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Drink Wed Jun 13 2012

Wine Tastings, Mermaid Tattoos and $70 Worth of Sushi

Thumbnail image for Wine Riot.jpgI've had overdone wine nights that ended in orange streaked bangs from an at home dye job gone wrong. I've never, however, had a wine night that ended the morning after with me using every product in my house to remove a temporary tattoo of a mermaid with a wine bottle on the inside of my forearm. . .but that's just what happened after my first experience with Wine Riot, a touring wine tasting tradeshow if you will with the goal of creating a fun, non-intimidating place where people can learn about wine. Needless to say, I expected a slight hangover after attending the Second Glass hosted event; I mean, what can you expect when you walk into the Great Hall of Union Station with 200 wines ahead of you. Hence, the mermaid tattoo. But I digress.

My first hit of two thumbs up was with the ISC Sparkling Brut from NV Illinois Sparkling Co ($32). It felt more like a dry Prosecco than a Champagne, which, for a starter drink, is a good thing for me. It's a bit pricier than I'd like a sparkling to be but is a great way to give your party a new label.

A couple of average wines later found my friend and I standing in front of Quadry Winery for a wine inspired cocktail. I tried a summer inspired mix made with the 2010 Essensia ($27) -- a sweet orange muscat that, when mixed with soda and something else delicious, made for a perfect Sunday brunch (or a horse race sipping fiesta, your call). It saddened me to throw half of it out, but I had to stick to my strategy. (Remember that 200 wine thing). If you're a flexible wine drinker, aka, you don't mind mixing wine with liquors, this is a great way to experiment.

Now, even though I don't favor Rieslings because my expectations of most are that they are overly sweet to the point that they might as well be called muscats, I couldn't go to a massive wine tasting and not try one. The 2011 Dr. Loosen Riesling Dry "Red Slate", from Mosel, Germany, named after the famous red slate hills above the Mosel river, came in like everything you'd expect a Reisling not to be. I was confused, I was shocked, I enjoyed the taste from that skinny little bottle notorious to Reislings and large amounts of sugar. I was proven wrong. Red wine drinkers, pay attention, this is one Reisling you might just like.

Admittedly, while I am a white wine drinker, I didn't refrain from the reds. Especially when I came upon a Pinot Noir. I'm a huge fan of Pinots (yes, thanks to Sideways and consumer marketing), and the 2008 Ninety Plus Cellars Lot 56 Reserve Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley in California ($19) didn't disappoint. Wait, scratch that. Not only did it not disappoint, it rocked. But here's why -- Ninety Plus Cellars has taken the private label route in wine distribution and is repackaging top-rated, high-dollar juice for less.

Just before the night was over and our palettes had reached that fine point of being useless, like Columbus discovering the New World, we found South Africa and "The Max," a 2009 Cab/Merlot blend from Stony Brook Vineyards ($24). A Cab/Merlot blend is nothing new to the game and I'm familiar with South Africa and their consistency with producing good, soil driven wine, but this wine had the merit of what a red wine should be, just enough tannin, just enough fruit, just enough smoke and just enough texture -- balanced.

And how does a night that starts off predicted to end bad turn out -- $70 worth of Sushi of course. Hence, the mermaid tattoo.

You'll have to wait until next year for another Wine Riot, or maybe you can just do a Wine Riot event on your own. Visit here for a full schedule and to find the winners from around the country.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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