2017 Holiday Party Tips

When hosting a party, from the welcome punch to the nightcap, I make sure that everyone is having a fun night… including ME!
Your guests feel your energy so if you’re stressed in the kitchen then they’ll feel it too. This holiday season, don’t get stressed out, but rather, plan plan plan! If you do it right, you’ll be a great host and have a great time yourself.
Tips for hosting:

Think of your party in phases!

Phase One: The Welcome Cocktail! Pick one thing, like a punch or a pre-batched Manhattan that you can pour easily OR your guests can pour for each other!
Phase Two: Themed drinks that fit the party. If it’s a Mediterranean meal, have a nice selection of Wines & imported beers on ice. Or if you want to keep going with cocktails, have the bar set up for easy shaking.
Phase Three: Once most of the crowd has left, there are always the core group of friends that stay behind! Have something really special held aside for them, that you can pull out and share. Something easy, like a grappa or a special whiskey or cognac.

Be thoughtful about pairings

Wine pairings don’t have to be complicated but you do want them to be thoughtful. The main things to think about are weight, flavor intensity, sweetness, fat and how they play against each other in the food & wine, as explained here.

Quantities & ICE

In general people will have one to two drinks the first hour and then a drink every hour after—up to four drinks. Check out our party scenarios guide here!
Indoors versus outdoors will change the dynamic depending on the weather. And, an older crowd will skew the dynamic a bit more toward classic wines, scotch, vodka & tequila. A younger crowd will appreciate esoteric wine, craft beer, whiskey and craft cocktails.
Don’t run out of ice! If you’re molding Big Ice Cubes, make extra days leading up to your party. Unmold them and place them in a Ziploc.
Other simple tips:

  • Get yourself in the mood by having great music playing BEFORE people start coming over!
  • Have a recycling bin lined and easy for your guests to access, so they can toss their own recycling.
  • Have some canned or bottled water on ice within guests reach.

 

Love Whiskey, Love Wine

Brown spirits are so diverse that they offer something for everyone. What is exciting to us is educating consumers so they understand they have options. If you enjoy Japanese or Irish Whiskey, which tend to be lighter-bodied while exhibiting good minerality we can steer you towards a crisp white wine,. If you like American Bourbon with its sweeter palate and heavier oaked finishes, you’ll love fruit-forward bold red wines.

We have quite a number of customers that shop both categories, but it’s exciting that that base is growing and the diversity of Whiskey is growing too.
We are looking to expand that as more and more folks are exploring both categories.

When you can relate that the whiskey language can be similar to the language of wine with aroma, weight, terroir, minerality and finish, it makes for an easy transition.

There are also restaurants now that are doing Whiskey and Food Pairings… something we mostly saw with Wine, making it a really exciting time for both categories.

In support of the Whiskies of the World Festival on Sept. 16 in Austin.
Twin Liquors will hold a Whiskey and Wine sale from Sept. 7-26: shoppers get 15% off when they buy a bottle of whiskey with one bottle of wine.

It is time to Summer Like a Spaniard!

My name is Sarah Howard and I work for the DOs of Ribera del Duero and Rueda.  Twin Liquors has asked me to guest blog to write about these two fantastic Spanish wine regions. I was recently in Austin hosting a couple of Spain 201 classes at the Round Rock and Hancock Center Twin Liquors.  I had so much fun educating everyone on the two regions and seeing everyone enjoy the wines from Ribera del Duero and Rueda.

First things first, where are Rueda and Ribera del Duero and what kind of wines do they produce?  Located in Northern Spain, about two hours north of Madrid, Rueda and Ribera del Duero are hidden in the high plains of Castilla y Leon.  The landscape looks alternately like the beach, the desert or the moon.  The climate here is extreme with harsh winters and temperatures soaring past 100 degrees during the summer days and down to 50 degrees at night.  The harsh, almost inhospitable climate is perfect for growing Verdejo in Rueda and Tempranillo in Ribera del Duero.

Verdejo is the perfect match for toasty Texas temperatures.  White wines from Rueda are refreshing with aromas and flavors of lemon, lime and peaches.  It is no wonder that the crisp, aromatic, citrusy Rueda Verdejo is Spain’s #1 white wine.   I like to say drinking a glass of Verdejo is like drinking a glass of sunshine – bright, crisp, refreshing and oh so enjoyable.

In Segovia, in the heart of the Rueda region, Rueda Verdejo is paired with Cochinillo Asado or roast suckling pig.  The fresh flavors of Rueda are a perfect match to the tender pork.  If suckling pig isn’t on the menu, pair Verdejo with seafood, fresh summer salads, cheeses or spicy cuisine.

Tempranillo, known locally in Ribera as Tinto Fino, survive scorching summers and frigid winters to produce bold red wines of incredible depth and structure.  The flavors of Tempranillo are blackberries, currants, raspberry, spice and a touch of vanilla.

Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero is bold enough to stand up to Texas BBQ, or anything grilled.  In my opinion, the perfect pairing with Tempranillo is lamb.  Lamb, or Lechazo, is a signature dish of the region and the wine balances the flavors perfectly.  Between the suckling pig in Rueda and the Lechazo in Ribera del Duero the two regions are a meat-lovers paradise!

So, to Summer Like a Spaniard all you need is a glass (or two) of your favorite Rueda or Ribera del Duero!  Kick back, enjoy the sunshine and turn on the grill.  These wines are ready for your next BBQ.

Find your favorite Rueda or Ribera at tastings at select Twin Liquors locations Fridays and Saturdays in July.  For more information visit the Twin Liquors events page.  Don’t forget to take advantage of the Spanish Wine Sale through the end of the month – enjoy 20% off six bottles or more.

For more information on the regions please visit www.riberaruedawine.com.

Drink Pink!!

Peter here again, and with one of the best features of spring in the wine world…arrival of the new Rosés.  Yes, Rosé; one of the most versatile, approachable, food-friendly and delicious wines on the planet.

First, what is it?  Well, it’s a wine somewhere between white and red. Vague, yes; but rosé can run a wide range of color, shade and intensity from a wine barely more color-saturated than chardonnay, all the way to a cherry-red version that you can hardly see through.

By the way, that last style?  It’s what all that Bordeaux that was drunk in the late dark ages and middle ages looked like, not the dark brooding blue-purple-black stuff of modern times.  In fact, the British name ‘claret’ for red Bordeaux is just the anglicized version of the French word ‘Clairet’, the original name of said wine and today a revived and growing style of very dark rosé that is just superb when you need a red wine but the weather’s just too darned hot. And it can take a chill!

Peter Gatti, Twin Liquors’ Director of Education

So, Rosé goes by any number of color names: oeil de Perdrix or partridge eye, salmon, apricot, pink, onion skin, cherry, raspberry, you can go on…look long enough and you’ll find every shade in the red/orange, pink/gold range.

The better ones will probably be made by one of three methods:

Vin Gris method, or gray wine, for the palest versions, where red grapes are crushed and the juice left to macerate (soak) for a very brief time till just a hint of color is extracted.  These are the most delicate wines, great with very light fare and by themselves.

Maceration method, the standard for many large production wines, where the grapes are crushed and the juice left to soak till the desired color intensity is attained, then drained off in its entirety to start or complete fermentation.  These can range from serviceable to outstanding.

Saignée method, whereby only some of the juice is ‘bled’ off the entire batch once the desired color is reached, and fermented in a separate vessel. This is arguably the best method, usually for smaller quantities, and is the easiest method to control extraction.  Sometimes this is done to concentrate the remaining red wine’s color and flavor in a less-than-perfect year, but more often it’s done every year to make top-notch long-lived rosé.

