Wine. Food. Reviews. Recipes. Lap it up.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Dog Talk

"So, Zane," Red the Doberman said to me the other day, "I gather you think an internet wine business would be a good thing to get into."

"Absolutely!" I responded. "If you already had a wine shop, internet sales would be a great way to grow your business by making your existing stock available to a new, virtual neighborhood. And if you were just getting into the business you could start small, and maybe even specialize in just one type of wine — dessert wines, maybe — or wines from a certain region, like Alsace or Indiana. You could even specialize in a certain type of grape, sort of a Malbecs-R-Us approach."

"Specializing in obscure items doesn't seem like the best way to build a business," Red replied. "Seems to me you'd want to carry the things people want to buy most, like highly-rated Cabs, Zins and Pinot Noirs."

"That's true." I responded. "And if it were me, I'd want to offer everything that all the wine distributors in the state carry. But The Long Tail business model says that the future of internet sales is in selling less of more things, rather than the old model of selling a lot of a few things. Brick-and-mortar stores have a finite amount of display space, but virtual stores have a limitless amount."

"I like long tails," Red responded, wagging his. "I'm sure glad I was allowed to keep mine. Helps keep my nose warm sometimes."

"Yes, I'm sure they're nice!" I snapped. "My first family was full of traditionalists, so I have the kind of tail that Weimaraners have had for centuries. At least I've never had a door closed on mine."

"You know," Red said, scratching his ear thoughfully, "you wouldn't even have to physically stock a particular wine until somebody ordered it. All you'd have to do would be call your distributor, and if it were a big enough order maybe they could even drop-ship it for you."

"Exactly! I sure wish it were legal to do all that. I'd whip together a business plan so fast..." My thought trailed off.

"Better hurry up with that," Red said. "You know, at least one Indiana company already is selling wine online."

"What! Who?" I yelped. "They can't do that! It's illegal for wine shops and liquor stores to ship! They can make local deliveries, but only by their own employees. If you can't use common carriers like UPS or FedEx, how can they run an online business?"

"Wel-l-l-l-l," Red intoned, clearly enjoying the moment, "it may be illegal for wine shops and liquor stores to ship. But it may not be illegal for restaurants. Do you remember how Bowser's Fine Wines opened the Bone and Bowl next door to the wine shop? Now Bowser has a web site and is offering to ship across state lines — but from the Bone and Bowl, not from the wine shop."

Bowser! That sly dog — was he on to something? I bid Red good day, took my leave, and trotted home to plant myself in front of my MacBook to devour the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission's web site. After a few minutes of sifting through the voluminous pages of rules and regulations, I found what Red had been talking about:

IC 7.1-3-14-4:
Scope of permit
 Sec. 4. (a) The holder of a wine retailer's permit is entitled to purchase wine only from a permittee entitled to sell to the wine retailer under this title. A wine retailer is entitled to possess wine and sell it at retail to a customer for consumption on the licensed premises. A wine retailer is also entitled to sell wine to a customer and deliver it in permissible containers to the customer on the licensed premises or to the customer's house.

Now, that may sound like it applies to wine shops, but in ATC parlance, a "wine retailer" is a restaurant. A wine shop or liquor store is a "dealer." Dealers and retailers may only buy their stock from distributors, who may only buy from producers and importers, though distributors themselves are also allowed to do direct imports. This is what is referred to as the "three-tiered system," which has been around a long time and works pretty well. And could "deliver it in permissible containers" be construed to mean in wine shippers, and that the local delivery requirement didn't apply to out-of-state transactions?

Had Bowser actually found a way to legally ship wine out of Indiana? A wine rep I know named Bark asked the legal beagle where he works about it, and his opinion was that he had. I wanted to get it from the horse's mouth, though, so I zapped off an email to the ATC. (Remember, on the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog.)

