Articles by Melissa Dotson
My name is Melissa. I like to drink wine.
Portugal, perhaps most famous for Port and Madeira and the ever useful cork, which comes from the native cork oak tree, is actually one of the oldest, most storied wine growing countries in the world. In recent years there has been a resurgence in interest in the still wines of Portugal and a concerted effort to increase public awareness of the quality wines this country produces. One of the most prestigious growing regions in Portugal is the Tejo region. This area takes its name from the river Tagus, which flows through the Ribetejo Province and provides the region with its diversity in terroir and climate. There has been a total overhaul of the business model in this region and no longer are producers trying to make vast quantities for export; they are, instead, focusing on better farming practices, smaller yields, and less intervention in the wine making process.
What a great weekend to have been in Miami! The South Beach Wine & Food Festival went on from Thursday, February 23rd, through Sunday, February 26th, with different events going on each day. I had the absolute fortune to attend the opening party, "The Q", hosted by celebrity chefs Emeril Lagasse and Guy Fieri.
Set up behind the Delano, right on the beach, the smells of barbecue and ocean water hit your nose as soon as you handed over your coveted ticket. That's right, folks! barbecue was the theme of the night! About a city block’s worth of beach space was transformed into a barbecue wonderland, with chefs having set up booths on the left and right and various bars set up right down the center. The very first thing we did was hit up the bar for a truly lovely little cocktail called a "Grand Berry". Consisting of Grand Marnier liqueur, cranberry juice, and fresh lime juice, it was a great sweet, crisp and light choice to get our mouths ready for the smokey, savory, deliciousness of the food we would soon glut ourselves on. And glut we did!
All said and done, we managed to hit up 10 chefs. Although everyone produced a great product, there were a few unquestionable stand outs in the crowd, the first being Guy Fieri. I'll admit to having a bit of a foodie crush on this man, but please believe me when I say that his food was hands down the best of the night. Everything about his "banh mi taco with BBQ chicken fried Rice" was great! The best word I can use to describe it would have be "dynamic", as it exploded in my mouth with flavor. While everyone else seemed to be pushing ribs and coleslaw here comes Guy Fieri with the last thing I would expect to find at a barbecue.
The very first thing we saw when we approached Guy's table was the man, himself, wearing his signature shades, laughing uproariously and popping a bottle of Moët, which he poured for his fellow chefs working the booth with him. A lot can be said for presentation, as well. Some of the dishes we tried were alright, they tasted just fine, we enjoyed them...but they were served to us on little paper plates. Not Guy! He served his in a corn husk boat with a generous pile of yummy rice, two light corn tortillas, and chopped scallions as garnish. Lovely.
Another stand out of the night for me was Nadia G of Bitchin' Kitchen fame. I got a chance to talk to her a little while in line for her yummy "slow smoked pork belly with balsamic BBQ sauce, green onion and cucumber on an open-faced challah bun sandwich". She couldn't have been nicer, and she told me she was having a great time in beautiful Miami and having great fun with the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Her food was excellent! The pork was super tender and had a nice smokey flavor to it, and the barbecue sauce added a certain sweetness and tang that really went well with the relative mildness of the bun. All in all I was very impressed by her dish.
The band was rocking, the cocktails were flowing, and I hit up the Godiva Chocolate bar more than once. To cleanse my palate, of course. I had a grand time.
I’ve been in a Riesling mood lately. This is probably due to the fact that I recently got to meet the makers of Donnhoff and Leitz Riesling, who were generous enough to host a guided, sit down tasting at the wine shop I work at. And by meet, I mean that I shook their hands, gushed like a total weirdo about how much I love their wine, and watched on from the sidelines while they made their presentation. I was entranced as I gathered dirty glasses and rang people up at the register. I can only imagine how great it was for the people sitting at the tables. What’s that saying about bridesmaids and brides, “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride”? Well, I guess I’m always the servant, never the guest. This servant doesn’t give a damn, however, because I was just happy to drink all the left over wine the next day.
