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Wine Made Easy: The Blog

Wine Made Easy

  • Mothers' Day and Prosecco Cocktails 2017

    Although Prosecco has been around a long time, its popularity has grown in the last couple of years.  It is viable alternative to more expensive champagnes and sparkling wines and is a "go to" item for holidays and special occasions.  It is no wonder that Prosecco is a natural for Mothers' Day.  You can toast mom or make Momosas for the Mother's Day brunch.  Alternatively, you can also make delicious cocktails and punches as well. Here are a few examples.

    1. Bellini

    • 2 cups sugar
    • 1 cup water
    • 3 (16-ounce) bags frozen peaches, thawed
    • 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
    • 4 to 6 (750-ml) bottles Prosecco or other sparkling wine, chilled
    • Orange peel twists, for garnish

    Stir the sugar and water in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Cool completely.

    Puree the peaches and orange peel in a blender with 1 1/2 cups of the sugar syrup until smooth. Strain through a fine-meshed strainer and into a bowl. Transfer the puree into a pitcher or clear glass bowl.

    For each serving, pour 2 to 4 tablespoons of the peach puree into a Champagne flute. Slowly pour enough Prosecco into the flute to fill. Gently stir to blend. Garnish each with an orange peel twist, and serve. The peach puree can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

    Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis

    2. Blissini

    • 1 1/2 cups Prosecco, chilled
    • 1 1/2 cups orange juice, chilled
    • 1 1/2 cups pomegranate juice, chilled
    • Mint leaves, for garnish

    Combine the Prosecco, orange juice, and pomegranate juice and pour into 4 Champagne glasses. Garnish with mint leaves and serve. Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis

    3. Cranberry Prosecco Fizz

    • 4 tablespoons orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier
    • 4 tablespoons cranberry juice
    • 1 bottle cold Prosecco
    • 12 fresh cranberries
    • 4 small rosemary sprigs

    Pour 1 tablespoon orange liqueur and 1 tablespoon cranberry juice into each of 4 champagne flutes. Add 3 cranberries to each flute and fill with Prosecco. Garnish with the rosemary sprigs and serve. Recipe courtesy of Tiffani Thiessen

    There are several movies that revere mothers ( I Remember Mama) or demonize them ( Psycho) but  the ones I like the most are usually complex and show several sides to the characters and perseverance.

    Mom Films

    1. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)  Jane Darwell  played the matriarch of the Joad family whose courage and backbone helped her loved ones endure the hardships of the journey from Oklahoma to California during the Great Depression.

     

    2.  Mildred Pierce (1945)  Joan Crawford earned an Oscar for her role as the title character who sacrifices all for her children, particularly for the cold and calculating Veda, a nightmare of a daughter.

     

    3.  Night of the Hunter ( 1955) - Not specifically about a mother ( except Shelly Winters who gets knocked off in the first thirty minutes or so) but a mother figure played by Lilian Gish, an elder woman who takes in orphans and lost children and protects them with determined fierceness against a psychotic Preacher played by Robert Mitchum in probably his creepiest role.

     

    4. Places in the Heart ( 1984)  Sally Fields plays a single mom with two kids trying to keep her small cotton farm afloat in the Depression Era South with the help of one field hand and a blind border. Not only does she have to fight banks and locusts, but she stands up to the KKK as well.

     

     

    These may not be light comedies or feel good movies but they offer up some of the best qualities of mothers.  Happy Mothers' Day.

  • Mezcal! The Importance of Being There.

    One of the great perks of working in the wine industry is world travel.

    I’ve traveled to wineries and tasted wines across New York, Pennsylvania, Canada, Germany and France. Meeting the people who grow the grapes, care for the vineyards and make the wine is a valuable experience to bring back to customers, associates and friends.
    Once I was flown with about two dozen retailers, restaurateurs and wholesalers to Germany for a whirlwind tour of various vineyards. We saw the vineyards, tasted the wine, and listened to history, many times through a translator. We felt the sun over the vines, saw where the slope faced a local river for radiant heat, touched the soil and sampled the traditional local cuisine. Through all that, we found a connection with local growers and families that had farmed there for more generations than anyone could count.

    Could all the “information” we received have been more efficiently sent via an email, fax, or by and sending a few sample bottles? Perhaps. Could the knowledge we gained have been transmitted in a conference? I don’t think so!
    We left Germany and returned to our jobs with a new relationship and a friendship with our grower partners. We also had a better understanding of the wines and the passion with which they were made. But we had so much more.
    Ed and Dave

    On those visits I started to recognize that tasting was only a small part of what the whole thing was about. Five years ago Dave Miller approached me about visiting some mezcal palenques [think distillery] in Oaxaca. I was intrigued, but in all honesty, a bit skeptical. What could a “distillery” show me? I was a cultured “wine guy!”
    What insight could I learn from the distillers? What artistry, tradition or terroir could be experienced with this spirit? I agreed to go with an open mind and take a few tasting notes. Little did I know that I was in for the experience of a lifetime, one that would rival my visits to the finest and most famous wineries in Europe.
    Crush
    Beyond the basics of methods, equipment, stills and agaves, I received unparalleled insight into the true art of distilling spirits. And just like those great wineries in Europe, I saw traditions that had been passed on for several generations. Traditions that go into each and every bottle of mezcal.
    The terroir (for our purposes where nature and tradition meet) was a true experience I’ve relished since Dave took me to that first palenque. I had a chance to walk the fields on mountain tops, in valleys, on steep slopes and flat land. I was walking with men whose ancient ancestors first chose those places to harvest wild agaves. They were men who spent their childhood living in those fields.

