Cork Dork: Simply Tariff-ying

ONE NORMALLY WOULDN’T think that airplane manufacturing and winemaking would have much in common, but thanks to the intricacies of international trade, the two industries have recently become inextricably linked. This issue dates back to 2004, when the United States filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization alleging that European Union countries were giving illegal government subsidies to the European aircraft manufacturer Airbus, creating an unfair economic advantage against the U.S.

First Taste: Big Springs Trading Co.

YOU’D BE FORGIVEN for forgetting exactly where St. Joe is along the Buffalo River. “People always forget about us,” Jennifer Jones tells me as she slices turkey breast. “Everyone knows Ponca and the upper, most people know of the lower, but you tell people you’re from the middle Buffalo, and people just look at you.” The folds of thin white meat fall silently into her waiting hand. She looks at me and shrugs turkey-handed. “It’s a big river, you know.” We’ve been standing in the kitchen for the

First Taste: Whilma’s Filipino Restaurant

“THERE’S NO REASON why this can’t be a destination restaurant,” says James Beard Award-winning chef Ann Kim. “Whilma could put Searcy, Arkansas, on the map with her restaurant.” It’s a scene from a Season 4 episode of Small Business Revolution, the online television series that takes brink-of-blight small towns and, with the help of experts and $500,000, restores and rehabilitates them. In February 2019, Searcy beat out 12,000 other communities from across the nation to star in the series. The

Cork Dork: Built to Last

THE PHRASE “AGING like fine wine” has become so common in our vernacular that for most of us, it’s lost its meaning. Sure, in principle, we all know that wine gets better as it ages. Even pop stars like Lizzo sing the praises of older vintage chardonnay, but in a country where 90 percent of all wine is consumed within 24 hours of purchase, is anyone actually still aging wine? The obvious answer is, well, I am, but it’s my hope that just a few paragraphs from now, you’ll count yourself among thos

A Memory For Recipes

MY GRANDMOTHER died seven years ago, but before she did, and before time broke down the tidy geometry of her penmanship, she curved the sails of her S’s, leaning them into the letters that follow. She bent them forward at the beginning of “sugar” and “syrup,” let the sail trail behind “cups,” a tiny flick of the pen that said, Here I am. My mother does this, too, and so do I—a small trace of our lineage laid out on the recipe cards she wrote to feed her family, for my mother to feed me, for me

Cork Dork: Nebbiolo | | Naturally Curious

I’M USUALLY not one for crying in public, but there have been a few rare instances in my life when tears have been unavoidable. Most often, they’re brought on by movies (Toy Story 3 is my kryptonite) or Facebook videos of soldiers being reunited with their dogs. It’s rare that a wine will move me to tears, but it’s happened. And there was once one particular bottle that pushed me beyond the misty-eyed point of is-it-me-or-is-it-dusty-in-here and into the realm of full-on sobbing. I was at a win

First Taste: Bar Cleeta

THE STAFF OF Bar Cleeta is tired. They’re assembled, almost in their entirety, around a backyard chessboard, where knee-high chess pieces are shuffled back and forth, a server and a sous chef doing their best to outwit each other. Around them, the rest of the staff sits watching, passing beer cans and a whiskey bottle among them. It’s 4 p.m. on a Saturday, and right now, they should be working—polishing glasses, rolling silverware, heating pans and simmering the first sauces of the night. But to

Cork Dork: Bubbles of Freedom

NO MATTER your personal beliefs about the current presidential administration, you have to admire its penchant for pageantry and pomp. And while a recent Energy Department memo referring to fossil fuels as “molecules of freedom” got understandably roasted online, I immediately knew this rebranding didn’t just have to stop at fossil fuels. You see, American sparkling wine has always had an image problem. Everyone is familiar with Champagne, the French sparkling wine from the region of the same n

Cork Dork: Chardon-yay!

WE’VE ALL been in this situation: You’re standing in your local wine shop, staring out at rows and rows of bottles. You came here with a purpose, a bottle of chardonnay, but now, with dozens of options in front of you, how are you supposed to know which one to get? It’s a simple but perilous choice because, as I think all wine drinkers can attest, there’s a lot of bad chardonnay out there in the world, and it’s my job as your wine sensei to guide you past the swill to the sublime.

Ballet Arkansas And The Love Of Dance

“GUYS, IT’S GOING to be a rough morning on you today.” There’s a nervous laugh from the dancers of Ballet Arkansas as they walk onto the rehearsal floor. Michael Fothergill, the company’s executive and artistic director, warns them, “We’re going to take it slow, but pay attention.” The six dancers, three men and three women, split apart—men off to one side, pretending to wait in the stage’s wing, while the women nestle themselves into the room’s back corner, a makeshift stand-in for what, come t

Cork Dork: Why I Drink

IT’S A QUESTION that I get asked often enough that you would think I’d have a go-to answer. In truth, I have several, but "Well, it gets me drunk," isn’t the answer my mother likes me to give at family reunions. The real answer, my truest one, has been a hard thing to pin down because to me, the answer to “why wine?” is “why not?” A simple question deserves a simple answer, right? But what does that really mean? Well, erm, that’s where my answer gets a little more complicated.

Cork Dork: Tasting A 1927 Port

IT WAS the oldest thing I’d ever tasted—barely 2 ounces of a 1927 vintage port wine. It was just a month shy of its 90th birthday when I had it, and in those interceding years it had changed from the red, ripe and harrowing wine of its youth to something softer, more demure. Where once had been wild strawberry and dark chocolate, there were now stewed plums and cooked hazelnuts. But more than the simple flavors on my palate, what struck me most was the single, indescribable flavor of time.

Cork Dork: Revealing Walla Walla

DRIVING INTO the southeast Washington city of Walla Walla, I found myself presented with something of a visual oxymoron. On either side of the highway, desk-sized tumbleweeds rolled right out of a Saturday-morning cartoon while just ahead, growing taller by the mile, were the still-snowcapped peaks of the Blue Mountains. It was mid-April in the Evergreen State and I was on my way to Reveal Walla Walla, the annual invitation-only wine auction where each year this booming wine region premieres its

These Are The Wine Pairings Southern Food Deserves

I HAD BEEN expecting the email all day, but I was still nervous when my phone buzzed signaling its arrival. Attached was a menu for a wine dinner at The Capital Hotel. I had agreed to help with wine pairings, but it was the theme that made me nervous: a traditional Southern Sunday supper of hushpuppies and Cobb salad, chicken and dumplings and collard greens, smoked ribs and mac and cheese. With carrot cake, of course. It isn’t that I don’t love a challenge. But Southern food, with its unique m
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