Tickets On Sale for Taste of Atlanta

Tickets are now on sale for Taste of Atlanta, the city’s premiere food and drink festival. Celebrating its 11th year, the can’t-miss event will be held on October 5th, 6th and 7th in Midtown’s Tech Square.

The festival showcases the best in Atlanta’s culinary scene and offers attendees the chance to taste it all. More than 80 restaurants will offer a taste of their menu, while chefs demonstrate their signature dishes or face off in friendly competition on two stages. Taste of Atlanta offers food fun for all ages with interactive cooking demonstrations and hands on activities at the Family Food Zone.

Click here to see highlights from Taste of Atlanta 2011

For wine and beer fans, the VIP experience offers the chance to sample a large selection of wine and more than 40 craft beers inside the VIP tasting tents. At educational seminars VIPs will get to learn about and sample special wines, beers and cocktails.

Returning for its second year is a kickoff party on Friday, October 5th. The Big Grill: Grills Gone Wild will salute Atlanta’s best chefs including Ford Fry, Kevin Rathbun and Jay Swift with live music, cold beer and plenty of great food. The Big Grill benefits Georgia Organics.

Tickets to Taste of Atlanta are $25 per person per day and may be purchased online. Tickets at the event will cost $35 per person. Ten taste coupons are included with admission and are used to purchase food. Kids 13 and under receive free admission when accompanied by a paid adult. VIP tickets are $75 in advance and $85 at the event and include 15 taste coupons. Click here for information on tickets to The Big Grill, which include Saturday or Sunday admission.

Taste of Atlanta, October 5, 6, & 7 at Spring Street & 5th Street in Midtown Atlanta.

The Great Miller Lite Chili Cook-Off Returns for 33rd Year

Bring your appetite to one of fall’s hottest festivals! The 33rd annual Great Miller Lite Chili Cook-Off will be held on Saturday, September 29th at Stone Mountain.

The cook-off features more than 300 teams from across the country cooking up their best recipe (and serving it to attendees) for a chance to be crowned top chili. The winner takes home $5,000 and a trophy, with prizes also awarded for best Brunswick stew, cornbread and showmanship.

In addition to all the chili there will be live performances from some of the nation’s best tribute bands including Hollywood Nights, Departure, The Mighty Dan Halen and Hysteria, plus games like the popular annual Mullet Flop.

Tickets to the chili festival can be purchased at the event for $10 per person. Children 12 and under are free. One hundred percent of the proceeds go to Camp Twin Lakes, a network of camps that provide life-changing programs to Georgia’s kids with serious illnesses, disabilities and other challenges.

For more information on the Great Miller Lite Chili Cook-Off visit Click here for photos from previous years.

The Great Miller Lite Chili Cook-Off, September 29, 2012 from 10am to 7pm at the Coliseum Meadow at Stone Mountain Park. Entrance to Stone Mountain Park costs $10 per vehicle.

AG Pick: Aqua Pumpkin Pinot Noir 2009

Pumpkin season is officially underway. And with all the spiced lattes, beers and beyond, your favorite pumpkin-inspired treat could very well be a wine: the 2009 Aqua Pumpkin Pinot Noir.

Before you start imagining just how well pumpkin goes with red wine, you should know that there is no pumpkin (or pumpkin flavor) in Aqua Pumpkin. The name of this Kenneth Volk wine comes from crayons. During the 1986 crush a sleep-deprived employee woke up from a nap in the break room and saw two crayons – aqua and pumpkin – next to each other. He thought the two were an amusing combination for a wine label.

The Aqua Pumpkin Pinot Noir comes from Santa Barbara County in California’s Central Coast. It is a medium to full-bodied Pinot Noir that will please fans of spicy wines like Malbec, Syrah and Zinfandel.

Ripe berry aromas and a hint of freshly ground black pepper introduce flavors of cherry, boysenberry, raspberry and plum. The fruit is enhanced with subtle layers of cinnamon and clove. Silky tannins give the wine a pleasant mouthfeel, and the finish is long and satisfying.

