Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
Everything will change if we just wait long enough:
Monday, December 12, 2011
This bistro is located in downtown Portland (on Park Ave). We recently attended a great community Sunday dinner there, and look what we got for just $39 each:
Friday, December 9, 2011
Oh, this is AWFUL news:
Thursday, December 8, 2011
For many reasons, I do NOT recommend using a saber to slice off the neck of your sparkling wine.
All financial bubbles must pop, right? Earlier this year the Chinese (businesspeople, mostly) were buying Chateau Lafite like crazy, and prices skyrocketed. Seems Lafite was drunk by very popular actors on a Chinese television show, and before long newly-wealthy Chinese were buying all they could.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Types of Sugar
Bar Sugar: This sugar's crystal size is the finest of all the types of granulated sugar. It is ideal for sweetening finished wine because it dissolves easily. It is also called "superfine" or "ultrafine" sugar. In England, a sugar very similar to bar sugar is known as caster or castor, named after the type of shaker in which it is often packaged. Commercially, it can be purchased as "Baker's Sugar."
Barbados Sugar: A British specialty brown sugar, very dark brown, with a particularly strong molasses flavor. The crystals are slightly coarser and stickier in texture than "regular" brown sugar. Also know as Muscovado Sugar.
Brown Sugar: Sugar crystals coated in a molasses syrup with natural flavor and color. Many sugar refiners produce borwn sugar by boiling a special molasses syrup until brown sugar crystals form. A centrifuge spins the crystals dry. Some of the syrup remains, giving the sugar its brown color and molasses flavor. Other manufacturers produce brown sugar by blending a special molasses syrup with white sugar crystals. Dark brown sugar has more color and a stronger molasses flavor than light brown sugar. Lighter brown sugars are more commonly used in winemaking than darker ones, as the richer molasses flavors in the darker sugar tend to mask the bases flavors of the wine, but both have their place.
Corn Syrup: This is basically glucose and water, but may contain some maltose or other sugars. Common, grocery store products may have vanilla added, and/or preservatives that could affect fermentation. Read the label.
Demerara Sugar: A light brown sugar with large golden crystals which are slightly sticky. While this sugar is often expensive, it has a unique, unmatched flavor.
Dextrose: An isomer form (the invert) of glucose, actually called dextroglucose (D-glucose) with a right- axis polarization (a.k.a. "right-handed glucose") and found naturally in sweet fruits and honey.
Fructose: One of two simple (reducing) fermentable sugars in grapes and other fruit, the other being glucose. Isolated, fructose is approximately twice as sweet as glucose. In wine, a higher fructose concentration will result in a heightened sweetness threshold.
Galactose: An optical isomer form of glucose. Sometimes called lactose, although it is not lactose proper. Not desired as a residual sugar in wine as it oxidizes to form mucic acid.
Glucose: One of two simple fermentable sugars in grapes and other fruit, the other being fructose. Glucose is approximately half as sweet as fructose. An isomer form of glucose, dextrose, is considered to be glucose
Honey: Honeys vary widely, but generally are a complex mixture of right-axis glucose (dextrose -- about 30%), left-axis fructose (levulose -- about 38 to 40%), maltose (about 7%) and a surprising number of other sugars (3 to 5% -- see section below, Sugars and Honey) in water with proteins, minerals, pollens, bee parts, and other solids interspersed. Honey purity and quality also varies widely, as do the "varieties" of honey. "Variety" is attributed to the predominate flower the bees visited while making the honey (such as clover, orange, wildflower, raspberry, sage, heather, etc.).
Invert Sugar: The product of the hydrolysis of sucrose, which is glucose and fructose. Dextrose (an isomer of glucose) and levulose (an isomer of fructose) are obtained by the inversion of sucrose, and hence called invert sugar. Yeast convert invert sugar more rapidly than sucrose, such as simple cane sugar, because they do not have to break the sucrose down into glucose and fructose themselves. Invert sugar can be made by dissolving two parts sugar into one part water, adding two teaspoons lemon juice per pound of sugar, bringing this almost to a boil, and holding it there for 30 minutes (NOT allowing it to boil). If not to be used immediately upon cooling, this can be poured into a sealable jar, sealed and cooled in the refrigerator. Invert sugar should NOT be used to sweeten finished wine as it will encourage refermentation.
Jaggery: Raw or semi-refined palm sugar, made in the East Indies by evaporating the fresh juice of several kinds of palm trees, but specifically that of the palmyra.
