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Oct 29, 200912:00 AM
Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

Random Ramblings ...

With the economy in such sorry shape, high-end wines are going unconsumed.

… while wondering if Dom Pérignon ever considered that his precious wine would be spewed all over race courses by testosterone-overloaded winning drivers.

A Soggy End

The Northern California Harvest of 2009 was practically flawless. Perfect growing conditions throughout the entire season will deliver to us some really fine wines, beginning with the whites in about a year.

But after more than 90 percent of the fruit designated for wine had been picked, the rains came. And it poured. Normally the rains do not occur until early November, but this time, in mid-October, le deluge.

Flooding took place all over Wine Country and even in San Francisco as streams immediately became torrents of rushing water. Most of the fruit was in the winery and getting on with the fermentation program, so we shall see some good juice in the near term.

Take Notice

In the previous story, I used the phrase, “…fruit designated for wine….”

It was intentional. The continuing economic conditions in this country and around the world have changed the wine industry momentarily and maybe permanently.

There was a lot of fruit hanging on vines when the rains hit earlier this month, and most of those clusters had no home. The amount of fruit that was raised this year without a buyer was staggering. Some growers are going to be encouraged by their bankers to find another line of work.

In previous years, independent growers, particularly of pinot noir, could just name the price per ton and expect a happy outcome. Not this year –– and maybe not next year. Consumer demand for high-end wines is very, very low. Even some mid-range-priced wines are sitting on shelves without receiving even a second glance from consumers.

That means that those wineries that had signed agreements to buy fruit from independent growers are turning their backs on the contracts. As far as the winery is concerned, the broken contract is preferable to buying fruit that will be turned into wine that cannot sell.

There has been no time in anyone’s memory when this has ever happened on this scale. The growers are in no position to demand that the fruit be purchased. They know how matters are, and they don’t want to be labeled as troublemakers. It is a very tight community around the world, and word of bad deeds spreads like a California wildfire.

Spooky Stuff

Halloween is one of those holidays, like Mardi Gras, on which, if you want to enjoy adult beverages, there really is no use bringing out the good stuff because no one wants to take the time to appreciate it. There are too many other activities going on.

Along those lines, there are a lot of wines on the shelves that have a Halloween theme: Superstition, Vampire, Black Cat and a whole host of other wines that are fun to drink can add to the theme of this Saturday night’s festivities.

And don’t let your geeky wine friends make fun of you and tell you the wines aren’t great. They are fun. They are not meant to be great, and even the folks who make them don’t have high expectations. They simply want the wines to be fun and to be enjoyed, not on the same level as a great cab from Napa or a first-growth from Bordeaux but alongside chips and dips.

The first rule of wine is that it should fit the occasion and be enjoyable. These wines fit that bill.

Head to the store, and see what’s there.

Put This on Your Calendar

Once again, WYES-TV, public television in New Orleans, is staging its Wine Auction, with the live broadcast happening Thursday, Nov. 12, beginning at 6 p.m.

Wines from around the world and Wine Country experiences will be auctioned to the highest bidder. Simply tune in, and watch until you find something you want. Then head for the telephone, dial (504) 486-7311, and call in your bid.

Want more fun? That evening, come to the studios of WYES, 916 Navarre Ave. in the City Park area, and participate in person during the broadcast. You’ll receive a bidder’s paddle and a catalog so you can be fully prepared to participate.

Over the coming week, WYES will be placing the Wine Auction catalog online at www.wyes.org, which will give you a sneak peek, as well provide you with some nifty gift ideas. The holidays are coming!

Hearty Congratulations

New Orleans’ own Ricky Gomez, an extraordinary mixologist who practices his craft at various functions around town and calls Cure on Freret his home turf, will be one of five professionals competing for a $10,000 prize from DeKuyper, the liquor producer.

Ricky was chosen for his creation, Truck Float No. 9. I’ll bet no one else in the competition even knows what he’s referring to.

There were more than 24 contests in 12 cities, and all the winners are coming to New Orleans next Thursday, Nov. 5, for the finals at Republic, beginning at 8 p.m.

You’ll want to join the crowd to help Ricky show the world what classy bar masters the Crescent City has.

Truck Float No. 9

1 1/2 ounces Red Stag Bourbon by Jim Beam
3/4 ounce DeKuyper Hazelnut

Fill a rocks glass with ginger ale, and garnish with orange zest.

Sunday Morning at 2, It's Fall-Back Time

Set your clocks back one hour as daylight saving time ends. It also means you can stay out later on Halloween because you are being handed an extra hour.


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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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