Articles from April 2010

Pillow Talk: United Slurps of AmericaOnline

Tasting the 50 states:

She said: My heart skipped a beat and my palate turned sour when I saw this tweet from AlaWine.com. My RT was: “Hmm. What not to taste for United Slurps of America?” KenW did not respond (whatevs), but a couple of days later our Slurpin’ USA Washington co-blogger Josh of DrinkNectar.com sent Us a Tweet: “…did you see this…” with the same link. My RT was: “Yes! Was happy to see no duplicates so far. And of course We think our proj is way cooler.” And it is. Right? Damn you, Joel Stein of TIME magazine.

He said: Does anyone even read Time Magazine when they aren’t in a dentist’s or doctor’s office…or waiting all day in a jury duty room? Time Magazine is just that; to pass time. Also, remember when TimeWarner bought AOL? That was funny.

But it would probably make this project easier if there was an international multi-conglomerate backing it. We have this coming weeks state lined up, but after that, umm…

She said: Yes, I had similar thoughts: print is dying. Then again, the feature is online. And interactive–but in a graphically lame way. And–this kills me–he chose BV cab for California. Boring, dude.

One of the things I love about the USA project is that We get other people involved…not just the wineries, but also local bloggers. And in general our co-bloggers end up writing about the wine or the experience on their own blogs–it’s a terrific social networking experiment. And how great was it that for the Georgia post Joe of SuburbanWino.com was actually on vacation in California and came over to my place to taste. He was awesome. It was my first “I only know you from your blog” meeting experience–other than you, of course.

He said: Ditto that. And if anyone reading this is from a state We haven’t done yet (after Monday that will be 41 states, so the odds are good) and wants to be involved, please contact Us. If you live in a state with weird shipping laws, it’s possible We are going to ask you to do some black ops for Us. Really stupid laws are meant to be broken.

Oh, and international multi-conglomerates, feel free to contact us too. We love your money you.

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Wines of Note: Our 150th Post

Before We became so focused on Our United Slurps of America project, Our wine consumption was roughly 50% France, 45% California and 5% everywhere else. Over the past few weeks, France and California have been replaced with places like Kentucky and Iowa. While We have mostly enjoyed the wines We have tasted from these lesser known wine-producing states, We are both thirsty for Our go-tos.

While grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s, She picked up several bottles of wine and some whiskey, vodka, and gin. The check-out chick asked Her if She was having a party or just stocking up. The question confused Her, as the answer was neither.

After having the Gruet for our NM post, We were curious to taste a California counterpart. Having lived in Yountville for years, She has consumed copious quantities of the local sparkler, Domaine Chandon, so We chose a Sonoma bubbly. And, oh to have some red Bordeaux…

Sonoma Brut, Gloria Ferrer NV ($19)

She said: Pale translucent yellow with fine bubbles. On the nose: yeast, golden delicious apples, hint of vanilla, hazelnuts. Has flavors of Granny Smith apple, lemon, pear, and a hint of lychee. The finish is long and creamy, like lemon curd. No overwhelming sensations of yeast or toast in the finish, but rather clean and citrusy fresh. Lovely and light, like a Spring day.

He said: Little bubbles give way to scents of Apple, pear and white grapes. Crisp, getting flavors of raisin. Long, tongue-numbing finish. Still not the best at articulating my sparkling wine notes. I’m able to note if I love or hate a Champagne or sparkling wine, and this one for me is neither of us. It’s a just-fine, drinkable bottle.

Médoc, Grand Vin de Bordeaux, Château Meric 2007 ($10)

She said: Very opaque purple garnet color. On the nose a hint of eucalyptus, tar, mushroom, and sour blackberries. The wine tastes very fresh and has obvious but unobtrusive acid. Fresh berries, licorice, long finish with vanilla, soft tannin, cassis. There is a slight sharpness that lingers in the mouth (burnt wood?) but other than this an elegant wine. Would be excellent with grilled meats. A terrific bargain and a very worthy everyday-whenever-right now table wine.

He said: Very dark and purpley. On the nose there is vanilla, cherry, toast, blackberry, maybe some butter and floral (almost soapy) notes. Light tannins and a creamy vanilla-tinged feel and taste in the mouth. Not a super heavy or full wine, but hints of fruit with a little too much heat in the finish. Yeah, it has a strange finish. Despite the finish, this is a very nice wine for 10 bucks.

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Quiz 5: Answered, mostly

Here are my answers to Quiz #5. I actually do miss doing these, and until the other day forgot that We used to do this.

