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November 2009

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I love me Lucky Charms.
Pink Hearts, Orange Stars, Yellow Moons, Green Clovers, Blue Diamonds, and Purple Horse Shoes! And I can’t get enough of Coco Puffs and Cookie Crisp. And for that matter, keep the Frankenberry coming. Fruity Pebbles , Honey Combs, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, I don’t think there is a Sugar cereal i dislike. But if I had to choose one cereal to eat for the rest of my days, it would be a toss up between Peanut Butter Crunch and Golden Grahams. I can put away that PB Crunch until the roof of my mouth is battered and scarred from those spiked balls of peanut joy. And,
Oh those Golden GrahamsGolden Grahams have no mascot. Nor do they have technicolor marshmallows. But on the addictive meter they rate at the top. Just pure honey goodness and a catchy jingle i hum over crunches and gulps.

Rocking side to side in my chair, my spoon waving, my cheeks stuffed and jaw working, milk dribbling down my chin, a glow in my eyes and a song in my head.
 Have a golden day!

My apologies for the harsh vision i have conjured but this is what sugar cereal can do to people.
You might be saying to yourself that this guy’s kitchen must look like the set from Seinfeld. The cupboards crowded with colorful boxes from end to end like on overstuffed library shelf.
Nope.
No cereal to be found in our kitchen. It has been decided the home is a happier place without the Count, the Cap’n or silly Rabbit. You see, I have come to terms with the notion that i might have a slight problem with sugar cereal. When I reach for the spoon and bowl, its done with a frantic haste. The cabinet and drawers are left open, the fridge is slammed and the box tops are ripped off. This is because the decision has been made and there is no stopping me. Its all or nothing and i’m going for it. I feel like the cookie monster unleashed on a pile chocolate chips. There is a frenzy of pouring, clanking, scooping, smacking.

Pouring, clinking, shoveling, slurping.

More pouring and more crunching!!

Complete reckless abandon upon the sugar coated hills of cereal land.  And a few minutes later, its over. The empty boxes lay scattered around like fallen soldiers. Pools of splattered milk coat the counter top. A few random pink marshmallows pasted to the floor. A ring of cereal dust is all that remains crusted around the rim of the battered bowl.
And now my belly is in turmoil and my head is on the verge of spontaneous sugar combustion.
So the kitchen is a more peaceful room without the temptation of Sugar Cereals. They remain a special occasion or you could say "preplanned indulgence".
I partly blame my barbaric binges on a constant craving for morning nostalgia. I find a small oasis of comfort in spooning blue dye number 66 into my face while transfixed on the back of the box.
I also take a defensive stance behind my breakfast cereal theorem.
Its called “The infinite cycle of disproportionate milk to cereal ratio....theorem”.
Things start out with the right intentions.
 Pour a little Trix, add some milk, eat up and you’re on your way.
I wish it worked that way but this is how you get caught in the loop.
You’re down to your last spoonful and feeling content, but wait, there’s some milk still left in the bowl. Can’t waste that. Better pour a little more cereal in there to take care of the situation. Woops. Now there’s not enough milk soaking those poor little nuggets. Got to wet them down with a little more milk. Ahh, now we have a healthy looking bowl of cereal. Scoop your way back down to the bottom and its time feed the bowl again. And so goes the infinite cycle.
 
So if i put aside the nostalgic aspect, and control the effects of my theorem, there remains the most important reason why I, along with millions of other American, have come to crave cereal.
It’s a perfect pairing.
Stop and think about that.
Cereal and milk is one the earliest food pairings we have come to love.
Its a classic.
Cool creamy milk and crunchy sweet cereal.
From Coffee and Doughnuts to Champagne and Caviar.
A perfect match can be bliss.
I very seldom have dinner without wine. They need each other.Wether its a slice of pizza with with glass of Grenache or olive crusted rack of lamb with a bottle of older Priorat.
The flavors in the dishes can be accentuated by the wine and the wine can be elevated by a great dish.
Everything just tastes better when there is harmony between food and beverage.
And fortunately for myself and those arround me, i do have better temperence with wine and dinner than milk and cereal



MARCH/APRIL 2014

 

I remember when the Kiss solo albums came out.

 Paul! Gene! Ace! And that other guy, um... Peter.

 Four destined masterpieces released simultaneously. A landmark in Rock and Roll history! (At least in the eyes of the four members, their record company and leagues of teen idolizers.)

 In 1978, Kiss were at the height of their world domination, sitting on top of 4 platinum albums in just 2 years and a record tour attendance. Kiss action figures, lunch boxes, costumes, toothbrushes, you name it.

 Kiss was an explosion of Rock n Roll meets Vegas meets Comic books meets Halloween.

