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Parker: not awarding 100 points “irresponsible”

I think just keep awarding 100's to those occasional wines you feel are benchmarks. At least that's how I'd interpret Parker's POV.

May 17, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Parker: not awarding 100 points “irresponsible”

He's a bit histrionic at saying a taster is "irresponsible" if they don't occasionally give out a 100...

... but I like his general point: "if the wine is the best example of the varietal that you've ever tasted, you should give it a 100"...

... so it becomes a benchmark of sorts. I generally concur with that, however a 98 or 99 is a ^%$#@ good score too.

May 10, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Wine pairing herby pork?

For "pork" in general, I lean towards rioja, pinot noir, and riesling. With this specific dish, hands down I'd go riesling. It matches your pork, dijon, coriander, mint. Shaving a bit of emmental cheese into your salad will bring it that much closer to the wine.

Wine pairing -- beef cheeks goulash

This dish is so significantly flavored, that matching the spice mix is every bit as important as matching the "red meat". In whites I would look at cousins: scheurebe, riesling, and gewurztraminer.

Apr 13, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Wine for Salmon With Anchovy-Garlic Butter??

A number of wines will work nicely here. Given the salmon, butter, and garlic, I'm particularly loving still chardonnay or predominantly chardonnay champagne with this.

Apr 13, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Wine Numerical Ratings vs Price

Zack: you indirectly (or perhaps intentionally) make an important point regarding the search for good or great value wine: look for 1) great vintages; 2) non-celebrity vineyards located nearby to the perennial high-scorers, where the tasting notes on that wine are consistently positive. Can't over-emphasize enough the importance of the vintage year.

Apr 06, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Girls Weekend Wine Etiquette

I think you can largely avoid these problems by the way you set things up. First, I assume that each attendee is more or less interested in trying every wine. SO, simple... get a sufficient number of glasses for each person and pour the wine in the proper amount that will give everyone a reasonable taste... if there's a bit left over, keep such bottles on a nearby counter for "first come, first served". This will absolutely avoid one glutton drinking 1/3 of a bottle and leaving dregs for eveyrone else.

But a more important point about "cheap wine"... I think you make a mistake by assuming that all wine that doesn't cost $50 is cheap. There is plenty of GREAT wine under $30 and some very good wine under $20. But to your point, there's also alot of jug swill out there, and if one or more of your attendees brings the latest bottle of Yellowtail, well they really have a different agenda than you do bringing a much better wine. In that case, you need to have a talk with the attendees and find out who's serious and who isn't.

Overall thanks for sharing and sounds like you have a really nice meeting there despite these problems.

Apr 04, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Wine

2 wine pairing questions

1: Not 100% clear about what's asked in this question, but question 2 is more important...

2: Interesting question... I'd say I probably take a bite of food first, start to chew it then add an appropriate "splash" of wine on top... and just let the flavors meld together. The other way around seems a bit awkward but if you can hold the wine in your mouth while adding the food, then presumably the taste of the pairing will be roughly the same. A big reason for adding the wine second is that the amount of wine you sip will vary depending on how much food you're chewing: think a nice chunk of steak vs. a much smaller sliver of a fruit tart. To get the pairing flavor to balance you'll probably take different size sips of the wine....

Mar 25, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Italian Table Wine

For everyday, food friendly italian red: valpolicella. Pay a bit more and get Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore.

Mar 18, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Wine

I need Sauterne wine for fondue, but can't find it anywhere.

Easy... but first, one big question is what is the CHEESE in the fondue? If it's gruyere, then go with a gewurztraminer, or better yet a late-harvest gewurztraminer....

... will match your fondue even better than Sauternes!

Alternatively you could go with a very ripe riesling (auslese or beerenauslese or late-harvest)... but it won't match gruyere as well as the gewurztraminer.

Mar 12, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Wine

California-Style Pale Ales: Are they All Bone Dry??

Ditto on good homebrews!

Mar 10, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Beer

Midwest Stout Blind-Tasting Championship and random stout notes

Alas the 2015 Stout Grand Championships have concluded, and we have two incredible winners!

The candidates: four great stouts that consistently beat out the competition in prior blind tastings. Alphabetically they are:

GREAT DIVIDE OAK AGED YETI (the "regular" Yeti, not chocolate or espresso)

Some people may question this group of beers: the ABV's are not identical, one is a porter, the other 3 stouts, they are more expensive than other brews, etc. My goal is not to find beers that are categorically identical. The criteria for this tasting is: price at or under $4-5 per bottle; produced year-round, or on a schedule sufficient to allow stocking up. I'm not looking for one-of-a-kind, or limited production brews like Black Butte, Bourbon County, or Stone Imperial. Also not looking for sky-high alcohol like Dogfish Worldwide or Avery Mephistopheles.

