Published: 25 Mar 2015

doggy bag 

Is there a place for doggy bags in French dining culture? Photo: Ipwrangler/Roland/Flickr


Long snubbed as the risible trademark of boorish Anglo-Saxon diners, the doggy bag is set to make its appearance in France, a top restaurant body said on Wednesday.

The idea of taking uneaten portions of meals home has been frowned upon for decades in France, but the Union of Hotel Professions (UHP) said doggy bags had become necessary to combat the problem of food waste.

The European Union says restaurant left-overs represent 14 percent of the growing squander.

In a sign that even tradition-bound dogs can learn new tricks, a recent poll in the south-eastern Rhone-Alpes region found that 95 percent of the 2,700 people questioned were prepared to use doggy bags after dining out.

The UHP said it has signed an agreement with the aptly-named TakeAway company to supply restaurants with microwave-friendly boxes and sacks as it seeks to "generalize the use of doggy bags".

SEE ALSO: Why the French don't do restaurant 'doggy bags'

TakeAway is even offering specialized bags in which diners can carry unfinished bottles of wine -- something even shamelessly doggy-bagging American tourists would hesitate to ask for.

A 2012 law sought to increase recycling of waste, forcing restaurants to sort and reduce what they threw away, with wider use of doggy bags being one way of scaling back food waste.

But with France still being France, someone must now come up with an appropriately French rendering of what remains the very Ango-Saxon term "doggy bag".

Speaking to The Local previously, Laurent Calvayrac the founder of a French green packaging company, and a doggy bag proponent, said his countrymen are taught from an early age to eat everything on their plate.

“Like many French people I was raised with the instruction ‘You will finish what I put on your plate’. So even now when I go out to eat, no matter the size of the portion, I finish everything even if I’m full,’ Emballage Vert founder Calvayrac told The Local. “So doggy bags are simply not part of the French way of doing things.”

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 murderby Tim Fish -

 A Napa Valley, Yountville vineyard became a crime scene on Monday, as a business meeting ended with two men dead in an apparent murder-suicide over a loan gone bad.

Vintner Robert Dahl allegedly shot his former business investor, Emad Tawfilis, in the head and then fled his Yountville winery with Napa sheriff’s deputies in pursuit. The chase began just before noon and continued for 10 miles, north on busy Highway 29 and then west up Oakville Grade to a remote country road where, according to sources, Dahl apparently killed himself.

The two men were at Dahl’s Napa Point Winery and on a telephone conference call with their attorneys when they took a break on Monday. The lawyers never heard from them again. “It was a usual business meeting,” said Dahl’s attorney, Kousha Berokim. “There was nothing dramatic or violent or odd about it.”

 Photo: Napa law enforcement personnel investigate the scene of a murder, on the corner of Solano Avenue and Hoffman Lane, south of Yountville on Monday, March 16, 2015. (CHRISTOPHER CHUNG/ PD)

Tawfilis, who lived in Santa Clara County south of San Francisco, loaned $1.2 million to Dahl’s businesses, including Napa Point, in 2013, through his firm Lexington Street Investments. The relationship soured in early 2014 when Dahl allegedly refused to pay back the loan, according to David Wiseblood, Tawfilis’ San Francisco attorney. 

The dispute wound its way through the Napa County courts until Dahl was ordered to give nine wine tanks as payment to Tawfilis. According to court documents, Dahl had not turned over five of the tanks by March 4, which led to Monday's meeting. In an interview with Wine Spectator, Berokim defended his client, arguing, “There was a dispute as to who owed who and how much.”

The sheriff’s department was not available for comment, but according to media reports, Tawfilis was able to call 911 after he was shot. Dahl fled the scene as sheriff's deputies arrived. Tawfilis was pronounced dead at the scene. 

Dahl's business dealings included the now-defunct Patio Wine Co., which at one point was the producer of a sangria for celebrity Adam Carolla, and the short-lived North Point Brewery in Napa.

