Or, Don’t Hate on the “Cute, Cheap” Wine
I read an article in the San Francisco Chronicle today about the rise of Barefoot Cellars. Now, I’ve never discounted Barefoot. Primarily because I love a good mimosa and Barefoot, being not too expensive and in some iterations, not too sweet, is perfect for that. Mimosas every Sunday without breaking the bank!
But overall, I’m haven’t been a huge fan of Barefoot’s portfolio – until I read the article. Apparently, Barefoot is a rather common entry point into wine for millenial aged wine drinkers? Why? Because it’s approachable (a colorful bare foot on the label) and affordable ($6.99 – $14.99, roughly).
Take a moment, everyone who is not a millenial, and think back to when you were just starting in wine. I remember it vividly. I was away at college and for the first time, away from home. I spent way too much money on the Kentucky gem that is Purple Passion (some sort of grapey drink mixed with Everclear, handily packaged in a 2-liter) and beer. My New Year’s resolution that year was to drink only WINE. I figured I couldn’t really afford it, so I would drink less of it.
By the time I left college, I’d graduated (literally) to Beringer White Zinfandel and various iterations of Turning Leaf. Now those sound rather harsh to me now (and Beringer’s White Zin profits help them create some remarkable Reserve wines you rarely hear about), but it was definitely progress. My boyfriend at the time I graduated must have recognized something in me because he bought me a lovely, vine-detailed wine rack. In fact, I only recently parted from that wine rack, almost 20 years later.
My point is that, as educated wine folks, we tend to make fun or sneer at the lower end, animal/cute labeled wines. We shouldn’t. Those wines are the gateway drug, so to speak, for a younger generation. Just as I was hooked for a while on Beringer’s white zin, the millenials amongst us are drinking Barefoot.
I say, don’t judge. Because sooner than later, those millenials may be planning vacation trips to Sonoma and enjoying wine tastings every weekend at Party Town and Party Source.
Marie Antoinette supposedly said, “Let them eat cake.” Me? I say, “Let them drink anything.” Because the more folks who learn to appreciate wine, through any method, the better. And kudos to Barefoot, as they’re helping recruit a whole new generation of wine drinkers …
I finally got my Bordeaux photos (yes, from a year ago) uploaded to Flickr.
As you’ll see when you peruse the photos, I got a rather thorough introduction to Bordeaux. We stayed in ancient chateaus, had meals with chateau owners and winemakers, explored the town of Bordeaux, had some classroom instruction and got out in the dirt of the vineyards during harvest.
I usually don’t post press releases word for word, but this one, fittingly, made me smile. It’s all about cocktails and your teeth.
Oh, and if you hang in there, it’s got some cocktail recipes at the end. – Editor
‘Drink to your health’ takes on new meaning as the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry teams with professional mixologists on Raising the Bar on Healthy Smiles, www.aacd.com/smilebar an online collection of curative cocktail recipes that may benefit smiles and offer a unique twist to entertaining.
Cocktails infused with medicinal ingredients can improve immunity and offer a tasty tonic for your teeth, according to recent studies.* The recipes feature cocktails and non-alcoholic drink recipes using fruits, vegetables, grains, and other ‘super-food’ ingredients. Original recipes include The Cha Jing, featuring natural ingredients such as green tea, honey and celery (N/A version available) as well as Heed the Horn, a unique cocktail which includes carrot syrup, Gamle Ode Dill Aquavit, a Scandinavian spirit infused with fresh dill and a touch of caraway seeds and juniper berry as well as Green Chartreuse, an herbal liqueur made by the Carthusian monks. The online recipe collection at www.aacd.com/smilebar also features a list of healthful smile ingredients and their specific benefits.
The recipes were developed by mixologists Ira Koplowitz and Nicholas Kosevich, owners of Bittercube, a maker of handcrafted artisanal bitters using only ‘raw’ ingredients. Introduced in the early 1800s, bitters are an amalgamation of roots, barks, flowers, and herbs extracted through high proof spirits and softened with sugar, citrus, and water. “There are numerous accounts throughout history of monks, physicians and alchemists who were interested in distilled alcohol as a cure for ailments, so it makes sense that these great-tasting recipes could also have healthy benefits,” said Koplowitz.
AACD member Dr. Ken Banks, a West Virginia cosmetic dentist who operates his own healthy beverage company, also contributed two original recipes to the collection. The benefit of drinking tea is well documented. Its high flavonoid content also helps fight diseases like cancer and reduces risk for heart disease. “Selecting healthy, natural superfoods with specific functions improves the ability of our body to create that beautiful smile we all desire,” said Dr. Banks.
A 2010 University of Texas study showed that consuming one to two alcoholic drinks a day could increase longevity and infusing them with curative ingredients could improve immunity and may alleviate many ailments, like stress and high blood pressure. See all the healthy smile drink recipes at www.aacd.com/smilebar.
Here’s a recipe from the collection:
The Cha Jing (The “Tea Classic”)
2 ounces high quality London Dry gin
.5 ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice
.75 ounce green tea honey syrup (recipe follows)
1 dropper Bittercube Jamaican #1 Bitters
2 celery sticks, cut into 1-inch sections
1.5 ounces sparkling water
Garnish: Celery stick with leaves attached and a lemon peel twist
Muddle celery in mixing glass. Add remaining ingredients except for sparkling water. Add ice, shake lightly, double strain into a tall glass filled with ice. Top with 1.5 oz. sparkling water.
