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Archive for July, 2012

Kulers Uncorked: Sangria

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

I never really had much use for sangria, which I thought was Spanish for crappy wine. That was until one July afternoon, when I sat down at a café in Altea, a small town north of Alicante on Spain’s Mediterranean coast. I was seated at the outside bar with my wife, Eleanore, as I watched a young man putting wine, fruit, etc. into a glass pitcher. Naturally, I made the same Smart Aleck remark about the English translation for sangria to the barman.

“The principal behind a great sangria is no different than any great cocktail. It has to have balance and integrity,” says Paul Calvert, bar manager at Pura Vida.

“The principal behind a great sangria is no different than any great cocktail. It has to have balance and integrity,” says Paul Calvert, bar manager at Pura Vida.

Being a terminal wise guy can get you beat up or it can get you free drinks. In this case, it was the latter. The barman laughed politely and poured Eleanore and me two large glasses of his concoction; they were on the house. Needless to say, they were delicious. We ended up having a couple more glasses and wheedling his remarkably simple recipe from him …

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Beer Town: What’s the best beer in America?

Given that the voters are homebrewers, I’m always interested in the results of the annual Zymurgy magazine 50 Best Beers in America poll. This year, like the past three years in a row, the readers put Pliny the Elder at the top.

Pliny-LogoThe double IPA from Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa, Calif., isn’t available in Atlanta. In fact, outside of California it’s only distributed in the states of Oregon, Washington and Colorado, though oddly you can find it around Philadelphia.

Pliny is a really great beer. When I’ve had it at Russian River, I’ve thought it deserved to be ranked as the top double IPA in America. But is it the best beer in America? Or does its scarcity push it to the status of a Proustian object of desire?

One thing’s for sure, homebrewers love hops.

Finishing second for the third straight year was Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, an IPA that is available in Atlanta and might get my vote for go-to beer at any bar or restaurant. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, another highly rated, …

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Kulers Uncorked: Kung Fu Girl Riesling

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

2010 Kung Fu Girl Riesling, Evergreen Vineyard, Columbia Valley, Wash.

2010 Kung Fu Girl Riesling, Evergreen Vineyard, Columbia Valley, Wash.

  • $14
  • Two Thumbs Way Up
  • Refreshing aromas of white flowers, tart citrus fruit, apricots and a chalk-like mineral characteristic. It explodes with bright flavors of green apple, lime, lime zest, fresh apricots and a playful white pepper finish.

When Charles Smith was 12 years old, he snuck into his Aunt Penny’s pantry and filtched a bottle of riesling. “It was probably a Piesporter Goldtröpfchen,” Smith said, referring to the renowned vineyards along the Germany’s Mosel River. “I remember loving it!”

Smith may appear a rebel. And with his reputation for stealing wine, managing punk rock bands in Europe in the 1990s, wearing leather and riding big, loud motorcycles, it would be easy to make that mistake. In reality, Smith is a thoughtful, charming, American winemaker. He only looks like a troublemaker.

I caught up with Smith on the phone while he was poolside in Palm Springs, Calif. The owner …

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Beer Town: Frozen Pints Brews Up Craft Beer Ice Cream

It was a happy accident, swears Ari Fleischer, founder of Atlanta’s Frozen Pints Craft Beer Ice Cream.

Credit: Frozen Pints

Credit: Frozen Pints

At a party two years ago, a friend spilled a beer next to an ice cream maker, prompting Fleischer to wonder what beer ice cream would taste like.

“It was a moment of inspiration,” Fleischer said. “When I saw it, I said, ‘We should pour the beer in there and see what happens.’ When it worked, I thought, ‘This is genius. This is what I want to do.’ ”

The impromptu trial combined vanilla ice cream and bock beer and became Frozen Pints first flavor, Vanilla Bock.

Fleischer calls it “the one that started it all.” But it took a lot of experimentation and couple more years of building the business before Frozen Pints made it to market.

Now, Vanilla Bock and four more flavors are available at select metro Atlanta beverage retailers, including Decatur Package Store, Green’s Beverages, Hop City, Mac’s Beer and Wine, Smoke Rise Bottle Shoppe and Smyrna World of …

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Kulers Uncorked: Wine Myths BUSTED

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

On his recent swing through Atlanta, George Foote and I sat down for lunch at the Four Seasons. We’re both wine educators, so the conversation naturally flowed to our teaching triumphs, failures and frustrations. Foote is the national wine educator for Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and was in town to give a class on blended wines to Ste. Michelle’s Georgia distributor. Foote has been in the wine business for 35 years and has been an educator for more than 20.

As we swirled a couple glasses of Tignanello and the ethereal Solaia, both from Tuscan winemaker Antinori, we came up with a list of perpetual misunderstandings many students have about wine. Here’s a snippet of our exchange and Foote’s explanations.

All rieslings are sweet.

Riesling is the only noble grape variety that runs the style-gamut from dry to sweet. The long and glorious history of this grape variety has seen times where dry, medium or sweet versions have been in favor, but all styles are readily …

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