Almost every good wine region makes some good rosé, but many of the best come from France.  Gerard Fiou’s Sancerre Rosé from Pinot Noir, Provence’s La Riviera from Grenache, Cinsaut and Rolle, Guillaume Gannet’s Côtes du Rhône Rosé from Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignan.  Oh, and that Clairet I mentioned?  The Chateau Guichot from Bordeaux—but it’s limited.

What is IGT?

Peter Gatti, Twin Liquors’ Director of Education

Peter Gatti, Twin Liquors’ Director of Education here, continuing our Italian Wine Month theme of discussing different wines, but this week, we’ll talk about a category rather than a specific wine or groups of wines.

So, how often have you stood in front of a collection of Italian wine and seen the letters IGT on the label?  Ever wondered what they mean or have anyone in the shop try to explain them?  It’s the designation for a wide ranging category that has a lot of terrific wines hiding in plain sight!

Some quick background if I may…By the late 1960’s Italy was producing a LOT of mediocre inexpensive wine for export, and a small group of quality producers, disgusted with the trend, decided to do something new. They utilized a small loophole in the wine laws to make really good wine, but they didn’t use the required grape types, or the required aging methods, and were able to call them Vino de Tavola or Table Wine, the lowest level of quality legally, but the one with the least restrictions.  So Antinori added Cabernet to Sangiovese and created Tignanello in 1971, and their cousins grew Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc and created Sassicaia in 1968, and these wines and many others soon became recognized as some of the best and most exciting wines in Italy by the 1980’s.

Producers and consumers alike wanted to distinguish these super “table wines” from the ordinary ones, and the name “Super-Tuscan” was soon created, since most of the innovation centered in Tuscany.  Another Renaissance?

At any rate, the category grew so quickly and became so popular, generating much higher prices and so many more wines so quickly that the Italian wine governing bodies decided they’d better recognize this serendipitous movement legally.  A new category was born in 1992, sometimes called the Goria Law, and named Indicazione Geographica Tipica, or IGT.  So Italian-it sounds like a German sneeze or an American expression of disgust (ick!)-didn’t they ask a marketer?  It means, roughly, a wine of “typical geographic indication” or “representative of the typical geographic style”.  Oy!

In practice, what it means usually is wines from a real appellation where the winemaker decided to use non-permitted grapes or non-permitted proportions of the allowed grapes, or perhaps just a non-permitted aging regimen to create a better wine, and now they have an appellation that while technically fits in the hierarchy just below DOC and above Vino de Tavola, includes some of the finest wines of Italy, or the world, really, if you want to consider wines like Tignanello, Sassicaia, Montevetrano and the like.

The really cool thing though, is that the vast majority run in the 10-12 to 20-25 dollar range, and are full of personality, charm, even complexity and depth.  Consider trying any of the following wines for an eye-opening (and wallet-friendly!) experience: Antale Veneto Rosso IGT, Tenute Rubino Marmorelle Rosso IGT, Monteti Giganti Buoni IGT, all reds, or Moris Farms Vermentino IGT, a white.  All these run from $13 to $17.   Cent’ Anni!

Easter Wine Pairings

Peter Gatti, Twin Liquors’ Director of Education

Peter Gatti back with this week’s Italian Installment, but this time, let’s talk about wine for Easter dinner.

Easter can be a little complicated for wine; like so many big holiday feasts, the combination of many different foods and many different personalities can be a little chaotic.  So let’s talk about some tried and true traditional pairings so we don’t upset Great-Aunt Sally, but also push the envelope a little for the more adventurous guests, too.

Lamb is customary, and it’s hard to beat a Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot based red to pair, possibly something like Monteti’s I Giganti Buoni blend, Argentiera’s Poggio ai Ginepri, or even Tenuta San Guido’s Le Difese blend (from the Sassicaia folks) for something a bit more upscale.  However, if we get a little edgy, how about Italy’s Zinfandel, known there as Primitivo?  Ink Monster is everything you like about California Zin with an added Italian herby twist. Or perhaps the Sorrentino Aglianico, a baby brother style to Taurasi-rich, complex and warm.

Ham is more fun to work with, because so many wines work well depending on the glazes or rubs (or not) that you use.  Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer are the default choices here, and all work nicely with different recipes, but let’s experiment a little, yes?  How about Moris Farms Vermentino, a crisp, bright, full white with a touch of Viognier for aromatics?  Or Andrea Felici’s Verdicchio a superb firm white from a top producer?  Cascina Liuzzi makes a lovely smooth mid-weight Barbera that’ll even take a chill.  Really far out?  Try the Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco; so delicious!

If poultry centers the meal, Natale Verga’s Sauvignon Blanc or Italo Cescon’s Chardonnay are solid, established wine pairings, but why not try Maculan’s Pino y Toi blend from Friuli or Sorrentino Falanghina, Campania’s great white grape? If red’s your preference, why not Moris Farm’s Mandriolo Red blend, or Natale Verga’s Chianti Classico, both from Tuscany and Sangiovese based?

If you decide on vegetarian, I’d probably go with medium weight reds such as the Antale Veneto Rosso, Antale Salento Rosso, or Il Roccolo Nero D’Avola.  For whites, any of the above mentioned wines, but also consider the Il Roccolo Chardonnay frizzante, a delicate, frothy flirty-fun take on Chardonnay.

For dessert, Moscato D’Asti is hard to beat for its joyous, fizzy, fruity, perfumed, succulent, juicy exuberance, so try the Natale Verga or Vietti versions, both excellent.  Brachetto is a pink/light red variant that seems like a pink version with added red and black berry notes, but my favorite version is called Dolcelina, it uses Freisa and Malvasia as well as Brachetto grapes, and it’s drop-dead gorgeous.

If there’s chocolate on the dessert menu, I’m going to really go out on a limb here:  try an Amaro!  Really.  Cocchi’s Americano is really out of this world, and if you can find it, try the Byrrh Amaro-oh, my!

Amarone

Peter Gatti, Twin Liquors’ Director of Education

Peter Gatti, Twin Liquors’ Director of Education here, continuing our Italian Wine Month theme of discussing different wines, and this week’s candidate is one of Italy’s vinous glories and greatest reds, Amarone.

In a nutshell, Amarone is a big, warm, rich, velvety, luscious, luxuriant mouthful of wine, intended to pair with rich, meat-based dishes, hearty stews, hearty bean dishes such as pasta-e-fagioli or cassoulet or aged fine cheeses.   The wine can be so rich that often, it’s served at the end of the meal as a wine of contemplation, not unlike a fine Porto.

Masi Lunch at Loco d’Oro.

It’s been made since Roman times in the Veneto, and in the first century AD both Columella and Pliny the Elder mention a wine that is probably its direct ancestor.  The Romans loved rich sweet wines, and not just because they travel well!

The Carthaginians invented ‘passum’ or nowadays ‘passito’ winemaking, which is just a ‘no-tech’ method for drying grapes to concentrate the sugars, flavors, aromas, extracts and acids to produce a big wine: lay them out in the sun and don’t let them get damp.  Easily done in North Africa, but it takes a bit more preparation in northern latitudes, so nowadays, most producers use special temperature and humidity controlled drying buildings.

After about 4 months of drying, the now almost-raisins which have lost about 40-50% of their water weight are crushed  to begin fermentation.

Zenato Lunch at Sienna.

This lasts up to two months, after which the basic wines are aged for a minimum of two years from January 1 after the harvest, usually in large Slavonian oak, and the Riservas are aged for a minimum of four years, often even five or more before release. The large barrels are to minimize the wood flavors, and lately, some producers are moving back to traditional chestnut or cherry wood, as these seem to soften, round and refine the wines much more gently and elegantly than oak.

