Writing from the edge of the Russian River in Sonoma County
Greetings to everyone and hope you had a fine although probably limited Thanksgiving celebration. We are in the midst of beautiful fall weather in Sonoma with temperatures in the mid-60s and a bright, warm sun. We did have some rain recently that put an end to fire danger but unfortunately we won’t get any more rain until mid-December and that’s not good for us as we’re already short from last year.
In this edition of the Whine I’ll take you on a brief tour of our favorite wine shop and see how it matches up with a recent article in the Wall Street Journal surveyed successful wine store floorplans and then you can do the same. The tasting panel has sampled the new Wendy’s Classic Chicken Sandwich; we tasted the new vintage of Lord Snort’s wines from Soda Rock and I share my thoughts about Kerry Gold Irish butter that I’m sure you’ll be on the edge of your seat waiting to read. Finally I’ll share with you a handwritten list from a small winemaker in Windsor California as he explains just what it costs to produce a bottle of Pinot Noir
It will most likely come as no surprise to you that most wine and liquor stores, as most grocery stores, are laid out to be attractive to the shopper and to guide you from point A to point B to point C all with the intent of getting your attention to buy something you may or may not need.
Our lovely and attractive favorite store is the Bottle Barn, located in a warehousing district that you can see draws you in with their delightful entrance located next to a large electrical transformer. You also have the opportunity to dodge UPS trucks from the warehouse next door.
We start our tour with “Front Door Favorites” the bright pink sign grabbing your attention in the dimly lit entrance and as you look up you’ll see a designer display of wines that have received notice in the media and are discounted for your drinking pleasure. Not far away around the corner though is a large selection of wines “priced under $20”
Further down the same isle and true to the WSJ headings we find “Champagne Central” towards the back of the store and in a far back corner, again true to the WSJ headings we find “Rear Royale” wines from offshore, Italy, France and Spain etc. this is a rather small section compared to the rest of the store but in their defense – we are in Sonoma County.
The cooler section in many other stores gets a bigger play featuring beer, wine and snacks. While there is some space devoted to keeping beer cold the wine section is rather small and features the known suspects, there doesn’t seem to be a demand for cold products.
And on the way out, going past all the little trinkets and tchotchkes you can’t miss the Bottle Barn’s suggestion to sign up for their website.
So the next time you walk into your favorite liquor or wine store, I hope you get a smile on your face when you pass “Front Door Favorites.”
In a nod to my local readers I want to share my discovery of Wooden Petal Pretzels, a small batch, award-winning bakery in Santa Rosa making delicious pretzel buns that are only available to order towards the end of the week and can be picked up or delivered to your doorstep all with prior arrangement. The pretzels are delicious and obviously made without preservatives as their shelf life is rather short unless you freeze them.
The pretzels come in three flavors salt, cheese and everything and are about the size of a good slider bun which by the way they make a terrific sandwich roll. I tried them for the first time a couple of weeks ago and Chef Clare brought the box out to my car with a big smile.
Unfortunately due to their delicate nature and the cost of doing it these don’t ship very well so we’ll keep this our own little secret right here in Sonoma County. Reach out to chef by email firstname.lastname@example.org or at 415/420/7042 and tell her what Woody says hi.
“We can’t wait for our fans to get their hands on the New Classic Chicken Sandwich which has the perfect crunch from breading and pickles paired with the juiciness and flavor of the fillet”, gush’s a Wendy’s spokesperson. Well I guess the sandwich they tried hadn’t been in a sack for fifteen minutes and looked like this when it was opened. We have found Wendy’s sandwich construction to be a tad shoddy in the past and that hasn’t changed.
Comments from the tasting panel were generally positive; “Liked the sauce and pickle but crummy piece of lettuce and watery tomatoes were ugly, good thick piece of chicken with good breading and perfectly cooked, probably better before the car ride, not really sure what the difference is between what they had already”. Given that it was a nice piece of chicken it still isn’t a sandwich we would go out of the way for.
A food critic at a major Midwestern newspaper stated, “While there is a slight improvement, I’m not convinced most people will notice and…“The new offering would probably rank exactly where I ranked Wendy’s old Homestyle sandwich, at No. 10.
“Wendy’s latest entry into the chicken sandwich wars boasts an updated take on its all-white meat chicken breast coated in a crispy breading. The fillet is then topped with mayo, tomato, lettuce, and pickles, all sandwiched between a toasted bun for $4.99”
Lord Snort is an iconic sculpture that survived the fires of 2019 that destroyed the historic winery and event venue. The sculpture has become a rallying symbol of the resilience of Sonoma County and the Soda Rock Winery.
We recently attended a birthday celebration of the Lord Snort sculpture and in support of the newest release of the Lord Snort’s wine series.
I want to note that we are also about to celebrate our fourth anniversary in Sonoma County (December) and shared that I was part of the catering staff who helped provide food and drink for a wedding earlier in summer of ’19 before the fire destroyed the venue but left an old wooden barn not 100 feet away, untouched.
While five wines were offered as part of the Lord Snort series we unfortunately only found two to our liking;
Soda rock is one of eleven wineries operating under the Wilson Wines brands. www.sodarockwinery.com
So Peggy made a potato recipe the other day that called for her to purchase Kerry Gold Irish butter, a product I have seen many times in a stores but lacking an interest in Irish in general and faced with high dollar purchase price I have passed each time. So with an opportunity to try butter that I didn’t pay for I toasted a piece of bread thinking that this would be the experience of a lifetime and well – not so much as it just tastes like… butter – nothing special.
The label says it is a product of Ireland and I find that they treat their cows really nice and only use really good milk which I’m sure is correct. Funny thing on the label it says the butter is produced for a distributor based in Evanston Illinois of all places.
And finally loyal readers I thought I would leave you with a simple bit of math that aptly demonstrates the answer to a question I get all the time, “How much does it cost to make a bottle of wine.”
The husband and wife who run this winery in Windsor California published this little note in an email the other day and I thought it would tell a story in a better way than I could possibly explain. Yes at a winery such as a Gallo the cost of bottles and everything goes down because of volume but I believe the gentleman was trying to demonstrate that with the issues of fires and loss of vineyards and other challenges out here this year this is still what it cost to produce what is really a decent bottle of wine.
That’s my Whine and I could be wrong…
Woody Mosgers, cooks, caters, writes, drinks and matches wine and food in Santa Rosa Sonoma at www.woodythewineguy.com