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Jordan Mackay's Profile

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Beer Pints Are Just Too Big

In my experience, lots of bars don't offer smaller sizes or half pints. the point is that it's nice to have an option. If you want more order two. Order 3. Order 10.

Feb 29, 2012
Jordan Mackay in Features

Why Loire Wines Are Like the Movie "Moneyball"

Totally agree, bhamdining. The value still present in the Loire is stunning. For instance, Chinon makes very cellar-able reds. For $20-$30 a bottle, you can buy wines that will mature beautifully in your basement for upwards of 10-15 years.

Feb 17, 2012
Jordan Mackay in Features

Why Loire Wines Are Like the Movie "Moneyball"

sbp. Indeed Coeur-Cheverny is a unique taste unto itself. I quite like it, and it's dynamite with food. The Paulee should be great fun.


Feb 16, 2012
Jordan Mackay in Features

Zinfandel's Not the Ugly American

Yes, sandywillows, I agree. That sounds completely backwards, which means that (this was so long ago, I don't exactly remember) I was gripped by some sort of crazy misinformation when I wrote this or something got mangled in the route for writing to publishing, which can happen. Thanks for pointing out the error. It is my understanding that what we call zinfandel is indeed primitivo, which was no doubt brought to this country in a wave of Italian immigration sometime in the 19th century. Thanks for pointing out the error, we'll fix it.

Dec 01, 2010
Jordan Mackay in Features

Thanksgiving Wine: What to Drink

Fiametta, indeed, Zwack Unicum is as stout as they come. An excellent digestivo.

Dry rosé is a good call too.

Nov 16, 2010
Jordan Mackay in Features

Peat, Barley, Water: What Gives Whisky Terroir?

Exactly. The question came up of how water works its magic, and the answer isn't really known. One distiller said that it must be the way that it interacts with the yeast and the grain in the mash--different water allows different kinds of fermentation.

Oct 14, 2010
Jordan Mackay in Features

The World Cup Drinking Game

sfojam, it's true that Flor de Cana is known mostly as a Nicaaraguan rum, however, they have run a small distillery in Honduras for quite some time now. When I was in Honduras, in fact, that's what we drank 90% of the time.

Armywife626: Thanks for mentioning PortRoyal. I'm not sure if it's imported to the States or not, but it is a thirst-quenching brew.

estilker: Algerian wine? I'd love to try some. Did you have it while there?

Mary, indeed, akavit rules. I was fondly remembering the Carlsberg, though, after my visit to the distillery during a college backpacking trip.

Jun 28, 2010
Jordan Mackay in Features

Are Dry-Farmed Wines Better?

Zin, good comment. It's controversial when proposed to farmers who are irrigating their vineyards. They hate the discussion and become defensive. While I agree that most have, as you say, " acknowledged the "superiority" of a dry-farmed vineyard over an irrigated one" the fact remains that I think there's a great number of people who could dry farm and don't. If you possibly could, why not farm in a way that's superior? Safety, of course. Most new vineyards in Oregon are going in with drip irrigation, though it's not needed in Oregon. Even if the intention is only to use it during a drought, I think few can resist the temptation to turn on the hose at even the slightest degree of stress.

Mar 23, 2010
Jordan Mackay in Features

Green Wine Is Good (or Can Be)

tatamagouche: Indeed, for this column I thought of Vinho Verde, the world's truest green wine, but decided to go instead with that controversial bit of green that we often find in red wines as my subject. Thanks for taking a moment to comment.

mukune: thanks for your comment. You are 100% right: "as it should be" expresses my feeling about how Cab Franc should be in California. Certainly it's not the same as Loire Cab Franc, but it has more in common with those wines than, say, Niebaum-Coppola Cab Franc. That, too, is my opinion. I'm not alone in this opinion. In fact, the Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine goes even farther down this road than I: "This lively, fruit-focused wine recalls the comparatively lighter Cabernet Francs of France's Loire Valley, and, while very much showing a touch of the brushy, dried-leaf qualities often found from the grape, it holds tannin in check and smacks of cherry-like fruit from beginning to end."

Mar 18, 2010
Jordan Mackay in Features

That Wine's a Fake

Guy, good comment. To be honest I'm more outraged that wine labeled as Pinot Noir can be sold in California when it only contains 75% of Pinot.

The scam in France is laughable, but the wine was passed off without incident. Gallo's complicity in such a hoodwinking remains un-probed.

Feb 18, 2010
Jordan Mackay in Features

The Extortionate Glass of Wine

Katygirl, thanks. Yes, I reversed my elements. Cost percentage is figured by dividing the cost of the product by the total sales of that product. Appreciate you pointing that out.

Feb 20, 2009
Jordan Mackay in Features

The Wines of Alto Adige

Thanks to all for weighing on the discussion.

