Archive for the ‘Wine’

The UNLVino Rad Off-The-Hook BLOWOUT ‘14

March 15, 2014 By: mitchell Category: Events, Food, Wine 1 Comment →

Hold on to your most radical of hats, bros and broettes, firmly by the brim, and make that red sucker turn a three-sixty, then another 120 degree turn, COUNTER clockwise!  Yeah, that’s right, screw time!  That’s a concept we won’t be needing where we’re going, which is NOW.


Sniff This Cork

January 09, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Wine 10 Comments →

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ELV read some nonsense the other day about things you should never do when ordering wine.

The first one was “Don’t smell the cork.”

The second one was “Don’t beat up the wine.”

And the third one was “Don’t sniff the wine more than once.”

ELV loves reading mandates from 30-something “top sommeliers” telling 20-something feature writers exactly what they want to hear.

ELV loves it because what the naive writer and not-as-smart-as-he-thinks-he-is somm are doing is pandering to the masses — in this case those Gen X, Y, and Millennials who want to be “in the know” even if they know absolutely nothing.

ELV also loves it because both the interviewer and interviewee know they have to say something new and fresh — something that scotches all those fuddy-duddy old rules — so their desperate-to-be-with-it readers will feel smarter and cooler than all those stuffed shirts that came before them.

When those are your rules, it matters not to you or your audience whether you know what you’re talking about.

And the “top sommelier” in this article, clearly does not.

Let’s take them one by one, shall we?

Item: Sniffing the cork.

Should you do it? Yes if the bottle is an old or valued one; no if it’s some supermarket chardonnay. If it’s an old or valuable bottle such as this treasure:

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…you need to consider the cork, examine the cork, sniff the cork, smell the cork, fondle the cork…and hell, make love to the f*cking cork before you evaluate the wine. The reason you do this is to see if excessive damage or mold or bacteria or some fuzzy-wuzzy element has so tainted the stopper that some unpleasant odors or elements have been introduced into the wine.

If the cork looks older than Methuselah, no biggie. As you can see, after 30+ years in a bottle, these organic pieces of tree bark can get pretty wizened. If the darn thing disintegrates in your hand, though, all of you (the customer, the restaurant and the bottle) have problems.

Smell, however, is something else entirely. If the bottle is more than ten years old, you should always feel and sniff the damn thing. It should smell clean and winey, but not be too wet. If the bottle is really old (20+ years), it may give off whiffs of an old, dusty wine wine cellar, but nothing more. If you detect any off odors, hand it to the sommelier and ask their opinion.  Unless you’re in some kind of clip joint (and who orders expensive wine in a clip joint?) they’ll give you their honest assessment — that’s probably more  reliable, accurate and erudite than your first impression.

Item: Don’t beat up the wine, i.e., don’t excessively swirl or shake wine in your glass.

Again, unmitigated nonsense from someone whom, we bet, has tons of book learning (and tastings!) behind him (and every wine distributor in New York begging for his attention), but not a lot of real-life, hands on experience with the stuff. (He looks from his picture to be all of 35 years old.)

Wine is very sturdy stuff. Unless you’re talking about a 1947 Mouton Rothschild (which we’ve had – eat your hearts out), it can take a lot of abuse — especially of the swirling and shaking kind. In fact, more than once have we seen sommeliers and winemakers in Europe shake their (generally young) wine in a carafe like a martini to aerate it.

Swirl away….and don’t be shy. This is not a game of diminishing returns. You’ll be amazed at the different aromas released from the juice with every agitation.

Item: Don’t sniff the wine more than once.

Again, unmitigated b.s. Who is this guy? “The earthy smells shouldn’t overwhelm the fruity smell.” Excuse me, but in many French wines (and even a lot of Spanish and Italian ones) they do just that….and they’re supposed to.

He continues spouting idiocy: “If you think there’s something wrong with the wine there probably is.” Not if you don’t have a clue what you’re talking about (or smelling).

Unbridled pandering like this only convinces the uneducated consumer that they’re always right….which is just the kind of drivel this audience wants to hear.

Congratulations, John Ragan! You have single-handedly set back restaurant wine tasting thirty years with your overarching need to tell your younger customers that their first instincts about wine are always correct.

We know you and your employer are seeking to expand this market, and are desperate to empower this generation with the tools of winespeak (and to drink their way to your profit’s content), but feeding them this falderol is a disservice to them and the beverage you have devoted your life to.

Do everyone a favor. Teach a wine class instead of handing out erroneous sound bites that encourage people to always be wrong, but never in doubt.


p.s. Many thanks to food and wine friend Rob Kim for furnishing the lip-smacking Sauterne above to our latest “Lunch Bunch” gathering. The bottle was everything a dessert wine should be and much, much more

And yes, everyone of us sniffed and fondled that beautiful, 32 year old cork.

Dining Out (and Wine) Options for Thanksgiving on News 3 at Noon

November 22, 2013 By: John Curtas Category: Food, Wake Up With the Wagners, Wine Comments Off

ELV note: you’ll have to scroll all the way to the end of the show (to the 5:15 remaining mark), but if you do you will be richly rewarded with some beneficent banter about baking and boozing your way through the bewitching bounty befitting our humble burg. (Not only that, we’ll also tell you where to go for some succulent supper and a super sandwich if you don’t feel live slaving over a stove.


