So many choices for hundreds of guests!
Candleman had a plan for these later…did you check it out?
The band that played as guests entered were a perfect pairing for the start of what was to be a pretty grand event.
Many wineries participated, as did restaurants and vendors. I only have a sampling here but the event encompassed the length of two football fields. Did you miss anything? It would have been hard!
Shout out to friends Diane at Ecluse, Chantel at AV Winery, Steve Lemley and Nate Hasper at Pulchella, Vicki H at Opolo, Chef Tamra Levine and Greg Amsler, owner of Salt Creek Grille, Ginny F. helping you at checkout, Julie and Steve S., Robert S., Tony and Nicole S., and David Schutz for inviting me.
Many of us are familiar with beer and wine, but there is another enjoyable drink that fits into this category that people are not familiar with and that is meads. The immediate response that I generally get is, “what is mead?” Mead is basically fermented honey and is often called honey wine.
Mead dates back to more than 8,000 years. The oldest known meads were created on the Island of Crete. Wine had not yet been created. Mead was the drink of the Age of Gold, and the word for drunk in classical Greek was “honey-intoxicated.” Mead is also said to have been around before the creation of beer. The Romans called mead “ambrosia” and believed that this drink was sent to them by the gods hence the term, “Nectar of the Gods.”
Mead has been made and enjoyed by Celtic nations for centuries. Ireland has had a long-standing love affair with Mead. In Celtic cultures, Mead was believed to enhance virility and fertility. The term “honeymoon” is believed to have stemmed from the Irish tradition of newlyweds drinking honey wine everyday for one full moon (a month) after their weddings. Mead was also believed to be an aphrodisiac and would also increase the chances for a woman to conceive boys. The traditional mead toast to newlyweds as a fair tribute to times and well wishes of both old and new is still practiced.
The interesting thing about meads is that there are many styles for one to choose from. Meads are made and sold based on honey source or varietal blossom and according to sweetness level. Meads can range from cloyingly sweet to bone dry. Most meads are produced un-carbonated, but there are some carbonated or sparkling meads. Alcohol content is about the same as most wines (9-12%). Some meads have additional ingredients producing styles outside of the typical meads that are only made with honey, water and sugar. Selecting a mead that satisfies your palate is no different than choosing a wine style. There are many to choose from. Below is a list of different styles of mead:
- Braggot – mead 50% beer / 50% mead.
- Cyser – mead to which apple juice is added (making cyser part cider).
- Hippocras – a spiced pyment (a mead made with grape juice and spices).
- Melomel – mead to which fruit juices other than apple or grape are added.
- Metheglin – mead to which herbs and spices such as cloves, cinnamon, etc. are added.
- Morat – mead to which mulberries are added.
- Pyment – mead to which grape juice is added.
A simple mead made with honey, water and yeast resembles a Riesling wine in both aroma and taste. As with Riesling wines, they can be sweet, dry or somewhere in between. The key ingredient for meads is the choice of honey. Many are available. Pure varietal, or “single-source” honey which is most highly prized as they add taste complexity. Varietal honeys are defined as those that are derived primarily from a single blossom, such as Fireweed, Tupelo or Orange Blossom.
A while back, I opened a bottle of mead that my brother-in-law made over 15 years ago, and poured it for Jeff and Katlin at Valencia Wine Company. Neither had ever been exposed to honey wines. Katlin actually was blind tasted on it and the comments from both were that it was like a fine Riesling or white wine. The clarity of the mead and the elegance of the flavor profile was phenomenal. The difference from a Riesling wine was that this mead, like most, had background aromas and flavors of the honey from which it was made. In this case, it was clover from a Canyon Country California honey supplier on Sierra Hwy. I sure wish my brother-in-law would have written down the process and ingredients that he used. I still have five 22 oz. bottles of this gorgeous mead left. The key to making excellent mead is to not destroy the aromatics of the honey during the process of making it. This mead was a fine example of a perfectly made mead.
If you are in the mood for a change, purchase a few different styles of mead and give them a try. You may find that you really enjoy this unique Nectar of the Gods. Being a home brewer, I really enjoy the braggots. The last one that I had was a clover honey mead and an oatmeal stout beer. It was unbelievable, what a combination!
New York, NY (October 1, 2008) – Miami mixologist John Lermayer won the 2008 National Bar Chef Challenge with two uniquely crafted Domaine de Canton cocktails. The Bar Chef Challenge was held on July 18 in New Orleans during Tales of the Cocktail, one of the country’s most extensive and respected cocktail festivals.
