food & wine pairing grapes reviews wineries

Yes, Ma’am

Praxis ViognierWhen the Doctor tells me to eat takeout, I don’t ask questions. I just scamper my way on down to Pao’s Mandarin House and pick me up some Three Cup Chicken, because that is the SHIT, my friends. Can I get a witness? Testify!

The other night I was sitting on the couch with my sweetie, and he had a craving for the brie we had in the fridge. I was reading Spittoon’s post on how well Sauvignon Blanc does with cheese, and thought, I wonder how that Praxis Viognier I have the the fridge would go with this? So I poured myself a glass, lickety-split, took a bite of Brie, and sipped some Viognier. Gentle Reader, listen closely: Never. Do. This. Oh, lawsy me, stay away from this evil combination of flavors!

Poor Praxis Viognier; it’s not your fault I wasn’t using my noggin. I finished the glass, wondering what I’d pair it with that might actually work, and it occurred to me that I hadn’t had any Pao’s in a while. Hmm…

Thus it felt like Fate had slapped me upside the head when I read Good Wine Under $20 the next afternoon and saw that Dr. Debs was recommending takeout as a way to treat oneself right during the holidays. AND she was recommending Viognier with non-incindiery Asian food! I was suddenly On A Mission From God.

food & wine pairing industry reviews

Tasting Goes With: Beef

Goes with beefGot my first sample for review the other day, from Fred Schwartz in sunny California. Fred’s company Riddling Bros. has this unreleased wine, really a wine brand concept, called Goes With Cellars, which is one of those food pairing-focused wines like the Wine That Loves brand that came out earlier this year. I thought it was rather funny of Fred to send me this wine to sample, as I had already kinda-sorta gone on record as thinking the Wine That Loves concept was weird in a comment at Good Wine Under $20, when Dr. Debs posted on it.

Whereas the “Wine That Loves” brand focuses on pairing wine with more everyday fare (pasta with tomato sauce, pizza, grilled steak, etc), the “Goes With” line includes a shopping list and an upscale recipe that one presumes will be a perfect pairing with the wine in the bottle. My husband’s take on the concept was, “Oh yeah. Back when I was single, I would totally have bought that to make dinner for a date. That’s a Get Laid Wine.” Aha! Market positioning insight!

Jeff at Good Grape was also a part of Fred’s little marketing campaign, which included sending us little graphics of well paired icons, like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, along with a tag that said “Matched Perfectly.” The Wine Broad got a sample, too: she thought the whole “Wine That Loves” brand was a crock, so you can imagine her opinion of this seeming re-brand attempt.

industry regions

Whence value?

I really enjoy American wines, but when I’m looking for an interesting wine for very little money, I never go American. I look at Spain, Portugal, Southern France, New Zealand and Australia, maybe even a small southern Italian producer. In my experience, $10 spent on a Spanish wine goes a lot farther than $10 spent on a wine from California, when you know where to look.

OK, but now the dollar is weak. European and South American wines are going to get more expensive. Plus, Australia is weathering a miserable drought, and predictions are that yields in 2008 will be half that of previous years. HALF?!? Yikes, people! According to Decanter, I needn’t worry because importers are swallowing the expense right now. But logically, it’s only a matter of time: all of my bastions of value are going to be getting more expensive. What’s a cheapo wine lover to do?

Dr. Vino addressed this issue last week, asking if California would drop the ball in reclaiming the one third of the wine sales in the US which are of imported wine. It seems like a perfect time for Americans to come back to US wines for their interesting value purchases. Will the consumer be offered great deals in these weak dollar times?

I do not have a good feeling about this, gentle readers. Two Buck Chuck aside (sakes alive, when will Trader Joe’s come to Austin?!?), my national brethren are not well known for bringing the value and the quality in the same bottle. But perhaps I’m in a rut. Perchance I have been turning a blind eye to the grand values America has to offer me. Let’s find out together, shall we, in a poll?

If I have not listed your favorite value region, please let me know by a comment and I’ll add it.



The Cost of Change

Well Ms. Scamp went to the office today and realized older browsers (most notably Internet Explorer 6.0) don’t like our fancy translucent backgrounds and fades. Rest assured dear readers I’m working on it, sorry for the inconvenience. Right now we’re looking at how many folks are affected. So let us know in the comments if it is a problem when you view the page.


I feel pretty

Hey, check it y’all! My beloved Mr. Scamp spent most of his long weekend re-working my site, and I love it!

We put up ads of course, because it’s time that all my mad fame and glory translate into some Huge Bucks. But then, please note the fancy calendar and the drop-down menus up above for categories and other power moves. The site search engine is not working perfectly just at this time, but will be resolved within the next couple of 3 weeks or so, Google permitting.

Many thanks to Mr. Scamp, Chief Technological Officer at Wine Scamp Industries, for all his hard work and patience with my tweak requests.

