Nick’s Spanish Adventure

Garnacha growing in the extreme desert conditions of Jumilla.

Earlier this summer Bottles’ Wine Director Nick Shugrue traveled throughout Spain, visiting several vineyards and essentially having the time of his life. We’ll be tasting many of the wines he had while in Spain in the store on Saturday. Following are excerpts from his travel journal.

We started in Vigo which is up in Galicia, in northwest Spain, known for incredible seafood and the Albarino grape. We were in a small seaside town called Cambados, which was kind of New England-like (humid, coastal, picturesque) but with big, old palm trees lining the main boulevard.

In Cambados we had an insane lunch with mountains of shellfish, razor clams, octopus and whole grilled fish. One of the region’s delicacies is the Percebes or “goose foot barnacle.” It’s a prehistoric, scary looking type of shellfish that I’m glad I tried, but won’t be having again. With lunch we drank a ton of really great Albarino wine. Galicia is Albarino country – it’s what all the locals drink, given how well it pairs with seafood, giving credence to the “what grows together goes together” adage. I visited a few wine shops, and really, all they sell is Albarino with maybe a few red Mencias, a wine made inland in the mountains from the grape of the same name.

The Galician regional delicacy Percebes, or “goose foot barnicle,” with Nick’s empty glasses of locally-grown and made Albarino.

Later in the day we visited the beautiful Lagar de Condesa winery, where lots of the Albarino wines are made. The Kentia was my favorite, super fresh, vibrant and lively. At de Condesa they are experimenting with giant egg-shaped fermenting tanks that many high-end, cutting edge wineries all over the world are using. Many winemakers feel it’s the perfect vessel in which to ferment because the shape of the egg makes the wine naturally convect, continually stirring the lees on its own, not mechanically. It allows for more skin contact with the juice and produces wines with more body and complexity. Really cool. 

Nick next to the egg-shaped fermenter at Lagar de Condesa.

Next we drove southeast to the desert region of Zamora. I felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. Zamora is the giant all encompassing zone that includes the famous wine region of Ribera del Duero. Here we drank some great Tempranillo, Mencia and also a “Prieto Picudo” which is an obscure grape from Zamora that I’ve never seen stateside. It’s a bit Dolcetto-ish but juicier.

But the most interesting bit about Zamora is its desert landscape! It’s amazing how anything can grow in such arid conditions, just unbelievable. With no irrigation! Here we went to one of Juan Gil’s oldest vineyards where the vines are over 100 years old, growing in sand. It was the weirdest thing. I felt like we were on a sand dune. The wines produced from these ancient vines and in these rusty, red-ish brown soils were outstanding. Really rich and concentrated. The stand out wine of the day was Rejon Tempranillo grown on 130 year old vines.

A 100+ year-old vine growing in Zamora’s sandy soils.

We later visited another of the Juan Gil winemaking facilities in Rueda, which was about an hour’s drive from Zamora. It was a little less arid here, and the soil was made up of larger grains very much like gravel. One of the stand-outs here was the Shaya Verdejo, which is partially sourced from 110 year old vines. It was a delicious, very typical Verdejo – medium bodied and a bit more lush. We finished that day in a town called Segovia. One of the prettiest cities I have ever been in. The town is cut in half by a giant Roman aqueduct. Stunning. 

Verdejo growing in the gravely Rueda soil.
The Roman aqueduct in the ancient city of Segovia.

The next day we were off to Jumilla in the extreme southeast, so the opposite corner of where we started and home to the Juan Gil headquarters. We’ve carried the Juan Gil wines in store in the past to great success but I honestly have a new appreciation for them after visiting the vineyard. It’s an amazing place full of beautiful contradictions. In this rocky, barren landscape there’s a garden with several 900 year old (!) olive trees. Yet inside the winery, which is underneath a large mountain, is one of Juan Gil’s massive, cutting edge, state of the art wineries, which houses four-story high fermentation tanks.

900-year old olive trees at the Juan Gil headquarters in Jumilla.

The modern, steel fermentation tanks at the Juan Gil winery.

