A group of sommeliers from across the US reflected that the tumult of 2020 may actually galvanize lasting changes for the better in the wine industry, such as boosting its commitment to diversity and making wine accessible to a broader array of consumers through virtual tastings and e-commerce. "The silver lining is that keeping food, wine and service simple yet high-quality seems to be achievable," added Shelley Lindgren, who co-owns A16 in San Francisco and A16 Rockridge in Oakland, Calif.
As the COVID-19 vaccine is more widely dispensed and restaurants begin reopening, consumers will be in a celebratory mood that will in turn help drive wine sales in 2021, according to Silicon Valley Bank Wine Division's annual report. "In some ways, the current situation reminds me of what happened after World War, when wines sales spiked dramatically," said report author Rob McMillan, who cautioned that this anticipated sales jump is unlikely to carry forward into next year.
Wine enthusiasts and sommeliers are setting up their own natural wine-focused businesses in cities around the Midwest, filling a gap in the market for their favorite vintages. New York City transplants Mark Henry and Gretchen Skedsvold opened Henry & Son after finding a dearth of low-intervention wines in Minneapolis, while Frederique Boudouani launched distributor Abu Nawas Beverage as a means to get natural wines on the menu at the Algerian restaurant he co-owns in Elkader, Iowa.
The prestigious Williams Selyem Winery in Healdsburg, Calif., known for its Russian River Valley pinot noir, has sold a minority stake to Burgundy, France, wine producer Domaine Faiveley. "What I was looking for was a family, not a corporation, not a private equity group ... and preferably a family that knew something about Pinot Noir," said John Dyson, who has co-owned the winery with his wife, Kathe, since 1998 and said the move is part of their succession plan for eventual retirement.
Sommelier Cha McCoy has created a nonprofit language scholarship called Lip Service with the goal of eliminating language barriers in the hospitality industry and thereby expanding opportunities for underrepresented professionals. The scholarship will be awarded to 30 people and includes educational opportunities and language lessons at no cost.
The simplicity of a whiskey highball requires quality ingredients and a skilled hand that approaches the cocktail as part science and part art, writes Tim McKirdy. "Each one part of the process might not make a noticeable difference if you're doing it on its own, but if you care about every single step, all those little changes add up," said Deke Dunne, manager and head bartender at Allegory at Eaton DC.
The launch of a second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans this week with $284 billion earmarked for restaurants and other small businesses topped this week's Top 10 list. Flynn Restaurant Group's deal to acquire 196 Wendy's units and 925 Pizza Hut restaurants from NPC International also made this week's most-read list.
A group of Wisconsin legislators are working on a bill that would allow Class B liquor-licensed restaurants and bars to sell takeout alcoholic beverages. "We believe this is something that will allow creativity, in a positive way, for bars and restaurants to provide what their consumers want and do it safely," said Susan Quam, executive vice president of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association, one of the groups that has been working toward such legislation since the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.
Chef Barbara Alexander from The Culinary Institute of America shows us how she makes a Manhattan with a twist: a cherry kiss Manhattan. First, she makes a traditional Manhattan with whiskey, vermouth, bitters and orange peel. In place of maraschino cherries, she uses whole skewered Aceitunas Torrent cherry-flavored olives for added sophistication and a kiss of cherry aroma. Find the full video series.