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Welcome to Chocolate Town, U.S.A.


I don’t remember where the idea came from. Probably some online cooking show, or maybe an article in a trade magazine, of putting together an “all chocolate” dinner. It was an idea that I later offered up a new take on at Casa SaltShaker, more than once.

Welcome to Chocolate Town, U.S.A.
Cacao Theobroma

Bean of a Thousand Guises

Act I
Aztec Chocolate Soup with Duck Liver Toast

N.V. Domaine Chandon Blanc de Noirs

Act II
Spiced Bay Scallop Napoleon with a
Cabernet & Chocolate Reduction

1990 Querbach Riesling Spätlese

Rabbit Braised in Chocolate & Port Sauce

1992 Leasingham Domaine Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec

Act IV
White Chocolate Sorbet, Fresh Strawberries,
Pineapple-Ginger Syrup

1991 Ridge Zinfandel Essence

Act V

Chocolate Sin


Seduction Dinner

Q San Francisco
February/March 1996
Pages 42-43

Seduction Dinner

The lights are low. No, the lights are off. Candles lit on a beautiful cloth draped table. Crystal glasses. China plates. Real silver. Your best Peggy Lee album is moaning away in the background. The date of your dreams is already sitting at the table.

This is not the moment to bring out the reheated takeout food from the shop down the street. This is your moment to star, to shine, to seduce. You want to be loved not only for you, but your culinary prowess. You want to be introduced to friends not only as cute, smart, and funny, but as someone who can cook, too.

It should look like you worked at it. And you should use every aphrodisiac known to man. Well, at least a few of them. Oysters, caviar, roses, chocolate. Sounds like a winner. I’m going to make this as painless as possible. A four-course seduction dinner that can be made by anyone, whether frying pan challenged or a whisk master.

I should warn you. This is a no expense spared dinner. After all, this is a special night. What’s a couple of weeks’ paychecks in exchange for eternal (or at least a long weekend) happiness? You spent more last month on club entrance fees.

First, the oysters and caviar. Actually, first, the champagne. Pop for a half bottle of Krug Grand Cuvèe. If you want to go domestic, and/or a bit less pricey, and make a subtle (not very) hint, pour out some Iron Horse Vineyards Blanc de Noirs “Wedding Cuvee.” Now just skip dinner and go straight for the bedroom…

Most importantly, have your fishmonger open the oysters for you. There’s nothing worse than struggling to open a dozen fresh oysters in your own kitchen. You probably don’t have an oyster blade and it’s no fun anyway. Just buy them that afternoon.

Now the best thing you could have here would be one of those great cast iron plates on a wood base like you get at the local Sizzler. Otherwise, use a heavy pan. Cover the plate or pan with the salt, about 1/8 inch deep. Set the oysters, each on a half shell, into the salt. Drizzle with champagne. Top with a quick grind of white pepper. Throw it all in a 450 degree oven for five minutes till the oysters just firm up. Top each with a small (demitasse) spoonful of caviar, and serve you and your intended a half dozen apiece.

The next course is the easiest one. It’s taken from an old Italian recipe. I think old Italian women use it to snare husbands for their daughters. It works on non-Italians too.

You have to pluck the rose. That’s all there is to it. It will be a moment to indulge in your Morticia Adams fantasies. Pull those petals right off the flower. Rinse them and dry them.

I prefer serrano ham to prosciutto, but I leave it up to you. Spread the slices out in a fan on your nicest china salad plate. Drizzle with oil and vinegar. Coarsely crack the peppercorns and sprinkle over the plate. Casually strew some marjoram leaves and rose petals over the dish. Serve.

To bring out the rose and spice flavors in this dish, I recommend a Gewurztraminer. This grape is often referred to as the “Don Juan of Alsace,” Alsace being its ancestral home. Women (and occasionally men) are said to swoon just from a sip. My favorite from Alsace comes from Marcel Deiss at his Altenberg vineyards. If your aim is a little closer to home try the Martinelli or Sakonnet Vineyards Gewurztraminer, respectively from California and Rhode Island.

The main course is always the hardest, which is why I left the first two easy. Combining the proverbial partridge, an aphrodisiacal bird if ever there was one, and chocolate, which may just be the queen of seduction, this classic Spanish recipe had better turn the trick, as it were…

If you can’t get partridges, well, let’s face it, you’re not the shopper we thought you were. You can, however, substitute one game hen and split it. Rub the birds with one of the tablespoons of oil. Bake in a roasting pan at 375 degrees for half an hour.

