Oenophilia is still such a minority hobby that wine lovers always get excited when someone famous from outside their realm shows an interest. That’s why you can always find articles in Wine Spectator about some football or baseball player or actor who collects wine. Such was the excitement last week, when a dinner was organized around Maynard Keenan, lead singer of the rock band Tool and avowed wine geek and now wine producer.
One of my favorite people in the wine industry is Dade Theriot, the owner of Dee Vine Wines on Pier 19. Dade is the most knowledgeable person about his passion—German wines—that I know, and he’s exceedingly generous with them, as he is with all things. He's also a Beethoven fanatic and an all-around eccentric, as was evinced by his wedding in which attendees were invited to come either in formal dress or in early 19th century costume.
St. George Spirits of Alameda, the good folks behind Hangar One vodkas and all the amazing Aqua Perfecta eaux de vie, recently had me out to preview the long-awaited release of their absinthe. Lance Winters, the distiller, was the mastermind behind this delectable spirit, and he was kind enough to pour the better part of a bottle and talk about the product, its history and how it should be consumed.
December 5 is an important day for drinkers, as on this day in 1933 the 21st Amendment was ratified, repealing Prohibition and reinstating our right to imbibe. Phew.
It’s hard to imagine the 14 years America spent as a dry country. Certainly, in the decade of the raging ‘20s there was still a lot of drinking going on. But this was all illegal and organized crime saw a huge increase as they became the arbiters of the new underground economy. Repeal not only legalized drink; it also put the kabosh on a great deal of criminal dealings. We celebrate with a big batch of bathtub gin and a toast to Al Capone.
Our office is an overstuffed set-up constructed with no offices and no cubicles. Just one big open space where you can really reach out and touch someone—the perfect environment to drag everyone into your own procrastilagging.
There are certain things you don't say no to: Like an invitation to an intimate multicourse dinner cooked by Thomas Keller, paired with Opus One and Mondavi cult wines, hosted by three generations of the Mondavi family at their estate located on top of a hill off of the Silverado Trail. To this, you say yes (knowing that some of your friends will be filled with a mix of envy and resentment and find your job obnoxious).
Perhaps one of the reasons my zeal for WhiskyFest was a little subdued was that I had had a whiskyfest of my own the night before with my old pal, Jameson. The occasion was a performance by the Pogues, who played four straight nights at the Fillmore last week.
Half my blood is Scotch-Irish, meaning that when I get enough whiskey in me and hear the familiar reels of Irish folk-punk as spun by the Pogues and bellowed by their bibulous lead singer Shane MacGowan, I start to reflexively bounce off the f’in walls.
So, WhiskeyFest went down last week. As usual, the giant trade and consumer show had a ton of scotch, bourbon, Irish whiskey and more, arrayed on table after table in the ballroom of the Hyatt Regency.
There were lots that I’d tasted before, but standing out for me was a new distiller’s edition from Lagavulin, Stranahans Colorado whiskey, and the wheated malt from Buffalo Trace.