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Dec 11, 201804:05 PM
Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans




If there is one constant in life, it’s change.

Okay, so that’s trite and pithy, but it’s also true – which makes it no less trite and pithy. Still, there are so many aspects of life that are no longer a part of our life, sometimes it helps to take an inventory of what we formerly did or thought and see how matters are moving along.

Let’s start with Global Warming. The changing environment of the planet can no longer be denied, but then it’s a fact that has always been true. What we seem to be grappling with is what’s causing the rapid changes. Guess what we are not going to cover here? Those are items better left to our more valiant writing staff who have no fear of …well, anything.

Let me, however, relate several irrefutable facts, a few of which we have harped about before.

When humans consider agriculture, and wine and spirits are indeed all of that.  The conditions that allow for crop growth are all about the soil, the sun, the rain and the ability of those crops to resist disease and invasive conditions, like mildew and insects.

What farmers have experienced over the past 25 years from growing conditions has in fact been more dramatic change than what their ancestors encountered over the previous 250 years. Agricultural records are meticulously maintained. Livelihoods depend on it and while forecasts are often little more than just a good guess, the history of what came before is invaluable. 

Proof of those growing condition changes are as close as the products on every shelf in the grocery store.    

In northern Canada for example, forests are being eliminated and fields of soybeans and other crops are taking the place of the trees. Why? Because crop growing conditions have become welcoming at a much more northern latitude than ever before. Places formerly inhospitable to farming have now become valuable for that purpose.

On the coast of England, a “nicer” Gulf Stream and climate means the planting of fine grape varieties can be successfully done. Fears of a harsh spring or a too cold summer are no longer prime factors in determining where to plant vineyards.

In fact, English sparkling wine is not the topic of cocktail party humor but rather is the beverage served at those parties. It’s still a fairly new beverage category but it is a growing category, and the rewards, both in quality and availability, have been to this point gratifying.

(Also see: Something New)

Craft beers seem to have hit a growth ceiling as to numbers of breweries. Local breweries are now focusing on product improvement, expansion of line-up, and more widespread distribution.

What has taken off in growth are the number of craft distillers. Distilling is more of a long game than brewing. What emanates from a still requires time to age and mellow. Which means something created today cannot properly make it to market for maybe a year or two, or more.

The craft distilleries have been with us, but with the time lag between manufacturing and product-in-the-market, we may not have noticed their presence. We are about to see many products during this Holiday Season whose names are not familiar

But with a little label reading, you can be among the first to enjoy new whiskies, rums, vodkas and gins, all made within a short, pothole-infested drive from your home. Most of the new distilleries welcome to their premises thirsty for knowledge visitors. If you get what I mean.   





Read Happy Hour here on myneworleans.com on Wednesdays, and listen to The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, hosted by Tim, every weekday, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. on WGSO 990AM and streamed, as well as stored (podcast), at www.wgso.com. Also, check out Last Call, Tim’s photo-feature about cocktails in New Orleans, every month in New Orleans Magazine.


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Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans


In New Orleans, when the subject is wine and spirits, it is very difficult to leave Tim McNally out of the discussion. He is considered one of the “go to” resources in the Crescent City for counsel and information about adult beverages and their place in the fabric of life in this great city.


Tim is the Wine and Spirits Editor, columnist and feature writer for New Orleans Magazine; the Wine and Spirits Editor and weekly columnist, Happy Hour, for www.MyNewOrleans.com; creator and editor of his own website, www.winetalknola.com; all in addition to his daily hosting duties on the radio program, The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, on the air at WGSO – 990AM, every weekday, 3- 5 p.m, and streamed live on www.wgso.com.


Over the years, Tim has proved to be an informed interviewer, putting his guests at ease, and covering tactile and technical information so that even a novice can understand difficult agricultural and production concepts. Tim speaks with winemakers, wine and spirit ambassadors, distillers, authors, people who stage events and festivals, and takes questions from listeners and readers, all seamlessly blended together in a program that is unique in America.


Tim’s love of wine actually came about many years ago from his then wife-to-be, Brenda Maitland, a noted journalist in her own right, and together they have traveled to the major wine producing areas in the US and Europe, seeking first-hand information about beverages that give us all so much pleasure.


They were instrumental in the founding of the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, a major national and international well-regarded festival of its type. They both continue to be involved with the planning and staging of this multi-venue, five-day event now over twenty years old.


Tim is also considered one of the foremost professional wine judges in the US, being invited to judge more than 11 wine competitions each year, including the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition (the largest competition of American wines in the world, with more than 6,000 entries), the Riverside, CA International Wine Competition, San Francisco International Wine Competition, Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition, Indiana International Wine Competition, Sandestin, Florida Wine Festival Competition, the State of Michigan Wine Competition, the U.S. National Wine Competition, and the National Wine Competition of Portugal.


Tim is a guest lecturer to many local wine and dine organizations, and speaks each year to the senior class in the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama.


Staying abreast of the news of the wine and spirits world is a passion for Tim, and he is committed to sharing what he knows with his listeners and readers. “Doing something I love, with products that I truly enjoy, created by interesting people, coupling the experience with culinary excellence, and doing it all in the greatest city in America,” are the words Tim lives by.


It’s a good gig. 




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