Anyhow, I’m pretty certain about #’s 1, 2, 6 and 8. The wording of question #5 confused me. If you were looking for the answer “are”, then I think this should have been a 2-part question, with the second half being True or False. I will test you on giving tests soon.

I left a few blank because I really had no idea. I could have guessed, but, oh well….

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United Slurps of America: New Mexico

Every state in the US produces wine. Why not taste them? For 50 weeks We will do just that…welcome to the United Slurps of America. Week eight: it’s the land of enchantment, New Mexico.

Our search for a local co-blogger was more difficult than We anticipated. We put the word out on Twitter and Facebook:

We got a response from our Facebook “fan” Peg Lawrence. (Although the powers that be at Facebook just changed fans to “like”…well, We liked it better when they were fans–but happy to have people follow Us on Facebook either way.Thank you!) Peg lives in Texas, not New Mexico, but went to high school there. Close enough. Tex-Mex, err, Tex-NewMex. New Texican. Either way, we are very happy to have Peg along:

“I have a lot of fine memories in the “Land of Enchantment” having gone to high school there, my mother, stepdad, and grandmother moved back there, and also visiting frequently as it is my sales territory. My brother also lived there on 2 different stints so I thought since we share a food and wine blog, and that history, who better to do this with me than him. So to prepare for the tasting we talked about all things New Mexico as we knew or remembered them…I think now after all this reminiscing we are ready to open our sparklers.”

Note to New Mexicans who like wine: Start a wine blog, there’s a hole in the market.

Brut Methode Champenoise, Gruet NV ($14.99)

She said: On the nose the wine smells like fresh baked bread and mild yeast, similar to a light beer or pear cider. The bubbles are not obtrusively large, but not fine either. Citrus flavors, vanilla, mellow allspice, baked apple. Wish the sparkler was fresher and had more finesse, but enjoy the pear cider, pineapple elements. Also sense lychee syrup–there is a definite sweetness, reminiscent of Prosecco. A fine, casual wine to enjoy with friends as an aperitif to dinner or by the pool on a beautiful spring day.

He said: Even though I feel like I have tasted plenty of Champagne/sparkling Wine, it’s difficult for me to articulate. This one is so crisp that it’s hard for me to say much more than that. There is apple fritter in both the nose and mouth along with bread. Smells and tastes like a French Bakery, a boulangerie up in my domepiece. How do you like that? Getting both French and hip-hop languages in a wine review. I’m a highly cultured gentleman. Umm, yeasty, dry, hints of tropical fruit. I really dig it.

Peg said: Brilliant tiny, fine little bubbles, aromas of citrus and green apple bloom up on the nose. There is a faint mild buttery crust/toast, creamy taste with an extended pleasurable finish of citrus and apple that wraps around the mouth, very nice. This would be a great one to have on hand for the every event! Dale said: This one had a nice balanced flavor, and although I do not normally like Champagnes or sparkling wines, this had an enjoyable taste. The taste was balanced with hints of a citrus and green apple taste, but not overwhelming. The flavors swirled around the entire mouth and was filled with tiny bubbles.

Brut Rosé Methode Champenoise, Gruet NV ($14.99)

She said: The color is deep strawberry and smoked salmon pink with largish bubbles. The nose is much more mild and restrained than the Brut. Thinking We probably should have tasted this one first. On the nose: citrus, strawberry, green pear. The wine is fresh and lively with a nice crisp, Granny Smith apple finish. Prefer this one over the Brut for its zest and zing. Imagine it would go quite well with a variety of foods, given the acid and crispness. Very nice.

He said: In my memory, which does seem to scale inversely with age, I have never had a sparkling rosé. Consistently bubbling beautiful pink color with strawberry and apple on the nose. In the mouth it is crisp with quite a bit and flavors of sour apple. The next afternoon garden party We host I will recommend We serve this. Very, very nice. I am not likely to forget this one. 

Peg said: Great color with a bright nose, blooming with a strawberry and cream and wildflowers scent. In the mouth it is dry with crisp cherry, strawberry and green apple. Starts out fruity and finishes tart, but still very good and zesty. Would suggest this one would be more suitable for drinking with cheese and possibly a smoked salmon. Dale said: Nice strawberry color with a fruity aroma. Initially, it hit the palate with hints of green apple and cherry like flavors, then becomes like a tart cranberry like finish. I tested it with a few medium to sharp cheeses and it blended well.

