Friday, July 30, 2010

Fuori Roma...

People always say 'when in Rome' to excuse indulgence in guilty pleasures. Well, I'm not in freaking Rome, and though I wish I was there right now, or in Italy in general (I miss it dearly) there's little I can do. I haven't had much for pizza since being back stateside for the last few months but tonight I decided to indulge in a bachelor dinner and order me up a fatty pie from the local Pizza Luce. With jalapenos, mushrooms, sausage, and red onions, it was thick with grease, and the style was different from the Neapolitan pizza I so favored while 'near Rome,' but I pigged out in all my glory. Beverage accompaniment was tough. I'm all for wine and pizza, especially a lighter California Merlot (Alexander Valley Vineyards makes a HOTT merlot these days) or an acidic Chianti to complement tomato sauce. Needless to say, I wasn't about to open a bottle of wine on my own tonight (though I would likely finish it solo anyway). I chose some beer tonight that I've never tried before (not knowing I would be having pizza), but it worked out alright. Le Merle Saison from North Coast Brewery in Fort Bragg CA tried its hardest to pair with my greasy spicy pizza (and the sriracha/ranch dipping sauce I concocted on the side). I've never actually tried a saison before. The sour and slightly sweet palate of the Belgian styled 'farmer's beer' bothered me at first and has yet to win me over, but I'm confident after trying a number of different styles from different producers will bring me into line. Since it was a new experience I hate to hate on the beer, but I'd have much rather preferred an American Lager or something more familiarly pleasing. Pizza and beer is still my pairing of choice, though for those of us looking to please a date, wine might be more in order (though personally I think a pizza and beer night in is as good as it gets). TGIF!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pee No.

I love Pinot Noir; it's quite likely my favorite wine. I'm probably pretty biased, as the three wineries I worked at all specialized in Pinot, but maybe it was just a 'fate' -like happening. It's such a delicate grape and the spread of possibilities of what the wine may turn into is giant across the globe. Tonight I'm sipping a Penner-Ash 2007 Rubeo, a budget-end blend of Pinot Noir and Syrah from a reputable Willamette Valley producer. I had it with dinner, a spicy pork-sausage and tomato cream sauce pasta dish, but it's elegance graces my stemware as it opens up more and more after dinner starts to digest. The 'Oregon Funk' as I like to call it, a good 'funk' in my opinion, like a James Brown grove or George Clinton on his A-Game, is a synthesis of decaying evergreen forest with the liveliness of a fresh cranberry bog and ripened cherries. The touch of smoke from some french wood aging adds a welcomed layer. I haven't really written any bad reviews of wine yet; perhaps that's a reflection of my general optimism or I'm not drinking enough wine or taking enough risks (like the 2004 Vernaccia di San Gimigniano I bought last night knowing 99% that it would be bad but wondering what it would taste like anyway). My blog is also pretty juvenile. Penner-Ash was my first harvest gig and ironically the winery that taught me how un-romantic winemaking can be produces some of the sexier wines I've had the pleasure to drink.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I'm listening to this band: The Avett Brothers, and drinking this wine: 2006 Novy Nebbiolo, as I watch an utterly beautiful mid-summer sunset over Minneapolis. I couldn't ask for more.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Summer in the city

It's HOT here in Minneapolis. Luckily the thunderstorms that ravaged the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area this evening have lowered the temperatures a bit and I am blessed not only to have a sealed apartment to call home but also a fully functioning air conditioning unit to cool my abode. Needless to say when I got home from an extended day of work today, the refresher I grabbed was an ice cold beer. (Before I came home I was at a wine seminar put on by one of my associates, the very mythical Bill Abrahamson (look him up), that covered the Tempranillo wines of scorching Spain). Readily available in my fridge was a can of "Back in Black" Black IPA from 21st Amendment Brewery. Though these guys hail from the city by the bay (San Francisco) they have been brewing some beer for the Minnesota market at the relatively local Cold Springs Brewery. Unlike anything I've ever tried before, this beer is brewed with dark malts instead of the lighter fare that is typical to the IPA style. I was not a fan upon first sipping, but to be fair, the ballsy beer has grown on me. Its 6.8% ABV is something to remember, or rather help you forget the day past, but the hop profile is nicely rounded and balanced and is an interesting complement to the heavier body of the innovative beer. The packaging is pretty sexy too. It lacks the citrus finish and dazzle of many hoppy IPA's but it's something different and is definitely worth the $10 for a six pack. Sometimes beating the summer heat doesn't always mean light and fresh!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Why White?

I can't believe it's almost August. Being back in an old city with new and old friends alike as well as earning wages at a new wine job means that I've had plenty of opportunities for some social beverages. Picks of the summer have been French and Italian whites, with a Pichot Vouvray topping the list. I had it last week with a Lake Michigan salmon my dad caught cooked in a honey/orange marinade. Sweet viscous citrusy bliss! Yesterday I had a sexy pint of Rush River Amber Ale from nearby River Falls Wisconsin. If you can find it I'd advise buying a few six packs. I can't wait for the weather to cool down a bit so I can throw on my favorite wool sweater and uncork a bottle of some Zepaltas pinot noir. Sorry to say I will not be joining Mr. Zed in Santa Rosa this year on his winemaking team. The retail business has a hold on me and I'm stoked to be called the new 'wine guy' at a liquor store here in the cities, even though I miss my Carhartt and Blundstone workdays. Go find a patio and raise a glass!