Archive for the ‘wine and food pairing’ Category
“In Order to Make Great Wine, the Vines Must Suffer..”
I attended a recent trade tasting given by the Bureau of Burgundy Wines on Tuesday, April 23rd at the Capital Wine School in Washington, D.C. – it was taught by a very affable and precise Jean-Pierre Renard who took us through history, philosophy and ultimately a tasting of 9 wines from the lowest classification up to a Grand Cru – Corton Grand Cru, les Renardes, 2008 Domaine Maillard.
We covered the basics of Burgundy which can actually be quite confusing. In a nutshell, Burgundy is a region and the wines are named from their location in that region. The basic breakdown is Regional wines, Village wines, Premiere Cru wines and Grands Cru wines, each respective layer being more rare and specific to a smaller number of wines and thus normally costing more as well. If you purchase a regular Bourgogne with little more information on the bottle, it most likely can come from grapes grown anywhere in that region. Village wines have regionality, but are not specific to any site while Premiere Cru and Grands Cru grapes come from specified parcels. Add to this the complexity rule-wise of “climats” which loosely translates according to the speaker as the “DNA of the individual Bourgogne Vineyards” – I actually found a site in English that delves deeper into the climats concept – the “climats”. Climats equates closely with “terroir”..
OK, now that you’re probably totally confused, let me say that much of what the speaker said rang true with what I had learned over the past 15 years at various wine classes and courses.
Burgundy has been producing serious wine since the Roman times, and afterwards the plots of land came from Church donations by nobles – they always gave their worst sites (poorest and rockiest soils) to the local Monasteries. Ironically, the rocky soils and hills they donated actually produce the world’s greatest wines!
The concept of “terroir” has really been developed from the wines of Burgundy more so than any other region – why?
1)They pretty much only use Pinot Noir for red wines and Chardonnay for white wines (a few exceptions like Aligote, but these are not blended)
2)hillside vineyards grow very different quality grapes from vineyards grown in the valley – hillier/higher sites produce more intense wine flavors, valley grapes are more generic.
3)Each vineyard site has it’s own weather patterns, geology, geography and even human/historical conditions. This last point is very confusing to most Americans: wine is made by humans, NOT by nature! Choosing the right site and propagating the best grapes is a human endeavor, but Nature is always adding chance to the equation. There is science as well as mysticism in the vineyard, maybe even some witchcraft..
“People can’t wait for aging wine any more, they want to drink everything young..”
A sad refrain by Jean-Pierre, but the reality of the modern wine drinker – people today don’t want to age their wines, so they want to drink young vintages before they’re ready to shine. There is so much history in Burgundy and even though winemaking today is better than ever, to truly understand and appreciate a fine age-worthy Burgundy, you simply must wait – Patience!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
Upcoming French Events on TasteDC April/May 2013:
-April 30th – French Cooking: French Basics 101 at Cookology, $65
-May 1st – Wine Maker Dinner at Eola, featuring Château Léoville-Poyferré, $135
-May 20th – French Classics: The Suckling Pig, $60
Guest Post by Christina Portz “Just the Bottle”
Miner Family Winery Dinner – Tuesday, February 26th, 2013
Because one can never have enough wine, I had a glass of Chandon in the Lounge before the event. There was an interesting assortment of characters in the lounge including a gentleman who used to frequent the restaurant when it was The Jockey Club and two conservative women arguing about Obama. My bartender had lived in DC since the 1980s and used to live on 17th street.
After I finished my glass, I checked in to the wine dinner. I found out I was seated at table 40 – with the winemaker. That’s how important I am (or that I like to think that). The restaurant has been renovated, but still maintains the old school/old DC decor. There was a lovely display set near a bar area of the wines featured for the evening.
2011 Miner Simpson Vineyard Viognier
For the reception the viognier was poured. It really is the perfect aperitif. It was incredibly aromatic with the honey suckle notes strongest on the finish.
The general manager spoke briefly, thanked everyone for attending and introduced Gary Brookman, Winemaker, Miner Family Winery.
