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After abandoning the plan to sell wine 3 years ago, Amazon is jumping back in
Good news for Amazon-aholics: the online retailer is jumping back into the wine industry, and plans to start selling wine online.
The Wall Street Journal and Business Journals reports that Amazon met with vintners from Sonoma and Napa County to discuss the details; reports say that the newest online venture could be up and running in a month. Amazon wants to be selling in time for the holidays, reported journalist and book author Lewis Perdue on his website, Sonoma's Wine Industry Insight.
Three years ago, Amazon had plans to start selling wine, but it had to shelve them because of financial troubles with its financial partner, New Vine Logisitics. While the new online store may be exciting, there are some hurdles Amazon will face. Not only are there differences between state laws for who can sell alcoholic beverages, but there's also the issue of minors signing for boozy packages. Stats from wine.com, an online retailer of wine, report that only 1 percent of sales from wine sold in the U.S. are online — but if anyone can change those numbers, it's Amazon.
What to Buy from Napa Valley's 'Open the Cellar' Sale, According to Our Wine Editor
The Napa Valley Vintners Association is hosting a huge online wine sale of rare bottles. Here's what Ray Isle says you should buy.
The response to the non-profit Napa Valley Vintners organization’s ongoing-through-tonight-only “Open the Cellar” sale has been tremendous, but there are still plenty of amazing wines left to pick up before the sale ends. With wineries closed in the Valley but still trying to keep tasting room workers employed and on staff, this is a good way to help out folks in the wine world and at the same time end up with a few bottles you𠆝 never be able to find otherwise. And since we’re all drinking a lot of wine right now, that seems like an excellent thing. Being executive wine editor for Food & Wine, I figured it might help people out if I scoped through the offerings—there are several hundred𠅊nd pulled out a few that I personally think are truly unusual and interesting (or just great), at a range of price levels. (Find the entire sale at OpenTheCellar.com.)
2012 Signorello Las Amigas Vineyard Pinot Noir ($80)
Signorello already had to deal with its winery burning to the ground during the 2017 fires, so the COVID shutdown comes as a truly unfair double-whammy. But they’re pressing on, and the quality of the wines remains impressive. 2012 was an excellent vintage, and a few years of age will have only made this wine more appealing.
2016 Corison Helios Cabernet Franc ($100)
Over the years Cathy Corison has achieved enormous respect for her adherence to making elegant, exquisitely balanced Cabernets that stay away from overextraction and jammy flavors. Getting a chance to check out her work with the less-frequently bottled Cabernet Franc variety makes me want to hit the buy button immediately.
1991 Frog’s Leap Zinfandel ($115)
A rare opportunity to try a Zinfandel with a lot of cellar-age, and from one of the best (if not the best) vintages of the 1990s. Just contemplating the fact that the winery has aged this wine in perfect conditions 29 years for you makes it clear that it’s a true bargain.
2008 Chappellet Las Piedras Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($110)
Chappellet, lodged atop Pritchard Hill, makes powerful but nuanced Cabernets that almost always deserve some cellar time before drinking. Guess what? Here’s one with cellar time, and for about the same price it is on release.
2012 Favia Cerro Sur Red ($220)
One of my favorite Napa Valley reds, this sublime Cabernet Franc-driven blend is made by Annie Favia, one of the state’s best viticulturists, and her husband Andy Erickson, a superstar in the winemaking world. A few years of age will have only improved it. (Annie Favia also grows and makes superb organic herbal teas, if you need another way to lower your stress during this time:rdatea.com.)
2005 Honig Vineyard & Winery Mitchell Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($173)
Napa Valley’s 2005 Cabernets are drinking extremely well right now, and this wine represents a chance to pick up a top single-vineyard bottling that’s been aged under perfectly controlled cellar conditions. (Honig is very well known for its Sauvignon Blancs, but its excellent Cabernets are an under-the-radar find.)
