An influx of mail allows me to report some great suggestions, responses and questions before the quarter-year mark. Good, bad or ugly ... keep 'em coming.
The CEO Writes Back
I had a noteworthy e-mail volley with David Pearson, CEO of Opus One after I asserted that his winery is contrived and mires wine in snobbery and elitism ("Taste the Passion" 12/6/06). His thoughtful final response is worth printing:
I appreciate your battle. ... The ONLY point at which I take exception is when you intimate that Opus One somehow does not intensely care about our winemaking. That somehow we are not slaving over tanks and caring for every drop. That's simply wrong, and it is unfair and incorrect to assert it. We do not market to the mass consumers, but nor do we disdain them in any way. And, I do not think that high-image luxury wines such as Chateau Mouton Rothschild or Margaux or Opus One are the impediment to the general consumers. I think those legendary wineries (take us out of the list if you want) are what create the mystique and aspirational quality that is wine. Take that away and you lose [a lot]. We certainly don't want in the process of de-mystifying wine to make it "Coca Cola." No, I think the general consumer is greatly benefited by columnists like you who work to simplify and clarify a complicated subject — open the doors to a world of discovery and enjoyment. How does anyone possibly choose between all the labels at [the grocery store]? As they learn about wine, they will be able to make their own informed judgments about the value and rarity of certain wines. The debate about the value and quality of wines is the spice that makes this livelihood fun and interesting. But do not assert that we are not as passionate as the lonely winemaker slaving over his or her tank of fermenting grapes.
Home Order Woes
Enjoyed your article "Join the Club" (11/22/06) concerning purchasing wine over the Internet or from wine clubs. In this article you [reported] that you had attended a wine tasting of 15 wines from PRP Wine International and only found two "palatable" wines out of the 15. This is what is unique about PRP Wine Int'l — you can taste the wines before purchase. [This], in turn saves wine consumers time and money since the wines they purchase are wines they know they will enjoy. ... Since you only sampled 15 wines and dismissed them as mostly non-palatable, you missed out on the other 100+ wines available from PRP. [At PRP], you have a wine consultant that helps you find wines in the inventory through sampling that matches your palate. ... I'm sure if you had given PRP Wine additional information about your wine preferences, you would have found more wines that met your [taste].
PRP Wine International, Charlotte
I just read your article in this week's CL (12/13/06) entitled, "MMM ... Beer," and really enjoyed it. I found the historical information to be accurate and liked the offerings you picked to represent the holiday season. They are a wide array of brews of different character spanning the United States, as well as one from England.
I also thought you did an excellent job describing the flavor profiles of each of the selections. The only request I might add would be to highlight local breweries and brewpubs in the markets where this periodical is viewed. I think that could generate excitement from the different locales. Mind you, I am a professional brewer at a [local] brewpub, so I do have a bias.
M. David Gonzalez
Rock Bottom Brewery, Charlotte
Joel Fagan of Atlanta shares his leftover wine recipe (issue date 1/3/06):
Recipe for great, cheap coq au vin: Get the herbed rotisserie chicken [at the grocery store]. Pull off and put aside the legs and thighs. Cut off the white meat and put aside for supper that night. Pull off the wingtips and all the skin. Boil in about two cups of water for a half hour. Pull off all meat and boil down until sauce consistency. Serve with the white meat.
Now, the next night, melt a tablespoon of butter in pot and sauté a chopped onion. Pour in leftover wine you have — a half- to almost-full bottle of not-so-good or not-so-young red wine — and add the legs and thighs. Boil gently for 30-60 minutes until the sauce has thickened nicely. If the wine is too sour, add orange liquor until it tastes right. The meat will come off the bones very easily. Serve over rice or noodles.
Pazo San Mauro 2004 Albarino Rias Baixas (Spain) The quintessential wine with any type of seafood, this crisp, refreshing drink has green grass and grapefruit flavors with bracing acidity. Sw = 1. $10. 4 stars