“For the wine lover who has everything”

Here's something to contemplate, from a press release I received last week from California's Kendall-Jackson winery – a special offer “for the wine lover who has everything” from K-J’s head winemaker, Randy Ullom.

“… for $30,000 he will spend three days with a wine lover, doing extensive wine tastings with them, learning their preferences in wine, and creating an exact, customized blend based on their tastes and personality. After which the purchaser will receive a case of the one-of-a-kind wine, adorned with their own, personal label.”

That’s $30,000. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to charity.


2009 Thanksgiving wines

In case you hadn’t noticed, Thanksgiving wine advice is coming in fast and furiously, and I thought I’d share my own take on the subject with my annual MSNBC Thanksgiving wine column.  As

sc0008763a[1]you’ll see, there are any number of ways to go. I’d also like to know what you think. Do you have a favorite red or white Thanksgiving wine? Let me know by leaving a comment below.


How not to ship a bottle of wine

Take a goowined look. Yes, the grotesque image before you is a bottle of wine, just unpacked from a box of press samples I received this morning. The picture says it all – a case study in why the wine business should do away with Styrofoam once and for all. Not only is Styrofoam tough to recycle but it almost always breaks apart, leaving its droppings on bottles, hands, clothes, kitchen counters, floors and wherever the wines it contains are unpacked. It’s also so very ‘80s. May we suggest an easily available alternative that most in the business have already embraced? It’s called cardboard.



I started out, as I do on many evenings, by grabbing a few bottles of white that might work with our meal and shoving them inhugel_gewurz2003to the freezer. Yes, I confess that I chill my wines quickly in the freezer when I’m in a rush. Sometimes I’ll even douse them with cold water beforehand to speed up the process. No, it’s not a terribly elegant picture – pushing aside the containers of half-eaten Hä agen-Dazs, the frozen tomatoes and leftover sausages, to make way for the wine bottles. But it does work, unless, of course, you forget to take them out. Twenty minutes or so is all it takes.

The centerpiece of tonight’s dinner was flounder fillets roasted with a simple coating of coarse Dijon mustard and a splash of white wine. The wine possibilities were a simple Vin de Pays from the south of France made from the ugni blanc and colombard grapes; an insolia from Sicily, and a gewürztraminer from France’s Alsace region. Turns out the gewürz did the trick – Hugel’s 2007 Gewürztraminer “Hugel,” a lovely $24 wine that has great balance and complexity with signature gewürz floral and herbal notes, along with pear, apricot and honey, and a good deal of spice on the finish.  This would also be a superb white for all the tastes of Thanksgiving as Gewürztraminer won’t easily be bullied by food. Imported by Frederick Wildman and Sons, New York.


Washington riesling

Riesling, as you may know, elicits all kinds of reactions, from worship to disgust and everything in between. I'd have to say that I'm firmly in the middle. Riesling comes in all manner of styles, from dry to sweet, and is made in many countries, from Germany, which produces the world's most famous rieslings, to France's th_cv-drlsAlsace, to Australia, California and Washington state.

A good example at the bargain price of $12 is Chateau Ste. Michelle's just-released 2008 Dry Riesling from Washington's Columbia Valley. I tasted this wine over several nights, and it got better over time. It shows notes of pear, pear skin, a bit of lime and orange and is nice and chewy in the mouth. Roast pork, grilled salmon, sushi and roasted turkey come to mind. In a word, versatile.