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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Wine Books

12 Days of Wine Gifts, Day 4

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wine journal

© Nicole Lavelle

I wrote about these super-excellent beer journals last June because I think the idea is just so great—they fit in your pocket, and each page has a spot for all the tasting notes you could ever possibly come up with. I was elated to hear that 33 Books has come up with books for wine notes (and cheese and coffee ), too, because I’m always writing notes on gum wrappers or magazine insert cards that I dig out of the depths of my bag when I’m out. These are a smart way to keep it all in one place. Plus, the wine-colored ink on the covers actually contains some wine from the Walla Walla Valley. These little books would make excellent stocking stuffers or accompaniments to a bottle of wine.

Champagne

12 Days of Wine Gifts, Day 3

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© Christopher Klapp/Petrossian West Hollywood
Petrossian's Champagne and Caviar Coffret

Some might call me a failure at this 12 Days of Wine Gifts business, but I’ve just been holding on to some excellent things to wallop you with all at once, so I will magically turn three days in to one. So, here, the first installment.

I will not be purchasing this gift for anyone this year, but if I had $490 dollars to spend on one person, this would definitely be high up on my list. Petrossian Caviar’s West Hollywood shop has put together a pretty over-the-top set called the Caviar and Champagne Coffret that contains of 125 grams of Tsar Imperial Transmontanous Caviar, two half-bottles of Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne and two mother-of-pearl spoons. I might be tempted to tack on a couple of these metal straws  to encourage drinking the Champagne straight from the bottles. Unfortunately, this set isn’t available on the Petrossian website, but you can call the shop directly to place orders at 310-271-0576.

Events

Shopping for a Cause

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© Photo Courtesy Fonté Coffee Roasters

Tonight, Seattle's Fonté Coffee Roasters will gather some of the city's best food artisans for a Shop Local Holiday Happy Hour at Fonté Cafe and Wine Bar, which opened last year. The event includes a tasting with master roaster Steve Smith (who came to Fonté 20 years ago to focus on small-lot roasting after his time at Starbucks); holiday-themed chocolates (like gingerbread chocolate bars) from Theo Chocolate; and wines from the Small Lot Co-Op and Heaven's Cave Cellars. A portion of the proceeds from the event go to the Pike Market Child Care and Preschool, which helps low-income families with care and healthy meals for children. Another bonus: All proceeds from purchases of Fonté's excellent, limited-edition Holiday Blend (left), a delicious low-acid coffee with citrus notes, go to the same cause.

Holidays

12 Days of Wine Gifts, Day 2

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penguin corkscrew

© Terrain
Penguin Corkscrew from Terrain

Last Friday, I kicked off my non-wine-bag-focused wine gift guide with a wine bag—so today, I present you with something more true to my word.

As an unabashed fan of Anthropologie’s dresses, cardigans and latte bowls, I’ve wanted to head to Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, to visit the company's flagship home and garden store, called Terrain, which opened a couple of years ago. I still haven’t made the trek, but in drooling over its website embarrassingly often, I recently discovered this charming penguin corkscrew. Give it as a gift with a bottle of rich red wine, like the 2007 La Spinetta Pin Monferrato Rosso (around $43, find this wine), a blend of Barbera and Nebbiolo from Piedmont. It's at once sweet, spicy and aromatic—destined for drinking in front of a fireplace.

Pairings

Weekend TODAY: Wines for the Holidays

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I got to rise very early this past Sunday morning and trundle over to the studios at Rockefeller Center to do a TODAY show spot on wines to go with classic holiday meals, with the always engaging Lester Holt. It was sort of a slow-starting morning, thanks a very unscientific tasting of multiple Champagnes the previous night, but after a large infusion of coffee my brain started zipping along in a relatively lively way. The result—you can watch it on this clip—was great fun. 

 

Holidays

12 Days of Wine Gifts, Day 1

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Reisenthel black wine bottle bag

© Reisenthel

Last year about this time, I took it upon myself to search out some lovely wine bags for gifting during the holiday season.  I confess, despite the cute bags, it might have been overkill. So this year, I've decided to bring you wine-related gifts that go beyond wine bags-with some wine bags sprinkled in. After all, the holiday wine-giving season is upon us and it's no good to just hand over naked bottles.

And so, on this first day of wine gifts, I present to you this ultra-chic black wine bag from Reisenthel that will look just as good with your sparkly holiday dresses and bowties as it will with your woolen mittens. Tie it up with a humongous bow and any party host will be delighted.

Wines $20 to $40

Thanksgiving Wine Conundrum

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Despite the fact that Thanksgiving is a mere six days away—and the fact that I’m a wine writer—it only crossed my mind yesterday that I needed to pick out some wines for Thanksgiving. My boyfriend, Michael, and I are hosting this year, and it’s just a small group—his parents, my parents and my sister. Seems easy enough to choose a wine, right? Well, once I started to think about it, not really.

