New Jersey Wineries: Old York Cellars in Ringoes

In my continuing quest to visit and support New Jersey wineries and the state’s wine industry, I recently visited Old York Cellars in Ringoes.  Old York is a small winery – only about 3,600 cases a year, which in Napa would be the rough equivalent of a “garage” winery.  Previously it operated as Amwell Valley Vineyard, which was first planted in 1978 but closed in 2005 and reopened under its new name in 2010. An interesting thing I've noticed about some New Jersey wineries again reared its head when I saw the wine menu, and counted 1, 2, 3…16 wines, including a “Port” made from Marechal Foch, a white “Port” made from the virtually-unknown Vignoles (also known as Ravat 51),…

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Jersey Restaurants: INC in New Brunswick, NJ

You’d think it would be easy to get a good whiskey sour in any decent restaurant. After all, it’s a pretty simple and very classic drink, right? Well, I’ve had more watery sours in the last year than I can count, from Chicago to New York and several places in between including several in New Jersey. But last Friday at INC in New Brunswick, NJ, I was not disappointed. And my sour was not watery. It was delicious, appropriately cloudy, with the bourbon hitting you on the front end and the lemon on the back, all covered with a lovely egg-white froth laced with bitters. Just superb. And that was the start of an evening that was outstanding. We began…

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Jersey Restaurants: Hotoke Restaurant–Hot or OK?

I dined at Hotoke in New Brunswick on Friday night for the first time since at least 2011. I’d remembered the place fondly, and it was wildly popular at the time, so I was anticipating a fabulous meal. Sadly, not so much. Laura and I started out with cocktails—she with the Silk Road—X-rated Malibu and Parrot Bay Passion Fruit Rum, Pineapple juice and a splash of Cranberry, which was great. My whiskey sour, though, was watery and near-tasteless and went back in favor of a Pomegranate Martini, which was at least decent, but served for some odd reason in a wide-bowl wine glass. Appetizers of Mini Lobster Crab Cakes, which as far as we could tell had nothing to do…

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A Trip to Chile…in Manhattan

At a lunch last week hosted by Cooking by the Book , I was reminded why I like Chilean wine so much.  Or at least I was reminded that I like Chilean wine so much.  And I was also reminded that wine and food "matching"  (as wine writer Randy Caparoso likes to say instead of "pairing") really can make a fun meal even more fun, interesting and delicious with just a little thought and effort. Our host at at "Cooking's" loft space in Lower Manhattan was  Ruth Van Waerebeek, born in the medieval city of Ghent and originally known for her cookbook "Everybody Eats Well in Belgium."  Maybe, but Ruth has made her reputation with wine people in another place, 73oo miles to the…

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Wines for Thanksgiving

It's almost Thanksgiving eve, and you're probably putting together your menu.  And if you're not...get on it!  And no matter what you're having, you'll need some wines to go with the big meal. Vouvray/Chenin Blanc:  This is among the best wines in the world for Turkey.  Vouvrays are Chenin Blanc-based wines from France, and come in a variety of styles, from dry to off-dry, semi-sweet and sweet.  South Africa makes great Chenin Blancs, too: try Raats Family, Indaba or Cederberg.  And Napa's Pine Ridge makes a wonderful mixture of Chenin Blanc and Viognier that I recommend highly.Rose:  If you're having ham by any chance, try pairing it with Mulderbosch Rose, from South Africa, made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. And if…

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Wine of the Week: Banfi Chianti Superiore DOCG 2012

This Chianti, mostly from the Sangiovese grape, is a classified wine, and the DOCG means Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita.  That ought to mean something but it doesn't mean all that much. Still, this is a very nice bottle of wine, especially for 11 bucks, which is about what you'll pay of for it in most wine stores, though you can find it in places for as little as $9.  A great value either way. A nice ruby red color, this is a medium-bodied, easy-drinking wine that won't bowl you over.  But it's got some tannin for structure, a little leathery, and fresh black cherry and plum flavors. What I noticed above everything else is that it's nicely acidic…

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Wine of the Week: Covey Run Gewürztraminer 2010

This off-dry, which naturally means slightly sweet, white wine is the perfect pairing for spicy food and Asian food. And of course spicy Asian food (not all of it is).  It goes great with Indian and Thai food, and lo and behold, they're Asian. It's pronounced "guh-vertz-trah-meen-er" by the way. It's got enough acidity to balance the sweetness, despite being known as a grape that lacks acidity.  It's got honey, melon, and pear flavors and a really lovely floral nose.  Two glasses made an OK meal at P.F. Chang into an absolutely wonderful lunch.  Need I say more? Covey Run is in Washington State's Columbia Valley, but there are many excellent wines (Trimbach, and Hugel & Fils to name two)…

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Rose Wine Food Pairing

Rosé wine—mostly dry wine, that is—pairs great with a wide range of food. In fact it’s one of the best pairing wines there is.  Rosé wine is a “bridge” between red and white wine, and don’t think “plonk” or White Zinfandel; Rosés can be sophisticated and fairly expensive, frankly, such as Domaines Ott, which Sherry-Lehmann in Manhattan calls the “gold standard” and sells for about forty bucks a bottle.  Wines with just a hint of sweetness can be great pairs, because let’s face it, a lot of the food we eat has a little sweetness to it: BBQ sauce on ribs, tomato sauce on pasta, and glaze for Asian foods.  Rosés are great for all these. BTW, Rosés from Spain…

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