8 down, 42 to go…

Summary

Peg said: I had done a show at the Gruet tasting room in Albuquerque years ago but did not get to partake of the wines, so I thank Swirl Smell Slurp for giving us the opportunity. You can find further musings from my brother and I at Foodie Fitness. New Mexico is a beautiful state, if you haven’t driven around in it you should. The places I would suggest you try and see to name a few would be Santa Fe, Carlsbad Caverns, White Sands, Ruidoso, Sandia Mountains. While in Albuquerque I have had some great meals at Garduno’s, Dion’s, Blake’s and if you’re flying through the best chicken and green chile soup and breakfast burritos bigger than your head are at Comida Buena at Albuquerque International airport. You just can’t be in New Mexico without trying the green chile, it’s a food staple! And the last place I have yet to mention is Roswell, UFO Mecca. I never saw a UFO there but having driven at night across the state is a little eerie what with the ghosts of Pancho Villa, Billy the Kid, and countless other native lore said to be roaming in various towns and in the desert.

We said: Like Peg, We too, had a great time driving through the state of New Mexico. On Our month-long trip through the Southwest earlier this year, We had the delight of driving both the northern and southern routes of the state. We stopped at Gruet Winery, though we only used their restroom and didn’t taste any wine. Later, in the incredible city of Santa Fe We enjoyed a Gruet chardonnay with dinner at Cafe Pasqual’s. We visited Billy the Kid’s grave. We soaked, nakedly (and maybe even had sex, shh!) in the mineral waters in the very strange town of Truth or Consequences. We even took a 5 hour detour to drive through the snow-capped mountains. We loved every minute of it.

A big thanks to Peg and Dale for joining us in our New Mexico tasting, and to Facebook for facilitating this collaboration. Feel free to sell our profile information to anyone you please, you cute little corporate giant, you.

Previously on USA: Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington

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Awlmost Probably Certainly Relevant to Wine

The once cool to love, now hip to hate writer Jay McInerney gets the treatment of two of Our favorite culture blogs. (Put these guys on your RSS feed. Choire Sicha and Alex Balk are genius on The Awl and The World’s Best Ever distills all things cool in the savviest of ways.) For the record, We still love Jay and his wine writing. We’ll drink Dom Pérignon rosé with him anytime–as long as The Wall Street Journal picks up the tab.

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Quiz 5: We’ll see how much He missed this

Believe it or not, He actually asked for it. And I’m happy He did.

Over the last couple of months We’ve fallen out of the wine ritual that prompted us to start this blog. We would pick a chapter in any of the various wine books We collectively own, buy a bottle of wine from the region or grape varietal discussed in the book, and then have a mostly serious tasting and discussion about the wine. Once We started the blog, We would often incorporate the ritual into our Big Mac’s Mondays and Wines of Note posts. Every few weeks I’d quiz him on the chapters We had tasted and read. Sometimes He got really into and did very well on the quiz. Other times He did not (and accused me of being mean). Either way, the quizzes were a useful way for Us to both review what We had read and tasted.

This reading/drinking/discussing/quiz ritual has been been missed by Us both. We’ve vowed to reestablish it into Our wine education, starting with a general quiz for Him, covering some of what We’ve studied so far.

Good luck. (And I have about twenty more questions I wanted to include, but that actually did seem mean.)

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Wine Web Wednesdays: 421

Most Young Kings get their head cut off: Awesome design, and He loves it because of His surname and His affinity for public nudity, but that box looks a little too reminiscent of a guillotine for a King. (Painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat)

The day of the most annoying Facebook status updates?: Evidently yesterday was some sort of stoner holiday. We drank wine, as per usual.

And the Mike Brady award for winery design goes to…: We agree with most of the buildings on this list. And Dominus really is so great.

Click on “One for all, all for one”: If only my professor would have used wine to teach physics in college, maybe I would have understood it.

The Minor Fall, The Major Wheeze: Balk’s concern that allergy season is going to effect his drinking habit.

But only for Him: Because no self-respecting woman would ever use a wine opener. (Despite the strange gender bias, We totally want one.)

But only for Her: Possibly the worst packaging We’ve ever seen, it looks like a girly Kleenex box. (Despite the terrible gender marketing and design, We totally want some.)

Can We make the interns do that?: Super great, but We ain’t cutting 175 wine corks in half.

I assume this costs more: This reminds Him of the time He ordered Dom at a bar in China. It was delivered on a platter with sparklers and fireworks. It cost roughly $9 US.

Cool, but…: $12 shipping (!) and severely overpriced, but the real problem is the crowded USB ports on Our MacBook Pros won’t accommodate the size. And did We mention $12 shipping for something that weighs like 5 oz?

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List w/o Commentary: Lucques dinner (photo edition)

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United Slurps of America: Kentucky

Every state in the US produces wine. Why not taste them? For 50 weeks We will do just that…welcome to the United Slurps of America. Week seven: it’s Kentucky.

