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May 30, 201808:05 AM
Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

Urban Myths

Gavin Kerigan, Getty Images, 2004

In a place as old as New Orleans, legends are bound to be created, and the stories surrounding those legends are equally bound to be enhanced in every re-telling. You know how the childhood game of “gossip” or “telephone” worked. By the time the story reached the end of the line, it bore little resemblance to how it began. 

I remember sitting in the Napoleon House one fine spring day, enjoying a cold beer, when along comes a carriage driver extolling the romance and history of New Orleans, explaining to his interested and gullible load of passengers, “This is where Napoleon lived when he was here.”

In the adult beverage world, there are similar items of skewed information that can hold us back from making an informed choice. What we think we know that is not true can hurt us, or at least keep us from enjoying the highest possible results.



“A wine’s legs are indicators of the quality of the wine.” Simply not true. Legs is that aspect of a wine when after you take a sip from a glass, the residual of the wine runs down the inside of the glass leaving a wine trail. Many people think that the speed of the wine running back to the bottom of the glass, or the viscosity of wine, are indicators of quality. What legs really are an indicator of is the level of alcohol in a wine. Nothing more. And the percentage measurement of alcohol in a wine is certainly not any indicator of quality.



“I cannot drink red wine. It gives me a terrible headache.” All wine contains histamines, and a small percentage of the adult population are susceptible to headaches caused by histamines. Interestingly, there are more histamines in white wine than in red.

“Wait, it’s not the histamines, it’s the sulfites. That’s what I meant.” Again, the US Department of Agriculture and other medical research organizations, have not found a cause and effect relationship among human behavior/response and histamines and sulfites present in wine. That does not mean you are not affected, but there is likely to be another source of your discomfort.

If you continue to feel that sulfites are affecting your health, seek out wines with labels that do not have the phrase, Contains Sulfites. Our government requires that phrase on the label even though the relationship between health issues and sulfites is not clear. But since sulfites are an additive, placed into the wine to preserve freshness, the government requires the notice on the label.   


Organic and Biodynamic 

Both of these designations are used by wines and all sorts of food items. They are indicators, most times without specific and legal definition of the terms. Wine can be organic or even biodynamic, along with sustainable, which is related to ground and crop management and to inclusion of pesticides, fertilizer and irrigation water used during the growing process. Many times, unfortunately, the terms are used as a feel-good labeling feature with no associated or defined health benefits or quality outcomes. Usually the terms are indicators of steps taken by the farmer and winemaker to protect/minimally impact the environment. Here again, a higher level of product quality is not guaranteed or even defined. There is just a higher price for the item.

But hey, if we consumers can contribute to a cleaner and healthier earth, then it’s worth a couple of extra bucks of cost on just about every food item we purchase, isn’t it? Why did you hesitate before answering the question?




Read Happy Hour here on myneworleans.com on Wednesdays, and listen to The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, hosted by Tim, every weekday, 3:00 – 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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