It took a few emails to nail down the ATC's answer, but their response was this:

Currently retailer and dealer locations are allowed to sell from their premises and in some instances, are allowed to deliver to a person's residence or business.  Nothing beyond that is allowed under the scope of their permits. 

and then:

The deliveries must be by a permit holder or their employee.  It may not include common carriers. 

Well, that pretty much settles it as far as I'm concerned. If he gets caught, Bowser may be able to convince a court that the wording of the law is vague enough to allow him to use common carriers to make deliveries out of state, but I sure wouldn't be comfortable leasing a warehouse or building a Web site to go into that kind of business unless the Indiana General Assembly were to pass legislation that specifically permitted and regulated it.

Maybe if they got enough letters asking them to, they would. I'm going to contact my elected representatives and urge them to allow Indiana dealers and retailers to use common carriers to ship wines out of state — and within the state too, for that matter. If you have a few minutes, you can too.
M. Zane Grey, 11:57 PM | link |

Monday, September 24, 2007

Be punctual!

!What a great way to start the week — Monday, September 24, is National Punctuation Day.

Begun in 2004, the annual obervance is the brainchild of former newspaperman Jeff Rubin, who sometimes appears as “Punctuation Man,” dressed in a blue super-hero costume with a bright red cape. (Why, yes — he is from California. How did you guess?) Rubin and his wife, Norma, created Punctuation Playtime, a 45-minute program for children in grades 1-6 that features games, activities, storytelling and even a rap song to reinforce important punctuation lessons. NPD's Web site features handy guides on how to correctly use punctuation marks, with links to more detailed explanations and style guides.

NPD even has an official meat loaf recipe. The recipe seems pretty basic, but I do like the idea of eating a question mark instead of the usual boring old hyphen.

I’ll probably eschew the meat loaf and figure out some other way to celebrate the occasion — I dunno, maybe I'll take a colon to lunch....
M. Zane Grey, 12:01 PM | link |

Proactivism vs. Protectionism

No matter how the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of Indiana or the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers try to spin their support of restrictive shipping laws as concern for keeping the eeeevil alcohol out of the hands and gullets of children, the real issue is this: They want to protect their turf.

That's entirely understandable. Whether you run a small, mom-and-pop package store or a major distributorship, a lot of energy and money goes into growing a business, and once you've carved out a market share you want to keep it. If a new, similar business moves into your neighborhood, you would rightly perceive it to be a potential threat to your bottom line. In response, you could respond to the competition by offering superior service, lower prices or an outstanding product mix — or you could remonstrate and try to prevent the new business from getting a permit to operate.

Effectively, the advent of Internet commerce has plopped a seemingly infinite number of invisible competitors in every neighborhood. If you're selling a typical product — printing, for example, or computers, or tires — you have to adapt and compete. But if what you sell is regulated by the government you may have other options, such as pressing your state's elected representatives to pass protective legislation.

And indeed, the barriers thrown up by protective legislation can work — for a while. But they eventually crumble under the pressure of the free enterprise system, and when they do the industry they had been protecting may find itself to be too flabby and out-of-shape to meet its new competition. This very thing happened to Indiana banks, which were at one time forbidden to cross county lines in search of new business. After the banking industry was deregulated, many Indiana's banks were gobbled up by larger ones from neighboring states, where they had been allowed to compete and grow. In the end, the demise of Indiana banks was helped along by the very legislation that had been designed to protect them.

Internet commerce is changing the way business is done; the genie is out of the bottle, and he's not going to be stuffed back in. Rather than spin their wheels and squander their resources by trying to throw up temporary barriers to competition, how about if the beverage industry groups pushed for deregulation that would enable their members to grow their businesses instead?

Consider this: Indiana's location makes it an excellent shipping center. Its taxes are reasonable, especially when compared to those of coastal states (think California, New York and Massachusetts). There are several excellent wine and spirits distributors here that bring in everything from mass-produced supermarket wine to low-production rarities from boutique wineries. In short, conditions are ideal for an Internet wine sales industry to grow and blossom in Indiana.