Modern dry Amarone’s history really only begins this century, either in 1938 or 1953, depending on who’s telling the story; supposedly, someone, possibly at Bertani, forgot a barrel of Recioto and it fermented to dryness, and the resulting dry wine, rather than being ruined as they’d feared, was a brand new style that was superb.

Historically, Amarone’s were always sweet, and those wines still exist, under the name of Recioto Della Valpolicella.  In either style, one might find a broad array of concentrated fresh mixed berry flavors along with prunes, raisins, brown sugar, molasses, figs, tamarind, cinnamon, chocolate, and any number of different fruit liqueurs.  All in all, a wonderfully complex wine!

Italian Bubbles

I’m Peter Gatti, Director of Education for Twin Liquors, here to talk about some Italian sparklers for our Italian Wine Month.  I’ve been in the business since 1979, have lived all over the world, have traveled and studied in many of the worlds’ wine areas, love good wine regardless of where it’s from, believe firmly that great bargains still abound, and especially love sharing a lifetime’s worth of knowledge!

So, what’s the difference among the three most popular these days: Moscato D’Asti, Asti, and Prosecco?

Well, Moscato D’Asti and Asti are both made to order, in the Piedmont, from the same Moscato Bianco grape which is   pressed and kept chilled as juice till needed to be fermented, and fermented once in the closed tank or Charmat (or Martinotti) process, but from there, they diverge somewhat.  Moscato is fermented to a maximum of 5.5 % alcohol and 2 atmospheres of pressure, so it’s just lightly sparkling or frizzante, and has about 65 grams per liter or 6.5% residual sugar, while Asti is fermented to a minimum of 7-9.5% alcohol and 3 atmospheres of pressure, so it’s quite a bit fizzier, as well as having less residual sugar at 30-50 grams per liter or 3-5 %.  Oddly enough, Moscato D’Asti tends to taste less sweet!  Both, however have similar aromas and flavors of honeysuckle, jasmine or tangerine blossom, apple, peach, apricot and pear fruit flavors and a wonderful fresh fruit grapiness that is utterly seductive and flat out delicious.  Try them with fresh fruit, not too sweet desserts or even as dessert.  Their mostly low alcohol levels allow them broad application much of the day, too.

Prosecco is also made (with one exception, the Col Fondo style—homework time!) by the Charmat method, but from Glera grapes, in Veneto and Friuli, fermented to 11-12 % alcohol, can come in still, frizzante (lightly sparkling) and fully Spumante (sparkling) styles, requiring a minimum of 3.5 atmospheres, but often somewhere between 5 and 6, making it as fizzy as champagne. Further, it can be made in Brut or up to 12 grams per liter / 1.2% residual sugar, Extra Dry or 12-17 grams / 1.2-1.7% residual sugar, or finally, Dry, at 17-32 grams / 1.7-3.2% residual sugar styles.  Whew!  The lesson here is to read your label carefully so that you’re not unpleasantly surprised by what you drink, right? It’s not as messy as you think, as you’ll most often see Extra Dry, the style that tastes rounded and a little fruity, but rarely ever tastes overtly sweet.  Prosecco’s less aromatic and less fruit packed than Moscato and Asti, but is more broadly useful for that.  It’s also the base wine for Bellinis and Mimosas everywhere, and in Italy, if you’re upright and breathing, they’ll hand you a glass at the drop of a hat as a rather pleasant form of greeting!

Spring Outdoor Party

Ahhh, spring has sprung. It’s been a mild winter. Getting ready for some great weather out there I think. I have lived in Austin for a little more than ten years now, and I sure can appreciate this great spring weather. I do miss having seasons like I did in Wisconsin though. But, I sure don’t miss shoveling the snow on the driveway. Well, maybe a little bit! Anyway, you can’t beat crawfish boils and back yard barbecues in Austin. We get a little better at relaxing each year I think. And, a little bit better at planning those backyard get-togethers.

Thinking about your backyard entertaining? Let your neighborhood Twin Liquors help stock your outdoor bar! We have a great selection of crisp refreshing local & craft beers & ciders to fill up your coolers. We’ve got a brand-new selection of fresh seasonal Rosé wine from all over the world. And, of course, every summer cocktail ingredient you could think of shaking up! All you’ll have to worry about is having enough crawfish for those out-of-towners from Louisiana! What are you drinking and eating this spring? We’d be happy to help you with the selection for that party you’re having.

Cheers
Cale Thibaudeau
Twin Liquors Marketplace at the Galleria

Events at Twin Liquors

As employees of Twin Liquors, we are given the chance to further our knowledge through seminars, tastings and industry events. Just last month, employees attended a tasting of twelve wines from the Bordeaux region. We had attendees from across the Twin Liquors family of stores. Tasting wines from different producers of the same region can give a very detailed understanding of what that region represents. With this knowledge, staff can offer you detailed advice on a wide range of subjects.

But, these events are not always limited to industry professionals. Often, they are open to the public. On Feb 23rd, we will host the Chateau Montelena winery for a tasting with winemaker Matt Crafton right here at the Hill Country Galleria location! It will be a spectacular opportunity to experience the wines with the winemaker himself. For those of you that join us, we appreciate you welcoming him into our community.

So, whether you would like to talk about one of the events your favorite Twin Liquors employee attended, or experience it for yourself, Twin Liquors has you covered. Look for more great events on our website www.twinliquors.com

Cheers
Cale Thibaudeau
Twin Liquors Marketplace at the Galleria

Wine Conversations

I’ve always thought it important to make “wine conversations” with customers uncomplicated. Looking for a bottle of Chardonnay? Do you like crisp and refreshing or rich and full bodied? Do you have a price range in mind? Maybe you’ve really enjoyed a particular label before but want to try something similar, something new. Or, perhaps you’re worn-out on Chardonnay but enjoy its exotic fruit qualities. Great, let’s try a white blend from the Rhone Valley.

Whatever your desire, when venturing out on a new grape variety, I will typically recommend a bottle priced fewer than $15. That way we find a high quality wine with value that will be a good gauge to determine if you’ll enjoy that style. If you do enjoy it, we can move up the ladder in price to explore further.

This New Year, I am looking forward to the opportunity talk with customers about what they’ve enjoyed in each of the wines that I have recommended. While not to be outdone by wines that customers have informed ME about, because there have been some great ones there too!

Out at the Hill Country Galleria, we take your considerations and recommendations seriously. It has helped us grow our selection to what it is today. And I have a good feeling that this year will be the better than ever.

Cheers
Cale Thibaudeau
Twin Liquors Marketplace at the Galleria

TWIN BY APPOINTMENT

twinbyapointmentcarouselNeed help with your holiday gift list? Food and wine pairing menu for a dinner party?
Through the years, Twin Liquors has done our part in helping to plan thousands of weddings, wrap hundreds of thousands of bottles and gifts, and talk wine and spirits with newbies and aficionados alike.

We know your time is precious and we want to make your holiday shopping hassle free. Feel free to give us a call or send us an email and let us know when it’s convenient for you to stop by. We promise a real person will take great care of you!
Let us know which neighborhood you’re in and we will be more than happy to connect you with the appropriate Twin Liquors location. The store will then work with you to create a personalized shopping experience. If you already have a favorite Twin Liquors location, please feel free to contact them directly. We want to do our part in making this holiday season bright!

Email us at holidays@twinliquors.com or call 1-855-350-8946 to create your exclusive shopping experience.

