Gina Dallara: August 2009 Archives

If the Glass Fits

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A Sommelier's Take on the Supposedly Perfect Glass

by Courtney Cochran


As a little girl I believed that, really truly, Cinderella's glass slipper was made just for her. Not only had she gone through all that heartache and pain before finally getting her chance with the prince, she had such a perfectly tiny foot it seemed like destiny that she'd wind up not only wearing the shoe, but wed to the dashing guy.

Fast forward about 20-some years to last night, when I found myself seated in a comfy conference room at the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco, thinking not so much of fairy tale princesses as fairy tale stemware. I was assembled there with more than a dozen wine journalists, all gazing skeptically at a very dapper Austrian dude at the front of the room.

Although not exactly a prince, Georg Riedel is most definitely cut of an elegant mold. The current head of his family's renowned Austrian glassmaking firm, Riedel was there in his fancy suit and clipped accent to tell us all how, really truly, wine tastes better when it's served in his Sommelier series glasses. Only this time he had a much tougher audience than Cinderella's impressionable four-year-olds!

DIY WINE

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homewinemaking.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Who says that when it comes to winemaking you have to leave it all to the pros? Turns out there's never been a better time than today to make your own wine, whether you're set on doing so solo in your own home, with a group at your local wine shop or at one of the popular new custom crush facilities. The wine world, you see, is your oyster - or perhaps we should say, your Cabernet.

Home Winemaking
Home winemaking has been around for millennia, though it really picked up in popularity during the Prohibition era, when Americans were allowed to make a limited quantity of wine at home for their own consumption. Techniques for home winemaking have improved since then, though many of the practice's most staunch adherents continue to use fairly basic techniques (for more on how to begin making wine inexpensively at home, consider picking up the well-received The Way to Make Wine: How to Craft Superb Table Wines at Home.

New In Napa: August 09

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EstateCave1_LargeWeb.JPGBy Courtney Cochran

Home to some 300 wineries, Napa Valley is the engine that drives California's booming wine industry. It's also a place where history, art, hospitality and a search for perfection collide to produce some of the most compelling products and experiences Wine Country has to offer. Read on for new developments in this "land of plenty" in our own backyard.
twitter_grapes.jpegBy Courtney Cochran

Just a few weeks ago I spent a half hour on the phone "tweducating" a long time wine industry veteran on how to use Twitter, the microblogging site that allows anyone to post 140-character-or-less updates on everything from food and wine to software and current events (the Iran political protests gained worldwide notoriety nearly instantaneously thanks to Twitter). After we'd noodled the nuances of hash tags, handles and what's appropriate to post (hint: don't tweet the details of your latest root canal; we REALLY don't need to know you just got the novacaine), the subject of harvest came up.

Wine Forward: iPhone Wine Applications

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iphone_app.jpegBy Courtney Cochran

Made from scores of regions, hundreds of varieties, thousands of producers and newly released each vintage year, wine is one of the most data-challenged consumer goods we enjoy. But now, thanks to a host of fancy new iPhone and iPod Touch-compatible applications, sorting through the dizzying array of wine selections in stores, restaurants and even in your own cellar is getting a whole lot easier. Read on for our picks for top applications to fuel your Wine Country lifestyle; they make researching, scoring, sharing and even buying wine a snap - and they let you do it all from the palm of your hand.

Get Rave Reviews - Host Your Own Wine Tasting!

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Submitted by My Wines Direct

The reviews are in on the My Wines Direct Home Tasting Party Kit, and the critics agree...hosting your own wine party can be fun and easy! The group over at WineMavens.com sampled our Tasting Party Kit and here's what they had to say:

"Lots of legs"
"Smells like vodka"
"I don't really know why I like it but I do."

You'd think my friend Meredith was describing a blurry night in a hotel room in Vegas. You can just imagine the sunglasses, venti Starbucks and the six of us Sorority sisters ohing and ahing and digging for details at brunch the next day a la Sex and the City. But alas, that will be saved for another write-up my friends. I am in fact quoting from an event much more morning-after friendly (and with many fewer embarrassing pictures) and appropriate for our everyday grape enjoyment: a wine tasting party I threw with a rockin set up designed by My Wines Direct. No miniskirt or VIP pass necessary. You don't even need to know the difference between a merlot and a cab. Well maybe you'd want to, but your party will end with many more memorable comments when your guests aren't the biggest imbibers of the vino.


Wine "Made In Hong Kong" A Hit

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By Courtney Cochran

Though wine drinking in Hong Kong is ever on the rise, it still came as a surprise to me when I heard that wine is being made in the city. After all, the flashy metropolis is made of mostly concrete and steel - there's nary a vineyard in site. Having recently visited City Winery in NYC, however, the pieces started coming together as I began to envision the newly faddish urban winery concept taking root overseas - and it turns out that's exactly what's going on in Hong Kong.

Cayenne You Drink Wine With That?!

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Honing in on the best wines for hot fare

by Courtney Cochran

There are few places in the world where people get as excited about eclectic cuisine as they do in Northern California. This truth was at the top of my mind while I reflected on a spirited Cajun-style crawfish boil I attended at a private home in Napa a while ago.

There, an excited group of wine industry luminaries had waited anxiously while two giant pots' worth of crawfish freshly harvested from the Sacramento River cooked over several hours in piquant Cajun spices. After a protracted cocktail/cooking hour, the pots of boiled crustaceans were poured out onto newspapers spread on an outdoor table for a southern-style alfresco meal. The guests, taking cues from a host with Louisiana roots, rolled up their sleeves and dove into the crawfish, ultimately polishing off the entire batch before retiring to nurse their over-spiced taste buds over conversation and cold beer.

"Something Sinister at Work"?

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wineadvocate.jpegRobert Parker's Bitch Weighs In On Wine Ratings
By Courtney Cochran

You have to hand it to Tina Caputo (Twitter handle @winebroad), the feisty young editor of Vineyard & Winery Management Magazine: she's got guts.  To wit, one only need spend 26 minutes watching her 2009 documentary, the controversially titled "Robert Parker's Bitch: The Wine Media's Influence on Winemaking," to grasp the degree to which she goes out on a limb to explore the idea that two influential wine critics - Robert Parker and Wine Spectator's James Laube - wield too much power over the evolving wine style in Wine Country.

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