Meanwhile, saute the garlic and onion in the remaining two tablespoons of oil till just golden. Add the wine and cook till it pretty much evaporates. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer over low heat for half an hour. When the birds have baked for thirty minutes, take them out and put them in the pan with the sauce. Continue to simmer, turning the birds, for another 15 minutes. Serve.

This dish calls for something a bit bold to go with the chocolate, garlic and onions in the sauce, but elegant enough for both the partridges and the mood of the evening. Coming from the Bordeaux side of the world, I’d pick Chateau Kirwan from Margaux. From way south of our borders, Bodegas Weinert Cabernet Sauvignon would be high on my list. And for those inclined domestically, I think I’d grab a bottle of William Baccala Estate Merlot.

For dessert, I recommend going light. Remember, you want to have enough energy for after dinner activities. We’ve already filled up with three dishes of food. Poached fruit is the way to go. And what could be more classically seductive than figs and honey?

Melt butter in frying pan over low heat and gently saute the figs for 2 minutes. Mix honey, amaretto and nutmeg together and add to pan. Simmer until amaretto has evaporated and sauce is thickened. Serve warm with a large spoonful of whipped cream. Save the rest of the whipped cream for your after dinner activities.

This is a moment for a small glass of classic sherry. This dish works especially well with E. Lustau Solera Reserva “San Emilio.” In the “also works” category would be a top Vin Santo from Italy, the most prized of which would be Avignonesi Vin Santo Occhio del Pernice. George Bernard Shaw once said, “There is no love sincerer than the love of food.” Starting from there, just imagine your second date…

Seduction Dinner – Appetizer
12 fresh oysters
1 small tin of sevruga or oscetra caviar
a dash of white pepper
Coarse grain salt
1/4 cup of champagne

Seduction Dinner – Antipasto

1/4 pound of thinly sliced serrano ham or prosciutto
1 pink rose
Fresh marjoram leaves
Mixed color whole peppercorns
Good balsamic vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil

Seduction Dinner – Main Course

2 partridges, thoroughly cleaned
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon sherry or balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cloves
1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves
1 small bay leaf
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate

Seduction Dinner – Dessert

4 ripe figs, quartered
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup amaretto
2 tablespoons butter
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups whipped cream

Q San Francisco magazine premiered in late 1995 as a ultra-slick, ultra-hip gay lifestyle magazine targeted primarily for the San Francisco community. It was launched by my friends Don Tuthill and Robert Adams, respectively the publisher and editor-in-chief, who had owned and run Genre magazine for several years prior. They asked me to come along as the food and wine geek, umm, editor, for this venture as well. In order to devote their time to Passport magazine, their newest venture, they ceased publication of QSF in early 2003.


Nuts Nuts Nuts…


A menu chock-ful of nuts!

Fennel Salad with American and Israeli Persimmons, Pecans and a Pernod-Mustard Vinaigrette
N.V. Gruet Brut

Grafton Cheddar Soup with Spinach, Mizuna & Walnuts, Cranberry Bannock
1991 Umberto Cesari Albana di Romagna ‘Colle del Re’

Braised Five Spice Scented Leg of Lamb with Sauce Paloise, Toasted Cous-Cous, Parsnip Purée & Almonds
1982 Penfolds Grange

Two Chocolate, Cinnamon-Lemon Cheesecake Sandwich, Crushed Hazelnuts, Apricot & Fig Coulis
1991 Giovanni Dri Ramandolo

I remember that dessert particularly – I made discs of swirled together tempered white and dark chocolate and sandwiched rounds of the cheesecake between them, then rolled the edges in the crushed hazelnuts and served it standing on its side atop the fruit puree.


Human Rights Day Dinner


It was the 45th anniversary of the UN’s declaration of Human Rights Day, how could we not celebrate. There’s clearly a big gap here from the last dinner – a solid 8 months – I simply don’t have several menus in my files. By this point we’d taken to calling the near monthly gathering the Second Sunday Supper Circle, and at the time, three friends, Frank Rocca, Ross Turin, and Bob Karelitz, had become pretty much the core regulars of the group, with space at the table for invites to two additional people each time, more only if one of the regulars begged off. A rarity.

“Men who have blazed new paths for civilization have always been precedent breakers. It is never the man who believes in his own ideas; who can think and act without a crowd to back him; who is not afraid to stand alone; who is bold, original, resourceful; who has the courage to go where others have never been, to do what others have never done, who accomplishes things, who leave a mark on his times. Don’t wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common ones, and make them great.”