A turbulent force of four chord power anthems fueled by locker room lyrics and crunching guitars.
A mix of shock and glamour backed by explosions, flames and blinding flashes.
The true rock purist will scoff and dismiss them as a half talented sideshow. All costume and lights. No depth.
But their tunes were hard driving and damn catchy. And come on! They had the coolest looking outfits and make-up of any band ever to take the stage. People today still dress up like them.
Plus, I don’t think Roger Waters or Jim Morrison could ever pen “you’re good looking and you’re looking like you would be good”
Kiss were a the perfect cast of characters blended together to create a rock and roll commercial monolith.
The Starchild: the flamboyant Paul on shrieking vocals and guitar supplied the panache.
The Demon: fire breathing, blood spitting gene on growling baritone vocals and bass provided the dark sided backbone.
The Spaceman: Ace the galactic space noodler on lead guitar delivered a sense of awe and wonderment.
The Catman: the feisty Peter holding it all together behind the drum kit.
 
They had America in a magical stronghold.
It only seemed right to deconstruct Kiss.
An exclusive album for each member.
Their contributing talents and individual traits could now be illuminated in personal glory and celebrated by waiting world of fans.
Gene Simmons will shine alone!
Peter Chris solo! Finally given the deserved spotlight.
 
Well, to be expected, there was some success, a few surprises, and some major let downs.
I’m sure the majority of you have never acquainted your ears with these lost relics of Americana nostalgia. And some of you have forgotten with much intention. If you do attempt to familiarize yourselves with the Kiss solo albums, I warn you to tread cautiously along these dusty tracks.
I’ll reiterate.
Some take you to the glorious rocky peaks of pure Kissdom, while others will take you to loneliest depths of the darkest bargain bins.
 
 
 This month at Divino we will deconstruct. But worry not. We will deconstruct a majestic region. A Region celebrated and revered by the world for over 2000 years. A Region whose many components shine in the solo spotlight.
 
Rhone Deconstructed.
 
The Rhone is home of such famous acts as Cotes du Rhone, Gigondas, Vacqueyras, and Châteauneuf-du-Pape. These Are famous and much respected blends which at times boast of having as many as 13 members in the mix.
Divino releases these solo efforts from the Rhone this October........... 
 
                                        
Waldorf Astoria
  • Ahhh Grenache! The spice of the party. The crowd pleaser. The food companion
  • Hail to Syrah. So bold on its own. Sometimes even monstrous. But always dark, deep and full of surprises.
    • And Mourvedre. the colorful and complex rogue. In the shadow of the famed ones. But given the chance, it transcends with exotic expression and lush intensity.
And there’s acts from many others like Viognier, Roussanne, Carignan and our wine of the month Counoise.
In fact, there are about 23 to 26 different Rhone grapes depending on where you like to draw the much disputed boundaries.
 
 
Many of these Rhone solo acts have gone on to become superstars. They have long claimed celebrity status on wine lists and store shelves. They are now household names across the globe. Even surpassing the fame of their origins.
Some are rising stars, garnering attention from the media and select countries who have taken them under their wing.
Others have become cult icons. They are on the obscure side and become pet projects for adventurous winemakers and have spawned devoted followers with their unique flavors. They all still remain important contributors to the famous blends but on their own have reached celebrity status. Most of the grapes of Rhone are considered success stories because they can show beauty, balance and distinctive character on their own.
And what of the others?
Well....they’re better off staying behind the drum kit.
 
-DM
 
 
 
 
 
Note:
Some of these Rhone AOCs like Châteauneuf-du-Pape can be 100% monovarietal but its not that common.
 
Note:
We are not focusing on the Northern Rhone in our deconstruction process. This area represents appellations such as Condrieu, hermitage and Cote Rotie. These are magnificent wines and we carry and cherish them. But when we feature regions or grapes, we like to work with bottles that the any person could grab off the shelf for a reasonable price. Hermitage, among others is about as accessible to the wallet as the band Rush is accessible to the ear.
 
Note:
Its important that when these blending grapes stand on their own, they reflect their distinct natural traits and not to try to pose with more universal flavor profiles.
Just as i don’t want my Syrah to the have the delicate flavors and finesse of Pinot Noir, I don’t want to hear Gene Simmons singing “When you wish upon a star”.(dare you listen?)
 
Note: more great Kiss lyrics......
"I really love you baby
I love what you’ve got
Lets get together, we can
Get hot
No more tomorrow, baby
Time is today
Girl, I can make you feel
Okay
No place for hidin baby
No place to run
You pull the trigger of my
Love gun"



November 2011

Riesling is sweet. 

 It comes from Germany and it’s sweet like Country Time Lemonade.
Rosés are sweet too.  Mostly because they are pink.
But forget about them cause you only drink them in the summer anyway.
 
Merlot is no good.
 
 Sherry is for cooking.
 
 And Grappa is jet fuel.
 
I can’t remember if it was something I saw on tv or the theater about Merlot sucking. Maybe someone told me.
 
They sell sherry at Albertsons for chrissakes. Well, if you're not going to cook with it, give it to your Grand Ma to sip with her tea cakes.
 
