Jan 31, 201308:37 AM
Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

Bar Bites and Short Pours

ElaEva, stock.xchng, 2009

It’s an Amusing Little Hops

 

In an effort to, well, I’m not quite sure, some craft brewers have been experimenting with wine grapes and wine grape juice, putting these products into their brews.

 

Beer-wine hybrids are touted as the next great thing by no one, but that does not stop brave brewmasters and fermenters from trying to make it all work.

 

Alllagash, a Maine craft beer brewer, first started the noble quest in 2006. They added crushed Chardonnay grapes to their mash used to make Victoria ale. A second effort, Victor, incorporated Cabernet Franc grapes. Does the Victor/Victoria pairing ring any bells in your movie-loving mind? Crossdressing, indeed.

 

Others have gone down the same path, with Dogfish Head even incorporating Viognier grapes inoculated with the fungus botrytis, famed for producing wines possessing the Noble Rot quality. While this relatively artificial means of emulating the epic wines of the Graves region in Bordeaux may make for good storytelling, keep in mind the result will be added to beer so subtlety may not be achieved at any rate.

 

Now the Big Boys have turned their attentions, and you know what that means. Miller Coors Brewing label, Blue Moon, has introduced Vintage Blonde, a blend of beer and Chardonnay grapes, sold in a 750 ml. bottle, the same package as wine.

 

Ruined a Good Name

The end of an era was predictable from the start, and was even wrong back then, but it was very cool while it lasted.

 

Two-Buck Chuck was a phenomenon. Around New Orleans we were not full participants as we only saw a little here and a little there, yet we were very aware Two-Buck Chuck was out there. Whenever one of us went to Atlanta or to California, bottles were certain to be shipped or carried back. Wonderful party conversation starters.

 

Okay, so the price has now shot up to $2.49 a bottle from the $1.99 price of the original offering. And with that, some consumers are quite unhappy.

 

“Inflation Chuck,” Matt Tucker huffed. Lisa Garrett, never one to hold her opinions back, came forth with, “Upchuck.”

 

Still Lots of Partying Going On

As we head into the vortex of Super Bowl, knowing that we will come out the other side right into the path of the onrushing Carnival Season, let’s review what we know so far.

 

Comparing U.S. sales figures, 2012 against 2011, it seems the number of wine bottles ordered in restaurants and bars is down nationally 13 percent. That’s quite a decrease. The number of wines ordered by the glass is up 4 percent. Those percentages are not analogous because far more wines by the glass in raw numbers are sold then the raw numbers of bottles sold.

 

But the point is that more of you are ordering glasses rather than bottles while dining or in bars. It’s an important trend, if it holds, and it probably will. The interpretation is that the American wine-drinking public is: 1) concerned about drinking larger quantities of alcohol then getting behind the wheel; and 2) quite comfortable ordering wines with which they may not be familiar but want to know more.

 

To point 1, this tracks with the consumer experiences in Europe and Australia. Stiffer enforcement of DWI laws has led to less drinking away from home, either in restaurants or in bars. The total consumption of wine and spirits is not down in real measurement, but the consumption out of the home is.

 

To point 2, this continues to be evidence of Americans becoming more secure in their product knowledge when ordering wine away from home. That is a good sign of the maturing of the American wine industry and its patrons.

 

Happy Super Bowl Weekend

It was my thought this week with the Happy Hour column that maybe the from-all-sides bombardment of Super Bowl news could use a little break.

 

If you have questions about what to serve for the Super Bowl by way of adult beverages, or as we head into Carnival, what works, please check out last week’s column. I think you will find some items there, just in case you missed it.

 

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Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

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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; the Executive Editor and monthly features writer for Gulf Coast Wine + Dine Online; 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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