harvey steiman

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Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Thoughts on Tweaking Wine

Like a musical recording, it may not be what it seems

Posted: June 18, 2013  By Harvey Steiman

After offering my take on ingredient labeling for wine, I got to thinking about why this is such a vexing issue. We do, after all, want to know what goes into what we consume, including wine. The tricky aspect for wine, of course, is that what goes in does not necessarily wind up in the bottle.

All of the adjustments winemakers can apply to wine remind me of what can happen in making music recordings. It's an apt analogy on several levels. One can even argue that, as humans, we need music as much as we need food and wine. At least some of us do.

Here's the thing. Just as manipulations in the winery can make a wine seem like more than what the vineyard actually produced, what we hear on most recordings is not exactly what the musicians actually played and sang. Sophisticated electronic and digital processes add reverberation, replace flubbed notes, and these days can even modify pitch to get a sour note in tune.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Wine Ingredient Labeling Poses Problems

What you see is not necessarily what you get

Posted: June 6, 2013  By Harvey Steiman

Ingredient labeling for wine seems to make perfect sense, but the devil is in the details. Despite several concerted attempts, some dating back 40 years, it hasn't happened yet, in part because making wine is not like bottling soda pop or mixing cereal. In those, ingredients are the same as contents. Not so with wine.

Wine is a product of fermentation, and not everything that goes into it comes out in the end. And alcohol, one of wine's prime constituents, is not added to table wines. It results from fermenting the sugar in grapes. How to handle those pesky details has derailed previous attempts at ingredient labeling for wine.

May 31, 2013 Issue  :  Features

The ABCs of Sushi

Posted: May 31, 2013  By Harvey Steiman

May 31, 2013 Issue  :  Features

The Culture of Sushi

A great cuisine has taken different paths in Japan and America, but delivers delights in both

Posted: May 31, 2013  By Harvey Steiman

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

A New Proposal to Address Drinking and Driving

Will lowering the legal blood alcohol concentration limit improve safety? An important conversation for the alcohol industry and the country

Posted: May 28, 2013  By Harvey Steiman

The National Transportation and Safety Board recently recommended lowering the maximum allowed blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for drivers to 0.05 from its current 0.08. Beer and restaurant industry groups called foul. So far official voices of the wine industry have been silent.

For me it's simple: I don't want to be the cause of someone's death if I can help it, and I can minimize that risk if I don't get behind the wheel buzzed. If I am driving, I simply won't take that extra drink. That's my choice. The sticky issue is whether the law should be tightened.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Terrific Tapas in Barcelona

It's a whole different non-trendy world

Posted: May 24, 2013  By Harvey Steiman

It was in Barcelona that I realized why they call it a tapas bar. You know what it's like in a crowded pub, the crush of humanity trying to get the bartender's attention over the happy buzz of the drinking crowd? The shoulder-to-shoulder throng pressed together in tiny El Xampanyet, near the Picasso Museum in Barcelona's Barrì Gotic, had the same vibe on a rainy Saturday afternoon. I could not fathom how a barmaid, er, waitress, could possibly get plates of croquetas and pintxos, not to mention glasses of cava, to those who ordered them.

Somehow Barcelona denizens, happily regaling each other in Spanish and Càtalan, navigate these treacherous scenes with aplomb. Here are my notes of five of the more popular tapas bars.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Vineyard Designates (Sans Varietal) Need a Name

An emerging category is missing a moniker

Posted: May 16, 2013  By Harvey Steiman

Near as I can tell, Ridge Vineyards started the trend. Saxum does it too. Andrew Will pioneered it in Washington, where Cadence followed suit, and Owen Roe is the latest to jump in. These are all first-class wineries, and they independently came to the same conclusion: That for these wines they would rather blend grape varieties from a single vineyard to a site-specific wine than make a series of vineyard-designated varietals.

It struck me, as I removed the bag in yesterday's blind tasting from Owen Roe's Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant blend simply called DuBrul Vineyard, that this is becoming a separate category. And yet, we don't have a name for it.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Barcelona Channeling Japan

Two of the Catalan city's most exciting restaurants owe much to sushi

Posted: April 30, 2013  By Harvey Steiman

Here in Barcelona on vacation, I could not resist trying what by all accounts is the go-to sushi place, Koy Shunka. Having explored the sushi cultures of Japan and America in my cover story of the May 31 issue of Wine Spectator, I wanted to see how another great food culture, that of Catalunya, translates the subtleties of Japan's most famous cuisine using the products of the Mediterranean Sea, as abundantly revered here as those of the Pacific Ocean are in Japan.

And then, for good measure, wouldn't you know that Japanese cuisine and sushi would play a critical role in the latest venture from brothers Albert and Ferran Adrià (who famously closed his own celebrated restaurant, El Bulli). They opened Pakta in early April, serving what they call Nikkei cuisine. Sushi is a part of the cuisine, Japanese by way of Peru, an east-west fusion made famous in America by Nobu Matsuhisa.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

The Zen of Food and Wine

Sweat the details only if, like me, you really enjoy the exploration

Posted: April 16, 2013  By Harvey Steiman

A common trope about wine pretension says that we wine folks intimidate the rest of the world with our insistence upon always drinking the right wine with the right food. I don't know anyone who does that. Do you? I gave up a long time ago believing that there's a perfect wine for every dish.

That doesn't mean I ignore the message from my own taste buds that certain wines and foods can make beautiful music together. But I stubbornly resist didactic rules. The day I absent-mindedly picked up my glass of red wine to sip with my grilled fish, and discovered how the wine just brightened up and sang more clearly, started me on a lifelong quest for similarly unexpected but terrific wine-and-food combinations.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Shocking, Absolutely Shocking

Wherein I scandalize wine snobs of all stripes

Posted: April 9, 2013  By Harvey Steiman

Most people know me as a pretty reasonable guy. But I apparently have the ability to stun people with my wine behavior. You should have seen the jaws drop one hot day in Oregon when I swirled ice cubes into a glass of Pinot Noir in front of a crowd of wine lovers. Oh, the horror!

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