Grappa? I was at this restaurant in Italy and the guy brings out this bottle at the end our meal. Whooowee!  Never touching that stuff again. Besides, it’s made with the leftover trash of wine making.
 
Oh, and one more thing. Beaujolais is that fresh grape juice wine with the flowers on the label, that you see everywhere in November.
 
There is some partial truth to all the above statements. But that’s exactly it.  Partial truth.  Very partial.
 
Sure, there are many semi-sweet and very sweet Rieslings. Some of these are grand wines and among the most respected in Germany. 
But there are just as many wonderfully dry versions with searing acidity, brisk minerality, and angular stone fruit.
 From Germany, from Alsace, from Australia, from Santa Barbara, from Washington, they are dry, dryer and driest. 
We have a New Zealand Riesling here so dry it will strip every last ounce of spit off your tongue,
 suck the life force out of your mouth, and turn your face inside out like a Hoover wet vac from hell.
 
Don’t get me started on Rosé cause I won’t stop.
To put it briefly, here at Divino we have about 60 Roses on the shelf. And 2 of them are off dry. And it is November mind you.  
And I plan to drink the living Pink out of them no matter how much snow i'm shoveling.
Give me a Washington Merlot over a California Cab any day.
 I’ll drink a right bank Bordeaux up, down, and Sideways , long before I touch a steroid-jacked, secret Syrah infused, over-extracted Santa Barbara Pinot Noir.
 
Is there any more type of drink more diverse and intriguing than Sherry?
From the enticing slate and saltiness of a Manzanilla, to the layered nuts and toffee of an Oloroso, to the pure rich decadence of a dessert PX.
Is there anything that won’t pair with it? Hell no.
And I’ll cook with it all right.
Here’s my recipe:
1 bottle of good Sherry
1 glass
Food(optional)
Pour in glass and drink.
Eat food for further pleasure.
 
On to Grappa my friends.
 Many of you know we have one of the largest Grappa selections on this side of the country.
Over 100 Grappas. Mainly from Italy but also Bulgaria, Colorado, Florida, and Switzerland  to name a few.
We don’t have these just because the bottles are pretty.
 Grappas can have the beauty and complexity that can far exceed any distillate.
 The aromas can range from delicate nuances to heady tropical perfume. Some aged Grappas can bring shame to many of the fine Cognacs.
There is, of course, crappy Grappa out there.
 And I am sorry if you had to experience it.
 But there is also crappy vodka, crappy whiskey and crappy wine out there.
 And it’s too bad your first taste came from some cafe owner on a Tuscan backstreet who broke out his home made hooch.
Here’s a gentle comparison.
Your Italian cousin Giovanni comes for his first tour through The States.
A quick detour to Kentucky.
 Y‘all stop by Bubba’s back-wood shit shack for a bit of burgoo and hush puppies.
After a generous helping of “Cucina Americana”, out comes the jug-o-shine.
Take a pull and pass it around.
 After Giovanni is done wheezing and replacing his eyeballs back into their sockets, he politely declines a second round.  
Your cousin gets home and lets everyone know:  that was the first and last time he ever tries this American rocket fuel called “Bourbon”.
 
This brings us to Beaujolais.
There is a fresh and fruity wine that comes out the third Thursday in November.
 It is from the region of Beaujolais and it is the first wine of the vintage. But it is called “Beaujolais Nouveau”.
This is not to be confused with “Beaujolais”,” Beaujolais-Villages” or “Cru Beaujolais”.
Nouveau is a simple, youthful beverage and is meant more as a symbolic celebration of the harvest.
Beaujolais is an important wine producing region in France with many serious wines.
 
Here’s another analogy since I am just chock full of them today.
There is Jazz.
There are many subcategories or styles within this very important genre of music. Big Band, Dixie Land, Bebop, Hardbop … and so on.
 How unfortunate it would be to have never heard the greats. No Count or Duke. No Louis or Miles.
But…. Once a year in November, everywhere you go, the insipid snortings of Mr. Kenneth Gorlick are wafting through the air.
And this is the only “Jazz” you know and hear. A shame, no?
 
So that is why we present to you this month a Beaujolais.
The side you may not be familiar with, but need to be.
 2009 Beaujolais-Villages by Chateau de Lavernette. 
 Our wine of the month. A delight and beyond the partial truth.
-dm


November 2010

The bartender placed the fifth and final to-go box on top of the counter and told me to wait a minute; she had forgotten the chocolate sauce.

Already feeling a bit excessive, i told her not to worry about it.

“But you can’t have the deep fried Oreo cookies without the chocolate sauce” she explained.

Well..so be it.

She returned and stuffed the sauce into the teetering stack of containers.

Peering over the top she quipped “Hungry crowd, huh?”

I should have just said yes but i was in an honest mood and confessed that it was all for me.

“Oh... i see” with a raised eyebrow.

Her aloof response was perfectly justifiable.

For she was unaware of the crucial undertaking that lay ahead in the privacy of my dining room.

The undertaking being the final face off for the Divino Wine of the month.