All beers were tasted blind; I knew the 4 beers, but not which was in which glass. Actual tasting notes follow:

BEER 1: Delicious choco-cherry with a hint of tar. Evolves to a carmelly lingering aftertaste. Very nice.

BEER 2: In contast to 1, this is drier with a much narrower flavor spectrum.

BEER 3: Quite choclately, very nicce.... evolves with a hint of coffee.

BEER 4: Very rich semi-dry stout... a more singular flavor but very bold and well-made.

BEER 2: Another sip of Beer 2 and it's out in 4th place. It just doesn't quite hold up to this competition.


BEER 1: Very rich textured brew with hint of cherry-choc evolving to caramel. Delicious.

BEER 3: Wow. More singular than 1... a toffee-flavored beauty. Re-sipping 1 is wonderful, Re-sipping 3 also great...

BEER 4: Is really nice for a dry stout... But day-in, day-out to my palate I prefer the wider spectrum of flavors in Beers 1 and 3. So 4 is out in 3rd place with very honorable mention. Will definitely keep it stocked.

FINAL ROUND: Beer 1 vs. Beer 3

BEER 3: Luscious, rich texture. Very complex.

BEER 1: Wow... just has this super-bright flavor that pops as compared to Beer 3's darker more seductive flavor...

This is very, very close. If I have to pick only one beer, it's probably Beer 1, but this is closer to a tie.

Revealing the winners:

BEER 1: EvilTwin I Love You With My Stout
BEER 2: North Coast Old Rasputin
BEER 3: EvilTwin Lil' B Imperial Porter
BEER 4: Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti.

Mar 08, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Beer

Favorite way to do "flights"

Scout that definitely adds information...

First, those are mostly all "richer reds", with the exception of the Pinor Noir.

One tasting I think your guests would find very interesting would be to highlight the subtle differences AND similarities between 3 or 4 of them... say the Cab, Merlot, Malbec and Zinfandel for example... 5 is a bit much to slog through on the palate unless you have a more dedicated group of tasters IMO.

Pair the wines with matching foods and cheeses so your guests can mix and match and find what most suits their palates. It's nice to have a "menu" of sorts on a single piece of paper that describes the wines, so they can write tasting notes if desired.

And instead of 5 bottles of heavier reds, serve 3 or 4, then finish the event with a nice dessert wine and matching dessert item.

Mar 05, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Favorite way to do "flights"

You can do either one varietal from several winemakers, or different varietals from one or more winemakers... both are equally worthy experiences.

1: Pairings, pairings, pairings. Whatever wine you are currently serving, make sure it matches the foods you're pairing it with, if any.

2: Generally, go from lighter whites to heavier reds

3: Serve a dessert wine of sorts at the end... a port, a late-harvest, a sweet sparkler, etc... along with matching dessert item of course.

4: to "expand" the experience, add a cheese course... you're already serving the wines w/ matching food items, so just introduce a cheese or two that matches that wine, often towards the end of the event... It "doubles up" the amount of pairings your guests get to try, without nearly doubling up the cost of the wine which is already on the table.

Mar 04, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Midwest Stout Blind-Tasting Championship and random stout notes

Correction: That should have been Beer 1: Grande Noirceur; and Beer 2: NHDMBBS.

Mar 02, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Beer

California-Style Pale Ales: Are they All Bone Dry??

Thanks MV....

BTW this thread isn't to knock these particular Cali IPA's. The style is awesome when done right, but can come off dry as quinine too...

...just palate wise I also really like the mixed bitter-sweet style and surprisingly haven't found that in a Cali pale ale product yet.

Mar 02, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Beer

Midwest Stout Blind-Tasting Championship and random stout notes

The last semi-final round features New Holland Dragon's Milk Bourbon Barrel Stout vs. Dieu du Ciel Grande Noirceur. Tasted blind, actual tasting notes follow:

BEER 1: Smooth. A rich espresso prevails. Not particularly notable, but no foul flavors either.

As it warms up, the espresso increases... well-made, just not that compelling.

BEER 2: Creamy. Delicate flavors for a stout. Additional sips yield a nice, inoffensive but perhaps undistinguished brew.

