Category Archives: Other

Our Holiday Picks

Out of the thousands of wines and spirits our team tastes over the course of a year, here are the bottles that we think are worthy of serving and giving to our nearest and dearest – and to ourselves – this holiday season. We’re sure you’ll find something for everyone on your gift list, as well as a treat or two for yourself. Go ahead. You. Deserve. It.
Alex
Borsci San Marzano Liqueur
This is Jagermeister’s cool older-sister and is only a couple bucks more. The Borsci truly smells like Christmas to me – it’s all bittersweet cocoa, cloves, allspice and peppercorns. After working long holiday hours all I want to do is curl up with my dogs and sip this warming spirit! Isn’t there someone on your list who’d do the same?
$24.99, 750ml
St. Reginald Parish ‘The Marigny’ Pinot Gris, Oregon
Funky, off-the-beaten-path wines like this one have been blowing up for us recently. By ‘us’ I not only mean Bottles, but also my group of friends. Each bottle is a fun surprise, and this Willamette Pinot Gris is no exception. The French term ‘Marigny’ translates to ‘the neighborhood’ so it’s perfect for gifting to friends, family and whoever else decides to stop by for the holidays.
$29.99
Dan
Old Forester ‘Bottles Selection’ Single Barrel
This holiday season I will be gifting my bourbon-loving friends the Old Forester “Bottles Private Barrel.” This is a totally unique whiskey that was hand-picked by our team during their trip to Kentucky in early 2017. With notes of caramel, vanilla, and oak, it hits every flavor that I love in a classic bourbon. I can only hope I get to enjoy some of the bottles that I’m gifting away!
$44.99, 750ml
Turasan Red Blend, Selda, Turkey
For every holiday dinner, I like to bring my family a bottle of wine that they won’t be very familiar with – I think it makes the dinner more special. This year it will be the Turasan red blend from Turkey. It’s full of blackberry and thyme notes at the beginning, and refreshing fruit flavors follow at the finish. This wine will pair beautifully with your dinner, and will absolutely impress your family and friends.
$12.99
Glorie
Kings County Chocolate Whiskey
Kings County makes their Chocolate Whiskey by steeping artisan cacao husks sourced from Mast Brothers Chocolate Factory into their award-winning Moonshine Corn Whiskey. The mellow sweetness of the un-aged whiskey harmonizes beautifully with the rich, bitter chocolate giving way to a remarkably smooth finish. ‘Fancify’ your espresso martini or, you know, stick a straw in it and call it a day. It’s a great gift for the gourmand on your list!
$39.99, 375ml
Meinklang Juhfark “J13,” Hungary
Certified biodynamic, this wine makes the perfect gift for that friend who geeks out over “natural wine.” Somló, a tiny wine region in Hungary, is home to an extinct volcano that provides unique mineral-rich soil ideal for growing grapes. Juhfark is a rare grape variety exclusive to this region, which produces savory wines that are remarkably aromatic and unlike anything else. Meinklang’s expression undoubtedly lives up to that name.
$31.99
Josh
Prichard’s Rye
My personal quest in whiskey has been to find the best value for the dollar, especially when it’s my own dollar!  Prichard’s has become my house-pour-favorite for just that reason.  It’s not overly aggressive, and at just 86 proof it is incredibly pleasant to drink just on the rocks.  It’s also not so dauntingly expensive that I cringe if someone wants to mix it (gasp!) it in a Manhattan. The only downside is there just isn’t a ton of it to go around. Get ’em while we have ’em! It deserves a place on your home bar this holiday season!
$54.99, 750ml
Steininger Sparkling Rosé Sekt, Austria
This is one of the all-time great holiday wines. It’s an off-the-beaten-path soft sparkler that is just a touch sweet with beautiful structure. It’s an unreal accompaniment to roasts and also works great as a starter to get the evening rolling. Though it’s not outrageously priced for what it is, it is indeed worth every penny.
$34.99
Kate
Germain-Robin XO Brandy
This domestic brandy is a lovely treat to share with your guests during the holidays.  Definitely not your Grandpa Joe’s harsh brandy, this is a whole different animal with a round, warm finish of toasty oak and butterscotch toffee.  Enjoy this with pecan pie, Hamantaschen or your best stinky cheese platter! 
$59.99. 375ml (note: the bottle Kate is holding is the size we are offering at this price)
Mastrojanni Rosso di Montalcino, Italy
What a great gift for the Italian Wine Lover! It’s perfect for all Italian holiday fare, but shows especially well with lasagna and braciole. It has elegant tannins and fruity aromas of ripe Bing cherries and red currants robed in flavors of cedar, balsamic, fresh tobacco leaf, bitter orange peel, and hints of bay leaf. Yes please!
$33.99
 