It was Tawfilis’ first and only investment in the wine business, according to Wiseblood. “Mr. Dahl had a past that was not known to my client [at the time of the investment],” said Wiseblood. “Mr. Tawfilis was not somebody who had a lot of money to lose. It’s just so senseless.”

chefs san sebastianSan Sebastian, Spain. March 17, 2015. Twenty leading chefs from some of the world’s best restaurants   join Oceana’s campaign and pledge to serve and highlight anchovies and other small fish at their restaurants on World Oceans Day 2015.  This commitment is the result of an unprecedented gathering of the world’s leading chefs in support of ocean conservation which took place on March 17, 2015 at  the Basque Culinary Centre in San Sebastian, Spain

Photo: The Chefs from left to right: Grant Achatz (Alinea, USA); Gastón Acurio (Astrid y Gastón, Peru, La Mar, USA); Ferran Adrià (el Bulli Foundation, Spain); Andoni Luiz Aduriz (Mugaritz, Spain); Juan Mari and Elena Arzak (Arzak, Spain); Alex Atala (D.O.M., Brazil); Massimo Bottura (Osteria Francescana, Italy); José Luis González (Gallery Vask, Philippines); Brett Graham (The Ledbury, UK); Rodolfo Guzmán (Boragó, Chile); Daniel Humm (Eleven Madison Park, USA); Normand Laprise (Toqué, Canada); Enrique Olvera (Pujol, Mexico); René Redzepi (Noma, Denmark); Heinz Reitbauer (Steirereck, Austria); Joan Roca (El Celler de Can Roca, Spain); Pedro Subijana (Akelare, Spain); Joachim Wissler (Vendôme, Germany); Ashley Palmer-Watts (Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, UK). 

The Chefs will help Oceana to inspire and empower more consumers and individuals to get involved in supporting Oceana’s policy campaigns and to help restore the world’s oceans to levels of biodiversity and abundance that can survive on and support a planet forecasted to grow from 7 billion people to 9 billion by 2050.

“It is remarkable that so many chefs - who are so busy – came together in support of ocean conservation and to take this joint action together. Most of us already love anchovies and other small fish,” said event co-hosts Aduriz and Roca; “it will be a pleasure to share them with our diners and to help Oceana in its campaign to get more people to enjoy them and to help save the oceans and feed the world.”

The small fish the Chefs pledged to serve  – species like anchovies, sardines, mackerel and herrings - are known as “forage” fish because they play a crucial role in food webs in some of the most productive marine ecosystems in the world. They are the main prey and pathway for energy transfer from creatures with very low trophic levels—plankton—to those with higher trophic levels—predatory fish, birds, and mammals.

Forage fish form massive shoals that are targeted by some of the largest fisheries on earth, but are only rarely seen in restaurant menus. This is because forage fish are mainly used to make fish meal and fish oil to feed farmed fish like salmon as well as chickens, pigs and other livestock. These “reduction” fisheries account for an enormous 37% of all the marine fish caught worldwide according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

“Small fish like anchovies are generally the best fish for you,” commented Patricia Majluf, Oceana’s Vice President for Peru and a leading expert on anchovies and other similar fisheries who spoke at the gathering in San Sebastian.  “They have very high levels of nutrients like Omegas, Vitamin A, Zinc and Calcium and are low in toxins like mercury present in other longer lived, larger fish.”

Lasse Gustavsson, Oceana’s Senior Vice President for Europe, challenged the chefs at the event to serve and highlight forage fish in their menus noting “we ask you to use your leadership in the culinary community to make small fish something we put on our plates and not just in fish meal.”

“The Chefs’ commitment to Oceana to help get people to view small fish as delicious is going to help us save the oceans and feed the world,” added Andy Sharpless, Oceana’s CEO and author of The Perfect Protein. “We can feed tens of millions more people if we simply eat anchovies and other forage fish directly rather than in form of a farmed salmon or other animals raised on fish meal and fish oil. Eating more forage fish – along with scientific management of the world’s fisheries - will enable us to ultimately feed more people from the oceans and to be less reliant on getting our animal protein from livestock in the future. This means we will put less pressure on the planet in the form of demand for fresh water, use of arable land, and emission of climate changing gases.”

Peruvian Anchovies alone account for almost 8 to 10% of all fish – by weight – caught in the oceans. Yet over 90% of all of these anchovies are “reduced” into fishmeal and fish oil.

“We are not using so much wonderful food,” said Gaston Acurio, who signed the pledge and has already been leading a campaign to encourage his fellow Peruvian Chefs to serve anchovies. “I am thrilled to have my good friends signing on in the effort to wake others up to the joy of eating these tasty and nutritious little fish.”

