Wine and Food

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.


BRB and Wine + Swine Drink Menus

Big Reds & Bubbles Drink Menu – (Wine & Swine Menu Below)

Click Here for the PDF Version


Wine & Swine Drink Menu

Click Here for the PDF Version

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

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!


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!

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.

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

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.

Cale Thibaudeau
Twin Liquors Marketplace at the Galleria


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 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.

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!

Cale Thibaudeau
Store Manager
Twin Liquors in the Hill Country Galleria


Click Here for the PDF Version


Big Reds and Bubbles Wine List 2016

DOWNLOAD the PDF WINE LIST: bigredswinelist_2016


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.

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!


Cale Thibaudeau

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.


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

WINE LIST: La Dolce Vita Food & Wine Festival!

Check out the Wine List Here!

Old is New Again

Of all the world’s wine producing regions, one that has seen some of the most excitement and innovation in recent years is Languedoc-Rousillon in the south of France. The single largest wine-producing region in the world, it stretches along the Mediterranean coast from the Spanish border to Provence. Vineyards were planted in the area by Greek settlers as far back as the fifth century BC. Known for high-quality wines for most of its history, in the late 19th century the region became a source for cheap, mass-produced wines. However, Languedoc-Rousillon has recently seen a return to the greatness it formerly enjoyed.

                The grapes featured in the wines of this region are much the same as those in another famous region of southern France, the Cotes du Rhone. Grenache, carignan, syrah, and mourvedre are the primary reds, while viognier, chardonnay, roussane, marsanne, and picpoul are some of the most common whites. Chenin blanc and mauzac are also used (along with chardonnay) in the sparkling wines. In face the production of sparkling wines here predates that of its famous cousin Champagne.

                Here are a few wines to look for: the 2011 Abbaye Sylva Plana ($25.99) from Faugeres features a medium body with flavors of sweet berries, pepper, and bay leaf. From the Cotes du Rousillon, the 2009 Les Dentelles by Thunevin-Calvet ($39.99) has notes of licorice, plum, chocolate, and violets. Another great value from the Cotes du Rousillon is the 2011 George by Domaine Puig-Parahy ($19.99) with flavors of black tea, blueberry, and a pronounced mineral character. Another favorite is the 2011 L’Equilibre from Villa Symposia ($19.99). This wine has a great savory quality with sage, juniper, dark cherry, and black raspberry.

                And, now is the perfect time to stock up on your favorite French wines and try some new ones as well. For the month of October, all French wines are 20% off when you mix or match six or more bottles. See you soon!

Off the Beaten (Wine) Path

It’s summer. It’s Texas. It’s hot. You need something cold. You need something crisp and refreshing. You need a glass of white wine! But instead of reaching for that same old sauvignon blanc or chardonnay (as delicious as they are), try picking up something fresh and new to you.

There is a whole world of wine choices out there, so where to begin? How about a Picpoul de Pinet from the South of France? Hailing from the Languedoc region along the Mediterranean coast, the picpoul grape produces crisp, clean, citrusy wines that are the perfect pairing for oysters or other light seafood. Try the Domaine St. Anne Picpoul de Pinet ($12.99).

Moving west across Spain along the northern border of Portugal, we come to Monterrei. One of the indigenous grapes of the region which has recently seen a revival is godello. A bit richer than sauvignon blanc but lighter than chardonnay, the godello grape produces wines which are a great fit with grilled chicken or pork chops (perhaps with a mild chimichurri. Look for Atalaya Do Mar, which is aged for 2 months sur lie and features flavors of melon and slate with spicy notes ($12.99)

Feeling a little more exotic? Pick up a chenin blanc from South Africa. Chenin blanc can be made in styles ranging from dessert-sweet to bone-dry. For summertime, I like something dry but with lots of ripe fruit. The Riebeek Cellars Chenin Blanc ($11.99) from the Swartland region is packed with tropical flavors, but is balanced by a crisp, vibrant acidity. Enjoy with grilled mahi-mahi with a mango salsa.

So for your next picnic, dinner on the patio, or just an afternoon by the pool, get away from the same old-same old and go exploring! There’s more great wine out there than there’s ever been before.

The Wines of summer

The wines of summer, clean crisp and bright, just like summer in Texas. And… it’s hot, very hot so we need something that is cold and refreshing. I turn to warmer climates in Europe for the summer wines that cool us off so well. Vinho Verde from Portugal, slightly effervescent clean, un-oaked and so very nice served ice cold. The white wines of Italy, Pinot Grigio is great, but so are the other whites of Italy don’t shy away from Verdicchio, Gavi, Orvieto and Trebbiano to name a few. Spain’s Albarino is a terrific pair for lighter summer cuisine, and seafood. White Rioja is an often overlooked summer wine.

