SIP TRIP: Beyond Santorini’s Blue and Whites

Striking and charming whitewashed buildings topped with azure-blue domes are perched on sheer caldera cliffs that soar out of the Aegean Sea. This is the Santorini that many people are enchanted by. But, to go beyond the postcard is to discover the true beauty and colors of this volcanic island. As the only inhabited volcano cauldron in the world, Santorini is already special. Sitting  half way between Athens and Crete, its crescent shaped island offers an astonishing array of contrasts.…

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Guess who shows up when I drink wine?

He’s 40ish, Peruvian (maybe), dressed in slouchy indigo jeans and a chambray shirt, standing in broken-in Birkenstocks. And, he is stressed from a recent marital breakup. While this sounds like a person, in actuality, it’s typical of how I describe a wine sometimes. I see people when I taste wine. Looking back, I think my earliest recollection of describing a person when tasting wine is when I wrote a short piece on Amarone and described her as a beautiful woman…

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Wolfgang Puck’s artisanal bread rises to the occasion

“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.” James Beard said this, and yet bread still gets a bad rap. While the rest of the world celebrates bread daily, anti-carb diets (and voices in our heads) keep us from the ultimate comfort food, one that has been a nutritious staple for thousands of years. Enter the artisanal breads at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurants in Las Vegas, where each loaf…

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They polished the glassware

Written by Marisa Finetti and Kirk Peterson. Originally published in DAVID magazine. Awarded best non-staff writer(s), Nevada Press Association   The lights are extinguished. The room now dark. The only glimmer of light comes through the floor-to-ceiling window panes facing Las Vegas Boulevard, twenty-three floors below. The lowest lumens are enough to keep us from knocking over the wine glasses, enough to find our fork. But that’s about it. There’s no color, only shades of grey. Dinner tonight appears like a…

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The gift of ancient grapes

During his travels through mountain villages of Greece, Dr. Vassalis Logothetis, a professor of oenology, came upon a dilapidated pergola on the southern coastal town of Nafpaktos.  Growing wildly on this ancient arbor was a grape vine called Malagousia.  Until his “discovery” in the 1970s nobody had heard of this indigenous, aromatic white varietal. The vigorous vine had survived from the days when viticulture was abandoned in the area during the 1940s Greek Civil War. Logothetis brought the vine cuttings…

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Pilgrim Era Thanksgiving Ingredients and Lambrusco

Originally published in VEGAS SEVEN By Marisa Finetti & Kirk Peterson (Updated in 2019) The huge, ungainly bird that has become the de facto centerpiece around which the entire Thanksgiving feast is built gives us a feeling of authenticity, as we imagine that America’s settlers might have chomped on a crispy turkey leg in November 1621. But the “first Thanksgiving” meal was far different from our modern holiday offerings. While the starring meats included deer, ducks and geese, cranberry sauce…

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Finding the roots of Zinfandel

Originally published in LUXURY MAGAZINE  Winemaker Paul Draper’s visition and commitment contributes to discovery of ancient vine. Steadfast in his vision, philosophy-major-turned-erudite-dean of American winemakers, Paul Draper naturally was interested in history, as well as in the origin of zinfandel. Since 1969, when he joined Ridge Vineyards, the chief winemaker and CEO, who is known for his celebrated cabernets of the Monte Bello Estate vineyards, also pioneered the production of long-lived, complex and exuberant zinfandels, in particular those from the…

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Sunken Treasures

Every now and then, a story will rise to the surface about how a team of divers discovered a shipwreck containing jewels off the coast of some remote archipelago.  A most recent discovery was 168 bottles of bubbly from several Champagne houses, including Veuve Clicquot, recovered from the remains of a trade schooner that sank over 170 years ago in the Baltic Sea. A chemical and sensory analysis of the deep sea libation revealed insight into 19th-century winemaking and the…

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Little bit country

Originally published in Desert Companion – April 2015 If there’s one advantage to growing up in Yerington, Kirk Peterson will tell you. He’ll even describe what Yerington tastes like: bright and fresh and mineral, evoking the rock outcroppings after a rain on his family’s ranch. Today, Peterson is beverage director and certified sommelier at Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group Las Vegas, and one of the most respected Italian wine specialists in town. But his rural roots are never far from…

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