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Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

Wine

18 Oct 2020
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A lot of interesting conversations happen in a wine shop when customers aren’t around. Sometimes we sit with wine-sales representatives and have a friendly game of one-upmanship regarding who had the better meal with the better bottle of wine on Saturday. Sometimes the conversation is a bit more, ahem, colorful, and we discuss politics, and tariffs, and the infuriating notion that restaurants will always get better prices than retailers. I recently had one of the most thought-provoking discussions I’ve had in years at the wine shop. An experienced wine importer and former general manager of one of the most-famous restaurants in California had just presented an incredible lineup of wines he hand-picks from various countries to distribute in the U.S. We tasted a sensational gruner veltliner/dry riesling blend called Tatomer Hinter der Mauer from the Central Coast of California. He said it was a Gemischter Satz. I said bless you.…
15 Sep 2020
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It’s fall in the desert. Businesses are gearing up for season. Restaurants are training their staff and hiring new faces. Golf courses are being reseeded to unveil new, lush green fairways. Retail shops are stocking up in anticipation of the snowbirds’ arrivals. The airport will soon be packed full of people escaping the northern winter doldrums in exchange for Palm Springs’ idyllic temperatures. Or not. Maybe that was then. Maybe those standard-operating procedures no longer apply. Maybe the freefall into the unknown continues. In any case, life goes on. In my house, we’re talking about Halloween and what that will look like this year. I asked my husband, “Does it really look any different than the last seven months?” But actually, real life is downright terrifying, and everyone is already wearing a mask, so as far as I am concerned, 2020 has been one long and super-icky version of Halloween…
18 Aug 2020
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When the going gets tough, the tough get going—straight to the liquor store. And the not-so-tough are right behind them. If there has been one consistent thing during this pandemic, it’s alcohol consumption. While curling up with a bottle of cabernet might not be the best coping mechanism, if you’re of drinking age, you’re free to self-medicate away. But that has not been the case in South Africa for much of the pandemic: South Africa has twice banned booze, meaning all sales and consumption of alcohol were considered a crime. The first ban was put into place on March 27 and lifted on June 1. Without warning, a second complete prohibition was put in place on July 12, and lifted on Aug. 17. Rightly or wrongly, those bans have had a devastating impact. The idea was simple: If people don’t drink, people can’t get knee-walking, commode-hugging drunk, and that reduces…
16 Jul 2020
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Hello? Australia, are you there? Can you hear me? I completely forgot about you and your wines! And so did a whole lot of others. In Australian wine’s heyday, stores couldn’t keep up with the demand we had for deep and inky Barossa Valley shirazes and Coonawarra cabernets. Inexpensive wines with full-throttle flavors and cheeky names sent Americans into a frenzy. It was the height of bigger-is-better wines—and Australia was at the top of the heap. And then … it all stopped. All of a sudden, no one was looking for those cute little labels with the koalas, or the kangaroos, or the little penguins on them. It was as if it happened overnight. Americans woke up one morning with complete Australia amnesia. Of course, it didn’t help that there was a new kid in town. The Aussie shiraz lovers looking for a juicy, high-octane red that was less than…
15 Jun 2020
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July is the month when we celebrate our independence—the time of year when we come together in sweltering heat to grill up hot dogs and wait patiently for the sky to illuminate with a dazzling display of color. But not this year. Not this July. Instead, most of us will be celebrating our freedom by staying home. Seems ironic. Because this is the month when we look back at how this nation was founded, I thought we could celebrate the grape that is uniquely all-American, and the region where our winemaking roots (pardon the pun) were first established. If I were to ask you what the most historically significant wine region in California was, you probably wouldn’t think of little old Lodi. Lodi wine country has this “red-headed stepchild,” undesirable-neighborhood reputation. I get it. The Central Valley of California does not exactly conjure up images of a bucolic, vine-terraced countryside.…
17 May 2020
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I have kids, so I therefore watch a lot of Disney movies. In the movie WALL-E, the Earth has been destroyed by pollution, so all the humans have been put on a spaceship and blasted out to a far-away galaxy. They all sit in their own private floating chairs, watching their personal little TVs, eating and drinking to their heart's content. They are, for the most part, completely unaware of the people around them. On a side note, they also become tragically obese and barely able to walk. Geez, Disney. When I’m curled up on the couch and watching movies like this with my kids, I have these moments when I think everything is OK. I’m busy at work. People come into the wine shop, and I pour them a little something I have open. I get to chat with wine-sales reps and interact with customers and my co-worker. Aside…
17 Apr 2020
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Here we are, still at home—eating and drinking away another day in the confines of our own kitchen. And while you’re sitting at home wondering what to make for your third lunch or second pre-meal dinner, may I suggest you harness your boredom by turning your kitchen table into a personal food-and-wine experience? I mean, why not? What else are you doing today? I keep hearing people talk about their well-intended goals for this time of quarantine. Meanwhile, I’m over here, like, what wine can I pair with my P.F. Chang’s lettuce cups that will blow my mind? (By the way, the answer is the Union Sacre Belle de Nuit dry gewürztraminer. Ahhh … sublime.) So if you love the idea of food-and-wine pairings, but you’re not sure about all the “rules” and/or don’t know where to start, here is my take on how to have your own food-and-wine pairing…
19 Mar 2020
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The sun is shining. The weather is getting warm. The patio furniture has been brought out of hibernation. For wine lovers, this means one thing … rosé season has arrived. As I began to write this piece, I was all set to recommend my favorite pink beauties and perhaps touch on the strange new mindset in which some people refuse to drink rosé that’s more than a year old. But … instead of celebrating the arrival of the newest, freshest wines, and the arrival of springtime in the valley—with all the amazing events, and parties, and social gatherings—life has been put on hold. We are being told to isolate ourselves while COVID-19 takes its toll on society. Writing about wine in light of everything that is going on seems, well, trite. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized the notion of keeping calm and carrying on…

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