Thursday, July 17, 2008

Today I'm holding a charity Swirl Events wine tasting event for Sakhi, a fantastic organization that provides resources for South Asian women who are victims of domestic abuse. Organizing and running a fundraiser wine tasting for Sakhi was my initial inspiration for Swirl. But this post isn't about that. It's about how a lot of people (including myself very briefly) have the impression that starting and running a wine company is all glamour and fun. They think it's about waking up late, lounging and working in PJs, then spending the rest of the day sipping fine wine with winemakers. Admittedly, some of those things are true (namely working in my PJs). But glamorous--not so much.

This morning starts with washing 65 glasses. By hand. Then drying each of them. By hand. Then it's a quick zip over to a doctor's appointment. But on the way, I have to stop at Pour wine shop to say hello to the owner and drop off some Swirl postcards for potential clients. Next, I (try to) purchase the chocolates I'm pairing with the General Bilimoria Tempranillo. The chocolates aren't there. Or at my back-up spot. So, it's crazy creative time. But it works out. Now the website's down and may not be up till Monday. Blasphemy! Then it's a stop to pick up Drano for the shower. Did I mention the glamorous part yet? (and no, it's not the Drano.)

Well, the "glamorous" part thankfully comes now: I'm writing this while sipping on Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé Champagne. Huh?? Well, Carrie Bradshaw smoked cigarettes while writing her column, so me myself and I un-guiltily sip wine and nibble on a plate of Brillat Savarin, a decadent and sensuously creamy cow's milk cheese. And why--you ask--Champagne? I'm not one for saving Champagne for celebrations, but I did wait to open this gorgeous, zippy bottle for a true celebration--my very first bit of glamor.

Yesterday, I was a guest on the Martha Stewart Living Radio show. I spoke about weddings and wine for their Weddings Week. It was live and they give you zero prep. Thankfully, I knew I wouldn't throw up since my nerves prohibited me eating anything all day.

The craziest live listener question I got was whether running wine in a blender would aerate it faster. Hmmm...always something new in wine. But, as it happens, I love being on the radio and there's nothing that feels more natural. So, what's next? Bring me on the show, Martha! Or Oprah, or Rachael, or Meredith. (I don't discriminate when it comes to dealing with influential and powerful women.) I promise to put down the glass and get out of my PJs.

Savvy SwirlGirl


nina said...

Wine in a blender. I'm feeling a whole new line of juice bars...

Ladan said...

Speaking of fizzy wines or aperitifs, could you recommend a good Prosecco?

SwirlGirl said...

My favorite Prosecco is the Mionetto Brut. Another great one is the Bisol Prosecco. Both are from the Veneto region in Italy and both are a steal under $13. Salute!

How to Pick a Summer Wine: The Gentler, Lighter Side of Wine

Summer’s soaring temps beg you to step away from heavy Cabernets and check out the gentler, lighter side of wine. When choosing the perfect summer wine for your outdoor engagement party or wedding, think light, crisp, refreshing--and because people tend to drink more in the heat--lower in alcohol. Nothing more prettily suggests summer than a dry (i.e. not sweet) rose. Avoid the simple, syrupy versions and try French roses from the Mourvèdre grape or roses made using the Saignee method for more complexity. Pick wines from countries where you imagine the locals sipping leisurely at sidewalk cafés while basking in the sun, like Spain. A Spanish fave is Albarino from the Rias Baixas region. Made to drink young, Albarino is a crisp, white wine with intense fruit, lively acidity and generally a lower level of alcohol. It pairs perfectly with summer foods from seafood to grilled vegetables. But you don’t need to swear off red wine for summer. Look for light bodied wines like Pinot Noir from Oregon or a Valpolicella from Italy, both capable of standing up to barbequed foods. And don’t be afraid to put a slight chill on your red wine. It is summer after all!

Rías Baixas Albariño from Spain, “Exceptional with Everything” Oh Really?

There's nothing we love more than a challenge. It's in our makeup. We're two women, thirties. One Indian. One Filipina. The first, founder and CEO of a business in the arguably male-dominated wine world. The second, building experience to be a future proprietess of a wine store. Add to this: In New York City. So when presented with the opportunity to play wine and food critic for a night—to pair Rías Baixas Albariño wines, proclaimed to be "exceptional with everything" with Mercat’s offerings —it is impossible and simply against every ounce of who we are, to refuse.

Mercat means “market” in Catalan, the language of the northern Spanish region where owner, Jaime Reixach, is from and where the restaurant’s menu draws its inspiration. The albariños we’ll be drinking also originate from the northern region, and so we’re already anticipating more perfect wine pairings than tragic mismatches.

It’s a beautiful warm Thursday night—and we are tasting two Albariño wines: Alba Rosa from Martinez Serrantes and Pazo San Mauro, both 2006 vintages. We take our time with each wine—assessing them alone and then side by side. At the end, we agree that both are delightful: the Alba Rosa is sparkling with surprising depth while the Pazo San Mauro would bring life to our springtime picnic. Further, we imagine that if each wine were to be personified, they might just be these two ladies, described as such:

Alba Rosa Martinez Serantes Albariño | Scarlett Johansson: "Sparkling with surprising depth"

Alba Rosa Martinez Serantes Albariño | Scarlett Johansson: "Sparkling with surprising depth"
This golden blonde hued wine gives an almost effervescent quality that shoots racy brightness into your mouth. It has the usual grassiness and citrus qualities one expects from this wine. The reason why this wine fits Scarlett most is because it has the quality of lightness but comes with surprising depth of character and fullness in body. The comparison would be perfect were the wine to show great legs, but its light-bodied, lower alcohol nature doesn’t allow it.

Pazo San Mauro Albariño | Cameron Diaz: “Livens up your springtime picnic”

Pazo San Mauro Albariño | Cameron Diaz: “Livens up your springtime picnic”
Cameron would be a fun addition to any springtime outing. Her lightheartedness would make everyone smile and this wine does the same. The light yellow straw color gives way to granny smith apples, peaches, melon, and citrus scents that jump at your nose, smelling like springtime in a glass. This wine begs to be explored further. The crisp and pleasantly tart apple is balanced with pear and makes it the perfect brunch wine.
Now, we move on to the heart of our challenge: Exceptional with everything? Oh really? How do these two beauties handle themselves in company? After the three and a half hours of glorious sipping, chewing, and chatting, among ourselves and the restaurant staff, here are our findings:

No surprise, our lovely wines get along splendidly with their classic and traditional partners: we have raves for the nicely seasoned patatas bravas—not too spicy, not too garlicky—and the padrones/blistered shishito peppers, the char and oil offset by the tartness of the wines. One of us goes wild for the Canelons de Verdura/eggplant wrapped spring vegetables, manchego, and cranberry reduction. And then Chef Lowder sends over Trencat d’Ous/mushroom with salsa verde topped with a fried egg, which again, goes splendidly with our wines. Even the suckling pig/Cochinillo, which we think will surely clash, in fact becomes the surprise of the evening. Like the beauty and the beast, our wines and the pig make an unlikely but harmonious pair.

We ask ourselves for the last time: Rías Baixas Albariño from Spain: Exceptional with Everything?

If not for being the gluttonous bottomless pits that we are, we would certainly have answered YES with an exclamation point. But since we order those two desserts—Torrades Sta. Teresa/fried bread with lemon yogurt and Pa Amb Oli Xocolata/bread, olive oil, and chocolate, our answer must be: Almost. These two desserts with our two Albariños — are disastrous.

Rías Baixas Albariño from Spain: Exceptional with almost Everything.

--Anu Karwa and Marie Estrada

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