When the weather turns warm many of us feel inclined to pursue decidedly spring-like activities. Our short list of favorites includes spending time outdoors, foraging for fresh produce at farmer's markets and seeking out new wines to pair with the season's exuberant flavors and favorable forecast. Read on for some of our favorite selections for spring, along with - naturally - advice on food pairings and occasions for sipping. Santé!
Wine Drinking: March 2008 Archives
By Robert Farmer
Years ago, before I began actually appreciating wine, I attended parties that featured wine that poured from a box. Granted, I was college-age or just a bit older, and the demographic of these parties was such that box wine was to be expected--indeed it was typically appreciated by the very few in attendance not drinking beer. But it also had the stigma of being, well, cheap. And in my more recent years, which have brought a personal wine-drinking evolution, little has changed my perception of that stigma.
By Robert Farmer
An ongoing debate among my wine-drinking friends and me is centered on the nature of so-called "big" red wines. Those who know me know that I like Big. Not saying I prefer big wines exclusively, but given the opportunity, I will call up something chewy, something that packs a punch, something with a more than a little heft. Typically that means I go for a substantial California Cabernet. But increasingly, big wines are being bottled in a number of varietals, and the phenomenon -- like so many other trends in wine - is causing it's fair share of controversy.
Fresh back from Miami, I have to say that the sunny spot is without a doubt a city that knows how to party. And so I wasn't surprised to learn today that charismatic designer Christian Audigier - who shot to fame in the '90s as the man behind the eponymous Von Dutch brand, a favorite among celebrities and musicians, and who now oversees Ed Hardy clothing - chose Miami as the spot to debut his new wine brand, The Cool Wine (http://myspace.com/thecoolwine), at a star-studded affair late last year.
With juice coming from vineyards in Audigier's native France and distribution taken care of by Southern Wine & Spirits, The Cool Wine seems to have all the pieces in place for success as a traditional wine brand. But with packaging comprised of screw cap-topped bottles and boxes covered with colorful tattoo-inspired artwork, The Cool Wine is as much eye candy as beverage, as much fashion statement as libation - hardly traditional attributes in this long-staid industry. Watch for versions of the trendsetting stuff made from Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay and also a Rosé on store shelves and (naturally) bottle lists in nightclubs soon.
In what strikes me as a very smart move, San Francisco-based technology company BuzzLogic (buzzlogic.com ) recently launched a video blog (that's "v-log" for you techies) dubbed "The BuzzLogic Vino Diaries" in which a company staffer interviews guests while sipping wine. Shot in wine bars in San Francisco's tech-centric SoMa district, episodes explore social media topics such as blogging and online communities against the backdrop of a wine tasting.
And while some may dismiss BuzzLogic's use of wine tasting in its videos as a gimmick to make tech talk seem sexier, I see it as a clever move to differentiate the company's v-logs from the many other tech-themed videos that hit the Web each day. You can judge for yourself any time by perusing completed episodes online, or wait just a couple of weeks and check out an interview/tasting with yours truly. That's right, I'll be a guest on an upcoming episode that's being shot this week, and you can check back here for a link to watch it when it's live. And in a move befitting the social networking bent of BuzzLogic, their editor found me - but of course - on Facebook.
Okay first things first. In light of recent news about books being published by authors who simply make things up and claim them as real, I'll admit: I've never been wine tasting in Georgia. But I'll also admit, the Wine Highway Weekend they've got scheduled for March 29 and 30 sounds like something I need to do. Yes, wine tasting in Georgia. And what better way to discover the wines of the Peach State than during an official event designed to garner awareness for the region's burgeoning wine industry?
Like California's, Georgia's wine industry has its roots in the 1800s, before being crushed by Prohibition. But its favorable grape-growing climate, with steep, well-drained hillsides, excellent soil qualities, and warm summers, remained. It wasn't long before grape growers returned and got vines in the ground and by the 1980s, the industry began to blossom again. Today, the Winegrowers Association of Georgia counts ten member wineries, located along the Wine Highway, north and west of Atlanta. During the special event weekend, member wineries and affiliate members will each feature open houses, including barrel tastings, food pairings, and live music.
It may be time to start thinking about heading south for Spring. For information, visit www.georgiawine.com.
As further evidence of wine's inexorable march to the fore of America's pop culture consciousness, Estancia today announced its official sponsorship of the new LeAnn Rimes video, Good Friends and a Glass of Wine. The video - which features the famed country chanteuse and a bevy of her real-life friends relaxing while sipping Estancia Pinot Noir and Chardonnay - celebrates the role of wine in creating an atmosphere of reflection and rejuvenation after a hard day's work.
The announcement marks another high note for wine as it continues to grow in popularity among Americans of all (legally appropriate) ages and socioeconomic backgrounds. It also comes across as a well-timed strategic move by Estancia - a long-established brand seeking to update its image by way of a staring role in a chart-topping song by one of today's most popular young musicians. Sounds right on key to me.