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Packers, Steelers — wine?!

The Super Bowl is an event that was expressly created to test exactly how many plates of guacamole and nachos a person could consume in a nine-hour period. This occurs while observing an equally large number of commercials praising the same.
Super Bowl beverages
By LAYNE WITHERELL  |  February 04, 2011
Meat Your New Drinking Buddy

Meat Your New Drinking Buddy


 Steak. Grill. Fire. The next word in this sequence is “Man,” isn’t it? In some ancient Cro-Magnon family, I’m sure there was someone poking a...
By Thor Iverson  |  May 18, 2009
Sibling Rivalry

Sibling Rivalry


Younger brothers (or sisters) are mostly known for their ability to provoke annoyance. But who knew they were a bargain, too? No, I'm not suggesting...
By Thor Iverson  |  May 04, 2009
Be the wine

Be the wine



It’s fun being a spectator, but you have to be in the game to be a real player. Wine doesn’t offer too many opportunities to do that, and so most people stick to drinking the stuff. Which isn’t too bad, except that it’s a little like football being all about tailgating, rather than what happens on the field.

Sure, you can get in on the money side of things: working in a store or restaurant, schlepping boxes around for a distributor, and so forth. But — to torture the analogy a little longer — that’s manning the concession stand or riding a desk in the front office. The actual game is the one played with the grapes. And that means making wine.

Ever wonder what that’s like? Boston University is offering you a chance to find out. You’ll visit Turtle Creek Winery in Lincoln four times over the growing/winemakin
By Thor Iverson  |  April 20, 2009

Radical Radikon

Radical Radikon


 

 

 Sometimes, we crave the comfort of the familiar — a well-loved book that’s been nearly dog-eared to death, the favorite T-shirt that’s been rendered super-soft by years of wear, that nostalgia-inducing song that has somehow found its way onto every one of your iPod playlists. At other times though, only the shock of the new will do. Some players in the wine world evidently agree, as a rising number of producers seem dead set on defying convention with every cask.

A bunch of them are in the Friuli region of northeastern Italy, and their wines have the look and taste of ... well, who knows? Think dense, almost opaque whites that aren’t particularly white, or white wines with the sort of bitterness that’s always been the near-exclusive domain of reds. They’ll grab yo
By Thor Iverson  |  April 03, 2009

Wine on a dime

Wine on a dime



Is cheap ever chic? If so, this would be the season. Alcohol has long been fairly recession-proof (who doesn’t need strong drink in hard times?), but not this go-around. Wineries, stores, restaurants... they’re all feeling the pinch.

And so, most likely, are you. But if you’re interested in keeping that pinch at a fun, foreplay-ish level, rather than affixing industrial-strength C-clamps to your unmentionables, it’s time to make the acquaintance of the close-out bin: the Filene’s Basement of wine retail. Yes, sometimes it’s a dumping ground for the lousiest of the lousy, but not always. And these days, with consumers’ per-bottle spending plummeting, stores need to unload some of their pricy-but-stationary inventory to make room for lower-end stuff. The result? Good wines at giveaw

By Thor Iverson  |  March 20, 2009


Put The Zing Back Into Spring

Put The Zing Back Into Spring


 

 

It’s spring in New Zealand. (What? No it’s not! Can’t you read a map?) No, I insist. A young country — geologically and historically — New Zealand’s wine scene reflects its people: open, friendly, and uncomplicated. It’s a tiny place, but its mark on the world of wine has been outsized for a while now. It all started with sauvignon blanc from Marlborough, with a flavor like grassy, zingy, fermented chile pepper that pinned your ears back when you tasted it. Then it was pinot noir, especially from the Central Otego — a region that, not long ago, was mostly fruit farms and desolate, rocky slopes. These days, residents can hardly stumble out of bed without stepping on newly planted vines.

Meanwhile, Marlborough “savvier” (as the locals call it) has changed. The classic style still exists, to be sure, but there’s a new swa
By Thor Iverson  |  March 09, 2009

Challenge Accepted


Some people delight in the unfamiliar and are immune to the comfort of the common. When that set of people intersects with an interest in wine, there can be problems. Because, to be honest, most restaurant wine lists just aren’t that interesting. The same names, the same grapes, the same prices...yawn. It’s all just too tedious.

There are the exceptions: a well-aged bottle at a good price, wedged into a lineup of the tried-and-true, or the sudden appearance of a memory-laden bottle, tasted years ago in an Italian seaside town, now pouring in a North End trattoria. But for the truly adventurous, it’s the walk on the winy wild side: discovering an obscurity that has, for some reason, become a passion — or is it a fetish? — for whoever’s written the wine list.

