Archive for June, 2015

Ask Sid: Breaking the wine rules

June 17th, 2015
Ask your question here The International Wine & Food Society

How to break the wine rules

Question:  I am planning an IWFS event where the theme will be: Breaking all the wine rules.  These rules will include:

– White before red. Any suggestions for a good starter red? Answer: Try Rose or Gamay.

– White only with fish.

– White with red meat. Not sure what white would go well with what kind of red meat.

Answer: Try Riesling with Pork, Veal, or Wiener Schnitzel. A big full mature white Burgundy can work with simpler red meat dishes especially beef.

– Sweet wine at the end. I’ve read somewhere the Victorians liked to start a meal with Sauternes and foie gras. Not sure if that was an hors d’oeuvre or a sit down starting course.

Answer: Sauternes is a perfect aperitif!

– No wine with asparagus or artichokes. Sauvignon Blanc or Alsatian Muscat goes with either.

My question:   Can you think of any more wine rules we might break?

Answer: Andre Simon always said “Grapefruit, like all citrus fruits, is constitutionally unsuited to be the partner of any wine”. However he suggested a plainer Sherry of medium sweetness might work! Find the best wine match for citrus fruits.

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Sadie Family Wines

June 15th, 2015

Sadie Family Wines

Continue to be impressed with the quality of many South African wines. Blogged previously on the top quality of chardonnay & pinot noir from Hamilton Russell ( in the Hamel-en-Aarde Valley near Hermanus. Anthony Hamilton Russell advises that 2014 had “cool growing conditions resulting in full phenolic ripeness at lower alcohol levels than usual” (even for pinotage!). He says “in an area already known for more ‘European’ styling the vintage added yet further to this.”  Other tips among many South African possibilities include: Ken Forrester Wines ( chenin blanc, May-Elaine de Lencquesaing (ex Pichon Lalande) has Glenelly ( rolling at a high level, Vergelegen ( top quality with still relatively unknown amazing sauvignon blanc reserves, Boekenhoutskloof Winery ( for age-worthy cabernet sauvignon, and Owner GT Ferreira improving the wines at Tokara ( & showcase restaurant with the breathtaking views.

I have been following the developments since established in 1999 of the Sadie Family Wines ( in Swartland. They have been listed by Tim Atkin as a First Growth in his 2014 Cape Classification. Eben Sadie ex-Spice Route winemaker with Priorat experience in Spain now is producing some amazing shiraz blends under the Columella label. This month I was treated by a close friend to a 6 vintage vertical of this amazing wine showing a remarkable attention to detail in the winemaking. We started with 3 whites with their 2011 Palladius showing dry chenin blanc characteristics on the nose but a complex benchmark for white blends of 10 varieties including viognier, verdelho, marsanne, rousanne and more.  Next the full rich peaches and beeswax honey 2013 T Voetpad (Semillon blanc & gris, palomino, chenin blanc, & muscat d’Alexandrie from Old Vines) given 95 points by Neal Martin of the Wine Advocate and 2013 Kokerboom planted in the 1930s with both white & red Semillon using 18 months on the lees for a distinctive profound statement matching so well with Dungeness Crab Cakes.

The 6 reds were remarkable paired with duck confit frisee & Cape Buffalo cooked sous vide. Showed well even against other wines served blind like the outstanding classics of 1990 Chave Hermitage & 1990 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle.

2000 Columella (first vintage): 95% syrah + 5% mouvedre – Only 17 casks from 5 different soil types basket pressed, macerated nearly 2 months on the skins and 24 months in wood (35% new). Need January rains to protect the acidity in the grapes which arrived in 2000. Still lively and elegantly graceful.

2003 Columella: 80% syrah + 20% mouvedre – Like Europe warmer and drier in South Africa too resulting in a smaller crop using native yeasts & lowly toasted barrels. Sorting table selected only 85% best grapes. Concentrated but balanced blackberries and cherries with nutmeg.

