Monday, June 9, 2014

Wine for Father’s Day

By Liza B. Zimmerman

Put the order in for the dry-aged, grass-fed beef while you read this. I can’t think of a traditional father who doesn’t love a good steak with a serious red wine. Most of our fathers were born before vegetarianism came into vogue (thank goodness).

Few producers do great, intense and yet soft-and-accessible Cabernet Sauvignons better than the folks in Eastern Washington. L’Ecole 41 is one of the founding fathers of the Walla Walla wine industry and its red wines are divine. It is also a lot of fun to visit—if you want to drive the four to five hours from Seattle or Portland or fly into the local airport in Pasco—as the winery is located in an old school house. Other great Washington producers include Waterbrook (located outside of Walla Walla) and Pepper Bridge.

Another country that has long been producing dynamite Cabernets (among other serious red blends for dad) is South Africa. Warwick’s Cabernet, a relative bargain at under $20, is delicious. Other great producers of Cabernet blends include De Toren Fusion V and Rust en Vrede. The South Africans often add Syrah or Pinotage to their blends, the first of which often lends body while the second frequently muddies the blend.

For the Bon Vivant Father
Stylish fathers love a little Champagne: as does mine who drank Moët at one of my major birthday parties. So get him a little Gosset or an elegant Franciacorta. A little tawny Port is perfect after dinner; Ferreira is a great brand, as are those of Niepoort and many other producers.
For a pre-meal tipple Sherry always fits the bill, maybe with a mound of almonds. Dry Marsala is also super swank, although few people know about it. Scotch and Fernet are always good after-dinner options as well. However it is not likely your father will want a Fernet Branca unless he’s a more than 70-year-old Italian or under 40 and living in San Francisco.

What My Father Would Love
Nothing is like a cold beer on a hot New York day, particularly if you are spending time near the beach in Coney Island as my dad did as a kid. He still runs around in his high tops in the subway going to work but grew up in a very different New York.
He’s really a Gimlet guy. And those only can be made with gin, thanks. The same thing with Martinis: double olives please. He’s a classic gin drinker. Although I have made him try Hendrick’s—which I adore—the same winter I made him walk a mile in the rain and snow to a hipster bar on Avenue B. He would probably also like Citadelle and Arak, which I have spoken of so fondly after many trips to Turkey and other Middle Eastern countries.
But ultimately he’s a Dark and Stormy guy, ideally with dark rum. We love Barbancourt and other intense, but well-balanced, dark rums. His specialty is mixing them with fruit juice in the apartment on 86th Street where I was raised, with copious amounts of lime. It reminds my whole family of incredible times in the Caribbean sitting on porches and enjoying his drinks. I have carried dozens of cases of dark rum across the country for him since I moved to San Francisco: so the TSA always searches my bags. He loves them all. I have also taken him to any number of events, where he frowns on bartenders who don’t know how to make a Dark and Stormy. Good for him and the classics.

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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