Show 296, November 3, 2018: Kyle Meyer, Proprietor, Wine Exchange, Santa Ana

Kyle Meyer of Wine ExchangeFor the end of the year there is always the dilemma of what wines to pair with the culinary delights of the various Holiday tables. We’re also looking for quality wines as gifts yet we don’t want to break the bank.

To the rescue comes our resident wine authority, Kyle Meyer of Wine Exchange. The thoughtful buying philosophy of Wine Exchange is to purchase “little wines” from great producers. That’s where the great value comes in.

Kyle has the first installment of his best picks for quality and value for the Holidays. We’ll start with an outstanding Grower Champagne (Sanger Brut Grand Cru NV Blanc de Blanc Terroir Natal) that pairs well with most everything and comes with a heck of a good story.

“It’s not often you get to tell a story like this one and it’s also important to understand that this probably couldn’t happen here. True we don’t have Champagne vineyards close by like the high school that is the center of this story does. But, honestly, high school students being allowed to get involved with the production of alcoholic beverages simply wouldn’t play in America, period. This unique co-operative source all came about by a series of events.”

“In 1919, the war and phylloxera had pretty much trashed many wine producing areas in France. The Puisards, a successful merchant couple with no heirs, decided to donate their lands to the government on the condition that there would be a winemaking school created in Avize. That school, Avize Viti Campus, was officially founded in 1927 and, in 1952, the students and teachers along with local cellarmasters and winemakers, collaborated to produce a Champagne at the school.”

“Champagne Sanger is that Champagne, and it is a nod to the success of the school and the collaborative process, as well as the passing of practical knowledge from one class to another. Sanger is 100% Chardonnay, coming exclusively from the Grand Cru vineyards belonging to the school, from areas of Cramant, Oger and Avize, some owned by the school and some from local growers who are alumni. It sees 60 months en tirage (the minimum is only 15 months for the appellation) and is finished to a dosage of 6g/l.”

“It is extra brut without being overly aggressive, comes off as bone dry yet shows plenty of fruit (so many low dosage efforts are painfully dry) and plays sensationally with both food and by itself. This is truly Champagne made by Champenois and we recommend it highly for its price performance (all Grand Cru fruit for under $45!) and distinctive styling.  It also has some unique character points as, along with the typical brioche, citrus and apple elements one typically finds from the area, there is also and engaging spice nuance and notes that remind one of red berries. Very cool bubbles from a very unique source, and very little of it crosses the ‘Pond’.”

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Show 263, March 3, 2018: Chef Kausar Ahmed, The Karachi Kitchen, Karachi Pakistan

Kausar AhmedFrom the Arabian Sea to the peaks of the Himalayas, cuisine in Karachi is as diverse as its inhabitants and draws influences from across South, Central, and West Asia. Acclaimed Pakistani chef, culinary educator, and food and prop stylist, Kausar Ahmed, has curated and created mouth-watering recipes in her first cookbook, The Karachi Kitchen – Classic and Contemporary Flavors of Pakistan.

Chef Kausar is best known Internationally for her work through “Kitchen Craft by Kausar,” an organization she founded in 2009 that offers free nutrition and cooking workshops to women and youth in high-risk communities around Karachi. The goal is to promote healthy eating and hygiene in the most impoverished families. Hands-on workshops teach students about cooking, nutrition, kitchen safety, personal hygiene, gardening and more.

Join the Careers through Culinary Arts Program Los Angeles (C-CAP) for an intimate and exclusive event featuring acclaimed chef, author and culinary humanitarian Kausar Ahmed. The evening at a private home in Santa Monica will kick off with a Champagne and hors d’oeuvres reception, followed by a special cooking demonstration by Kausar.

Guests will enjoy a sumptuous four-course The Karachi Kitchen dinner prepared by Kausar and C-CAP students and alumni that will feature both classic and contemporary flavors of her native Pakistan, paired with premium wine and craft beers to complement the courses. Each guest will receive a signed copy of her new book The Karachi Kitchen to take home as a memento of the special evening.

