Start Summer With Sangria

July 14, 2014

Summer libation suggestions including various Sangria recipes and some Ruby Port based cocktails.

Sangria is a refreshing accompaniment to summer parties. A mixture of wine, fruit, sugar and traditionally a bit of brandy, Sangria reportedly originated on the Spanish peninsula where it was named after the word for blood-letting, due to its distinctive deep red color. It remains hugely popular in Spain and Portugal, and as of this year is even protected under EU statute so that Sangria from Spain or Portugal will be allowed to be bottled and labeled as such – but why buy it pre-made? So much more fun to make it yourself.

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Port Helps Beat Winter Blahs

February 4, 2014

A look at Port including a review of Shiloh Fort Dessert Wine along with a review of Booker’s Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.

Port is an ideal way to offset the winter doldrums. Now authentic Port comes only from Portugal. It is made from various varieties of very foreign-sounding grapes grown in the Douro Valley region of Portugal. Port is a typically heavy, rich, sweet, high-alcohol (usually 18-20 percent abv) wine not only due to the type of grapes used, but also because it is fortified; the winemakers add some measure of distilled grape spirits (a local brandy known as “aguardiente” or fire water) to fortify the wine with an artificially higher alcohol content which, in turn, immediately kills the yeast cells, halting the fermentation process before the grapes’ remaining sugar is converted into alcohol. The wine then gets aged in one of two basic processes, depending on style (and eventual price).

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Spluring On Fortified Wines

April 18, 2013

A review of the Zion Miharmartif Port-style kosher wine and several Port-finished Whiskies.

While we love a bargain wine, every so often it is fun to splurge, especially when the bottle remains drinkable for a long time after the cork has been pulled. This is the domain of the fortified wine, that middle ground between wine and spirit. Some fortified wines, such as Port and Madeira, can provide pleasure for weeks after opening while others retain their flavors only if kept refrigerated. These wines are typically costly to produce and available in limited quantities, hence the generally higher price tag.

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Tulip Winery: Good Wine and Good Works, As Well

March 28, 2013

A review of the Tulip Syrah Reserve 2010 and several recommendations for Passover libations.

All Jewish holidays, outside of fast days, entail big, festive meals. Passover is, in many respects, the ultimate example of this, despite having a more restricted diet. Not only must we eat matzah and maror at the seder meals, but we must eat matzah and refrain from all chametz (leavened grain products) throughout the holiday. Further, not only must each of us consume four cups of wine at each seder, which, depending on the number of guests, can make for a lot of bottles, but we are encouraged to keep the wine flowing as an expression of our freedom and joy. Besides, with our adult beverage options severely limited by type, with all grained-based spirits and beer unequivocally off limits, the importance of having enough wine on hand takes on yet another level of importance. So drink up (in moderation, of course).

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“Not For The Very Young, The Vain And The Active”

August 9, 2012

InVita 2011

A review of the ElviWines InVita 2011 and some Port-based cocktail suggestions.

Spain continues to be a source of well-made wines. The country is the world’s third largest wine producer but ranks first in total acres “under vine,” with over 600 grape varietals planted over nearly 3 million acres. The most popular grapes are mostly foreign sounding – Airen, Albarino, Carinena, Garnacha, Macabeo, Monastrell, Parellada, Tempranillo, Xarel-lo – and are utilized to create red, white and sparkling wines as well as the renown fortified port and sherry wines.

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Port, An Ideal Sipper for Fall’s Cooler Temperatures

October 26, 2011

Fonseca Port

A review of several vintages of Croft, Taylor Fladgate and Fonseca Ports

Port, produced in the northern Portugal region of the Douro Valley, is created by adding a neutral spirit to stop the wine’s fermentation while there is still some residual sugar.

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Spirits Can Raise The Spirits Of The Holiday Season

December 1, 2010

Glenrothes

Holiday gift ideas including some special Scotch, Gin and Vodka as well as two book suggestions

Options abound for the wine-lovers on your holiday gift list, many of whom also enjoy other spirits. For those who like Scotch, a special whisky is a great present. From the noted Japanese distillery Suntory is Hibiki 12 Year Old ($55). Its name is a word that can be translated into a number of positive expressions including “harmony.” This version is offered in a lovely 24-sided bottle that represents the ancient Japanese calendar. It has vanilla and fruit aromas along with a clean, slightly sweet, soft caramel, clove and tropical fruit notes with a pleasant smooth finish lacking the burn of lesser made spirits.

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Even More Dessert Wines To Please Your Palate

December 10, 2009

Quady Essensia

Part 2 of a look at dessert wines including Tokaji, Quady Essensia, Niagara Peninsula Ice Wines and Tawny Ports.

Last week, I wrote about the legendary dessert wines from the Sauternes region of Bordeaux, France and the traditional off-dry Moscato d’Asti wines of Italy. But wine growing regions around the world have created unique methods dedicated solely to the art of producing these wines.

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With Wines, Old Is New Again

February 26, 2009

Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

The pleasures of older wines.

I prefer “Chinatown” to the “The DaVinci Code,” “On The Waterfront” over “Gladiator” and will drop everything to watch “Casablanca.” Angelina Jolie certainly has her attributes but Ingrid Bergman has a vulnerable sadness. Older movies have a captivating elegance and charm that is often lacking in the more recent Hollywood blockbusters. A similar satisfaction can be found in various older wines.

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