Sunday, October 31, 2010

Several States believe in a Wineocracy as well

My friend and loyal reader, Shawna M., sent the following article to me:

"States Pour Government Money into Wine"

Interestingly Shawna and I tend to look at things from opposite ends of the political spectrum. When she sent me this article, she did not say whether she agreed or disagreed, but I wonder if we might actually agree on this one....I'll let her tell me in private.

As far as where I stand? I wholeheartedly agree. Many of you have often heard me complain about the taxes in my wonderful home state of New Jersey (I'm not being facetious - outside of the taxes and traffic, Jersey is a great place to live). However, I have to believe that the couple of thousands being allocated to winemakers amounts to a few pennies of my annual tax bill. Though the payout on the actual wine might take awhile, this is a relatively inexpensive investment for states. Plus, the return will be realized a lot sooner on local hotels, restaurants, and shops.

If you read to the end of the article, you'll also see that some farmers decide to grow grapes to bolster the farms financial stability so that they can continue to grow other crops. I also firmly believe in and when possible, support, local farms and if planting grape vines means more locally grown apples, I'm all for it. In my world, that is one of the ultimate "win-win" scenarios!

The article is relatively short and should take about 5-10 minutes to read. Take a look and let me know your thoughts.

Unil the next sniff, sip, quaff or interesting article,


Alli M.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mama Wine-O-Crat's trip to South Africa

Though it feels like I've become a teetotaler, thanks to my mother's recent trip to South Africa, I still have content to share! Here's what Mama Wine-O-Crat had to say:

"When you travel to South Africa and you have a daughter who is an oenophile, you have to visit wine country. Which I did. I took a half-day's jaunt to Seidelberg Winery in Stellenbosch, outside of Cape Town. Of course, Alli would have visited a dozen wineries, not just one.
Seidelberg Winery was established in 1692 -- yes, that's a "16", not an inverted "19"! The wine industry in South Africa was begun by Dutch settlers in the 1680s, but when the Huguenots (originally from France) arrived in South Africa, they took over the fledgling wine industry, much to the relief of anyone who loves wine. Seidelberg was started by the French, so from its inception it was considered an important winery. Today it exports 80% of its wine and 100% of its estate wine. Charles Dickens and Thomas Jefferson (a true oenophile) were fans of South African wine.
Seidelberg has two labels: Seidelberg and DeLeuWenJagt, its premier wine. We only sampled the Seidelberg wine. Before we arrived at Seidelberg Winery, we were told to be sure to sample Pinotage, a South African red grape. We were told that we would either love or hate it. I hated it. We tasted a 2008 Pinotage, described to us as "coffee with subtle banana undertones backed with cherry and spice on the palate with smooth tannins and a long finish." To me it tasted thin and watery. I emailed "Oenophile Alli" that perhaps the wine had to be "laid down" for a spell, as it was too young. She advised me that most South African wine is likely not meant to be aged and that she too is no fan of Pinotage.
The other reds we tasted were "Un Deux Trois," which to me tasted bitter, and "Roland's Reserve Syrah," which I liked best of the reds. The whites we tasted were a Chardonnay, a Mouvedre Blanc de Noir and a Chenin Blanc, a varietal recommended on this blog a while back. The Chardonnay was too subtle for me. Of the whites, my favorite was the Chenin Blanc (guess it's genetic!)
At Seidelberg, the vines are allowed to produce wine for 25-30 years, then pulled up and replanted. We were told that 80% of Seidelberg's grapes are hand-picked, and 20% are picked by machine. We also learned that in red wine, the skin is left in the juice for one or two weeks after being picked. In white wine the skin is not left in the juice (Alli's note: This is generally the rule of thumb everywhere). In rose (which we never tasted) the skin in the combination of red and white grapes is left in the juice for 10-24 hours. Reserve wines are stored in oak barrels for 18-20 months. The lighter wines are kept in stainless steel tanks. Ironically, before I had visited Seidelberg Winery, I thought highly of South African wines. After my visit there, I found so many of the wines disappointing that my once favorable opinion of South African wine has diminished."
Alli M.'s thoughts: Remember when you were younger and said you would never be like your parents? Well, it turns out our palates have other ideas as my mom and I seem to have similar tastes (dislike Pinotage, like Chenin Blanc, generally dislike South African wines). I'm really glad my mom took the opportunity to visit a vineyard so that she could report back. Like my mom, my experience with South African wines has not been great. I do not foresee visiting their wine region in the near future so it's nice to have a proxy to my work for me! Plus, I love hearing about other regions and learning about a new winery.
Until the next sniff, sip or quaff (by me or a "contributing writer"),
Alli M.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Eataly, Take I: Maybe next time I'll actually be able to eat there

