I ’ve often thought of great winemakers as artists. These are people for whom the soil and grapes make up the artists’ palette, and the art itself is created first in casks and fermentation tanks, until ultimately dispensed in bottles.
But Sara Henry has a slightly different perspective on wine and art. As the owner of Park City’s new The Art of Wine store, she is surrounded by art and other treasures, all devoted to the enhancement and enjoyment of wine.
Originally from La Jolla, Calif., Henry is an attorney practicing estate planning and probate law. But her love for the law is matched by a longstanding love of wine. Henry says she’s been surrounded by wine and wine lovers from an early age. Her grandparents owned a wine cellar, and for her father’s 50th birthday, the family embarked on a trip to the wine country of Napa, in California.
Her love of wine and thirst for wine knowledge eventually took her as far away as New Zealand. Henry says that if she had it all to do over again—despite her success as an attorney—she’d enroll in the wine program at U.C.-Davis and study enology. That being a long, time-consuming path to embark upon, Henry decided that selling wine wares would allow her love of wine to flourish, without having to learn the lifelong art of winemaking.
After attending wine-tasting classes conducted by local wine expert Sheral Showe, Henry had the notion to open a store solely dedicated to wine lovers—hence, Park City’s The Art of Wine. Expanding some from her original vision, The Art of Wine carries not only gifts and gadgets for wine aficionados, but also fine cigars and cigar accessories.
The Art of Wine is like Godiva for chocolate lovers, or FAO Schwartz for kids—a Fantasyland for all things related to wine. At her store, Henry features stemware from top-of-the-line producers like Riedel and Spiegelau, corkscrews ranging from a few dollars to those made by the renowned French Chateau Laguiole, wine books, wine racks and refrigeration systems, and just about every other thing you could think of that relates to wine. Prices at The Art of Wine run from a couple of bucks for some nifty plastic wine stoppers like the ones used at Park City’s Bacchus Wine Bar (see Dining) to Riedel wine decanters selling for about $500. One of the more unique wine-oriented gifts I spotted at The Art of Wine is a wine chiller golf bag, which must be the ultimate gift for any golfer who’s also a lover of wine.
As I mentioned, there’s also a good selection of cigars and cigar accessories in every price range at The Art of Wine. Henry says she didn’t know too much about cigars when she began her business, but a crash course and useful input and suggestions from knowledgeable customers has paid off. She now sells everything from cherry-, rum- and vanilla-flavored dollar cigars to Arturo Fuentes, Cohibas (Dominican), Ashtons and Macanudos, which can cost over $20. At the top of my wish list for next Christmas is a combination cigar humidor and wine cabinet. Only 50 shopping weeks left before next Christmas!
Sheral Showe now teaches wine classes on Friday evenings at The Art of Wine, which is located at 1400 Snow Creek Dr. (near Dan’s) in Park City. Phone 435-655-WINE for information and class schedules.
SIPS: Here’s a good bang-for-the-buck. The 2002 Delas Ctes-du-Ventoux ($8.95) is a Grenache-based red wine from ProvenÃ§e with soft tannins, raspberry flavors and black pepper spice that would make it a nice wine to pair with steak au poivre. Food Wine & Cigar Art 1CD27957-2BF4-55D0-F1F454812ED9D2D6 2007-06-11 16:06:02.0 1 1 0 2005-01-06 00:00:00.0 22 0
New Year’s Eve a couple of weeks ago was made even more festive than usual thanks to the presence of a couple of friends: one old and one new. The old friend was a bottle of Pol Roger Brut RosÃ© 1995—Champagne I’ve loved in the past but hadn’t tasted in a while. The new friend helped make that wonderful Pol Roger Champagne really shine: new stemware from Riedel that, in my opinion, is the ultimate for Champagne.
There’s a business card that’s been in my office desk drawer for a few years. It’s from a restaurant in Reims, France, called Au Petit Comptoir, where I had dinner with the Champagne producer Bruno Paillard. On the back of the business card is an ink drawing of a Champagne glass. Bruno and I were discussing the optimal shape for a Champagne flute, and he drew a picture of the glass he’d like to see his Champagne sipped from. Unfortunately, until very recently, that glass didn’t exist. Thanks to Riedel, it now does.
I’ve sung the praises of Riedel glassware in these pages before. I went from being a serious skeptic about Riedel glasses to an enthusiastic advocate. I won’t go into all the detail again about what makes Riedel wine and spirits glasses so worth the dough you have to spend on them. Basically, it has to do with the volume of the glasses, their shape, and most importantly, how Riedel glassware directs wine (or whatever you’re drinking) onto the areas of the tongue to best reveal a wine’s sweetness, fruit, tannins, acidity and so on.
Riedel offers a few different lines of stemware, from its machine-made, non-lead Overture glasses which run about $10 each to the top-of-the-line lead crystal, handmade, mouth-blown Sommeliers series, where a Grand Cru Bordeaux glass will cost you nearly $100. At my place, I serve wine in Riedel’s Vinum glasses, most of which retail for $20-$25. Bed, Bath & Beyond carries the Vinum series now at good prices, but you’ll have to go to a specialty store like Park City’s The Art of Wine to find Sommeliers glassware.
Well, as much as I love the Vinum and Sommeliers glasses from Riedel, I’ve never felt that their Champagne glasses were quite what I and Bruno Paillard were looking for—until now, that is. Riedel has recently released a new line of stemware called Vinum Extreme. According to Riedel, the “steady improvement in wine quality, to more dense, more concentrated and more perfect wines” requires the development of new shapes of glasses—hence, the machine-made Vinum Extreme series which, generally speaking, are more voluminous than regular Vinum glasses and have a bold new shape. Whereas the Vinum and Sommeliers glasses are rounded in the middle, the Vinum Extreme glasses are much more angular, forming an almost rounded diamond shape from the top of the stem to the lip. They are very attractive and modern looking glasses, with a unique and radical form to follow their function, thus the moniker “Extreme.”
As I say, the Vinum Extreme Champagne glass is the most perfectly designed Champagne glass I’ve ever sipped from. I despise thin little flutes that fizz over when you pour more than an ounce of bubbly into them. The puny volume means having to continually refill the glass and therefore open and close the Champagne bottle, letting those valuable bubbles to escape each time.
There’s no such problem with the Riedel Vinum Extreme Champagne glass, which holds a whopping 11.5 ounces (not that you’d ever fill it that full). Best of all, the “extreme” shape of the glass allows for a wonderful bouquet while the small opening at the lip is designed to keep those bubbles intact. I’ve never quite tasted the soft strawberry and yeasty flavors of Pol Roger Brut RosÃ© like I did on New Year’s Eve drinking out of my new Riedel Vinum Extreme Champagne glasses. Hello, new friend! Food Extreme Stems 1CD279E4-2BF4-55D0-F1FD7C0E0FB7AE6C 2007-06-11 16:06:02.0 1 1 0 2005-01-13 00:00:00.0 0 0
If the issue of City Weekly you hold in your hands seems especially soggy, it’s because I’ve been copiously drooling between bouts of quiet weeping as I write this week’s column. You see, thanks to the ferocity of blowing snow and ice outside, I can’t even see the street I live on. And yet I’m perusing two beautiful wine books lavish with photographs of winery gardens, spectacular vineyards, eye-popping architecture and wine country vistas. It’s enough to bring tears to my eyes on this frosty day and to make me drool for the warmth and serenity of California wine country.
