饺 梁家辉

by Dr. Mike Rosenberg

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Raleigh Wine Shop -- well-deserved kudos

My friend James Voltz owns the Raleigh Wine Shop -- a wonderful store in NC which any of my friends in the Triangle area should get to know. James a certified sommelier -- and trust me, if you're looking for a transcendent wine experience, let his conscience (and his incredible palate) be your guide.

The RWS was just named one of the Top 50 Wine Education programs in the country by Wine Enthusiast. James has maintained a strong business in these recent days, partly through his commitment to an educational mission for oenophiles. What makes the RWS special, though -- James is an epidemiologist by training. He's set up his house rules, deliveries, staffing, tasting, and guidance with COVID prevention protocols strictly in place. And guess what? Turns out people want to be safe while  they're getting their wine!

Check out the Raleigh Wine Shop at https://www.theraleighwineshop.com -- and if you stop in, tell 'em The Naked Vine sent you!

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Proof of Life -- And a Big Box of Rosé

Hello, friends. It’s been awhile.

Honestly, I’m not sure how to restart here, so I’m justgoing to ramble for a bit.

I intended to have a lot to say this year – was going torevamp things a bit and try to reboot the ol’ blog – but I started a new job atPenn State in October, which drew a lot of my energy, as did the day to daygrind of surviving the reign of Der Gropenf?hrer.

2020 rolled around. The Sweet Partner in Crime and I decidedto try to reset our respective livers. We more or less successfully completed aDry January. Admittedly, we cheated a couple of times for special occasions(hey, Holly!) – but we managed to keep to the spirit of things.

Honestly, Dry January wasn’t as tough as I feared…at leastfor the first two weeks. We whipped up a supply of mocktails that kept usgoing, but I’ll tell you – the last week or so, until we staggered soberlyacross the finish line, were a real slog, because there were just some timesthat a glass of wine would have been perfect. We made it.

I lost some weight. I gained it back. I lost more. I weighthe same now as I did when I was half my current age. I started meditatingregularly, which has been revelatory. Charlie and Rosie are still wonderfulpups. The Sweet Partner in Crime was named a Fellow by the leading nationalorganization in her field.

Then came COVID.

We went into our homes and, by all indications, starteddrinking our collective faces off.

Well, except here in Pennsylvania. Because of the crazyliquor laws – beer stores stayed open, but wine & liquor stores were allshuttered. Wine started getting in short supply around these parts. The grocerystores ran out quickly.

Thank goodness for our friends who drive the deliverytrucks. Scott, our UPS guy, has been a godsend. Pennsylvania is a much easierplace to ship to than our former address.

Which brings us to the actual wine content you’ve come herefor, right?

As we were getting hard up for any kind of juice,particularly rosé -- I decided to venture onto Groupon and pull the trigger on adeal I saw for an inexpensive 15 bottle case. I’m happy to report that my experiencewith Splash Wines was highlypositive. My order came with three bottles each of a selection of five rosé:

  • Midnight Black Rose (Italy -- Trentino)
  • “Rosé All Day” Beaujolais Rosé (France – Beaujolais)
  • Maison Williams Chase Rosé (France – Provence)
  • Domaine Jacourette Rosé (France – Provence)
  • Mazzei Belguardo Rosé (Italy – Tuscany)

Ah...good to have you back at the homestead...

Seeing a raft of Italian and French pinkness looking back atme from the box filled me with hope. My major worry when I ordered this grabbag was that these inexpensive wines wouldn’t really be “rosé-ish” – meaning thatthey’d be overly fruity, slightly sweet, and somewhat heavier in body.

Not the case here at all. I’m not going to do detailed tastingnotes on these selections. All of them are fine. Do any of them haveflavors that leap from the glass to choirs of angels and transcendent goodness?Of course not. But are they, as a whole, light and crisp with enough flavor tobe interesting, perfect for sipping while contemplating (or trying to avoid contemplating)both the excitement of a real social change in this country and the terror ofthe inevitable pain that will follow as the dying mule of racism kicks backhard? You betcha.

We’ve tried all five of these by now in various contexts.They’re perfectly food-friendly, pull and pop wines that aren’t just plonk. Aftershipping, the price was about $5/per bottle. At that price point, who’s tocomplain?

My friends, we’re a long way from the end of our variousnational turmoils. The levels of dumbassery we keep seeing are only going toincrease as people demand that lockdown be lifted so other people can be forcedto wait on them. Political ideology is no match for epidemiology, so no matterwhere you are – be safe, listen to and embrace the experiences of people who don’tlook like you, and wear your damned masks.

