Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tuesday Tasting: Cantine Aurora Dolce Stilnovo

Cantine Aurora Tortona
Dolce Stilnovo Rosso N/V
$14.99


Made of Freisa Dolce, Moscato Nero, and Malvasia Nera grapes, this wine is a bright red color. Strawberries and raspberries on the nose. Quite sweet with good acidity,creamy mouthfeel and slightly effervescent. A great base for sangria I think!

Would you like your wine reviewed?
Contact me at Kovas@50statesofwine.com!

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Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day!


"They fell, but o'er their glorious grave
Floats free the banner of the cause they died to save."

-- Francis Marion Crawford

Today, on Memorial Day, raise a glass to those who died so we can enjoy our every freedom.

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Friday, May 25, 2012

BuzzCheck Blood Alcohol Calculator

Memorial Day weekend and the parties will start early and last a long time. Ever wonder how much drinking is too much, or want to plan to imbibe and get home safely?


BuzzCheck, Inc. and CG Labs partnered together to develop and bring to the market an online breathalyzer (also called BAC Calculator). CG Labs has been working with these formulas for over 10 years in validating or negating DUI cases in court. We’ve simply taken these same formulas and created an online breathalyzer.

This tool is unique in that it takes into consideration many points that the existing calculators do not. In addition to taking into consideration a persons’ age, gender, weight and height, we also take into consideration tolerance and hunger levels (which the others do not). You can actually see how long it will take to get to a max BAC (blood alcohol level) and how long it will take to get to get completely sober.

From the website: "Our alcohol calculator is a partnership between BuzzCheck Inc. and CG Labs. CG Labs has been working with local and state governments as well as DUI lawyers for over 10 years. CG Labs has applied the same formulas used within this calculator to determine a person’s BAC (blood alcohol content) at a specific time during the drinking experience. These formulas have been considered valid calculations by courts within the U.S."


I tried it out and it's pretty interesting to see how the blood alcohol changes over time. I have to take their word that it's accurate and, if it really is, this is a useful tool to have if you know you are going to be imbibing past what might be a safe amount.

Have a safe and happy Memorial Day Weekend!

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Barbecue and Wine Pairing


It's Memorial Day weekend in a few days, and many people's thoughts turn to barbecue. For most, that means a switch to lemonade, beer, and maybe mint juleps if you're feeling saucy. But don't give up on wine just yet. As with so many things, pairing wine and food is a personal matter of taste, and barbecue is no exception.

Wines served with the big flavors of BBQ must be assertive. Reds should be big, well balanced, smooth and not over the top in alcohol. Look for lean fruity whites with bright steely flavors to cut through the rich and sometimes fatty flavors of BBQ. (From BBQ Smokehouse Bistro and Catering)

Match the intensity of flavor of a wine with the flavor of the food. Reds Go Better with Barbecue than Whites. Sweet Wine for Spicy Foods and a Tart Wine for Sweet Foods. (From About.com)

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tuesday Tasting: Eden Road Wines Gundagai Shiraz

Eden Road Wines, Australia
Gundagai Shiraz 2010
(Media Sample)


Eden Road Wines continues to impress. Beautiful dark color. Some berry and spice aroma. Medium bodied, with berry and stone fruit flavors along with an underlying earthy component. Really a nice drinking wine.

Would you like your wine reviewed?
Contact me at Kovas@50statesofwine.com!

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Natalie MacLean’s Wine Wall of Fame and You



Natalie MacLean has a way for you to contribute wine reviews to her site... and now has a way to recognize your contribution with a new section called the Wine Reviewers Wall of Fame.

She’ll be promoting this new section regularly in her newsletter that goes to 137,000+ subscribers. When readers visit the page, they can click through to your profile page so it should drive some traffic to your site, Twitter and Facebook.

Notice that she highlights the most active contributors of the week along the top, which is based on just the past week, so it’s easy to shoot to the top.

It’s also easy to add your own review of any wine you like -- it can be short and sweet. You just click on the Thumbs Up icon for any wine and add a few words of your own.

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

10 Crazy Food Names Explained


'From regional U.S. specialties to international snacks, there's any number of bizarrely named foods that can make even the most sophisticated gourmand chuckle. But do these oddly dubbed foods have a backstory explaining their silly-sounding nomenclature? Natch.