More noted for Bluegrass and Bourbon than wine, Kentucky was one of the states that We had absolutely no idea what to expect. Both of Us being big fans of Maker’s Mark, We knew they could produce a good whiskey. But wine? We didn’t know where to begin. Lucky for Us, Kevin Keith, of the wonderful Under the Grape Tree wine blog, contacted Us a few weeks ago, expressing his interest in the Slurpin’ USA project. He is well versed in all things wine and had great insight on Kentucky. We thought this might be one of the states handcuffed by archaic, inane wine shipping laws, but Kevin got the wines to Us safely (and hopefully legally).

Here are Our takes on the wines, with our terrific co-blogger Kevin chiming in. It’s Our own little 3-stop Kentucky Bourbon Wine Trail, featuring Elk Creek Vineyards, Jean Farris Winery, and StoneBrook Winery.

Vidal Blanc, “Kentucky Blue,” Elk Creek Vineyards 2006 (sample, winery sells for $9.99)

She said: Golden pale yellow color. On the nose: lime, unripe pear, wet stones, green herbs–parsley, and a saltiness. Can you smell salt? I do. In the mouth there is a lot of acid, making it fresh and lively. Again green notes: like fresh cut grass mixed in with the richness of pear. Has a silky, creamy mouthfeel. I imagine this is a terrific food wine with its mix of acid and lush fruit. Reminds me of a fruitier Muscadet or a Picpoul. Can imagine enjoying the wine with oysters, ceviche, sushi, squash blossoms stuffed with ricotta, arugula salads…the wine makes me hungry. Great bargain for $9.99, would buy it by the case for summer–if I could find it in California.

He said: Apple, melon, pear and cut grass on the nose. In the mouth it’s a mix of creaminess and high acid, which I’m not really used to. But, wow, it’s really good. There is also some spice, but not the typical spices; maybe mustard seed or dill. Would be great on a warm day with a salad or seafood in the garden. Really, surprisingly good.

Under The Grape Tree said: Yeah, I know this is sweet.  A bit of an indigenous take on Riesling, this hearty white has some honeyed apple and pear notes, some spicy mineral, and a bit of white flower.  It has some acidity to it, and of course, what many folks note as a “foxy” character – a bit wild or feral quality, as does most grapes from these parts.

Viognier, Jean Farris Winery 2007 (sample, winery sells for $19.00)

She said: Golden yellow and appears thick on the swirl. On the nose the wine is very floral and rich like peaches and cream and an Orangesicle with some mineral undertones and a big waft of honeysuckle. And is that a hint of corn syrup? We talked it over (breaking our “no talking” rule–yep, We both get corn syrup.) The mouthfeel is lovely, creamy, and viscous. On the palate the wine is very floral with apricot and a dry, stoney finish. Reminds me of burleed grapefruit. There is a nice balance of fruit/acid/minerals. I imagine this is another great food wine. It manages to be rich but with a clean, fresh finish. Love it.

He said: It seems as though every Viognier I am tasting lately is testing my aversion to the varietal. This wine is slightly cloudy and very fresh on the nose. Floral notes, apricot…it smells like Viognier. There is also some heat on the nose and I just looked to see the wine is 13.9% alcohol. In the mouth there is nice acid, again mixed with creaminess, oak is definitely present. It’s very creamy. It’s full-bodied, balanced; whoa, I love it. I’m tasting corn tortilla chips. Odd, but totally there. That said, this wine would be great with Mexican food, maybe even nachos. Exceptional, I totally love it.

Under The Grape Tree said: Not quite that of the Rhone, but the general characters of peach and honeysuckle are present, as is a bit of orange blossom, apricot and mineral.  The foxy notes are there too, but with some needed restraint.  A surprising white wine with some body and balance.

Cabernet Franc, “Estate Bottled, Ohio River Valley,” Stonebrook Winery 2008 (sample, $couldn’t find price)

She said: Deep, pretty garnet and translucent around the edges. On the nose: minty, green peas and asparagus with smokey cedar notes. Hefty swirls blow off some of the vegetal characteristics. The wine is quite sharp and tart with dark cherry flavors. Has a freshness, but also a chemical note like bing cherry air freshener. The aromatics also remind me of the botanicals of gin. Medium, soft tannins. I thinks it’s a really interesting wine.

He said: Hmm. This smells like Vick’s Vap-o-rub. Mint & eucalyptus with some tobacco thrown in. In the mouth there are flavors of fruit (cherry, blackberry, raspberry) in this very juicy wine. It’s light, but there is some presence in the mouth. Not really into it. I can’t really say that this is a “bad” wine, it’s just not for me. This is another thing I love about doing this project; I am learning about wine in general, but also figuring out which varietals I enjoy from a state I wouldn’t even assume produces wine.

