Friday, August 30, 2013

Great Wines, Odd Winemaking! Details Posted at

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Drinker's Notebook No. 9: Bottles to Spare on Dark Monday

If you have friends who are chefs, you know the best time to do something socially with them is Monday night. Some restaurants close on Sunday, some on Tuesday, but generally the universal day that a restaurant will be dark is on a Monday. "Would you guys like to come over next Monday?" we asked the chef at one of our favorite places. "Would love to," came the reply, "but we ate at your place last time, and, besides, its a school night for the kids. Come over here." And so Ella and I did. It's always fun to eat in a chef's kitchen when he or she is off duty. First, they tend to cook what for them is comfort food, since they have been cooking formally for other people all week. Second, they are probably at their most relaxed and in a mood to talk. The food was relatively simple - at least by his standards. Homemade charcuterie and local cheeses to start, followed by a bouillabaisse with lobster, scallops, flounder, fresh fennel seeds, a touch of lavender and one of the most-delicate tomato sauces I have ever tasted. "I can't remember the last time I fixed one," he said, plus I had an idea he didn't want to get that far away from his French training and the repertoire that came with it. We talked about jobs, writing, working in a classic French kitchen, God, greedy customers and great customers, travel and where to go next. The four of us also drank a fair amount of wine - a sparkling Moscato to start, a Chablis and a Rioja rosato from his wine list and an older Linden Virginia cabernet and a Santenay from my cellar. We didn't talk much about the food or the wine or how they paired, though occasionally observing that something was damned delicious. It was just the people and the experience and what I'm sure for the kids in the next room was the happy drone of adult conversation. When life is good, you don't bother to take a lot of notes.

Friday, August 23, 2013

In the New Drinks Business: Blends that Frighten Vintners

In a profession that loves to blend all kinds of wines, the thought of making non-vintage or multi-vintage wines still sends most winemakers running. Here is the opening spread of an article in the current issue of The Drinks Business on a few winemakers who are daring to think differently.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Beverage Media: Controlling Retail Overhead Tips Posted in July Issue

For those in the retail business, my article on controlling overhead costs is in the July issue of the Beverage Media publications that serve as the wine and spirits buying guides in most states. Here's a link:

Saturday, August 17, 2013

In September Writer's Digest: Article on Freelance Business

The September issue of Writer's Digest - now on your newsstand - is devoted to the topic of how to jump-start your writing career and includes my piece on "How to Build a Successful Freelance Business."

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Drinker's Notebook No. 8: Titrating a Bloody at 7452 Feet

The Bloody Mary, perhaps the world's best savory cocktail, was reportedly invented in the 1930s at the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis hotel in New York City. Since then, each new St. Regis location has come up with its own version of the classic Bloody Mary. So when I was finished with a tour of Main Street in Park City, Utah, recently, my host from the Chamber of Commerce, Amy Kersey, asked me what I wanted to do next, as we were way early for our planned lunch at the Montage Deer Valley. In no time we were on the funicular up the mountain to the St. Regis Deer Park. It was 11:29 - perfect timing, as most bars in Utah open at 11:30. We were seated on a rooftop terrace overlooking the mountain where bikers were criss-crossing the slopes on their way to the top and where workers with chain saws were cutting a new ski run high above us. Amy opted out of a real drink - we both were working, but to different drummers - and soon I had the "7452 Mary," named for the altitude, placed before me. If featured St. Regis' base Bloody Mary mix, its house vodka, a dash of cayenne and a rim of black lava salt served in a squat glass. The kicker was a small pipette planted in the middle of the glass and filled with an espuma of wasabi and celery. I could titrate as little or a much as I wanted. Fearing an overdose, I went to the low side - injecting just a couple of drops. The drink was magnificent as was the conversation, between sips, with Amy. As we rode back down the incline, I decided that, in this case, the view was definitely worth the climb.