Wine Web Wednesday: the We love our town edition


(A new series coming soon featuring chats with our favorite local food/wine people.)

Upcoming events/cool stuff in this lovely town We live in. See you there.

Wednesday nights (that’s tonight, folks), going on throughout the summer: Mass Happy Hour on the Sunset Strip (via Caroline on Crack)

Thursday night, continuing for a week: GO LAKERS.

Friday nights, going on throughout the summer: Barnsdall Park Wine Tasting with selections by Silverlake Wine. And in a few weeks when Bar Covell opens, We’ll be strolling over there post-party.

Saturday and Sunday afternoon: LA Wine Fest at Raleigh Studios. Get fifteen bucks off the ticket price, by entering the promo code SACHA at checkout.

Tuesday evening, June 22: Bordeaux wine dinner at Canelé Hosted by Los Angeles Wine Tasting.

Saturday evening, June 26: City Listening II: A cocktail party and Stories About LA,  featuring “Barchitecture,” a bar designed by Him.

Not wine related, but a few other Los Angeles related links We’re digging this week:

One of the coolest t-shirts We’ve seen (and the title of a favorite song) from the clever folks at Poketo. (via @Sheigh)

Free entertainment for those stuck on the 405: Superclogger. (via C-Monster.net)

Crazy, gorgeous shots taken from the Goodyear Blimp. (via C-Monster.net)

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Field Trip Fridays: Shirking My Civic Duty

Los Angeles Superior Courthouse
For the past two days I have been spending the 8:30-5:00 time slot waiting to see if I would be picked to sit on a jury. I’m admonished from saying anything specific about the case, so please pardon my vagueness. Today was better and more efficient than yesterday, but it still took the entire day (and, really, why so many recesses?). During one of our “it’ll just be 2 more minutes” waits in the hallway I made friends with Juror #30, a cute girl who used to be a computer forensic scientist who now teaches yoga, is writing a book, and something about linux and routing and her new Android phone that I didn’t understand. It was now at least 15 minutes into our “2 more minutes” and the discussion turned to food & wine. I was excited and impressed that she had been to Canelé and then she started talking about her friend Jeff who used to work for Thomas Keller, which brought up a story about Her last jury pool that consisted of both TK & Jeff. It really is a small world, and even more amazing how much you can discover in just “2 more minutes.”

Given Juror #30′s previous career, I knew she was screwed, she was gonna be on that jury for sure. I knew I was getting out, I knew it. And the reason is because of this exact thing that you are reading. When it was my turn to answer the 9 questions on the sheet, I stated where I lived and then for my occupation said, “Architect & Wine Critic.” As soon as it was my turn to sit in the jury box, the prosecutor said,”The prosecution would like to thank and excuse Juror #35.” See you later, bitches.

So, I can’t speak in specifics about the case. But. Hypothetically, if you are ever in a jury pool for a case involving alcohol, start a wine blog. Trust me.

Las Perla
I thought I hadn’t heard about this place yet. But then I remembered Her story about Raul, Her favorite bartender from 20 years ago was opening this place. She seems to know everyone in the restaurant/bar industry and tells me stories of their lineage and which ones She worked with and where and who then opened what restaurant and who was sleeping with who… So, if I remember correctly, Raul was the bartender at Small’s K.O. where She used to go with Corina of Canelé everyday after work which was at a restaurant owned by Nancy Silverton, where Suzanne Goin was the head chef and Manfred Krankl was Her boss and George (the owner of Silverlake Wine) was a waiter. And maybe Thomas Keller was a busboy or something.

Where was I?

Oh yeah. So, we met our double-date partners D&M at this new Mezcal place for a cocktail before dinner. D asked his iPhone what made Mezcal different from Tequila and it told us that Mezcal is made from blue agave and is smokier. The menu is written in Sharpie on pieces of cardboard which we all had different feelings about. Also, each of our menus had different items listed which confused me a little bit. We all ordered the Smokey Margarita. The waitress brought our drinks nervously to the table and spilled a little bit on the denim covering my now wet privates, which I easily forgive of a new place working out all of the opening jitters. The drinks were great, as was the crowd at this place. We weren’t here for long, but I would like to go back. We will.