2003 Chateau Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($250)
The current vintage of this classic Napa producer’s estate Cabernet runs $175, so picking up a bottle with 17 years of age on it for $75 bucks more is well worth the additional money.
2011 Knights Bridge Dr. Crane Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($175)
I had this wine at a dinner in Napa Valley before the—wait, let’s see what happened—oh yeah, the entire world shut down. But it was an impressive surprise from a winery that hasn’t received a lot of attention, with fruit from one of the valley’s top vineyards.
2007 Silver Oak Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($175)
Silver Oak fans know who they are (easy test: are you obsessed with Silver Oak? Bingo.) so the opportunity to pick up a bottle of the winery’s much loved Napa Valley bottling should be a no-brainer, especially if you’re a fan who doesn’t have the space or inclination to cellar wines yourself.
2005 Lang & Reed Right Bank Red Wine ($200/magnum)
I’ll let winemaker/owner John Skupny weigh in here, though will note that if you haven’t had his Lang & Reed wines, what are you waiting for? “This was an homage to my wife, Tracey, and a trip to St. Emilion, just before we got married in 1977. We were in a cool little wine bar and had a glass of some incredible older vintage of Cheval Blanc when she said to me ‘If ever you learn to make wine, I would love for you to make a wine like this.’” Et voila! Skupny made two vintages of this Cabernet Franc-driven red, 2004 and 2005, and about the he says, “In magnum format it’s drinking very harmoniously𠅊ll the pieces have knitted together to make something greater than their original parts.”
2017 Cade 13th Vineyard Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (2-pack, $600)
Expensive, yes, but only 12 barrels were made of this intense mountain Cabernet by winemaker Danielle Cyrot. Normally it’s only sold to guests of the Cade Estate, which is also notable for its devotion to green and organic principles—it was the first LEED gold-certified winery in the valley, its vineyards are all farmed organically, and it relies on solar power, among other initiatives. Nor does it hurt that the wines are superb.
2014 Meteor Vineyard Clone Project Cabernet Sauvignon Coombsville Napa & Blending Session with Coravin System ($600)
The Vast, Vibrant World of Grains Deserves Your Attention
Most American pantries are filled with a few staple grains like wheat, rice, and barley—maybe a little quinoa and farro𠅋ut those are just a tiny fraction of the vast variety of amazingly delicious grains eaten throughout the world. Some are crunchy and nutty, others starchy and satisfying, and still others bring heartiness to your plate.
Introducing new grains into your diet is an opportunity to pack in robust textures and add satisfying depth to your meals (while also offering a nutritional boost by way of protein and fiber). Looking for something chewy and pleasingly starchy? Grab some sorghum for a bright salad. For an earthy twist on silky pasta dough, turn to teff. For speedy weeknight meals that come together in just minutes, make a quick batch of polenta-like fonio or transform finger millet into a stack of tender roti. And for dessert, pop some amaranth and toss it with sweet syrup, dried fruits, and nuts for a Rice Krispies–style treat.
The biggest advantage to all of these grains is just how versatile they are. There isn&apost only one correct way to use them, and they&aposre incredibly forgiving to cook. Each of these grains is also just as hardy as it is hearty. All are more adaptable and less resource-intensive to farm than many go-to grains like wheat and rice—meaning that you&aposll likely see more of them in the future as the climate continues to change.
Drawing from the wide world of grains is an easy way to add nuance, character, and flavor to your repertoire. Once you start exploring all the ways they can shake up your meals, you&aposll never think about grains as humdrum again.
"I like to call sorghum the grain of the future," says Roxana Jullapat, the co-owner and baker of Los Angeles restaurant Friends & Family. Jullapat, a Los Angeles native of Thai and Costa Rican descent, unearthed sorghum&aposs potential while working on her first cookbook, Mother Grains, an exploration of the grain spectrum for professional bakers and grain-curious novices. "Sorghum is incredibly sustainable. It is very nutritious it&aposs a high-yield crop and it can be grown in harsh, dry environments—which is what a lot of farmland is under threat of becoming."
