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Sabering with a Steak Knife

July 10, 2018 9 comments

When I’m opening a bottle of sparkling wine, my first desire is always to saber it. Sabering is a lot more fun than just twisting out the cork. Opening sparkling wine in the standard way, by twisting a bottle out of the cork, should produce no sound, maybe just a little “sigh”. When the bottle is sabered, the loud pop is expected, and the sparkling wine siphons out of the bottle – I hope you agree, this is lots more fun.

In the act of sabrage, the bottle is open with a small sword appropriately called the saber. This is how the typical saber would look:

I don’t believe I ever used the proper saber before, but considering the weight of it, it should be a pretty easy exercise – I used the chef’s knife successfully a number of times, works perfectly on the properly chilled bottle of Champagne or similar classic-method sparkling wine (it is all about high pressure of the liquid in the bottle).

Instead of a saber, it is a lot more fun to try random objects for the sabrage. My sabering attempts are not anywhere as prolific as Jeff The Drunken Cyclist’s (here is his latest success with the “espresso thingy”), but I had my own documented successes with the wine glass, and failures with the stapler and even with the knife.

This time around, I was opening the bottle of Cava, and encouraged by the Jeff’s latest success, I wanted to use some random object for sabering – so the steak knife was something I grabbed.

This is my beloved Laguiole steak knife, which is perfect for slicing the meat, beautiful and nicely balanced – however, it is very light. I was positive this will not work, but this is part of the fun! My first two strikes led to the glass starting to chip off around the neck, which lowered my confidence even further, but you can see this all for yourself here (apologies for the format of this video – a rookie mistake with the iPhone after not making videos in a while…):

 

As you can tell, it worked! Next time you will be opening a bottle of Champagne – have some fun with it. Cheers!

How Not To Saber, Or May Be What Not To Saber

March 23, 2016 18 comments

I know many of my readers are well familiar with Jeff, a.k.a The Drunken Cyclist, writer of the eponymous wine blog. Jeff loves Champagne, and Jeff also loves to saber those Champagne bottles – I learned from him that it is fun, and the bottle of Champagne can be sabered not only with a proper champagne sword, but with variety of household items, particularly with a wine glass.

A short while ago Jeff posted a video of his attempt to saber the bottle with a stapler. His attempt was not successful, and he ended up sabering the bottle in the “traditional” way – with the wine glass. After watching the video, I left him a smart ass comment that he used the wrong stapler, and I thought that if he would’ve used nice heavy device such as Swingline, he would have no issues prying that bottle open.

Emboldened by my earlier successes with sabering with the glass, I decided to demonstrate how pros do it, so the others would learn.

Duh…

Here is a clear proof of my failure – the only difference with Jeff’s video is that mine is shorter and not well edited (it is just no edited at all). Plus my dog was trying to voice her encouragement (nope, that didn’t work):

My embarrassment didn’t stop there. Feeling challenged by some annoying bottle, I decided to show it who is in control and brought in the nice Chef’s knife:

The end result of this exercise was damaged stapler (the bottom bent slightly, as it appears that what I considered a solid steel was just a thin steel shell on top of something soft) and damaged ego. I definitely think that my choice of sparkling wine was part of the problem, as this French sparkler from Saumur didn’t have much bubbles after all – and I think having exuberant Champagne ready to “pop” is important for the success of the sabering (however I was previously successful with non-Champagne sparklers).

Well, I might need to practice again with the glass, at least until my confidence will be restored. But what about that stapler? I know! Staple Gun is next…

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, Few Words About Wine Blogging, FLX Riesling #WineChat Tonight and more

September 10, 2014 2 comments

Meritage time!

Let’s start with the answer to the wine quiz #113: Grape Trivia – Pinot Blanc.

In the quiz, you were supposed to answer 5 questions about white grape from the Pinot family, Pinot Blanc.