I received in the mail this week a pair of lovely books from Berkeley’s Ten Speed Press that would make a terrific addition (Valentine’s Day is creeping up) to any wine lover’s library. The books are titled Beautiful Wineries of the Wine Country and Beautiful Gardens of the Wine Country. For those living in tight spaces, these are ideal coffee-table books, small in size (measuring 6-1/2 inches by 6-1/2 inches) but weighty with photographs taken in and around the wineries of Northern California.
You won’t learn anything about wine from Beautiful Wineries and Beautiful Gardens—except perhaps that you suddenly have a desire to purchase a Northern California winery and live there. Or at least, that you’d like to visit one. These aren’t wine-education books, but rather eye candy for wine aficionados. They’re full-color visual tours of some of California’s most distinctive wineries and the beautiful gardens and landscapes that set them apart from say, the Budweiser plant across town.
The photography in Beautiful Wineries of the Wine Country were captured by Charles O’Rear, a world-renowned photographer for National Geographic. Along with brief textual descriptions from Thom Elkjer, Beautiful Wineries captures the distinctive architectural and design styles of more than 75 wineries from Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino. They range from European-influenced building styles like the wineries of Napa’s Domaine Carneros and Chateau Souverain to boldly modern California designs like Clos Pegase and the geometrical limestone entrance of the tasting room at Artesa Vineyards and Winery.
As Thom Elkjer writes, “Wine transcends geography, and so does modern winery architecture.” Like the wines produced at the unique California wineries depicted in Beautiful Wineries of the Wine Country, the wineries themselves are often works of art and breathtakingly captured here by photographer Charles O’Rear.
While Beautiful Wineries is aimed at the architecture and building design of wineries themselves, in Beautiful Gardens of the Wine Country photographer Robert Holmes (text by Mimi Luebbermann) focuses his lens on the surrounding gardens, ponds, fountains and sculptures that envelop some of Northern California’s stunning wineries. I am drawn to Asian-inspired gardens with pagodas, bridges and water sculptures at wineries like Chateau Montelena, and especially the serene Japanese-styled Zen-infused gardens at Freestone Vinery in Sonoma County.
In contrast to the aforementioned Asian gardens are the meticulously manicured lawns and flower beds of places like Sutter Home Winery, Beringer Vineyards and Ferrari-Carano, with its thick “French carpet” style of planting designed to emulate Persian carpets.
From the large, geometrically intricate formal gardens of St. Helena’s Newton Vineyards to the ivy-covered Chateau at Jordan Vineyard and Winery, Beautiful Wineries of the Wine Country and Beautiful Gardens of the Wine Country transport readers to the lush and lovely landscapes of Northern California’s most stunning wineries. With a glass of fine wine alongside, these two enchanting books can transport wine lovers into a beautiful dreamscape. Food Beautiful Dreamers 1CD27A51-2BF4-55D0-F1F60D203EF6CF1F 2007-06-11 16:06:02.0 1 1 0 2005-01-20 00:00:00.0 0 0
I write frequently in this column with tips about how to pair wine with food. But as food trends evolve—and in some cases expire—the targets of wine pairings continually change. For example, where we once felt fairly confident with our wine-food knowledge of Continental cooking, we now find ourselves staring in the face of Asian, Latin American and North African cuisines, trying to find wine matches for ingredients like lemongrass, guajillo chiles and chick peas.
So it is with soup. There was a time when sommeliers didn’t need to know much more than what to serve with French onion soup, consommÃ©, and perhaps the odd bowl of asparagus or potato-leek soup. If someone was bold enough to order minestrone, you’d just toss a bottle of Chianti at them. But today’s bold and vibrant soup flavors require rethinking—and also remembering some basic wine-food-pairing principles.
Pairing wine with soup is a challenge, because in essence we’re pairing a liquid with a liquid. But not all liquids are created equally, so when matching wine with soup one of the most important considerations is the “weight” of the soup. To use a wine term, you could also call this the soup’s “body.” Is it a light, clear consommÃ© or a thick, muddy puree? Which wine you choose can be influenced by the weight and texture of the soup.
Heavily textured, “weighty” soups like split pea soup, bean soups, potato soup and the like are reasonably straightforward. They tend to be creamy and often slightly sweet, which is also the case with many squash or carrot soups and bisques. Looking to match their smooth texture, you might opt for an oaky Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay.
A trickier soup type to match with wine is brothy soups containing solid ingredients: meat, pasta, seafood, etc. In these cases, it’s smart to focus less on the broth and more on the soup’s filling ingredients. I recently made crab and goat cheese-stuffed ravioli that I served in a delicate lobster broth. The broth was fairly neutral, so I chose a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to compliment the crab and goat cheese. A heartier soup like minestrone might lead you into red wine territory.
Along with a soup’s key ingredients, it’s also important—as it is with appetizers and entrees—to pay attention to key flavors that might come in the form of spices, herbs or even garnishes. These are elements that can be critical in choosing a wine to drink with a particular soup. A dollop of crÃ¨me fraiche in a pureed squash or carrot soup adds a dimension of fat on the palate that requires being reckoned with in wine terms. Ditto for the smoky flavors julienned bacon, pancetta or prosciutto might lend to soup. Crisp, crumbled pancetta atop a white bean soup moves it from neutral ground to something with a much bolder flavor component to deal with. The same goes for chile-flavored tortilla strips, dumplings, seafood nuggets, fried “shoestring” shallots or leeks, or countless other small but significant additions to soups, bisques and consommÃ©s.
I rarely run into consommÃ© in restaurants anymore, but when I do I tend to rely on tradition: Fortified, slightly sweet wines like Madeira, Port, or Sherry are classic accompaniments to consommÃ©. The idea here is that these wines contrast with the consommÃ© since there aren’t any standout flavors or ingredients for most wines to get a foothold with.
I think the soup course is a good place to experiment with wine pairings. Even if only to learn what not to do, it’s interesting to try a sip of the wine you’ve planned for your entrÃ©e along with your soup course, if only to realize that the vintage Bordeaux you brought isn’t quite going to cut it with the chef’s signature seafood gumbo. Food Sips for Soups 1CD27ABF-2BF4-55D0-F1F6ABCB789C48D2 2007-06-11 16:06:02.0 1 1 0 2005-02-03 00:00:00.0 2 0
In the past couple of years, I’ve seen the wine programs at Salt Lake City’s Gastronomy Inc. dining establishments (Baci Trattoria, CafÃ© Pierpont, The New Yorker and Market Street restaurants) go from almost appalling to awfully appealing. The change has been swift and remarkable, and due largely to one person: Wendy Caron.