    I got an education differentiating the mineral, floral, grassy or floral notes reflecting those places. I spent time learning the advantages of different still types and how they bring out the flavors. I listened as mezcaleros shared how their grandfathers taught them when to harvest a plant at its perfect time, how to roast, crush, and ferment the agaves used to make mezcal. And I learned how different families decided on the perfect levels of alcohol for their particular mezcal.
    Mezcal Producers
    I saw large production facilities where a sense of quality and consistency showed pure genius and visited places where the production is so small, careful and artisinal, it was done a few liters at a time. I’ve watched young boys learning the craft from their fathers, excited to carry on the family tradition. The closeness of the mezcaleros to their land, their Mexico and their heritage is an amazing thing to experience.

    Wahaka

    You can pop into my store any day here in Buffalo, New York for some great mezcal, or even call me for a recommendation. I’ll make sure you get something that will impress your friends as you mark a special occasion.
    (Editors Note: please email me at [email protected] for current selection, our website does not show most of our vast selection)

    But if you want to really experience the true terroir of mezcal, you need to experience this great spirit where it’s rooted. In Oaxaca, because that’s where you learn the importance of being there!

  • Easter Wines for 2017

    Easter is upon us and this year I thought it would be fun to offer a few more choices in different categories. Hopefully you will see a few surprises.

    WHITES

    1. Vouvray  - Les Lys Vouvray 2015

    Made from 100% Chenin Blanc this is an off-dry white with notes of delicate perfume, stone fruit and tropical fruit, a hint of almond, and a pleasant dose of honey. It has low acidity and a soft, round finish. This wine pairs well with sweet and salty honey-glazed ham with a side of scalloped potatoes.

    2. Riesling – Boundary Breaks Ovid Line North 2014

    The nose on this Finger Lakes Riesling offers scents of honey, wax, and peach. This off-dry Riesling has fine texture and pleasant, lingering flavors and is very well balanced. This wine can easily take on not just salty-sweet ham, but smoked kielbasa, hard boiled eggs and horseradish.

    3. Pinot Gris – Willm Pinot Gris Reserve 2014

    The Willm Pinot Gris has a golden color with a very faint pink hue along the edges. This wine is juicy with pear, apple and peach notes with a bit of citrus and honey accents to compliment this off-dry white. A great option from the usual whites and can pair well with traditional Easter foods or seafood dishes if so desired.

    REDS

    1. Pinot Noir    Castle Rock Kristy RSV 2014

    This Monterey Pinot Noir is somewhat earthy, but more about fruit and spice. Notes of black cherry, plum, vanilla spice and toasted cedar will draw you in and further flavors of chocolate and strawberry with hints of cinnamon will make this a treat whether you are having lamb, duck or Cornish Game Hen for Easter dinner.

    2. Grenache Domaine Lafage Nicolas 2013

    This is a great value wine with wonderful notes of black raspberry, licorice and crushed violets.  It is medium to full bodied and tannins are presents are present but not overbearing. This 100% Grenache is from Languedoc-Roussillon, France. This is perfect for those who opt for Leg of Lamb or Crown Roast for Easter dinner.

    ROSES

    1. Honoro Vera Rose

    This medium-bodied Tempranillo/Syrah dry rose has crisp acidity and is very refreshing. The palate is full of cherry, strawberry and cranberry fruit.  The finish is very smooth and citrusy. It’s ready to take on  Easter Ham.

    2. Moraitis Rose 2016

    From Greece this Light tomato colored rose is simply delightful.  It has rich strawberry and cherry notes with a strong acidity and a sea salt presence.  It is not timid and will work very with Ham or poultry.  It will pair nicely with fresh fruit for Easter Brunch.

    SPARKLING

    1. La Marca   Prosecco

    This bright sparkling wine has white flower, peach and honey notes.  It offers a touch of sweetness to emphasize the off-dry quality.  La Marca is best on its own with Easter Brunch foods, but could certainly make a solid Mimosa.

    2. Dibon Cava Brut

    This is a great bargain from Spain that is becoming an Easter favorite. Nice apple aromas are elegant and not over the top, while the tangerine flavors zero right in. This Cava is a clean, crisp, tasty wine with no yeast or weightiness. This is a great alternative for those who don’t want to open expensive champagnes for Easter Brunch.

     

  • 2015 Gran Passione Veneto Rosso – A Rich Looking and Tasting Wine at a Bargain Price.

    The 2015 vintage of Grand Passione is a delightful alternative to the much revered Amarone. As stated about previous vintages, this wine impresses with its elegantly embossed bottle and simple yet classic hand written look on the label. The name seems to fit the region itself which is steeped in history and romance. Thus is an impressive present for a loved one.

    A delicious blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Corvina, this Rosso is produced in the Veneto region in the same appassimento-style as many Amarones. The Corvina grapes are sun dried before processing creating a raisin-like quality to the wine.  It is full bodied with a deep, nearly black color and rich and bold. There is a strong flavor of dark cherry, black currant, prune, raisin, and allspice with soft tannins and a long, smooth finish. This is a terrific bottle for under $15.00.  It works very well with stews and roasts, but give it a try with hard cheeses, crostini and liver pate.