Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Monday, July 26, 2010
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Doin' the town and doin' it right
In the evenin'
It's pretty pleasin'
(With apologies to Muscrat Love sung by America)
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
When I send an invoice to a publisher and later receive a check in the mail, then and only then, I am a wine writer. When I write about wine during my free and personal time on my blog format with no assistance from an editor, then I am a blogger. Frankly? I am tired of everyone trying to gloss over the term “wine blogger” by trying to make it respectable in the eyes of traditional media. Who gives a flying f ... umm - - fig? Why do we care, especially when we see traditional wine media jumping on the wine blogging bandwagon? We, as wine bloggers, must be doing something right.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Just recently, wine bloggers were under scrutiny when they came together at Walla Walla for the third annual North American Wine Bloggers' Conference. Not just at this conference, but wine bloggers have been criticized as the wine industry watches the wine blogging numbers grow. Criticisms come with a broad range from: "a bunch of freeloading drunks" to "their social media tools have no value in the wine industry."
Friday, July 09, 2010
Cheese - Then along comes cheese - how to pair and with what? I was once told by a cheese monger, when in doubt go an off-dry Riesling. Chef Jeffrey Saad suggests: Sweet or off-dry wines are safe with most cheeses, such as Riesling, Sauterne (amazing with strong cheese) and Chenin Blanc.
Creamy cheeses such as Brie will wipe out the tannins in a red wine, often leaving the wine flat. Sweet wines will off-set a salty cheese, such as a Manchego, Pamesean or Mizithra (my favorite salty cheese with brown butter over spaghetti ). Strict red wine lovers can still enjoy cheese and wine pairings with a very well aged cheese, such as an old Wisconsin Cheddar or a Pecorino Romano. An acidic cheese like goat; again, follow the suggestions above for acids. And try to avoid red wines paired with stinky cheeses, such as Stilton or Taleggio (my favorite). Unless - - when in Rome ...
The top three food friendly wines according to Jeffrey:
1. Barbera – This acidic red with bright fruit will pair with a huge range of food. The Italians must know something when paired traditionally with a variety of foods such as red sauced pastas, pork, turkey and cheeses.
2. Rose – This dry or off-dry pretty pink wine will go well with almost anything. There is enough acid to match the acid in a Caesar romaine salad, while enough fruit to off-set spicy foods. Also consider there is just enough tannins from the minimal skin contact to stand up to most proteins. Roses are great BBQ wine for those hot summer days when you want the flavors of a red wine, but want the chill of a white.
3. Champagne - As long as it is not overly yeasty the low alcohol, high acidity and mild yeast marry with a huge range of food. You don't just have to eat caviar while sipping Champagne. Pair it with fried chicken and even popcorn. I prefer Spanish Cava bubbles because they are typically less yeasty than traditonal Champagne.
Jeffrey suggested his top three unforgettable classic wine and food matches: 1.) Foie gras and sauterne; 2.) Sherry (oloroso)and Marcona almonds, and 3. ) A rib-eye and malbec.
Enjoy this ideas and don't forget to experiment on your own. Get adventuresome. As Julia Child would say, "Bon Appetit!"
Thursday, July 08, 2010
Sunday, July 04, 2010
It's been a week now and the streets of Walla Walla are somewhat back to normal after WBC10. The very least of the City Father's worries now are those damn fireworks. KA-BOOM! And speaking of fireworks: There seems to be some noise and smoke, instead of light and confetti, regarding the results of the WBC10 in Walla Walla. Is the ultimate goal of these scorching flames to make WBC10 look like a fizzled ol' firecracker who couldn't even pop with the best lap dance?
Now, before you criticize me for being a cheer leading poodle, I think it is very important to address some of what others feel were not so shining moments of the WBC10, however - - only if addressing them is going to be used as a learning tool for improvement. If you must beat upon your chest to be heard for the sake of just being an ol' poopy pants then be gone with you!
Allow me to address some of the flames:
They're bloggers ain't they, so where are all of the blogs? I looked for them on Monday and haven't seen very many?