Melissa
The Real McCoy 12-Year-Old Madeira Cask Rum
This is a bourbon drinker’s rum! 90% of it spends 12 years aging in a bourbon barrel, while the remaining 10% sleeps nicely in a Madeira cask. It’s smooth and soft with a nose that hints to the Madeira, and finishes with a sweet bourbon vanilla mouthfeel. It’s a wonderful gift for the bourbon drinker in your life who has everything; it’s a terrific substitution for bourbon in a Manhattan!
$49.99, 750ml

2015 Occhipinti Il Frappato, Sicily
The 2015 is the second vintage of famed wine-maker Arianna Occipinti’s wines to see fermentation in concrete versus stainless steel; as a result, the wines are showing depth and a velvety finish that is not typical of Frappato. This one in particular is brilliant in color and finishes with finesse and delicate fruit. It’s a very special wine, worthy of a celebratory meal or an extra-special person on your gift list this year.
$39.99
  

Michael
Compass Box Flaming Heart, 2015 Edition
This edition of Compass Box’s Flaming Heart is the fourth in its line-up of unique, limited release blended Scotch whiskies – and is totally worth the splurge. It’s a mix of selections aged in French oak, bourbon, and sherry casks, which makes for a  wonderful peaty, fruity, spicy blend. A sip of this treat is full of the baking spices, dried fruits, and smokiness that any cozy Christmas night by the fire should include. It’s a great, great gift.
$89.99, 750ml
Chappellet Cabernet Franc, California
Need an impressive gift? Look no further. This Chappellet offering, grown on the distinctive Pritchard Hill in Napa Valley, is aged in French oak for a thoughtful finish to an American-grown Bordeaux-style blend. With cedar, spice, and plum on the palate, the wine is complex and satisfying all the way through its velvety, earthy finish. It may just be my gift to myself this year.
$89.99 
Neil
Town Branch Rye 
This is a great gift for a whiskey drinker looking to try something new. Fans of bourbon, Highland scotch, and even Irish whiskey find something new to love in rye. Light pepper spice and heat quickly soften to a rich, earthy vanilla flavor—a unique duality that made me want it with dessert, or maybe as a dessert replacement, instead.
$54.99, 750ml 
Conte Guicciardini ‘Gui’ Rosso di Toscana, Italy
This is my go-to dinner wine for the cold months, and it is an absolute standout for this season. Medium-dry, with flavors of soft cherries and sweet spice, this is ideal for hearty meats and vegetarian dishes alike. My family often plans things last-minute, myself included, but it looks like I know what I’m doing when I put a bottle (or two – look at that price!) of this on the table.
$14.99  (note: wine photo not available)
Tom
Balcones Texas Single Malt
Balcones Distilling is located not too far from where I was born in Texas, and it makes me happy to have a little piece of home here in New England. This overproof grain whiskey is truly unique: It’s a bit like Scotch on the nose, but with an identifiably American flavor profile. It’s a perfect gift for the serious, adventurous whiskey fan on your list.
$69.99, 750ml
COS “Nero di Lupo,” Sicily

“The Black Wolf” is 100% Nero D’Avola, fermented in cement with wild, indigenous yeast. It’s the exact kind of zesty, bright, herbaceous wine I want on my holiday table this (or any other) year, and makes a terrific gift for the choosy, hard-to-please wine-lover on your list: COS is arguably Italy’s top “cult” winery of the moment, and with good reason.
$34.99

Happy Holidays from all of us at Bottles!

prices subject to change

 

The Stunning Kelley Fox Wines

One of the first things that Bottles’ new Wine Director Melissa Principe did when she got to the store was ensure that we received an allocation of Kelley Fox wines. The Oregon Pinot Noirs have achieved a cult status over the past few years due to their high-quality and limited production; they’re among the most sought-after wines in the country.