100 per cent of the $175 ticket price goes to C-CAP to support their programming. Limited to 18 guests.

Chef Kausar is our guest.

 

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Show 216, March 25, 2017: Kyle Meyer, Co-Proprietor, Wine Exchange, Santa Ana

Kyle Meyer of Wine ExchangeThe pleasantly effervescent Prosecco from Italy is on a lot of restaurant by-the-glass menus these days. It’s a common misnomer that it’s Italian sparkling wine. Actually it comes from difference grapes (Glera) than Champagne and is created using a different, less labor intensive process. Also, all Prosecco is not created equal.

To bring clarity to the ongoing discussion our resident wine expert, Kyle Meyer of Wine Exchange in Santa Ana, joins us with the needed 411.

Also, what sparkling wine and Champagne is now served in by the glass in better restaurants is starting to change. It’s not just presented in a Champagne flute anymore. What’s going on…?

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Show 202, December 17, 2016: Kyle Meyer, Proprietor, The Wine Exchange, Santa Ana

Kyle Meyer of Wine ExchangeIt’s Holiday time and what’s a festive celebration without sparkling wine and Champagne? It’s always better with bubbles and sparkling wine and Champagne typically pairs well with food, too.

We’ll look at values in Sparkling Wine from France, Spain and California as well as a value-priced Champagne.

Our resident wine expert, Kyle Meyer of Wine Exchange, has some inspired guidance for us.

Marie Hanze Eaux Belle Brut“We love Champagne. Every year we taste way more than we need to (OK somebody has to) in the hopes of finding that perfectly priced, deli- cious bottle of real Champagne. We have been incensed by the prices that the ‘Champagne’ big brands have been charging in recent years, though we understand it takes a lot of money to make ice buckets to give to restaurants and put ads in magazines. Silly us, we’re all about the juice and, as folks who love their bubbles and appreciate high quality at a good price, this is our workhorse for the holiday season and beyond.”

Apparently Nicolas Maillart’s family has been at this for nine generations though we had not heard of the house until Peter Weygandt brought it in this year. The Eaux Belle is composed of 60% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Meunier , and 10% Pinot Noir, 20% from higher altitude parcels west of Reims. Slow and delicate pressing, gravity flow, aged on the lees and then seeing two years in bottle be- fore being hand disgorged, this round, creamy precise Champagne does a great job of hitting all the notes. Fresh apples and toast in the nose, fine bubbles, round and engaging in the mouth with about half the dosage of the ‘mass market’ brands but a long way from ‘brut nature’. The 20% reserve wine adds depth without effecting freshness. In other words, this is a really pleasing, imminently likeable go-to style of Champagne that will make friends. A real find!

Marie Hanze Eaux Belle Brut:  $28.98

Caraccioli Brut“There are a lot of folks making sparkling wine in California these days, and we have witnessed the occasional attempt on someone’s part to be king of the hill. Most of the big ‘foreign owned’ houses make an upper cuvee, and Schramsberg has been doing fine work for a long time. But it is rare to find something really groundbreaking. Caraccioli has only been around since 2006, the name is hard to say, and it isn’t cheap. But these folks are clearly on a quality road less traveled. Great fruit and extraordinary talent combined can yield some pretty special results.”

“As you all know, we are pretty committed Francophiles when it comes to bubbles. So we pick our battles carefully. These folks are doing everything right. They source their fruit from the Santa Lucia Highlands which yields a sparkler with notably more body. The fruit here came mainly from the old vines at Talbott’s Sleepy Hollow Vineyard and this bubbly, by virtue of its origins, shows a bit more body, a bit richer texture and more layers. Add the refined bubbles, and you’ve got some pretty serious fizz. Of course, you can have great fruit, but you still need someone who can bring it together.”