Here’s to 2017 and Helping Each Other

Many people have taught me about “how to think about my future” from the generation before me, to folks 2, 10 and 50 years older! They have been here longer than me, and have experienced more, so I ask them about their experiences. It gives me the view of what’s to come, which helps with life in general or specifically a vision of a career.

When you’re starting a job for the first time, ask questions. It could become a career. The first four years I spent in the Austin wine industry I had the opportunity to work with someone with a deep knowledge of wine and a great work ethic, Nat Davis. He gave me the opportunity to learn. I asked as many questions as I could and learned as much as possible. But where did the idea of a career in wine even come from?

My first book about wine, Windows on the World, was given to me by my brother Kyle years ago. Not sure I would be here today without that gift. It gave me the inspiration to apply for that first job at a wine bar. Luckily, there was someone at that wine bar willing to help me get started.

So with this New Year, help someone get their inspiration by giving a gift. Or, be that person who helps others learn. Or, take that chance and start a new job in a field you’ve always wanted to! Here’s to 2017 and helping each other.

Cheers,
Cale Thibaudeau
Store Manager
Twin Liquors in the Hill Country Galleria

A Reason to Celebrate

The winter holidays are here! Are you headed out of town? Are you sticking around Austin? We all like to take this time reflect on what has passed and what lies ahead. I look forward to the Thanksgiving holiday and cooking a soup as I usually do. Maybe a spinach and dill soup with pumpernickel croutons. We haven’t decided yet! My wife Elizabeth typically makes a pie, always something new and delicious. The prime rib dinner around New Years can’t be missed, but it’s not always about repeating what you did last year, sometimes you need to throw in something new.

Something new, for example, now I get to refer to Elizabeth as my wife, instead of my fiancée! Two thousand and sixteen brought quite a few new experiences. We’ve been doing a lot of traveling and having a great time. We are also looking forward to purchasing our first home. Quite a few first steps this year. Maybe you proposed? Or sent your child off to college, or became a first time parent, or grand parent?

Whatever the case, I cannot think of anything better than Champagne to help you mark that special occasion! We have a great selection and I’m sure you can find some reason to celebrate! Well, I hope everyone had a great year and we can all work together to make next year even better. Twin Liquors at the Hill Country Galleria is here to help you out, let us know what we can do to help make your holiday celebrations great!

Cheers,
Cale Thibaudeau
Store Manager
Twin Liquors in the Hill Country Galleria

A Wine to Break the Tie

This year, not will my Father-in-Law and I continue the eternal competitive fight over whose premier soccer league team will be triumphant, Arsenal or Chelsea but even more important the great, hedonistic, mano a mano Thanksgiving Wine battle between us will task me with finding THE ONE WINE to give me the lead in our 1-1 wine score. Last year, I pulled a very close win with my 2012 Domaine St. Prefert Chateauneuf du Pape over my Father-in-Law’s 2004 Hewitt Cabernet Sauvignon. The challenge this year is to deliver a knockout punch with my wine pick, as well as revive a skill I have not used in 5 years. What skill is this you ask?

While dating my wife, I made a cheesecake from scratch (my mother’s recipe) for her family (call it a bait and hook for a good impression). Little did I know that this token to gain approval would become an expectation, namely from my Sister-In-Law, as she has threatened to take my Dachshund hostage (and potentially my entire Thanksgiving meal) if I don’t come through with the goods.

So, as Turkey Day grows closer, I will hit the books to find the wine that will give me the lead, pray that Chelsea beats Arsenal next go round, and hope that my cheesecake brings me great favor at the table. Come in and share your family traditions and let us help you find that TKO wine! Stay tuned to find out the results of the battle, the wine chosen and the well-being of Chico, my Dachshund.

Brewing Our Own

About eight years ago a group of my friends decided we wanted to brew beer. Pick it up as a hobby, learn the process, buy some books, get some equipment and have some fun. Anyone who has had a hobby, knows you can get in pretty deep before you even know it. Long story short, we brewed quite a few beers in those first years.

We tried some basic styles first. After we messed up a couple times we learned the two most important factors when brewing. Cleanliness and temperature. These two factors are crucial in order to track progress. Without taking extreme care in these two areas, you get results that are never consistent, and therefore, you cannot learn from your mistakes.

Cleanliness is important so that you are only working with one strain of yeast. If you have dirty equipment, the flavor you were expecting from one type of yeast, could be altered and produce flavors you were not expecting. Yikes! We brewed quite a few red ales, and if we didn’t keep everything clean, they wouldn’t have gotten any better. Lucky for us, they did! After brewing ale’s for a bit, we decided to venture into the extremely difficult world of lagers.

Lager’ing is a very detailed and extended process. This is where the temperature part comes in. If you make one mistake, you’ll taste it. But all that extra effort really pays off. We focused on low alcohol simple beers. Truly, I now understand that simplicity is more difficult than complexity. A crisp, clean and refreshing beer. One that was made by you and your friends, nothing tastes better!

Do you have a good homebrew story? Swing on by the shop and let’s talk!

Cheers,

Cale Thibaudeau
Store Manager
Twin Liquors in the Hill Country Galleria

 

French Wine Vacation

Enjoying wine on vacation is just about the best thing, especially when paired with a wonderful meal! But, how many times have you been on vacation and had an amazing wine that you simply could not find in the States? Or maybe you found it but it wasn’t quite the same? Well, of course it’s not going to be exactly the same because you’re not on vacation at home! It’s a challenge, we know, but with a little ambiance you can get close to recreating that experience.

Part of that experience is having a little knowledge about what you are drinking. That is a big part of why wine taste so great on vacation… you have a sense of where the grapes came from. When you are consuming at home try find a little history in the bottle, really think about it. I promise it makes a difference.

In our quest to further educate our guests and ourselves this October at Twin Liquors we are celebrating French Wine Month! We will have a French Themed Wine Walk and many weekend features focused on Bordeaux and Laguedoc. And with our great staff, all passionate about French wine, we want to help you find that perfect French Wine so you can re-create a vacation memory or make new ones!

Cheers,

Cale Thibaudeau
Store Manager
Twin Liquors in the Hill Country Galleria

Football Generations

My family formed the company CKC Graphics and Signs in the mid 1990’s. That stands for my two brothers Craig & Kyle and me, Cale. My parents have been running this company since then, and now as they retire, it has passed hands to a new owner outside the family. My brothers and I have all moved in a different professional directions and although we chose not continue the family business, we take the work ethic my parents taught us. We all learn something from the previous generation. That is the whole idea, right? And then improve upon what came before us.

This applies in all aspects of life, football included. And the season is almost here, which means, it should be cooling down. The team I root for is no stranger to “cooler weather”, the Green Bay Packers. Each year, they build on what came before them. I have respect for their attention to tradition and their work ethic. And, I can’t wait to fire up the grill and enjoy some cold beers and watch some football. Maybe even enjoy a bottle of Sancerre that my wife and I brought home from our recent trip to France.

We had opportunity to visit a few family run wine estates. It gave us the opportunity to see what several generations can accomplish. Vineyards and cellars passed down generation to generation. And, how to work a particular soil, or manage a row of vines. They are building on what came before them. Bringing in new barrels, or updating their tasting room. Adding vineyards or dividing them into smaller parcels to create more site specific wines. The passion and knowledge was easy to perceive while walking with them through the vineyards. Truly a great trip my wife and I enjoyed together.

So, what do you want to pass along to the next generation?

