Roger’s Wine Corner: “Does Place Really Matter?”

Here we will compare what many wine experts call the wine that is the truest expression of the grape; Sauvignon Blanc.  This phrase is used to describe Sauvignon Blanc because, unlike many other wines, it is usually not oaked (aged in oak casks), it rarely is aged more than 12 months, and no additional sugars are used that can impact alcohol content and sweetness.  In addition, the production process is often very similar for SB from place to place (country to country).

We will taste a California SB, a Chilean, and a New Zealand SB.  This comparison should reveal distinct taste profiles that are a reflection of the grape and its terroir – the distinctive environment from which it comes. Or, for a more exact definition –  Terroir is the special characteristics that the geography, geology and climate of a certain place bestow upon particular produce such as wine, coffee or tea.

At this tasting I will stick my neck out and, after blind tasting all three, I will match each wine with its country of origin – here I will either establish my credentials as wine director of the club or, simply put, that I drink too much!  Stay tuned.



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Delicious Pairing of Chocolate and Wine

Blanche offered a wonderful wine pairing with light and dark chocolates. Please see below for the details:

Here are some of Blanche’s favorite red wines, moving from left to right as placed on the table:

1. Crios – Rose of Malbec – Mendoza,  Argentina, 2011

2. Primal Roots Red Blend, CA 2010 – mixture of Merlot, Syrah and Zinfindel

3. Sterling – Vintner’s Cellection – Meritage – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot, Central Coast, CA, 2009

4. Gnarly Head, Vintage Old Vine Zin, Lodi Zinfandel, Napa, CA, 2010

5. Bonterra, Cabernet Sauvignon – Organic, Mendocino County, CA, 2009 (Thank you, Geri, for your contribution)

The lighter wines (1-3 listed above) paired nicely with the milk chocolates from Switzerland , Ritter Sport’s Alpine Milk Chocolates and Hershey kisses. The heavier, more full bodied reds  (4-5 listed above) paired well with the darker chocolates – Lindt Excellence Chocolate Line – 70% and 90% Cocoa.

Thank you, Blanche! It was a great success!

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Discussion Questions for Blood, Bones and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton


1. What does food mean to the author? How did your particular attitude toward food develop?

2. What challenges do writers and chefs share? Are they unique to those professions?

3. What saved the author from a life of substance abuse and crime?

4. Gabrielle Hamilton’s mother-in-law is a central figure in her book. Why did she become so important for her? Do you have someone equally important in your own life?

5. Being invited by Misty Callies to prep for a large dinner party and, later, to work at her restaurant were milestones for Gabrielle Hamilton. Why were these experiences significant for her?

6. Gabrielle Hamilton writes about her ambivalence in wedding her husband. Why do you think she married him? Have you ever felt similarly about your own relationships?

7. Getting one’s needs met is a recurring theme. How do you think Gabrielle Hamilton feels about this and how has it influenced her journey?

8. Is Blood, Bones & Butter a funny book?

9. Many have commented on the “honesty” of the book, suggesting that such candor and intimacy are uncommon. Are readers mostly responding to the way Gabrielle Hamilton writes about her own family or does that “honesty” manifest elsewhere? What is her point or objective in being so forthcoming? Do you think you would be so upfront in your own memoir?

10. Did you like/not like the ending and why?
(Questions issued by publisher.)

These questions I found on the Litlovers Site. For their complete reading guide, go to this site:


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Doylestown Food Co-op

A representative will be joining us for our book discussion of THE DIRTY LIFE from the Doylestown Food Co-op, which we thought would be an excellent addition to our book discussion and to tie it to what is going on here locally. John and I were members of the Food Club and enjoyed it immensely. The group is now focusing on creating a co-op to provide locally grown and produced food for our community.

Please see their website for more exciting information:



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Discussion Questions for The Dirty Life and MORE!

On June 21st, we will discuss The Dirty Life. See below for questions, author’s blog information and URL for the NPR interview with Kristin Kimball.