Wendy is a wine enthusiast who recently completed the first level of the prestigious Master Sommelier title. She was hired by Gastronomy as its wine director two years ago and quickly took charge of revamping wine lists, training wine servers, creating and hosting wine dinners and bringing high-flying prices down to earth. I’ve never before witnessed such a bold transformation of a wine program as the recent one at Gastronomy. At a time when so many restaurants seem to be stuck in ruts of their own making, the new approach to wine taken by the folks at Gastronomy is gutsy and great for their customers.
I recall a few years ago dining at CafÃ© Pierpont with a couple of foodie friends. We ordered a bottle of Riesling from the puny Pierpont wine list, and then had to teach our server how to open it. I was embarrassed for her and for the restaurant. Those days are gone thanks for Wendy Caron and Gastronomy’s innovative new wine program.
As mentioned, it’s a multipronged attack on wine idiocy which includes lower pricing and much-needed wine training for servers. In addition, Gastronomy restaurants now host numerous wine events and the selection of wine by both the glass and bottle has improved tremendously. Gastronomy’s wine lists are well-conceived with depth, breadth and—I can’t emphasize this too strongly—fair pricing. The wine selection at Baci, for example, has gone from being the most overpriced I can think of to being one of the most economical in town.
The emphasis on wine at Baci in particular has resulted in the creation of Baci’s Wine Bar, where customers can sample a wide range of Italian and New World wines by the glass. Gastronomy has also introduced wine flights at most of their restaurants. At the Baci Wine Bar, I recently sampled a flight of three different types of Tuscan Sangiovese for less than $10. And every Wednesday the Wine Bar at Baci hosts “Wine Wednesdays” beginning at 5 p.m. Each Wednesday, Baci serves a selected wine at the bar sold to customers at cost. There is no mark-up on these wines. The wines range on a week-to-week basis from interesting inexpensive domestic wines to specially ordered hard-to-find selections from prized wineries around the world. It’s a terrific opportunity to sample a wine that you might not otherwise consider, at a price so low there’s no financial risk involved—not to mention it’s also a great opportunity to meet like-minded wine enthusiasts.
A year or so ago, Caron also began hosting wine dinners at the various Gastronomy restaurants around town. Most take place at Baci Trattoria or Market Street Grill Cottonwood, with occasional dinners also held at The New Yorker. These wine dinners are great deals, typically running from $40 (Baci) to $60 (Market Street Grill), including a multicourse dinner with wine pairings. Thanks to Wendy’s willingness to share her wine knowledge and her down-to-earth, outgoing style, Gastronomy’s wine dinners are great fun for wine experts and rookies alike.
Upcoming Gastronomy wine events include “Cal-Italian Wines” at Baci on Feb. 23, featuring Italian-type varietals from California, and on Feb. 9 at Market Street Grill, “Valentine’s Wines” will give customers a taste of “wines to warm your heart for the season of romance.” Reservations and tickets can be purchased at the restaurants or at www.gastronomyinc.com. Food The Price Is Right 1CD27C36-2BF4-55D0-F1F138D890B9EB7B 2007-06-11 16:06:02.0 1 1 0 2005-01-27 00:00:00.0 0 0
There is every good reason that lovers of wine and food tend to drink certain wines with certain cuisines. It might seem obvious, but drinking Italian wine with Italian food and French wine with French food just makes sense.
It’s not that I care about breaking sacred wine-pairing rules, or that an Australian wine won’t work with French cassoulet, but regional dishes and wines share certain affinities that are silly to ignore. In certain areas of the world, food and wine are so intertwined that one wouldn’t think of ordering anything but what is produced locally. You won’t find a French person in ProvenÃ§e ordering Bordeaux to accompany their tuna tapenade, for example. Similarly, it makes sense to drink Pinot Noir from America’s Northwest in tandem with rich wild mushroom or salmon dishes from the same region. Local wines and regional cuisines are never far apart.
It’s for that reason that I’d certainly lean toward Austrian and German wines when dining at a restaurant like Vienna Bistro (see Dining), which specializes in Austrian and German fare. It’s not that you can’t enjoy an Italian Pinot Grigio, as I did recently at Vienna Bistro, with a rich, creamy dish like Rahmschnitzel--pork in mushroom cream sauce. Luckily, Pinot Grigio is pretty versatile. But I’d still have much preferred a German white wine with my Rahmschnitzel or perhaps an Austrian GrÃ¼ner Veltliner.
GrÃ¼ner Veltliner is a late-ripening Austrian grape variety that produces dry, crisp, bright-tasting wines of light to medium body. They tend to be greenish yellow in color with ripe flavors of apple, apricot, peach, lime and a hint of white pepper. Like German Riesling, GrÃ¼ner Veltliner is a flexible wine that has an affinity for many types of food. In fact, with the exception of hearty roasts or stews and grilled meats, it’s hard to find foods that GrÃ¼ner Veltliner doesn’t like. It’s a crisp, acidic wine with a hint of minerals, and yet a flowery element that I usually associate with Viogner. And importantly, GrÃ¼ner Veltliner is a wine that works well with veggies, which is not something many wines do.
For that reason, I think GrÃ¼ner Veltliner would be an especially good choice at a place like Vienna Bistro, where Chef Frody Volgger likes to pair his entrees with side dishes like braised red (slightly sweet) cabbage, sauerkraut (both sweet and tart) and tangy German potato salad. I also think a glass of crisp, bright-tasting GrÃ¼ner Veltliner would be a terrific wine choice for a fried, somewhat salty, but otherwise mostly neutral-flavored dish like Wiener schnitzel.
Sips: The talented and good-looking mixologists (aka bartenders) at Bambara are getting into the spirit of Oscar Night a bit more deeply than usual this year. For each Best Picture nominee at the Academy Awards, Bambara’s barmen and women have created a Bambara Best Picture Martini. So for example, order a Million Dollar Baby at Bambara’s bar and you’ll get a concoction of Bombay Sapphire Gin, sweet Vermouth, pineapple and triple sec. A Sideways martini is made of Absolut Kurrant, sweet and sour, Rose’s lime juice and white Zinfandel. There are also Ray, Finding Neverland, and Aviator cocktails to choose from. To add to the Oscar fun, Bambara’s bartenders-cum-pollsters are tracking the number of each Best Picture Martini sold in a scientific experiment to forecast the Oscar winner. It looks like a close fight this year. We thought these fine films should slug it out in the bar first, says Bambara barman Ethan Moore. Best Picture Martinis at Bambara will be available through Oscar Night on Sunday, Feb. 27. Food Locals Only 1CD27CA3-2BF4-55D0-F1FD8CB7E2415C12 2007-06-11 16:06:02.0 1 1 0 2005-02-17 00:00:00.0 0 0
This week—after I received what I think was the 100th suggestion to do so—I finally watched the movie Sideways. For the past few months, every wine geek I’ve talked to has initiated our conversation with the same question. “So, have you seen Sideways yet?” Now I have.
