OK so this Wine-Flair Wine of the Week is about a 50-buck wine. And it's a classic Napa ballsy Cab: rich and concentrated dark fruit, balanced, lovely tannins and a long finish. Some (including me) may detect a little residual sweetness right out of the bottle, but after I decanted it became more subtle, and I recommend doing that. Plus it's always more fun pouring a great wine out of a crystal-clear decanter. So it is indeed rich but not crazy over-the-top, though it does have over 15% alcohol. While it might overpower some foods, it will match with any beef dish and went great with steak frites. But it's still very young, and could stand some cellaring. Probably quite…

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Italy is (a) wine country. So of course, surely, you’ve heard the names of these wines and the (grapes) from which they're made: Amarone (Corvino, Molinera, Rondinella), Barolo and Barbaresco (Nebbiolo), Barbero, Brunello (Sangiovese), Chianti (Sangiovese), Montepulciano, Negroamaro, and Primitivo (Zinfandel in California!). Less well-known but equally delectable white Italian wines include Arneis, Chardonnay, Cortese (Gavi) Greco, Moscato, Soave (Garganega) and Vermentino. So perhaps you've had one, more, or many, depending on the restaurants you frequented before Covid19 hit, and maybe once, years ago (or last fall) you had a very lousy cheap one at a college party where a brave soul put $7 on the line for a bottle of sweet, watery, insipid and essentially undrinkable Lambrusco. And yet,…

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I’ve seen a lot of ads on Facebook lately for the Firstleaf wine “club.” The ad takes you to a 13-question quiz, kinda like a junior high “pop quiz,” (because you can’t really prepare for it) to “scientifically” determine the wines you like in order that Firstleaf can then send you wines you’ll want to drink. Evidently, it’s based on a “proven” algorithm…’cause, well, impenetrable and opaque mathematical formulas are always the way you should select wine. Evidently. The first question was a linear “slider” that asks you to select white wines at one end, red at the other, and “a mix” in the middle. OK. But what about Rosé wines? Ports and dessert wines? Sherries and Madeiras? Champagne, Prosecco,…

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I’ve just tried two very different but very delicious Paso Robles gems. Here they are: Folkway Revelator 2016: This Bordeaux-like blend sells for about $25 (or less) and is about half Cabernet Sauvignon, one quarter Cab Franc and one quarter Merlot. Deep red, very balanced with noticeable but polished tannins and flavors of black cherry, coffee and cocoa. Villa San Juliette Chorum Reserve Red 2014: A truly extraordinary and almost unheard-of blend of 32% Syrah, 16% Grenache, 14% Petit Verdot, 12% Cabernet Franc, 12% Alicante Bouschet, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Petite Sirah. Dark fruit with a lot of plum and black cherry, and a hint of mint. I think I enjoy this most of all because I’d love to…

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Thanksgiving will soon be here, and you're probably starting to put together your menu. Well, if you're not...get on it!  No matter what you're having, you'll want some great wines to go with the big meal. And this year, think about ditching the "standard" stuff -- Cabernet and Chardonnay -- to expand your horizons. Your guests will love it! 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, which they call "Steen": try Raats Family, Indaba or Cederberg.  And Napa's Pine Ridge makes a wonderful mixture of Chenin…

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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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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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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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Try some different wines for Thanksgiving-Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Ports for dessert. Leave the Chardonnay and Cabernet on the shelf.
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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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