What we’re tasting this February


FEBRUARY 13: WINE TASTING 4 – 7p.m.
Bottles by Sickles
200 Monmouth Street | Red Bank NJ 07701Vias Wine Tasting:
• Colpetrone Sagrantino Montefalco
2011 | UMBRIA, ITALY | 100% SAGRANTINO FROM UMBRIA, ITALY
A savory full-bodied, traditional style with tobacco leather & earth notes leading to more subtle dried cherry & spice accents surrounding dense & chewy tannins. Ample nose of red fruit with spices & a subtle hint of vanilla, dried fruits and chocolate. The palate is fresh, well-structured, with concentrated tannins & a long, velvety finish. Suitable for roasts, & and aged cheeses.
Wine Spectator – 90 pts – $27.99
• Pecchenino Siri d’Jermu Dogloani Superiore DOCG
2017 | PIEDMONT, IT | 100% DOLCETTO
Pretty flavors of ripe pomegranate blackberry & violet are the hallmark of this supple Dolcetto. Firm yet stays balanced through the finish. Ruby red with violet highlights. Intense bouquet of ripe fruits with notes of currants, blackberries & black cherries. The flavor is balanced with smooth, sweet tannins & a persistent finish. Pairs well with pastas, white meats, red meats, braises, fresh cheeses & medium aged cheeses.
Wine Spectator – 90 pts – $25.99
• Vie di Romans Flors di Uis
2017 | FRIULI-VENEZIA GIULIA, IT | 45% MALVASIA ISTRIANA, 40% RHEIN RIESLING, 15% FRIULANO
Charming aromatic bouquet of white flowers, golden apple, apricot, pear, honey, with mineral & citrus. The graceful flavors of Riesling and Malvasia Istriana melt perfectly with the weight & texture of Friulano. Firm acidity & a clean, rich finish. Ideal with seafood recipes, like lobster risotto or tuna tartar, and with any spicy dishes.
$36.99
• Lechthaler Pinot Noir
2017 | TRENTINO-ALTO ADIGE, IT | 100% PINOT NOIR
The bouquet elegant, with notes of forest berries, blackcurrant, cherry, & toast, like toasted almond & cured meat. The palate is dry, fresh, velvety, with delicate tannins & a lingering finish. Ideal with pasta, risotto & poultry.
$16.99
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FEBRUARY 15: WINE TASTING 4 – 7p.m.
Bottles by Sickles
200 Monmouth Street | Red Bank NJ 07701

Complimentary tasting of:
• Jurtschitsch – “Belle Naturelle” Gr
üner Veltliner
2018 | Langlois & Kamptal, Austria | 100% Grüner Veltliner
Jurtschitsch winery dates back to the 16th century in the Kamptal region. A leader in the natural wine movement, this is a  biodynamically-farmed Grüner Veltliner made with two weeks of skin contact. Naturally hazy, it is markedly clean wine with only moderate tannin. It is a great introduction to the style of orange wine. Fermented with native yeasts and no sulfur is used save for an exceptionally small dose at bottling for stability. The nose offers aromas of elderflower and chamomile. The floral notes continue through the palate along with black tea notes. Owner/winemaker Alwin Jurtschitsch Belle Naturelle, ‘a wine in its birthday suit.’  certified organic.
Note:  Turn gently before opening, do not store above 20°C. – $22.99

• Hugel Classic Riesling
2016 | Alsace, FR | 100% Riesling
According to Robert Parker: “the Classic (former Hugel) range that represents “the essence of the pure, dry Famille Hugel style” and now includes Muscat and Pinot Gris, along with all the other noble grapes. The grapes of the Classic range are predominantly purchased but obligatory hand-picked from vineyards with clay-limestone soils in Riquewihr and neighboring villages, and give classic gastronomic wines with a dry expression.” The Hugel Riesling is an intense pale green color, dominated with the green & pale yellow highlights of springtime tree foliage, all completed with a silvery sheen. The bouquet is still a bit discreet & fresh — it is harmonious, clear & well-stated, yet quite dense & fruity with hints of lime, fresh kiwi, lemon-grass, ‘Mirabelle’, greengage & a slightly mineral edge. This is a dry wine that is also fresh & lovingly thirst-quenching on the palate. It is well-balanced with a generous & well-formed structure underlined by the wonderful freshness & vigor which is so typical to this grape variety’s elegant temperament. The grapes are perfectly ripe.”It serves as an excellent aperitif. Best served with turbot, sea bass, monk-fish, lobster, king prawns, seafood, sander, pike, salmon, scallops, marinated or raw fish carpaccio, goat’s cheese.
Sale $19.99 (Reg. $24.99)

