 events spread out over 5 days in various locations with 65,000 in attendance intimidate you? Not when it’s co-sponsored by the Food Network and the Cooking Channel in sunny Miami. In its 16th year, the South Beach Wine and Food Festival exists not only for fun, food, wine, and learning, but also to support Florida International University’s Hospitality and Tourism Management and Beverage Management Center educational programs. Tickets can be purchased online and at the onsite Ticket Booth. You might see your favorite TV foodie celebrities in attendance or at a seminar. Anthony Bourdain is scheduled to serve as Master of Ceremonies at the Tribute Dinner. Go to the website at for more details. The event is scheduled for February  22-26 2017.

Flavor! Napa Valley, California is offering ticket packages and encouraging attendees to book their hotel packages now but individual event tickets won’t go on sale until January 10, 2017. The five day event in March will introduce you to local and celebrity chefs, wine tours and classes, dinners, and chef demonstrations. From mid-fall through spring, the area celebrates Cabernet season. Read about NapaValley and all its attractions available during the festival at Dates are March 22-26, 2017.

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