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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Holidays

12 Days of Wine Bags, Day 7

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© Roost
Snowflake Wine Cylinder by Roost

Confession: I'm a little bit obsessed with everything that Roost makes. Whenever I'm on the hunt for anything tabletop- or home-related, I usually start with the Roost catalog and go from there. So, when I set out to find 12 days' worth of wine bags, Roost was my natural point of departure. And voilà! It once again came through with not only one excellent wine tote, but two! Today's (you'll have to wait ‘til next week for the other one) carrier isn't so much a bag as a wine tube. These scrolled carriers are made from birch and tie with a simple leather cord. They come in a variety of different styles, but this time of year, the snowflake-stamped wine cylinders loaded with a nice bottle of sparkling wine are a perfect pairing.

Holidays

12 Days of Wine Bags, Day 6

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Early Saturday morning winter crept into New York City and from past experience, I'm pretty confident that it's not going anywhere soon. What better to cozy up to during these frigid winter days than a brightly-colored merino wool wine carrier and a mug of glögg? Day 6's bag (yes, there are still six more on the way!) is the Cameo bag from LA-based designer Gräf & Lantz. They come in four different colors and have a sturdy leather strap that will last many more winters to come.

Holidays

12 Days of Wine Bags, Day 5

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© Jane Pennells

Today's installment of my 12 Days of Wine Bags finishes off this week with great big wine-bag fireworks! Some of you may argue that this isn't exactly a wine bag—and you're right. But I have a feeling that if you show up on your best pal's doorstep with one of these gorgeous wine slings all loaded up with three stunning bottles, no one would mind that it's not a bag. Plus, this carrier can be hung up on the wall and refilled over and over again, making it a super chic wine rack. The leather slings are handmade in Argentina by a company called Gattorna. And the really cool thing about the company selling the slings, Lavish Giving, is that if you make a purchase over $100, 10 percent of whatever you spend will be donated to the charity of your choosing. (The slings are only $95, but I'm sure you'll be able to find something else you like.)

Here are three of my favorite bottles that I've tasted this year to help you load up your slings:

2006 Domaine Catherine Auther Vin d'Alsace ($14, find this wine) For folks who are into wine esoterica, this white's the one. Made with the Pinot Auxerrois grape, the wine's ridiculously balanced considering everything it has going on-from nutty aromas to citrus and apple flavors. Makes for great winter white drinking.

2008 Roagna Dolcetto d'Alba ($16, find this wine) I fell in love with this wine at a Louis/Dressner tasting and haven't stopped hunting for bottles since. Dolcetto is superb with food because it has easygoing tannins that won't overpower, alongside nice subtle fruit. This bottling has all that and some intriguing earthy notes.  

2008 Vinos de Terruõs Siete 7 ($12, find this wine) This Garnacha-Tempranillo blend from Spain's Navarra region is the sort of wine that you don't want to stop drinking. It's like delving into a farm stand basket of blueberries, blackberries and black cherries at the peak of the season, with enough acidity to keep the wine vibrant on your tongue. And the truly wonderful surprise is that it costs less than $15.

Holidays

12 Days of Wine Bags, Day 4

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Bob's Your Uncle's witty wine bags aren't new, but they make me smile every time I see them, making them the pick for Day 4 of my holiday gift-bag journey. These silver-pressed kraft-paper bags poke a nice dose of fun at what we wine folks try do every day—come up with inventive (and admittedly sometimes silly) ways to describe how wine tastes. For a mere $14 you get six bags, each with a different description—for instance, "Vigorous Well Constructed Even a Little Bosomy." And they offer a fun challenge: to find wine that fits the statement on the bag. So if anyone determines a good bosomy wine, let me know.

Holidays

12 Days of Wine Bags, Day 3

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BUILT bag in Ski Patrol Red
Some time during my first few months at F&W, someone sent me a bright pink one-bottle wine bag from BUILT and I have dragged that thing all over the city ever since. It may be a little stained in the corners at this point, but I still love it. These bags (which sort of kicked off the whole reusable wine bag phenomenon in the first place) are made of neoprene, which is the same stretchy, slightly cushy material used to make the wetsuits that divers and surfers wear—hence the durability.
This year BUILT released a new snappier version of the bag in fish-netted neoprene, which brings me to my third day of 12 Days of Wine Bags. These bags come in a few different colors and cost only $14—perfect for impromptu host gifts. 

Holidays

12 Days of Wine Bags, Day 2

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Day two of this holiday wine bag spectacular brings us to one of my favorite designers, Angela Adams, who's based in Portland, Maine. I've long coveted Adams incredible wool rugs and in the past few years, she's added handbags, glassware and other home goods to the mix. Her new line of wine totes is made with recycled sailcloth with strong nautical-rope handles. At $35 this might be the sort of bag that you buy for yourself and just use for transporting wine, but it would also be a nice present to help transport a friend to the sunny seas during these cold winter months.

