Writer’s Note: Portions of this post were originally published in the North Tahoe Action, December 11, 2005.
Wine is complicated, there’s no point in trying to skirt around that. But it doesn’t have to be challenging or frustrating. You shouldn’t have to drink a lot of wines that you don’t like to find one you do. What’s missing in the grocery/big box store experience is guidance, someone who understands wine, who’ll take the time to help you. What you need is: Dean Schaecher. Continue reading
Spend $300 on dinner for two? My mother would never approve. And while right now my budget doesn’t either, splurging on a meal that’s an event in itself is the kind of foodie indulgence we should all enjoy once in awhile. Top on my list of “dining destinations” is Cyrus, the year-old, San Francisco Chronicle four-star restaurant located on the bottom floor of the elegant Le Mars Hotel in downtown Healdsburg, California. Lauded in the new San Francisco Bay Area and Wine Country Michelin Guide (two stars), named one of the top 50 restaurants in America by Gourmet and led by Douglas Keane, one of Food+Wine’s best new chefs, Cyrus has prominent epicures intoxicated. Well-publicized accolades aside, two excellent dining experiences at Market (Douglas Keane and partner Nick Peyton’s first restaurant in Saint Helena), a couple of first-person accounts and the mouthwatering menu descriptions on Cyrus’s website had me giddy and hungry. So, last month I scrounged my pennies together and whet my appetite at the bar, where menu items can be purchased à la carte. Continue reading
Ever bought a pair of jeans without trying them on? You get home and find yourself trying to wriggle into something made for a baby doll or, as the case may be, aghast at the two-inch shelf at the small of your back and the extra six inches of denim concealing your feet and some of the floor in front of you? You’re disappointed, put out and frustrated. Buying a wine you’ve never tasted, particularly when you’re new to wine and just discovering what you like, can be a similar and costly misadventure. Like dressing rooms, wine bars and retail shops with tasting rooms can take some of the guesswork out of buying a bottle and, with the right bartender, a great learning experience. Continue reading
Just a few weeks ago it felt as though I’d never have a day off again. I was too tired to write, to be social. Every ounce of my energy was put into making wine. But last week, as half of the ferments in tank went dry, were drained to barrel and pressed off, I began to experience “crush crash.” My arms went numb and I had what can best be explained as a cumulative hangover, the backlash of a month’s intensive learning. I crawled into bed on my first day off and am just beginning to resurface five days later and headache free, with lots of ideas and the realization that I’m moving again and have to find a job. So, while I send my resume out to every publication in the Los Angeles area that might potentially want a food and wine writer, I leave you with a slew of photos taken during crush. Check back next week for the brix revolution, as we talk to the winemakers at Pax, Chef Douglas Keane of Healdsburg’s acclaimed Cyrus, take another visit to the subject of flaws and much, much more! Continue reading
At a small winery like Pax it’s not surprising that customer relationships are deeper, more personal. This past Saturday was Open House at Pax, a chance for customers to pick up and taste what’s currently available for sale and get a sneak peak at what’s to come by way of barrel samples. It’s also a great opportunity for the people who drink Pax wines to meet the people behind the wine and a chance for us to meet and better understand them.
Of all our senses, smell seems the most mysterious and remarkable. With a whiff I can be taken back to my great Aunt’s bathroom in Brooklyn with its faint aroma of cold porcelain, damp brick and drying clothes. The scent of pine paneling and concrete always reminds me of my best friend’s basement on Long Island. And yesterday, while standing on a ladder pumping over a tank of Kobler Syrah, snacking on an apple with almond butter, I had a staggering flashback of my last Passover at my parents–the crisp apple and nut smells had combined in the air over the wine to evoke my favorite Passover dish, charoset.
With our sense of smell so often tied to memory, we often forget it is intricately connected to what we think of as taste. This is particularly true of wine, triggering the production of aroma wheels and aroma kits to assist us in unlocking and identifying the subtler scents in wine. Continue reading