Here are the questions, now with the answers:

Q1: Below is the list of some of the countries growing Pinot Blanc. Sort this list by the area plantings of the Pinot Blanc, from the lowest to the highest:
a. Austria, b. France, c. Germany, d. Italy

A1: Might come as a bit of a surprise, but the correct sequence, based on the 2010 data,  is France (3,230 acres), Austria (4,785), Italy (7,715) and Germany (9,675)

Q2: Wine Spectator calls wines rated in 95-100 range Classic (the highest and the most prestigious category). True or False: there are Pinot Blanc wines rated in the Classic category

A2: True. By a very slim margin, but there are 2 Pinot Blanc wines with the 95 rating (there are plenty in the Outstanding, 90-94 range). As a matter of fact, one of those 95 pointers comes from the New World – 2009 Erath Pinot Blanc Dundee Hills Sweet Harvest from Oregon got that “classic” rating in April 2011 issue.

Q3: In Europe, Pinot Blanc was often confused with and often treated during winemaking the same as _______

A3: Chardonnay. Historically, Pinot Blanc was growing side by side with Chardonnay, and was often confused for one. Similar to Chardonnay, it can be made in both unoaked and oaked styles with equal success.

Q4: In California, the grape which was brought in as a Pinot Blanc, in reality happened to be  ____?

A4: Melon de Bourgogne, French grape used in the production of Muscadet wines.

Q5: True or False: from 2000 to 2010, worldwide plantings of the Pinot Blanc dropped more (percentage-wise) than the plantings of its sibling, Pinot Gris, have increased.

A5: False. From 2000 to 2010, the plantings of Pinot Blanc dropped by about 15%, while the plantings of Pinot Gris more than tripled worldwide.

When it comes to the results, I’m glad to say that the number of players took a stub at this quiz – but, somehow the quiz happened to be somewhat difficult (I usually miss the difficulty in my own assessment, unfortunately). Nobody was able to answer all the questions correctly, but I would like to acknowledge Next Stop TBD who got correct answers for 3 questions out of 5. Thank you all for playing!

Now, to the interesting stuff around the vine and the web!

Alfonso Cevola, who writes an excellent blog “On the wine trail in Italy”, shared his sad outlook on the wine blogging community with the post titled Wine Blog Death Watch: Two wine blogs that are bright lights in a forest of darkness. Well, it is not all doom and gloom in that blog post. First, Alfonso introduces two new wine blogs which he likes. And may be most importantly, speaking from the 9 years of blogging experience, he also gives an advice to the wine bloggers. His advice is very short and concise, and I would dare to say, literally the best you can get. Alfonso has only six bullet points, so taking just the key items themselves, here is a summary of what he suggests: “Write for yourself. Read great writers. Do not look at stats. Write consistently. Don’t follow the trends. Find your niche.” Touche. I can only add “amen”.

Tonight we will take a deep dive into the world of Finger Lakes Rieslings – the #winechat with 8 producers, 8 excellent wines from the 2013 vintage – join the conversation! The logistics are as usual – at 9 PM eastern, open a twitter client and search for #winechat – from there, the conversation is on, and don’t forget to use hashtag #winechat on all your tweets.

Do you know that when you drink the wine (or any alcohol for that matter), you should have water in between the glasses? It supposed to prevent hungover (some of the latest research suggests that it might not be true, who knows), and water is generally good for you. Some of the creative types designed nested glasses which would simplify this task for you – both wine and water are readily in your hand at any time, wine glass on top of the water glass. You can read about this glasses in the Dr. Vino’s blog post.

Got a bit of time on your hands? Wine Spectator is running an annual wine video contest, and you can help to decide who made the best video. Wine Spectator selected 9 videos as the finalists, so your job would be simple – watch those videos and decide who will be the Grand Prize winner. Here is the link to the page for you to watch the videos and take vote.

And we are done here. The glass is empty – but the refill is on its way! Cheers!

Month In Wines – August 2014, plus a Sabering Video

September 1, 2014 7 comments

Summer is practically over, and the school is about to start, together with all the after-school activities and other busy things. Well, this is not the worst of the problems to have, isn’t it? Anyway, we should be talking about wines here, so let’s do that.