Lactose: A sugar comprising one glucose molecule linked to a galactose molecule and found only in milk. It has a slightly sweet taste and is much less soluble in water than most other sugars. The human body breaks it down into galactose and glucose. Because it is not ordinarily fermentable until separated into its component sugars, it can be used to boost residual sweetness.
Levulose: An isomer form (the invert) of fructose, with a left-axis polarization (a.k.a. "left-handed fructose") and found naturally in sweet fruits and honey.
Maltose: A crystalline sugar formed from starch (specifically malt) and the amylolytic ferment of saliva and pancreatic juice. It consists of two linked glucose molecules and is completely fermentable. It resembles dextrose, but rotates the plane of polarized light further to the right and possesses a lower cupric oxide reducing power.
Molasses: The filtered residue of sugar refinement after the cyrstalized portion has been removed. "Light molasses" is roughly 90% sugar, while "blackstrap molasses" is only 50% sugar and 50% refinement residue. It may have sulfur compounds added to sterilize and stabilize it. This makes it generally undesirable as a sugar for wine, as it could encourage the formation of hydrogen sulfide. It is similar to treacle.
Muscovado Sugar: A British specialty brown sugar, very dark brown, with a particularly strong molasses flavor. The crystals are slightly coarser and stickier in texture than "regular" brown sugar. Also know as Barbados Sugar.
Piloncillo: Mexican brown sugar, which is semi-refined and granulated. It is sometimes sold in solid cone-shaped cakes, where the sugar is scraped off the cake as needed. The taste is quite different than American brown sugar, which is actually refined sugar to which molasses has been added.
Raffinose: A complex sugar (trisaccharide) found primarily in grains, legumes and some vegetables. It has little value in winemaking and is only slightly sweet.
Raw Sugar: Crystalline sugar obtained from the evaporation of cane, beet, maple, or some other syrup. Raw cane sugar is sold as "Sucanat." Raw beet sugar is said to be unsavory. Raw sugar should not be equated with the product "Sugar in the Raw."
Residual Sugar: The amount of sugar, both fermentable and unfermentable, left in a wine after fermentation is complete or permanently halted by stabilization. Fermentation is complete when either all the fermentable sugar has been converted by the yeast into alcohol and carbon dioxide as byproducts or when the concentration of alcohol produced reaches a level that is toxic to the yeast and they die. Fermentation is permanently halted by stabilization through several means involving intervention by man.
Rock Candy: Large sucrose crystals, usually clear but may be tinted with flavorings, Some people drop a piece of rock candy in the wine bottle before filling it, where it slowly dissolves and sweetens the wine.
Stachyose: A complex sugar (tertasaccharide) found in a few grains, most legumes and some vegetables. It has little value in winemaking and is less sweet than raffinose.
Sucrose: A natural, crystalline disaccharide found in grapes, most fruit and many plants. This is the type of refined sugar obtained from sugar cane, sugar beets and other sources which, when added to a must or juice to make up for deficiencies in natural sugar, must be hydrolyzed (inverted) into Fructose and Glucose by acids and enzymes in the yeast before it can be used as fuel for fermentation.
Superfine Sugar: This sugar's crystal size is the finest of all the types of granulated sugar. It is ideal for sweetening finished wine because it dissolves easily. It is also called "bar" or "ultrafine" sugar. In England, a sugar very similar to superfine sugar is known as caster or castor, named after the type of shaker in which it is often packaged. Commercially, it can be purchased as "Baker's Sugar."
Treacle: The inverted sugar made from the residue of refinement and very similar in taste to molasses, although treacle is generally darker. There is even a "black treacle" with roughly the same taste as "blackstrap molasses." If you like the taste, it is more useful in winemaking than molasses.
Turbinado Sugar: A raw sugar which has been partially processed, removing some of the surface molasses. It is a blond color with a mild brown sugar flavor that enhances some wine bases as no other sugar can.
Ultrafine Sugar: This sugar's crystal size is the finest of all the types of granulated sugar. It is ideal for sweetening finished wine because it dissolves easily. It is also called "bar" or "superfine" sugar. In England, a sugar very similar to ultrafine sugar is known as caster or castor, named after the type of shaker in which it is often packaged. Commercially, it can be purchased as "Baker's Sugar."
Monday, November 21, 2011
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Here's a plug for a great little burger diner. It's Cruise In.
We went up to Kent WA to place a large order from a business that was selling off the wines of bankrupt Whitman Cellars. Our combined wine order (thanks to our wonderful customers) was large enough that I had to figure out whether our Toyota Highlander (a mid-size SUV) could carry it all. That depends on two things:
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Saturday, November 5, 2011
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Some friends of mine recently held a tasting experiment: They opened three bottles of fairly-high quality Oregon 1999 Pinot Noir. The bottle sizes were 375ml, 750ml, and 1.5L (magnum).
