Finer Things Issue

Know Your Terroir, Love Your Terroir

Uncorked, Part Two: A Guide to Important Wine Regions

The current food-obsessed climate may prize terroir in everything, from beef to coffee to olive oil, but winemakers aren't new to the game -- they've been sniffing the soil and praying to the grape gods for centuries. Wine at its best is spiritually, ritually, and tribally connected to a place, and knowing the major wine regions provides some basic insight with which we can approach the wine aisle or pick a bottle at a restaurant. Here's our guide to the 10 essential wine regions of the world.

Smokeshows

Smoked Beer: Our Favorite Winter Oddity

Because their flavor profiles range from hearty to downright bacon-filled savoriness, Rauchbiers -- especially smoked porters -- are the perfect winter beer, sipped alone or paired with charred meats. Crack one of these five in your living room in front of a roaring fire; if you don't have a fireplace, it won't be hard to imagine one.

60, 61, 75, 90, 120, Floor

Tasting Notes: A Profile of the Dogfish Head Minute IPAs

Though Dogfish Head currently produces 33 beers, 65 percent of their sales come from their five "continuously hopped" IPAs -- the 60, Sixty-One, 75, 90 and 120 Minute. We tasted them all, in numerical order, and learned much more about Dogfish Head, and craft beer in general, than we expected.

In Vino We Trust

Uncorked, Part One: A Guide to Wine Varietals

For a long time we’ve been put off by wine -- its rules and regulations, its esoteric language, its arcane, Old-World naming regimes. Then the floodgates opened and there was two-dollar wine, highbrow boxed wine, wines that could be chilled and others that could be warmed. And guess what? It was all still pretty confusing. But the truth is that no other drink pairs so exceptionally with food as wine does, and then, the drink has romance and mystery, too; it carries a certain tradition and importance that’s undeniable, indeed, biblical; it has fun pastimes like stomping grapes, sabering bottles and having important conversations about literature. So we’ve done what we should have done all along: created a guide to everything there is to know about wine, an extensive flight of wine knowledge. It begins with a layman’s guide to understanding the varietals.

Champagne you can drink with dinner

Toasted: Grower Champagnes to Drink Now

Among the wisest Champagne drinkers is the sommelier, and we consulted with one of the country’s best: Paul Grieco, owner of Hearth restaurant and Terroir, a wine bar with five locations in New York City. He helped us choose five bottles of grower's Champagne to drink right now -- and not just as a toast before dinner.

Protein shortage, averted

Meat in Motion: 10 Best Mail-Order Meat Companies

Some people hear the phrase “beef alternatives” and think tofu, seitan and bean burgers. We think local goat, French-style chicken, grass-fed lamb, name-brand pigs, roast duck, double-smoked Danish salmon, whole lobes of foie gras, elk -- and then sometimes beef again, because beef from here is technically an alternative to beef from there. Ready to for a feast of all of the above? Here are our 10 favorite online purveyors of high-quality meat.

A Five-Star Gear Patrol Dining Survey

The 25 Best Restaurants in America

Trusting someone with a restaurant suggestion is a show of great faith. A good suggestion puts you in the inner circle, a candidate for godfather of the next child, a guy whose name is mentioned behind closed doors, approvingly, with vigorous nodding. A bad suggestion keeps both parties involved up at night. There is so much good food in America right now that winnowing the lot to a few handfuls of the best is difficult. Do you include the roadside shack that isn’t technically a restaurant? Do you disqualify a place for foam smears and cheese dust? Are you being persuaded by hype? And so our litmus test was simple: these 25 American restaurants are the places we’d send a friend if he had time for one meal in Chicago, Denver, Houston or any of the other cities on this list. One city, one suggestion, one good meal. Thank you. You’re welcome.

An American Road Trip for a Great American Beer

Off To See The Alchemist: A Quest for the Elusive Heady Topper

On November 9th, we asked K.B. Gould and Henry Phillips to make a fall pilgrimage to the Alchemist Brewery in Waterbury, Vermont. The closing of the brewery's retail operation loomed just days away. Joined by driver Dave Watson, the two accepted their assignment: visit the home of Heady Topper, one of the highest-rated beers in the world, to pay homage to its brewmasters, enjoy a taste and a tour and scrounge a rare case. This is the chronicle of their trip.

Capon, Capon, Goose

Better than Butterball: 5 Thanksgiving Turkey Alternatives

The noble, courageous turkey. Subject of paintings by Claude Monet and Norman Rockwell; famed favorite fowl of Benjamin Franklin. For the past century and change, the beloved bird has complemented the traditional Thanksgiving feast. However, as home chefs and weekend warriors become more adventurous in the kitchen, many are eschewing tradition for pomp, presentation and flavor. If you're looking to join the nouveau-thankful, try embracing one of these five options.

