Friday, October 31, 2014

Traveling Corks wine bar to open in former cigar shop

Wines by the glass and a retail wine store will outfit South Tampa's new Traveling Corks.

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 10:50 AM

Traveling Corks' storefront is at 3219 Bay to Bay Blvd. - CHIP WEINER
  • Chip Weiner
  • Traveling Corks' storefront is at 3219 Bay to Bay Blvd.

The latest wine-slinging biz to hit South Tampa is Traveling Corks, which sits at 3219 Bay to Bay Blvd. in the former Ta Francisco Handmade Cigars space.

Owned by Dominique Conn-Giolito, Traveling Corks will function as a wine bar, with wines by the glass, and a retail shop. Conn-Giolito told CL she hopes to open the spot's doors before Thanksgiving (Thursday, Nov. 27).

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Drink More Wine: What a pair

Choosing wines that complement or contrast your holiday feasts.

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 6:40 AM

COVER THE SPREAD: Holiday meals are so varied they can be hard to pair with just one wine. - ALCINOE VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Alcinoe via Wikimedia Commons
  • COVER THE SPREAD: Holiday meals are so varied they can be hard to pair with just one wine.

As we approach the holidays and prepare to celebrate with family and friends, wine always seems to work its way into the discussion. I hope you’re all tasting more and expanding your palate, reaching outside your comfort zone to try new things.

I also trust that you’re taking these newfound experiences and applying the knowledge you’ve gleaned from examining the elements that make up a great glass of wine — those that we’ve covered over the past few months in these pages. You don’t have to be a wine expert, or even desire to be one, to benefit from learning about vino and bringing the knowledge you’ve acquired to enhance your enjoyment of wine.

So let’s look at two basic pairing principles to build a strategy for what to bring to the Thanksgiving table or the myriad holiday meals leading up to New Year’s Eve.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Eddie V's announces inaugural lineup of Thanksgiving eats

Diners may enjoy a turkey dinner entree or the full Eddie V's menu on Thanksgiving.

Posted By on Tue, Oct 21, 2014 at 7:40 PM

The eatery's turkey dinner entree, with mashed taters, gravy and more. - EDDIE V'S PRIME SEAFOOD
  • Eddie V's Prime Seafood
  • The eatery's turkey dinner entree, with mashed taters, gravy and more.
For the first time, Tampa's Eddie V's Prime Seafood will serve dinner from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving (Thursday, Nov. 27).

The restaurant's full, a la carte dinner menu will be featured. And so will slices of pumpkin pie drizzled with praline sauce ($8) and a homestyle turkey dinner entree ($32 for adults, $15 for kids).

The dish comes with all the classic fixin's, including brioche stuffing, cranberry sauce, green beans and acorn squash.

The only thing that's missing is your grandma's whipped cream fruit salad. Well, not really.

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Drink More Wine: Of wood and wine

Barrel-aging can produce a variety of results.

Posted By on Fri, Sep 26, 2014 at 8:14 AM

OVER A BARREL: Oak flavors in wine can run from subtle to overpowering. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • OVER A BARREL: Oak flavors in wine can run from subtle to overpowering.

It’s been said that oak in wine is like catnip for humans. And there is something positively alluring about the butteriness that time in a toasted barrel imparts. However, some winemakers hide behind barrel-aging, and distinct varietal fruit flavors (which is what wine is really about) are masked. No one, after all, wants to drink a glass of wood.

And it seems that lower-priced California chardonnays, in particular, tend to be the culprits. They may be fine for everyday sipping to unwind after work, but they’re notoriously bad when it comes to pairing. Unless you’ve got a rich, buttery cream sauce, the oak buries the fruit and the wine tastes harsh and flat with food. Good cooks, however, understand how bridge ingredients help pull a dish toward those flavors that make the match compatible; think caramelization, brown butter, sesame oil or toasted nuts.

The wood barrel, in addition, is a source of tannin (which also comes from juice-stem contact during fermentation). It’s a natural preservative and one of the components that gives wine, particularly reds, longevity.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Winevasion in store for the region this weekend

The weekend's bill of wine festivals makes it good to be a vino lover.

Posted By on Tue, Sep 9, 2014 at 6:17 PM

A slew of food pairings by area eateries will also be showcased at the galas. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • A slew of food pairings by area eateries will also be showcased at the galas.

Those who prefer sipping wines over craft beers have the weekend to look forward to.

Three fine wine gatherings, all in Tampa, plan to please festivalgoers' palates through a variety of wine tastings, local grub and other festivities.

Tampa Theatre's 13th annual film-themed wine festival, which kicks off Friday with a two-tiered sampling, is called Monty Python and the Holy Grape. According to a press release, the theme incorporates some of event chair John Wolfe's favorite things, "namely Game of Thrones, shrubbery and swallow."

Catrinas Cocina Y Galeria, Anise Global Gastrobar, Bern's Steak House and more will serve food samplings, and guests may also participate in a silent auction.

