Saturday, March 31, 2007

Corked Wine

There was an article in a recent Los Angeles Times food section on corked wine. It had a simple solution for this problem.

According to the article, if you take a glass pitcher, wad up roughly a square foot of Saran Wrap or other polyethylene plastic wrap. Expose all of the wine to the plastic wrap by gently swirling the wine in the pitcher for 5 to 10 minutes. The more pronounced the taint, the longer the wine should be exposed to the plastic wrap. For stubborn cases, repeat the plastic soak with a fresh wad of wrap.

Pour out a small amount of wine to test the results and when the taint is gone, decant the wine into another container. Toss the plastic and enjoy the wine. Apparently polyethylene absorbs TCA like a sponge.

Remember this next time you encounter a corked bottle of wine. All you really have to lose is a small amount of plastic wrap and some your time. It will be interesting to see it it really works.
March 30, 2007

The last "wine" dinner at Delius tonight. They plan on having their grand opening at the new address on June 1, 2007. I am so looking forward to their new establishment and venue.

The theme of tonight's dinner was "Folio Fine Wine Partners by Michael Mondavi

An "amuse bouche" was served. A crostini with cheese and roasted beets.

Appetizer - Steamed Mussels with a pecan/pesto sauce - 2005 Oberon Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc

Soup - Butternut Squash with Toasted Walnuts - 2003 Spellbound California Chardonnay

First Course - Crispy Skinned Duck Breast with an Apricot/Dried Cherry Sauce - 2005 Hangtime Edna Valley Pinot Noir

Main Course - Provencal Herb Marinated Filet Mignon with Creamy Polenta - 2002 Oberon Napa, Cabernbet Sauvignon

Dessert - Palova with Strawberrys and Honey Sauce

I had not tasted any of these wines before. They were all pleasant wines. The Sau Blanc paired very well with the mussels. The Chardonnay was a little oaky, but the sweetness of the butternut squash in the soup cut the oak quite nicely. The Pinot Noir was nice, a little light weight for my personal taste, but paired well with the duck. The Cabernet was nice. But having just come off a high end Cab tasting the night before, it was hard to get excited about this wine. It was a light Cab and was a good food wine.

The sauce on the mussells was unusual and very good. It made you want to take a piece of the Shallot bread and sop it up.

As always the soup and the duck were great. Louise is such a master when it comes to soup, duck and lamb.

I am always happy when I attend one of the dinners at Delius. The quality of the food is always the best. It's too bad more of the restaurants around don't bring their standards up. I would rather pay a few dollars more for really good food and a relaxing atmosphere. It doesn't do anything for me to spend $50 to $55 dollars on a dinner and be either disappointed in the quality or have just plain bad food. I would rather spend $10 to $15 more and have an enjoyable experience.

Some people complain about the small size of the portions, but I am a big eater and I have never left Delius hungry. (which is more than I can say for a couple of other "high end" local establishments ). They always come around offering additional servings of the main course for those who have "huge" appetites.
March 29, 2007

MAWL Wines had a "high end"end "Cali Cab" tasting this evening. 8 wines and 9 people. I was only familiar with the Justin and the Cain. The rest were all new to me (which is not surprising).

David served a prime rib bruschetta, a grilled eggplant "pizza", stuffed mushrooms and a decadent chocolate cake for dessert. He is quite the "cook".

The wines served that evening were as follows:

2003 Kamen, Cabernet, Sonoma, $53
2004 Justin Isosceles, Paso Robles, $55
2004 Kolbalt, Cabernet, Napa. $95
2004 Arieta, Variation One, Hudson Vineyard, $100
2004 Kapcsandy Family Winery, State Lane Vineyard, Cab/Merlot, $120
2003 Cain Vineyard, Meritage, Spring Mountain, $105
2003 Pahlmeyer, Proprietary Red, 5 varietal Bordeaux Blend, $110
2002 Pride, Mountain Vineyard, Napa, Cabernet (this was brought by one of the attendees)

I was disappointed in the Justin. I liked the Kamen but was really impressed with the Kapcsandy. Deep rich color, dark fruit, a hint of chocolate and light toast, a tad of licorice. Extremely well balanced wine.

The nice thing about these high end tastings, is that I get to taste wines I would never have access to and cannot afford to buy, but I do get the very enjoyable experience of tasting them
March 28, 2007

Attended a "bring your own brown bagged bottle of wine" at MAWL Wines. A new retail store just four miles "as the crow flies" from my casa.

There were approximately 23 to 25 people all with their little brown bags. After a wine was poured, we tasted then discussed. ( Clyde really enjoyed the discussing) Single varietal or blend ?, old world or new world ?, young or old ? At least we did not have to decide if it was red or white.

It was an interesting evening. I came to the realization that if you cannot see the bottle, shape and label, you are really out in left field. I know there are "super tasters" that make the rest of us look like simpletons, but thankfully this evening they didn't show up. Granted there were a few attendees that seem to guess correctly more than the rest of us but they did not come close to having a perfect score.

