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May 1, 200911:10 AM
Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

Time in a Bottle

La Crema Vineyards

We are proud to begin our journey with myneworleans.com, and happy for the opportunity to share with you the news and the pleasures of enjoying wine and spirits.

That’s what we will be doing here every week, sharing with you fine beverages and the stories of their history, their creators and the moments of happiness they can provide.

I have been writing about wines and spirits for many years, and been fortunate to taste some mighty fine juice. I bring to my experiences a curiosity about the beverages. I want to know why they were made, from where, and who was involved. I research the land that gives birth to the liquid and why something from this plot of land tastes completely different from a plot a mere few feet away.

And I like to know about the history of the place. Why did people develop one crop, and technique, over another? What is the cuisine of the area since most wines, and many spirits, are better with food?

Some of you out there have a passion for technology. Others automobiles. Others enjoy travel and recreation. With others focused on fitness. All good pursuits. To varying extents, I share your interests. Okay, so I’m not so much on fitness, but I can pretend.

But here, we will be about sybaritic pleasures of the palate delivered by fermented grapes or distilled grain. All products of Mother Earth, touched by man, appealing to a high level of sensory appreciation, and adding joy to our lives.

Wine in particular is of great interest to me because with wine, we learn about a particular place in a particular time.

Many wine lovers choose to pursue their passion with in-depth knowledge of vinification techniques and a maddening search for the precise moment to open their prize. I can relate, although I am not quite that manic about it.

Instead, I like to enjoy wine at a more visceral level, not so focused on techniques like micro-oxygenization or malolactic fermentation, but rather sipping and allowing the wine to coat every corner of my palate with its character, and focusing on what is going on in the bouquet. I like to picture the area in which the wine is made, and think about the people involved in its annual journey from a budding flower to the liquid in an oak barrel. Nature meeting nature.

To me, wine is a time-thing and a place-thing. We all know that wine is a dated product, featuring on its label the year of its birth. So what was the weather like? What were the wine-growers doing along the way? What was I doing? What noted events in my life were taking place as the wine was being born?

Right now on the retailer’s shelves are wines from 2005. Do I have to remind anyone reading this what we were doing in New Orleans as this wine was born?

Since wine is a living thing, where is it going? Is it going to get better, meaning we drank it a bit too young? Or is it on its way to being an excellent salad dressing?

According to history, wine has been around for about 6,000 years. Fruit wants to ferment, which in essence means it wants to spoil. And the secret to fine wine-making is making good fruit go bad, well.

Spirits work at about the same visceral level for me. I like the diversity of flavors within the spirit category, and I like the additional diversity of flavors that can be created when the spirit is combined with other ingredients in a perfect cocktail. I also enjoy the seemingly endless combinations of additives that spirits welcome to the glass, reminding me of music. Music is based on only a few notes, but the combination and progression of the arrangement of those notes is without end to create new music.

There has been over the past few years a renaissance of spirits appreciation, spurred by creative young people who understand the value of quality ingredients, always used at their freshest state.

So that’s the deal. I hope you will come along each week here on myneworleans.com to share with all of your fellow readers these fascinating topics. I always will welcome your comments, and I am honored to try and answer your questions. I will attempt to entertain you with stories about wines and spirits. Some will be better than others, but be curious and open to all.

I hope that you will look forward to our journey together.

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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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