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Jan 3, 201309:30 AM
Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

The Resolute Resolver, Sort Of

stachoo, stock.xchng, 2006

Regrets? Yes, I have a few. Shortcomings? Are you asking me, my wife, my good friends, my not-so-good friends? Or have you already formed an opinion based on these idle ramblings which appear here each week?

Just to rub it in that there is a lot of room for personal improvement, we humans are encouraged at this time of the year to resolve to “do better.” Who does the encouraging, making us face our deficiencies and arrive at correcting them, or some of them, with a firm purpose of amendment? The above list of culprits is a pretty good starting point, and the entire Free World press piles on with the ‘fess up and fly right articles that dot the journalistic landscape like an irritating bird in a Poe poem. Nevermore.

Not only are we encouraged to correct personality traits and habits that have become ingrained over a long period of time (for some of us longer than others) but in another 45 days we are supposed to deny ourselves something we enjoy right after acting the fool during the waning days of Carnival. Between New Year’s Resolutions and Lent, you’d think we were all about identifying flaws, correcting them and performing penance, all to remind us that we are human and defective.

I manage to get a daily reminder of that whenever I arise in the morning and look into the mirror. Ouch!

Still, there are probably changes that can be made, steps that can be taken, that would make us “better.” Since achieving “great” is not on the docket for most of us, “better” is a decent goal.

Let’s keep it simple for our purposes because that is what I do best, and examine some opportunities to enjoy and discover new areas of adult beverages. These subtle suggestions will not be offered in the spirit of “straighten up and fly right.” Rather, possibly, you will find a few tasks you have been meaning to do anyway. Besides, whether you incorporate these little projects into your life or don’t, your dog will still adore you. Comforting.

Taste Something New When It Comes Your Way

This may not apply to everyone but I am always amazed when someone is offered a glass of wine, and the response is, “No thanks. I only drink red (or white).”

What’s the downside in tasting a wine? Any wine. I don’t mean to cast aspersions on your habits, but often your preconceived notions about many wines are, dare I say it, wrong. All Rieslings are not sweet. Neither are all rosés. The amounts of sulfites in red wines, which you think are giving you headaches, are not as great as the amount of sulfites in white wines. Champagnes can age brilliantly. Corked wines will not get better the longer you leave them open to “blow off” the sad result of a defective closure. “Legs” on the side of your glass, the residue of the wine you have just tasted, are not a sign of quality in any way. 

So many misunderstandings and you may be bypassing some pretty good juice letting preconceptions rule your head.

Your mama was right about this: just taste it. Although I doubt when she dropped that phrase into the situation that she was encouraging you to taste a spirit or a wine. But work with me here. 

If you don’t like it, don’t drink it. But try it. Try everything. 

Take Time to Taste “Up”

When we were in college (yes, we were too young to be buying such goods. What’s your point?), or maybe on the first job, we tasted all manner of things that were reasonable in price, okay, cheap, because we wanted to be an adult and that’s all we could afford.

We drank red, sweet wines from Portugal, Italy, New York and California before our tastes and our pocketbook advanced. We can do better now, at least from time to time.

Treat yourself with regularity to a bottle of wine or a spirit that has a price tag you would not normally stretch to. Taste up.

You may not be able to make a habit of it, but you deserve to know what a really great Scotch tastes and smells like. Or to experience a fine wine from Burgundy, Bordeaux or Champagne. 

Every so often, on a regular schedule, taste better than you usually drink. That can set the benchmark for you to better appreciate other more accessible beverages that fall under those price points.

It won’t ruin you forever. Just make you a better appreciator of all the beverages in that category. Oh, and turn you into a bragging bore.

Buy Twins a Couple of Times a Month

Some of you twisted minds out there are not taking that headline the way it was intended.

What we are trying to suggest is that if you like one thing from one place, why not try another thing of the same style that comes from a nearby place, or maybe how about an easy stretch to try something completely different from the same place?

Confused yet? No? Well, I’m not trying to go in that direction.

If you like pinot noir from Sonoma Coast, try one from a neighboring area, like Russian River or Carneros. If you like Merlot from Napa, try one from Sonoma. If you like American Sparkling Wine made from Chardonnay, Blanc de Blancs, try one that is made primarily from pinot noir, Blanc de Noirs.

It’s that sort of moving around that will allow you to expand your horizons, educate your palate, and bring you new discoveries. What’s the point? The more you know, the better “chooser” of beverages you will become, and you will be better able to ferret out the best buys and best values. Now that’s worth something. Education is a wonderful thing.

Don’t Be in Such a Hurry

I am always astounded when people order a wine in a restaurant, or choose a wine to try in a wine shop, then they open the bottle and immediately get into the liquid. Immediately.

Here’s the deal, sniff the wine, take a small taste, be certain the wine is in good order, decant the wine, pour just a little into your glass and then slowly enjoy it.

Wine needs time to open up, gather itself. It’s been cooped up in that bottle for years. Let it stretch a bit, acclimate to its surroundings. Breathe.

By the time many people are finishing up a bottle of wine, that’s just about the time the wine is showing its stuff. You are missing so much pleasure if you rush through it.

If you are really interested in seeing what a wine can do, order the bottle, assure it’s in good order, decant the bottle (no, that is not pretentious), and then have a glass of sparkling wine, or even a cocktail.

For about 30 minutes forget that you have wine on the table in a decanter. Then go for it, with gusto.

Slow down. Resolve to do so.

Happy New Year.



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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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