I feel somewhat vindicated when I correctly guessed the wine that I brought. I had drank a glass of this wine a few weeks ago and wanted to see if it showed as well, if I was not influenced by the sight of the bottle. It definitely did and I will endeavor to obtain a few more bottles before it is sold out. It just screamed "sangiovese". It was the just released 2004 Stoplman Vineyard Sangiovese.

I also correctly guessed 2 California "over oaked" Chardonnays just by smelling them. I do not understand why certain winemakers think, that the first thing someone wants to smell and taste in a wine is"wood". Wine comes from fruit not trees.

I think most of us came away from this tasting a little humbled, we are not the great wine aficionados that we thought we were.

I hope David decides to have this type of tasting again in the future. I really had a lot of fun and the people were great also.
March 25, 2007

Today was the monthly gathering of the "SAWG" members. A group of "winos" that get together once a month to taste wine, eat food and catch up with the latest. The months hosting member provides a main dish and sets the "wine" theme and everyone else brings the extra food dishes and a bottle of wine that matches the theme.

Most people seem to really enjoy coming up with new ideas for their food dishes and we also have some old favorites that we hope someone will bring. I think some of us come for the food more than the wine.

I will not go into too much detail about the 29 wines that were opened that day. Too lengthy and boring. But one such wine was a nice treat. It was interesting to taste a vertical of BV Tapestry, 1992, 1993 and 1994. They were all different. The 1993 was the one that I liked the least but since I did not get a chance to get a second taste , it may have evolved after a few hours of being opened.

A couple of others that I personally liked were the 2003 Terlato, Angels Peak, 2004 Cain Cuvee and the 2004 Stelzner Claret.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Thursday - January 24, 2008 - Argentinan Wine Dinner $50 - Delius Restaurant - (1-562) 426-0694 -

Sunday - February 10, 2008 - 2008 Wine Classic - Loyola Marymount University ,, $75 if bought before January 18, 2008, $90 after
March 25, 2007

Dinner at Kinokawa. A Japanese restaurant in Long Beach that has been there since the early 60's or late 50's. I remember going there in the early 60"s when I was first married. The place has gotten a little worn down but hey, we're all old and getting worn down. This was a dinner put together by a friend who has a "Wine & Dine" group . Every month there is a dinner at a small ethnic restaurant. Among the criteria is "small or no corkage" for the places he picks out, along with good food at reasonable prices. There were 18 people attending. Since we all brought bottles of wine, it is a miss mash of what is poured. I found that all the wines I tasted were good. Some didn't necessarily go with the food but that is not that important in this type of venue. Its always a "crap shoot" to what wines are brought but there is always enough to drink. It's always a lot of fun and "that's what it is all about".

Since he will put out the wine list on his next announcement I did not keep track of anything other than what I brought. I don't think its too important to know the entire list. This was his dinner and I won't tread on his territory. But I did bring a 2002 Windward Pinot and a bottle of Sake. I got into Sake after attending a seminar on it last year at Wine Country. The pinot was nice but not great. I'm finding for myself, that Windward is a little light and I'm really not to sure of the holding of this wine. I do not think it would have lasted another year. Since I'm starting to drink some really good pinot's , I will probably not buy anymore Windward.

I did make an other observation - 18 people and only 3 of us used chop sticks. The rest went with the "wimpy fork".

The menu for the evening is as follows - all good but personally for me I would have liked a little traditional sushi and less salads. But then the price jumps up so you can't have it your own way. It's a shared experience along with sharing the bill at the end.

Bean Sprout Salad
Cucumber Salad
Gyoza - filled with pork and vegetables
Jeff & Marta Sushi - tuna & avocado on top of spicy tuna roll
Vegetable Sushi - Asparagus, avocado, cucumber, gogo roots, radish sprouts & kanpyo
Chicken Yakitori
Salmon Sushi
Tempura - shrimp & vegetable
Tuna Sashimi
Beef Teriyaki
Salmon Teriyaki

The dishes I enjoyed the most were the bean sprout salad and the salmon teriyaki.

I've had better Gyoza and since I eat at a sushi restaurant near where I work a couple of times a week, I get really great sushi and sashimi. The tempura was nice but I think that the coating could have been a little lighter.

Overall the food was good, the wines were good and the company at the table were great. A good time was had by all.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

One of the treasures of spring is asparagus. The first cuttings of this delectable veggie are always thin. As the tips are havested the next one becomes bigger. One of my favorite ways to cook the thin spears is to roll them in a little spicy olive oil and broil them until toasted well. I shaved parmesan cheese over the spears the last few minutes of cooking.