They confirmed that the smaller bottles aged the wine quicker, as a result of the greater ratio of: (a) surface area exposed to air (which is actually quite a large surface area, when the bottle lies down) to (b) liquid volume. The magnum has the lowest ratio of the three, so it ages the slowest.
Also, in the case of this excellent vintage, none of the wines showed as well as they did in past years, further proving that most Oregon Pinots cannot age, on average, more than maybe 8 years or so. If you have only the vintage date to go by, I advise that you should drink the wines by 8 years old, and preferably from 3-7 years old. (Factors varying that advice include the winery, the vintage characteristics, and the temperature of the wines' storage.)
I personally elicited a comment, in 2001, by a Burgundy maker near Dijon, who said that Oregon Pinots might be excellent wines, "but they do not age as well as ours do." Speaking generally, I cannot dispute that statement.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
And we get YET MORE days of late October sun. The leaves on the vines are turning yellow now, and starting to fall, and STILL some of the Oregon Pinot Noir has not been picked. It is a long season to beat all long seasons. I now look for late-harvested PN to be CAPABLE OF (not necessarily to have, in all cases) surprising richness and variety/depth of flavors. Sugars at harvest might be low, but who cares? It is mature flavors we want, and I think we will get them in 2011, from growers who dropped a lot of fruit and waited until record-late dates, to pick.
A minor miracle, right here in 2011.
This is a WONDERFUL Zinfandel. After it opens up, it yields the most incredible wealth of aromas and flavors. It will any Zin lover cry or laugh. I believe the vineyard is placed very high, at the headwaters of the Russian River, which (I think) is just over the ridge from Chateau Montelena (which itself is near the upper end of Napa Valley).
90 points from Spectator: Rich and dense, with aromas of plum and boysenberry that lead to complex flavors of blueberry, dried brown spices and fresh herbs. The tannins big but ripe and well-balanced. Best from 2011 through 2016. 275 cases made.
This is worth the $55 retail price, but I can get it cheaper at wholesale, of course.
Friday, October 28, 2011
1. The financial industry wrote its own deregulation, over the past two decades, and we have now all seen the results. It is hard to argue today that the large U.S. financial institutions will operate conservatively and carefully, if left to make up their own rules. In contrast, look at the (heavily regulated) banks in Canada. Not one of them expanded into mortgage derivatives; instead they just continued to do what they do well: take deposits and make loans. Today the Canadian banks are healthy--they never even got sick!--while many of our larger banks such as Citi and B of A are still struggling in the quagmire they helped to create. WaMu and Wachovia and Lehman and Merrill Lynch--huge names--are gone. Really? Gone? (Note: several of our banks, including Wells Fargo and US Bank and most of our credit unions, managed to resist the siren call of overleverage and greed, and they deserve our business.)
2. A recent US Supreme Court decision grants unlimited election spending to corporations (because they are "people"), but the larger companies can easily outspend 99.9% of the individuals who may want to support a candidate. There is a clear correlation between election winners and money spent on campaigns, and of course an elected official cannot forget her or his largest donors! Little wonder, then, that we have thoughtful people believing that this has become a country for the corporations' benefit, not for the citizens' benefit. Little wonder that we have farm subsidies for giant corporate farms that are making nice profits already, or that we build even more nuclear missiles without any clear idea of exactly whom we might shoot the missiles at, or that we subsidize corn ethanol despite the fact that it is a financial disaster, hiking the prices of grains and costing more than the benefits obtained from the resulting fuels. If you dissect most of the recent laws you will find they result in significant benefits to some group of large businesses. Meanwhile, the protests against the decline of America's Middle Class, against the overinfluence of corporate lobbyists, are frail. I have worried about the growing risk of class conflict for some years now, yet I think most people will just grow poorer in silence; this country has more than enough armed police to kill and imprison all those who would complain too strenuously about the ruination of America.