Except for one thing: Current Indiana law doesn't specifically permit such a type of business to exist. Certain sections of existing regulations could conceivably be interpreted to allow Interstate shipping (I'll get to that in a separate post), but until provisions are written addressing the ability of Indiana retailers to engage in Interstate sales and the direct shipping of alcoholic beverages, I sure wouldn't invest too much in a Web site or warehouse.

So, the industry has a choice: Should it continue pursuing a protectionist course, throwing up barrier after barrier as the courts knock them down? Or should it be proactive, and help prepare Indiana to compete in this young and developing area of Internet commerce?

Maybe we should ask a banker....
M. Zane Grey, 11:20 AM | link |

Friday, September 21, 2007

Corks Marketplace won't be at City Market

After moving out of its spot and 49th and Pennsylvania and waiting for the remodeling of the City Market to grind to completion, it turns out that Corks Marketplace won't be moving there. And seeing as how Corks’ domain name is now for sale, one gets the feeling that the shop isn't going to resurface anywhere. What a shame.

According to the City Market's director of leasing, Constantino’s Produce and Italian Market will take the spot that Corks was to occupy, and the hunt is on to find a Corks-like gourmet market to take the 934-square-foot space right next door.
M. Zane Grey, 11:12 AM | link |

Blogger's fascinating time-waster

Blogs have gone from zero to more than 70 million in a little more than 10 years, and Blogger, which was founded in 1999, provides the engine for many of them, including this one.

For some time, Blogger had an in-house application that would display the photos people upload to their public blogs in real time. It finally occurred to them to package the program for general use, and the result is Blogger Play.

It's fascinating, and would make a good screen saver if it weren't for the fact that it's hard to quit watching it. The newer and faster your browser is, the better it works (Firefox works well), and it's possible to adjust play speed, back up, pause, and even capture photos. To learn more, have a look at the FAQ.
M. Zane Grey, 3:12 AM | link |

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Couple of Quickies

How knife to know you; see you spoon

Braingirl over at Feed Me/Drink Me has found a couple of good, new local food blogs: Everything Nagel and the amusingly named Fork Indiana. The Nagels have Weimaraners — I like ’em already!

Elephant joke

Q: What did the grape say when the elephant stepped on it?

A: Nothing, it just let out a little wine.

More, you say? Have this:

The feeling you've tried this kind of mustard before: Dijon Vu.

(A wag of the tail to Katz for the groaners.)
M. Zane Grey, 11:59 AM | link |

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Store Formerly Known As Kahn's settles on a name

Vine-and-TableIt looks as though The Store Formerly Known As Kahn's in Carmel has finally arrived at a workable new name: Vine & Table.

While this name is similar to that of the giant New England retailer Table & Vine, it doesn't sound quite as much as though it could be an intersection in West L.A. And it's a huge improvement over the previously-floated Vino Couture, which didn't exactly roll trippingly off the tongue or make any sense. A WHOIS search reveals that has been registered to an Indianapolis person (the same one who registered, so presumably the store will regain its Web presence before too long.
M. Zane Grey, 7:27 AM | link |

Monday, September 17, 2007

Mia's Plungerhead Zinfandel 2005

PlungerheadOne evening last week two Zinfandels appeared on the dining room table. Both were roughly the same price — between $15 and $20 — and both had fun, Millennial-Generation labels.

In fact, the two wines — the Mia's Playground Zinfandel 2005 and the Plungerhead Zinfandel 2005 — were similar in many ways. Both wines have non-traditional closures (Mia's uses a screwcap; Plungerhead a zork); both wines are made from Dry Creek fruit. In fact, both wines are made from Dry Creek fruit from old vines. And their posted alcohol contents aren't too far off: 14.8 percent for Mia's, 14.9 percent for Plungerhead. And … why, look there — the same winemaker, Richard Bruno, made both wines.