2 wines put to the test for November’s Supreme Food Wine.
As much as i wanted to explain this to her, i did realized the severe magnitude of this trial was better left covert until a resolution had surfaced.
So i left quietly with my bags.

 

Like every month, the search for wine involves tasting buckets of wine.

Then the retasting, analyzing, pondering, comparing and contrasting.
Usually, there is a clear and dominant candidate, the deal is made, and up goes the “chosen one” onto the pedestals in the front of the store. Then you all hear from me via email a little about the history, region, flavors and so on.
But this month was different.
I had hit a wall of indecision. It had come down to two excellent wines and i just could not make up my mind.
They both had everything needed for a feasting wine.
-Bright and light in body but rich in aromatics and character.
-High toned red fruits.
-Low tannis and zippy acidity.
Both could easily be the one to withstand or accentuate the barrage of dishes that manifest in November.
And although it will be presented as the ultimate “wine to feast with”,
not everyone who grabs this bottle off the shelf has a food pairing vision in mind. Some folks like to just pop the cork and kick back.
So it also needed to be pleasurable on its own.
 
So with all these things in mind, here i was late at night in the Divino back office with a Gamay in one hand and a Pinot Noir in the other.
Endless tasting back and forth. Both seemed equal. I was tired, and i was tired of my faltering.
 So i threw the 2 bottles in my bag and headed home.
Somewhere on Broadway it came to me. Why not put them in action and see which one prevails? A simple solution.
So i took a quick pit stop at my neighborhood bar, Sputnik, and unleashed the ordering.
Arépas with avocado and Guava jam
Hearts of Palm salad with Dijon vinaigrette
Tacos Carnitas
Sweet Potato fries with wasabi mayo and harissa sauce.
And of course, deep-fried Oreo cookies.
 I rushed home and spread the culinary schizophrenia out before me. (And i should mention i did grab 2 slices of turkey from the fridge for the sake of tradition). The 2 glasses were poured and so began the unruly yet thorough assault on the palate.
 
Bite, sip, bite, sip, break. Bite, sip, bite sip.
On and on it went until the glasses were empty and my belly was protesting.
As the dust settled there was indeed an indisputable champion.
There was actually no contest. This wine danced and played with every dish from cilantro to chocolate.
Alas! The supreme wine for Holiday feasting decadence.
So this November we present to you, after excessive inquisition, the Divino Wine of the Month.....



.



November
Its the 9th annual "Wines to Feast With"
You will be feasting these next two months and we at Divino have what you need to complete all your meals.
Food happy wines.
Versatile wines.
Low tannins, bright acidity and soft fruit.
No need to fret about pairing up your dishes.
Use those ingredients you've always wanted.
Flex your turkey muscles.
this is the year, and every year, we have you covered.
So do not hesitate to make that Dr. Pepper Roast Turkey you've been talking up all year
we have just the Southern Rhone that will work splendidly.

HAH! Sous-Vide Turducken.
Magicians and chemists need only apply? Hogwash i say.
Yes, it is challenging, and you do need an immersion circulator and 100g of Activa RM transglutaminase
but let us provide you with a hearty 12 yr Armagnac to bolster your courage and perk your panache.
And perhaps a 2008 Verdelho from Central Valley California is the jewel on the crown.

And who doesn't like hot wings?
And lots of them.
Some of you count. i know this.
Instead of feeling those pangs of gluttony about the sheer number of stripped wing bones piled high like a mass grave,
why not just super size?
no counting when you have just one Deep Fried Whole Buffalo Turkey.
Let us suggest a sparkling Rosé of Pinot Noir from the Rheingau to elevate the culinary consecration of Tom, Frank and you.


And finally,
I know some of you have held back in past years from the infamous Turdunkin.
thats turdunkin' folks, not turducken.
(turkey brined in Dunkin' Donuts coolattas, stuffed with Munchkins and served with coffee gravy)
Yes, I know. You restrain yourself. A severe case of pairing intimidation.
Totally justified.
How can you supersede the established Americana standard of coffee and doughnuts?
Furthermore, throw in the festive fowl factor. Do you even want to try?
Divino to the rescue.
We eagerly equip you with a Red Mountain Lemberger with its juicy blackberries, cloves and mocha.
It will more than suffice.
Indeed.
We have you covered.
whether you are clanking about the kitchen, guesting at friends and family or getting take out.
Come in and do one or all of the following.....




September 2012

Grenache the Giver

Grenache gives without expectation.

Grenache gives without ostentation.

Grenache gives without hesitation.
Are these traits a reflection of simplicity or banality?

Hell no

It means you are not expected to shell out heavy coin to drink from the well of virtue.

I know of no other grape that can consistently offer quality, balance and straight-up enjoyment for the dollar like Grenache can.

I don’t care if we are talking a 7 dollar Garnacha from Campo de Borja, a 10 dollar Cotes du Rhone, or a 12 dollar Aussie juicer.

You will rarely be disappointed.

