City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Kulers Uncorked: Thanksgiving Edition

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

As the tryptophan courses through your veins this Thursday afternoon and you’re lying on the couch wondering why the Dallas Cowboys decided to go for it on fourth and two— when their running game clearly has been faltering—I promise this thought will not cross your mind: “Boy, that gewürztraminer really paired nicely with the cranberry sauce!”

Whether or not the hard-to-pronounce grape variety worked with dinner misses the point of Thanksgiving. Much is made of the food and drink on this holiday that truly revolves around The Big Meal. But as I’ve said before, the focus of the feast is the people sitting around the table, not what’s on it.

And, as I’ve also said before, trying to find the perfect wine for the train wreck of flavor combinations in a typical Thanksgiving spread is a fool’s game.

Nevertheless, you will be standing in your local wine shop dumfounded (can’t blame the tryptophan coma yet) by the hundreds of choices. So here are …

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Beer Town: Beer and food pairing revisited

craftbeercookbookWhile I’m sure some people still think beer and food pairing means a six-pack of Budweiser and a Domino’s Pizza, the notion that beer has a place at the table at the best restaurants is pretty much a given nowadays.

Writing the First Look feature for the AJC, I visit a new restaurant every week, 52 weeks a year. So far in 2013, there were very few that didn’t have at least a couple of craft beers in the bottle or on draft. And many boasted thoughtful or even outstanding beer lists, with a range of styles and flavors to match everything from appetizers to desserts.

To me, that means chefs and beverage directors are getting it. Though, sadly, that doesn’t always translate to servers, many of whom would be hard pressed to accurately describe a beer, let alone suggest how to pair it with a particular dish.

I thought about all that recently while talking with John Holl, a beer writer and editor of All About Beer magazine. Holl is the author of “The American Craft Beer …

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Kulers Uncorked: Wine Apps

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

The Vivino app scans a wine's label and instantly lists everything from nearby retailer to ratings from consumers and publications.

The Vivino app scans a wine's label and instantly lists everything from nearby retailers to ratings from consumers and wine publications.

One of the earliest wine gadgets (and I understand it is still available in specialty shops) was actually two devices that worked in combination. They are called “Pen” and “Paper 1.0.” They are very reliable, require no charging, but provide no backup systems.

In the Paleolithic Age of wine appreciation, let’s say the 1990s, I filled hundreds of notebooks with tasting notes. Twice in the past 10 years, I’ve bravely accessed the dozen or so shoe boxes I’ve accumulated. Both times it was for a friend who required information from an ancient tasting I attended.

It’s not that I don’t want to revisit wines I’ve tried. It is just a challenge. The information in those notebooks remains sound and valuable. I just find accessing the information difficult and cataloging a pain.

Modern times have helped greatly in …

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Beer Town: Anchor brewmaster Mark Carpenter craft beer pioneer


Anchor Brewmaster Mark Carpenter

For anyone interested in the history of American craft beer, Mark Carpenter, brewmaster at San Francisco’s  Anchor Brewing Co., is one the primary sources — because he was there, almost from the beginning, over 40 years ago.

When legendary Anchor owner Fritz Maytag hired Carpenter in 1971, there were only five employees at what’s now widely considered America’s first craft brewery. And they were making just one beer, Anchor Steam.

But other iconic styles followed, including Porter, Liberty Ale, Old Foghorn, and years of Christmas Ale iterations. And after Maytag sold Anchor to a pair of Bay Area entrepreneurs in 2010, Carpenter stayed on to help preserve and expand the brand.

Carpenter was in Atlanta, recently, working with accounts and appearing at some Beer Week events. I caught up with him at Cypress Street Pint & Plate, where we sat down with pints of Anchor California Lager, and I asked him about all the changes he’s seen over …

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Kulers Uncorked: Madeira

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

Broadbent, Rainwater, Madeira

Broadbent, Rainwater, Madeira

  • $19
  • Two Thumbs Way Up
  • Exotic aromas of rose water, blood orange, dried orange zest, light brown sugar and toasted walnuts. Flavors of tart citrus fruit, apricot, grilled peach and caramel with a surprising jalapeño-like spiciness on the finish.

When Alice returned from her tour of Wonderland, I’m certain that—upon reaching drinking age, of course—she poured herself a glass of Madeira. There is probably no style of wine that defies convention (or anything approaching normalcy) than this export from the Portuguese island it is named after.

It’s sweet. It’s dry. It’s tart. It’s old. It’s new. The process by which it’s made is confounding and, unlike any other wine, it really never goes bad after opening. The world of Madeira exists on the other side of the rabbit hole.

Perhaps appropriate for Halloween, this is the sort wine that scares the bejeebers out of most wine drinkers. But it wasn’t always that way. When …

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Beer Town: Lowryeder and Tree Hugger Gold at GABF  


Sweetwater and Terrapin, Georgia’s two largest and most visible craft breweries brought back gold medals from the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in Denver with a pair of fairly new beers.