“Anyone who avers that New World Pinot cannot match Burgundy for finesse and complexity has clearly never tried anything from this small, impressively consistent producer. Kelley Fox cut her winemaking teeth at Eyrie (and that influence shows very clearly in the wines she produces under her own name), followed by a 10-year stint (2005 to 2015) as winemaker at Scott Paul. She launched her own winery in 2007 and now produces around 2,000 cases a year of lithe, mineral-driven and strikingly pure Pinots from two of the Willamette Valley’s most highly regarded and meticulously farmed vineyards, Maresh and Momtazi. Native yeasts are used for all of the wines, and anywhere from a third to three-quarters whole clusters have been used since the beginning, but as of the 2015 vintage Fox will be using all whole bunches. She started out by using about one-third new oak for her first three vintages, used a bit for 2010 and 2011 and now uses none at all because she wants her wines ‘to be as pure and unadorned as possible, and oak can get in the way.’ As approachable as Fox’s wines are soon after release, they have the balance to age and, as a bonus, they deliver exceptional value for their quality.”

That’s what Josh Raynolds said in Vinous, and we couldn’t agree more.

Here are Melissa’s notes on the stunning wines of Kelley Fox:

2015 Ahurani Pinot Noir, Demeter Certified Biodynamic

This is a big wine! It has lots of acid and fresh cherry fruit, big iron and a good cherry nose, which is trademark Oregon. Only 607 cases produced.

$43.99

 

 

 

 

2015 Mirabai Pinot Noir

The Mirabai is made from 47-year-old vines and crushed with whole cluster fruit. It opens with a nose of sun-warmed strawberries and a little spice, and finishes with a strong tannin structure and acidity that welcomes fatty dishes. Think duck! Only 495 cases produced.

$43.99

 

 

 

2015 Momtazi Vineyard Pinot Noir, Demeter Certified Biodynamic

The grapes for this bottle were harvested from three specific sites on the famed Momtazi vineyard; they’re all from Burgundian clones, are hand harvested, and whole cluster pressed. It has aromas of fresh black cherries and ripe black berry fruit, and finishes with balanced minerality and fleshy acid. Only 410 cases produced.

$57.99

 

 

2015 Maresh Vineyard Pinot Noir

The Maresh has a classic silk texture that can only be Oregon. The nose is full of violet and petite rose petals; ripe cherry and dark berry fruit glide on the finish. This wine is made to age. Only 192 cases produced.

$75.99

 

 

 

We hope you’re able to take advantage of these stunning wines this holiday season.

Cheers!

prices subject to change

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Top Thanksgiving Wines, Part I

November is our favorite time of the year at Bottles, which is why our team spends a good bit of the year thinking about you, your Thanksgiving dinner, and the bottles that will make your dinner sing. Out of the thousands of wines we taste each year, our nine November selections must meet the following criteria:

a) they must taste good
b) they must be agile enough to complement the Thanksgiving dinner as enjoyed on the whole
c) they must represent a good value
d) they must taste good.

Did we mention they must taste good?

Here are the sparkling and white wines that we’ll be drinking this November 23. Stay tuned next week for our rosé and red wine choices.

Terre di Marca Prosecco, Italy
Our favorite Prosecco for the second year running. It’s dry and full of expressive bubbles, it’s organic, and it comes in a cool looking bottle. What better way to toast to your guests’ health?
$13.99

Gérard Bertrand Crémant, France
A velvety soft and creamy French sparkler that’s less acidic and bracing than a true Champagne at twice the price, meaning you can sip on it through the entire Thanksgiving meal. This is the bottle (or two, or three) to have on hand for special company.
$19.99

Pere Mata Cava, Spain
The great thing about Cavas is that they’re bone-dry, elegant, and wallet-friendly. The Pere Mata in particular has terrific citrus and floral notes that will complement everything from that rich turkey and gravy to your after-dinner slice of pie.
$17.99

Dry Creek Chenin Blanc, California
Here’s the perfect choice for an all-purpose Thanksgiving white, satisfying both your aunt who loves Sauvignon Blanc and your cousin Marie who only drinks Chardonnay. It’s dry, crisp, and refreshing with a subtle baked apple and vanilla quality. Yes, please.
$12.99

Michel Caillot “Les Herbeux,” France
Ah, Mersault! From the heart of France, this rich and creamy, understated yet persistent, incredibly floral and expressive Chardonnay will knock your socks off. Mersault is the Chardonnay that even non-Chardonnay drinkers love. It’s. That. Good. Treat yourself!
$34.99

Happy Thanksgiving!

(prices subject to change)

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Wine For “Steakhouse Night,” At Home

When we opened the current issue of Edible Rhody and saw New Rivers Chef Beau Vestal’s very delicious take on the traditional “steakhouse” dinner, our minds immediately went to the classic “steakhouse” pairing: a big ‘ole bottle of hearty red wine.

