Sunday, November 13, 2011


Wild Dog Barrel Aged Gonzo Imperial Porter

I dropped in to Boneyard Bistro in Southern California's San Fernando Valley recently to find they had taken over a neighboring storefront on Ventura Boulevard and created a bar there to go along with their tiny dining area.

Boneyard Bistro has some killer barbecue, and the bar features a chalkboard on the wall with an ever-changing list of beers which go great with that cuisine.  I sampled a couple of them, with several small plates of some serious barbecued chow.

Strand Brewing Atticua IPAWild Dog Barrel Aged Gonzo Imperial Porter comes from Flying Dog Brewery in Maryland.  Black in the glass with a dark brown head, this porter looks, smells and tastes great.  A burnt, nutty nose has some citrus notes, bourbon, and a sweetness that creeps in from the side.  It tastes of burnt hops and molasses.  Delightful.  It's a fairly stout porter at 9.5% abv.

Strand Brewing Company in Torrance, California produces the Atticus India Pale Ale.  It looks great in the glass, a dark amber color that shows a lot of red.  The tall, bone-colored head seems to be the visual definition of the word "frothy."  A floral nose is accompanied by a light body and lemony edge.  Lots of hops and malt show up on the palate with a slightly bitter taste that's beautiful with bbq.

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Holiday Wines

Thanksgiving is the wine-drinkingest day of the year in America.  Pity those poor Pilgrims, piled up on Plymouth rock with nothing more than pumpkin beer to help them celebrate themselves.

Today, we have wine, glorious wine, to help bring out the 1,001 flavors on the Thanksgiving spread.  Some folks wring their hands and wipe their fevered brow over what to put in the empty wine glasses.  It doesn't have to be that hard.

In these liberated times, old-line wine rules are embraced by fewer people than ever, as the new guard advises "drink what you like."  It's the best advice I can give you, too.  But, if you'd like a little guidance as to which aisles of the wine store to navigate for Thanksgiving, here it is.

The most important feature to consider for your Thanksgiving wine is acidity.  That's what really makes a wine food-friendly and helps it to pair well with all the different flavors on the table.  Acidity is most important for white wines, while in red wines the tannins are usually what make them pair well with food, particularly food that's full of protein and fat, like meat and cheese.  Too much tannic structure, though, can make a wine overpowering.  You still want some acidity with red wines, too.  For a big meal like the one you may have planned for Thanksgiving, you may want to concentrate on higher acidity and lower tannins for the reds.  That will make the wine lighter and easier to drink while you're gorging on all that good food.

White wines which generally sport nice acidity include dry RieslingSauvignon Blanc - including Sancerre from France's Loire Valley - Roussanne and Chenin Blanc.

Reds which tend to have nice levels of acidity include Pinot Noir - particularly Burgundy -TempranilloSangioveseSyrah and Grenache.  Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignoncan work, too, but they can be quite high in alcohol, particularly California versions.  Try to keep an eye on the alcohol content - it's a long feast.

I think it's a great idea to have a few bottles of rosé on hand, especially for those leftover turkey sandwiches you'll be enjoying the rest of the long weekend.

For dessert, Sauternes is a great choice if you really want to make an impression, although they can be a bit pricy.  A late harvest wine will probably show the sweetness you want while also coming through with some acidity.

Sparkling wines make a festive occasion even more so.  You can spring for Champagne, or shop for bargains with a nice Prosecco (Italian) or Cava (Spanish) sparklers.

If you'd like some specific recommendations, allow me to cite a few I wouldn't mind having on my Thanksgiving table.  These are all wines I've encountered during the past year or so.

White Wines

Dr. Konstantin Frank Finger Lakes Riesling 2009 - New York's Finger Lakes region is known for their Riesling wine.  $13

Chateau Ste. Michelle Dry Riesling 2008 - This Washington state winery is the biggest seller of American Riesling.  $8

Sauvignon Blanc
Hippolyte Reverdy Sancerre 2009 - Flinty minerals and razoer blade acidity.  $21

Stepping Stone by Cornerstone Sauvignon Blanc Cuveé Musqué 2010 - Very aromatic, with a bracing acidity.  $15

Bogle Sauvignon Blanc 2010 - A little spiciness shows on the apple flavors.  $9

Domaine de la Becassonne Cotes du Rhone 2009 - I bought this at random when it was the only Roussanne in the wine store while I was shopping for one.  It was a great buy.  If you are not into dessert wine, this would work well with your pumpkin pie, by the way.  $13