The Bar Chef Challenge, created by famed Mixologist Dale DeGroff, tests the limits, imagination and skills of the industry’s best bartenders and mixologists. The competition challenged seven premiere mixologists from across the country to create two cocktails in 40 minutes using a “secret ingredient” – ginger marmalade. Lermayer swept the competition and wowed the judges with two Domaine de Canton infused cocktails. The Rittenhouse Rose combines Domaine de Canton, Rittenhouse Rye, sweet rosemary ginger beer, apple juice, ginger marmalade, and muddled lemon. The Alana Marie is made with Charbay Walnut liqueur, sweet ginger basil cream whipped with Domaine de Canton, vanilla raspberry float, and topped with Lambic Framboise Beer and black walnut drizzle.
John Cooper, founder of Domaine de Canton, said of Lermayer’s win, “John did an amazing job demonstrating Domaine de Canton’s versatility in two fantastic cocktails.”
Lermayer, originally from New York City, has spent the last 10 years as Miami’s premiere mixologist. After honing his skills at The Shore Club’s Skybar, Lermayer was handpicked by Lenny Kravitz and Morgans Hotel Group’s Ben Pundole to become lead mixologist at The Florida Room at the Delano Hotel. Lermayer is known for using the freshest ingredients in his vast list of cocktail creations. His distinctive Florida Room cocktails have a loyal celebrity following which includes Eva Longoria, John Mayer and Jamie Foxx.
The Bar Chef Competition was co-hosted by Food Goddess Lorin Gaudin and Kevin Brauch, host of Thirsty Traveler on the Fine Living Network. The judging panel included industry heavyweights such as renowned mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim and distinguished chef John Besh. The event took place during Tales of the Cocktail, which is presented annually by non-profit organization The New Orleans Culinary and Cultural Preservation Society. Held in the illustrious French Quarter, Tales of the Cocktail draws thousands of the nation’s top food and beverage professionals, journalists, authors, mixologists, chefs, and bartenders. The five-day affair is packed with stimulating events such as dinner-pairings, seminars, competitions, cocktail demonstrations, and tastings.About Domaine de Canton
Domaine de Canton, the world’s first super premium ginger liqueur, is made with fresh, all natural ingredients such as handpicked Vietnamese baby ginger, Tahitian vanilla, Provençal orange blossom honey and Tunisian ginseng. In Jarnac, the heart of France’s cognac region, Domaine de Canton is infused with VSOP and Grand Champagne cognac. Together, these carefully blended ingredients create an intense and complex taste that is delicious and sublime. Product Availability
Domaine de Canton retails for $32.00 a bottle and is available at chic night spots, fine restaurants, and wine & spirits retailers in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia.
I have been to this classy event at the TPC Country Club every year since its start. This is how I holiday shop. I try the wines and buy the wines. Sounds simple? It is. Guy Lelarge does all of the work in the most comprehensive tasting available locally. Look for me there smiling all day long as my shopping list is checked off. One great bottle at a time. All you have to do for now is click to enlarge the image. Or be lazy like me and just call them before the usual sell out occurs: 661-254-9300
What would you pair with a fried Twinkie?
It’s a scorching hot day at the LA County Fair. We’re surrounded by chocolate covered bacon, the smallest and biggest horse exhibitions and rides to make your stomach…lurch. Would you wine taste there?
My group of 4 signed up for a “Zin Madness” tasting and then a class called “Box vs. Bottle”. We were all looking forward to getting out of the heat and sitting down. The Zins came first.
I liked the look of the LA International Wine & Spirits Marketplace flanked on three walls with wine, beer and full bar as well as olive oil tastings. The fourth wall was curtained off for the wine tastings. We waited in a brief line and then were told where to sit. Like Disneyland, we were to fill all available space, in what we assumed to be their hopes of maximizing the tasting.
I was already thinking that tasting the award-winning wines might be better at the walk up bars where you could choose what you wanted to drink by the glass.
The wines were already poured – except for the barrel sample seen above – when we sat down and waited 15 minutes for the tasting to start. The room, which did not feel air-conditioned, paired well with the wines that hadn’t been properly chilled to anything resembling a recent cellar visit.
We politely waited for the speakers to begin. Two of the judges were local men that seemed to direct most of their private, albeit microphoned, banter to their friends in the first 2 rows. But, being a good sport I was still open to learning and taking notes from them:
Chuck Keagle: Founder and owner of several Corona restaurants.
Donald Galleano: Third generation winegrower in the Cucamonga Valley.
Sally Mohr, MS (Master Sommelier): Owner of Boulder Wine Merchant.
We got a lesson on Zin from Donald, starting with its early production during prohibition by the local groups of Europeans making wine. Sally told us it was okay to put ice in our wine when it’s this hot (we didn’t, nor was it available) and that the term “old vines” on a label wasn’t regulated so could mean anything from 10 to 100 year old vines. Chuck said the market was subject to annual fads and trends.
