Al Spoler | WYPR

Al Spoler

Host, Cellar Notes and Radio Kitchen

Al Spoler, well known to WYPR listeners as the wine-loving co-host of "Cellar Notes" has had a long-standing parallel interest in cooking as well. Al has said, the moment he started getting serious about Sunday night dinners was the same moment he started getting serious about wine. Over the years, he has benefited greatly from being a member of the Cork and Fork Society of Baltimore, a gentlemen's dining club that serves black tie meals cooked by the members themselves who are some of Baltimore's most accomplished amateur cooks.

His most rewarding immersion in cooking came through his work as a television director at MPT.  Spoler served as off-line editor and assistant director on two series featuring the legendary French chef Pierre Franey.  He also worked with Mexican chef Patricia Quintana, and with Bed and Breakfast expert Gail Greco on her series "Country Inn Cooking". Al says traveling all over the US visiting country inns and taping recipes that they prepared in little makeshift television kitchens was an incredible education.

Spoler's tastes in cooking are influenced by regional tradition and contemporary casual French fare. Never slavish to recipes, he is never happier than improvising a Sunday dinner with whatever ingredients come to hand.

Price key:  $=less than $20  $$= $20-40   $$$=$40-60  $$$$=above $60

Quality key:  * = decent wine   ** = very good wine   *** = superb wine   **** = elite  

Michael David of Lodi

(Look for the wacky lables)

Michael David  Chardonnay, Lodi '15 *1/2 $

(Decent value in California chardonnay)

Michael David Freakshow Cabernet Sauvignon, Lodi '13 ** $$

(Big fruity cab, bold and well-mannered)

Michael David Petite Petit (Petite Syrah) Lodi '14

(Big, smooth, well rounded, lots of fun)

Michael David Earthquake Cabernet Sauvignon, Lodi '13 ** 1/2  $$

(Concentrated, explosive, complex)

Michael David Earthquake Zinfandel, Lodi '13 **1/2  $$

(Powerful flavor-packed zin, loaded with fruit, powerful)

Michael David Lust Zinfandel, Lodi, '12 *** $$$

(Expensive, but worth it, rich and deep and very complex)

Michael David Inkblot Cabernet Franc, Lodi *** $$

(A whopping wine that will deeply empress)

Many of these fine wines can be purchased at Reds Wine and Spirits

October 25, 2016 - Radio Kitchen - Berkshire is Best with Shane Hughes       

Welcome to Radio Kitchen, I'm Al Spoler.  We all know the story of heirloom tomatoes, and how easily they ended up fitting into our summer salads.  These long-lost varieties charmed us with their appearance, flavor and distinctly quaint names.  What not everyone realizes is that the same thing has happened with livestock. 

Price key:  $=less than $20  $$= $20-40   $$$=$40-60  $$$$=above $60

Quality key:  * = decent wine   ** = very good wine   *** = superb wine   **** = elite

Boordy Vineyards wins the 2016 Maryland Governor's Cup with its 2015 Albariño from its South Mountain vineyard.

Many of these fine wines can be purchased at Reds Wine and Spirits  

October 19, 2016 - Radio Kitchen - Simple Soups for Autumn

That cool snap in the air is so welcome after a particularly hot summer.  And it may be my imagination but I think that cool air carries the aroma of cooking food in a way that puts a smile on my face.  This is the time for soup making, ideally a day-long process that puts a keen edge on your appetite.  Here are some of Jerry's ideas for simple soups.

Alexander Valley

Oct 13, 2016

Price key:  $=less than $20  $$= $20-40   $$$=$40-60  $$$$=above $60

Quality key:  * = decent wine   ** = very good wine   *** = superb wine   **** = elite

Alexander Valley Vineyards Estate Chardonnay, '14  ** $

(A good buy in Russian River chard, lightly oaked.)

Alexander Valley Vineyards Redemption Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley '13 **1/2 $$

(Top wine of the three zins, a big mouth-filling complex wine.)

Alexander Valley Vineyards Temptation Zinfandel '12 **  $

(Medium bodied, juicy everyday zin. VALUE)

Alexander Valley Vineyards Sin Zin '13** $

(Dark, inky zin with rich dark fruit flavors in a well-structured wine.)

Alexander Valley Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir '14 ** $$

(Russian River fruit goes into a full-flavored pinot with silky texture.)

Alexander Valley Vineyards Estate Syrah '14 **1/2 $

(Lovely California syrah with aromatic nose, rich dark fruit flavors.)

Alexander Valley Vineyards Estate Cabernet Sauvignon '14  *** $$

(Possibly the best value in California Cab.)

Many of these fine wines can be purchased at Reds Wine and Spirits

Baking Bread

Oct 11, 2016

October 12, 2016 - Radio Kitchen - Baking Bread

After spending a heat-stressed summer in Maryland I'm really in need of some restful, meditative therapy.  And as luck would have it, Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School has been practicing an ancient form of therapeutic baking.

Garnacha/Grenache

Oct 5, 2016

Price key:  $=less than $20  $$= $20-40   $$$=$40-60  $$$$=above $60

Quality key:  * = decent wine   ** = very good wine   *** = superb wine   **** = elite  

Espelt Old Vines Garnacha, D.O. Emporda '12 *** $

(Wild and eccentric and totally delicious SUPER VALUE!)

Domaine de Cristia Grenache, VDP Mediteranné '12 ** $

(Classic grenache character in a medium bodied format, very nice.)

Castillo de Fundejalon Garnacha Crianza, Campo do Borjo '09 * 1/2

(Nice, but too much tempranillo tampers with the flavor.)

Alto Cinco Garnacha, Cariñena '14 ** $

(VALUE in a big fruity quality every day wine.)

Many of these fine wines can be purchased at Reds Wine and Spirits.

Welcome to Radio Kitchen, I'm Al Spoler.  Sometimes we Americans think we're the only people in the world who understand barbecue.  Now I'm not saying we don't get it awesomely right... but there are other places that have pretty strong traditions of their own.

And Chef Jerry Pelligrino of Schola Cooking School, you've been looking into something totally new to me.

September 27, 2016 - Cherry Tomatoes - Radio Kitchen    

All this wonderful weather has been welcome in the farm fields of Maryland.  Much to our delight, tomatoes are still coming in, and that is very good news.  While full-sized tomatoes get most of our attention, we should not forget the little guys.  As Chef Jerry Pellegrino points out, the little guys will be around a lot longer than the full sized tomatoes, which are approaching the end of their season.

Viognier

Sep 21, 2016

Price key:  $=less than $20  $$= $20-40   $$$=$40-60  $$$$=above $60

Quality key:  * = decent wine   ** = very good wine   *** = superb wine   **** = elite                                                               

Boordy Vineyards Viognier, South Mountain '15 *** $$

(Made in the style of Condrieu, high quality)

Spann Viognier, Alexander Valley '14 ** $

(Leaner than most California viognier, but has plenty of fruit.)

D'Arenberg "The Hermit Crab"  Viognier/Marsanne, McLaren Vale '13 **1/2 $

(A very astute blend of two Rhone varietals, quite polished.)

Domaine Haut de Mourier Viognier, Cuvée Stephane Bouix '15  ** $

(Wonderful floral nose, austere but flavorful, well made VALUE.)

Many of these fine wines can be purchased at Reds Wine and Spirits.  

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