It’s an enduring, no-fail pairing that’s enjoyed nightly in steakhouses across the county. And given Chef Beau’s simple recipe for all the fixins, there’s no reason you can’t replicate it at home. Says Chef Beau:  “A quick herb rub and a short time on the grill makes hanger steak, one of the most flavorful cuts of beef, really sing. Serve the steaks with roasted spiced sweet potatoes and lightly creamed kale and any autumn night can be steakhouse night!

And for our wine pairing we turned to our brand new Wine Director Melissa Principe, whom you’ll be hearing a lot from in the coming weeks. We’re excited to have her with us and can’t wait for you to meet her.

Melissa paired the steak, sweet potato & creamed spinach with the 2016 La Posta Pizzella Malbec ($17.99): “I have had the pleasure of visiting this vineyard and meeting the Pizzella family. Argentina has a deep history of Italian immigrants and the La Posta project highlights those connections with these single vineyard wines. Chef Beau’s recipe reminded me of the amazing lunch we had at the vineyard that highlighted the natural pairing of beef and malbec. The Pizzella is full and lush, and hits you at first with a nose of dark berry fruit and cocoa, then unfolds with a beautiful pink peppercorn spice on the finish. The longer it’s open, the deeper the cocoa gets, and the richer the berry flavor. It’s a big wine for a big steak dinner!”


Chef Beau Vestal’s Grilled Hanger Steak and Sweet Potato “Steak Fries” with Pumpkin Seek Chimichurri and Lightly Creamed Kale

INGREDIENTS

Chimichurri:
½ cup fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
¼ cup fresh oregano, coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds (or pepitas), shelled and toasted
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Sweet Potatoes:
3 large sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds), washed and cut into ½-inch-thick wedges
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground fennel seed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Steak:
¼ cup fresh rosemary leaves
¼ cup fresh sage leaves
4 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cracked pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6 (6 ounce) pieces hanger steak

METHOD

First make the chimichurri: Combine parsley, oregano, vinegar, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper in a food processor and blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and add pumpkin seeds and olive oil. Stir to combine. Check seasoning and set aside.

Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, toss together the sweet potatoes, olive oil, allspice, fennel, salt and pepper. Arrange slices in single layer on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Rotate pan and flip sweet potatoes over to ensure even browning. Bake additional 10 minutes until potatoes are “fork-tender” and nicely browned.

For the steaks, add fresh herbs, olive oil, salt and pepper in a blender and purée until smooth. Rub all over steaks until steaks are well-coated. Let them sit while you heat up the grill (or use a grill pan over high heat).

Grill steaks over high heat about 3 to 4 minutes per side. (A meat thermometer should read 130ºF for medium-rare to medium.) Pull steaks off grill and place on plate tented with foil to keep warm until ready to serve. Drizzle steak with chimichurri and serve alongside sweet potatoes and the creamed kale. Serves 6.

Enjoy!

# # #

The Bottles Private Barrel Selections, Part II

Last week we introduced you to a few of the newest additions to our private stash of whiskey barrels. They’re the one-of-a-kind barrels from the world’s top distillers that our team hand-picked to be bottled exclusively for our customers. For a look into how these bottles differ from what’s on store shelves all over the world, take a peak at last week’s post. To learn about the rest of our current collection, read on.

1792 Full Proof
125 proof
Selected in March 2017
The good people at the 1792 Bardstown Distillery – Part of the Sazerac / Buffalo Trace family – were kind enough to send three samples up to Rhode Island late last winter. Though it took some time for the guys to agree, they eventually selected the softest barrel of the bunch, one with well-integrated oaky notes under a warm blanket of bourbon. At 125 proof, it’s pretty hot!

Flavor Profile: Bright & zesty. Notes of stewed cherries & clove, with subtle rye spice in the finish.
Serving Suggestion: We like this best neat, with a splash of water. $49.99

Hillrock Double Cask Rye
90 proof
Selected in February 2016
On a very blustery day and after a treacherous road-trip to NY’s Hudson Valley deep in the winter of 2016, our team arrived at Hillrock’s breathtaking estate to taste with Master Distiller Dave Pickerell. After a lot of laughter, chatting and tasting through six freshly drawn barrel samples, they selected this barrel for the pure, grainy rye flavor that Hillrock is known for, along with its subtle caramel coating on the finish.