3. Look at Fast Food. The major chains do not even sell, anymore, the kinds of things that we used to call "food." It is alleged that Taco Bell's "beef" contains only 15% cow meat. Flavor-enhancing additives are everywhere, and some have been linked to nervous system disorders. Trans fats (fats not known to nature) are everywhere in fast food, even though we know they clog our arteries. Soda contains phosphoric acid that leaches calcium out of our bones, and so much sugar that it may someday be linked to the diabetes epidemic. Preservatives in meat are known to be harmful to us. A diet of nothing but McDonalds would probably kill a person within a year. An entree salad at a fast food place might contain 1200 calories; there are Starbucks drinks containing more than 800. But fast food is convenient and incredibly profitable, especially as the companies continue to find ways to use cheaper ingredients while making the flavors more irrestistible. Is there a lump of paper pulp in our future, that tastes great? Our palates are being dumbed down because we are all too busy to cook and too unable to resist mass marketing. There are islands in the stream: Burgerville, Chipotle, New Seasons cafe, the turkey sandwich at Subway . . . but you have to really hunt for them.
4. Too much regulation is also not the answer. I haven't seen an American electric utility yet that can approach, even remotely, the efficiency of a smartly-managed Chinese company. But calls for "removing regulation, to allow more jobs" are shortsighted. See #1, above.
5. Corporations have many of the features of people: They can be born (chartered), marry (merge), get divorced (disposition), and die (dissolution). They can own property. They can have personalities (cultures) as distinct as those of individual humans (think Intel, or Nike). They can commit crimes. They are guaranteed the equal protection of the laws. However, they cannot vote (they cannot vote per se, though they can buy all the influence they desire). And they are perpetual; they can live forever (I believe the reigning champ is Sumitomo, at over 300 years old). I could write a book on the amazing dilemma of our giving companies the best minds, unlimited access to opportunity in a free market, low taxes, and STILL more than two-thirds of the S&P 500, as it existed 20 years ago, are no longer in business? Really? It would seem that something is very wrong in corporate America. I submit it is, generally speaking and excluding my own company, a failure in the quality of management. That is pretty ironic, given that many U.S. CEOs earn 50x-100x what their lowest-paid employees earn. What do you think the Netflix CEO is earning this year, while his or her stupid decisions have eliminated about 65% of that company's value? If we are overpaying for failure, there must be a better way.
6. We can argue that our nation's dependence upon consumerism (buying things we may not need) is a direct result of modern marketing practices, honed by companies to drive sales. An extension of that is for us to admit that large companies own our brains--they can make us do almost whatever they want. Is that the world we want to live in?
7. An interesting argument can be made that many corporate employees put themselves into a modern form of slavery, by incurring debt for cars, furniture, homes, second homes, and then they have to work forever to make the payments. A more-rational approach might be to save the cash needed, before buying the item, be it an old car, a used sofa, etc. and to save as much as 25% of your take-home pay. And invest it away from those companies who would "help" you by taking eggregious fees for mismanaging your money. This country would become very different if we all converted from spenders to savers. That might allow many more people to retire earlier, thereby freeing up good jobs for younger people and raising general happiness. It would send most companies scrambling to find overseas markets, but they would probably adjust. Google requires its engineers to spend 20% of their worktime on anything, anything at all that seems interesting to them; the company backs that effort by funding such diverse projects as high-voltage transmission lines to offshore wind farms, and high-speed rail. That is either extreme folly, or brilliance.
8. Gone are the days when employees were viewed as a company's greatest asset, when employees would remain at one company for a lifetime. Now if a company has one bad quarter, the most intelligent decision of which it is capable is to axe 10% of the workers. That is lame; any layoff is proof of poor management; why should the rank and file suffer when the management reveals its inadequacy, yet does not suffer itself? We need better processes for identifying and empowering talent throughout an organization. Few managers know how to motivate people.
Please don't take this piece as criticism, from me, about all companies. I have worked (so far) for eight of them, and for that I am very grateful (they were Gates Hardware, Chevron, Hall Estill, Williams Cos, Destec Energy, Enron, FEI Corp, and VTech). I do think, however, that modern business has not yet found the structure and processes that can maximize the happiness and contributions of its employees. How many of us who are lucky enough to work at a good job, would keep working there if we won $20M in the lottery tonight? Why should we not all strive to create a better form of business, which would make most employees want to stay, no matter what? There is a vision worth fighting for.
There has been too little time passed since most of us were serfs working in the fields. A better way is coming, but it will take a long time to arrive.
Friday, October 21, 2011
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
OPB had a great radio panel, with call-ins, last night. The primary speakers included Sam Tannahill (of A to Z Wines, Oregon's largest (and most virtual) winery and also of Rex hill) and a pair of academics. Everyone involved is VERY knowledgeable and experienced on the subject of Oregon grapes and wines; in fact, they are impressive as hell and I am proud to live in a state which has so many experts involved with grapes and wine. We should all be proud.
