Monday, March 30, 2015

Where are the Next Great Values?

By Liza B. Zimmerman


Land costs have become so prohibitive in parts of California, and other places in the world, that is often hard to find a well-priced bottle of wine. For better values I always advise that consumers look to regions where land and labor costs are lower. My two current favorites are Chile and Portugal.

Argentina on a marketing level has always been better at defining its signature style: gauchos, high fashion, big steaks and Malbec. Chile never had a legendary cuisine nor did it have a particular style of winemaking or varietal focus. What has been a disadvantage for producers is clearly a plus for the buyer, as Chilean wines offer amazing value. The climate conditions also vary widely in the country, which is another plus for the wine industry.

Casa Lapostolle remains a top-notch producer with great wines in the under-$15 category. It is also a beautiful place to visit. This country's signature grape is Carmenere, and its smoky and meaty taste profile make it well worth seeking out. It also tends to cost less as it doesn't have international recognition and consumers can worry about how to pronounce all the accents in its name!

Dreaming of Portugal
This Iberian coastal paradise has just woken up from a long slumber. When Port producers and grape growers decided to put aside part of their production for non-fortified wines they changed the fine-wine profile of the country. Dry reds, and whites, from the Douro, are among the country's best and some are fairly well priced.

When you start dipping into the lesser-known appellations like Lisboa--the growing region outside of the capital city--and the cool, green Northern areas, you can enjoy some fantastic wines. Vinho Verde has great style, signature fizz and pairs splendidly with seafood (and an afternoon on the front porch).

The Doural Red is a flavor-packed wine. Other regions to keep an eye on include the Dão and hot, tannic and rowdy Alentejo. White Port, if you like a hint of sweetness, is also delicious as an aperitif and is fun as a cocktail ingredient with a touch of tonic.

Other Areas to Look For
Argentina is making some top-of-the-line Malbecs, with fresh fruit and tar-like (yes in a good way) flavors that allow them to pair so well with steak (and lamb and other grilled delicacies). The country's Torrontés grapes are also being used in fizzy, simple and refreshing whites.

South Africa is another country to keep an eye on. Apartheid shut the winemakers off from the rest of the world for so long they are just coming into their own and benchmarking their products against the best in the world. The Bordeaux blends are stunning in this country--I would take them without the addition of Pinotage--as are the Sauvignon Blancs. Indaba, Mulderbosch and Warwick are all very consistent producers who make some deli

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cocktail: Just across from Madness Street

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

Absinthe has always had a sort of a bad boy reputation and without cause.  I suppose that this reputation has more to do with the high alcohol levels and less with the actual herbs themselves.  But should you drink more than your fair share of Absinthe, and then only trouble will befall you.  Take it easy with this stuff; you don’t need very much to have a grand time.  If anything, Mezcal has more potency- but that is another very misunderstood liquor for all the wrong reasons.

Artemisia-Bugnon Distillery "La Clandestine" Absinthe Superieure is not the stuff that your mom tried to warn you about.  She was talking about the absinthe that was artificially colored and flavored.  This product, the Artemisia-Bugnon Distillery "La Clandestine" Absinthe Superieure is one of the finest brands of Absinthe on the market today.  I think what I like most about it is the utter mixability of the spirits themselves.  They lend themselves to drinks like the salubrious Absinthe Frappe, or a Sazerac, done, just so.  Artemisia-Bugnon “La Clandestine” does things to my palate that most Absinthes cannot do.  It makes me hungry…  the “La Clandestine” is so very food friendly and it just screams for a plate of steamed mussels, the potent spirits danced over the tops of the mollusks, possibly steamed in Indian Spices, like a green Curry? Would this reveal their inner secrets, both the rhyme and the rhythm in cadence with each another? 

“La Clandestine” is like drinking a secret.  In this case, the secret is yours- and yours alone.  Ok, so you are not a day drinker, nor do you like to drink alone.  In this case may I suggest a refreshing punch?  I’m going to use the “La Clandestine” with Royal Rose “Rose” Simple Syrup and crushed ice with freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters

It’s a simple cocktail.  Served with a splash of seltzer water to give the signature louche to the Absinthe.  I’m quite sure that rose flavored simple syrup will go a long way towards making the flavor balance sing in the face of the disparate ingredients.  But if the Middle East is my guide and Turkey as the go/to, this anise and wormwood scented mélange is most beguiling indeed!  “La Clandestine” is creamy in texture, herbaceous and vivaciously aromatic in the glass with a bit of cool water as well.  I just happened to enjoy mixing mine with Rose syrup from Maine and a touch of Lemon bitters for balance against the sweetness from the Absinthe and added simple syrup of roses. 