August is usually an interesting month with the wines, as August 31st is our wedding anniversary, which requires to kick it up a notch when possible. We didn’t drink anything insanely out of this world this past month, but there were quite a few of the very solid wines worth mentioning. As usual, this summary includes only 8- or higher rated wines – with some exceptions possible; many of the wines you see below were previously discussed in this blog, so this only serves as a summary post.

2007 Champagne Veuve Doussot Brut (12% ABV) – beautiful complexity of the vintage champagne – yeast, toasted bread, nice and elegant mid-palate weight, toasted bread on the palate. 8-

2011 Adega Pedralonga Albariño, Rias Baixas, Spain (13% ABV, $22)ocean air in your glass – a sea-driven pleasure, with lots of minerality and delicious complexity. 8+

2012 Buil & Giné Joan Giné Blanc, Priorat DOQ, Spain (14% ABV) – a Burgundy rivaling complexity and elegance, with touch more floral and white fruit notes. 8

2012 Villa Bellangelo Chardonnay Finger Lakes (13.8% ABV, $20) – Chablis-style, restrained, balanced, delicious. 8

2012 Villa Bellangelo 1866 Reserve Riesling Finger Lakes (11% ABV, $32) – excellent minerality and complexity, classic Riesling aromatics, lots of pleasure. 8/8+

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2010 Marco Sambin Marcus Veneto IGT (14% ABV, Cabernet Sauvignon 45%, Merlot 40%, Cabernet Franc 10%, Syrah 5%) – delicious from start to finish. Multilayered, complex and bringing lots of pleasure. 9

2013 Wonderwall Pinot Noir Edna Valley (14.9% ABV) – a supercharged California Pinot Noir with fruit forward power balance. Exuberant wine. 8-

2011 Bodegas Caro ‘Amancaya’ Gran Reserva Malbec–Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza, Argentina (15% ABV, 70% Malbec, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon)playful, open, dark chocolate and mocha notes, dark fruit and big voluptuous body, all very balanced. 8

2010 Château de Pibarnon Bandol Rouge Les Restanques de Pibarnon, Bandol, France (14% ABV) – cherries and blackberries, firm structure, earthiness, noticeable acidity. Very pleasant overall and pairs great with steak. 8

2009 Gramercy Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley (14.2% ABV) –  Perfect Bordeax elegance coupled with unmistakably a New World flair. 8

2005 Neyers Vineyards AME Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley (14.7% ABV)  – stunning elegance of red berries, acidity, tannins and firm structure. Delicious one sip after another. 9

2013 Newport Vineyards Landot Noir SENE AVA ($18) – barnyard on the nose, freshly crushed berries on the nose and palate, very unusual – and a new grape. 7+

2011 Robert Storey Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley (14.4% ABV) – classic Cabernet profile, cassis, green bell pepper, eucalyptus, balancing acidity, medium to full body and firm tannins. 8-

2000 Primus Casablanca Valley Red Wine, Chile (14.1% ABV, 60% Carménère, 22% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon) – lots of pleasure which only aged wine can deliver. Very complex, rich, with great bouquet of herbs, spices, fresh eucalyptus, touch of cassis and earthiness, fresh. Had lots of life left in it.  8+

2008 Flam Merlot Reserve, Israel (14% ABV) – restrained and elegant. Dark fruit on the nose with a touch of espresso. Blackberries and touch of plumes with supple tannins and clean acidity on the palate, excellent balance. 8

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Somewhat unusual addition to the “month in wines” post – a short sabering video. I have done sabering (opening the bottle of the sparkling wine by hitting its top to create structural damage in the glass and to allow the internal pressure of the sparkling wine to break the top off – in a classic scenario, done with the sword) before, using the bottom of the Champagne glass. Then I had a number of fiascoes, breaking a few glasses and cutting myself. Then I was again inspired by the drunken cyclist sabering video, and while I didn’t attempt to use the golf club, I did it again (successfully) with the glass. Here is the video for you (the Champagne I’m opening is the one mentioned in this post, 2007 Veuve Doussot):

And we are done here. What were your wine highlights of the past month? What do you think of sabering – would you attempt it? Cheers!

