The Italians love drowning their gelato in espresso, but why not indulge in my improved and much more intoxicating version of “affogato” at your next dinner party? Sweet wine drizzled on ice cream synergistically creates its own swoon-worthy third flavor.
A killer option is Pedro Ximenez Sherry, which is the sweetest, most syrupy form of sherry (Pedro Ximenez is a grape, not the sherry’s producer).
Because Pedro Ximenez is so dark and sweet, chocolate ice cream is my first choice, but you are free to experiment with other strong flavors such as rum raisin, rocky road, and coffee.
Better yet–there’s no reason why you cannot get drizzly with golden, medium-rich styles of dessert wine, including lighter late-harvest styles, the fortified Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise from France.
And it’s not just dessert that deserves some wine–there’s also brunch (hair of the dog, anyone?).
In an experiment I tried last year (and which is sure to drive a stake into the heart of every vintage-chart memorizing snob) some friends and I convinced a collector to pour his leftover 1986 Chateau d’Yquem over our pancakes at breakfast one morning. It was a smash hit, and a delightful way to start the day. Try it at your next brunch with friends with whatever dessert wine you have on hand.
For more ways to use wine as a dessert enhancements, order my book, How to Drink Like a Billionaire, and remember to drink bravely, drink richly, and #DrinkLikeABillionaire.
Just as Hollywood stars have doubles, so does Champagne. And one of the best bubbly stunt doubles is Spanish Cava.
The less expensive Spanish sparkler is a delicious alternative to France’s hero. Look for the coal-black bottle at your liquor store or supermarket, with labels expounding names like the ubiquitous Freixenet (Fresh-shun-NETT) Cordon Negro Cava, Cristalino Brut, Paul Cheneau, Brut Blanc de Blancs, Sumarocca Brut Reserva, Segura Viudas Aria Brut.
Cava, the Spanish name for sparkling wine, delivers bubbles at less than half the price of French Champagne. Though it’s made in the traditional bottle-fermentation method like Champagne (and finer American sparklers), it spends less time aging on its lees (i.e., dead yeast cells) than Champagne, which gives it less of a yeasty, baked-bread bouquet and more minerals, earth, and mushrooms. The use of lesser-known Spanish grapes helps keep prices down, but not quality.
Cava is a truly unique experience, just as stylish and celebratory as Champagne and Prosecco. Think of it as the mysterious cousin from out of town–the femme fatale of sparklers. Many are under $10. For an affordable gift with serious bling-bling, track down Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad ($20), a hand-blown bottle tricked out with a silvery metal crest and coaster. Salud!
For a full list of alternatives to Champagne, check out my latest book,How to Drink Like a Billionaire (Regan Arts), and remember to drink bravely, drink richly, and #DrinkLikeABillionaire.
Let me guess: your favorite white wine is Pinot Grigio, or what I like to call “the safety blanket” of wines. It’s loved by millions of Americans because it’s easy to drink, easy to say, and, with its light, clean taste, it serves as a welcome counterpoint to the plethora of leaden, oaky Chardonnays crowding store shelves.
But is it really worth $12 to $30 per bottle—not to mention the calories—to drink a wine with so little personality? Break out of your comfort zone this weekend and consider my favorite alternatives listed in my new book.
- Assyrtiko: The Palate-whetting Assyrtiko from the isle of Santorini is particularly lemony and minerally, wines like this and others from Greece are light- to medium-weight rejuvenators with an enduring crush on white, flaky fish
- Friulano: A pride of northwestern Italy, this wine is the mellifluous secret password for middleweight revivification.
- Sauvignon Blanc from Chile: Sold for a song, bought for flavorful meln-y zingers and the softer, Californian style.
For more alternatives to Pinot Grigio, check out my book, How to Drink Like a Billionaire (Regan Arts), and remember to drink bravely, drink richly, and #DrinkLikeABillionaire.
Wine service has undoubtedly improved in the past decade. But while the stereotypical snooty sommelier has been banished from many quarters, they have unfortunately been replaced by something arguably much worse. You know the type, in some restaurants at least, as the self-indulgent somm, one who is overly focused on the obscure, the lucrative, or both.
In this day and age, smug is the new snooty. While there are many somms who are highly skilled and helpful, be on the lookout for the bad somm, one who is aloof or indifferent, or has one primary goal – to upsell (referred to by industry insiders as “banging the guest”).
So how do you avoid getting “banged”? Take my advice:
- Before ordering decide if you want a red or white wine, and what price you want to pay.
- Then use this one simple phrase to your server or sommelier: Can you recommend a red/white in the $40, $50 or $70 range. (or point to prices on a wine list if you want to be discreet)
- If your sommelier then starts recommending wine that is above the price point you asked or seems unhelpful, wrest back control and choose the wine yourself.
Be warned that some somms have a bottle to push, sometimes for no better reason than a need to move product that the restaurant has stocked in excess. Sometimes they choose a wine that they personally like or is a hip, trendy, fleeting wine-of-the-week, but it might not be to your taste nor recommended based on your preferences. One final trick: Ask your server what the chef drinks when off-duty. It can smoke out interesting and well-priced selections.
For more ways to avoid the glasshole sommelier, check out my book, How to Drink Like a Billionaire (Regan Arts), and remember to drink bravely, drink richly, and #DrinkLikeABillionaire.
There are myriad wine accessories on the market and while I’m definitely not averse to some of them, the sober truth is that many gizmos are not necessities. There are two items that I consider absolute essentials for drinking wine, and you need not invest more than $15 total on them (and one of them can involve Tupperware!).
The Corkscrew: Be it rabbit style, wing, arm, self-pulling, or two-prong, there is a galaxy of cork extractors out there. But nothing beats the simple Waiter’s Friend corkscrew for sheer ease of use, affordability, and portability. Look for ones with a Teflon-coated spiral for easy drilling, and a little serrated blade to cut the foil off the bottleneck. Or you could just go for wine with a screwcap.
The Pitcher: The only other mandatory tool is a decanting vessel, which is a fancy way to say you need a pouring container in the event you want to soften your wine’s tannins or remove its sediment. (More on this in my book!) But before you drop hundreds on one of the many fragile, curvaceous glass decanters available, know that a simple glass pitcher in your kitchen will suffice. In fact, I know a whole slew of happy connoisseurs who decant their priceless bottles with Tupperware. Tongue firmly in cheek, they affectionately refer to their trusty vessel as the Club Crystal.
For other ways you can save money while drinking richly, check out my book, How to Drink Like a Billionaire (Regan Arts).