Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Summer Sipping

The warmer months are my favorite time of the year to enjoy wine. That's because my tastes run to clean, refreshing, palate-cleansing wines, usually with zippy acidity, and citrus or berry flavors, especially Sauvignon Blanc and dry rosés. Wines that complement the lighter, zestier fare we usually eat in summer appeal me to me more than weighty, intense wines that compete with the flavors of what's on my plate. Recently, I've tasted a bumper crop of just such wines that come with moderate alcohol levels and reasonable price tags -- more reasons to drink them. I highly recommend the following:

2013 Santa Julia Innovacion, Chenin Blanc-Chardonnay blend, $9.99 (1 liter bottle), Argentina, Vegan-friendly. Available at Whole Foods.

Deccolio Prosecco, $12.99, Italy, Kosher for Passover. Available at Whole Foods.

2012 El Perro Verde, $14.99, Angel Lorenzo Cachazo, Verdejo, Spain. Available at Whole Foods.

2013 Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc, $28, New Zealand. Available in every U.S. state.

2013 Las Rocas Rosé, $14, Calatayud, Spain. 

2013 Dry Creek Vineyard Dry Chenin Blanc, $12, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma.

2013 Dry Creek Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, $18, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma. 

2013 Dry Creek Vineyard Fumé Blanc, $14, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma.

2012 LoveBlock Pinot Gris, $24, Marlborough, New Zealand.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

New Vino!

Juice pouches for adults. 

That's basically what Nuvino is: premium wine from around the world in a lightweight, single-serve pouch with a spout. Its developers tout the advantages over wine as it is traditionally sold: Nuvino pouches are easy, convenient, portable, unbreakable, resealable and come in eco-friendly packaging.

No heavy glass bottles, corks, corkscrews or fragile glassware.
I like the idea that you can taste the fruit of vastly different vineyards on various continents for a $3.99 investment: Sauvignon Blanc from Chile’s Maule Valley, Chardonnay from South Africa’s Cape Winelands,  Malbec from Mendoza’s Maipú wine region in Argentina; and a Red Blend from Australia’s Swan Hill wine region.

PreservPak technology preserves the nuances of the wines for up to 18 months while adding no flavors of its own. It is available in 16 states, starting this month, and will be nationwide by the end of the year.

And the wine? I tasted the Sauvignon Blanc and the Chardonnay and they were not displeasing or, put another way, perfectly drinkable. You won't find nuances of tropical fruit, forest floor, weighty mouthfeel or powerful intensity, but I don't think the intended customers for Nuvino (Millennials) are looking for any of that stuff anyway. They're looking for novelty, a drinkable wine, easy portability, maybe even a conversation starter. And it's all here.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

San Francisco's Schroeder's

At times during its 120-year history, Shroeder's German restaurant in the heart of San Francisco's Financial District -- the oldest of its kind on the West Coast -- was a beer hall that admitted men only. This week it is re-opening after a remodel in a handsomely-renovated space that respects its heritage while updating both the environment and the menu for modern sensibilities. As recompense for the past, I am hoping the new owners will institute some version of a ladies night. "Fräulein Fridays" anyone?

Physically, the place is striking. Old murals, wood paneling and the rosewood bar were smartly preserved while harsh lighting is gone and the old linoleum is off the floors, replaced by beautiful wooden floors with tables to match. And the restaurant's new owners, Andy Chun and Jan Wiginton, are bringing the food  back into the beer hall with a staunchly German menu of Bratwurst, Wiener Schnitzel and beef tongue, and the bar focuses on German beer, wine and liquors. Several speciality cocktails developed just for Schroeder's contain at least one German component, such as the refreshing Derby Radler, a German beer cocktail with bourbon, sage liqueur, fennel seed syrup and lemon. The Rieslings range from sweet to dry (as they should), and there are 21 draft beers.


German food is not exactly the height of chic, so kudos to the new owners for making an effort to preserve an historic piece of San Francisco -- and to Chef Manfred Wrembel for adding a contemporary twist to old favorites: the thinly sliced beef tongue is topped with a horseradish creme fraiche, asparagus and capers; the potato pancakes are made with cheddar, apples and beer; and the Spätzle (noodles) are served with corn, tomato, ricotta, and onion blossoms. 

This is definitely not your grandmother's German restaurant.