Posts Tagged ‘cassoulet’

NO FRENCH ONION SOUP – OR CABERNET FRANC – FOR YOU!

November 25, 2015

A little riff on Seinfeld for my blog title this evening…but it seemed appropriate after the experience we had in Seattle this past weekend.

First off, though, hats off to the two restaurants we went to for dinner – Café Campagne and Il Terrazzo Carmine! Both had great food, wine lists and a $25 corkage fee! Given the latter, I brought my own wine, and thoroughly enjoyed both the ’11 La Grola by Allegrini and the ’12 Cotes du Rhone les Garrigues from le Clos du Cailloux. I bought both for under $30, so with corkage they were less than the vast majority of the wines on the wine lists!

But now, the experience…that led to the title of the blog.

We are sitting at Café Campagne, when two couples come in and sit beside us. One of the women was a bit of a loud talker, but I thought “whatever”, enjoying my cassoulet and Cotes du Rhone. And then the first thing happened…

She was the one with the wine list, and when the waiter asked her for her selection, she said she didn’t know, but knew she really liked a 2009 Chateauneuf de Pape she had recently had. I thought “alright”! One of my favourite kinds of wine, a great year…and they had some CHPs on the list.

But then the waiter recommends a wine from the Loire Valley…a Cabernet Franc?! I almost said something (my wife had to stop me). I mean, come on…Cab Franc from France couldn’t be a more different style of wine, right? I’m not sure if it was on special or what, but really!

And then, she decides to shift to…Bordeaux?! And not just that, but a fairly generic Margaux?! Again, a completely different style of wine from CHP. And the waiter just nodded and brought it to her.

I shook my head, and went back to my wine (and food). But it didn’t stop there…

When it was time to order food, the same woman announced that she had a cold, so wanted the French Onion soup…but without the cheese or croutons! My wife actually had to grab me on that one.

I can imagine the chef in the kitchen…he must have just gone bug eyed!

Not because he couldn’t do it, of course. The caramelized onions/broth are cooked in one pot, and the cheese/croutons added at the end under the broiler. But still…isn’t the cheese – in particular – what the soup is all about?

But that is what she got – a bowl of broth with some onions in it! And as we were leaving, she seemed to be enjoying her soup and wine.

So the purpose of this blog? Well, I know that the “customer is always right”…so give them what they want. But please…at least give some advice that makes sense? Some alternatives, perhaps, for both the food and wine that make sense? That’s all I ask. Then if they still make a strange decision, it’s on them.

Or next time, maybe I will come over the table…

SB

http://www.sbwinesite.com

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Rose – Sweet, Dry…or Both?

April 30, 2014

Okay, the sun is out, it feels like summer, and I saw the first wine column on Rose today. So that means I need to do my annual blog as well!

The subject – as always – is whether Rose should be dry or sweet. But, for me, this isn’t an “either/or” question. Instead, if the wine is made well, the answer is – both!

But first a quick reminder about what Rose is. Almost always, Rose starts as a red wine and is made by leaving the skins on for just a little while. The contact with the skins provides the colour, which can range from a light salmon to a deep pink colour. As well, because the wine is made from red grapes, it tends to have more body and flavour than most white wines.

Now, back to the issue – sweet or dry.

The main problem with sweet Rose is its legacy. Most people growing up have, unfortunately, tried bad sweet red wine. White Zinfandel, Mateus, Baby Duck – there are lots of other examples. Sickly sweet to the point of almost being cloying, it is hard to drink more than a glass (if that). And that is what many people think of when they hear the word Rose.

At the opposite end or the spectrum – particularly for people who have been to the south of France – is dry Rose. The same colour as its sweet cousin, but a very different animal once you taste it! Dry, sometimes very dry, with far less fruit, although no wood to speak off.

In between is the off-dry version which – interestingly – is increasingly being made, and made well, in British Columbia. Once again, the same colours, but explosively fruity on the nose and in the mouth, and very balanced in the mouth, but finishing just a touch off dry. On a hot summer afternoon, there are few things that are better.

So which is the right choice?

Well, I certainly agree that the sickly sweet versions are to be avoided at all costs. So we have no arguments there.

The dry ones? Well, when we were in the south of France a number of years ago, that was all we drank, and we loved them. It was summer, so very hot, and they are incredibly refreshing! As well, with no sweetness, but lots of body, they go great with a wide range of food, from seafood to cassoulet and duck confit.

The problem, though, can be the cost. Dry Rose has become trendy, which means that some of the “name brands” are getting very pricey, even approaching – and exceeding – the $40 mark! Tavel is one that has always been up there, but recently Brad Pitt and Anjolina Jolie also made one that was a bit less than that. It was good, but not worth the extra bucks.

In my view, Rose is like Beaujolais – it should be simple, easy to drink, and less (hopefully far less) than $20. In France, there are lots of examples of that for far less. In fact, it is often thrown in as part of dinner in many restaurants!
As for the off-dry versions, I love the best of them – in the summer. In BC, La Frenz makes the best one (for around $18) – it is bursting with ripe grapefruit! Quails Gate makes another, as does Chaberton in Langley, both of which are a few bucks cheaper. Sitting on the deck, with or without food – there are few things better!

So the answer, then, is dry and sweet, or at least off dry. Summer is short enough, so why not enjoy both?

SB

http://www.sbwinesite.com