It means Grenache pleases without trying too hard

There is no pomp and circumstance behind Grenache like there can be with fellow grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir.

Those boys are sometimes all wrapped up in long winded frill like "growth classification" ,"clonal distinction" and "single vineyard" hype.

There is a time and a place for that but sometimes you just want to grab a wine and burger and enjoy.

It means Grenache gives instant gratification.

It means you don’t have to decant a bottle for 4 hours before attempting a sip,

or wait 4 years for your bottle to mature.

It means that its not a gamble when selecting a unknown label off the store shelf or wine list.

Forget the fussing about good or bad vintages or fear of immature tannins.

Your glass is always filled with joyous flavor and pure pleasure.

It is the grape for everyday consumption.
It is the grape for the people.
Grenache is the grape that keeps on giving.
-DM


September 2009


 

Its around 3 o’clock and getting a little stuffy in the office nook behind the cooler.

Its crowded.

There’s an arsenal of 20 some odd open bottles crammed onto the top of the desk.

The centerpiece is gallon size bucket filled to the brim with murky red slosh of discarded wine.

4 of us hover around the desk with glasses and note pads.

 

Its a typical afternoon in the Divino back office except for one thing.

Its oddly quiet.

Not a word from their side.

No proclamations about awards and points

No ponderings about the slopes of the hills, the content of the soil, the age of the vines.

No bios on the how he or she used to do that their whole life and now they do this.

They used to be the winemaker there, there and there.... and now here.

 

And on our side, not a word either

And it is odd.

No bursts of pleasure of grunts of disgust.

No sudden exclamations of bizarre adjectives and descriptions that seem to make sense at the time.

No third degree questions. How long this? How much of that? Where again?

Between the sniffing slurping and spitting,

Just silence.

 

Occasionally an eyebrow raises or the corner of a mouth turns up.

And then, after wine number 22 has been evacuated carefully on top of the bucket slosh, the bottles are packed up and they roll the wine bags out the door.

There’s an uneasy feeling of lack of closure. No dealing and haggling, no ordering and no future promises

Just a nod, a thanks, and ‘see you later’.

 

Its Naked and Blind time at Divino.

Naked are the wines and Blind are the tasters.

At the end of August we blind taste around 175 mystery wines between $6 and $12 and rate them. Then, for the month of  September, we fill our 10 under $10 rack with the ones with the highest score.  Our sales reps patiently play along and bring us bottles wrapped in foil or stuffed in brown bags. And we score these mystery contestants from 1 to 10.

 

Two things we are looking for.

Quality is one. This being the balance, structure and complexity of the wine.

But just as important is the pleasure factor. Is it a pleasurable experience to drink this wine? Does it call you back for another sip? Another bottle?

 

There are two main schools of blind tasting. The first is to try and guess the grape, region and vintage. This helps train your palate into identifying the characteristics of varietals and regions.

And then there is blind tasting to judge/rate a wine with out being subjected to any information. And this is the school we are featuring this month at Divino.

 

Even before you raise your glass to your lips, a percentage of your final opinion has been already been formed by the information known or perceived. It pushes your assessment in a certain direction. Much as we like not to admit, knowing the cost, producer, region and even seeing the label, sways us one way or another. It can’t be helped.

I present to you, a Texas Riesling by Mega Corp Wines equipped with a laughing armadillo on the label. I bet you have a few ideas rolling through your mind ready to hack away at any opinions you might have after tasting the wine.

 

So the point of all this is to evaluate wine in a bias free setting.

And open ourselves to new wine experiences.

 

Preconceptions limit us.

There is a vast wine world out there ready for exploration and indulging.

Yet there are too many misconceptions and there is too much warped information.

And a lot of the time we are led by other’s opinions without even giving a wine justified chance, whether its friends, critics or particular movies. And some times we come to a conclusion about a grape or region that keeps us away for an extended period.

But there are just too many variables and constant changes in the wine world to stick to a blanket opinion on a type of wine.

Tasting blind gives us a chance to reevaluate wine we think we don’t like, and explore wines we would never attempt to try.

 

And I too am not free from these unfounded prejudices. Here's an example of one. If I know that the bottle in front of me is a mass produced wine or “grocery store wine”, i find myself already being swayed in the negative direction before it is even in my glass. I feel that bias creeping along in the back of my mind even if the wine is a pleasant surprise. (You’ll notice a grocery store wine this month on the Naked and Blind rack that got the best of me during our tastings.)

 

This month we invite you to drink free of discrimination.

We present these wines naked. Free of labels region, cost or varietal. Stripped of anything that could spark a presumption.

And you are the judge. The blind and unbiased judge. Forming your opinion solely on what you are smelling and tasting.

Hopefully in the end, some new doors are opened.

New kinds of bottles are popped.

New regions and flavors are discovered.

And new sensations are experienced.

Isn’t that what its all about?

