Wine Society at play

The Pennsylvania Wine Society is planning an evening of “palate play” at the Sheraton Harrisburg-Hershey, matching wines with appetizers designed  by Executive Chef Tim Hartlieb: Shaved asiago and assorted olives with sourdough bread; thin-sliced Parma ham with fresh figs; lemon basil shrimp with parmesan risotto; wild forest mushrooms with angel hair pasta; carved rosemary rubbed roasted lamb with caramelized sweet potatoes. 

The date is Friday, December 8, and you can read the details here.

Scots Wha’ Hae

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Everytime I write about a beerfest or cover a wine tasting, I get a ribbing from Tim Leone, sportswriter. Yeah, he’s a professional sportswriter — a guy who gets paid for watching hockey. Tough duty. Tim, this single-malt Scotch whisky tasting, with appropriate food and music, is for you, bud.

Last night, I was privileged to attend a meeting of the ancient and honorable Delancey Scotsmen, guys who take their Scotch seriously.  The venue was Mechanicsburg, the forage cockaleekie soup and a superb chicken dish with some wild Celtic name. The background music, muted, was Burns’ stirring “Scots wha’ hae wi’ Wallace bled” and other pipe melodies.

Enough atmosphere. The whisky ranged from Caol Ila, a smoky, peaty drink that left ashes on the tongue, to a 15-year-old Glenlivet matured in casks of French oak, smooth as … well, really, almost as smooth as an Irish whiskey.

The Delancey Scotsmen Scribe of Scribes, Chuck Kern, has promised to help me write a guide to giving single-malt Scotch for Christmas. We’ll see. As an amateur, I may need to do considerable tasting.

Scots Wha’ Hae

 caol.jpgglenlivet15yo_french_oak.jpgglenfiddich12yo_special.jpg

Everytime I write about a beerfest or cover a wine tasting, I get a ribbing from Tim Leone, sportswriter. Yeah, he’s a professional sportswriter — a guy who gets paid for watching hockey. Tough duty. Tim, this single-malt Scotch whisky tasting, with appropriate food and music, is for you, bud.

Last night, I was privileged to attend a meeting of the ancient and honorable Delancey Scotsmen, guys who take their Scotch seriously.  The venue was Mechanicsburg, the forage cockaleekie soup and a superb chicken dish with some wild Celtic name. The background music, muted, was Burns’ stirring “Scots wha’ hae wi’ Wallace bled” and other pipe melodies.

Enough atmosphere. The whisky ranged from Caol Ila, a smoky, peaty drink that left ashes on the tongue, to a 15-year-old Glenlivet matured in casks of French oak, smooth as … well, really, almost as smooth as an Irish whiskey.

The Delancey Scotsmen Scribe of Scribes, Chuck Kern, has promised to help me write a guide to giving single-malt Scotch for Christmas. We’ll see. As an amateur, I may need to do considerable tasting.

“White House Chef”

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Last week, Paul and Carmel Biko had a five-course dinner with eight friends at the Hilton Harrisburg, prepared by former White House executive chef Walter Scheib. The Bikos bid $21,000 for the meal during Tres Bonne Annee, Harrisburg’s international wine auction for the benefit of the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts.

Now Chef Scheib’s abrupt exit from the Bush White House and his battles with the Bush family’s social secretary are detailed in his new book, “White House Chef.”  Marian Burros does the New York Times profile. (Registration required.)

“White House Chef”

 white.jpg

Last week, Paul and Carmel Biko had a five-course dinner with eight friends at the Hilton Harrisburg, prepared by former White House executive chef Walter Scheib. The Bikos bid $21,000 for the meal during Tres Bonne Annee, Harrisburg’s international wine auction for the benefit of the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts.

Now Chef Scheib’s abrupt exit from the Bush White House and his battles with the Bush family’s social secretary are detailed in his new book, “White House Chef.”  Marian Burros does the New York Times profile. (Registration required.)

Sommelier II

We’ve been tossing around the good/bad aspects of the powerful PLCB system, and this story in the Inquirer sparked new thoughts.  It’s about the difficult days that wine managers have, dealing with state stores.

Lynne Britton — a member of the P-N “By The Glass” wine panel and one of the instructors for HACC’s Intro to Wine course — offers this overview: 

“It’s unfortunate that sommeliers get such poor compensation for what they do; we almost always confer with the sommelier when we dine out, even if we already think we know what we want. There have only been a few times that I thought a sommelier was trying to steer me to a more expensive choice; they generally are very enthusiastic and helpful and enjoy talking to customers who show a little knowledge and a lot of interest.

“Ten years ago I would have totally condemned the PLCB system on all fronts; wine selections were extremely poor, prices were high, and questions asked of state store employees usually provoked a response of “never heard of it.” Now of course, with Johnathan Newman and knowledgeable buyers like Liza Gallia, the selections rival offerings anywhere in the country, and the Chairman’s special selection program truly does offer the lowest prices in the world.

“There are still drawbacks to having a monopoly, of course; the chairman’s selections are usually large production (though high quality items) and we rarely get the reserves or single vineyard items that have production runs of 1000 cases or fewer. I agree that it is inconvenient for restaurant wine buyers to have to get their supplies at the state stores. I believe there are ways that restaurants can deal directly with importers, however; I don’t really know much about the legal aspects of it. 

“I think the ideal situation for PA wine lovers may be to keep the PLCB system as it currently operates but allow direct shipment to consumers from out of state and international wineries. That way we will still have the benefit of the chairman’s selections and easy access to popular high production wines, but will be able to order the small production wines we can’t get here. I hope the legislature will not close the window on direct shipping, although confidentially I have been ordering wine directly for years, as long as the winery is willing to do it!”

Why there is Bud

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“Ambitious Brew” is the story of how we got Budweiser, and why.  Surprisingly, it’s not about a conspiracy of big brewers trying to market sugar water … it’s about an honest attempt to brew and sell a light and consistent lager way down at the other end of the bar from hearty German beers being made in small towns like Harrisburg.

This is a good book for an autumn afternoon by the fire with a glass of Troeg’s Oatmeal Stout.