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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Tasting Room

Yet Another Reason to Drink Beer

© David Tsay
© David Tsay

© David Tsay

It’s possible you may have missed it, but just before Christmas a team of scientists in Seattle managed to determine the absolute configurations of isohumulones in beer!

Relieved, aren’t you? Me too. But no matter what you think, it’s evidence of sorts that people’s curiosity about beer knows no bounds; and in this case, their curiosity about how hops work.

Hops (the female flower of the hop plant) impart bitterness, and also—depending on the hop strain—resinous, piney and/or citrusy/tangy notes. Most beers have some hop character; over the years various craft brewers have also been obsessed with pushing the envelope of how hoppy a beer can get. In the wrong hands, this obsession can result in undrinkably bitter haaargh-water, but for a talented brewer it can result in beers that are delicious in large part because of their complete, crazy, in-your-face hoppiness. For the adventurous, here are 9 extremely hoppy beers that also happen to be extremely good. »

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Tasting Room

The Luke Wilson of Wine, Not Quite the Leading Grape

Ray Isle Illustration by Kathryn Rathke
Ray Isle Illustration by Kathryn Rathke

Ray Isle Illustration by Kathryn Rathke

It’s rare that one family will tolerate two stars. Think about it—Alec Baldwin? Definitely a star. Other Baldwins? Sort of famous, but just not quite real stars. Ditto Owen Wilson and Luke Wilson. Luke, excellent actor, really appealing on-screen, but just doesn’t quite have the particular audience-drawing whatever-it-is-ness that his oddly nosed older brother has. The same is pretty much true of wine regions. Usually, one grape gets to be the star. Napa Valley, for instance, produces a lot of very good Merlot, Petite Sirah, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc—but Cabernet Sauvignon is without doubt the leading grape there. 5 great red wines. »

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Tasting Room

President's Day Wines

President Andrew Jackson. © Bettmann / CORBIS
President Thomas Jefferson. © Bettmann / CORBIS

President Thomas Jefferson. © Bettmann / CORBIS

When it comes to Presidents and wine, there’s pretty much one name floating around out there: Thomas Jefferson. He made a number of attempts to grow grapes and make wine at his Monticello estate; during the five years he served as U.S. Minister to France, he undertook at least two lengthy tours of French, Italian and German wine regions; he had wine shipped to him in the U.S. from many of Europe's greatest estates; and he built a subterranean wine cellar for himself, complete with iron-barred, fortified, double-locked door (no one was getting their greedy hands on ol’ Thos. J’s private stash). So what did Jefferson drink? A lot of things: Madeira, Port, Sauternes, Bordeaux (he was particularly fond of Château Haut-Brion), Champagne, Hermitage, Rhine and Mosel Riesling, Sherry, Tuscan reds, Volnay and Montrachets from Burgundy, you name it. Here are a few wines from some of his favorite regions. »

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Tasting Room

A Valentine's Day Wine Survival Guide

Great wines and cocktails to pair with every Valentine's Day scenario.
© Michael Turek

© Michael Turek

Ah, Valentine’s Day. If everything goes right, then you have a happy romantic night out with your loved one, and wake the following morning to songbirds chirping, the sun caressing you with buttery light, a suffusion of love in your heart, and no hangover at all. If things go wrong, then you get a night full of misery, anger, disappointment, shame, betrayal, and tears, but what did you expect? That's what dating’s all about. Be that as it may, Valentine’s Day is here, and no matter what your romantic situation is, you’re undoubtedly going to need a drink. Here are five suggestions to match some possible Valentine’s Day activities. »

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Tasting Room

Battening Down the Hatches with Wine Bottles to Buy by the Case

Ray Isle, Food & Wine's Executive Wine Editor

Illustration by Kathryn Rathke.

Winter is here. This means you should buy wine in large amounts, not because you’re drinking more, but because going outside—especially if you live in the Northeast—just isn’t pleasant. Five great bottles to buy by the case.>>

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Tasting Room

Best Super Bowl Chicken Wings and Beers

© Hector Sanchez
© Hector Sanchez

© Hector Sanchez

My secret theory about why chicken wings and football go so well together can be demonstrated by a very simple experiment. First, go to the store and buy a chicken. Next, remove its wings. Next, truss its little feet together. Now paint it brown. What does it look like? Exactly: a football. Chickens are footballs, except for the wings. And that’s why when we watch football, we eat chicken wings. 5 perfect beer and wings pairings. »

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Tasting Room

Ice Wine, That Peachy-Lychee-Tropical-Honeyed Nectar

Illustration by Kathryn Rathke.