By writing about Sideways I’m not angling for the jobs of City Weekly’s Scott Renshaw or Greg Beacham. I have no desire to become a film critic. For one thing, they have to sit through all those crappy films. At least if I taste a bottle of crappy wine, I don’t have to drink the whole damn thing. More important, film criticism is hard work. Movie critics have to relate opinions and storylines without giving the movie away. That’s not easy. So I’ll stick to food and wine writing ... except for this week
If you don’t know by now, Sideways is a Best Picture Academy Award nominee—a long shot for an Oscar on Sunday night. It’s a story about longtime friends Miles (Paul Giamatti) and Jack (Thomas Haden Church) who spend a “boys” week in Santa Barbara’s wine country on the eve of impending doom: Jack’s marriage. As the two march their way through Santa Rosa, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez, Buellton and Solvang, it emerges that Miles is primarily looking to taste great wines with an old college roommate while Jack is less interested in the wine than the pretty women who often pour it.
But Miles and Jack are also two archetypical wine types. And I found myself throughout the movie trying to determine with which one I identified more. I’m certainly capable of the type of wine snobbery that Paul Giamatti’s character Miles exhibits throughout Sideways. There are certain rules and techniques to which I try to adhere when tasting wine. I do swirl the glass to oxygenate the wine before sipping; I do stick my schnozz down deep into the wineglass to savor the wine’s “nose;” I do “chew” the wine in my mouth before spitting or swallowing. But I’m more like Thomas Haden Church’s Sideways character Jack insofar as I believe wine is to be enjoyed, not studied. I swallow and rarely spit. And as Jack says about virtually every wine he encounters during the foray through Santa Barbara’s wine country, “Tastes pretty good to me!”
If you know the Santa Barbara area, you’ll recognize familiar locations along Jack and Mile’s wine path. They stop off early in the film at Sanford Winery in Buellton, and that’s an actual Sanford tasting-room employee (the hippie-type guy with the cowboy hat, whose real name is Chris Burroughs) pouring them a glass of Sanford Vin Gris. Miles (the wine snob) smells “citrus, strawberry, the faintest soupÃ§on of asparagus and just a flutter of a nutty Edam cheese” in the Vin Gris. Later, at the Hitching Post in Buellton near the Days Inn where Miles and Jack are staying, Miles proclaims a glass of Syrah “quaffable but not transcendent.” “Tastes pretty good to me!” says Jack, who ultimately finds lusting after a Kalyra Winery tasting-room pourer named Stephanie (Sandra Oh) much more intriguing than wine talk of tannins, acidity and vintages with Miles.
And ultimately, it was Stephanie in Sideways whom I warmed to and identified with most. Stephanie seems to have a lust for life and a lust for wine, whereas Miles mostly lusts just for wine and Jack simply lusts. For wine lovers of all types, Sideways is a movie to lust after, maybe even savor … like fine wine. As for me, I plan to watch the Oscars on Sunday with a nice bottle of wine at my side—even if it’s not a 1961 Cheval Blanc. Food Sideways Lust 1CD27D2F-2BF4-55D0-F1F3AA2C604ACC44 2007-06-11 16:06:03.0 1 1 0 2005-02-24 00:00:00.0 0 0
I know the whole pink-and-red Valentine’s Day thing is overdone. I get it; it’s a clichÃ©. Nevertheless, like a good pun or a silly little love song, a clichÃ© in the right hands can be fun. And since being in the right hands is what Valentine’s Day is really all about, I choose to drink pink on Valentine’s Day. It gives me an excuse to indulge in the pink Champagne, pink spritzers and pink cocktails I enjoy. After all, you’re probably not going to order a Pink Lady at Port O’ Call on Super Bowl Sunday, correct? On Valentine’s Day, you can proudly drink pink!
One of the most elegant pink cocktails I’ve ever come across is one I was introduced to at Boyer Les Crayeres in Reims, France. I’m not sure what it’s called, but I’m sure it’s as delectable as it is gorgeous. Essentially, this is a raspberry-infused Champagne cocktail, a spectacular aperitif. Here’s how you make it: Coat a Champagne glass (by tilting the glass) with half a teaspoon Kirsch and half a teaspoon Framboise. Add 4-5 ounces extra-dry sparkling wine or Champagne and top with a fresh raspberry or two. It’s guaranteed to get your Valentine’s Day off to a good start.
While we’re on the subject of bubbly, I never let a Valentine’s Day go by without enjoying a bottle of RosÃ© sparkling wine. The subtle pink hue of RosÃ© Champagne adds a romantic tint to any Valentine’s Day love-fest. Here you can let your bank account govern your pink bubbly purchase. Sure, you can bowl your honey over with a $568 magnum of Roederer Cristal RosÃ© 1995, or a bottle of Dom Perignon RosÃ© 1995 for a mere $254. But there’s also absolutely nothing wrong with a light, effervescent glass of pink bubbly from Spain like Cristalino RosÃ©, priced at $6.95. Probably my favorite midrange Champagne RosÃ©s are Paul Roger Brut RosÃ© 1995 for $67 and Roederer L’Ermitage RosÃ© 1999 ($66). You can even get into a French pink sparkler for as little as $14.80 with Bouvet Brut RosÃ©. Domestically, my favorite pink bubbly is Gloria Ferrer’s Blanc de Noir, which is a beautiful, balanced, bundle of flavor for only $17.95. And for the Whoopi fan in your life, perhaps a bottle of Korbel Brut RosÃ© Whoopi Goldberg ($15.35) would be the perfect Valentine’s Day gift. Finally, you can’t go wrong with a glass or two of the slightly sweet and gorgeous-in-the-glass Rosa Regale Brachetto d’Acqui from Italy ($23). This sensuous sparkler with aromatic hints of raspberries and rose petals is a knockout with Valentine’s Day chocolates or strawberries and whipped cream.
Before I leave the topic of roses, here’s an idea to prove your passion to your sweetie: The Pink Passion martini. In a martini glass, shake together 3 ounces of Asti Spumante or other sweet sparkling wine, an equal amount (3 ounces) of pink lemonade, and a splash of sweet and sour. Garnish your honey’s Pink Passion martini with a fresh raspberry or better yet, an edible rose petal. Va-va-va-voom!
A cool Valentine’s Day “mocktail” for kids and non-drinkers is what I’ve dubbed the Sparkling Sweetheart: In a blender, puree 1 cup cold sparkling water (like Perrier), half a cup chilled pomegranate juice and 1 banana. Serve in a tall, chilled cocktail or Champagne glass and garnish with a few pomegranate seeds.
Okay, for all you gin lovers here is the recipe for a classic Pink Lady cocktail, circa 1940: Pour 1-1/2 ounces of your favorite gin (I’m partial to the fresh citrus flavors of Tanqueray No. 10 these days), 1 teaspoon grenadine, 1 egg white and 1 teaspoon sweet cream over cracked ice. Shake well, strain into a chilled martini glass and serve … with a kiss. Food Drink Pink 1CD27FEE-2BF4-55D0-F1FBC401CA286EC5 2007-06-11 16:06:03.0 1 1 0 2005-02-10 00:00:00.0 0 0
With St. Patrick’s Day fast approaching, I thought I’d devote this week’s space to Irish drink. Guinness stout is great anytime, but it’s almost mandatory on St. Patrick’s Day. There is a saying in Ireland that you don’t “go into a pub for a Guinness.” You always have two! And that’s especially true on St. Patrick’s Day (although we must remind ourselves to drink responsibly).
