Friday, June 29, 2012

How-To: Age Beer

Like wine, most beer is produced with the expectation it will be drunk right away. People talk about aged wine, but it's special bottles, only, that can hold up beyond 1 or 2 years in storage. With wine, aging when you're not supposed to results in "flat" or less flavor-ful wine: it loses it's "spark" in the same way an expired can of soda does. 

In the vernacular of beer, there is even a word for beer that has been too long in the bottle, and who's flavor has changed for the worse because of it: skunky. So, don't try this at home: most beers won't benefit from the aging process! 

But like wine, a beer crafted for the express purpose of aging, full of big, bold flavors and high alcohol content can be kept for an extended period of time, and cellaring can often improve the flavor, creating to a smoother, balanced beer. And, like wine, an age-able beer needs to be stored in a cool, dark place to allow it to age without negative effects from too much light or temperature changes.

Specially crafted beers can be found at the more diverse beer distributors and specialty shops. Online communities exist to help figure out which beers will hold up to aging, share general knowledge, and trade bottles to experiment with or experience the results. Your local grocery store brands are probably not up to the aging process... our hope is to show that there are brewers out there who are having fun creating something more complex that you can hold on to--for a while.

To age or not to age? Ask when you purchase your wine or beer if you're not sure but want something you can keep for the long run.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Quick Review: Benmarl Winery Slate Hill Red

US, NY, Hudson Valley, Benmarl Winery, Slate Hill Red 2011
++ // Spicy-Smooth // Leather, Dried Cherry // Earth, Pepper, Tobacco, a hint of Cherry // Light-Medium

Made from Long Island grapes, this was a very light red, especially for the flavor profile. The flavors were light and powerful, and could hold up to being served slightly chilled. An excellent, versatile table wine.

A humid day means our slightly chilled Slate Hill Red "sweats" a bit.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Did You Know?... About Sourced Beers

Taking note of the idea of terrior and Estate vineyards from the world of wine, some microbrews, like Chatoe Rouge, are beginning to embrace the idea of explaining where the their hops and barley come from. While this is a new concept, and there isn't as much of a knowledge base of beer drinkers that can fully interpret what it means, it shows a growing appreciation of the ingredients that comprise the craft of beer making.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Quick Review: Chatoe Rogue OREgasmic Ale

Chatoe Rogue OREgasmic Ale (NV)
++ // Spicy // Cloves, Flowers, Herbs // Cloves, Herbs // Medium

Heavier bodied and less hoppy than expected from an Ale.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Beer in Providence: English Cellar Alehouse

Tina made a recent trip to Providence to attend a conference at her alma mater. Walking up the street, reminiscing, she noticed what had been a quaint cocktail lounge when she was at school there in the 90s was now an English style pub. English Cellar Alehouse is tucked in the basement of a building and would be easy to miss save for the signage on the street. She stood there and debated entering her old haunt, but finally said “what the heck!” and descended the stairs. This was definitely a cellar, and upon entering, she felt like she’d entered an old pub much like the ones she and Nate and frequented on their honeymoon in England. There was even soccer on the TV and rock on the radio as she sat at the bar. A cozy fireplace and communal tables only added to the quaintness of the pub. The only hint you were not in England? The Ivy League students speaking American!

Tina's beer, atop the menu.

Friday, June 22, 2012

How-To: Pick an After Dinner Drink

Wine presents us with a wide range of flavors and styles, options to enjoy for very different reasons. While most talk of wine pairings discuss it with a meal, there are other options that go equally well with dessert, or even to end a meal on their own.