Patience grasshopper. Many of the wine bloggers traveled miles to the WBC10 and have been on the road for over a full week and of course, many are trying to pick up where they left off with the family and work schedules. An event like this is overwhelming and packed full of information. I even found myself wondering what angle was the best way to present some of the information I had gathered. Like any writer, you use the information that you think your audience is interested in. And certainly, many bloggers will be writing about the event for a few months to come.You may even find information about the results of the WBC10 through Google Subscriptions, syndicated wine news sites that automatically leave the info via Twitter, and don't forget to check out Flickr, Vimeo, and YouTube for photos and videos.
All those wine bloggers really wanted to do was party.Well, yes and no. Through the years many of the wine bloggers have built friendships and networks because of events like this, besides keeping in touch almost daily through sources like Twitter and Facebook. Online tools have, not only given us advantages of discussing wine blogging issues, but to celebrate life with each other from new promotions and expected babies. It's no wonder when we do have face-to-face gatherings we just pick up where we left off on Twitter. If gathering in a hotel lobby sitting in a circle of chairs and couches with friends drinking wine is a party to you, well - you need to get out more. Oh yes - in case you forgot, it is a W-I-N-E Bloggers Conference, not the Welch's Grape Juice Conference.
Sure, there were parties of strippers with flaming pasties and magnums of wine being poured down gullets with decadent abandoned, but don't look at me. I didn't go to that party and don't blame the wine bloggers either who took advantage of the event. They didn't host the party - they were "lured" - lured by fame, billboards, rock star winemakers and SATAN! (It's the license number on his Bentley) - - and frankly? Oh how I wish I had gone or at least been a mouse in a corner. While my brain is young, my body is feeling its age and besides, I needed to be responsible because I drove home every night from the conference. Honestly, it tickles me that many of the wine bloggers could bust out behind their computers and have some fun. Anyways, I have been to crazier parties than that at funeral director conventions - seriously. Seriously.
We had some of the wine bloggers at our winery for a panel discussion. The discussion was a dud and fizzled. The bloggers stared at our panel as if we had the heads of Dick Cheney, John Merrick, and Lizzie Borden on our shoulders leading a discussion on the mating of the dung beetle and how their rituals of combining their units together can be broken down to an algebraic sum. Finally we sparked a little bit of fire under their dead fleshy butts when we broke out the wine. At least they bought some.
I sympathize. I really do. I was a participant in a panel discussion during the WBC10, along with Colby Voorhees from Wine Peeps and Joe Power from Another Wine Blog. The topic given to us for discussion was Wine Blogging 101. Colby, Joe and I had to put together our discussion through emails and then met for about 10 minutes before our discussion to confirm our plan.
I have to admit, there was a side of me that felt we were going to fall on "deaf ears." I thought for sure if we had five people in the room that would be huge! You want us to talk about Wine Blogging 101 with a building full of established wine bloggers? I was already rolling through my mind many worse case scenarios and how could we keep the discussion lively and not fail? If we failed, it wouldn't be the fault of our audience. The three of us would have to take responsibility - - and we didn't even have the opportunity to fall back on some wine sales.
Colby was very instrumental in forming a game plan and Joe and I each had our input. We were really pleased when we saw an audience of at least 20 people! Colby reached out to our group to gather information from them and what they wanted to hear from us. Joe and Colby both gave solid input about the tech side of blogging while I was the "fluff" - the cheerleader. I input a little comic relief once in awhile.
After the conference it actually surprised me when members of our audience actually thanked me and said they left our discussion inspired. If each person left with one bit of information, then we did our job. And besides, if all you do is sell a bottle of wine or two, then consider it two bottles of wine sold that weren't sold before. Isn't that one of the biggest points of owning a winery? The point is, you made a contact. Chances are pretty great the next time they hear the names, "Walla Walla" or "Washington State," they are going to remember your winery and your wine. The conference brought an awareness of Washington wines that will create a residual for years to come.
