Thursday, March 30, 2017

Wines to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day for a Fortnight

By Liza B. Zimmerman

This holiday to honor the Irish has become one that almost all of us like to celebrate. I don’t bear the cold like I did when I was a kid to watch the parade but do love to fete the holiday inside with a couple of good bottles.

One of the ways to pay tribute to it is by drinking wines with Irish names as many producers from Napa to New Zealand and Australia having Irish roots. Another fun way to honor the day is to start it off with a little Vinho Verde from Portugal. This fresh and fizzy white isn’t actually green but it is a lovely pairing to start off a meal.

I also asked two sommeliers in San Francisco what some of their favorite picks are. “If you view Saint Patrick's Day as a celebration, I would suggest celebratory wine. Bubbles of any type will suffice, but there is nothing like true Champagne for a celebration,” says general manager and wine director Jon Kelble of Maybeck’s in San Francisco.

I couldn’t agree with him more that bubbles are great for any occasion. The sparkling lineup has just grown vaster year after year with lots of lovely cremants, proseccos, cavas and even delicious Lambruscos from which to choose.

“One of the things that I love about Champagne is it is easily, and happily, consumed on its own, but there are also bigger and richer styles that can be enjoyed with food. There are some Blanc de Noirs and Rosés that can be paired with heartier dishes,” adds lead sommelier David Castleberry from restaurant RN74. Some of the bigger, more fruit-forward styles can pair with almost every dish in a meal, even lighter meats or tartare.

Two Perspectives
You could go the full-on traditional route with food and wine pairing. At Maybeck’s a classic meal of corned beef cheeks with braised cabbage and roasted potatoes is served that Kelble would pair with an austere Austrian Gruner Veltliner or Riesling. He adds that “any of the more mineral based and higher acidic Pinot Gris, Rieslings or Gewurztraminers that inhabit those borderlands. Alsace also produces many excellent Cremants to continue the bubbly celebratory theme.”

Cremants from Alsace and the Loire Valley have long been favorites of mine. They deliver a lot of flavor for their price points. Another trifecta of regions to seek out good Rieslings is in the Finger Lakes region and both the Okanagan Valley and Niagara-on-the-Lake regions of Canada.

Since most of the country is just defrosting from winter by the end of March you might just want a big, hearty red to keep you warm. South African and Chilean blends are some of my favorites as they really show off the ever-improving wine making techniques in the two oldest of the two New World wine making countries.

Sláinte to you all. Let’s toast to the holiday all month long.

Cheers from all of us at DrinkUpNY!

Liza B. 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 9, 2017

Eden "Heirloom" Ice Cider

By Warren Bobrow

Ice Cider is one of the most exciting things to come out of the Northern American Climes since downhill skiing!  Well, that would be stretching the winter-esque verbiage just a tad, but bear with me here just for a moment.  I’m thrilled to share with you my passion for a dessert wine so unique that an entirely new flavor profile has to be honed within your brain.  Unless you’ve spent any time in the Normandy (northern-decidedly un-touristy) region of France or in the frozen tundra of upper New York State and Vermont, it’s highly unlikely that the words Ice Cider would mean anything to you.  But please allow me to introduce you to a product that is certainly as elegant as ice wine.  But costs a 10th as much!

As a comparison, Ice wine is one of the scarcest forms of wine in the world- and it is understandably expensive.  The grapes have to freeze on the vine without turning to black goop- it’s a process that already is expensive because the grapes (either Vidal or Riesling) are not an easy grow in the cold climates.  Enter the much more durable apple.  Apple cider has only been produced in the Niagara Peninsula and just beyond.  The art of freezing the freshly crushed juice before fermentation is an art that many have never heard of, much less tasted.

That is until the Eden Cider Company in Vermont radically changed the way that cider can be enjoyed.  Instead of drinking a glass of apple cider lightly fermented in a glass like beer or champagne, or sparkling-style-mixed with Guinness in a velvet- a miniscule portion of ice cider is a veritable revelation of flavor. 

Ice Cider is concentrated goodness that only gets better over time.  Just like German ice wines age over decades, Ice Cider can be laid down for longer than you would imagine.  They are durable things that taste delicious on release too!  For 29 bucks, DrinkupNY has something that very few people have ever tasted, much less know exactly what Ice Cider tastes like. 

Heirloom Apples are not to be eaten un-cooked!  That sounds so foreboding, when actually- heirloom apples are precisely the kind of apples that go into cooked foods.  They have flavor far beyond the apples that you reach into a tree and freshly pick.  Heirlooms are concentrated and tart.  Some may say that they are bitter across the palate and quite drying.  Others may want you to steer clear of heirlooms all together because they are quite ugly to look at.  Whatever the case may be, the apples that make up the Eden "Heirloom" Ice Cider are things of rare beauty.  Because no matter what they look like, heirlooms create liquid pleasure that goes down your throat, drop by drop into liquid driven dreams.