  • Digestif: Liquers and brandies, intended to be consumed after a meal to aid digestion. This can be grappa or limoncello, etc.
  • Fortified Wines: Ports and sherries with rich, sweet flavors can be a good complement to heavier desserts or cheese courses. "Fortified" mean alcohol has been added, so they are more alcoholic than traditional wine.
  • Dessert Wines: Sweet and fruity wines, like Late Harvest Rieslings or Ice Wines can complement super sweet desserts. Sweet can be created in many ways: sometimes a sweeter grape (like Muscat) creates the sweetness, sometimes the vintner allows a late harvest for extra ripening, and other times sugar is added to the wine to make it sweet.
  • Sparkling Wines: Sweeter sparkling wines pair well with lighter, fresh desserts. Prosecco or Cava are good choices, avoid anything "brut" or dry.
  • Spirits: Hearty liquors like bourbon can be enjoyed on their own, or with desserts that include it as an ingredient.

Port with the cheese plate and a late harvest wine with a mousse-like cake.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Quick Review: Glorie Farm Winery Red Quartet

US, NY, Hudson Valley, Glorie Farm Winery, Red Quartet 2011
+ // Earthy // Leather // Cherry, Tannins // Medium

A very drinkable wine, made from a blended quartet of Merlot, Chambourcin, and De Chaunac grapes--and the skill of the winemaker. Chambourcin and De Chaunac are great blending grapes, both are "hybrids" and particularly hearty against the perils of a colder climate.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Did You Know?... About Fruit Wine

Almost any fruit juice can be persuaded to ferment into a wine-like beverage, with a wide range of results. Common in regions where grapes don't grow as well, there are a range of styles of "fruit wines", like hard cider, dandelion wine, or plum wine. The sugar content of most fruit juices needs to be augmented with additional sugar to allow for proper fermentation, and often additional yeasts need to be introduced. The process often creates simple, syrupy sweet drinks, with the simple, straight-forward flavors of the fruit dominating. They can be incredibly nice alongside dessert or for sipping on a hot day.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Happy Birthday to Local Vinacular!

Happy Birthday to us! Today marks our 1 year anniversary writing this daily blog. Thanks to our readers who keep us on our toes and who have made this journey worthwhile.

Tina & Nathan
A little bubbly for the celebration, anyone?

Quick Review: Glorie Farm Winery Peach Wine

US, NY, Hudson Valley, Glorie Farm Winery, Peach Wine 2011
+ // Sweet-Fruity // Bruised Peach // Peach, from the end of the season, Bitter Peach Skin // Medium

This wine shows how a fruit wine can be well crafted, with flavors above and beyond the simple, sweet fruit-juice wine one might expect.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Glorie Farm Winery

We've been talking about it recently, but it is nice to see the reality of the situation.

Doug Glorie represents the One Percent. Not the One Percent with the money, though he assures us that both his farm and winery have been profitable for the last five years (a rare feat for the farming industry, which relies on unpredictable Mother Nature). Instead, he is part of that hard working one percentage of the American population that brings us our food, and in his case, our drink as well.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Should You Drink Wine From a Plastic Cup?

Say you are throwing a party, but you've invited more guests than you have wine glasses. Is it okay to serve wine out of plastic cups? Of course it is! But just like glassware, the trick is to find the right glasses, or cup in this case.

A plastic cup at a well-to-do function.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Quick Review: Brotherhood Riesling

US, NY, Hudson Valley, Brotherhood Winery, Riesling 2011
++ // Fruity // Peach, Floral // Apple, Nectarine, Floral // Light

This is semi-dry, meaning some sugar has been added. The White House stocks one wine from each of the 50 States to serve at State Dinners. The Brotherhood Winery Semi-Dry Riesling was selected to represent New York. This particular wine represents New York State.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Did You Know?... About the Hudson Valley Wine Trail

When most people think of wine trails to visit from NYC, they think of taking a day trip to Long Island, or maybe a weekend trip to the Finger Lakes. Just an hour north of New York City lies a couple of dozen wineries, tucked among the rolling hills of the Catskills along the Hudson River. Home of some of the oldest vineyards in the US, it has a long history of wine making. Like the other regions of New York State, it grows cool climate grapes, protected from the cold by the hillsides and the river. Grapes like Riesling and Cabernet Franc do well here. It is a fairly new region, with a small number of growers, with young vines and grapes often sourced by vineyards in the Finger Lakes or on Long Island, but its convenience to NYC cannot be overlooked. The parties and events at the various wineries make the trip worthwhile.