After a time, neither of these beers is sufficiently a standout to move to the finals of this competition. Revealing the beers:

2: Grande Noirceur

SO, the stage is set for the Finals in two weeks, to feature the following four brews:

Great Divide Yeti Oak Aged
North Coast Old Rasputin
EvilTwin I Love You With My Stout
EvilTwin Lil' B

GDYOA and NCOR are carry-over winners from last year's taste-off, so whichever beer(s) survive this final competition will truly deserve the recognition.

Mar 02, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Beer

California-Style Pale Ales: Are they All Bone Dry??

Then we could compare Deschutes Fresh Squeezed, for example, designated a "plain" IPA by it's Oregon brewer... to California's Sculpin & AS-IPA...

...by comparison DFS is at lease "floral" if not sweetish... far from singular dryness long associated with "traditional" IPAs...

And then there's Stone "Enjoy By", brewer-labeled a "double IPA", and yet drier than a bone... good, but very sharply on the dry end of the spectrum.

I just don't think the traditional labels mean much anymore, there's just too much variability, perhaps as brewers try to create unique products.

Mar 01, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Beer

California-Style Pale Ales: Are they All Bone Dry??

Sculpin was really solid, would love to try it on tap...

I can certainly see how 90M can come off to some palates as excessively rich (translate sloggish).

Mar 01, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Beer

California-Style Pale Ales: Are they All Bone Dry??

The IPA / PA / APA / Double IPA / Imperal PA labels long ago stopped meaning much to me...

There are now 100's of beers with the term "pale ale" in them across a spectrum of flavors that just doesn't nicely delineate into one or the other category...

... instead I just look for what tastes good to my palate within that broad spectrum.

Mar 01, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Beer

Winery launches ‘wine and sex’ nights

Beats the heck out of "coffee and dog grooming".... there was a dog-grooming place in Chicago that used to have a sign advertising their lattes....

Marketing 101, some products just don't go together... however, wine & sex might fly.

Feb 27, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Pliny the Younger Sightings 2015

Was in LA for a conference this weekend. Went to the Surly Goat, which popped up on a google search as a good nearby microbrew bar...

Kind of a dive, couldn't find a bar seat so didn't stay... but did notice a sign "Pliny the Younger coming March 5, line forms at 6pm".

Feb 27, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Beer

California-Style Pale Ales: Are they All Bone Dry??

So, have some time in Los Angeles, let's try a couple highly-rated California pale ales... The candidates:
AleSmith IPA
Ballast Point Sculpin
Actual tasting notes follow:

BEER 1: Initially quite bitter... then a waft of flowers that fades to a lingering metallic bitterness on the tongue. This is crisp and well-made for what it is, just very singular and dry for my liking.

BEER 2: this really tastes almost stout-like... after some time in the glass there's almost a "lusciousness" to it...

Re-sipping 1, there's that very well-made singular bitter-arrow style IPA, not unlike, say a Stone Enjoy-By...

Anyway, between sips I realized I haven't had a Cali pale ale that doesn't have a very dry flavor profile... Stone, Sierra Nevada, now AleSmith and Ballast Point... is this California style or just an accident...

I like these beers, but give me a Dogfish 90 minute or a 3-Floyds Dreadnaught anyday.... or an Odell Myrcennary... beers with some sweetness and complexity to balance out the sheer bitters....

NOW, back to the beers at hand... these are growing on me...

BEER 1 is a big bitter monster, in a good way; really makes an impression....

BEER 2 a bit more subdued, somewhat wider flavor spectrum, and perhaps a better aftertaste...

Now blown away by either of these, but guess I'd pick Beer 1 because of the boldness. Now to find out what I've been drinking:

BEER 1: Ballast Point Sculpin
BEER 2: AleSmith IPA

Feb 27, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Beer

Midwest Stout Blind-Tasting Championship and random stout notes

Held another semi-final round this evening, pitting the following 3 beers in a blind tasting:

EvilTwin LilB Porter
Smuttynose Robust Porter
Tallgrass Zombie Monkie Porter

Actual tasting notes follow:

BEER 1: Very rich. Smoky chocolate / coffee... strong rich mocha evolving flavor... seems very well-made.

BEER 2: More "scattered" group of flavors than 1, the notes just don't merge into an identifiable taste as nicely.

Re-sipping 1 is espresso lusciousness, what a lingering smoky-caramel quality 1 has. By contrast, 2 seems almost "fizzy" in texture, with flavors all over the map.

BEER 3: Richer texture than 2... but taste is almost medicinal, like drinking from the Alcohol bottle in the clinic. No reason to drink this....