Pair this Pinot Noir with game birds, chicken, turkey, veal, pork or dishes with mushrooms.

A sure crowd-pleaser and a great value, Aqua Pumpkin should be on your dinner table this fall.

A bottle of the 2009 Aqua Pumpkin Pinot Noir costs approximately $22.

More Red Wines | White Wines | Under $20

Alex Hitz Celebrates Atlanta Roots in Cookbook

It’s an extra special homecoming for chef and HSN personality Alex Hitz. The Atlanta native will be in town this October to celebrate the release of his first cookbook.

My Beverly Hills Kitchen: Classic Southern Cooking with a French Twist draws on five generations of southern hospitality with family recipes, cooking anecdotes and advice for menu planning and entertaining. It’s part cookbook and part memoir — Alex mixes together southern favorites, European traditions and a pinch of Beverly Hills glamour for his signature style that’s both casual and elegant.

Mouthwatering recipes include Heirloom Tomato Pie, Roast Tenderloin of Beef with Horseradish Sauce, Luscious Lemon-Ginger Squares, Salted Caramel Cake, and of course, Fried Chicken.

A third-generation Atlantan on both sides, Alex has been a passionate foodie and host from a young age. He was first inspired by his mother, who claimed Alex had planned the menu for his second birthday party. After honing his skills at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, Alex purchased half-ownership of The Patio by the River (later sold to Canoe), a restaurant where he worked as a teen. In 2009 Alex launched The Beverly Hills Kitchen, a line of gourmet foods that is one of the top-selling food lines on HSN.

My Beverly Hills Kitchen: Classic Southern Cooking with a French Twist is published by Alfred A. Knopf and goes on sale in October (hardcover $35).

For more information on Alex Hitz visit

Alex Hitz will visit Atlanta in October for a series of events:

Wednesday, October 10, 2012
An Evening with Alex Hitz at the Atlanta History Center

Honorary Chair Dean DuBose Smith, Chairs Aimee Chubb, Duvall Fuqua, Elizabeth Hale and Frances Schultz will gather at the History Center for an evening of fine dining and dancing with a menu straight from the pages of Alex’s book prepared by Mary Hataway and the staff of Soiree. Alex will share stories and photos of his incredible journey. Tickets are $225 each and include a signed copy of Alex’s book. Event proceeds help support the educational activities of the Atlanta History Center.

For ticket information contact Katherine Hoogerwerf at (404) 814-4102 or

Thursday, October 11, 2012
Book Signing at TRAVADAVI Boutique
2300 Peachtree Road
Atlanta, GA 30309
11:00 am

Book Signing and Lecture at the Atlanta History Center
130 West Paces Ferry Road NW
Atlanta, Georgia 30305
7:00 pm

Admission for lectures is $5 members, $10 nonmembers, and free to AHC Insiders unless otherwise noted; reservations are required; call (404) 814-4150 or reserve online at

Sunday, October 14, 2012
Book Signing and Q&A at Barnes and Noble
2900 Peachtree Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30305
2:00 p.m.

A Sip of the Past at the Speakeasy Cocktail Festival


Atlantans were transported back in time Labor Day Weekend at the Speakeasy Cocktail Festival. The Georgia World Congress Center was transformed into a 1920s-inspired underground club, complete with classic and modern cocktails, cigars, a poker tournament and live entertainment.

Moonshine was one of the main attractions — all legal of course. Straight, flavored or mixed in a drink, moonshine demonstrated just how versatile (and tasty) it can be.

Guests also had the chance to taste vodka, rum, whiskey and cider. In between sips they could play pool, cornhole and bocce ball.

For the causal cigar fan, there was a chance to learn about and sample a variety of cigars.

The Speakeasy Cocktail Festival was a celebration of the Prohibition era and its influence on the beer, spirits and cocktails of today.