At least the companies that market them are different. Mia's is a product of Three Loose Screws, while Plungerhead is a brand of The Other Guys. But, wait! Those companies are both divisions of Don Sebastiani & Sons! And Mia is Don Sebastiani's daughter! (Plungerhead must be adopted!) And Richard Bruno, in addition to being owner / winemaker of Vinum Cellars along with business partner Chris Condos, is Don Sebastiani's director of winemaking!

And wouldn't you know, the winesMia’s-Playground taste amazingly similar: They're both good, respectable, medium- to full-bodied Zins that are well-behaved on the palate, giving no hint of their high alcohol content. The more I sniffed and tasted, the more convinced I was that I couldn't tell them apart. I won't go so far as to say that the same juice was pumped into two different bottles, because I wasn't there and I don't know that. But I will say that, given the same vintage of the same fruit, Richard Bruno has achieved very consistent results.

This reminds me of something that large automobile corporations do, commonly referred to as "badge engineering," when a variety of car models (say, for example, the Pontiac Firebird and the Chevrolet Camaro) are based on the same basic model, then given stylistic tweaks by their respective companies and sent out to compete with each other. I'll have to hand it to Don & Sons: This is a great way to get two different distributors to push your wines (that's how it works in Indiana, at least), and to double the shelf space devoted to your products. I salute his marketing savvy, as well as his ability to produce very good wines at reasonable prices.

As for the Zins, I recommend them both. Buy whichever costs less, or buy both and do your own taste test. We poured our leftovers into the same bottle and pumped it out; the next day our Mia's Plungerhead blend was delicious.
M. Zane Grey, 10:56 AM | link |

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Another take on wine fraud

Following up a recent New Yorker story about wine fraud, Mike Steinberger casts a little more light on the subject in Slate.

The first part of the Slate piece rehashes the New Yorker story, but then it brings up some accepted practices that confuse the issue a bit, such as a château's selling wine in bulk to a bottler who may put the vintage in undocumented magnums, splits and so on. Steinberger's piece is brief, and worth a read.

(A wag of the tail to Elsa for the tip!)
M. Zane Grey, 10:46 AM | link |

Friday, September 14, 2007

THINGS TO DO (9/14 – 9/16)

Here is the most recent installment of Evan Finch's occasional Things to Do for People Who Do Things email newsletter.

Irish Festival
Military Park
Friday, September 14 – Sunday, September 16

Bagpipes, kilts, beer, people running around in the dark, wolfhounds, and dancers who don’t move their hands. You’ll find hours and ticket prices listed on the website below.
Phone: 317.713.7117

* * *

2323 North Illinois Street
Saturday, September 15
One-night-only ephemeral convergence of art, music, film, food, didgeridoos, and other cultural whatnot. Brigadoon comparisons are apt and encouraged. Starts at 8 PM and goes until 2 AM on Sunday. You must be 21 or over to enter.  Tickets are $20, available at Ticketmaster or at the door.  For an event schedule, trot on over to the web site.
Phone: N/A

* * *

American Legion Mall
Saturday, September 15

As Hispanic as it wants to be. Stuff to eat, stuff to buy, stuff to listen and/or dance to. Starts at noon and goes until midnight. American Legion Mall is downtown, in that grassy space between Meridian and Pennsylvania, just south of St. Clair.  Admission free.

Phone: 317.890.3292

* * *

Indianapolis Antique Advertising Show
Indiana State Fairgrounds, Champions Pavilion
Saturday, September 15 – Sunday, September 16
Lots of amazing old advertising displays, signs and posters, all on sale for prices far beyond what mortal man can afford to pay.  I suggest you fork over your $7 admission and window-shop, treating the show as you would a museum. Hours are 10-5 on Saturday and 10-3 on Sunday.  On Sunday only, it sounds like the show will share space with the Indianapolis Antique Toy & Hobby Show.
Phone: N/A

