Do I Need a Formal Wine Education?

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For the most part, I’ve taught myself about wine. I devour books about wine. I taste taste taste and taste some more. And I interact with winemakers, winery owners and other wine bloggers/lovers/writers. I’ve taken a few local classes, including those at Stony Brook University’s Center for Food, Wine and Culture. And, they’ve been a lot of fun and educational as well. And, some day I hope to take some formal classes towards some sort of "degree." But right now it’s not a priority — though if I had time to take a two-hour train ride into Manhattan every weekend…

The First Batch of North Fork Red Wine Vinegar

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My first batch of AVA-designated red wine vinegar has been siphoned off and bottled. I haven’t actually used it in any cooking yet, but I can tell you this — the flavor is so much more intense than anything you’ll buy at any supermarket or even specialty shop. For my next batch, which will be ready in time for holiday gift giving, I’m going to use only merlot from the North Fork of Long Island AVA. I know that I’ve been a bit lax posting lately, but that’s only because real work has gotten in the way. Stay tuned for…

Appellation America Q&A: Kareem Massoud, Paumanok Vineyards

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It seems that almost every winery calls itself "family run" even if no one in the family ever touches a vine or steps foot in the winery itself. Paumanok Vineyards on the North Fork of Long Island, on the other hand, actually is run by the Massoud family. This month at Appellation America, my North Fork Q&A is with Kareem Massoud, Charles and Ursula Massoud’s eldest son. After attending business school and working for a private investment firm in Manhattan, the family vineyard called him back to the East End. Now, he’s making the wines alongside his father, Charles, making…

Steelers Football — It’s Not a Game. It’s a Religion

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Tonight at 8:30 p.m. my hometown Pittsburgh Steelers begin the defense of their Super Bowl championship. As you know, I’m a huge fan (perhaps the understatement of the century) and I’ve been eagerly anticipating the return of NFL football. Charlie Batch leads the black and gold against the Miami Goldfish and I’m, of course, predicting a win. I think Nena is going to make pizza tonight, but if you’re looking for a more Steelers-centric menu, check out my Ultimate Steelers Tailgage Menu from last year. I’m still undecided on whether or not I’ll uncork my Super Bowl winnings…but I just…

Gilded Fork: Early Autumn Dinner

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Well, the LENNDEVOURS empire continues to expand. With this month’s Mise en Place feature on the Gilded Fork, I’ve officially become the site’s wine pairing guru. They actually list me on the masthead as an "expert" but that is a bit overstated probably. Wine pairing is much easier than most people think. If you have good food and good wine, chances are you’re going to be okay. Of course, there are exceptions…but wine pairing goes far beyond red with meat and white with fish. So, stay tuned as I pair wines with each of chef Mark Tafoya’s courses every month.…

NYWGF’s Jim Trezise 2006 Wine Integrity Honoree

Yesterday, the Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission announced that James Trezise of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation was named the Wine Industry Integrity Award honoree for 2006. Created in 1998, the award honors individuals who have conducted their careers with integrity while making significant contributions to the wine industry. The award will be presented at a dinner in honor of Trezise at the Wine and Roses Hotel in Lodi, California, on Friday, November 3, 2006. Trezise has been President of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation since its creation in 1985. The Foundation is a private, not-for-profit organization that…

Rain. Rain. Go Away.

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Last October, in the midst of Long Island grape harvest, we received over 17 inches of rain in an eight-day period. Most of the white grapes had already been picked (thankfully) but some wineries lost some of their red grape crops. In fact, a couple lost it all and didn’t make red wine in 2005. With rain, sometimes heavy rain, over the past several days, you can’t blame vineyard managers, winemakers and winery owners for being a little nervous. And, after a forecasted respite tomorrow, the remnants of Hurricane Ernesto arrive this weekend, bringing more rain. It’s only the end…

Brewery Ommegang on Hamptons.com

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This week over at Hamptons.com, my Corks of the Forks column actually leaves Long Island and its Forks for a trip to Cooperstown, NY, land of baseball…and Belgian beer. Brewery Ommegang has long been on my upstate New York "to visit" list and last weekend I was finally able to cross it off. They actually have wide distribution both on the East and West Coasts…so if you ever see a bottle (typically cork-and-cage topped 750ml), pick one up. I can’t recommend them enough. I bought a mixed case myself — some I’ll drink now. Some I’ll age a few years.…

WTN: Sheldrake Point 2002 Cabernet Franc

Sheldrake Point — both the geographical point and the vineyard — jut prominently from the western shore of Cayuga Lake and those vineyards stretch almost the whole way to the water. The combination of deep glacial soils and the moderating effects of Cayuga Lakes deep waters provide superior conditions for growing fine quality vinifera wine grapes — a unique microclimate that they call the ‘Sheldrake Effect’. The 400-foot depths just off of their beach heat and cool more slowly than the surrounding land. The resulting hillside microclimate lengthens our growing season to 170 days, more than two weeks longer than…

WTN: Lieb Family Cellars 2005 Pinot Blanc Reserve

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When it comes to pinot blanc, its resemblance to chardonnay isn’tlimited to finished wines. Pinot blanc’s leaf structure, clusters andberries so resemble chardonnay that there are many vineyards in Europewhere plantings of the two grapes are intermingled. Here on the North Fork, pinot blanc is grown in a few vineyards, butat Lieb Family Cellars, it’s an important, indespensible part of theirportfolio. In a field on Oregon Road in Cutchogue, you’ll find a 13acres of what Lieb Family Cellars, much like those Europeans, oncethought to be chardonnay vines. Genetic technology has since proventhat the grapes aren’t chardonnay at all. These vines,…