After a hard day’s work, Stanley Tucci’s “Vine Talk,” on PBS was just what I needed. Lots of laughs, and casual, good times conversations. Each week a different celebrity panel and audience get to taste and judge each episode’s six featured wines. Can you imagine six glasses of wine lined up before you? If that isn’t enough to capture your attention, add to the menu appetizers, brought by a celebrity chef who has “paired” exact ingredients to go with the wines.
This show is a winner for me. On Episode 102, the featured wines of the week were New York’s Finger Lake District Rieslings. Let’s admit it, knowledge is power, and watching just one show, I am beginning to feel the power without even drinking one drop of wine. I’ve learned 5 new facts about the Rieslings. If the rest of the episodes are like this one, I am on my way to feeling less intimidated when I’m ordering a wine, either at a restaurant or at retail.
Ray Isle, the distinguished wine expert at “Food&Wine” Magazine co-hosts “Vine Talk,” was perfect in his role of sharing just enough information about the featured wines, and the distinctiveness of each of the six bottles that both the panel and the audience taste and judge.
This episode’s celebrity panel included the hilarity of Nathan Lane’scontinuous laugh a minute conversations, and impromtu, humorous, tra la humming from the famous opera star Harolyn Blackwell who can’t toleratehigh acidity wines before a performance and usually drinks only rose or merlot. I wondered when I heard that if that’s the reason why some wines catch in the back of my throat.
Celebrity guest Chef Alfred Portale, a James Beard award winner and owner of Gotham Bar & Grill, a place “to go to” in New York with a 700+ “wine selection program (I term I learned on the program) brought appetizers that gave me an idea for my own version. Chef Portale brought foie gras with dried fruit in it. To save the costly expense of buying foie gras, I substitute a good liverwurst from Boar’s Head Label. Usually I add black olives, but next time I’m trying the dried fruit instead.
The end of the program featured the celebrity panel selecting one wine, Thirsty Owl ’09 Dry Riesling. The audience another, Chateau Lafayette Reneau ’09, a semi dry, each $14.95. So run, don’t walk to your retailers and try them. It’s a great value.
Kudos to Stanley Tucci and Ray Isle who haven’t forgotten a host’s duty of letting the guests do the talking. Also to sommelier Stephanie Caraway’s expertise in explaining more wine specifics. When Nathan Lane remarked that one of the wine’s smelled like petroleum, she added a “yes,” it’s a natural characteristic of the wine type. Who knew?
I’m up for more shows. Search out “Vine Talk” on PBS. It’s worth the refreshingly real and real easy to remember wine facts and learn what appetizers to pair with each wine.
Photo: “Vine Talk”
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