This is certainly going to bring out madness in sufficient enough quantities- so please be careful!

Just across from Madness Street
Ingredients:
1 oz. “La Clandestine” Absinthe
1 oz. Seltzer water
2 oz. grapefruit juice (freshly squeezed only!)
1.5 oz. Royal Rose Simple Syrup of Roses
2-4 drops Lemon bitters (from the Bitter Truth)
ice ball

Preparation:
Pre-chill an Old Fashioned Glass with bar ice and water
Pour out when well chilled
Add one ice ball..
Pour over the Royal Rose Simple Syrup of Roses
Add the “La Clandestine” Absinthe
Pour over the freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
Pour over the seltzer
Dot with the Lemon Bitters
Serve

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

About Warren Bobrow
Author of: Apothecary Cocktails-Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today- Fair Winds Press- Beverly, Massachusetts. Apothecary Cocktails was nominated for a Spirited Award, 2014 Tales of the Cocktail.  His forthcoming book, Whiskey Cocktails will be released October 14.  Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails follow with publication in spring ’15.  Warren is a master mixologist for several craft liquor companies.

Warren consults about mixology and spirits, travel, organic wine and food.  He’s written for web-blogs and magazines like: Williams-Sonoma, Whole Foods: Dark Rye, Distiller, Total Food Service Magazine, Beverage Media Group, DrinkUpNY, Edible Publications, Foodista, Serious Eats, Mechanics of Style and Beekman1802.  He was in the Saveur-100 in 2010.

Warren is a former, mostly self, trained cook from the pot sink on up.  J&W and ACF were thrown in for good luck.  Warren was the former owner/co-founder of Olde Charleston Pasta in South Carolina: *Dissolved his business after Hurricane Hugo in 1989* - to a career in private banking, (nearly 20 years; “a very grand mistake”) to this reinvention in 2009 as the Warren he's finally become.

Warren is available to do highly personalized, interactive mixology events, local, national and international.
PS: Warren's second book, Whiskey Cocktails is on the market now!
Contact: jockeyhollow@gmail.com

Monday, March 23, 2015

Pairing Wine with British Gastro-Pub Food

By Liza B. Zimmerman


Scotch eggs and meat pies have never been known for how they pair with wines. But leave to an American couple of Scottish-Welsh origin, who recently opened a winery and restaurant compound in the Napa Valley, to begin to sort out how the two might work together (even better than with beer).

Wine's acidity can be as beneficial to a food pairing as beer's hop-driven ability to refresh. I have long been a fan of wine pairings with lots of non-Western foods. Bright acidity can take the burn off spicy Thai or Indian dishes as easily as it ca cut through the intensity of heavy or friend food.

Stacia Williams, co-owner of Cairdean Estate in the Napa Valley and sommelier for the gastro pub restaurant The Fox & The Farmer had some insightful ideas about what makes traditional UK fare work with wine.

Pairing Ideas
Williams notes that, "Traditional pub food is typically pretty heavy, mostly fried and best for soaking up large quantities of alcohol." Nonetheless Cairdean's Napa Valley outpost is trying to make these dishes a little lighter in order for them be more wine friendly, she notes. 

"If you have a dish that is rich, you want some acid [wine] .... to balance your experience." Cool climate acidic wines--whites and reds from the Loire Valley or  austere Burgundies and tight Dolcettos--will be up to the task. Williams seconds the thought noting that,  "Acidity cuts through fat, which is why we look to dishes such as foie gras, veal and triple cream brie to pair with highly acidic wines."

A Touch of Sweetness Does the Trick
As often works well with non-Western foods, and in this case richer versions of traditionally British foods, sweeter wines that are not fortified  are good pairings. They tend to have higher levels of residual sugar and lower levels of alcohol.

Williams adds that, generally speaking, Rieslings and Gewürztraminers pair better with foods that have higher spice levels. For instance she pairs a Riesling with the restaurant's Squab Tikka Masala. Rieslings from Alsace will be a particularly good match as they can have a hint of sweetness, but not so much as to overpower the dish. Also New York State Rieslings, such as Dr. Konstantin Frank's "Salmon Run," also work with a wide variety of rich dishes.