RESULTS: HANDS DOWN, Beer 1 wins clearly....

Revealing the beers:

Beer 1: Evil Twin Lil B
Beer 2: Smuttynose Robust Porter
Beer 3: Tallgrass Zombie Munkie

Only Evil Twin Lil B will move on to participate in the Finals.

Post-script: Lil B adds on a cherry flavor note with more time out of the bottle. Just luscious stuff.

Feb 24, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Beer

Midwest Stout Blind-Tasting Championship and random stout notes

I'm really not targeting ABV so much as price and availability. These stouts are all available either year-round or nearly so, and they all cost in the range of less than $4 per 12 oz.

In other words, with this championship I'm looking for very high quality EVERYDAY stouts. The rarer "limited releases" are not included in this.

But I recognize your point that this is not a homogenous group, there's alot of variation... I just moved past that and am just looking for what really appeals to my palate on an everyday basis.

Feb 22, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Beer

Midwest Stout Blind-Tasting Championship and random stout notes

The Stout Championship continued last night with a semi-final pitting 3 very worthy challengers:

Bell's Kalamazoo
EvilTwin I Love You with My Stout
Oskar Blues Ten Fidy

All 3 were tasted single-blind: I knew the 3 stouts but not which was in which glass. Actual tasting notes follow:

BEER 1: Delicious. Great depth of flavor. Choco-cherry with caramel and hint of tar. Flavor lingers for minutes...

BEER 2: Solid... a "basic" imperial stout richness, perhaps not as interesting as BEER 1.

Re-Sipping 1: Confirms it's just "more"... deeper, more profound range of flavors, that sweet edge missing in Beer 2. It's really 1 vs. 3 at this point...

BEER 3: Just nothing remarkable here... It makes 2 look good.

Over quick... Beer 1 is the clear winner and will move on to the Finals to face NCOR and GD Oak Aged Yeti.

Revealing the beers:
1: Evil Twin I love You with My Stout
2: Ten Fidy
3: Bell's Kalamazoo

The surprise here is the truly mediocre showing by BK, however ILYWMS is such a superior product that it overwhelmed the other two tonight.

Feb 21, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Beer

wine suggestions to go with a salmon pie

Would really help to know more about the specific recipe. But generically, when I think "salmon" my go-to varietal is chardonnay.

But that's very generic... SB and pinot can also be quite nice, especially like PN if it's grilled salmon...

... then if it's loaded with spices I'd try a kabinett riesling...

so ultimately the recipe rules...

Feb 20, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Wine

What is a "proper pour" for different beers and ale?

Just to add to that... pouring strong especially for bitter brews like IPA's, it really softens and brings out the different flavors that are locked up.

This is palate-specific I guess, as friends of mine turn their nose up when I do a strong pour, saying that it "brings up the yeast" or something... but I just go by flavor, and I've always found it to improve flavor.

Also good for richer beers like BW's, stouts, etc., but IMO the pour doesn't have to be quite as strong to round them out.

And do I worry about dribbling it down the side... not really, sometimes I just turn the bottle upside down and let it splash right onto the bottom of the glass, which of course can create quite a head of foam... but there also I've found when the foam subsides you're often left with the least-bitter, most complex flavor profile that specific beer can develop.

Bottom line I'd suggest trying an experiment... do a soft pour down the side, a strong side pour, and a strong "middle" pour... of the same beer, in 3 glasses. Set it up blind so you can't tell which is in which glass, then let your palate tell you what you like best.


Feb 20, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Beer

What is a "proper pour" for different beers and ale?

Didn't watch the video but picked up on your Point 1: "pour with vigor"...

I couldn't agree more... pouring strong seems to aereate the brews.

Feb 20, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Beer

2015 Everyday Drinking IPA Championship Blind Tasting Results

Quick blind tasting: Uinta Hop Nosh vs. DFS...

Tried a six=pack of Uinta which has just appeared on shelves around here. Had one by itself a few nights back and was quite impressed, so time to match it head-to-head blind with one of my benchmarks...

This one was over fast...

BEER 1: Delicious, complex... nice sweet edges...

BEER 2: More bitter... almost sour by comparison...

A few more tastes and it was obvious this wasn't going to change... BEER 1 is the clear winner...


BEER 2: Uinta Hop Nosh

Classic example of a beer tasting very impressive by itself but much less so when tasted side-by-side with another. And to think I almost ran out and bought another six pack of Hop Nosh right after trying it.

Feb 20, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Beer