Jan 25, 2012

Global wine consumption rising fastest in US and China

According to a marketing study by Vinexpo, wine consumption will  continue to grow swiftly in the US and China over the next four years. Conversely, a tough economic climate will create little increased demand in the "mature" (read "already-saturated") European market.

In 2011, the US officially overtook France and Italy to become the world's biggest wine consumer by volume. However, China is expected to overtake the US, becoming the world's largest wine market, within twenty years.

Between 2011 and the end of 2015, the US and Asia will drive a 6% increase in global wine consumption. By comparison, consumption rose by 4.5% between 2005-2010.

Read the whole story and a lot more statistics at just-drinks.

Jan 23, 2012

16 tasting rooms on Sonoma's 19th-century plaza

Click to enlarge. You can obtain a free copy of the map at the Sonoma Valley Visitor Center on the Plaza.
A bit more than a year ago I wrote an article about Sonoma for a travel website. At the time there were maybe half a dozen wine tasting rooms on the town's mid-19th century Plaza.

Today there are fourteen, with two more set to open soon.

Collectively known as the “Sonoma Square WineWalk,” the tasting rooms are rapidly gaining a reputation as Sonoma County’s premier destination for sampling top-notch, small-lot wines. They even have their own WineWalk map, which you can obtain for free at the Plaza’s Sonoma Valley Visitor Center (the back side offers 2-for-1 tasting coupons). Many, though not all, tasting rooms waive the tasting fee if you purchase one or more bottles.

To learn more about the wineries, read my recent newspaper article, "Take the Sonoma Square WineWalk."

And while we're on the subject of Sonoma, why not enter to win a Wine Country Getaway?

Jan 20, 2012

Paula Deen makes it onto 2011’s "worst cookbook" list

Ingredients in Deen's "Lady's Brunch Burger" include butter, ground beef, eggs, glazed donuts and English muffins. Photo:
I've never paid much attention to Paul Deen for the obvious reason: way, way too much fat and sugar in her recipes. Apparently I wasn't alone in my feelings.

On January 4, nearly two weeks before news of Deen’s 3-year-old diabetes diagnosis was revealed to the world, PCRM – Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine – included her Southern Cooking Bible on its list of 2011's worst cookbooks.

Getting on that list means a cookbook’s recipes exhibit a complete disregard for health. Specific to Deen, the organization stated in its January 4 press release that “Deen, who made it into PCRM’s Worst Cookbooks of the Decade list two years ago, is back on this year’s list with her latest cookbook, which contains recipes like Burgoo—a stew that calls for 3 pounds of chicken, 2 pounds of beef, and 2 pounds of lamb…One serving of Hot Buffalo Wings (three wings) contains 910 calories and 85 grams of fat; meat-heavy diets raise obesity risk.”

There is also compelling evidence that such diets lead to Type 2 Diabetes.

Suffice to add two paragraphs from WikiPedia:
Deen has faced extensive criticism for the high amounts of fat, salt, and sugar in her recipes. She faced particularly strong objections with the release of Lunch-Box Set, a cookbook aimed at children, with Barbara Walters saying of the book, "You tell kids to have cheesecake for breakfast. You tell them to have chocolate cake and meatloaf for lunch. And french fries. Doesn't it bother you that you're adding to this?"Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain commented in 2011 that he "would think twice before telling an already obese nation that it's OK to eat food that is killing us."
On January 17, 2012, Deen announced that she had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes three years ago, a disease for which a high fat diet is a major risk factor. It was also disclosed that Deen is a paid spokesperson for the Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk. She was called a hypocrite for continuing to promote her high fat diet while only disclosing her medical condition when it benefits her in representing the drug company to market their diabetes management program.Deen stated on the January 18, 2012 episode of The Chew that a portion of her compensation would be given to charities.
BTW, the other four books on the "worst cookbooks" list:
  • Jamie Oliver’s Meals in Minutes: “One serving of the Meatball Sandwich contains 1,182 calories, 47 grams of fat (including 18.5 grams of saturated fat), 185 milligrams of cholesterol, and 2,352 milligrams of sodium, according to a nutritional analysis based on estimates by PCRM dietitians.”
  • Guy Fieri Food: The Jambalaya Sandwich is “loaded with bacon, pork butt or pork loin, smoked sausage, Andouille sausage, chicken thighs, and Havarti cheese.”
  • The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook: More than 50 pages of recipes featuring grilled meat, which increases cancer risk.
  • The Neelys’ Celebration Cookbook: Bourbon Bread Pudding is saturated with butter, half-and-half, and whole milk; high-fat diets increase heart-disease risk.
“The high-fat meals in these cookbooks are real recipes for disaster,” says Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., and PCRM’s nutrition education director. “It’s scary that despite all that we know about the close link between high-fat foods and obesity and diabetes, cooks like Paula Deen continue to tout unhealthy meals. The real key to healthful eating is moving away from high-fat, meaty meals that increase the risk of these diseases.”

