Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Zraly’

What I’m Reading: Gifts for Wine (and food) Lovers

December 9, 2012

I read.

I read a lot.

This may come as a huge shock to my parents, but it’s true.

I spend a lot of time reading books, magazines, and blogs about my favorite subject…

Wine!

If you have a wine (or food) loving friend on your holiday shopping list, you may want to skip the wacky wine gadgets (considering that most of them stink), and pick them up a book.

With that in mind, here’s what I’m reading right now…

This is a really fun book that follows wine writer, and natural wine advocate, Alice Feiring, as she attempts to make her own fermented grape juice.  If you’ve ever been curious about natural wine, or how wine in general is made, you’ll get a kick out of this one.

Speaking of all things natural…

I first came across this book, while crashing at a friend’s house after a concert.  I woke up pretty early that morning, and was having trouble going back to sleep.  I saw this book laying on his table, so I decided to crack it open.

I’ve never come across another writer who can make the most simple of foods sound as delicious as he does.  I was drooling after reading his description an apple.

There are a butt load of great recipes, as well as some fantastic stories behind them.  This is a book about food for wine lovers to obsess over.

Back to the wine…

20121209-141134.jpg

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson

Not really a front to back type of read.  This is an encyclopedia of all things wine.  Entries are anywhere from a couple of sentences to a couple of pages.  From abboccato to zymase, this book will tell you anything you ever wanted to know about wine.

Recently, I had someone ask me how I knew so much about wine.  I had trouble answering.  The reality is that I don’t feel like I know much at all about wine.  I’m always in the process of learning.  The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know anything.

That being said, if I were to recommend one book that could really help the world of wine seem a lot more accessible, this is the one I would push in your direction.  Zraly does a fantastic job of breaking wines down style by style, and region by region.  Do yourself a favor…  Pick this book up, and taste along with Kevin Zraly.

Finally…

I love me the Wine Spectator magazine!

Each issue contains a ridiculous amount of tasting notes.  I really enjoy reading the tasting reports for different regions.  It’s just a really good mag.

Getting a subscription to this bad boy was one of the best presents I’ve ever received.

Happy shopping y’all!

Stay Rad,

Jeff

PS – What wine related gift are you expecting under your tree this year?

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Jeffrey had a little lamb…

November 6, 2011

Last night, Kara and I hit up Opa! in downtown Los Gatos.

We are both HUGE fans of Greek food, but what really got me stoked was when I took a look at their wine list…

It's all Greek to me.

I don’t know much about Greek wine (Why would I?  They’ve only been making the stuff since the seventeenth century B.C.), so I asked our server for some help.

“I’m thinking about having the lamb pita.  Which of the Greek wines would you suggest?”

“Well,” she responds with all sincerity, “it is tough to compare these to any wine that you would be familiar with… They’re just soooooo different.  If you like a lighter, juicier wine, I would suggest the Saint George.”

“Sounds good to me.  I’ll take it.”

“Let me bring you a taste first,” she offers, “just to make sure you like it.”

“Hell to the yeah, foo!” would have been an awesome way to respond, but instead I just gave her a thumbs up.

After a sample, I quickly approved the wine and was served a full glass…

Skouras 2007 Saint Geroge Nemea. Opa! *Que the Smashing of Hella Plates*

The Skouras 2007 Saint George Nemea is classified as OPAP (Wine of Appellation of Origin of Superior Quality) by the Greek government.  This high-altitude red from the Southern Greek region of Nemea is made in a dry style from 100% Aghiorghitiko.  Skouras, by the way, is listed as one of Kevin Zraly’s favorite Greek wine producers.

Here’s the breakdown…

Color: Light red.  You can see my fingers through the wine.  Look at the picture, foo!

Nose: Crushed red apples and berries.

Taste: This wine is very juicy.  Lots of raspberry and cranberry.  There is almost a hint of sweetness to this wine, but it is more juicy than anything else.  There is a nice, crisp, short finish on this.

Score: It’s tough to give the Skouras a score, because (as warned by the server) it doesn’t taste like anything else.  This wine is pleasant, and I would assume indicative of the style.  I’ll give it an 86, and suggest that you try it the next time you get an opportunity.

Now, onto the food…

Kara and I split the Fiery Feta Dip. Chunky and dope!

Lamb Pita with Opa Fries. Yum!

Life is always better with a little lamb.

Stay Rad,

Jeff

My new diet: When I seafood, I drink wine.

August 7, 2011

Yesterday, Kara and I had a hankerin’ for some fish.

I thought it would be really neat to prepare it two ways, so I decided to make a Tilapia Ceviche and some Barbecued Shrimp.

Before heading out to get some groceries, I opened up Kevin Zraly’s wine book to get an idea for what types of wine go well with seafood.  After flipping through his chapter on the white wines of France, I left for the store with the intention of getting either a Loire Valley white (like Sancerre or Muscadet) or a white Burgundy (Chablis perhaps).

