Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bartending For Dummies

The chapter on wine in this recent release of the "Dummies" series is lame -- 7 pages long and containing nothing interesting or terribly instructive. A sample of its wisdom: "Winemaking dates back roughly to 3000 BC and it's here to stay." Well, that's comforting!
But wine lovers will like this guide for all the other things it has that we may not be so informed about, like how to conjure cocktails, from classic to contemporary, and how to set up a basic bar at home. Plus, there are over 200 pages of cocktail recipes, all in a handy, inexpensive paperback. $16.99 from Wiley.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Do You Know the Way to Beaujolais?

I had the pleasure of sampling some lovely wines from Beaujolais last week at a luncheon in San Francisco, and I was stunned by how good the wines were, and at $13 to $20, what great values they are. Having previously been acquainted with Beaujolais Nouveau as a sort of gimmick in my younger years when I was a casual wine drinker, this was close to revelatory. Not only did the quality and value of these wines stand out, but the different styles of wine impressed me, from light, fresh and floral to much more dense and age-able -- and they are all made from the same grape, Gamay. By the way, 2009 was an outstanding year for Beaujolais.
All of the wines were ripe with fruit (without being too intense) and boasted soft tannins. Some of my favorites from the luncheon:

2009 Domaine de Colette Beaujolais Villages $13
2009 Domaine Dupeuble Pere et Fils $13
2009 Christian Vergiers Tours de Tanay Morgon $17
2009 Chateau de Raousset Grille Midi Fleurie $20

Beaujolais producers are working to get the attention of American wine consumers, so these and other good examples of Beaujolais shouldn't be hard to find. Ask your favorite wine merchant.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New From Cognac

The other day, I was introduced to L’Esprit de June, the world’s first vine flower liqueur from Cognac, France. As per instructions, I added 1 oz. of the clear liquid to a chilled flute then topped with Prosecco (in this case, Valdo).  Instant champagne cocktail! It was so perfumed with flowers I wanted to dab some on myself, but I sipped it instead and it  was like aromatherapy. The June liqueur really brightened the taste of the Prosecco, adding fragrance and dimension.
L’Esprit de June would make a novel holiday gift for a wine and spirits lover or an unusual addition to your home bar for holiday parties. A tall, attractive bottle with a distinctive orange bottle cap is $29.99 and comes from Euro Wine Gate.