2004 Columella: 80% syrah + 20% mouvedre – Real power intensity of dark ripe spicy pure plummy fruit but excellent structure and harmony. Wonderful texture showing admirable elegance with finesse.

2005 Columella: 80% syrah + 20% mouvedre – Compelling fresh earthy aromatics with minerality. Same as the recent bottles all labelled 14.5 alcohol. Seems less alcoholic than others with acidity and 40% new oak. Bottle imported by Vinnovative in Charlotte North Carolina.

2006: Columella: 80% syrah + 20% mouvedre – Similar weather conditions in 2000, 2004, and 2006. More herbal and developed with less showy fruit.

2007: Columella: 80% syrah + 20% mouvedre – Picked 10 days earlier than norm. Basket Press with long cool fermentation and 24 months barrel age but new oak is well managed. Sensual and more impressive than 06. Admire the way Eben avoids jammy overripe character from the grapes and focuses on floral freshness and acid balance difficult to achieve in such a hot region. Hoping organic certification will help get the alcohol levels down even further.

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Devilish Delights in the White City

June 12th, 2015

Food and drinks at the 1893 World Columbian Exposition Chicago World's Fair
By Joseph Temple

Last month, the doors opened to EXPO Milan 2015, a World’s Fair that runs until the end of October and is expected to attract over twenty million visitors.  With its theme titled Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life, the focus will be on how both countries and individuals can produce healthy and sustainable quantities of food that could end world hunger.

Of course, throughout the history of these fairs, which date back to the late 18th century, food and drink has always been paramount.  From the Bordeaux Classification of 1855 to the modern era where everything from Sangrias to Crawfish burst onto the national scene after being showcased at the fair, numerous expositions have propelled hundreds of little-known delicacies into the collective appetites of millions of Americans.

So for this week, let’s look back at one of the most important fairs in U.S. history—the World Columbian Exposition of 1893, an event held in the city of Chicago that ushered in the modern era. Spread over 686 acres near the shores of Lake Michigan, it earned the nickname “White City” after nearly 200,000 incandescent bulbs—during a time when most Americans lived without electricity—illuminated the fair grounds which contained the very first Ferris Wheel and over a hundred neoclassical buildings featuring the latest conveniences.

But in addition to automatic dishwashers, moving walkways and Edison’s Kinetoscope, many devilish delights were popularized that year in Chicago as twenty-seven million hungry fair goers descended upon the city.  Below are six items that got their first national exposure in Jackson Park and have stayed in our kitchens and dining rooms ever since.

 California wine at the 1893 World's Fair
1. California wines

At the beginning of the 19th century, Ohio was the country’s largest producer of wine.  But as America expanded to the shores of the Pacific Ocean, California—with its ideal climate—emerged as a grape growing powerhouse.  And at the Columbian Exposition, many visitors got their first taste of Golden State wines that were sent by local vintners in hope of achieving both national and international visibility.

Cracker Jack at the 1893 World's Fair
2. Cracker Jack

Outside the various exhibits, a strange new mishmash of caramelized popcorn, peanuts and molasses were sold at a feverish pace.  The combination was so popular with fair goers that in 1896, its inventor, Frederick Rueckheim, patented it with the name Cracker Jack, which went on to become one of America’s most popular snacks for over 100 years.

Pabst wins at the world's fair
3. Pabst Blue Ribbon

Ever wonder how Pabst got its famous blue ribbon?  Look no further than the World Columbian Exposition when it took home the award for best suds.  According to author Jerry Apps: “Anheuser-Busch, which had been ahead by five-eights of a point, threatened legal action when the judges finally decided that Pabst should win the blue ribbon.”  From that point on, the victorious Wisconsin brewery marketed its beer as Pabst “Blue Ribbon.”