While at Trader Joe’s, I spotted this gem…

Chateau Des Cleons 2010 Muscadet Sevre Et Maine

The Muscadet region is on the Eastern end of the Loire Valley of France where the Loire River meets the Atlantic Ocean.  These wines are made from 100% Melon de Bourgogne grapes.  They should always be dry and light in style.  See how it says “Sur Lie” on the label?  That means that it was fermented on its skins (not really… see the comments below), so it should have a bit more body than a Muscadet that does not read as such.  The book says that Muscadet is good with shellfish and fishfish, so I was more than happy to pick this bad boy up for only $6.99.

I’ll get back to the wine in a bit.

But first…

The food!

Here’s how I make my Tilapia Ceviche…

Cube up about a pound of fresh Tilapia and throw it in a non-reactive bowl.

The key to Ceviche is to layer the flavors.

Here’s a fun game…

Take a sip of wine for each new layer.

Dice up half a large red onion and throw it on top of the fish.

Mince up one clove of garlic and throw it on the onion.

I added a small green bell pepper from my garden. Diced, of course.

Next I put in one quarter of a jumbo yellow bell pepper that Kara picked up from the farmers' market.

Here, I piled in a third of a large cucumber which was cut into little pizza wedges. So whimsical!

Add one small diced avocado. California love!

Open up a small can of diced chillies and dump it on top.

Chop up some cilantro. Add it in with some salt n' peppa. Stop to bust a move while humming the music to "Push it!".

The secret ingredient is carne asada seasoning. Shhhhhhhhh!!!!! Don't tell anybody.

Zest one lime over the top. Squeeze in the juice of three limes. The acid from the lime juice will "cook" the fish.

Stir, but do not mush it. Cover with plastic wrap and throw it in the fridge for a few hours.

While the Ceviche is marinating, we move on to the Shrimp…

These are large peeled shrimp from the seafood counter at Safeway. I marinated the pound of shrimp in a shallow glass dish with olive oil, salt n' peppa, fresh rosemary and thyme from the garden, and the juice of one lime for about 20 minutes.

While the shrimp is marinating in the fridge, preheat the grill with the burners on high.  After ten minutes, set to medium indirect heat.

Now…

Arrange the shrimp on pre-soaked bamboo skewers, making sure that all the shrimp are facing the same direction.

Grill the shrimp for 3 minutes a side on indirect heat with the lid closed.  Be sure to baste the shrimp in the marinade.

The only thing left is to serve,

But let’s get back to the wine…

Hip hop hurray... Muscadet!

Chateau Des Cleons 2010 Muscadet Sevre Et Maine:

Color: A nice straw yellow.  I was pleasantly surprised by a tiny bit of frizzante action.

Nose: Lemon/lime spritzer with a touch of grass and minerality.  Nice.

Taste: I see now why this wine is recommended for lighter fare.  It is dominated by its acidity, which pairs well with food.  There is a nice floral component, mouth cleansing lime, and a dancing minerality.  There is a nice touch of spice.  The skins give it a medium to light body.  Very cool.

Score: All I’m thinking about this wine is how clean it was.  It was fresh.  It was vibrant.  Every sip made me thirst for another.  This wine is a solid 88.  Way to go, Chateau Des Cleons!

Back to the food…

Duo of Seafood: Grilled Shrimp and Tilapia Ceviche a la Jeffrey w/ a light Spinach and Shallot Salad

The spinach and shallot salad was prepared by Kara.  A very clean, palate cleansing bite.

The ceviche was very fresh, with a perfect balance between the acidity of the lime and the fattiness of the tilapia.

But the shrimp…

The shrimp…

The SHRIMP was Tha BOMB!

Juicy.  Rich.  The flesh just pops when you bite into it.

Amazing!

And with the wine?

Hella Dope!

The clean flavors of the wine just rounded out the fatty richness of the seafood.

But wait!

There’s more!

Morgan Hill Cellars Blackberry Wine with a long-lost friend.

Kara and I have been sitting on this Blackberry Wine from Morgan Hill Cellars for about a year.

I’ve been dying for some vanilla ice cream for the last few weeks.

So…

Vanilla Ice Cream with Blackberry Wine... I got my just deserts.

De-Lish!

Stay Rad,

Jeff

PS – If you ever make ceviche, do yourself a favor…  After you serve the ceviche, save the leftover juice from the bowl you marinated the fish in.  Peruvians refer to it as Leche de Tigre, and it is known to be a cure for hangovers.  I just drink it ’cause it’s awesome!

Farewell indeed!

This changes everything!

July 28, 2011

Remember The NeverEnding Story?

Remember when Bastian first starts reading?