At awards ceremony on Oct. 12, Atlanta’s Sweetwater won the top honor in the Rye Beer category for Lowreyeder. Originally called Rye’d Ale and brewed as part of Crank Tank series to benefit Camp Twin Lakes, Lowreyeder joined Sweetwater’s year-round lineup in August 2012.

Made with 25% rye malt and brewed with Columbus, Mt. Hood and Centennial hops, then dry-hopped with Centennial and Mt. Hood, its truly a rye IPA with a spicy, hoppy presence that’s very approachable and pairs well with food. In fact, at the recent Atlanta Cheese Festival, it made a pretty close to perfect match with Cabot Clothbound Cheddar.

Athens’ Terrapin won gold in the German-style Altbier beer category for Tree Hugger. Originally brewed for the Decatur Green Fest in support of the Dogwood Alliance, …

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Kulers Uncorked: A Proper Claret

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

2012 Bonny Doon Vineyard, A Proper Claret, California

2012 Bonny Doon Vineyard, A Proper Claret, California

  • $16
  • Two Thumbs Up
  • Pleasant aromas of red cherry with abundant notes of violets, cinnamon, clove and mocha. Flavors of tart, fresh, red berry fruit with an earthy touch of cola nut and leather.

The Panda-Cam at the National Zoo has gone black. The New York Football Giants start the season 0-6. The McRib sandwich is available for a limited time only.

All temporary aberrations for sure. But then it came—a sure sign the world has spun off its axis. A man dressed in brown handed me a non-descript, cardboard box just big enough to hold one bottle of wine. I closed my front door and the room was quiet except for the slitting of packing tape. As I freed the bottle from its gray packing material, I felt a chill. My eyes couldn’t—or refused—to focus. A bird chirped.

Randall Grahm—champion of Rhône Valley varieties, winemaker for the underdog grape, friend to the screwtop—has made a cabernet sauvignon …

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Beer Town: Jekyll Brewing bringing Southern style to Alpharetta


Mike Lundmark and Josh Rachel.

Named for Jekyll Island, believed to be the site of the first brewery in the Deep South, circa 1738, Jekyll Brewing lays claim to being the first packaging brewery in Alpharetta.

Hidden away in a nondescript building on Marconi Drive, near Big Creek Greenway and a slew of high-tech companies, the brewery opened to the public for tours and tastings in August.

It was funded in part by Kickstarter donations. Founder Mike Lundmark and co-owner/brewer Josh Rachel launched the campaign in early 2013 to raise money to pay for the electrical and plumbing work.

“We’ve run out of money about 73 times, so far,” Lundmark said during a recent tour. “But somehow, we keep getting more. With Kickstarter, we raised $37,000 in 28 days.”

Compared to some of the new breweries that have opened around Atlanta, recently, Jekyll is a modest operation. The 10 barrel brewhouse is packed into a tight warehouse space, and is absent  electronic bells and, …

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Kulers Uncorked: Yonah Mountain Genesis

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

Yonah Mountain Vineyards Genesis 4, Georgia

Yonah Mountain Vineyards Genesis 4, Georgia

  • $36
  • Two Thumbs Way Up
  • Pleasant, perfume-like aromas of violets, raspberry, blackberry, mocha and a hint of smoke. Bright flavors of dark cherry, toffee, blackberry cobbler, coffee and a lingering note of black licorice.

The last time I wrote about Yonah Mountain wines, I recounted how I (and a room full of people, including some pretty talented, experienced tasters) picked Yonah’s flagship wine, Genesis, over two acclaimed California wineries, which included Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley Calif.

The unexpected victory for Yonah, as far as I can tell, has not influenced the ever-popular Jordan Cab. And while Yonah did make a little hay in the press and in their own promotional pieces, most of you I know are saying: Yoh-Who?

Why is that?

Thomas Jefferson, famous for his attempts to grow European-style wines on his Virginia plantation, advocated for limited government. Our third president might have …

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Beer Town: “Atlanta Beer” a heady history of local brewing


Ron Smith and Mary O. Boyle at Five Seasons

Did you know that in 1885, Atlanta had 118 saloons in the city doing $2 million of business annually?

In their book, “Atlanta Beer: A Heady History of Brewing in the Hub of the South” (American Palate, $19.99), Ron Smith and Mary O. Boyle delve into a colorful past that begins in frontier times and extends to the stories of early taverns and saloons, religious zeal, prohibition and the roots of the current craft beer boom.

There are tales of places such as Whitehall Tavern, which existed before the city of Atlanta, and people such as Mayor Moses W. Formwalt, a member of the Free and Rowdy political party, who opened the first recorded Atlanta saloon.

Early pre-Prohibition breweries include the Fulton Brewery, which produced lager and ale for the Fulton Brewery Saloon; the Atlanta Steam Brewery, which may have been named for both the method of cooling and the style of beer it produced; and the Georgia Spring Brewery, famous for …

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