Instead of a Wine Quiz Today…

December 15, 2013 12 comments

Yes, I had a full intention of publishing the next wine quiz. But I stumbled. The quiz was supposed to be about Dolcetto, and I really couldn’t figure out my approach to the questions, hence… no quiz.

But you know that nasty feeling, when you created a program, a plan, a schedule, if you will  – which you now can’t fulfill? Yeah, not pleasant. So, as I usually do in the difficult blogging moments, I bring the videos to the rescue.

Below are some of my most favorite food videos – I’m even surprised that I didn’t share them before. Two of them are the commercials of the Lurpak butter. No, they are not new, but to tell you the truth, they represent food porn in such a pure form, that I keep coming back to them just for a quick minute of pleasure.

I also recommend watching these videos in the full screen mode – for the maximum effect.

The first one was called Kitchen Odyssey:

The next one, is a whole group of Lurpak commercials:

The last one is not for the faint at heart – if you are on a diet, or simply despise heavy foods, skip it. For the rest of you – this is a hard core food. This video comes from the Epic Meal Time, which has a whole series dedicated to fun and radical cooking. Disclaimer – no, I don’t eat like that, but find watching this video very enjoyable.

That’s all I have for you for today. Off to work on my Beef Bourguignon recipe – will be shared soon. Cheers!

A Bit of Everything for Sunday – Wine Review, a Fun Video and Wine Infographics

December 8, 2013 12 comments

It is Sunday, and I have rather a hodge-podge mix for you here. I have a few things a wanted to share, and while they are all not connected (or may be they are), I think it all make sense in the format of Sunday time. Here we go.

The first one belongs to the Daily Glass category, which is intended for the simple daily wines I drink, well, daily – and I’m always looking for value. This time, the search for value lead me to  Kirkland Signature Médoc.

Kirkland Signature MédocI love value wines. Of course we can remove the word “value” from the previous sentence – yes, I’m an oenophile, also often known as a wine snob. At the same time, I think the word “value” is important. “Value wine” means you get disproportional amount of pleasure compare to the amount of money you invest into that bottle of wine. A €1.29 Portuguese red and white are ultimate examples of the value wines. Trader Joe’s carries a lot of outstanding value wines at $5.99 or less. I remember amazing Montepulciano wines at $5 per bottle I was buying by the caseload. Well, La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza at $30 will also perfectly fit the bill, but this is the whole other story. Okay, I’m sure you got my point.

So here comes Costco. Value is a whole premise of huge warehousing operation of Costco’s chain, and of course it extends into the wines. To deliver ultimate value (supposedly, at least), Costco even has its own brand, called Kirkland.

When I visit Costco which has a wine section (not all the warehouses have it – the one I usually go to does not), I always have to explore it. And yes, I’m looking for value. This time around, I decided to extend my quest for value to the ultimate heights, and got a bottle of Kirkland Signature Médoc, which I found for $8.99 at Costco in Massachussets.

Médoc wine for $8.99? How good can that be? Finding palatable wines from Bordeaux (not even talking about good wines) at that price is mostly a mission impossible. And this wine is not even designated as a whole Bordeaux, it is Médoc AOC, which theoretically means the grapes should be better-  but again, at under $10? Well, let’s  see if Costco can actually do it.

2011 Kirkland Signature Médoc AOC (13.5 ABV, $8.99, 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot) had dark garnet red color in the glass. The nose didn’t exhibit much of the fruit. On the palate, there was a hint of raspberries, and may be a whiff of tobacco, otherwise the wine was rather flat, lacking the mid palate weight and substance. Drinkability: 6. This was the wine without sense of place – you know you are drinking wine, but otherwise it completely fails to solicit an emotional response. Was that the worst wine I ever had? No. Was that the wine I would recommend to someone? No. Was that the wine I would ever buy again? No. Can you buy this wine if you must have Bordeaux on the table?  Yes. Would that wine benefit from aging or aggressive decanting? Maybe, but we will need to establish it first. Is it possible that you actually might like this wine? Of course! And I would love to hear from you if you do.