“Now while it is American owned, there is one foreign component. The Caraccioli’s looked at the French houses in California and decided ‘if you can’t beat them, hire them’. America, heck yeah! The guy they got is Dr. Michel Salgues who was at the helm of Roederer’s sparkling wine facility (arguably one of the state’s top houses) from 1985 to 2004. Something truly special here.” PRICE $49.98

Recaredo Brut Nature Gran Reserva Terrers 2009

90+ Points!  I also tasted the 2009 Terrers, disgorged after 71 months in bottle (for which the price is remarkable), cropped from a warm vintage. The blend varies from year to year, and in 2009 it was 52% Xarello, 32% Macabeo and 16% Parellada. It felt very compact and complex with great freshness and persistence. This is a superb Cava. At the end of the day, I could not chose between 2009 and 2010; both are superb, perhaps 2010 was a tad above 2009… 170,000 bottles produced.  Luis Gutierrez, The Wine Advocate #227, October 2016.

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Show 161, February 27, 2016: Executive Chef Jason Rivas, South Coast Winery Resort & Carter Estate Winery, Temecula

Jason RivasExecutive Chef Jason Rivas is newly arrived at South Coast Winery Resort & Spa and the adjacent Carter Estate Winery and Resort. It’s actually an encore for him as he was on the property previously from 2009 to 2014. He’s also a Certified Sommelier. We’ll meet him.

The Carter Estate Winery has been built exclusively for the production of world class sparkling wines using the traditional Methode Champenoise process developed in the Champagne region of France. The current release is their 2012 Blanc de Blanc.

Chef Jason oversees the Vineyard Rose Restaurant at South Coast as well as the new Vineyard Grill Poolside Dining at Carter Estate. Both serve Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. He’s also responsible for the busy banquet operations at both properties.

“Today, South Coast Winery Resort & Spa and Carter Estates is the “Diamond of the Temecula Valley.” Touting over 600 distinguished awards for the wines they’ve produced in just four years, South Coast surprised the Wine Industry further in July of 2008 when it took the coveted “Golden Bear” award from its Northern California counterparts, naming it “California Winery of the Year” from the California State Fair Wine Competition”

“It’s an honor to have South Coast Winery recognized as an outstanding wine producer among its peers of California Wineries. I’m on top of the world right now, but I didn’t do it alone. I simply set the goal to create the finest wines in all of California; then provided our incredibly talented winemakers with the tools they needed to accomplish our joint mission.

The three of us – Jon McPherson, Javier Flores, and myself — did it really. By combining their skills, with my quality vineyards, adding in some hard work, and a lot of heart, we have created the best wines in the Golden State of California.” says a smiling Jim Carter, owner/vintner. “This marks the beginning for our winery.”

South Coast Winery produces a broad portfolio of premium wines that are 10 per cent grown and produced with care under his tutelage in Southern California’s up and coming Temecula Valley Wine Country. In fact, it’s targeting to produce over 65,000 cases of award-winning wine next year under four very distinct labels: Elevation; South Coast Winery; Wild Horse Peak Mountain Vineyard; and Carter Estates.

 

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Show 152, December 26, 2015: Show Preview with Guest Host Chef Andrew Gruel and Executive Producer & Co-Host Andy Harris

The happiest of Happy Holidays (Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas & Happy New Year) to all of our listeners and we’re back live with a fresh show (that’s sure to please) on January 2, 2016. Please join us often in the New Year!

Andrew Gruel at the AM830 KLAA StudiosExecutive Chef Andrew Gruel of the rapidly growing Slapfish empire with restaurants in Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, LAX, Irvine at UCI and, now, Brea, is back with us by phone in the 2nd segment.