Sometimes you’ll want to mix with the Eden Heirloom Ice Cider and I’d say- go right ahead. 

Rolling, Tumbling and Cascading of Pearl’s Infinite Wisdom
3 oz.  Eden Heirloom Ice Cider
2 oz. Guinness Foreign Extra Stout- left to go flat overnight
4 oz. Sparkling Cider

Preparation:
Into a pre-chilled Burgundy Glass:
Add the “flat” Guinness
Float the sparkling cider on top
Finish with another float of the Heirloom Ice Cider
Serve and prepare another… They’re so good!

Cheers from all of us at DrinkUpNY!

Warren Bobrow is the celebrated author/bar man and mixologist responsible for the 1st book on the topic, Cannabis Cocktails.

Warren has written to date four books, Apothecary Cocktails, Whiskey Cocktails and Bitters/Shrub Syrup Cocktails.  His first book, Apothecary Cocktails was nominated for a Spirited Award at the 2014 Tales of the Cocktail. Warren has been a dishwasher, and a pot scrubber- a cook- and a saucier.  He cooked professionally around the country, Portland, Me., Charleston, Sc., Scottsdale, Az., New Hope, Pa., He owned and lost his fresh pasta manufacturing company located in Charleston, SC in 1989- Hurricane Hugo.

Then came a twenty-year career in Banking.  Don’t ask!  Demoralizing yet, essential.
Fortunate to do what he is passionate about, Warren has five books in May 2017 and more ideas on the way.  Ministry of Rum judge, Rum XP associate, American Distilling Institute, Saveur 100, Oxford Encyclopedia, Sage Encyclopedia, Whole Food/Dark Rye, Liquor.com, Barrell Bourbon.   He taught a deep dive on rum at the Moscow Bar Show, taught at Stonewall Kitchen, Attended the Fetes Gastronomie in Burgundy, traveled to Abruzzo in Italy for wine and Michelin starred foods, just to name just a few.  From failed-executive assistant in a bank to tastemaker to the world.
Never working yet never not working.  Smoke and Mirrors.  Authentic.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Wines to Pair with Hearty Winter Meals

By Liza B. Zimmerman

Winter is my favorite time to use my crock-pot. These cold and rainy months you will find me slow-braising meats, making up different kinds of chili and cooking oxtail until it failing off the bone. These are among the richest foods in town and are a delight to pair with a wide range of wines.

While I am often drawn to intense red blends, from Bordeaux to California and Syrah-based gems, there is also room for some great whites here with these winter pairings.


Jason Alexander, managing partner at the two San Francisco restaurants The Progress & State Bird Provisions says that “Despite the season, we always seek to select wines that seek that elusive state of ‘balance’ with higher-toned fruit, moderate alcohol, bright acidity and tannins that are integrated.”

He adds that while, “The menus at both restaurants are intensely guided by the seasons and the team at our farm. Winter, though often associated with braises and hearty dishes, is really more driven by bitter greens, citrus and mushrooms [at the restaurants].” Given the dishes’ vegetal focus whites work well as pairings.

“For white wines we seek out grape varieties with texture and depth, but that shy away from wood and high alcohol [Chenin, Chablis]. For red wines we look for wines that are forceful and layered while also not driven by alcohol and wood influence [Nebbiolo, Syrah],” says Alexander.

In terms of red pairings, Alexander tends to choose “more savory red wines including Nebbiolo from the Alto Piemonte, Syrah from throughout the Rhone and cool-climate, thick-skinned grapes from California.” Twist my arm, they all sound delicious.

On his menu, he pairs dry, spiced BBQ lamb ribs with preserved lemon and curried ghee with a 2008 Nebbiolo, and Applewood-smoked squab with chili vinegar with a Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley.

Day-to-Day Pairings
With fatty meats you will want to choose wines with generous tannins that will help to break them down as you eat. Cabernet Sauvignon is a great pick for meat-centric dishes, and those wines can be from anywhere from California to Chile.

South African blends are also favorites of mine, and I have great memories of enjoying them with Springbok, a local antelope. I tend to prefer those without Pinotage, South Africa’s unusual, signature grape. The South Africans are also making great, smoky Syrah as are many producers in Eastern Washington.

For pork dishes, without red sauce, you can do as they do in Alsace: pair some dry, aromatic Rieslings with your meal. Rieslings produced in Alsace tend to be drier than those from Germany, but feel free to experiment. Aromatic whites like Gewurztraminer, and esoteric ones like the Northern Italian Kerner, also go well with simple pork dishes.

Whatever you choose to pair with those big cozy meals make sure you enjoy them in good company.

Cheers from all of us at DrinkUpNY!

Liza B. 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.