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Alastair Bland

Dining, SFoodie Beer a Secret Weapon in Breast Cancer Fight, Hopes Breastfest

Beer a Secret Weapon in Breast Cancer Fight, Hopes Breastfest

Fighters of breast cancer are again pulling out their secret weapon: beer. The annual Breastfest will soon be upon us, with more than 40 breweries, several hundred beers, and live music aligning on July 2 to fight one of the…
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Dining, SFoodie Robert Mondavi Woodbridge 2009 California Zinfandel

Robert Mondavi Woodbridge 2009 California Zinfandel

This writer made a simple dinner last night of brown rice, freshly pulled chard and kale from the garden, a handful of off-season wild porcini from -- oops, almost gave away my patch! -- and several steaks of a hand-harvested…
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Dining, SFoodie Fetzer 2010 California Moscato

Fetzer 2010 California Moscato

Muscat may be the most sensible, down-to-earth grape there is. Unlike so many other varieties, it doesn't play around: Ferment it into wine, age it for a time, and pour it into the glass, and it still smells and tastes…
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Dining, SFoodie A Field Guide to Sustainable and Delicious Dry-Farmed Wines

A Field Guide to Sustainable and Delicious Dry-Farmed Wines

Irrigation is plainly a function of the modern world. Though the ancient Romans built spectacular gravity-driven aqueducts, drip irrigation for agriculture was not invented until the late 1960s in Israel, and only in the 1970s did water-bearing pipes and…
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Dining, SFoodie Concannon Winery 2009 Central Coast Pinot Noir

Concannon Winery 2009 Central Coast Pinot Noir

The "R" at the end of "noir" is not silent. The letter is meant to produce a distinct sound, and, in effect, "pinot noir" rhymes with "film noir." But in the upper echelons of wine drinking society, some say "pinot…
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Dining, SFoodie New Book Teaches the Alcoholic Art of Beer Brewing

New Book Teaches the Alcoholic Art of Beer Brewing

The best part about beer, hands down, has always been drinking it. But for many thousands of Americans, brewing beer is just as rewarding. Brewing is an intellectual experience -- it's an art, a science, a study of history, a…
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Dining, SFoodie Glen Ellen 2009 Old-Vine Zinfandel Proprietor's Reserve

Glen Ellen 2009 Old-Vine Zinfandel Proprietor's Reserve

In January, we attended the largest single-variety wine tasting in America: the ZAP Festival at Fort Mason. We sauntered through the pavilions, glass in hand, point-blank asking winemakers how old their "old-vine" Zins really were. As all investigative journalists do…
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Dining, SFoodie Murray's Apple Cyder

Murray's Apple Cyder

Combine sugar and yeast, and alcohol is born. But some sugars ferment more gracefully than others -- and there is something so seductive, so graceful, so irresistible about the grape that it has nearly conquered the Earth. Roughly 20 million…
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Dining, SFoodie Big House Unchained Naked 2009 Chardonnay

Big House Unchained Naked 2009 Chardonnay

The origin of Chardonnay, like that of many grapes, is uncertain. Sources seem to point toward the Middle East, and some believe the variety to be closely related to Muscat. Otherwise, Chardonnay's history is hazy, obscured by the centuries. Its…
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Dining, SFoodie Drinking the Long View: Aged Beers at Lagunitas Brewing Co.

Drinking the Long View: Aged Beers at Lagunitas Brewing Co.

When the Righteous Brothers told us that time can do so much, they might as well have been singing about beer. Some brewers recoil at the mere suggestion of putting away their hard-brewed work for a long stretch in the…
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Dining, SFoodie Broadbent Vinho Verde

Broadbent Vinho Verde

Portugal may best be known as a producer of Port and Madeira, but it's a nation with a winemaking culture as diverse as it is old. Scores and scores of grape varieties, some grown few places else, occur throughout the…
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Dining, SFoodie Barrel-Aged Beers Are Pricey. Which Ones Are Worth It?

Barrel-Aged Beers Are Pricey. Which Ones Are Worth It?

A year ago, a second-hand bourbon or brandy barrel was running a brewer a hundred bucks on the American market. As of March 2011, the price hadn't changed, according to an industry source. But the beers that go into these…
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Dining, SFoodie FlipFlop Wines 2010 California Pinot Grigio

FlipFlop Wines 2010 California Pinot Grigio

For more cerebral wine drinkers, the season may determine what bottle hits the table that night. Balmy summer evenings, so goes the oft-regurgitated marketingspeak, call for crisp whites and rosés, while chilly winter evenings are best matched to hot, heavy…
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Dining, SFoodie Covey Run 2008 Columbia Valley Gewürztraminer

Covey Run 2008 Columbia Valley Gewürztraminer

One can't always make it on looks alone, and a wine often needs a name to sell. Cabernet Sauvignon is the most widely grown red wine in California. Big and often dumb and brutish in the glass, it's got a…
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Dining, Eat Drink 2011: Sake to Me

Drink 2011: Sake to Me

Some San Franciscans still like it hot. That was the serving style so trendy 15 years ago, before the sake revolution began, before the best bottles started arriving from the microbreweries in Japan. Heat, after all, can muffle less palatable…
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Dining, SFoodie Weekly Sake Classes at Corkage Explore Rice's Potential

Weekly Sake Classes at Corkage Explore Rice's Potential

White unblemished purity: Such is the innocuous nature of the perfect grain of rice. But set a colony of koji spores, another of yeast, a master sake brewer, and his staff of loyal minions loose on the ivory pearls, and…
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Dining, SFoodie Heartswork Winery WELL REaD 2009 California Red

Heartswork Winery WELL REaD 2009 California Red

A molecule called sulfur dioxide ― aka sulfites, a common preservative ― has become the crux of an ongoing disagreement between two schools of winemakers. Those who vouch for the use of the anti-oxidizing compound point out that wine has…
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Dining, SFoodie Tasting Petite Sirah, California's Little Big Wine

Tasting Petite Sirah, California's Little Big Wine

It was born in 1880, and four years later came to California. But for another 80, almost nobody knew it. Petite Sirah is one of California's historical vines and among the earliest varieties introduced to the state, but for decades…
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Dining, SFoodie The Best Barleywine? Our Panel Picks a Winner

The Best Barleywine? Our Panel Picks a Winner

What began more than three decades ago as a small-batch specialty beer made by a local beer hero has grown thunderously into perhaps the most cult-acclaimed craft beer style in America: the barleywine. Fritz Maytag is the man to thank.…
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Dining, SFoodie Good Eats and Zinfandel Pairing Brings the "Z" Back to Herbst

Good Eats and Zinfandel Pairing Brings the "Z" Back to Herbst

Like bells to Pavlov's dogs, the sight of a capital "Z" this time of year starts us thinking of (if not quite drooling over) red wines native to the Golden State, punctuated by notes of pepper and raspberry. That's because…
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