You bet it was. But what isn't a play to pay event? I have to pay dollars to get into the Walla Walla Fair grounds even if I only want to take a walk on the "wild side" by staring at the carnies and then pay again to eat a bunch of deep fried batter. In "another life," I was an event coordinator for profit and non-profit organizations. I worked with large hotels and coliseums, so I understand the game. Admission alone is your break even if you are lucky and you hope with everything else, there is some leftover "gravy." Even something as simple as the movie theatre, the admission ticket pays for the rental of the movie and the concession is hopefully some profit after wages and overhead.
The wine blogger's are really fortunate to have organizers, Open Wine Consortium and Zephyr Wine Adventures who are very pro-active in obtaining sponsors and participants to help defray the costs of admission to the wine bloggers. And of course, the organizers have their own costs - it takes a lot of time, money, extra travel (yes, they came to Walla Walla a few months before the conference to get a feel for the "lay of the land.") to put together an event, particularly like this one. At a $95 entry fee, this year the wine bloggers really got their money's worth, over and beyond - and a lot of that is because of sponsors and fees to participate. Thank you.
I own a vineyard! I own a winery! This was a pay to play event and only half of the people expected to my tour showed up. I am assuming the other half were still in bed with hangovers. I have a family! I have a life too, ya know. I am insulted!
Don't be insulted. If there were bloggers who didn't show up, it wasn't about you. They also paid to play and if they chose to waste their money by not being in attendance, don't let you being insulted stand in the way of giving your best to the wine bloggers who were in attendance. Those in attendance have families and lives, too and they were there in your winery and/or at your vineyard for you - because of you. So instead of you giving 100% to 30 people, hopefully you gave 200% to 15 people and once again, chances are pretty great the next time they hear the names, "Walla Walla" or "Washington State," they are going to remember your winery or your vineyard and/or your wine. If your group of wine bloggers left with a great experience because of you, then who really cares about the "no-shows?" It's ultimately their loss. Not yours.
Tweeting on Twitter is sad and lonely. Amongst all of the tweets during the Live Wine Tasting Event, I looked for some substance, but I just couldn't find any.
No, sitting at home on a couch with broken springs growing potato chip crumbs and cat hair around your fat ass (or bony ass) is lonely - even sadder if your t-shirt shows remnants of food you ate last week.
Friday, July 02, 2010
My brain wanted to dance to the tunes during the After Hours Fiesta with Rias Baixas Albarino, but my body just couldn't muster up the strength to get down and jiggy wit' it.
I Learned on Sunday, the Third and Last Day of WBC10:
It was difficult to get up and later on Sunday morning I was thankful I stuck to the quiet Lobby Party of Bordeaux wines and Taco Time instead of going to the Charles Smith Frat Party with a live band and flaming-pasty-wearing-strippers, as well as free flowing mags of K-Vintners finest. Not to be outdone by the Hardy Wallace "Hardy Party" that was later visited by Walla Walla's finest "un gendarme." But what I wouldn't give to see a video of each party ...
My timing for breakfast was right, as the only person in line for the breakfast buffet, besides myself was Jeffrey Saad our morning keynote speaker and 2009 runner-up on season five of The Next Food Network Star. I was able to visit with him about his visit to Walla Walla. Later I sat in on his speech about food and wine pairings which concluded with our own opportunity to pair foods with an assortment of new and old world style wines.
If you attended the conference and took from it one or two pieces of information about the wine industry of Washington State and shared it with your readers, then WBC10 was a worthwhile experience, not only for the wine bloggers, but also for the Washington State wine industry.
Joel Vincent of the OpenWine Consortium, Allan Wright and Reno Walsh of Zephyr Adventures, Elizabeth Martin-Calder of Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, Ryan Pennington from Washington Wine Commission, Gracie Doyle from Ste Michelle Wine Estates and of course many other Premier, Media and Event Sponsors left us with an outstanding wine blogging conference that will be blogged and talked about for many years. Thank you everyone!
Thanks to Josh Wade of Drink Nectar for this great recap of WBC10!