Monday, February 18, 2008

The beauty of BYOB

The hard thing about liking good wine and good techno is that they are hard to find in the same place -- outside of my house! That's why BYOB parties are probably my best bet. Recently I lugged two bottles to two separate events -- one a legit BYOB party, the other was a bit more of sneak affair (but legitimized by some shady acts by the club owner).

I toted a bottle of the Shannon Ridge '06 Sauvignon Blanc to the indoor/outdoor club Oasis in downtown Oakland for the minimal techno night Bottom Feeder. Its floral, citrus & mineral notes would have been better suited to a warm (OK, mild, after all it IS the Bay Area) summer day, but even on a chilly February night it was refreshing and oh-so quaffable given its handy screw top!

My other pick was just a quick, late-night convenience-store grab of Piper Sonoma Brut to take to a warehouse party in San Francisco. I'm not a big fan of sparkling wine -- it just doesn't have the rich fruit flavors I so love in the still stuff -- but (probably largely thanks to a trough of ice behind the KONTROL dj booth), I thoroughly enjoyed the toasty, earthy smooth flavors of this sparkler.

Not only did I get to drink what I actually liked, I also saved money that would have otherwise been spent on half-wanted beers or overpriced (and poorly mixed) cocktails. A perfect prelude to the outdoor party season coming up. Check and for details in a month or so. Until then, stay dry!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Love those Euros!

Why do some of my most favorite things in life come from Europe? My Spanish wine, my Dutch/French/Italian cheese, my Berlin beats -- ah though I wouldn't trade living in the Bay for much of anything (OK, except a teeny bit more warmth would be nice!). Yeah, it's cold, gray & wet, but Sunset & Dirtybird parties are on the horizon. You can't do much better than a Sunday afternoon/evening in a park listening to some techno & house while sippin' on a bottle of effervescent Txaolina or refreshing rosé (I really want to try this sparkling one, made from my fav Spanish grapes Garnacha & Monastrell) and admiring all the other partiers and the great vibe in the air.

But dammit, those Euros make some tasty stuff.

Case(s) in point. On the techno side I have discovered a new most favorite producer, Funkwerkstatt. The German group's techno gems like "Jack the Box" and "Sputnik" got me thinking about spring and dancing outside. 'Nuf said.

To go with that, I'm drinking the 2003 Gran Viu Tempranillo, which I got out of the sale basket at Spanish Table, one of my favorite wine stores. Another Spanish bargain beauty -- truly my favorite country for >$15 full-bodied, fruity, earthy delights. And on top of that I indulged in some Dutch-made Parrano cheese/oyster mushrooms/smoked paprika quesadillas topped with avocado & kosher salt. (Yes, I'm raiding the pantry, but it's quite tasty!) Maybe it's Euro-1, New World-3 on that recipe, but still, the cheese is the centerpiece. Sigh, isn't it always. So much for my latest "NO-MORE-GOURMET-CHEESE-DINNERS" resolution.

Speaking of vino español, Jeff at Farmstead turned me on to Fillaboa, yet another a muy deliciosa Albariño from Riax Baixas, Spain. Lagar de Cerveras is another outstanding type of this varietal, although Spanish Table is out of it until the new vintage. I'm in the Spanish wine club At Farmstead, benefiting from the "March of Death" wine tour he took with famed Spanish wine importer Jorgé Ordoñez last year. It's so dangerous to live ~5 blocks from Farmstead. Go visit -- cheap/free tastings on Saturday!