4350 East Sunset Road (near Sunset and Sunset – go figure)

Henderson, NV 89014



(Multiple locations)


2620 Regatta Drive.

Las Vegas, NV89128


What Should You Drink at 115 Degrees?

July 01, 2013 By: John Curtas Category: Wine Comments Off

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But it's a dry heat

They’re here food fans — the blistering, convection oven days of a Vegas summer — and nothing puts ELV off his feed like a succession of 110 degree afternoons.

But while metabolism adjusts by slowing down during these torrid months, thirsts must still be quenched, fellowships shared, victories celebrated and women seduced.  So, what is a bloke to imbibe when the mercury hits the heights that drove the Paiutes into the mountains for thousands of years?


Yonaka: Modern Japanese, Even More Modern-er

February 09, 2013 By: mitchell Category: Food, Openings, Reviews, Wine 4 Comments →

So, dig on this new restaurant, friends: YONAKA.  It’s been open for less than a month, but already it’s starting to beat out a lion’s share of the hip Japanese-fusion restaurants on the strip by a country mile, in my opinion.  Granted, we are plagued by those paint-by-numbers sushi joints in disguise, two or three to a casino property (hopefully a tide to be turned by the recent Palazzo top-tier sushi announcement), but honestly the quality and downright artistic creativity I’m seeing here is SHOCKING.

The meal starts out with an Amuse-bouche, mine was a little square of edamame tofu with just a dab of yuzu tobiko roe and maldon salt.  The nuttiness of this, I assure you, groves of nut trees would covet.  Nice to see this small but appreciated wink-and-nod to the coming meal can be practiced off-strip without being contrived.  It’s fun, it’s simple, and the creamy/nutty tofu with just that tiniest bit of citrus and fish comes off pitch-perfect.  Hopes, consider yourselves raised.  Looking back, this was going through my mind.

I'd covet this.

A cursory glance at the menu won’t give any real indicator to the food to come, but once you start noticing menu descriptors like “apple chips” and “kafir lime vinaigrette” and “preserved lemon”, one does begin to wonder.  Mainly choosing with my empty stomach, I got the item with two types of fishes (my stomach is not logical…), Konpa: Atlantic Salmon and Hamachi, with yellow bell pepper, almonds, tiny slices of preserved apricot, super thin jalapeno wheels, and almost transparently thin dehydrated tomato chips, all in an orange ponzu.  Whew, that’s quite a list of elements, but it really is a bit of a salad in and around and highlighting some extremely superb fish.  The duo of rich, fatty fish cut into sashimi bits contrasted well with the bright, tangy ponzu (like all their sauces, made in-house), sweet preserved apricot, and surprisingly addictive tomato chips.  Perhaps most surprising was palate of textures presented, making each bite a fun little game of “find the best combo” (although, if that puzzle was solved for me and topped neatly onto the sashimi, I wouldn’t complain…).

Atlantic Salmon and Hamachi hodge-podge salad



June 03, 2012 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, Food, Wine, Zines 6 Comments →

ELV note: As you may know, we write the “So Many Dinners” column for VEGAS magazine — a column that highlights noteworthy restaurants from around our valley. This month’s feature explores the origins of Vintner Grill, and since the ‘zine isn’t running it on its website, we at ELV thought you’d might like to peruse the gustatory gusto with which we gratifyingly gallivanted to (and gushed over) this galvanizing grill.


It’s safe to say that when Vintner Grill opened on December 6, 2006, no one associated with the project had the slightest idea it would become Las Vegas’ most prominent neighborhood restaurant. Who could have predicted that its sleek interior and swanky bar were destined to become the hotspot for everyone from serious oenophiles to socialites to celebrity chefs? These days, it all feels like a forgone conclusion, and five years on, you are as likely to run into Nicolas Cage as you are a power broker on the gorgeous outdoor patio. And if you think you see Andre Agassi and Stephie Graf , Bette Midler, or Steve Wynn sitting in a corner booth, you probably do.


Drink This Now – Rieslings at MARCHE BACCHUS

April 21, 2012 By: John Curtas Category: Wine 2 Comments →

A Critique of Pure Rieslings

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If ever there was an example of why the Germans make the best Rieslings on the planet, these bottles are it.


Fine Wine Times

April 16, 2012 By: John Curtas Category: Wine 1 Comment →

I like the best wine drunk at the cost of others. – Diogenes, the Cynic, 412?-323 B. C.

The esteemed British wine writer Jancis Robinson defines the Riesling grape as quite unlike any other: “It is light in alcohol, refreshingly high in fruity acidity, has the ability to transmit the characterization of place through its extract and unique aroma, and, unlike Chardonnay, capable of aging for decades in the bottle.”


ELV’s Thought(s) for the Day

April 11, 2012 By: John Curtas Category: Thought for the Day, Wine 1 Comment →

On tasting wine: A good general rule is to state that the bouquet is better than the taste, and vice versa. – Stephen Potter, One-upsmanship (1952)

Excellent wine generates enthusiasm. And whatever you do with enthusiasm is generally successful. – Philippe de Rothschild

What is the definition of a good wine? It should start and end with a smile. – William Sokolin

Two Great Deals

March 21, 2012 By: John Curtas Category: Deals, Wine 3 Comments →

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Our staff has been remiss in telling our loyal readers about two great deals on the Vegas food and wine scene.

Most insiders have known for years that Spago in the Forum Shops always has a few tables set aside for locals on even the busiest days. (more…)