At the historic event – the first time so many leading chefs have come together in support of marine conservation - the chefs viewed the premiere screening of the short film documentary “The Perfect Protein” which is part of this campaign for Oceana – which also includes a website and other actions- designed and directed by the Spanish creative Jorge Martínez.

For more information about the event, the documentary and the new digital version of the book, please visit

To see the full video, click on:




reel cooking prCooking Channel, one of America’s most popular channels, will begin airing “Reel Food from the Florida Keys” in April, 2015.

A blend of travel log and cooking, “Reel Food from the Florida Keys” will show viewers how to create innovative and exciting new dishes while highlighting the Florida Keys. From Key Largo to Key West the audience will be transported to this sun-drenched region where the cooking is done right on location.

Renowned Florida Keys Chef Bobby Stoky hosts these fast-paced one minute cooking segments.  As the owner of several Keys restaurants, Chef Bobby will create 5 exciting, easy-to-prepare dishes featuring fresh, native ingredients:  Lobster Tacos with Cabbage Slaw and Avocado Cream; Tuna Poke; Pickled Key West Pink Shrimp; Onion Encrusted Yellowtail Snapper with Mango Salsa; and Strawberry Key Lime trifle.

Photo: Marina Angleton, Chef Bobby Stoky, and Mike Zimmer filming Reel Food From the Florida Keys on location in Key Largo.

“Reel Food from the Florida Keys” has teamed up with award-winning producer and developer Marina Angleton and 12 time Emmy Award-winning photographer and editor Mike Zimmer to produce “Reel Food from the Florida Keys” at The Cooking Channel. The sister station of Food Network, Cooking Channel reaches over 62 million viewers.  


Starting the week of April 6th, Saint Arnold's most popular brands, including Fancy Lawnmower, Santo, and the brewery's rotating selection of seasonal offerings, plus the brewery's fastest growing brand – Ale Wagger – will be available throughout Southern Florida, including the Florida Keys through Saint Arnold's Miami distributor, Eagle Brands Sales   .
Saint Arnold Fancy Lawnmower Beer – A true German-style Kölsch that is crisp yet has a sweet malty body that is balanced by a complex, citrus hop character. This delicate flavor is achieved through multiple additions of German Hallertauer hops.
Santo – The originator of the black Kölsch style, it is brewed using a Kölsch recipe with the addition of Munich and black malt. It is light bodied and floral yet with a distinct dark malt flavor.
Saint Arnold Ale Wagger – A beautiful, deep copper brown ale. It has a full, malty body with hints of chocolate, a touch of sweetness and a light hop flavor. A portion of proceeds support local animal welfare initiatives.
Saint Arnold Seasonals – When combined, Saint Arnold's seasonal selection is the brewery's top seller. It includes Spring Bock, Summer Pils, Oktoberfest, Christmas Ale and Winter Stout.

Coinciding with Saint Arnold's introduction to Miami, Saint Arnold Founder/Brewer Brock Wagner will meet with craft beer enthusiasts on April 8th and 9th, discussing the brewery he established more than 20 years ago, sampling beers and sharing his brewing philosophies. Planned events include:
Wednesday, April 8, 4-7 PM at The Butcher Shop,  165 NW 23rd St.;      7-10 PM at Kush – ,2003 N Miami Ave.,   Wynwood,  Thursday, April 9,   4-7 PM at Over the Counter,1250 South Miami Ave. and  7-10 PM at American Social – 690 SW 1st Ct., Brickell

Saint Arnold Brewing is named for Saint Arnold of Metz, the patron saint of brewers. Ranked 48th on the Brewers Association's list of top craft breweries, Saint Arnold operates out of a 104,000 square foot 3-story brick building originally constructed in 1914. Saint Arnold's brewhouse was imported from Klosterbrauerei Raitenhaslach, a Bavarian monastery. Saint Arnold beers are now available throughout Texas and Louisiana, as well as the entire Gulf Coast of Florida to the Florida Keys.

Miami Dade College Host World’s Fair Expo Milano 2015 Pre-Launch Conference with Celebrity Chefs, Dignitaries

Miami  – Some of the world’s most beloved celebrity chefs – including Lidia Bastianich, who will receive the Food for Life Award – as well as restaurateurs, dignitaries, authors, and food experts will come together under one roof for America and the Old World: Food, Health and Culture, the official pre-launch conference in celebration of the World’s Fair, Expo Milano 2015.