Lazy Ox Canteen
This is our second time here. We love it. The menu is dynamic and the chef seems to really love to experiment with food. We brought a bottle of wine but decided to start with a bottle of Torrontes Grazioso, Argentina 2008 for our first course (which also waives the $20 corkage fee). We ordered Yellowtail, Pickles, Octopus and Pig Ears. All really good and paired well with Torrontes. The Pig Ears here are amazing, comparable (and much less spicy) then the ones we had at Animal. We ordered our entrees and all D could talk about was ordering dessert. I had Pork Frites (which came out way, way earlier than everyone else’s food. We were warned that they might come out at different times, but I was done before anyone else got their food). D got Braised Beef (amazing), She and M split a Pork Porterhouse with the best whipped potatoes I have ever tasted. And my Pork Frites was great. We opened the wine we bought, Miner Family Stagecoach Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (received as a sample, retails around $60) that was so (pardon my French) fucking good. Creamy and spicy and perfectly balanced and went so well with my Frites. In recent weeks, Miner and Penns Woods are the best wines  I have tasted. There hasn’t been a weak (or even average) bottle of the 8 we have consumed from these two producers.

For dessert we shared the Rice Pudding that D had been talking about since the 1st course. I loved it and She hated it. The one thing that we don’t agree on is sweets. I love them, She hates them. When I am alone, I eat a Snickers bar. Or, once when she was out of town I ordered both the cheesecake and the chocolate cake at Canelé. Anyhow, I recommend the rice pudding.

Dinner ended with great conversation and a bottle of Spatburgunder Trocken Weinhof Scheu 2007 and talked about our next double-date. We might spend a weekend in Buellton and drink wine from our friend Morgan’s incredibly winery, Cold Heaven. And possibly spend a couple of days at a winery that D&M are members of that has a house they can rent for like $90/night. We’re in.

As we were leaving a “gentleman” in his 60′s with a young Asian woman on his arm told Her (3 times) how beautiful Her dress was. It is a beautiful dress (and She, of course, looks beautiful in [and out of] it), I concur, but this guy seemed creepy. I looked at him coldly and said, “Yes, it is.” We ignored him and he left. Then I remembered the time we were here previously we saw the same dude. Only he had a friend and 4(!) young Asian women on their arms. I think maybe he is a porn producer. I want to sell him a porn title that I think might be fitting for his company: Double PenetrAsian.

The Gorbals
Our last stop was to see our friend Ilan. We were all drunkish at this point, but Ilan sent us out 4 glasses of wine, each different for us to taste. I don’t really remember much about the wine but Ilan said, “Oh, you guys have to try this.” He brought us out ice cream he had made in the same manner as Mexican hot chocolate. It was chocolate ice cream with a lot of heat surrounded by little graham cracker crumbs. It’s interesting that something cold in your mouth can be so hot. She loved it, which due to her hatred of sweets mentioned earlier, is saying a lot. Thanks Ilan, it was delicious.

D&M wanted to go to Karaoke, or dancing, but We were both tired and decided to call it a night. Maybe next time.

This morning we are nursing our hangovers with a nice mimosa with fresh-picked oranges from Her mimosa tree. It’s a beautiful day in LA.

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Erath single vineyard pinot noirs

We’ve spent the last week moving Her into new digs in Hollywood, an arduous but also satisfying task: the place is effing awesome. But by the end of a day of lugging and unpacking boxes (including two labeled “jello molds”) the last thing either one of Us have been in the mood to do is cook. But of course We’re always in the mood to drink wine.

We’ve picked up some nice, inexpensive bottles at a couple of Her newly local shops: hands down our favorite new spot, Locali, and across the street in the competing mini mall, the newly opened Oaks Gourmet Market. (An aside by Her: the word “gourmet” in the name of a store turns me off because of it’s inherent snobbishness, but We’ve found the liquor and food selections terrific, the staff friendly, and the prices on par with or just slightly higher than other places.)

We’ve also scouted the neighborhood for a new “corner” liquor store to supplement our Big Mac’s Mondays series. Hello, Pla-Boy Liquor: you are our winner. Soon we’ll be supplementing our smokes and gin purchases with a bottle of wine.