Next a mouthwatering preview of Saturday’s high-energy and appropriately festive show and not, with apologies, for dieters. If we’re doing it right we will always leave you hungry and thirsty. In our case that’s probably a good thing…

Christmas Day is a difficult day to dine-out. For the most part the restaurants that are open are Chinese restaurants or restaurants located in Hotels. Executive Chef Michael Hung (ex-Faith & Flower) of Viviane Restaurant at the Avalon Beverly Hills really went the extra mile for his Christmas Day Dinner Menu. Executive Producer Andy was there and talks about the upbeat experience.

Our regular Guest Host, Chef Andrew Gruel of Slapfish, was just quoted in a front page New York Times Food Section piece, “Casting a Wider Net – Lesser-known, more sustainable fish are landing on American menus.” The article was written by Jeff Gordinier. Chef Andrew has discussed this significant trend on the show previously and we’ll revisit it.

There is just never enough time to talk with our always informative resident produce guru, Robert Schueller of Melissa’s World Variety Produce. We’ll pick up where we left off in his last report just before Thanksgiving. Looking ahead Robert will also share his Top 5 Produce Trends for the New Year. You will be surprised…

The Rose Bowl arguably has the richest history of college bowl games. It is affectionately known as “The Granddaddy of Them All” for good reason. Celebrating its 60th year of grand tradition as part of The Tournament of Roses and the Rose Bowl Game is the Lawry’s Beef Bowl. Our guests are the long time organizer (24 years) of the event for Lawry’s, Colleen Donatucci, and Todd Erickson, the author of Road to the Rose Bowl – 50 Years of Lawry’s Beef Bowl. Bring on the silver cart…

Bravo’s “Top Chef” has been an enormous hit for the emerging network. It’s now airing Season 13 which is, appropriately, all California – based. It’s also made a media star of Co-host Tom Colicchio. This season a couple of Southern California chefs are Cheftestants including the OC’s Amar Santana of Broadway by Amar Santana and the just opened Vaca in Costa Mesa. Food journalist Anne Marie Panoringan (who contributes the widely read “On the Line” chef profiles for OC Weekly) is writing an opinionated weekly recap of “Top Chef” with the emphasis on the OC perspective. We’ll talk to her about this.

It’s Champagne time. Our resident wine authority, Kyle Meyer of Wine Exchange in Santa Ana, is with us to discuss “Grower Champagne.” It’s a delightful passion at Wine Exchange.

There is still just never enough time to talk with our always informative resident produce guru, Robert Schueller of Melissa’s World Variety Produce. He’s back with a helpful, fact-filled 2nd segment this morning. Robert is profiling the current options for Variety Onions and Variety Potatoes.

All of this and lots more absolutely incredible deliciousness on Saturday’s show!

Show 152, December 26, 2015: Kyle Meyer, Co-Founder, The Wine Exchange, Santa Ana

Kyle Meyer of Wine ExchangeIt’s that celebratory time of year when our thoughts turn to Champagne. Our resident wine authority, Kyle Meyer of Wine Exchange in Santa Ana, is with us to pop the cork on “Grower Champagne.” It’s a delightful passion at Wine Exchange.

“This has been a passion of ours for probably a decade. We love all kinds of Champagne. But the majority of the Champagne produced comes from large, almost industrial producers who make ‘mass quantities’. The secret to the ‘big boys’ success? Marketing and consistency. The marketing part is simply awareness…the art of making people believe that one’s particular bubbly is the best and most prestigious. Usually that also involves heavy promotions, ‘boots on the ground’ out in the marketplace, ice buckets, and heavy discounts to high profile restaurants and clubs. All of these things fall on the ‘brand awareness’ side.”

“The beauty of grower Champagne is the fact that these individual artisan producers can be a lot more ‘individualistic’. They are not concerned with selling millions of cases to the public at large. The grapes for these individual cuvees come from a single village or cluster of villages that have their own unique character by virtue of their locations. This is the element of terroir, which is kind of like a ‘bonus’ or extra something that you won’t necessarily find in the large house cross regional blends.”