The conference, the only one of its kind in the U.S., will take place Thursday, March 12, at Miami Dade College’s (MDC) Wolfson Campus and historic Freedom Tower, both located in downtown Miami. Open to the working media.

In the spirit of this year’s Expo theme, “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life,” MDC will host a day-long forum to explore America’s relationship with the Old World and how its diverse cultural heritage defines its identity through food, as well discussions on sustainability and how new trends have impacted the health, nutrition and tastes.

Guest speakers will include Lidia Bastianich, celebrity chef, television host, author, and restaurateur; Scott Conant, celebrity chef, restaurateur and author; Giorgio Rapicavoli, chef and restaurant owner; Dorothy Cann Hamilton, founder and CEO of the International Culinary Center; Mitchell Davis, executive vice president of the James Beard Foundation; Mike Piazza, 12-time All-Star Major League baseball player, author of Long Shot and MDC alum; Richard Ingraham, CEO of Chef RLI and private chef to Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade; Maricel Presilla, chef, culinary historian and author of Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America; Tony May, renowned Italian restaurateur and author of Italian Cuisine: Basic Cooking Techniques; Piero Galli, director of Expo Milano 2015; Paolo Cuccia, president/CEO of the Gambero Rosso Foundation; and Philip T. Reeker, U.S. Consul General in Milan.

Expo Milano 2015 will take place May 1 – Oct. 31 in Milan, Italy, offering a plethora of events and exhibitions around the theme “Feeding the Planet: Energy for Life.” Expo Milan 2015 is a non-commercial Universal Exposition with some very unique and innovative features. The Expo will host more than 130 countries, including the USA Pavilion themed “American Food 2.0.” Running for 184 days, this giant exhibition site, covering one million square meters, is expected to welcome more than 20 million visitors. To learn more, visit .

WHAT:     America and the Old World: Food, Health and Culture

WHEN:    Thursday, March 12, starting at 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

WHERE:  Freedom Tower and Wolfson Campus at Miami Dade College ,  300 & 600 Biscayne Blvd. .



Every Wednesday nights, from 7:00pm  to 9:00pm, Made in Italy Gourmet offers cooking classes exploring different  Italian regional cuisines with authentic Italian products and wines available in the gourmet market located in the store.  Classes fees:  $35.00-$55.00 per person, including cooking class, degustation, wine pairing and recipes to take home.

Made In Italy Gourmet,10 Northeast 27th Street, Wynwood. 786.360.5671

alta-snapperAlta Editions has just released their fourth and most exciting online cookbook: Unconventional .

The book features stories and recipes by Francisco Migoya - Head Chef of Modernist CuisineJesse Schenker - executive chef and owner of the restaurants Recette and The Gander in New York City,  and Jehangir Mehta of Graffiti along with brilliant photography by Evan Sung.

The creative recipes (e.g. Chickpea flour-crusted Snapper with spinach and mushrooms, Candied olives, Chicken Braised in Fennel Caramel, Chicharrón Enrobed in Dark Chocolate and an Orange Cake from a cake mix) are delicious and really fun to make with step-by-step instructions and photos. 

Best of all, they are easily accessible from any computer, tablet or smarthphone. Here's a link to the book info page:

zestawards_vote-thumb-560x420Cast your vote for South Florida Gourmet, your favorite food coverage since 1997.  Thanks for your support!

Nominees have been announced for the fourth annual Johnson & Wales University's Zest Awards which celebrate excellence in South Florida's culinary arts scene.

On March 18, from 7 to 9 p.m., JWU's Wildcat Center, North Miami campus will host the awards ceremony showcasing leaders in the Miami food scene in the categories: best restaurant, best boutique restaurant, best bar/lounge, best wine program, culinary innovator, newcomer of the year, baking and pastry chef of the year, best food blogger, and best food reporting..

Cast your vote for South Florida Gourmet your favorite food coverage since 1997at Thanks for your support!

 WALLA WALLA VALLEY, Wash., Feb. 6. 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) today announced it will establish The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater as the newest American Viticulture Area (AVA) on Monday, Feb. 9.

The AVA is situated on an alluvial fan of the Walla Walla River, where the river exits the foothills of the Blue Mountains and enters the Walla Walla Valley. It lies entirely within the state of Oregon and includes part of the town of Milton-Freewater. The area contained within the Rocks District also lies within the Walla Walla Valley AVA, which in turn is entirely within the larger Columbia Valley AVA.