While we’ve taken care of the booze part of the post-moving evenings (priorities), We’ve left dinner to others: pizza delivery, sushi delivery, sandwich delivery, chicken and ribs delivery, etc. But the best meal We’ve had delivered thus far was from our friends David and Melanie last night. They graciously offered to bring dinner and arrived with a delicious, fragrant cauliflower tart and fresh from their garden herb salad. The night seemed perfect to open our second favorite delivery of the week: a box of 4 bottles from Erath. (Actually, as He aptly pointed out in His post a few days ago, there were two packages at the door that day–unfortunately for Her the foxy FedEx man was not around to share a bottle of wine with Us.)

The four of us swirled, smelled, and slurped greedily from our glasses of two of Erath’s single vineyard pinot noirs. We explained to our friends the wines were samples sent by the winery, something We were both thrilled about (free wine!) and nervous about (what if they suck?)

Pinot Noir, Prince Hill, Erath 2006 (provided as a sample, winery price: $45)

She said: Very beautiful nose: dark cherries and Knott’s Berry Farm jam, with a little hint of spice. Lush and perfumey in the nose, sensations that continue on the palate. A truly voluptuous mouthfeel: soft, creamy, rich. Very fruit forward (dark cherries and berry jam again) and ready to drink now. The structure, acid, tannin could all be stronger, but the wine is beautiful. A total crowd-pleaser. score:

He said: This smells really good. So creamy in the mouth. All fruit with a hint of spice. Drank very well with the tart and the cupcakes we had for dessert. Not really feeling a lot of tannins, but the creaminess and flavor make up for that. I would and will buy another bottle of this.

Pinot Noir, Leland, Erath 2006 (provided as a sample, winery price: $50)

She said: Another beautiful nose, this time heavy doses of cocoa and cola with dark cherry fruit. More refined in the mouth than the Prince Hill because of a touch of acid that gives it some backbone, but again very lush and voluptuous. This is another very pretty, feminine wine; downright sexy. Long cherry cola finish with mild tannin. Of the two pinots, this is my favorite. A delight. score:

He said: Cherry coke on the nose. This one feels lighter in the mouth than the previous. More acidic and less creamy. All cherry and cola and fruit-forward. A very good wine indeed, but I like the creaminess of the previous one more.

Phew. Thankfully, we really enjoyed the wine. As did our dinner guests.

Erath also sent us a Pinot Gris, which we drank with CW, chef-owner Canelé, while we discussed our cooking debut at the restaurant on February 23 (join us there Tuesday–it’s going to be a great, tasty night). We all agreed that the wine was a little shy in texture and acid, but had really nice tropical fruit flavors. All in all, this was a very good batch of wines. We, and our friends greatly enjoyed them.

And We aren’t just saying that because they were our first samples and We were excited by that. We promise.

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Friends Cook at Canelé

We’re really looking forward to our stint as guest “chef’s” for “Friends Cook at Canelé” on February 23rd. Canelé is one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants and Chef/Owner Corina Weibel is an old friend. We have had countless delicious meals and fun times at this sweet spot. Plus we love to cook and we both look hot in aprons and clogs.

The cooking gig came up a few weeks ago when we met up with Corina at Silverlake Wine for their (very happy) Blue Monday tasting. She mentioned our mutual friend Steve Ventrello, who lives in Napa, was going to be in town and had agreed to play the accordion at Canelé one night during his stay. “Wouldn’t it be perfect for you guys to be the Friends Cook that night?” Too perfect. We promptly said yes.

Steve not only plays the accordion, he is deeply involved in all things wine: making it, selling it, drinking it, and teaching others all about it. I immediately thought it would be fantastic to pair some wines from his extensive sales book with the three courses we would be preparing. He was enthusiastic about the idea, but first thing first, what were we going to cook?

Coming up with a menu was harder than it sounds–we wanted to make everything. Duck confit… or maybe trout almondine. Something with eggs? Always love a po’ boy sandwich. Or housemade pasta? A central consideration was not simply to make something we love to eat, but to make sure we didn’t embarrass ourselves or Corina by going beyond our skill levels.

Finally, inspired by Steve’s accordion oeuvre (think Amélie) and our love of French cuisine, we came up with a classic bistro prix fixe menu, with some beautiful wines to compliment the three courses. We are giddy about it.