While there, we also got to see a vineyard where their Monastrell is grown. Again, super extreme growing conditions here, which they allude to on their label. It’s really hard to believe wine can be made in this region! The soil and terrain is a desert of jagged sharp stones, rocky cliffs, plateaus and canyons. On the front label of the Honoro Vera Monastrell there’s an image of a vine growing through a white rock. When the vineyards that produce these wine were planted over 100 years ago, the farmers had to remove about a meter of these jagged rocks, until they hit a slab of chalk/limestone. They then had to drill a hole through the limestone to plant the vines. They did this so that the roots could get nutrition and water. The wines all have this hard but delicious mineral edge to them because of the influence of the limestone. It was really cool.

Later in the day we drove to the region next door called Almansa. Here we toured Bodegas Atalaya and met Pepe. Pepe was certainly a highlight of the trip. This round, jovial, amazing man gave us a tour of the rocky vineyards and desert landscape in his old Land Rover Defender. What a day! Atalaya mostly works with the Alicante Bouchet grape which in this region is called Garnacha Tintorera (due to EU laws). Alicante is a black skinned grape and one of the only grapes that produces red juice when crushed.

Nat Saywell of MS Walker, Atalaya’s Pepe and Nick, prior to touring the vineyard in Pepe’s Defender.

On day 5 of our trip we drove up the coast to Montsant and Priorat, closer to Barcelona. The landscape was incredible. We visited the Cellars Can Blau which sits in this bowl surrounded on three sides by mountains. Here we had what was probably the best meal of our trip: A chef brought to our table a huge cast iron skillet full of sunnyside-up eggs. In the middle of it was a mountain of truffled potatoes. He placed it on the table and began tossing. Unbelievable. It was served with Blue Grey Priorat and the Can Blau wines. Big, stunning wines grown in sandy mountainsides. Just beautiful.

The skillet filled with egg and truffled-potatoes. It was mixed tableside prior to being served.

We finished the trip with a day in Barcelona. What an amazing town. The Sagrada de Familia church (a World Heritage Site), Gaudi Park, the famous outdoor market La Bouqueria and Flamenco. A great way to end a trip I’ll never forget.

Join us on Saturday, August 27th, as we taste several of Nick’s favorites from his trip, including Blue Grey Priorat, Kentia Albarino and Shaya Verdejo.

How To Make Simple Cocktails That Taste Anything But

No muss no fuss.

That’s our mantra in these torrid times, which is why we’re crushing hard on locally-owned and operated Bootblack Brand’s line of all natural cocktail/soda syrups. They’re made by Paul Kubiski out of Hope & Main, the culinary incubator in Warren. His roster currently consists of two killer flavors, both of which are deeply layered with sweet, savory and citrus ingredients that meld into one complex cocktail or mocktail when mixed with a beverage of your choice.
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Paul launched Bootblack Brand with the super popular Ginger, Cardamom & Lime syrup, which is great when mixed with bourbon or rum. With vodka it’s a heady Moscow Mule. When splashed into tequila it makes a spicy riff on the basic margarita. We also love it plainly mixed with iced-tea, and with selzer, it makes an outrageous ginger ale.

He recently released his second flavor: Cranberry, Jalapeno & Lime, which is a true treat with tequila and/or mezcal. It also sings beautifully with whiskey, vodka and gin. At its most simple, we love splashing it into a tall glass of ice-cold lemonade.

Both make quick work of a Monday night cocktail at home, and really shine when used in a welcome/signature cocktail for gatherings of a handful or more of friends.

For a truly simple, one-minute cocktail/mocktail, Paul suggests mixing 3 parts spirit or seltzer to 1 part syrup, and adjusting amounts to suit your taste.

And for the days when you have a touch more ambition, Paul recommends the following two recipes (both of which are included on their respective bottles).

3 Compadres
2oz bourbon
.75oz Ginger Cardamom Lime syrup
.5oz Ferent-Branca
3 dashes orange bitters
3 dashes Angostura bitters
Orange twist

Add bourbon, syrup & Fernet to a shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into a double old fashioned glass over a large cube. Float with the bitters and the twist.

