Archive for the 'reader mail' Category

Reader mail meets impossible food wine pairings: nori!

What follows below is an actual reader mail that crossed the transom last evening. Laver, similar to nori, is an edible seaweed high in sodium and iron found on rocks off the coast of Scotland and Wales. Mmm, it really is an impossible food-wine pairing! But her relationship is apparently at stake! Roll the tape:

Dear DR. Vino:
I’m a korean girl, and I have a boyfriend from france. Everything was fine until recently,we fought several times–upon my favorite
sneak — laver (dried & seasoned seaweed). Each time i eat it,he thinks i’m eating a piece of paper. And when i asked him to try some,he just stuck his nose up in the air and replied,” French people never eat anything that couldn’t pair with wine!”So i tried and tried,but no matter it’s a red or a white,it seems to just bring the “fishiness” or “sea stink”out of laver instead of its deliciousness. Is it really an impossible food to pair with wine? Or is our relationship unable to overcome our cultural differences?
-A frustrated girl that desperately needs your help

Help out this reader with your comments below!


Vintage Dr. Vino: Finding birth year wines in Food & Wine magazine

Have you ever thought about having a wine from your birth year? Oddly, I never had until site reader Michael in Toronto asked me. Thanks, Michael!

That sent me on a quest to find a wine from my birth year. I wrote up the experience for the July issue of Food & Wine magazine.

In case the story piqued your interest in finding a wine for your birth year, check out the fabulous infographic that is the Robert Parker vintage chart. It only goes back to 1970 though so for older vintages, you might consider checking out Michael Broadbent’s Vintage Wine.

And if you’re stopping by the blog for the first time because of the story, then consider subscribing to the site’s feed or monthly email updates on the right. And feel free to poke around and see some wine picks or explore any of the categories on the first sidebar!

If you haven’t seen the story in print (p. 156), or you’re curious to see which wine I drank and how much it cost, check out the magazine, which is hitting bookstores and mailboxes now. Or I suppose you could cheap out and see it online.

“Finding Wine of a Certain Age,” Food & Wine

Test driving a one-click case

Reader Jeff J wrote in yesterday asking for a case of wine, probably red, about $150 – $200 to give to a friend in New York who recently got married.

Great question! And thoughtful gesture! Some retailers put together pre-fab cases but I have generally approached them with skepticism. Why? I probably don’t want one or two or three of the wines in the set case. And I suspect there’s something in there that the store might be trying to move for reasons other than necessarily serving the consumer.

But I put my skepticism aside and decided to put my money where my mouth is. I recommended Jeff check out Chambers Street Wines, which has a selection of pre-fab cases at $100 and $200 both red and mixed. I also recommended the mixed “Memorial Day” case at Le Du’s Wines in the West Village. Maybe it was the thought of grilling this weekend but for some reason I found myself clicking “buy now.”

Tuesday I clicked and Wednesday my doorbell rang. I have to confess a certain amount of excitement pulling out bottles I’ve never tried before. Even if I don’t know the producers’ names, the back labels sport the names of some very solid importers–Neal Rosenthal, Jon David Headrick, Classical Wines among others. And they were selected by the knowledgeable staff, headed by Jean-Luc Le Du, formerly the sommelier at the restaurant Daniel.

But the best part? $145.99! Free delivery in New York State. I’ll keep you posted on how the one-click convenience works out in the glass. The list follows below for your perusal. But if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go put a bottle in the fridge since it is heading to 84 degrees today… Read more…

Reader mailbag: what to get a colleague to celebrate a promotion? (budget edition)

Dear Dr. Vino,

I’m finishing my Ph.D. and my committee advisor has just been appointed the new Dean of Liberal Arts at [name withheld]. I’d like to get him a nice bottle of wine (he loves Spanish wines normally, he travels to Latin America frequently, and is an American history buff) that can be afforded on a grad student budget (~$30). What would you recommend?


Hi Amy, Read more…

Reader mailbag: how’s North Carolina for wine?