Whaddya think, gentle reader? Do you love my makeover? Is it slimming? Would Stacy London approve?


Pardon My Dust

Hi, I’m Tom. I’ll be screwing up Ms. Scamp’s site for the next few hours. Sorry about that. But don’t go away, it will be improved and better than ever (especially since the important bit, her writing, will still be intact).

The RSS subscribe link is back up (thanks for reminding me!). But if you come here and it looks different than it did a day ago (or even an hour ago) I’m working on it. And as always feedback is welcomed.

Thanks for your patience,

Mr. Scamp

food & wine pairing industry reviews

Your Beaujolais Bandwagon, let me jump on it

Dr. Vino is so right. Beaujolais Nouveau is an ecological nightmare: this marketing ploy invented by Georges DuBoeuf in which all points of the planet receive “new,” raw wine from Beaujolais on the third Thursday of November, the globalizing of a tradition that dates back to the seventies, just POURS carbon into the atmosphere through shipping millions of bottles of wine by plane rather than by boat.

There is no redeeming aspect to the tradition of Beaujolais Nouveau, except that of sentimentality and the gateway aspect of the wine. It’s simple and accessible wine, and yearly the “nouveau” hubble-bubble causes many new people to try wine that wouldn’t normally. I will always be a fan of any wine or wine event that helps wine-shy folk able to try a wine they’ll like. But at what cost to the Earth?

Wine Blogging Wednesday

WBW #39 Round-up, WBW #40 announced

WBWlogoCheck out Neil the Brooklynguy’s round-up of Wine Blogging Wednesday #39, Silver Burgundy.  Neil went to every participant’s post, near as I can tell, and commented on their reviews, which I think is admirable and very classy.  Plus, they were real, insightful comments and not just “good job” – what a caring thing to do!  It was a great theme, I’m glad so many people participated.

Wine Blogging Wednesday #40 is being hosted by Sonadora of Wannabe Wino, and she’s chosen the theme of Petite Sirah or Durif.  Can’t go wrong with that grape in my book!  I’ll look for something I haven’t tried yet, maybe see if I can find a French or Australian Durif to taste against a California PS? 

Thanks to Lenn at Lennedevours for inventing Wine Blogging Wednesday, a chance for the wine blogging community to come together in spirit, if not corporeally, once a month!  Just so you know, you don’t need a wine blog to participate!  Mark your calendar, taste a wine, and write a review to email to Sonadora this December 12!  Join in — everybody’s doing it.

basics food & wine pairing

Giving Thanks, Not Advice

Traditional ThanksgivingOK, so I love love love love love Thanksgiving. It’s a secular holiday that is not corrupted by snarly patriotism, and it’s the only US holiday that has an integral relationship with the seasons. Sold, and sold. And then, it’s all about food and cooking, which is really how I relate to any holiday anyway: Easter is eggs, 4th of July is barbecue, Halloween is candy, etc.

Feasts are my favorite, and I love cooking for guests; so I’ve been hosting Thanksgiving for my entire adult life, ever since I had my own place — even making tofu turkey back in my Greenpeace days. I revel in the recruiting & inviting of guests, the planning of the menu, the shopping, the preparation, the cooking and staging of the meal.

Color me surprised that I am so cheerfully looking forward to being hosted this year: my darling and I are going to a friends’ house for Thanksgiving. They’re some of our best friends, and the cook in their marriage is my closest foodie friend. He’s a vegetarian who expertly cooks meat for his wife and loved ones, and his parents are going to be visiting for the holiday… so I’m anticipating a grand meal and lots of fun, fun times. (And no clean up at my house, which I admit is a decadently fine prospect.)



Community Blogger AwardMy friend Gabrielle at Eternal Vigilance awarded me a Community Blogger Award, invented by Red Sultana to celebrate those in the blogosphere that “reach out and makes the blogger community a better one.” Nice!

When I decided to jump into the fray of wine blogging (fray! ha! if anything resembled the word less…), I felt that I was so quickly and generously welcomed into the “fold,” and I will always be truly grateful for that.

Tom Wark at Fermentation was kind enough to write about me very early on, directing a lot of new traffic my way; he also Does Great Things with his promotion of wine bloggers via his Bloggerview series.

Dr. Debs at Good Wine Under $20 and Jill at Domaine 547 both commented early, often and encouragingly. Plus, Jill invented Women’s Wine Blogging Celebration Day, known to 99.999% of the world’s population as October 11.

Finally, Lenn Thompson at Lenndevours has been truly instrumental in bringing all us wine bloggers together in our monthly wine tasting, Wine Blogging Wednesday. May this tradition never fade: it’s a wonderfully inclusive event, and super-fun on top of it!

I would like to confer upon all of these great people a Community Blogger Award: they make the wine blogosphere a better place to be, for everyone.