Stolpman L’Avion Santa Ynez Valley 2008 - The floral nose attracts, the acidity serves.  $34

Bonterra Vineyards 2006 - Organically farmed Roussanne from northern California.  $21

Chenin Blanc
Dry Creek Vineyards Chenin Blanc 2008 - Great acidity and Meyer lemons mark this Clarksburg white.  $13

Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc-Viognier 2010 -   Slight off-dry, but with nice acidity.  $12

Foxen Chenin BlancErnesto Wickenden Vineyard “Old Vines” 2010 - Great minerality goes on forever.  $22

Red Wines

Pinor Noir
Row Eleven Vinas 3 Pinot Noir 2009 - Cranberry flavors, fairly low alcohol and a nice minerality.  $20

Fess Parker Pinot Noir Parker Station 2009 - A good Pinot for how much?  $12

Riverbench Mesa Pinot Noir 2009 - Great acidity and minerals.  $48

Beronia III a.C. 2004 - described as a "Super Rioja," blending Tempranillo, Graciano and Mazuelo grapes.  Pepper, leather and tobacco notes adorn the cherry fruit.  $62

Four Brix Winery Temptress - This Ventura County producer uses Central Coast grapes in this blend of Tempranillo, Mourvèdre, Grenache, Petite Sirah and Zinfandel.  $28

Protocolo Tinto 2008 - This bargain producer is getting some notice for their quality.  $9

Frescobaldi Nipozzano Chianti Riserva 2007 - A table full of aroma and flavor in a bottle.  $20

Niner Wine Sangiovese, Bootjack Ranch 2008 - A fun taste that brings candy to mind, with the acidity needed for the meal.  $24

Palmina Alisos Santa Barbara County 2009 - Sangiovese and Merlot made for the table.  $30

Frey Syrah 2009 - One of the best Syrahs I’ve had.  $14

Holus Bolus Octobrist Santa Ynez Valley Syrah 2006  - This wine made my Valentine lunch special, and it can do the same for any meal.  $26

Happy Canyon Vineyards Chukker 2009 - OK, so there’s only a smattering of Syrah in this mainly Cabernet Franc/Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon blend, but I think it’s a great choice for the holiday meal.  A little like Beaujolais Nouveau, but with more punch.  $13

Verdad Rosé Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard, Edna Valley 2009 - I had this Grenache rosé at Thanksgiving last year, and it was great with the turkey and stuffing.  $16

Borsao Tinto 2009 - A really amazing Spanish Garnacha, considering the price.  $8

Guigal Gigondas Rouge 2007 - Full-bodied and luscious.  $28

Roxo Port Cellars, Paso Robles - These folks craft some delicious Port-style wine from various grapes varieties grown in California.

Eden Vermont Ice Cider - I discovered this little jewel from the northeast as part of my Wine Country series.  Amazing stuff.

Santa Julia Tardio - Argentine Torrontes and Viognier, all late harvest. Very sweet with a very clean finish.

Il Conte D’Alba Stella Rosa Imperiale Moscato - It’s on the sweet side, but it’s bubbly and delicious.  It’s Italian, but marketed by San Antonio Winery in downtown Los Angeles.  $9

South Coast Winery Brut 2007 - A very aromatic sparkler from Temecula.  $18

Segura Viudas Brut Reserva NV - This Cava is easy to drink, and easy to find.  $10

Korbel Sweet Rosé NV - Lip smacking good and light on alcohol.  $12

For this holiday in particular, it might be nice to serve something from the area where Thanksgiving began, New England.  I can recommend mead from New Hampshireapple ice cider from Vermont, a hybrid blend from Cape Cod and, soon, several other wines from Massachussets, all discovered in the Now And Zin Wine Country series.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Julia Zuccardi & Chef Ana

The wine of Argentina is a fascinating study. There are so many small producers there who make incredible wines, not only with mainstay Argentine grapes like Torrontes and Malbec, but also with grapes which are already household names to American wine lovers.   Argentina does wonderful things with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay, too.

I recently had the pleasure of a wine lunch featuring the wines of Santa Julia Winery and the cuisine of the country, presented by Santa Julia's own Ana Rodriguez Armisen, chef of Casa Del Visitante, the winery's restaurant in Argentina.  This media event was held at the esteemed Rivera restaurant, in downtown Los Angeles.  The food was a collaborative effort between the Rivera staff and Chef Ana.