Cheers,

Cale Thibaudeau
Store Manager
Twin Liquors in the Hill Country Galleria

Explore Wine…Orange Wine

There is a long list of folks that work to get the bottle from the vineyard to the shelves. They range from producers, importers, distributors, restaurateurs & retailers to ultimately end up in the hands of the consumer. Each role plays an important part to form the culture of wine here in Austin.

It is a culture where everyone is excited to learn from each other. Whether it is a customer telling me of a recent visit to a wine region or a distributor showing me a selection of wine to taste and evaluate, I take every occasion as an opportunity to learn. Keeping an open mind is necessary to gain as much from these experiences as possible. Everyone has a story to tell and we all benefit when we have an open exchange of ideas.

It has been really fun to meet so many people along the way. The Austin wine culture has always been dynamic and continues to grow with great restaurants and retail. With this growth, comes a hunger for more and a wine consumer that wants to explore. In fact, just last week I had a few requests for orange wine which to the customers’ surprise we have! The demand for this is met by more distribution of great wines, beers and spirits. That’s where Twin Liquors comes in to provide the customer base with the widest variety and detailed selection as possible. It is an ever changing landscape out there, so stop on by if you are looking to explore or want to know what orange wine is all about… Hint: It’s not wine made from oranges!

Cheers,

Cale Thibaudeau
Store Manager
Twin Liquors in the Hill Country Galleria

What are you doing this summer?

I have been working at Twin Liquors for seven years come this fall. In this time we have rotated through hundreds of wines, spirits and beers. Our selection is based on the needs and interests of our customers as well as the seasons. With summer nearly here, we have focused our efforts on styles of beers that are crisp and refreshing. Cocktails built for the patio, and wines perfect for sipping around the pool.

So what are you doing this summer? Relaxing in Austin? Or maybe you are taking a vacation somewhere? I often hear from our customers about their travels and wines, sprits or beers they tried while on their trips. My wife and I are headed to the Champagne region of France on our honeymoon this summer. We are very excited to experience the culture and try some new things! I have been able to get a lot of tips and recommendations from customers and friends that have visited the area before. And, when we get back, I know just the shop to visit should we want to buy some of the champagne we will be drinking in France, Twin Liquors at the Hill Country Galleria!

So whether you are sticking around Austin, or have a trip abroad, stop by and tell us about the new things you discover this summer. We may have a suggestion of our own, too!

Cheers,

 

Cale Thibaudeau
Store Manager
Twin Liquors in the Hill Country Galleria

Summer Memories

One of my favorite re-occurring summer memories was accompanying my mom to her favorite local joint. It was a great old dive bar in our hometown which has been open and running since 1934. Known for their cheesy nachos, fried pickles, cold beers and heavy handed margaritas, this place was always my mom’s favorite because “everyone knew your name” and the waitress who was there since I was a young boy still remembered your order by heart.

Two years ago in June, I lost my mother unexpectedly. So summer is a little bittersweet for me now. The loss is balanced though thru the annual July celebration of my wedding anniversary. From new beginnings, to tragic ends, I can say that these two pivotal women have forever changed me to become the man I am today. Over the years, sad or joyous, food and spirits have always been involved to commemorate both. I believe this is where my passion for the hospitality industry comes from.

I have so many memories of laughing with my mom and having great conversations with her over a plate of fajita cheesy nachos, her favorite.  So, now my wife and I have started a new tradition of our own, making an annual visit back to where I grew up in July, to visit my Mom, and uphold some of our traditions, we will toast to her spirit and good memories in honor of the blessing of life, traditions, great food and amazing drinks that binds it all. Heres to you Mom, Salud!

The Right Tools Get the Job Done

My dad taught me how to fix things. Fix the lawn mower, fix the broken door, fix whatever is broken. I learned you cannot fix a lawnmower with a toolbox full of Phillips head screwdrivers. You need an array of tools that work in different ways, and you need to know how to use them.

My dad will always teach me about new tools and fixing go-karts. Only now I can repay the lessons, teaching teach him how wine and food can work together. He is learning and appreciating how many possibilities there are with the many types of wine.

Wine and food pairings can be difficult, but they’re worth the effort. When you make the right one, a good meal becomes great. My wife and I like to have a variety of wine on hand: light crisp reds, heavy rich whites and crisp mineral rosés. That way, if we decide to have wine with dinner, we can pair accordingly. What do you guys usually have for dinner? Fish one night, beef another, maybe a stir fry? Each one of those meals could be made better by a good bottle of the right wine.

Perhaps you’re unsure if wine will even work with your meal? No problem, we can pair beer and cocktails too. Stop by the Marketplace and we will show you around. We have basic rules for pairings or we can geek out. However advanced you want to make it, we strive to have a very diverse set of wine styles so that we may offer you the best tools for the job.

Cheers,

Cale Thibaudeau
Store Manager
Twin Liquors in the Hill Country Galleria

Buffalo Trace Distillery

One of the most surreal experiences of my life was visiting the Buffalo Trace Distillery (formerly Old Fire Copper Distillery), a distillery rich in bourbon history. My wife and I were enamored by the red brick warehouses and the columns of smoke rising from a nearby building.  The distinct humming of the stills, and the aroma of wood and buttered creamed corn, complimented the sights which included old barrels being rolled through an assembly line.  Colonel Blanton’s house stands atop a lush, grassy hill, and nearby is a new dining hall honoring a master distiller, Elmer T Lee.  Thunder, a sculpture of a buffalo made from a tree which was struck by lightning, stands near the end of a trickling spring.

We were lucky enough to have a private tour with Freddie Johnson; a 3rd generation member of the distillery.  Additionally, we were welcomed by their master blender, Drew Mayville, with whom we tasted several bourbons within the restricted quality control lab; an area where the best palates sample items to ensure product consistency.  As Drew answered our questions, he graciously poured us a sample of a personal project of his and what must be the best bourbon I have ever had: E. H. Taylor Cured Oak.  We got a chance to see the revered Pappy Van Winkle being hand bottled. As if our experienced hadn’t been memorable enough, Julian Van Winkle strolled in with a rare collectors bottling (a 16 year old hand painted bottle made exclusively for the European market) to share.  As we walked to our car while the sun set, we looked at each other realizing that these memories would last a lifetime.  That is Buffalo Trace Distillery.

White Rhone Peaches

As I sip my morning coffee I look outside my window and marvel at the bounty of our peach tree! It was only three years ago I that I hacked thru the TX limestone to plant it. Now I stand in awe of the 14 ft tree that puts out more peaches that I can eat and reminds me of the scent of my favorite white wine of all time, White Rhone.

Southern Rhone in particular has been my favorite wine region since I first had what I would consider my “a-ha” moment drinking a 1980 Chateau de Beaucastel from Chateauneuf-Du-Pape. This wine region has had centuries of popularity by some esteemed Kings and Popes.  In this region not until recently did I come in contact with the marvel of White Rhone wines and in particular the region of Lirac. This region is the oldest wine growing region in the Southern Rhone Valley. They most commonly use Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Rousanne, Clairette, Viognier, and Bourboulenc. These obscure grapes are not commonly heard of, but they make a marriage of utter bliss. With a succulent mouth feel of rich baked apples and lemon butter, solid acidity, and a nose of fresh peaches, honeyed melon, and honeysuckle.

As the heat creeps and I get ready to pick my endless peaches to make some peach pies, I most certainly will enjoy a bottle of Domaine Maby from the Lirac region. Thinking about your summer wine of choice? Start by telling us about your favorite fruits… then we can help you find the right wine that exhibits those flavors! Come see us!

Be a Fan. Wear the Hat!

