Entries in Wine (5)
Do your taste buds ever get tired? Has your favorite drink stopped registering with your brain? A/B tests are one way to get your brain cranking and your taste buds excited again. Comparing two similar wines really exposes the subtle flavors in each in a way that drinking either wine alone can't.
Aviary Lounge and Home Decor was nice enough to have me over for a blind A/B test pitting American against French wines. In this case, the extra challenge was that the wine was paired with fresh oysters. Delicious!
For my first birthday dinner, Jennie took me to Trio at the Austin Four Seasons.
You may remember that Jennie and I were on Sommelier Mark Sayre's team for the Wine Ride. During that event, we observed and documented Mark pairing wine with some of the best food in Austin -- but we didn't get to try any of Mark's pairings.
This was our chance. Instead of a normal meal, Jennie and I had a extravagant tasting menu complete with wine pairings. It was a flavor symphony orchestrated by Mark and Chef Todd Duplechan.
Trio put together an amazing experience for my birthday, and to top it off, I'm pretty sure they generously sent us quite a few complimentary dishes.
It is sadly difficult to do justice documenting an experience like this in photos. Even more so when I'm enjoying an amazing selection of food and wine. Even so, take a peek at the rest of my dinner photos here.
Wow! I never suspected when I started Hop Safari that I might win an award for my photography and videography of a wine event, but I just did. My team, Team Mark, won the blogger aspect of the 2011 Wine Ride for coverage of Sommelier Mark Sayre of TRIO Restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel.
Our all-star team consisted of team blogger Jennie Chen of MisoHungry, and team Facilitweeter Rachelle King of Blinded by the Bite. I was the team photographer and videographer. And of course, we can't forget that Mark was on our team too. We wouldn't have much content without his contribution as team somm, video host, reference librarian, and photographic model.
The 2011 Wine Ride was a combination party, race, and publishing venture. You can learn more about the Wine Ride on the official site. And don't forget to look at the official blogs and videos covering the Wine Ride. You can even vote for your favorite team (my team, Team Mark is a tasteful choice) if the deadline hasn't passed. This post covers the race from my perspective as a team photographer / videographer.
Wine Ride festivities on Sunday started with all teams meeting at Uchiko. The team sommeliers, photographers, bloggers, and tweeters all mingled together and joked about who would win while waiting to draw their team race route. The job of each team was ultimately to produce an educational video and blog post from the Wine Ride experience. The official video would feature each Somm's description and justification of the pairings. Our blog post would combine Jennie's words with my photos and video to hopefully teach the world what we learned.
The drawing awarded us the Team Five route, and since there were four tasting venues, we waited in Uchiko while the other teams raced to their first destination. We sat at our table and discussed the logistics.
Jennie would drive my Infamous Orange Toaster and take notes for her blog post, I would take photos and video, Rachelle would live-tweet the event, and Mark Sayre of Trio would perform his magic of matching food to wine. To try to get the best content possible, I would also film Mark talking about the pairings in the car while racing between destinations.
At the proper moment we ran to the car and strapped in. Our route took us to visit Antonelli's Cheese Shop, FINO, Central Market, and finally Foreign & Domestic. At each stop we had a similar routine. Mark was presented with a selection of food and a few glasses of wine. His job was to consider and taste each wine and each dish to find the "perfect pairing", the most magical combination of food and wine available. He had ten minutes to make a decision at each location.
The most striking thing to me, and you might catch a glimpse of it in my video, was how often Mark was already coming up with pairing ideas before he even sat down. He usually knew something about each wine, and had some notion about each dish before even tasting it. A Sommelier like Mark clearly keeps a lot of detailed knowledge about food and wine under his hat. Even so, he worked his way through each pairing, revising his opinion when it turned out that a sauce had a different flavor profile than the dish's name or appearance might suggest. I really enjoyed watching Mark's pairing brain work through the possibilities.
After the final pairing, we all returned to Uchiko. There each sommelier was interviewed about their perfect pairings on camera, and all of us were finally able to enjoy some wine with Chef Paul's lovely food. Mark's job was mostly finished, and Jennie and mine was just ramping up.
Over the course of the next few days, Jennie and I worked frantically on our post. The final blog was due on Wednesday afternoon, only three days after the event. I spent Monday before and after work selecting the best photos and editing them. Jennie chopped away at her blog post, as we both collaborated to distill a story out of the huge pile of content we generated on Sunday's ride.
On Tuesday Night, Jennie, Rachelle, and I met at Trio for happy hour so we could consult with Mark and collaborate on the big details of the blog due the next day. I continued editing the best photos, getting feedback from Jennie and Rachelle, and started pulling out the best video clips of Mark. All of this while enjoying Trio's tasty treats and amazing wine. We stopped editing late on Tuesday, leaving only Wednesday morning to finish editing the blog text, photos, and video.
Wednesday morning, I spent about an hour pounding my video into shape before a visit to the Chiropractor. My back and neck adjustment gave me a bit of a headache, so I just sat in the back seat of my car editing video for an hour or so. I started the video upload before arriving at my day job.
After a lunch meeting, I called Jennie to see if she had all the photos she needed. We had two hours before the deadline. It turned out she was missing a photo of the winning dessert, so I frantically flip through my Aperture library to find the sorbet from Foreign & Domestic.
I cropped the photo, adjusted the exposure, and evened out the lighting. Uploaded to Flickr and called Jennie, "Did you get the sorbet photo?"
I hung up, opened the photo again, and lowered the exposure. Upload. Rinse and repeat.
Less than an hour left.
I proof-read Jennie's blog post and called her. "Looks good," I said.
"I just changed it," she replied, "take another look".
Between my normal work activities, I scanned the updated blog. Ten minutes on the clock. I called Jennie with a final suggested tweak.
With only a few minutes left on the clock, she updated the blog, I scanned it again, and it was submitted to the authorities. Mission accomplished!
You can read our Wine Ride blog post here.
You can see all of my best Wine Ride photos here.
And you can see my Wine Ride video here.