Gary spoke briefly about the 2011 Miner Simpson Vineyard Viognier and presented the 2010 Miner, Napa Valley Chardonnay and 2008 Miner Wild Yeast, Napa Valley Chardonnay.
He provided background and history as to the winery, the use of solar panels at Miner and the incredible amount of varietals planted.
I was surprised at how Gary was down to Earth and incredibly pleasant. Besides speaking to the group at large, he frequently walked around to speak individually to the attendees.
Mango and Avocado Salad, Coriander Cilantro Oil
The first course was paired with 2010 Chardonnay and 2008 Wild Yeast Chardonnay. The plating on this and all dishes was spectacular. The buttery notes in both wines went incredibly well with the lobster and avocado notes. There was a creaminess that as a person who normally hates avocado (yes I hate it and no, don’t try to change my mind) was incredibly harmonious.
I was excited to speak with Gary about these wines especially the wild yeast. Apparently, he likes using wild yeast and giving up that control.
He was quite entertaining explaining how wild yeast can start the fermentation and give up or burn out quickly. I imagined little yeasts partying too hard and then dying off as they made this amazing chardonnay.
The 2010 chardonnay did not spend any time in oak, but did go through some malolactic fermentation. The wild yeast had spicer notes on the finish and was more viscous.
Red Wine Lacquered Quail
Arugula, Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette, Toasted Pinenuts
2010 Garys’ Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands
Garys’ Vineyard is a 50 acre vineyard that was planted in 1995 by friends and growers Gary Franscioni and Gary Pisoni.
I love anything that incorporates an egg especially quail egg. The quail was perfectly cooked and seasoned. The pinot noir and quail worked well together bringing out additional flavors.
Gary and I discussed the concept of masculine and feminine pinot noirs. I used to have a boss who hated that description. Gary felt that this pinot was more masculine due to the body.
It was somewhat bright with big cherry notes on the nose with some plum on the finish.
Pepper Crusted Virginia Bison
Wine Sauce, Horseradish Cauliflower Puree, French Beans
2009 Stagecoach Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
As you can see, I really wanted to try this amazing dish and forgot to take a photo before diving in (d’oh).
The 2009 Stagecoach Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is almost entirely made of cabernet sauvignon with about 5% cabernet franc and 5% merlot blended in. It was aged for 21 months in 60% new French oak. Definitely exhibits some of that almost toasty, vanilla notes on the nose.
The wine was silky with a lushness that went well with the pepper crusted Virginia bison. This was my favorite wine of the evening.
Buttermilk Panna Cotta
Fresh Berries, Blood Orange Sabayon
2008 “the Oracle” Meritage Blend
The Oracle is a Meritage Blend utilizing Bordeaux style grapes (cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, malbec,merlot and petit verdot). It spends 21 months in 55% French oak. It was incredibly balanced and full bodied. There were hints of cassis and blackberries.
I was surprised (like others) that this wine was paired with the dessert. But, it totally worked! I think worked best with the top layer of the dessert – blood orange sabayon.
The Chef, Chef Ferrier, and some of his staff thanked us at the end of the night. They also answered questions regarding Virginia bison. I think some people were becoming more difficult and drunk as the night wore on.
In the end, this was an amazing experience with spectacular food, wine and service. I would highly recommend attending a future wine dinner at the Capital Wine Festival.
Editor’s Note: here are some upcoming Wine Dinners in the DC Area on TasteDC:
-6-Course Texas Wine Dinner on March 2nd (This Saturday Evening) $70, http://www.tastedc.com/event/6-course-texas-wine-dinner-mayfair-pine
-Patz and Hall Wine Dinner (March 5th), $125, http://tastedc.com/content/4-course-patz-hall-winery-wine-dinner
-Pio Cesare Wine Dinner (March 12th), $125, http://tastedc.com/content/4-course-pio-cesare-wine-dinner
-Wine and Soul Wine Dinner (March 19th), $135, http://tastedc.com/content/4-course-wine-and-soul-wine-dinner
-Tres Sabores Winery & Calder Wine Company Dinner (March 26th) $125, http://tastedc.com/content/4-course-tres-sabores-winery-calder-wine-company-wine-dinnerine Company Dinner (March 26th)
What Better Way to Start Than with THE Grand Bordeaux Tasting..