Santa Julia is not one of those small producers of Argentina.  They are quite a large producer in Mendoza, actually. They are helping lead the way in Argentina's effort to get their wines known globally.  It wasn't too long ago that 90% of Argentina's wine was consumed in Argentina.  One doesn't need an MBA to realize that a marketing plan was needed.  Argentina started aggressively exporting their wine in the 1990s and are now the largest wine producing country in South America - fifth largest in the world.

Santa Julia has not yet achieved the name recognition in the US of  brands like Alamos and Trapiche, which you can probably find on your supermarket’s shelves.  They are, however, producing good quality wine that’s priced to sell - the Santa Julia line of wines is priced in the $10 to $15 range.  I have seen their label popping up from time to time over the past couple of years on a number of restaurant wine lists, and I expect to see it even more in the future.

Santa Julia was represented at this lunch by the lady whose name graces the label. Julia Zuccardi's grandfather, Alberto, founded the family's wine estate in 1963, and the Santa Julia line bears her name.

The Zuccardi family takes the family concept seriously.  They appear to be a big winery with a big heart.  Their 700 employees all have year-long jobs with the winery, not just at harvest time.  The Zuccardi family supports the people who make the wine in more than a monetary way.  They have created a community for their employees.

They also treat the land and its fruit with respect, evidenced by their commitment to sustainable, organic farming.  Santa Julia’s line of organic wines - [+] - is what brought Julia and Chef Ana to Los Angeles for this lunch.  

Their new line of sustainable wines are made with grapes taken from low-yielding, sustainably-farmed vineyards.  Organica (100% organic) and their top-end Reserva collections were served in addition to the [+] wines.  

Santa Julia is located in Mendoza - Argentina’s Napa Valley.  They have Malbec, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon on the list, as well as varieties not so commonly found in Argentina, like Viognier, Pinot Grigio and Tempranillo.  One of my tablemates called Santa Julia the United Nations of grapes.

The Organica line features Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Bonarda, Tempranillo, Malbec rosé, Torrontes and Chardonnay.  Their Reserva wines inculde Tempranillo, Malbec, Bonarda, Syrah, Chardonnay and Tardio - a late-harvest Torrontes.

The Menu

Appetizers - homemade empanadas and bread topped with beef slices and Chimichurri - were paired with a quartet of wines.   Santa Julia’s Brut Rosé is made from 100% Pinot Noir and shows earthy, toasty strawberries.  The Organica Chardonnay is unoaked and tropical.  The [+] Malbec sees only 4 months of French oak for 30% of the wine, while the and Organica Cabernet Sauvignon is vinified in stainless steel.  Both reds have rich aromas and finish long.

The first course of shrimp and watermelon mojito salad with cucumber and mint was a hit with the [+] Torrontes.  The fruit salad nose and peachy pear palate paired perfectly with the shrimp and fruit.

Grilled lamb with crispy smashed potatoes arrived as the main course.  The Santa Julia Reserva Malbec - young and fruity with earth and smoke - paired best with this dish.  Their Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon offered plenty of earthy notes, too, as well as firm tannic structure.

dessertAs good as the preceding culinary delights were, the hit of the lunch had to be the dessert - a beautiful presentation of chocolate torte with drunken pineapple.  The pairing with Santa Julia’s Tardio was a no-brainer.  The Torrontes and Viognier grapes used in this dessert wine are late-harvest selections, so there are no honey notes you might find in a wine made from grapes affected by botrytis.  This sweet wine is all fruit and very clean on the palate.

As a gift to the attendees, Chef Ana whipped up a little Chimichurri to show how easy it is to make.  Here’s her recipe:

Chef Ana’s Chimichurri

Spices, herbs, pepper, olive oil. 

Mix together chopped garlic, parsley, thyme rosemary, oregano, black pepper and paprika.  Chili pepper may be added to taste, but be careful not to make it too spicy.  Add 1 part wine vinegar and 1 part olive oil with a splash of torrontes and stir.  It’s great for dipping with bread, and also as a topping for grilled meats.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Blood Of The Vines: The Magnificent Seven

Wine Goes To The Movies With

"The Magnificent Seven" is based on the great Japanese film, "The Seven Samurai."  The setting is completely different, of course, and the Magnificent Seven don't speak Japanese.  There's more stucco than paper in the construction business.  Oh, and the western samurai use guns instead of swords.  That's fair, because the bad guys in "The Magnificent Seven" use guns, too.  Gun-versus-sword fights don't usually last too long.  See "Raiders of the Lost Ark" for why.

