Tastes from the California Artisan Cheese Festival 2015

Cheese and wine (and beer) go hand in hand (in hand), so putting these together on a balmy March evening in Petaluma, California, made perfect sense to me. Recently I attended the California Artisan Cheese Festival’s “Chef vs. Chef – The Best Bite” competition, where about 20 restaurants vied to woo the public each offering…

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Review: Greenore Single Grain Irish Whiskey 8 Years Old

This single-grain whiskey is distilled at Cooley from a mash of 95% corn and 5% malted barley. Sound familiar? It’s the same whiskey as Teeling Single Grain, only Teeling is aged in wine barrels, while Greenore spends its eight years in bourbon casks. The difference is striking. The richness and sweet vanilla of Teeling is…

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Review: MarkThomas Double Bend MT Selection Glassware

Austria’s MarkThomas is bringing its ultra-luxe line of hand-blown stemware to the U.S. If you’ve got a taste for quirky designs and exceptionally high prices, well, maybe it’s for you. The Double Bend collection is defined by, well, the double bend in the bowl of each glass. Rather than curve inward gradually, the glasses just…

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Review: 2010 Tenuta di Arceno Il Fauno di Arcanum Toscana IGT

This Tuscan winery is owned by the enormous Jackson Family of Wines operation, and it’s only the company’s second Italian brand under its umbrella. Tenuta di Arceno’s Il Fauno di Arcanum bottling (not the same as Arcanum) is a Bordeaux-style blend of 56% merlot, 23% cabernet franc, 20% cabernet sauvignon, and 1% petit verdot. It’s a…

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Review: 12 Smirnoff Flavored Vodkas

Smirnoff recently repackaged its vodka lineup — again — which now spans a whopping 39 flavors (not to mention three unflavored expressions). That’s 8 more flavors than you can get at Baskin-Robbins… and with similar ingredient descriptions. The company sent us a healthy dozen of these flavors — palate be damned! — for consideration. (They’re…

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Review: Sugar Skull Rum – Silver, Vanilla, and Coconut

Here’s a new batch of rums, comprising five flavored expressions. Sugar Skull is made from can sourced throughout the Caribbean and South America and distilled in the Caribbean (the company doesn’t say where) in a column still. The final product is blended and flavored in the U.S. before bottling in dia de los muertes inspired decanters.…

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Tasting Report: Wines of Howell Mountain 2015

The annual “Above the Fog” tasting of wines from Napa’s decidedly inhospitable Howell Mountain region is a showcase for some of the most luxurious — and expensive — wines produced in California. This year producers showed off a wide range of bottlings ranging from 2009 to 2012 releases — with some library wines thrown in…

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Tasting the Brunellos of Col d’Orcia with Count Francesco Marone Cinzano

I don’t know about you, but it’s not every day I get to have lunch with an honest to god Count. Frenceso Marone Cinzano runs the show at Col d’Orcia, where he has produced Brunello di Montalcino (amongst a number of other wines) since 1992. (His family has owned the estate since 1973.) Cinzano visited…

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