Wine is having its moment in America, thanks to the perfect trifecta of high quality, good prices and wide availability. Last year, for the first time, more people chose wine over beer as their drink of choice. In this issue, we examine myriad ways to enjoy the grape, whether it's preparing wine-friendly recipes (Chardonnay lovers will be thrilled with Marcia Kiesel's ideas), relaxing in a wine cellar (we've asked three design firms to create inspirational spaces) or taking a trip to wine country with the best tour leaders.
The story you must turn to first is "America's 50 Most Amazing Wine Experiences." A team of researchers led by travel editor Salma Abdelnour uncovered distinctive places and events from coast to coast. A trading post in Moose, Wyoming, has a 1,600 bottle France- and California-centric collection. A place in Chesterfield, Missouri, offers nearly 800 outstanding wines plus five incredible bacons.
Missouri, as you'll learn in "Great American Wine & Food Matches," is a proud producer of Norton, a lush red grape. It's one of six up-and-coming U.S. regions in our story; for each, we describe both the star grape and the perfect pairing. You must try Virginia Viognier with its ideal food match, clams with bacon.
For our 10th annual American Wine Awards, we searched out the best wines in the U.S. This is the list I take to the wine shop when I'm hunting for something to drink with dinner. Year after year this story has proved to be a great guide, particularly in the confusing $20-and-under category.
Wine is a quirky business, as executive wine editor Lettie Teague affirms in her Wine Matters column. When she went undercover as a salesperson, she learned the secret to making a wine irresistible: tell a good story about it. This issue is filled with good stories; I hope you find them irresistible.
Where I'm Coming From
Notes from my recent expeditions.
The Ten Cup
KANSAS CITY, MO
Had a large, scrumptious chocolate ganachecovered devil's food cupcake with a cream cheese center. Co-owner Edward Neer gives 10 percent of his profits to local charities.
DETAILS 651 E. 59th St.; 816-841-4357.
Ate an incredible Boursin-stuffed, exquisitely ripe tomato.
DETAILS 4821 W. 117th St.; 913-383-1000.
NEW YORK CITY
The cornmeal-crusted soft- shell crab was superdelicious.
DETAILS 39 Downing St.; 212-255-1790.
If you know of a fantastic restaurant wine list or a unique wine experience that other readers should know about, please let me know!