Flavor Profile: Rich & aromatic. Like running through a field of grain with your mouth open after you had a Hershey’s Kiss.
Serving Suggestion: Good on its own, or with a single cube. Suitable for an expensive Old Fashioned or Manhattan. $89.99

Glendalough Triple Barrel
84 proof
Selected in December 2015
What could possibly make an Irish whiskey aged in ex-bourbon barrels and finished in sherry barrels better? Giving them a final resting in a Madeira barrel before bottling, of course! With only a very limited number of bottles available, we jumped at the chance to add this to our collection.

Flavor Profile: Creamy & fruity. A mouth-coating blast of warm pear and raisin with a subtle warming finish.
Serving Suggestions: Best consumed after dinner, neat or on the rocks. $39.99


Four Roses Barrel #5 OESQ***
127 proof
Selected in April 2017
On a perfect early spring day in Kentucky our team had the arduous task of tasting through 17 barrels at the Four Roses distillery with Senior Brand Ambassador Al Young. They eventually selected one with the “Q” or “Floral” yeast strain, which is not a common choice. Later that day they ran into Four Roses Master Distiller Brent Elliott, who was excited that they had chosen the “Q.” It’s one that he’s most proud of. We hope you like it, too.

Flavor Profile: Delicate and demure. So subtle, with wispy floral and citrus notes belying the extraordinary ABV.
Serving Suggestion: Fine on its own, despite the heat, but does well with a splash of cool water. $59.99

Four Roses Barrel #4 OESF***
107.6 proof
Selected in September 2015
Hailing from Louisville, Eric Taylor, our Director of Operations, is always up for a trip back home to pick out bourbon for us. On this trip, he selected the 3rd and 4th barrels we purchased from Four Roses. Barrel #3 is long gone from our shelves (though we’re still pouring it at The East End!) but there’s still a bit of #4 left. This one-time expression derives its distinctive flavor from the proprietary “F” strain of yeast. They call it the “Herbal” one, and for good reason.

Flavor Profile: Unique and herbaceous. You’ll not find a bourbon like this again. It has a crazy interplay of lavender, thyme, dill, cedar and sandalwood flavors.
Serving Suggestion: Makes one of the best Manhattans we’ve ever had. $59.99

Four Roses Barrel #6 ‘The East End’ OBSV***
100 proof
Selected in April 2017
On our bourbon trail adventure last spring, we decided to select a bottle to commemorate the opening of the new whiskey & wine bar on Wickenden Street – The East End. We tasted through seven barrels of bourbon and finally landed on this expression, given its spicy rye finish and sturdy backbone from older-barrel aging. It’s warm and inviting, and at 100 proof, is perfectly suited to mixing awesome cocktails at the bar.

Flavor Profile: Tried and true. An excellent example at what makes Four Roses so damn good at what they do. This is Bourbon with a capital ‘B’
Serving Suggestions: A workhorse, this bourbon can handle whatever you throw at it – go to town. $44.99

Postscript: What Happens To The Wooden Barrels?

After the distillery bottles the bourbon we’ve selected, they ship us the cases of bottled bourbon with the barrel, still wet inside and soaked with whiskey. Once here in RI, we send them to local breweries to fill with beer, rest for a few weeks, and throw into kegs for The East End. For a truly unique experience, come in for a taste of one of our Four Roses barrels along with Foolproof’s Raincloud Porter aged in the same barrel. Or Elijah Craig, with a barrel aged stout from Grey Sail. We’ll be sure to keep you posted when new barrels and beers are released.

***Deciphering The Four Roses Recipes:

Here’s a handy cheat sheet that will give you a sense of what each bottle of Four Roses will taste like. Keep in mind, though — as readers of last week’s blog post know — that the resulting flavor of each individual bottle will vary based on where within the rickhouse it aged.

1st Letter:
‘O’ = Distilled at Four Roses in Lawrenceburg, KY (this letter never changes)

2nd Letter:
‘E’ = Mashbill of 75% corn, 20% rye, 5% barley
‘B’ = Mashbill of 60% corn, 25% rye, 5% barley

3rd Letter:
‘S’ = Straight Whiskey Distillation (this letter never changes)

4th Letter:
‘K’ = ‘Slight Spice’ yeast strain
‘V’ = ‘Delicate Fruit’ yeast strain
‘O’ = ‘Rich Fruit’ yeast strain
‘Q’ = ‘Floral Essence’ yeast strain
‘F’ = ‘Herbal Notes’ yeast strain

These combinations result in 10 different possible Four Roses recipes: OBSV, OESV, OBSK, OESK, OBSF, OESF, OBSO, OBSQ, and OESQ.