Under The Grape Tree said: Being a huge Cab Franc fan, when good friend Terry Shumrick – winemaker for Stonebrook – told me he had a Cab Franc made from grapes grown in Kentucky, I thought he was crazy.  Then he told me the price and I thought he was a lunatic to boot.  Though it is not all that tannic, nor does it have a lot of body to it, it is really drinkable, with smooth blue fruit notes and hints of spice and mocha.  The tannins are soft but firm, and the finish is really nice.  And it is minus all the green bell pepper character you get in a lot of cheap – BAD – Cab Francs out there.  This is a really nice find, especially from Kentucky.

7 down, 43 to go…

Summary

We said: First off, a big thanks to Kevin for supplying and shipping Us the wines to sample. He also sent Us background information on the wineries and insights into the growing regions of Kentucky. Wineries and Winegrowers of KY: this guy is a great advocate for your state. It was also a treat to share tasting notes with Kevin. We’ve been a fan of his blog long before We started our own. Check it out…frequently.

A note on design: before tasting any of the bottles, We both commented on how much we liked the look of the “Kentucky Blue” bottle. We had a few critiques exchanges on how it could be better, mostly the relationship between the large antlers and the band beneath with the smaller antlers. And this is the point We’d really like to make: We’d show you, our readers, a picture of the bottle and the two others We tasted, but We couldn’t find any bottle shots on the web, which, if you’ve been reading this series, know is a bit of peeve of ours. We want to give our readers a visual–winerys: put Hi-Res bottle shots on your websites! (The images above are from: The Bluegrass Bride, Designs by Lynnea, and dhecker2000–thank you.)

Previously on USA: Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington

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Field Trip Fridays: Where We Won’t ever Walk into again.

The W Hollywood:
We don’t like to use this blog as a platform to disparage anything or anyone; it’s really just not who We are. But, you know what? Offend Us, and We can both be quite vengeful people.

Over the last decade We have been loyal Starwood patrons; both as a couple and long before We even knew one another. It isn’t an exaggeration to say that We have spent 10′s of thousands of dollars at Starwood Hotels. We even recently wrote about how much We loved The Joule in Dallas. She just checked Her Starwood account to see where She has stayed:

  • W Chicago-Lakeshore
  • W Chicago-City Center
  • Lanai at Manele Bay (now a 4 Seasons)
  • Sheraton Austin
  • The Joule
  • W New Orleans-French Quarter
  • The Phoenician-Scottsdale
  • W Westwood
  • Palace Hotel-San Francisco
  • W New York
  • W The Court- New York
  • W Union Square- New York
  • W Times Square-New York
  • Westin Bonaventure-Los Angeles
  • and several airport stays at 4 Points Sheraton

When the new W in Hollywood opened just down the street from Her house, We were happy. We liked to walk down on weekday evenings for a bite and some drinks.

We were loyal. Were.

A couple of nights ago We were entertaining a friend (and client) at Her house and decided to walk down to the W. This friend/client happens to be a fairly well-known musician who was in town for a night before going to perform at Coachella. After a couple of drinks at Her house, We decided to walk down to the W to get a bite to eat and a bottle of wine. I tried to walk in as I have several times before only this time I was stopped by an idiotic man with a clipboard in his hands asking if I was staying in the hotel or was “on the list.” “No,” I replied, “I am just here to get a drink and some dinner.” He looked at Us and Our musician friend who happened to be casually dressed and wearing a baseball cap and said, “The hotel is only for guests right now.” I happen to know that they always let people in and what he was saying to me was horseshit. You know what? Let the prices for food and drinks that We were willing to pay decide the exclusivity of your hotel, not some dipshit, minimum-wage doorman who has a list but no clue.

We were obviously offended. And embarrassed. As was Our friend, who thought that it was his (and his hat’s) fault that We couldn’t get in. I was fucking fuming. Like, really, really pissed. I’ve been turned away from places in Hollywood before and not thought twice about it (although I would never go back). But this was a corporation to whom We were, regretfully, loyal.

Suck it W Hollywood, and Suck it Starwood.

From now on when in NYC we will stay at The Standard. And there are many luxury choices in every other city too. We are implementing a full Starwood boycott and would recommend that our friends and families stay somewhere else as well.

The Bowery
We went to The Bowery and had a perfectly good dinner with a perfectly decent bottle of wine, but I was too angry to really enjoy it.

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