Naturally, my column is not long enough to allow me to expound as much as I'd like. Certainly, I would put individual wines from France, Germany, and Austria over the Alto Adige. But my interest was which region is doing more with a greater number of white grapes and, from that perspective, the Alto Adige is right up there. Alsace is the closest competitor, but it falls down on questions of consistency.

Certainly I'm not talking about Santa Margherita, but about the smaller, quality oriented producers. When visiting the region a few months ago, I had wines that made me a believer. From Cantina Terlano, one of my favorite producers, there were astonishing wines from the 50s and 70s--Pinot Blancs and blends--that had developed complexity while retaining minerality in the style of a great, mature white Burgundy. The Sauvignons there, like the Gewurztraminer, do a lovely job of finding the sweet center of that grape's potential with regard to balancing acidity and strident herbal flavors with a juicy fluidity and mineral texture.

Of course there are a lot of mediocre wines from the AA, but that's true of every region. Yet the chances of finding something delicious, satisfying and well made from the region are higher for the AA than from many, many regions, including in my opinion, Alsace.

Dec 06, 2008
Jordan Mackay in Features

Entering French Basque Country

Thanks for the great comments and the shout-outs to Pau and Jurancon. We were blown away by the city and by the region. It's the kind of place I could imagine living in for a while and being very happy. My wife and I too took a picnic to the hills of Jurancon and sitting their at a table looking out at the mountains and the vineyards, munching cheese, bread and saucisson with a half bottle of white and a half bottle of Madiran turned out to be on of the most enjoyable meals of our trip.

Oct 21, 2008
Jordan Mackay in Features

My Summer Wine Love


Any good wine shop should have some. Just ask for the Spanish white section. If you can't find any, you might just look for wines called Verdejo.

Jun 05, 2008
Jordan Mackay in Features

Forget Napa and Sonoma

Vintage47, sorry

I disagree that it's "reverse snobbery." While it's often great to write about things that are easily obtainable and that everybody knows about, such stories about the everyday would probably fail to interest a reader such as you. Sometimes it seems worthwhile to write about rarer things that are hard to obtain but worth the effort. If a reader is interested, these wines can be located and tried. I've been driven to pursue rare wines many times based on what I've read in an article. Furthermore, the intent above was also to alert people to the quality in the specific region so if they encounter such wines they will recognize them.

Jun 05, 2008
Jordan Mackay in Features

High-End Tonic

Ms DiPesto,

I'm not aware that tonic keeps its fizz longer if it's not refrigerated. But I really think the answer is buying it in small bottles. These new brands I discuss in the article only come in small bottles, while the supermarket brands like Schweppes come in both small and large. Even if Schweppes in the small bottles is more expensive, I almost always find it's worthwhile, as I always get fresh tonic and I don't tend to waste tonic as inevitably happens in the larger sizes.


I didn't mention the Whole Foods brand, which I agree is better than most. For my taste, though, a little on the sweet side.

Desertsun, I agree about Boodles, a fine and truly underrated gin. For its assertive flavor profile, though, I think it would make a seamless match with the Q. I'll try it myself with the Fever Tree when I get a chance and report back.


Jun 05, 2008
Jordan Mackay in Features

Bar in the Japan Center with big, Japanese-style ice cubes?

A friend told me that she visited such a bar a couple of years ago. Does anyone know if this place still exists? If not, any other place in the Bay area doing extra-large ice cubes for cocktails (besides the Slanted Door)?


That Heady Molecular Mixology

You're right about This. Herve This appears to have coined it, while Adria popularized it. Thanks for the the point of distinction.

Feb 12, 2008
Jordan Mackay in Features

The Chardonnay Conundrum

Jason, to answer your question above--"Why Meursault only?"--and a very fair question indeed. The answer is quite simple: space. We try to keep these columns short and sweet, which is difficult, given that, as you know, any topic in wine and spirits tends to lead to others and others in an endless chain of qualification and elaboration. So, I chose Meursault as just one particular example of what great Chardonnay could be. Natually, I would have liked to focus on Montrachet as the apotheosis of Chardonnay and perhaps every wine grape, but given the highly limited access we all have to that wine, it wasn't practical. And of course I could have gone into Puligny or Chassagne, but I like the was Meursault is positioned between the two and it generally makes a Chardonnay that even those steeped in California can understand.

Thanks, as always, to you--and everyone--for the excellent comments and discussion.

Feb 12, 2008
Jordan Mackay in Features

Ports to Call On

Thanks so much for your corrections. I don't feel picked on at all. I must say that my information came from notes taken a day spent with a representative of a major port house. Perhaps I drank a little too much tawny or maybe some of the information I got was a bit off. Either way, thanks for setting the record straight on all the details. I certainly appreciate the extra nuance you have given my understanding of port.