It’s that time again! The 2012 South Beach Wine and Food Festival is right around the corner and it is filled to the brim with amazing events that should not be missed! Every event is worth going to, but I’ve selected a handful of my favorites that are a must for wine lovers, whether you’re an amateur or an aficionado:
CRYSTAL CLEAR: DOES THE GLASS MAKE A DIFFERENCE? HOSTED BY MAXIMILIAN RIEDEL
Date: Friday, February 23, 2012
What am I drinking these days? Well, a lot less than last month, that’s for certain, though a few spectacular glasses of wine have passed my lips and ended somewhere in my midsection. It comes with the territory working in a wine shop, for which my greedy palate is forever grateful.Yesterday I was taking down our holiday window display and a glass of Tarlant Brut Nature Champagne NV made its way into my hand, and let me tell you that perked me right up. I went from doggedly taking down those holiday ornaments to practically dancing in place as soon as I tasted that first crisp, ginger-lemon sip. There’s a beautiful floral nose to this wine that I couldn’t quite pinpoint. Jasmine, maybe? Smell it for yourself, and perhaps you can indentify that elusive scent. Made with equal parts Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, this champagne has a great energy to it, while at the same time it has a little funkiness on the finish that could really be complemented by food. It retails for around $75.
If I could turn on my sink facet and have true Champagne flow from the pipes, I’d die a happy woman! I’d also charge people by the glass to drink from my miraculous fountain, but that’s beside the point. Though I am an equal opportunist when it comes to good wine, I think Champagne might be my favorite, and I’m hard pressed to think of an occasion when I might be inclined to turn down a glass or two (or three). True grower Champagne stands alone as the most luxurious of all bubbly, but there is also a whole world of bubbles available for the savvy drinker for a fraction of the cost.
If you’re anything like me, the sight of a tall, narrow gift bag (presumably containing wine) under the tree is cause for both excitement and dread. Excitement because, well, it’s wine. Dread because there is a distinct possibility of there being a bottle of Barefoot Cabernet Sauvignon nestled in that tissue paper. It is a fact that choosing the perfect wine as a gift is never as fun for the buyer as it is for the recipient. Luckily for you, I sell wine to people looking for gifts just about every day. Before you go shopping, have a glass of wine yourself, relax and allow me to make a few suggestions to you that are sure to please your bank account and the lucky person you’re buying for. You can get these wines at Wolfe's Wine Shoppe, Total Wine, or Crown Wine and Spirits. The important thing about these wines is that they all come from small production, family-owned vineyards and, for me, that makes them worth buying and worth giving as gifts.
2010 Chateau Pesquie Côtes du Ventoux Cuvee des Terrasses
Robert Parker, 94 points
Retails for about $16
This is probably one of the most delicious wines I’ve ever tasted at any price, much less under twenty bucks. Comprised of 70% Granache and 30% Syrah, this is such an elegant blend and tastes like a cinnamon-spice blackberry cobbler in a glass! Rich and expressive, with spectacular minerality, this wine offers such a smooth sensuality that it is hard not to love it.
Honig Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008
Wine Spectator, 91 points
Retails for about $35-$40
I love this wine! It’s a classic California Cabernet Sauvignon done very well. It is voluptuous, with discernible oak on the palate, has really pleasant acidity, notes of dried berries, chocolate and mocha, it is a total crowd-pleaser. There is such a lovely finish to this wine that you’ll find yourself wanting another sip just to experience it again.
Babich, Black Label Sauvignon Blanc
Wine Spectator, 90 points
Retails for about $15
If you think you’ve tried everything there is to try in terms of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, think again. The Babich Black Label is yummy times, like, ten. There is a balance of zinging acidity to the fruit salad-esque bouquet of pineapple, passion fruit, and lemon. Try to find a way to drink this with the person you’re buying it for. It’s such a fun wine!
Domaine Huet Vouvray, Le Mont Sec, 2009
Wine Spectator, 92 points
Retails for about $39-$45
This was our third favorite wine of the year at Wolfe’s Wine Shoppe, my wonderful place of employment. The soil of the region that these grapes are grown in lend this wine a chalky, pretty minerality. Creamy yet dry, this wine shows bright acidity with flavors of pear and grapefruit with honey on the finish. This is the perfect wine for a cool evening and a snuggly sweater.