Showing posts with label television. Show all posts
Showing posts with label television. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Cotes-du-Rhone at L'Epicerie

L'Epicerie Cafe and Market is a good stop for a bite and a sip anytime you find yourself in the vicinity of Culver City, California.  It's right across Culver Boulevard from the Sony studios, which makes it convenient to a taping of Wheel Of Fortune or Jeopardy.

A friend of ours became the announcer for Wheel Of Fortune recently, and he finagled us a couple of VIP admissions.  He joined us afterward and we got to catch up a bit.  I've known Jim for around 20 years, but most of the contact we've had has been over a telephone or a two-way radio, so a little face time with the voice guy was welcome.  Denise gets to see him pretty regularly across the console at the Los Angeles news powerhouse, KNX 1070.

We ordered some oysters, some mushrooms, a pork belly confit, a savory crepe and maybe some other stuff, too.  It was all delicious.  So was the wine.

I opened with a Big Vine Pinot Noir 2009, a Central Coast effort combining grapes from the Arroyo Grande Valley and the Sta. Rita Hills.  Bacon on the nose mixes with dark, earthy fruit and the palate is a riot of cola, meat and cassis.  It is $10 by the glass and went very well with the garlicky mushrooms.

The oysters were nicely abetted by the Côtes-du-Rhône Maison Arnoux Vieux Clocher.  This blend of Grenache Blanc and Viognier offers floral and citrus aromas and a rather full mouthfeel with a decent level of acidity.  At $11 by the glass, it actually favored the pork belly better than it did the oysters.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Vine Talk

Paso Robles wine country takes center stage on the sixth episode of the PBS television series Vine Talk, hosted by Stanley Tucci.  The series puts Tucci and a panel of celebrities in a loosely formatted setting to taste and talk about wine.  It's designed to be an alternative to stuffy wine discussion - the studio audience even gets into the act.

Each week, the series spotlights a different wine region, with a blind tasting and lively banter ensuing.  Vine Talk's producers were assisted by the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance in putting together a sampling of Zinfandels from the region.  Episode 106 ofVine Talk features Tucci, FOOD & WINE executive wine editor Ray Isle, celebrity chef Tim Love, former MLB All-Star pitcher Ron Darling and violinist Philippe Quint discussing the Paso Robles Zins they're sampling.

The six wines in question are from Carina Cellars, J Dusi Wines, Peachy Canyon Winery, Steinbeck Vineyards and Winery, Turley Wine Cellars and Victor Hugo Winery.

For more information on Vine Talk, including stations, airtimes and videos from the show, visit the show's website.

"It’s exciting for Paso Robles wines to be highlighted in this show with such incredible personalities," said Christopher Taranto, marketing director of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance.  "Vine Talk stands to enthrall new wine consumers into discovering Paso Robles and our wines.  The timing could not be better as we prepare to celebrate the biggest festival of the year in Paso Robles Wine Country. "

The publicity does come at a great time for Paso Robles, as the 29th Annual Paso Robles Wine Festival is coming May 20 - 22, 2011.  The spectacular promises several big events as well as activities at more than 140 Paso wineries throughout the weekend.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Wine On TV: Vine Talk

A new television show about wine is set to debut on Public Broadcasting in the spring of 2011.  Vine Talk will be a weekly talk show in which host Stanley Tucchi and guest chefs, wine experts and other celebrities discuss a different wine region in each episode.  The object, as stated on the Vine Talk website, will be to demystify wine and make it accessible and fun for a broad audience.

Wine Spectator notes that each episode will feature six wines that will serve as the focal point of the discussion, and the studio audience will taste wine along with the celebs.  A so-called "Top Wine" will be selected at the end of each episode.  The show is slated to debut in April 2011 on PBS.

The format sounds rather like a talk show with a dash of competition - the "Top Wine" aspect being borrowed from the popular "chef battle" programs.  Have we reached a point where we can no longer watch a show on the culinary arts without having a winner declared at the end?  Hopefully Vine Talk will not be too heavy handed in the selection and announcement of the episode's "Top Wine."

Tucchi would seem to be a good fit for a show like this.  He helped write and direct, and starred in, the 1996 movie Big Night, a film that is close to the hearts of foodies everywhere.  He played one of a pair of Italian immigrant brothers who own a restaurant in America.  The story centers around how they gamble on one big night to help save the struggling business.  Plus, he kindalooks like a wine guy.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Wine News!