Rollmops - Don't mistake these for some kind of cleaning tool when you see them on a menu - they refer pieces of pickled herring wrapped around onions, pimentos or olives - a popular Northern European snack since Medieval times. The name comes from German origin: the roll part we get - I mean duh, they're rolled, but mop? Mops come from the German word moppen which means to "make a sour face." (Fun fact: Mops refer to the pug breed of dog in German too.) The sour face in this case comes from eating a pickled item such as herring. Get it?

Coffin Board - No this is not a type of canapé you'll find at a funeral parlor, but actually coffin board or coffin sandwich (as it translates) is a popular snack food in Tainan, Taiwan. It's made from deep-fried bread which is hollowed out in the middle and filled with chowder or a meat/vegetable mixture, not unlike a Western bread bowl of sorts. The "coffin" aspect of its name refers to the way the sandwich looks - four walls of bread, a hollowed-out middle and a "lid" on top.

Spotted Dick - The name of this traditional steamed British pudding made with beef or mutton fat (yum) may make the immature among us snicker, but here's the lowdown on its eyebrow-raising name: the "spotted" part refers to the dried fruit that stud the pudding itself, and the "dick" - well, the exact origin is not totally clear. But it refers to the pudding aspect of the dessert and may be old slang for the word "dough." Oh, those cheeky Brits.

Head Cheese - Nope, there's no actual cheese involved here, but this term refers to a terrine that's made from meat from the head of a pig or calf that is kind of like an old-school cold cut. While both the name and description don't sound very appetizing - take it from us, when prepared correctly and paired with pickled veggies, head cheese is nothing short of sublime.

Pasty - Kind of like a British empanada, "pastys" or "pasties" are meat and veggie-filled pastry pockets that have dozens of regional variations (they are a major tourist attraction in the UP of Michigan, for example). As for the name (which is unfortunately shared with a crucial element of a stripper's costume) the origin of "'pasty" comes from the old British word for "pie."

Pupu Platter - Pupu platters became a common menu item as early as the 1950s in the U.S. during the era's "Polynesian craze" but are most often remembered as a part of 1970s dining (along with fondue and lazy susans). The dish itself is a plate of American Chinese hors d'oeuvres that might include items like teriyaki chicken, fried shrimp and spare ribs. The name, which has undoubtedly caused millions of snickers and bad jokes over the years, comes from the Hawaiian word for appetizer.

Ugli Fruit - You may have seen these odd-looking fruits with a giant "Ugli" sticker on them in your international market - but Ugli is just the brand name for Jamaican tangelos - a hybrid of a tangerine and a grapefruit. Why they decided to label them "ugli?" Well, that choice is still a mystery.

Pocari Sweat - No actual sweat is found in Pocari Sweat - a popular drink in Japan which may not sound very appetizing at first glance of the label. But really this is just water with a slight grapefruit flavor that is advertised as an "ion supply drink." The word Pocari is meaningless and "sweat" is part of the company's decision to market it as a sports drink in Japan. Guess in Japanese the negative connotation of "sweat" doesn't really translate.

Paris-Brest - To a non-Francophile, Paris-Brest sounds more like the name of a Parisian burlesque club, but Paris-Brest is actually a delicious traditional pastry made from choux dough (like a profiterole), topped with almonds and filled with praline-flavored butter cream. The pastry was created in 1891 and named for the famous bicycle race, Paris-Brest-Paris.

Cullen Skink - This traditional thick Scottish soup is similar to an American chowder as it's made with haddock, potato and onions. The name, which sounds funny to Americans because of the "skink" (a cross between skunk and stink?) actually has Gaelic origin. Cullen is the name of a town in northern Scotland and "skink" comes from the Gaelic word for a shin, knuckle or hough of beef which eventually gained a secondary meaning as "soup."'

Originally posted on the Zagat Blog  by Kelly Dobkin

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

No Corkscrew, No Problem


A video demonstrating that, if you don't have a cork screw, there is an alternative way to open the bottle of wine by using a phone book.



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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tuesday Tasting: The Long Road Shiraz

Eden Road Wines, Australia
The Long Road Shiraz 2010
$21.25 (Media Sample)


From the screw-top closure to the understated labels, Eden Road Wines appears to want to do things the right way. The wine continues the simple yet good philosophy - definitely not a fruit bomb, this is a well-balanced wine to savor with or without food, showing just enough fruit, with smooth tannins and acidity creating a luscious mouth feel. One to search for.