Tickets for the fest's Premium Tasting and Wine Pairing, which is Saturday, are sold out. However, Friday's Grand Tasting from 8 to 10 p.m. is still accepting guests. Tickets are $50 in advance.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sipping soirée: Ybor City gets its first wine festival

The inaugural Ybor City Wine Fest will feature more than 100 wines, local food pairings and more.

Posted By on Thu, Aug 21, 2014 at 6:00 PM

“It’s unique in a sense that it’s showcasing the flavor of Ybor,” says Kosar of Ybor’s first wine festival. - YBOR CITY WINE BAR
  • Ybor City Wine Bar
  • “It’s unique in a sense that it’s showcasing the flavor of Ybor,” says Kosar of Ybor’s first wine festival.

Ybor might be many folks’ destination of choice for nightlife merriment, but Jayme Kosar, owner of Ybor City Wine Bar, says she wants to show off another side of the historic neighborhood through an inaugural wine festival.

Featuring a broad selection of wines, eats from Ybor restaurants and live music, the Ybor City Wine Fest, hosted by Kosar’s wine bar, will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 14, at the Centro Ybor complex along Eighth Avenue.

“I want to expand the culture of wine to Ybor,” Kosar says.

Check in will begin at the Ybor City Wine Bar on the complex’s ground floor, and from there, guests will be escorted upstairs to the wine festival, where nearby eateries, including Carne ChopHouse, Hamburger Mary’s and Tampa Bay Brewing Company, will offer grub throughout the day.

More than 100 wines from major distributors will be served alongside the food pairings, and the event’s wine assortment for VIP ticketholders will include brands like Nickel & Nickel, Duckhorn and Faust. Kosar says the wine fest will be an upscale event, and that she expects around 400 guests.

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Drink More Wine: Kings of riesling

Winemakers in Germany and Washington are redefining the varietal.

Posted By on Fri, Aug 15, 2014 at 7:19 AM

GRAPE ROYALTY: Ernst Loosen and Bob Bertheau. - JON PALMER CLARIDGE
  • Jon Palmer Claridge
  • GRAPE ROYALTY: Ernst Loosen and Bob Bertheau.
Ernst “Erni” Loosen is a regal guy. I first met the renowned winemaker and charismatic front man for some of the German Mosel region’s best wines at the NY Wine Experience in 1995. It’s an opportunity for wine buffs and trade professionals to taste great wines from across the globe. I didn’t know much about riesling then, but his Dr. Loosen wines (and friendly demeanor) blew me away.

Fast forward to 2014. Earlier this month, on one of those arduous sojourns that food critics take so you don’t have to, I went to Germany to taste along the Rhine and Mosel, and the first appointment I made was for Dr. Loosen, Erni’s “weingut” at the charming, historic family home on the banks of the Mosel just north of the picturesque town of Bernkastel.

A few days before my appointment, in between stuffing my face with every kind of wurst and potato variation known to man, I took a side trip to one of Europe’s most famous and distinctive castles, Burg Eltz. As I waited in the courtyard for the English-language tour to begin, I turned and there they were. Two honest-to-god wine monarchs. Right in front of me, surrounded by cobblestones and ancient turrets in all their royal glory, the “Kings of Riesling”: Erni Loosen and his U.S. partner, Bob Bertheau, winemaker of Chateau Ste. Michelle, the flagship Washington state winery based just outside Seattle.

I’ve long been a fan of Ch. Ste. Michelle’s wine portfolio and visited in 2012. Not only do they produce an amazing 1 million cases of their perennial, off-dry “best buy” Columbia Valley riesling (widely available under $10), but they produce a dry version at the same price point.

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Annata to open on Beach Drive near end of August

The wine bar hangout by Kurt Cuccaro of Mazzaro’s will feature rotating wines and small plates.

Posted By on Tue, Aug 5, 2014 at 1:59 PM

Similar to the offerings at Mazzaro's, Annata plans to rotate its wines regularly. - MAZZARO'S ITALIAN MARKET VIA FACEBOOK
  • Mazzaro's Italian Market via Facebook
  • Similar to the offerings at Mazzaro's, Annata plans to rotate its wines regularly.

Annata, the Beach Drive wine bar that Mazzaro’s Italian Market co-owner Kurt Cuccaro is opening, will launch around the end of August, as reported Tuesday by the Tampa Bay Business Journal.

According to the publication, there will be 45 seats inside, and 30 outside along the sidewalk.

The wine bar is nestled next to The Hooker Tea Company at 300 Beach Drive NE, where AnnaStella Cajun Bistro used to be. Justin Chamoun, former owner of another St. Pete stalwart, St. Pete Brasserie, will join Cuccaro in the venture as general manager.

In an interview with CL at the beginning of the year, back when Cuccaro hadn’t settled on Annata’s name, he said the wine bar will showcase charcuterie plates, a rare selection of cheeses and rotating wines by the glass.

“I've been talking about doing some type of restaurant thing for a while,” Cuccaro said.