-DM 


September 2008
The Naked and the Blind
 
 
We all prejudge.
 Its almost instinct, it can't be helped. Making assumptions help us prepare for our and reactions. Over a period of time, patterns of cause and effect  have been imprinted in our mind that seem to subtly control the way we formulate an opinion. This can be a good thing in simple matters of deduction but when it comes to introducing our senses to new experiences, these prejudgments can limit our  honest conclusions. We are presented with a pink beverage and through a series of past associations(cotton candy, bubblegum, pink lemonade,white zin) we assume that it is sweet. We see an album cover with a swarm of  fiery eyed winged demons with mangled torsos clenched in their icy talons, taking flight from the blazing pits of hell and the title is "Exodus of Evil" we assume its probably on the harder side of the musical tracks. The same goes for people. We look at their hair cut, they way they are dressed, and if we know where they're from, we already have ideas a bout their personality before they have even opened their mouth. Even if we say that our mind is open, there is that visual stimulus  that has created an opinion that is lurking in the back of our mind, just waiting to say "See? Told ya so."

In the wine world, labels, bottle shapes, closures,winery names, all play an important part of marketing the finished product. We all would like to think that these are just frills or add ons and the juice behind the glass is the only thing that matters, but this "packaging" delivers  more influence then we think. With 6,000 wineries in the US alone, competition is fierce and it is important for a bottle to stand out on the shelf.
At Divino, we taste any where from 40 to 300 hundred wines(and liquors) any given week. We use these tastings to carefully hand pick our inventory. A lot goes in to the process and only a small percentage ever makes it on the shelves. We like to say we remain  impartial as the wines are presented before we begin, but after doing this for 15 years, those prejudgment demons are lurking. Happy critter wines(animal labels) tend to be sugared and void of tannins. The mass production and conglomerate owned wineries tend to put out "correct" yet somewhat uninteresting juice. The super boutique, 200 case, self proclaimed wine making rock stars tend to release over extracted, super concentrated monsters. And the list goes on.

So this month we decided to try something different. We tasted 120 wines Blind, scored them , and featured the winners on our rack up front.
In the last week of August, the wines came to us Naked.No names or labels. We didn't know if it had  a cork or a screw cap. If it was stacked 2 stories tall at the entrance of some liquor mega mart. If it came from Napa , La Mancha or Palisades. The only thing we knew was that they retail from $8 to $12. We rated them on a 20 point scale. 1 being undrinkable and 20 being the best thing we tasted all year. At the end of the week the name and place of  origin was revealed and up they went on our September rack. Plenty of surprises, some disbelief and few "I knew it".
At the end of this month we invite you to experience the  same  tasting enlightenment at Capelli Floral. You will be the blind jury as we hold court for our very first "The Naked and the Blind" . At this event all wines will be cloaked and numbered. Taste in any order at your leisure, write comments and  ratings or try to guess the grape or country. Most important make note on whether you like it. Then make you way down the block to Divino to have the wines revealed to you. Prepare to be surprised.
-Dm






After 17 years of the restaurant industry, retail is definitely a strange and somewhat quieter word. Pouring booze for others was a means to support my passion for music. Over the years the booze developed into a passion itself. Gradual realization that the culture, history and process behind wine and liquor was as diverse and all encompassing as music, bewitched and inspired me to create my own oasis of liquid treasures to share with the rest of the city. I say share because sometimes, while I’m taking the recycling bins to the sidewalk, it dawns on me that I could possibly be Divino’s best customer.

November 2008

We feast during the holidays.
What I mean by feasting is partaking in the abundance of dishes and the variety of cuisine. I  realize that some people have a very precise and structured plan for their Thanksgiving meal with single consecutive courses, in which case, more specific and detailed wine pairing can be assigned if chosen. But more than likely there is a fabulous spread of tasty provisions or at least several dishes on the table at once.
 Friends and family popping in with edible contributions, appetizers tossing around, concoctions never before attempted, dishes seen only once a year, sweet, spicy, mushy, crunchy, disappointing and delightful. It can be a regular Smorgasbord, one dish away from food chaos. Which can be a good thing. This calls for universal food wines. No worrying what works with what, just crack'em all open and pour. Let the wine be a vehicle for the food experience.
Universal food wines are light on the tannins, bright, fresh, have ample doses of fruit and vibrant acidity.
Whether you have specific pairing needs or in need of a hefty supply of food friendly wines, we'll help you with your culinary cause.
-dm


November 2007

Let the cooking and drinking begin!!
Well, if you're like us, that happens all year long. What I mean to say is that it's time to get food & wine serious.
With the arrival of cooler weather and the holidays; recipes become more elaborate, more vino gets cracked and the cocktails get excitingly more creative. At the shop here, we're piling up the food friendly wines on the racks up front and cracking them in the store for you to try. Lots of tasting going on here as we check out pairing possibilities and test out dishes at home. We've finally decided on the ultimate food wine to feature as our Wine of the Month for November. A beautiful 2001 Montepulciano from southern Italy that has always been a Divino darling.
 
