Sunday, June 28, 2009

Trailer Park Wine Tie

Hi, my name is John, and I'm a wine geek.

It may be an indication that I've opened a few too many bottles in my day, but I've learned a thing or two about the nitty gritty of serving wine. One thing I've learned is that no matter how good one's pouring technique is, you're bound to drip wine on something you shouldn't.

I won't claim to have invented this, but it's a helpful trick -- even if it is a little trailer-esque.

Step one:

Start with a single sheet of choose-a-size paper towel. You can use a larger size, but it doesn't work as well.

Step two:

Fold lengthwise in thin (somewhat less then 1 inch) strips.

Step three:

Keep folding over until completely folded.

Step four:

Wrap around the neck of a wine bottle and tie it end-over-end. Slide down neck of bottle until snug.

Viola! You have some extra insurance against red wine stains on your white tablecloth.

Of course, if you love red wine, what in the world are you doing with a white tablecloth? Get a black one and be done with it.

Incidentally, this is absolutely Earth-friendly. The Trailer Park Wine Tie is easily re-used on another bottle. If it has a little wine on it, so what? It's not like you'll get cooties from it. Or, untie it, unfold it and use it to clean something. When you're done, toss it in the compost bucket.

The TPWT is suitable for use on everything from Screaming Eagle to Night Train Express.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Beer Weather

For anyone who hasn’t seen this post by Eric Asimov in The New York Times, it’s worth a look if you’re a beer lover. I can certainly relate to the experience of not finding a great beer selection and great food in the same establishment.

E and I enjoyed some NY style pizza the other night with a couple cold Newcastles – and while I love Newcastle – I would have enjoyed some more inspiring choices. The places that have really great beer selections tend to fall a little flat on the food. Not all, but most.

It’s summertime here in Columbia, S.C. and that means my red wine consumption plummets. I crave chilled beverages: chilly whites and rosés, icy cocktails and a nice cool beer.

As I’ve mentioned before, South Carolina recently took another small step out of the Dark Ages when they eliminated some restrictions on higher alcohol beers. It opened up a whole new world of choices in the beer aisle.

The brutally hot weather also reminds me that I should pair my cooking with beer more often. I’ll admit that I suffer the stereotypical wino’s tendency to think of wine as the beverage of choice for food pairing.

For anyone with the same affliction, I’d recommend picking up a copy of He Said Beer, She Said Wine: Impassioned Food Pairings to Debate and Enjoy -- From Burgers to Brie and Beyond. The authors are Sam Cagalione, the owner of Dogfish Head Brewery and Marnie Old, an experienced sommelier (and a real cutie).

Each author makes their case for pairing a variety of foods with their preferred beverage. While the debate occasionally sounds a little silly, it's a good read with interesting pairings and some recipes as well. It should make anyone who enjoys both beer and wine think twice about trying new pairings.

Lately I've been loving the beers from Smuttynose Brewery. I just picked up a six-pack of their Summer Weizen, which is super tasty: nice lemon and orange notes, light but not thin and judiciously hopped. It's perfect for a hot summer evening. Cheers, y'all.