Welcome to Imbibe Magazine's between-issues look at liquid culture with drink recipes, news and more. From coffee to cocktails, Imbibe celebrates your world in a glass.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Drink of the Week: 2008 Ponzi Arneis

With ideal weather patterns throughout the spring, summer and fall, 2008 is looking like an exceptional vintage for winemakers in Oregon's Willamette Valley, and today's Drink of the Week is a perfect example. Ponzi wines rarely disappoint, and their 2008 Arneis is no exception. Ponzi is the only winery in Oregon producing Arneis, an Italian varietal traditionally grown in Italy's Northern Piedmonte region, and their 2008 vintage is crisp and vibrant with a touch of minerality and juicy notes of fresh apple and pear. This is a great summer wine perfect for pairing with chicken, fish or a fresh fruit salad, and at $20 a bottle, the price is just right.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Two Weeks to Tales

Tales of the Cocktail is only two weeks away, and we're already gearing up for the festivities. The schedule of seminars and tastings looks great this year, but we're especially looking forward to the Spirited Dinners, which we're sponsoring with St. Germain. We've seen all of the pairing menus for this year's dinners, and we're seriously blown away by the creativity. The bartenders and chefs collaborating this year are really taking things up a notch, so anyone planning to attend has a lot to look forward to. A number of the dinners are already selling out, so if you've had your eyes on a particular venue, be sure to get your tickets quickly so you can secure a seat. We have a sneak peek of the menus on our website, but here's another taste of what's in store at the ZOË dinner, which has Willy Shine and Jacques Bezuidenhout creating cocktails to match dishes from chef Roberto Bustillo in what looks to be an incredible a five-course meal.

Corn-Crusted Scallop
U-10 scallop dusted in ground air-dried corn and seared served over pickled watermelon and candied lardon chow-chow

paired with

Sandia Fresca
2 oz. Del Maguay San Luis mezcal
1 oz. sweet vermouth
1 1⁄4 oz. watermelon juice
1⁄2 oz. Averna
Tools: shaker, strainer
Glass: cocktail

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled glass.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Drink of the Week: Whiskey + Father's Day = Happy Dad

If you’re still looking for a last-minute present for Father’s Day this Sunday (you remembered, right?), today’s Drink(s) of the Week will make the guesswork a little easier. A bottle of whiskey is usually a pretty safe bet for dads, but with the dizzying range of whiskies out there, choosing a style and brand is enough to make you break a sweat. So here are three choices that will have your dad lounging in the La-Z-Boy before you can say, “Thanks, Dad!” If you’re looking for a nice single-malt, The Dalmore 12-Year is a great option. This highland scotch is full and smooth with citrusy and spicy notes and a hint of smokiness. If bourbon’s more your dad’s style, you can’t go wrong with Elmer T. Lee. It’s soft, supple and sweet with a sturdy backbone of honey, fruit, vanilla and spice, and at less than $30 a bottle, it’s an excellent value. And for something a little different, we say go for a bottle of George Dickel #12. This Tennessee whiskey is smooth and creamy yet still a little rough around the edges with a spicy, smoky quality, and at about $20 a bottle, you can’t beat the price. Cheers to dads everywhere!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Georg Riedel's Glass Act

“I’m here to complicate your wine life,” said Georg Riedel with a grin at a recent wine tasting in Portland, where he had landed to evangelize his much-debated position that glassware can impact the flavor and enjoyment of wine. Riedel was planning to make his point by having guests of the tasting sample three different wines made from Pinot Noir grapes in four different glasses (and a plastic airplane cup): the Overture Magnum glass (non-varietal specific), the Vinum Burgundy, the Vinum XL Pinot Noir and the Vinum Extreme Pinot Noir. While the three Vinum glasses are only slightly different in shape, each is designed for a specific style of Pinot Noir. “The glass is like the wing of an airplane,” Riedel said. “The shape of the wing shapes the flow of air over the plane.” Eyebrows raised.

With each glass holding a small pour of 2006 Estate Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley Vineyards, we were instructed to swirl, sniff and taste each one. “When the wine comes on your palate it immediately paints a flavor picture,” Riedel explained in his authoritative, Austrian accent. The Overture glass presented the Willamette Valley Pinot nicely, but simply, while the Vinum XL showed subtle nuances and bright fruit not found before. A show of hands indicated that for this Pinot Noir, the Vinum XL was the audience pick, with the Burgundy glass in a close second, and most finding the Vinum Extreme highlighting too much tannin and not enough fruit in the wine. Okay, I’m partially sold.

