Wine School

Food & Drink, Wine School

Burgundy: The Subtle Wine

0 Written by: | Thursday, Aug 28, 2014 12:05pm

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The baby, who has learned at last to fall asleep mostly on her own, who only takes a mere nine minutes of tossing to settle in versus her previous two hours of picking up and putting down, is now quiet and the crickets are composing outside. Something died behind the refrigerator in the kitchen, a mouse I think, and I am in no mood to deal with that so I go to the living room to read and write and sip on my glass of Tuscan wine instead. My husband is conducting a Burgundy tasting for some staff up the street and all is quiet for a little while.

The social media updates and posts and nonsense to which my phone constantly alerts me let me know that somebody I used to know well has published opinion articles regarding recent celebrity deaths, democrats, and the tragedy of Ferguson, Missouri. He writes that “#liberalswillruinthiscountry.” He uses his personal site to publicly decry the President, who is by all counts his boss. He is, in short, an unimaginative clanging gong, a loud and presumptive man whose voice is too loud for his intellect and whose opinions reflect not introspective reflection but whoever he hears the clearest, whatever extreme suits his current uniform. I am distressed by his blatancy, by the obviousness of his very existence. It is so crude.

 

My husband is at a Burgundy tasting. If there is one thing Burgundy isn’t, it’s overt. People who are sworn Pinot Noir drinkers shy away from the stuff; it is often too subtle, too high in acid, too loftily intellectual to drink too warm on a porch or from a stemless glass smeared with greasy fingerprints from the bag of potato chips it accompanies. Chardonnay drinkers expecting a dramatic, lactic, oaky syrup are instead introduced to Burgundy’s whiter side, a streamlined, often mineral-driven wine that may never have seen wood and instead showcases its power not in brawn but in its crystalline persistence.  Read More →

Food & Drink, Wine School

Beverage and the Beach

0 Written by: | Thursday, Jul 31, 2014 1:30pm

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We are at the beach. It is my best time. It’s a time for arguing over departure times for half an hour before any move is made toward the door. It’s a time for too many cooks in the kitchen, a dozen (or two dozen) people at the table, endless chips and salsa, discussions of gluten allergies, paddleboard surfing, and when the looming storm will dissipate. It’s time for glasses of cold things, beer and interesting cocktails discovered in newspapers and wine constantly opened and served in whatever glasses are available.

Mostly at the beach we drink coffee, and water, and collectively as a massive family unit we seem to strive to invent better, different, and more efficient ways to carry those on and into our person. The water was in bottles first, then frozen bottles, then pouches to reuse. The coffee was in a pot used again and again in the mornings, and I usually arrived just as the first pot had baked long enough to taste more like it came from the corner diner than the boutique coffee shop. As the caffeinators grew in number, the coffee pot was left in the dust of a dozen teenagers and twenty-somethings and grown-ups clattering their empty mugs on the counter every morning, stumbling through a whirr of bleary-eyed muttering and spitting. One of those instant, brew-a-cup machines took its place and though the coffee is mediocre, and the method confounding, it has saved our mornings. The early risers rebounded conversationally to political debate and literary philosophy around the breakfast table.  

The first summer I worked at the wine shop, I decided I was in charge of providing libations to the masses at the Jersey Shore for our annual gathering of Callahans. I recall selecting bottles, a case, each one something both functional and interesting to talk about. Vinho Verde, for sure, some tasty Italian reds I was drinking plenty of myself, some inexpensive and not-Chardonnay whites for my ABC Aunt (that is, Anything But Chardonnay). I remember an afternoon with that aunt the previous year, nibbling nuts and cheese on the porch with a glass of cold Pinot Grigio thinking, “Is it five o’clock? Can I do this?” I wondered if, in fact, this was my destiny. This is GREAT, I thought.  

The following summer I pulled up to the beach house with five cases of wine in my car. Callahans don’t play. 

Read More →

Food & Drink, Vino Veritas, Wine School

Always Loved and Happy to See: Reliable, Inexpensive Wines

0 Written by: | Thursday, Jul 17, 2014 12:03pm

vina alberdi rioja

As a food and wine enthusiast, I live a pretty charmed life: I worked in an environment where both food and wine were celebrated and encouraged as part of my daily lifestyle and were presented at fractions of their normal cost, was surrounded by people who shared my particular shade of geek, married the best guy who happened to also have a deep cellar and be a stellar cook. I can’t ask for more and often find on any average weeknight wine in my glass that I would have previously hemmed and hawed over purchasing (let alone opening) for weeks. But often, all I want is a glass of something just good, tasty and not expensive or pretentious, something I used to love and am always happy to see.