Introduction and Discussion Questions from Simon and Schuster for The Dirty Life:


Single, thirtysomething, working as a writer in New York City, Kristin Kimball was living life as an adventure. But she was beginning to feel a sense of longing for a family and for home. When she interviewed a dynamic young farmer, her world changed. Kristin knew nothing about growing vegetables, let alone raising pigs and cattle and driving horses. But on an impulse, smitten, if not yet in love, she shed her city self and moved to five hundred acres near Lake Champlain to start a new farm with him. The Dirty Life is the captivating chronicle of Kristin’s discovery of the pleasures of physical work, that good food is at the center of a good life, and ultimately of love.


1. Kristin was a freelance writer in New York City, which gave her the opportunity to travel around the world. When she first met Mark on his farm, she felt like a for­eigner. In what ways do you think this feeling comforted her? Were you surprised when the situation flipped and Kristin felt foreign to the life she used to lead in the city?

2. In what ways did Kimball’s yearning for a home sway her decision to leave the city and start a new life with Mark? If you were put in a similar situation, do you think you would have made the same decision? Why or why not? What is your own personal definition of “home”?

3. Mark and Kristin start a farm that aims to provide a whole diet for their year-round members. If a farm in your area did the same thing, would you become a member? How would it change the way you cook and eat?

4. The first year on Essex Farm was full of trial and error. Kristin had never farmed before and much of her knowl­edge came from her neighbors and from books. In what ways did all of the mishaps shape Kristin and change her perspective?

5. One of the biggest adjustments Kristin has to make when moving to Essex Farm is learning to live with the absence of instant gratification. She finds that a farmer must continuously put forth effort in order to reap bene­fits. How does Kristin respond to this new kind of work? How does her definition of “satisfaction” change? Would you be able to accommodate a similar change?

6. The Dirty Life is segmented into seasons. What are the underlying issues that take place within each season and how do they relate to the year in full?

7. Have your views on sustainable farming changed after reading about the trials and triumphs of Essex Farm? Have your views on farm-fresh food versus supermarket food changed?

8. Kristin repeatedly finds that her prior assumptions about farming and farmers are false. Do you think her stereo­types were the same as those of most Americans or just people who live in urban areas?

9. As a new farmer, Kristin struggles with where she fits in the socioeconomic spectrum. It bothers her when a neighbor brings over some kitchen things because she thinks Kristin is needy. Later, Kristin writes that farming makes her feel rich even though she’s not. What makes people feel poor or rich? How much is the feeling related to money?

10. Why do you think Kristin goes from being a vegetarian to an omnivore after helping Mark slaughter a pig?

11. Kristin writes that there are two types of marriages: the comfortable kind and the fiery kind. Do you agree?

The author’s website and blog are full of interesting information and photos and worth a peak

Check out the NPR interview conducted with the author regarding the book in November 2010 at:

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Pearl S. Buck International

Here is some great information about Pearl S. Buck International:

One Woman. One Vision. Over 2 million lives changed.

Click here to Discover the Legacy on an inspiring free 60-minute tour

Pearl S. Buck International is a nonprofit organization continuing the legacy and dreams of our founder, author, activist, and humanitarian, Pearl S. Buck. For more information, visit our website at

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Brief Summaries of Rudolf Habsburg’s Contemporaries/Family Members for the Book Discussion of Morton’s: A Nervous Splendor

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) (wife, Martha, and daughter Mathilde) : Neurologist, struggled for years and founded the discipline of psychoanalysis movement, and theories about repression, dreams and the unconscious mind; born to a poor Jewish family in the area of Czech Republic today. Had an apartment on Maria Theresienstrasse 8, where the Ring Theatre stood, burned and 100s were killed. (88)

Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)-Composer and conductor, “sloppy, harrying, satanically intense, stormed in and out of opera houses”  (30-31) – Totenfeier:

Hugo Wolf (1860-1903)Austrian composer, wrote many Lieder and wrote music to accompany Goethe’s poetry (146), most productive period was 1888-89; Works:

Theodor Herzl (1860-1904) – Father of modern Zionism ; born in Best Hungary; Paris correspondent for Neue Freie Presse

Gustav Klimt (1862-1918)Austrian Symbolist painter, works including paintings, sketches and murals; received Golden Order of Merit from Emperor for his murals at the Burgtheatre in 1888. (91-92)

Sarah Bernhardt (1844- 1923) famous well respected French actress, performs in Vienna (151-56)

Arthur Schnitzler (1862-1931) Austrian author and dramatist, works known for strong sexual material and strong stand against anti-semitism; Keeps track of his relations with Jeanette (94. . .)

Anton Bruckner (1824-1896)Austrian composer, Lived in the building facing Freud; teacher at Vienna Conservatory and wrote many symphonies and masses. Caresses Beethoven’s head when exhumed and was present for Franz Schubert’s but restrains himself (97) Works:

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)-German composer and pianist, originally from Hamburg, calm, easy going, well established and admired during lifetime, spent professional life in Vienna and a leader of the musical scene there (161-163). He’s one of the 3 greats – Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. He worked with Clara Schumann and Joseph Joachim. Listen to some of his works here:

Jack the Ripper – unidentified serial killer in London actively killing women in 1888 in Whitechapel district of London

Crazy Ludwig II of Bavaria (1845-1886) – good friend of Wagner’s ; Mysterious death – ruled drowning suicide

Edward, Prince of Wales (1841-1910) –good friend of Rudolf, introduced him originally to Mary

Wilhelm II, German Emperor (1859-1941)- grandson of Queen Victoria, crowned in 1888; visits Russia first then Austria (102-110); attacks Rudolf in papers (177) asked not to attend Rudolf’s funeral

Crown Prince Rudolf Habsburg (1858-1889) arch-duke of Austria and Crown Prince of Austria, Hungary and Bohemia and heir apparent of Emperor Franz Joseph

Stephanie of Belgiummarried 1881 was loved by Rudolf but Empress considered her a “clumsy oaf”; grew apart

daughter Elisabeth (born 1883)

Mistresses of Rudolf:

Countess Marie Larisch – mistress who introduces Rudolf to Mary

Baroness Marie Vetseracalled herself Mary, fashionista, began affair with Rudolf when she was 17; created a suicide pact with Rudolf, he killed her first and then himself in 1889 at Mayerling Lodge

Mitzi Caspar – his “Sweet girl” ; commoner and actress; Rudolf asked to create a suicide pact with her but she didn’t take him seriously. He spent last night of his life with her. (115-117)

Emperor Franz Joseph Habsburg (1830-1916) “Franz Joseph was born in the Schönbrunn palace in Vienna, the oldest son of Archduke Franz Karl (the younger son of Holy Roman Emperor Francis II), and his wife Princess Sophie of Bavaria. Because his uncle, from 1835 the Emperor Ferdinand, was weak-minded, and his father un-ambitious and retiring, the young Archduke “Franzl” was brought up by his mother as a future Emperor with emphasis on devotion, responsibility and diligence. Franzl came to idolize his grandfather, der Gute Kaiser Franz, who had died shortly before the former’s fifth birthday, as the ideal monarch. At the age of 13, young Archduke Franz started a career as a colonel in the Austrian army. From that point onward, his fashion was dictated by army style and for the rest of his life he normally wore the uniform of a junior officer.

Following the resignation of the Chancellor Prince Metternich during the Revolutions of 1848, the young Archduke, who it was widely expected would soon succeed his uncle on the throne, was appointed Governor of Bohemia on 6 April, but never took up the post. Instead, Franz was sent to the front in Italy, joining Field Marshal Radetzky on campaign on 29 April, receiving his baptism of fire on 5 May at Santa Lucia. By all accounts he handled his first military experience calmly and with dignity. Around the same time, the Imperial Family was fleeing revolutionary Vienna for the calmer setting of Innsbruck, in Tyrol. Soon, the Archduke was called back from Italy, joining the rest of his family at Innsbruck by mid-June. It was at Innsbruck at this time that Franz Joseph first met his cousin Elisabeth, his future bride, then a girl of ten, but apparently the meeting made little impact.