The distinguishing feature of The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater is its soil, which consists primarily of dark-colored basalt cobblestones. The cobblestone-rich soil is very well drained, which encourages the vines to root deeply. Due to their coarse texture, the soils are not easily eroded, so cover crops are not required and the cobblestones can be left exposed on the surface where they absorb solar radiation. Heat from the sun-warmed stones promotes growth early in the season and assists ripening during the late summer and early fall.

Nineteen wine producers have vineyards within the boundaries of The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater AVA, which contains approximately 3,770 acres and currently has approximately 250 acres of commercially producing vineyards. The AVA application effort was organized and managed by Steve Robertson of Delmas/SJR Vineyard along with seven other wine growers and producers.  Dr. Kevin R. Pogue, a professor of geology at Whitman College in Walla Walla, submitted the petition to the TTB.

"The concept behind AVAs is to recognize regions that have truly unique growing conditions that are expressed in the wines. I believe we have remained true to that spirit, creating an AVA with the most uniform terroir in the United States," said Dr. Pogue. "The Rocks District lies on one landform, with very uniform topography and climate, and 96-percent of the soils belong to the Freewater soil series."

The Walla Walla Valley AVA as a whole spans northeastern Oregon to southeastern Washington and has a long agricultural history. A wide variety of crops have been cultivated in The Rocks District since the late 1800s, and in addition to wine grapes the area still produces commercially-grown apples, cherries, prunes and plums. Wines produced from vineyards planted in The Rocks District in the mid-1990s were quickly recognized by wine critics as among the finest in the country.

"Wines from The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater have been earning accolades for years," said Duane Wollmuth, Executive Director of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance.

"The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater marks Oregon's 18th AVA, another important step in designating the distinctive and high-quality wine growing regions within our state," said Ellen Brittan, chairwoman of the Oregon Wine Board. "By gaining AVA status, producers who grow or source fruit from these vineyards can better differentiate the unique characteristics of their wines."

"Washington State Wine is excited to collaborate with our partners in the Walla Walla Valley AVA and in Oregon to share the story of The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater," said Steve Warner, president of Washington State Wine, which promotes awareness of wineries and growers in Washington State and its cross-border AVAs. "This isn't about state borders. It's about the Pacific Northwest and our growing reputation as home to world-class wines. We feel this new AVA designation further recognizes the unparalleled terroir of this area."

To learn more about the Oregon Wine Board (OWB), visit ; about Washington State Wine (WSW) , visit ; and about the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance visit



On Tuesday, February 3,   from 2:00 PM to 8:00 PM.  Gambero Rosso Vini d’Italia Tour 2015 -   Miami will hold its Tre Bicchieri World Tour at the Coral Gables Country Club.

Gambero Rosso kicks off its U.S. Tre Bicchieri tour in Miami, to celebrate the U.S. release of the world’s best-selling guide to Italian wine, “Vini d’Italia”.  Following tastings will take place in New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco.  Thousands of trade and media professionals attend these highly-anticipated tastings each year.

Journalists and wine trade are invited to attend and can register for all four events at and view the list of participating wineries, by city.

  • Feb. 3 - Miami - Coral Gables Country Club
  • Feb. 5 - New York City - The Metropolitan Pavillion
  • Feb. 10 - Chicago - Union Station
  • Feb. 12 - San Francisco - Fort Mason Center

About Gambero Rosso

Gambero Rosso® is Italy’s publishing and training leader in the field of wine and food. It is the only multimedia company in the sector that offers magazines, books, guides, a website, smart phone applications, and a television channel – Sky 412. Since 1987, Gambero Rosso has represented Italian-made food and wine, testing and certifying the quality of products, telling the stories behind the flavors and traditions of the Bel Paese. In Italy, Gambero Rosso offers Città del Gusto® training courses in five cities. Gambero Rosso has developed a rich, worldwide network of partnerships with prestigious culinary institutes to promote authentic Italian culinary traditions and products.