Next up, we sampled Hanzell’s 2005 Pinot Noir from Sonoma in each of the four glasses, and while it fared well in each one, different components of the wine emerged in the varying glasses: yeast in the Overture; lots of barrel-sweetness in the Burgundy; soft, but too-subtle rose petals in the XL. Like Goldilocks searching for “just right,” the audience chose the Vinum Extreme glass for this wine, which perfectly incorporated roasty, toasty barrel notes with the right amount of fruit, acidity and tannin.

For the final experiment, we tasted the 2002 Le Plan des Dames Premier Cru from Domaine Rion Chambolle-Musigny in all four glasses. The previous demos had convinced me that aromas and flavors of wine do, in fact, change with the glassware, but this wine left me stunned. What tasted dusty and muted in the Overture glass came across as fresh in the Vinum XL and forward in the Vinum Extreme. But it shone its brightest, as an Old World classic, in the Vinum Burgundy glass, which harmoniously integrated all of those single characteristics into one delicious glass. (On the other hand, out of curiosity, my coworker poured some of her Premier Cru into the plastic airplane cup and after a sniff and sip, said, “A wine like this would taste good in anything.”)

All in all, the impact of a tasting like this can largely be framed by the experience itself and the allure of Riedel’s zealous demonstration, but regardless, the tasting was an intriguing look at how aroma and flavors can shift within the subtleties of a glass. Whether or not I’m completely sold, I did find myself nudging open a little extra shelf space in my home bar for a few new wine glasses.

For more on Georg Riedel, check out "House of Glass" in the January/February 2009 issue of Imbibe.

—Tracy Howard

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

More Great Coffee for NYC

Tomorrow, Counter Culture Coffee will celebrate the grand opening of its new training center in New York City. This is another boon for a city that has been experiencing a serious coffee explosion over the past couple of years. The training center will provide coffee education and training for both pros and home enthusiasts and will be open to the public every Friday for weekly cuppings. If you'll be in Manhattan tomorrow evening, the grand opening will be a fun chance to check out Counter Culture's new digs, sample some delicious coffee and meet Aida Batlle of Finca Mauritania in El Salvador. Following the grand opening, there will also be a special tasting of Aida's coffees on Friday at noon. Take our word, Finca Mauritania grows some of the finest coffee in the world, so it's well worth trying.

Counter Culture NYC Training Center
Grand Opening Celebration
Thursday, June 18, 7–9 p.m
37 W. 26th St., Suite 400
New York, NY

Monday, June 15, 2009

New Poll: Cast Your Vote!

Poor Merlot, so maligned and misunderstood. And rosé—if only you weren't so misjudged by your color. So many wines never get their fair due because of common misconceptions. Which wine do you think is the most under-rated? Cast your vote in our latest Web poll. Voting just opened, and so far Merlot and Shiraz are in the lead.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Drink of the Week: Fever-Tree Ginger Beer

We hear the complaint often: why don't a lot of the ginger beers out there actually taste like ginger? So many are extra sweet with other flavors getting in the way of a nice gingery bite. Not so with Fever-Tree's version, set to roll out in stores across the U.S. next month. Known for their all-natural premium sodas, especially their well-crafted tonic water, Fever-Tree's ginger beer has all the spice you could ever ask for with a pure ginger flavor and not too much sweetness. It contains Nigerian and Ecuadorian ginger, and while it's great on it own, it's also strong enough to hold up to spirits, like rum for a classic Dark and Stormy. Fever-Tree's sodas are available in select specialty spirits shops as well as grocery stores around the country, such as Whole Foods and Wegman's. This ginger beer may not be as easy to get your hands on as more mainstream brands, but it's definitely worth the search.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dueling Sommeliers

For the third year in a row, four Portland sommeliers are duking it out with their weapons of choice, varietals and terroir. At stake are honor, respect and bragging rights as having the city’s best palate. Started by Heathman Hotel sommelier Jeff Groh as a way to educate dinner-goers about paring wine with food, the Dueling Sommelier Dinner Series invites four of the city’s top oenophiles to suggest wines that they think best complement each course of a four-course dinner. The catch: Not only do they get a meager budget of $70 (wholesale) per meal, but the dinner guests also taste the wines blindly, and with each course, vote on which sommelier’s pick paired best. The series runs over four dinners throughout the summer, with the same four sommeliers competing for a spot in the final round, where the two with the top cumulative scores battle it out, vino a vino. For the first dinner, the sommeliers had to pair wines with everything from quail to monkfish to wild boar. Here are the guests’ top picks:

