Recent Articles

Review: Fatted Calf, Please Throw Me a Bone

lamb loin chops

I greatly appreciate that Fatted Calf is in my SF neighborhood, and the meat/product quality that it delivers to every corner of the shiny glass case.  The staff is simply awesome. The issue I have is this: they charge an outsized premium for what they do, and so I rarely come out of the shop [...]

19 Wine Terms That Matter

When looking at tasting notes and discussing wine with others, it’s easy to end up in the weeds fast.  While there are thousands of wine terms you may come across, here are the ones that matter most: Acidity: Tartness, liveliness and crispness noted in the taste of wine.  Acidity is critical in successful wine and [...]

My Interview with Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon


Randall Grahm has been making wine for more than 30 years and pushing the envelope when it comes to standards for premium wines in the United States.  For example, he put screw caps on premium wines in 2000, at a time when research showed affluent consumers would scoff at such practices.  When most wineries were [...]

Wine preservation methods for an open bottle


At our home,  weekday wine drinking habits are erratic, meaning we often open a bottle that may be left around for up to 4 days.  On  ‘pour and store’ occasions, I keep some important tools on hand to prevent the bottle from spoiling and wasting not only the wine, but my money as well. The [...]

Like it or not, iPad wine lists are coming

iPad wine list

While I do think that we are headed into a “fad-of-the-iPad” era where we will see many laughable failures, I hold open the possibility that tablet PCs — paired with brilliant wine service strategy — could ultimately turn into a 1+1 = 3 situation.

Here is a case where a tablet PC wine list is sorely needed: Last night, I was at Waterfront in San Francisco. The paper wine list came out with the menus, and we quickly ordered a bottle of pinot grigio from Alois Lagerder ($44/decent QPR). No less than 10 minutes later, the server told us that the sommelier was backed up, and coming shortly. At minute 15, he comes out — does an extremely minimal presentation of the wine, unscrews the cap, and pours it. The minute I accept it, he is gone for the rest of the night.

2011 wine blogging trends and predictions

Kurt in wine glass2

It’s that time of year again, where I’m thinking about the big themes and stories that broke in 2010 and what may come in 2011.  But this time, I’m going to be bold and not just jot down some things to myself, but instead, throw out some prediction in public.  Gulp.  There goes the last [...]

100+ Thanksgiving side dishes

This turkey cake featured on, did not make the cut for innovative side dishes at my family table this year.  No doubt turkey cake is good, but I can't get my head around the "form." If it's on a cake plate, it should be dessert, right?

If you’ve been to my house for an evening, you know that I use dinner parties as a platform for experimentation. Thanksgiving, not so much. I learned a hard lesson about experimentation – which I later dubbed the “Disaster of ’96,” when I gave the family Thanksgiving dinner a modern, ‘sophisticated’ facelift without asking my [...]

Why Portland won the last 4 of 6 F&W Best New Chef awards

wine blog 1

I’m so very proud of my hometown’s ascension to the national food scene over the past few years.  The latest news:  that Castagna chef Matt Lightner picked up a 2010 Best New Chef Award in NYC from Food and Wine magazine. Is it uncanny that four of the past six awards have gone to Portland [...]

Private wine sale web sites — reviewed


The newest phenomenon to hit wine retail: limited-time and private sales.  Great wine.  Killer prices.  Limited time only.  Sounds great, right? As I’ve written several times lately, the weak economy has forced surplus of wine on the market.  One result of this trend is there are many interesting new players on the web contributing to [...]

The so-called greatest wine buying opportunity in decades


I mostly despise recessions. We get too grumpy as a whole. But isn’t the recession supposed to be over?  Not if you talk to wine pushers.  Adler’s recent post in Vinography provides the most dire viewpoint yet about the current wine inventory problem, especially among smaller and leveraged producers.  While the State of the Wine [...]