Monthly Archives: March 2016

Wine With Easter Dinner

Western Easter is very early this year—luckily you have time to find the perfect wine for Easter dinner.

The traditional dinner of Ham is a great food to pair wine with.  It allows us to break away from the usual cabernet and chardonnay most people have with dinners.  The light texture and easy flavors of Ham cry out for crisp clean lower alcohol wines, Riesling is the classic match for ham.  German Riesling has the sweetness to mesh well with the saltiness of ham.   Try a kabinett for the perfect balance of sweetness.  J. Friedrich has a nice Piesporter Michelsburg kabinett that is a great wine.  Not too expensive, but tastes outstanding.

If you want to be a little more trendy and cutting edge—Roses are all the rage!  Roses’ have a pink color that looks beautiful in your glass.  They will typically have aromas of berries and slight spices.  Don’t be afraid of pink wines.  Not all pink wines are sugary sweet or cloying.  True roses have beautiful complexity and will tantalize your taste buds.  Try a good French rose from Tavel or Provence.  If you are into celebrity, try the MIraval Provence rose.  It is a nice rose form Provence (a region in southeast France).  Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie own Miraval.  The good thing is when celebrities open a winery they have a lot of money and aren’t afraid to spend it.  You get a great wine that they love and they will spare no expense to get it.  The Miraval Rose has enough refreshing acidity to liven up any meal.  And it will go perfect with Ham!

If you are doing a little more adventurous food like prime rib or lamb, there are amazing choices for red wines that will be perfect with dinner.  Prime rib is the richest and most flavorful of meats.  The high content of flavorful fats beckon for the rich robust tannic flavors of Cabernet Sauvignon.  Cabernet is the king of the grapes.  The tannins in cabernet will balance out the juicy flavors of your fine cut of meat.  Tannin is the dry characteristic of wine that hits the back of your throat and may turn off the beginning wine drinker.  But try a good cabernet with your meats.   A great choice is Greystone Cabernet.  Greystone is a project from the Markham family of wines.  Greystone is the “House” wine of the Culinary Institute of America.  You know it is a good wine if the burgeoning chefs use it while learning their craft!

In Greek households, Lamb is the traditional Easter meal.  The gaminess of wine is a great match for Syrah or Shiraz.  Remember Syrah and Shiraz is the same wine.  In France and America we call it Syrah.  In Australia they coined the term Shiraz.  Shiraz is wine with blackberry, mint and pepper flavors and great depth.  My wife loves Shiraz because it’s a little softer and more fruit forward than Cabernet.   Since she loves Shiraz—It is now my favorite too!  It is easier to keep the peace if we enjoy the same wines!  Try Schild Shiraz from Australia.  It is Inky black, rich and sumptuous.

After dinner liqueurs like a Baileys Irish crème or Kahlua are a great finish to every dinner.  The sweetness will satisfy everyone and it always is a treat to add a little something to the coffee!  IF you want a little different twist—have a bottle of Frangelico or Chambord.  Hazelnut and Black Raspberry are the flavors and they are great sippers and will help settle your stomach after a rich meal!  Or put these two favorites together and drizzle a little heavy cream for an awesome cocktail called the Nuts and Berries.

Easter is the beginning of spring and the season of rebirth.  Don’t be afraid to try a new wine or liquor and resurrect your taste buds!  Enjoy in moderation and Cheers!

By |March 22nd, 2016|Wine Blogs|0 Comments

Celebrate Everything Irish!

One of my favorite holidays is coming up.  St Patrick’s day is a day to celebrate everything Irish!  The Irish have always had a fond spot in my heart. I love their stories of fighting for independence, the famous culture of enjoying life and enjoying friends is a great example for all of us!

Being the home country of whisky is a whole other matter.  Back in the 800’s an enterprising monk discovered ways to distill whiskey.  From the humble beginnings in the quaint countrysides of Ireland has evolved a worldwide phenomena of whisky flavors and tastes. Even the word whisky comes from the Gaelic term “uisce bethea” translated as the Water of Life!

Irish whiskey is unique to the world because of its soft flavors and double, if not triple distillations.  Irish whiskey is distilled mostly from rye corn, and barley.  It is aged in 2nd run barrels from primarily Spain and the USA.  The Spanish barrels are typically sherry barrels that impart a subtle sweetness to most Irish whiskeys.