When In Russia...

Za Zdarovye! The 10 Best Russian Imperial Stouts

You ever have one of those ideas that seems really good at the time? Like, let's drop these broken speakers down a flight of stairs, or let's jump into the mosh pit at a Machinehead concert, or let's see if we can lure that deer into the car? Just last weekend, I thought it would be a good idea to taste-test a whole load of Russian Imperial Stouts. If you're not familiar with the style, it's characterized by high ABVs and huge chocolate, coffee and malt flavors. Although they're monstrously strong and typically expensive, Russian Imperial Stouts push the flavor intensity spectrum, offering a look at the sultry, heady, muscly side of beer. For those willing to experiment, they offer a variety of smells, flavors and textures found in few other styles of beer. But take note: if you're going to try them, don't make it a marathon. Give them the credit that they deserve. Still, from the pain of my hangover emerged this list of our favorite Russian Imperial Stouts.

For relaxing times...

Kanpai! The Five Best 12 Year Old Japanese Whiskies

Last week hummus and yoga were “in”, and while they’re not out yet, there’s a new top dog in Popularville: Japanese Whisky. Notice the spelling -- that’s whisky with a -y, like Scotch whisky, not whiskey with an -ey, the spelling used for U.S. and Irish varietals. Yes, the Japanese whisky industry was modeled after the Scottish single malt industry's practice of distilling and blending under one roof, but it's since taken on a life of its own. As a result of several recent victories over Scottish whiskies at blind tasting competitions, Japan’s best-kept secret escaped, and the world is eager to test the hype. We tasted five of the best 12-year-old Japanese whisky offerings, and we can assure you that the hype is warranted.

Small batch, big pleasures

Tasting Notes: 5 Great Small Batch Bourbons

Asking us to choose between whiskey (bourbon) and whisky (single malt scotch) is like posing the question, "Would you prefer to drive a C2 Corvette Split Window or a Jaguar E-Type?" The answer is always "both and yes." But if you're a single malt devotee, you'd do right to expand your taste horizons, and the best way to experiment with bourbon is to go small batch -- the complexities are pleasing, and you'll find yourself a worshiper in many different temples. There's a lot to love. Here are tasting notes on our five favorite small batch bourbons worth warming your palate.

Beer o'clock comes early this summer

Suds Up: Perfect Summer Craft Beers

A true hot-weather brew is not necessarily easy to find. We won't knock macrobrews -- their simple refreshment is enhanced all the same by hot weather, scantily clad women and baseball games. Those (the beers, not the women) are easily snatched from the corner store shelf, though. This list tackles the summer micro brew, a trickier topic, if only because there are so damn many. Pop the cap off the right one of these beauties and any summer activity can be filled with crisp, carbonated, slightly buzzed pleasure.

See no evil

Craft Your Senses: A Story of Beer and Blindfolds

I entered the portion of the bar sectioned off for the Craft Your Senses event, handing my ticket to the hostess as I ducked behind the curtain. It was dimly lit and already teeming with a boisterous crowd surrounding each of the seven independent breweries present. Conversation starters were being poured and enjoyed at each...

Poring over coffee's simplest method

Kit: The Perfect Pour Over Coffee Set

Occam’s razor: A philosophical principle suggesting that simpler explanations tend to be better than complex ones. It has broad application, from medicine to ethics to proofs of the existence of God. Now if we apply the razor to our morning coffee, as the thinking men of Gear Patrol are wont to do, we can scrap our fancy drip machines and super-automatic espresso makers and still get a world-class cup of coffee without doing much more than pouring hot water over coffee grounds. We’ve assembled a pour over kit with all the basics to get you started -- at a very affordable price.

Know your espresso

Grace Under Pressure: A Photo Glossary of Espresso Drinks

By definition, espresso is a relatively simple: 1 oz of coffee beverage made from 7 grams of ground beans, brewed under 9 bar of pressure, at roughly 200 degrees F. Plus or minus. To give you some context, the highest-pressure showerheads top out around 100 psi — not quite enough pound force to make it rain crema. Espresso is both brewing process and beverage invented by the Italians (c. 1884), its name implying speed and singularity of purpose. Our friends at La Colombe Torrefaction were kind enough to meet us one morning during the Fortnight to make the battery of espresso beverages. They were as good as they look. And none of us slept that night.

