You know the rest of that line, right? Well, it's with some small amount of sadness that I am saying that about this blog: It must come to an end. I've had a terrific time writing it, but we've decided that in the end it's a bit strange, for a magazine that's all about bringing together food and wine, to have separate blogs on those topics.
So, from here on out, any wine blogging that I (and Megan Krigbaum, Kristin Donnelly, and various other stalwart folks) do will instead appear in F&W's primary blog, Mouthing Off. No less wine coverage, just a different venue. See you there.
Wines Under $20
There are people out there—and they know who they are—who missed Father's Day. You forgot to call, you were traveling, the gift got eaten by the dog; whatever the case, now's a good time to make it up to dear old dad. In fact, speaking as a father myself, it's always a good time to give gifts to fathers. Nothing warms the cold cockles of the heart more than a thoughtful present from a dutiful child, except maybe an all-expenses-paid trip to a Caribbean island plus a speedboat-driving butler, but hey, that's hard to come by. In any case, should dad be a wine-lover, here are some handy gift ideas, good for any occasion whatsoever.
Affordable: 2010 Bodegas Borsao Garnacha Joven Campo de Borja ($8)
This robust Spanish red is a great partner for burgers off the grill.
Sky’s the Limit: 2007 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($100)
A benchmark Napa Cabernet. Velvety, rich and deceptively powerful, it’s drinking great right now—especially with some sort of troglodyte-size T-bone.
Affordable: 2009 Fetzer Valley Oaks Zinfandel ($9)
A juicy red from one of the world’s largest farmers of organic grapes.
Sky’s the Limit: 2008 SokolBlosser Estate Cuvee Pinot Noir ($50)
Sokol Blosser farms organically, participates in salmon-safe run-off programs, uses biodiesel fuels and has solar panels in its vineyards. Plus, its Pinot Noir is terrific.
Beach Dad (no glass bottles)
Affordable: 2008 Bandit Cabernet Sauvignon ($8)
Dark fruit and lots of flavor in a one-liter cardboard Tetra Pak.
Sky’s the Limit: 2009 Wineberry Chateau du Chatelard Bourgogne Blanc ($45/3 liter box)
New York–based Wineberry packages small-production French wines in cool wooden three-liter boxes.
Affordable: 2009 Arnold Palmer Cabernet Sauvignon ($11)
A straightforward and appealing red from a golf great.
Sky’s the Limit: 2008 Doubleback Cabernet Sauvignon ($85)
Former NFL star Drew Bledsoe grew up in Walla Walla, Washington, with Chris Figgins, whose family owns one of the state’s top wineries, Leonetti. They reunited to create this structured, intensely flavorful Cabernet.
Affordable: Mionetto Il Prosecco ($9)
A lively Italian sparkler from one of the best-known Prosecco producers.
Sky’s the Limit: 2002 Dom Pérignon ($140)
Dom Pérignon lives up to its reputation, especially in the terrific ’02 vintage. Plus, dad will definitely impress his friends with his bottomless wallet (well, your bottomless wallet, but who’s counting?).
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Whether intentionally or not, I may have stumbled upon the next big thing-with the help of F&W's Kristin Donnelly, editor extraordinaire and creator of a fabulous new line of all-natural lip balms, Stewart & Claire.
As of today, she offers five ready-made balms, four of which are lightly scented with, among other things, basil, peppermint, tarragon, lavender, coconut and mint. I've sampled the Spring (scented with tarragon) and Bare (unscented). Though absolutely luscious on the lips (and remarkably restorative in minutes), Bare interested me a bit less than Spring because of Spring's bright, green tarragon fragrance.
I broke out the tube on my subway ride home (always a tactical move to have something pleasant to smell on a crowded subway car, especially in summer) and immediately felt a bit calmer. Then I popped an Altoid and had an epiphany. Wow—olfactory overload in the best way! Minty, herbaceous, soothing yet energizing, it was a day-spa in my handbag. Flavor geek and hard-candy freak that I am, it only seemed logical to try different hard candies, too: greenapple Jolly Ranchers: good (grape: awful); La Vie raspberry pastillines: better; La Vie lemon pastillines: best!
I can't wait to try Stewart & Claire's three other ready-made scented balms: Summer, Coconut and Mint. But I'm especially excited about the custom (bespoke) balms they can whip up for you based on your scent and texture preferences-cinnamon, ginger, rose, coriander, etc. Imagine a whole new world of candy-balm parings.
