The square in rural downtown Paso Robles, California (pronounced “ROBE-less” by purists, “RO-bulls” by locals), is often covered with lush green grass and a sea of smiling tourists during harvest. It’s difficult to believe this sleepy, virtually unknown wine region has been producing wine for a quarter century, but when you taste the quality, you quickly realize this former cow town isn’t hokey-pokey. An extremely warm climate area with the widest swings in daily temperature on earth, Paso specializes in grapes that bask in heat: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Zinfandel and other French Rhône-origin grapes. One night recently, my husband and I grilled out steaks and I grabbed this unfamiliar label, Ancient Peaks Renegade, from the “samples rack” — which we affectionately dub our wine play area. I’ve found some gems amongst the army of bottles perched in our family room over the years and when I tasted this wine for the first time, the eyebrows raised.
Read more: Wine review: Ancient Peaks 2009 Renegade Paso Robles
A few weeks ago, I was privileged enough to be invited to a slightly flawed Scotch tasting sponsored by Glenfiddich (side note: the pronunciation is glen-fid-ik – the ‘ch’ is hard like Loch Ness). The original plan for the dinner and tasting was to preview the upcoming release of Glenfiddich’s Snow Phoenix, a one-time only blend of whiskies which survived the great roof collapse of 2010. But that’s not what happened.
Read more: Out with the old, in with the new: The out-dated traditions of Scotch Whisky
I blame John Wayne for America’s desire to waste good whiskey by slamming it down the gullet from a tiny glass or even straight from the bottle as proof of manliness. How many great cowboy movies or World War II flicks offer up images of heroic men hitting the hard stuff before running off to face a hail of bullets? Or maybe those old-timey bartenders should be held responsible. I mean, was there ever a scene when the Duke sauntered up the bar and ordered a whiskey only to be asked, “How do you want that? Neat, rocks or a splash of water?” Then again, I don’t recall the iconic tough guy ever taking a quiet moment to admire the floral notes wafting off of a glass of anything, either.
Read more: To Sip or Slam – the Whiskey Dilemma
Bring a low-carb-aholic, I don’t drink much beer anymore. It’s a rare decadence allowed only when something incredible drips in my lap. Like last night.
Read more: St. Feuillien Cuvee de Noel: A beer for (mostly) all palates