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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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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?

Restaurants

Arsenal’s Awesome New Stadium Food

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arsenal

© Arsenal Football Club
Arsenal's new WM Club restaurant.


I am a huge sports fanatic, particularly when it comes to soccer—or, as the rest of the world refers to it, football. Usually, I find myself watching a match in a pub in London or a bodega in Barcelona, screaming at a TV screen with the locals. But this year I managed to score tickets to see Arsenal take on Newcastle United at Emirates Stadium in London (and, against all odds, lose!). The Brits have taken a few notes from the new haute food offerings at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium and opened three new restaurants and Legends, a cool sports bar with 40 TV screens, at the Club Level. Raymond Blanc protégé Oleg Ibragimov is in charge of the excellent menu at the WM Club restaurant (named for Herbert Chapman’s revolutionary 3-2-2-3 WM formation that looked like a “W” and “M” on the field). I dined pre-game and had my own personal “table concierge,” who delivered foie gras–and–pear compote with crème brûlée spoons; ham hock terrine with crispy quail’s eggs and homemade piccalilli; and Suffolk pork cheek and belly with red cabbage and crispy pork crackling. Before leaving for the start of the match, I was asked to fill out my halftime menu order. Would I like a cheese plate, wine, perhaps a beer? I checked off my menu card, and my snacks were all waiting at my table at the half. Guests can also come back post-game for Angus beef burgers, drinks and a chance to see Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger and former players mingling with the fans.

Cookbooks

A Lesson in Wine-and-Chocolate Pairing

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Wine-and-chocolate pairing

© Chelsea Morse

I’m fairly certain I have the most fun job in the world. Yesterday I attended a chocolate-and-wine pairing event hosted by Green & Black’s, the UK brand of organic, fair-trade chocolate. Micah Carr-Hill, the company’s Global Head of Taste (how’s that for a title? His job might be even more fun than mine) guided a group of journalists and bloggers through a pairing of six different chocolates, with wines ranging from a lychee-scented Gewürztraminer for the Peanut & Sea Salt Chocolate (my favorite) to a spicy Amarone-style red with the 85% Dark Chocolate. This was experiential learning at its best: We discovered through tasting that floral whites often complement milk chocolate’s sweetness, and more astringent reds can bring out vanilla notes in bitter dark chocolate. I’ve always assumed that big, tannic reds are chocolate’s best match, but my new favorite chocolate-friendly wine was actually a raisiny sherry, which played on the chocolate’s earthy, nutty flavors. Green & Black’s has also published a new book of chocolate-dessert recipes, just released in the US last week, available here. I’ll be showing off my new pairing inspirations when I try out the recipes at our holiday party this year.

Restaurants

F&W Exclusive: Why Three-Star Laurent Gras Is Leaving L20

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© Shimon and Tammar
Laurent Gras Is Coming to NYC.

First of all, let’s have a big round of applause for Laurent Gras, one of F&W’s beloved Best New Chefs, who is now also a Michelin three-star chef (remember, there are only nine such chefs in the entire United States). Here's what he has to say about his surprise move to leave his epic Chicago restaurant L20, right as the Michelin buzz is in full blast:

“I love L2O and am very proud of everything we achieved there. But [owner] Rich Melman and I have always had different points of view on L2O. In July, we talked about changes he wanted to make, and for me, these changes would alter the character of L2O and ultimately make it a different experience. I let him know then that I would be leaving. It seems sudden, but we worked together these past months to make the transition. For me, the most important thing was to make sure the restaurant stayed open and all my staff remained employed.”

And here’s more applause-worthy news for those of us in NYC: Gras is moving back to Manhattan, and he’s got a very interesting project (or two) up his sleeve. Look for news about it on his new blog, coming soon.

News

A $460K Whisky

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macallan

© The Macallan Scotch Whisky/Lalique
Charity: water founder Scott Harrison with the oldest and rarest Macallan.

A few days ago, someone asked me what my necessary luxuries were in life and on my short list was Macallan single malt whisky. Apparently, a few other people share my passion. The other night, Sotheby’s auctioned off a bottle of the oldest and rarest Macallan ever, bottled in a bespoke Lalique crystal decanter. There were hyper-competitive bidders on the floor, as well as on the phone banks from Asia to Italy. The final winning bid came from an American collector: $460,000 for the Macallan 64 Years Old in Lalique. The auction was part of a 12-city charity tour starting in Paris and ending in New York that ultimately raised more than $600,00 for the non-profit organization, charity: water

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