Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Mobile Tasting – Wine To Go (Really!)

Mobile tasting – what a catchy phrase. As a wine drinker, I like the convenience it suggests. As a former winery owner I love the concept; no tents, no tables, just roll right up, throw open the window and serve.

The idea of trying a wine on the go has always been appealing – the chance to sip and savor in an unusual location may get you to actually enjoy the flavors more. After all, wine lovers have been hopping aboard wine trains for years.

 Napa Valley is famous for their wine train, which rolls through wine country on a 3-hour round trip eating and tasting adventure aboard a restored antique train. Definitely a nice way to spend the day.

Another on-track tasting takes place on the Historic Grapevine Railroad in Grapevine, Texas. Enjoy wines from nine of the city’s wineries along with a box dinner aboard “vintage” train cars from the Roaring 20’s.

Union Wine Company of Portland, Oregon has a show-stopping mobile wine option – a 1972 restored Citroen H. Van. Decked out with lights around the windows and a full wine bar inside, the roving wine truck can roll up to festivals and events, ready to pour. It can also be rented out for weddings and parties.

“See Indy From Your Bar Stool!” Really? Yes, now you can drink and exercise in Indianapolis, thanks to the Handle Bar. This 16 passenger Pedal Pub can be rented out for groups on an hourly basis, or single seat tours allow individuals to purchase a ticket to ride along. The catch is that you bring the wine or beer, but still, what a novel way to spend the day and enjoy a glass of wine.

Heard of other mobile wine options? Let me know!

~ Joy

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Celebrate Strawberry Rhubarb Wine Day

Time for another wine celebration! Saturday, July 18th is National Strawberry Rhubarb Wine Day. We’ve enjoyed the pairing of these sweet yet biting flavors for centuries, in desserts and wines.

Strawberries date back to ancient Roman times, while the first garden strawberries were grown in France in the late 1700s. Early Americans found a surplus of wild strawberry plants in the New World and began using them in simple pioneer foods.

The rhubarb plant has been cultivated for thousands of years. According to legend, a gardener carried the rootstock to New England in the early 1800s, but housewives didn’t accept the plant until it proved to make a good pie filling, hence its nickname “pie plant.”  In the 1940s, rhubarb was ruled to be a fruit for the purposes of regulations and taxes since American cooks used it mainly to make into desserts

Strawberries, which come from the rose family, provide sweet, juicy flavors wrapped in a berry aroma. Mix that with the oh-so-tart taste of rhubarb, and a strawberry rhubarb wine should offer up sweetness with a burst of refreshing tartness.

This is a “drink when ready” wine; aging does it no favors. If you’re looking to pair it with food, opt for spicy pork or roasted chicken, spinach salad, and flan or shortcake for dessert.  Or just chill a bottle and enjoy on a hot summer afternoon.

~ Joy

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

5 Wines Ready To-Go For National Picnic Month

July is National Picnic Month and a wine to-go seems the way to go as we head outside with blankets, baskets of food and best buds in tow to soak up the summer sun.

Stack Wine offers an interesting option for vino to go. Each “bottle” of wine is made up of four individually stacked glasses, each holding a single serving. Wines in the "stack" include Cabernet, Chardonnay, Red Blend, and Pinot Grigio. Check for a store near you.

Wine in a pouch is another easy way to transport your favorite beverage to the park. Eco-Vino is an economical, and green, way to enjoy the Helibiker red table wine or a chilled Chardonnay on a hot day. Sold at select Trader Joe’s.

Borrowing from the beer industry just made sense and now wine in a can is another option for a picnic vino. Union Wine Company offers Underwood Wine in a 375 ml can, about half a bottle, available in Rose, Pinot Noir and Pinto Gris.
Juice comes in a carton, so why not wine? Bota Box wine is in a 500ml carton, which is the equivalent of three glasses. Select from 12 wines including Cabernet, Malbec, Merlot, Old Vine Zin, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Chardonnay, Pinot Grig, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Moscato and Redvolution, a red blend. The cartons (and boxes) are available at various wine shops and liquor stores around the country.

I know, boxed wine is so '70s. But wait, Black Box is not your daddy’s vino. These wines have won over 40 gold medals and 27 Wine Enthusiast Best Buys. Available in Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Shiraz, Chardonnay, Pinto Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Red Elegance, one 3 liter box contains four bottles of wine that will last for at least four weeks after opening.Look for them at your local grocers.

With the Fourth coming up, and plenty of burgers and potato salad on the menu, grab a wine that’s perfect for a picnic, and enjoy the fireworks this weekend!