I had the pleasure of appearing on the 4th hour of Today this morning with Hoda Kotb, Kathie Lee Gifford and my good pal Leslie Sbrocco, doing a fun 'he-said-she-said' Valentine's Day wine segment. Leslie and I each presented our picks in four categories—for a romantic dinner, for popping the question, for lounging around in a bathtub (!), and for pairing with chocolate—and Hoda and Kathie Lee chose a winner in each one. Check out this clip to see whose choices got the nod...
© Rachel Welch
Rachel Welch's baked goodies.
Hooray! Yoga and food, two of the joys of my life, have finally met. In the forthcoming March issue, we report on how many yoga teachers are incorporating chocolate and wine into their classes, exploring the mind/body connection and finding deeper ways to tap into our senses. Two Valentine’s Day weekend yoga workshops in New York City are bringing sweet treats into the studio. (Full disclosure: I practice yoga with both of these teachers and work at Laughing Lotus.) On Saturday at the new Yogamaya studio, Rachel Welch, an incredible baker when not pretzel-twisted on the mat, will offer a restorative shiatsu massage workshop for couples or friends. The Japanese healing art opens the body’s energy channels. Afterwards, participants will be more receptive to the flavors in Welch’s expertly baked chocolate cupcakes. On Sunday, those looking for a physical and spiritual workout can check out Dana Flynn’s Cacao Flow workshop at Laughing Lotus Yoga Center. Raw vegan truffles are incorporated into the flow sequence. For example, yogis eat a spicy cayenne truffle before they perform an invigorating sun salutation sequence, and the class will wind down with a raspberry-lavender truffle before Savasana, the final resting pose. Mind, meet body. I think you’ll like each other.
Wines Under $20
If you haven't stocked up on sparkling wine or Champagne for New Year's yet, here's a clip from the CBS Early Show this morning, where I went through a number of great, affordable possibilities with host Harry Smith. I was also on the CNBC WSJ Report with Maria Bartiromo over the weekend, talking a bit more about the business side of sparkling wine, along with some recommendations. The video on their site isn't working at the moment for some reason, but here's the text of the story.
Cooking New Year's Day dinner with friends
Over the years, my husband and I have created a funky mix of beloved holiday meals, blending my New England roots with his Southern California sensibilities. We start with Christmas sushi. This ritual began when the chef of the San Francisco restaurant where we met sent us home on Christmas Eve with beautiful fresh sashimi. Next comes roast lamb for New Year’s Eve, a nod to my grandmother’s picture-perfect holiday dish (but minus her fluorescent mint jelly). And my favorite meal of all: Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day, which we’ve adapted from recipes from my mother-in-law, who is from Georgia. We pack a few dozen close friends into our tiny apartment to celebrate with blackeyed peas (to resemble coins) and collard greens (to represent paper bills), which are said to bring good fortune in the new year. Thus fortified, we’ll be ready for 2011.
© Lois Ellen Frank
The Basics for Tomahawking Champagne.
In Part II of my occasional series, Don’t Necessarily Try This at Home (Part I featured two-year-old vintage eggnog
from Jonathon Sawyer
of Greenhouse Tavern
in Cleveland), I’d like to spotlight tomahawking Champagne
as a potential holiday trend. I first heard about this from Holly Arnold Kinney
, who owns the iconic Rocky Mountain restaurant The Fort
, outside of Denver. Instead of the classic, and dramatic, French practice of “sabering” Champagne
—hitting the bottle neck with a saber at just the right angle so the cork pops off—the Fort uses a tomahawk to do the same job.
In her cool new coffee-table book, Shinin’ Times at the Fort
, Kinney goes into even more detail: “My dad taught his pal Julia Child
how to tomahawk a bottle of Champagne, and later that week, she taught Jay Leno
how to do so when she was a guest on The Tonight Show
.... [but] the bottle Julia used was weak and broke all over the set! Although she grabbed a second bottle and tomahawked it perfectly, NBC decided to use the broken-bottle take to promote the show.”
Wines Under $20
'Tis the season to do TV appearances on wines for the holidays, apparently! I was at the CBS Early Show last weekend offering wine & spirits gift-giving strategies, and on Fox Business News last Friday with some great wine values for holiday entertaining.
Also, if you need a last minute stocking-stuffer for the wine geek in your life, you could definitely do worse than the Twistick ($9.99), which may well be the world's smallest corkscrew. You can put it on your keychain for wine emergencies (they do happen!), and while it's not the easiest corkscrew in the world to use, it's a lot better than biting off the top of the bottle with your teeth.
I know I said that I wasn’t going to do a ton of wine bags this year
but I came across these screen-printed organic cotton ones from Tartella
and had to share them. I love the happy cork print that comes in either red or teal. Tartella has also started making wine tags
in the same print to slip over the neck of a bottle. They look so nice, you might not even need a gift bag!