There are two distinct ways that Irish whiskey is made.  Column Distillation and pot still whiskey.  Column Distillation is a method that allows a large and continuous distillation to ramp up production to meet demand.  Pot Still distills a little more hand crafted product  and produces a whiskey that is intense and more flavorful.  Whiskeys like Jameson are blends of both products.  This gives it the rich and still smooth flavors we love.  There is no peat used in the production of most Irish whiskey.  That is one of the main differences between Irish and scotch whiskeys.  Whereas Scotch has heavy peat and campfire aromas and flavors, Irish whisky is a soft, delicate aroma that lends itself to great sipping or great cocktails!  For a simple Irish cocktail try Irish whisky with Ginger ale.  OR if you are a little adventurous and want to try a real cocktail try a Green eyed Ginger.  2parts Irish whiskey, 1 part Midori Melon Liqueur and Ginger ale.  Pour in that order in a tall glass and garnish with lemon and lime!.

You can’t talk about Irish drinks without bringing up Baileys Irish crème.  A worldwide favorite, Baileys is unique in its rich decadent, creamy mouth feel.  The robust flavors of Chocolate and crème roll over the taste buds and deliver a smooth satisfaction that is the perfect after dinner drink.  Baileys is made with Real Irish whiskey and real heavy Irish dairy crème.  It’s unique recipe and excellent ingredients allow Baileys to be one of the few crème liqueur that won’t curdle when added with other liqueur.  Try Bailey’s neat or on the rocks for the rich sensation.  Or make a Martini using Baileys and vodka..

Last March I had the opportunity to visit the famed Guinness brewery in downtown Dublin.  Dublin is a beautiful city that combines the charm of old school Europe but is still modern in its sensibility and hospitality.  The Guinness brewery is a huge facility that dominates the skyline of Dublin.  Their sky bar is one of the highest points in Dublin and you can see all directions of the beautiful city while savoring a rich creamy Guinness stout.

Guinness has been brewed since 1759.  Arthur Guinness was the proprietor and he signed a 9000-year lease on the land where the brewery sits.  They are a pretty stable company!!  Where many of us think that Guinness is a rich black foreboding drink, it is actually a deep ruby red in color and is silky smooth and flavorful.  I love the Nitro Guinness.  Treat yourself to 8pk of Guinness cans, get it ice cold, find a nice pint glass and get to work!  The nitro in the cans of Guinness really replicates the smooth flavors you get from the famed nitrogen taps in virtually every Irish pub.

Guinness alone is awesome, but for a real treat make yourself a Half and Half.  Some of you may know it as a Black and Tan.  I learned never to call it black and tan because that was the slang term for the British expeditionary force that tried to prevent Ireland becoming a free republic in eh early 20th century.  We all have to be PC sometimes!

A Half and Half is made with lager and Guinness stout.  Take a light lager like Harp or Smithwick’s and pour half a pint glass.  Then hold a spoon over the glass.  Slowly pour your Guinness stout over the spoon allowing the beer to tantalizingly flow down the side of the glass. Patience is key! If you do it right you will have a beautiful Pint that is a lighter hue on the bottom and rich dark colors on the top.  When you finally take the glass to your mouth you fell the silky creaminess of the Guinness, then the slight bracing hops of the lager will hit your taste buds and you have an explosion of flavors!  It is awesome!

A final favorite Irish drinking quote.  Here’s to a long life and a merry one.  A quick death and an easy one.  A pretty girl and an honest one.  A cold beer and another one!




By |March 9th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Aging Potential of Beverages

As my daughters are both graduating this year from college and high school it makes me think of age and how old I am and how old I will eventually be!  With modern medicine and great drugs (like Cabernet Sauvignon and good bourbon) I may live until I’m 125 years old.  I theoretically could be a great, great, great, great Grandpa!

As always my thoughts go to liquor, beer and wine.  How old can wine get?  Do the expiration dates on beer mean anything?  I found an old bottle of whiskey in my grandma’s cupboard—is it still good?  I get these questions and more all the time!