Following victory over the Italians at Custoza in late July, the court felt safe to return to Vienna, and Franz Joseph travelled with them. But within a few months Vienna again appeared unsafe, and in September the court left again, this time for Olmütz in Moravia. By now, Alfred I, Prince of Windisch-Grätz, the influential military commander in Bohemia, was determined to see the young Archduke soon put onto the throne. It was thought that a new ruler would not be bound by the oaths to respect constitutional government to which Ferdinand had been forced to agree, and that it was necessary to find a young, energetic emperor to replace the kindly, but mentally unfit Emperor.

It was thus at Olmütz on 2 December that, by the abdication of his uncle Ferdinand and the renunciation of his father, the mild-mannered Franz Karl, Franz Joseph succeeded as Emperor of Austria. It was at this time that he first became known by his second as well as his first Christian name. The name “Franz Joseph” was chosen deliberately to bring back memories of the new Emperor’s great-granduncle, Emperor Joseph II, remembered as a modernising reformer. “(Wikipedia)

Empress Elisabeth(Sisi)non-conformist, free spirited, murdered in 1898, considered a great beauty of Europe, tall and very slender, very long beautiful hair; she married in 1853 at the age of 16 to Franz Joseph

Katarina Schratt – Franz Joseph’s mistress, recognized officially by his wife

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Discussion Points for Frederic Morton’s: A Nervous Splendor: Vienna 1888/1889

1. Explore the similarities and differences between the Crown Prince Rudolf and the several ingenious young men of Vienna who were his contemporaries. Why was Rudolf’s situation more difficult? They were all frustrated in 1888 but they achieved success ultimately. Could Rudolf have, if he hadn’t died?

2. Why were there so many suicides in Vienna at this time particularly among the bourgeois? (64)

3. Discuss the relationship between Rudolf and Wilhelm (102-112)

4. Discuss the love interests of Rudolf (127-130)

5. Discuss Rudolf’s double suicide and the events that led to it and afterwards(215-264)

6. Discuss the foresights of Rudolf, including, the political tensions that led to WWI and could he have made a difference, if he lived.(15, 34-39, 54 . . )

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Roger’s Wine Corner: California Chardonnays

Proceeding without our Beverage Director at the last meeting, in honor of Steve Jobs, we compared 2 California Chardonnays. The first was a 2009 Mendocino Vineyards Chardonnay (Made with Organic Grapes) rated around 88 points and priced at $7.99 at the Doylestown Wine and Spirits store. We all agreed it tasted of pear and citrus and spring and had a crisp start and pleasant finish. The more expensive 2010 Kenwood Vineyard’s Sonoma County Chardonnay on sale for $9.99 from $15.99 and also rated around 88,  we found to be more mellow and not as rounded in flavor.

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Roger’s Wine Corner: Sparkling Wines

February’s wine tasting was lite on information and full of fun.  The purpose was to compare a sparkling wine that most people would never try – a Chenin Blanc from Vouvray, France (Loire Valley) – to a traditional sparkling wine from California that most are familiar with – Korbel.  The French sparkler was a “Chairman’s Selection” and the release price was $35 on sale for $18.  The Korbel retails from $13 – $15.  So… the basic education was – do you like it better (the Chenin Blanc sparkler) than the traditional California sparkler?  The majority of readers\pseudo wine connoisseurs preferred the French offering.  I, needing to find fault with the majority opinion so that I can maintain my self-given title of Lines and Wines Beverage Director, found it to; smell terrible; taste like sparkling Boones Farm and linger like a bad dream.

Next month: Can you say cheese?

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