Everything you need to know, nothing you don't

How to Buy an Espresso Machine

Espresso is so the new moonshine. But these latter day at-home concoctions don’t run through slipshod copper stills or spend time fermenting in claw foot tubs. Instead, amateurs and connoisseurs across the globe utilize beautiful, complicated and completely legal kitchen countertop machinery to whip up and drip out high-grade buzz that people pay good money to sip. Novices looking to break into the shot pulling biz, though, will find that buying the proper equipment is an intimidating affair, complicated by ever-escalating price tags and more mechanical nerdery than a bus full of mathletes with erector sets. Rest assured, the right espresso machine for you is out there, and Eliot Ness isn’t going to forcefully confiscate any of these puppies any time soon. Because he’s dead. Follow our guide on buying an espresso machine and you’ll have all the schoolin’ you need to pick an ideal home setup.

A Sip of Summer

Frigid Brew: 5 Best Cold Brew Coffees

Some like it hot, but for the cold brew enthusiast, there really is no substitute. Steeped for a minimum of 12 hours, cold brew coffee is known for its naturally sweet flavor due to a a cold-water seeping process that results in lower acidity. Not to be confused with iced coffee (brewed hot, then cooled), cold brew has a cleaner flavor, can taste chocolaty with a velvet texture and even tames the boldest of beans. That said, it's not boring -- just different. Some have a difficult time swallowing the two-week shelf life and the fact that the bean per brew ratio makes it expensive, but the it's the flavor that wins them over, every time. And so, your loyal bean scouts are once again here, reporting for duty. After numerous taste tests, what some might consider cruel and unusual job hazards and sleepless nights in and out of caffeine delirium, we bring you the five best cold brews around. Each is ready-to-drink poured over ice, or can be diluted with water, cream and sugar, or your favorite other social lubricant. Undergoing the rigors of journalism calls for self-sacrifice, occasionally. But, for you fine folks, we did it. No sweat.

In Search of Higher Grounds

Coffee Beans: Know Your Regions

Where did that coffee in your hand come from? We profile the major coffee growing regions of the world, helping you make an informed decision when it comes to Brazilian versus Indonesian, Colombian versus Monsoon beans from India. Grab a cup and study up.

Tasty, tasty patriotism

5 Great American-Made London Dry Gins

In recent years, London Dry gin hasn’t done so hot. Looming in the shadows of vodka and whiskey, the juniper-tinged spirit has been cast aside as a singular-tasting alcohol of choice for a generation past its prime -- dry gin is your father’s and grandfather’s drink, not yours. But with a new class of excellent brands in an "American" dry style -- boasting a more balanced and widely ranging flavor profile -- blossoming as we speak, you'd be wise to reconsider. We found 5 of the best on the market.

Rye not?

10 Great Rye Whiskeys to Try

You've heard it before, but here's another shot: Rye whiskey is on the comeback. We've long contented ourselves with corn-based bourbon, and we're not ready (in the least) to change that habit -- but to be sure, rye deserves some serious sipping. Long handcuffed to mixed drinks like the Manhattan, rye's extra boldness and spice in comparison to corn-heavy whiskey is particularly pertinent after a long day of work. It's simple, like good things should be, served straight up or over ice, and of course still works beautifully in cocktails.

Good breeding is everything

MoB | Beef Cattle Breeds

We’ve given you a beef baptism in buying beef online, the rules of store-bought beef, beef’s lesser-known cuts and even beef you can drink. Kicking things up a notch (BAM!), let’s explore the breeds of cattle that end up on your plate — putting a face on things, so to speak. Get your breed on...

A Bone to Pick

MoB | New York’s (and Atlanta’s) Finest Bone Marrow

Editor’s Note: There comes a time during the Month of Beef when you’ve eaten so much, so indulgently, that you’re down on the floor, slamming your palm, shouting “uncle” to visions of uncooked ribeye. That’s before you’ve even talked about bone marrow. We were damn near that point, so we called in the reinforcements. Jodie...

A little bump n' grind

MoB | The Perfect Burger Patty

Ground beef has fallen on hard times in the public eye. It started with the October 3, 2009 New York Times cover story, “The Burger That Shattered Her Life” about a woman infected by E. coli from a frozen Cargill burger patty. Since then: more stories, many recalls, and debates about the safety of “pink...

Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick

How to Smoke Cigars: A GP Primer

The tradition of throwing on a well-tailored suit and enjoying a ten course meal with your best friends that’s topped off with a glass of single malt and a fine cigar is rarity in most male circles these days. Well, at least the cigar part — thanks to our societal epiphany on the dangers of...

Holy Smokes

5 Cigars Worth Knowing & Smoking

Should the honor of standing as best man ever grace your stylish self, no doubt you will have to procure the cigars for the bachelor party. Well, choosing one great cigar is similar to identifying the most beautiful woman (for you husbands, your answer is both easy and required, “my wife”) or selecting a favorite...