Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Durbanville Hills cellar 01

 

 

From its first vintage 15 years ago, Durbanville Hills Wines, which is located on the Tygerberg Hills and overlooks Table Mountain and Table Bay, has produced some of the best received super premium wines in the country.

Cellar master Martin Moore, who was appointed in 1998 when the cellar was still in the early stages of construction, reminisces fondly of the first vintage and the memorable wines produced in 1999.

“When the first grapes were delivered to the presses, work had not even started on that part of the building which today houses the maturation cellar, restaurant and wine-tasting area.

“But regardless of the challenges both the Luipaardsberg Merlot and the Biesjes Craal Sauvignon blanc from our first vintage received double gold at Veritas while the Durbanville Hills Chardonnay was awarded gold. During that first vintage just over 3 000 tons of grapes were pressed. Within a few short years production moved up to reach the cellar’s full capacity of 8 000 tons,” says Moore.

“Over the years we have extended our product range to showcase the diverse terroir of the area. During the 15 years we have created a number of what I believe are quite remarkable wines; wines which in my view truly capture the unique flavour spectrum found on our valley slopes.”

Durbanville Hills has over the years become particularly known for its top-quality Sauvignon blanc, due also to the cool-climate location of its production units which all enjoy ideal conditions for growing this cultivar.

“During the summer months and then mostly in the late afternoon, the southeaster , blows off False Bay over the Cape Flats, bringing with it cool, moist air. The wind is surprisingly cold as it comes sweeping over the contours of the hills, cooling down the vineyards even on the hottest day. And when the southeaster is not blowing, a westerly wind coming off the cold Atlantic produces the same results,” says Moore.

Sauvignon blanc is represented across the cellar’s three wine ranges. All of them regularly receive awards at national and international competitions. Although the wines can be enjoyed immediately, the winery’s Sauvignon blancs are known for their longevity, with the Biesjes Craal in particular lasting for up to ten years.

The wines are available from the cellar and leading liquor outlets and retail for about R52 in the case of the 2012 Durbanville Hills Sauvignon Blanc and R85 for the 2012 Rhinofields Sauvignon Blanc while you should expect to pay about R115 for the 2012 Biesjes Craal Sauvignon Blanc.

 

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Every year members of the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux present wines in San Francisco, Chicago and New York. Their visit is one of the high points on calendars in major markets and is jammed with portfolio showings, regional and individual winery tastings.

 

The promotion by the premier growths of Bordeaux comes after months of preparation by staffers at Balzac Communications and Marketing in California. Organizers follow a 10-page battle plan that covers client goals, site selection, budgets, consumer and charity partners, invitations, tasting books, stemware, badges, trade and media lists, staffing and a long roster of peripherals. Many planners work with similar templates, smaller or equally detailed.

The success of a wine event starts with planning and a clear understanding of goals. The failures can often be traced to poor advance work and faulty follow through. The pitfalls are many, and catastrophes can happen. Here, marketing and event planning professionals offer their wisdom on planning the perfect wine event:

Things Do Go Wrong
All too frequently, wines, particularly those that must clear customs, are not available though they are listed on the program. Sometimes exhibitors do not know the wholesale or retail prices, speakers talk too long, or event sites are not ready on time. Melanie Young of The Connected Table in New York offered a litany of things that can make a presentation go sour.

“When you enter a poorly organized event, the room lacks professional ambiance. Registration is in disarray, there is no one to greet and direct guests and no helpful signage. No spit buckets. Cheap glassware that smells like dishwasher fluid. Tasting books that lack critical information or lines for writing notes, seminar handouts with no suggested pricing, poorly prepared literature that will only be tossed out afterwards,” she said.
“I’ve been to tastings with fragrant flowers and pourers wearing perfume. I’ve seen events where no one understands the need to serve product at the right temperature—white wine too cold or too warm and red wine that needed to be decanted—servers not briefed and unable to answer basic questions,” said Young.

Sam Folsom of Folsom Associates in San Francisco recalls arriving at a restaurant where the room was not prepared. “Our guests stood around waiting for staff to arrive and watched while they scrambled to set tables,” he said.

Be especially wary of large amounts of alcohol available at big consumer events, warns Aileen Robbins of the Dunn Robbins Group in New York. “When people pay to attend a tasting they really don’t want to ask questions about the terroir, they want to drink and eat as much as possible in the allotted time,” she observed. “I’ve seen inebriation, people who’ve fallen down stairs, passed out and wine glasses shattering after being dropped from upper floors.

On the other hand, having too few patrons can cause its own problems. “On another occasion, so few people showed up at a tasting that I was tempted to have waiters put on their street clothes and come back as guest,” Robbins said.