Most Start-ups launch with a big PR blitz and lots of sizzle and noise. That’s great, especially if you have lot’s of venture capitalists/financiers behind you and money to throw..unfortunately, I do not! Still, what better way to launch TasteDC (still needs some Design work – sort of a house that needs door knobs and paint) than with a GRAND Tasting – I mean it’s even in the name – Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux!
So what should you expect at this tasting?
1) Great Producers Showcasing a Fantastic Vintage -I’m attaching the list of producers (below) – I know, it’s completely Overwhelming – sort of like going to the store and seeing all those Chateaux on the wine labels and trying to figure out: 1)which one will taste good and 2)why are the prices all over the place – I mean should I really spend $49.99 on a wine when the label on the wine next to it is $8.99? The Grands Crus are the best wine makers in Bordeaux, so you can expect to taste some really great wines.
2) A Chance to Connect and Understand Bordeaux Better – first of all, what is Bordeaux? Bordeaux is one of the largest wine growing regions in the world – it’s in Southeast France just off the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. The French label their wines primarily by Region (versus by Varietal as we do in America – we say “Cabernet Sauvignon”, the French say “Bordeaux” – get it?) If you like Big Reds, then Bordeaux has them – most are Cabernet or Merlot based, so these give them some weight. Meat eaters love Bordeaux, but they’re surprisingly good with hard cheeses and earthy dishes, especially the kind most people eat in Fall and Winter.
3) Finally Understand What “Vintage” Means and If It’s Important – Vintage is the year the grapes are picked/harvested..NOT the year the wine is bottled – Memorize that! Now that you know, why does it matter? Because grapes are grown outside and the weather and external conditions has a major impact on their ripeness and flavor. Some years are good, some not so much – but 2010 was a stellar growing season for great grapes and thus great wines from this region. Also in great vintages, everyone makes great wine – so you don’t have to purchase the top Names, try and enjoy wines from lesser known producers.
5)There are Five Grands Crus – Five Growths – usually a First Growth costs more than a Second, Second more than Third, etc..it’s not always true, but if you want to understand this better (also called the “1855 Classification”) go here.
Event: Official Unions des Grands Crus Bordeaux Tasting – the Amazing 2010 Vintage
Date: January 24th (Thursday), 2013
Time: 5 – 8 pm
Location: The Willard Intercontinental Hotel, 1401 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, DC 20004
Ticket Price: $99/per person (note Special Valet Parking Price Available on Ticketing Form)
***Tickets Have Limited Availability***
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
I attended a LivingSocial sponsored event “Wine + Cheese at Black’s Bar & Kitchen” (Bethesda, MD) on Saturday, November 17th, 2012 from 1 – 3 pm – actually, it was the first event I had attended through LivingSocial even though I had purchased many restaurant deals from them in the past. The event had 2 flights of cheeses, 12 cheeses in total and wines were paired with them, a total of 8 (See list of wines and cheeses with Photos below). It was a seated event and guided tasting with main presenter Chef Mallory Buford speaking about the cheeses and Black’s Sommelier Anderson Plunket discussing the wines. Chef Buford was very knowledgeable about cheese, but each cheese producer also had their own representative/distributor to talk about each cheese’s qualities. It was a nice combination of class and chance for people to talk amongst themselves – I would call it “lecture light” and more of a chance for people to try everything and make their own conclusions. This restaurant is really known for seafood so it’s kind of interesting that they decided to try a cheese and wine event – my understanding is that all of these cheeses are on their existing menu, so that makes sense..but don’t ask an Italian – they claim that seafood and cheese should never go together!