At Erbaluce (69 Church Street, Boston), Charles Draghi’s Italianate haven of eccentric traditionalism in Bay Village, that passion — given the neighborhood, we probably shouldn’t call it a fet
By Thor Iverson  |  February 20, 2009

Sweet Dreams 2.10.09

Sweet Dreams 2.10.09


 

“Sweet,” usually it’s a compliment, unless it’s delivered by a date who’s just about to explain that, despite you being “a really nice person,” he or she is not sufficiently attracted to invite you up for an epilogue. And yet, when it comes to wine, label something “sweet” and people suddenly seem to lose their thirst.

That’s a shame, for several reasons. One is that an awful lot of the most popular wines in this country are ... well, they’re not dry, though their producers don’t exactly go out of their way to tell you this. “Just a spoonful of sugar helps the cabernet go down,” as a drunken Julie Andrews once sang. The jokes just write themselves, don’t they?


By Thor Iverson  |  February 09, 2009
Vine trails

Vine trails


 

Last issue I told a story involving serial killers’ caves, 10 centuries of cobwebs, spitting, and mistresses. And yet, when I sat down in front of the computer I had intended to write a column about wine travel. Apparently, I’m not the master of narrative focus.

Let’s try again.

“I’m going to wine country,” people say to me, just before they ask me to do a whole bunch of work gratis. They’re about to ask which wineries they should visit, and if I could recommend some interesting wines — hey, isn’t that what I get paid for? “That’s great,” I’m tempted to reply, “and when you come back, I’d like you do a few dozen hours of free legal work.”

Actually, though, the burden has decreased. Because when Americans say “wine country,” all too often they mean the Napa Valley, and I send them the th
By Thor Iverson  |  December 15, 2008

Wines Without Borders

Wines Without Borders




When it comes to certain regions and cuisines, versatile vino is key


“Drink the wines of a region with the foods of that region.” It’s advice I’d been given in the newbie days of my oenophilia, and it had stuck with me. But here, in a restaurant in Oslo, it wasn’t so useful. The reindeer — thankfully absent a glowing red nose — on my plate had only three local alcoholic companions: mass-market beer, plus a pair of fiery aquavits. The beer might have been okay, but there was a 20-page wine list in front of me. Surely I could do better.

In most cases, regional drinking works pretty well. In some wine regions you don’t even have a choice, as that’s all there is. But these days, the usual problem is actually an excess of choices, and so this handy rule of thumb helps wrestle the choices down to a manag

By Thor Iverson  |  November 14, 2008


Can't buy my love

Can't buy my love


  

The mystery of great wines that aren't on the shelves 

The Rhys 2006 Pinot Noir Swan Terrace, from the Santa Cruz Mountains, is as delicious a New World pinot as I’ve ever tasted. It tastes like tiny wild berries on a rocky promontory and smells like the deep forest, with beautiful balance and a long finish. It’s a really gorgeous wine.

And you can’t buy it here.


By Thor Iverson  |  November 03, 2008
Label Chaser

Label Chaser


 

One of the most useful college lessons is that an awful lot of what you thought you knew was wrong. Sometimes, it’s just an everyday loss of innocence — the discovery that the world is a lot more complex than you’d thought back in high school — but sometimes, it’s a dawning realization that you’ve been — gasp! — lied to by people you’d trusted.

Of course, there’s also the sort of lying intended to separate people from their innocence … but that’s Jeannie’s column, not mine.

Wine, too, has its shades of gray, its misleads, and its outright lies. Take wine labels. You probably think you know what’s in a bottle of 2005 pinot noir from the Russian River Valley, right? Guess again.

 


By Thor Iverson  |  September 08, 2008
Screw it

Screw it


 

Wine openers with a twist 

“Does anyone have a corkscrew?” Ask this at any random gathering and you’ll likely be handed a medieval instrument of cork torture, the winged auger. Here’s how it works: you angle the “wings” upward, push the screw into the cork, and attempt to twist the too-tiny handle. You’ll have to push down, too, because the dull point of the auger won’t penetrate the cork without significant pressure. Finally, after the application of sufficient force, the auger descends — its passage completely shredding the interior of the cork — until it plunges through the other side and deposits a shower of cork crumbs onto the surface of the wine. You then clasp the neck of the bottle and the bottom of the corkscrew in one hand, while squeezing the winged levers together with the other.

By Thor Iverson  |  August 25, 2008