  • All ten recipes are blended to make Four Roses Yellow Label.
  • Four Roses Small Batch is always a blend of OBSO, OBSK, OESO, and OESK.
  • Four Roses Single Barrel is always OBSV alone.

Thanks for your interest in our Private Barrel Selections! We’d love to hear what you think!

Cheers!

Our Fall Beer Preview

That time of year again, folks! Though fall beers may have developed somewhat of a negative reputation over the past few years, I truly believe that autumn brings out some of the best brews we get all year. I’m not talkin’ pumpkin stuff (though, some of it is really done well, I swear), I’m talkin’ the beautifully malty, nutty Marzen and brown ales that pair perfectly with sitting by the campfire and telling ghost stories. Below are some of the suds I’ll be drinking over the next several weeks and why.

 

Two Roads Ok2berfest:
Every time I have to make a list of favorite beers, Two Roads always makes the cut! They’re doing great stuff, and it shows with this toasty, caramel Marzen-style lager. 

Citizen Cider ‘B’ Cider:
This cider adds fresh honey, so you’re looking at a sweeter juice here than the others on this list. Keep one in your fridge for a treat after apple picking!

Dogfish Head Punkin Brown Ale:
Hear me out, guys. Pumpkin beers can be done really, really well. This one from Dogfish takes their already delicious brown ale and simply adds roasted pumpkin, brown sugar and cinnamon. Give pumpkin a chance.
Weihenstephan Festbier:
Just a classic, delicious & traditional Oktoberfest beer. Light and fresh but creamy at the same time, with some hop spice and great honey sweetness.

Eve’s Cidery Beckhorn Hollow:
A funky, all-natural cider that is bone dry with a zip of acidity. Bring this to the table when your experimental wine friends stop by! 

Ayinger Oktoberfest:
Lots of sweet, hazy bubbles and a nose of toasty granola and fresh baked bread. One of our beer geniuses, Tom, recommended this to me and I am so very grateful he did!

Ein Prosit!
-Alex
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How To Throw A Blind Wine Tasting Party – New And Improved!

A few years back we published a step-by-step instructional on how to throw a blind wine tasting party that featured a selection of red wines. It’s been such a hit – year after year it’s our most popular blog post – we’ve decided to reprise the original with the addition of a few new themes for your tasting pleasure.

The wines in each of our new tastings are related, though distinct enough to allow you to differentiate them from one another. By tasting similar wines side-by-side, you can really learn how to focus your impressions and perfect your tasting chops. By tasting them blind, you’ll lose any preconceptions you have about particular labels and styles, and really allow yourself to understand what you like.

You can use our guided tastings, or you can just select a few bottles that you like, and use our free, downloadable WINE SCORECARD and WINE TAGS to create your own tasting.

1. To get started, pick one of the tasting themes below, make your way to Bottles, and have one of our team members help you select the wines to match the theme and your wallet.

2. Have at least 1 wine glass for each guest, with a bottle of water and dump bucket nearby so they can rise out between tastings and easily dispose of tastes they’re really not into.

3. It’s also a really good idea to have light snacks on hand. Not only will a few bites keep your pals from getting too tipsy, they’ll also provide the opportunity to taste the wines with various flavors. Cheese is the natural wine pairing partner – and it’s easy to find a good selection at most all grocery stores these days. Look for a wide variety of cheeses, such as a mix of something soft (brie), something spreadable (fresh chevre), something aged and hard (aged gouda), sharp cheese (aged cheddar) and a blue (gorgonzola).

4. Put each wine in a brown paper bag (ask for them at Bottles!), and afix our numbered WINE TAGS to identify each bottle.

5. Use our printable WINE SCORECARD so that guests can record their thoughts on each bottle. Be sure to have a few pens/pencils on hand. Share with your guests the theme of each tasting so that they have a general sense of what they’re looking for.

6. Once you and your guests have tasted each wine, take turns guessing what each bottle is before you do the big reveal.

7. Once you’ve unmasked each wine, feel free to use our guide and general descriptions to see if your guests’ impressions are in sync. BUT: It’s incredibly important to note that this is not a graded test! If what you taste doesn’t match what we’ve written – that’s ok! What’s most important is that you and your guests explore different wine styles and enjoy each other’s company.



 

A Rosé Tasting!