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Glorious grapes

Twenty-seven Bay area eateries receive coveted accolades from Wine Spectator magazine.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 10, 2014 at 5:31 PM

This year, the magazine recognized 3,748 restaurants' wine selections. - KATIE MACHOL SIMON
  • Katie Machol Simon
  • This year, the magazine recognized 3,748 restaurants' wine selections.

The winners of Wine Spectator's annual Restaurant Wine List Awards were revealed yesterday, and 27 restaurants throughout the Bay area made the cut.

From all 50 states and more than 80 countries, 3,748 eateries took home one of three awards for their lust-worthy wine lists, which needed to contain interesting offerings, mesh well with the cuisine being served and tantalize a variety of wine enthusiasts' taste buds.

The Grand Award (the magazine's highest honor) had 74 winners, the Best of Award of Excellence had 883 and the Award of Excellence (its third highest honor) had 2,791.

Seventeen Tampa Bay restaurants, including Donatello, Caretta On The Gulf and Tapping The Vine, walked away with the Award of Excellence, while Rococo Steak and Massimo's were among the nine nosheries that won the Best of Award of Excellence.

Providing diners with more than 6,800 wines to choose from, Bern's Steak House was the region's only restaurant to receive the Grand Award.

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Drink More Wine: Boozy grapes

Alcohol, when in balance, lends a good wine its body.

Posted By on Fri, Jun 27, 2014 at 8:54 AM

Wines like California Cabernet Sauvignon often have a greater alcohol content. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • Wines like California Cabernet Sauvignon often have a greater alcohol content.

For the past three months, I’ve encouraged you to use your mind as you sip wine. By now, active tasting should give you a basic understanding of the forwardness of fruit, tannins’ pucker-factor, and the palate-cleansing action of acidity. Now, let’s discuss alcohol. The percentage is listed right on the bottle and it’s an important hint about what’s inside.

Ever since influential wine critic Robert Parker lauded the ripe, full-bodied, high-alcohol 1982 Bordeaux vintage, there has been pressure on winemakers to delay harvests and aim for intense flavors. With longer hang time comes more sugar, and more sugar equals higher alcohol in the process of fermentation. This style of wine has been grabbing higher scores from wine writers; high scores mean better sales. Luckily, advances in technology have made this less risky, but many winemakers feel that the traditional style of their wines has been compelled to change by market forces.

Warmer climates also play a role, so a “new world” riesling from California is likely to be much more potent than a traditional one from a cooler “old world” climate, like Germany. These technological advances mean less bad wine, but often wine that lacks a sense of place, or “terroir.” No one wants a homogenized wine world where every bottle made from a particular grape tastes alike.

Let’s look at the typical alcohol content of some familiar wines:

Low (under 12.5 percent): Italian prosecco, German riesling, Portuguese rosé.

Moderate (12.5 to 13.5 percent): French Champagne, Spanish cava, New Zealand sauvignon blanc, French Burgundy & Bordeaux, Italian Chianti, Oregon pinot noir, Spanish Rioja.

High (13.5 to 14.5 percent): California chardonnay & cabernet sauvignon, French Sauternes, Argentine malbec, Australian shiraz, Chilean merlot, French Rhône reds, Italian Barolo.

Extreme (more than 14.5 percent): California Zinfandel, Italian Amarone, Portuguese Porto.

The growing sales of intense wines has forced maximum alcohol content up from about 13 percent to “fruit bombs” exceeding 17 percent alcohol. More alcohol also dampens wine’s characteristic bouquet. When you swirl the vino in proper stemware, the wine releases “flavor messages” through evaporation on the “nose.” The transition from liquid to air in higher-alcohol wine is suppressed, so the aromas are subdued.

If I’m just going to drink a glass of wine, I like balanced, high-alcohol wines because of the mouth feel. So often I’ll have a glass of new world chardonnay to sip, but won’t order it with food because it doesn’t go with much except perhaps butter-poached lobster, especially if it’s been aged in new oak (more on that next month). Intense wines often overwhelm the more delicate dishes we see in modern restaurants. Most sommeliers, however, direct diners to more moderate-alcohol wines with higher acidity, which regular readers know makes for a food-friendly match.

So how do you identify too much alcohol in your glass? Give the wine a swirl and sniff; if you smell a sweetness reminiscent of rubbing alcohol or you feel a slight tickle in your nose, the wine is out of balance. If the winemaker has done it right, the alcohol doesn’t make its presence known. The same is true on the palate. Do you notice that your mouth just feels pleasantly warmer or does the alcohol announce itself? If it’s the latter, the wine is too “hot.”

Alcohol, in balance, gives the wine “body.” A varietal that’s meant to be robust in style feels disappointingly thin on the palate if the alcohol is too low. High levels of alcohol act as a preservative, which is why port can last in the bottle far longer than table wine once it’s opened.

Understanding alcohol is an essential part of wine education, and one of the factors to consider when choosing a wine pairing. The exciting part of matching wine with food is that it’s a moving target. But the more you know, and the more experience you have in active tasting, the better your chances for success.

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