Archive for January, 2022

Ask Sid: What’s the latest news on Champagne consumption?

January 26th, 2022
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Question: What’s the latest news on Champagne consumption?

Answer: Volumes are up like for most alcoholic beverages during these continuing days of the Covid pandemic. More at-home drinking is mainly responsible. However, it is surprising that Champagne shipments rebounded so substantially in 2021 over 2020. This causes some concern for increased pressure on selling price plus there was reduced vineyard crops last year because of bad April 2021 frosts. Check out a more detailed report by the Drinks Business here. Prudent to buy a few bottles of bubbles now.

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January 24th, 2022

Long time follower of the wines of Italy. Back in my early learning days of the seventies focused mainly on their reds with so many excellent value wines flying under the radar. Tried many whites but often found them rather soft, simple, early oxidizing, and generally disappointing. My earliest favs were the lively Pieropan Soave Classico from their own Veneto vineyards of Garganega & Trebbiano and first vintages (from 1975 on) of Jermann “Dreams” Vintage Tunina from Friuli-Venezia Giulia. In the late 70s & early 80s visited each April at Vinitaly in Verona and was exposed to so many “new” Italian wines. It was around 1979 that Tony Terlato first imported into the USA that
popular Pinot Grigio from Santa Margherita. By the mid eighties many beacons of hope were shining brightly including among others the first vintage 1985 of Cervaro Della Sala Chardonnay (with that fresh touch of Grechetto) from Umbria by Antinori and balanced 1985s from Mastroberardino in Campania of Fiano di Avellino & Greco di Tufo. Also check out Falanghina from Campania. Today there are a plethora of white wine choices across the 20 regions of Italy all so well made from designated vineyards using state of the art winemaking. Enthusiast about so many from the Northeast those lovely crisp wines from Alto Adige (Alois Lageder), Friuli-Venezia Giulia (try versatile Friulano), and Veneto (Soave), Northwest for solid Roero Arneis DOCG and Cortese, Passerina and Verdicchio from the Marche, to the South for Sicily with Carricante, Catarratto, & my fav structured Grillo, to
another Island for Vermentino di Sardegna. A wealth of value priced treasures to explore.

Nostalgic home dinner on January 17, 2022 full of great memories as we enjoyed our last bottle of 1985 Greco Di Tufo from Mastroberardino beautifully paired with a fresh black cod plus a farro vegetarian dish. Worked magically. We were delighted with our earlier 11 bottles (purchased at BCLDB in May 1989 at $8.55/bottle) but kept this one an extra long time to see the longer aging potential of Greco. Remember learning so much from my wonderful late friend Antonio Mastroberardino (passed away in 2014 at age 86) a true wine visionary. Antonio dined at our home in Vancouver and kindly gifted to me his outstanding legendary red Taurasi Riservas of 1968 – a wow Castelfranci. He stated that aromatic Fiano di Avellino usually had the higher acidity and balance for aging longer. However, this Greco (a clone brought from Greece in 1st century BC) is from Tufo (volcanic rock subsoil) DOCG and has aged beautifully. Look at the still young colour in the glass at nearly 37 years of age. Some minerality there but that defining “cheesy” character (like Parmigiano Reggiano) with rich smooth complex flavours. What a statement it made! Probably my best bottle of it yet. Amazing.

Lots of reasons – including ageability – to be excited presently about the quality status of Italian white wines. Recommend you try some and experiment with cellaring a few.

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Ask Sid: Replacing a wall mounted wine chiller?

January 19th, 2022
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Question: My Whisperkool wall mounted wine chiller just failed.  Do you have recommendations for a replacement?

Answer: Difficult question to answer specifically here without further detailed information as to what you actually need for your space and desired size capacity. Lots of competition out there for wine cooler refrigeration units. Probably fewer available in Lake Tahoe but on line shipments are easy across the USA by many online suppliers including a wide selection on Amazon. Recent article on 12 best units at that you could check out. A great benefit with WhisperKOOL is the wonderful humidity feature for helping to keep the corks from drying out. Why not continue with WhisperKOOL if you were happy with them? However I suggest you first shop around online to see which one best fits your space. Good luck.

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January 17th, 2022

The Dine Out Vancouver Festival (#DOVF) January 14-31, 2022 is well underway with their 20th year of culinary celebrations this time under Covid-19 provincial order restrictions. These include the following:

  1. A maximum of 6 people at a table.
  2. Two metres or physical barriers between tables.
  3. Customers must stay seated and cannot move between or visit other tables.
  4. No dancing.
  5. Normal Liquor service hours.
  6. Masks are required when not seated at a table.
  7. Restaurants must scan proof of vaccination QR codes for entry.

The focus of #DOVF is definitely on the well-being of the public and staff in the hosting restaurants. Good luck. The website shows 325 (up from the first year of 57) restaurants participating plus wineries, craft breweries and outdoor events including the food trucks “Street Food City”. There are special set price menus starting at around $20 and going up to a top of $59. Check it all out. Well organized indeed. Your scribe was delighted to attend a Dine Out sneak preview dinner at an isolated table for two on January 11 at Giovane Bacaro downtown at 1029 West Cordova Street. Wonderful informative service by manager Matthew and his conscientious team of servers. Learned they are working on an extensive expansion of their street patio area in front. Liked their Venetian Italian bacaro theme and was impressed with the quality of the food on their $49 three course menu. Also be sure to try their home made very thin potato chips with crispy herbs for $6 – best in town! The starter of Insalata di cicoria was really well conceived, colourful, and perfectly dressed plus crispy fried potatoes as a lovely combo with the $8 addition of tasty smoked sablefish (black cod). Light yet so satisfying and ample enough for even a light luncheon dish on its own. Smart BC wine choices are available throughout the meal including boutique Bella fresh sparkler (or Blue Mountain) and probably the best wine by the glass anywhere at #DOVF of that amazing classy Mirabel Pinot Noir 2016 (only 450 cases released at $70). Suggest booking to just experience the outstanding value (3 wine pairings for $49) of this excellent example of what the buzz is all about for top BC pinot noir! The bigoli con anatra was a genuine big serving with subtle spiced duck ragu as was the designer artwork of the fresh pasta filled with caciocavallo. Quality is outstanding and attention to detail superb presenting both dishes on hot plates. Blown away by the dessert of Gianduiotto-chocolate & hazelnut semifreddo. Flavours and textures to die for. So enticing and delish. What a Menu deal of three wonderful outstanding courses!

Lots of opportunities over the next 2 weeks to try the brilliance of Giovane Bacaro or another most worthy Vancouver restaurant. You have a plethora of fine choices. Well done #DOVF.

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Ask Sid: How popular are non-alcoholic wines now?

January 12th, 2022
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Question: How popular are non-alcoholic wines?

Answer: All Non-Alcoholic beverages are expanding and becoming an important popular category. More consumers are checking out “better for you” alternative choices to follow for a healthy lifestyle including less alcohol in their daily “diet”. Wine Spectator (WS) just produced an informative update article “Are There Any Good Non-Alcoholic Wines?” which I posted yesterday on my Twitter account @winefoodguru that you can check out. They review in some detail the three different production methods used to de-alcoholize wine and how it actually tastes. WS rated current 2020 releases of chardonnay & cabernet sauvignon from Ariel Vineyards as the best followed by chardonnay & red blend from Fre (Trinchero Family Estates). However, their conclusion is as follows: “Although serious wine drinkers may find de-alcoholized versions tough to swallow, consumer interest suggests that wine companies will continue to work to improve and expand these product offerings.” Yes, growing interest.

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