Would you like your wine reviewed?
Contact me at Kovas@50statesofwine.com!

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Eden Road Wines, Australia


A new wave of Australian wines is erasing decade-old perceptions of wine from Down Under as being “big and fruity” with high alcohol content, and supplanting that stereotype with varietals that are much subtler and more elegant. Leading the way are wines grown in cool climate, high-country regions such as Canberra where vintners like Eden Road Wines are exporting Shiraz brands including their Long Road, Gundagai and Hilltops to restaurants and wine shops.

Eden Road is the winemaking team of Nick Spencer and Hamish Young, who have set out to create a unique style of wines from high country, cool climate vineyards of Australia. They are located in Murrumbateman and surrounded by Tumbarumba, the Hilltops and Gundagai.

These four regions represent a rich pioneering viticultural history and are now producing some of the most exciting contemporary wines in Australia. Their efforts are channeled into every aspect of the winemaking process from the selection and management of vineyards through to the attention to detail they devote to winemaking. This is their Road to Eden.


Their logo depicts the Road to Eden as a line which passes between two circles representing the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge.

More information can be found on the Eden Road Wines website,  by liking them on Facebook,  and following on Twitter.

Look for upcoming reviews of some Shirazes from Eden Road Wines.

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Secret to Enjoying Good Wine


The Secret to Enjoying Good Wine:

1. Open the bottle and allow it to breathe. 
2. If it looks like it's not breathing, 
give it mouth-to-mouth.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wine Cruise

A fun press release came my way recently, about a wine cruise happening here in the Midwest this fall:


For the first time, Expedia CruiseShipCenters, Wine Club Cruises and Buena Vista Winery  have come together to host the Great American Wines Cruise this fall. Cruise participants will have the opportunity to relive the history of wine in America and taste over 50 great wines as they cruise down the Mississippi River from aboard the Great American Steamboat Company’s American Queen.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for guests to learn about American Wine history from the experts,” says Brian Murphy of Expedia CruiseShipCenters. “Not only will the participants get to know American wine celebrities and industry professionals, but they will develop a strong relationship with the fellow wine participants.”

The host of the cruise will be Count Agoston Haraszthy, who founded Buena Vista Winery in 1857 and is considered to be the Father of Viticulture and Modern Winemaking in California (played by George Webber, professional character portrayal actor). The other guides for the cruise will be Dr. Liz Thach, Master of Wine, and management and wine business professor at Sonoma State University, and Tom Blackwood, Director of Retail Operations for Buena Vista Winery, DeLoach Vineyards, JCB and Raymond Vineyards.

Guests will also enjoy wines from Buena Vista Winery and the Boisset Family Estates collection, such as Raymond Vineyards, DeLoach Vineyards and JCB by Jean-Charles Boisset.

“Buena Vista is thrilled to be a part of this premier cruise exploring the fascinating history of America wines,” says Jean-Charles Boisset. “As California’s first premium winery, Buena Vista is historically important in bringing modern viticulture to California. We are eager to share our wines, our story, and our vision for the future of California wines with cruise guests.”

Highlights of the cruise will include five winemaker dinners, an excursion to Stone Hill Winery in Missouri, and private wine tastings, including a historic tasting featuring the oldest American wineries, such as Brotherhood, Meiers, Val Verde, Wiederkehr, & Buena Vista. There will also be a special wine tasting with Buena Vista Winery and Wollersheim Cellars, which was founded by Count Agoston Haraszthy. The Count and Tom Blackwood will be the hosts of this unique experience.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tuesday Tasting: Reggiano Lambrusco Rosso Dulce

Le Grotte
Reggiano Lambrusco Rosso Dulce
$4.99 (purchased at Trader Joe’s)


This Rosso Dolce (sweet red) is a sparkling wine made with the Lambrusco grape. Mild acidity, plenty of berry flavors, and a light effervescence make this sweet sipper lots of fun to drink. With a low alcohol content of 8.5%, this is a refreshing tipple—I think this would be a perfect Sangria base.