Sorghum has been around for millennia. Its origins as a foodstuff trace back to southern Egypt, and it was first domesticated in Ethiopia and Sudan before spreading to the rest of Africa. It likely came to the United States through enslaved people from West Africa. Here, sorghum plantings are usually for one of three purposes: livestock feed, sorghum syrup, or sorghum grain. Sorghum syrup, made from the corn-like stalks of the sorghum plant, is a linchpin of Appalachian cuisine, used as a molasses-like sweetener for pies and biscuits.
The grain is what Jullapat focuses on. You can use it ground into flour, as an ingredient in gluten-free baking, or whole in kernels, which can go sweet (they can cook into a hearty, starchy breakfast porridge) or savory (as in her Sorghum and Albacore Tuna Salad with Preserved Lemon). "This is the starchiest grain out there," Jullapat says. "It gets creamy, like arborio rice, and very thick." If you&aposre going to use them as a salad base, wash the grains before cooking to remove extra starch, and cook them with abundant water, like pasta. Once cooked, spread them on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil so the grains don&apost stick together as much, she advises. "One great thing about these grains is they love vinaigrette, so you can be generous."
Where to Get It: Look for Bob&aposs Red Mill sorghum, available at health food and specialty stores, amazon.com and bobsredmill.com.
Chef Pierre Thiam is a fonio evangelist. Not only has he given a TED Talk about the importance of the grain and written The Fonio Cookbook, but he&aposs also been instrumental in making fonio more widely available in the United States. "We began distributing officially in 2017, and at the time we were just at one Whole Foods, a new one opening in Harlem," Thiam says. The grain quickly gained popularity among shoppers now you can find Thiam&aposs Yolélé Fonio in every Whole Foods in the country.
It&aposs easy to see why: Fonio is a nutritious, versatile grain, and it&aposs very forgiving, to the point that in the Bambara community, a Mandé ethnic group native to a wide swath of West Africa who uses fonio as a staple, there&aposs a saying that translates to "fonio never embarrasses the cook." In a pot of simmering water, fonio will cook through in five minutes or less, just enough time for the grain to absorb the liquid it&aposs cooked in. "Too much water, and it becomes a wonderful porridge, more like grits or polenta," Thiam says. "With less water, you have a very fluffy couscous-like grain with a nutty taste. It&aposs also a generous grain. One cup of raw fonio is up to four cups cooked."
Fonio has deep roots in Africa but became less widespread after the imposition of colonial powers in the late 19th century. Today, fonio is largely cultivated and consumed in the Sahel region of West Africa, an arid swath south of the Sahara that includes parts of Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger, Algeria, Nigeria, Chad, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Cameroon, and Sudan. Fonio requires very little water and grows incredibly quickly. A fonio plant is ready for harvesting in two to three months, depending on the variety. "The most important thing to me is the fact that consuming fonio is one way of supporting those small farmers that are growing it in one of the poorest regions of the world," Thiam says. Besides that, it makes a great addition to meatballs.
Where to Get It: Pick up Pierre Thiam&aposs Yolélé Fonio at Whole Foods or order it from yolele.com.
Millet does not refer to a singular grain, but instead to a family of annual grasses. As one of the oldest cultivated crops—there are mentions of the grain in ancient Greek texts and the Old Testament—millet is eaten in many parts of the world. It remains most popular in countries throughout Africa and Asia like Nigeria and India. In the West, it tends to be used for birdseed or animal fodder, as Westerners have not yet realized how flavorful and versatile the grain truly is.
There are several types of millet that are beloved across the globe (including teff), but one of the most delicious and common varieties is finger millet, also known as ragi throughout many parts of India. It&aposs an ingredient that Chitra Agrawal always keeps on hand. Agrawal, author of Vibrant India: Fresh Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Brooklyn and owner of Brooklyn Delhi, an Indian condiment company, says ragi is especially valued in the South Indian state of Karnataka. "The flour is used in a rustic and hearty dish called ragi mudde, or ragi balls, that is traditionally prepared in rural areas, providing farming families with hearty sustenance for the day."