• Domaine les Evigneaux Rasteau
2016 | Rasteau, Southern Rhône  Valley, FR | 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 10% Carignan, 5% Mourvedre, 5% Cinsault
Benoit and Frederic Lavau have always been fans of Rasteau, which became a cru unto itself in 2010. This red offers a lot of complexity on the nose with rich aromas of cedar, baking spices, cola, blackcurrant & vanilla followed by a hint of raspberry. Full-bodied & savory on the palate, there are meaty flavors of chocolate & leather that develop in intensity & power all the way through the long, long finish. The tannins are robust & well-integrated reflecting the power & complexity of this AOC. Although it is already approachable, it is good to drink over the next few years & promises to be spectacular with three to five more years of aging (if you can wait that long!)
Wine Advocate – 90 pts – $24.99

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FEBRUARY 20: WINE & SPIRITS TASTING 4 – 7p.m.
Bottles by Sickles
200 Monmouth Street | Red Bank NJ 07701

Kobrand Wine & Spirits Tasting

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FEBRUARY 22: WINE  TASTING 4 – 7p.m
Bottles by Sickles
200 Monmouth Stree | Red Bank NJ 07701.

Decoy Wines: The first Decoy Red Blend was made at Duckhorn Vineyards in 1985. This exceptional wine quickly established a loyal following for its quality and distinctive style. In 2008, Decoy evolved from being a single, second-label wine supporting the Duckhorn Vineyards brand to being its own focused winery. Grapes for the Decoy line of wines come from a mix of Estate vineyards and top independent growers. Today, in addition to the original Decoy Red, the Decoy lineup includes a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc—all of which are Sonoma County appellation-designated and highlight Decoy’s commitment to producing attractively priced wines made from exceptional vineyard sources with an emphasis on ready-upon-release wines that are capable of expressing their full charm and complexity.
We will be tasting Sauvignon Blanc; Chardonnay; Pinot Noir & Cabernet Sauvignon

Decoy Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc
2018 |  Sonoma County, CA | 100% Sauvignon Blanc
This enticing wine offers vivid flavors of pink grapefruit and white peach, as well as lovely notes of lemon zest and citrus blossom. On the palate, refreshing acidity mingles with a subtle undercurrent of sweet fruit that carries through to a bright and lively finish.

Decoy Sonoma County Chardonnay
2018 | Sonoma County, CA | 100% Chardonnay
You can’t go wrong with a good quality Chardonnay, and the fruity/floral notes and very subtle hint of warm spice in Decoy’s Sonoma County Chardonnay is lovely!This deliciously bright and inviting Chardonnay offers layers of apricot, citrus and green apple, as well as hints of fresh honeysuckle and cinnamon. On the palate, the lovely pure fruit flavors are underscored by delicate acidity and a supple richness from sur lie aging.

Decoy Sonoma County Pinot Noir
2017 | Sonoma County  |100% Pinot Noir
Showcasing the vibrant allure of great cool-climate Sonoma County Pinot Noir, this wine displays aromas of strawberry, cranberry and plum that rise from the glass, along with oak-inspired hints of vanilla. The palate is soft and silky, with ripe berry flavors underscored by supple tannins that carry the wine to a bright, focused finish.

Decoy Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon
2017 | Sonoma County, CA | 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 3% Zinfandel, 1% Petit Verdot, 1% Petite Sirah;
From its deep, inviting color to its enticing layers of boysenberry, blackberry, plum and star anise, this wine showcases what we love about great Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon. On the palate, the lush fruit flavors are framed by rich tannins and hints of dark chocolate and barrel spice.