Courtesy of Hudson Valley Wineries

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Quick Review: Domaine de Remparts

France, Bourgogne, Cotes d' Auxerre, Domaine des Remparts
/ // Fruity // Cherry // Cherry, Strawberry // Light

Tina appreciated this one a lot more than Nathan did. It was smooth drinking wine, good with food, and well-rounded in all aspects. Nathan in general likes the fruit and tart found in the Finger Lakes wines.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Little Wine Bus on the Hudson River

"Is this the Little Wine Bus?"
"Yes, but I am not done decorating. We will be boarding in a few minutes."

And so we were introduced to our weekend adventure. Looking for something fun to do with our Memorial Day weekend, we stumbled across The Little Wine Bus. We've had mixed luck with wine buses in the past, but we hoped that the promise of "little" tour would help ensure a good time. So we dragged ourselves to Times Square early on a Saturday morning to try to find our bus among the long line of tour buses coming and going. We got there a few minutes early. After disturbing our tour guide Tania, as she was putting up last minute decorations, we waited off to the side, watching the crowds wander by, and our fellow tour-mates slowly gather. It was a fun mix; a bachelor-ette party, several groups of friends, a handful of couples, and even some families entertaining out of town visitors. Tania directed us to our seats, ensuring that the large groups got a seat together, and then we settled in for the not-so-long ride through the strip malls of New Jersey to the rolling hills of the Catskills, and the wineries of the Hudson Valley.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Pinot Noir Tasting, the Results

On Monday we told you about our test, to see how well we could compare three different Pinot Noir wines. Now to see how we did!

Nate's reveal. Uh oh!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Did You Know?... Pinot Noir of the Finger Lakes

We are strong proponents of Finger Lakes wines. Every chance we get, we order whatever is on offer from there. Despite that, we have very seldom had Pinot Noir that comes from New York. According to our tour guide at Brooklyn Winery, Pinot Noir is a difficult grape to grow and requires the focus of a grape grower's effort to make sure it grows correctly. As the current demand for Pinot Noir far exceeds the supply, it is worthwhile for growers to make the effort. If the terrior of the Finger Lakes is allowed to show through in the wine, it will never be mistaken for Oregon Pinot Noir. The Finger Lakes region has a similar climate to the areas renowned for the wine, so the quality could be comparable. Keep an eye out, because you may be able to get some excellent wine at a good price as New York wine makers learn to work with the grape.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Do We Know What We Are Talking About?

Although we spend a lot of time learning about wine, and talking about what we learn, we seldom actually test our new-found knowledge. So we recently decided to put ourselves (and our taste buds) to the test.

Which wine is it? A blind taste test.

Friday, June 1, 2012

How-To: Pair Wine and Fried Chicken

Like many quintessential American foods, wine with Fried Chicken isn't most people's first thought. But a well crafted leg of fried chicken presents a challenging opportunity to find the perfect wine to complement it.

Most chicken dishes tend to be light. Chicken by itself is a simple flavor, augmented in a wide variety of ways with spices and sauces. The common recommendation is a lighter white wine, to avoid overpowering a simple chicken dish. With a richer sauce, some lighter red wines wine work well.

Fried chicken adds a different sort of flavor to the dish. With the oil used to fry the chicken, it always ends up greasy and rich, and the best fried chicken adds a funky flavor from the history of past chicken fried in the same grease. A heavier white wine, with a crisp edge to cut through the grease, and a funk of its own to stand up to the flavor is what we would recommend, like a Sauvignon Blanc, or a Rose of Montepulciano (Montepulciano seems to us to be a "funky" grape). Other good options might include a rich, oaky Chardonnay, to add some smokiness and add butter to complement the chicken's fattiness, or even a light red Syrah to play with the chicken's spiciness.

As you can see, there are a lot of options and choices, even with everyday food.