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.
At 7x7, we focus on the relatively small area denoted by the numbers in our title. Sometimes I argue with the powers that be that we should extend coverage a bit. Not that there isn’t sufficient activity within city limits to supply our editorial needs, it’s just that there’s so much really cool stuff going on in the whole Bay Area that I feel bad in not writing about it.
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.
It sounds like something that might be served at a McDonald’s in Marseille, but Macvin du Jura is actually a delicious sweet, fortified wine from the south of France that you might consider for your seasonal winter feasts.
It’s unusual but also sumptuous, coming in red and white, with flavors ranging from orange peel to quince to ginger to figs. What’s also interesting is that it can hardly be called a wine as there’s no real fermentation going on.
I had the great pleasure of spending the last couple of days in Mendocino, relaxing, eating and spending time searching through the woods looking for one of my favorite mushrooms—the venerable porcini. Oh, and did I mention eating?
Two Saturdays ago, the incessantly rainy one, I finally made it to Laiola, though it took a bus from Union Square and a splashy mad dash in the rain down five puddle-ridden blocks to get there. Owner Joe Hargrave greeted my dripping pate inside the door, pulling a clean napkin off the shelf so I could dry off. The restaurant was packed and filled with a warm, convivial hum. The napkin gesture alone might have been enough to at least place this joint on my good side. But there was more.
I get quite a few samples of wine—and generally appreciate the wineries that send them. It helps me discover new wines and chart the progress of all the great labels I already know.
Sometimes, however, wineries tend to get a little too cute in the way they promote themselves. I understand the need to stand out in a highly competitive market, but occasionally it crosses the line from amusing to annoying. I’ve been shipped Walla Walla onions and a recipe for onion rings along with a Washington Merlot, and I’ve been sent an oversized oven mit, barbecue tongs and cheap sunglasses to go with some Napa cab.