About Vini d’Italia 2015

“Vini d’Italia” is the worldwide best-selling guide to Italian wine. In its 28th edition, “Vini d’Italia” presents the top Italian wines available now. This year, 60 experts tasted 45,000+ wines, reviewing 20,000 labels from more than 2,400 wineries in 21 regions. “Vini d’Italia” has always followed the same method: rigorous blind tastings, evaluations made by a panel, and the classic rating by bicchieri (glasses), from one to three. This year, there are 423 Tre Bicchieri winners–fewer than 1 percent of the wines reviewed. Among the Tre Bicchieri wines, 108 are wines that retail for less than 15€ in Italy. Gambero Rosso is proud to showcase this excellence at more than 30 grand tastings organized around the globe. Committed to sustainability, “Vini d’Italia” 2015 lists 80 green Tre Bicchieri, connoting wines are produced by means of organic or biodynamic viticulture. Additionally, the guide contains an overview of past vintages, as well as contact information for each producer, personal anecdotes and more.

Journalists please contact Chelsea Kurnick for interviews, photos, and more information about Gambero Rosso/”Vini d’Italia” or for assistance on related stories.


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How will the rising dollar affect the U.S. wine market? The answer, predictably, is that it’s complicated. Read on for analysis organized around three questions. Why has the dollar appreciated? What are the textbook effects of a rising dollar? How and why is the impact on U.S. wine likely to be different? 

Why has the dollar appreciated?

The U.S. dollar has appreciated dramatically on foreign exchange markets, powered by several factors. Expectations of higher interest rates in the U.S. is a big part of the story as the reality of the end of the Federal Reserve’s asset purchase program sinks in. Add to this the fact that the Europoean Central Bank is finally close to beginning its own quantitative easing program, which will keep rates down on that side of the pond. This combination is a recipe for the sort of change you see in the graph above.

The relative strength of the U.S. economy, weakness of the E.U.with its potential “triple dip” recession and uncertainty regarding China and oil ../../index-php/whats-cooking/prices.css all contribute to the economic environment that has helped fuel the dollar’s recent rise. Where is money going to go in a risky world? Can you say USA? A lot of us have been impatiently waiting for the dollar to move higher for a couple of years. Now that it has happened, what should we expect?

What are the textbook effects of a rising dollar?

The classic textbook effect of a rising currency is that imports increase because they are relatively cheaper and exports decline because they are costlier to those holding foreign currencies. Imports up, exports down. That’s where the Econ 101 story often stops, but the situation is a little more complicated.

../../index-php/whats-cooking/prices.css adjust faster than quantities in most cases. Price effects (rising export costs, falling import ../../index-php/whats-cooking/prices.css) tend to happen quickly, but quantities take longer to change because of inventory lags, recognition lags, and contract lags. Basically, it takes time before the new exchange rate translates into real actions because existing inventories must be depleted before new orders are made, because it takes some time before economic actors feel certain that the change is sustained and not just a market blip, and because existing contracts often preclude immediate adjustments. 

These lags create what economists call the “J curve” effect, with opposite short-term and long-term payments impacts. The Econ 101 results take longer to show up in significant amounts than you might think and even then will only appear if other intervening economic factors don’t offset them. So predicting the short term impact of an exchange rate change isn’t as simple as you might think even if you earned an “A” in Econ 101.

But price is a powerful force, and the fact that a rising dollar makes our exports more expensive to foreign purchasers (and imports cheaper for U.S. buyers) should not be ignored even if immediate run impacts are not obvious. Don’t expect everything to change at once.

One more complication is that although we like to talk about the dollar rising or falling, the overall trend conceals the fact that the dollar might be higher relative to one currency and still falling compared to another. During one recent period when the dollar was quite weak by some standards, for example, it still rose compared to some other currencies that were even weaker.

How and why is the impact on the U.S. wine markets likely to be different?

Given all this, it is instructive to read a 2012 report by Kym Anderson and Glyn Wittwer titled “Studying the impact of exchange rate movements on the world’s wine markets, 2007-2011” (a University of Adelaide Wine Economics Research Centre working paper — the link takes you to a pdf of the paper). The Anderson-Wittwer study examined the impact of exchange rates on wine trade during a period when the dollar was falling instead of rising and finds that the impact of exchange rates was different in different import markets and in different wine market segments. (I told you it was complicated!)

In the U.K. market, for example, the exchange rate impacts were pretty much what theory suggested both in terms of import effects and distribution among different wine exporting countries. A good textbook case.

