I’m usually a good speller, but was concerned when I saw a couple of my contributors recording a favorite comfort food as “lasagn a ”. I’ve been spelling the dish as “lasagn e ” for years. Then I was relieved to find that lasagn e indicates more than one piece of the pasta ribbon. I promise to get a life. However the dish is spelled, this beloved casserole really does hail from Italy, unlike some of the other so-called “foreign” favorites that have become completely Americanized. The early Italian version was typically layered with cheese, sauce and other ingredients. But the term originated in ancient Greece as “lasagnum”, referring to a dish or bowl. When eventually the region was acquired by the Romans, they used the same kind of dish, then developed the layered pasta meal to be baked and served in that dish. The early Italians ultimately changed the name of the container from “lasagnum” to “lasagna”, and later, the word began to represent the entrée baked in that dish.
Launched in 2003, Twisted Oak Winery located in Calavaras County, part of the broader Sierra Foothills wine region, has become one of the more popular and better known wineries in the area. Taking its philosophical cues more from Monty Python than UC Davis, founder Jeff Stai originally planted just 11 acres of grapes in what was a quiet out of the way region. Now Calavaras and the Foothills wines are gaining national exposure as the public and the wine writers are discovering the potential of this region.
Wines have been made in the land that is present day Israel for thousands of years, yet, the Israeli wine industry is really just at its beginnings. Like so much about Israel, the dichotomies between young and old, history and present day, and the political realities of a young country manifest in its wines. There are many references to wine and winemaking found in the Old Testament. In ancient times, Israel was on the trade routes of Egypt and Mesopotamia and wine was almost certainly one of the commodities traded. Ruins of ancient wine presses over 2,000 years old can still be visited in Israel. Israeli wine was prized in ancient Rome often above the locally produced wines. Of course, Jesus turned water into wine at the Wedding in Cana in the Galilee (does that count?). With the Islamic conquest of the area in the seventh century, the wine industry ended. The existing grape vines were ripped out. Sadly, no one knows today what types of grapes were indigenous to the area or brought there by early traders and what types of wines were made.
Joe Roberts is known to many as 1 Wine Dude, the author of a wine blog that has reached stratospheric heights and was begun as a blog for the “intermediate” wine lover. He is now a wine consultant and a member of the U.S.-based Society of Wine Educators and other organizations. He has been a winner of the Wine Blog Awards for best wine blog, and Wine Enthusiast ranked him as one of the top three wine blogs in 2010. He is currently one of the finalists for the 2012 Wine Blog Awards, and was a finalist for the 2011 Wine Blog Awards, proof that social media has forever changed the landscape of wine. His casual yet focused approach to wine causes him to be a sought after speaker and educator.
Kosta Browne began as a dream shared by Dan Kosta and Michael Browne. In the summer of 1997, Dan and Michael decided to venture into winemaking. They saved their tip money obtained from working in local restaurants for two months and eventually had enough to buy a half ton of Pinot Noir, a used barrel and a hand-crank stemmer-crusher. Since that vintage, they have nurtured relationships with the best growers and honed their winemaking skills, making sure to focus on the vision and values with which they began. Their Pinot Noirs have received numerous awards including being awarded as’ Wine of the Year’ by Wine Spectator in 2011.
Nevarez Vineyard is a family-owned business located on 75 acres of land in Paso Robles. Juan Nevarez worked his way from farm laborer, to an organizer for Cesar Chavez, to becoming the founding vineyard manager for Justin Winery to eventually owning his own winery. The fruit of Nevarez Vineyard continues to be purchased by established wineries in the Central Coast and in Northern California areas, and Nevarez has won two "Grower of the Year" awards. Juan Nevarez has become the first Mexican vineyard/winery owner in San Luis Obispo County. What are the challenges in being a Hispanic-owned winery? I wouldn’t say the challenges we have are due to being a Hispanic-owned winery but rather that of being a smaller wine business competing in our current economy. I have heard about (prejudicial behavior) being an issue for others and people have shared their stories with me, however I have not personally experienced it. I really think this is a credit to the Hispanic-owned wineries that existed before me who have blazed a trail in Napa and other regions in California. Our wines are fairly new to the market therefore creating space amongst all the wonderful wines of the world is a work in progress. But in time the passion and hard work put in will translate into passionate patrons of the distinct Paso Robles viticulture.
What's an appropriate wine to serve at a Chicago White Sox themed party? What wine would be a good gift for a hard core White Sox fan? Great beginnings, world championships, scandal and 88 years of frustration – such was the history of the Chicago White Sox until 2005. That year, the White Sox defeated the Houston Astros to win their third World Series and end what some considered to be a curse on Chicago's South Side baseball team.
In my previous article, I discussed the Top 20 Spanish Reds to Try Before You Quit Drinking . This time, the focus is on Spanish whites and light Sherries. What a task! I had to expand the list just to fit in more of the awesome white wines of Spain—there really are too many to choose from! As with the red wines of Spain, the quality of the whites is always increasing. There are more styles of wine than ever being produced (oaked Albariños meant to be aged, unfiltered Sherries released “en rama”), and some of Spain’s top winemakers are bringing the focus to indigenous varieties like Godello and Hondarrabi Zuri. Spain is famous for its Sherry, but with the quality level of these wines and their reasonable price tags (the majority of the wines on my list could be enjoyed during a causal lunch), fortified won’t be the only style buzzed about for long.
Q&A with Mike Dunne, Former Food Editor, Restaurant Critic, and Wine Columnist for the Sacramento Bee
Mike Dunne is the former food editor, restaurant critic and wine columnist for the Sacramento Bee, though he continues to contribute a weekly wine column and other features to The Bee in retirement. He is a frequent judge on the competition circuit, tracking results and other observations from his wine travels on his blog, A Year in Wine ( www.ayearinwine.com ). Based in Sacramento most of the year and San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur, in the winter, he began to write of California's wine trade in the early 1970s, when he was living in Amador County as the first substantial vineyards and wineries since the repeal of Prohibition began to be developed.
With summer upon us, grilled steak has natural appeal, especially irresistible when its alluring aromas waft over the neighbor’s fence. No one was happier than I to receive an assignment to pair wine with New York steak, my favorite cut, for it’s substantial texture, juicy potential and powerful flavor. Although I wouldn’t kick a filet mignon to the curb, its character is more subtle than the New York’s. Found on the short loin of the cow, the New York cut actually comes from the same cut as the t-bone and porterhouse. Having fewer muscles than other parts of the animal, this section of the cow is therefore worked less and the meat is more tender.