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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!

The Circle of Life

“That which is alive hath known death, and that which is dead can never die, for in the Circle of the Spirit life is naught and death is naught. Yea, all things live forever, though at times they sleep and are forgotten.”  ― H. Rider Haggard,She

The beginning of March brings thoughts of the reality of the circle of life. Last year I wrote about my fruit trees and marveled at how they traveled through their life cycle of fruit and dormancy. In the metaphor I compare my trees to the blessing of life and death. This year I am once again reminded of these blessings. Four days before the birth of my beautiful daughter, we had to say goodbye to a beloved family member, our beagle Wyatt. As I grieve the loss of my cherished puppy, who bore the fruit of joy to our family for 11 years with his antics, I am reminded of the reality of life and our existence. In life we go through seasons and this year has brought the seasons of grief and exuberant joy in close proximity. Every morning I greet Wyatt where he is buried in his favorite area of the yard for sun bathing during the bluebonnet season. Ironically he was not much of an outdoor dog but sure loved it when the bluebonnet patch burst through our soil in the spring. I recently took my daughter outside to bask in the sun and share Wyatt’s company. While we were enjoying nature I smelled a subtle hint of honeysuckle from my blooming pear tree and it reminded me of my current love for a white grape named Falanghina, cultivated on the coast of Campania north of Naples, Italy. It has become my most current “spring” wine of choice with a combination of the perfect body, subtle pear sweetness, herbaceous notes, good acidity and an incredible floral nose.

Last year was an homage to my favorite white wine in Rhone, this year it’s a toast to Wyatt in his bluebonnet pasture and a glass of Falanghina. Here’s to life and death, the continual enjoyment of our loved ones, great memories and the enjoyment of a good drink.

Salud.

Adrian Montanez
Store Manager
Twin Liquors Round Rock Marketplace

Stop and Smell the Roses

The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can’t be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it. – Harry Emerson Fosdick

Frequently, I feel like I don’t get to do the things I have always set out to do or travel to places I have only dreamed of visiting. However, two years ago I bought camping gear in attempts to be more “outdoorsy” mixed with romance for Valentine’s Day. It was quite the feat to buy unfamiliar camping equipment, as I had absolutely no idea how to set up a tent, or start a fire (correctly), nor a true skill on how to minimally pack for maximum enjoyment. Yet, after our romantic Valentines backyard camping experience a passion was ignited that has not stopped since. We got a State Park pass and hit the road with our pups realizing how many incredible camp sites are right around our house. You truly don’t have to go very far to have some peace and quiet with the beauty of leaving the world behind, even if for a moment. I can say camping has had its challenges, such as arriving at Mustang Island to set up a tent on the beach in pitch darkness with a 30+ mph gulf coast wind gust. Or, being awoken in the middle of the night at Caddo Lake only to hear a gunshot snap, then seconds later find a massive dead tree hit the ground feet from our plastic tent. I don’t share these stories to scar the joys of camping but instead to share how even with these challenges, the rewards of waking up in the morning to God’s most beautiful works with my wife and dogs has been just priceless.

So as I sit in my gravity chair with my cold beer, a great book, good music, my wife and our dogs next to me I realize this is the life. How will you venture out of your comfort zone and do what you say you’re going to do? Who will you enjoy it with and what tasty beverage will you celebrate with? Here’s to making your dreams reality!

Salud.

Adrian Montanez
Store Manager
Twin Liquors Round Rock Marketplace

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.

Thankful

As I reflect on all that was accomplished this past year, I marvel at how many people were there to support me along the way to success. I think back on all the Whiskey Mash up events we hosted almost twice a month and all the support Catherine with Austin Scotch Lovers gave me; our first unbelievable grand whiskey tasting organized by our Marketing Director Sandra; all the positive affirmation I got from my Regional Manger Matt and Vice President Margaret when I had my moments of doubt. I am beyond fortunate to have such a supportive and loving wife and her family by my side cheering me on through all my accomplishments and frustrations. Lastly, my unbelievable team for all their patience and passion to be the best team I could ever ask for. It truly leaves me humbled and proud to be part of the Twin Liquors family, and to look back on this past year and see all that we accomplished.

Another specials thanks goes to Al, who on his departure, gave me the secret weapon wine to deliver another TKO win against my Father in Law in our Thanksgiving Battle of the Bottle. The precious 1999 Pahlmeyer Red Blend showed a softness and complexity with which my father in law’s 2007 Smith-Madrone Cab could not contend. I marvel at the idea of inherited traditions and how much they have meant to me as I became an addition to my wife’s family. All the anticipation for Thanksgiving and Christmas I have come to enjoy and expect, but as life has recently changed for my wife and I, we now have the opportunity to create our own traditions and customs. As I sipped on some Ardbeg Dark Cove Scotch Whiskey while the last coat of paint dried and the last screw was turned on our new baby crib I look at my beautiful wife’s growing belly and think how blessed I am to have such amazing friends and family to create new memories and traditions, and the much anticipated excitement of our soon to be new addition. What will this New Year bring you and how can Twin Liquors join in celebrating that? Thank you for being part of our Family.