“Long ago,” comments Marsha Palanci of Cornerstone Communications in New York, “ I learned not to take anything for granted. We organized a vertical tasting at a Manhattan hotel and were assured that we did not need to rent stemware. When we arrived, we found a mix of six Riedel stems and six margarita glasses. We got rid of the Margaritas, and had guests empty, rinse and reuse their original glasses after the first go-around.”

Robbins added. “Once, a site manager locked us out because the client hadn’t paid the balance of the bill. Management refused to open the doors at starting time until we found a valid credit card to cover the amount.”

 

When Planning Works
Former sommelier Evan Goldstein directs Full Circle Wine Solutions. At a recent Full Circle tasting for Argentine wines at Cork Buzz, a popular venue in New York, guests first attended a seminar led by presenter Keith Goldston, master sommelier. Goldston lectured on Argentine wines, conducted a sampling of selected bottlings and orchestrated a lunch with matching wines, followed by a walk around tasting.

Each guest received a pamphlet detailing the wines and the wineries, harvest report, bottling details, tasting notes and suggested retail prices as well as the menu for the luncheon. The preparation was complete, down to spit cups for each participant, often an overlooked, emergency entry at tastings. Goldston had toured Argentine wine country, knew the wines and the vineyards and was able to answer all questions with ease.

“Planning is a complicated dance—you have to balance what you know will work with what your client wants and can pay for,” says Honora Horan, principal of HH Communications in Manhattan. “You have to get ‘good’ attendees: accredited, knowledgeable writers and appropriate wine buyers, sommeliers and retailers. There has to be something for the journalists to write about and wines that will appeal to the trade.”
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There is a snake in the ....., bottle?

There is a snake in the ….., bottle?

 

 

Wine most commonly comes from grapes, but some winemakers have been pushing the boundaries of decency by making wine with much more than just fruit.

 
We recently revealed the weirdest ingredients that have been used in brewing beer, and that was definitely not for the faint-hearted.

And earlier this week we reported that tiger bone wine is on sale in China and then db’s senior writer, Lucy Shaw, drank some snake wine at an event in London.

But even these exotic ingredients fall well short of the weirdness factor of bear bile and the stomach churning Korean “faeces” wine…
Read on …

Truffles coming to a vineyard near you!

Truffles coming to a vineyard near you!

 

The truffle trend is coming to a vineyard near you.
Thanks to new technology—which allows young oak and chestnut tree roots to be inoculated with black truffle spores—several U.S. wine producers are planting the tasty tuber melanosporum alongside their Pinot and Cab.

Growing secondary crops on a vineyard promotes biodiversity and is key to the long-term health of the land, says Robert Sinskey, of Sinskey Vineyards, which is home to Napa Valley’s first truffle orchard. And given the fact truffles are in such high demand—selling for as much as $1,200 a pound—planting an orchard made perfect sense.

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It’s time to boldly go into the universe of dinner parties. Hosting a dinner party is a great way to build longlasting relationships and create a better community of friends. Turns out, your friends are an ingenious source for good wine. On average, people are willing to spend more on wine for a party.

Yep. Time to host a party!

How do you make your dinner party awesome? Here are 12 dinner party ideas that aren’t only kickass but also simple to pull off. Read on!
Elegant Dinner Party
The ultimate dinner party is best when it’s no larger than 6-8 people. Keep in mind you’ll be serving a minimum of 3 courses at a properly set table. Serve the first course while your guests are being seated and have the 2nd course ready to transfer into large warm serving dishes.

Everyone has allergies these days, so ask before they awkwardly spill the beans about being Gluten-free or Vegetarian.

Elegant Dinner Party Ideas

Wine Picks
6 bottles: 2 white & 4 red (8 people). Stick to classics like Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Pre-plan who is bringing what.
Centerpiece
Keep the centerpiece short so you can see your pals across the table. Use real fruit, real candles or small flowers. After all, you’re real, right?
Etiquette
Serve Champagne prior to seating your friends because it works fastest. Place double sided namecards at the table so your friends don’t have to think.
Wine Place Setting
(From left right) Dessert, Red, White, Champagne and Water glass. Hydration is key.
Who sits where?
Split up couples and don’t seat yourself at the head of the table.

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Americans tend to eat more calories and fat on the days they also have alcoholic drinks, a new study suggests.

“Food choices changed on the days that people drank… and changed in an unhealthier direction for both men and women,” said Rosalind Breslow, a nutritional epidemiologist at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the lead author of the study.