Holidays

12 Days of Wine Bags, Day 1

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Maptote

© Kate Mathis
Maptote

 

Now that the holiday season is fully upon us and we’re all schlepping wine to this party and that party, I thought it might be useful to call out 12 really great wine totes—one every day, for the next 12 days—for all of your holiday wine-carrying needs.

I discovered this first one, from Maptote, at the Brooklyn Flea a few weeks back. Beyond Bordeaux, they company also makes Rioja, Tuscany and Napa Valley designated bags—as well as one for Manhattan and one for Philadelphia, which I never knew were burgeoning wine regions! They’re $12 apiece and make terrific gifts. Just be sure to order a couple for yourself, too.

Wines Under $20

Thanksgiving Day Wines

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I was on the Today Show over the weekend, suggesting wines not just for the big Thanksgiving meal but all the other activities that go on this week—parades, football games, recovering after being mashed and jostled at the mall, you name it. The clip isn't up yet, but here's a link to my November column, which was the spur for it.

That got me thinking that I should recommend a few other worthwhile wines to hunt down in the remaining couple of days—affordable bottles that will pair well with a wide range of foods, which is pretty much what Thanksgiving is all about (since turkey itself doesn't taste like a whole heck of a lot).

From Spain's Rias Baixas region, Albariño is a terrific food wine, crisp and refreshing, with a kind of saline minerality and juicy citrus notes. I was there recently, and among the wines I liked were the fragrant, focused 2007 Pazo San Mauro Albariño ($17 or so) and the complex, stony 2007 Do Ferreiro Albariño ($22 or so, find this wine). Another good white option would be the 2007 Hugel & Fils Gewurztraminer($18 or so, find this wine). It's less florid and in-your-face than many Alsace Gewurzes, instead dry and crisp with a little white pepper note at the finish.

I also tasted through a heap of California Chardonnays the other day, with almost universally disheartening results. Most of them seemed blocky and blob-like, with too much oak and too much alcohol—the kind of wine that beats up your food rather than partnering with it. But, for a splurge, I did find the 2007 Lynmar Quail Hill Vineyard Chardonnay ($35) extremely impressive, its clean peach character succulent and inviting, with soft creamy lees and oak spice notes. 

In reds, a couple of recent discoveries in the tasting room were the 2007 Pulenta Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($25), a lush mouthful of blackberry fruit from Argentina with just enough light herbal character to keep it from being a fruit-bomb, and the 2006 Mazzoni Toscana Rosso ($16, find this wine), a firm-spined, tart, cherry-inflected blend of 72% Sangiovese and 28% Merlot from, well, Tuscany. As the name suggests. 

Finally, you have to have a value pick for turkey-day, and this year I'm in favor of the 2007 Vinum Cellars PETS Petite Sirah ($13 or so, find this wine). It's smoky and toasty, with that classic dark, spicy Petite Sirah fruit—think of a melange of blueberries, black plums and blackberries. Very drinkable, and a good deal, too.  

Restaurants

Thanksgiving Tasting Tour

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Inspired by a trip to Italy during which she walked and ate herself silly, Moira Campbell (a friend of mine, full disclosure) quit her job in restaurant PR this past summer to form Rum & Blackbird, a company that gives tasting tours in New York. She began taking groups around her Hell's Kitchen neighborhood last month, visiting stops like Xie Xie for seven courses' worth of food. This holiday weekend, the food will be inspired by Thanksgiving, with dishes like turkey empanadas with cranberry salsa from Empanada Mama, sweet-potato bourekas from Gazala Place and cranberry orange biscotti from Biscotti Di Vecchio. Next month she'll start having guest chefs along for the ride, including Alexandra Guarnaschelli and F&W Best New Chef 2001 Anita Lo, who will be on the December 5 tour at 3 p.m.

Recipes

Park Avenue Potluck Celebrations

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© Ben Fink, Park Avenue Potluck Celebrations, Rizzoli New York, 2009.
What can someone like me, a girl living in Queens, NY, possibly learn from a bunch of Park Avenue socialites with names like Muffie Potter Aston? A lot, I learned, after I read Park Avenue Potluck Celebrations, a new book by New York Times columnist Florence Fabrikant; it's a compilation of recipes and entertaining tips from some of the city’s most celebrated hostesses and members of The Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (proceeds from the book will go to the center). Here, a few surprisingly down-to-earth tips from high society that I'll actually adopt:

1. Be worldly—follow the Swedish tradition of eating birthday cake for breakfast on your birthday.
2. Drink a cocktail before party guests arrive—it'll loosen you up and make you a better hostess.
3. Be a gracious and unflappable hostess, unperturbed by spilled wine or a crying child. Note: See #2, which will help.
4. Lottery tickets make great place cards—that’s one way to make it to Park Avenue.
5. Note for next year: Hand out to-go wine cups for parents accompanying trick-or-treaters on Halloween.

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

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.