There’s this troll-looking dude that flies around on a bat, and he’s hanging out with a guy in a top hat who rides a racing snail.  So they’re chillin’ in the woods, when they hear a rumbling in the distance.  It gets louder and louder and LOUDER.

Eventually, out from the trees comes a giant dude made of rocks riding a tricycle.

See? I told you!

They called him the Rock Biter, since his diet consisted of rocks.  I guess you are what you eat.

Anyway…

The Rock Biter starts hanging out with the other dudes, and they get to talking about this thing called The Nothing (an entity that is threatening to destroy their world of Fantasia).  The dude on the racing snail and the troll begin to tell of the things they had heard second-hand, but the Rock Biter had an actual run-in with The Nothing.

He told them about this beautiful lake that was in the center of his home town.  It was loaded with plenty of delicious lime stone rocks (which would be important to a rock biter).  But one day… One day The Nothing came, and then the lake was gone.

“What do you mean it was gone?  Did it dry up?” the racing snail dude asked.

“No.  It was just not there anymore.” the Rock Biter responded.

“What?  Like there was a hole instead of a lake?” the troll dude asked.

“No.  A hole would have been something.  There was NOTHING there!” the Rock Biter explained.

I totally understand what the Rock Biter was saying.  You can talk about The Nothing as much as you want, but there is no way you could ever understand it unless you experienced it.  In the movie, the Rock Biter moves with just a little more urgency because he knows what The Nothing is all about.  He wants everyone to understand what The Nothing is.

I started thinking about The NeverEnding Story last night while tasting some wine.

I started to think about The Nothing.

I’ve always been a fan of Riesling.  I’ve especially been into the Rieslings of Washington state.  I’ve never been afraid to bring a 6 dollar Riesling to a dinner party, because they are always crowd-pleasing.  They always have a nice balance of acidity and a little residual sugar.  Perfect with food.

Recently, I’ve been reading through Kevin Zraly’s wine book, and he spends quite a bit of time talking about the wines of Alsace (specifically Riesling).  While reading it, I was all like, “I know about Riesling.  I know that the stuff from France is gonna be a bit more dry.  I know it’s gonna have nice mineral notes.  I know it’s gonna have some good acid.  I know it all.”

Apparently, I had no clue.

It turns out that Alsatian Riesling is my Nothing.

Here’s what went down…

Alsace (France) vs Washington State

I picked up two completely different Rieslings from two different stores for two different reasons, and decided to taste them side-by-side…

F.E. Trimbach 2008 Riesling from Alsace, France

I picked up the Trimbach 2008 Riesling at BevMo for $21.99.  Easily, the most I’ve ever paid for a Riesling, but this is the first wine that Zraly suggests you taste in his book.  If I am to know about the Rieslings of Alsace, I’ve got to taste them.

I figured that if I really wanted to get to know this wine, I had to compare it with something I was familiar with.  So yesterday I picked up this…

Chateau Ste Michelle 2010 Riesling from Columbia Valley, Washington

The Chateau Ste Michelle 2010 Riesling will set you back $5.99 at Trader Joe’s.  This is my go to Riesling.  This is the one that I bring to parties.  This is the one that is just delicious.

And now…

The tasting.

Sing along with me! "Feelin' so fine. Tasting some wine... Side-by-side!"

Color: The Trimbach was a straw yellow.  It was considerably darker than the Chateau Ste Michelle’s pale yellow hue.

Nose: The Trimbach was hella complex on the nose.  Tons of small, not quite ripe, green apples.  White raisins.  There’s this crushed vitamin C characteristic that is really cool.  There’s also a little lime, fig, and motor oil.  The Rock Biter would also appreciate the lime stone minerality of it.

The Chateau Ste Michelle smells EXTREMELY sweet, in comparison.  There’s lots of fruit on the nose.  Pear.  Apple pie.  Peaches.

Taste: This is where it gets fun.  The Trimbach is RAZOR SHARP in its acidity.  I never understood the whole “Razor blades on the tongue” description that Gary Vaynerchuk talks about until I tasted this Riesling.  This is intense!  There’s a ton of lime and grapefruit on the palate.  There are also hints of green apple skin and walnut.  But really… the star of this wine is the dry, sharp, mouth-watering acidity.

The Chateau Ste Michelle, in comparison, is almost dessert-like in its approach.  I never felt that way about it before.  This thing is SWEET.  It has light peach and mango fruit on the palate.  There is a nice, clean acidity to this wine, but the fruit wins out.

Score: By all accounts, the Trimbach was everything I’ve read about Alsatian Rieslings, but nothing I could have ever expected.  This wine is a game changer for me.  I could write about this wine until my fingers fall off, and you still wouldn’t understand it.  Much like The Nothing, I need you to know how great this is.  Give it a 91.  Buy it.  Save it as an aperitif to a fancy seafood dinner at home.