Feb 04, 2008
Jordan Mackay in Features

Slushy Blended Margarita

Good to see this recipe. I made very similar margaritas all the time, growing up in Texas. Limeade is actually very good stuff. However, I'd often supplement it with the fresh juice of one lime and some OJ, if we didn't have triple sec. Would use about half a can of limeade for each blenderful of margarita. Nothing better when it's 95 degrees outside.

Jan 23, 2008
Jordan Mackay in Recipes

I Like Cheap Mexican Beer

True, Bohemia is more of classic pilsner style. It's got some hops and some bite, which the other top-tier (in sales) Mexican beers don't.

But would love to hear from anyone going to Baja or the Pacific Coast of Mexico this year, if they can find Estrella and what they think of it. I loved it, but then I was in a little, eco-fishing village on the sand with my girlfriend at the time. On such occasions, I surmise, it's hard to find a bad beer.

Jan 23, 2008
Jordan Mackay in Features

Late Night Dining in the East Bay?

Thanks to everyone for posting.

And, yes, Melanie, you're right. I reread my friend's email to discover the show's not until Monday. He's getting in late on Sunday, not going to the show that night. Because of this, I realize I might be forced to drive to the EB just to see him that night (my Monday is completely booked, day and night). So, I'll have to choose wisely from the selections you guys came up with. Obviously, Cesar would be best. But probably closed when he gets in.



Late Night Dining in the East Bay?

A gastronomically inclined friend is coming up from LA for the Ryan Adams show next Sunday and was hoping to find something delicious after the show, 11-ish. Anything come to mind?


St. George Spirits Absinthe Verte?

It's my understanding than thujone at levels at less than 10 ppm are allowed in the U.S. and that quality absinthe from before the ban was shown to have it in such quantities. Common household herbs like a sage leaf evidently has a higher concentration of thujone than a bottle of absinthe.

Lance Winters, the distiller for St. George Spirits, explained to me that it is the grand wormwood--artemisia absentia--which is direly bitter. In contrast, petite wormwood is almost sweet. An artful combination of the two creates an absinthe that is palatable. The tradition of adding sugar almost surely comes from an era when absinthe was thujone and wormwood heavy, requiring massive sweetening to make it potable.

Bohemian absinthe such as you'd find easily in Prague does not louche. La Fée makes two kinds--Parisian and Bohemian. Both are remarkably colored, but the latter has an unearthly blue-green hue that suggests laundry detergent more than anything you'd want to put in your body. I cannot believe that the color is natural. Anyway, the louche effect comes mostly from the presence of anise or fennel, which the eastern european style typically does not contain. So La Fée bohemian doesn't cloud up and it doesn't taste particularly compelling, as I find the presence of anise delicious in a well-made absinthe.
St. George has not only star anise and fennel but mint, basil and tarragon, creating a truly multifaceted expression of related flavor compounds. I love it, especially when properly watered back.

The New Whiskey Rebellion

Thanks for mentioning Pikesville, annehoward. I'm a fan too. It's a great rye and worth knowing about.


Aug 22, 2007
Jordan Mackay in Features

BYO Whiners

Thanks for all the responses. I love bringing my wine into places. I wish there were more BYO joints in SF. I'm also happy to bring in my own stemware and relieve the restaurant entirely of responsibility. And, yes, there are even restaurants here that have so-called "decent" lists, but when I visit I still want to bring my own wine because I know that I won't be able to find something I want to drink at a price I can afford. However annoying that is I fight against my desire to bring in a wine, as it's just not cool.

In fact, it's a testament to how much I like the food (and I have one restaurant in mind) that I continue to go back despite the wine list and the poor stemware.

Jul 27, 2007
Jordan Mackay in Features

Root of the Matter

I too am a root beer lover. IBC was always my drink, once Mug, which was a native San Francisco product, was bought by Pepsi in 1986.

The one thing I can definitively say about root beer is that it's a great hangover cure--something about it is soothing to the savaged brain and cuts the tape on the road to recovery.

Jul 09, 2007
Jordan Mackay in Features

Booze Hounds

There's been research done that, when ignorant of scores, more consumers prefer balanced wines of lower alcohols. But most consumers, even those who profess a preference for low-alcohol wines will always take a wine that scores 95 points over one that scores 89. It's human nature.

That said, lots of California winemakers are talking about the need to reduce alcohol levels. They just don't want to make wines that are less fruity or jammy. BUt it's hard to have the cake and eat it too.

Jun 27, 2007
Jordan Mackay in Features

Here's to the Holy Land


That would make it more in the Right Bank style. Glad to hear some of you are hip to Israeli wines.

Jun 27, 2007
Jordan Mackay in Features