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Archive for the ‘Wine’ Category

I’ve decided to do something different this week and reveal my some of my personal favorites which I believe you will find to be varied, affordable and hopefully overall in good taste and tasting. So without further ado, here they be.

Beers

Henry Weinhard’s Belgian Style Wheat

There are moments in life that present you with simple seeds; seeds of both flowers and weeds. Henry Weinhard’s Belgian Style Wheat was a seed of the wonderful and mythical beer tree of opinion. In other words, this humble beer is what got me started on the path to Drinking with Cruthers. I would expound to my friends of the wonderful flavor of this beer in relation to its modest packaging and price, to which they would reply with a varied degree of ho-hum response. I realized that speech simply did not have the gravity in which I wanted to express myself and thus turned to the written word; permanent and a creature of it’s own will once it left the tip of the pen.

I have not written of Henry Weinhard’s Belgian Style Wheat before because, it’s cloudy orange body, citrus effervescence, enjoy-ability and relative scarcity made me covet this beer, and in the world of alcohol this is simply wrong. Booze is to be fun, tasty and enjoyed with others, which this beer excels at. See it, buy it, no regrets.

Kokanee Gold

One of the perks of living at UAF is the chance to interact with Alaska’s wild animals in an up-close and personal basis. I speak in this case of the wily Canadian hockey player, more beast than man, the boys of the UAF Hockey team my sophomore year were Kokanee chuggin’, mean muggin’, lovable characters that introduced me to the manly beer of the land of the north.

Years later, I discovered the more pleasant tasting Kokanee Gold.  An American Dark Lager created in Creston, Canada, the beers slight skunk and initial bitterness should not turn away average drinkers, this is just its character. Displaying an amber pour with a sweet tasting finish this average beer is often overlooked but should be respected for its surprising drinkability.

Wines

Fetzer Gewurztraminer

The thing that sucks about being a young man is the fact that we’re often poor and have accomplished relatively little in order to impress the fairer sex. To these young men I say, do not fret but learn to wine and dine your date in the comfort of your own place. Our generation it seems has lost for better and worse the stereotype of the 1950’s super-women; a lady in the street, a master-cook in the kitchen and a sexual tigress in the bedroom. And as they say, the straightest way to a mans heart is his stomach. Well in our time this is true of women as well, learn to cook and offset with wine and you’ll be in your desires grasp in no time.

Fetzer, a wine maker based out of Mendocino County, California, form in 1968 produces a wide variety of table grade wines.  Their merlot is what first peaked my interest and their Gewurztraminer is what sealed the deal. Displaying apricot and citrus flavors, this wine compliments spicy foods, seafood and funny enough Ramen quite well. Split the bottle with your date, serve chilled and things will soon enough heat up between you.

Clos Du Bois Merlot

My parents are not drinkers and that being said it’s strange and funny that my favorite merlot is my mothers. My mother, a strong woman with deep opinions is one to be trusted in judgment even when they are a bit conventional at times; she delivers them with finality in the gentlest manner possible. So when she says she enjoys something, she can and will tell you how and why she came to this decision. I’ve always admired this aspect and hope as a journalist I can live up to this level of open honesty with the people around me and the readers dependant on me for their news.

Clos Du Bois is a very dry Merlot with a strong chocolate taste and hints of red berry fruits. The 2003 is a better bottle than the current 2005 that has recently been made available in Alaska for half the cost of the previous. However, the 2005 is still a great wine that I suspect would lean towards aging a few more years to enhance it’s already enjoyable flavor.

Liquors

Bombay Sapphire Dry Gin

When I think of gin, I think of older men and classic style. These men exhibit firm but just masculinity and reason, and I hope to achieve the same one day. And in context of style, classic is named classic for a reason, it never goes out. Gin or the Gin and Tonic is such a drink that when ordered by a man of my age gets me suspicious looks and ridicule by friends of being “old-fashioned”. Nevertheless, once you’ve started on the road gin, there is no turning back. Its simple nature and clear flavor is on of the only clear liquors that I can think of that can stand on its own in mixers and with only carbonated water.