And, of course, vote against anyone running for office,incumbent or challenger, who won’t do those things. Because not to put too finea point on it -- they don’t care if you die.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

One More One-Hitter: End of Year Barrel Bomb

I guess I wasn't completely accurate -- there is one more Naked Vine left in me for 2019.

The Sweet Partner in Crime and I recently returned from a whirlwind holiday trip to visit various family and friends. We started with my fam in Eastern Kentucky, then made our way back to our until-recent home Newport to spend some time with friends, and concluded our jaunt in Dayton to see the SPinC's family.

Thanks to a new Yeti cooler, we were able to pack along holiday meals for both families, including some truly decadent ice cream from the Berkey Creamery and a holiday ham from the Meats Lab at Penn State.

We arrived in Dayton on Christmas Day, only to discover that Pam's brother-in-law, Dapper Donnie, had been hit hard by the flu and spent Christmas Eve in the hospital. Alas, he wasn't able to join us in our holiday feed -- so we sent him a hammy care package. Donnie did send us a gift, though -- a bottle of wine that goes right along with the bourbon-barrel theme we've had running through the site's electrons this year: Barrel Bomb 2017 Red Blend.

Barrel Bomb has a similar origin to some of the 1000 Stories wines I've covered recently. The wine's made from a blend of red grapes sourced from Lodi, California. I'm not sure what the exact blend is, but figure that Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon figure heavily. The wine comes in a stubby bottle with a replaceable cork -- which might make it easy to lose among the bourbons in your liquor cabinet.

Let's start with the truth-in-advertising bit. "Bomb" is an accurate descriptor for this wine. Any wine backboned with Zinfandel has the potential to wind up as higher potency, but the trend over the last decade has been towards more restraint in alcohol content. By contrast, the folks at Barrel Bomb decided to party like it's 2010 all over again. This wine clocks in at a muscular 16.5% ABV.

The winemakers, however, throttled back on the fruit-foward nature of these grapes. The flavor is actually somewhat restrained, if you can believe it. Perhaps the 12 months that the wine spends in oak, with the last 90 days in bourbon casks, mellows it out. The nose is big and fruity, with vanilla riding the back of blueberry and cherry. The body's not subtle -- big fruit, licorice, and smoke over a pretty considerable tannic base that hold on through a powerful but balanced finish.

In my mind, I think this might end up a better end-of-night sipper than a real dinner pairing. There's a little "portishness"  here, so I tried it with some really nice brie that we got as a gift from Lady Vertu, and it worked well -- although I'd probably go with even a bigger cheese, like a Stilton. Chocolate is also an obvious accompaniment.

All in all, if you're looking for something to sip on during these colder months -- you might give this a try. Also, if you're giving any more gifts, the aesthetic of the bottle itself is interesting.

Barrel Bomb retails for $16-18. They also make a straight Cabernet Sauvignon, which I haven't tried yet.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Friday, December 20, 2019

Naked Vine One-Hitter: Ho! Ho! Ho! -- Go Fo' Merlot!

If you’re a wine drinker of a certain age (say basicallyanywhere in Gen X), odds are decent that one of your first experiences with “grownup”wine was with Merlot, which exploded in popularity in the early 90’s, brieflyeclipsing Cabernet Sauvignon in domestic demand.

Why wouldn’t it? Merlot is a wonderful grape. The flavor isvery approachable – and it responds well to whatever a winemaker wants to do.Merlot can be a plummy fruit bomb or a subtle, graphite-infused glass ofsensuality. Merlot’s the backbone of probably 80% of the Bordeaux you’ve had inyour life, and it plays very well with other grapes in blends. Among redgrapes, it’s arguably the most flexible primary varietal.

But then came 2004 and “I’m not drinking any fucking merlot.”The Sideways Slump is real, and it’s the opposite of spectacular. The damagedear Miles did to this poor grape goes beyond the immediate drop in demand.When Merlot disappeared from many a wines-by-the-glass menu, not only did myg-g-g-generation stop drinking the stuff, but Millennials were left to theirown devices for a starter wine – and they decided, “Nah. Not for me” beforemaking poor choices underneath a handle of Fireball.

So now, practically no one knows Merlot. I don’t know whenthe last time was that I heard someone order a glass or bottle of the stuff. Ithink that’s due for a change.

