Back in April, I had the honor of emceeing Taste of Atlanta’s Best Sommelier Contest at Del Frisco’s Grille in Atlanta. The four finalists, Christopher Boyette (Restaurant Eugene), Patrick Guilfoil (Woodfire Grill), Ryan Reardon (Bella Italia) and Brian White (The Ritz Carlton Downtown), competed admirably and brought honor to their respective dining establishments.
And while I’d like to regale White with oodles of kudos for winning, that’s not exactly what I want to talk about this week. As part of the competition, the sommeliers were asked to make pairings for the menu created by Del Frisco’s chef, A.J. Buchanio. One of his courses was a tuna
How much is too much alcohol? A volatile question in the wine world these days as it is now quite common to see wines in excess of 15 percent alcohol. Before I address this question and (spoiler alert) ultimately don’t answer, let’s consider the four things that CH3CH2OH brings to a wine.
A byproduct of yeast fermentation, ethyl alcohol brings weight or what’s known as body to a wine. There is no easier way to recognize the importance of body than tasting a non-alcoholic wine. Without the alcohol, these wines are more than just thin, they simply lack an innate wine quality that makes them feel somehow wrong in our mouths.
As a taste,
During an interview a while back, I was asked to name my favorite beer style. No surprise, I answered that it depends on many factors — my mood, the season, what I’m eating. But if someone put a gun to my head, I said, it would be saison.
As Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster Garrett Oliver has declared, “Saison is not just versatile, it’s downright promiscuous.”
The dynamic flavors and aromas range through bitter, bright, tart, fruity, earthy and funky. But saison’s strong, spritzy, champagnelike carbonation from refermentation in the bottle lifts all those complex layers to the realm of utter refreshment. And that’s why it beats out wimpy wheat beer as a sophisticated summer drink, especially alongside food, be it salad, cheese, salmon or steak.
Saison’s roots are in the French-speaking region of Southern Belgium, where traditional rustic farmhouse ales were produced in late winter and early spring to drink during the summer months.
For many years Saison Dupont was
In his new book, “Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation,” Michael Pollan takes on two of my favorite subjects: barbecue and beer.
Sort of surprising, maybe? Since Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” was published in 2006, the author seems to have been cast in the difficult roles of food activist and superego of conscious consumption.
In “Cooked,” though, he’s clearly having some fun eating and drinking, while still asking all the right questions.
The fundamental question of “Cooked” is “why cook?” The answer takes more than 400 pages and covers braising, baking, and pickle- and cheese-making, among other things.
Neatly (for me, anyway), the first part of the book is about fire and whole-hog barbecue, and the last part is about fermentation, including Pollan’s novice adventures in homebrewing.
Southern aficionados of smoked meat may shake their heads reading about Pollan’s wide-eyed wonder at his first taste of real pulled pork with shards of
As I write this, the Atlanta Braves baseball club has the best record in the National League and the second-best in the majors. From this unbiased observer’s perspective, the World Series is a virtual lock for the Braves. Therefore, we must start planning now for the ladder of celebrations to come.
The natural celebratory beverage of choice (“The Natural,” get it?) is bubbly. The majority of baseball analysts on my street in Decatur pick the Braves to win the National League East, so we won’t have to deal with the rigmarole of the Wild Card play-in game.
In its eighth year, American Craft Beer Week (ACBW), May 13-19, has taken the tag line “Big Week, Small Breweries” to celebrate the continued growth of a movement that now includes more than 2,360 small and independent U.S. brewing companies — the highest total since the 1880s.
ACBW is sponsored by the Colorado-based Brewers Association (BA), a not-for-profit trade association that represents craft brewery members in everything from legislation to litigation, while organizing big events such as the World Beer Cup, the Great American Beer Festival and the Craft Brewers Conference.
New for 2013, the ACBW Coast to Coast Toast will unite craft beer lovers in all 50 states, who will simultaneously raise their glasses at 8:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, May 16.
Even if you think the toast is a tad hokie, it certainly symbolizes how far craft beer has come in the past decade, penetrating mainstream culture, and bringing new breweries to communities where beer hadn’t been
Did you hear the one about the hipster wine-o who burned his lip drinking coffee? He drank it before it was cool.
Or this one? How much does a hipster wine-o weigh? An Insta-gram.
In April, I had the pleasure of attending the Drink Local Wine conference in Baltimore. DLW promotes wines from lesser-known and undiscovered wine regions and after morning seminars, a lunch featuring Maryland wines and a media tasting, the doors were opened to the general public for a Twitter tasting of 40-plus wines from The Old Line State. (More on what a Twitter tasting is in a moment.)
As the crowd shuffled in, to my pleasant surprise I saw about 350 of the youngest faces ever at a wine event. I
Among the many wonderful things about craft beer, one of the most wonderful is the variety of beer being brewed all over the world, from ancient and traditional styles to wild experiments and flights of fancy.
Unless you’re one of the few remaining unreconstructed wine snobs, who pout and sniff and say, “I just don’t like beer,” it’s not much of a challenge to find a style that will suit your palate. Beyond that, there are beers for every season, occasion, cuisine and dish.
But, I will admit, among all that diversity and seemingly endless choices, there are still beer styles I don’t embrace with open arms. Give me malty, hoppy, crispy or refreshing any day. Sour, I need to consider a bit more carefully. Same with smoky. I want to be wooed, not assaulted by those strong aromas and flavors. And I want them to come dancing with some good balance.
And then there’s Black IPA — or Cascadian Dark Ale, as the West Coasters like to call it. In essence, it’s a dark
If there is a common complaint among readers of these columns, it goes something like this: “Gregg, we can never find the wines you write about.”
First of all, it’s Gil. And second, “never” is pretty definitive. Never ever?
To further alienate readers (both of them), I’ll say this about the column you are now reading: You will never be able to find today’s featured wine save for one place. And in a few short months, that place likely will be gone.
Dante’s Down the Hatch seems like a relic amidst today’s uber-hip, chef-as-star restaurants. Places that hail organic produce like it’s something new or use obscure ingredients and techniques as a substitute for
Craft beer is everywhere nowadays. Surely, the number of new craft breweries coming on-line around metro Atlanta is one of the phenomenon’s most visible signs. But in the midst of the current boom, it’s easy to forget that the modern American craft brewing movement goes back only to the mid-1970s.
Craft brewing didn’t get going in North Georgia until the mid-’90s. And many of the breweries and brewpubs didn’t survive the nationwide craft brewing shakeout of the late-’90s, though the remaining companies, including Atlanta’s Sweetwater, rode out the bust to become far more successful.
Looking back on Atlanta’s craft beer beginnings, with help from the smart folks who offer opinions and insights on the Atlanta Beer Talk list (atlantabeer.com), it’s amazing to behold bright-and-shiny new breweries like Monday Night and Three Taverns.
Atlanta’s first microbrewery, Marthasville Brewing Co., founded by publican Michael Gerard in 1994, was cobbled together from old