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Monday, May 7, 2012

2012 Southwest Michigan Grapevine Damage



A freeze in early April may have wiped out the majority of Southwestern Michigan’s grape crop. Reports say that possibly the entire grape crop grown for Welch's Foods in southwest Michigan has been lost. More than 90 percent of the primary buds on Welch’s contracted grapes may have been affected. For winegrowers, it appears things might be a bit better - losses could be as little as 10-50 percent, depending on location and varietal.

I had the opportunity to ride through the area on my bike Saturday and it was sad to see grapevines with nary a single leaf. As a fan of the area's wineries, I take solace that it’s still very early and a good chance we'll see improvement the next time we return to the Lake Michigan Shore AVA.

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Friday, May 4, 2012

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Napa River Rutherford Restoration

Winemaking can be very unfriendly to nature. Historically, not much thought has gone into the damage done to the surrounding environment when planting vines on hillsides, riverbanks, and so on. There have always been winegrowers who follow organic/biodynamic principles and others who are motivated by environmental reasons, but much of the wine we drink comes from monocultural plantings that are not necessarily beneficial to the rest of nature. Attitudes are changing, and happily projects are being undertaken to ameliorate some of the damage.

"The State Water Resources Control Board has awarded Napa County a $750,000 Clean Water Act 319(h) Nonpoint Source grant to fund construction of the Napa River Rutherford Reach Restoration Project in Reach 8, on the Cakebread, Nickel & Nickel and Laird properties in Rutherford and Oakville. The grant review and selection process was a joint effort of the State Water Board, nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This funding will bring the Rutherford Reach Restoration Project to 70% completion by 2013.

Photo by Simon


The Rutherford Dust Society galvanized the local community of landowners to undertake the restoration of the Napa River in Rutherford and Oakville starting in 2002, with the initiation of the Rutherford Reach Restoration Project. A decade later, under the leadership of Napa County, the project has successfully demonstrated shared costs and benefits among all stakeholders, from private landowners to the local community, state and federal government. To date, Napa County has received nearly $6 million in state and federal grant funding in support of the Rutherford Reach Restoration Project, which it has matched with local Measure A watershed improvement tax funds. Private landowners have contributed an equal amount in land and lost agricultural production value to expand the riparian forest by 18 acres along the Napa River. These contributions are supporting improvement of water quality, enhancement of wildlife habitat, attenuation of flood damage, and provision of property protection along 4.5 miles of the Napa River. This project is on target to achieve completion by the TMDL compliance date of 2017.


With the Napa River Rutherford Reach Restoration Project serving as a successful model, Napa County is continuing its restoration efforts an additional nine miles downstream through the Oakville-Oak Knoll Reach, in partnership with the California Land Stewardship Institute and local landowners. Napa County is currently applying for grant funds to construct the remainder of the Rutherford Reach Restoration Project, and to begin construction on the restoration of the Oakville-Oak Knoll Reach Restoration Project.


About Rutherford Dust Society

Founded in 1994, the Rutherford Dust Society’s mission is to encourage and promote the highest quality standards in grape growing and wine making in the Rutherford Viticultural Area, and to gain recognition for this quality through education of the membership and public. To that end, the Rutherford Dust Society hosts several yearly events, including the community-oriented Rutherford Block Party, and A Day in the Dust, a trade and media tasting of current vintages. To promote the health of the Napa River, the Rutherford Dust Society formed the Rutherford Dust Restoration Team, a group of vintners and growers who are working together to restore the river as it passes through the Rutherford AVA."


Thanks to Tara from Balzac for bringing this to my attention!

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Wine On The Fox

Wine On The Fox - featuring Illinois Wines!


Don’t miss this opportunity to sample award-winning Illinois wines while enjoying live entertainment and delicious local fare.

Sign-up to be the designated driver for your group and receive free bottled water or soda, sponsored by Rotary Club of Oswego.

Free & Open to the Public! Wine Tasting is $15 per day for a souvenir wine glass, a wristband and 5 tasting tickets. An Advanced Two-Day Pass may be purchased for $25 which includes 1 souvenir wine glass and 10 tasting tickets (5 per day). Advanced Two-Day Passes are non-refundable and may be purchased at the Oswego Village Hall. Additional tasting tickets are $1 each.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Wine Quote: The Difference Between Bordeaux and Claret



"I can certainly see that you know your wine. Most of the guests who stay here wouldn't know the difference between Bordeaux and Claret."

--John Cleese as Basil Fawlty

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