There were 12 cheeses and 8 wines:
1st Cheese Flight:
1)Cherry Glen Farms Monocacy Silver – Soft-Ripened Goat’s Milk
2)Cherry Glen Farms Monocacy Ash-Soft Ripened Goat’s Milk with Ash Rind
3)Vermont Butter & Cheese Bonne Bouche – Ash-Ripened Goat’s Milk
4)Vermont Butter & Cheese Coupole – Aged Goat Milk
5)Vermont Butter & Cheese Cremont – Aged Goat and Cow’s Milk
2nd Cheese Flight:
6)Jasper Hill Farm Weybridge – Organic Cow’s Milk
7)Jasper Hill Farm Cabot Clothbound Cheddar – English Style Cow’s Milk
8)Jasper Hill Farm Landaff – Semi-Firm Raw Cow’s Milk
9)Beehive Creamery Promontory – Irish Style Cow’s Milk
10)Beehive Creamery – Espresso and Lavendar Rubbed Cow’s Milk
11)Beehive Creamery – Cayenne Rubbed Cow’s Milk
12)Jasper Hill Farm – Raw Cow’s Milk Blue
1)Prosecco, Tenuta S. Anna, NV (Italy)
2)Sancerre, Paul Prieur 2010 (Loire, France)
3)Pinot Gris, Elk Cove 2011 (Williamette Valley, Oregon)
4)Chardonnay, Windracer 2007 (Anderson Valley, CA)
5)Pinot Noir, Domaine Carneros 2010 (Carneros, CA)
6)Merlot, Truchard 2008 (Carneros, CA)
7)Cabernet/Syrah Blend, Treana 2009 (Organic) (Paso Robles, CA)
8)Riesling, Poet’s Leap 2010 (Columbia Valley, WA)
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
Washingtonian Brunch & Bloodys – Spicy!
I attended the Washingtonian Brunch and Bloody’s event on Saturday, October 20th, 2012 at the lovely Long View Gallery on a perfect day in Shaw, Washington, D.C. This was a very well-laid out event and although it was sold out, there was plenty of room to get to the tables and taste unabated..and the mimosas flowed like, uhh, wine! Let’s put it to you this way – if you left this event hungry, then you were probably just drinking, and with over 10 medium-sized Bloody Mary’s to try, you probably would have rolled out! Having said that, I’ve noticed that the restaurants and chefs at these events are getting extremely good at preparing slightly exotic dishes and pushing the envelope on how to serve 250+ people without a regular kitchen behind them.
The Bloody Marys featured Belvedere Vodka and the bar served champagne, mimosas, and bellinis featuring Chandon. Like I said – no one went home hungry, but not thirsty either..there was plenty to drink and I was most impressed that they served the mimosas in glass Champagne flutes..and of course, there was the lovely smashing of glass at the beginning of the event- sort of like a Greek wedding.. or maybe it’s a Jewish wedding, but back to the event..
This event was based on the Washingtonian’s list of the 50 Great Breakfast and Brunch Spots from Washingtonian – and it was double smart of them to invite the infamous bloggers the Bitches who Brunch to the event to judge the Bloody Mary’s.
Here’s their own marketing pitch from the CVent Website (interesting that they used such a high-powered registration system for this event – maybe a touch overkill for a 1-time event, but they sold out, so it worked!) Introducing The Washingtonian’s premier “Brunch & Bloodys” event! Enjoy delicious brunch bites from restaurants featured in The Washingtonian’s October cover story “50 Favorite Brunch Places.” Participating restaurants will also compete in the Bloody Mary challenge, in which guests and a panel of judges (including Washingtonian editors, the Bitches Who Brunch, and Jeff Faile from Fiola) will vote for the best.
Here’s the List of Restaurants that participated and the dishes they served (I put my own comments after the dishes):
Art and Soul – ?