At home, Agrawal likes to transform hearty ragi flour into a comforting pile of roti—savory, crunchy rounds with cumin seeds, curry leaves, and shredded coconut cooked into the batter—that she serves with a bit of yogurt and tomato achaar (recipe at left). It&aposs a dish inspired by the ragi roti her mother would make for her, and it&aposs now a recipe she makes for her children.
In addition to its nutritional value (it&aposs rich in fiber) and versatility (it lends itself not just to roti but also to comforting porridges, crisp dosas, and even hearty cookies), the grain is also one of the hardiest and most resilient crops humans can plant. Millet is drought-resistant and low maintenance, and it grows very quickly compared to other grains. (While wheat and rice take nearly half a year to mature, millet is ready to eat in just 60 days.) Don&apost let their quick maturation rate fool you millet plants also tend to have very impressive crop yields. This means more millet for everyone𠅊nd that is a very good thing.
Where to Get It: 24 Mantra organic ragi flour is available from amazon.com.
To call teff a staple of the Ethiopian diet is, frankly, an under-statement. The grain, a type of millet, accounts for nearly two-thirds of the country&aposs protein intake. "Teff is Ethiopia&aposs most widely farmed crop, grown by an estimated 6.5 million Ethiopian farmers," notes chef Yohanis Gebreyesus in his James Beard Award–winning cookbook, Ethiopia: Recipes and Traditions from the Horn of Africa. It&aposs a crop farmers have been growing for millennia it was first domesticated around the Horn of Africa nearly 3,000 years ago.
Teff is as resilient as it is versatile. The grain thrives during droughts but can also grow well if the soil is waterlogged. In 2006, as teff started to gain popularity around the world, the Ethiopian government placed a ban on the export of the raw grain due to fears it would spike teff prices and drain supply. The ban is now partially lifted, but to meet rising demand for the nutritious grain, teff is now being grown in the United States, namely in the Pacific Northwest.
In Ethiopia, teff is most commonly milled into flour and used to make injera, the tangy fermented flatbread that is a pillar of Ethiopian cuisine. But Gebreyesus notes that teff flour is also a stunning addition to pasta dough, imparting a slight nuttiness to his teff tagliatelle, which he tops with the Ethiopian spiced clarified butter known as niter kibbeh (recipe above). Though teff pasta might seem like a surprising concept, it&aposs one that culturally makes a lot of sense to Gebreyesus. "The selection of pasta in Addis Ababa supermarkets is the largest of any product, probably due to our history with Italy in the 1930s." But, he notes, teff doesn&apost always need to be milled into a flour to be consumed. "The tiny seeds can also be cooked and eaten as whole grains," says Gebreyesus. When simply boiled in salted water until tender, teff grains turn wonderfully fragrant with a gentle underlying sweetness, making for a satisfying salad base.
Our Favorite Cookbooks of 2020
With many of us cooking at home more often, it’s been a great year to grow our cookbook collections. Some of these new additions delivered a much-needed refresh to our well-worn dinner repertoires, while others allowed us to channel newfound free time into incredibly rewarding baking projects. Here are a few of the best cookbooks team Food & Wine picked up and loved in 2020h one would make a thoughtful gift that will yield good meals and memories for years to come.
Open Kitchen by Susan Spungen
“The pandemic scuttled Susan Spungen’s book tour for Open Kitchen last spring, but nothing can dim her visionary style. From her cheese board to her Berry Brita Cake, Susan has the most delicious imagination. Her playful palate will inspire you to sprint to the kitchen and get cooking.” —Josh Miller
Open Kitchen: Inspired Food for Casual Gatherings, $20 at amazon.com
Aran: Recipes and Stories from a Bakery in the Heart of Scotland by Flora Shedden
“I want to make every single thing in Great British Bake Off finalist Flora Shedden’s cookbook. The book is as whimsical as her bakery itself, filled with recipes that go from dawn to dinner to dessert.” —Nina Friend
How to Tell if Your Bottle Has Turned
Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether or not your wine has gone bad in the first place. If you’ve ever left a glass of wine out overnight, chances are you’re familiar with the sweet but vinegary smell of &aposoff&apos wine. But for wines that have technically been stored correctly, the signs may be more subtle.