She said the new information gives people an opportunity to be more aware of what they’re eating on the days they imbibe.

In a previous study, Breslow found people who drink more tend to have poorer diets in general, compared to those who drink less. For the current research, she and her colleagues looked at volunteers’ diets on both the days they drank and the days they abstained.

The data came from a large U.S. health and lifestyle survey conducted in 2003 through 2008.

More than 1,800 people answered a diet questionnaire on two days within a 10-day span – one day when they drank and another when they did not. When people did imbibe, they had an average of two to three alcoholic beverages at a time, most commonly beer and wine.

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Lady Gaga.

Lady Gaga.

 

Pop sensation Lady Gaga’s favourite wines have been revealed during a court case with her former personal assistant Jennifer O’Neill.

 

Details of the Italian-American singer’s tour rider came out in court this week, revealing that wine features among the backstage demands Gaga makes of each venue she visits.

In addition to bizarre requests like a life-sized mannequin, Gaga asks for “two bottles of good white wine”, preferably Chardonnay, and “one bottle of quality red wine.”

Perhaps in order of preference, the singer specifies her favourite red varieties on the rider as Shiraz, Grenache, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon.

The case also unveiled Gaga as something of a turophile, with the singer requesting brie, sharp cheddar, goat’s cheese and Dutch gouda at every show.

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Natural wine has much to learn...

Natural wine has much to learn from…

 

I can’t look a chicken in the eye anymore unless I ask it first if it’s free range. My family eats organic, right down to the kale. Yes, the natural food movement has changed the way we eat. We consider where our food came from, who grew or produced it, and how far it traveled to get to our plate.

Certainly — to throw some reality-check deionized spring water on the previous paragraph – the vast majority of American eaters are slugging down sugary drinks and sucking down deep-fried McSomething every day, but what was once the fringe domain of a few tofu freaks is now mainstream. You can buy stock in Whole Foods, which took in nearly $12 billion last year, and you can buy organic at Walmart and Costco.

Authors like Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman champion intelligent eating that will help us all live longer. I wonder, though, when those guys sit down to a meal with wine, do they drink organic? I’d like to think so. Laura Klein, publisher of Organic Authority, told me that people who eat organically would also be likely to drink organic, natural or sustainably-produced wine.

“It is a natural extension of their lifestyle,” she wrote me in an email. “Grapes can be one of the most heavily sprayed crops with pesticides, and those who want to limit their exposure to pesticides will probably want to choose wine made with grapes that are grown organically the way mother nature intended: without the use of chemical pesticides that damage the soil, environment and health of the workers that pick those grapes. In fact growers who use pesticides have to pay higher health insurance rates for their workers because of exposure.”

Although you can get organic wines in Whole Foods and Trader Joes, how can you find out more about them, and who are the champions for drinking the good (organic) stuff?
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Click image to download the wallpaper!

Free Romantic Valentine’s Wine Desktop Wallpaper wallpaper is a great wallpaper for your computer desktop and laptop. You can download and share to your friends this desktop wallpaper using the links above.

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What should you drink with Big Macs or pizza? An expert analyzes the basic flavor components of America’s favorite fast foods and suggests the perfect wines for each one.

 

Fast food and wine?

Fast food and wine?

At the end of my last trip to France, my cheap, no-brand rental car broke down on my way out of Paris, directly in front of a large—and hugely busy—McDonald’s. Fate, I felt, had finally poked its finger in my back. In the nearly 20 years I’d been traveling through Europe, I had managed never to set foot in a single fast-food restaurant. This wasn’t out of some highbrow pretense, mind you—when stateside, I visit my local White Castle so often they give me my change in shares of stock. It just seemed philosophically boneheaded to eat the same food over there that I could get back home. Yet there I was, stuck in front of that familiar yellow-and-red “billions and billions” sign. It was dinnertime and I was hungry. And I wasn’t going anywhere soon.

I walked through curtains of Gauloises smoke and up to the counter, where in my best 10th-grade French I requested: “Un Big Mac, un Royal avec fromage (a Quarter Pounder with Cheese), des frites,” and—because I couldn’t resist sampling what the corporate palates had chosen to complement their cuisine—a couple of tiny bottles of vin rouge et vin blanc.

I sat there for two hours, guiltily picking at the burgers and fries, swirling and sipping the wines from little plastic cups. I was, by the way, the only one swirling and sipping anything in that place—and for good reason. Both wines were mediocre at best and actually tasted worse with the food than alone. The burgers and fries were fine.

This experience taught me two very important lessons: It doesn’t pay to drive a low-rent voiture, and the French don’t know jack about matching wine with fast food.
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