Illustration by Kathryn Rathke.

Yes, it’s that time of year again, when hearty Ontario winemakers (and others) freeze their—well, their somethings—off, in order to bring you bottles of the sweet, unctuous liquid known as ice wine. Fantastic Ice Wines. »

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Tasting Room

Wine with Fajitas, Otherwise Known as “Fa-HEE-tas”

© Iain Bagwell. Food styling by Simon Andrews.

© Iain Bagwell. Food styling by Simon Andrews.

When it comes to pairing wine and fajitas—a situation that might occur for some people only after every last margarita on earth had been drained—here’s a general thought. Fajitas, which are typically served with onions, grilled bell peppers, cheese, pico de gallo, possibly guacamole, maybe sour cream and who knows what other fixings, fall into the broad pairing category of “It isn’t the meat, it’s the sauce (or condiments).” Essentially, you’re picking a wine to go with a mass of wildly different flavors. So you want one that goes with, more or less, anything. How to pick that fajita-pleasing wine. »

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Tasting Room

Great Winter Beers That Don't Taste Like Spiced Pop-Tarts

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale

Courtesy of Sierra Nevada

Few issues in the world are truly black-and-white. Cats, for instance. Some people think they’re nice pets; some people think they’re furry little narcissists who’d happily dine on your face if there were ever a complete collapse of civilization due to a nuclear apocalypse.  But one thing that can be divided into simple, black-and-white categories is winter beers. Basically, there are the ones that taste like something your grandmother would bake, and the ones that don’t. Here, six great winter beers.>>

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Trendspotting

Where to Drink Champagne Now

Portland, Oregon's Pix Pâtisserie/Bar Vivant.

Bar Vivant, Portland; Photo © Dina Avíla Photography.

Festive and versatile, impressive Champagne selections are now everywhere, from a tree house in France to Chicago’s O’Hare airport. F&W’s Megan Krigbaum celebrates the news. Plus, Champagne Lexicon so you can know what you're ordering.

Chicago: Bubbles Wine Bar
Finding a good glass of wine at an airport is nearly impossible, but at this new spot in O’Hare, travelers can order Champagnes like Taittinger’s NV Brut La Française and sample artisanal cheeses while waiting for flights. Terminal 3, O’Hare Airport.

 

New York City: Corkbuzz Wine Studio
Owner Laura Maniec (whose expertise we tap for Tasting Workout), wants everyone to drink Champagne every day. So she’s started her Champagne Campaign: Each night starting at 10 p.m., every bottle of Champagne on her list is half-off, including pricey têtes de cuvée like the 2002 Dom Ruinart Brut. 13 E. 13th St.; corkbuzz.com.

New York City: L’Apicio
At his new East Village restaurant, co-owner and sommelier Joe Campanale serves 30 sparkling wines by the bottle. At least eight are grower Champagnes (small-production wines from individual estates). 13 E. First St.; lapicio.com.

Pittsburgh: Perlé
Co-owner Peter Landis developed a special draft system just for his new Market Square spot, which always keeps five sparkling wines on tap. His other 22 sparkling selections are served by the bottle. 25 Market Sq.; perlepgh.com.

Portland, OR: Pix Pâtisserie/Bar Vivant
“Every December, we’ve had 100 Champagnes on offer, but starting last year, I decided to keep them year-round,” says owner–pastry chef–Champagne fiend Cheryl Wakerhauser of Pix and the new Bar Vivant, a tapas bar. 2225 E. Burnside St.; pixpatisserie.com.

Verzy, France: Perchingbar
This unusual treehouse bar sits 18 feet above the ground in a park outside the town of Verzy. Guests can have glasses of Bollinger or Pehu Simonet in the clubby lounge or on the huge wraparound deck surrounded by trees. Plan ahead, though, as it’s open only during warmer months. perchingbar.eu.

CHAMPAGNE LEXICON

Blanc de Blancs White Champagne made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes.

Dosage A blend of wine and sugar that is added to most Champagne at the final bottling to offset the acidity of the wine.

Blanc De Noirs White Champagne made from red Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

Mousse The foam that appears at the top of a glass of Champagne when it’s poured.

Brut Dry, meaning that the wine has a minimal dosage—less than 12 grams of sugar per liter.

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