Tag Archives: James Beard awards

Winebits 660: Takeout wine, James Beard awards, Drizly

takeout wineThis week’s wine news:  Takeout wine is on the upswing because of the pandemic, plus no James Beard awards this year and Drizly, the booze delivery app, raises $50 million

More takeout wine? One-third of us have ordered takeout wine, beer, and spirits during the pandemic, and almost 60 percent of us want states to make ordering takeout booze permanent. That’s the result of a survey from something called  bid-on-equipment.com, which sells used restaurant equipment. Yes, that’s an odd source for a survey like this, but it’s worth noting if only because the survey lists its methodology. Most of the “studies” that do this sort of thing to get cyber-ink just flash the headline and leave it at that. This methodology seems legit; my only concern is the average age of the respondents is 36.

No Beard awards: The James Beard Awards, the Oscars for the restaurant business, won’t be given in 2020 or 2021. The 2020 nominees will be recognized, but the awards won’t be given because of restaurant business turmoil during the pandemic. The “foundation believes the assignment of awards will do little to further the industry in its current uphill battle,” it said in a statement. In addition, buried toward the end of the news release, the Beard Foundation said it would try to make the awards more transparent and equitable — an acknowledgement, said the report in the link, that awards go to “mostly to white men, with the same nominees being named over and over again.”

Cash for Drizly: Drizly, the alcohol delivery app, has raised $50 million for what the company calls supporting its “laser focus on alcohol delivery.”  The additional cash comes as Drizly has thrived during the pandemic, growing more than 350 percent so far this year. The news release is worth reading not just for the news, but for its wonderful use of business-speak, which makes no sense to anyone but the people who wrote the release. My favorite? “Retailers that join Drizly experience incremental growth from new customers. …”, which means absolutely nothing. Do retailers who join Drizly experience incremental losses? Of course not. That’s the company’s fancy way of saying that not everyone picks up a lot of new business.

Graphic courtesy of bid-on-equipment.com

Beard award semifinalists: One more victory for regional wine

local wineFour of the seven wineries on the 2019 Beard award semifinalist list are part of drink local

Four of the seven wineries that are semifinalists for this year’s James Beard Awards for best wine, beer, or spirits producer are regional. What does that say about how far we’ve come with drink local?

The four wineries are among the 20 semifinalists for the top booze honor in this year’s food and wine version of the Academy Awards. The regional honorees are McPherson Cellars in Texas, RdV in Virginia, Red Tail Ridge in N.Y., and La Garagista in Vermont. All four are terrific wineries that do credit not just to regional wine, but to winemaking in the U.S.

It’s also worth noting that the two California wineries among the semifinalists are Winestream Media favorites – the self-named wineries from Cathy Corison and Steve Matthiasson in the Napa Valley. That wineries from Lubbock, Texas, and Bethel, Vt., are on the same list with Corison and Matthiasson would have been unheard of 10 years ago.

Best yet, they don’t make the same kinds of wines that the two Napa wineries make, or the other honoree, Red Willow in Washington state. Their wines speak to the terroir of each producer – something else that makes regional wine so exciting. Just as Italian wine shouldn’t taste like French wine, U.S. regional wine shouldn’t taste like it comes from California.

It’s safe to recommend almost any wine from these four, with the caveat that availability will be spotty if you don’t live in that state.

Consider these wines:

The McPherson Tre Colore (about $10) is a red blend using the Rhone varietals Texas has figured out. Yes, the rose is terrific, as is the rousanne, but the Tre Colore is the ultimate weeknight wine – well-made, a tremendous value, and just fruity enough (dark berries) without being annoying. I’ve known Kim McPherson a long time, and it’s a pleasure to write this post about the winery.

The RdV Rendezvous (about $85) is a Bordeaux red blend that shows the great progress Virginia has made over the past 20 years. It’s complex, dark (black fruit), interesting, and layered. If a regional wine is worth as much as a great wine from France, Italy, or California, it might be the Rendezvous.

• New York state is best known for its rieslings, but the Red Tail Ridge blaufrankisch (about $26) makes a case for red wine. Blaufrankisch is an Austrian grape, so it can handle the unpredictable Finger Lakes winters. I drank this wine, earthy and herbal, with my Drink Local co-founder Dave McIntyre; the restaurant’s wine list was infinitely more interesting than the food.

Winemaker Deirdre Heekin at La Garagista uses hybrid grapes, and that alone would have kept her off this list for most of the past 75 years. That means grapes like la crescent and brianna, bred to withstand a Vermont winter and very difficult to make quality wine with.

Finally, congratulations to Jennifer Uygur, who owns Lucia in Dallas with chef-husband David. David is a Beard semifinalist for Best Chef: Southwest. Even if he doesn’t win, they will have the satisfaction of knowing Lucia is one of the best restaurants in the country.