So… please come join us next Tuesday for our restaurant cooking debut (and by cooking I mean cooking with a really heavy dose of help from Corina and her great kitchen staff), fine wines, and the sweet sounds of Steve’s accordion.

“Friends Cook at Canelé”
featuring
Swirl Smell Slurp

and wine pairing from
Vintage Wine Marketing

frisée aux lardons
Riesling, “Vieilles Vignes, Lucas et Andre Rieffel
****
steak frites
Lussac St. Emilion, Chateau du Courlat 2005
****
profiteroles
Madeira, 15 year old Bual, Henriques & Henriques

(Canelé’s nightly dinner menu will also be served. No reservations are necessary, simply come as you please between 5-10p. The wine pairing portion of our menu will be optional. Prix fixe price to be announced soon.)

Steve graciously provided some information about the winemakers from the line-up:

Lucas et Andre Rieffel
Near the town of Andlau, surrounding the village of Mittelbergheim, lie the 9.5ha of vineyards owned by Lucas Rieffel and his father André. Lucas took over the reins in 1996, and he has been working towards becoming organic ever since. Mostly Riesling (35%) his current crop of varietals is grown on a rich mix of sandstone, clay, marl, granite and limestone soils. His holdings include a tiny parcel of Grand Cru Wiebelsberg, he also makes impressive examples of Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and a Klevner Pinot Blanc (aka Auxerrois) from 50-year-old vines. For the past four years he has been busy replacing the overly generous clones with a hand-picked ‘selection masale’ for greater quality. Vinification is a traditional blend of ‘foudres’ and stainless-steel.

Chateau du Courlat
The estate belongs to Mr Pierre Bourotte, also owner of Ch. Bonalgue and Clos du Clocher in Pomerol and is located at the north-west of the city of Lussac on one of the best parts of the appellation. The estate was bought by the family Bourotte-Audy in 1936. The vineyard dates back to the 18th century. 80% Merlot / 15% Cabernet Franc / 5% Cabernet Sauvignon / Age of the vines : 20-25 Lussac St. Emilion 2005

Henriques & Henriques – Madeira
Henriques & Henriques is the largest independently-owned winemaker, producer and shipper of Madeira and the only Ma- deira House who owns vineyards. Since the 15th century the Henriques have been leaders in the Madeira wine business.

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Please Join Us At These 2 Events

Swirl Smell Slurp Sunday Salon: February 21 at 2:00p

Join us in a casual, unpretentious setting as we learn about, discuss, and (most importantly) taste wine: Swirl Smell Slurp Sunday Salon (it’s a mouthful).

The Salon is free, We just ask that you bring a bottle of wine from the varietal/region we are discussing. There is no need to spend an exorbitant amount on a bottle, We recommend $20 or less.

For this edition of the Salon we will be slurping red Bordeaux.

Please RSVP to us@swirlsmellslurp.com and We will send you details and directions. (Space is limited to 14 guests.) Informative print-outs, glassware, and light snacks provided.

Friends Cook at Canelé: Swirl Smell Slurp: February 23 5:30p – 10:30p

It’s going to be a delicious night at our favorite neighborhood restaurant: Swirl Smell Slurp are the latest guests in the “Friends Cook at Canelé” series.

We will be donning our aprons and manning the stoves (with a lot of help from their amazing team), cooking up a prix fixe menu of:
– frisée aux lardons to start
–steaks frites for the main course
–profiteroles for a desert

In addition to this great meal, a wine pairing will be offered, with a specially chosen wine for each course from the tasty portfolio of Vintage Wine Marketing.

In the spirit of our French bistro theme, Steve Ventrello is making a guest appearance and will be playing the accordion.

Please join us–it’s going to be a delectable night.

(Canelé will also be serving the normal dinner menu. No reservations are required: simply come when you please, anytime between 5:30-10:00p. Price for the prix fixe and the wine pairing will be announced soon.)