March 24, 2007

Thursday Evening I traveled down PCH to Newport Beach where I met with friends for a "Flavors of Catalan" dinner at Abbondanza . It was nice to meet up again with Kevin Butler of the Henry Wine Group. He recently got married and honeymooned in Spain - hence the theme for this nights dinner. Kevin and I did a lot of wine dinners at Delius when he had the Long Beach territory. He is a "wine geek" in the truest sense. Extremely knowledgeable on wine and food. Always a pleasure to sit at his table ( he pours well )

The appetizer was "Bacalla Fritters and Greens" - a potato and salt cod fritter with fried Valencian salad (greens, tomatoes and big green olives.) This dish was paired with a Gramona "Gessami" Vina Blanco, 2005 Penedes - a blend of 40% Sau Blanc, 60% Muscat of Alexandria and Muscat Ontonell. Slightly sweet, fruity on the mid palate and a dry finish,

First course was a Duck & Olive Coca - a Spanish style calzone with roasted duck and green olives. I loved the duck and olive combination but I found the "calzone" a little tough. Myabe its supposed to be that way but I had to use a knife to cut it, so I just ate the filling. The wine with this dish was Can Blau Montsant 2005 - a blend of 45% old vine Carignane, 35% old vine Grenacha and 20% Syrah. A good blend, not overly big but it still how a "wow" factor to it.

The main course was one of my favorites - lamb chops with a Romesco sauce (slight spicy but the lamb cut the spice and it was a great taste). Served with veggies and potatoes. The paired wine was Anima Negra "AN2" 2004 Mallorca - a blend of Callet, Sryah and Montenegro. A big wine, dry, full bodied and paired exceptionally well with the food.

Dessert consisted of "Apples Stuffed with Crema Catalan" - baked apples with custard and topped with caramelized sugar. We drank LaFage Muscat De Rivesaltes 2003. I normally do not care for a sweet wine with dessert, I prefer dessert wines with savory, but this wine was not overly sweet and again went well with the dish.

The only fault I found with this dinner was the tough dough on the Calzone and the noise level inside the restaurant. The place is small and it was packed with people. A birthday party in progress didn't help. The more wine they drank, the louder they became. I have eaten at "Abbondanza " before and while the acoustics are not the best you could still talk without yelling. Thursday night as a different ballgame.

Again all the wines, which are very affordable, paired beautifully with the food. The food was not complicated but had such good flavor. Such a pleasure to have a "sensual" experience. It takes a little of the sting out of the "disaster dinner" two weeks ago.

Abbondanza is owned by Patrick & April Derkacz. Chef and "Maid of Everything". Nice young couple who have some talent. They have a"French" wine dinner coming up on April 11. Again Kevin will be pouring that night, so I am thinking about it.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


March 19, 2007

I'm totaly stoked. I was one of 18 people to get into a private dinner at Clos Pepe Vineyards on June. This is a dinner in junction with the Santa Rita Hills Pinot Festival. Dinner will be at the main house at the vineyard. All the wines will be Clos Pepe sourced. Loring Wine Co., AP Vin Wines and Clos Pepe Vineyard. Same varietal, same vineyard, 3 different winemakers and styles.

I was lucky enough to get to attend the dinner last year. (their first). It was a memorable night and I expect this year will be outstanding also. The menu looks awesome.
South American Wine Dinner at Sebastiani's in Huntington Beach, CA..

This restaurant is owned by a brother and sister from Peru. An Italian Bistro. (Go figure that one). I recently had dinner there with a couple of friends. The wines were from Haras in Chile. This winery is partially owned by the Antonori's. The wines were all moderately priced.

Our first course was a puree of heart of palm soup. Very unusual but very good. This was paired with a Sauvignon Blanc.

Second course was a ceviche made with talpia. The wine was a chardonnay that had just a little bit too much oak for me, but the oak disappeared when paired with the ceviche.

Our next course was something I would not have thought to mix to together. Crab with Mexican chorizo and a white cheese. Baked in the crab shell it was perfect with a Cabernet Sauvignon.

Then came a very unusual dish and plating detail. A lamb and spinach stew. It looked like the had lined the bottom of the bowl with julienned vegetables, then basmatic rice, topped the the lamb and spinach stew, then turned the bowl upside down onto the plate. The gravy from the stew seeped out beneath the rice. This was served with another Cabernet Sauvignon.

Dinner was topped off with a lemon gelato. Very refreshing and a nice finish to the meal.

All of the food was very good and the wines complimented each dish perfectly. The plating was beautiful. It's a shame more restaurants cannot do this.

The next evening I dined with about 20 people at a restaurant that will remain unamed ( I don't want to get sued). Not only did the meal cost more that my great South American dinner, but the quality was so poor. The soup was so salty that no one could eat it and it was sent back and the subsituition was so spicy that it clashed with the wine. The appetizer plate was nothing more than some very mediocre cheeses with crackers, a small piece of smoked salmon and a dab of cream cheese. No imagination at all. A pasta dish that was so bland I had to add salt to pull some flavor out of it and a "filet mignon" that sure looked a lot like a sirloin. Dessert was a very dry chocolate cake.

Needless to say I will not be patronizing that place again.

Life is hectic enough that dining should be a pleasure trip with our senses of taste, smell and vision.
March 18, 2007

I recently had to opportunity to taste the newly released 2004 Stoplman Vineyard Sangiovese. The fruit is 100% estate grown. This is jammy wine without being "gooey" Soft tannins. Nice mid to back palate. Raspberry and plum with a hint of spice. Very nice balanced wine. It should pair well with the traditional tomato based Italian dishes. Since I can't eat tomato based products I will be making Oso Bucco which I think will be a good pairing also.