According to Hoel, oxidation will begin to change a wine’s color and taste, but that doesn’t always mean your wine has gone bad. “In fact, this process is the reason we decant wines before drinking, as the flavors are often enhanced by oxygen. However, there is a point that it stops enhancing the wine, and starts turning it into vinegar,” he explains.
First, check the color. Reds will begin to darken to brown and brick tones, while white wines will often deepen and become more yellow. Then, give it a test (don’t worry wine won’t hurt you). For red wines that have gone &aposoff,&apos you’ll find that the flavors and aromas will flatten, replacing fresh flavors with nutty, sherry-like notes. Whites will start to develop a sour, vinegary taste.
“This process is also useful for checking the integrity of your wine when dining out,” explains Hoel. “If you order wine by the glass at a restaurant, remember to take notice of the color and the flavor profile.” Wines served by the glass can come from bottles that were opened earlier that day and can start exhibiting signs of over-oxygenation, even in just a few hours. “If you discover the wine you ordered in a restaurant has gone &aposoff,&apos it’s well within your rights to ask for a fresh glass,” he adds.
Runner-Up, Best Aerator: Vintorio Wine Aerator Pourer
This aerator from Vintorio is designed to attach directly to the neck of a wine bottle. After the aerator is placed, the wine can be poured as usual, and will bubble as it flows through the aerator. This design makes it easy to place the entire bottle of wine on a table and pass it around, aerator and all. Everyone at the table will experience a freshly aerated glass of wine.
6 recipes to use up the bottle of wine you opened last night
Wine is as wonderful to cook with as it is to drink — and we have great recipes using both white and red kinds.
You’ve probably heard that when cooking with wine, one of the best things to do is to try and pick a wine you’d also drink — not just to have a sip while cooking, but also to impart the flavors you love into the dish.
Many recipes will pair wine to the type of protein — white for fish and chicken, red for red meats — though you’ll certainly find recipes that defy that rule.
Read on for some options enhanced by wine. Not quite what you’re looking for? Check our Recipe Finder for more recipes featuring wine.
Linguine With Cod in a Saffron-White Wine Sauce, above. Make this easy, fancy-ish meal for those nights when you need to zhuzh it up.
Good Spirits Fine Wine and Liquor teaches us how to make a ‘Black-Eyed Susan’
Two weeks ago, we donned our fascinators and bonnets to celebrate the Kentucky Derby horse race, armed with a mint julep. This weekend it’s the second jewel in the crown, the Preakness Stakes at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.
And while, you probably know that. We figure it’s a pretty safe bet that you can’t immediately call to mind the signature cocktail of leg number two of the Triple Crown. It’s ok, we didn’t know it either! Thankfully, Heather Taylor with Good Spirits Fine Wine & Liquor is back with us today to make sure that we do this horse race right with a drink called the “Black-Eyed Susan.”
Whether you’re looking for the elements to a great Black-Eyed Susan or need a fine wine to sip as you purvey the Preakness on TV, you’ll find an excellent selection that’s sure to please even the pickiest of palates. And if you’re not sure what to get, let Heather and her expert team guide you to a great selection. You’ll find them at Good Spirits Fine Wine and Liquor inside Taylor’s Pantry at 41st and Minnesota Avenue in Sioux Falls.
Black Eyed Susan
- 1 ounce Yellowstone Bourbon
- 1 ounce Ciroc Vodka
- 1 ounce Rothman & Winter Orchard Peach Liqueur
- 2 ounces orange juice
- 2 ounces sour mix
- 2 ounces pineapple juice
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