Kyle also has some thoughts on good selections for California Sparkling Wine. Think Roederer Estate Brut, Anderson Valley and Schramsberg Vineyards, Calistoga.

 

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December 26: Melissa’s Winter Produce, Lawry’s Beef Bowl, Anne Marie Panoringan, Wine Exchange, Andrew Gruel

Podcasts

Segment One: Show Preview with Guest Host Chef Andrew Gruel and Executive Producer & Co-Host Andy Harris
Segment Two: Dining on Christmas – Executive Producer & Co-host Andy Harris
Segment Three: Chef Andrew Gruel, Co-host & Founder, Slapfish Restaurant Group
Segment Four: Robert Schueller, Resident Produce Authority, Melissa’s / World Variety Produce Part One”
Segment Five: Lawry’s Beef Bowl – a 60 Year Traditionl
Segment Six: Anne Marie Panoringan, OC Weekly Food Writer
Segment Seven: Kyle Meyer, Co-Founder, The Wine Exchange, Santa Ana
Segment Eight: Robert Schueller, Resident Produce Authority, Melissa’s / World Variety Produce Part Two

The Happiest of Happy Holidays and all the brightest wishes for a New Year full of promise to all of our loyal listeners. We wouldn’t be here without you.

With good tidings we’re here for you during the Holidays with fresh shows on both December 26th and January 2nd. We’d love to have you join us…

Executive Chef Andrew Gruel of the rapidly growing Slapfish empire with restaurants in Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, LAX, Irvine at UCI and, now, Brea, is back as today’s special Guest Host.

Next a mouthwatering preview of Saturday’s high-energy and appropriately festive show and not, with apologies, for dieters. If we’re doing it right we will always leave you hungry and thirsty. With us that’s probably a good thing…

Christmas Day is a difficult day to dine-out. For the most part the restaurants that are open are Chinese restaurants or restaurants located in Hotels. Executive Chef Michael Hung (ex-Faith & Flower) of Viviane Restaurant at the Avalon Beverly Hills really went the extra mile for his Christmas Day Dinner Menu. Executive Producer Andy was there and talks about the upbeat experience.

There is just never enough time to talk with our always informative resident produce guru, Robert Schueller of Melissa’s World Variety Produce. We’ll pick up where we left off in his last report just before Thanksgiving. Looking ahead Robert will also share his Top 5 Produce Trends for the New Year. You will be surprised…

The Rose Bowl arguably has the richest history of college bowl games. It is affectionately known as “The Granddaddy of them all” for good reason. Celebrating its 60th year as part of The Tournament of Roses and the Rose Bowl Game is the Lawry’s Beef Bowl. Our guests are the long time organizer (24 years) of the event for Lawry’s, Colleen Donatucci, and Todd Erickson, the author of Road to the Rose Bowl – 50 Years of Lawry’s Beef Bowl. Bring on the silver cart…

Bravo’s “Top Chef” has been an enormous hit for the emerging network. It’s now airing Season 13 which is, appropriately, all California – based. It’s also made a star of Co-host Tom Colicchio. This season a couple of prominent Southern California chefs are Cheftestants including the OC’s Amar Santana of Broadway by Amar Santana and the just opened Vaca in Costa Mesa. Food journalist Anne Marie Panoringam (who contributes the widely read “On the Line” chef profiles for OC Weekly) is writing an opinionated weekly recap of “Top Chef” with the emphasis on the OC perspective. We’ll talk to her about this.

It’s Champagne time. Our resident wine authority, Kyle Meyer of Wine Exchange in Santa Ana, is with us to discuss the virtues of “Grower Champagne.” It’s a delightful passion at Wine Exchange.

Our regular Guest Host, Chef Andrew Gruel of Slapfish, was just quoted in a front page New York Times Food Section piece, “Casting a Wider Net – Lesser-known, more sustainable fish are landing on American menus.” The article was written by Jeff Gordinier. Chef Andrew has discussed this significant trend on the show previously and we’ll revisit it. Also more on our recent dining adventures in Las Vegas.