Jan 18, 2012

Enjoy Port? Maybe you'll win an iPad 2

Port, warehoused and stacked in barrels. Copyright All rights reserved by Center for Wine Origins
The Center for Wine Origins, devoted to protecting/promoting “unique wines from unique locations,” is giving away an iPad 2. Here’s the scoop:

January 27, “Port Day,” celebrates Portugal’s renowned fortified wine. As part of the celebration, the Center is hosting a contest encouraging U.S. consumers to photograph their favorite authentic Port wines.

To enter the contest and possibly win an iPad 2, send a picture of an authentic Port label to with the subject line “Port Day 2012 Photo Contest Entry.” Alternatively, you can post the picture to your Facebook profile, tagging yourself and the Center for Wine Origins in the picture.

One Grand Prize winner will be selected randomly on January 25 to receive an iPad 2. Complete contest rules are available here.

Jan 13, 2012

CG Shops: Quick and Fab Breakfasts

Starting today, I'm adding a new feature to The Culinary Gadabout. Primo shopper Suzy Shepherd--always on the search for quality items at a value price--will occasionally write about a find geared to people who love to cook, enjoy a glass of something spirited, or take off on a trek to places far and near.

Today's CG Suggestion: Back to Basics' Egg & Muffin Toaster/Egg Poacher

Want a hearty breakfast before you rush out the door in the morning...but don't have time to fix it? I recently found the solution under the Christmas tree: a nifty and very efficient device that makes a delicious breakfast sandwich in less than 5 minutes. It's received a solid 4-star rating (out of 5) from more than 900 Amazon purchasers.

No kidding. The Back to Basics Egg-and-Muffin 2-Slice Toaster and Egg Poacher really makes delicious egg/muffin (or toast) sandwiches. It also contains a tray that warms up pre-cooked bacon or sausage patties, which you can then add to the sandwich. And it does even more.

The number of simultaneous functions employed with this handy 3-in-1 device is up to you. Maybe you'll want to toast bread while poaching or steam-scrambling an egg and warming up some bacon. Or maybe you'll just want to toast half an English Muffin. About the same size as a conventional toaster (7"x15"x8"), the BB Toaster/Poacher poaches one egg at a time (or boils up to four). Other features include light-to-dark toast settings, automatic shut-off, an easily-cleaned control touchpad (small  photo), a removable crumb tray, and built-in cord storage.

The Back to Basics 2-Slice Toaster and Egg Poacher comes with a 1-year warranty and only costs $34.

Cooking for a crowd? Consider the $55 Back to Basic Egg ‘N Muffin 4-Slice Toaster/2 Egg Cooker.

Disclosure: If you click on a link and end up ordering something, The Culinary Gadabout will receive a small commission from Amazon, at no additional cost to you.

Jan 11, 2012

Wente Vineyards Introduces "entwine" tours

This past summer TV’s Food Network and California’s family-owned Wente Vineyards collaborated to create entwine wines, a portfolio of Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon that retail for $12.99.

Beginning in late January, Wente Vineyards is offering visitors a special behind-the-scenes tour of its historic Livermore Valley winery, where entwine wines are produced. The tour will include an exclusive tableside food and wine pairing experience.  

This month’s tours will be held on Thursday, January 19, at 12 p.m. and 4 p.m., and Saturday, January 21, at 2 p.m.

