By Allen Dale "Ole" Olson   |   Thursday, October 30, 2014 at 10:30 pm   |   Leave a Comment »

This morning a receipt fell out of one of my old wine logs. It was dated April, 1968 — the day was blurred, but it was from the Hostellerie de l’Ange, a restaurant my wife and I frequented for more than twenty years and made the cornerstone of several of our books. The Ange (Angel) is in Wissembourg, a small town astride the French-German border about 30 miles dues west of Karlsruhe on the Rhine. Chef-owner Gustave Rinn possessed one Michelin star most of his career, and till his death in 1997 was a close friend. The inn had been in use since 1747.

Today’s commentary is about that receipt — not about the prices and their dollar equivalent, interesting as that may be. My receipt showed a bottle of Riesling from Domaine Zind-Humbrecht for the equivalent of about three dollars. A sparkling aperitif had cost less than a dollar. My whole meal — snails, a steak in a mustard cream sauce, and a dessert flan had cost me less than ten dollars. That, however, is not the story.

It was the receipt itself. It was personally written in beautiful long hand. So were most restaurant receipts in France in those days. It may be a stretch to describe them as calligraphy, but there is no question that the penmanship was beautiful.

In recent years in France, my receipts have been computer print outs. They look no different from those I collected on my recent trip through California. From Alsace to Provence, my receipts look alike. From Indiana to the Pacific Ocean, my receipts look alike. I don’t know if French schools still create penmanship among their students, but we are not seeing it in the market place.

Much as I would love to buy Humbrecht wines at 1968 prices, I would like still more to see those beautifully crafted statements itemizing my food and drink. Yes, our modern technology has brought us much — but we have also lost much. Restaurant and wine bills in calligraphy are among the losses.

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By Allen Dale "Ole" Olson   |   Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 9:48 pm   |   Leave a Comment »

99 degrees in Death Valley. 7,000 feet above sea level in Sequoia National Park. Up and down in Zion National Park. It had traveled from Albuquerque to Santa Barbara across the Mojave Desert and started back East past the Funeral Mountains. At Lake Powell, it was delicious.

I don’t suppose the Pignards ever thought one of their bottles would be  subjected to such abuse. But I had kept it on ice the whole time. Was it too cold when I opened it? Of course; but it was delicious and welcome. I had changed the ice daily, but I had no control over the curves, the ascents and descents, the coyotes in the salt flats, or the heat. All I could control was the temperature in the cooler.

It was Beaujolais, nothing more, nothing less. Not even a Beaujolais Villages. Whoever insisted that wine had to be handled gingerly had never hauled a few bottles across Death Valley.

Do I recommend doing so? Of course not, and I have never dared tried treating my Bordeaux or my Napas so recklessly. But the Pignards rewarded me with a wine that appreciated my babying it across the deserts and over the mountains.

It proved once again that when traveling in country unreliable for its availability of wine, we should and can, with care, carry our own.










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By Sue Shelden   |   Sunday, October 19, 2014 at 1:02 pm   |   Leave a Comment »

Halloween isn’t just for pint-sized ghouls, anymore. More and more grown-ups are making the most of the holiday, dressing up, partying and even trick-or-treating. Finally, the wise folks that created the wine app Vivino have come up with suggested wine pairings for Halloween candy–just in time for your big Halloween Bash!

The basic concepts are’t rocket science. White wines are best with fruity flavors, reds are better with chocolates. I’m sure it required YEARS of diligent research, blind taste tests and probably lots federal grants, but the results are finally available to the general wine-drinking public and are revealed below:

Vivino’s Ultimate Guide to Wine Pairing with Halloween Candy

Dry White Wines (White Table Wines, Sauvignon Blanc, Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Grigio, Albariño)
Sweet White Wines (Gewürztraminer, Müller-Thurgau, Malvasia, Moscato, Riesling)
Starbursts, Skittles, Candy Corn, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate
Rich White Wines (Chardonnay, Roussanne, Marsanne, Voigner)
Candy Corn, Butterfinger, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate
Sparkling Wines (Champagne, Prosecco, Cava, Sparkling Rose)
Nerds, Candy Corn, Mounds, Kit Kat
Light Red Wine (St. Laurent, Pinot Noir, Zweigelt, Gamay)
Starburst, Reese’s, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate
Medium Red Wine ((Red Table Wine, Tempranillo, Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Grenache, Merlot)
Snickers, Kit Kat, M&M’s, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate
Bold Red Wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Monastrell, Aglianico, Malbe, Syrah)
Snickers, Twix, Reese’s, M&M’s
Dessert Wines (Late Harvest, Ice Wine, Sherry, Port, Tawny Port, Ruby Port)
Heath, Reese’s, Snickers, Twix, Tootsie Roll, Mounds

So, Dear Readers, doesn’t this call for a celebration? Invite all your friends over for a Halloween party, complete with paired wine and candy. Happy Halloween!

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