Green Tea Honey Syrup
1 cup honey
½ cup sugar
½ cup hot water
2 bags green tea
Steep 2 bags of green tea in ¾ cup boiling hot water for five minutes. Use ½ cup of the brewed tea and whisk in the granulated sugar followed by the honey until dissolved.
Chateau Martinot, 2012
50% Sauvignon Blanc, 50% Semillon
One of the wines I picked up at the wonderful Chez Berlue the other day was a 50/50 sauvignon blanc, semillon blend. On my trip to Bordeaux last year, I learned – much to my surprise – that semillon is everywhere. You really don’t see it all that much in California, and I’m not a huge fan of semillon standing on its own. Added to sauvignon blanc, however, it’s a traditional white Bordeaux blend. Semillon adds a richness to sauvignon blanc, muting some of the tanginess and replacing it with a full mouthfeel you don’t often find in standalone sauvignon blancs.
This particular blend was a delight. At a very affordable (especially in SF, where everything costs more) $14/bottle, this was truly a surprise. I bought it on the recommendation of the store clerk, as I’d been leaning towards a Viognier. However, my friend is a fan of fruity sauvignon blancs and the clerk was right – this was a great choice.
On the nose, you’re aware of that 50% sauvignon blanc. There’s a lot of citrus and green apple. I was fully prepared for the typical (dare I say it) California sauvignon blanc. But it’s a Bordeaux blend and that semillon reminds you it’s there the minute the wine hits your tongue. There are flavors of wildflower and honey. I even found a hint of lavendar and other aromatic herbs.
It’s still a delicate wine, in spite of the richness added by the semillon. There’s a fruity crispness but the wine isn’t overpowering. Once it’s on your tongue, you really don’t want to swallow it – except that lemongrass is waiting for you on the finish.
If you come across this wine, don’t hesitate to pick it up. It’s a nice year-round white to enjoy with seafood, light pasta (my choice), or grilled white meats.
Last year I went to France. Specifically, the good folks at Planet Bordeaux sent me, and a group of other bloggers, to Bordeaux for an amazing week. In all seriousness, I can’t even explain how amazing.
I could use the fact that I was simply overwhelmed by France as an excuse for not writing about the trip for a year. However, the true excuse is that so many other real-world changes have been happening to me, writing about France was just low-priority.
As many of you know, I’m now living in San Francisco. In fact, as of a few weeks ago, I’m in the heart of the city. We live in Lower Pacific Heights (no, Michael Keaton is not nearby – but Danielle Steele is). We are in the middle of the rejuvenated Polk Street, the hipster Hayes Valley, the trendy Fillmore District, and the trendy AND hipster Marina (Union and Chestnut Streets). This means that there is simply too much to eat, drink, sample and experience than one could possibly imagine.
But back to France. On Sunday, after partaking in the San Francisco constant that is all-weekend-brunch-with-bottomless-mimosas-everywhere, I was walking along Union Street. Despite walking down this street constantly, I’d never noticed a tiny French delicatessen. Perhaps because my companion and I were out earlier than most weekend denizens of Union Street and there was no one around … regardless, I wandered in based on a sign: “French Wine Club – $20.”
The store is called Chez Berlue. While I’ve been obsessed with all things Paris for the last year, I’ve studiously avoided the rest of France. One step into Chez Berlue and I was taken back to Bordeaux last year. Of course I joined their wine club (although I chose a slightly higher level than $20), and I had a wonderful conversation with the young Frenchman behind the laptop. He just got back from China and while in San Francisco right now, is studying wine in Bordeaux. More exploring led me to discover the great French cookies, jams, TRUFFLES, meats and of course, CHEESE in the front of the store.
It’s the back of the store that’s a miracle of French wine, though. Filled to the brim with French wines of every price tag and from all over – Provence, Bordeaux, Loire Valley, Champagne – it’s all there. It turns out that two young French women own this lovely little store. They love San Francisco but opened the store because there are just certain things they miss about French foods (such as how I miss LaRosa’s Pizza Sauce and Four Roses Single Barrel from back home). One of these two young women was born and raised in a Bordeaux wine family, and she (Julie – the Berlue of the name) maintains the enjoyable wine collection.
My entrance into this store had two effects on me:
1 – I immediately left with two wine club reds and a white, which I’ll review tomorrow.
2 – I left with a renewed energy to write – both about my trip to France and all things wine and French related.
That means you’ll be getting a lot of France from me over the next few months, as I dive into French wines, my trip, and everything else remotely related. See, French wines often LOOK intimidating (blame those grand chateaus on the labels), but in truth, they’re amazingly approachable – and affordable – wines. My goal? To make French wine easier for all of us. I think that’s the goal at Chez Berlue too.
I’ve still got an occasional cocktail review I need to share (Fernet Branca, anyone?) and some occasional wine experiences out here in wine country. But there will be a lot of France. Hang on to your french fries …
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