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:Date Night Sauvignon Blanc

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

2012 Date Night Sauvignon Blanc, Napa County/Pope Valley, Calif.

2012 Date Night Sauvignon Blanc, Napa County/Pope Valley, Calif.

  • $30
  • Two Thumbs Way Up
  • Rich aromas of minerals, chalk and perfume-like melon fruit. Fairly complex flavors of honeydew, tangerine, white peach with a lingering note of white pepper.

The marketing engines of the wine industry love to promote the ideal that happy little winemakers make wine from around 10 a.m. until just about lunch time and spend the remainder of the day lounging on their redwood decks (or in their châteaux or villas or bodegas depending on their country of origin) looking over neat, green rows of vines.

Sorry to remove the varnish, but while the wine industry may have a kernel of love and passion deep within it, it’s about moving cases. Wines of any consequence are conceived, produced, packaged and priced to hit your dinner table in sufficient numbers to sustain the operation (and any number of intermediate businesses). If a wine can’t successfully navigate its way through …

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Beer Town: All-American hoppy beers are popular, but there’s a bitter debate

Pliny-LogoIt seems that the members of the American Homebrewers Association like their beers big and bitter.

For the fifth year in a row, they voted Russian River Brewing Co.’s Pliny the Elder the “Best Commercial Beer in America” in the annual poll conducted by Zymurgy magazine, the journal of the AHA. It’s also the fourth consecutive year that Bell’s Two Hearted Ale came in second.

The top five beers — 1. Russian River Pliny the Elder; 2. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale; 3. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA; 4. Bell’s Hopslam Ale; 5. Ballast Point Sculpin IPA — are all in the American IPA or double IPA style category. And they all have loads of American hops, along with alcohol in the 7 percent to 10 percent by volume range.

But are these really the beers most Americans drink? Or are they just the favorites of beer geeks and hop freaks? As in most things, the answer depends on who you ask.

In May, beer writer Adrienne So penned a piece for Slate under the let’s-go-viral headline …

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Beer Town: A taste of North Carolina-brewed Dale’s Pale Ale


Oskar Blues came to fame in 2002 as the brewery that kick-started the canned craft beer revolution when founder Dale Katechis launched his iconic Dale’s Pale Ale.

Right now, though, the Lyons, Colo.-based company is busy making sure that consumers around the Southeast know that the Dale’s they’re drinking is being brewed in North Carolina, along with many other beers in the Oskar Blues portfolio.

On New Year’s Eve 2012, Katechis, an Alabama native and Auburn grad, opened a new brewery in Brevard, N.C., south of Asheville. Since then, Dale’s has been flying off the canning line and making it to store shelves in an updated can that includes the words “Mountain Pale Ale” and “Brevard, North Carolina.”

Recently, Oskar Blues Brevard marketing director Anne-Fitten Glenn visited Atlanta with a crew of Southeastern sales reps on a mission to bring more beer to the Peach State.

Glenn, a longtime journalist who grew up in Atlanta and graduated from Georgia, has been …

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Wine Kulers: Bergweiler Riesling

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

2010 Dr. Pauly Bergweiler, Spätlese, Riesling, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Germany

2010 Dr. Pauly Bergweiler, Spätlese, Riesling, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Germany

  • $35
  • Two Thumbs Way Up
  • Engaging aromas of ripe apricot, peach, hazelnut and floral notes. It has generous flavors of tart citrus fruit, lime zest, ripe pear, green apple, a steely acidity and long finish laced with mineral notes.

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 …

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Wine Kulers: Alcohol

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

2008 Rodney Strong Vineyards, Rockaway, Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, Calif.

2008 Rodney Strong Vineyards, Rockaway, Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, Calif.

  • $75
  • Two Thumbs Way Up
  • Complex and ever-changing aromas of raspberries, dark cherries, smoke and black licorice. Intense flavors of dark chocolate, plum, black licorice, black cherry and an interesting toasted almond/graham cracker quality.

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, …

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Beer Town: Spritzy Saison for Summer


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 …

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Beer Town: Michael Pollan homebrewer

cooked-coverIn 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 …

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Wine Kulers: The Fizz of Summer

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

H. Billiot Fils, Brut Réserve, Champagne (Image courtesy of Elizabeth Schroth)

H. Billiot Fils, Brut Réserve, Champagne (Image courtesy of Elizabeth Schroth)

  • $50
  • Two Thumbs Way Up
  • Intense aromas of green apple, toasted bread with tons of bright citrus, which ebbed a bit after opening. Lots of fresh citrus on the palate with a playful note of cherry, but also measured chalk-like, mineral notes, baked apple, brown bread and crème brulée that woke up as the wine warmed slightly.

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. …

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Beer Town: American Craft Beer Week 2013

acbw_featured-190x329In 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 …

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Kulers Uncorked: Hipster Wine-o’s

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

2011 Peillot Altesse, Roussette du Bugey, Montagnieu, France

2011 Peillot Altesse, Roussette du Bugey, Montagnieu, France

  • $24
  • Two Thumbs Way Up
  • Refreshing floral notes with plentiful aromas of tart citrus and fresh bell pepper. Tart citrus fruits and a touch of lemon zest and a raw almond quality balance out delicate mineral and petrol notes.

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 …

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