This is a great, fun tasting to have with friends at a summer barbecue. Just open a handful of delicious rosés and see if folks can guess which is which! Here’s a hint: with rosés, look for color as a good indicator of weight. Typically the darker the color, the heavier/more bold the wine.

Wines to Purchase
1. A light rosé from the Cotes de Provence – It’s the birthplace of rosé, and experiencing Provence is essential to getting to know good rosé. Made from a blend of grapes, Provencal rosés can range wildly in terms of style and quality, but a good mid-teen priced example should do just fine. Provence is in the South of France, and these wines will be light, dry, lean and minerally.

2. A heavier rosé from Tavel or Bandol – Now Bandol is actually sub-region within Provence, so this may seem silly to be listed in here, however the folks here make a very distinct style of rosé.  Bandol rosés tend to be fuller and more bold. They are, however, somewhat pricey. An alternative that will still deliver the heavier body would be a wine from Tavel. Both Bandol and Tavel tend to be darker in color.

3. Rosé of Pinot Noir – These can be really fun, as they tend to be light and easy drinking. They can be pricey as most pinot noir is, but in a blind tasting they can often act as a curveball.  Look for some out of Oregon or California.

4. A rosé from the Loire Valley – These delicious wines are made from cabernet franc which creates a unique rosé that should stand out from most other styles.  Look for a touch of weight with less acid than the others.

5. Your favorite – Select your ‘go to’ rosé that you already love and see if you can pick it out from the field, and see if you still love it more than the others!

 

White Wine!

Have fun with this tasting, where you and your guests will try to tell one classic white wine from another.

Wines to purchase
1. Chardonnay – This classic white can have many different faces. For this tasting, you’ll want to select one that has been oak-aged. Tasting Tip: You’ll find round, buttery flavors in this wine, all due to the oak-aging.

2. Pinot Grigio – This one may give you the most trouble to nail down. It’s a bit of a chameleon, and can have lots of the characteristics of other whites, but you should be able to place it, given its light body and restrained fruit flavors.

3. Sauvignon Blanc – These tend to have higher acid levels than most, and you will know this because they will make the back sides of your mouth water after your first taste.  New Zealand examples tend to have very pronounced grapefruit-like flavors so may be another give away.

4. Chenin Blanc – There are many grapes you could pick for this fifth spot, but we like to use chenin blanc, the main grape in like Vouvray in France or Steen in South Africa (or just “Chenin Blanc” in the USA). Its floral aromas and light body are delicious — this is a curveball bottle, for sure!

5. Riesling – Look for one with a medium sweetness level so as to further differentiate this wine from the others. You’ll likely find floral notes and ripe fruit flavors like peach or lychee.  

 

Old World vs New World – A Red Wine Tasting

This is a classic blind tasting that can really sharpen your skills. The idea here is to take two wines made from the same grapes, though from different regions of the world, and taste them blind, side by side, and to guess which was made where.

Here are a few clues:

Old World Wines are typically from countries that have been making wine for millennia, and adhere to strict wine-making rules (Italy, France, Spain). The wines are usually drier, earthier, with balanced fruit, acidity and tannins. Old World wines dazzle you with elegance and finesse.

New World Wines are generally from countries that discovered wine making during a more recent century and are not typically bound to traditional wine-making methods (USA, New Zealand). They tend to be bigger-bodied, and have much bolder fruit flavors. New World wines blow you away with their power.

Wines to purchase:
1. Pinot Noir from the Old World. We suggest a relatively youthful ‘Bourgogne’ style from Burgundy, France. The trick here will be price point, as Burgundy can get expensive, but you should be able to find a good bottle for around $20 – Bottles is a great place to look! Tasting Tip: In the Old World pinot, you’ll find more earthy, leathery and restrained notes.

2. Pinot Noir from the New World, either California or Oregon would be great picks, as long as the wine is made from 100% pinot noir grapes. Tasting Tip: In the New World expression, you’ll find brighter, fruiter notes.

3. Old World Red Blend. The classic to look for here would be a Bordeaux blend, ideally one from the Left Bank, which will tend to be more Cabernet Sauvignon based.  All Bordeaux wines are blends, and each sub-region has its own style, but for your tasting here that shouldn’t make a difference. Tasting Tip: This wine will be more fuller bodied than the pinot noirs, with lean fruit flavors, balanced by fresh tobacco and earthy notes.

4. New World Red Blend – California has a tremendous amount of red blends, but Australia and South Africa will have lots as well. Try to find one that has a good amount of cabernet sauvignon if you can. Tasting Tip: This wine will have more pronounced fruit flavors than the Old World red blend.

