By Maria McKinley   |   Thursday, November 19, 2015 at 9:17 am   |   Leave a Comment »

In line at the grocery checkout, a magazine’s headline caught my eye.  It read “Make Time For What Matters.” I thought, wow, that is so true, and started to take it off the shelf. But, wait a minute. Are you kidding? I don’t have time to read a magazine!  How many magazines do I have stacked up at home, waiting in the “please read me” pile? Too many. Not to mention whatever else at home is waiting for attention. Magazines are pretty far down on the list.

If we know anything about the holiday season, we know it’s easy to get caught up in the logistics of the “to do” list. It’s a marathon of decorating, shopping, wrapping, mailing, entertaining, and cooking. And family time can be stressful. But of course you know this already because you are a seasoned veteran of holiday stress.

Decisions, decisions. When it comes to entertaining, gift-giving and wine selections, I say keep it simple. Often, we try to gift wine by choosing a varietal we think the individual will appreciate. They love Italian food, hence a Chianti is in the bag.  But you know nothing about Chianti. I say give a gift of wine from what you know, what you like.

So you don’t drink wine? Talk to staff and I’ll admit I prefer to approach someone near my age. When I see the wholesale distributors stocking wine shelves at the grocery, I ask them what’s new, what do they like right now, what’s trending? They have a lot of knowledge and are happy to share. And I’ve received great recommendations.

For my “keep it simple” recommendations, I like Kim Crawford. I was gifted a bottle from a good friend and I was hooked. They make three whites and one red, including an unoaked chardonnay. Reasonably priced and easily found locally, the wines are uncomplicated, can stand alone and pair nicely with food. Love their website which offers creative recipes, food pairings, and gift ideas.

I was drawn to Sofia Coppola wines because of the elegant bottle, a good marketing move. A division of Francis Ford Coppola wines, Sofia offers two whites, two reds, and two sparkling wines, one is non-alcoholic. The riesling and the rosé are slightly sweet (semi-dry) and are perfect with holiday food. Again, not expensive and available locally.

» Back to Top «

By Allen Dale "Ole" Olson   |   Wednesday, November 18, 2015 at 5:46 pm   |   Leave a Comment »

I love the New Beaujolais. Not the wine so much but the events associated with its release. I love the antics around the world by those wanting to be the first in their neighborhood to receive it and sell it.

I have been in the Lygon Arms in the Cotswolds when a horse-drawn carriage brought in a few kegs mid-morning. I have been in Indianapolis when Michel had a supply dropped into his parking lot by parachute. It used to go to Asia and North America by Concorde. In recent years, however, it has been pre-shipped and staged in distribution centers in major markets until it could legally be released at midnight on the third Wednesday (for Thursday morning) of November.

As I write, midnight is approaching the Beaujolais region. I have no idea how the release festivities will be this year because the whole nation is still grieving. But I suspect, knowing the French, they will thumb their noses at the attackers, mourn their dead, and cheer off the trucks, vans, helicopters, small planes, and trains at the stroke of midnight to make sure the stuff gets to major airports, metropolitan centers, and all places between by day break.

One can argue that this new Beaujolais is not really wine. It’s barely six weeks old, not even enough time for the tannins to create a presence. But one can’t deny that it’s pleasant to drink — so pleasant, in fact, that the unwary may very well forget that it is an alcoholic beverage and rue the occasion.

None of the grapes — always Gamay and always hand harvested in Beaujolais — from the Grand Cru vineyards  ever goes into the early release Nouveau. It should not be confused with the respected and respectable wines with village designations and which can claim one of the ten major Crus — Morgon, Fleurie, St-Amour, for example.

The New Beaujolais is fun, nothing more, nothing less. Tomorrow, the third Thursday of this November 2015, we shall raise a glass to those who produce it and to the brave citizens of a nation just savagely violated. Les Beaujolais est Arrive.

» Back to Top «

By Maria McKinley   |   Monday, November 16, 2015 at 1:03 pm   |   Leave a Comment »

I like books. Your book shelves tell me more about you than I could ever learn over dinner:  your travels, your hobbies, your passions, favorite authors, those romance and mystery genres hidden on the bottom shelf.  Books make perfect gifts but finding the perfect book can be challenging.  Let’s talk about wine books.

If you’re looking for a basic beginning “what is wine and how do they do it” book, check out The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Wine or anything in the Wine for Dummies series.  Read this in the privacy of your own home so you don’t feel, well, like a dummy.

For detailed reference material, an atlas so to speak, The Oxford Companion to Wine  (2015), The Wine Bible (2015), and The World Atlas of Wine (2013) all come highly recommended by wine experts and reviewers.

I like a good true story.  Here are a few suggestions from the hundreds available.

The Billionaire’s Vinegar: The Mystery of the World’s Most Expensive Bottle of Wine  by Benjamin Wallace. This is the story of the auction at Christie’s in 1985 of a 1787 Chateau Lafite Bordeaux owned by Thomas Jefferson. Or was it? Matthew McConaughey is slated to star in the film version.

Adventures on the Wine Route: A Wine Buyer’s Tour of France by Kermit Lynch.  Considered a classic and first published in 1988, you’ll travel along the French wine trail with Lynch and discover there’s more to viticulture than grapes. The 25th anniversary edition (2013) offers an update, a new epilogue, and a list of his twenty-five most memorable bottles.

Wine and War: The French, the Nazis, and the Battle for France’s Greatest Treasure by Donald and Petie Kladstrup. Think George Clooney and The Monument’s Men. Insert wine instead of art treasures. The extent of deceit, lies, and hidden walls to keep the Nazis from taking their liquid treasure celebrates the French spirit of tradition and heritage.

Palmento: A Sicilian Wine Odyssey by Robert Camuto. Better book your flight to Sicily after reading this one. Camuto follows twelve winemakers for a year in Italy’s oldest and largest wine region. Sicily comes alive in the stories of it’s people, their food and wine, and the island’s beautiful and diverse topography.

The History of Wine in 100 Bottles by Oz Clarke. An unconventional and entertaining read of 100 topics dealing with noteworthy snippets, not all historically significant. Just fun.

» Back to Top «