All of this and lots more absolutely incredible deliciousness on Saturday’s show!

Baby Kale, Snow Pea and Winter Citrus Salad with Ginger Ranch Dressing and Puffed RiceChristmas Day is a difficult day to dine-out. For the most part the restaurants that are open are Chinese restaurants or restaurants located in Hotels. Executive Chef Michael Hung (ex-Faith & Flower) of Viviane Restaurant at the Avalon Beverly Hills really went the extra mile for his Christmas Day Dinner Menu. Executive Producer Andy was there and talks about the upbeat experience.

Andrew Gruel at the AM830 KLAA StudiosOur regular Guest Host, Chef Andrew Gruel of Slapfish, was just quoted in a front page New York Times Food Section (December 23, 2015) piece, “Casting a Wider Net – Lesser-known, more sustainable fish are landing on American menus.” Other prominent chefs including Tom Colicchio, Michael Chernow (The Meatball Shop) and Michael Cimarusti (Providence, Connie & Ted’s and Cape Seafood & Provisions.) are also sources. The article was written by Jeff Gordinier.

Chef Andrew has discussed this significant trend on the show previously and we’ll revisit it. Additionally we’ll find out what Dock to Dish means.

Also more on our recent dining adventures in Las Vegas.

Robert Schueller of Melissa's World Variety Produce in the AM830 KLAA StudioThere is just never enough time to keep up with our always informative resident produce guru, Robert Schueller of Melissa’s World Variety Produce. We’ll pick up where we left off in his last report just before Thanksgiving. Variety Onions and Variety Potatoes are on the menu.

Looking ahead Robert will also share his Top 5 Produce Trends for the New Year. Here’s a hint…Sweet Young Coconuts are Number 5. What’s Number One ? Tune-in and you’ll know. You will be surprised…’

http://www.amazon.com/Road-Rose-Bowl-Years-Lawrys/dp/1596370343The Rose Bowl arguably has the richest history of all the college bowl games. It is affectionately known as “The Granddaddy of Them All” for good reason.

Celebrating its 60th year as part of The Tournament of Roses and the Rose Bowl Game is the famous Lawry’s Beef Bowl. Our guests are the long time organizer (24 years) of the two companion events for Lawry’s, Colleen Donatucci, and Todd Erickson, the author of Road to the Rose Bowl – 50 Years of Lawry’s Beef Bowl. Bring on the silver cart…

“In 1956, a new event honoring each team was launched by the late Richard N. Frank of Lawry’s, with the approval of the Tournament of Roses. Over time, with careful attention from Frank and the Lawry’s organization and the supportive partnership of the Tournament of Roses, the Lawry’s Beef Bowl became one of the Rose Bowl’s legendary traditions.”

“Eventually it was noted (and promoted) that the teams consuming the largest amounts of prime rib seemed to be winning on the playing field as well. A tongue-in-cheek item titled “Correct Steer,’ in the January 11, 1965 issue of Sports Illustrated claimed that “roast beef is better than tea leaves, crystal balls and fortune cookies” in predicting the Rose Bowl victor.”

Top Chef on BravoBravo’s “Top Chef” has been an enormous hit for the emerging network. It’s now airing Season 13 which is, appropriately, all California – based. It’s also made a star of Co-host Tom Colicchio.

This new season a couple of Southern California chefs are Cheftestants including the OC’s Amar Santana of Broadway by Amar Santana and the just opened Vaca in Costa Mesa.

Food journalist Anne Marie Panoringan (who contributes the widely read “On the Line” chef profiles for OC Weekly) is writing an opinionated weekly recap of “Top Chef” with the emphasis on the OC perspective. We’ll talk to her about this.

On everyone’s mind is how far Chef Amar goes. Episode 4 has aired and Chef Amar is showing very well!