– Orison Swett Marden, doctor, writer and hotelier

Serrano Ham with Fresh Marjoram, Rose Petals, Cracked Peppercorns, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar

Roasted Vegetable Broth with Pommery Mustard Spaetzle and Horseradish Prawns

Sweet Potato & Shiitake Ravioli in a Pool of White Truffle and Chive Cream

Roasted Marinated Sea Bass with Baked Lemon and Garlic Potatoes

Mixed Herb Salad with Epoisses Toast

Cherry Genoise with Black Walnut Buttercream and Slivovitz Syrup

Thinking about it, the mustard spaetzle were straight out of the Charlie Trotter playbook, the ravioli were a re-creation of a dish I tried at the NYC based Troisgros restaurant CT, and the lemon and garlic potatoes are a personal favorite out of the Deaf Smith Cookbook.


Pretty in Pink

Q San Francisco
Winter 1996
Pages 38-39

Pretty in Pink

The world would be a better place if we had more pink. Ask the Pink Panther. I remember a study done back in the 70s that demonstrated how different colors caused mood changes in psychotic patients. Pink created calm. Lavender may be the official color of the gay movement, but pink is almost always associated with us first.

Pink is a color for celebration, for festivities, for wine. Yes, wine. I realize that pink and wine together tend to conjure up images of semi-sweet, sometimes fizzy wines like white Zinfandel. Those of you who read my column in last issue will remember that I lumped white Zinfandel, screw- top bottle caps and plastic bendy straws into a small package suitable for a vinyl backpack. But let’s face it, there’s also red and white wine in gallon jugs that you wouldn’t want to drink.

Picture this: a toast – champagne glasses filled to the brim with frothy pink champagne. Tall, cool, crisp glasses of rosé freshing your palate as you dive into your appetizer course. Rich, full flavors of berries and spice as you move to your entrees. Soft, round tones of fruit and chocolate as you savor a flute of yet another, just barely pink champagne with your dessert. That’s a dinner I’d go to. That’s a dinner I think I’ll plan right now. So how does wine get to be pink? I mean, anyone knows that white grapes make white wine and red grapes make red wine, right? Right and wrong. Red wine pretty much has to have red grapes in it – unless you’re using large quantities of Red No. 5 dye. But it often has white grapes too. And white wine can be made from either.. Why? Because the juice of both is white, all the color is in the skin. And this leads us to rosés…

There are three basic ways to make pink wine. The first, and most obvious, is to mix red and white together. This is sometimes done with really cheap wines, but the truly classic place it is done is in Champagne. Actually, it’s the only place in the European Community you can legally make pink wine that way. The second way is to take red grapes and squeeze them really, really hard. Kind of like thighmaster exercises. Then you get just a little bit of color from the grape skins and have what is called a “vin gris.” Or, you can start making a red wine but then strain out the skins before the color of the wine gets too dark. Decisions, decisions.

Enough of the dull, technical stuff, let’s drink some wine. Here are some of my favorites in pink:

Pink Picks for Partying

In the Champagne category, my top honors go to three wineries off there in the north of France. First place, a pink ribbon, to Perrier-Jouet Fleur de Champagne Rosé. This wine blew me away the first time I tried it. Full, rich fruit flavors, dry as a bone, and an elegance that made Princess Grace look cheap. Unfortunately, the wine isn’t. But it is in a gorgeous bottle: clear glass painted all over with adorable pink flowers.. You can’t make a better impression.

Second place, coming in at a significantly lower cut of your cash, goes to Laurent-Perrier Rosé Brut. First, again, a stunning bottle. This wine comes packaged in an old 1800s style wide bottle that catches your eye. The wine itself is pale and delicate, and is perfect for reminding you that there are, indeed, finer things in life. In a close third place is Champagne de Venoge Crémant Rosé. A crémant is a champagne that isn’t quite as bubbly as usual. Rather than froth and bubbles, you get a sort of sparkling creaminess. This particular wine, again in a great bottle (see, even the bottles are great for celebrations!), is the perfect accompaniment to a lobster, especially in the form of a lobster bisque. I don’t know why, but I know it works.

Staying in the sparkling category, there are wines from places other than Champagne.that deserve special mention. First,. Maison Deutz Blanc de Noirs. Now, technically, “blanc de noirs” ought to mean white from black (the wine aficionado’s term for red grapes). But most of them are of that sort of vin gris variety we talked about, so they have a light, golden pink kind of color. This one shows that classic champagne elegance, not surprising given its connection to Champagne Deutz over in France. Beautiful berry flavors with soft toasty notes make this one the California winner.