Black Market Bistro / BlackSalt – Black Market’s pancakes and BlackSalt’s Bloody Mary
Brasserie Beck – Mini quiche Lorraine with Micro Herb Salad & Bloody Mary & Jumbo Lump Crab Meat Shooters
Busboys and Poets – Coffee, Sweet Potato Pancakes with 100% Pure Vermont Maple Syrup from Coombs Family Farms, Vegan Tuna & crackers – they served a Vegan yellow tomato Bloody Mary which I remember because they were the only restaurant to use non-red tomatoes. The Sweet Potato pancakes were very good with the maple syrup – they didn’t even ad pads of butter because this restaurant is promoting their Vegan/vegetarian dishes.
Chef Geoff’s/ LIA’S – Mini Vegetarian Quiches and Brunch Bread
Eatonville – Gumbo (crab, rock shrimp, andouille sausage, fried okra, white rice) and mini pulled beef short ribs sandwich – I only had the short ribs sandwich, but I have to admit – simple comfort foods seem to show the best at these kind of events.
Founding Farmers – Mini Yogurt Parfaits with Housemade Granola; Corn Muffins; Bacon Lollis – The Bacon Lollipops were alot of fun – essentially a sugar-coated piece of bacon that reminded me of putting bacon on my pancakes with maple syrup – a real winner!
Howard Theatre - Shrimp and Grits, Breakfast berry parfaits - I didn’t know the Howard Theatre was serious about food, but these were some flavorful Grits with a bit of Jerk seasoning to give them a kick.
Jackie’s - Maple-Chai Doughnuts – They served these donuts glazed and you could put your own toppings on like cocoa and sprinkles – Yummy!
Maple Ave Restaurant - Chawanmushi – Chinese Steam Egg with carmelized kimchi
Mintwood Place – “Croque Madames”" featuring veal tongue” – This sounds exotic, but it tasted like really good ham and melted cheese together – fancified comfort food, this was very good.
Poste - Smoked Trout Rillette with citrus crème fraiche and trout roe on a waffle chip – One of the more “Foodie” dishes with layers of flavor – I liked this alot, but I’m always a big fan of caviar/fish roe – I love when the little eggs pop in your mouth!
The Greenhouse at the Jefferson - Quiche with Caramelized Onion, Bacon, & Gruyere and Quiche with Broccoli & Cheddar
The Hamilton – Steak and Eggs Burr-naise and Bloody Alexander
The Source - “Sambal Goreng” Spicy Hangover Eggs, Braised Short Ribs, Chesapeake Mary, Jumbo Lump Crab, Gordy’s Pickle
Overall, this event was very well run and had plenty of food, drinks and space to make it enjoyable. Since everyone could taste every dish and drink relatively quickly, the event was full and mostly empty within two hours of the start – it was a Saturday, and everyone nowadays likes to make multiple plans on the weekend, so that was another plus. The key to these events is to give the chefs/restaurants space and let them do their magic – the organizers understood this and even the Bloody Mary judging took backseat to the food. Hopefully this becomes a regular Foodie Event on the DC Food and Drink Event Calendar, and if so, I’d like to see how trends in Brunch change over time – Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
P.S. Here’s a Recap of the Bloody Mary Competition by the Judges from the Bitches Who Brunch.
Washingtonian Took Some Great Pics too – and Yep, I’m in one of the photos!
As part of the Fancy Food Show which now is in Washington, D.C. annually at the Convention Center (it has been temporarily moved from NYC’s Jacob’s Javit’s Center until renovations are completed), I was invited to a fun chef battle between Iron Chef competitor RJ Cooper and Cordon Bleu Chilean chef Pilar Rodríguez, to take place on Thursday, June 14th, from 1-3pm, at Rogue 24. It was an invitation only media event, in which was able to taste food prepared with authentic Chilean ingredients, paired with Chilean wine and pisco. The new Ambassador of Chile, Felipe Bulnes Serrano, was there to add to the importance of the festivities, but all in all, it was just a fun time!
Here are some photos of the drinks, the Chilean wine, some of the dishes and of course the Ambassador (although, RJ Cooper was in true form, check out the photo!).