~ Joy

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

8 Wineries in Eccentric Buildings

Winery folks are always looking for something to make their business stand out - a special feature that makes them a little different from everyone else. These eight wineries have found the perfect thing - unusual buildings to call home that will garner comments, and customers.

Back to the Barn
Cellardoor Winery
Hobo Speak
While barns are pretty standard structures to use as tasting rooms and wineries, the barn at Cellardoor Winery in Lincolnville, Maine has an advantage, it's 220+ years old, and it has a cool story. Legend has it that at the turn of the 20th century, a hobo, traveling across the country, left this decorative H-symbol carved on the barn door. The reason? Hobos left signs for each other to indicate what kind of welcome they would get at certain houses and farms. This H indicated that this was a safe stop that offered shelter, possibly food, and hospitality to those on the road. Today, Cellardoor maintains that tradition by offering visitors a warm welcome and almost three-dozen libations to enjoy.

Spelunking for Wine
Looking Out The Cave
Cave Vineyard and Winery in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri has a pretty cool set-up, literally. The tasting room is located above a natural cave, which was mined for saltpeter by the early French settlers to make gunpowder. Today, you can purchase a bottle of wine (10 varieties are available) and enjoy it with homemade biscotti at picnic tables set up inside the cave.

Just Milling Around
Old Mill Winery
In the 1860s, grain was brought to this grist mill and ground into flour for the folks of Geneva, Ohio. Today, the mill is home to the Old Mill Winery and Restaurant where semi-sweet and sweet wines are carefully crafted, and steak and ribs top the menu. The wines give a nod toward the building’s past with names like Grindstone Red, Grindstone White and Grindstone Blush.

All Aboard
San Sebastian Winery
Standard Oil founder, Henry Morrison Flagler fell in love with St. Augustine, Florida and decided to move there in the late 19th century. But Flagler soon realized that the state needed a railroad system, so he purchased short line railroads all the way to Key West. By 1912, the route had become known as the Florida East Coast Railway. Today, San Sebastian Winery is located in the original St Augustine railway station, offering you a ticket to try nine wines that have won over 500 awards in the past 20 years.

We Didn’t Start the Fire
Original Rapid City Firehouse
Firehouse Wine Cellars was only a spark in the minds of the owners of the Firehouse Brewing Company just a few years ago. But it wasn’t long before the Rapid City, South Dakota brewery decided to expand their business to include the winery concept. The building was the original location of the Rapid City Fire House, and the combination of a winery /brewery has become a smokin’ hot idea with locals and visitors in the downtown area. Take a tour, try the wines, and check out the cool fire-centric wine labels.

Lock’em Up
Entrance to The Drunk Tank Winery
Hoosier ingenuity knows no bounds: when the Park County Jail came up for sale five years ago, two local Rockville residents bought it and turned it into the Old Jail Inn. One year later they added The Old Drunk Tank Winery in the basement. This is a testament to how times have changed when you now pay to sleep in one of the cell rooms, and can imbibe in a glass of wine where once locals were forced to sleep it off …

It’s Insane
Outside Left Foot Charley
Former Traverse City Insane Asylum
The Traverse City State Hospital in Traverses City, Michigan served as an insane asylum for over 100 years, but in 1989 the hospital was closed; that’s when developers began to get ideas. Today the complex is known as The Village At Grand Traverse Commons, housing retail shops, restaurants and a winery. Left Foot Charley is the area’s first urban winery offering eight wines crafted from grapes purchased from the best grape growers in the region, and three hard apple ciders made from Michigan apples. Grab a bottle to enjoy inside or out – it would be crazy not to.

Give Me An Amen
Inside the "Church Winery"
South River Vineyard
Wineries always sing the praises of their local and regional grapes, but one Buckeye winery has taken it to the limit by crafting their wines in a former church. What was once an abandoned Methodist Episcopal Church located in rural Harpersfield Township, Ohio is now the South River Vineyard, better known to locals as “The Church Winery.” Boasting over a dozen wines, acres of vineyards, two outdoor pavilions, a huge fireplace and a wine cave, this is one winery that follows through on that reverent, peaceful vibe.


~ Joy

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

10 Tempting Summer Vinos

Summer is fast approaching, and with it a chance to indulge in some lighter wines. This is the time of year where cool and light are the watch words; where you automatically reach for a white vino. But wait, there are reds that will suffice during these long hot summer months, along with a few "blasts from the past" to consider.

The Tried and True
1) Sauvignon Blanc
This herbaceous wine is perfect with anything green: salads, herbs and veggies. Plus, it’s an excellent accompaniment with seafood and poultry. You could say it tastes like "summer in a bottle."