5. Old World Nebbiolo-based wine. This is a fun curveball, as it has flavor profiles similar to both Old World and New World styles. You’ll find fruit notes, as well as earthy, floral aromas.

We hope you have fun with your party – tag us with your photos!

Cheers & Enjoy!

El Diablo – An Easy Late-Summer Cocktail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re not entirely sure why this iconic tequila-based cocktail isn’t more popular among the general drinks-lovin’ public. After all, it’s easy to make, distinctive, delicious and a perennial bartender favorite.

To right that wrong we’ve teamed up with our friends at The East End to concoct an updated spicy take on the classic El Diablo. Bar Manager Kayleigh Speck swapped out tequila for mezcal, and amp’d up the spice with the addition of a habanero shrub. She shakes it with creme de cassis, and lime juice, adds ginger beer and presto: the  iconic cocktail gets the attention it deserves.

More on that mezcal: We’ve chosen the Mezcales de Leyenda given its superior taste and its commitment to quality and the environment: its business practices are responsible straight through farming to bottling. For this recipe we’re using the Oaxaca Blanco for its lemongrass aromas and flavors of lemons, herbs and cooked agave.

Head to the store to pick up your bottle — $5 off through August 2017 — for this cocktail (or just for sipping – it’s that good) then head to The East End to taste their El Diablo on tap!

The East End’s El Diablo

1½ oz Mezcales de Leyenda Oaxaca
½ oz Merlet Creme de Cassis
½ oz Fresh Lime Juice
2 Dashes Habanero Shrub (Bittermens Hellfire is a good one)
Approx. 4oz Ginger Beer
Lime wedge for garnish

Combine all ingredients, except ginger beer, to a shaker with ice and shake. Fine-strain into highball or Collins glass with fresh ice, top with ginger beer and garnish.

Cheers!

The Bottles Guide To Surviving Summer: Tip #4

We’ve saved the best for last, in this, the final installment of our “Summer Survival” series. So while you’ll want to remember to drink light (Tip #1), keep cool (Tip #2), and make it refreshing (Tip #3), the most important words of advice we can share is to have fun. ‘Tis the season, after all.

TIP #4:
HAVE FUN!
Because it’s summer!

“Tiki drinks, such as Pina Coladas, Mai Tais, Zombies and others, are pure summer fun in a glass (or coconut). Privateer Rum is my go-to mixer for this season in particular: it’s priced as a well-crafted, locally-made mixer, but delicious enough to enjoy on its own, too, up or on the rocks, at the end of a long summer day.” – Josh

“Celebrate summer sunsets by popping open a bottle of the Mirabella Franciacorta Rosé. It’s made in the same method as is Champagne but it’s a fraction of the price. And it’s pink. AND it’s great with grilled steaks.” – Michael

 

 

 

 

 

“Can their be a more fun way to enjoy wine than when it’s in a can? Take it with you to the beach, to the ball park, on the boat. Just take it easy – there’s typically more than 2 glasses of wine per can!” – Alex

 

 

 

 

 

Missed last week’s tip?

Click here

Don’t forget to wear sunscreen – and happy summer!

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The Bottles Guide To Surviving Summer: Tip #3

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One foolproof way to beat the heat is to ensure what you’re drinking is fresh, lively and invigorating. In Part Three of our “Summer Survival” series, we present a few staff favorites will help you do just that.

TIP #3:
KEEP COOL
Quench your thirst with refreshing fruit flavors…

Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 10.52.25 AMMalfy Gin, distilled with lemons from the Italian coast, makes the ultimate summer Gin & Tonic, but I love it mixed with iced tea and lemonade for a boozy Arnold Palmer.” – Michael

berg“You know that amazing fragrance you get when slicing up honeydew melon and cantaloupe fresh from the farmer’s market? Imagine getting to drink that. That’s the Berger Gelber Muskateller, a white wine out of Austria. Enjoy it alone, or pour it in a glass with ice, and top with Campari & club soda for a super refreshing cocktail.” – Alex

 

 

 

 

yozu“And now for something completely different: The Yuzu Shuwah shandy/radler style beer, coming to us from the Kizakura Sake house. It’s your new riding-lawn-mower companion. Its zesty citrus flavors will wake you up and may make you forget it’s 7% ABV (but who doesn’t love a hammock nap on a summer afternoon?)” – Josh

 

 

 

 

Click here for our previous tip, and tune in next week for Part 4!

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