Reconsidering the first taste: Using New York’s Italienne as an example, Eric Asimov considers whether the ritual of offering a first taste of wine to the guest should continue in restaurants where the sommelier also tastes the wine before serving. Erica O'Neal, wine director at Italienne, made the choice to eliminate the taste after reflecting on uncomfortable moments with guests. [NYT]
US wine export report: In 2016, American wine exports were down 10.5% from 2015 but reached a record high revenue due to the strong dollar. California’s wine accounted for 90% of that total, with the UK remaining its largest overseas market. Exports to both the EU and China rose in value and volume. [Decanter]
Mikkeller partners with Rick Astley: Mikkeller is collaborating with British singer Rick Astley on an English-style lager, a partnership better understood upon learning that Mikkel Borg Bjergsø is an Astley fan, and Astley’s wife is Danish. Astley isn’t a craft beer fanatic, so the lager is a more straightforward offering than many from Mikkeller. [Lucky Peach]
Airlines offer cocktails: Airlines are now getting into craft cocktails. Virgin Atlantic is partnering with local bars for the cocktails at its lounges in five cities, and United Airlines offers over 20 cocktails created by well-known mixologists in its new United Polaris lounges. United, Delta, Emirates, JetBlue, and Air France offer inflight cocktails. [NYT]
Walmart’s craft brew attacked: A class-action lawsuit accuses Walmart of deceiving customers with its new beer. Though Walmart stated it is “collaborating” with Trouble Brewing, there’s no brewery by this name in the US, and the brewery actually making the beer is too large to be a craft brewer as defined by the Brewers Association. [Grub Street]
The early cocktail renaissance: Cocktails were redefined in the 1990s and early 2000s by bartenders who reintroduced forgotten flavor profiles. They called on familiar names for context, as with the Breakfast Martini and Porn Star Martini, and used well-known formulas as templates, for example, riffing on the Mojito to create the Old Cuban. [PUNCH]
What do you think?
Do you think the ritual of offering guests a taste of their wine after you've already tasted it for faults still holds value? We had a related discussion earlier this week. How might this revised format for service affect the situation we discussed there? Where do you draw the line between meaningful tradition and empty ritual?
What are your favorite beer collaborations?
Which would be your airline preference: wine, beer, spirits, or cocktails?
What do you think the term "craft" means to most consumers? Does Walmart's labeling of its beer go against that general understanding?
Which cocktails of the last few decades do you think were most important to the cocktail renaissance?
What else have you been reading this week?
Awesome question! Tonight I had a large-scale winemaker that visited the restaurant I manage as a patron. He asked for a wine recommendation and bought a bottle of wine from my list. As I opened the bottle, my assessment came from a very quick and unassuming sniff of the cork, followed by a nosing about 2 inches over the bottle. "I think this bottle is off" flew out of my mouth before I even thought about what I was saying. He was immediately engaged. He smelled the wine and said that he didn't think it was corked. He then passed it to his wife who he referred to as an "expert at detecting cork taint". She sniffed and determined that it showed no signs of T.C.A. He then asked me to taste the wine. I returned with a glass, tasted the wine, and I then insisted upon opening a second bottle. The second bottle was notably fresher and brighter. He compared the two side by side and asked me to remove the first glass. I really don't believe there were any olfactic traces of T.C.A. in that wine. That is not the only chemical/mold/fungus that taints corks. The winemaker/guest and I agreed that the second bottle was much better. I would always rather have that educational moment in the process of serving wines than forgo the initial sip for the host. There will always be a percentage of the time that the wine is bad and that's o.k. I love having that conversation with my guests.
Agreed 100%. Guests taste to see if they like it, somms taste to see if its flawed. If you do your job right during the initial interaction and during the opening of the bottle(covered in another thread), you will experience very few returned bottles.