Sauce on the Side

Advice on wine, beer and spirits from a leading sommelier, educator and author.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

New Column in the Philadelphia Daily News

At long last, it's finally here!

Keep an eye out for 'Cheap Buzz' every Thursday in the PDN food section, right next to beer guru Joe Sixpack. It's a humorous take on wine and spirits - a fictional dialog between Marnie the sommelier and her blue-collar, wise-cracking neighbor Buzz (alter-ego of PDN city editor Gar Joseph). If all goes according to plan, we launch tomorrow.

I must confess I've been avoiding blogging with about the same resolve with which I've avoided jogging - and for similar reasons. But, no more excuses. In this space, I'll be posting thoughts on wine and food, beer and spirits, bars and service and anything else that strikes my fancy.

As a ritual to instill some rigor, I hereby inaugurate my first weekly feature - the official Sauce on the Side list of 'State Store Runners Up' - wines and spirits I love but that didn't
win the title of 'State Store Pick of the Week'


French Pinot Noir
Mercurey Faiveley 2006 Burgundy, France
$14.99 Search for real-time store stock here.

Why I Love It - 2006 Burgundy for $15. and, it's good! Need I say more?

Why I Didn't Pick It - I'm trying to stick to regular items found in all stores, and this is a Chairman's Selection. Sigh.

Italian Cherry Liqueur
Luxardo 'Maraschino'
$26.99 Search for real time store stock here.

Why I Love It - Not very sweet, but incredibly intense and the secret to many fine classic cocktails, like my fave 'Hemmingway's Daiquiri'. Uncommon haunting flavor comes from the cherry stones, not just the fruit's flesh. I'm SO happy to see it's now in stores!

Why I Didn't Pick It - I can't freak out my new tabloid audience with something this obscure, no matter how delicious. Or, at least, not on day one.

Stag's Leap Cabernet Sauvignon
Sequoia Grove 2008 Napa Valley, CA
$21.99 [regularly $34.99] Search for real time store stock here.

Why I Love It - I am sad to see this item got delisted - it's been a PLCB staple for years, that has always showed that classy Stag's Leap finish for a reasonable price. However, I'll salve my grief with the absurdly fabulous CLOSEOUT price. Grab it before it's gone, people.

Why I Didn't Pick It - A little dense for summer swelter and in limited supply to boot. Farewell Sequoia Grove - I hardly knew ye.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

When Basque Country and Tuscany collide...

Headed to the airport for a press trip to Basque country and Aragon, courtesy of 'Wines from Spain'. Psyched to taste some Txakolina at the source - low-alcohol, high-acid and spritzy? I'm there!

But, before I go, I wanted to let everyone know that I'm working on an educational/social event series with DiBruno Bros. We have a trial run coming up on Wed July 15th, a Tasting Tour of Tuscany, with wines and specialty foods of the region presented in a relaxed walkaround format in the Upstairs Cafe. Hope to see you there!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Sake, Anyone?

Philadelphians might be shocked to learn that our fair city is home to one of the biggest and best sake events in the country. Sake Fest 2009 is coming up next week - Tuesday evening April 7th to be precise, at the Loews Hotel in Center City. It's part of the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Philadelphia. I'll be there judging the sake cocktail competition and hosting the 'Sake Education Station', so come check it out. Sakes of every style and stripe will be on offer, as well as all sorts of other Japanese drinks and food from area restaurants and merchants, like Morimoto and DiBruno's.

Did you know that in addition to being the proper name of that delightful fermented nectar of rice and koji fungus, the word 'sake' has another looser meaning in Japanese? Essentially, it's the term for a 'drink' in the sense of any and every adult beverage. So, in addition to dozens of 'true' sakes - from Japanese to American, honjozo to pure rice junmai, from sparkling to unfiltered nigori - you'll also find other intoxicating treats from Japan, like rice beer, ume plum wine, distilled shochu and even honest-to-goodness grape wine. Whoo-hoo!

I've had a blog in my throat.

At the end of 2008, my weekly wine, beer and spirits picks on Philadelphia magazine's Taste blog went the way of the dodo bird. Darn those cutbacks. Ever since, I've been meaning to get myself set up on my own site and voila!

If you haven't had a chance yet, check out Philly Uncorked, my weekly wine and spirits webisodes at They get main page real estate every Friday, but can always be found under the 'Restaurants & Food' section - just click on 'Wine & Drinks'.


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