She adds that, "We avoid pairing any tannic wines with food that is spicy or light. I can be caught having fish with a rich Cabernet Sauvignon, but I know it is not the 'perfect pairing.' "

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.
Photo Credit: Nash Bernardo

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Down Near the Ganges-via Morristown, NJ

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer


I’ve recently moved from my home of 14 years to an apartment.  Aside from the shock of going from the deep forest to a bustling city, my entire experience of living is enhanced by what others in the building are eating during their meals.  This couldn’t be more true than walking through a building where there is no outdoor air coming in, unless the apartment windows are open, nor cooking odors being wafted outside by expensive vent hoods.  There are none in this building.  So the smells of other people’s dinners is in my face for the three second intervals I experience as I pass by their apartments.  In my brief tour of culinary odors, I’ve found that a gentleman and his wife live just a few doors away.  They are clearly from India by the sweet smells of coriander, garlic, toasty naan breads, ghee, saffron and cardamom.  And to my delight as I walk by their apartment, they seem to love to cook beautiful meals.  Furthermore, whoever is cooking is extremely passionate, (at least in the 3 second whiff that I get walking past their door) about the art of Indian cooking.  I consider myself very lucky to have this nasal expression run through me and it has infused my mind with possibilities for cocktails.

Spring is coming soon, only in my brain evidently, because outside it is still rather chilly.  I need a cocktail to wake up my sense of taste, because clearly my sense of smell is being taken care of by my neighbors.  They are doing something that has awoken my sense of place and significance in the universe.  I want to work with new flavors and with this, re-awaken your palate as well. 

Down in the Caribbean, the water systems are suspect at best.  You should not drink the local water.  The same holds true for the ice, it is also made with the local water.  Until you get used to it, and you may never fully get used to drinking poison, you should drink coconut water.  Not only is coconut water good for your belly, but also it won’t make you sick like the tap water is certainly going to do.  And in a craft cocktail, where flavor and balance move from hand to hand seamlessly, the quality of the ingredients is most important.  I’ve found a new product that fits this lens of quality and their packaging shows me that they are concerned with the sanitary nature of their product as well.  “Amy and Brian” are responsible for the “All-Natural” Coconut Juice with Lime, a delicious mixture of young coconut water with fresh lime juice.  This is just gorgeous stuff and I couldn’t wait to make ice out of a can of this thirst quenching elixir. 

The physical reaction of the melting coconut and lime ice takes my cocktails to a higher level. This one is an amalgamation of surprise and delight… No doubt! 

I’m incredibly passionate about Neisson White Rhum Agricole from Martinique. It tastes like the rum of my memories.  The ones spent sailing the islands of the Caribbean on my family’s former Little Harbor yacht. These are the ones that choose not to ever forget because the combination of Rhum Agricole and frozen coconut water is imprinted in my brain.

Mixing coconut water (and lime juice) ice with this incredibly emotional Rhum Agricole is a match made only in the islands, where the water is dangerous enough before adding the fresh-100 Proof Rhum into the equation.  So that’s why you are supposed to take the “regular” ice out of your diet in the islands.  It’s just not safe to drink it!  Do your belly a favor!

Rhum Agricole is much better for you!  And that lovely can of coconut water and lime frozen into ice?  Let’s just say that your health will improve now that your stomach is feeling better.

Neisson White Rhum Agricole is a lovely expression of night blooming nicotine flowers, the sap of freshly cut- sweet cane juice and crushed stones.  The sugar cane that makes this Rhum so unique grew on the black volcanic soil next to active volcano named Mount Pelée.  

To this simple cocktail I add a few swigs of the Creole Bitters from the Bitter Truth.  Similar in color to Peychaud’s Bitters (red) these carefully made bitters are night and day different than Peychaud’s.  They are woven with fresh nutmeg and other Caribbean baking spices- perfectly geared to a cocktail with coconut water and lime- along with Rhum Agricole from Neisson.  Top this off with some sweetness in the form of Royal Rose Simple Syrup of Saffron (easily found) and mix the drink with your finger or a Boston Shaker.  I garnish this drink with an edible nasturtium flower.  A hand cut peel of orange or grapefruit makes for a durable finish.  I yearn for flavors like this in my drinks. They will wake up my palate in no time flat.  And my neighbors from India made me think in aroma.  Not a bad way to think!