If you’re with me on this little challenge, one place Imight recommend starting is in the South American aisle of your wine store,specifically the Chilean section. Chile cranks out a great quantity of thestuff, and a lot of it is high quality. And until Commander Smallgloves decidesto levy tariffs on everything worthwhile that comes over our borders, the stuff’spretty reasonably priced. If you’re willing to stretch a little bit on price,there are some simply superb bottles out there to be had.

One recent example I had the chance to try is the Marques de Casa Concha 2015 Merlot fromthe Maule region in central Chile. This wine, sold under the Concha y Torolabel, was a $25 container of real deliciousness.

I thought there was a lovely bouquet on this. To me, it smellsof plums and cherry pie. There’s a really nice fullness on the body, along withflavors of more red fruit and blackberries alongside a solid smoky tannin. Thefinish has real staying power as some initial tartness drops down intochocolate and smoke at the end. There’s a real “roundness” to the wholeexperience and I thought it was a damned sexy wine.

The Sweet Partner in Crime and I had it with a West Africanstew we made which included chicken, sweet potatoes, and collard greens, allseasoned with peanuts and peanut butter. I know, it sounds like a weird pairing,but it absolutely worked, much to my surprise. Texture on texture. The stew hada smooth round flavor as well – and the wine’s fruit played off the peanuttyrichness. And needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway), it was divine with somechocolate at the end of the day.

This will be the last post of 2019, more than likely. Thanksto all of you for continuing to hang in with me through all the changes of thelast few years. Looking forward to a wonderful 2020. Happy holidays, everyone!

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Naked Vine One-Hitter -- One More Story from 1000 Stories

The Sweet Partner in Crime was traveling right beforeThanksgiving. She was scheduled to fly back to our house in the woods lateafternoon of the holiday, so we weren’t going to be whipping up our usualnontraditional Turkey Day feed.

Instead, to celebrate the SPinC’s return, I tried my hand atdry-agingsteaks at home. As her flight headed for home, into the sous vide bath went these ribeyes. They turned out wonderfully – full of incredibly rich flavors – but I wasglad that we had a spare fridge to “age” the steaks in. The process is notwithout a distinct odor. Had these steaks alongside some roasted brusselsprouts and mushrooms, which just makes for a good meal.

Anyway, the day before, I got a visit from the wine fairy, courtesy of the good folks at Colangelo after the publication of my 1000 Storieswine piece – 1000 Stories 2016 “Batch Blue” Carignan.

As you remember, 1000 Stories does some of the barrel agingof their wines in old bourbon barrels, which imparts some smoke and vanilla tothe wine profile. They’re known for your typical California varietals likeZinfandel and Cabernet, as well as blends.

But Carignan? That I didn’t see coming.

Carignan is an interesting choice for a single varietalwine, largely because it’s rarely used for such a purpose outside of theLanguedoc region of France and particular regions of Spain. The most common usefor Carignan is as a blending grape. Here in the U.S., Carignan is grownlargely in the Central Coast regions of California. The most prevalent use forthe varietal domestically is – no kidding – jug wine. As such, I was curious tosee what this wine, designed by 1000 Stories’ winemaker Bob Blue and his son,had to share.

So, let’s get the immediate out of the way first – thisbottle is most assuredly not plonky jug juice. The grapes are sourced from acouple of plots in Mendocino County, which boasts a cooler climate than theCentral Coast, so my expectation was for less in-your-face fruit and a little moresubtlety and balance. My expectations were correct.

While pretty straightforward, Ithought it was a much “rounder” experience than the other 1000 Stories winesI’d tried. The nose struck a decent balance of vanilla and cherry, with alittle bit of a smoky note – all of which were echoed on the body, along withsome blackberries and dark chocolate. There’s a toasty undertone to it all, butthe smoky flavors were much more subdued than in their other wines. The finishwas softly fruity, smoky, and altogether pleasant. Even though the SPinC isstill shying away from bigger wines, she was able to enjoy this one.

Since the timing of this bottle was so fortuitous, wecracked it with our dry-aged dinner. To be honest, it worked well. I thoughtthis wine was nicely balanced alongside the deep flavors of the steak. Therewas enough tannin in the mix to keep it interesting, and the fruit held upagainst the range of flavors.

I certainly enjoyed this wine as much as the other 1000Stories offerings – and in certain contexts, would probably be my top choiceamidst their selections. Like the other wines in this particular portfolio,you’ll find it from $18-20.

P.S. Happy Birthday, Sis!
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