* * *

Ohio Pawpaw Festival
Lake Snowden, Ohio
Saturday, September 15 – Sunday, September 16
The pawpaw is a tropical-tasting North American fruit with a texture like mucilage and an inclination toward easy bruising. If you’ve never tasted a pawpaw, the Ohio Pawpaw Festival gives you ample opportunity to do so. You may also relax with a pawpaw beer while listening to Marilyn Baumer read her master’s thesis, entitled “Tree Seedlings Under Pawpaws.” Afterwards, you may saunter over to the pawpaw cookoff, before ending the day with a rousing game of “Pin The Leaf On The Pawpaw.” Admission is $5 at the gate. For hours and directions, visit the event website listed below.  To order pawpaws and related products by mail, visit I endorse the Pawpaw Spiceberry jam with all my heart.
Phone: N/A
Web: and

* * *


If you’d like to read about old illustrators and see a lot of snazzy pictures, go here:

CAUTION: There’s a recent essay on art vs. pornography that could offend, so consider yourself forewarned.
M. Zane Grey, 10:25 AM | link |

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Rotate the fryPod, Hal

Burger King is introducing a new product that actually won't clog arteries: apple fries. Despite the name and the fact that they'll be packaged in a box called a fryPod, they aren't actually fried. In fact, they're really just apples run through a French-fry slicer then washed with lemon water so they won't turn brown. Sounds like a good healthy snack, but now I do wonder how they'd taste after a trip to the deep fryer. Maybe someone will try that at the next state fair....
M. Zane Grey, 9:16 AM | link |

Monday, September 10, 2007

"First Big Crush" by Eric Arnold

Eric-ArnoldEric Arnold was a stand-up comedian from Brooklyn who needed a day job. He inventoried his personal skills, and after deciding he was pretty good at drinking wine he called Allan Scott at his winery in New Zealand and asked if he could work there for a year for free so he could write a book about the experience.

Scott agreed (as Arnold later found out, help is hard to get in New Zealand) and the twentysomething aspiring writer soon found himself in the middle of New Zealand farm country, far from anything resembling his native urban environment. And put him to work Allan Scott did — by the time a year had passed, Arnold had participated to some degree in every step of the winemaking process, from ripping old vines out and planting new shoots to evaluating the final product at a wine competition.

Arnold took copious notes — even chronicling his frequent visits to the Cork & Keg to drink beer with the rugby-playing Allan Scott winemakers Josh Scott and Jeremy McKenzie, and besotted escapades with a local Kiwi lass or two — and the result is a fun, readable and quite edifying book called First Big Crush, subtitled The Down and Dirty on Making Great Wine Down Under. Part travelogue, part instructional documentary and part Tourette's syndrome (just a mild case), it's an engaging and enjoyable book that leaves the reader with a very good idea of what goes into the winemaking process, along with a craving for New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

And if the cast of characters seems familiar, it's because their products can be found on the shelves of your local wine shop. In addition to Allan Scott's family, Arnold introduces the reader to people involved with Cloudy Bay, Spy Valley, Villa Maria, Dog Point, Amisfield and Nobilo, among many others from the Marlborough region. Arnold's experience also makes it clear that winemaking isn't the romantic endeavor that wine writer Jennifer Rosen tongue-in-cheekily described as a process where "A good winemaker is but a shepherd, gently guiding from first bud, through spontaneous fermentation until the moment the stuff hops into a bottle and labels itself."

Nope, it's work — backbreaking farm work, tedious winery work and mind-numbing bottling work, along with painstaking lab work and educated guesswork, coupled with the fact that in an island country with no Mexico next door, dependable labor is not easy to get. Machines break, mistakes are made, uncooperative weather is a constant threat and birds and rabbits are eager to dine on the fruit and vines. (Ahem. I have a bit of experience with critter control, and have one word of advice for vineyard managers: Weimaraners.) But ultimately, wine gets made.