Thankfully, Guinness tastes stronger than it really is. Guinness Draught is about 3.4 percent alcohol, and the bottles and cans of Guinness Draught sold in supermarkets are even lower. So you’ll probably get full on Guinness before you get tipsy. With its distinctive creamy head, lovely malt and caramel flavors, and a dry, roasted, slightly bitter finish, Guinness is the perfect beverage to drink alongside St. Paddy’s Day staples like Irish stew or corned beef and cabbage. However, the Irish actually drink much more black tea than they do Guinness. Tea is a staple at every meal in Ireland.
But along with tea and Guinness, whiskey is also quite popular in Ireland. My favorite Irish whiskey isn’t fancy: Jameson’s. But I love it in a rocks glass with one lonely rock—a single ice cube—floating in that luscious amber malt. A bottle of Jameson’s runs about $24 and Jameson’s 1780 Irish Whiskey costs $32. For a high-end splurge, you can also find Midleton Very Rare Irish Whisky in Utah, but it’ll set you back about $138. You’ll find that Irish whiskey compares quite favorably to Scotch whiskey. That’s probably no coincidence since historians speculate that the Irish introduced the process of whiskey distillation to Scotland during the Irish campaign to Christianize the Scots.
Irish Coffee made with Jameson’s is a classic drink on St. Patrick’s Day or anytime. Irish Coffee should be served in a warm mug; I like to heat mine up in the microwave before using it. Here’s a good Irish Coffee recipe from barman Dara Cruise of the Four Seasons Hotel in Dublin: Pour hot coffee into a mug until it’s about three-quarters full. Add 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Blend in 1-1/2 ounces of Irish whiskey and top with whipped cream. Serve piping hot. For authentic imported Irish coffee mugs—Belleek China, Galway crystal and Tyrone crystal—check out www.Irish-Coffee-Mugs.com.
Making a Black and Tan is more a matter of technique than ingredients, which are about as simple as they come: Irish stout and lager beer. First, fill a pint glass one-half full with lager beer. Then, using the back of a spoon and pouring very slowly, fill the rest of the pint glass with Irish stout, carefully layering it on top of the lager. Don’t fret if the stout doesn’t layer properly; just drink it up and try again! A good source for authentic pint glasses, including Guinness and Harp signature glasses, is The Pub Shoppe (888-3-THE-PUB) or online at www.thepubshoppe.com.
Another fancy sounding Irish stout drink that is remarkably easy to execute is the Black Velvet. A Black Velvet is nothing more than a Champagne glass half filled with chilled Champagne and half filled with Guinness Irish stout. Try this after your corned beef and cabbage with a chocolate Irish scone.
Finally, here’s a yummy drink to try on St. Patrick’s Day … or perhaps the day after. To make a Morning with the Leprechauns pour the following into a glass nearly filled with crushed ice: 1-1/2 ounces Bailey’s Irish Cream, 1 ounce Irish whiskey, 3 ounces cold, strong coffee and 1 tablespoon cherry brandy. Stir well and drink cold. Food A Sip of Ireland 1CD2804C-2BF4-55D0-F1F617ADF7903048 2007-06-11 16:06:03.0 1 1 0 2005-03-10 00:00:00.0 15 0
After a wonderful dinner last week at Salt Lake City’s CaffÃ© Molise, I was introduced to an equally wonderful after-dinner drink—an Italian grappa called Jacopo Poli Stagione de Lamponi. Now wait. Before you turn the page, please understand that I drink grappa about as often as I drink jet fuel. And like many people who first encounter grappa, I can’t always distinguish between the two. So bear with me a bit longer.
Almost every article I’ve ever read about grappa begins with more or less the same sentiment. It goes something like, “For most people, their first taste of grappa is also their last.” For me, my first five or six tastes of grappa were, I thought, my last. But someone in some highfalutin Italian eatery would always convince me that this time it would be different. “You just have never tasted good grappa,” I was always told. Right.
But the other night, I remembered that I’d once had the same prejudice toward tequila. Not until I was introduced to well-made, smooth and silky sipping tequila did I come to understand that not all tequila has to be forced down the gullet with salt and lime. Well, the same goes for grappa. Much of it does taste like firewater. But it’s worth searching out those that don’t. You might even come to like the stuff.
Originally a cheap, high-alcohol peasant drink in Italy (somewhat akin to France’s marc), grappa is technically brandy. It’s distilled and made from pomace solids left after a wine’s fermentation. And so, in the past, every winemaking region and village in Italy also made grappa, which often was not much more than Roman moonshine. But in more recent years—the past couple of decades especially—grappa-making has become an art form in Italy. And you can now find bottles of grappa that will knock you off your feet—not because they are so harsh, but because they are so heavenly.
Grappa comes in many styles and flavors, and I recommend starting off with fruit-flavored grappa if you’re new to the stuff. An especially delicious and refined grappa is the one I enjoyed at CaffÃ¨ Molise, the raspberry-flavored Jacopo Poli Stagione di Lamponi. Like really good tequila or really good scotch, really good grappa doesn’t come cheap. A bottle of grappa from Jacopo Poli will run you about $72 for a 375ml bottle. But a little grappa goes a long way, and it won’t go bad on the shelf. Remember—it’s not something to shoot, but something to sip.
Most high-end grappa, like the grappas made by Jacopo Poli, are sold in chic and stylish hand-blown bottles that look like they’d be right at home in the Museum of Modern Art. The bottles are usually made of clear glass, the better to see the subtle difference in shades of grappa, which run from crystal clear to deep amber-colored. But don’t let those pretty bottles fool you. There’s still a lot of mediocre grappa sold in very beautiful bottles. So if you’re going to spend money on grappa, it pays to look for artisan brands like Romano Levi, Nonino, and Poli.
The raspberry-flavored Jacopo Poli Stagione di Lamponi I so much enjoyed is a beautifully balanced grappa. Like all grappa, it’s high in alcohol (about 40 percent), yet it’s very delicate and smooth. Pure raspberry aromas mingle with alcohol on the nose but it’s those “essence of raspberry” flavors that win out on the tongue. In fact, Jacopo Poli Stagione di Lamponi is so appealing that I have to remind myself when sipping it that I’m playing with high-octane stuff and not be tempted to drink a tumbler of it over ice. Food Grappling With Grappa 1CD28108-2BF4-55D0-F1F9FD5592E1E5C8 2007-06-11 16:06:04.0 1 1 0 2005-03-03 00:00:00.0 0 0
With the opening of Red Rock Junction (see Dining) the brew pub count in the Salt Lake Valley and Park City is now up to eight by my count. Due to space considerations here I can’t remark on out-of-town breweries like Moab Brewery and Eddie McStiff’s (Moab), Roosters, Naisbatt, and Mount Olympus Brewing (Ogden), Tracks in Tooele or Groggs in Carbonville (although I recently received rave reviews via email about Groggs). But with spring now on the horizon my taste buds turn toward beer and the best of it comes from our local microbreweries and brew pubs. So here’s a short suds survey of Zion.