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FEBRUARY 27: WINE  TASTING 4 – 7p.m.
Bottles by Sickles
200 Monmouth Stree | Red Bank NJ 07701
Mardi Gras Celebration!

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FEBRUARY 29: WINE  TASTING 4 – 7p.m.
Bottles by Sickles
200 Monmouth Stree | Red Bank NJ 07701
Sadie Hawkins Day: Featuring All Women Wine Producers

April Wine Portfolio Tasting Event Piccola Italia


APRIL WINE PORTFOLIO TASTING EVENT
Friday, April 5, 2019 | 4:00-6:00 pm

10-15 Wines Available for Tasting and Purchase!
Complimentary Wine-Friendly Snacks Provided

Bring Friends and stay for dinner!
*Reservations suggested for dinner

These events have been such fun, so we hope you can make it!

837 W Park Avenue  |   Ocean Township, NJ 07712

Whiskey 101 Dinner


Have you always wanted to know more about whiskey? or what is the difference between bourbon, rye and whiskey? Well, here’s your chance! Chef Brian, Chef Charlie, Carolina & The Piccola Italia staff have planned a Whiskey 101 dinner presenting American whiskeys paired with amazing food selections! This will be an opportunity to eat, drink and learn all about American whiskey, rye and bourbon! There will be a couple of unique cocktails to try, and the menu was chosen specifically for each spirit. This is one dinner that is going to be SO MUCH FUN!

The menu includes:
Course 1
Duck BLT
Duck Confit, Bibb Lettuce, Grape Tomato, Duck Crackling,
Black Pepper & Bing Cherry Aioli
Cocktail: Slow & Low Rock and Rye Old Fashioned
Course 2
Door Wedge Candied Bacon
Mustard Greens, Brown Sugar Gremolata, Quail Egg
Neat Pour:  Widow Jane Rye
Course 3
Country Fried Pork Loin
Buttermilk Biscuit, Grilled Broccolini, Sausage Gravy
Neat Pour: Bootlegger Bourbon
Course 4
Caramel Crack Pie
Oatmeal Crust, Fresh Whipped Cream
Coffee Cocktail: Hudson Coffee Co Cold Brewed Coffee &
#8 Dickle Sour Mashed Whiskey

American Whiskey Tasting & Food Pairing
Date:
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Cost: $69/Person +Tax & Gratuity

 

837 West Park Avenue
Ocean,  NJ 07712
(732) 493 3090

Reservations are required, so please call for a table: 732-493-3090. There will be limited space, so call today!

 

16th Annual Wine & Martini Tasting


A TOAST TO MAKING AN IMPACT!
Salt Creek Grille’s 16th Annual Wine & Martini Tasting Fundraiser benefitting Impact 100 Jersey Coast will be held Thursday, April 11 from 7-10 p.m.
The event, which is always a sell-out, features heavy-hors d’oeuvres, serving stations and over 100 different wine varietals and several distilled spirits to taste.
There is a live auction with popular local radio personality, NJ 101.5’s Big Joe Henry, serving as auctioneer and live music by The Bobby Boyd Trio.
100 percent of the proceeds from the night’s events will go directly to Impact 100 Jersey Coast.

Tickets to the event are $150 per person and sponsorships are available. To purchase tickets or become a sponsor visit – http://www.impact100jerseycoast.org/news/upcoming-events/

A TOAST TO MAKING AN IMPACT!



THURSDAY APRIL 11, 2019 | 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
SALT CREEK GRILLE  |  4 BINGHAM AVENUE  |  RUMSON, NJ 07760

$150 PER PERSON Tickets are limited. Attire: Business Casual.
To purchase tickets or become a sponsor visit – http://www.impact100jerseycoast.org/news/upcoming-events/

KINDLY RSVP BY APRIL 1, 2019

Gin and dinner


From Norway, the land of the midnight sun, we bring you Kimerud. Distilled from potatoes and 23 botanicals harvested from the small, artisanal distillery’s farm. There are four Gins: Kimerud Gin; Wild Grade Gin; Kimerud Hillside Aged Gin, and a Pink Gin. In fact, Kimerud Gin is the highest awarded Norwegian Gin and has received high honors in several international competitions. One taste will make you a gin lover!

