kelly magyarics

washington, d.c.-based wine, spirits & lifestyle writer / wine educator

703.203.9463

An afternoon with Ted Allen

Last Friday, I got the chance to meet, taste wine and chat with Ted Allen. This former co-host of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy is busy these days as judge for the Food Network's Chopped, and spokesperson for Robert Mondavi wines--a role he has had for four years. He was in town to promote the Food and Wine Festival at National Harbor this past weekend.

We met up at DC's Westend Bistro, and tasted through three of RM's Private Selection Wines: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meritage. These wines are priced at $13-$15, and are meant to be enjoyed as an everyday, rather than esoteric, beverage. (Remember that Robert Mondavi believed wine should always be on the table--just as salt and pepper are--as they enhance a dish and your overall dining pleasure.)

Were the wines the best I ever tasted? They don't claim to be, and that's not their role. Are they the type of bottles you can open up on a Tuesday night with simple pasta or takeout and not feel guilty? Absolutely. The Chardonnay was lighter in oak than I expected it to be, with a line of acidity still running through it that makes it food friendly. And the Pinot was definitely a bigger, more extracted style--bold, with lots of color, raspberries and cherries and a hefty dose of spice. (If you crave more of a refined, earthy, subtle style of Pinot, the RM offering might not be your thing. But if you are looking for some oomph, then you'll love it.)

For my part, I discovered that Ted and I both really dig Popeye's chicken with sparkling wine (he told me about the time he popped open a bottle of Kristal he got as an appreciation gift from the folks at Bravo when he was doing Queer Eye). And both of us share a love of Veuve Clicquot.

It was a fantastic afternoon, and I feel very grateful for the opportunity to have met him.