Really almost any wine is a possible"food wine".
Sure, Sauvignon Blanc goes perfect with fresh oysters
Grilled salmon with a Pinot Noir, is a sure thing
Napa Cabernet always cries out for a rib eye
Wild mushroom risotto and Brunello is heaven
And sticky pork ribs wouldn't be complete without a massive Zin
 
These are all classic combos, but our goal this month is to find wines that are versatile and friendly with all types of dishes. Get togethers and festivities usually means an array of courses and numerous unique flavors.
We want harmony on the table, a perfect balance between eating and drinking. With all the work put into planning, prepping, peeling, pureeing, potting, plating and presenting, your efforts deserve a beverage partner to complete the experience and enhance the flavors of your meal.
Low tannins, lively acidity, and soft fruit are the features we look for in a food wine. So check out the wine of the month and the food wine section up front or let us know what you're cooking up and we'll send you home with the perfect match.

March 2012

They are the odd, the unknown and obscure.
They will dismay you and intrigue you.
They will open unto you new realms in the ever growing and always changing world of wine.

New names
. New places. New sensations.
And isn't that what its all about?
Exploration? Knowledge? Adventure?
Life would be so drab and predictable without quest of new experiences.
Its always easy to play it safe and fall into routine. Order the same meal, listen to the same music, watch the same show, drink the same wine.
You always know what your going to get.
But damn, that's boring.
Take a chance and explore.
Surprise yourself.
Cabernet, Pinot and Chard are very noble grapes and make some of the greatest and most respected wines, but there is a whole world of new and unique flavors out there waiting to stimulate your senses. Uncharted territories of exotic grapes. Some are ancient varietals that have been rediscovered. Some are brand new grapes that have been genetically crossed. Others are wines from unusual regions that have always grown obscure varietals. And still others are grapes that have always contributed to blends but have never been seen on their own. Of course some won't be to your fondness but the discovery of a new fascination
is worth it.
So this month we at Divino urge you to meet the Unusual Suspects. The wine of the month, the 10 under $10 rack and our Wine Tasting Hoopla on April 11th.
So terrifyingly seductive.

January

Its January and we are all recovering from the indulgences of the holidays.
We know many of you are in the middle of some sort of cleanse,
fad diet,
or period of alcohol abstinence.
Completely understandable.
The pursuit of absolution from the year-end excessive endeavors of dining debauchery
and drinking decadence is world wide epidemic.
We don't condemn customer's convictions to take part in these purification practices.
In fact we recommend you to render these retroactive reconciliations in the respect that a redemption will be readily recognized.
In light of the inevitable,
this January we are endorsing our own program.
The "Divino Dynamic Drinking Diet".
Or "4D" as it is known around town.
It is not necessary to terminate or alter your current January program.
Consider it an enhancement or a booster, if you will.
I will even go so far as to say this is the missing element to many of these diets.
It simply involves rationally incorporating alcohol into the regiment.

Yes, i realize the hesitation.
Perhaps, even a gentle scoff.
Isn't this one of the substances that falls into the chronicle pit of condemnation?
Isn't this one of the Holiday culprits?
Chocolate.... Gravy.....Caffé Breve... Whiskey......are these not the evils responsible for initiating the diet in the first place?
I renounce thee spiteful spirits! Back, oh vile vinifications! Flee! Flee! Foul fermentations and demonic distillations!

Come now. Drop the pitch fork.
We urge you to look at it this way.
Instead of blaming the substance, blame the excess.
It isn't always what you put into your body, it is how much you put into your body.
Water is also a necessity for life but if you drink too much you'll drown.
Pardon the crude analogy but my point must be emphasized.
Do not abandon the things that you enjoy in life because you took it past the limit last year.
Self imposed deprivation can breed something i call IBS.
Irritable Binge Syndrome.
Irritation from lack of sustenance and then sudden binging to recover.
We don't want any of that so lets incorporate the missing elements into your plan
and get Dynamic with Divino.

"4D" will liven up your January.
It will put some zing into your dreary diet and some cheer into your callous cleanse.
Well, if its the Master Cleanse for you,
might i suggest a dram Leopold Brothers Silver Tree Vodka dropped into your evening lemonade.
Wonderful with the cayenne and maple.
Perhaps you're giving the Raw Food diet a spin.
If so then I insist on the 2010 Chateau Ducasse Bordeaux Blanc with your Sprouted Sunflower Patties.
You can keep it raw with wine.
The Juice Diet is it?
Bring a taste of the tropics to the mix.
Just keep a bottle of El Dorado 12 year Demerara Rum next to the produce.
You can almost hear the steel drums over the whirl of the blender.

is this just a shameless promotion for January sales?
another tongue in cheek rant from yours truly?
possibly, but my point is... have a piece of dark chocolate, take bite of a sizzling rib eye, pour a glass of red wine.
You can and should continue to enjoy them every January in moderation.
Don't deny yourself culinary pleasures and taste sensations.
Wine is abundant and life is too short.
-dm


January 2009

Its the start of 09 and once again we bring you the Vigilantes of Value wine selection.

