Joe Abuso - Genuine Hospitality Consulting
My Table

Since 1994, My Table magazine has been the go-to source for the most complete, up-to-the-minute information on every aspect of Houston’s dynamic culinary scene. John Mariani, restaurant critic for Esquire magazine, says My Table is, “…both indispensable and a joy to read.” Joe Abuso is proud to be a contributor.



Fun Summer Wines
Written by Joe Abuso   

2013-08_Cover

August 2013

Summer’s here, and the time is right for drinking simple, lively, refreshing wines with food to match. Not every wine we drink needs to be complex and profound. Mahler is great, but if it were the only thing there was to listen to, music wouldn’t be so popular. Ditto with Shakespeare and theatre. Seize the seasonal opportunity to have some fun with wine.

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A Tasting of Mexican Beers
Written by Joe Abuso   

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June 2013

The arrival of summer means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. For more than a few Houstonians, it offers excellent incentives and opportunities to regularly indulge in one of our most distinctive regional treats: Tex-Mex food and cold beer. (Margs and Mex will have to wait for another article.) With the majority of the beer selections at many Mexican restaurants being, reasonably enough, Mexican, we thought it would be a good idea to kick off this season with a blind tasting of popular Mexican beers.

 

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The Backyard Sommelier
Written by Joe Abuso   

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April 2013

While the severity of Houston’s winters can easily be questioned – unless you consider temperatures in the mid-60s to be nippy – its summers are world class. With that in mind, here are a dozen ideas for what to drink with some quintessential summer foods.

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Cheap, Cheap, Cheap Wine
Written by Joe Abuso   

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February 2013

Wines for Under Four Dollars (a bottle) – A My Table Tasting

Pretty much anyone can pick out a bottle of wine for $30 and end up with something perfectly drinkable, if not downright excellent. It gets a little harder at $10. But how about for under $4? The fine folks at My Table decided, as a public service for everyone who loves or needs a bargain, to taste a number of wines at that price point and see just what could be found for less than the price of a good 6-pack of beer. The wines were all tasted blind, with our tasting panel knowing nothing more about the 15 wines before them other than each wine’s varietal and the fact that all the wines had something in common. It was revealed only at the tasting’s conclusion that the common thread was the price: the wines were all $3.99 or less per 750ml bottle.
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Bottles Worth Bringing
Written by Joe Abuso   

2012-12_MyTable

December 2012

Bottles Worth Bringing

The Holidays are upon us, as is the hopefully pleasant task of choosing the perfect gifts for friends, loved ones and other people necessarily further down our list of acquaintances. A bottle of holiday cheer has been a popular present or hostess-gift option for many years for many reasons. They’re portable, easy to wrap, come in all price ranges and are appreciated as a special treat by just about anyone. For some people, choosing the right bottle requires no thought at all. If someone you know only drinks a certain California Cabernet, or a particular brand of Scotch, your selection couldn’t be easier. But for most people on our list, a little more thought is required. Here then, are a dozen suggestions of different styles of wines, at a variety of prices, at least one of which should please any wine drinker on your gift list.

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Long Distance Winemaking
Written by Joe Abuso   

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October 2012

Long Distance Winemaking

Many people enjoy an occasional glass of wine – and for good reason. More than a few make it one of their life’s great interests: learning, collecting, socializing, traveling to the world’s great wine regions and more, all for the sake of increasing the fun and satisfaction derived from their involvement with their favorite beverage. But it is the rare oenophile who takes their interest to the extreme of actually owning a vineyard or winery. It should be no surprise that Houston, with more than its fair share of spunky, can-do residents, has a number of people who have done just that. Let’s take a look at a few.

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Favorite Wine and Meat Pairings From Some of Our Favorite Sommeliers
Written by Joe Abuso   

2012-08_Cover

August 2012

Wine - Meat's Best Friend

Food and wine, in general, go well together. So well, and in so many ways, that some very fortunate people have spent a large portion of their lives in search of the ultimate pairing. Unlike other epic quests, such as the search for the Holy Grail, Golden Fleece, courage, brains or a heart, the worst fate that could befall someone hot on the trail of the ultimate food and wine pairing will look a lot like eating and drinking. Not bad, really.

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D-I-Y Wine
Written by Joe Abuso   

2012-06_Cover

June 2012

One of the latest options for expanding ones enjoyment of wine is to partake of the services of what is know as custom wineries. These are businesses that, to varying degrees, offer their customers professional guidance, materials and the facilities to make and bottle their very own wine. Depending on the winery in question, a selection of whole grapes or must (grape juice), crusher/de-stemmers, yeasts, fermenting containers, various oak chips or barrels, ageing facilities, bottling apparatus and custom labeling options are offered to the nascent winemaker, along with all the expertise necessary for them to walk away with, in due time, a wine they can truly call their own.

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A Book Review: "The Advanced Oenophile"
Written by Joe Abuso   

Advanced_Oenophile June 2012

The Advanced Oenophile

It would be impossible to be an active participant in the Houston wine scene without having encountered Denman Moody, one of the most well known and prolific wine authorities and writers in the country. Over many years, Denman has been as tireless and enthusiastic in his study and tasting of wine as he has been in his cultivation of friendships and relationships with the world’s greatest wine luminaries, as well as in the incorporation of his wine expertise into numerous philanthropic efforts and pursuits.