Monday, October 10, 2011
This article from Oregon Public Broadcasting suggests that 2011 could be the worst grape harvest in northern Oregon since the commercial winegrape industry began here.
Friday, October 7, 2011
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
I've been telling you that more Americans want a sweet wine than those who prefer a dry wine.
Monday, October 3, 2011
Found a fun sparkling wine: Allure Moscato. it is off-dry (you can taste the sweetness), a rich pretty pink color, and it has a fascinating creaminess to it in the mouth. I think of "champagne ice cream." It's only about $9 (through me). It's well made and perfect for a party, especially if many at that party are not "serious" wine drinkers.
Through Sept 30, 2011, we've had 1670 GDD's at our place. That compares to 1638 through that day in 2010, and 2063 in 2009 through that day.
So, this past September was warmer than last year's, but way, way off of 2009 (a slightly-above average year).
With plenty of rain forecasted over the next few days, all those who want to wait 2-3 more weeks before they to pick will be sorely tested.
I harvested some great hybrid grapes in Aurora this past weekend. Thank you to Lon the grower, and to my wonderful "grape widow" who patiently put up with it, as it takes hours to process grapes and run chemical tests, etc.
Monday, September 26, 2011
How about picking up your wines this way:
In about ten years, fully-automated cars will be available at dealers near you, but it may be thirty years until the average consumer can afford it. Free University in Berlin, and Google here, as well as other companies, have already developed cars which use GPS and other locating and imaging technology to drive themselves without any driver assistance whatsoever. They react quicker than we can and should cut down on accidents and will even reduce traffic congestion. I say it's about time.
And if no driver is needed, just think how handy it will be to send your under-sixteen kid (or the house robot) down to the store, to pick up some milk. The car will drive itself.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
a WONDERFUL piece in Slate:
It concerns the rudeness of waiters who rush the table and, without asking, seize up the wine bottle, and make pours all around.
I have long railed against this practice. It is stupid, driven by the wrong motives, and rude. Please take control of your dinner table (after all, it is yours--you are paying for it) and inform the waiter that your table will handle the wine pours, thank you. If you receive any backtalk in return, then enforce your request, vigorously if need be, and take the tip to zero.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
I bet all of us have read at least one fortune cookie whose message made us stop and think. Granted, many of the "fortunes" are ridiculous and it is unlikely that some machine in China understands enough about our individual lives to create a fortune useful to us, as single human individuals, and certainly the cookie delivery process is not able to predict when YOU will be dining in the right place and at a time to receive just the cookie meant for you. And if it's random, then it's an utter joke as a "fortune," right?
Come to think of it, isn't a little insulting that ANYBODY would try to foist some fortune upon each of us, with such helter-skelter circumstances? What if I get a cookie saying I'll inherit money from an aunt, but I don't have an aunt? Not to mention that I reject the idea of anyone's successfully foretelling the future, as that ability would deprive me of my freedom of choice, right? (Granted, there is one very noble kind of fortunetelling, and that is the projection of observable trends; that is a(n almost) scientific process, and is a powerful planning tool, when properly utilized.) But we don't often see fortune cookie messages stating something like, "Given the U.S. unemployment rate holding at 9.1%, and a Consumer Worry Index rating of 13.3, we can speculate that a possible impact upon the closing of new car loans is . . ."
I digress. The point I wanted to make is this: The best "fortunes" in cookies are not fortunes at all. They should be called "wisdom cookies."
The piece of wisdom I received once, my best fortune cookie ever, sits taped on my desk at work. It says simply:
"There are no ordinary moments."
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
To make this more meaningful:
-- 2010 was a cool vintage, not unlike 2011.
-- 2009 was a warm, typical Washington vintage (until the Oct. 10 frost, that is).
-- 1999 was a benchmark cool vintage, one considered a bit of a miracle because of the warm September and October that helped the grapes ripen to near perfection.
Sauer said about 22 heat units can be accumulated per day in near-perfect conditions. He also said there were other circumstances that can make heat units an unreliable measurement, such as temperatures over about 95 degrees, when vines will shut down and go into survival mode.
He said he will begin picking around Sept. 26, about the same as last year's start. In a typical year, he begins harvest Sept. 12 or so.
So, perhaps Eastern WA is about 2 weeks late, at this point.
(all info quoted from WinePressNorthwest newsletter)
Monday, September 12, 2011
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Monday, August 29, 2011
Pickled potatoes, in two spice varieties of your basic dill-pickled potato.
If this seems fantastic to you, check out TaterPiks.com of the Klamath River Basin. Be the first to amaze your friends.
