Booze Muse

The art and craft of liquid inspiration

From Brazil, With Love: Brazilian Wineries finally come of age

Wine is Poetry in a Bottle No Comments »

chow_11By Ernest Barteldes

Not too long ago, the words “Brazilian” and “wine” would hardly be put together without a stern warning against a horrible hangover. Such a notion stemmed from the fact that many wines from that country—which has also brought us caipirinhas and rodizio churrascarias—were mostly inexpensively priced, mass-produced table wines that could only be found around ethnic communities for the consumption of homesick Brazilians.

Not that decent wine did not exist there—it simply had not been made available for the general public (after all, Brazilians are not exactly known for their preference for fermented grapes), and much less for export. Carefully made wines have existed in Brazil’s southern region for over a century, where Italian and Portuguese immigrants began creating their own vintages in small, family-based businesses. However, the resulting product was mostly available to restaurants or to a small niche of consumers in boutique wine shops, and almost none of that production was sold abroad.

That began to change about ten years ago, when Brazilian winemakers—well aware of the success their competitors in Argentina and Chile were having abroad—began heavily investing in equipment and personnel specifically with these previously untapped (at least for them) markets in mind. Read the rest of this entry »

Beyond Beer Nuts: Sommeliers break out the brews

Beer Rhymes With Cheer, Wine is Poetry in a Bottle No Comments »

By Michael Nagrant

The complexity of beer is underrated. There are infinite combinations of malted barleys, herbal hops and brewer’s yeasts that can be combined to yield uniquely crafted beers. Harvested barleys are roasted like green coffee beans, yielding different taste characteristics. “Terroir,” the character of the earth in which a plant grows, is important to beer, and also like wine, there is probably a beer for every food or occasion.

We decided to ask some of Chicago’s top sommeliers, wine directors and beverage experts how they would steer a customer who might be a beer enthusiast, or who didn’t particularly like wine, in three classic food scenarios:

Steak with a red-wine reduction sauce like merlot

Foie gras  on brioche toast with a fruit sauce like cherry or huckleberry

Lobster in a white wine butter sauce

We also asked the sommeliers to recommend their favorite personal “go to” or “under the radar” beers.

Alpana Singh, Director of Wine and Spirits, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises

Steak Pairing: Goose Island Bourbon County Stout—“It’s heavier and richer with the same weight as red wine. Any beer that you can’t see through, that’s got more of a brown chocolatey color to it, or a dense mouth feel that can stand up to the intense red wine reduction is good.”

Foie gras: Hoegaarden white ale—“It can act like a Burgundy white.”

Lobster: Lindeman’s Gueuze—“It’s light and crisp to counter the butter sauce.”

Go To Beer: Stella Artois

Brian Duncan, Wine Director, Bin 36

Steak: Bell’s Stout

Foie gras: Bosteel Tripel Karmeliet

Lobster: Mendocino Red Tail Ale—“It’s got a creamy consistency that will play up the richness in the lobster.”

Under the Radar: Three Floyd’s Alpha King

Matthew Gundlach, Sommelier, Moto restaurant

Steak: Summit Great Northern Porter—“I think of a porter, the bold flavor going with the bold flavor of the steak. We used the Summit in a wine progression paired up with a black bean soup with chocolate marshmallows.”

Foie gras: “I would probably just grab a mix-and-match six pack and have a lot of fun with this.”

Lobster: New Glarus Spotted Cow—“It’s an amber with light fruity flavors.”

Under the radar favorite: New Glarus Uff-da Bock

Joe Catterson, Wine Director, Alinea restaurant

Steak: Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale

Foie gras: Binchois Reserve—“It’s a Belgian beer, off dry, rich with a nice touch of spice.”

Lobster: Pilsner Urquell—“It’s light and clean”

Go to beer: Guinness Stout

Adam Seger, Wine Director/Bar Chef, Nacional 27

Steak: Chimay Blue—“I’d go towards Belgium, because you get the higher alcohol like you would with a full-bodied wine.”

Foie gras: Lindemans Kriek

Lobster: Anchor Steam—“Nothing too hoppy. I’d go more towards a lager because of the lighter acidity.”

Under the Radar: Goose Island Pere Jacques