Antique Whiskey Bottle

Once in the bottle, whiskey will remain unchanged essentially forever

The quick answer is yes–it is still drinkable.  It won’t send you to the hospital, or give you hallucinations.  It will be different than what the creators wanted you to taste.  All wine and beer is evolving constantly.  But hard liquors like whiskey/vodka/rum will not change once they are in the bottle.  Most are over 40%alcohol and will never change.  They will last a long time!  I believe it’s a waste and a shame to keep something so good as a classic scotch around—but if you find one in the back of the cupboard—drink it up and reminisce.  It will taste the same as it did when you first bought the bottle!  The only exceptions are crème liqueurs like a Baileys Irish Crème.  Even though the crème is pasteurized and it is good Irish whiskey-the crème will eventually harden and make the bottle undrinkable.

Beer is the shortest lived of all alcoholic beverages.  Most beers are meant to be consumed within 115-125 days of bottling.  The fresh hop flavors in beer will fade over time, Again the beers won’t be bad, won’t be unhealthy, wont be chunky, but they will be different.  The Drink by dates on beers is a guideline.  The beers won’t change overnight.  Beer is not like a gallon of milk.  It won’t sour right away. It won’t curdle and it won’t get chewy!  It will change, but I have had beers in my refrigerator for over a year, and I drank one and it was different but not bad!  Obviously we all need to go to the FiFo method of cooler management.  First in First out!  But if you find an old beer—don’t worry—try it and it’ll be okay.

Anheuser Busch was the first national brewery to make a big deal about fresh beer with their huge ad campaign of Born On dates a few years ago.  This forced consumers to do the math in their head and figure if the beers were okay.  But even mighty Budweiser has switched back to drink by dates for best flavor.  It is simpler and is a good guideline.  But it definitely puts pressure on retailers and wholesalers to rotate beers, change things up and make sure you rotate your stock.  It is a constant challenge and breweries are putting a lot of pressure on wholesalers and retailers to keep the beer stock fresh.  When you see a great beer, marked down or put in mystery bags, you know the brewery is helping the industry blow out close to out of date product.  Beer makers want us to enjoy the beers in the best way possible.  But to reiterate, the beer won’t be bad—just different!

Wines will age in different manners.  Most white wines are meant to be drunk in the first couple years of availability.  Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blancs and other whites will slowly lose their fresh ripe flavors and get a little flatter.  Most whites will be starting to get bad tasting after 5 years.   Try to drink within at most 3-4 years for quality.  If you have an old bottle, look at the color first.  If the white wines have a brownish tint, or too dark a gold color that is a bad sign.  Look for clarity and bright colors in your glass.  In older white wines the aromas and taste will change also.  You will not get the fruit forward nuances, but will rather get the astringent tastes and sourness that marks a bad wine.  Again not dangerous to your health—just to your taste buds!

Old Wine

The aging potential of wine can depend on a variety of factors such as winemaker, climate, grape composition and more.

Red wines are definitely the wines to age.  Good Cabernets, Merlots and Pinot Noirs can age for up to 10-15 years depending on the winemaker’s preferences and techniques.  Most of us don’t have the patience to wait 10 years to drink a wine.  But the wait is sometimes worth it!  A well-aged bottle of Napa Cabernet or French Bordeaux is a sublime experience.  The wines will exhibit amazing fruit flavors and smooth finishes as the rich tannins slowly change the wine over time.

Now I am not talking about your inexpensive everyday $10 California reds like Robert Mondavi or Apothic Red.  These Everyday quaffers are nice to drink and are meant to be drunk immediately. The instant gratification we all crave!  I have read of statistics that say the average bottle of wine purchased is drunk with in 3 days!  Enjoy and live life in the fast lane.

But someday treat yourself to an older red wine and you will see the differences.  The old saw of everything gets better with age is most true with great red wines like Chateau Montelena, Caymus, or Keenan Cabernet.  If my example of living to 125 years of age is close to accurate, I should be buying some good bottles now and drinking them over the next 10-20 years!  Think about the long term and treat yourself to something sublime that ages as well as you do!  Cheers and enjoy in moderation!

By |March 2nd, 2016|Beer Blogs, Spirits Blog, Wine Blogs|0 Comments