I can't help thinking that this idea came to somebody in a dream ;) Perhaps a bad dream?
The connection to wine: What wine goes best with pickles? I would say a white wine, with some residual sugar, and it's best if the pickles are with some non-pickled veggies (such as on a salad). Or, if we're talking cornichons with pate and some heavy bread, that's fine with a medium-bodied dry red (Pinot noir, gamay) or even a Cab or Merlot.
I'm excited about growing some Brianna in the PacNW. First leaf for my vines (from Red Dog Vineyards). This is a white hybrid winegrape; supposed to have a pineapple character.
I researched Brianna wines and bought one from Coyote Moon in NY. It won a Double Gold in NYS competition, and was Best in Class in the 2011 LA Wine Competition.
We opened it last night. Overall, it was really teriffic; seriously I would score it 92 points, even against all the viniferas of the world. The bouquet was unctuous/oily, with citrus and hint of pineapple; the palate is surprisingly full-bodied; really rich, smooth, balanced, with a long pineapple finish which I loved. A big wine. No discernible flaws whatsoever. It's a very exciting wine. It has enough RS that Jane didn't like it, but only the super-dry wines will satisfy her. I appreciate a bit of RS, especially when it's needed to balance the acids.
Great praise is due to the grapebreeders who made this grape, and to the winemaker at Coyote Moon in New York State. If that grape can be grown with a little lower TA (and thus a little lower RS), then it could make a great splash in the vinifera-driven WineWorld. If not, it is still certain to have a high place in the wine-drinking community at large. I say bravo!
I think certain hybrid whites are THERE. Not just knocking on the door, but THERE.
Friday, August 26, 2011
French word for the first color in grapes, meaning the beginning of the phase where the grapes turn from hard and green, to either purple or yellow and juicy-sweet.
I believe it's pronounced something like "vuh-ray-ZOhn" (nasal o), and the inclusion of a sound similar to "raisin" is not coincidental: "raisin" is French for "grape" and "venir" beans "to become," so "veraison" might derive from "to become a grape." In the US many folks just pronounce it like the phone company:
You know that grapes are VERY late this year, after a long, cool Spring. Ken Wright's Guadalupe Vineyard just reported its first veraison (first out of all their grapes), on Aug 26. I don't see any veraison in my vineyard yet.
In 2009 (a reasonably normal year), Willakenzie had veraison first on Aug 4. So from that standpoint we are at least 3 weeks behind, and likely more like 4 or 5 weeks behind (because most Oregon PN grapes won't reach veraison for another ten days or so).
Harvest for Pinot noir, one of the earliest-ripening vinifera, is usually about 38 days after veraison, so perhaps this year a fully-ripe harvest would be on about October 15 (that allows ten more days for most of the grapes here to reach veraison). Unfortunately, it almost always rains earlier than that, here. So the ripeness levels here in 2011 will almost entirely depend on the date of the rains' return, and to a lesser extent on the amount of heat and light we get.
I expect area growers will be dropping a lot of crop now, in order to maximize the prospects of getting ripe fruit. The eternal quality-quantity struggle.
Cross your fingers!
All above data taken from this Southern Oregon Univ. article, and from the Ken Wright blog:
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Or: sturgeon smoked over pistachio and hazlenut shells, paired with Glora Ferrer Carneros Cuvee? Wow!
Smoked foods of all stripes pair nicely with bubbly wines. Why? Because of their palate-cleansing effervescence, their bracing acidity that cuts through the smoky flavors, and their moderate alcohol.
From Chef Michelle Bernstein, Michy’s
2 dozen oysters
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 pound rhubarb, peeled, trimmed and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1/4 cup peeled and diced red onion
1 tablespoon peeled and diced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Kosher salt to taste
If you have the option, seek the advice of a reputable fishmonger for guidance in choosing the oysters. I prefer to use mollusks, such as Island Creek Oysters, that offer a delicious, briny finish.
Next consider your fuel: Apple, cherry, alder or olive wood are ideal for smoking oysters.
There are two ways to smoke oysters for this recipe:
For a more cooked style, shuck the oysters and place them in a smoker that has already been primed with smoke. Heat for about 1 hour until oysters turn golden. Place them on a dish and brush with a little olive oil, chill and serve with the chutney.
For a more raw texture, yet still with a smoky aroma and flavor, place the unshucked oysters on ice in a smoker and smoke for about 45 minutes. Shuck and serve chilled with the rhubarb chutney.