Smokey Summer
1.5oz Tequila Reposado
.5oz Mezcal
1oz Cranberry Jalapeno Lime syrup
.5oz Lime Juice
Splash of seltzer
Salted lime wheel

Add tequila, mezcal, syrup and lime juice to a shaker filled with ice and shake well. Strain into a double old fashioned glass filled with ice. Add seltzer, stir gently, then add lime wheel.

Cheers to another local Rhody success story!

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A Summer Corn and Tomato Pairing

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I can’t get enough of this super simple spin on the classic summer corn and tomato salad from our friends Brian and Katie O’Donnell of Warren’s really fantastic bywater restaurant. With such a wonderfully complex dish that has fat, oil, and garlic, I could think of only one other element to complete the picture: acid. Which is why I chose a beautiful, unoaked French Chardonnay. Gautheron’s Chablis is that perfect steely-sharp wine that has the edge to cut through the bacon and aioli while bringing out the fruit flavors and acids in the tomatoes, leaving you with a nice crisp and clean fruit finish, good minerality, and looking forward to the next bite!
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Check out the jam-packed summer issue of Edible Rhody for more on bywater, including a recipe for Katie’s Basil Ice Cream. It’s a perfect dish to follow this summer salad.

Bon Appetit … and Cheers!
-Josh

WARM CORN & TOMATO SALAD
Note from Chef/Co-Owner of bywater, Brian O’Donnell: This recipe is our rendition of traditional Mexican street corn (one of our favorite snacks). Grilling the corn gives the dish a wonderful flavor. In the height of summer, we can’t get enough of it—we think you’ll feel the same way.

INGREDIENTS
4 ears grilled fresh sweet corn
4 slices smoked bacon
1 pint ripe cherry tomatoes, rinsed and cut into halves
2 large ripe beefsteak or other large heirloom tomatoes, sliced into half moons
Garlic aioli*
4 tablespoons crumbled dry cotija cheese (or any other hard, salty cheese, like ricotta salata or Parmesan)
2 tablespoons chopped chives
Piment d’Espelette or paprika
Good-quality extra-virgin olive oil
Flakey sea salt for finishing

First, remove corn kernels from the cobs and set aside. In a medium sauté pan, cook bacon until crispy. Drain bacon grease from the pan and roughly chop the cooked bacon. Return the bacon to the pan, add cherry tomatoes and corn and heat, tossing until warmed through. Taste for seasoning.

To serve, divide beefsteak tomato slices among 4 plates (or place on one large platter), arranging them in a circle. Place warm corn and bacon mixture in the middle. Top each serving with a dollop of aioli, then sprinkle with cotija cheese, a sprinkle of chives and, finally, a pinch of Piment d’Espelette. Drizzle with olive oil and salt to taste.

Serves 4

*Garlic Aioli
1 cup Hellmann’s or your favorite mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon Banyuls or sherry wine vinegar
½ teaspoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt

Mix ingredients together and set aside, or refrigerate until serving. (Or double the recipe and have more for later—it’s great as a dip for fries, veggies or as a sandwich spread.)

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The Top 8 Late-Summer Rosés

Man is it hot.

The dog days are here – there’s no mistaking it.

But rather than bemoan the sweltering heat, let’s embrace it. Why not revel in the sultry steam, particularly when there’s still so much great rosé – the ultimate, refreshing summer sipper – to be had.

Grab a glass (any size or shape will do), an icy cold rosé (we have over 40 chilled), an ice-cube if you’d like (all the cool kids are doing it), and let the waves of heat wash over you. Soon it will be snowy February here in New England, and you’ll wish you did.

Here are the top 8 rosés to get you through the remaining days and nights of  the summer of 2016.