Bombay Sapphire in my mind is the pinnacle of rich juniper and citrus flavor gin. Outstanding in merely a tonic, no lime wedge is need added. Its price expresses this but the occasional ride is well worth the price of admission.

Bacardi Superior

As a young undergraduate I remember many an underage party filled with excitement, fears of being caught and the prospect of meeting good looking and interesting women. Each Friday or Saturday my friends and I would dress up (jeans, clean shirt, nicer shoes and a good jacket) find out where the party was and figure out the booze situation. Someone would know someone who would then take our order and for nominal fees provide us with the liquids we desired. Often terrible choices of light-beers, flavored vodkas and (shudder shudder) Smirnoff Ice was received and drank in plenty. I remember a turning point in my drinking came when I began to care about what was mixed, ingested and later disposed of one way or another. This turning point was the classic Rum and Coke.

Bacardi Superior is a clean drinking rum suited to mixing without over powering a drink unlike often its relative liquor Vodka. When mixed with coke, one enjoys the benefit of the syrupy flavor with the high alcohol content of the rum. My personal variation and evolution of this drink is Bacardi Superior with vanilla Coke-Cola and a wedge of lime. Very sweet but perfect for summer time bonfires and chasing pretty girls

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Sutter Home White Merlot 2007

Sutter Home White Merlot 2007

It’s been said that a fine wine is akin to fine art: distinguished, complicated and ultimately unknowable. But where does that leave the average consumer? In the dark, afraid and alone, sipping on box-wine while the wine snobs’ malevolent coughs and eye rolls dance through their heads? Well, I’m here to say nay and bring some light to young and old connoisseurs alike. Wine is to be enjoyed on many different tiers, both high-brow (museum pieces) and low-brow (pop art such as The Simpsons). One does not need to alienate themselves to either camp. Art, like wine, is to be enjoyed with company, year-round, and on both the expensive and affordable end. I, being a poor college student, lean towards the affordable, but wouldn’t say no to a 20-dollar glass of Chianti sent my way. As long as my tab’s free, bring ‘er on. This brings me to the fun and light Sutter Home White Merlot 2007, an extremely affordable wine that stands out on my palate for its approachable taste, fun cherry flavor and merlot dryness.

The Sutter Home White Merlot 2007 is vinted and bottled by the Sutter Home Winery, Inc., which is owned by Trinchero Family Estates, owners of over 25 different labels. Interestingly enough, Sutter Home Winery is “one of the largest, independent family-run wineries in the United States,” and Louis “Bob” Trinchero, one of the founder’s sons, is the claimed American creator in 1975 of an entire genre of wine known as White Zinfandel, originally known as Oeil de Perdrix (eye of partridge), named after the French sparkling wine from the middle ages. The White Merlot in review is a clear, deep, ruby red with olfactory indulgences of strawberries and vanilla, and is available in both 750ml and 1.5L containers appropriate for a home dessert wine or art show openings.

The simple low-brow fun tasting

Initial Taste: Thin texture with fruity sweetness akin to cherries

Mid Taste: Rising bitterness and bolder flavor

Lasting Taste: Merlot dryness and pepper

On a scale of Terrible / Bad / Decent / Good / Excellent

I vote, Good

Recommendations: A mixture between a dinner and dessert wine, the wine is light and affordable, and matches nicely with a salad or finger foods, or served extra cold for after dinner.

Visit http://www.sutterhome.com/w_wm.php for a podcast description and to see a variety of women laughing and smiling in their kitchens, beach houses and cafes. Seriously, why do advertisers always use soft boxes to shoot corny scenes such as these? Not everything needs to be in a soft dream world. Just sell me the product straight and I’ll determine if it’s heaven or hell.