The wine of the month is 9 bucks and the 10 under $10 rack is stocked full with wine under 8 bucks.

During the rest of the year we usually showcase a region, grape or style, but January seems to be the perfect time to focus on the value of wine. The restrained and some what frugal vibe of this month lends to the scrutiny of quality to buck ratio. There are many elements that factor in on the final cost of a wine besides the actual expense of the wine making process. There’s real estate, harvesting labor, supply/demand and of course, ratings and reviews. Depending of the balance of one or more of these factors, there is a potential for a wine to over deliver for the price.

By focusing on these value wine wines in January, our goal is to emphasize the point that wine is not a privilege. Wine is for everyone at any time. 5 dollars or 50 dollars, there is quality good wine at every level that should be integrated into our every day lives. It should be drunk with meals and shared with friends. It should be something you can order at a bar or a coffee house. And if is to be treated as such, than the price that we pay should reflect it’s everyday use. It is important to have quality wines available that are under $8 dollars to take home every night. Sure, there are collectors, and people who play the ratings game or pursue trophy wine bragging rights. And, we deal in those wines but there is a time and a place for higher priced bottles. There is nothing like the experience of diving into the heavenly perfume of a ripe Barolo, being lifted by the sheer elegance of a Cotes du Nuits or getting floored by the magnitude of Old vine Zin. But we are talking about everyday wine not “occasion wine” Every day wine sounds a little mundane but this doesn’t mean that value wine can’t be exciting and enticing. It just needs to be an everyday price.

Some of you are hesitant on paying so little for a bottle and your caution is understandable. There is a lot of crap out there. Bottles with cutesy names and critter labels that are all marketing and no substance. Bulk Wine that has been manipulated or adjusted with additives. But this is where we come into the picture.

 It is our job to sort through the vast ocean of innocuous to piss poor inexpensive wines to find the gems. We look for wine that has a nice balance of fruit, tannin and acidity, housed in a solid structure. And most important is character; a defining trait about the wine that sets it apart from the well made, but bland. Defining character is what that makes us want to keep reaching for the glass to please our palates over and over. Character gives us a good wine experience and leaves an imprint on our mind.

So if you haven’t been stocking up on your everyday wines before, now is the time to come in and fix that void.



January 2008

So its January and you're broke.

Or maybe its January and you're being thrifty or conservative.
Maybe you're working on some sort of self imposed restraint.
 Whatever it is you're doing to reconcile the overspending/indulging that rightfully occurred at the end of the year....
Fear not. Worry not.
This January and every January Divino presents the "Vigilantes of Value".
 Wines 8 bucks and under that don't suck.
 I haven't been to Europe in a couple of years, but it used to be that you could walk in to the market and grab a bottle for 5 or 6 bucks and be completely satisfied if not pleasantly surprised. In the U.S. its a different story. Sure there is wine for that price. Its usually stacked high on the grimy floor of a discount store and has some goofy ass critter on the label. The problem with a lot of these mass produced wines is the additives. Like "oak flavoring", or sugar that can remind one of sipping on Welch's and chewing on a popsicle stick. Or there's the banality of flavor from the cheap imported wines that makes you wonder why you didn't just make a cocktail. The last and worst problem with bulk bottlings is that most are just plain foul. Unbalanced, sour, oxidized, astringent.
 So, we at Divino do the dirty work for you and taste through oceans of cheap crappy wine in order to find
the few,
the proud,
the Vigilantes.
Check out the wine of the month from Sicily and our rack up front to keep the household wine flowing in this barren and impoverished time of the year we call January.



The Art of Zin


Baseball, Apple pie and Zinfandel.
Thats right. Zin is America's Grape.
Italy has its Sangiovese and Nebbiolo among it's other two million forty nine varietals, Spain has claim to Tempranillo or whatever cute nickname you'd like to call it. And well, the French of course hold all the Aces with Cab, Pinot, Syrah, Chard, Sauvignon Blanc and list goes on but thats enough acknowledgment for them. They don't need any more.

We have Zin.
Its been in this country for almost 200 years and has a compelling history associated with the Gold Rush miners in the 1850s, Italian Immigrants in the early 1900s and home wine makers during prohibition. There are now over 50,000 acres dedicated to Zinfandel production.

American Zinfandel.
I believe its the perfect fit for the American mentality.
Its Bold, sometimes brash. Excessive if not sometimes extreme. A little alcoholic-well, maybe i shouldn't go there. It can be powerful but sometimes clumsy. But in the end it wins you over with its roguish character and a melting pot of exotic flavors.

So February is Zin month here at Divino. Not because I'm feeling particularly patriotic this month, but Zin just feels right this time of year. Come July, I'll probably say the same thing once the grills start lighting up. But now is a good time to come on in and explore the abundance of Zins and Zin blends we're featuring.
Here's a great website with all the Zin info you'll ever need.
-dm