The generosity of winos, and paying it forward

Bottles from our blind tasting: '06 Tignanello, '99 Niebaum Coppola Estate cab franc, and '00 Ch. Cap de Faugeres bordeaux

Just a brief post today, a quick anecdote. This past week a wine-loving friend came over to have dinner, and we each wrapped up a few bottles for each other to taste blind. One wine had me stumped – I got that it was Bordeaux grapes, and I was sure it was from California – it had such ripe fruit and a strong oak signature – but I was told it was not CA. After guessing Washington and other New World bordeaux blends, I gave up and unwrapped the bottle. I was blown away! It was the 2006 Tignanello, one of the reknowned Super Tuscans that I had never tasted before. My buddy Shaun had remembered that I once said that I’d never tried the Tig, and brought it for me to taste! As some of you may know, it’s an expensive bottle of wine, so I was touched not only by the generosity, but also by the thoughtfulness that my friend showed in remembering a bottle that was on my ‘would love to try someday’ wishlist. Needless, to say, this is one favor I’m looking forward to repaying.

So, the moral of the story today is just an encouragement to give the gift of wine to someone who’ll enjoy it – in my experience it leads to more friendships and good times. I’ve given several bottles of burgundy and bordeaux to various friends recently, and it felt great. I’ve been lucky to have been on the receiving end of a lot of generosity from fellow wine lovers (most notably my friend Chris, whose full story of generosity and random kindness will be told on this blog someday when the story is ripe) and I’m excited by every opportunity I get to pay it back, and forward. Thank you Shaun, Chris, and everyone who has been generous about sharing wines and more importantly, their friendship, with me!

So let’s hear about the best wine gift you ever received or gave! Cheers,


A Lunar New Year / Valentine’s Day Feast

Today’s episode is essentially a guest post by my wife and soon-to-be food blogger/entrepreneur, plee.  First, we have a video of a Lunar New Year / Valentine’s Day feast prepared by plee, partly inspired by her training at the Institute of Korean Royal Cuisine in Seoul, Korea, and partly her own inventions.  Second, is the menu with her explanatory notes; please click on the image below to see it.

The food was paired with the 2008 Domaine de la Pepiere Clos des Briords muscadet, a white wine from the Loire Valley of France, a steal at about $15.  The wine, together with the spiced oyster and the rice cake, was just divine.  Muscadets have lively citrus-like acidity, so they function in the pairing almost like a squeeze of lemon on your seafood.  In this case, the wine brought out the briny flavor of the oyster while cooling the fire of the red pepper sauce.

This episode is a sneak preview of things to come in the upcoming food blog called “food with plee”. Stay tuned for word of its official launch!  Without further ado, here’s the video, and below it, a link to plee’s menu. Enjoy!

A Lunar New Year / Valentine’s Day Feast from Amateur Wino on Vimeo.

Click here to see plee’s menu:

Plee's Lunar New Year Menu
Lunar New Year Menu plee

Discovering blaufrankisch; and when has a wine critic gone too far?

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to attend a tasting of about 35 Austrian wines, most of them made from the red grape known in Austria as blaufrankisch (and known in other places as lemberger, among other names). This was my first extensive look at blaufrankisch, and I came away both impressed by the high level of quality in the wines, and the wide range of styles represented. At one end of the spectrum, the wines presented by Moric reminded me very much of red burgundies – showing earthiness and funk, and reddish fruits, if not quite the lightness of pinot noir, owing to the somewhat denser feel of blaufrankisch. At the other end of the spectrum, producers like Prieler and Schiefer showed very dark-fruited, tannic and structured wines that would please fans of brawny wines like big California cabs. The versatility of blaufrankisch impressed me given the high level of quality displayed throughout this spectrum. My snapshot notes from the tasting can be found at the bottom of this post, for those who want the particulars.

There are also very good accounts of these wines in blog posts by Eric Asimov of the NY Times and noted blogger Brooklynguy.  Mr. Asimov’s post in particular piqued my interest as I prepared this post for publication, mostly because of passages like:

“…this tasting demonstrated convincingly that when treated properly in the vineyard and the cellar, blaufränkisch can make some gorgeous, graceful wines that are wonderfully expressive of their vineyards.

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