CVIndependent

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Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

Wine

18 Dec 2017
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At long last, the desert’s al fresco season has arrived. What better way is there to end an exhausting day of NASCAR-style evasive driving down Highway 111 than by relaxing on your favorite restaurant patio? This is where you’ll find me any given early evening. I’ll be pretty easy to spot: Just look for the gal sipping a full-bodied red with an ice cube floating in it. Say what?! Ice in red wine? That’s right; you heard me. Before you clutch your pearls and recoil in horror, allow me to demystify this greatest of all wine crimes. Several years back, I was sitting in a restaurant and having lunch with a notable winemaker. In the middle of a sentence, he casually picked up his fork, fished out an ice cube from his water glass, and plinked it into his glass of red wine. The look on my face must have…
14 Nov 2017
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The holidays are here, and every publication across the country is offering up advice on the perfect wines to serve for Thanksgiving and beyond. These articles all suggest there is some skeleton-key wine out there that magically and universally pairs with everything on the table, somehow unlocking the doors to flavor bliss. This is a lie. Take it from me: There is no one wine in existence that will perfectly pair with candied sweet potatoes, tart cranberry sauce, oyster stuffing, green beans, a honey-glazed ham and your 20-pound overcooked turkey. Anyone who tells you otherwise has no idea what they’re talking about. Let’s face it … the holidays can be rough. It’s incredibly stressful to host a dinner party for a throng of people, let alone the singularly most hyped meal of the year. Adding to that, the Thanksgiving guest list can be downright cringe-worthy: in-laws, a crabby grandpa, an…
17 Oct 2017
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One of the best perks of being a sommelier is that I get paid to drink. In fact, it’s expected that I drink—specifically, that I taste everything I can, as often as I can. And I happily oblige. This beautiful thing called wine is an ever-changing and ever-evolving experience, and the only way to truly understand it is to immerse yourself in it. For those of us in the hospitality industry here in the desert, this time of year means it’s time to put on the crash helmet and dive in. Every week for the next month, there will be a ballroom somewhere in the valley filled with people sampling wine being poured by eager suppliers hoping to gain a spot on a wine list or a placement on a bottle-shop shelf. I’m fresh off tasting No. 2. As I made my way from table to table, I couldn’t help…
17 Sep 2017
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The first thing I do when I move to a new town is find the local wine shop. I do this, in part, because no one needs a glass (read: bottle) of wine more than the person who just bubble-wrapped their whole life and went on countless Home Depot runs for more boxes, because they had no idea they had this much crap. (OK, maybe that’s just me.) Specifically, I look for the independent wine shop, because I am a wine super-nerd looking for other wine super-nerds. I know that, in these little stores tucked away in strip malls and located off frontage roads, I will find great wines—and more importantly, great people. The guys and gals who run local wine stores do it because they love wine. They are passionate salespeople who not only know what they’re talking about, but are genuinely interested in helping you find your new…
17 Aug 2017
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What’s that, you say? You love rosé? Well, if you live in the sunny Coachella Valley, you’re in luck! While people in a large portion of the country are preparing for a frigid future—planning to spend part of their Labor Day weekend digging out the plastic bins that house their parkas and fleece underwear—here in the valley of eternal summer, we have another two months of scorching heat. While that thought is enough to bring grown men to tears, I choose to celebrate this fact with more rosé—yes, the little pink wine that was once the recipient of scornful glances, side-eye stares and snickers from fellow restaurant patrons is now having its proverbial day in the sun. Considering all of this newfound fame, I started wondering whether people actually know what rosé is. This question was answered, in part, when I watched the recently released Vogue video interview with Drew…
25 Jul 2017
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You moved back to the desert? From Napa? On purpose? Yep. And I couldn’t be happier. Naturally, your next question might be whether I suffered some kind of head trauma or had a lobotomy. After all, I am in the wine business, so Napa should be my holy land, my Mecca. That was certainly the idea when the wine-distribution company I worked for moved me there seven years ago. They were going to get me out of the desert and put me where I belonged—to be among “my people.” After some convincing, I bought into that idea. I had no clue how wrong that idea was. It was March, and it was beautiful in Palm Springs—warm, sunny and with a plethora of exciting events happening all the time. So long, farewell, adieu. It was March, and it was cold, rainy and dark in Napa. And it stayed that way for…
27 Jun 2017
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There is a Napa vintner who was born into a winemaking family in France and married into winemaking royalty in California. He loves throwing lavish parties and spraying his guests with Champagne. Even in photos taken in the vineyard, he dresses like he’s meeting James Bond for a game of baccarat. Picture this man. Now picture his polar opposite. That’s Randall Grahm, the founding winemaker from Bonny Doon Vineyard in Santa Cruz, who drives an old Citroën and writes parodic wine-themed lyrics to Dylan songs. Grahm is in his 60s, and still ponytailed. “I’m Randall Grahm, and welcome to my nightmare,” he said at a recent event. This got a laugh, but it echoes his James Beard Award-winning book, Been Doon So Long, where one rambling footnote paints in grim detail the indignity winemakers have to endure to sell wine: They pour their “product” (or life’s work … whatever) in…
02 Jun 2017
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There is a new wine shop in town—a rare treat for us desert denizens. It’s actually a reimagining of one of the desert’s few wine shops, Dan’s. No longer will you be greeted by Dan; most days of the week, you’ll find Matt Young, a tall, friendly, handsome young man who looks like a football player. There’s a reason for that: When he moved to the desert back in 2006, he was all set to play football for College of the Desert. However, an injury prevented him from playing, so he entered the fire academy to become a smoke-jumper, but he suffered another injury. He briefly trained as a fire inspector, but knew he “could not sit at a desk.” Shortly thereafter, Young found himself returning to the family business—hospitality and service. Young grew up in Paso Robles, where his parents owned and operated restaurants. There, he was surrounded by…