Viña Alberdi Rioja 2005

I spotted a bottle of this in our sink (aside: we have an old tub sink in the basement of our house that serves as the catch-all for great wine for every day drinking, not expensive and not for aging necessarily) a few weeks ago and last night, after a day of the baby refusing to nap, refusing to be left alone, refusing to be held, and flexing her new screaming muscles, I decided it was a good night for a not fussy wine and not fussy food. Husband whisked in with to-go boxes and what may be the last bottle of the Alberdi appeared.  Read More →

Food & Drink, Vino Veritas, Wine School

Summer’s Firsts: Strawberries, Wine and Wonder

0 Written by: | Thursday, Jun 19, 2014 1:46pm

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Right now my daughter is grasping at everything just above her head, her tiny fingers gripping ledges and seat cushions as she weighs their accessibility against the ever-evolving strength of her legs. It is an evolution, too—she’s becoming another thing all together, once just a coil of new arms and belly and toes and head and now unfurling in this glorious, cacophonous tiny beast. She’s leaning into her first everything. She wants to taste the world, and it’s summer, so the world is waiting to be tasted. Read More →

Food & Drink, Vino Veritas, Wine School

Vino Veritas: Traveling for Wine and Truffles

0 Written by: | Thursday, Jun 05, 2014 11:30am

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The first page of the menu is riddled with truffles. It isn’t the season anymore—black truffles make their elaborate entrance in the winter in the Rhone Valley—but Chef stores them, finds ways to preserve them, holds onto the fresh ones for as long as possible and paints his simple regional dishes with the earthy, musky, unctuous richness of the elusive mushrooms. The seasonal vegetables are sautéed with a kiss of butter and tossed with truffles. The scallops are pierced and topped with truffles. The frisée salad is blanketed in shaved truffles. The chicken is stuffed with truffles. Even toast is stacked high with fat slices of truffles. We’ve caught the end of his supply, he tells us in the kitchen. He holds up a jar, maybe a gallon in capacity, filled with knobby black clusters ranging in size from a lime to my fist. Read More →

Food & Drink, Vino Veritas, Wine School

Drinking Pink: It’s Time for Rose Wine

0 Written by: | Thursday, May 22, 2014 11:55am

rose wines

 

Katie Callahan is a wine educator and former manager of Bin 201 Wine Sellers in Annapolis.

Oh man. It’s here. It’s finally here. The Pinks are coming. I will make no mystery of my affection for pink wine and will openly shoot disdainful and exasperated eyes at you if you tell me you feel otherwise. Yes everybody is entitled to their opinion, but come ON. There’s more or less one season that a half-full bottle of rose wine is acceptable on your counter/in your fridge/in a glass or sippy cup at any time of day, those colors of pale dogwood flower pink to deep fuchsia, that bright, bracing acid, those minerals…sigh. Read More →

Food & Drink, Wine School

Vino Veritas: Clearing the Cupboard of Wine With a Last Minute Party

0 Written by: | Thursday, Apr 24, 2014 12:20pm

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It’s Saturday and my husband decides it’s time to organize the cellar. Many times, he’ll find wine for down there and just stack it near the entrance for time’s sake, but because there’s a loose regional organization, things have to be situated or you lose track of what’s hiding. Some of those “lost” bottles surface while he digs, bottles he decides need to be investigated to see where they are in their development or if they’ve taken the dive over the hill. One can age wine for too long, it’s a tricky balance, and thus begins the construction of the most elaborate wine dinner in recent memory. Read More →

Food & Drink, Vino Veritas, Wine School

Vino Veritas: It’s Spring, Time to Make a Seasonal Wine Shift From Red to …

0 Written by: | Thursday, Apr 10, 2014 12:38pm

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As a new mom, I am without a regular nine-to-five job or school to keep me on track. I rely heavily on my surroundings to keep me up on the systematic parts of life. The mood of my child tells me time of day. Phone calls keep me on top of what day of the week it is, and the weather is my seasonal gauge. My seasons thus far in 2014 have been Winter, Narnia, Always Winter Never Christmas, Wet, Cold-and-Wet, Mid-May, Almost Spring, and Wet Again. I talk a lot about the weather. It determines my clothing choice, my activities, often my mood, and my beverage choice. Read More →

Food & Drink, Vino Veritas, Wine School

An Evening Conversation About Wine

1 Written by: | Thursday, Mar 27, 2014 11:59am

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On a Monday night, the baby is dozing in her swing and we are cooking dinner together after what hopefully is the last snow of the year. We are very, very hopeful. Chicken, preserved plum sauce, endive and beet salad, and couscous with walnuts, the kitchen is thick with salt and spice and heat. 

“What would you like to drink?” my husband asks. He always asks me. I always answer the same. Read More →

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