Cougar Beat: More From the Field at WSWA

It’s not all speeches and booze bottles shaped like weapons for Cougar Beat at the annual WSWA convention in Las Vegas. This time, our intrepid reporter sends word direct from the exhibition floor:

Highlights from the exhibition floor: Jello shots that require no refrigeration, 30 proof whipping cream in five flavors, a caffeinated RTD branded “Jakk’d” and the delightful lady hawking a ‘purple hooter’ in packaging akin to a large mustard packet. She said that the product retails for 99 cents beacuse “you gotta keep it cheap for the kids.”

At last, five flavors of 30 proof whipping cream!

Luckily, Cougar Beat stumbled on something that was more to her taste:

On a serious note, Leblon Cachaca is making a drink in their suite with said cachaca, lemongrass, cucumber, lime and coconut foam. Outstanding cocktail. Not to be missed!

Coconut foam? We here at Spume HQ love our foams.


Guns, Knives and Tequila at WSWA: Cougar Beat’s New Favorite Booze

Feeling charged after Sarah Palin’s speech this morning, Cougar Beat hit the floor at WSWA, where there can be exciting intersections of violence and alcohol.

The Beat reports: “Yes, the bottle is shaped like an AK-47. And that’s machete of tequila next to it.”

Be careful: Mention direct shipping here and someone will whack you with their tequila machete!

Cougar Beat: On the Prowl Live at WSWA

As some of you may know, the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America is having its annual gathering in Las Vegas this week. This is where the distributor types come together for a series of meetings, tastings, back-room deals and good ol’ fashioned fun, Vegas style. Notable this year, of course, is the presence of Sarah Palin as the keynote speaker. Why Palin? Beats me because the whole organization is rather dude-heavy. But Mike Steinberger wrote an intelligent piece at Slate about the topic that’s worth a read.

Anyway, back to the point of this post. We here at Spume HQ, though we’ve never been to WSWA ourselves, have a plant at the convention. That’s right, we’ve embedded Cougar Beat our, erm, Vegas lifestyle correspondent. So, without further ado, we go to Cougar Beat’s live SMS dispatches from the conference: Continue reading

Authenticity in Italian Wine: Notes from My Panel at VINO 2010

As I mentioned earlier, I was in New York for much of last week at the Italian wine extravaganza, VINO 2010. While it was great to attend seminars, meet new producers and taste their wines, the reason I was there was to speak as part of a panel (full disclosure: I was paid to participate). Our session was titled Transparency, Traceability, and Wine: the Italian Appellation of Origin System, and it certainly inspired a lively round of discussion.

I don’t have full notes on what was said, but I thought I would post the written text of what I’d prepared for the session. Feel free to chime in with discussion, comments, etc.

Note: Riccardo Ricci Curbastro, a Franciacorta producer and a representative of FederDOC, the body that oversees the Italian appellation system, pointed out that the rules for each appellation are agreed upon from the bottom up; in other words, the producers of a particular region determine the appellation rules amongst themselves. I overlooked this point but it did come rushing back when I recalled that members of the Brunello Consortium voted to not change the rules of the appellation and allow grapes other than sangiovese in the production of Brunello di Montalcino.

Anyway, here’s the text I prepared (after the jump):

Continue reading

Zinfandel and Kink: An S&M Wine Tasting

We San Franciscans love our wine. And we love our kinky sex. Apparently, we also like to combine the two.

From SFist comes word of the Wine & Rope tasting at local gallery, Femina Potens. And what are they tasting? Why zinfandel of course!

Go here to read more.

I might add that the crew over at SFist is taking a rather, well, sexualized view of wine lately. Besides revealing the bondage qualities inherent to big, bad, dirty zinfandel, they’ve portrayed chardonnay (of the California extraction) as the drink of whores.

VinItaly 2009: Some Impressions

There’s a new post up at Wine & Spirits with some of my impressions from the recent wine fairs in Verona, including VinItaly and Vini Veri. It’s a q&a format although how I managed to squeeze in time to answer everything during a recent marathon tasting of Italian wine in New York is beyond me. Anyway, one of the things that struck me most during this past trip to Verona is that the region in early April is a lot like the Edinburgh during the Festival and Fringe, which I had a chance to experience during my university days at St. Andrews (just up the coast from Edinburgh).

The Festival was once a singular theater/opera event happening every year in August; over time a festival Fringe developed that has since become larger than the original Festival. The net result is a massive cultural happening — mostly theater but really every kind of performance, including music, film and even bagpipes — that takes over the entire city for two weeks at the end of summer.

Verona is now sort of a vinous equivalent, with the natural wine fairs Vini Veri (which was greatly expanded this year) and Vin Natur, as well as Summa, which happens about 90 minutes outside of town in Alto Adige. A busy time to be sure, but also an amazing opportunity to taste some incredible wine and talk directly with producers, making it well worth the effort to get there.

(Click here to read the post at Wine & Spirits.)

The Best Fish Tacos on the Central Coast

Playing hooky is something I learned the value of a long time ago. It often brings new perspectives through serendipity, which is exactly what happened this past Saturday during the annual World of Pinot Noir festival in Pismo Beach. Before the grand tasting started, a small group of us headed over to the charming hamlet of Avila Beach where we’d heard there was a good fish shack at the end of the pier, some place called Pete’s Pierside CafĂ©.

So off we went thinking, hey, beers and fish tacos, what could be better? We got that, but we got so much more.

pete's menu

As you can see from the menu of specials above, this was no ordinary pierside taco shack. Chanterelle enchiladas smothered in a vibrant green sauce, housemade chips, halibut tacos, wild salmon tacos (I raised an eyebrow at this, given the collapse of the Pacific salmon run), an array of pickled vegetables and salsas, and, seen below, pescado entero, a whole, crispy fried fish served with rice and beans and steaming corning tortillas. Shred with a fork, build your own taco.

whole fish

Note to Tyler: We talked about food and wine pairings here, but really, Tecate in a can is where it’s at! And yes, that’s a 22-oz can…

*We felt like copying the local seal population after lunch but as the little guy in the water can attest, there just wasn’t any room on the dock under the pier.


(NB: For another Central Coast hole-in-wall Mexican seafood experience, it’s hard to beat El Lugarcito in King City.)