We encourage you to join us at Blu Grotto in Oceanport to taste this elegant spirit. Our special Norwegian Kimerud Gin Dinner the perfect opportunity to discover this exceptional gin. Blu Grotto’s exceptional staff has designed special cocktails and a perfectly paired them with five delicious courses.

Kimerud Gin Dinner
First Course
Spiced Lamb Carpaccio
Pickled Ramps, Pecorini, Rosewater Harissa
Second Course
Porcini Risotto
Escargot, Preserved Truffle, Burnt Sage
Third Course
Dry Aged American Wagyu Strip Loin
Miso, Prawn Butter
Fourth Course
Cheese Selection
A collaboration with The Cheese Cave (Red Bank NJ)
Fifth Course
Coriander-Lime Panna Cotta
Confit Lime, Vanilla Crumble

Kimerud Gin Dinner
Date: Wednesday, March 27
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Cost per person: $70 +tip/tax
Members of USBG (United States Bartenders Guild) will receive a 15% discount.
Call Corinne Miller, Bar Manager, Blu Grotto Ristorante for more information or to make your reservation at 732-740-5918
Reserve today!
Blu Grotto Restaurant  |  200 Port au Peck Avenue  |  Oceanport, NJ 07757

 

Prosecco puts a spring in your step for National Bubble Week


The second full week of March is National Bubble Week, and although it more than likely refers to bubbles of the soapy kind, there’s no reason to salute the week with a few bubbles of your own in the form of Prosecco—a light and delightful sparkling wine.

Sparkling wine options were largely ‘cheap or pricey’ before Prosecco came on the scene in the nineties, it provided the best of both worldsa way to trade up by a few dollars for a better wine without springing for French Champagne. Its refreshingly low alcohol and pleasing whisper of natural sweetness were crowd-pleasing qualities that made it a hit with wine novices and occasion-only drinkers, making it a perfect choice for parties and celebrations.

Prosecco’s quality and price varies greatly according to where it is grown, how large the production per hectare or acre is and what happens to it in the winery. With a few rare exceptions, it is made by the charmat or bulk method, rather than fermented in the bottle as Champagne and many other sparkling wines are. The amount of time it spends on the lees—the layer of flecks of grape pulp and spent yeast cells that fall to the bottom of the tank—can make it crisp and fresh or rich and rounded.  

One perennial favorite is Lamberti Prosecco, a perfect apéritif for spring and summer (well, any time actually). It is ripe with notes of apricot skin, peach blossom and a slightly floral component without being overly fruity or off-dry. It is a perfect palate cleanser or refreshing glass any time  due to its easy-drinking personality and effervescences. It is also delicious with lighter dishes such as fruits, salads and shellfish which are particularly pleasing in warmer seasons.

Lamberti Prosecco has fruit  sourced from the best hillside vineyards across Treviso in the Veneto. Glera grapes are harvested slightly before full maturation to preserve acidity. The base wine is re-fermented in enclosed pressure tanks for the “prise de mousse,” utilizing the Charmat method for secondary fermentation, a method best suited to enhance the Prosecco grape’s aromatic qualities.

Lamberti’s appeal is not just in its  balanced, aromatic, crisp style defined by green apples, flowers and sweet spices., but in its price-to-quality ratio.

If you’d prefer something at a lower price point, Riondo Prosecco Spago Nero is an authentic sparkling or “frizzante” wine also made from 100% Glera. Spago Nero means “black string” in Italian, so Riondo Spago Nero is named after the bottlle’s original black string closure, which is still featured on some of Riondo’s bottles. Riondo boasts fresh aromas of Golden Delicious apple, pear, and acacia blossom. There is a wonderfully soft and weightless mouthfeel opposed by very stern minerality. The persistent effervescence is followed by a crisp, clean finish. While delicate and fruity on the palate, this prosecco is the perfect choice to either sip by itself or mix to make a bubbly cocktail.

