Posted: November 18, 2013 By Harvey Steiman
These days we take American craft beers and microbrews for granted. They're everywhere. Even at places other than baseball parks, I have been known to sip a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Samuel Adams Boston Lager or Pyramid Hefeweizen with dinner when the wine offerings don't wow me.
The choices we have today started with New Albion, an idiosyncratic microbrewery in Sonoma County, a malty drop amidst a sea of wine.
Posted: November 15, 2013 By Harvey Steiman
Posted: November 7, 2013 By Harvey Steiman
The news Tuesday stunned the food and wine world. Charlie Trotter, the legendary Chicago chef who, as much as anyone, defined modern fine dining in America, was dead. At 54, how could this be?
It turns out he had a secret. He had been diagnosed with an aneurysm deep inside his brain, according to friend and sommelier Larry Stone in Chicago Tribune's obituary. It was inoperable. But he refused to use his illness to play for sympathy. Instead, he announced just after midnight on New Year's 2012 that he would be closing his restaurant after a 25-year run to pursue an advanced degree in philosophy and travel with his wife.
Posted: October 31, 2013 By Harvey Steiman
Posted: October 29, 2013 By Harvey Steiman
Am I the only person dismayed at how the discourse about wine seems to have devolved into posturing about whether this particular wine is "natural" enough, or that one has enough "authenticity"?
Posted: October 18, 2013 By Harvey Steiman
The 2011 Pinot Noirs from Oregon are going to polarize wine drinkers. Vintners will tell you how much they love their 2011s. They expect that those who value deftness, lightness and delicacy will too. But if you want consistency, clearly delineated flavors and a sense of presence, you might be disappointed.
Posted: October 15, 2013 By Harvey Steiman
Posted: October 14, 2013 By Harvey Steiman
Whenever I plan to serve older bottles of wine, I always pull an extra bottle or two from the cellar, even if they aren't the same wine, to be ready in case the first disappoints. Individual wines often don't age as well as expected, or hoped. And inevitably, cork taint or maderization from some percentage of bad corks will force you to pour away some bottles.
All this is part of the fun of opening older wines you've saved for a while. And that's why, when my Welsh friend Mr. Jones finally accepted my longstanding invitation to raid my wine cellar on one of his visits to San Francisco, I opened four bottles for the four of us to drink over dinner (not counting the sparkling wine aperitif): Gaja Barbaresco 1986, Quintarelli Valpolicella 1982, Louis Latour Chambertin 2003 and Beaux Frères Pinot Noir 2002.
Posted: October 1, 2013 By Harvey Steiman
Ildar Abdrazakov is a Russia-born bass currently singing the title role in Boito's lavish Mephistopheles at San Francisco Opera. He makes a dashing devil, all muscle and menace on the surface, his singing sonorously suave. And, as an opera lover, I could not forgo an opportunity to add him to my singer friends, most of whom I have gotten to know because of our mutual interest in each other's fields of work.
Shortly before opening night, my wife and I met him and our mutual friend for drinks and snacks at St. Vincent, a terrific wine bar about midway between our home and the opera house. We settled in and left it up to the savvy staff to pick some interesting wines for us. Partly, I wanted get a handle on Ildar's palate, especially which kinds of wines he likes.
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