Weird as it may seem, a “wine dinner” is conceptually as confusing as a wine tasting to most people – it’s a very foreign concept to many Americans – literally! A wine dinner is in essence a multi-course dinner served with several different wines – this is the simple explanation. A GOOD/GREAT wine dinner is when the various elements come together in a wonderful symphony of an event: wine, food, timing, pairing, educational component (this usually means a speaker), and impeccable service. It sounds very snooty, but that’s primarily because it’s based on the fine dining traditions of the Old World – particularly France and Italy. So what IS a wine dinner?
“A Wine Dinner Is a Meal Divided by Courses”
Most wine dinners include a menu of dishes served in three or more courses. For example, when you go out to eat at a fine dining restaurant, the menu is often broken down into Appetizers, Main Dishes, and Desserts. A Wine Dinner is a smart way for a restaurant to showcase both great wine and delicious dishes that showcase their chef’s talents. And yes, there is a formula: according to the traditional European format for a dinner (actually, any serious meal!) is begin with the lightest dishes, move on to richer dishes and finish with dessert – and yes, often there is a cheese course before dessert. A very simple multi-course dinner (with or without wine, but in the European tradition, food is pretty much always served with wine) would begin with some hors d’oeuvres, a seafood or pasta dish, a light meat dish (chicken or pork), a rich meat dish (beef or lamb) and dessert. Each course would be served with a different wine in a wine dinner and possibly even more than one wine per course. This would be called a 4-course dinner because hors d’oeuvres are usually not considered a dish, so don’t count in the number.
“Each Dish Should Be Paired with the Appropriate Wines”
I’ve been to wine dinners where there is only one wine paired with each dish, and that can be very satisfying! But I’ve also been to wine dinners where there are two, three, even four wines paired per dish (that’s a single dish!) and those can be very fun – albeit confusing at times. I want to touch upon the concept of pairing: pairing wine and food means there’s a synergy of flavor that is 1 + 1 is GREATER than 2. There are some classic examples of pairings: Sauvignon Blanc and goat cheese, Pinot Noir and salmon, and Cabernet Sauvignon and steak, etc. that work but I’ve had pairings that stretch the limits. The original old school formula for pairings was “white wine with fish and red wine with meat” but this is extremely outdated – creative chefs today don’t serve simply prepared dishes that are formulaic, they often prefer to add unique flavors and cooking techniques to their dishes that can be difficult to pair. To keep it simple (I wrote a whole chapter on pairing in “I Drink on the Job” entitled “A Meal Without Wine is Breakfast”). Just like with food, most wine dinners begin with lighter-style wines (like Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling) and move to heavier-bodied wines later in the meal – this makes sense – you wouldn’t want a Big Cab with your shrimp dish/course at the beginning of the meal, that would be way too heavy early in the meal (and a poor pairing!). Also, later in the meal, your palate needs richer and bolder flavors or you won’t notice a dish, so big wines and red meat (or dishes that are braised/slow cooked to increase the rich flavors of a meal) make sense.
A quick note on pairing/wine dinners – most have a theme like “Italian Wines” or “California Boutique Wines” that create the expectation of a special celebration of a wine region or theme. This is important because a wine dinner is a “showcase” event – a chance for a wine maker to show his/her best efforts in the vineyard or a display of a chef’s talents to create gourmet offerings. The point is that usually either the wine or the food is the main center of the wine dinner, one almost always overshadows the other. For example, I attended a wine dinner a few years ago with MacArthur/Addy Bassin’s Liquor where there were over 20 boutique California wines served – yes, the food was excellent at the Mandarin Oriental in Washington, D.C. (I think it was 7-Courses, but I forget!), but every wine was introduced before each course by either the wine maker or a representative who intimately knew the wines – educational and exhilarating!
“A Speaker Needs to Introduce the Wines at the Wine Dinner”
Not particularly profound, but someone needs to talk about the wines at a wine dinner and the more knowledgeable, the better. Normally, the wine maker or a representative from the wine community talks about the wines with each dish. Some speaker’s introduce the wines before each course, but this can be detrimental: it can add too much time to a dinner and it can get tedious for attendees! Most people don’t want to sit for more than three hours or so at a wine dinner (including breaks – hey, with all that wine, you may need to visit the bathroom!) so the length of an event is important. I always suggest that the wine professional speaker introduce their wines at the event, maybe speak once in the middle of the meal and then at the end of the meal. Most people at these events would rather talk privately to the speaker, so walking around and “schmoozing” with dinner attendees is a smart move.