On this weekend's CBS Sunday Morning, Barry Petersen did a report which included some comments from a UC-Davis professor of brewing, Charlie Bamforth.  He’s a beer man, and he made some comments that were downright inflammatory about our favorite beverage, wine.

For starters, Bamforth claims beer is a more sophisticated drink than wine, but I’ll limit my comments to those statements of his which merit them.

He states that Thomas Jefferson was a brewer, which may be so.  Some important documents may have been written in pubs over a few pints, but Jefferson devoted his life to wine.  He grew grapes in an attempt to make wine.  He traveled several times all over Europe in an effort to find great wines and, in the process, made volumes of notes about their winemaking processes.  It’s folly to think he cared more for beer than wine.

Bamforth talks about how beer is the Rodney Dangerfield of beverages - it gets no respect.  In many cases, he’s right.  But there are literally hundreds of quality beers readily available to beer drinkers these days.  Why is the top three still Bud Light, Miller Lite and Coors Light?  Oh, sure, wine sells to a lowest common denominator audience, too.  We’ll call that a draw.  Suffice it to say that when a beverage-based parallel is needed for low-class vs high-class, Joe Six-Pack does not live in the Champagne District.

Finally, when Bamforth compares beer tasting to wine tasting, he chides wine tasters for spitting out their samples.  “We swallow,” said Bamforth, “none of that ridiculous spitting.”  It’s worth pointing out that when you are at a wine tasting event where you expect to taste 50 to 60 different wines, even at one ounce per taste, without spitting, you would be consuming a gallon of wine!  After that kind of bender, you would be in no shape to drive home.  So I think Bamforth should back off on his derision of wine tasting habits which are actually beneficial to society.

It’s a good-natured rivalry, this wine versus beer thing.  But really, there’s no need to take potshots at one another.  Drink what you like.  Whether it’s beer or wine, good for you!  There’s plenty of enjoyment to go around!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Bartles and Jaymes

While we're rummaging through YouTube to find old wine ads, we might as well devote a page to a series of commercials which was warmly embraced back in the '80s and is still fondly remembered today.

Bartles and Jaymes Wine Coolers were hawked by a pair of homespun "winemakers," Frank Bartles and Ed Jaymes.  The pair were reportedly loosely based on Ernest and Julio Gallo themselves.  The 30-second spots were comedic in nature and always ended with the Frank Bartles character saying, "Thank you for your support."  In fact, it was Frank who said everything.  I don't remember Ed ever having a spoken line.

E & J Gallo still produce the wine coolers and malt beverages that make up their Bartles & Jaymes line of products.  Nowadays, they come in a whole slew of flavors, too, like Blue Hawaiian, Mojito and Sangria.

So, crack open a wine cooler, sit back and enjoy some bona-fide 1980s television.

Bartles and Jaymes Ad 1 

Bartles and Jaymes Ad 2

Bartles and Jaymes Ad 3

Bartles and Jaymes Ad 4

Bartles and Jaymes Ad 5

Bartles and Jaymes spoof on Conan O'Brien in 1994

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Bruce Willis

Let's stroll down memory lane again and check out some more of those wonderful TV ads for wine - or wine coolers, as is the case today.

My memory of the 1980s is somewhat vague - and I like it that way - but I would figure these Seagram's Golden Wine Cooler commercials to be from the latter part of that glittering decade.

The ads feature a very young Bruce Willis moonlighting as a spokesman for wine coolers.  He was a very hot property as a TV star back then, and I understand he made millions of dollars doing this series of commercials.

In these spots,

Willis talks:

Seagram's Golden Wine Coolers 1

Willis sings:

Seagrams Golden Wine Coolers 2

and Willis dances:

Seagram's Golden Wine Coolers 3

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Orson Welles

The golden age of television wine advertising - for me, anyway - began in the 1970s with the series of commercials which utilized Orson Welles as the spokesman for Paul Masson Wine.  Welles' girth so filled the TV tube there was barely room for the glass of wine, about which he pronounced that Paul Masson would "sell no wine before its time."

Welles apparently would drink no Paul Masson wine at anytime, and he reportedly was fired from his cushy spokesman gig after announcing just that on a TV talk show.

Thanks to the modern miracle of YouTube, we can go back in time and see some of these again, as well as some rather embarrassing outtakes in which Welles appears to have consumed a bit too much of the product.

Paul Masson Wine TV Ad - featuring Orson Welles 

Paul Masson Champagne TV Ad - featuring Orson Welles

Paul Masson TV Ad outtakes - featuring Orson Welles