Strawberry-lacquered Quail Stuffed with Seared Foie Gras
Pairing Pick: 2006 Montevertine Pian del Ciampolo Toscana IGT
A slightly chilled Italian blend of Sangiovese and Canaiolo might seem like a surprising choice, but the soft strawberry flavors in the wine perfectly complemented the gamy poultry, while a hefty boost from the tannins easily sliced through the richness of foie gras.

Roasted Monkfish with Fava Beans and Morels
Pairing Pick: 2006 Amalie Robert Chardonnay
Monkfish met its match with this Dijon-clone, Oregon Chardonnay, which picked up the subtle earthiness of the morels, but didn’t overpower the mild fish.

Wild Boar Pot au Feu
Pairing Pick: 2006 Scott Paul La Paulée Pinot Noir
Again, an unexpected choice to some, but the brightness of the ripe raspberry fruit accented the delicate flavors of the boar, while the sharp acidity was a nice contrast to the leanness of the meat.

Roasted Apricot Rice Pudding with Ginger Lychee Sauce
Pairing Pick: 2008 Paolo Saracco Moscato d'Asti
Sweet, effervescent bubbles are a great way to end any meal, and the stone-fruit flavors and creamy finish of this moscato perfectly highlighted the roasted apricots and rice pudding.

The sommeliers are set to duel again at the Heathman on June 20 with the challenge of pairing wines with ricotta gnocchi, red wine-braised squid, lamb confit and a strawberry-and-pistachio tart.

Photo courtesy John Valls and The Heathman. Sommeliers pictured left to right: Jack Holt of Castagna, Andy Zalman of Higgins, Jeff Groh of The Heathman and Jeff Moore of Wildwood.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Drink of the Week: Full Sail LTD 03

We love this time of year not only becauce we finally get a break from the cold, soggy winter here in Portland, but also because it means it's time for summer seasonals in the beer world. So we were especially happy this week to receive Full Sail's latest limited-edition summertime release, the LTD 03. This golden pilsner is is packed with floral notes (jasmine, honeysuckle) on the nose, with just the slightest spicy hint of clove. On the palate, it's crisp and light, with floral notes, a touch of breadiness, and a nicely restrained hoppy bitterness that carries you all the way through the clean, refreshing finish. We can't wait to drink this with some barbecued chicken or fish and chips. Either way, it's just the thing to sip while lazing around in the sun this summer. Available through September, it retails for about $7 a six-pack.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

June's Where to Drink Now: Barbrix

“I hate to admit it, but I’ve been around for a while,” says Claudio Blotta, co-owner of the recently opened Barbrix, whose resume spans 27 years and is dotted with longtime Los Angeles hotspots like Campanile and La Brea Bakery. No wonder residents of LA’s Silver Lake neighborhood have quickly taken notice of his new restaurant and wine bar, which he opened with his wife, Adria, three weeks ago. With a concept that focuses more on casual than chic, the Blottas have created a literally homey environment, converting a former house into a 70-seat bar, dining room and outdoor patio.

The wine list offers a taste of everything from Argentina to Slovenia, with $6 to $10 glass pours and bottles available for as little as $19. And the beer list, while abbreviated, features some interesting and food-friendly brews, like Stiegl Gold and Schneider Edel-Weisse. As for the food, think farmer’s-market fresh with Mediterranean flare: highlights include creamy deviled eggs with bouquerones, farro salad and roasted pork belly, as well as an impressive cheese and charcuterie menu.

2242 Hyperion Ave., Los Angeles; 323-662-2442; barbrix.com

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

New Imbibe Sips Episode: Ice

The talented Jeff Morgenthaler is back this week with an all-new episode of Imbibe Sips. In this episode Jeff walks through the three main styles of ice and what types of cocktails they're best used for. Summer is finally here, so there's no better time to brush up on your ice knowledge so you can start making swizzles and juleps like a pro. And to learn more than you ever thought there was to know about ice, check out Paul Clarke's excellent feature from the Sept/Oct issue of Imbibe.