Next up – the Holiday Dinner Party video. No, this is not the wine video, but instead, it is a great video dedicated to all of you cooks out there. This was sent to me by a friend, an avid cook herself (if the recipe doesn’t require at least a stick of butter, she is not making it). With the holidays, and all the festivities, friends and families getting together, I’m sure all of you can relate to what you are about to hear. But enough words – here is the video:

And last, but not least for today – the wine infographics. I’m an information junkie, and I love processing of the lists of all sorts. Continuing the theme of value wines, below is a very interesting infographics presenting 10 great wines for $10. Well, yes, “great” is a very personal characteristic, but it is always fun to align the opinions and see what the other person thinks – definitely a fun for me. To be honest, I don’t remember tasting any of the wines below. So please take a look, and of course, comment away – I’m very curious about your opinion.

10 Great Wines for $10 or Less
Courtesy of: SelfStorage.com

That’s all I have for you for today! Enjoy the rest of your weekend and cheers!

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, How To Make Wine Into a Cult, Interesting Videos, Few Reminders and more

July 31, 2013 10 comments

Santa MargheritaMeritage Time!

First and foremost, the answer to the weekly wine quiz #67, grape trivia – Pinot Gris, a.k.a. Pinot Grigio.

In the quiz, you were supposed to answer 5 questions about Pinot Gris grape – here are the questions, now with the answers.

Q1: Name Italian Pinot Grigio wine which is considered a golden standard of Pinot Grigio in the United States (people really ask for it by name).

A1: Santa Margherita. In the 1979, a few cases of Santa Margherita were shipped to US by Billy Terlato, the wine importer. The marketing campaign in the 1980s happened to be pure genius ( I guess, I didn’t witness the campaign, but I can see the results) – the rest was history. In 2006 Santa Margherita alone sold 8.5M (that’s millions to you) bottles of Pinot Grigio worldwide, 65% in US. Mind-boggling, if you ask me… You can find some additoinal interesting information in this Imbibe.com article.

Q2: Name two famous regions in France which used to make wines out of Pinot Gris, but not anymore

A2: Both Burgundy and Champagne used to make Pinot Gris wines in the 18th century. Nowadays, both regions still grow Pinot Gris, but practically never use it for the mainstream winemaking.

Q3: When do you think Pinot Gris was first planted in Oregon?

a. 1947, b. 1966, c. 1978, d. 1990

A3: 1966. David Lett of Eyrie Vineyards planted first Pinot Gris vines in Oregon in 1966.

Q4: Wine Spectator calls wines rated in 95-100 range Classic. True or False: there are more classically rated Pinot Gris wines than Sauvignon Blanc?

A4: True. There are quite a few Pinot Gris (no Pinot Grigio, of course) with very high ratings, including 2001 Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris Alsace Clos Windsbuhl Sélection des Grains Nobles, which got 100 points. The highest of Sauvignon Blanc ratings belongs to 2005 Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fumé Pur Sang (97 points), and overall there are very few Sauvignon Blanc wines in the Classic ratings range.

Q5: During early 2000s, producers in Alsace had to change the way the Pinot Gris wines were typically labeled (you can still find the old name on the bottles from 1990s and before). Do you know what was changed and why? As an added bonus, please explain the origin of the old name.

A5: As with many grapes, the story is quite interesting. Pinot Gris originated in Burgundy, some time in 12th century. From there, it made it to Hungary, and then in 16th century it made it to Alsace, now under the name of Tokay d’Alsace. At the same time, Tokay ( Tokaj to be precise) is the name used for one of the best Hungarian wines, so in 1993 the agreement was reached in EU to phase out the use of “Tokay” in Alsace, which was completed in 2007.

I’m glad to tell you that we have the winner this time! Jeff, a.k.a. The Drunken Cyclist, nailed all 5 questions – he also did it Google-free, which deserved a special commendation – however I can only offer a double amount of the typical prize – unlimited bragging rights. Double unlimited? Not sure how that should work… but great job Jeff!