2) Riesling/Traminette
The perfect fruit fare wines; serve with strawberries, peaches, apricots and blueberries because these wines meld with fruit, offering their fresh, crisp and aromatic attributes to any meal – perfect for hot weather drinking.

3) Pinot Gris/Grigio
If you’re looking for a white wine that “shares the love” with summer foods, then grab a lightly chilled bottle of Pinot Gris and dig into a fresh cut watermelon, honeydew or cantaloupe, or try with lobster, crab and sushi.

For A Bolder Taste
4) Malbec
If you’re grilling bold flavors, match your wine to the main flavor profile; the meat itself, the sauce, or the marinade. If it’s a BBQ burger or a steak, you'll want a robust red. A non-oaked Malbec can make this meaty meal a delight without being too heavy.

5) Pinot Noir
If you’re grilling chicken or chops, a glass of Pinot Noir will play nicely with the food, thanks to its softer tannins. Although Pinot Noir is known for its elegance, it breaks out of its shell during the summer months and becomes the perfect “lounge around the pool” wine.
Perfect For Everyone
6) Rosé
This is the ‘one size fits all’ wine for summer. Rosé is food-friendly and can be served room temperature, or nicely chilled, and you can even try a sparkling version for that "Tiny Bubble" effect.

7) Sangria
Sangria is a fresh fruit wine cocktail; this cool, refreshing summer wine option provides those light, fruity flavors that beg to be enjoyed during the summer. Make your own using a chilled bottle of sparkling wine, or go with a bolder red wine like Cabernet or Merlot.

Old Fashioned Wines
8) Berry Wines
This is the wine our grandparents made: blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, strawberry and any variation thereof. Perfect with light nibbles like chocolate, and a variety of cheeses.

9) Stone Fruit Wines
This includes cherry, peach, apricot, nectarine and plum wines, which are usually crafted on the sweeter side. Most will pair nicely with Asian stir-fries and summer desserts like angel food cake, cookies, and cheesecake.

10) Flower Vinos

There’s a ton of flower wines that home winemakers love to make. If you’re talented enough to be make your own wine, or know of a home winemaker who will share, be sure to try a glass of dandelion, elderflower, chamomile, hibiscus, orange blossom, even marigold wine on a sultry day; each one will offer a real taste of summertime.

As Ray Bradbury wrote: “Dandelion wine. The words were summer on the tongue. The wine was summer caught and stoppered.”  Enjoy the abundance of the season!

~ Joy

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Celebrate National Wine Day This Weekend

Monday, May 25, is not only Memorial Day, it's National Wine Day, too.  Although the origins of the holiday are unclear, it's a perfect opportunity to enjoy a day set aside to celebrate wine!

Wine has been consumed throughout the world for centuries. The earliest known production of wine dates back to around 6000 BC.  The oldest known winery was discovered in a cave in the mountains of Armenia.
The earliest wine production in Europe, dates back 6,500 years ago, and was discovered at an archaeological site in northern Greece near Macedonia.

Wine was very common in Ancient Greece and Rome, playing an important part in religion and was known as the "Juice of the Gods.”

For the Greeks, Dionysus was the god of wine and revelry.  Dionysus was worshiped from c. 1500 – 1100 BC.  His festivals were the reason for the development of Greek theatre.

Bacchus was the god of wine for the Romans.  He reigned over the grape harvest, winemaking, and the resulting frenzied festivals that occurred.  Bacchus was believed to be a divine being who could communicate with both the living and the dead.
Apparently the Romans also knew how to bottle wine.  A 1,650 year old bottle of wine, the oldest one ever to be discovered, was found in 1867 during a dig in Speyer, Germany. It was located inside a Roman stone sarcophagus. The bottle has been on display at Germany’s History Museum of the Pfalz for over one hundred years.

During this early ‘wine period,’ winemaking technology improved tremendously in the ancient world.  The wine press underwent great changes, and barrels were developed for storing and shipping wines.

Even in Egypt, wine played an important part in daily ceremonial life.

By the Middle Ages, wine was the common drink for all social classes.  It was used for the celebration of Catholic Mass, with the Benedictine Monks producing most of the wine for this purpose.  Housewives made their own wines and served them at every meal.  Wine was watered down with 4 parts water to one part wine for everyday use.

Throughout history, Europe has always been known as the premier wine region.  In fact, American wines were looked down upon throughout the world until 39 years ago when two American wines won acclaim during the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976.
As you remember the reason for Memorial Day, and celebrate the beginning of summer, plan to lift a glass and celebrate National Wine Day, too!
~ Joy