Adrian Montanez
Store Manager
Twin Liquors Round Rock Marketplace

A Stomach Full of Holiday Cheer

As the Christmas season and excitement of being with loved ones nears, the smell of fresh cut pine trees, twinkling lights and crinkling gift wrap fill the senses reminding me of some of my fondest holiday memories.

At the top of that list is, walking into my in-laws’ home as the aroma of pozole permeates the air. After settling in with a stomach full of what I consider holiday cheer, we proceed to the opening of stocking stuffers in the den. The crackling logs set the mood as Dad plays Tish Hinojosa’s Christmas album and our assigned stockings hang above the fireplace plump full of random trinkets. Upon unwrapping a toothbrush fit for an elf, I look over at my beautiful wife with a chuckle and I give her a gaze that conveys how nice it is to be home for the holidays.

After a slice of my mother-in-law’s delicious homemade coffee cake and freshly brewed coffee, we get to the real tree gifts. Inevitably, I venture off to find a tasty selection out of the wine cellar to present to my father-in-law as we relish in our acts of gift-giving. Eventually, as the smell of slow cooked Prime Rib teases us, we line up the wine choices of the night that have been covered on the dinner table taunting me throughout the day. Following a prayer with grateful hearts, and missing those that are no longer with us, we reveal the treasured wine selections and my father-in-law looks at me with a smile full of love and affection.

What traditions do you celebrate and what wine or spirit do you enjoy to make the season bright? Come by your local neighborhood Twin Liquors and let us help you choose the perfect beverage to add to your holiday cheer!

Adrian Montanez
Store Manager
Twin Liquors Round Rock Marketplace

Big Reds and Bubbles Wine List 2016

DOWNLOAD the PDF WINE LIST: bigredswinelist_2016

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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

 

No Risk, No Reward, Non?

Change is nature; the part we can influence, and it starts when we decide.  – Remy (Ratatouille)

My discovery of wine ignited a passion within me to try more and learn more. It started with a book and my acquisition of my wine collection. In the world of common sense most people saw my collection and saw resale dollar signs. I saw a once in a life time opportunity to drink some wines that would forever imprint smells and tastes that would never be forgotten. Though I have never traveled to these amazing wine regions the sensory aspect backed by my reading and studying is what created a passion in me.

In this collection were bottles of 1982 Chateau Pontet Canet, little did I know that this particular Chateau went through a rigorous process back in 1855 called the Bordeaux wine Classification. Napoleon III decided he wanted to create a classification system for France’s best Bordeaux Wines to be displayed for visitors around the world. Needless to say this standard was extremely high which only classified less than 60 Chateaus. Chateau Pontet Canet qualified in the Fifth Growth and comes from the region of Pauillac which holds the most Chateaus in first growth and just so happens to be facing famous First Growth Chateau Mouton Rothschild with bottles ranging from $600-$2,000+.When you are fortunate enough to find a bottle of Chateau Pontet Canet you will see that the $100 dollars is quite the value with a incredible 25+ year shelf life. I never knew that when I popped the cork I would be diving into such a rich history that forever would change my life. The Black currant flavors, laced in licorice and cedar and tobacco have forever taught me why I love French Wines.

So I leave you with my version of Remy’s quote: “With no risk comes no reward; you’re only as strong as your biggest weakness, and passion should always outplay common sense.

Adrian Montanez
Store Manager
Twin Liquors Round Rock Marketplace

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

The Rise and Fall in an Irish Pub

As we head into Fall I can’t help but feel a tinge of excitement for decadent Wines & Whiskies, cool weather, holiday gatherings and football. Not quite the football most are thinking of, but rather Premier League Football, aka “Soccer.” Premier League kicks off in the second weekend of August and runs its brutal heartbreaking road until May. While American football fans only have to endure a season of epic excitement or heartbreak until January, Premier fans have 9 months of early dawn mornings full of taunting chants, comradery, and prodigious moments.

Nothing can replace the memory of feelings I had driving down to Fado’s Irish Pub with my Father- in-law at 5:45 A.M., he suited up in his Arsenal F.C. gear and I in my Chelsea F.C. Jersey/Scarf, ready to do battle. We arrived promptly for our 7 A.M. kick-off and were served a fresh plate of Irish sausage, rashers, and fried egg over sourdough bread with a hot Irish coffee, extra stiff. Palpable excitement over the anticipated game of rivals was in the air. In the end, Chelsea came out on top and went on to win the Premier League that season giving me a year of full bragging rights. The bragging was short lived, as Chelsea placed 10th last year and Arsenal in 2nd. Leicester City, a team who hadn’t competed in the Premier League in a decade, swept 1st in the whole League from dead last. Comeback story of a life time!