But the U.S. was a different story, as you might expect given that we have a substantial domestic wine production base and that we both export and import wine with the two trade flows connected to a certain degree by the “wine drawback program”  (Click here to read a 2012 UC/Davis report on the drawback program.) 

The wine drawback program allows a refund of 99% of import duties and excise taxes on wine for which the importer has matching exports of commercially “interchangeable” wine. Because per-unit import duty and excise tax rates are substantial compared to the price of bulk wine, use of the program is high for bulk wine imports, which compete with wine from low-price Central Valley grapes. Bulk wine exports dominated imports until 2009 and the program stimulated import growth. Now, with imports and exports roughly in balance, the program stimulates both exports and imports—leaving net trade in bulk wine roughly in balance.

Summary of the U.C. Davis Report

The Anderson-Wittwer study found that the falling dollar had different effects on U.S. consumption of  Old World and New World wine imports during 2007-2011. Old World imports increased despite the dollar’s fall and New World imports fell.  Obviously the price effects were more strongly felt for New World wines than for Old World products (see Table 6 of the report) and although Australia accounted for much of the import decline and may be a special case in some ways, Argentina, Chile and South Africa were also negatively affected.

The study found differences by price category, too. Non-premium and commercial premium New World wines were the most affected by the exchange rate changes while super-premium wines showed less impact. This makes sense because the lower priced products are often part of the bulk wine trade, which has become highly efficient, facilitating ease of substitution from one country’s products to another. A small change in cost can have a big impact on the size and direction of trade. Textbook effects rule here.

More expensive products benefit from greater product differentiation. The power of an established brand acts as a shock absorber when costs increase, although there are obvious limits to this.

So if Old World imports increased and New World imports fell during the period when the dollar was slumping, can we expect just the reverse now that the dollar is soaring? It would be great if we could just take the Anderson-Wittwer numbers and change the signs from plus to minus and so forth, but life is more complicated than that. Anyone who has tried to sell wine can tell you that it is easier to lower a price than to increase it! It’s a kind of hysteresis in the sense that where you can go now depends on where you have been. You can’t just back out to where you started.

That said I think there are important insights to take away here, key among them is the idea that the impacts are likely to be different for bulk wine and packaged good trade and for Old and New World products.

Textbooks and research give us good guides to understanding the impacts, but there aren’t any simple answers. And the exchange rate isn’t the only thing that’s changing this time around. I know a number of New World producers who made big bets on the Russian market, for example. Seemed like a good idea at the time, but my how things have changed! They’ll be desperately  looking for markets for the wine they can’t sell to Moscow. And imports from Argentina may be more affected by that country’s domestic policies (and the upcoming elections) than exchange rates.

fairchild chocolate“Cacao” is the word on the tip of everyone’s tongue at the 9th Annual International Chocolate Festival at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, during three days of delicious activities complete with sampling, cooking demos, an interactive cacao display, seminars and kids’ events from Friday, January 23 – Sunday, January 25, 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

During the festival and through May 31, 2015, large-scale glass sculptures by world-renowned American artist Dale Chihuly will be exhibited throughout all 83 acres as part of the annual Art at Fairchild.

The International Chocolate Festival is sponsored by Whole Foods Market, the Mexico Tourism Board, Nestlé Nesquik Miami, and New York Life Insurance Co.

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is located at 10901 Old Cutler Road, Coral Gables, FL 33156. Admission to the festival is $25 for adults, $18 for seniors 65 and up, $12 for children 6-17, and free for Fairchild members and children 5 and under. Eco-discounts and military discounts are available.

For more information and a complete schedule call 305-667-1651 or visit the International Chocolate Festival webpage.

