Archive for April, 2010

A Bit On Bordeaux..

April 26th, 2010 • No Comments

Who says wine tastings are boring? On Tuesday, April 20th I attended a wine tasting sponsored by MacArthur’s Beverages at the Matisse Restaurant in Washington, D.C. with Jeffrey Davies, a well-known Bordeaux negociant, importer, and wine maker who actually is originally from the U.S. The event was to showcase the wines of Stephane Derenoncourt who unfortunately couldn’t make it because of the Icelandic volcano that erupted ash all over Europe and prevented him from flying into DC. This video is brief and covers some of the differences in how vines are chosen for the Right Bank vs. the Left Bank of Bordeaux. It was quite an educational experience for me as the tasting notes were extensive on the printed tasting sheet and included terms I was vaguely familiar with including microbullage and levurage

Twelve wines were tasted from a Gree Laroque 2005 priced at $20 to La Mondotte 2001 which will set you back $200 or so a bottle! There was also a special guest appearance by a winery that Monsieur Derenoncourt consults with in Virginia called Boxwood Winery – both the Boxwood Topiary Red 2007 and the Estate Red 2007 both at about $25/bottle showed very well against the French Bordeauxs – Rachel Martin, one of the owners spoke about making wine in Virginia at the event.
Chat La Mondotte 2001 from Labels at Wine Library

Oh, and for fun, here’s the video of Jeffrey on Wine Library TV:

Charlie Adler Interview “Tips on Italian Wines” with CiaoDC’s Alyssa Ciccone

April 21st, 2010 • No Comments

CiaoDC Learn about the basics of Italian wines, tips for pairing with meals, how to select wines and more with Charlie Adler, author of “I Drink on the Job” and founder of TasteDC for a live discussion at 2:00 p.m. After the discussion, if you’re still thirsty for more wine, meet Charlie at Luigis on April 21 at CiaoDC.com’s reception from
Alyssa Ciccone Charlie, great title of your new book, “I Drink on the Job.” How long have you been doing this and does your boss know about it?

Charlie Adler My boss gets really upset…uh, ohhh, yeah, that’s right, I work for myself!! The title “I Drink on the Job” came from a luxury jet tour in 2001 where I was hired (and paid!) to fly around Europe and talk about wine on a culinary tour..I needed to speak in front of about 20 wealthy Americans on the jet, and I needed a catch-phrase, so I said “Hi, I’m Charlie Adler, a wine professional based in Washington, D.C…and I drink on the job!” They all cracked up and it’s been my personal and business motto since then..

Alyssa Ciccone Great story and job, by the way. What is your experience with Italian wines and have you been to Italy?

Charlie Adler Yes, I’ve been to Italy several times – once I roughed it with a back pack and went from Brindisi through to Milan, and a few more times I visited the Vinitaly wine conference in Verona, and travelled around the north. I haven’t been to Sicily yet, but I’m told by Italians that this really isn’t Italy – it’s their Wild West!

I love Italian wines – if I was stuck on a desert island, and could have only one wine, it would be Chianti Classico – it pairs with foods from seafood to meat so well! I love so many of Italy’s wines from north to south and I think Sangiovese is probably the most food-friendly varietal of any wine in the world. I have studied much about Italian food as well as wine, and they go hand in hand.

Alyssa Ciccone Bravissimo! Sicily is the best kept secret — you must go. Share with CiaoDC.com subscribers the different categories of Italian wines from white to red?

Charlie Adler Italy is very diverse when it comes to wine, especially from North to South. Wine is regional in Italy: you have Sangiovese in Tuscany, Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto in Piedmont, Valpolicella in Veneto (which is actually 3 distinct red varietals), Pinot Grigio in the north, but Trebbiano, Verdicchio and a bunch of other white varietals in the central and northern areas. And let’s not forget the south’s Primitivo, the original Zinfandel as well as Nero D’Avola which is distinct to Sicily.

In a nutshell, just like cuisine is regional in Italy, so is wine, and your best best is to pair the foods and wines of a given region.

Charlie Adler I meant Trebbiano, Verdicchio are in the Central and Southern regions – whooops!

Alyssa Ciccone Are there wines strictly for pairing with meals and others simply for sipping?

Charlie Adler The answer is yes – there are “sipping” wines like Brachetto (a pink off-dry wedding wine), but generally, Italian wines go with Italian food..you have to look at the history of wine a bit: Originally, the Romans mixed water and wine together in about equal proportions because water had bacterial issues and of course wine made wine more palatable. Wine isn’t a luxury product in Italy per se, it’s something that even blue collar Italians drink with their meals all over the country – even with breakfast! I think it’s important to recognize that Italy is a “lifestyle” culture – work generally comes second to being with family and enjoyment of life. Wine is as Italian as cheese, salami, pasta and many other Italian specialties..it would be considered Barbarian to have a wonderful mid-day meal without a few glasses of wine, who would even think like that??

Charlie Adler Whoops again “wine made water more palatable”!!

Alyssa Ciccone Wine with breakfast? Ahhh, the Italian lifestyle is so refreshing. Let’s get back to basics — how do you choose wine? What are the motions one should go through when buying and ordering wine?