In the truly rosé category, I’m tempted to give an award to Domaine Chandon for its Bin 222 Rosé, but again, the faintly pink Blanc de Noirs is their true winner and takes the second place spot. Rich, almost chocolatey flavors, mixed with berry fruit, make this a perfect wine to complement desserts.

And a surprising entry from the east coast of our fair nation, Pindar Cuvée Rare from Long Island is a pale salmon color, with an exuberant style that can kick off a party or wind up its finish with a bang. And the bottle’s pretty darn good-looking too.

Getting away from the bubbly, I want to recommend a few enjoyable table wines. Topping the list is Bruno Clair Marsannay Rose. Marsannay is a small commune in Burgundy. Imagine a classy Pinot Noir done in pink and you have some idea of this wine. One of the best matches with salmon I’ve ever had.

From the far southern end of the French domain comes the Domaine Ott Chateau de Selle Rosé. This wine is crisp, light, and perfect chilled as you sit outside enjoying the sunset or dig into a huge bowl of bouillabaisse, the classic fish stew of Provence, where this wine is from.

From nearby Italy, two top entries make my list. Amadea Rosato (the Italian term for rosé) gets the nod here. This is a light, slightly sparkling (frizzante in Italian) version of the Piedmontese wine Barbera. A toughy to find, but a great match for things barbecued or spicy foods. Not only that, but it’s got a handwritten label and is Kosher to boot. A very close second place goes to Regaleali Conte Tasca d’Almerita Rosato. This wine impresses me year after year. You taste it and all you can think is fun. If you can imagine strawberries, watermelon, limes and spices all rolled up in a party-pak, you’re on the right track.

I have to admit, most American winemakers went the sweet, fizzy route to pink. But slowly, some of them are realizing that good, dry table wines can be made here. One of the first, and still, in my estimation, leading the pack, was Randall Graham of Bonny Doon Vineyard with his Vin Gris de Cigare. Using primarily grape varieties native to the Rhòne valley, he has carved out a niche for an American style not seen before. This vin gris is rich in dark berry flavors, floral notes, and a smokiness that is particularly appealing. In second place, but awfully close, is Etude Pinot Noir Rosé. Coming out of the Carneros area overlapping the Napa and Sonoma valleys, this wine ties up bright berry flavors, spices and just a touch of sparkle with alight pink bow.

For a good time, think pink, drink pink. See you next time.

Dan Perlman is a chef and sommelier. He is co-owner of both Somewhere Else Catering, Inc. and Wine Partners, located in New York.

Q San Francisco magazine premiered in late 1995 as a ultra-slick, ultra-hip gay lifestyle magazine targeted primarily for the San Francisco community. It was launched by my friends Don Tuthill and Robert Adams, respectively the publisher and editor-in-chief, who had owned and run Genre magazine for several years prior. They asked me to come along as the food and wine geek, umm, editor, for this venture as well. In order to devote their time to Passport magazine, their newest venture, they ceased publication of QSF in early 2003.


Accent on Fruit


Hey, I only had a menu in my files that had clearly become stained from being on the table during dinner. Such is life. I was playing with some ideas I got from working at American Renaissance, by then closed, from chef Eric Blauberg – who was a big proponent of fruit in savory dishes.

Squid Sashimi on Cellophane Noodles with Pomegranate Vinaigrette
1989 Métaireau Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine sur lie “Grand Mouton”

Roast Lobster Salad, Fresh Mango, Oscetra Caviar and Cauliflower Cream
1987 Argyle Cuvée Limited Rosé

Chilled Melon and Potato Soup

Tamarind and Sesame Marinated Veal with Champagne Chanterelle Risotto
1988 Boisson-Morey Meursault-Goutte d’Or 1er Cru

Peach and Lillet Granité, Shaved Saint Nectaire Cheese

Individual White Chocolate Tarts Infused with Pear Skins
Etienne Brana Framboise


Food For The Night


I think these were served in the order starting with the caviar and then going clockwise from there, but who remembers? A couple of details stand out – the Pommery mustard sauce was an inspiration from a meal at Charlie Trotter’s, where I’d gone for an interview to be his head sommelier at his soon to be opening Las Vegas restaurant – I spent a day between the kitchen and dining room, then sat down to a full tasting menu, spent the night at his home, and then flew back to NYC. I didn’t get the job, which turned out to be a blessing as I doubt I’d have liked Las Vegas as a place to live, and the restaurant didn’t last long. The scallops with the sherry bacon vinaigrette was a riff on an amuse bouche we served at Mondrian restaurant when I interned under Tom Colicchio after having gone back to school to hone some skills.

