Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Straight Jacket Wine

When I began my wine journey in 2001, I knew that this was an art not unlike many other aesthetics. You have the mainstream wine and the small, indie wines. You have the silly, but effective politics—if you like White Zinfandel, you’re a ding bat incapable of understanding the abstract subtleties of Old world wine. If you like Barolo, you’re a wine sophisticate. While I was in sommelier school, it amazed me how everything associated with American wine culture was considered big, audacious, and in some cases, sloppy and unrefined. Who were these crass red, white and blue people stomping unto our turf with their brazen ideas of making wine their way? The other day a colleague and dear friend passed me a bottle of 2010 Macchia Amorous Sangiovese from Lodi, California. When I think of Sangiovese, I think of an entry-level Chianti that’s insipid, like someone is tightening a straight jacket on your palate. I had an amazing Chianti experience at Cioppino Restaurant with Jorge Mendoza—the sommelier. And if someone didn’t thief my hand bag with my wine diary, I’d tell you about it, but as of today, Sangiovese isn’t something I’d go out of my way to find. But what do I always say? Stay open. I already knew that this wasn’t a straight jacket wine with all that lush Lodi sunshine. But I wasn’t expecting blueberry heavy cream. This wine reminded me more of Zinfandel. Blueberry and black currant jam aromas burst through a gorgeous, purple violet color. On the palate, it’s more of the same—black cherry jam and black pepper spice fold into the heavy cream body. And there are medium-high tannins. I didn’t love it. It was too big. And I guess the contradictor in me wanted even a bite of straight jacket-austerity. However, when I chilled it and served it with spicy Jamaican curry chicken, it was a perfect match. All that dark fruit sweetness and jammi-ness was made for West Indian grilled and roasted meats that have hints or hot pepper spice. So what’s my point? Lol I love that American winemakers are experimenting in the grape lab, taking us out of our comfort zone and exploring the endless possibilities. Where would we be if Hendrix didn’t put those electric guitar strings in his mouth and show us what that instrument really could do?  We’d be in straight jackets lol

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Rosé: Pink Cookies in a Plastic Bag Getting Crushed by Buildings

My first rosé epiphany happened in Cognac, France, in 2007. I was gazing out into the fertile, green earth from Chateau De L’Yeuse overwhelmed by the sheer majestic beauty of the environment, grateful to God to be there. I was sipping the 1995 Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame Rosé with a man who spoke the language of wine so fluently, I was jealous. Before this moment, rosé was Beringer white Zinfandel—flat, motionless and uninspired. But I was wrong. A rosé can be just as interesting as a Champagne. The Veuve Du Vernay Brut Rosé recalls the pleasures of summer—strawberries salads and blood orange mimosas, summer sprinkles and duck pâté in foreign countries with lovers who smell of Parisian pastry shops. Its color is redolent of a fall Miami sunset. It’s refreshingly delicious and viciously romantic. And guess what else? It’s been on sale at Whole Foods for $10, but the regular price is only $11, so I say, go get some and download some old school LL Cool J while you're at it :).     

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Funky Mother’s Day Sandwich

I inherited my insatiable passion for food and wine from my mama. My childhood was a dissonant melody of pots clanging at 6 a.m., the morning, a salty mist of codfish creeping into my room. But unlike many stalwart, Old World Jamaican cooks, my mother had an adventurous palate. My elementary school lunch box was a gourmet playground of Italian ham, Sicilian salami and sweet sopressata sandwiches. And my fromages choices ranged from Sweet Munchee to Cracker Barrel Vermont Cheddar. These weren’t viable stock options in the World of Lunch Box Trades as my classmates’ palates were narcotized by generic peanut butter and jelly. But even then I knew what a good sandwich felt like—the exquisite balance of texture and flavors, the expert weaving of salty, sweet, savory accents. A well-made sandwich can heal wounds, and my mother, the ultimate sandwich-sage, has made many sandwiches. These days, I try to dazzle her with my amateur skills over a chilly glass of Manischewitz Concord Grape wine, her fave.  I’ve tried to bring her over to my side—a decadent Sauternes or a yummy trockenbeerenauslese  and while she smiles politely at my attempt, she loves Mani.  Yesterday I made mama a pre-Mother’s Day sandwich and served it with  a deliciously funky French wine. Hey. At least, I tried, right? lol

A Funky Mother’s Day Sandwich


French bread loaf

3 thin slices of Prosciutto di Parma

2 thin slices of Jarlsberg

I scallion stalk, chopped

1 tablespoon of julienned sundried tomatoes immersed in olive oil

1 egg, over medium

1 teaspoon of Mayonnaise

Pinch of salt

Pinch of pepper


Fry eggs over medium

Season with salt, pepper and scallion

Place egg on side plate

Tear a piece of French loaf (4 inches recommended)

Cut or tear open bread

Rub inside of bread inside pan where you just fried egg

Spread mayonnaise on bread

Layer with prosciutto and Jarlsberg

Top with egg and sundried tomatoes

Serve open faced  

Yield: 1

Wine Recommendation: 2009 Domaine De La Janasse Terre d’Argile Côtes du Rhone Villages
Okay, you’re thinking sparkling wine, an off-dry Riesling or even a yummy Rosé, BUT I friggin’ love this wine. The purple violet color explodes with aromas of black cherry and spice bun followed by duck pâté and wet leaves. On the palate, the body of the wine is reminiscent of foie gras and the flavors of black cherry, black plums and black pepper are a seamless journey into the southern Rhone.