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News to Chew | 2008 | November

News to Chew

Taking a bite out of the world of food and food news

Archive for November, 2008

Wal-Mart Wine: Save Money. Drink Better.

November 24, 2008 By: admin Category: Food News

In these dire economic times, with retail sales plummeting and forecasts for a bleak Holiday season, it’s really no surprise that only one major retailer seems to be weathering the tough times just fine. Yeah, big surprise that Walmart is coming up selling like a rose at a time when consumers are watching every penny they spend.

Now, whether you love ‘em or hate ‘em, Walmart, with its undercutting low prices, is a godsend for people who can’t afford to do without those everyday staples and essentials that the retail giant is famous for providing to a large portion of the American population. Whether its toilet paper, diapers, or pantry staples, Walmart will make your pocketbook stretch amid skyrocketing prices everywhere else.

And while we might be holding off on that LCD TV or automobile, we don’t have to curtail all vestiges of the finer life. And leave it to Wal-Mart to step in and fill the void with the introduction of Oak Leaf wines, sold exclusively at Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart wine, you say? Well, believe it or not, this house brand vintage is getting surprisingly favorable reviews, especially for a wine that sells for about $3 a bottle. And, not unlike Trader Joe’s famous Charles Shaw wine, better known as Two-Buck Chuck, Wal-Mart’s Oak Leaf is surprising not only the bargain hunting wine lover, but also some supposedly more discriminating palates.

The wines are made exclusively for Wal-Mart by Oak Leaf Vineyards in Ripon, Calif. Oak Leaf is part of the Wine Group, the country’s second-largest wine company. Oak Leaf wines are made by Turning Leaf Vineyards winemaker Mario Pulido. They are nonvintage, which gives the winery greater leeway in using grapes. Most are on the low side for alcohol, about 12 percent.

In a recent article in the Dallas Morning News, the Oak Leaf chardonnay won a gold medal at both the 2008 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition (chardonnays under $14.99) and the 2008 Florida State International Wine Competition. The Oak Leaf merlot and cabernet sauvignon earned bronze medals in the San Francisco contest. Those accolades prompted the newspaper to conduct its own taste test.

We put Oak Leaf wines to the test with Dallas wine drinkers. We assembled a tasting panel in the upper sanctum of Adelmo’s that included friends and regular customers of the restaurateur with a range of tasting expertise, from casual drinker to a former wine-and-spirits store owner.

“None of these are American,” declared former Monticello Liquors owner Danny Chen just before their identities were unveiled. “The two reds were French.”

Said restaurant owner Adelmo Banchetti, “you get to where you taste for, ‘Can I sell it?’ ” For these wines, the answer was yes. He wrote in his tasting notes that No. 2 has mass appeal. “It would be the perfect house wine for most restaurants.”

So, what does this mean? Nothing, really, other than wine is a purely personal and subjective experience and no matter how sophisticated you may fancy yourself, taste does not always correlate with a higher price. Target showed that with fashion, maybe Wal-Mart can do that with wine?

OK, maybe not. Besides, they’re masking their wine by labeling it Oak Leaf. I would’ve preferred it to have a Sam’s Choice label. Now, that would make buying the wine the ultimate in cheap chic.

Of course, it just might prompt those retail snobs who would never set foot into a Wal-Mart, recession or no recession, to step foot into the store. “Oh, I only go there to buy Oak Leaf wine.”

Yep. Another Wal-Mart customer is created. One bottle at a time.

What’s wrong with this picture: John Daly offers up unique Hooters endorsement

November 04, 2008 By: admin Category: Food News, Now, that's really stupid

Perhaps he was emulating the logo of Hooters, one of his last remaining sponsors. Because as implausible as it seems, troubled golfer John Daly says he sleeps with his eyes open when he’s tired and drunk. And that’s what caused the misunderstanding last week when he was found outside a Winston-Salem Hooters restaurant extremely intoxicated and uncooperative, according to local police. He was taken to the county jail to sober up.

In a telephone interview with the Associated Press on Nov. 2, the two-time major champion said the incident could have been avoided if his friends had realized he tends to sleep with his eyes open when he’s tired, stressed and has been drinking. He said the driver of his private bus, parked near Hooters, panicked when he saw Daly and called the paramedics.