Charlie Adler Purchasing wine in a retail store is very different than purchasing in a restaurant – the experience is very different. Since my philosophy is that food and wine are meant to be together, which is essentially the Italian model, I think you should think in terms of what you’re going to eat when you purchase wine. I’m a red wine drinker – 95% of what I drink is red. Italian reds tend to be low to medium tannin (the astringent/bitter component in red wines primarily derived from the skins), so they go great with foods from fish to meat, even vegetarian. My go to Italian wines for pretty much all food are Sangiovese (such as Chianti, which is a region), Valpolicella (and its family Ripasso and Amarone), Barbera, Dolcetto, and from the south I love Aglianico and Nero D’Avola. I like rustic country wines, and Italy has quite a few.

What’s fascinating about Italian culinary culture is there are definite “No No’s” when it comes to food (not some much with wine) – for example, you’re not supposed to shave cheese onto fish, and spaghetti and meatballs don’t go together, they are separate dishes (for a laugh, see the movie “Big Night” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0115678/ – an American movie with Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub about two Italian brothers trying to survive with an “authentic” Italian restaurant in 1950’s New Jersey!), and starch and starch don’t go together, again, see Big Night! If there are 5 Italians in a room, there will be 10 recipes for the best tomato sauce, and an argument will ensue! Italians are passionate about taste and they understand quality ingredients because from a very young age it is emphasized in their culture.

Alyssa Ciccone What spring cocktail can our subscribers make from an Italian wine?

Charlie Adler Ha! I don’t really do cocktails, but Prosecco with a few drops of any liqueur such as Campari or a raspberry liqueur is nice! Prosecco and orange juice makes the perfect Mimosa – again, I rarely drink these, but Prosecco is surprisingly a great wine to pair with food: sparkling, just a touch sweet and nice acidity – my favorite pairing is with Sushi!

Alyssa Ciccone Sounds fabulous. I love Prosecco. Thanks for the tips Charlie! You’ll be at the tasting reception tomorrow at Luigis. Any wines that we should choose from Luigis? And can our guests ask you impromptu questions or get their books signed from you tomorrow at Luigis?

Charlie Adler Absolutely, I’ll have plenty of books! I haven’t seen Luigi’s list in awhile, but I love hearty reds with pizza or rich pastas, so I’ll be looking fora Nero D’Avola, and if you’re paying Alyssa, a Big Bad Barolo – the King of Italian wines! Looking forward to seeing you all tomorrow, and remember – I drink on the job – Ciao!!

Alyssa Ciccone You’re on! For more information or to order Charlie Adler’s latest book release, “I Drink on the Job,” go to https://www.idrinkonthejob.com/

Carolina: The Dogs, The Pits and the Vino!

April 19th, 2010 • No Comments

I got my Spring wine festival circuit kicked off with a wine seminar at Great Grapes Wine Fest in Cary, North Carolina on this past Saturday, April 17th. Over 30 North Carolina wineries were pouring their wines and all in all, there were some really delicious wines! I brought the book “I Drink on the Job” with me to sell, and even though there were about 100 people seated for my wine seminar from 3-4 pm, I only sold a handful, so lesson was learned – selling a book at a wine festival is going to be tough..On the other hand, it was a really special weekend for me because it was the first time I had ever spent real time in North Carolina. Yes, I had stopped a few times in the past during long drives, but I had never stayed there for a few days to get a sense of the place. And I’m a serious BBQ lover, I even own a Big Green Egg in my backyard in Georgetown, so I had to try some examples from the State.

During my stay in Cary (which is basically an upscale suburb of Raleigh), I decided to go into downtown Raleigh a few hours before my speaking engagement to see what it was about. I just happened to walk right into a few thousand dogs that were frolicking (and pooping all over the place!!) with their owners on a 3K dog walk through the city, below is a short video (less than 20 seconds).

(The guy almost got bit by the 3 dachsunds!!)

So of course, I started to get hungry for something to eat, and there just happened to be a BBQ and Blue Grass Festival a few blocks away at “The Pits” CueGrass Festival so I enjoyed me some ‘cue!

I had the pulled pork BBQ sandwich, and it was really good, definitely a keeper.

After that I headed back to the Cary Wine Fest to taste some Carolina wines and include them in my one hour seminar with “I Drink on the Job”.

The audience was very responsive to my message, but as is true with alot of these events, there were many different levels of knowledge and interest in attendance. My goal is to reach those who respond to my message – that wine shouldn’t be put on a pedestal, it’s something you enjoy to make a meal taste better. I really think my message is reaching the audience and possibly influencing more wine purchases, it’s very hard to tell. Unlike cooking and chefs, wine is poorly represented on TV and by the media in general – it just has a stodgy/academic air to it, and frankly most people get bored pretty fast when a wine professional talks about wine – you can tell by their glazed over faces. On the other hand, I think I’m on the cutting edge of a new world of wine entertainment where exciting new ways to approach wine are just evolving. Wine has often been associated with the arts such as Jazz and painting, but what about going in a completely different direction – what about introducing wine with magic or yoga or even hypnosis? I think if the stage drama-level is increased, then people might associate wine with more pizzazz in their life. I’ve seen enough photos of Chateaux, oak barrels, vineyards and grapes on the front labels of wines and their associated media to know that that is way too trite. I think I’m on to something, and I think if I stick with it, the audience will catch on, the media will follow and eventually more wine “entertainers” will appear in many guises.

And who knows, maybe even wine as comedy – it seems like wine and tragedy have already been covered – Cheers!

Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler