Bobby Stuckey, a Master Sommelier Not Afraid to Get His Hands Dirty

Categories: Wine Time

Photo by Jeremy Parzen.
Master Sommelier Bobby Stuckey doesn't just lecture about wine when he pours at a wine dinner. He jumps right in with the waitstaff and "works the floor" with them.
The A-list always comes out when Master Sommelier Bobby Stuckey and his business partner, celebrity chef Lachlan Patterson, come to town to cook and taste wine.

Last night found the two of them at Reef, where Patterson prepared a meal inspired by the cuisine of Friuli (northeastern Italy) and Stuckey poured current releases from their line of Italian wines.

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A Fantastic Rosé for Houston to Call Its Own

Categories: Wine Time

Photo by Jeremy Parzen.
This superb rosé from France is imported by Houston wine maven Doug Skopp, owner of Dionysus Imports.
Americans have a truly unique relationship with rosé.

During the 1970s and 1980s, when middle-class Americans were becoming wine-aware for the first time in our nation's history, the wine industry aggressively marketed cheaply made "blush" wines to the masses. Lancers Rosé, Mateus Rosé, and "White Zinfandel" by Sutter Home were just a few of the many wine products that became commercial icons of "big wine" during that era.

I call them "wine products" because many of those bottlings were actually "wine coolers," highly manipulated wine to which flavorings and sweeteners were commonly added.

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Wine & Food Week in The Woodlands Celebrates 10 Years

Photo courtesy of Wine & Food Week
For the past ten years, Food & Vine Time Productions has hosted Wine & Food Week in The Woodlands featuring a multitude of wine dinners, seminars, food competitions and tasting events. Last year nearly 11,000 people attended events during the week, and this year, co-founders Clifton and Constance McDerby expect more than 12,000 participants.

Wine & Food Week kicks off on Monday, June 2, and lasts until Sunday, June 8, celebrating "The Magic of 10 Years."

"The theme this year is 'The Magic of 10 Years,' so we are really wrapping a lot of the interactions and activities around magical experiences," Constance says. "We will have magicians; we'll have things that kind of trick the eyes -- jugglers, unicyclists, and some of the types of things you would see if you are going to a Vegas-style magical performance. That will be woven into the large, as well as the small, events."

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What's an Urban Winery? Not Sure, But Now We Have One in Houston

Categories: Wine Time

Photos courtesy Solaro Estates and Alex
This isn't quite what it looks like...
There are many things that make Houston a hip, cosmopolitan city. We have an incredible array of ethnic restaurants. We have a lesbian mayor. We have Johnson Space Center, the Texas Medical Center and plenty of universities.

And now we have one more thing to solidify our coolness: An urban winery.

Once we heard about this seeming contradiction in terms, we did some research and discovered that urban wineries have been around for a long time--in fact, they were more popular than rural wineries in the United States before Prohibition. Eater wrote about the resurgence of wine produced in cities back in 2011, stating that wine-makers have been moving back into cities to contend with the rising costs of land and due to the hipster trend of "urbanizing the pastoral."

But what is an urban winery, you ask? Well, it's pretty much exactly what it sounds like.

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10 Best Wine Bars for Drinking AND Eating in Houston

Photo from VoicePlaces
The Italian hoagie at Camerata is far more filling than artisan cheese and just as delicious.
I'm what one might call a wine bar aficionado. I hit up spots for vino around town a lot. I usually go out around dinner time, though, and I find myself in an unfortunate predicament. I'm buzzed and starving, and the only food on the menu is a dainty $25 artisan meat and cheese platter.

I get that certain meats and cheeses pair well with wine. I get that many people eat before they go out and might just want a snack later in the evening. I understand all this. But sometimes I just want a damn pizza or burger with my glass of Tempranillo.

Fortunately, there are a number of wine bars in town that emphasize not only good grapes but also good, hearty food, for those of us who realize halfway through the evening that all we really want is some freaking pasta.

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Navigating Chianti With the Houston Press Tasting Panel

Categories: Wine Time

Photo by Jeremy Parzen
Chianti is arguably one of the world's most recognizable wines. But what goes into a Chianti?
Just say the word Chianti and you evoke winding roads lined with cypress trees and old limestone farmhouses in what is perhaps Italy's most photographed and photogenic region, Tuscany.

