2012 Winter

Pittsburgh Quarterly Archives
Pittsburgh Quarterly Contributors
Alex Sebastian

Alex Sebastian

The Box is Back

This was the first good sign: When I asked a group of friends to join me for a tasting of boxed wines, everyone thought it would be fun to participate. No “Ugh, boxed wines!” No questioning of my sanity.

The virtues of varietals

Good old Gallo hearty burgundy. Are you old enough to remember when that was the go-​to wine for every dinner party? Lord knows what was in that jug, but it always tasted the same — red fruit, easy-​drinking, probably sweeter than we’re used to these days. It was a blend of numerous grapes (including, reportedly,…

Judging the Best

Say “state fair” or “county fair” and most folks picture themselves under the summer sun, snacking on corn dogs and deep-​fried Twinkies. It’s a summertime tradition across the country.

Cool It This Summer

Some guys will always go for the blockbuster red wine: the high-​alcohol zinfandel or inky shiraz. I can appreciate those big reds, too, if conditions are right (snow, cigars, a two-​inch-​thick porterhouse).

Muscat Love

Mankind has been making wine for millennia, so it’s rare to find a wine that’s truly new. But sometimes we see a grape that’s ripe for a comeback. Consider the Muscat family of grapes: Muscat Blanc and its many mutations, including Muscat Ottonel and Black Muscat.

For the holiday table

What do you do when someone arrives on your doorstep with a slab of homemade duck pastrami? At my house, we shout thanks and reach for a corkscrew. It’s a holiday tradition.

Quality Close to Home

I enjoy being a wine contrarian — advocating for delicious white wines when people are conditioned to order red, and pouring domestic for customers who wouldn’t dream of drinking anything but an import.

An Early Tasting

I had been at the wine tasing two hours when I called my wife to move back our 3 p.m. meeting. It was shaping up to be a long afternoon —300 wines were lined up in a Napa Valley hotel, each begging to be sipped, considered and critiqued. How could I walk out?…

Festive Holiday Wines

I am blessed to come from a family of wonderful Italian cooks, and growing up, our holiday traditions included my grandfather’s wine and my grandmother’s homemade pastas, which she rolled out on the dining room table and served with Christmas dinner.

Aperitif!

It’s always been a nice break for me to get out of the hot kitchen and spend some time tending bar. And 40 years ago when I started in the restaurant business, making drinks before dinner was easy. A martini, a glass of sherry or an imported aperitif — that was all a sophisticated diner…
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