And, as it turned out, really good wine. (I love a happy ending, don't you?) The 2005 Allan Scott Sauvignon Blanc was named a Top 100 wine by the Wine Spectator, and most of the other wines mentioned got 90-point-plus scores as well. And Eric Arnold landed a job as new editor at Wine Spectator, a position that he may have had to eat a little crow to get, since he roundly castigates wine "experts" in his book. (But now that he's a wine expert himself, Arnold probably knows just what varietal to pair with crow.)

If you're interested in what really goes into making wine, this book is for you. You'll laugh, you'll learn — and if you're anything like me, you'll lap up some Sauvignon Blanc while reading it.

First Big Crush by Eric Arnold is published by Scribner's and will be available after September 18 from local booksellers and
M. Zane Grey, 11:10 AM | link |

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Quick take: Conquista Malbec 2005

With the varietal's characteristic plummy nose and flavor but lighter in tobacco nuances and body, the Conquista Malbec 2005 (Mendoza, Argentina; about $8) is kind of a Malbec Light. Its brighter flavors, mild tannins and pleasant berry finish make it an easy drinker, and a good introduction to the grape.
M. Zane Grey, 8:47 PM | link |

New Order - Blue Monday '88

Here's a fun music video that features one of my favorite things — tennis balls!

M. Zane Grey, 6:50 AM | link |

Friday, September 07, 2007

Wine Fraud: The Case of the Cranky Collector

Among the many interesting articles in the current Food Issue of The New Yorker magazine is a story about high-level wine fraud titled The Jefferson Bottles.

Written by Patrick Radden Keefe, who has previously written articles for the magazine about smuggling antiquities and humans, the focus of the story in on a number of 18th-century wines represented as having come from the collection of Thomas Jefferson, some of which were famously sold at a Christie's auction in 1985. An American collector subsequently purchased four other Jefferson bottles for a total of about half a million dollars from two different retailers who had acquired them from the same source as those sold by Christie's, but he soon determined that they were fakes.

Wine fraud at this level is seldom ever prosecuted, largely because the victims either never discover that they've been had, drink the evidence, or choose not to say anything because they don't want people to know that they've been suckers. But in this case the aggrieved collector, an energy company owner named Bill Koch, took it personally and went after who he considered to be the perp, a prominent German wine collector who calls himself Hardy Rodenstock.

Koch put together a team of investigators consisting of a retired agents from Scotland Yard, MI5 and the FBI and international wine experts, and has so far spent more than a million dollars trying to put Rodenstock — who Koch's team discovered is really a former German Federal Railways employee named Meinhard Goerke — behind bars.

In addition to being a fascinating detective story, Keefe's article brings up some thought-provoking issues for the wine world, since many of the field's top experts — including Michael Broadbent (who was the head of Christie's wine department at the time the "Jefferson" bottles were auctioned), Robert Parker and Jancis Robinson — have learned what historic vintages of such labels as Château d’ Yquem, Château Pétrus and Château Lafite taste like at least in part by sampling bottles provided by Rodenstock. Parker awarded one such bottle, a magnum of 1921 Pétrus, a 100-point score at a tasting hosted by Rodenstock in Munich in 1995. Upon hearing that it was almost certainly a fake (Pétrus’ cellarmaster said he didn't think any magnums of that vintage were bottled at the vineyard), Parker said "If that bottle was a fake, he [Rodenstock] should be a mixer. It was wonderful."

But if Rodenstock were a mixer for even the most prestigious château, he'd never be able to approach his current estimated income: A million dollars a year, for selling 10 bottles of wine a month.

Keefe tells the story in great detail. It can be read online for free, but I recommend plunking down $5 for the whole analog issue. It makes flipping back and forth much easier — and as a bonus you can read some great cartoons.
M. Zane Grey, 8:28 AM | link |

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Chilean wine exports surge

According to Wines of Chile, a promotional trade group, the value of wine exports has risen 37 percent so far in calendar 2007, to $688 million. In volume, exports rose to 361 million liters, a 41 percent increase.

Exports to the United States — primarily red blends — have risen 13 percent compared to the previous year. Chilean Sauvignon Blanc made tremendous advances in the U.S. market, with a volume increase of 63 percent.