“Top of the ninth and the Brewers are down 9-1. Couple of grand slams and we are right back in this thing! Brought to you by Usinger’s Bratwurst and Usinger’s Sauerkraut too! And the pitch… 1-0. At the top of the ninth. Breezy night here in Milwaukee. Wind up, out of play towards the first base side. Nothing says summer in Wisconsin like a grill full of Usingers! Ball 1. Have you tried the sauerkraut? And the pitch… Get up! Get up! Get outta here! Gone! And the Brewers have put one more on the board, 9-2!”

This is not an exact quote from Bob Uecker, but I think it’s pretty close. I grew up listening to the Brewers in Wisconsin. I will always be a Brewers fan; through the tough, and well, through the tough again. We haven’t exactly been the best team ever, but we sure have had some good runs over the 30 years I’ve been supporting the Brew Crew! Every chance I get, when I’m back home, you can count on me tailgating at the stadium. I wear my hat; wear my shirt; grill some brats and have a beer. And, I get to wear that hat because I support my team. Yes, I’m a fan of the Brewers.

But this is an article about wine and baseball, and more specifically, about supporting wineries…and baseball. In a great “vintage”, I’d follow at least half of the games the Brewers played. In a lesser “vintage” I’d trail off towards the end of the season, but I’m still wearing the hat. If you’re a fan of a winery, you appreciate their style, you appreciate their dedication, you follow the “team” and support that winery through it all. Did they have a great vintage? Get a case! Was it a challenging vintage but they did their best nonetheless, buy 6 bottles. Either way, if you’re a fan and support your “team” you can still claim the rights to wear the hat!

 

Cheers,

Cale Thibaudeau
Store Manager
Twin Liquors in the Hill Country Galleria

Pizza Night with Amarone

Nine years ago, I became the proud owner of an 800 bottle wine collection, most which had been bought in 1978-1985. I clearly realized that this not only would change my life forever but give me many years of great wines stories with loved ones. I was very new to wine so, I spent many a night researching. In my journey I had many unexpected “wine-awakenings”. The first came to me thru Italy!
My wife and I were having a Pizza night and I wanted to pull from the cellar. So, I pulled one of the oldest in my collection, a 1979 Bolla Amarone. As I dove into my pizza, I had no clue that my knowledge and passion about wine would be forever changed. And, at the time, I truly could not even begin to describe the alluring finesse, complexity, aroma and taste that to this day has never been replicated.
Amarone in Italian stands for “The great bitter” to differentiate from its dessert counterpart Recioto. It goes through one of the most unique process I’ve ever studied. It’s a predominate blend of two main grapes Corvina, Rondinella and is allowed to ripen the longest in order to get the highest levels of sugar. Then the grapes are dried traditionally on straw mats into a process called appasimento or rasinate (to dry and shrivel) before the fermentation process. This process creates a ripe, raisiny, full bodied wine with very little acid. It usually high in alcohol and has a very port like quality.
I truly became an Amarone lover in that moment and have had some outstanding Amarone, albeit not as old, since then, with and without pizza!
Want to have your own Amarone experience? Come see us in April during our Italian Wine celebration.

Italian Wine is Every Day

Sandra Spalding, Director of Marketing for Twin Liquors, here! I have worked for Twin for 15 years and have seen many folks “grow up” in our company! Cale Thibadeau, who you know as the author of this column, is one of those people. I’m writing for him this month because he is off getting married. In fact, he is marrying a Twin alumna who I have known for many years. So, I dedicate this to them and to love! Salute!

Love is every day. So is Italian wine. Love is a grand gesture. So is Italian wine

At least in my world it seems that every time Italian wine is uncorked romance ensues. And, the great thing is, there are boundless Italian wines at all price points and styles encouraging you to set romance in motion every day! So, why not?!

Personally, I have found passion in pizza night paired with a value-priced Nero d’Avola or Corvina. I have hosted elegant dinner parties and added a touch of romance by serving Barolo or a Barbaresco. I got engaged over the Italian white Vermentino. It was not an expensive wine but it was a special bottle from a place I love. I had Italian wine at my wedding and leftovers for the first year of marriage.

And you can too…Want to pop the question? Pop an elegant Franciacorta! Want to celebrate a 3 month anniversary? Pop a Prosecco. Impressing a first date, but don’t want to seem too pretentious? Offer up a nice Valpolicella Ripasso. Generally in the $17-25 range, it’s like a baby Amarone but won’t intimidate your date. Or maybe, you do want to go all out? In that case, go Super Tuscan or Brunello di Montalcino. Need some help figuring out what to pour or figuring out what the heck I’m talking about? Go see your Twin guy, Cale! By the time this publishes, he’ll be married, so you can go congratulate him and get some good Italian wine advice!

ROSÉ: The beginnings of a love conquest

I vividly remember one of the early dates I had with my now wife. I was on a mission to impress the family and knew her dad was a big fan of wine so, I felt like if I could impress her with wine, I would definitely find myself in their good graces.

I decided to invite her to a pool party at my apartment complex and I would provide her with the wildly popular Beringer White Zinfandel! Lucky for me she has always been a woman who would have taken wine out of a paper cup so this “rosé” was not insulting to her and we had a great time.

Flash forward to 5 years later I came to find out the truth about wine zinfandel. The truth was that it was a mistake to begin with from the winery of Sutter Home. Bob Trinchero was a descendant from the first generation of the Trinchero Winery.  In 1947 the long standing Italian wine family decided to purchase abandoned Sutter Home Estates. In the years to come they tried to evolve their wine making skill to focus on single varietal style wines instead of Jug wines. With a passion to make a killer Amador County Zinfandel he tried to make it more robust, so he took some of the juice and to experiment gave it some skin contact and low and behold became the White Zinfandel.

I can’t necessarily say that back in the day my classy White Zin move had this meaning behind it but it seems to have sealed the deal 7 years later. Things have evolved since then and we now enjoy dry pink wines from places like Provence.

Whether you are starting with sweet pink or jumping right into dry Rosé, come to your neighborhood Twin Liquors and we will set you up for a fantastic wine night to remember.

Pink is the Color of Spring

The nights are getting longer. The temperature is warming. The grass is growing and will need a mowing. There’s nothing better than working in the yard and relaxing on the patio afterwards. How about a baseball game on the radio, a cooler and a grill? It doesn’t get much better than that if you ask me. Fill that cooler with a few crisp Pilsner’s for the beer. Or, if you reach for wine, you’ll need some light bodied Rieslings. If there’s a little chill in the air, throw a bottle of Beaujolais in there for a light bodied red wine. Can’t decide between red and white? Try a pink wine.

            Rosé is a pink wine served chilled. It is made by limiting the amount of time a wine has contact with the skins during production. Skins are what give red wines their color, so if you reduce that time, you get pink. You can find rosé wines from the traditional south of France, or as close to home as Texas. There are plenty of options to choose from and all are quite affordable. So start at one end and try them all. If you need a suggestion or two, swing by the shop anytime, we’d be happy to help!

            Now, it’s time to fire up that grill. It’s like tailgating in your own backyard! That’s right, it’s a Sunday night in Austin, Texas and the gang is all here. We’ve got bratwurst with all the fixins, a casserole or two, and of course those great beverages. Bring whatever you’d like, the grill will be going. This is how most of my spring time gatherings go. We are all excited to see the sun up a little later and the weather is perfect for shorts and t-shirt.

            Is there a recipe you like to make when the spring time hits? Or, maybe you look forward to a particular seasonal beer release. We would love to chat with you about all of this next time you swing by!