English Muffins at the 1893 World's Fair
4. English Muffins

In addition to Aunt Jemima pancake mix that debuted at the fair, another breakfast item called English Muffins garnered significant attention.  Striking while the iron was hot, S.B. Thomas formed a company that began manufacturing these delightfully airy bread rounds under the name of Thomas’s English Muffins.  Since then, they have been a staple at the morning table and afternoon tea where the nooks and crannies of the signature craters are perfect for capturing every last bit of butter and preserves.

Shredded What at the 1893 World's Fair
5. Shredded Wheat

If pancakes and muffins weren’t up your alley, you could always go to the “Coarse and Dry Wonders of Tomorrow Pavillion” where a new machine patented by a Boston lawyer named Henry Perky was churning out what he described as “little-whole-wheat-mattresses.”  Known later as Shredded Wheat, the product would go on to be one of the most popular breakfast cereals of all-time.

The inspiration for chocolate bars at the 1893 World's Fair
6. Chocolate bars

When a caramel maker named Milton Hershey arrived at the fair, he was absolutely blown away.  That’s because a German manufacturer from Dresden had demonstrated how to make something called chocolate — a sweet most Americans at that time have never heard of, let alone even tasted.  After sampling this delightful confection, he immediately purchased the equipment used to make it.  And in a very short time, he was able to make chocolate in a convenient bar form that could be purchased by both rich and poor, creating a whole empire based on what he saw that day in Chicago!


Apps, Jerry. Breweries of Wisconsin. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2005.
Larson, Erik. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America. New York: Crown Publishers, 2003.
Mattern, Joanne. Milton Hershey: Hershey’s Chocolate Creator. Edina: ABDO Publishing Company, 2011.
Smith, Andrew. Eating History: Thirty Turning Points in the Making of American Cuisine. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009.
Smith, Andrew. Food and Drink in American History: A “Full Course” Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2013.
Smith, Andrew. Encyclopedia of Junk Food and Fast Food. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006.

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Ask Sid: Feta Cheese?

June 10th, 2015
Ask your question here The International Wine & Food Society

Feta Cheese?

Question: My husband and I are arguing about whether or not feta cheese can have cow’s milk in it. Please settle this.

Answer: Both of you are correct. Traditionally there are specific rules that Feta Cheese must have at least 70% sheep’s milk and up to 30% goat’s milk – no cow’s milk. It is a Protected Designation of Origin product from Greece within the European Union. However many countries including Greece now produce a different type of feta using some or even all cow’s milk in making it. Lots of recipes on line for a home-made “modern” feta using cow’s milk. Hope this helps.

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Gambero Rosso

June 9th, 2015

Gambero Rosso Magazine Italian wine competitionPhoto Credit:

Gambero Rosso ( are just winding up their 2014/2015 World Tour of 29 major cities starting in Rome on October 25 with concluding stops this week on June 9 in Saint Petersburg & June 11 in Helsinki. They organized “trebicchieri” (highest 3 glass awards) Tastings in Vancouver on June 1 & Toronto on June 4. The Vancouver event spotlighted 63 Italian producers each showing at least one 3 glass award winner and some with two. The quality of the wines shown was indeed very high. These events help promote their Italian Wine Guide (Euro 30) whose first edition was in 1988 and the 2015 now the 28th one. The 2015 cover states 2402 producers, 20000 wine, resulting in 423 Tre Bicchieri. They also list 80 Tre Bicchieri Verdi (20% of the total) of wines produced by estates with official organic and biodynamic certification.

Lots of interesting insider information contained in this Guide. Appreciated that Winery of the Year went to Tenuta Sette Ponti and that Damiliano received 3 glass for their remarkable Barolo Brunate 2010. They also list a Table of Vintages (rated from 1-5) from 1990 to 2013 for 7 red wine regions & 2002 to 2013 from 6 white wine regions. In Piedmont rated at 5 are vintages 1990, 1996, 1999, 2001, 2004, and 2010; Chianti Classico shows 1999, 2001, 2007, and 2010 best; while Bolgheri has 1990, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2007, and 2009 at the top.

Do you know the Gambero Rosso Guide? Do you find it helpful?

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