Prosecco is festive and can be the perfect pour at the beach, in someone’s backyard, a BBQ, picnics or by the pool, it’s not as ‘serious’ as Champagne because it has an orchard-fresh fruit character that’s simply friendlier on first sip,which is especially true in the absence of food.

So pop open a tasty Prosecco for National Bubble week and celebrate. I know I will.

 

March is National Peanut Month: Celebrate with peanut-ty drinks


Americans eat an average of six pounds of peanuts per person, per year, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Most of our peanuts come from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Texas, and South Carolina. Almost half of the U.S. peanut crop is used to make peanut butter. Even the shells are useful; they can be found in such products as kitty litter, wallboard, and artificial fireplace logs. Because they are such an American staple, the idea of honoring the lowly peanut began as a special week in 1941 and has been a month-long observance since 1974.  

May we suggest celebrating Peanut Month with a peanutty cocktail?

Castries Peanut Rum Crème Liqueur is a rum-based liqueur (named after the port city capital of the island of St. Lucia) where the main ingredient is roasted peanuts.

St. Lucia is located in the eastern Caribbean south of Martinique and northwest of Barbados — smack in the middle of the rum belt in the tropics with unspoiled beaches, soaring mountains, dense rainforests, and turquoise-blue waters.

Since the 1920s, Castries Peanut Rum Crème has been produced by St. Lucia Distillers. This luscious liquid pours from the bottle in a beautiful creamy nut brown hue. The peanut aromas are unmistakable and amazingly complex; roasted peanuts, peanut brittle, a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, notes of vanilla, cinnamon, caramelized brown sugar and freshly grated nutmeg.

At mid-palate, there is the full-bodied expression of sweet dairy cream followed by a simultaneous fade-out of the peanut and fade-in of fine aged rum on the finish. The overall sensation is of richness, smoothness and exquisite balance.

Here are two nostalgic cocktail suggestions to celebrate National Peanut Month: the first being the Castries Peanut Butter Cup, which just so happens to taste amazingly like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and the Fluffy Nutty Martini which  is a peanut and marshmallow combination that reminds one of the icky, sticky joy of that childhood favorite, the Fuffernutter® sandwich only not as messy and with a little higher octane.

Castries Peanut Butter Cup

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. Castries Crème
  • 1 oz. Godiva Chocolate Liqueur
  • 1 oz. Three Olives Vanilla vodka
  • Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup

Preparation: Drizzle Hershey’s chocolate syrup in a cocktail glass. Combine the above ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously to both chill and mix thoroughly. Strain gently into the glass.

 

Fluffy Nutty Martini:

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. Castries Peanut Rum Crème Liqueur®
  • 2 oz. Smirnoff Fluffed Marshmallow Vodka®
  • 1/2 cup crushed peanuts
  • 1/3 cup melted marshmallow crème
  • 1 cup ice

Preparation: Place crushed peanuts in a small plate. Place the marshmallow crème on a small plate  and melt in microwave.
Dip glass rim first in melted fluff, then in the crushed peanuts. Chill in the freezer.
Pour the Castries Peanut Rum Crème and the  Smirnoff Fluffed Marshmallow Vodka into a cocktail shaker with the cup of ice and shake until chilled pour into you cold glass and serve.
Garnish with mini marshmallows and crushed peppermint for a seasonal twist.

Castries Peanut Rum Crème can be found in many local liquor stores.

What is a vegan wine?


As we all know wine is made from grapes. Wine is grape juice combined with a special variety of yeast and allowed to ferment.

But not all wines are vegan or even vegetarian-friendly.

The reason that all wines are not vegan or even vegetarian-friendly has to do with a process called ‘fining’ or how the wine is clarified.

For those who don’t know, many winemakers use animal products in the ‘fining’ process. To simplify, freshly fermented wine usually contains small particles of proteins, tannins, tartrates and phenolics—these are all naturally occurring substances and  and in no way harmful. They are removed because consumers like to drink smooth, clean wine. Most wines, if left long enough, will self-stabilize and self-fine.