So here’s to the Fall, full of autumn mornings with loved ones, great food, electric football matches (soccer or otherwise!) and drinks that keep it all bonded together.  Salud.

Adrian Montanez
Store Manager
Twin Liquors Round Rock Marketplace

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

The Twin Liquors Dollar Sale

Do you remember the excitement of not being able to sleep the night before Christmas or your Birthday in anticipation of the celebration? That is exactly how I feel when I wake up in the morning getting ready for the famous 3-day Twin Liquors Dollar Sale we host twice a year. It has now become the long standing tradition created by the Jabour family as a simple token of gratitude to our patrons for shopping with us for decades. And yes, you read that right we have stood the test of time since 1937; family owned by the third generation and now currently running 75+ stores from Waco to San Antonio, the Hill Country to Conroe and all in between.

You may ask what this sale is. Well, it’s the Black Friday of Fine Wine and Spirits. We bring down the prices to rock bottom and add a buck, hence the dollar sale. So, if you have ever desired to try that bottle of Orin Swift Mercury Head Cabernet Sauvignon or Balvenie 21yr Scotch this is an early Christmas compliments of Twin Liquors. Over the many years I have been a part of this sale I have encouraged our customers to come in early during the week with their Wish list to discuss what are, must haves for their wine collection or whiskey bar.

Being an avid Wine and Whiskey Collector, I have found the conversations thrilling with my customers around this time because what may not have been affordable during the year now is the perfect opportunity to not-just-wish but, enjoy. Nothing brings me more joy then to see that smile on my neighborhood customers after they have enjoyed a bottle of something bought during that sale and the anticipation for the next sale. But don’t miss it, it only last three days so bring your lists and let’s start talking.

Cheers,

Adrian Montanez
Store Manager
Twin Liquors Round Rock Marketplace

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

Umlauf Garden Party Wine Offerings!

This year we have another wonderful lineup of wines to please all the palates for the 25th anniversary of Umlauf!

Special features this year with Gruet Sparkling and Oskar Blues beer!

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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!

Check out the Live Fire Menu!

Live Fire Menu

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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

Pride, Prejudice and Camping

My afflictions and wishes have not changed, but one word from you will silence me forever. If however your feelings have changed, I will have to tell you: you have bewitched me, body and soul, and that I love, I love, I love you. I never wish to be parted from you from this day on.

– Pride and Prejudice – Mr. Darcy

This romantic quote is not only one of my favorites, but truly illustrates my feelings for my wife. Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching and I’m reminded of a sweet, but chaotic, evening I surprised my wife with on this romantic day.

Always yearning to become more “outdoorsy”, I planned our first “camping” experience in our backyard. Stocked up with a tent, sleeping bags and an air mattress, I roped my neighbor into helping me set up the backyard in a rush.

We rigged a screen to project our first date movie, Pride and Prejudice.  I propped the tent, filled the mattress, spread out the fake rose petals and topped it all off with a bottle of my wife’s favorite wine, 2007 Seghesio Zinfandel. Under Cupid’s spell my wife and I snuggled under the stars with a glass of wine, our dogs and the romance only backyard camping could bring.

So what are you doing for Valentine’s Day? If we can help, we would be honored to extend our professional advice on Wine & Spirits to capture that perfect romantic mood. Cheers!

Adrian Montanez
Store Manager
Twin Liquors Marketplace Round Rock

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

Battle of the Bottle at TWIN!

Some of you may remember my Thanksgiving article explaining my family’s Battle of the Bottle tradition. Well, after an overwhelming response from our Community Impact readers, people showed up to do battle right in our store! Not in gloves and mouth guards but with ready palates for interactive blind wine tasting!

The scene:  Friday night and the bell dings… “Let’s get ready to rumble”

The contenders: Kraemer Brut, French Blanc de Blanc   ($12.99)     Vs.  Natale Verga, Italian Prosecco ($12.99)

The fight started off overwhelmingly strong for Natale Verga with its fresh, lemon/lime zest. Many saw how it’s the perfect balance of value and versatility. You can use it as your everyday, inexpensive, well-made bubbles or as part of your Sunday Morning Mimosa. As the battle proceeded over time, the anticipated consensus started to slowly dwindle and shift in favor of Kraemer Brut. Its traditional French Champagne profile of crisp acidity, with undertones of fresh biscuits and Golden Delicious Apples, began to evidence why French wine making roots have undeniable long standing success and notoriety. Within Opinions, bobbed, weaved, swayed and shifted amongst the tasters, and at the sound of the twelfth round, it all came down the judges’ cards. Kraemer Brut came out the winner of the Battle of the Bottle by one point! Just goes to show, no matter who holds up that glove in the end, everyone’s a winner at Twins.