Down Near the Ganges-via Morristown, NJ
Ingredients for two persons:
4 oz. Neisson Rhum Agricole Blanc (unaged-white Rhum Agricole) 
3 oz. Royal Rose Simple Syrup of Saffron
4 (2 inch) cubes of Coconut Water and lime ice, made from Amy & Brian’s All Natural Coconut Juice with lime
2 oz. unflavored Seltzer Water
4 shakes Bitter Truth Creole Bitters

Preparation:
The night prior, fill a silicone ice tray with your coconut and lime water, freeze overnight

Chill two “Old Fashioned” glasses with water and regular bar ice, pour out when frosty

Add 1 (2 inch) cube of coconut water ice to your glass.
Meanwhile in a Boston Shaker, fill ¾ with coconut and lime water ice
Add the Rhum Agricole
Add the Royal Rose Simple Syrup of Saffron
Cap and shake hard to combine
Pour over the large coconut water/lime ice cube
Top with a bit of seltzer for fizz
Shake the Bitter Truth Creole Bitters over the top
Garnish with a wide grapefruit or orange zest
Add an edible tropical flower for fun!

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

About Warren Bobrow
Author of: Apothecary Cocktails-Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today- Fair Winds Press- Beverly, Massachusetts. Apothecary Cocktails was nominated for a Spirited Award, 2014 Tales of the Cocktail.  His forthcoming book, Whiskey Cocktails will be released October 14.  Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails follow with publication in spring ’15.  Warren is a master mixologist for several craft liquor companies.

Warren consults about mixology and spirits, travel, organic wine and food.  He’s written for web-blogs and magazines like: Williams-Sonoma, Whole Foods: Dark Rye, Distiller, Total Food Service Magazine, Beverage Media Group, DrinkUpNY, Edible Publications, Foodista, Serious Eats, Mechanics of Style and Beekman1802.  He was in the Saveur-100 in 2010.

Warren is a former, mostly self, trained cook from the pot sink on up.  J&W and ACF were thrown in for good luck.  Warren was the former owner/co-founder of Olde Charleston Pasta in South Carolina: *Dissolved his business after Hurricane Hugo in 1989* - to a career in private banking, (nearly 20 years; “a very grand mistake”) to this reinvention in 2009 as the Warren he's finally become.

Warren is available to do highly personalized, interactive mixology events, local, national and international.
PS: Warren's second book, Whiskey Cocktails is on the market now!
Contact: jockeyhollow@gmail.com

Monday, March 16, 2015

Wines for St. Patrick's Day

By Liza B. Zimmerman


While a well-pulled pint of Guinness is a joy almost any day of the year, none of us should feel pressured to just drink beer on St. Patrick's Day. Being somewhat of a lifelong contrarian, I much prefer to stay in on rowdy nights, braise a piece of meat and open a good bottle of wine.

If you want to support the Irish on the holiday, there are many families of Irish background who have great wineries in California: Murphy, Sullivan and O'Shaughnessy are just a few for starters. I adore O'Shaughnessy's complex red blends.

Another fun thing to do to properly celebrate the occasion would be to open a bottle of "green" wine, none other than Portugal's delightful, accessible vinho verde. They come from the north of the country and are generally packed with ribbons of acidity, solid fruit flavors and tend to be an exceptional value.

Other Ideas
Given that the weather has not been kind to the East Coast this year, you might want to open a bottle of a big, heart-warming red. If you have a fireplace, ideally one that you can grill meat in, maybe a little Zinfandel will be in order. Sobon Estate from Amador Country is one of my favorites, as it is rich, luscious and well balanced.

Otherwise I would do what the Italians do and dig in your cellar for an-almost-at-the-end-of-its-life Barbaresco and savor all its delicate flavors. Produttori del Barbaresco, the cooperative that doesn't make wines as if it were one, is always a great and affordable option. Inhale the peppery flavors, softened tannins and smell of the wet earth. If your budget doesn't permit such indulgences, go for a Barbera or Dolcetto.

Pinot Dreams
A touch of Burgundy or sultry Pinot Noir from California is also a great way to start, or finish, the night. Heron is a consistently good producer from California and Roar is divine. It is always fun to compare and contrast the rich, layered Pinot Noirs from the West Coast to some of the Older World and more acid-driven versions from different parts of Sonoma. Don't even get me started about the delights of Oregon.