Osetra Caviar & Creme Fraiche

Salmon & Sea Bass Sashimi &
Beef Tartare, Lime, Mint &
Pommery Mustard Sauce

Tomato Herb Broth,
Seared Sea Scallops
& Sherry Bacon Sauce

Pan Roast Duck Breast, Celeriac Purée,
Swiss Chard, Roasted Shallots,
& Tangerine Reduction Sauce

Mascarpone Basilica & Bartlett Pears

Almond Tuiles,
Earl Grey Ice Cream
& Cocoa Dust



Q San Francisco
Fall 1995
Pages 42-43


uncorkedIt takes neither wine geek nor fashion queen to figure out that champagne is the classic match for black tie and ball gowns. But then, like a string of pearls, champagne goes with everything. What do you don while sipping a glass of Cabernet? And what do you drink when attired in your best club kid vinyl? The wine of the late seventies was Chablis. The mode of dress, denim and flannel. In the eighties we turned to California Chardonnay and those scrawny little iridescent ties. Halfway through the nineties, the rage is plastic and Merlot. Are these fashion faux pas? Should the fashion police be called? Enquiring minds want to know. Behind-the-seams and behind-the-stems, a definitive guide to the properly bedecked body when lofting stemware is long overdue.

The Definitive Guide to Wine Apparel

Plastic & Rubber: This is clothing at its most high-tech. You find yourself wearing black vinyl shorts, green rubberized PVC boots and a see-through orange jacket vaguely reminiscent of the notebook cover your mother bought you for 7th grade. You have rings on your fingers and bells on your toes, not to mention rubber O-rings on your wrists and elsewhere.

This is not a time to go for classic vintages. This is not a time for elegance and delicacy. You want bold, up-front, high-tech winemaking at its best. You’re also on a budget ’cause that outfit cost you three weeks of paychecks. Think screwtop. Think White Zinfandel. Pack a handful of those airline-size bottles in your clutch or Scooby- Doo lunchbox and you’ll make club kid of the week. Make sure to take along a couple of those bendy straws.

Metal: This is a tough one. Metal can be subtle or bold. Silver or gold. A mere medallion attached to a cap or an entire steel mesh sleeveless T. It can be whisper quiet and heavy or jangle when you walk. Most importantly, metal makes a statement that can’t be ignored. And that’s your key to a wine match. You don’t do what’s usual. You’re on the cutting edge of fashion and you’re ready for the cutting edge of wine. This is the moment for the hottest trends around. With white metal – California Viognier. Even in wine circles this sizzling style is hush-hush. There’s just so little to go around. Snap some up! Decked in gold, brass, bronze and copper? Cash in on the red-hot button – Washington State Merlot. You couldn’t be any trendier if you wore iron body armor.

Leather: Okay, let’s face it. Leather has been, is, and probably always will be part of our community. Except, of course, for those who feel it should be left attached to the body of its original owner. We’re not talking about a belt, shoes, or even a tasteful and oh-so trendy faux motorcycle jacket. This is for those of you who deck yourselves in pants, chaps, vests, jackets, boots, and, yes, even hoods. After all, even in a dungeon one needs to stop for refreshment now and then. You love the smell of old leather and you like it a little rough. Grab for Rhone and Rioja red. Big, earthy, leathery wines, full of fruit, spice and power. Forget the corkscrew. Knock the top off and drink it straight from the bottle.

Denim: Farmers may have worn blue jeans first, but we made ’em an industry. Not only did we take the classic LEVI and turn it into a fashion trend, but we insisted on eighty-two different styles and every color of the rainbow. From shiny new to stonewashed, rough-and- ready to soft and brushed, denim is our most ubiquitous fabric. Pants, shirts, jackets. There’s a good chance you don’t know anyone who doesn’t have at least one piece of clothing made from it. Denim virtually begs for the most widely known grape variety out there. Chardonnay. You can’t miss. Whether it’s a tight, lean styled Chablis with your form-fit zipped boot jeans, a polished, elegant white Burgundy with your brushed cotton jacket, or a bold, buttery California Chard with your button-fly baggies, no other wine fits your lifestyle so well.