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Chateau La Gordonne, ‘Verite du Terroir’ – Provence, France
This wine has a series of complex aromas, but primarily strawberry and blackcurrant. It’s a classic light Provencal rosé. $19.99

Meinklang, ‘Frizzante’ – Burgenland, Austria  
This is a long lived staff favorite, and for good reason!  It’s bright, refreshing, semi-sparkling, and organic.  Mix up your evenings and dinners by starting with a fun light bit of bubbles in place of prosécco or a cocktail.  $21.99

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Domaine Tempier – Bandol, France
So … sticker-shock aside: this is a world-class, amazing wine… that just happens to be rosé! Bandol is a small fishing village within Provence that has a small but powerful wine region around it. Made from a minimum of 50% mourvedre, these wines are capable of aging for years.  We love Bandol in general, but Domaine Tempier is an archetype. Their wines are made from vines that are more than 20 years old, with lower yields. This rosé has notes of peach and pomegranate, and will not disappoint.  A great use of your Bottles’ Rewards Points! $47.99

Domaine La Fage, ‘Miraflors’ – Languedoc, France
Another super dependable entry from the south of France, the Miraflors is a blend of grenache and mourvedre, and has notes of raspberries and rose petals. $16.99

Calcu Vineyards, ‘Reserva Especial Rosé’ – Colchagua Valley, Chile
This Chilean blend is made up of malbec, syrah, and petite verdot.  It has a nice fresh acidity that is slightly tart and works well with many foods. $13.99

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Chateau de Segries, Tavel – Provence, France
What a great example of a classic Provencal rosé. Tavel is a smaller region within Provence that produces deeply colored, beautiful full wines that are able to age for several years. $20.99

Serafini & Vidotto, “Bollicine” – Veneto, Italy
And now for something completely different. The Serafini rosé is a fully sparkling Italian wine that offers a great prosécco alternative without a massive price jump. It’s made from chardonnay and pinot nero and is incredibly refreshing. $17.99

Chateau Lancyre – Provence, France
This wine is a blend of syrah, grenache, and cinsault that has a wonderful fruity nose followed up by good, strong minerality from its limestone vineyard.  $19.99

Remember, rosés are finite. Once they’re gone for the season, they’re gone. Shop early and shop often!

Keep cool, Rhode Island.

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Rhum With A “Rh?”

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J.M Rhum Agricole Gold. On sale through September 5th, 2016.

Type-o or marketing gimmick? Neither. Rhum with a “Rh” is a thing.

Rhum Agricole is as style of rum made with cane sugar that’s been cut, ground and pressed into juice, unlike rums without the “Rh,” which are distilled from molasses. Many consider Rhum Agricole – the term is french for cane juice rum – the purest expression of the spirit.

We love the J.M Gold because of its smooth elegance and multi-layered flavors of cinnamon, warm gingerbread, grass and hazelnut. J.M, the smallest rhumerie on the island of Martinique, makes its golden elixir from from plants cultivated on the steep slope of Mt. Pelée, the island’s active volcano. Hot stuff.

Given its beautiful, complex flavor it’s really best enjoyed on the rocks, while watching the sunset over the Atlantic.

When that’s not possible, consider using it in place of light rum in a riff on the classic Hemingway Daiquiri. The J.M and the maraschino liqueur dance beautifully together.

What’s even better? It’s on sale at Bottles thru September 5th.

Rhum J.M Agricole Daiquiri

Ingredients
2 oz Rhum J.M Agricole Gold
¾ oz freshly-squeezed lime juice
½ oz grapefruit juice
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp maraschino liqueur

Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker, shake and strain into a goblet of coupé filled with crushed ice (you can make crushed ice with a blender or food processor if you don’t own a fancy frozen drink/shaved ice gizmo).

Santé!

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Pasote – The Rainwater Tequila

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Pasote tequila, on sale at Bottles through September 5, 2016.

The agave plant usually gets the lionshare of attention when tequila lovers talk about flavor and aroma. But the type and quality of the water used during the distillation process also plays a big part in the how the beloved Mexican spirit smells and tastes.

Which is why Pasote Tequila, introduced to the market earlier this year, is so distinctive. It’s made with 40% rainwater that is collected on site at the El Pandillo distillery in the Jalisco Highlands. The additional 60% is natural spring water.

The rainwater character is most noticeable in the easy-drinking blanco, which has a wet mineral and wet grass aroma similar to the fresh smell of the air just before a summer rain. It’s a touch sweet, with a citrus and briney flavor.

The reposado, aged in American oak, is herbal, with notes of ripe coconut. The anejo, with its longer barrel aging, opens with aromas of sweet vanilla and coconut, and finishes with flavors of roasted oranges and spicy cinnamon.

Always suckers for strong label art, we can’t end without talking about Pasote’s custom-made bottles. The screenprinted artwork features a different warrior on each of the three bottles in homage to the ferocious Aztec fighters who celebrated their victories and sacrifices by drinking the sacred agave. The bottles are hand crafted by a family of glass artisans, and each has slight asymmetries and distinctive wave patterns visible in the glass.

All three styles are distinctive enough for enjoying alone on ice, and are also ideal for cocktails.

Enjoy!

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Meet Josh – He’s Bottles’ Newest Team Member!

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And you want to get to know him.

If you’ve been in the store over the past few weeks you’ve probably noticed a tall, Irish-lookin’ fella with a warm smile on the floor. He’s Josh Shields, and he’s our new General Manager. Josh has wine, beer & spirits smarts in spades and we’re sure glad to have him.

Josh will tell you he rarely drinks the same beverage twice in a row. He’s got several years of experience at three highly-regarded New England wine shops under his belt. His time working harvest at a 3rd Growth Chateau in Bordeaux is something he’s still high about.

Oh, and he helped manage the world’s largest private wine cellar – we’re talking north of 750,000 bottles – while a sommelier at the legendary Tampa-based Bern’s Steak House. The 60-year-old restaurant that just won the James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine Service? Yeah, that one.

And he’s an all-around great guy, to boot. Easy-going, smart, funny and easy to work with, Josh fits right into the Bottles family. Read on for Katie’s Q&A with Josh to see why we think he’s not only a spectacular addition to the out team, but to the RI beverage scene as a whole.

Katie: Let’s start with an easy one: If you could have only one bottle for the rest of your time, what would it be?

Josh: That’s not easy! That said, at Bern’s I learned two things I never wanted to know about myself. That I like Old Burgundy and ancient Madeira. Two things I’ll never be able to afford. But if I had to pick one style it would be aged Bordeaux. ‘61 if we’re just getting silly. Why not.

K: Sounds like Bern’s was quite a place to work. You were there for 5 years, managing their wine list, which at one point hovered around 1 million bottles. What was that like?

J: For starters it wasn’t just me. It was definitely a team effort of about three somms and David Laxer, and the restaurant’s current owner and son of founder Bernard “Bern” Laxer.  And it was thrilling. Mr. Laxer, who founded the restaurant 60 years ago was an amazing, truly self-made man – he built the whole thing through relationships with producers, bankers and customers. Living up to the legacy of the people that built the cellar was the hardest  – but best  – part of my time at Bern’s. I considered myself a docent rather than a wine manager. And then there’s also the wine I had the opportunity to taste. I got to taste a lot of Really. Great. Wine. Nearly all of the best wines I’ve had in my life were at Bern’s. It was quite an education.

K: How did you help guests find their way through that huge list?

J: That was another exciting part about the job that I really liked. It was a busy restaurant – anywhere from 500-600 up to 1,200 covers a night – and there were typically only two somms on! As one of the sommeliers I had the opportunity to wade through that entire list, and take a guest who wanted to spend, you know, $200 on a big name bottle, and convince them they could spend $100 on something they’d never heard of, and they’d be happier with that choice. I called it shotgun somm-ing. After reading the table I’d basically whittle the whole list down to two options. They’d pick A or B, I’d pour the wine for them, and then I’d go back a few minutes later and right then and there I’d know whether I’d hit a homerun or struck out. It was one of the coolest places I’ve ever worked, without a doubt. I learned how to successfully read people. Knowing what type of service and product guests want – without getting much verbal input from them – is a critical skill to have on the floor of a retail store or restaurant.

K: What’s the most memorable wine and/or spirit that you’ve ever had?

J: Tough question. At the steakhouse we saw things that were totally unique – things that just shouldn’t have existed. One that always jumps to mind was a 1947 Fleurie (a cru Beaujolais) which there’s absolutely no way that wine should have been still around. That wine should have been dead 20 years before I was born and it was stunning, it really was – for 45 minutes, and then it fell apart. Also, I’ll never forget the pre-World War One wines I had the honor of tasting. Thinking about what that wine went through to get to you. Amazing.

But if you want to know the wine I’d miss car payments to pay for? 1967 d’Yquem. I don’t mean to name drop, but what an exquisite wine. ‘67 was a horrible year for Bordeaux, it was wet, it was cold, it was just not a perfect vintage for still wine, but it made this amazing dessert wine, and there’s not a lot of it to be had.

K: What’s your favorite food & beverage pairing?

J: The one I’ll never forget was my first: In my early 20s I paired Aventinus and Thin Mints. I was very proud of that! Try it! It still works! My pairing philosophy, which I learned from my boss and mentor at a wine shop in Western Mass, is: drink what you like, and work backwards from there. The pairing isn’t going to work if pros say it does but you don’t like the wine. For someone who’s just starting to develop their likes and dislikes, I do suggest the classic pairing guideline of “what grows with it, goes with it.” It’s never failed me.

K: What are your plans for the store in the coming year?

J: The most important thing for me — and most challenging — will be to maintain what you guys at Bottles have already built. I know it sounds like a cheesy answer and it’s not meant to – it’s true. Your community of involved customers is rare – I’ll take tremendous pride in carrying that stewardship on. In addition, I’m here to help take some of the workload off of Nick so he can continue to evolve and develop the stunning wine program he’s built. And Eric and Liam, who will be spending some time on business development, will never be far away, either. Thankfully.

In terms of inventory there are certain things that I feel passionate about so I’ll be fleshing them out more. If you couldn’t tell already – I really like vintage Bordeaux. So if there’s a market for it in this town I’d like to grow it. Last year I spent a good amount of time in France, working harvest and vintage at Chateau Giscours, in Margaux (Bordeaux). I also planted 7,200 little merlot and cabernet sauvignon grapevines.  They’ll be there for 40 years! Still mentally riding the high from that so yeah, I’ll bring those wines into the store too.

And soju – I love soju – and good soju is hard to find.

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K: Getting adjusted to a new town and job is demanding. When you do have free time again, what will you be doing?

J: I’m a history buff, so there’s always that. Also, sports, and catching up with old friends.

K: Red Sox or Rays? Or  Bruins or Lighting?

J: I grew up in Sutton and Uxbridge, and never lost my MA sports roots despite getting lots of grief from the Tampa guys. So Red Sox & Bruins all the way. That said, the Lighting guys were really nice guys! Insanely nice guys. In my experience hockey players tend to be the nicest of the sports groups.

K: If you could have dinner with any 3 people in the world, living or dead, who would they be?

J: Bill Belichik, Marcus Aurelius & Hunter S. Thompson. Can I also add My dad? And Talleyrand?

K: Of course you can add your dad. What’s with the historical guys?

J: I have a degree in Military History and Political Science from UMass Amherst, and studied in Northern Ireland and planned to build a career in ethnic conflict resolution. Unfortunately, languages are not my thing – and that field of work is hyper competitive. I studied it because I’ve always like history and mediation was the most fascinating aspect of it and the most applicable and practical aspect of it.

K: Let’s hope you never have to use those skills here at Bottles. How has it been adjusting to Providence?

J: The adjustments are pretty basic. Just learning which products are carried by which distributors and the nuances of the RI beverage law. In terms of other cool things is the local product – there’s a lot of cool locally made products that I’m just learning about.

K:  You’ve traveled quite a bit. Where would you most like to live?

J: I’m here! I’ve had options to live all over the world, but I’m happy to be home, back in New England.

You’ll find Josh at Bottles most days of the week. Please come by to introduce yourself to him – and to test his beverage know-how with your toughest questions!

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Summer Pairings: A Cool Dish for a Hot Week

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It’s hot.

The air is hot. Our political climate is hot. Our society is hot. And we’re not even halfway through the Summer of 2016.

Things could change if we all cool down our own little corners of the world, one step at a time. And a good place to start is at the table, with family and friends.

Begin with a delicious, refreshing and easy to prepare chilled dish from Jason Timothy, chef/owner of Providence’s Laughing Gorilla Catering, that’s sure to please the crowd of 2 or 10 gathered at your table. Add open bottles of icy beer and wine (our picks below), good conversation, laughter and love, and watch the mercury drop.

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We can’t get enough of the Gobelsburg Cistercien Rosé from Austria. Its bright balance of fresh acidity and excellent, round strawberry and peach fruit flavors make this a great match. The sauce’s citrus and jalapeno tang will be cooled by the fruit, while the minerality and acid provide enough structure to round out the whole dish.

We chose Revival Brewing Co.’s Fanny IPA as this noodle dish’s ideal beer partner. Its fruity hops from the Southern Hemisphere will highlight the melon’s cool notes, which piney North American hops accentuate the dish’s spicy flavors. And what’s even better, Fanny is low in alcohol, so it says as light in your  as does the salad, keeping everything in harmony.

And for the recipe, published in the beautiful Summer 2016 issue of Edible Rhody:

CHILLED VIETNAMESE RICE NOODLE SALAD
A note from chef Jason Timothy:  This is an easy, flavorful salad that is incredibly versatile. It’s been a favorite among my friends at summer cookouts when the weather is hot, the grill is going and the produce is abundant. I love to grab herbs and vegetables from the Armory Farmers’ Market that’s almost outside my door.

INGREDIENTS
1 package rice noodles (size noodle to your liking)
2 tablespoons neutral oil (such as grapeseed or canola)
¼ cup fish sauce
¼ cup water
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup fresh-squeezed lime juice, plus extra wedges for garnish
1 cucumber, seeded and sliced
2 cups sliced melon (watermelon or cantaloupe), rind removed
1 pound (3–4 cups) fresh bean sprouts
½ cup fresh Thai basil leaves, torn
½ cup fresh mint leaves, torn
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
3 jalapeños, sliced (optional)
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

In a large pot, bring 8 cups of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook for 4–5 minutes. Strain noodles. Give them a quick rinse with cold water just to get the cooling started and, once well drained, toss lightly with oil. Let rest in the refrigerator, covered.

Meanwhile, combine fish sauce, water and sugar in a 1-quart saucepan. Cook until sugar is completely dissolved, 3–4 minutes. Add lime juice and set aside to cool.

When ready, add noodles to a large mixing (or serving) bowl. Add sliced cucumber and melon slices, bean sprouts, basil, mint, cilantro and sliced jalapeños. Toss with sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with lime wedges. Serve immediately or cover and chill until serving.

Serves 4–6.

Stay cool, eat well, and carry on.

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SPRITZER 101

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They’re baaaack….

They’re fresh and fizzy and fun. They’re light and refreshing on hot summer afternoons.

They’re spritzers, and we’re such huge fans of them that we’ve decided to declare this season the Summer of Spritzers.

The spritzers we’re talking about are descendants of the wine drinks made famous (some say infamous) in the 1980’s. Back in that diet-crazed decade, some wine drinkers added ice and seltzer water to their glasses in order to tamp down the vino’s calories and alcoholic punch. Eventually, serious wine aficionados took issue with those alterations (sacré bleu!), and the spritzer fizzled out.

Fast forward to today, where we think that – especially in the summer – keeping drinks light and low-alcohol is a good thing. No, make that a great thing. We believe there’s no shame in adding soda water to your wine to lighten the potency and to add a lift! We believe there’s no shame in adding ice cubes to your glass, to keep the chill up and the power down! Especially when you use the right ingredients.

We hope you agree, and will join us in this Summer of Spritzers!

Herewith, our guidelines for making tasty spritzers that you can drink with pride.

