East-West Fusion cuisine has been with us long enough that the ideas have seeped into mainstream cooking in America and other parts of the New World. Many of us remain puzzled, however, about just what to drink with a dish that uses classic French techniques but laces the flavors with Japanese or Thai ingredients.
The day dawned gray and chill, but by the time I steered my car up the Great Highway along San Francisco's ocean coast to the Cliff House, the sun was shining brightly. I took that as a good sign for this year's Pacific Coast Oyster Wine competition, now in its 14th year.
I am not ashamed to admit it. I like sweet, fruity dessert wines, and none better than Moscato d'Asti. To me, the easy-to-drink, light, fragrant, delicately carbonated wine from the Piemonte region of Italy makes the perfect finisher for so many meals.
Some casual restaurants insist on serving wine in water glasses. Bistros in France have done it traditionally, as do trattorias in Italy, and their American counterparts have followed suit. It sends message, apparently, that "we're not snobby about wine.
The e-mail asked for the usual advice. Glenn, the thirty-something son of an old friend who passed away a few years ago, had been given a bottle of Château Lafite Rothschild 1985. His e-mail said that he would be celebrating his birthday the next day and wondered what he should eat with the Lafite.
The Washington wine folks are actively courting the young generation of wine drinkers by gearing their events to twenty- and thirty-somethings. The Washington Wine Commission, charged with promoting the state's vinous products, has been winning them over by replacing a lot of the old pomp and circumstance with more modern, higher-energy stuff.
I keep hearing that Syrah is "dead in the water," that American enophiles are no longer excited about the wines made from this grape. Washington wineries, by all rights, should be ramping up production because their Syrahs are so good, but several vintners told me recently that they are staying the course because, "Syrah isn't selling.
America's chief wine regulator wants to make Swiss cheese of America's appellation system. This is not a good development. Today's Los Angeles Times has a long interview with John Manfreda, head of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), which makes and enforces wine regulations for the federal government, outlining his plans to overhaul the rules.
While out selling his own wines, Josh Bergström has found himself in some of America's best restaurants, either getting the wines on their lists or wining and dining customers. That's how he got behind the scenes at Le Bernardin in New York, and used some of what he saw there in designing the new Trisaetum winery in Oregon, including a room full of white boards.
In a tasting last weekend, Plumpjack Winery poured pairs of samples from its grand experiment in screw caps. Starting in 1997, the winery bottled half of its reserve Cabernet Sauvignon under the best corks they could buy, and the other half under Stelvin screw caps, in a joint study with the University of California at Davis.
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