The action's not the only exciting thing about "The Magnificent Seven."  Elmer Bernstein's score never fails to thrill, and it may cause you to search around for a Marlboro red to fire up.  The soundtrack's main theme was used in Marlboro TV commercials back in the '60s.  Yes, Virginia, smokes used to be advertised on television.  That distinctive opening riff was also the inspiration for the horn intro to Arthur Conley's "Sweet Soul Music" in 1967.  Take that to your next trivia contest.

It's interesting that just as the story of "The Seven Samurai" was borrowed for "The Magnificent Seven," the mercenaries-protecting-the-weak theme was used again in the '80s science fiction film, "Battle Beyond the Stars."

The film was shot in Cuernavaca, Mexico - south of Mexico City.  Most of the grape growing in Mexico occurs well north of there, but we'll make a Baja recommendation later.  

Yul Brynner sold some of his wine collection in the early '90s - 1,800 bottles for over $124,000.  There was some Chateau Haut-Brion 1959 in that collection, but the price has gone up considerably since then.  We'll save that choice for something really special - like when we hit the lottery.  Brynner was married on the set of the movie!  I wonder if any of that wine was leftover from the wedding fiesta?

The villagers who hired the seven gunslingers couldn't afford to pay much, so in honor of them let's get our wine for "The Magnificent Seven" from the supermarket.  How about a Zinfandel for each of the hired guns?  Michael David Winery's 7 Deadly Zins combines Zinfandel from seven different Lodi vineyards for a wine any hired gun would love after a hard day of wipin' out the bad guys.  If you're a "white hat" kind of cowboy, try their 7 Heavenly Chards.  Both wines sell for under $15.

Or, you can grab some of these from your holster:

J Lohr Seven Oaks Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon - Six grape varieties here, with Cab leading the way.

Seven - A Spanish blend of seven grapes, with Tempranillo dominant.

Seven Of Hearts - An Oregon producer offering a line of wine ranging from affordable to pricy.

Seven Daughters - A blend of seven grapes grown in California, it comes in red and white.  From the Terlato family.

Grenache Valle de Guadalupe, Baja, Mexico - From Carlsbad, California, Witch Creek Winery also serves up several other wines sourced from Baja.

"Mexican Wine" by Fountains of Wayne - You can watch it before the movie, like a cartoon.

Samurai Wine Caddy - A tip of the hat to the source material for this movie, this guy will guard that bottle so well you might not ever open it.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Stags Leap at TBones in Las Vegas

It's late night in Las Vegas - well, Summerlin - and I stroll into the TBones steakhouse in the Red Rock Casino and Hotel and take a seat at the bar.  The waitress says it's last call.  Last call in Vegas?  I didn't know there was such a thing.  I'll have the Stags' Leap.

Stags' Leap Winery in Napa Valley is famous not only for great wines, but also for winning the Cabernet Sauvignon prize at the famous Judgement of Paris tasting.  You wouldn't know it by watching Bottle Shock though - that movie dealt only with Chateau Montelena's big success in that event with their Chardonnay.

Despite the slight from Hollywood, Stags' Leap manages to carry on pretty well.  Their Hands of Time red blend is 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 46% Merlot and 3% Syrah.  It sells for around $30, and it cost $16 by the glass at TBones.

There are plenty of bottles offered at TBones, but the by-the-glass selection is rather skimpy at the steakhouse.  However - as Spencer Tracy said - "what's there is cherce."  There are five Sommelier selections on the list which range from $15 to $45 per glass.

Hands Of Time is inky black in the glass and the nose is just beautiful, showing blackberries all lush and ripe.  Anise, vanilla and a light clove aroma also make it an interesting sniff.  The palate is all about dark fruit, with graphite and smoke lightly appearing.  The finish is lengthy with a hint of stewed prunes.

I'm glad I didn't miss last call.

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Monday, November 7, 2011


Salisbury Pinot Naturale

Artisan Cheese Gallery is a great little place for some fantastic cheese, but they have a great selection of wines, too.  The restaurant/cheese shop/wine store is in Studio City in Southern California's San Fernando Valley.  At lunch there, I had the opportunity to sample an unusual wine, at least for me.

The Salisbury Vineyards Pinot Naturale is a San Luis Obispo Pinot Noir from the ocean influenced Avila Valley, but it's made with minimal skin contact, so the wine is actually white with a very pale pink hue.  The nose is almost as unusual as its appearance, but a lovely strawberry aroma dominates.