All proceeds from the Speakeasy Cocktail Festival benefited The Health Education & Communication Center of Atlanta, a 501(c)(3) organization that works to build awareness to improve health literacy and positively impact health outcomes throughout the state.

Frozen Pints: Craft Beer Ice Cream

A new Atlanta-based company is inviting you to have your beer and drink it too.

Introducing Frozen Pints, a cool treat that combines two favorites: ice cream and craft beer.

The idea to make ice cream with beer started as an accident – during a party someone spilled beer near the ice cream maker. Since that fateful day the Frozen Pints team has been sipping, snacking, mixing and freezing, and now their top flavors are available on tap (rather, in a freezer) throughout the city.

Frozen Pints Ice Cream is made with genuine craft beer and contains no artificial flavorings. Complementary ingredients are added, but the true flavor of the beer comes through in each scoop.

Frozen Pints offers five year-round flavors and select seasonal flavors. Try the Brown Ale Chip, a classic brown ale paired with sweet chocolate chips and hints of roasted hazelnut. Chocolate fans will love the Malted Milk Chocolate Stout, a creamy mix of the beer and movie snack. Rounding out the year-round flavors are Peach Lambic, Honey IPA and Vanilla Bock.

This autumn look for the Pumpkin Ale. Described as “fall in a pint,” the ice cream has flavors of cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg.

And just as when buying beer, be ready to show your ID. Frozen Pints Ice Cream has an alcohol content between 1 and 3 percent, depending on the flavor.

Frozen Pints cost approximately $8 per pint. Look for them in the freezer at wine and spirits stores around Atlanta.

For more information on Frozen Pints and to find where they are sold visit

images from Frozen Pints’ Facebook page

It’s Time for Wine: There is Little Small About Petite Sirah

By Monty & Sara Preiser

Just mention Petite Sirah and “the question” comes soon thereafter. How is it different from (big) Syrah?

Almost all of the world’s easily recognizable grape varieties* are the offspring of two parent grapes. For example, the parents of Chardonnay are Pinot (probably Pinot Noir according to our conversation with the world’s leading grape geneticist Carole Meredith) and Gouais (a now unimportant grape hardly grown any longer). For Cabernet Sauvignon, the parents are today’s more relevant and almost indispensable Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.

Petite Sirah, the progeny of Syrah and Peloursin, is its own distinct variety. It was developed in the Rhone region of France (where it is called “Durif” or “Petite Syrah”) primarily to help combat the mildew to which Syrah was susceptible. But then the new vines were also compromised, this time by dry rot in the southern humid districts. Not surprisingly, then, today you won’t find much Petite Sirah under any name in France. It does, however, grow well in the drier regions of the U.S. and parts of Australia. Somewhere along the line, the preferred new world spelling and nomenclature became “Petite Sirah,” though one would not be technically incorrect according to the U. S. Government (the TTB) if either “Petite Syrah” or “Durif” were used in describing the wine.

In July we hosted a tasting of twenty 2002-2008 Petite Sirahs at our Napa home. The wines were divided into flights so that each could be compared next to another with a like harvest date. We seated a stellar tasting panel to join the two of us at the table. They included Mike Drash, owner/winemaker of Tallulah Wines and winemaker for Aratas; Shelly Eichner, National Sales Manager for Swanson Vineyards; Sara Fowler; winemaker for Peju Province; Todd Graff, winemaker at Frank Family; Shari Gherman, sommelier and President of the American Fine Wine Competition; Christina Machamer, master chef and General Manager of B Cellars; Steve Reynolds, owner/winemaker of Reynolds Family; and Florida chef Lee Blakely.

The exercise was to taste blind, comment, and then arrive at a group decision as to what medal each wine might receive at a competition. Two added elements to the evening were the presence of a film crew from the American Fine Wine Competition who were capturing how judges actually go about their charge, and the inclusion of certain wines (those with later vintages in flights 3 and 4) that could earn invitations to the next competition based on their showing.