Dear Dr. Vino,

I may soon be transfered from Chicago to North Carolina for work. While there are lots of factors involved in a move, not an insignificant one for me is the wine. Does NC have reciprocal shipping? Could I still order from Sam’s?

-Wino on the move

Glad to see that you have your priorities straight–and you are in luck!

It turns out that North Carolina does have direct shipping. Since October 1, 2003 residents have had the right to order wine directly from wineries at the rate of two cases a month–almost a bottle a day! Those wineries can be either in-state or out-of-state, laws that conformed with the current legal environment two years before the Supreme Court decision in the case Granholm v. Heald was handed down. The only catch is that the winery has to have a license to ship on file with NC so check first and encourage them to apply for one if they don’t have one already.

I called Sam’s for you and they do ship to North Carolina. By the way, consider yourself lucky in this regard. Even though NC allows direct shipping by wineries, even in the post-Granholm era, you can’t take it for granted that shops will ship too (see my previous frustration with this here). Indeed, Sam’s doesn’t ship to me in New York, also a reciprocal state. When I asked why, one of the owners emailed me that the decision is based on the advice of their attorneys. Those darned attorneys…grrr

And don’t forget the local options you have in North Carolina. boasts that the state is 10th in grape production and 12th in wine production!

While my guitar gently seeps

Randy, a site reader from Colorado, sent in this photo of him from his vacation in Sonoma. He writes: “Here’s one of my highlights; I got to play one of only 100 $12,000 60th Anniversary Fender guitars that comes with six $1000 bottles of very rare wine. The guitar’s wood is actually dipped into the wine to make the color. It was beautiful!”

Rock on!

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Reader mailbag: where can I sell my wine?

At dinner tonight an attorney from Boston mentioned that he inherited some fine wine from his brother. The bulk of the collection was sold at auction by Christie’s, but he has a case of Petrus that was kept at home. It was kept in “ok” condition, but lacks perfect storage pedigree. Any thoughts on how to best unload a few (or all) of these bottles? – Anonymous reader

Auction houses may be fine with you buying only a case at an auction. But it is often hard to sell small amounts of wine through houses that run live auctions. Some have started brokering small amounts or odd lots directly, without bringing them to auction. I would suggest calling John Kapon at Acker, Merrall in New York or Paul Hart at Hart Davis Hart in Chicago and asking them what they suggest. I suspect the questionable storage conditions will make them hesitant but it’s worth a call nonetheless.

Another option is trying to sell the bottles through They are an online person-to-person auction so the auctioneer in this instance cannot vouch for the quality of the wine being sold. Even with the questionable storage declared in the listing, I’m sure there would be some buyers who would be willing to take a chance since it is Petrus.

The advantages of this method are that you could even sell just one bottle at a time and the transaction costs are lower (two to five percent). The disadvantages are that the price may not be has high. One tip: your friend might want to sell a few, lower priced bottles first to garner a feedback rating on the site before selling the Petrus.

He could also call some good shops near him to see if they can recommend any local wine brokers. In many places shops aren’t legally allowed to buy from individuals since they must buy only from wholesalers.

Does anyone else have further suggestions? Or experience in selling odd bottles?

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Reader mail: Champagne, how sweet it is

Champagne’s sweetness makes me sick. Should I look for “extra dry” on the label to find one that’s not sweet?
-Jennifer via hotmail

Actually, no. “Extra dry” is not all that dry when it comes to champagne. Brut is the magic word. But even “brut” can go as high as 15 grams per liter of residual sugar. With 5 grams about the threshold for human perception, some brut champagnes may still taste sweet.

You might even want extra brut or a champagne with no dosage, the little shot of wine and sugar that gets added right before bottling.

Amazingly, the sweet “demi-sec” category is starting to make a comeback. Get this one for your sweet tooth, not necessarily your sweetheart.

Residual sugar, grams per liter
< 3g: brut nature < 6g: extra brut < 15g: brut 12-20g: extra dry 17-30g: sec/dry 33-50g: demi-sec/medium dry > 50g: doux/sweet

Source: Oxford Companion to Wine

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