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List w/out Commentary: Canelé Last Night

  • L. Preston Dry Creek Valley, Sauvignon Blanc, CA 2007
  • avocado citrus salad with grapefruit and lime, arugula, and cracked picholines
  • chicken liver pâté
  • chanterelles over polenta
  • oven-roasted pork chop with small potatoes, brussels sprouts, and apples
  • buena chica cheesecake
  • cookies and confections
  • Bordeaux Château Cadillac, France 2006

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Silverlake Wine Blue Monday

On Monday night we met our pal Corina Weibel, chef of Canelé in Atwater Village, for Silverlake Wine‘s Blue Monday tasting. (When your favorite chef has the night off and invites you to join her at a wine tasting, well, of course you say yes.)

Silverlake Wine is our neighborhood wine shop so we’re frequent patrons, but it had been quiet a while since we participated in a tasting. In fact, the last time had been at the invitation of Valerie and Stanley of Valerie Confections (geez, we have some talented friends). SLW put together a terrific lineup to compliment VC’s sweets on a Sunday. It was a fun and tasty afternoon with some antics thrown in. Between sips we got a few of the tasters (including Val and Stan) to play a little game: Just an Eyeful. (Read what it’s all about and see the whole series of pictures here.)

Unlike the vendor specific food pairings on Sunday afternoons, on Monday nights SLW offers three wines, a selection of farmhouse cheeses, olives, and La Brea Bakery bread in an atmosphere SLW’s website describes as “blatant low-key relaxation.” The shop’s  Tweets and Facebook updates about this particular Monday night’s line-up, however, were anything but mellow:

Really, a $20 bottle of wine. Although this may not sound too expensive, Blue Monday’s tastings cost only $12 for three generous pours of three different wines and lots of delicious snacks, so having a $20 bottle poured makes for a great deal.

We were also super intrigued about the “perfectly perfect” label art of their new proprietary wine. Could it be by the “Awesome Bears” artist Phil Lumbang? The happy bears have popped up all over the Silverlake, waving hello, smiling, giving a wink. They feel like as much a part of the neighborhood as SLW is. The wine shop is a huge fan of the bears…so much so they got Lumbang to paint their bathrooms. What could be more “perfectly perfect?”

Living up to the hype, when we arrived at 7 p.m. the place was packed and lively, full of happy people nibbling on cheese and lucques olives and sipping wine. We made our way through the crowd to the bar for the first pour. It was a delightful, perfumey Torrontes with a hint of sweetness in the finish that complimented the rich blue on the cheese board. Corina joined us and quickly caught up. We all agreed the wine was a bargain for just $10. Next up was a quenchable Tempranillo, also reasonably priced at $15.75. So what was this $20 bottle going to be?

Well, it turns out there was no $20 wine (it really was just hype), but the third wine was a treat: Para Silverlake Red from Monterey Country, featuring on the label…an Awesome Bear. The jubilant wine pourer explained it was a Bordeaux style blend of Cabernet and Merlot. It was a soft, friendly wine (just like those lovable bears). As we finished our last sips of Para Silverlake, the shop continued to buzz. We all remarked on how great it was to have SLW in the neighborhood and to see so many happy faces at the tasting. It was a truly delightful way to spend a Monday evening. On the way out grabbed a bottle of the bears and Tempranillo, thirsty for more. We headed up the hill to Corina’s to continue our tasting ways, vowing to be more serious and take some notes this time.

First up was a bottle of L. Preston Red which Canelé has just started to pour it by the glass. Corina explained she had been looking for a replacement for the popular Donkey and a Goat Rhône style red they had been pouring. “I wanted a Rhône style wine, but not something that was 100% syrah or French…I like the jamminess that the California wines offer.” She recommends it with the lamb with roasted eggplant, capers, olives, and garlic they serve at dinner. Sounded good to us.

There was really just enough for a serious sip left in the L. Preston, which had been opened the night before, so Corina decided to pop open a bottle a friend had left at her house. We did not protest. The Murtas, San Michelea Torri was an older vintage: 2001. The generous friend who left the bottle was on a “peak frequency” diet, which has something to do with old wine and enzymes. Our bewilderment was erased by the delicious wine.

Not quiet ready to call it quits, and because we did want some notes about at least one of the wines we tasted at SLW, we popped open the Tempranillo, Ardales we had picked up on the way out.