Things I haven’t covered in this wine dinner discussion include the importance of speedy service, event duration, popular themes for wine dinners, and the myriad of service issues with this type of event. Staffing is VERY important – experience really makes a difference. One of the most impressive wine dinners I ever went to with the wines of Chateau Pontet-Canet at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. was because of one factor: the Sommelier Caterina Abbruzzetti decanted every one!
Of course, there aren’t only wine dinners: In 14 years at TasteDC, I’ve attended craft beer dinners, whiskey dinners, Tequila Dinners, Cocktail Dinners, Rum Dinners and innumerable conceptual “dinners”, often unique and unusual, but one thing they all had in common – the dishes and the beverage were paired in some way..Hope this all whets your appetite – Cheers!
Charlie Adler, Managing Editor
TasteDC Food and Drink Event Calendar
“Educate Your Palate”
I got my Spring wine festival circuit kicked off with a wine seminar at Great Grapes Wine Fest in Cary, North Carolina on this past Saturday, April 17th. Over 30 North Carolina wineries were pouring their wines and all in all, there were some really delicious wines! I brought the book “I Drink on the Job” with me to sell, and even though there were about 100 people seated for my wine seminar from 3-4 pm, I only sold a handful, so lesson was learned – selling a book at a wine festival is going to be tough..On the other hand, it was a really special weekend for me because it was the first time I had ever spent real time in North Carolina. Yes, I had stopped a few times in the past during long drives, but I had never stayed there for a few days to get a sense of the place. And I’m a serious BBQ lover, I even own a Big Green Egg in my backyard in Georgetown, so I had to try some examples from the State.
During my stay in Cary (which is basically an upscale suburb of Raleigh), I decided to go into downtown Raleigh a few hours before my speaking engagement to see what it was about. I just happened to walk right into a few thousand dogs that were frolicking (and pooping all over the place!!) with their owners on a 3K dog walk through the city, below is a short video (less than 20 seconds).
(The guy almost got bit by the 3 dachsunds!!)
So of course, I started to get hungry for something to eat, and there just happened to be a BBQ and Blue Grass Festival a few blocks away at “The Pits” CueGrass Festival so I enjoyed me some ‘cue!
I had the pulled pork BBQ sandwich, and it was really good, definitely a keeper.
After that I headed back to the Cary Wine Fest to taste some Carolina wines and include them in my one hour seminar with “I Drink on the Job”.
The audience was very responsive to my message, but as is true with alot of these events, there were many different levels of knowledge and interest in attendance. My goal is to reach those who respond to my message – that wine shouldn’t be put on a pedestal, it’s something you enjoy to make a meal taste better. I really think my message is reaching the audience and possibly influencing more wine purchases, it’s very hard to tell. Unlike cooking and chefs, wine is poorly represented on TV and by the media in general – it just has a stodgy/academic air to it, and frankly most people get bored pretty fast when a wine professional talks about wine – you can tell by their glazed over faces. On the other hand, I think I’m on the cutting edge of a new world of wine entertainment where exciting new ways to approach wine are just evolving. Wine has often been associated with the arts such as Jazz and painting, but what about going in a completely different direction – what about introducing wine with magic or yoga or even hypnosis? I think if the stage drama-level is increased, then people might associate wine with more pizzazz in their life. I’ve seen enough photos of Chateaux, oak barrels, vineyards and grapes on the front labels of wines and their associated media to know that that is way too trite. I think I’m on to something, and I think if I stick with it, the audience will catch on, the media will follow and eventually more wine “entertainers” will appear in many guises.
And who knows, maybe even wine as comedy – it seems like wine and tragedy have already been covered – Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler