Wednesday, November 26, 2014

THE Wine for Thanksgiving

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving: Do you know what type of wine you will be serving with the bird?

If you’re only pouring one wine for the festivities, make it a Riesling.

Riesling Grapes
A Riesling wine will compliment that savory turkey, dressing and gravy just as well as it accentuates the cranberry sauce and butternut squash. In fact, it will even pair nicely with a slice of pecan or pumpkin pie for dessert.

And Riesling has just the right acidic kick to keep your palate cleansed throughout the meal so you can enjoy those sweet and savory flavors together.

If you’re willing to have some fun with the meal, add a Beaujolais Nouveau. These wines were released last Thursday after aging on the skins for only six to eight weeks. Some years they are outstanding with notes of cherry. Other years there will be more berry notes.
Since Beaujolais Nouveau is a very fruit-forward wine, it pairs well with most Thanksgiving dishes. And if you remember that the point is to enjoy it NOW, you won’t be disappointed.

Whatever you’re serving tomorrow, may your meal be perfect, your wine faultless, and your day filled with happy memories!

Happy Thanksgiving!

~ Joy

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

It's Beaujolais Time!

Gamay Grapes
Tomorrow at 12:01 a.m. local time, the latest Beaujolais Nouveau will be released to the public. Beaujolais Nouveau is a red wine crafted from Gamay grapes grown in the Beaujolais wine region in France. The grapes have been around since the 15th century when Beaujolais Nouveau was just a regional wine enjoyed by locals celebrating the end of the harvest season.

But what began as a fad wine in the 1960s morphed into a cult wine for the 1980s and beyond. Wine critics won't give it much press, saying it's a gimmick fashioned mostly by French wine producer (of Beaujolais Nouveau, of course) Georges Duboeuf.

Georges Duboeuf
Duboeuf saw a way to market the new wine, and make a good profit from it – only a few weeks after the grapes had been hand-picked. It was a stroke of marketing genius when he held a race to Paris with the first bottles of this extremely young and immature vino. Media from around the world covered the story and by the 1970s it was an annual event.
In 1985, the date of release was legally changed to the third Thursday in November to take advantage of the holidays. 

Carbonic Maceration Occurring
Beaujolais Nouveau is unique in that the grapes are harvested and tossed in fermentation tanks without an official crush allowing for fermentation on the skins and a flavorful wine.  After only 6 to 8 weeks of carbonic maceration fermentation, the wine is bottled and shipped. The purplish-red color, light body, and very fruit-forward flavors only add to the mass appeal.

While wine critics don’t rave about it, many wine lovers do, lining up to purchase the limited number of cases at wine shops across the world, just in time for the holidays.

Each vintage tastes differently but generally you can expect the flavors of strawberry, cherry, and red raspberry in a bright, fresh wine that’s easy to drink, and fun to pair with holiday foods. (Think turkey, ham, and cranberry sauce.)

Beaujolais Nouveau is indeed a party in a bottle and you’ll see lots of festive decorations surrounding it in the liquor stores. Just remember, it’s meant to be enjoyed NOW. And unlike most red wines, this one will become more enjoyable if chilled for 20 – 30 minutes before serving. If you forget to cool it down, just add a few ice cubes!

Beaujolais Nouveau
Beaujolais Nouveau is a great wine to serve with Thanksgiving since it pairs well with those savory flavors.
Remember, this is supposed to be fun, so put aside any preconceived notions, kick back and enjoy this wine with friends because Beaujolais Nouveau will be gone very soon! 

And then you may find yourself waiting another year for that third Thursday in November…

~ Joy

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Celebrate Wine Tourism Day

Wine lovers, get ready – this Saturday, November 8, 2014 is officially Wine Tourism Day in North America!

Wine tourism is growing in this country as casual wine lovers and wine enthusiasts visit regional and state wineries and then share their finds with friends on social media platforms. There are so many good wineries out there but most of us will never know about them because the wines will never reach distribution. So how to get the word out?

Designate a special day for wine tourism! The first Wine Tourism Day in North America was held last year, with the idea originally coming from Europe where they’ve celebrated a European Wine Tourism Day on November 9th since 2009. The reason for a day targeted toward wine tourism is to get people motivated to visit wineries they’ve never been to, support them, and enjoy some amazing wines.

Wine Appellations
There are over 7,500 wineries in the U.S, Canada and Mexico with 205 appellations in the United States, 40 in Mexico and 38 in Canada. The winery visiting opportunities are endless for the casual oenophile.

Founders of the event believe that by calling attention to wine tourism with it’s very own day, more people will travel to wine regions while on vacation or trips, or head out on regional wine trails for a weekend of winery hopping. That information will be shared on Facebook and Twitter, making more people aware of these little known wine regions and motivating others to visit them (or order wine from on the internet).

Events are planned at wineries, restaurants, hotels and other wine businesses throughout North America on Saturday. Many wineries and wine shops will hold special tastings to encourage customers to come out and celebrate.

But you don’t have to be a winery or a wine business to celebrate. Grab your wine-loving friends and head out to some wineries on the 8th for a fun-filled day of tasting and exploring.  Then plan a weekend dinner later in the month and have everyone bring a bottle of wine they purchased on Wine Tourism Day. Pair it with food and enjoy the wine and ensuing discussion: a great way to celebrate wine tourism and enjoy some different wine-finds with friends.

Just be sure to pop a cork this Saturday and celebrate the day in the best possible way – with a glass of local or regional wine.

~ Joy

Wine Tourism Day is sponsored by:

For more information, visit

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Cool Blues and Spooky Vibes at The Slippery Noodle

October’s Haunted Establishments with “Spirits” Series

The Slippery Noodle - Indianapolis, Indiana

The wind is rising, the leaves are changing and it’s time for our annual trek to check out some haunted restaurants and libation locations around the country. Today we’ll discover a place that began as an upscale inn for train travelers and is now one of the best places to hear live Blues (and witness otherworldly phenomena) in the Midwest.

Slippery Noodle Inn
Today, The Slippery Noodle Inn is the oldest continually operated bar in its original building in the state of Indiana, and the oldest commercial building still standing in Indianapolis. With a history of over 150 years, this bar has a rich history, not only as a tavern and inn but also a bordello and gangster hangout.

Founded in 1850 as the Tremont House, the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Tremont House began as an inn offering lodging to train travelers passing through Indianapolis. Painted remains of a sign for the Tremont House can still be seen on the north side of the building.

Union Station
In the 1860s the name was changed to the Concordia House and the building was used as a way station on the Underground Railroad. There are rumors that tunnels connected the inn to the Union Station train depot.

Around the turn of the century, the business was renamed The Germania House and became the home of one of the first German clubs in Indy. But with the start of WWI and anti-German sentiments, the name was changed to Beck’s Saloon after owner, Louis Beck.

Moore's Restaurant
When Beck sold the bar to Walter Moore, he changed the name to Moore’s Beer Tavern, but the name was short-lived due to Prohibition. Moore quickly renamed it Moore’s Restaurant, but that didn't stop bootleg beer from being brewed in the basement and pumped upstairs to be served to select customers. As a ploy to cover the location of the brewery, a slaughterhouse also operated in the basement.

Al Brady
John Dillinger
Moore’s Restaurant became a favored hang out for several gangsters including John Dillinger and Al Brady. Moore allowed the gangsters to use the old brick stable for target practice.  Today, this room is used as one of the stage areas, and slugs can still be found embedded in the walls. After the repeal of Prohibition, Moore went back to the bar’s original name of Moore’s Beer Bar.
Moore decided to offer gang members a bit of entertainment and soon the upstairs became a bordello. What had once been luxurious lodging rooms were subdivided into 23 rooms, without heat, for the “girls” and their customers.

Moore was making a “killing” on his bar and bordello until, in 1953, two johns got into a fight over one of the girls. Fists flew, words were said and one of the johns ended up dead - stabbed with a knife. The bordello was immediately closed; the bar kept a low profile.

In 1963, Harold and Lorean Yeagy bought the place and turned it into a lunch counter, naming it The Slippery Noodle Inn. In 1985, the Yeagy’s son, Hal took over the business and expanded it, creating one of the premier blues clubs in the Midwest offering “Good Food, Booze and Blues.”

Today, the Noodle is a magnet for locals, music lovers, and Hollywood stars that enjoy the Blues. Visitors to the Inn have included The Blues Brothers Band, Billy Joel, Harrison Ford and Spike Lee.

But the Slippery Noodle Inn also attracts some otherworldly visitors. The basement, now home to one of the performance stages, was once where slaves were hidden on their journey north to Canada. Not all of them made it out of the Tremont House alive and those who died were buried under the dirt floor in the cellar. (Human remains were discovered during an excavation.)

Basement Area Today
Reports of shadowy apparitions downstairs have been numerous. People tell of hearing someone whisper to them when no one is near. Cold spots occur throughout the basement, even on warm nights with cool Blues playing. Employees have reported seeing a tall black man, dressed in overalls, working in the basement. It is believed that he was a former janitor for one of the inns, and is apparently still on the job. He has been seen and heard in the basement still trying to keep things in operational order.

Main Bar
The main floor of the building doesn’t have many tales to tell, but the second floor is another “hot spot” for paranormal activity. Now used for storage, this floor once contained the lodging house, and years later, the bordello. This area is alive with activity. Employees have seen a man dressed as a cowboy wandering along the second floor; maybe he was a stranger passing through on a train to the west ...

A few of the “girls” have also remained behind. Customers tell of seeing a woman standing on the second floor balcony looking out. People have been touched by unseen hands and heard sounds that no one can offer explanations for. Cold spots are also found up here. Bottles of alcohol stored on the second floor have been opened when no one has been in the building. (The girls enjoying a nightcap, perhaps?) An employee who went up for supplies saw a door open onto the hallway and then close as if someone had entered or left the room, then a cold spot wisked past her ...

If you’re looking for “good food, booze and Blues” then head to the Slippery Noodle Inn, 372 South Meridian Street in Indianapolis, Indiana. Enjoy an evening of live blues and jazz from two stages, with music available seven nights a week. For more information visit 

And if you happen to glance up and see one of the ”girls” surveying the crowd, rest assured she’s just looking for a little company to spend a long night with …

~ Joy

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Public House with a Sordid Past

October’s Haunted Establishments with “Spirits” Series

Stone’s Public House – Aahland, Massachusetts

The wind is rising, the leaves are changing and it’s time for our annual trek to check out some haunted restaurants and libation locations around the country. Today we’ll discover a public house with a sordid past; more than one death occurred under its roof …

Once known as Captain John Stone’s Inn, the current Stone's Public House is a hotbed of paranormal activity. In 1832, Captain Stone decided to build the inn next to the new railroad tracks in Ashland. When it first opened in September 1834, the inn was known as the Railroad Boarding House. Travelers and locals frequented the place for lodging, food and the latest news.

John Stone operated the inn for only two years before he transferred ownership to his brother, Napoleon Stone. He continued to live at the inn until he died in 1858.

Napoleon Stone ran the inn until 1868 when he sold out to W.A. Scott. Scott attempted to keep the inn running but slowly, over time, it fell into disrepair. During the next one hundred years, the inn became home to the seedier side of life, housing a brothel and known as a place where ne'er-do-wells could meet and plot in relative secrecy.

Leonard "Cappy" Fournier
It was not until the 1970s that an attempt was made to restore and refurbish the building. Leonard Fournier, better known as “Cappy” purchased the house in 1976 because he had heard that the inn was haunted and wanted to find out if it was true.

Fournier quickly got his answer. By 1979, psychics and paranormal investigators were coming from all over to spend time in the old building. Most felt that “something” was residing there; in fact, several spirits were identified as haunting the place including that of John Stone, the original owner.

The one thing all the investigators seemed to agree upon was an upstairs room that had a disturbing feeling about it. In the back half of the room, psychics, paranormal groups, and visitors alike, all felt distressed and uncomfortable. It was a menacing feeling of not being wanted in the room, as if visitors were intruding. Many claimed the spirits lurking here were male. Most estimated that between 6 an 8 spirits haunted the building, with most congregated in this room. When we heard the legends surrounding the house, things began to make sense …

A portrait of Captain John Stone hangs over one of the fireplace's and most claim that Stone is one of the ghosts that haunts the establishment. Employees and customers report the feeling of being watched when standing near the picture. Customers and employees have felt icy hands encircle their necks. Then there is the smell of cigar smoke lingering in the air although no one has been smoking inside.

But maybe the Captain has a good reason to keep a vigilant watch on his property, because some discoveries could be proof of a mistake rumored to have been made long ago …

Around 1845, during the time Stone resided here, a card game got out of hand. Captain Stone was playing along with a traveling salesman, and a few local men. Luck was not with Stone that night; he lost over $3,000 in a game of cards. The winner was the traveler from New York. Stone accused the man of cheating. A fight ensued with Stone hitting the man over the head with the butt of his gun. The salesman fell dead to the floor. Suddenly, Stone knew he had to act quickly to “protect” the reputation of the inn, and his own.

Dirt Floor
The other card players were local men who agreed to assist Stone in getting rid of the body. The men carried the traveler down to the cellar and buried him in a shallow grave. A pledge of silence was made between the witnesses and no one knew of the deed for years.

But it seems that the dead man is still trying to find retribution for the inhospitable treatment he received at the inn. Shadowy figures can be seen in the basement and odd sounds and voices can be heard. Maybe the traveler is seeking to have his name cleared of that questionable charge of cheating, all these years later.

Hidden Room
There are other ghosts that have been seen passing through the basement area. The building is said to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad. Some exploration has exposed a secret room - a place that could have been used to hide slaves on their way to freedom in Canada. It is quite possible that some slaves didn’t make it out of the basement, dying of injuries or disease and could have been buried under the dirt floor, although no skeletons have been found.

And then there are the spirits reported to be hanging around upstairs. People say that faces in the paintings on the second floor seem to follow you with their eyes as you walk down the corridor. Unseen phantoms tap customers on the shoulders, and faucets in unoccupied rooms turn on and off.

There are those who think the ghosts in the upstairs back room are the men who aided Stone in burying traveler’s body so many years ago, still trying to guard their secret, even in death. These men, who made a vow of silence during their lifetimes, may still be trying to keep their deed undiscovered.

Employees at the restaurant tell of a little girl named Mary who also haunts the upstairs. According to legend, it was during the late 1800s when Mary was playing on the railroad tracks and was struck by a train. She was taken to the public house where she died in an upstairs room. Her bloodied dress was taken to the attic where it has remained for over 100 years. People gazing up at the house have reported seeing a young girl staring forlornly out of an upstairs window as if waiting for someone who never comes.

Bar Area
Even now in the 21st century, employees report incidents that no one can explain. Doors that have been secured for the night will unlock themselves. Water taps in the bar area turn on and off for no reason. The restaurant and bar staff report beverage glasses have been thrown off the shelves, or simply shattered into pieces as they set on the bar.

Today, Stone’s Public House serves American pub grub, along with Irish food and drink. The restaurant opened in 2003 and occupies the downstairs floor of the building while offices and storage are located above. Stones Public House is located at 179 Main Street in Ashland, Massachusetts. Visit Stone’s Public House for more information.

The eerie atmosphere of the house is well earned; the bar is well worn with close to 200 years of use, old floorboards creek at random throughout the house as if someone is talking upon them, and then there are those solid wooden beams spanning the ceiling, which have born witness to years of loves, hates, and plans, made and forgotten.

And above one fireplace, the menacing picture of Captain John Stone still hangs, as he apparently keeps abreast of who or what continues to come and go at his inn …

~ Joy