EPISODE 7: Grapes with a Green Pedigree


In search of the truth, Special Agents William Neal and Patrick Cuccaro explore the mysterious Green world of sustainable special events and catering. What myths will they shatter? What will they uncover?


The Truth is out there…so we’re told.



In Episode 6, William and Patrick found common connections between the Trappist Monks and contemporary ideas of sustainability. And guess what? They managed to have fun and tie in some good food to the concept! They’re on a roll, so let’s see where they take us today. Sonoma Valley, anyone?


PATRICK: OK, I admit it. I’m unabashedly American, but when it comes to wine, I might as well be European, because A) I drink wine like one—which is to say A LOT—and B) my favorite wine is from the Burgundy region of France. Montrachet is my all-time fantasy house wine—”fantasy” being the key word here.


All this by way of saying that I’m not yer average cheap wino. Life’s too short to drink shabby wine. Fortunately, you don’t have to travel all the way to the South of France to find some good juice.


Now this is one of those wines that even other competitive growers and wine producers admire because of its amazing Green pedigree. Korbel Winery Organic Brut, America’s best-known sparkling wine producer captivated our Green community by introducing their first Organic Brut in 2009.


It offers classic, crisp Brut-style flavors at an affordable $15.00 retail, so as an entry level sparkling wine this is perfect for weddings!


WILLIAM: I love some bubbles, by Jove! Bubbles mean life! Bubbles mean celebration!


Many of our brides want at the very least a bottle of great bubbles to pop with their cake! Crisp brut style wines (not sweet) are sensational with post-ceremony hors d’oeuvres—I’m thinking brie with a hint of raspberry…or maybe our passed shrimp with a light orange-cinnamon glaze. The crisp tartness of a great  sparkling wine sweeps through your palate and blends nicely with the sweetness of the fruit, the creaminess of the cheese and even works to enhance the seafood’s natural saltiness.


By the way, in case some of our readers are wondering why we are talking in terms of “sparkling wines” rather than “Champagne”, the reason is simple: Only those sparkling wines actually made in the Champagne region of France can be called “Champagne”. All other sparkling wines produced around the world, in places like Spain, Italy, Australia, etc. are just that, “sparkling wines” or cava or Prosecco or what have you.


We love Sonoma Valley, and for a variety of reasons, these detectives chose American-made bubbles! But we need other wines when we entertain. My favorite recommendation for my wedding AND corporate clients is to do the research, and try several lighter reds such as a good pinot before they select what they want to serve their guests. Most dinner entrees such as beef, salmon and even a hearty chicken can match well with the right pinot noir.


One of my all-time favorite organic finds has been the Cooper Mountain Vineyards 2009 Reserve Pinot Noir. Cooper Mountain is a leader in organic pinot noir—they make a half-dozen or so different organic pinots to showcase their unique terroir. The Reserve is a blend of the best of the vineyards, and it gives you a relatively complex and well-priced wine at $21.00.


The wonderfully light omega oils in salmon are in some ways like the lovely fats in dairy—say, the brie we mentioned earlier. When you understand those types of ingredient characteristics in a dish, you can easily learn how acidity and tannins can “season” your food as you dine with great wines. Practice and experimentation makes perfect! And happy!


PATRICK: Thirsty. Hungry. But I digress…


One of the everything-old-is-new-again things that I love about this discussion is—similar to the Trappist beer history—many wines from around the world have always been sustainable. It’s just that nobody made a big deal out of it. Like our grandparents’ family gardens. They just did it because that’s the way it was always done.




WILLIAM: I have always been fascinated by that simple fact, Patrick. It seems like many elements of “Green” really are simple: basic working the earth with your hands, clean soil, clean water, sun, good air, and the result: a great garden, some excellent foods, and in this case, some great wines.


PATRICK: Growing up in Oklahoma means I know what things like okra and strawberries and pecans taste like at their perfect moment. I love those memories, but I wouldn’t have minded growing up in Italy or France and having similar memories about wine!


WILLIAM: Oh, yes! As you describe these garden gifts I can practically taste them right now. Here in the New South, great gardens abound. Even though we’ve recently had some cold, rainy December days, I can almost taste those sun-caressed vine ripe tomatoes Chef Ahmad whipped up for our clients last summer!


But, now I am the one who digresses. Tell me more…


PATRICK: Well, Agent Neal, about that wine, organic wine vineyards are not rare. With the right research, any consumer can “Green-up” their beer and wine selections.


Here are two quick websites to help folks learn the basics on the topic of pairings, which we investigated the past two episodes:


WILLIAM: And now that all the beer and wine is gone, I’m looking forward to a great cup of coffee!


PATRICK: That would be Beanealogy’s USDA organic certified coffee, right William? Thanks for the shameless segue into our next little get together—COFFEE!


WILLIAM: Ah, yes…the “fuel of life”. I can’t wait to talk about “The Beaning of Life”! Great title, Agent Cuccaro!


To be continued…



Have you ever indulged in organic wine? How about high gravity Trappist-style beer? Do you support your local brewery? Please, share with us which, and why, is your favorite local brewery in the comments section below.


Join us next week when Special Agents Patrick Cuccaro and William Neal investigate some amazing coffee as the perfect antidote to their beer and wine tasting!



This week’s 3Rs…


What is Revealed?


REVEALED: SweetWater Brewing Company





What is Revered?


REVERED: Georgia Grown





What is Reviled?


REVILED: Plastic Wine Corks






Special Agent
Patrick Cuccaro
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Special Agent Patrick Cuccaro possesses an analytical mind and keen intellect. As Past Chair of the Georgia Restaurant Association (2012)—representing more than 4,000 restaurants and 100,000 employees—he casts a studied eye towards one of the country’s largest creators of waste—the food industry. Armed with a vision for…[more]

Special Agent
William Neal
UNIT: Legacy Green
Affairs to Remember Caterers
Agent William Neal is a hardened professional in the culinary industry. Well…maybe not hardened, since his favorite quip is “Never trust a skinny chef!” Agent Neal has held some interesting posts throughout his career. Starting as a chef, he became a…[more]

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