 Thereafter, tours will be held on the third week of each month, from Monday-Thursday (twice daily at 12 p.m. and 4 p.m.) and Saturday (2 p.m. only). The fee of $25/person includes a tour of the winery and winemaking facilities, specialized entwine and food pairings, and a 20% discount on all entwine and Wente Family Estates wines purchased the week of the tour.

Advance reservations are required, with tour groups limited to 25 people. For more information, including how to book a tour, please visit  
or call (925) 456-2306.

A little background: The initial inspiration for entwine came from viewers’ requesting the Food Network to introduce them to the world of wine. Food Network partnered with Wente Vineyards because Wente makes great wine and has a deep connection to food as embodied in its vegetable garden and on-site restaurant.

Founded in 1883, Wente Vineyards is the oldest continuously-operated, family-owned winery in the country; owned and managed by the fourth and fifth generations of the Wente family. In 2011, Wente Family Estates was named American Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast and a top 30 wine company by Wine Business Monthly.

The Food Network  is a lifestyle network, website and magazine connecting viewers to the power and joy of food. Food Network is distributed to more than 100 million U.S. households and averages more than 9.9 million unique web users monthly.

Jan 9, 2012

Nancy Cline of Cline Cellars & Jacuzzi Family Vineyards

The  Mission Museum's 1939 replica of the San Luis Rey Mission.

One of the best things about being a freelance writer living in wine country is that I get to to meet and interview so many wine industry people who love the work they do, from winery owners and winemakers to tasting room tenders and cellar rats.

I particularly enjoy profiling wine country folks who use their profits to accomplish a bit of good  in the world.

On that score, I've admired Fred and Nancy Cline from the moment I stepped into the small museum they built on the grounds of Cline Cellars. The California Missions Museum houses a one-of-a-kind collection: large, hand-crafted replicas of all 21 California Missions. The replicas were built in 1939 by a team of German woodworkers for the World's Fair held that year in San Francisco.

The collection managed to stay intact until the late 1990s, at which time it was set to be auctioned off piece by piece. The history-loving Nancy Cline, believing that the Mission replicas should remain a set, purchased them all at auction. The Clines then built a home for them at Cline Cellars, opening the doors to the public. Admission is free. Last year 4,000 California 4th graders visited the museum as part of their history curriculum.

Just this year the Clines purchased and refurbished an historic hotel in Tonapah, Nevada. It makes for an interesting story, which you can read in my recent published profile of Nancy Cline.

The Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah, NV

Jan 4, 2012

Behind the scenes with

Wine.Woot founders, brothers David (left) and George Studdert, sampling wines. Photo: Christa Jeremiason/PD.
 One of the Internet's earliest and most successful flash sales sites, wine.woot, keeps a deliberate low profile. So low, in fact, that I had no idea the company was founded and based in the town of Sonoma, California, where I live. An offhand remark at a party tipped me, and I ended up doing a story about wine.woot for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat--it ran on Sunday, January 1.

Here's an excerpt:
Prior to starting wine.woot, George had successfully run national sales programs for major corporations before founding his own boat lift company in 2001. David had earlier worked at Airborne Express, specializing in direct-to-consumer wine shipping. In 1998, when the states’ attorneys general declared this practice to be illegal, he started his own company to “help wineries ship legally to consumers in non-reciprocal states.”

The company did well until the U. S. Supreme Court’s 2005 Granholm ruling opened the door for wineries to ship directly to consumers. While that was great news for wineries and consumers, it essentially put David out of business.

But another door opened almost simultaneously. David had recently read a Wall Street Journal article about a new company,, that had pioneered the one-discounted-deal-a-day online business model in 2004 ( was purchased by Amazon in 2010). He was intrigued by the one-daily concept and loved the site’s humorous sales approach.

“I was talking to George, worrying about the end of my business,” David recalled. “Suddenly he said: ‘Why don’t we sell wine on woot?’ He was half-joking, but I had a major epiphany, with bells and whistles going off in my head.”

The next day David sent an email to woot’s founder, Matt Rutledge, who immediately saw the possibilities in wooting wine. Talks ensued and, in May 2006, “almost a year later to the day,” wine.woot became the first offshoot launched by woot.
You can read the full story here.