​Fifty nine professional judges, ranging from all areas of the wine industry including experts in the media, restaurant and hospitality, education, winemaking and retail outlets, tasted over 6,417 entries from more than 28 states, last week at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, recognized as the largest competition of American wines in the world.
Utilizing an extensive process that divided the varietals into several categories and subcategories, the event gave the panels the chance to rate entries as Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Double Gold (equivalent to a unanimous rating by all panel members).
Only eight entries were honored with the prestigious Sweepstake Award and, in its fifth year, a special category included a label contest that is independent of the wine competition.
The judges picked the Sweepstake Award​ winners, which signify the best of the best in the competition,​ for the following categories:  Sparkling, White, Blush, Red, Dessert / Specialty and Label. The winners hail from California, Ohio and New York, as follows:
Sparkling Sweepstake
Gloria Ferrer - 2010 Blanc De Blancs, Carneros, $42.00
White Sweepstake (tie)
ZD Wines - 2013 Chardonnay, California $38.00
Dr. Konstantin Frank- 2013 Riesling, Semi Dry,  Finger Lakes, New York $14.99
Pink Sweepstake
Robert Hall Winery - 2014 Rose de Robles, Paso Robles, $14.00
Red Sweepstake (tie)
Sonoma -Cutrer - 2012 Pinot Noir, Founders Reserve, Russian River Valley $65.00
Pezzi King - 2102 Estate Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, Row 14 Reserve, $50.00
Dessert Sweepstake
Debonne Vineyards - 2013 Vidal Blanc Ice Wine, Grand River Valley, Ohio $29.99
Label Sweepstake
Inizi - 2012 Charbono, Calistoga, $32.00
Many of the award winning wines will be available to taste at the Public Tasting, held on February 14, 2015 at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco.


Tomato lovers have a chance to win some extra cash this month and try out some healthy recipes for great game day snacks.

From now to February 1, NatureSweet® Tomatoes is offering customers a chance to win daily prizes and will give away one daily $200 prize and one weekly $1,000 prize from January 5th to February 1st for a total of $6,800, in addition to MVP Party Playbook, which includes recipes, healthy game day snack ideas and money saving coupons.

For a chance to win, customers can text in the code on their SunBursts package to see instantly if they have won.

For additional information on NatureSweet, log on to


 As the new year approaches, so does the opening of four South Florida Whole Foods Market stores, beginning with the long-awaited Whole Foods Market downtown Miami on Wednesday, Jan. 14. The 41,000-square-foot store, located at 299 SE Third St., will be the company’s 22nd location in Florida.

The new Miami store will feature local vendors and flavors, new venues, and is being built to reflect the community it will serve. Details of the grand opening festivities will be released in early January. Miami, however, is just the beginning. Three additional stores will open every two weeks through the end of February. They are:

·         Whole Foods Market Pompano Beach – Jan. 28

·         Whole Foods Market Davie – Feb. 11

·         Whole Foods Market West Palm Beach – Feb. 25

Pompano will be located at 2411 N. Federal Highway; Davie, a relocation from the current store in Plantation, will be located at 1903 University Drive; and West Palm Beach will be located at 1845 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd., Building C. The three stores will range between 40,000 and 44,000-square-feet.

“We are thrilled to be expanding our presence in South Florida,” says Juan Nunez, President of the Florida Region for Whole Foods Market. “With these four new stores, we’ll be able to offer our customers more local, natural and organic food options, introduce new and exciting products, and give back to the local communities that have embraced us.

Once again, Uncorked! the Key Largo & Islamorada Food & Wine Festival is offering ten glorious days of wine tasting events, cooking demonstrations, wine dinners, live music, food and wine pairing classes, progressive wine dinners, art and wine shows, and of course,  fund and sun, fabulous sunsets, scuba diving, fishing, many tourist attractions, shopping, and more.

The Grand Tasting, the Festival Finale, is scheduled for Saturday January 17. Dozens of area restaurants and wine experts come together under a giant tent to present samples of their finest cuisine and world-class wines. Live music, celebrity chef appearances and cooking demos combine to serve up the recipe for a spectacular afternoon of tasting in the fabulous Florida Keys.

For information on event schedule, where to stay, things to do and more, log on to:  


Food & Wine Talk Radio

Achile Sassoli, Director of Gelato World Tour
and Gelato Artisans:
James Coleridge, Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Abdelrahman Al Teneji, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
Matthew Lee, Austin, Texas
Ahmed Abdullatif, Kingdom of Bahrain
Stefano Versace, Miami, Florida
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The House of Mandela Wines from South Africa


Chef Scott Conant: Scarpetta


Mark Schatzker, author of The Dorito Effect, The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor


Elizabeth Minchilli, author of  Eating Rome: Living the Good Life in the Eternal City.  


James Beard Award-winning wine journalist Lyn Farmer on: Garnacha from Carinena; the next great wine


Cindy Hutson,chef/owner, Ortanique and Zest, author of From the Tip of My Tongue


Lidia Batianich, celebrity chef, TV host, author and restaurateur 






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