Bam

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Freixenet Cordon Negro Cava Extra Dry

Freixenet Cordon Negro Cava Extra Dry

Everyone looks better in black.

And it’s true, black dress pants, black mini-skirt, black leather coat, black bra, black socks and Bettie Page. Black is the fashion equivalent of white and Apple products, undeniably simple and attractive. As a wedding photographer, I’ve sampled a fair share of sparkling wines in my day, to my elation and often mirth of my friends. So when I think of white sparkling wine (crudely known as Champagne to the masses), I think sweet, light and fun with just a hint of naughty, much again like Bettie Page and frequently bridesmaids. However, there is always room for pushing the boundaries in fashion and wines alike, and this Freixenet Cava does just that.

The Freixenet Cordon Negro Cava Extra Dry hails from west of Barcelona in Catalonia, Spain and Cava is the Spanish equivalent of Champagne from France. The Cordon Negro Brut is claimed by the company’s website to be “the #1 imported sparkling wine in the world and still ideal for any occasion.” However, the Brut must stand for brutal because the Extra Dry, which is, by definition and claim, significantly sweeter, Cava is in fact as tart as any European runway model. Exuding attractive but unwieldy citrus and apple tones, this sparkling wine is not as advertised for the average cork sniffer.

Walking the runway tasting

Initial Taste: High carbonation with green apple and grapefruit tartness

Mid Taste: Milder fruit sweetness similar to nectars rather than juices

Lasting Taste: Young young orange citrus bite with an pleasant long term aftertaste

On a scale of Terrible / Bad / Decent / Good / Excellent

I vote, Decent

Recommendations: I prefer my sparkling wines to be sweet and fun, so personally I’d rather recommend Korbel Extra Dry. It’s sweet and it’s cheap and looks decent enough in its bottle’s dressing: short black skirt, not an evening gown. I’ve read that the Freixenet Cordon Nevada is the sweeter equivalent that I crave and thus will try some day.

For further info visit http://www.freixenetusa.com/cordon-negro-brut-extra-dry-sparkling-wine.php to see taste ratings and a classy-looking website.

Bam

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Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

Great wines are like great friends; full of spirit, complex but approachable and live in toasted oak kegs for months on end. However much like many of our immature friends, young wines are similarly annoying; boastful, inconsistent and ultimately aggravating. Aggravating in the fact that they regularly have so much potential but often let it go to waste. And we as the good friends we try to be, endeavor to be supportive and are willing to take another swig of the bull they offer us.

Grown in Columbia Valley in eastern Washington and cellared and bottled in Patterson, WA, this Cabernet Sauvignon is purported to be a “perfectly balanced wine with a distinctive richness featuring black cherry and cocoa flavors.” In fragrance, this is absolutely correct, large warm cherry aroma with a hint of cocoa powder. But in taste we meet a young (possibly angry) wine with an abrasive edge that one hopes will eventually develop into a fine individual. Sadly, as is with some people, this wine never matures (even with four years to grow up, i.e. college). This Cabernet Sauvignon never loses its aggravating attitude and with each meeting one finds that same initial dislike but is fooled by the subsequent pleasant nature. It’s like having a friend that always greets you with the tired and uncool “hey bitches!” but offers to pay for gas and T-Bell. Listen man, that was real funny in middle school but its time to grow up.

The ultimately disappointing tasting

Initial Taste: Rubbery with hints of young bitter green grapes

Mid Taste: Cherry boom with a nice dryness

Lasting Taste: Great grape and cherry blend into a good-natured warmth

On a scale of Terrible / Bad / Decent / Good / Excellent

I vote, Bad

First impressions ultimately count, both in wines and in friends.

Recommendations: There are a ton of equal priced Cabernet Sauvignon’s on the market, best of luck.

Visit http://columbiacrest.com/2006_GE_Cabernet_Sauvignon.cfm for more details on the 2006 bottle.

Bam

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