Bohemian Brewery & Grill (94 E. 7200 South, Midvale, 566-5474): Adorned with vintage Vespas, this attractive and unique (check out the interesting art exhibits) brew pub serves authentic European fare including a terrific Wiener schnitzel. Best brew: In my opinion, the light and crisp Bohemian Czech Pilsener is the best pils in the state.
Desert Edge Brewery (273 Trolley Square, 521-8917): Best brew: Try brewer Chris Haas’ award-winning Latter Day Stout (great name, if nothing else). Lots of dark chocolate flavors with hints of coffee and a creamy but slightly thin head.
Hoppers Seafood & Grill (890 E. Fort Union Blvd., Midvale, 566-0424): Best brew: I’m a fan of brewmaster Tim Barr’s aptly named Barr’s Bitter, a Bronze Medal winner at the 2003 North American Beer Awards. It’s a slam-dunk along with Hoppers’ excellent fish and chips. Although, how could you possibly pass up a beer called Bob Barleys Dreadlock Draft?
Park City Brewing Co. (838 Park Ave., Park City, 435-649-4323): Since being purchased by Moab Brewery P.C. Brewing Co. beers are now made in Moab. Best brew: The California-style Park City Steamer is your best bet by far.
Red Rock (254 S. 200 West, 521-7446; and 1640 W. Redstone, Park City, 435-575-0295): Red Rock Brewing Co. brews beer and sodas and has special appeal for families who like the option of drinking homemade root beer or cream soda along with Stout, Amber Ale, Hefe Weizen, and Pale Ale. Best brew: The light and crisp Red Rock Honey Wheat ale is especially useful for extinguishing the fire of their Cajun fried shrimp.
Squatters Pub & Brewery (147 W. Broadway, 363-7139):To me, this is the gold standard for brew pubs in Utah—thanks in large part to the craftsmanship of brewmaster Jenny Talley and of Chef Eric Bell in the kitchen. Best brew: You can’t really go wrong with anything brewed at Squatters but my “go to” beer for years has been the wonderfully fragrant, dry-hopped Full Suspension Pale Ale—a two-time Gold Medal winner at the Great American Beer Festival. But also try the excellent 6.0 percent Squatters India Pale Ale the next time you’re at a state liquor store.
Uinta Brewhouse Pub (1722 S. Fremont Dr., 467-0909): 100 percent wind-powered, Uinta Brewing Company is as dedicated to our natural environment as they are to making great beer. Best brew: Uinta’s Kings Peak Porter (really a Swartzbier) has garnered many awards but I think their best product is Uinta’s Anniversary Barley Wine. Pick one up at a state store. At the Brewhouse Pub, I like to sip a Uinta Gelande with my pastrami and Swiss on rye.
Wasatch Brewpub (250 Main, Park City, 435-645-9500): Best brew: From my first visit to Utah’s oldest microbrewery, I’ve been partial to the floral flavors of the fresh Cascade hops used in brewing Greg Schirf’s Wasatch Superior Ale. I usually drink it with the Chef’s Burrito of the Day. But also give the award-winning Wasatch First Amendment Lager a go. Food Brew Pubs of Zion 1CD28185-2BF4-55D0-F1F5090D08449135 2007-06-11 16:06:04.0 1 1 0 2005-03-17 00:00:00.0 10 0
I’ve been to a handful of pan-Asian restaurants with exceptional wine lists, Wild Ginger in Seattle and Ming Tsai’s suburban Boston Blue Ginger among them. But to be honest, I don’t have high wine expectations when I walk into most Asian restaurants. And when I visit Thai restaurants, I tend to drink beer (usually Singha), bring my own bottle of wine or stick with water and fruit drinks. With the Asian fusion cuisine craze of the past decade or more, it’s easier now than it used to be to find acceptable wine lists in Asian specialty restaurants. But I’d be bowled over to find a bottle of ChÃ¢teau Lynch-Bages Pauillac Bordeaux in a Thai restaurant.
That’s why walking into Monsoon Thai Bistro on Foothill Drive is so disorienting. Both Monsoon Thai Bistro—and its Park City sister restaurant, Bangkok Thai on Main—feature centerpiece wine cellars that are impossible to ignore. Seeing those beautiful wooden wine cellars filled with prized domestic and foreign bottles you’d think you were walking into a high-end French restaurant or American steakhouse, rather than a place that serves pad Thai. That’s not to denigrate Asian restaurants; it’s just that wine has crept slowly into Asian cuisines, and much of it is notoriously wine unfriendly.
When I asked Monsoon Thai Bistro owner Keith Chan what his wine inventory was worth, he wasn’t quite sure. “Somewhere between $70,000 and $100,000 I think,” he said. Granted, that doesn’t compare to, say, Aureole’s fabulous Vegas wine selection which is worth millions. But a hundred grand worth of wine in a Thai restaurant? Not bad.
What’s most impressive though about the wine list at Keith Chan’s Monsoon Thai Bistro isn’t so much the quantity of wine, but the quality, depth and breadth of the selection. The list ranges from new-and-old world Chardonnay, Riesling and GewÃ¼rztraminer to vertical selections of Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon, Opus One, vintage Port and unexpected prizes like a bottle of ChÃ¢teau Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac, Bordeaux 2000 (if you’ve got $800 burning a hole in your pocket).
Although it’s lengthy, the Monsoon Thai wine list is also easy to navigate thanks to excellent organization. It’s divided into sections of red and white wines by varietal and region, wines by the glass, wines by the half-bottle, and various categories of wines rated by Wine Spectator. For example, you can turn to the page titled “Wines by the Numbers” to see Monsoon Thai Bistro’s Wine Spectator-rated bottles in descending order, from the aforementioned ChÃ¢teau Lafite (rated a perfect “Classic” 100 points) to a $31.99 bottle of Gloria Ferrer Brut, Sonoma County NV, rated a mere 90 “Outstanding” points. There’s also a list of “Cellar Selections” (i.e. the expensive stuff) as well as a list of “Featured Wine Values” on the Monsoon Thai Bistro wine list. So with a breakdown like that, it’s easy to discover a wine to suit your needs at Monsoon Thai. You can buy a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc for $14.99 or bust the bank with a big Bordeaux (ChÃ¢teau Margaux 2000) for $1,000.
I’m always up for trying to pair wine with difficult foods. And Monsoon Thai Bistro is a great laboratory for that type of experiment. Half the fun of dining at Monsoon Thai Bistro is discovering wines to complement the range of cuisine and flavors found in dishes like lobster and mango spring rolls with basil and fish sauce; spicy green “gang keow wan” curry with coconut milk; or lemongrass chicken with incendiary Thai chilis. You should try it sometime.