In between discussions about Awesome Bears (She had seen one during our trip to New York), movies (“the story was insulting…they should have been more responsible…”), and music (“Maps is a way better song than Sweet Child O’ Mine, but Modern Romance is still the best…”) we jotted down some notes.

L. Preston, 2007 (Healdsburg)

She said: The nose is raspberries, candy, and some earthiness. For being open a day it still has a lot of heat. Flavors of cola, pepper, and mixed berry jam. It has a really lovely mouthfeel; not too rich but intense with refined tannin and a kind of freshness. Does that make sense? It is both richly flavored and austere. Completely agree with Corina that it would go great with lamb.

He said: First things first, love this label design. Cherry and raspberries on the nose and very earthy. Taste is strongest in the finish. Medium bodied, I agree it has a great “mouthfeel” but that term still gives me weird brainfeel. Front of tongue feels it right away and it’s dirty with some spice. Some heat in the finish. A little tart, but I really like it.

Murtas, San Michelea Torri, 2001 (Tuscany)

She said: Very little fruit on the nose, rather it is minerals, salt, and a bit of earth. Drinks like a large, refined Chianti. Lots of bright cherry fruit, high tannin, and very dry finish. Very elegant and quenching. Could stand up to all kinds of food, including strong flavors like bbq–are those foods allowed in the “peak frequency” diet? Whatevs…it’s delicious.

He said: My notes are bad, wait, I mean they don’t exist. I was busy making my point that Maps is to the 2000′s what Sweet Child O’ Mine was to the 1980′s. And then Corina told me that Karen O is a regular at Canelé and I was like “whoa.” Because as I have said before, if She were to die in a tragic wigwam accident, I would want Karen O to be my girlfriend. Back to the wine, I wrote “some heat.”

Tempranillo, Ardales, 2007 (Spain, $15.75)

She said: Soft tannin, cherries, youthful acidity…similar flavors to the Murtas we tasted earlier, but not quiet as refined. Enjoy Tempranillo and this is an example, truly lovely and at fifteen bucks, a bargain. I’m buying more. (the price on the bottle includes the tax…this is how SLW does their pricing).

He said: I got nothing. Was I even there anymore?

We decided to save the Para Silverlake for another time…enough bottles had been popped for the night. Before we left Corina’s house we vowed to come to Canelé soon for dinner. Must try the L.Preston with the lamb.


(The Awesome Bear spied near Cooper Union in New York last week.)

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Wine Web Wednesdays


Kevin from Native Food & Wine eats a Century egg. Watch the video to find out more. I had one in China a couple of years ago by accident. It was on my plate already out of its shell, I thought it was Jello; boy, was my mouth surprised.

We eat out a lot. The following list doesn’t try to be comprehensive, it just highlights some of our local culinary go-to dishes. While we cannot recommend a Century Egg, we highly recommend these dishes from some of our favorite restaurants.

With Pepcid for dessert: poutine and the pig’s ear at Animal.

While we do some laundry: pulled pork sandwich and Hook’s cheddar at Lou.

If She drags Him to BH: grand plateau de fruits de mer at Bouchon.

The only place we eat chicken: chicken and whole branzino at Canelé.

A short walk for small plates: deviled eggs at Barbrix.

Rap music & wine: potted meats in mason jars at Palate. (sit at the bar in the back).

Sit at the bar He built: bacon-wrapped matzoh balls at The Gorbals.

A break from mid-day shopping: Nancy’s chopped salad and ipswich clam pizza at Pizzeria Mozza.

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Two of our Favorites in the Media

Chef Corina Weibel, of our favorite restaurant Canelé, interviewed in LA Weekly. My favorite response is when she says “asshole”. [And Pt 2]

Screen shot 2009-12-04 at 11.14.58 AM

Our favorite chocolatiers, Valerie Confections, featured on Cool Hunting. And, umm, who is the full-haired gentleman whose lap Valerie is sitting on? I don’t recognize him and I’m telling Stan.

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Wine Web Wednesdays


Bottles on the table at our favorite restaurant.

We agree, stop saying “trading down”.

The natural wine dialog continues via texting and tweeting.

Hey, nice package.  And nice typography.

Phonetic wine labeling:  we reel-e luv this deezine.

Tastemaker George Cossette:  Our favorite neighborhood pusher.

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