Cheers

Cale Thibaudeau

Lunch with Woodford Reserve

IMG_1164Austin has a reputation for being a gastronomic hot spot. Yet, no restaurant review could prepare someone for the decadence and immense hospitality of a bourbon-themed, private lunch hosted by master distiller Chris Morris of Woodford Reserve and prepared by the Driskill’s head chef, Troy Knapp and his team. A four course meal, each course paired with a unique Woodford whiskey, is a food and spirit experience that will forever remain unrivaled.

Walking into the Driskill hotel whisks you back in time, until you are met by the very present and intoxicating aroma of exceptionally crafted bourbon. Sweet and oaky, your mouth begins to water. Placed before you are four glasses of tempting whiskey, each one unique in its own right. Mr. Morris artfully describes his recipe and methodology in crafting these fine spirits. He deliberately uses only the finest, all natural resources to ensure a farm-to-bottle creation. From fresh well-sprung water from Pepper Springs, to a specifically bred distiller’s yeast, the new information only heightens your anticipation.

1stCourseThis first course includes a whiskey cured and cigar-smoked salmon with house made rye crackers. One bite of the salmon and you know what they mean by cigar-smoked; it exudes a robust, smoky, and lightly fruity flavor that pairs delightfully with both the crunchy rye crackers and Woodford Reserve Rye. Similar to straight bourbon which must be at least 51% corn, a straight rye whiskey must be made from a minimum 51% rye grains. But unlike some of the newfangled 95 to 100% rye whiskeys, Mr. Morris uses a traditional recipe that includes 53% rye, 33% corn, and a sizable 14% malted barley. This classic recipe is not to be mixed into cocktails such as a Manhattan; it was designed to be consumed neat. The rye has notes of black pepper and almonds which finish in a lengthy marzipan savor. As the spirit leaves its rich nutty character lingering on your tongue, you take that last bite of smoked salmon and await the next course.

IMG_1176The chefs present a brunch course, an epicurean take on bacon and eggs paired with Woodford’s signature bourbon, the Distiller’s Select. Not your average crispy bacon strip, this course contains a hardy hunk of Berkshire pork belly laid next to a striking poached egg. Accompanied by an orange-honey glaze, this dish embodies the chef’s vision of a fat-washed whiskey flip. And now for a sip of the bourbon; the Distiller’s Select is remarkably balanced bourbon intended to appease every palate. Sweet and nutty, fruity and smoldering, it is steeped with passion and pride.

Course number three arrives in three oval shaped ramekins. Local red cabbage on the left, a mint and bourbon lamb shank pie in the center, and oh-so-buttery hand-crushed corn grits on the right. Your fork dives straight through the puffy crust of the pie releasing the burly smell of warm lamb. You scoop the luxurious grits in right after. The soft, elegant textures meld in your mouth and call for a refreshing drink. This time it is Woodford Reserve Double-Oaked. Double Oaked is made by taking the IMG_1177finished Distiller’s Reserve product and aging it even longer in another unique barrel. This second American white oak barrel is given four times the regular amount of toasting, is charred for a brief five seconds, and holds the whiskey for an average of ten months. Every barrel results in a distinct whiskey, leaving Mr. Morris the difficult task of blending different barrels to create a consistent product. The ultra-premium straight bourbon you lift to your lips emanates flavors of butterscotch, maple, honeycomb, and more. Its scent is sweet and enticing. One taste isn’t enough. You daydream about having a glass after dinner tonight. Another bite of creamy grits layered with the syrupy whiskey makes you think of a whiskey filled Sunday brunch. You look back down and all four vessels are empty.

IMG_1178Dessert comes in the form of spiced cheesecake delicately crafted into the shape of a sphere and a scoop of sweet potato gelato. Your spoon glides effortlessly through both; the gelato is sweet and tangy, the cheesecake is the texture of softened cream cheese and saturated with fresh vanilla bean flavor. As you reach for the last taste of whiskey you start to feel a sense of loss, for two reasons. One, lunch is almost over. And two, Mr. Morris explains that production of this whiskey has already ended. The Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Single Barrel chosen for Twin Liquors, the last whiskey of the day, has all been produced. This product is bottled directly from a single barrel chosen by Mr. Morris. Rather than being blended for consistency, as the previous tasting saw, this whiskey comes from a particular barrel that aged brilliantly all by its self. The Twin Liquors Single Barrel starts with more pronounced fruit flavors; notes of cherry and mild berries arrive first, quickly followed by fresh honeycomb and toasted nuts.

Twin Liquors extends many humble thanks to Brown-Forman, Woodford Reserve, and Mr. Chris Morris for their selection and naming of our Single Barrel and for their hospitality in organizing such a remarkable event! We would like to extend special thanks to the Driskill and the efforts of their immeasurably talented chefs! We would also like to invite customers to come and purchase all four of these phenomenal whiskeys, and particularly our Single Barrel while supplies last!

James Boone Pilkington, Twin Liquors Retail Associate

 

Perfect Valentine’s Pairings

My fiancée and I have enjoyed cooking many memorable meals together. This is one of the things that drew us together. We both appreciate taking the time to cook for the ones you love. And, marking those meals with a bottle of wine that you can recall years after you had the meal makes it that much more special. I can remember one of the first meals we had together.

Elizabeth prepared a slow cooked lamb shoulder seasoned with black pepper and rosemary. It was cooked perfectly. She paired it with a Northern Rhone Syrah and it went together naturally. Since then, we have had lamb cooked in many different ways. Don’t be afraid to cook something unknown to you. After the first time, you get more confident and it can be a real enjoyment to experiment and try new things. You could even try a duck breast with smoked tea!

I remember this meal well. We cooked two duck breasts seasoned with Lapsang Souchong smoked tea. We put the tea in a spice grinder along with some white rice and turned it into a powder so that it would adhere to the duck more easily. We enjoyed this with a bottle of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir that was not over ripe and had good acidity. I had never cooked duck before this meal. Again, the first step in cooking is always the most intimidating. I bounce a lot of ideas for meals and wine pairings off of friends to get feedback and more perspective.

This last pairing I think might be my favorite. Seared scallops with an orange ginger glaze with mangos and pumpkin seeds on a bed of lettuce. A simple dish prepared quite quickly. Searing the scallops is the only cooking involved, once you get that you could substitute any number of ingredients and keep the scallop as the main focus. With our preparation we had a white wine from Santa Barbara County that uses the varieties typical in white Bordeaux, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Truly a dish I will not forget.

All of these recipes were borrowed from cookbooks, chefs, friends of mine or searching the endless reading you can find on the internet. Over the last five or six years we have gotten better and better at pairing wine with food for that special occasion. Just remember, this is supposed to be fun! So don’t feel intimidated, instead look at it as a fun and enjoyable way to spend time with that special someone.

Cheers,

Cale Thibaudeau
Store Manager
Twin Liquors in the Hill Country Galleria

Traditions

Black Eyed Peas, Champagne, Prime Rib & Resolutions. Some of these traditions I know about. Some I know less about. All are good. Some I visit more regularly than others.

The first, a Texas tradition, enjoyed on New Year’s Day, is to bring you luck. This is something rather new to me. I have never prepared it, but am always excited to join in on the tradition. Since living in Texas, my brother’s wife, who is from Texas, has made it each year. My parents are typically in town and we relax around the house filling our bellies with just the right amount of luck. I don’t have a wine pairing for this afternoon snack; so let me know if you can think of any!

Champagne, a world-wide tradition, has a long history associated with the celebration of New Year’s Eve! I feel happy enough that I plan on getting a great bottle of champagne to enjoy with my fiancée and some close friends to ring in the New Year, reflect on all we have accomplished and look forward to all that is ahead.