Historically, to speed up the process, winemakers have used animal ingredients as ‘fining agents’ to capture sediment such as casein (animal milk protein), albumin (egg whites), isinglass (fish bladder), and gelatin (collagen from animal bones or boiled cow or pig body parts). Fining with casein and albumin is usually acceptable by most vegetarians but all four are off limits for vegans because tiny traces of the fining agent may be absorbed into the wine during the fining process

Fining agents help remove these haze-inducing molecules by acting like a magnet – attracting the molecules around it. They coagulate around the fining agent, creating fewer but larger particles, which can then be more easily removed or strained out. These fining agents are  not additives to the wine, as they are precipitated out along with the haze molecules.

Fortunately, more and more vineyards are starting to use cruelty-free substances like bentonite (clay-based) which is particularly efficient at ‘fining’ out unwanted proteins and activated charcoal is another vegan and vegetarian-friendly agent. An increasing number of wine producers are skipping the fining practice entirely by allowing the wine to self-clarify and self-stabilize. In other words, time to settle before decanting it into bottles. Such wines usually mention on the label ‘not fined and/or not filtered’.

This move to more natural winemaking methods, allowing nature to take its course, means more vegan and vegetarian-friendly wines. However, wine labels typically do not indicate whether the wine is suitable for vegans or vegetarians, or what fining agents were used.

How is a vegan wine drinker to know whether a wine is vegan-friendly or not? It’s not easy.

There is an increasing number of more organic, biodynamic and natural wines available to consumers, and many of these are considered vegetarian or vegan.

One US brand, Bonny Doon Vineyards wines are actually very vegan-friendly. All of their wines  are vegan — they don’t use any animal product fining agents, (isinglass, egg whites or gelatin) in any wine and haven’t since 1985, They do use some bentonite on the whites and pinks.

Other popular vegan-friendly wines include: Charles Shaw (red wines only); Frey Vineyards; Red Truck Wines; Green Truck Wines; Yellowtail (red wines only; not white or rosé); Lumos Wines.

For a more definitive list of affordable, easy-to-drink vegan wines here is a quick guide to wine brands in the $25 and under category.

KRIS Pinot Grigio. Kris is an affordable Italian white wine favorite that is available at almost every liquor store.

LITTLE BLACK DRESS Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, & Moscato. This budget-friendly company’s white wines are all vegan and a favorite with wine and cheese and Netflix, nights. These wines usually range under $15.

MEIOMI Chardonnay. Meiomi also makes a Rose and a Pinot Noir, but Chardonnay is their only white.

DECOY Sauvignon Blanc. Decoy is a brand under the larger Duckhorn Vineyards (also vegan, but much pricier), and their wines are all vegan.

LES JAMELLES Sauvignon Blanc & Chardonnay. The entire Les Jamelles line is vegan—evidently, they were concerned about potential allergen issues with the use of animal products, so they “only use products of vegetable or mineral origin” in the fining process.

BOGLE. Sauvignon Blanc & Chardonnay. Bogle is another sustainability-farmed vineyard with wines that can be found at many local liquor stores.

NATURA Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay. Natura is very clear about the fact that they use organically grown grapes and wines ae vegan.

NEWMAN’S OWN Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon. Profits from Newman’s Own go to charity. Only their Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are vegan, whereas their other varietals are not.

LAYER CAKE Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay. Layer Cake is a fully vegan label, providing reds, whites, and rosé.

FAT CAT CELLARS Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, & Pinot Noir. The entire Fat Cat line is vegan. Their parent company, the Bronco Wine Company, has numerous vegan wines under their name.

OUR DAILY RED Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Red Blend. This all-organic brand clearly states on their website and bottles that they’re vegan.

GREEN TRUCK Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, & Pinot Noir. These vegan wines are also organic. Every wine they produce is both vegan and organic.

RED TRUCK Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, & Pinot Noir. These vegan wines are owned by the same vineyard as Green Truck. Red Truck wines are vegan but not necessarily organic.

CYCLES GLADIATOR Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Syrah & Pinot Noir.

The Cycles Gladiator line is a fun wine company that was inexpensive and a favorite of our customers.

NATURA Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Pinot Noir, and Carmenere. Natura uses organically grown grapes, and they are very clear about the fact that they’re vegan.