Whether it's mentions in pop culture (who can forget Hannibal Lecter's infamous pairing?) or the straw-flasked bottles that once hung from the mom-and-pop Italian joints that we all loved as kids, Chianti is arguably one of the world's most recognizable wines. No matter the level of wine appreciation, enthusiasm or connoisseurship, nearly everyone has tasted a Chianti at some point in his or her adult life.

Chianti is produced in a number of Tuscan appellations or DOCs (which stands for denominazione d'origine controllata or designation of controlled origin, a classification system created in the 1960s and based on the French AOC or appellation d'origine contrôlée). These include Chianti dei Colli Fiorentini (in Florence province), Chianti dei Colli Senesi (Siena province) and Chianti Rufina, named after the village, one of the highest-elevation townships in Chianti, where it is made.

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Soter Winery and Akaushi: A Tasty Pairing

Photo by Mai Pham
Got beef? Pepper-crusted akaushi ribeye steak is melt-in-your mouth tender at 60 Degrees Mastercrafted

Eclipsed by the street construction taking place on the stretch of Westheimer Road directly in front of it, 60 Degrees Mastercrafted, the restaurant by master chef Fritz Gitschner, opened this past November to little fanfare. Since then, however, the roads have cleared, and a new patio has been finished just in time to usher in the lovely spring weather. Suddenly, like the parting of clouds to let the sunshine through, it's as if the spotlight has finally been turned onto this River Oaks restaurant.

Certainly, that's the feeling I got when I arrived to a full house recently for an inaugural wine dinner featuring Soter Vineyards. Organized by Vanessa Treviño-Boyd, the beverage director at the restaurant, the evening promised to be filled with Pinot Noir and Gitscher's brand of "ranch-to-table" dining featuring steaks made of heart-healthy akaushi beef.

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Texas Wineries Bring Home Gold in Dallas Competition

Categories: Wine Time

Photo by Courtney Perry
Masters of Wine Charles Curtis (center) and Liz Thach (right) were among the impressive list of high-profile judges at this year's Dallas Morning News-TexSom Wine Competition, held in Dallas.
The organizers of the Dallas Morning News-TexSom Wine Competition announced this week the winners of the highly regarded annual event, now in its 30th year.

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How to 'Send Back' a Bottle of Wine at a Restaurant

Categories: Wine Time

Photo by Jeremy Parzen
Outrageous behavior in a restaurant won't aid you in sending back a corked or otherwise defective bottle of wine.
Looking for more wine knowledge? Check out more of our "how-to wine" series.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I am often treated disparagingly by sommeliers in fine-dining restaurants. It's sad, but it's true.

A week before last, while in Atlanta to deliver a talk at a conference, I was a guest at the organizer's dinner table in one of the city's top dining destinations. He handed me the wine list and said, "Order whatever you like."

I kid you not: The waiter refused to bring me not just one, but two of the bottles that I ordered.

"You won't like that wine," he said of the first, an oxidative white from Puffeney, a top producer in Jura, France. The second, he told me, wasn't ready to drink. It was the current vintage of Barbaresco Rabajà by Produttori del Barbaresco, the label best represented in my own personal wine cellar.

After much cajoling, I finally convinced him that I knew both of the wines well, and he acquiesced.

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10 Years After its Inception, Rodeo Uncorked! Brings in More People Than Ever

Photo courtesy Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo
Think the rodeo is all about livestock? Think again.
When you think of the rodeo, what do you picture?

Cowboys? Longhorns? Children lassoing mutton? Giant turkey legs?

How 'bout wine? Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile? Sparkling Rosé from New Zealand? What about Marchesi Antinori Tenuta Guado al Tasso "Tenuta Belvedere" Bolgheri Superiore from Tuscany?

If the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo doesn't make you think about wine, maybe it should. This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Rodeo Uncorked! Wine Show, and this year, it was bigger and better than ever.

"It appears that adding a wine show to our event couldn't have been timed any better," says Joel Cowley, president and CEO of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. "A 2013 Gallup poll indicates that consumers are nearly equally divided between beer and wine as their beverage of choice, and the number of Texas wineries has grown from 46 in 2001 to over 270 today."

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