Basic Spritzer Recipe:
Add equal parts fresh & fruity still white wine (see below for our picks) and soda water to a glass over a few cubes of ice and stir. Garnish, if you’d like.

Already have a bottle of fizzy wine – or just want to add more character to your glass? Just add juice, and/or a low-alcohol aperitif.

Best wines for spritzing:
Choose fresh & fruity whites and rosés such as riesling (dry and off dry), chenin blanc, gewurztraminer and gruner veltliner — essentially anything but chardonnay. If you want to start with bubbles, look for prosecco, lambrusco, cava, cremant d’alsace.
Best garnishes for spritzers:
For white wines, lemon, limes and grapefruit. For rosé, try fresh strawberries and cherries. Leafy herbs, such as mint and basil, work best for both.
Great additions:
Grapefruit juice, lemonade, St-Germain, Aperol, Cocchi Americano, Lillet Blanc & Rosé, Plymouth Gin
Helpful hints:
-Play with your ratios to suit your mood.
-To ensure optimal fizz, pour still ingredients first. Finish/top off with the bubbles.
-Be sure to use fresh soda water – no one likes a limp spritz!
Bottles’ Favorite Spritzers

The KaiserSpritzer
Add to a glass filled with ice 3oz of Gruner Veltliner, a big splash of St-Germain and 2oz of soda water. Stir, and garnish with fresh mint.

The Eastside Spritzer (aka Bottles’ House Spritzer)
Combine over ice in a tall glass 4oz of white wine, 2oz of soda water, a pinch of sugar and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Stir and drink deeply.

The Aperol Spritz
To a rocks glass filled with ice add 2oz Aperol, 4oz prosecco and 2oz soda water. Stir, and garnish with an orange slice.

Enjoy your Spritzing!

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Uncle Val’s Gins

VALS1
They’re really good gins with a really great story.

You see, it all started in 1895 when Samuele Sebastiani emigrated to the US from Tuscany. He settled in Sonoma, and within 10 years he opened the successful Sebastiani Winery which is still in operation today. This skill for producing high-quality, tasty beverages was inherited by his great-grandson August Sebastiani, who, decades later, created Uncle Val’s gin.

The line of gins – it’s among Bottles’ best-sellers – is named after August’s favorite uncle, Valerio Cecchetti, a retired physician from Lucca, Italy.  Uncle Val was not only a highly-respected doctor, but an accomplished cook with a passion for gardening. August modeled the gins after the fruits, vegetables and herbs that Uncle Val loved to grow in his garden and use in his cooking: juniper, lemon, sage, lavender and cucumber.

Each of the gins is produced in small batches, distilled five times, and filtered over stone to produce as smooth, clean and true a flavor as possible.

Uncle Val’s distinctive dark green, antique-hued bottles were inspired by bitters bottles produced in Italy in the 18th and 19th centuries. The labels, which are hand-numbered, feature some of Uncle Val’s more notable – and eccentric – sayings: “Eggs have no business dancing with stones.” “If the beard were all, the goat might preach.” “You cannot flay a stone.” Thankfully, the labels also include a translation of these colorful phrases.

The Gins:

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The Botanical opens with crisp aromas of sage and juniper. A first taste of lemon leads to a warm, spicy, lavender finish, with piney and cooling cucumber notes. We love sipping this gin with nothing more than a cube of ice and a pine needle or juniper berry picked from the in the backyard.

VALS3
The Restorative is based on savory, American-style gin. After distillation it’s infused with juniper, coriander, cucumbers and rose petals. When used in a martini, an olive will subdue the floral notes and accentuate the savory coriander and juniper. To enhance the floral notes, add a citrus twist.

VALS4
The Peppered is a big, spicy gin. It’s flavored with juniper, red bell pepper, black pepper and pimento, and is both terrific for sipping and for mixing for those who like big, bold drinks. It opens with a sharp salty-pepper flavor that evolves into a sour/sweet juniper and charred red pepper finish.

Each of the gins are distinctive as their back story. Come by and pick up a bottle today – they’re on sale – $5.00 off – thru August 2016!

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