PICKET FENCE Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Top Rail Red. Picket Fence is another wine owned by the Bronco Wine Company, and offers vegan reds & whites.

MICHAEL DAVID WINERY This is one of my favorite fun wineries, with fun names like 6th Sense, Earthquake, Inkblot, Gluttony, Rage, Lust, Freakshow, and my personal favorite, Rapture..

LAYER CAKE Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Shiraz, “Sea of Stones” (red blend) and “Primitivo”. Layer Cake is a fully vegan label, providing reds, whites, and rosé..

 

 

Wine Flavors: What’s Right? What’s Wrong?


Learn where wine flavors come from, how to smell them, and what flavors to expect in The six Noble Wines Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc.Then there are the other not-so-noble wines like Shiraz/Syrah, Malbec, Pinot Grigio and more. But today we’ll focus on the primary six.

I’m often asked, “If cherries aren’t an ingredient in wine, then how come some wines smell like cherries?” Understanding the flavors in wine starts with a seemingly simple question:

Where do wine flavors come from?

Well, ethanol molecules lift off from the surface of the wine during evaporation, carrying with them a slew of aromatic compounds. These compounds float into our noses and help give us an idea of the wines many flavors. Wine flavors are created by chemical reactions during fermentation (when yeast turns sugar into alcohol). Fermentation creates hundreds of different flavor compounds.

At the atomic level, aromatic compounds in wine look identical to – or are mirror images of– smells you already know. When you sniff cherry in wine, you are smelling the identical aroma compounds that also waft from a freshly baked cherry pie. Which is why we often reference, fruit, flowers, herbs and other familiar scents.

Wines often smell “fruity” with red  wines typically smelling  like berries, cherries, and plums.

White wines, on the other hand typically offer scents of  citrus fruits (grapefruit, lemon, lime), stone fruits (peaches, apples, pears), and melons. Both red and white wines can offer subtle (or not-so-subtle) aromas of fresh flowers, roses, green herbs, leaves, green vegetables, and/or stems. But don’t be surprised if you get whiffs of cheese, bread, milk, butter, bacon fat, petrol, nail polish, potting soil, wet stone, tar, wet asphalt in the summer among others.

Then there are the aged and oaky scents that appear as wines are aged. These smells can  include vanilla, baking spices, pie crust, caramel, brown butter”, tobacco, cedar, coffee, leather, creosote, and chocolate.

So, what is a quick guide to tell what you’re drinking by scent and flavor?

I thought you’d never ask.

Here is a brief list that provides the most common scents and flavors for the Noble Grapes and Shiraz.

Cabernet Sauvignon: Graphite—aka pencil lead. (Those of us who chewed pencils in grade school know exactly what that tastes like); Baking spices; black cherry; currant, especially black currant; cedar; bramble; vanilla, and even green bell pepper if made form underripe Cabernet Sauvignon grapes (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing).

Pinot Noir: Scents of earth; spice; cherries; strawberries; herbs and raspberries and great cherry and black cherry flavors.

Merlot: Raspberry notes, as well as black cherry; plum; blueberries and jam—these notes often give the wine an aroma similar to fruitcake. Other common notes of Merlot include graphite; cedar; tobacco; vanilla; cloves and chocolate.

Chardonnay: The most common scents and flavors are yellow apple; pear; citrus (Meyer lemon); tropical fruits (kiwi, banana, mango, starfruit, pineapple); peach; apricot; melon; warm florals; butter; vanilla and brioche (when oaked).

Sauvignon Blanc: A crisp, dry wine with aromas and flavors of green apple; gooseberry; lemon;  lime; grapefruit; white peach; thyme; basil; grass; lemon grass; cilantro; bell pepper. And passion fruit.

Riesling:  Offers primary fruit aromas of orchard fruits (green apple, nectarine, apricot, peach, honey-crisp apple, pear); citrus (particularly lemon and/or lime); melon; tropical fruits; strong floral notes, minerality, spice; honey; toast, earth and smoke. Then, there’s that telltale aroma of “petrol” — the word the British use for gasoline. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, some people love it and it is more prevalent if the Riesling is aged.

