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Archive for August, 2012

Kulers Uncorked: Zin Blends

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

N.V. Marietta Old Vine Red, Lot Number 57, California

N.V. Marietta Old Vine Red, Lot Number 57, California

  • $17
  • Two Thumbs Up
  • Pleasant, bright aromas of wild raspberry, leather, black licorice and anise. Tart flavors of red berries, blueberry, plums and black cherry with easy-to-like notes of dark chocolate and black pepper.

Once upon a time (let’s say 10 years ago) in America, when someone ordered a “white wine” at a restaurant, the implication was: “I’ll have a chardonnay, please.” That changed ever so slightly with the advancing popularity of pinot grigio—the “other” white wine.

There is something comforting and uncomplicated about ordering a wine by its grape variety. You have the security of knowing what you’re getting…or at least that’s what you’d like to believe. In truth, all chardonnays are not made equally. Far from it. They are blends of different grape clones, oaked and unoaked lots and they have widely varying percentages of juice that has gone through malolactic fermentation (the process that …

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Beer Town: Atlanta mirrors craft beer boom

Recently, the Colorado-based Brewers Association released data on U.S. craft brewing that tracked a 14 percent increase in dollar sales and a 12 percent jump in volume in the first half of 2012.

What’s more, the total U.S. brewery count now stands at 2,126 — the highest number of breweries in business since the late 1800s.

The Brewers Association also tracks breweries in planning and lists 1,252 breweries on the drawing board now, compared to 725 a year ago.

That kind of growth and excitement certainly has been mirrored around metro Atlanta, with three new breweries — Red Hare in Marietta, Burnt Hickory in Kennesaw and Strawn in Fairburn — opening in 2011-2012.

Three more breweries — Monday Night in Atlanta, Three Taverns in Decatur and Wild Heaven in Avondale Estates — are on track to start making beer in 2013.

Monday Night, which debuted as a contract beer company in 2011, has announced plans for a new Westside brewery on Trabert Avenue that will include a large tasting room …

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Kulers Uncorked: Reserve Wines Really?

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

2009 Cousiño-Macul, Antiguas Reservas, Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley, Chile

2009 Cousiño-Macul, Antiguas Reservas, Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley, Chile

  • Two Thumbs Way Up
  • $15
  • Powerful and pleasant aromas of plum, blackberry, mocha and eucalyptus. It has clean flavors of dark berry fruit with notes of dark chocolate, mint and a cedar-box quality. It also has plenty of dark spices with a black licorice finish.

Reserve. A potent word, especially when applied to wine.

“Sir, would you like a glass of our regular cabernet sauvignon or the reserve?”

Naturally, you pick the reserve, which conjures up dusty, precious bottles made in limited numbers held a special anteroom of the cellar. These are wines “reserved” for special occasions. In the wine world, reserve means the cream of crop, the ne plus ultra, or the shnizzle, as my pal Snoop Dogg…er Snoop Lion likes to say.

Reserve has a very specific, legal meaning in most European winemaking countries. Typically, winemakers are required to pick riper grapes and make wines with slightly …

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Beer Town: Making friends with beer cocktails

I’m not a beer snob. At the right place and time, I can easily enjoy a quenching PBR tallboy, a creamy pint of Guinness or a puckering Belgian sour ale. For some reason, though, I’ve never really cared for anything mixed with my beer.

Sure, a very long time ago, I was inspired by Ringo’s antics in the Beatles movie “Help” and thought it was cool to belly up to the bar at a pub and order a lager and lime — usually a Harp with a shot of Rose’s lime juice. And a couple of times I’ve tried out that Mexican concoction called the michelada, which can be a bit like a spicy beer Bloody Mary. But that was about it.

Then something happened that changed my way of thinking. I started noticing how many smart bartenders were using beer to make really interesting cocktails. And an even bigger moment of enlightenment came when I realized that the beer wasn’t being flavored so much as being used as another ingredient for flavor and texture in these drinks.

Recently, while I was working on a …

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Summer Cocktail Time

Lighter and less boozy libations, bottled and carbonated cocktails, punch bowls for sharing with a crowd, and more local and seasonal ingredients top the drink trends this summer at Atlanta’s restaurants and bars.

(left to right) Chris McNeill serves up summer cocktails, "Island Irie," "Seed's Moscow Mule" & "Smoke on the Water" at Seed Kitchen and Bar. Phil Skinner, pskinner@ajc.com

(left to right) Chris McNeill serves up summer cocktails, "Island Irie," "Seed's Moscow Mule" & "Smoke on the Water" at Seed Kitchen and Bar. Phil Skinner, pskinner@ajc.com

At Seed Kitchen and Bar in Marietta, mixologist Chris McNeill makes every effort to tune his cocktail menu to the restaurant’s seasonal approach to cooking.

“Cocktails in general have become much more seasonal,” McNeill said. “We’re using whatever ingredients are available and as local as possible, and that’s a lot easier in the summer.”

McNeill’s newest cocktail, Smoke on the Water, is a juicy mix of mezcal, muddled watermelon and cucumber, Lillet Rose, agave nectar and lime juice, served with watermelon ice.

Another summer favorite is the Island Irie, a Jamaican-inspired rum drink made with …

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