Kyle Meyer of Wine ExchangeIt’s that celebratory time of year when our thoughts turn to Champagne. Our resident wine authority, Kyle Meyer of Wine Exchange in Santa Ana, is with us to pop the cork on “Grower Champagne.” It’s a delightful passion at Wine Exchange.

“This has been a passion of ours for probably a decade. We love all kinds of Champagne. But the majority of the Champagne produced comes from large, almost industrial producers who make ‘mass quantities’. The secret to the ‘big boys’ success? Marketing and consistency. The marketing part is simply awareness…the art of making people believe that one’s particular bubbly is the best and most prestigious. Usually that also involves heavy promotions, ‘boots on the ground’ out in the marketplace, ice buckets, and heavy discounts to high profile restaurants and clubs. All of these things fall on the ‘brand awareness’ side.”

“The beauty of grower Champagne is the fact that these individual artisan producers can be a lot more ‘individualistic’. They are not concerned with selling millions of cases to the public at large. The grapes for these individual cuvees come from a single village or cluster of villages that have their own unique character by virtue of their locations. This is the element of terroir, which is kind of like a ‘bonus’ or extra something that you won’t necessarily find in the large house cross regional blends.”

Podcasts

Segment One: Show Preview with Guest Host Chef Andrew Gruel and Executive Producer & Co-Host Andy Harris
Segment Two: Dining on Christmas – Executive Producer & Co-host Andy Harris
Segment Three: Chef Andrew Gruel, Co-host & Founder, Slapfish Restaurant Group
Segment Four: Robert Schueller, Resident Produce Authority, Melissa’s / World Variety Produce Part One”
Segment Five: Lawry’s Beef Bowl – a 60 Year Traditionl
Segment Six: Anne Marie Panoringan, OC Weekly Food Writer
Segment Seven: Kyle Meyer, Co-Founder, The Wine Exchange, Santa Ana
Segment Eight: Robert Schueller, Resident Produce Authority, Melissa’s / World Variety Produce Part Two

Show 147, November 21, 2015: Kyle Meyer, Co-Proprietor, Wine Exchange, Santa Ana

Kyle Meyer of Wine ExchangeWine selections for the Thanksgiving turkey can always be a source of great anxiety. To the rescue is our resident wine expert, Kyle Meyer, Co-Proprietor of Wine Exchange in Santa Ana. As you’ll hear he makes Thanksgiving wine pairings a simple pull of the cork! Also his suggestions are happily affordable.

“We have no agenda for what you choose, only that you buy it from us. Pursuant to that, we’d like to toss out a few guidelines and ideas for you to evaluate to make your selections for that Thanksgiving turkey, the idea being that you are comfortable with the reasons for making the selections. We’ll start by saying the politically correct thing which is whatever you choose will be fine, you should serve what you like. Nothing wrong with that in theory, except that we don’t honestly believe it ourselves.

We would shy away from big, powerful, tannic wines that would overwhelm the turkey meat and not be versatile enough to play with the variety of other things that can appear on the holiday table. Things like big Cabs, Zins, and Syrahs are great with red meats.  Such wines would bludgeon the delicate bird and be further complicated in the wake of stuffing, yams, and other such themed delicacies. They might play alright if you are doing more exotic preparations like smoking or deep frying your bird, but even that’s a little bit of a stretch.