There is a very nice acidity and a strong blast of minerality on the palate.  The minerals may have been the element on the nose which I found unusual, but in a good way.  Strawberry flavors put a sweet edge on the dry wine, and the minerality puts me in mind of wet rocks.  If blindfolded, I may well have guessed this was made from white wine grapes.

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Sunday, November 6, 2011


Pellegrini Sauvignon Blanc at Tender Greens

Tender Greens is not a fancy restaurant, but the several locations around Los Angeles offer good food - much of it organic - at some pretty fair prices.  Their local, line-caught albacore tuna for about $10 is hard to beat.  Their concept is simple enough: sit-down food for on-the-go people made from ingredients that are more or less locally sourced, natural or organic and  reasonably healthy.  I wonder about how healthy the buttery mashed potatoes are, but not about how good they taste.

The wine offerings at Tender Greens are a little off-the-beaten-path, and that's a good thing.  Their wines - the list is on a chalkboard - are not the usual big-producer fare often found in casual dining.  Smaller, family-owned wineries appear to be the norm.

Pellegrini Family Vineyards is located in Sonoma County - the Russian River Valley - and they have three estate vineyards.  The grapes for their 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, however, come from Lake County - the Leveroni Vineyard.  It retails for $15 per bottle, and cost $8 by the glass at Tender Greens.

The wine is almost clear and offers some light grassy notes underneath melon aromas on the nose.  It's a bright and refreshing wine, full of lively acidity and flavors of grapefruit and lemon peel.  It paired well with the potato leek soup.

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Thursday, November 3, 2011


Old time radio dramas are a favorite way for Denise and I to while away the time behind the wheel, and in Los Angeles, we get plenty of that.  We love listening to "Johnny Dollar," which has to be the only dramatic presentation - besides "Double Indemnity" - to present insurance work as an action plot.  I love injecting my own commentary into the slow spots.  "Listen Dollar, give me half a chance and I'll give you no quarter.  Not on my dime.  Penny for your thoughts."

"Suspense" is a particular favorite of ours, and I often hear the announcer say the show is sponsored by "Roma Wines - America's largest selling wine!"  I had never heard of Roma Wine, and was curious about the company's history.  Here's what I was able to dig up.  Most of the information here comes from an article on a website called Old And Sold.  The article - first published in 1955, but I don't know where - covers a number of now defunct California wineries in detail, and Roma is one of them.

The tiny Roma winery was already in existence in 1915 when brothers John Battista and Lorenzo Cella bought the winery, then located in Lodi.  In 1933 the company bought the Santa Lucia Winery, and the entire operation was moved to Fresno.  By the late 1930s Roma had become the world's largest wine producer.

In 1942, the Cella family bowed out and sold to Schenley Industries (the first corporate wine takeover?) and that company broadened Roma's scope even further.

In 1955, the Roma winery in Fresno had a storage capacity of 16,700,000 gallons of wine, with another 7,800,000 gallons of storage at their Kingsburg facility.  Together, the two wineries could store about as much wine as the state of Washington produced in 2009.

Quoting from the article: "With minor exceptions all Roma dessert wines are produced from grapes grown in the San Joaquin Valley within a radius of sixty miles of the Fresno winery. White grapes represent about 70 per cent of the total volume crushed and include chiefly Muscat of Alexandria, Feher Szagos, Palomino, Malaga, and Thompson Seedless, the last two varieties being used principally for the production of brandy and grape concentrates. The most important dark grapes used are Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Mission, Grenache, Carignane, and Salvador."

By the mid-1950s, Roma had begun bottling their wines in their "new, dripless bottles."  

For what looks to be a fairly complete listing of Roma's wines, I'll quote again from the article:

Table wines:

Red: Burgundy, Claret, and Zinfandel; Red Chianti and Vino di Roma (vino rosso type); White: Sauterne, Chablis, and Rhine Wine; White Chianti; 
Rosé: Vin Rose.
Sparkling wines(bulk process) : Champagne, Pink Champagne, Sparkling Burgundy, and Moscato Spumante;
Aperitif and Dessert wines: Pale Dry Sherry, Cocktail Sherry, Sherry, and Cream Sherry; Port, Ruby Port, and Tawny Port; Muscatel, Tokay, and White Port; Dry and Sweet Vermouth.
Light Sweet wines: Red and White.
Berry and Fruit wines: Blackberry (of the Boysenberry variety), Currant, Loganberry, and Cherry. A Concord grape wine (from out-of-state grapes) is also produced.