By way of comparison, the Federation of Wine and Spirit Exporters France reported that the exports of French wines and Cognacs had risen 7.5 percent during the first half of 2007, to a total of $5.62 billion.
M. Zane Grey, 8:31 AM | link |

Monday, September 03, 2007

Happy Labor Day!

I hope you have just as much fun as this Doberman is....

M. Zane Grey, 4:06 PM | link |

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Three-Buck Cluck

Beer-can chicken is nothing new, but I hadn't tried making it myself until just recently. It's awfully easy — I just smeared olive oil on a chicken, sprinkled it inside and out with barbecue rub, stuck a half-full (or was it half empty ... can't remember...) Rolling Rock up its butt and put it on the grill for an hour and 15 minutes.

It turned out great, so I was theorizing to my friend Paul about how it might be even better had I used a cheap white wine instead of beer. "Three Buck Cluck!" he said (Paul used to work at Trader Joe's by the way), and I knew I had to come up with a recipe just so I could name it that, if for no other reason. Here it is.

Three-Buck Cluck

Right after I made my first beer-can chicken, Joe's Butcher Shop featured a recipe for one in their email newsletter. Theirs was made with an Amish chicken; mine came from Costco and was possibly Unitarian. (Just to clarify: I really like Joe and his shop, but time constraints prevent me from making the trek over there as often as I'd like.)

One whole chicken
A lemon or two
Herbes de Provence
White Pepper
Olive oil
Inexpensive white wine

Rinse chicken inside and out and pat dry. Squeeze lemon juice under skin and into body cavity. Let the chicken absorb the lemon juice for a few minutes, then rub with olive oil. Season with pepper to taste, then sprinkle generously inside and out with herbes de Provence.

Three-Buck-CluckPrepare a beer can by somehow disposing of the beer, then punching a few additional holes in the top with a church key (Unitarian, not Amish). Fill the can to about half with white wine. Rub a little olive oil on the sides of the can, then place the chicken bottom-side down over it as if it were a large cylindrical suppository, so that the chicken is supported upright on a tripod consisting of its legs and the can. Retouch with herbes de Provence where necessary.

Place chicken upright on grill. Cook over medium-high heat using the indirect method and the lid closed for 75 minutes. I used a grill topper to provide a better base for the chicken to stand on, and put a chunk of foil-wrapped, water-soaked hickory over the flame to add a little smoke flavor.

At the end of the cooking time, finish chicken by squeezing fresh lemon juice onto it. Remove from grill and figure out how to remove the can without making a mess or scalding yourself with boiling-hot wine. (One smoke-producing but effective method is to tip the chicken over on the grill, then remove the can with tongs. Alternatively, put the chicken in the kitchen sink and remove can with tongs or an oven mitt.) Let chicken rest five or 10 minutes before serving.

If you decide you like this method of cooking poultry vertically, there are grill accessories available that accomplish the same thing but are a bit more sophisticated (and more costly) than a beer can. One such item is the Vertical Poultry Roasting Wok, which provides support for the bird in the middle of a roasting pan that can be filled with herbs and vegetables. You could also buy a Beer Can Chicken Kit, but for fifty bucks you could also buy quite a supply of beer cans.

For even more information on this topic, check out the entry on Cooking for Engineers.
M. Zane Grey, 10:45 AM | link |

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Show us, Missouri!

At about the same time a Federal judge was opening up wine shipping for Indiana, Missouri was instituting a new direct shipping permit for wineries. There is no fee for the permit, and the application is just one page long.

Indiana requires wineries to fill out a form and pay a $100 to sell wine in the state. If the Indiana General Assembly wanted to be proactive and pro-consumer (hey, a fella can dream, can't he?), it could follow the Show-Me State's example and make it easier for small wineries to ship directly to Hoosier customers. My guess is that the resulting sales tax collections would more than make up for dropping the fee.
M. Zane Grey, 7:19 AM | link |