The third tradition is a family one…I think my brother started doing Prime Rib annually around the holidays about four years ago.  He always does a great job. It is a great chance to pull a special bottle or two, as the dinner is usually rather small. Amarone is a re-occurring pick for the wine or maybe some California Zinfandel. We adjust the flavor or cooking method each year slightly, because, why not! The wine changes, so must the food.

In January, when I take a deep breath…the fast paced holiday season is over. I may be drinking less wine but I will always crave new flavors. With the thought of resolution, I will go to the grocery store seeking out fruits with which I’m not familiar, trying to widen my horizons of flavor in a healthier way. What I am getting at is, there are so many different types of meals, styles of wine, experiences to have… Why not make your New Year’s Resolution to try something new! After all, at the Hill Country Galleria location, we carry around four thousand different wines. Come on by!

Cheers,
Cale Thibaudeau
Store Manager
Twin Liquors in the Hill Country Galleria

San Antonio Cocktail Conference 2016 Wall Calendar!

SACCCocktailCalendarThe San Antonio Cocktail Conference, benefiting the Houston Street Charities, has put together one of the coolest locally made gifts around! A 2016 Wall Calendar featuring 12 cocktails from San Antonio restaurants and bars!

 

There are classic cocktails like the Negroni (Bohanan’s) and the French 75 (Luke) plus are new creations like the El Charro by Mezcaleria Mixtli featuring Montelobos Mezcal!

 

You can purchase the calendar online for $25 and give the gift of cocktail that gives back to the community! Click here to purchase!

Champagne & Sparkling Guide

Champs_guide_LG

 

Champagne
&
Sparkling
Guide

 

Champagne –

Sparkling wine produced from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France. Grapes are generally Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay.

Cava –

Sparkling wine produced in the traditional champagne method from grapes grown mostly in Spain’s Catalonia region. Cava can be white or rosé and is made primarily of Macabeu, Parellada and Xarel-lo.

Prosecco –

Sparkling Italian white wine produced in Northern Italy, made from the grape Glera (aka Prosecco!).

Brut –

Sparkling wine that will have less than 12 grams of sugar per liter with generally a dry finish.

Extra Dry –

Sparkling wine that will have 12-17 grams of sugar per liter with a sweeter finish than Brut.

Demi Sec –

Sparkling wine that will have 30-50 grams of sugar per liter with a very sweet finish.

Feast of Seven Fishes

Silence is the first thing you hear waking up to a freshly fallen snow. These are my earliest memories of the winter season. I can remember clearly, playing hockey on the creek as a child. As a young adult, I worked in the apple orchards on snowshoes. Both of these scenes may be the most serene I have ever experienced. Now, each winter season as an adult I can easily access these memories just by closing my eyes.

Let’s fast forward to my present life in the Texas winter. Naturally, the world has become smaller over the years. I have experienced many new things and met many new people from a variety of backgrounds. Good friends of mine with ancestors from the Campania region of Italy celebrate the Feast of Seven Fishes, a popular American-Italian Christmas celebration. My fiancée and I are more than excited to be a part of this meal. This gives us the opportunity to drink wine and eat food that has been designed to go together over many generations. Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino for the whites, both mineral driven wines with some stone fruit qualities. Aliganico for the red, a versatile grape, I reach for the lighter bodied versions for a meal with such a wide variety of dishes. These pairings are natural, no need to complicate things. With this food, and this wine, we can experience history all while enjoying ourselves around a table. And, what Italian-American celebration would be complete without the music of Louis Prima!

One of the main reasons I started studying wine is that I was attracted to the thought that something could connect so many different disciplines. Wine speaks of region, cuisine, geography, science and history just to name a few. It connects us to the past, makes the world smaller. It has the ability to take you from Campania Italy, to Cedarburg, Wisconsin all while living in Austin, Texas.  Don’t forget, at the end of the day, wine is about enjoyment! So gather around the table with friends and family and experience more than just a bottle of wine, taste the history.

Cheers,

Cale Thibaudeau
Store Manager
Twin Liquors in the Hill Country Galleria

Thanksgiving Traditions

CaleThibadeauxHeadshot_2015_smThanksgiving morning, 8am. Start the fires and brew the coffee. The brined turkeys are ready to go. In the past, we have gone from duck smoked over Tibetan black tea to oranges and everywhere in between. This year a very natural turkey flavor with nothing exotic smoked most likely with oak.

This tradition of waking up early and smoking turkeys goes back 9 years for my group of friends. Each year we get a little more relaxed and at the same time, a little more adventurous in preparations as well as wine pairings. Just last year, we began bringing oysters into the Thanksgiving menu with roughly 200 for 20 people. This is our all day snacking. I will be bringing Chablis and Champagne as well as some low alcohol cocktails of white vermouth and sparkling water with a twist. The oysters will be enjoyed both fresh and roasted on the grill with a couple different compound butters and bread crumbs. You could substitute any white wine you’d like here, as long as it is crisp and refreshing and not too rich and full bodied.

Not many people make soups for the meal, so I can always be sure I’m not bringing the fourth serving of cranberry sauce. Austria’s main white grape variety, Gruner Veltliner, has worked incredibly well with roasted butternut squash soup topped with walnuts, blue cheese and a drizzle of honey.

In addition to our staples of crawfish dressing, mac and cheese and green bean casserole, last year my fiancée made a pear and rosemary pie with a cheddar crust, which was delicious. So bring a variety of wine to see what unexpectedly pairs well with these dishes. You never know what will work!

Thanksgiving is not about outdoing anyone or serving the most expensive wine. It’s about enjoying time with friends and family. I don’t typically bring that one special bottle I’ve been saving because it would distract me from enjoying the moment and relaxing. Save that one for a more intimate setting. Cheers to everyone having a great holiday!

-Cheers, Cale Thibaudeau Manager of Twin Liquors Marketplace Galleria

Mercier Champagne, Welcome to the Party

The Eiffel Tower. Today it is seen as the symbol of Paris, a city sparkling with luxury, history, and romance. When the tower’s construction was finished in 1889, Paris hosted the Universal Exposition, a celebration of achievements from all over the world. Naturally the Eiffel Tower won First Prize, but what came in second will impress you as well.

MercierBrutSecond place went to the world’s largest wine cask, pulled by 24 oxen, and filled with over 200,000 bottles worth of the finest champagne available, Champagne Mercier! Historians may argue about whether or not it was the champagne or the cask itself that won the prize, but anyone who has tasted Mercier knows it was the champagne.

The moment you hear that mouth-watering POP! your mind wanders to the streets of Paris and an evening in your lover’s arms under the glow of the Eiffel Tower. The aroma of Mercier Brut is a balanced mixture of white flower petals and freshly baked baguette. The first sip’s fine bubbles wash over your tongue in a wave of ripe apples and pears. When your glass is empty (which, believe me, doesn’t take long) you are left with the delicious taste of white peaches lingering on your tongue.

Eugene Mercier, the creator of this extraordinary champagne, was a spontaneous and inventive man. He wanted to create a product that was as lavish and luxurious as the French Emperor’s lifestyle, but affordable enough to be enjoyed by the everyday citizen. At Twin Liquors, we are proud to share Mr. Mercier’s philosophy and are extremely excited to announce that for the first time in the United States, Champagne Mercier is available at your neighborhood Twin Liquors!!

So the next time you have a celebration, need a bubbly gift, or just because it’s Tuesday, be sure to stop by your local Twin’s and ask for a bottle of Champagne Mercier!

MercierBooneJames Boone Pilkington

Certified Sommelier