“The thing I want people to know is when I called my girlfriend at 11:30 p.m., I was going back to the bus to go sleep,” Daly said. “I’m not going to say I wasn’t drunk. I did have a few drinks. I said to them, ‘I’m tired, I’m drunk and I’m going to bed.’”

Daly said his friends woke him up about 2 a.m.

“The bus driver called 911 because my eyes were open,” Daly said. “I said, ‘What’s going on?’ He said, ‘We thought you were dead.’ Anybody who knows me … when I’m tired, I sleep with my eyes open. They know it takes awhile to wake me up.”

He has made only five cuts in 17 starts on the PGA Tour, his best finish a tie for 40th in the Viking Classic after rib surgery. He currently is No. 774 in the world.

Daly hired Tiger Woods’ former swing coach Butch Harmon at the start of the year, but Harmon quit after a week in Tampa, Fla., when Daly spent a rain delay in a Hooters tent, then returned to play with Tampa Bay Bucs coach Jon Gruden as his caddie. Apparently, Daly doesn’t have the same work ethic as Woods.

Daly said he does not know why he was put into orange coveralls, or why his photo was released to the public.

The picture looks like I’m drunk,” he said. “I wasn’t drunk when they took the picture. The picture people are seeing is me half-asleep.”

Because he was drunk! Isn’t denial one of the traits of addiction?

But golf’s everyman is, if anything, forthright:

The world perceives that I passed out at Hooters, that I was thrown out at Hooters,” he said. “I was asleep on the bus. I didn’t pass out at Hooters. I’ve never had an incident at Hooters. I hate that their name is brought into it this way. They’ll probably have to terminate me because of the negative publicity.”

Oh, don’t be so sure. Because America loves a lovable drunk. And maybe Hooters feels Daly, in all his train-wreck glory, is the quintessential representative of their core clientele and will keep sponsoring him.

Now, if he can figure out how to win a golf tournament while drunk, sleeping with his eyes open, he just might be on to something special. And Hooters will sell more chicken wings.

Just some news to chew on.

Do your civic duty: vote, eat and rink for free.

November 04, 2008 By: admin Category: Food News

As Election Day 2008 is shaping up to be one for the history books, we Americans should all pat ourselves on the back for engaging ourselves in this Presidential race and responding by doing our civic duty of voting – in what appears to be record numbers according to news sources.

As tribute to our self-congratulatory psyche, several national chains are rewarding us for our good bahavior by offering up free food and drink as a gesture of capitalistic patriotism. According to the Associated Press, Krispy Kreme, Starbucks, Ben & Jerry’s and Chick-fil-A are handing out freebies to nosh on as we await the election results.

Starbucks Corp. is offering a free cup of brewed coffee to anyone who asks on Tuesday, while Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. is giving away star-shaped doughnuts. Ice cream maker Ben and Jerry’s is offering a free scoop as part of a celebration of the election.

All three establishments had originally planned to give the freebies to those who voted as a reward for their civic duty, but state and federal election laws forbid promotions that imply a reward for voting.

As the AP reports:

Seattle-based Starbucks had originally planned to give away the “tall” brewed coffees to anyone who reported that they voted, saying in an ad: “If you care enough to vote, we care enough to give you a free cup of coffee.” The company broadened its offer to all customers to ensure it was in compliance with election law, spokeswoman Tara Darrow said Monday evening.

Ben and Jerry’s, meanwhile, will be giving a free scoop to each customer at its shops from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday. The company said in a statement it had planned to give free scoops only to people who voted but learned that certain laws may not allow it.

Krispy Kreme is giving star-shaped doughnuts with red, white and blue sprinkles to anyone who mentions the promotion, said spokeswoman Ayana Hernandez, but they won’t be required to show an “I voted” sitcker as originally promoted on its company site.

Chick-fil-A restaurants across the country on a local voluntary basis will be offering free chicken items as well.

It is doubtful that when you add up the caloric intake of all the freebies that it will total the 538 electoral votes at stake today. But it just may equal the total number of votes being cast today: 130 million.

And that’s about as All-American as you can get! Eat up proudly, America, no matter how you vote.

Just some news to chew on.