Thursday, January 12, 2017

Wine Infographic: Merlot Cheat Sheet

Next in the wine cheat sheet series:  Merlot!

The full collection of wine cheat sheets is here.




To see the Cheat Sheet in full size…
…in Internet Explorer, right click on it and select “open in new tab.”
…in Chrome, right click on it and select “open link in new tab.”
…in Firefox, right click on it and select “view image.”  


You may also be interested in:
French Wine Cheat Sheet
Bordeaux Wine Cheat Sheet
California Wine Cheat Sheet
Washington and Oregon Wine Cheat Sheet
Chilean Wine Cheat Sheet
The Big 6 and Where They're Hiding

Monday, January 2, 2017

Bordeaux Trip - Free Info Session and Wine Tasting

Regular readers know that I'm acting as the wine educator on a river cruise through Bordeaux in October 2017.

If you're interested in learning more about the trip, join us at a free info session and wine tasting in February in Houston.

Check out the Facebook event here.

For location details or questions, RSVP to:  ClearLakeWineTasting@gmail.com

More information about the trip here.




Friday, December 9, 2016

Counterfeit Wine is Fascinating

Buying fake wine is not a problem you or I are likely to have, but it is fascinating nonetheless. Unscrupulous people have created fake bottles of rare, old, or expensive wines by blending together other wines and putting them into bottles made to look like the real thing. These counterfeiters age the bottles and labels, and sometimes buy bottles of the real wines to drink and refill with their imitation blend. To do this successfully takes a lot of wine expertise and a lot of startup money. These people are usually looking to make a buck, but they seem to also get a kick out of the prestige of circulating with the top collectors, critics, and writers of the wine world and offering up impressive (fake) bottles for tastings and auctions.

So many aspects of this are fascinating to me:  the process of creating a believable fake, the way the counterfeiters ingratiate themselves with collectors and experts so that the bottles they produce will be accepted as authentic, and the forensic detective work that can unmask the frauds. Another attractive aspect may be that I don't expect to ever have to worry that a wine I'm buying is a fake, for the simple reason that I doubt I'll ever buy a wine so expensive that a wine counterfeiter would bother to fake it. Creating a fake wine is only worthwhile at the very top of the wine market, where wealthy collectors are spending thousands per bottle.

I can recommend a great book and a great movie about fake wine. The Billionaire's Vinegar is an excellent wine detective story that begins with a bottle supposedly once owned by Thomas Jefferson. A wine aficionado will recognize many of the names and places, but no wine knowledge is necessary to enjoy the story. (A movie of the book has been listed on imdb.com as "in development" for several years. Matthew McConaughey was set to star at one time.)




A great documentary about another massive wine fraud is Sour Grapes, which is currently available to stream on Netflix. Here's the trailer:




Either of these would be a great way to spend a few hours during your holiday time off, and the book would make a great gift.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Wine Infographic: Port Wine Cheat Sheet

Next in the wine cheat sheet series:  Port!  Port is a great wine to keep around during the holidays. It's a warming, celebratory drink as well as a festive gift.

The full collection of wine cheat sheets is here.



To see the Cheat Sheet in full size…
…in Internet Explorer, right click on it and select “open in new tab.”
…in Chrome, right click on it and select “open link in new tab.”
…in Firefox, right click on it and select “view image.”  


You may also be interested in:
Easy Chocolate-Port Brownies
A Dessert Wine from the Texas Piney Woods
Sherry Cheat Sheet

Sunday, November 6, 2016

A Beer Aged in Sherry Casks

The annual International Sherry Week goes from November 7th through 13th. (The Sherry Cheat Sheet can help you navigate the complex world of sherry and find something fun to drink.) This year, I celebrated Sherry Week with an ale aged in sherry casks. UK brewer J.W. Lees matures its Harvest Ale in barrels previously used for sherry.

  

Friday, October 21, 2016

Mint Beers for All Seasons?

I’m on record as a fan of herbal flavors in beer (see Lavender Beers for Summer), and I love all things mint. I recently came across my third mint-flavored beer, and they say three’s a trend, so it deserves a post. These three beers could not differ more. One is thick, dark, and bitter. One is sour, tart, and earthy. One is light and crisp. Here’s a rundown on each:

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Moravia in Texas

Last weekend we went to the Houston Slavic Heritage Festival, as we do most years. This year it celebrated the food, music, and crafts of the Ukraine, Czech Republic, Croatia, and Poland. I drink beer at the Slavic Fest (it goes perfectly with sausage and sauerkraut!), but being there reminded me to drink my bottles of wine from the Moravia Winery in central Texas.

The Moravia Vineyard and Winery is named (I assume) after the town in which the vineyard resides, Moravia, Texas (though the winery's address is in nearby Schulenburg). Moravia, Texas was founded in 1881 by Czech and Moravian settlers, who named the town after the Moravian region of the Czech Republic (or do we call it Czechia now?). This region of the Czech Republic produces more than 90% of the wine in that country, so it makes perfect sense to name the winery after the town named after the region.

The Moravia Winery grows Blanc du Bois (white) and Black Spanish/Lenoir (red) grapes, which it produces in a dry style. It also makes a sweet rosé. These lesser-known grapes flourish in regions near the Texas gulf coast where humidity and Pierce's disease wreak havoc on other grape varieties. (For more information, check out "Introduction to the Grapes of Texas" or "Profile of the Black Spanish Grape." Disclaimer: the link to the Black Spanish profile leads to an article I wrote for Home Brew Talk, and it contains a few errors introduced by their editors, which is why I no longer write for the site.)

Earlier this year I bought a bottle of Moravia's 2014 "Red Wine Cervené Vino Rosso" at the Urban Harvest Eastside Farmers Market and a bottle of 2014 Blanc du Bois at the downtown Houston Spec's. Both were around $20. (Google translate says that cervené means red in Czech.) I stuck the bottles in the wine fridge and nearly forgot about them until I saw the Moravia region of the Czech Republic mentioned at the Slavic Fest.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Wine Infographic: Italian Wine Cheat Sheet

Next in the wine cheat sheet series:  Italy!

I've covered Chianti before, here.  The full collection of wine cheat sheets is here.



To see the Cheat Sheet in full size…
…in Internet Explorer, right click on it and select “open in new tab.”
…in Chrome, right click on it and select “open link in new tab.”
…in Firefox, right click on it and select “view image.”  


Friday, August 19, 2016

Lavender Beers for Summer

I am a well-documented lavender freak. I love the smell, I love the taste, and I always have to try any food or drink that contains it.  I’ve written before about lavender cocktails (here and here), I love my lavender earl grey tea, and I own a lavender cookbook. So of course I was excited when one of the new-ish Houston-area breweries – No Label in Katy, TX – released their “Forbidden Lavender” ale. Then I started noticing other beers that incorporate lavender and decided a post was in order.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Cider + Wine = Something Different to Drink This Summer

When I was sitting at the bar at J. Henry's a couple of weeks ago, I noticed a funny looking wine bottle in their cooler. I asked to read the label, and then I knew I had to try it. It was Grafter Rosé, a small-batch cider from Texas Keeper, made with 91% Rome Beauty apples and 9% Tempranillo grapes from Texas. (Sorry the picture is orange. I was having living room lighting issues.)