After tasting, commentary, and debate, results were agreed on by the panel, though sometimes more reluctantly than others – sort of like a United States Supreme Court decision. The best of the older vintages were the 2004 Quixote Stags Leap and the 2004 Shypoke. For the 2005 flight, the panel favored the Olabisi Suisun Valley, with the Bremer Family, Envy, and Swanson entries receiving some good support. Generally, the wines above not only exhibited excellent balance, but they were aging well, had lost very little integrity, and paired quite nicely with the food served.

Moving to 2007, the clear favorite was the Girard Napa Valley, with the Charter Oak St. Helena also giving an excellent account of itself. A newcomer unknown to the panel (except Monty, who met one of the vintners earlier in the week), was the 122 West Russian River Valley Durif. It won some new fans and garnered a strong (though phantom) Silver medal.

The final flight consisted mostly of 2008 vintages, with one 2009 in the mix. The strongest showing was by the Aratas Napa Valley, while B Cellars Napa Valley and the Simi Dry Creek Valley showed well. Interestingly, this vintage did not produce enough “Gold” votes for any of these wines to achieve that level, even though each of the bottles mentioned highly impressed more than one member of the group. Perhaps the lack of unanimity was a function of the wines’ relative youth. They will, we are happy to say, receive Competition invitations and get another chance in early 2013.

Breaking down all the wines evaluated, medals would have looked like this:

Charter Oak St. Helena 2007
Girard Napa Valley 2007
Olabisi Suisun Valley 2005
Quixote Stags Leap 2004

122 West Russian River Valley 2007
Aratas Napa Valley 2008
B Cellars Napa Valley 2008
Bremer Family Dry Creek Valley 2005
Envy Napa Valley 2005
Shypoke Calistoga 2004
Simi Dry Creek Valley 2008
Swanson Oakville 2005

Arger Martucci Napa Valley 2005
Jessup Yolo County 2008
Retro Howell Mountain 2004

You may be eagle-eyed and note that we only listed fifteen of the twenty. Well, five did not medal on this particular evening and we see no imperative to include them further. We hope it is sufficient that we certainly recommend you sample any of those listed, as we all felt they were good enough to medal. There are also a number of excellent, more recently released Petites that were not included. Time and space usually dictate the number of wines that can be assessed, and we do what we can. Thus, we urge you to arrive at no conclusions about any wine not listed.

Petite Sirah is a wine growing in popularity, and we are personally happy to see it. The flavor profiles fit our palates well. We look for a full bodied wine with deep color pigmentation and medium to high tannic structure. Spices and peppery red fruit are identifiable in the better bottles, as is a (sometimes) touch of jam (but not jammy like Zinfandels). With the above descriptions, you can see that Petite Sirah is quite perfect with grilled game dishes, medium spiced stews, and duck. If you aren’t familiar with this wine, we recommend you explore.

*The term “variety” refers to the vine or grape, while “varietal” refers to the wine produced by a variety. It is often hard, when writing, to distinguish which one is being discussed, and sometimes it is both or a combination of both. Most people do not distinguish the two, and almost always use the term “varietal.”


It’s Time for Wine is a column published by wine writers and educators Monty and Sara Preiser that is featured on the Amateur Gastronomer.

Monty and Sara Preiser reside full time in Palm Beach County, Florida, and spend their summers visiting wineries and studying wines on the west coast where they have a home in Napa. For many years they were the wine columnists for The Boca Raton News, have served as contributors to the South Florida Business Journal, and are now the principal wine writers for  Monty and Sara also publish The Preiser Key to Napa Valley, the most comprehensive guide to wineries and restaurants in the Napa Valley, published every March, July, and November. In fall 2011 the Preisers released the first issue of The Preiser Key to Sonoma. Click here to read more columns by the Preisers.