For the rhubarb chutney: In a small saucepan, combine vinegar and sugar over medium heat. When sugar dissolves, add rhubarb. Reduce heat to low, cook for 5 to 8 minutes or until rhubarb begins to soften. Add red onion. Remove from heat and pour contents into a small bowl placed over a larger bowl of ice water. Allow the mixture to cool completely. Fold in ginger, tarragon, pepper and salt to taste.
Serve chutney over smoked oysters.
Makes 1 1/2 cups (enough for 2 dozen oysters, with plenty left over to refrigerate for next time).
With all their food scientists and their renewed marketing about eating healthily, one might think that McDonalds was serving some wholesome foods.
Not so fast. I ate a chicken sandwich there today, which tasted too good. Meaning, I suspected flavor enhancers. So I went online to look at McD's ingredients list. Look at this:
1. You want that 100% Angus beef patty? First, it's been proven it's not what you and I would consider beef meat--it's got a high percentage of other slimy cow-related stuff in it that high-class slaughterhouses do not put in their meat, but McD's does. And it also has yeast extract, which is a glutamate-based flavor enhancer that some suspect is linked to seizures. Hint to McD's: yeast extract does NOT come from beef muscle. The patty also has "dried beef extract," whatever that is. Calling it 100% Angus beef is misleading--maybe the beef is from 100% Angus cows, but there is other (non-Angus) crap in that patty.
2. So, instead, what if you head over to the chicken side of the menu, to eat a bit healthier? Well, the grilled chicken patty includes yeast extract and sodium phosphate, and it's cooked in hydrogenated oil with sodium benzoate and "artificial flavor," whatever that is. The breaded chicken filet has sodium phosphate, autolyzed yeast extract, and artificial flavors, also cooked in trans-fat with Dimethylpolysiloxane as an anti-foaming agent. Yum!
3. The bun has corn syrup in it, and eleven different "dough conditioners," whose chemical names read like a Bill of Materials for manufacturing nerve gas.
4. If you're vegetarian, be aware that even the McD mayonnaise includes "natural flavor (animal source)."
5. Last of all, suppose you take refuge in a salad. Fine so far, but the Newman's Own Creamy SW Dressing includes corn syrup solids and "natural flavors (animal source)."
When did that formerly-impressive company quit selling food that was, well, FOOD?
It is EASY to buy beef that is all beef, chicken that is all chicken, buns that are only flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and butter. Mayo is available that is only eggs and sugar and canola oil. So why is McDonalds poisoning its customers? I think it's a repeat of what Coca-Cola did in the 1920's--Coke included real Cocaine in its drink, to addict its consumers to the product. McDonalds is doing the same thing--addicting consumers with unhealthy flavor enhancers, while scrimping with low-quality ingredients. The managers for those food scientists in the McD labs need to be either fired, or re-directed. And: Where are the lawsuits alleging that McD's is purposefully hurting people for profit? It's kind of a national tragedy that THIS COMPANY is what people think of, when they imagine America. Please, don't let your kids and your grandkids eat there, and for gosh sakes, don't put that crap in your own stomach. Let's force them to change or fail.
And: how this relates to wine: Wine requires good food to accompany it. Bad food hurts the people who love wine, who make wine, who buy wine.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
This device looks like a stooping (diving) owl; its wings flutter in the breeze, to make it even more lifelike.
But, it received only 1.0 out of 5 stars in a user review:
"Horrible Product. Complete Waste of Money!, July 2, 2010
By Adam Wallenta
This review is for: Bird-X OWL Prowler Owl with Moving Wings.
I wish I could give it an even lower rating than one but it's not possible. I made my purchase based on some good reviews but now I am convinced those were all written by the company that produces the item.
I purchased this hoping to scare off the birds, squirrels and other critters that think I planted my garden for them. It may have worked for a day or so but they quickly caught on. I mounted the owl on a good sized pole hovering over the garden and when there is a nice breeze it sort of resembles an owl flying but the fact that half of it is basically a paper bag is pretty weak and I am guessing the other animals are too smart for that.
Just to show you how bad this product is- there is now a birds nest with babies, LIVING inside of the owl. A bird found its way into the owl and built a nest and has laid eggs and is now starting a family. What a terrifying owl.
What a terrifying owl, indeed! Thank goodness for user reviews.
Another user said, "Birds aren't discouraged to come near it, at all. Besides, the owl is so ugly looking, my neighbor asked me if I could turn it around so that it doesn't face her house. Worst $40.00 I've spent."
Birds are very, very difficult to keep away. And why not? They are the descendants of dinosaurs, who lorded over the planet for tens of millions of years . . .
