But First, Wine

But First, Wine

If you’re like most restaurant diners, you scrutinize the menu long before you peek at the wine list. That’s the normal approach to restaurant wine. I’ve come to embrace a different approach, however, inspired in part by a couple of extraordinary dining experiences that veered off in another direction. Several years ago, during a tour…

Fall Classics

Fall Classics

It was on a damp, chilly autumn afternoon just outside Beaune, in the heart of France’s Burgundy region, that I came to the realization that wines are seasonal. I stood in the doorway of a humble country restaurant with a wood-burning stove that served a dual purpose, in that it also warmed the dining room.…

Somms Know Value Wines, Too

Somms Know Value Wines, Too

It’s not exactly news that professional sommeliers are generally well-informed on the latest and greatest from the world of wine. What isn’t so well-known is that most top-notch somms appreciate wines from across a broad spectrum of price. They understand that price is based on a variety of factors, some having little to do with…

Rethinking Temecula

Rethinking Temecula

In the southwest corner of California’s Riverside County, a scant one-hour drive from San Diego, the Temecula Valley wine country enjoys a surging popularity among day-trippers from densely populated Southern California. The rolling hills of Temecula Valley, east of Old Town Temecula, are home to more than 30 wineries. Many of them have excellent restaurants.…

From Wine to Whiskey

From Wine to Whiskey

Murphy Quint remembers — not so fondly — digging post holes for the trellis system at the family vineyard in Swisher, Iowa. He was 14 years old at the time and pitching in as his mother and father, Jeff and Laurie Quint, were about to launch Cedar Ridge, a small family winery. “Our original business…

Value Wines for Labor Day

Value Wines for Labor Day

Although summer isn’t officially over for a few more weeks, it ends emotionally on Labor Day weekend, when we usually cover the grill one last time in a summer state of mind. To celebrate the passing of summer, many take to the backyard for a final summer feast. They invite friends and family. Pretty soon,…

Pet Peeves

Pet Peeves

Pet peeve No 1: What could be more idyllic than a summer evening on the patio of a Michelin two-star restaurant in Provence, France, spent enjoying the brilliance of a great chef and a bottle of extraordinary wine? That was the setting in my mind’s eye when I booked a reservation at the fabled l’Oustau…