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Guajillo Chile Crisis

Your choices are all relatively mild, but I'd probably go with the Pasillas myself. I found a couple of websites comparing the Scoville ranges of each of those here:

http://www.wiw.org/~corey/chile/scovi...
http://www.ushotstuff.com/Heat.Scale.htm

Jun 06, 2008
winechik in Home Cooking

What is your deal breaker?

kd- you're right, they're usually the same, made from Thompson Seedless grapes. SO2 has a bleaching effect on them, which is why they are yellow instead of brown. Goldens might be able to maintain a higher moisture content because of the preservative benefits of SO2.

Jun 06, 2008
winechik in Home Cooking

Homemade sauces for raw oysters

Ooh! I'll have to track some down! Thanks for the suggestion EN!

Jun 06, 2008
winechik in Home Cooking

ISO ideas for roast duck leftovers

How bout Duck Fried Rice or if you wanted to use all the leftovers in a dish, a Duck Pot Pie with a red-wine sauce.

Jun 06, 2008
winechik in Home Cooking

Homemade sauces for raw oysters

I've done a few of the suggested recipes from Hog Island Oyster Co. and their Hog Wash sauce is rather tasty. That said, my favorite topping for oysters is a little bit of lemon/lime and a few drops of Tapatio.

Here's a link to the HIOC recipe page:
http://tinyurl.com/6qj8pg

Jun 06, 2008
winechik in Home Cooking

COOKBOOKS of MONTH OF JUNE: Penelope Casas

I've made the Barcelona Rice Salad before and it should be fine overnight. I'd mix the rice and dressing but leave the rest of the ingredients on top so the leafy stuff doesn't wilt too much. Other than that, it should be fine. As weird as it may seem, the salad tastes great with the mayo on top. Best of luck!

May 31, 2008
winechik in Home Cooking

why do some wines taste so strongly of alcohol?

If a wine is in balance, you're not going to notice anything out of place. Everything will be right where it should be and it will be seamless. If you find one of those wines, buy a case.

On the nose, if the alcohol is strong and the wine doesn't have an equally powerful set of aroma compounds, you're going to have burnt nostrils. Temperature has some effect on this, but ultimately the wine is not in balance with itself and there's nothing you can really do.

Acid, tannin, and residual sugar all help to bring the alcohol of a wine into balance on the palate. If you try some of the high octane monster Zins (or Cabs) from California, you might notice that there's a hint of sweetness on the palate. When you're smelling jammy/fruity notes, you're expecting it to match on the palate. One of the things that helps with that is a little bit of sugar. It rounds out and integrates the riper notes with the alcohol.

To wrap your brain around "suppleness", try picturing shapes/textures when you're tasting. I'm a very visual person, so when I'm tasting, I tend to "see" shapes. Some wines are soft and round, some are sharp and pointy, some are rough but with rounded edges, some are just weird. For myself, when people refer to a wine as supple, it tends to be that balanced softer/round/lush "shape".

May 29, 2008
winechik in Wine

The Last Course

It's listed as OOP but if you try to purchase it through the RH storefront, it allows you to do so. It may not be back IN print, but they must have a few stashed away in a warehouse somewhere. I ordered the book back in March and received it at the beginning of May. I much prefer to pay $40 than the $100+ I was seeing on Amazon!

May 28, 2008
winechik in Home Cooking

champagne

It is very possible that there is no date on the label. Many sparkling wines are categorized as NV or non-vintage which usually means that the base wine is a blend of two or more vintages where there is no distinctly predominant vintage. I'm guessing this bottle you're referring to is made by Pleasant Valley Wine Co. in the Finger Lakes. If that's correct, then they seem to produce three different styles of sparkling wines, none of which hold a vintage designation.

If you're still fairly concerned about figuring out the approximate age of the bottle, you can try taking a picture of the label and sending it to the winery. A lot of times wineries change their labels and this can give you an idea of when the bottle was produced. Good luck!

May 28, 2008
winechik in Wine

Just my 2¢ -- California makes the best California wines in the world

EA- I agree with some of your post, but I'd like to address this:

"First is the French term, terroir. My problem with that is the emphasis on soil, which is way less important that weather. "

Correct me if I'm wrong here, but the term terroir refers to more than just the soil. It encompasses the whole of the location in which the grapes are planted, from the microclimate surrounding the vine to the macroclimate of the vineyard/appellation and the mesoclimates in between. It takes the topography of the site into consideration, and the topography directly influences the weather surrounding the vines.

I would not go so far as to say that the weather is more important than the soil, it's an important factor, but even if you have ideal weather, if the ground that your vines are planted on is not, you're not going to get very far. "Terroir" takes all this into consideration. To me, that's what makes it a fascinating concept. It also makes it challenging (read: nearly impossible) to define in hard terms.

May 22, 2008
winechik in Wine

wine store near milton, ma

Many (Most?) reputable wine stores will take back a bottle of corked wine and either replace it or refund the money you spent. This policy also applies to wineries if you happen to be close enough to return the bottle yourself. So, if you find it to be corked, just pour it back into the bottle, and stick the cork back into it and take it back.