Monsoon Thai Bistro hosts wine dinners monthly. Upcoming themes include “Sonoma Festival” on April 17, “All Sparkler Wine Dinner” on May 20, and a “Father’s Day Wine Dinner” on June 19. For more information and reservations, phone 583-5339. Food Thai Winner 1CD281E2-2BF4-55D0-F1FE3FD6BFDBC483 2007-06-11 16:06:04.0 1 1 0 2005-03-31 00:00:00.0 8 0
When Greg Neville opened LugÃ¤no Restaurant in June of 2000, he promised himself that he wouldn’t stock a wine inventory of more than $5,000. It’s not that Greg is cheap; he merely wanted to keep the scale of LugÃ¤no small, including the wine list. Well, with instant popularity of his new Italian eatery, Greg Neville’s $5,000 wine selection was all but gone in a week.
Neville breaking his self-made promise to hold the LugÃ¤no wine inventory to $5,000 is our gain. And as two consecutive years winning the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence would indicate, LugÃ¤no’s wine list has become one of the most unique and inviting in the state. LugÃ¤no introduced its 2005 wine list last week, featuring a range of award-winning wines and hard-to-come-by Italian wines, most at economical prices.
Greg Neville knows wine. And having worked in Italy—LugÃ¤no is named for Lake LugÃ¤no near the Swiss border—he especially knows Italian wine. The LugÃ¤no wine list boasts a wide-ranging selection of wines from California, Oregon, Australia, France, Spain and especially Italy. Prices run from $18 for Australian Rothbury Chardonnay to $345 for a Super Tuscan bottle of Tenuta San Guido “Sassicaia” Bolgheri 1998. But don’t let that Super Tuscan price scare you. It’s the most expensive item on LugÃ¤no’s reserve wine list; there are plenty of wines on the everyday wine list priced under $30. Indeed, there are more than 30 wines at LugÃ¤no priced between $18 and $29. The corkage fee at LugÃ¤no for BYOB is a fair $8. But with the breadth and scope of the LugÃ¤no wine list, I can’t imagine why anyone would want or need to bring their own wine to the restaurant unless it was something very special.
Speaking of special, LugÃ¤no stocks certain wines that are exclusive in Utah to LugÃ¤no. Among the only-available-at-LugÃ¤no whites are Torre di Luna Pinot Grigio 2003, Veneto ($34); Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Ca’ del Vispo 2003, Toscana ($34); and Orvieto Classico, Salviano 2003, Umbria ($27), the latter of which pairs extraordinarily well with Chef Neville’s wood-oven-baked eggplant “involtini” with mozzarella, pecorino and roasted tomatoes.
Over on the red side, LugÃ¤no’s exclusive Italian offerings include a Primitivo Ca’ntele 2003, Puglia ($31); Dolcetto D’Alba Elvio Cogno 2003, Piemonte ($53); Nero D’Avola Cusumano 2003, Sicilia ($34); and Rosso di Montalcino Argiano 2003, Toscana ($63), among others. I’m thinking that if I can save enough money, someday I’ll treat myself and a few special companions to a vertical tasting of Brunello di Montalcino, Banfi, Toscana. LugÃ¤no sells the 1995, 1996 and 1997 vintages ($128, $130, $132) as well as Brunello di Montalcino Altesino 1997, Toscana ($135). Maybe for my 50th birthday.
As tempting as the Italian offerings are at LugÃ¤no, there is also a high-quality hand-picked selection of great New World wines as well. Of particular interest is Eyrie Chardonnay Dundee Hills 2000, Willamette Valley ($44); Raymond “Generations” Cabernet Sauvignon 1999, Napa ($96); and two Pahlmeyer bottles from Napa: Merlot 1998 ($199) and Meritage 1998 ($210).
So much for Greg Neville’s $5K wine ceiling.
Sips: Beaujolais Nouveau in March? Why not. For the past few years I’ve thought that prices for both imported and domestic Nouveau Beaujolais have gotten out of hand. Thankfully, it’s not a wine that ages very well, so by late winter prices have been slashed. I recently found the 2004 Beringer Nouveau from St. Helena, Calif., at the wine store marked down to $4.50, which is just about right. Ripe cherries and currants with a hint of spice abound in the 2004 Beringer Nouveau. Try it with a baked ham for Easter. Food LugÃ¤no’s List 1CD282AD-2BF4-55D0-F1FB6F33931463DD 2007-06-11 16:06:04.0 1 1 0 2005-03-24 00:00:00.0 0 0
One of the things I always try to take into consideration when reviewing restaurants or writing about their wine/beverage lists is the fit. There’s no need to have a huge wine cellar if your menu features po’ boy sandwiches; a few beers and a smattering of wine offerings does the trick. On the other hand, for a restaurant with a vast array of complex-flavored appetizers, entrees and desserts, it makes sense to offer customers a healthy range of wines to enjoy with the cuisine. So the term “best wine list” doesn’t mean much to me. There are big wine lists that make no sense for the restaurant to which they are attached and small wine lists that are exactly what’s called for in a particular eatery. Big isn’t always better.
So although the Red Iguana restaurant (see Dining) isn’t going to win any awards for its wine list, it’s scaled perfectly to fit the restaurant’s menu. In fact, I shouldn’t even be talking about a “wine list” at the Red Iguana: There is none. There is a drink list, however (Bebidas), with offerings from tequila to Merlot and—like just about everything else at the Red Iguana—it works.
With as festive an atmosphere as the Red Iguana’s, a splash of Sherry before dinner doesn’t really make a lot of sense. But a mango margarita does. The Red Iguana’s barman concocts a rainbow coalition of margaritas—mango, strawberry, Cuervo Gold, etc.—but the best might just be a classic margarita blended with Cointreau and smooth-tasting Cazadores tequila. Sometimes, though, I like to begin or end meals at the Red Iguana with a simple tequila shot, my preference being either the Cazadores or Cuervo 1800. By the way, for a change of pace, the Red Iguana also makes tequila-based versions of the martini and bloody Mary, using Herradura Silver.
Whenever I’m in Mexico I find myself drinking rum and Cokes by the tubful. And since the Red Iguana is a south-of-the-border experience for the senses, I often order a Cuba Libre there, although the “mojitos” are mighty tempting too.
Although I’m not a snob about this, I do enjoy finding French wine in French restaurants, Italian wine in Italian restaurants and German beer and wine in German restaurants. There’s a good reason that drink and food from the same region usually pair so well together. So although there are only a handful of wine choices at the Red Iguana, I was pleased to see that they’ve begun offering one of my favorite Mexican wines, Monte Xanic from Baja. The Monte Xanic Chenin Blanc isn’t bone-dry like some Chenin Blanc (or Vouvray) from France. But it’s brimming with ripe fruit flavors—cantaloupe, apple, pear—and somewhat sweet like a demi-sec Vouvray. In a nutshell, it’s a nice match for dishes like chile rellenos, cheese or chicken enchiladas, and spicier dishes such as Chile Colorado, which is too spicy to pair with a higher-alcohol Red Iguana wine like Beringer Clear Lake Zinfandel. I think Chile’s Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Merlot would probably be an interesting match with some of the Red Iguana’s complex “moles,” although sometime I’d like to BYOB a bottle of California Cabernet Sauvignon (there isn’t any at Red Iguana) to try with the nutty, rich chocolate flavors of the Red Iguana’s incredible mole poblano.