We tried 2 ounce pours of 6 wines (How is 6 a Zin “Madness”?)
Carol Shelton Wines, Zinami, Old Vine Zindandel, North Coast, Silver Medal $15, no vintage year given. (**out of *****EB)
Bogle Vineyards, Old Vine Zinfandel, California, 2007, Best of Class, $11 (*EB)
Rosenblum Cellars, Zinfandel, Harris Kratka Vineyard, Alexander Valley, 2006 Silver Medal, $35 (no stars, EB. I wouldn’t pay for it but I know the Rosenblum Zins can be good so I am blaming it on the heat, as I might attribute to all of these poor showings.)
Cline Cellars, ancient vine Zinfandel, California, 2007, Bronze Medal, $15.99. (no stars)
Guglielmo Family Winery, Zinfandel, Private Reserve Estate, Santa Clara Valley, 2006, Best of Class, $18 (no stars)
Galleano Winery, Zinfandel, Barrel Sample. (It was brown, no stars)
We were done. 45 minutes of my life I’ll never get back. Thinking this was the high-end of the two classes we had signed up for we quickly took a vote and decided to skip the second class. And, because we were so turned off, we decided not to stay in the hot pavilion any longer.
“Remember when it was free?” I overheard one passerby say to a friend and I had to wonder, when, and why, did they charge? There wasn’t enough value in paying for a class when you could order a glass of your choice at their bar.
Would we fair/fare better at a fair in Northern California, or in any coastal region, where our grapes are getting a wee bit more water?
The pairing, served with a very sparse plate of cheeses and Goldfish crackers may have gone better had they just paired it with battered deep-fried…cork.
So, in my frustration I think we should buy wine based on what we know we like, a scoring system we trust…but a medal alone? Maybe not. Only if you have it in the right place, with the right temperature and, the right fare…or Fair.
In closing, I feel that I’d have fair-ed better had I researched what to expect from a Fair’s tasting. If you’ve been to one please let me know what you liked, or didn’t, in your own experience. Wine 101ers need to know!
Usually I attend wine events and write about them. Pretty simple. But several weeks ago a friend asked me to volunteer with her, “for fun”, at The Wine Affair: Sip, Stroll & Savor the Sounds. My husband was working that day anyway, so I thought, why not? Last year I attended the event and wrote about it (A reprint of that was up this past month to remind people to buy their tickets – the event was a sell-out.)
When I was assigned to help Cathy Craig serve Silkwood wines inside Ro, Ma Jewelers I thought I scored – Yes! Inside! The heat had been unbearable and this past Sunday was to be the threshold of 100+ degree days with just enough humidity to put me over the edge…
So I show up for duty. I check in with the Soroptimist International of Greater Santa Clarita Valley and get my schedule. Five hours with Cathy pouring wine. I’d never done it before, and right away Cathy told me to scoot out and enjoy the event, but she was all alone with all that wine…so I stayed put.
My friend, the one that signed me up, had one hour of hostessing to do and then she went off and bought tickets to do the event without me!
This said friend shall remain nameless…but we do have the same number of “e”s in our name… And I still dig her!
So, fast forward, I’m trying to learn how to use those pesky do-dads that serve a two ounce pour. I can’t do it. I don’t have the right wrist action or something. I finally learn that I have to invert the bottle completely to get it to work right and concern myself, for the rest of the day, with the idea that I may not be able to pour without one as I will mistakenly invert my bottles at home…
I pour, Cathy opens, she explains her wine, I mark off tickets. We have a system going. She lets me talk to wine 101ers that were seeking Eve/Waldo per my Twitter (Where is Eve/Waldo now?) without complaint. When I try and talk to more than 3 friends at a time and tip over a bottle of opened wine at the table – Cathy resists the urge to put a cork in me.
It was great fun. I would do it again. If Cathy will have me…
Here is the important stuff:
I got to drink endless amounts of Silkwood’s Red Duet (50% Cab & 50% Syrah), Syrah and Petite Syrah. (My favorite: Petite Syrah. ) And since we shared a table with Leona Valley Winery I also got a few pours of their wine. (My favorite: 2004 Fault Line Shiraz.)
I did get to visit a couple of friends before the event started: Victor Herstein from Vic Rocks was setting up his band, Guy Lelarge was preping his classy wine bar for 400 guests, locals Steve Lemley and Nate Hasper where ready to introduce their Pulchella wines and Greg Amsler was prepping Salt Creek Grille’s patio in style. I wish I could have gotten to see more of the workers, as I was one of them this day, but was happy to serve a great organization. One that let me drink while I work!
Since we had such rave reviews about the last Wine Dinner, we are doing another one in October. This time there will be a Halloween twist complete with Vampire Wines and costumes!