Note: the wine has to be flawed, you can't just return wines you didn't happen to care for

May 21, 2008
winechik in Wine

Inexpensive wines for summer wedding

If you can find it, you and your wife might find a great compromise in Cloudy Bay's Te Koko SB. It's a native yeast/native ML, barrel-fermented/aged savvy with that same great acid that you find in typical NZ savs and the great roundness you get from a barrel fermented wine. I'm not sure as to its availability in the States, but it was an interesting wine to make.

May 18, 2008
winechik in Wine

Is this wine safe to taste - report

Glad to hear it's not gone bad after some serious neglect!

You could probably get your hands on some glass and a hand-corker and bottle it up. And if you don't drink it all, it sounds like it'd make a killer sauce for a steak or pork tenderloin!

May 17, 2008
winechik in Wine

producers in this wine event i shouldn't miss? (see post for golden glass attendees)

I fully support the suggestions so far, and would second the Jim Barry and the Cullen from Oz. I would also definitely go for the Nautilus if they're pouring their pinot. I was very impressed by them last year when I was working in Marlborough.

May 17, 2008
winechik in Wine

Is this wine safe to taste?

You're probably 99% safe. Most microbes don't enjoy the challenges involved in living in wine. If the concentration of sugar doesn't hold them off, the alcohol usually kills them. Even yeast doesn't really survive the fermentation process unscathed. Also, I hope that's a 20 liter (~5gal) carboy, not a 20 gallon one.

P.S. Is it cloudy because you've moved it around or was it just cloudy?

May 17, 2008
winechik in Wine

Soy sauce + butter = yum!

One of my old roomates used to use a soy-butter basting sauce on her Thanksgiving turkey. It turns it a beautiful brown color and tastes great, probably not great for your sodium levels, but it's a holiday right? Also, gravy made from the drippings has that great color as well, but is on the salty side.

May 15, 2008
winechik in Home Cooking

Store wine on its side or standing up?

If you're drinking them fairly quickly and the turnover between cabinet and fridge is a couple weeks, then you're probably fine. If you're taking longer than a month to move them, I'd recommend storing them on their sides. This is also assuming you've got bottles with (real) corks. If you need an easy (read: cheap) way of storing them sideways, get a wine box with the dividers and put it on its side. If you're storing the wine bottles standing up, the box should fit where some stacking systems might not.

One other solution would be to drink faster ;)

May 15, 2008
winechik in Wine

Salon Champagne

Salon is an amazing Champagne regardless of the vintage, but the 2006 is absurdly delicious. I was at a marketing event at the Bubble Lounge in San Francisco and a rep from their distributor had it hidden under the table. I saw him pull it out for someone and recognized that green/gold label and asked him very nicely for a taste. And then I asked for just one more. It didn't hurt that the winery I worked for was also distributed by his company and that we were in the business of making bubbly domestically. Since then, I've tasted it blind against other tete de cuvees from the more popular houses, and time and again it has come out on top.

If you love Champagne and want to taste the preeminent blanc de blancs-style bubbly, you cannot miss with Salon. If you're willing to spend that much money on a bottle, I'd pick Salon over Krug, Bollinger, and the much overrated Cristal.

May 12, 2008
winechik in Wine

The Last Course by Claudia Fleming

I was looking for the book forever and decided to give it a go at the the Random House website. I ordered the book in early March and didn't hear anything from them until the end of April when the book shipped. Somewhere, somehow they found one and managed to fill my order, so it might be worth a go for those of you who are still looking. Also, with S&H, it came out to about $47.

May 12, 2008
winechik in Food Media & News

New to CH -- Napa/Sonoma Winery rec's

I'd recommend hitting no more than 3-4 wineries a day in order to get the full experience and enjoyment out of each. Some of these places are going to have tours/tastings and others will just have bar-style tasting room. Check out the websites and see what they've got going on. Tours can be interesting and informative, but sometimes it's a little bit of a drag to see the barrel room at three different places. Places with a lot of history or a groovy "you don't always see this" feature tend to have a better tour.

Most of your picks seem to be up-valley in/around Calistoga, I'd personally recommend Larkmead, Montelena, August Briggs, and Von Strasser. If you do go up to visit Van Strasser, you might want to take a little walk/drive further up the road and visit Reverie. It's got some gorgeous gardens and they make some pretty tasty wines (not to mention that they're about 20 feet away). I haven't been up to Castello di Amarosa yet, but if you're considering V. Sattui, I'd probably say that the castle is going to be more of an impressive experience. Their St. Helena tasting room is fine, but with the money that they've spent on the new digs, it might be worth a look. Frank Family is known to be friendly, but I've never been to their tasting room. I'd pass on Freemark Abbey, though the Silverado Brewery right next door is somewhere I'd recommend.

As for your Sonoma picks, both Bella and Pride have always treated me well. Preston is pretty awesome as well. Those would be a nice trio of places to visit on one of your days.

Also, I don't really want to add to that list of yours and you might not appreciate the shameless plug, but should you happen to be in Calistoga, as a former member of the winemaking team at Schramsberg, I can't help but recommend their wines and their tour. There's nothing like it.

Apr 19, 2008
winechik in San Francisco Bay Area