Oh and for all those curious about our family’s Battle results. We paired my 2012 Domaine Saint Prefert Chateauneuf Du Pape against my father-in-law’s 2004 Hewitt Vineyard Rutherford Napa Valley. While the Hewitt was awesome, the CNDP took the win…

We greatly appreciate the community active participation of this exciting battle and look forward to future battles to come!

– Adrian, Store Manager at Twin Liquors Marketplace Round Rock

Champagne & Sparkling Guide

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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.

Our Twin Liquors Thanksgiving Wine Menu

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Big Reds and Bubbles Wine List 2015

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Thank You for supporting Central Texas

IMG_7975Twin Liquors wants to say a huge thank you to our customers who donated over $10,000 which along with Twin Liquors’ matched contributions of $10,000+ resulted in $21,000 donated to the American Red Cross of central Texas, specifically for the May 2015 flood relief. We could not be more proud to be part of an amazing central Texas community. Thank you again!

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Exercise the Whiskey Muscle

People say women have better palates… Sandra Spalding of Twin Liquors and Scarlett Greyson of Fox Good Day Austin discuss.

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Whiskey, Whisky, Whiskee

I have always had a passion for wine, but as I try more spirits I have found a new area of interest, Whiskey! Between Canada, Scotland, Ireland, America, and even Japan the diversity of whiskey rivals wine like no other spirit.

The smooth easy Canadian style is a great introduction to whisky. America’s own Bourbon whiskey, which can only be made in the USA, is a more mature and complex style, but still friendly and approachable. The Irish make whiskey in a slightly drier style. The Japanese are now the world’s whisky champions having recently claimed many top awards in international competitions. Lastly the Scotch whisky, the most unique of whiskies due to their use of peat to dry the malted barley lends a distinct smokiness the strength of which can vary tremendously across the many varied production areas of that country. Want to go further? Come see us for Whiskey Mash Up and Whiskey 101 events in our classroom!!

And, when you see me, don’t forget to ask me why I have spelled whiskey differently so many times.

Think Pink

The first time I tried Rosé, I fell in love.  What’s Rosé, you ask.

Rosé is a pink wine made by leaving the red grape skins in contact with their juice for a short amount of time. The color is extracted from the skins. After a few days the winemaker checks the color. When the winemaker feels it is the right shade of pink the skins are removed. The wine is then left to finish fermentation. A Rosé’s color runs from light coppery pink to almost fully red. The original, and in my opinion the best, come from the Riviera region in the south of France.

However, all Rosé is perfect for our hot dry Texas summers, especially for the red wine drinkers out there.  I think of Rosé as a less saturated red wine.

And, just a little bit of history for you… Dry Rosé was made intentionally, while it’s sweeter cousin, White Zinfandel was created by accident, when in an experiment of drawing off red juice to create a white wine, fermentation stopped with 2% residual sugar. The tasting room consumer loved the sweeter profile and boom, White Zin was born. Call it a happy accident that created wine lovers across the US who eventually moved over to drinking drier wines.

Please visit your Local Twin Liquors and, as always, we’ll strive to help you find the perfect wines regardless of its sweetness or color.

Happy Mother’s Day,

Rich Doherty

Italy

My father was stationed at Aviano Air Force Base in Italy when I was a small child.  It was then that I got my first taste of Italian wine. A weekend evening at the local Trattoria with the neighbors was a common event. The Italians served children a mix of mineral water with a splash of red wine, which I apparently fell in love with.  And the love has continued.

There are 3,000 plus grape varieties and Italy makes wine from almost all of them. Let’s touch on a few classics.  The Sangiovese grape of Chianti has a natural affinity for tomatoes.  Pair this wine with   Pizza, Tomato Sauce, and Bruschetta. Prosecco from the Veneto region, where we lived, is a clean refreshing sparkling wine value that is unbeatable.  The intense Nebbiolo Wines from Piedmont are easily among the finest wines on the planet. For dessert we have the amazing Moscato Di Asti. It’s like drinking a fresh apple soaked in honeysuckle blossoms.

I could write forever on the complexities of Italian wines, so come see our amazing selection of Italian wines at your nearest Twin Liquors, and we will help you find a great wine.

 

Ciao Y’all

Rich

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Wine + Swine

Twin Liquors is a proud sponsor of the Austin Food + Wine Alliance

Check out our photos from the 3rd annual Wine + Swine event at Star Hill Ranch

Star Hill Ranch and amazing weather set the tone