The Chateau Ste Michelle is a good Riesling.  It is a respectable 87, and a real value.  I have no problem with popping this open with some Tuesday night Tai food.

But that Trimbach…

That Trimbach was something.

And since we had plenty of the bottle left after the tasting, Kara and I had the rest with dinner…

Meatless Mediterranean cabbage wraps and romaine salad of cucumber and dill by KaraIsRad. Entertainment by Dish Network.

The Nothing teaching me about Riesling?

Ain’t that something!

Stay Rad,

Jeff

Still Facing My Fear… and ready to #CrushIt!

July 23, 2011

A while back, you read about my life-long hatred of eggs.

What’s that?

You didn’t?

How dare you!

Click here to catch up.

Now as gung-ho as I was about attacking all of the recipes in Jodi Liano’s “Egg” book

"Eggs" by Jodi Liano. You know what time it is! Yeeeeaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh Boooooooooyyyyyyyyyeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!

writing the post about it, and reliving the Hulkster’s Powerful Protein Shake experience was really tough for me. The more I wrote, the sicker I felt.  After I published the entry, I avoided eggs for about a week.

Now look…

I’m not one to give up so easily.  All I needed was a little BREAK from the EGGS (You like that one?).

A few days ago, I decided to jump back on the egg wagon.  Here’s what I made…

Jeff and Kara in a Hole.

I really liked this one.  The letters that I cut out of the bread were a little too small.  As the egg was frying in the hole, a lot of it piled on top of the bread.  This increased the cooking time, and made for a messy presentation… But… It was delicious.

Kara would have liked it to be a little more runny, but I’m beginning to like mine over hard.

This morning, I made this…

Egg, Bacon, and Smoked Mozzarella Panini

Now, in the book, Jodi uses brie, but I had some smoked mozzarella that I wanted to finish off… so I did.  I got the ciabatta and bacon from Trader Joe’s.  One problem was that the ciabatta loaf was too fat, so the panini could not get as flat as I would have liked.  Another issue was the bacon.  Trader Joe’s is a nice store.  I love it.  Their bacon selection, however, is HORRIBLE.  I got this crappy turkey bacon that did not get anywhere as crisp as I would have liked.  Next time, I’m going to Safeway to get me some real crispy pork action.

By the way, the sandwich was f-ing AWESOME!  I can only imagine how good it would have been with better ingredients.

Okay…

So…

Here’s the deal…

Since we returned from Healdsburg, I haven’t tasted any new wines… but I have been reading a lot recently.  I wanted to share some of these books with you.

I know.  I know.  This is a wine blog, so let’s see if we can tie in some wine…

When I was in high school, I was in a punk rock band called The Willies.

I'm the skinny kid, practicing my punk rock jumps with a mic in my hand.

A few weeks back, my old friend and drummer, Nick Thedrummer, suggested that I read “Crush It!” by Gary Vaynerchuk.

“I know Gary!” I wrote back to Nick.  “I’m a huge fan of his video blogs Wine Library TV and Daily Grape.  He even follows me on Twitter.  I just don’t know if I want to read a book about business.”

“Just read it, dude.”

A few days later, I was kicking it with my buddy Dave Thevegetarian when I meantioned Gary’s book.  Dave was all, “I’ve got Crush It right here.  You want to borrow it?”

"Crush It!" by Gary Vaynerchuk... and you should too.

I was all like, “Sure.”

The book is a quick 142 page read (including two appendices).  It’s all about tapping into things that you are passionate about, creating blogs, and using social media to build your personal brand.  This book is very entertaining, and… dare I say it… inspiring.  I was just a few weeks into this blog when I read Crush It, and have since been inspired to take on the world.  If you like blogs…  If you have a Facebook or Twitter account…  If you are passionate about anything… You must read this book!

One of the things that Gary preaches in his book is to become an expert on your passion, by reading as much as you can on the topic.  So last week, I picked up this…

"Kevin Zraly's Windows on the World Complete Wine Course" next to some spheres inside some cubes.

This well-written 338 page textbook is the number one selling book about wine in the world.  Kevin takes the reader through a step-by-step guide on getting to know all the wines on the planet.

Right now, I’m in the middle of Class One: The White Wines of France.  I am stoked on the way he presents information in this book.  Zraly makes wine a whole lot easier to understand.  If you like wine, and want to know more about it… Grab this book!

As interesting as Windows on the World is, I’m realizing how much more I have to learn about the subject of French wine (and wine in general).  The good news, according to Zraly, is that the best way to understand wine is to TASTE it.

Looks like someone’s gonna have to make a run to the wine shop and make a raid on the Alsace section.  Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Gewürztraminer, and Pinot Gris better watch out… None of them are getting out alive!

Stay Rad,

Jeff


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