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12 Great French Wines for $20 or Less
Written by Joe Abuso   

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April 2012

While no one really refutes the idea that France has produced some of the world’s best, most individual wines for as long as wine has been made, many have a problem with making them their first choice when choosing a bottle. Price, pronunciation and confusion all play a role in this avoidance behavior. I’d like to help with at least the first obstacle. Here are a dozen French wines for less than $20 retail that are sure to please, and may even be the first foot through the doorway to some of the most food-friendly, interesting and satisfying wines available.

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Cupid's Cocktail
Written by Joe Abuso   

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A Survey of Chocolate Liqueurs

February 2012

There are times when one feels it’s more appropriate to be ridiculous than sublime. Or maybe, just times when we realize that we have a better chance of pulling ridiculous off, and simply want to stack the deck in favor of achieving even a minor success. For times such as those, My Table would like to help by reporting on a recent tasting of a number of chocolate liqueurs and wines, to help you navigate through some of the choices you’ll find when shopping for these products.

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A Book Review: "The Wineslinger Chronicles"
Written by Joe Abuso   

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The Wineslinger Chronicles: Texas on the Vine

Since 1998 no one has more willingly or enthusiastically worn the mantle of Texas’ own wine writer than Russell Kane. He has covered Texas wine and cuisine in many articles in several publications, as well as on his blog, VintageTexas.com. His travels, experiences and the insights he has garnered from the long list of friends and acquaintances he enjoys in the Texas wine industry have all come to fruit in his recently released book The Wineslinger Chronicles: Texas on the Vine.

 

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Bubbling Over
Written by Joe Abuso   

2011-12_Cover December 2011

In my experience, few things are as clear a signal that life is about to change for the better than when the next thing on my agenda is to take a sip from a glass of Champagne. Whether I need to be distracted from difficulties, celebrate success or just enjoy what is one of the most consistently pleasant wines in the world, Champagne is just the ticket.

 

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Other Sparkling Wines
Written by Joe Abuso   

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Here is a representative sampling of regions, other than Champagne, well known for their sparkling wine production.

 

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The State of Texas Wines: An Update
Written by Joe Abuso   

The State of Texas Wines October - November 2011

Texans, by and large, are a group universally known for having a certain pride and swagger in regards to everything about their great state. Far be it for me to nitpick their self-satisfaction; generally, they have a point. But a lot of this innate pride seems to dissipate when the subject of Texas wines comes up. Maybe it’s because they’ve just not branched out enough to try them, preferring to stick with their favorite California or French wine. Perhaps they tried one, years ago, and found it lacking. Maybe it’s just an example of self-defeating snobbery, with thoughts like, “I think I can do better than that” clouding their perception. Well, I’m here to say that many of these people are missing an opportunity to enjoy and support a great, though nascent, local industry. Getting in on the ground floor of an opportunity was never a negative in the past, and it shouldn’t be one with wine, now.

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10 Wines to Order More Often
Written by Joe Abuso   

2011-09-FavoriteWinesPicture August - September 2011

We all get into ruts when it comes to ordering wine in a restaurant. Whether it’s because we already know what we like, what we can pronounce, or what we can afford, coupled with the fact that we hate to make a mistake - especially in front of our guests - a lot of us just order the same sort of wine no matter what. There’s nothing wrong with having an old standby or two to always fall back on; after all, crisp Pinot Grigios, big, buttery Chardonnays and even bigger Cabernets got popular for a reason. But the world is full of fantastic wines that are not only delicious in their own right, but have been bringing out the best in certain foods for (in some cases) hundreds of years. Why close the door on that party?

 

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From Barrel to Box
Written by Joe Abuso   

2011-07-Boxedwines-1 June - July 2011

No one enjoys a nice glass of wine more than I do, and I don’t think I’m considered a “wine snob” by anyone with whom I’ve ever had the pleasure of sharing a bottle or two. I appreciate a fantastic, old Bordeaux at its peak as the treat that it is, but I am just as content sipping a little Chianti with a pepperoni pizza. Although some wines can certainly be considered works of art, albeit very tasty ones, most others play the important role of simply being a great beverage to have with whatever you happen to be eating.

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My Ten Favorite Italian Cookbooks
Written by Joe Abuso   

2011-05-Cookbooks-1 April - May 2011

When you consider that there is no country in the world with a cuisine superior to Italy’s, and couple it with the fact that Italians tend to be a little on the chatty side, it’s no wonder that there are so many excellent books on the subject. These are a few of my favorites, but by no means the only ones I enjoy referring to on a regular basis. Some are great for their witty commentary, others for authentic recipes and some for their beautiful photographs.

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Licorice: Wine's Best Friend?
Written by Joe Abuso   

2011-03_Licorice_2 February - March 2011

For years I’ve included various, subtle licorice-flavored ingredients in my cooking, with the thought that, somehow, they brought out the best in whatever wines were being served with my food. So when Teresa called to ask if I’d help her put together a wine tasting that would pair various wines with her favorite licorice candy, I suggested we broaden the scope to include the whole family of licorice-flavored foods. She said, “sure” and a very interesting and fun tasting was the result.

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