Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.
Yes: The Summer of Riesling has officially started. So what does that mean for you?
In case you missed the first six iterations of this restaurant-centric love-fest for all things Riesling, what happens is that, beginning June 21, a plethora of restaurants around the country agree to feature several Rieslings by the glass throughout the entire summer. There are also tastings, dinners, hootenannies (well, one hopes) and so on. The list of participants can be found at summerofriesling.com.
The purpose, of course, is to build awareness for Riesling, a great white grape that suffers from several misconceptions: First, that all of it is sweet (it isn’t), second, that it all comes from Germany (it doesn’t, though Germany is undoubtedly Riesling’s homeland), and third, that it’s weird and you’d be better off buying Chardonnay (definitely not).
Not long ago the folks from Portland, Oregon’s Salt & Straw stopped by the F&W offices, and there was much rejoicing. That’s because what Salt & Straw makes is ice cream, and when you bring ice cream to an office full of ravenous food fanatics, rejoicing and/or gorging is what happens.
What particularly intrigued me about Salt & Straw, though, is that it’s one of several artisanal ice cream producers involved in what you might call a “cocktail ice cream” trend. For their newly released Strawberry and Verbena Pimm’s Cup flavor, for instance, S&S cofounder Tyler Malek teamed up with bartender Ross Hunsinger of Portland’s Aviary bar to create a concoction utilizing strawberries, lemon verbena and a zingy gin marmalade.
An appealingly cynical English friend in the wine business once told me, “You see, what you do is that when your child is born, you purchase a case of vintage port from that year. Then, when the child finally graduates from college, you send them on their way, and you drink it.”
Exactly. All this business about putting wine away until your kid is able to appreciate it is just bunk; the person who really deserves a good bottle post-graduation is the parent. After all, it costs somewhere on the order of $241,000 to raise a kid, and that isn’t even counting college—don’t you think you deserve a bottle of something nice after all that?
Here are some splurge-worthy suggestions from some of the world’s great wine regions. They’re a little pricey, but on the bright side, you could buy more than 5,000 bottles of any one of them for what you just paid to raise your newly minted graduate.
We Americans, we do like our beef. The average citizen of the US of A eats somewhere around 70 pounds of beef per year. And we eat more of it on Memorial Day than any other day of the year—not all 70 pounds in one go, necessarily, but still. Evidently we, as a people, cannot resist the urge to slap round patties of ground cow flesh onto hot metal and then devour the results.
There are, however, some suspicious characters floating around—veggie refuseniks, fifth-column lamb lovers, turkey-burger saboteurs, whatnot—who reject the classic burger in all its beefy, juicy wonder. Well, it’s a democracy, at least last I heard, and everyone’s entitled to their own viewpoint. (And, you know, a good lamb burger is mighty hard to resist, I do have to admit.)
So, in the spirit of diversity, brotherhood and universal burger tolerance, here are some wine recommendations for a whole variety of grilled-things-between-buns.
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