Our ‘keys to the game’, as they would say in a sport pregame show, are as follows:

  1. Turkey is a more delicate meat. There is a wide range of things that will work well, from moderate weight reds, to demi-sec whites, to crisp, dry whites.  Heavy reds and oaky whites would definitely not be our first choice, and acidity is key to mixing it up with such a wide range of foods.
  2. Your choices have as much to do with the type of accompanying dishes as they do with the bird itself. A sweet or savory bent as to a majority of dishes should definitely be a factor in the decisions. For example if its yams, corn soufflé, cranberry, etc, a lighter, slightly fruity choice (Demi Sec Vouvray, German Kabinett) would make a better ‘match’. If the leanings are more earthy (mushrooms, brussel sprouts, spinach/gizzard stuffing), lighter reds like Beaujolais, Pinot Noir, Blaufrankish, and Rioja make a whole lot of sense.
  3. The crowd. Yeah, there, we said it. Probably not politically correct, but it’s true.  Who’s coming to your house? A bunch of your friends that are serious wine drinkers?  A bunch of marginal relatives that will drink up anything you put out there and maybe drop ice cubes in it? While it sounds snobby, these are common issues that some of you face.  A lot of people end up spending the holidays with folks they wouldn’t necessarily choose to. So the key is to put something on the table that you can enjoy, but also plays to the level of the folks you are with.
  4. The weather. Choices for a ‘feast’ might well be different if the outside temperature is 35 degrees and rainy or 75 and sunny.

All of that out of the way, let’s get a little more specific. We’ve laid out some basic ground rules, so let’s make a few varietal and genre suggestions. If we’re looking for a hint of sweetness and some bright acidity, to us one of the easy calls especially for a mixed group, our personal choices would be German Riesling, either Kabinett or Spatlese, a Vouvray demi sec, and a Pinot Gris from Alsace.

Yeah, we know there are folks that will serve Chardonnay no matter what. Our problem with Chardonnay from California is the lack of sufficient acidity to play with the varied dishes. French versions play better with the food, but can have trouble with certain dishes.  Same with Sauvignon Blanc in general, because, while it might work superbly with certain dishes, it could be terrible with others. In other words, you’ll have a lot of stuff on your plate (literally), so our thinking is to choose wines that can work with the widest variety of flavors.  In the dry category we like Pinot Blanc, white Rhones, northern Italian whites (Pinot Grigio, Soave, Friulano, etc.), white Bordeaux, and Spanish whites from the northwest (Albarino, Godello). Dry pinks are beautiful foils as well, though there will be those that think rose is like white shoes, only for the summer.

As to reds, the key is good acidity and no heavy tannins. Gamay (Beaujolais, Cru Beaujolais, not nouveau necessarily), Burgundy (Kiwi or American Pinot Noir, as well), Rioja, Chinon, and Austrian reds. If you want to kick it up a notch weight-wise, Grenache-centric wines from the Rhone or Spain have more punch but still fit the lower tannin profile

And the last rule of thumb is, if all else fails choose…sparkling! Yes you read that right. The market is swelling with amazing producers of everything from grower Champagne to humble Pétillant Naturel (or as the kids call ‘em ‘Pet-Nats’). We know it seems a bit avant–garde to adorn your holiday table with bubbles, but the key is to remember that sparkling wines and Champagne in particular pair tremendously well with just about anything you can throw at it (that includes the big clashing flavors on the Thanksgiving table). When making your choice of sparkling, consider going pink. The pink color in sparkling rosé comes from red grapes and more often than not it’s Pinot Noir. This will lend a slightly more vinous texture and weight to the wine and will help stand up to the mix of dishes much better than say your Chardonnay based Blanc de Blancs.

So there it is, our cheat sheet for Thanksgiving wine pairing.“

Thanks, Wine Exchange!

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Show 103, December 27, 2014: David Solmonson and Lesley Jacobs Solmonson, The 12 Bottle Bar

David and Lesley Jacobs SolmonsonOpinionated cocktail authorities David Solmonson and Lesley Jacobs Solmonson are back with us with inspired advice on New Year’s Eve libations. They are the authors of The 12 Bottle BarA Dozen Bottles. Hundreds Of Cocktails. A New Way To Drink.

The Solmonsons are going to discuss how to get the hosts out from behind the bar on New Year’s Eve so they can enjoy their own party. We’re perhaps thinking of a spirited punch and champagne cocktail bar.

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