June 28, 2007

A Little This 'n A Little That

Thanks to those of you who have responded so positively to the articles posted on this blog, both in writing and in person. I received a few questions this week, but before I answer any of them, there’s wine stuff to cover!

First, I need to correct an oversight. Somehow I completely neglected to mention Jimmy’s Café’s wine club, Grape Beginnings. The fee is $49.00 annually, and each member receives at 10% discount on the prices of wines by the glass or by the bottle, free corkage on Wednesdays, once a month wine dinner discount, and invitations to winemaker’s dinners. I think there are a couple of other perks, but these are the ones that I’ve used. I especially like the free corkage Wednesdays because it has allowed me to bring a couple of my treasures out to share with friends, and that paid for the membership after just a couple of visits. If you don’t understand anything else about me, know that I’m all about the budget!

Roy’s! Roy’s wine club met last Tuesday at the Roy’s restaurant on E. Flamingo. I was not able to go because of a prior commitment, but several of my friends attended. One of them reported that two of the wines had been damaged by heat. I haven’t covered Roy’s (yet), but plan to in the future. I thought that this observation was an important one to mention now, however, because the heat in enclosed cars can be a killer. Never, ever, ever leave wine in a car during late spring, summer, or early fall here in Vegas. You’ll have boiled juice. A couple of friends of mine always keep a portable cooler in the trunk of their cars so that if they run across a deal in wine (or food or whatever), they have a place to store it until they get home. Just by opening up the cooler and purchasing some ice, whatever is put into the cooler won’t be overheated and will keep until it can be properly stored at home. At about $20 +/-, it’s well worth the investment. That’s on my purchase list. As soon as I can fit it into my budget.

By the way, Roy’s made good on the cooked wines, and undamaged wines were poured in their place.

Website News! The tentative launch date for Vegaswineaux.com will be the weekend of July 21/22. We are working diligently to make sure that when the website is launched, it is attractive, usable, and informative. I will let you know how the progress is going and hope to be able to give you an exact date in about two weeks.

Red Wines for Summer! Next week is July 4, and what are you drinking? With my mother and aunt (who are, incredibly, not wine drinkers) over to the house, my choices will be limited to something along the lighter and fruitier side of the spectrum. I had wonderful luck with a great brisket at the Tex and Fritz’s Wine Club thing a couple of weeks ago, and the wines were all Zins from California. So I plan to smoke another brisket for the girls and serve Riesling and Zinfandel. I understand that Rieslings – preferably along the demi sec lines – are a great accompaniment to barbeque. We already know that Zins are. I have served Riesling to them before and they loved it. I will be forced to try both types with the different foods I’ll be cooking. Damn.

I don’t enjoy Cabs and Merlot as much as I usually do during the summer, but Zinfandels, Syrahs, and Petit Sirahs, although bruiser wines, still are great with summer fare. They go well with the heavier foods of summer – barbequed ribs, roasts, briskets, lamb, etc. – without losing their character competing with rubs, spices, and sauces. Incredibly, a big fruity Petit Sirah (a là Rosenblum Heritage Clones or Four Vines Heretic) is also a fantastic pairing with chocolate. Who knew that a big red like Petit Sirah and dark chocolate could be considered health foods!

Of course the backbone of oenophilia for the summer is light white wines. I have lots of basil and an alien life form tomato plant growing in my garden this year, which, along with Mozzarella from Trader Joe’s and fruity extra-virgin olive oil and black salt from Pasolivo, make wonderful Caprese. Pairing that with a Pinot Grigio (Issa Khoury introduced me to Kris PG), add up to near perfection. The bright green leaves of the basil, the snowy Mozzarella, the tiny, perfectly red grape tomatoes all drizzled with golden green EVOO with a grinding of black salt make a beautiful presentation. The Kris is not an overdone bomb such as Santa Margherita, and is what a good quality (and budget friendly at about $12) Pinot Grigio is supposed to be. Crisp and fruity without being sweetish, it is the quintessential Pinot Grigio. Tastes like summer! Having that meal out on the patio on a warm evening is summer personified. Are you jealous?

I have Answers!

I received one question that asked, “how do you find the restaurants?”

I have a secret formula that I use in order to decide which restaurants to patronize. It is called “word of mouth.” Nothing is better than a first-hand recommendation from someone whose palate you respect. Once you remove yourself from the “only the Strip has restaurants” mentality, you will find that Vegas is rich in small, wine-friendly establishments that aren’t out to gouge you because you happen to be vacationing here. Most of the locals restaurants that I’ve visited have had reasonable prices, great services, and restaurant-decent wine prices. As an aside, you should know that with very few exceptions, you will always pay too much for wine in a restaurant. However, it’s often a good opportunity to try a wine that you may have only heard about or to try a new wine and don’t want to experiment with it without having a meal for accompaniment.

The next question asked me about myself.

While I do have some general information about myself in the “About me” link on the right side of this page, I will go into more detail when the website launches. Stay tuned!

There were several other questions, but I answered them in this week’s posting!

My Rant for the Week! As you know from my review of a local restaurant a couple of weeks ago, high restaurant wine prices rankle me. Unfortunately, those high prices feed into people’s perception of wine as a snob drink and not as an integral part of the meal. Beer, for instance, is considered part of a meal in the U.S. I think that explains the discrepancy in relative prices between beer in wine. As an example, a restaurant customer can purchase a 16oz glass of imported beer on tap for about $5.00. On the other hand, a wine of relative quality and retail price may cost twice that or more for about 1/3 the amount of beverage. Once restaurateurs and customers buy into the idea of wine as food, then I think we will see more sensible pricing on menus.

News Flash! In the May 16, 2007, issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, the following has been reported:

The large research team did a pooled analysis of 12 prospective studies that included 530,469 women and 229,575 men with maximum follow-up times of 7–20 years. Compared with nondrinking, alcohol consumption (…equivalent to slightly more than one alcoholic drink per day) was associated with a decreased risk of renal cell cancer. …Associations between alcohol intake and renal cell cancer were not statistically different across alcoholic beverage type (beer versus wine versus liquor). …Conclusion: Moderate alcohol consumption was associated with a lower risk of renal cell cancer among both women and men in this pooled analysis. (JNCI, Abstract, May 16, 2007)

Next week, we’ll talk about White Zin and how even that has a place in a Wineaux’s cellar!

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