Maybe a little Port would also be great way to wrap up the evening. If you can't find a good vintage a classic ten-year-old tawny can probably fit the bill. This genre of Port tends to be lean, spicy and a great way to conclude an evening. Or a touch of Fernet Branca depending on what you ate!

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.
Photo Credit: www.temeculawines.org

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Cocktail: Spring Peeper

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

During the mid - 80’s, just after I graduated from college, it seemed that the best thing to drink (at least at the time) were clear drinks.  Clear, as in over-proof rum or clear like vodka and soda… It was never gin because gin was just bathtub rock-gut during the 80’s served as simply as possible because the whole mixology movement was still decades off.  

Being a bartender and making drinks at this time was not meant to be entertainment, people wanted to get lubricated and fast!

Most of these mixed drinks during the 80’s were pretty much flavorless stuff comprised of really cheap ingredients and never/ever freshly squeezed juices.  They were sheer intoxication over flavor in the cocktail arena. 

Meanwhile, down in exciting and vivacious Peru, Pisco, the indigenous liquor this country, was the elixir of choice to the nation.  Pisco is the national identity-via liquor of course-to Peruvians. 

During the mid-80s there were an entire subset of wealthy and influential young Peruvians who came to New York to populate the all night parties and the dance clubs of this era. (I worked at the night club in NYC named Danceteria during the 80’s.) The way I remember, (what little I do remember!), is that these denizens of the night enjoyed their national drink…a new product at that time for beer and a shot NYC.

Pisco was served in nightclubs and bars with nothing more than a glass made simple syrup made with muddled lime and extra fine bar sugar- finished with splash of soda-gun 7Up… It was a quick and potent drunk made with much less than high quality ingredients in dive bars and nightclubs.  Those early brands that made their way to New York City could be quite memorable one in the wrong hands.  Because of the combination of sweet and sour with fizzy, these drinks went down all too quickly, yielding results best left to history. 

This early craft cocktail, the Pisco Sour was refreshing and electrifying when compared to the mundane cocktails that people were ordering during this era of dancing from late until after dawn. 

But first, what is Pisco Porton?  It certainly bears no resemblance to the Pisco of an uncertain provenance during the 80’s in NYC. 

Pisco Porton is an ultra-high end, super-premium product that possesses what few spirits in the world possess.  That’s a DOC. The term DOC means that the product is made in a time-honored and specific way, in a specific place according to closely followed rules that are set into law.  Some of the world’s best wines are awarded DOC’s.  So are indigenous foods made using certain ingredients, crafted in a very personal way.  It’s a great honor to be awarded a DOC in the world of food/wine/spirits. 
To the layperson, a DOC governs quality and purity of a specific product.

Pisco Porton has this DOC because it is truly the best Pisco on the market. 

The grapes that comprise the elegantly styled, Pisco Porton are both aromatic and non-aromatic varieties:  Quebranta, Negra Corriente, Mollar, Italia, Muscat, Albilla, Torontel and Uvina.  All venerable wine grapes are used.  Most importantly, the spirit is distilled in small copper pot stills to proof, water is never added to dilute the final spirit.  This is different than most spirits in that what is in the bottle may not be what is originally distilled.

They’ve been making Pisco Porton since 1684, certainly longer than any distillery in this hemisphere. 

I’d like to re-image that early drink of muddled lime and bar sugar with 7Up mixed together with more modern ingredients.  In this case Pisco Porton is woven with grilled grapefruit juice and a splash of tangy lime juice and a hit of simple syrup.  It is then shaken and finished with Bitter Truth Creole bitters.  It’s marvelous to sip in a snifter, or shoot down and then finished with an icy lager beer. 

I’d like to call it:

Spring Peeper
Ingredients:
2 oz. Pisco Porton
1 oz. Broiled Grapefruit juice (recipe follows below)
½ oz. Freshly squeezed lime juice
2 oz. Lager Beer of your choice
Wide orange zest (cut with a paring knife NEVER a peeler)
5 shakes Bitter Truth Creole Bitters

Preparation:
Heat your broiler to medium
Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over 4 grapefruit halves
Broil until caramelized and bubbly

Let grapefruit cool
Juice to yield the sweet/tangy juice
Fill a Boston Shaker 3/4 with ice
Add the Pisco Porton
Add the broiled grapefruit juice
Cap and shake
Pour into a coupe
Top with the lager beer

Flame an orange over the top
Finish with a float of the Creole Bitters

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

About Warren Bobrow
Author of: Apothecary Cocktails-Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today- Fair Winds Press- Beverly, Massachusetts. Apothecary Cocktails was nominated for a Spirited Award, 2014 Tales of the Cocktail.  His forthcoming book, Whiskey Cocktails will be released October 14.  Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails follow with publication in spring ’15.  Warren is a master mixologist for several craft liquor companies.

