I must admit that I haven't been much of a fan of reality tv. I prefer my entertainment to be of the made-up variety. As much as I love food and cooking, the cheftality tv shows have been pretty horrendous. Watching Gordon Ramsay turn red while yelling at idiots is fun for about five seconds. And witnessing Padma and Tom Collichio's eternal scowls and disapproving head shaking is as inviting as cold oatmeal.
The first chill of fall finally touched us the other day: the air tightens, and the breeze hits your cheek, letting you know, this is as warm as it's going to get today.
When it comes to wine, people will say that, now that there's a chill in the air, the season of blowsy summer whites and rosés is over. I say, in a gutteral Vin-Diesel-esque growl, "It ain't over until I say it's over." And, with that, I put on a sweater and crack yet another bottle of pink wine and pour it into another tumbler.
Yesterday I blind tasted a wine at RN74 with a couple of top sommeliers. It was light colored, obviously Pinot, probably Burgundy. Bright with perfume and fresh berry fruit flavors, the wine had punchy acidity, a lean body, and a bit of tannin. I guessed 1988 Chambolle--a lean, high acid year that also made lovely perfumed wines. The sommeliers guessed younger--2001 and 1996. We were all wrong, it turned out, but I was the closest. It was indeed Chambolle. Yet my vintage was off by 26 YEARS! The wine was a 1962.
Eric Asimov has a blog post today on The Ten Bells, his favorite Manhattan wine bar. His advocacy of this place really hit a mark, as it has been tweeted and re-tweeted all afternoon. What makes Ten Bells so cool? Well, the headline says it's a "place for wine without the lecture." Asimov adds that "the Ten Bells is just a great place to hang out" and that "perhaps most telling, you can always find a few people at the Ten Bells with no interest at all in wine."
I share Eric's appreciation for the unpretentious. What he wishes for, as do I, is a world without "wine bars," per se. Instead: a world with great bars that also have great wine lists.
Regular readers of this column know that I'm a fan of the gin and tonic, but only when the tonic is good. Back in the day, there was no good tonic. So I remember my life changing when I found that the Slanted Door was using Schwepp's Indian Tonic, something that at the time, no one else in the city had. Then it changed again, when Fever Tree tonic water came out a couple of years ago. Nowadays, with those two tonics easily available as well as other good tonics like Q and Stirrings plentifully on the market, there's simply no excuse to ever have a bad G&T.
I know this "Buzzed" column is typically about alcoholic beverages, but I'm writing today about a different kind of buzz--the one we get from really good coffee. I had to speak out on this after reading this absurd post on the Atlantic Monthly website. He lurches off to talk about acidity and flavor in both coffee and wine, a subject I don't think he has much of a grasp on. Acidity doesn't have flavor per se, it more affects the perception of balance and brightness. Too much acidity in coffee can result in harshness. That's one of the reasons why so many people add milk or cream--to soften the texture and dilute the harshness.
Quince Restaurant—slated to open in its new Jackson Square location on Oct. 1—landed a big fish when it lured sommelier David Lynch from New York. Lynch was the wine director and GM at Mario Batali’s Babbo, as well as the Spotted Pig, but also wrote, with Joe Bastianich, Vino Italiano (Crown)—the best book about Italian wine in decades. Shortly after landing in SF, he sat down to talk about the big move.
How does the New York restaurant scene regard ours here?
I've written before on the trend of sommeliers getting out of their suits and donning grubby clothes better suited for the messy business of picking, crushing and fermenting grapes.
Notable locals who are making their own wines: John Lancaster and Rob Perkins of Boulevard (who make Skylark), Emmanuel Kemiji, wine buyer for Piperade and La Mar (who makes a wine called Miura) and Andrew Green of Spruce and the Village Pub (who makes Oregon Pinot Noir for those restaurants).
Time to dust off that stein, prime up your belly, and get on your polka dancing shoes. It's almost October, which means one great thing to the beer world: Oktoberfest. As usual, there's lots going on in SF to celebrate brewing's most famous month. Here are the events I've been able to uncover so far. I'll post more events when I find them.