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May 28, 2018

Grilling Up a Thirst

Memorial Day officially kicks off the grilling season. I'm thirsty already.   Allow me to explain.

As the grillmeister at my humble abode, I am well-acquainted with the rigors of cooking over hot coals.  The proper way to grill, I have learned over the years, is to place a grilling tool in one hand and a glass of wine in the other.  For perfect steaks, chops, vegetables and fish, this is the correct technique, tried and true.  The best results are attained if the grillmeister remains cool under fire.  This requires a nicely chilled white or rose wine. I prefer something crisp.

My go-to grilling wine for years has been New Zealand sauvignon blanc.  The acidity is so refreshing and the alcohol levels so low that it is eminently quaffable.  Brancott Estate and Kim Crawford are personal favorites.  And there really is a Kim Crawford, though he sold his namesake winery years ago.  It's still a good brand that's reasonably priced, which allows me to stock it in the cellar by the case. I'm also a fan of the Dry Creek Vineyard fume blanc for many of the same reasons.  It's always refreshing, and if you can't find it for less than $15 a bottle, you're not trying very hard.

Lately I've experimented with dry rose, and I've found that my steaks haven't suffered much from the switch, although I'm a little more distracted because I'm fussy about dry rose.  I want them bone-dry with good aromatics and mouthwatering acidity.  One of my favorites at the moment is the Gerard Bertrand Cote de Roses from France's Languedoc region.  It's a little pricey, around $20 a bottle, but worth it.  From closer to home, I'm enjoying the Rodney Strong rose of pinot noir, which also runs close to $20.

So, take it from a grilling veteran:  Before you do anything else to get ready for the summer grilling season, pay a visit to your favorite wine shop.  This is the first rule of grilling.
Posted by Robert Whitley at 3:14 PM

May 2, 2018

Cocktail Tip: The Gesundheit

With luck, warmer weather means we’ll soon be seeing the end of cold and flu season. Meanwhile, most of us, I think, are tying to stay out of harm’s way by washing our hands obsessively and boosting our immune system’s resistance (we hope) by getting enough sleep and eating a nutritious diet. For many people good nutrition means adding more foods rich in vitamin C to our daily meal plan. One of the simplest and tastiest ways to get more dietary vitamin C is through oranges (a single orange can provide anywhere from 70 to 100 milligrams of vitamin C).

And what does an orange marry with beautifully? Whiskey! Stay with me here--we’re still talking about the flu. Dr. William Shaffner, Chair of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, has been widely quoted in various media outlets for suggesting that a whiskey-based drink probably won’t prevent you getting a cold or the flu, but if you do get sick…whiskey might very well help treat the symptoms.

The alcohol in whisky dilates blood vessels somewhat, explains Dr. Shaffner, “and that makes it easier for your mucus membranes to deal with the infection.” In some circles Hot Toddys are the standard treatment for cold or flu symptoms, while other folks swear by hot chai dosed with whiskey. In Ireland people apparently like whiskey mixed with ginger to combat the flu, which makes sense given that ginger has a long history in traditional Chinese medicine for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.

But even if you don’t believe that whisky can relieve flu symptoms, or that vitamin C and ginger will help you avoid getting the sniffles, this lovely cocktail will undoubtedly make you happy.

Recipe: The Gesundheit

4 ounces fresh squeezed orange juice
4 ounces rye
2 ounces ginger liqueur*
1 teaspoon Cointreau

Combine all ingredients in a shaker. Shake, strain, and pour into a glass of your choice.

*I use Stirrings Ginger Liqueur, which is nicely spicy, and sweet enough for my palate, anyway. Stirrings is relatively inexpensive at $20, and has forthright, but not too intense, gingery flavors. This brand is sweetened with cane sugar rather than high fructose corn syrup.
Posted by Marguerite Thomas at 8:55 PM