Food, Wine

Thoughts on biodiversity, organic and local produce

When I was young, our Christmas stockings would inevitably be weighed down by a handful of oranges and, too heavy for our faux-mantle, laid carefully beneath the tree. Though nearly irrelevant in the contemporary First World, this tradition heralds from a time and place when oranges were both rare and expensive.

Somehow, beyond my comprehension of shipping logistics, this is no longer the case. Oranges can be found in grocery stores around the world alongside even rarer, more tropical fruit for prices even a pauper could finagle nearly year-round.

So let me just climb up on my soapbox and ask: Is this a convenience of modern society or a needless frivolity that takes for granted the future of our planet? It seems impossible (in my primitive logistic mind) that these prices account for the carbon footprint left behind, nevermind the questionable ethics involved at every stage of production. I’m not a zealot, but perhaps we should just pause and think for a nanosecond as we stumble through our luxurious, ignorant lives. (Too harsh? Chalk it up to shock value…)

Anyway, as I’m living in one of the world’s most diverse biospheres (Sicily), I thought I might share some realities from my current perspective. Experiencing these truths makes me feel rich and lucky. And it makes me promise myself I will strive to live differently upon my departure. Continue reading “Thoughts on biodiversity, organic and local produce”

Wine

A Winemaker’s Perspective: Organic Vineyards

Last night I was privileged to attend a dinner that featured a number of interesting people. Among the things I have learned in my short time of intellectual awareness is this: sometimes you can learn a lot by eavesdropping. Being especially true when surrounded by intelligent people, on this particular occasion I chose to say very little and listen carefully. What I overheard was the following conversation regarding organic vineyards. Continue reading “A Winemaker’s Perspective: Organic Vineyards”

Wine

The Value of Vino

I’ve been blogging with growing momentum over the last few months, and I have to admit, I’ve been really impressed with the quality of wine writing coming from the online community, specifically among WordPress writers. The amount of talent and knowledge and passion out there is mind-boggling. I want to contribute, so this post is my submission to the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge; this month’s topic is “value”.

The definition of value is one of extreme subjectivity whenever it is used in the English language. Our first reaction is to say: “Well, it’s about price-versus-quality,” but in reality it’s about price-versus-appreciability; and that’s where the bias comes in. Continue reading “The Value of Vino”

Wine

Diary of a Stripper

I was new to the country and I needed a job. It was early June, so there was lots of work as a stripper. I found a place that was looking for someone. I was shy at first, being the youngest there and having the least experience. I was also a bit embarrassed because I didn’t speak the language very well. But I quickly realized that most strippers seem to manage with only rudimentary phrases and no one minds their thick accents. Thankfully, one of the older men took me under his wing and taught me all there is to know about stripping. “Piano, piano,” he said as he showed me how to slowly and delicately remove everything. I watched him carefully as his fingers moved nimbly and gracefully. I learned by example and in no time at all I was stripping as well as anyone. Continue reading “Diary of a Stripper”

Wine

Behind the ‘Black Ball’

(In response to Rick VanSickle’s article on the VQA’s rejection of Pearl Morissette’s ‘Black Ball’ Riesling – original here. Also posted in-part as a comment.)

Kudos to Mr. VanSickle, as his piece is the most well-researched commentary that I have seen about the ‘Black Ball’ – a subject that is undoubtedly (and justifiably) being followed closely by the Ontario wine community and has now garnered international attention.

There are however a couple of critical discussion points that are aptly raised in the article but demand elaboration:

1) The role of the VQA and its legal Act as an Appellation System needs to be put into the appropriate historical context;

2) The importance of producers like François Morissette and his role as an industry innovator. Continue reading “Behind the ‘Black Ball’”

Books, Wine

Robert Camuto: Adventures in Wine

Though Robert Camuto’s two books: Corkscrewed and Palmento are now six and four years old respectively, their relevance in the wine world continues to grow as our societal deference to all things natural gives way to an evolved form of anti-commercialism. Such themes are woven into Mr. Camuto’s stories about wine and life and are must-reads for any wine-lover or bon vivant. Continue reading “Robert Camuto: Adventures in Wine”

Wine

Grape Variety v. Grape Varietal: A Case of Semantics

There is no such thing as a grape varietal. Don’t be embarrassed or get angry if you’ve been saying it; so have international wine scholars and reputable publications like Decanter magazine. In a field that is known for its misconstrued vernacular this is easily the most misused term, and that is really saying something. Continue reading “Grape Variety v. Grape Varietal: A Case of Semantics”

Wine

In defense of the LCBO…?

lcbo

Like most industry professionals, I could regale you with hours of anecdotal evidence that the LCBO is an over-privileged monopole that has no regard for its customers¹, private or licensee. I could complain about a lacking selection, fees and taxation driving up prices and a bottle-necked logistics department for importing, distribution and licensing. Furthermore I could argue that it stands as both a deliberate and incidental roadblock for individuals and restaurateurs trying to broaden their wine and beer horizons. The tone of such arguments (which have been made for decades) has now evolved into something profoundly aggressive. Many writers and critics of varying degrees of fame and respect (Jan WongMike MckennaJohn Szabo) have gone so far as to predict or even demand the end of the LCBO.

But perhaps we can find a couple of things to appreciate about the LCBO as it may not be around for that much longer (we can only hope…)!

Continue reading “In defense of the LCBO…?”