Suede, Corduroy & Velvet: Not that they’re all the same thing, but each has that soft, full-bodied, sensual element to them. My high school graduation picture shows me wearing an orange shirt and a dark tan corduroy jacket. I think I’ve destroyed all the copies. But these fabrics have their place. Blue suede shoes, black corduroy pants and a violet, velvet smoking jacket (no shirt or an open white ruffled pirate shirt, of course) call for hedonism in a wine. No wine is as sexy, as sensual, as carnal as Pinot Noir. The paramount red grape of Burgundy draws you in with its earthy manner only to envelope you in its soft embrace. From South Africa there is smoke and heat and passion emanating from each bottle. And from the Pacific Northwest of the good old U.S. of A., a wine as bright, energetic and enthusiastic as a roll in the hay.

Silk: While we’re steaming up the mirrors here… this is another fabric that is pure ardor. From nightwear to boxer shorts, from suit and tie, to a simple, softly draped shirt, silk calls for a soft, caressing elegance. Silk may be the most misunderstood fabric. Your dry cleaner doesn’t know how to clean it. People make fun of you when you wear it. But oh, it feels so good. It’s time to introduce yourself to the most misunderstood wine of all time. Famed wine writer Jancis Robinson said of it, “Unbeatable quality; indisputably aristocratic. Ludicrously unfashionable.” That could describe silk, but no, she was referring to Riesling. Not the vaguely sweet stuff the Germans flooded our markets with over the last few decades, but the good stuff they kept for themselves. Serve a bottle of a dry, top quality wine from the Rhein or Mosel, and then let your silk dressing-gowned companions tell you they don’t like Riesling.

Wool: There’s nothing quite like a warm woolen sweater, perhaps pink angora, or a tailor-made suit, preferably not mohair. Wool is the archetype, from the preppie look to dress-up to spending a weekend in the country – playing polo or some such… A classic calls for a classic. Bordeaux will always be correct with wool. Rich, luxurious, full- bodied and age-worthy. Just like you.

Last, but not least, the electric blue iridescent tie, three-quarters of an inch wide, that we all still secretly have in our closets. Possibly, just possibly, a wine spritzer. But my recollection is that in truth, it wasn’t wine, but the Alabama Slammers that my friend Michael used to make that went best. See you in the wine bars.

Uncorked Picks

White ZinfandelIt may actually be an oxymoron to have a favorite White Zinfandel, and I must admit, I don't. I recomend grabbing whatever's closest to the cash register, you don't have time to waste worrying about brand names.
California ViognierThe two top of the line choices in my tongue's eyes are Preston Vineyards and Alban Vineyards.
Washington State MerlotFirst place honors go to Canoe Ridge Vineyards, with a close runner-up status to Hogue Cellars.
Rhône redFrom the northern Rhône, Michel Ogier Côte Rôtie or Robert Michel Cornas. From the southern Rhône, Père Anselme Gigondas or J. Vidal-Fleury Vacqueyras.
Rioja redGo for the Bodegas La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza Réserva or Bodegas Montecillo Viña Monty Gran Reserva.
ChardonnayThis is much too wide a category for any flat out top choices, but within each of my recommended styles, here goes a shot at it... Chablis - R. Vocoret "Les Clos" Grand Cru.
White BurgundyDarnat "Clos Richemont" Meursault Premier Cru. California - Mayacamas or Kistler.
Pinot NoirAgain, too much going on in this category, but... Burgundy - Baron de la Charrière Maranges or Santenay. South Africa - Hamilton-Russell. Pacific Northwest USA - Benton Lane or Domaine Drouhin from Oregon, Acacia or Mahoney Estate from California.
RieslingLook for the producers K. Neckerauer or Weingut Lingenfelder. Unless of course, you really want to search out Freiherr zu Knyphausen Erbacher Michelmark?
BordeauxOn a budget? Look for Château Simard, Château Meyney, or Château Bourgneuf. Willing to put out a couple more bucks? Château Kirwan or Château Cos d'Estournel.

Dan Perlman is a chef and sommelier. In 1994 he won the tri-annual competition for Best Sommelier in the Northeastern United States from the Sommelier Society of America.

Q San Francisco magazine premiered in late 1995 as a ultra-slick, ultra-hip gay lifestyle magazine targeted primarily for the San Francisco community. It was launched by my friends Don Tuthill and Robert Adams, respectively the publisher and editor-in-chief, who had owned and run Genre magazine for several years prior. They asked me to come along as the food and wine geek, umm, editor, for this venture as well. In order to devote their time to Passport magazine, their newest venture, they ceased publication of QSF in early 2003.