Shiraz/ Syrah: Typical scents and flavors include blackberries; plums; black cherries; blueberries; cassis; chocolate; licorice; spice; pepper; flowers, tobacco; earth,  and truffles.

So, If I smell cherries and you smell pepper, who’s right?

Differences in our physical attributes, along with how our brains process smells, partially explain why we each pick out different wine flavors and smells. That said, each wine does have a “base set” of aromas upon which most people agree. As one of my wine friends likes to say “Get out and use your snout!”

Next time you pick up a glass of wine, take the time to pick out three to five wine flavors BEFORE you taste it. That’s the secret and after practice, you’ll become an amazing taster.

A SIMPLE WHISKEY COCKTAIL WILL HELP YOU BATTLE FLU SEASON


Chances are, you or someone you know will get the flu and you will be looking for relief anywhere you can find it. I’ve been told that “science” says drinking in moderation—as in two cocktails a day—can boost the body’s immune system.

If you catch the dreaded influenza virus this flu season (January and February are peak months), instead of wasting your money wandering the aisles of your local pharmacy, trying every over the counter remedy you can get your hands on, head to your liquor store, grab a nice bottle of whiskey and make a hot toddy instead.

For decades people have used the hot toddy as a natural remedy for easing all those aches and pains associated with the common cold. It was assumed that it was one of those natural remedies, like chicken soup, that works because your brain thinks it works, not because there is actual science behind it. But as it turns out, a hot toddy is actually pretty great, from a scientific perspective, at soothing your cold.

Whiskey is a great decongestant — the alcohol dilates the blood vessels, making it easier for your mucus membranes to deal with the infection — and, combined with the herbal tea, a squeeze of honey, lemon, and the warm steam emanating from the drink, you have the perfect concoction for helping to clear up your cold symptoms. By the time you finish the drink, you won’t only be breathing a bit easier, but the alcohol will also start working its magic in the sleep department, making you just groggy enough so you can get some much needed shuteye.

This “Bourbon Cough Syrup for Grownups is a tasty whiskey cocktail can make being sick it a little more tolerable. It contains vitamin C-rich lemon juice, honey—a natural cough suppressant and decongestant—and, two shots of bourbon. The honey does most of the heavy lifting, but the pain-relieving properties of whiskey certainly won’t make you feel any worse.

BOURBON COUGH SYRUP FOR GROWNUPS

  • 2 ounces bourbon whiskey
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced (about 2 ounces)
  • 2 – 4 ounces water (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Mix the bourbon, lemon juice, and water (if using) in a tumbler or mug and heat in the microwave for about 45 seconds. (You can also do this on the stovetop in a little saucepan.) Take out and add the honey. Whisk to combine, then microwave for another 45 seconds.

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Just be sure to stick to one of these cocktails per day and drink plenty of other fluids, as too much alcohol will dehydrate the body and lengthen the flu’s duration.

The reason most people rely on cold and flu drugs like Nyquil is because they not only ease our congestion, they help us fall asleep. The ingredients in a hot toddy do the exact same thing. Sleep is the primary way your body is able to fight off a cold so that you’re well rested. You could use Nyquil, but a hot toddy works just as well at relieving your symptoms, and it works a bit more naturally, so you can sleep. One benefit of a hot toddy over Nyquil is the lack of that hazy Nyquil hangover many people often develop in the morning. Another benefit of whiskey is  the alcohol helps fight off infection and the growth of microorganisms.

Here’s a favorite easy, go-to hot toddy recipe.

  • 8 oz Hot Water
  • 1 Bag Herbal Tea
  • 1oz Bourbon
  • 1 Tablespoon Honey
  • 1 Lemon Wedge

Pour hot water into mug and steep tea for 2-3 minutes. Remove tea bag and add honey, stirring to dissolve. Pour in whiskey, add squeeze of lemon, stir and find relief.

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As with any remedy that incorporates booze as a main ingredient, there is such a thing as too many hot toddies if your goal is to actually feel better. While the alcohol in one drink is great for falling asleep and feeling refreshed, one too many and the sleep you receive won’t be that refreshing at all, and could cause you to wake up the next morning feeling worse.