See, Michael’s dad really only drinks caffeine-free diet Coke, and his mom can’t have wine. White wine gives my sister headaches; my dad’s palate tends toward Merlot and Malbec; and my mom prefers off-dry Rieslings and Gewürztraminers and (bizarrely enough) Lambrusco (she thinks she doesn’t like red wine, but we can trick her sometimes). So essentially, we’re all going in a different wine direction here.

But then there’s Michael. Michael is a cru Beaujolais fanatic, and this fanaticism will effectively solve the problem at hand (aside from, ahem, the caffeine-free diet Coke)—plus, 2009 was a knockout vintage for the region. There are ten crus or villages in Beaujolais: Brouilly, Chénas, Chiroubles, Côte de Brouilly, Fleurie, Juliénas, Morgon, Moulin à Vent, Régnié and Saint Amour. All have different flavors, aromas and balance, but each will go quite nicely with the Thanksgiving menu thanks to deep, bright fruit and terrific acidity. My sister can drink it, my dad will get the concentration that he enjoys and my mom will get the fruit-forwardness that she likes in off-dry wines (this is how we trick her into liking reds.) And Michael will be beyond happy.

I’m heading to the wine shop with hopes of finding 2009s from Marcel Lapierre, Chateau Thivin and Christophe Pacalet. Oh, and a bottle of savory Donati Lambrusco to start things off.

What’s your problem-solving wine for Thanksgiving?

Wines Under $20

Today Show: Spooky Beers and Wines

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Had a great time on Today yesterday with Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford, talking about spooky beers and wines for Halloween parties. The clip is here if you're interested, but I also thought it would be worthwhile to run through the wines in Tasting Room, and add a few extra for fun. Halloween's still a few days away, so there's time left to shop.

2008 Spellbound Chardonnay ($16) Rob Mondavi, Jr. (of those Mondavis) makes this juicy, eminently drinkable Chardonnay with fruit primarily from the Lodi region. (find this wine)

2007 Bogle Phantom ($20) This is a juicy, dark-fruited blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Mourvedre. Plus, it's got an eerie label that looks like a haunted forest at night, though I suspect it's actually gnarled old Zin vines. (find this wine

2006 Flora Springs Ghost Winery Cabernet Franc ($40) Flora Springs will be doing a "ghost winery" release every year on Halloween (or just before, so it can be shipped in time to arrive for Halloween). This year's is an appealingly aromatic Cab Franc with good tannic bones. So to speak. (find this wine)

2008 Edmunds St. John Bone-Jolly ($18) Gamay, the grape of Beaujolais, vinified by the talented winemaker Steve Edmunds: it's a great combination, resulting in a wine that is much more full of life (and lively red fruit) than the skeletons on the label might suggest. (find this wine)

2009 Owen Roe Sinister Hand ($24) Why not pour a wine on Halloween whose label happens to have a blood-dripping severed hand on it? Especially why not, when the wine is a peppery, berry-bright, Washington State Grenache blend like this one. (find this wine)

Recipes

Halloween at Food & Wine’s Office

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© Alessandra Bulow
From left: Rory Tischler, Jon (Smooth) Varriano & Seton Rossini man the bar at The Old F&W Art Saloon

Halloween is two days away but the art department staff of Food & Wine’s marketing team is kicking off the festivities today by transforming their office space into The Old F&W Art Saloon. In addition to dressing up in awesome 19th-century Western costumes, they’re serving beef chili with beans, buttery corn bread and fantastic homemade black pepper beef jerky.

(Last year they dressed as the Simmons Family including Top Chef judge and F&W’s own Gail Simmons, Gene Simmons and Richard Simmons—no relation.)

Scrounging for a last-minute Halloween costume or party idea? Get inspiration from F&W's Dress Like a Chef and Halloween Party slideshows.

Cooking

Matzo 10 Ways

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© Quentin Bacon

Since it's Passover, I'm eating (and eating and eating) matzo, the flour-and-water cracker. Here's how:

Matzo balls My favorite way. This is a rosemary-accented version (pictured).

Matzo Brei Since this is fried (that's what brei means), it 's a very close second to matzo balls. I like it as a sweet, once-a-year treat.

Matzo meal It makes for a spectacularly crunchy coating, like on this matzo meal–crusted trout.

Matzo with lox and cream cheese Old habits die hard.

Matzo, butter and jam Don’t overthink it.

Matzo with chopped liver A legend in the field. Just swap out the crostini for matzo in this recipe.

Matzo pizza Add sauce and cheese, and broil.

Matzo flatbreads Extraordinarily simple. Here's how to make them.

Matzo (broken) lasagna Using this recipe, replace the lasagna noodles with pieces of matzo that have been lightly soaked in warm water until just pliable.

Chocolate-covered matzo Obviously.

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Already looking forward to next year (June 19-21, 2015)? Relive your favorite moments from the culinary world's most sensational weekend in the Rocky Mountains.