Archive for December, 2007

Osaka – Stranger In A Strange Land

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

In early December ’07, I returned from a two week trip to Japan. It was my fourth trip to Japan in the past 6 years. I went to Osaka to visit my in-laws and to spend some time in, what is now, one of my favorite palces to travel. On this trip, I primarily stayed in Okasa, but made excursions to Koyasan and Kyoto.

This was my fouth trip to Japan in 6 years. Over the course of these excursions, I have traveled from Fukuoka to Tyoko, and many points in between. I never thought that I would enjoy Japan, but I now love being there. As a matter of fact, I previously had no interest in re-visiting Asia. I have done my share of globetrotting, mostly in Europe and Africa. My only trip to Asia was a week long journey to Singapore and Maylasia about 15 years ago, and although I had a good time, I was not impressed enough to return to Asia. Through the fateful, and fortunate, accident of marriage, Japan has become my favorite place to journey.

Kyoto 2007

I particularly love to visit Japan in the Fall…


When it’s cool outside

Thursday, December 6th, 2007

 When the weather turns to this wintery, below 60 degrees,  there are a few specific wines that I think about! Along with that, a few season specific foods that come to mind. In my kitchen, this is the time to indulge in hearty foods, hearty vegetables,  carrots, turnips, squash/ pumpkins and of course MUSHROOMS!!!!!!!  Pastas, especially stuffed pastas ( ravioli, tortellini, etc) risottos and ragouts, cassoulets which implies beans, sausages and confits of meat ie: duck, pork, quail, squab and I could go on for a while still.  I get very excited to link food and wine.


Roach Clip – 10 Rules for Buying Good Wine for the Beginner

Sunday, December 2nd, 2007

#1. Wine rules are made to be broken. For example, it’s commonly believed that white wine goes with fish, or white sauces and red wine goes with meat. There are times when the opposite may be optimal.

#2. Always taste wine before buying – unless you are: (a) familiar with the wine critic who rated it and consistently agree with his (her) palate; and (b) it is too expensive to buy a bottle to “simply taste”, particularly when it is a wine that tends to need aging to be at it’s best.

#3. Don’t collect wine unless you have a place to keep it. Wine should not be allowed to exceed 68 degrees. When wine is stored improperly it ages faster and may turn into vinegar.

#4. If you are going to collect, collect no more than 10% of your capacity per year. Your taste will change and different types of buying opportunities will arise. For example, you don’t want to fill your cellar with California Cabernets only to find out years later that you prefer Italian wines but don’t have the money or space to have both.

#5. Blind tastings are essential to keep you from fooling yourself. Ultimately it comes down to this, if your tastes don’t match the critics, why buy wine you don’t like?

#6. Learn to pair food with wine. Consider the spices in cooking and if the wine will compliment it. We found that we prefer barbequed meats with Zins and Syrahs instead of Cabs. It is terrible to pair great food and great wine that clash. Mediocre wine can taste excellent when ideally matched. It takes practice but generally light wine goes best with light foods.

#7. Don’t believe the hype. Buy what you like to drink. This rule relates to Rules # 2 & 5 above but also extends to determining how much more you should pay for wine.

#8. Be aggressive about purchasing good highly rated wine you really like. Pay attention to the Roach curve or create your own rules (see Roach Clip next month). Great value, great tasting wines tend to go fast and years later you will wish you had bought more before the price went up.

#9. Don’t get stuck in a niche. Try and buy a variety of wine. Don’t be afraid to taste wines from over the world.

#10. Read about wine. The most popular sources are Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, Wine Advocate, Tanzer, but if you don’t have time read “Roach Clips”!

Next month…The Roach Curve!


Mack and Deborah Roach