Now, to the interesting stuff around the vine and web!

First, here is an interesting story for you on how to make the wine into a cult wine. The story was published in the Drinks Business online magazine, so it is written more a trade article, but it makes an interesting reading nevertheless.

Now, I have two important reminders for you:

August 14th – Wine Blogging Wednesday event, #WBW80 – Dry Rosé. All you need to do is to write a blog post pertinent to the subject, and submit it to the host. For all the details please click here. Let’s make it a success!

August 16th – deadline for submission for the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #2, with the theme called Trouble. You can find all the rules here. I personally have big trouble with this trouble, so I’m not sure if you will see an article from me… Oh well – I’ve seen a few submissions already, and they were worth the trouble!

Thanks to the tweet from the fellow oenophile Peter L. Zachar (@PeterZachar ), I came across an interesting series of videos about Bordeaux. Recorded by James Cluer, Master of Wine, the series is presenting some of the greatest estates in Bordeaux. Below is the first video of the series, and you can follow it from there.

And this is all I have for you for today. The glass is empty – but the refill is coming. Open something great tonight, and until the next time – cheers!

 

Few Videos For This Hot Summer day

July 18, 2013 12 comments

Too many things to do, not enough time; too hot; too disorganized – yep that too; Anyway, while I’m still trying to get my head around all the “must do”s…

…I just realized that I didn’t post a wine video in a while (here is the link to the older posts). It is not easy to find a decent short wine video which I would be happy to share with my readers (yeah, I’m picky) – so I managed to find only two.

First, Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages commercial:

And now, Montana Winery Marlboro Sauvignon Blanc (the original?):

But this is not all. Now I want to share two of the “influenced” videos. The first one is a trailer to the Casillero del Diabolo movie, as influenced by an excellent post from Kirsten, a.k.a. The Armchair Sommelier, about her encounter with the Devil (actually this post was presented in TheWinegetter blog, as part of the interesting project run by the TheWinegetter himself, Oliver). Here is the trailer:

The last video was influenced by the blog post by SavorEncyclopedia, where she is talking about visiting the cheese store and tavern in Wisconsin; one of the people at the table got adventurous and ordered limburger cheese – which brought in the memory of a wonderful clip from Abbott & Costello show, sent to me a while back by my friend Emil. Oh yes, and you don’t know what the limburger cheese is – watch the video. Here it is, enjoy:

I’m not asking you to rate the videos, but all the comments are always most welcome! Stay cool and cheers!

 

 

Wine Videos To The Rescue

April 12, 2013 17 comments

What’s up with “wine videos to the rescue”? Lot’s of posts I want to do and can’t focus on any of them. And I start feeling bad because I can’t focus and finish any of them. Therefore, I need a break. And I like how the vides look on the page. And yes, after I saw a sequel to Hitler’s Parker parody, the wine videos were on my mind. I hope I explained myself. Now, let’s watch something together, shall we?

First, Yellow Tail wine swirl commercial (yeah, whatever, I happened to like it):

Rosemount Shiraz – not so sure about it, but it is short:

Commercial for Israeli red wine Barkan – nice, might be a bit too intense musically:

This one is called Blossom Hill Wine TV Commercial – it is uplifting, I’d say, due to the song, but – where is the wine???

And the moment you’ve been waiting for – “Replant the Cabernet” movie:

So, what do you think? Which one is your favorite? Which one is just a “blah”? Are you going to buy any of the wines based on any of the commercials? Cheers!

 

Wine Videos: Funny, Interesting or Blah?

January 2, 2013 18 comments

Happy New Year to All!

I decided to start the new year with something fun and simple – wine videos. Actually, it appears that it is not that simple to find even semi-decent videos, so I’m curious what you would think of the videos below.

Martini Prosecco (?!) Commercial:

Stacked Wine Commercial (I actually saw it in the store, and it looks pretty neat, but I didn’t taste it):

Beringer commercial:

And Georgian wine commercial:

So, which one is your favorite? Cheers!