Warren consults about mixology and spirits, travel, organic wine and food.  He’s written for web-blogs and magazines like: Williams-Sonoma, Whole Foods: Dark Rye, Distiller, Total Food Service Magazine, Beverage Media Group, DrinkUpNY, Edible Publications, Foodista, Serious Eats, Mechanics of Style and Beekman1802.  He was in the Saveur-100 in 2010.

Warren is a former, mostly self, trained cook from the pot sink on up.  J&W and ACF were thrown in for good luck.  Warren was the former owner/co-founder of Olde Charleston Pasta in South Carolina: *Dissolved his business after Hurricane Hugo in 1989* - to a career in private banking, (nearly 20 years; “a very grand mistake”) to this reinvention in 2009 as the Warren he's finally become.

Warren is available to do highly personalized, interactive mixology events, local, national and international.
PS: Warren's second book, Whiskey Cocktails is on the market now!
Contact: jockeyhollow@gmail.com

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Pairing Korean Food with Wine

By Liza B. Zimmerman

The spicy, meat-focused, pickled food of Korea has long been one of my favorites. I adore the smoky, grilled short ribs, crisp pancakes and savory soups. Kimchi, fermented cabbage in a hot sauce, is just like mother's milk (I actually never liked milk and this is so much better for me).

Few Korean restaurants serve wine and most fall back on a wide variety of shochu--a white distillate made from rice or other starches like potatoes--offerings with a handful of beers. However sparkling wines, off-dry whites and fruity reds can completely rise to the occasion. I have long brought my own wines to a number of Korean places (particularly in New York).

However the game is changing and a handful of restaurants, and retailers, are trying to lend some guidelines as to what to pair with these strong flavors. Kenny Lee, president of Lee's Korean Restaurant  in Las Vegas, who grew up in a retail wine family, had a plethora of suggestions as to how to make this food work with wine.

History and Reality
"Korean food is traditionally paired with beer and soju due to lack of wines available back in Korea," notes Lee. He adds that, "I noticed that many high-end Korean restaurants in LA have extensive wine lists nowadays." Los Angles is home to one of the largest Korean communities in the country, so it is no surprise that some restaurants there would be leading the charge.

One of the other challenges is the range of flavors that are found in Korean food: from sweet to spicy. Whereas foods such as Vietnamese and Thai, that often run more sweet than hot, can easily be paired with off-dry whites and yeasty bubbles, Korean offers some serious BBQ (beef, pork and chicken) options that really need a hearty red to step up to its flavors. Since, "Korean food tends to be salty, spicy and sweet. I think it overpowers many of the wines, especially reds," concurs Kenny.

He also thinks that the classic, high-acid whites with notes of sweetness work beautiful with much of what is offered on the Korean table. "I think it pairs well with dry and semi-dry white wines. I love it with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with citrus and grapefruit notes, dry Alsatian Riesling or Pinot blanc or trocken and half-trocken German wines."

Lee adds that he likes the residual sugar in wine more and more as the spice levels rise, even if the dish contains meat. "I drank some German Auslese  with ddukbokki--a spicy fish and rice cake dish--and it was amazing." Many of the cuisine's introductory rice dishes also have a salinity and spiciness that helps them work well with wines, he notes.

Many of my favorite dishes in the Korean food lexicon have long been different types of soup: from simple dumplings in rich broth to cold buckwheat noodles in the summer or a spicy stew of octopus that is generally intended for groups of drunken men after a certain hour. If you try to order it earlier in the evening, especially if you are female, most of the restaurants will try to dissuade you.

Kenny had no specific ideas for soup pairings. I myself would go with the base ingredients: a simple broth with a light white or red, with good ribbons of acidity. The cold soup is divine with bubbles and the intensely spicy stews are great with fruit-forward reds.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.
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