How this relates to wine: Birds decimate vineyards. That raises the cost of wine.
Monday, August 1, 2011
Saturday, July 30, 2011
Wow; this is a different place. I love it. For the schick of the restaurant, imagine that Stanley Kubrick combined a 1960's Elvis diner, and the set from the cartoon The Jetsons, and a teen rave, and you're pretty close. There is a devious hall of mirrors that masquerades as the way to the restroom. There are young and "pretty" people; lots of skin and tatoos. The waitstaff is cool beyond cool. This is a city place.
The food was very good. Farotto with veggies (a risotto-like dish made from farro) was excellent. So was polenta with sausages and grilled onions and peppers. So were the fried oysters. The food's also fairly priced--the entrees we had were $12 and $14. The bar is talented; we had an excellent blackberry cosmo.
The wine list is well-chosen for those on a tight budget. Makes little sense to take your own wine to the Doug Fir: We bought a Bogle Old Vines Zin (thank you, Kelly, for noting that wine to us many moons ago) for $22; it's probably about $10-12 at retail, so the corkage wouldn't save you much.
Downstairs are the new bands with ridiculous names and musicians that almost make up in effort what they don't have in talent. It was fun. We liked aspects of the music by Radiation City.
What an interesting place! If you go and you're over forty, try not to dress like it. For example, my feeble attempt to fit in was to wear a polo shirt with skulls and crossbones all over it. The maitre'd-ette nodded approvingly at my shirt, as we went in. Yes! Life is good ;)
Thursday, July 21, 2011
1. The owners don't display critics' scores. Their reasons are (a) scores have crept up over the years, thereby having diminished importance; (b) the owners' palates differ from the tastes of most professional critics'; and (c) for some reason, younger wine drinkers are paying less attention to critic scores.
2. The owners choose only wines which they, the owners, like. This results (in their case) in a huge selection of wines from the Loire Valley, and a puny selection from Napa and Bordeaux.
I say Bravo! to this effort to chart an honest, personal course through Wine World. Chambers Street Wines sounds a lot like the old Square Deal wine shop here in Portland. Square Deal focused on littler, unknown wineries that the shop owners loved; my only issue with Square Deal (and I really liked the owners and their business model and their passion) was that my palate was so different from theirs that I really had difficulty liking many of the wines on their floor.
Apparently, that is not an issue for the steady stream of customers at Chambers Street.
Friday, July 8, 2011
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
So we are catching up. But from a very deep hole. Our total is still the lowest of the past four years (15-31% lower than each of those years).
GDD's are a measure of heat, which is used as a proxy for sunshine.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
I've been drumming the praises of this wine for a long time; I've probably offered it three times or so. What's not to like? It's a signature rose for the Northwest: Crisp (enough acidity to match beautifully with food), fully-fruited (watermelon, cherries); dry. And it's only $9 or so (from me). Best of all, it is a Double Platinum winner by Wine Press Northwest (against only the major Gold winners). That is pretty rarefied air.
Now, it is heartwarming to see the New Seasons' wine buyer praising this wine. Here's the article:
Drink up! Let me know if you want some of this great summer wine.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
The farmer lives under siege. He/she is beset by all the following traumas, and can do little to avert any of them:
1. Predators destroy the crops: Today and yesterday, deer came into my back yard and munched my grapes, my fig fruit forming on the fig tree, my black currants, and some other stuff. This is despite my putting up deer fencing all around the back yard, at considerable cost and effort. So how did this (young adult female) deer enter, you ask? Hmm. You won't believe me. I chased it out with a stick, and it ran towards our East Gate (an arched portal across which I wove a rope lattice. Through one of the holes in that rope lattice it jumped. I measured the hole at 12" square. The deer passed its entire body through that. Go figure. So part of today was spent replacing the rope lattice with plastic mesh. It has 1" openings, so let's see the deer pass through that!
2. Birds eat the grapes' fruit. So growers put up nets, but starving birds can worm their way inside, or else peck out the grapes through the openings.
3. Insects eat the grape leaves.
4. Moles eat the grape roots. I have become proficient at trapping them, but it takes about a month of continuous trap relocation, to finally catch one of the wily buggers.
5. Germs kill the vine or retard its healthy growth.
6. Weather is variable and sometimes inimicable to ripening (such as 2011 and 2010).
7. The market for the product might go south.
There is no bet available in Vegas, which has more ways to lose than does farming. I wonder how any grower puts up with it. Is it masochism on a grand scale?