More often that not, though, I opt for Mexican beers at the Red Iguana. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no better match for most Mexican cuisine than the delicious Mexican “cervezas” offered at the Red Iguana: Pacifico, Modelo Especial, Bohemia, Carta Blanca, Dos XX, Tecate, Negra Modelo and, of course, Corona. Salud! Food Border Bebidas 1CD28369-2BF4-55D0-F1F6BE414ECEFB9F 2007-06-11 16:06:04.0 1 1 0 2005-04-14 00:00:00.0 0 0
Last week I had the distinct pleasure of attending an exceptional wine dinner held at Park City’s Zoom restaurant, hosted by executive chef Brian Prusse and Zoom’s terrific longtime manager Steve Solomon. It was the fourth in a series of dinners which are part of the Sundance “Celebrating Wine as Art” program. Primarily the creation of Sundance’s executive director and Renaissance man Raymond Grant, Celebrating Wine as Art is a unique program intended to showcase the superb culinary and vinicultural talents of highly visionary chefs and winemakers. As such, it complements Sundance’s unique Tree Room author lecture series, The Bluebird CafÃ© at the Owl Bar evenings and its many ongoing art, film and theater programs—all of which are geared toward bringing distinctive independent artistic voices to Utah.
What distinguishes these wine dinners from most—and we can thank Ray Grant for this—is they really do feature the independent visions of winemakers and chefs that may legitimately be called artists. For many wine and food nuts, the chefs and winemakers Ray is bringing to our state rival the Renoirs and Chagalls of the art world—except insofar as they are still alive. As with the production of any great art, the artisan winemakers featured in Celebrating Wine as Art combine boundless passion, soul and studied technique, along with stunning imagination and creativity to produce magnificent wines that dance on the palate.
And while the focus is on wine in the Celebrating Wine as Art program, renowned chefs like Hiro Sone (see below) also pepper the series, working in tandem with winemakers to create stunning wine pairings that will only happen once, then vanish forever like the wine and food itself. It’s our good fortune that these very special dinners are taking place right here in Utah.
In honor of Celebrating Wine as Art, Sundance has made available to guests a special collection of limited-edition wines carrying the Sundance label, with art for the series produced by celebrated graphic artist Michael Schwab. The wines are available at the Celebrating Wine as Art dinners, at Sundance restaurants and in the Sundance General Store.
Among the artisan winemakers (representing award-winning wineries) included in the Celebrating Wine as Art series are Susie Selby (Selby Winery); Bunny and Art Finkelstein (Judd’s Hill); John and Diane Livingston (Livingston-Moffett); Laely Heron (Heron); and Steve Girard and Carl Doumani (Benton-Lane). The Sundance label wines currently featured in the Celebrating Wine as Art program include Livingston-Moffett Stanley’s Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2002; Judd’s Hill Napa Valley Merlot 1999; Selby Winery Sonoma County Chardonnay 2002; Benton-Lane Winery Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2002; and Heron California Syrah 2002.
Any one of these wines would be enough to get me to a Celebrating Wine as Art dinner. But being able to indulge in all of them as I did last week—in tandem with Zoom executive chef Brian Prusse’s marvelously well-conceived dishes and pairings—well, that’s when I really can say I’ve celebrated art as wine.
Sips: The next event in the Celebrating Wine as Art series will take place at Sundance’s Tree Room restaurant on May 19, 2005. That evening Sundance will host a wine dinner featuring the food of Hiro Sone (voted “Best California Chef” in 2003 by the James Beard Foundation) and Lissa Doumani of Terra restaurant in Napa Valley, paired with wines from Judd’s Hill. Judd’s Hill winemaker Art Finkelstein will also be in attendance. The dinner is $70 per person and wine pairings are available for an additional $55. For reservations, phone 801-223-4220; for more information on Sundance visit SundanceResort.com. Food Wine Arts 1CD28463-2BF4-55D0-F1F8A60A21384B96 2007-06-11 16:06:04.0 1 1 0 2005-04-28 00:00:00.0 27 0
Thanks to my love of auto racing, I’ve had the opportunity to indulge in some surprisingly good Spanish wines so far this year. Now in case the link between Spanish wine and fast cars isn’t obvious, I’ll explain. You see, I’m a Formula 1 Grand Prix addict. And because I lived for a time in Spain, I always find myself sentimentally supporting the Spanish drivers.
Each time a Spaniard wins a Formula 1 race—which until recently was very rarely—I like to honor the occasion by opening a bottle of Spanish wine. But so far in this young season on the Grand Prix racing circuit, I’ve been up to my eyeballs in the stuff. That’s because a young Spanish phenom named Fernando Alonso—younger, in fact, than many of the wines I own—has won three of the first four Grand Prix races this year, including the last three: the Grand Prix of Malaysia, Bahrain Grand Prix and the recent San Marino Grand Prix. So thanks to the handsome and talented Alonso, the Spanish wines are flying off my cellar shelves!
Next to Fernando Alonso, probably the biggest (and I do mean big) surprise out of Spain for me this year is the 2002 Las Rocas de San Alejandro Garnacha. It’s a wine we’re lucky to have here in Utah, since it’s fairly scarce elsewhere. The reason for that scarcity is that wine expert Robert Parker gave this wine a rating of 91 points and said it “may be the greatest wine value I have ever tasted” in the Wine Advocate. That sort of praise tends to make wine disappear quickly—and frankly, I’m amazed that there’s still (as of my writing) Las Rocas left in Utah, priced at only $7.85.
Las Rocas is a big, robust wine and one with the color and heft of Deep Purple. “Smoke on the Water,” anyone? It’s made from the Garnacha (Grenache) grape and comes from the not-so-well-known Calatayud winemaking region in the north of Spain. To be honest, when I initially opened and tasted this wine, I came very close to pouring it down the drain, and then thought about corking it up to be used as cooking wine. I was so unimpressed that I was beginning to question Mr. Parker’s sanity. The wine was wound up tighter than a Swiss timepiece: inordinately tannic, with strong alcohol odors completely out of balance with its cherry and blueberry flavors. Due to an unlucky crisis in my kitchen, after an initial smell and sip, I set the wineglass full of Las Rocas on my windowsill and forgot about it until later that evening.
Well, the crisis turned out to be a lucky one, because during the time that it took me to get my kitchen back in order the Las Rocas had opened up beautifully. It literally tasted like a different wine than the one I’d tasted a couple of hours earlier. Now the abundant fruit (this is a fruit-bomb of a wine) and the alcohol seemed nicely blended and the tannins, while still present, had softened remarkably. It was still a dense wine, but one that had gone from dense and daunting to dense and delicious in a matter of hours. Be patient with this one, and you’ll be rewarded.
Fernando Alonso’s next Grand Prix race is this Sun