A specialty is the Creme de Roma, a liqueurlike wine consisting of sherry with flavoring added and containing 18 per cent alcohol by volume.

Inexpensive Italian-type table wines are marketed under Roma's Pride of the Vineyard label and include Vino d'Uva (red grape wine), Vino Bianco (white grape wine), Barberone, and Chianti.

It's interesting to note not only what grapes were being grown in California in the mid-'50s, but the references to Chianti (red and white), Burgundy, Sauterne and Chablis.

Details after 1955 are a bit sketchy, but it appears the Roma brand was still active as late as 1971, when Schenley Industries sold the winery and vineyards to Guild Wineries and Distilleries.  The sale seemed to have generated some legal issues, but I could not follow the thread any further than that.  If you know more about Roma Wine, I'd love to hear about it.

If you'd like to dig a little deeper, here's an oral history of the John B. Cella Family in the California wine industry.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Blood Of The Vines

Wine Goes To The Movies With NowAndZin.comand

Hockey fans, Paul Newman fans, Strother Martin fans and people who just happen to like swearing a lot should all have "Slap Shot" in their collections.  

The Charlestown Chiefs minor league hockey franchise is in trouble, and coach Paul Newman gets the idea that violence will attract crowds and save the financial day.  Even in 1977 this notion made many people think, "What, like hockey's not already violent?"

Newman and his band of hockey pucks - no, that's not a typo - take on-ice violence to the extreme.  The also take cursing to new heights.  The movie's profanity - TFH guru Josh Olson calls it "awe-inspiring" - was landmark in the '70s, and probably still sits near the top of any list ranking movies for the use of four-letter words.  I read somewhere that the TV edit would have so much dialogue cut out that the running time would be shaved to about 17 minutes.  I like to pepper my own conversation with colorful language, but my efforts pale in comparison to "Slap Shot."

Merely slipping in a "#@$%!" now and then will not get you anywhere close to the kind of blue language used in "Slap Shot."  You need to dress it up a little.  As Emeril Lagasse would say, Kick it up a notch."  Or as Gordon Ramsay might say, "Kick it up a #@$%! notch, donkey!"  Abso - #@$%! - lutely.

It didn't take too long for me to find an appropriate #@$%! wine to pair with a #@$%! movie about #@$%! hockey.  Diamond Estates gives us the 20 Bees Hat Trick Red and Hat Trick White, both of which sell for about $13 and both are said to pair well with hockey food.  The red goes with meat, the white with Chinese take-out and nachos.  Mmmm.  There ya go - dinner and a movie.  That's enter - #@$%! - tainment.

Now, go buy some and drink it while watching "Slap Shot" or the #@$%! Hansen Brothers will come over and hit you in the #@$%! head with a bottle.

More #@$%! hockey wine:

The NHL Alumni Signature Wine Series, produced by Ironstone Vineyards, would be a perfect pairing with "Slap Shot."  "Would be" because they are no longer offered for sale.  I hope you hockey fans got yours while they were around.

Newman's Own Wine - Chardonnay, Cab, Merlot and Pinot Noir, all of which benefit Newman's Own Foundation.

Gordon Ramsay's Selection - Here's a guy who knows a bit about swearing, if not hockey.  Bordeaux producer Chateau Bauduc puts Ramsays name on these offerings, a white and a #@$%! rosé.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


beer at the sportsbook

Saturday, college football, hanging at the sportsbook in the Red Rock Casino in Summerlin, Nevada.  That's a great day in my book.  I watched some football, took a break to see how Denise was doing on the slots,  watched some more football, took a break to play a little blackjack, watched some more football... I don't know why every day can't be like that.  Oh yeah, I can't afford it.  I remember now.

Michigan State didn't cover the point spread and I couldn't win with 20s.  At least Mrs. Lucky made up for the error of my ways.  And the beer was good.

Fire Rock Pale Ale comes from Hawaii's Kona Brewing Company, located on the western side of the Big Island.  They've been brewing since 1995, and I say they are doing a fine job of it.

The copper color is immediately appealing, as are the floral aromas.  There is some lemon on the nose as well.  It's a little lighter in the mouth than most craft ales, but it's nice and creamy with a hoppy taste that's not overdone - as if it's possible to overdo the hops.  A slightly bitter taste lingers on the finish with a nutty background flavor.  I had mine at the sportsbook bar while chewing my fingernails over the Spartans, but I would imagine it goes great with other types of food, too.

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