Though this is the second column in a row that is not about wine, food and foodie type of things are very much related to my love of wine. To that end, I feel compelled to share my initial thoughts on Eataly, the 2 month old Italian market/eatery/wine store/gelateria/fish monger/butcher shop/chocolate counter/cafe and pizzeria in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York. It was founded by "culinary bigwigs" Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich, Lidia Matticchio Bastianich along with the founder of Eataly in Turin, Italy, Oscar Farinetti.

Yesterday my friend, Pam, and I stopped by hoping to get a light bite and perhaps a nice glass of wine. Due to New York law, the wine store is next to, but not inside the market. Since I can't walk past a wine store without going in, we decided to stop in the store first. It was a bit smaller than I expected, but it featured a wide variety of wines at a variety of good price points.

We then ventured inside and like most new "it" places in New york, it was an absolute zoo. It took us all of 2 minutes to realize we wouldn't be getting a snack at Eataly, but we still wanted to walk around and check it out. Braving the crowds and the maze-like configuration, we wandered around for about 20 minutes. At the coffee counter, I had to stop and grab an espresso because it not only smelled wonderful, but the espresso machine just looked cool. It was big, shiny and silver with a Willy Wonka-esque look and a few different spouts that doled out thick streams of rich, nutty, espresso. While I sipped my coffee, Pam turned to look at the chocolate counter where she was excited to find Venchi, a high end chocolate brand that is a favorite of hers.

After the brief coffee break, we continued our tour. I loved seeing all of the European treats and the beautiful packaging. Unfortunately it was just too packed so we found our way back to the front door and made our way out.

I sincerely hope to get back to enjoy a glass of wine and perhaps some salumi and/or cheese. Once I do, you know I'll be reporting on it in full.

Until then, or until the next sniff, sip or quaff,


Alli M.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


I need to come clean. I don't drink every day. In fact, I don't drink a lot of days and for the past three weeks I have barely had any wine. Moreover, the products that finally brought me back to the blog aren't even wines (o.k., one is made from grapes but is generally not considered a wine)

Yesterday I attended Expo East, a Natural and Organic products trade show. While walking the show floor, a few spirited gentlemen at an Organic Tequila booth encouraged me to try their product.

My response, "It's 10:30am."

Theirs, "C'mon. It's Organic and you're gonna love it."

Me again,"Uh. No I really shouldn't."

Theirs, "Just try it."

Me, "Sure. Why not."

Clearly I didn't learn my lesson from ABC's after-school specials. I'm glad I didn't because that was the smoothest, cleanest tequila I'd ever tried. Unfortunately I was focusing on Natural and Organics food trends so I didn't write down the name. I don't drink or seek out a lot of tequila but hopefully I'll get the chance to try this brand again. After that, I stuck to the gluten free products and coconut water that dominated the show. And yes, there are too many brands of coconut water.

So, it shouldn't surprise you that the first thing I did after getting home today was to stop by my local wine store, Amanti Vino, for their weekly tasting. I enjoyed the line-up, as I always do, but the highlight was when the proprietor, Sharon, took me aside to try some Pisco she'd recently picked up in Chile. Pisco, a brandy made from the muscat grape, is considered the national bdrink of both Chile and Peru. I'd heard of it, but I'd never tried it before. Mistral, the brand that Sharon shared with me, is not available locally, though Sharon is now working on bringing it into her store -- and with good reason. I tend not to like brandy, but this was absolutely lovely with a deep golden color and notes of apricot and peach. It just slid down the back of my throat.

Next Saturday I'll be attending an Oktoberfest celebration featuring some excellent German and Austrian wines and beers and I expect to have a lot to write. Perhaps I'll even have somethine else between now and then - even if it's a shot of organic tequila.

Until the next sniff, sip or quaff,


Alli M.