Other options from around the globe, Torrontes from Argentina, The crisp Chenin Blancs of South Africa, and New Zealand’s aromatic and refreshing Sauvignon Blancs. We keep our cold box stuffed here at Twin Liquors so you’ll always find a nice cold wine to beat the summer heat.

Cheers, Y’all
Rich Doherty

Pink Gold

In the world of  wine, the arrival of spring means the arrival of a fresh vintage of rosés. From all over France, Italy, Spain, the US, and  just about every other wine-producing nation the various shades of pink come rolling in just in time to pair with your favorite warm-weather treats. But these aren’t the sweet mass-produced corner-store wines you may be familiar with. Instead, these are drier-style wines from the world’s greatest wine-producing regions and artisanal winemakers.

While the classical regions of Europe supply many fantastic rosés, the world’s newer winemaking regions are doing their best to join the party. While South Africa has a long history of wine, but the Mulderbosch Rosé from the Coastal Region may be new to many consumers. One thing that makes this one unique is that it is made from 100% cabernet sauvignon grapes, yielding a fuller bodied wine. Grapes are harvested on the early side to preserve acidity levels. Flavors are of strawberry and grapefruit with a touch of minerality. The wine is a great partner for grilled salmon or tuna. At $12.99, it represents fantastic value.

The history of wine in Lebanon goes back even further, for several thousand years. But thoroughly modern in style, Ixsir Altitudes rosé ($13.99) is reminiscent of the rosés of Provence. A blend of syrah and caladoc (a cross of grenache and malbec), the wine is full of fresh floral aromas. With bright berry flavors, the wine pairs nicely with lighter cheeses, salads, and BBQ pork.

A New World region that is producing world-class rosé is Oregon. Justifiably famous for its red pinot noirs, some of this juice goes into production of rosé wines. Elk Cove Vineyards ($16.99) makes a delicious example. 2014 was a stellar vintage in Oregon, one of those rare years when quality and quantity were both excellent. With a beautiful dusky color, the wine is bursting with tangerine, cherries, and spice. Try this one with poached salmon, roasted chicken, or sushi.

Whether firing up the grill or reaching for something refreshing before dinner, rosé wines provide a tasty warm weather treat. Be sure and ask for some on your next visit!


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

Umlauf Garden Party Wine List

2015’s Umlauf Garden Party Wine list features fresh rosé, lovely sparkling and an elegant array of international and domestic white and red.

Take a look here…

Italian Spring

Perhaps no other European nation has a long a history of cultivating vines for wine production than Italy. Archeological evidence points to viticulture as far back as the 8th century BC. When colonizing Greeks arrived they dubbed the land Oenotria, the land of wine. With over 300 DOCs (delimited wine producing areas) and nearly a thousand different varieties of wine grapes, one could literally spend a lifetime exploring the wines of Italy.

With Spring upon us and Easter approaching, the season for sparkling wines is certainly here. While Prosecco is certainly Italy’s best known sparkler, there are several others that certainly deserve attention. Produced in the northern region of Lombardy, Franciacorta may be Italy’s greatest sparkling wine. Made in the same traditional method as Champagne (secondary fermentation in the bottle), it tends to have a little rounder profile due to the warmer climate the grapes are grown in and dosage is usually unnecessary. Produced from Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Noir, Franciacorta also undergoes a similar aging regimen as Champagne: it may not be released until at least 25 months after harvest and 18 of those months must be spent in contact with the lees in the bottle. Bellavista is a label to look for.

Near Franciacorta in the north is another sparkling wine hotbed: the Trento DOC of Trentino. One favorite is the 100% Chardonnay version produced by Ferrari. It displays beautiful apple and stone fruit aromas with toasty, bready notes. It represents a great value in the world of sparkling wine.

One of my absolute favorite wines to enjoy with all kinds of food is the lightly carbonated red wine Lambrusco. Not so long ago, most Lambrusco sold in the US was very sweet and was more like a fizzy alcoholic kool-aid. In the last few years, that has changed. Versions are now available that are dry or slightly off-dry that possess a bright, fruity character along with a slightly bitter note. Vecchio Modena from Cleto Chiarli is a delicious example. There is an array of distinctive, affordable Italian wines out there the likes of which has never been seen. Don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path and find your new favorite!


Texas Tea conjures images, to some, of their Texas roots, but today, in our industry, it is synonymous with Sweet Tea Vodkas! Oh, how the landscape changes… the current growth of wineries, craft breweries, and distilleries in Texas is astounding.

20 years ago there were a handful of Texas wineries.  Today, there are now more than 300 wineries in Texas. We are the 2nd most popular wine tourism destination in the USA.

As for beers, Shiner, Pearl and Lone Star paved the way. But, today, I can’t even count the number of Austin local breweries, let alone others from Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio. We’re brewing a river of great beer in the Lone Star State.  Austin’s own Jester King was able get a Texas State law changed so craft beers could be more accurately labeled and sold.

Distilled Spirits are the king of the industry though. Tito’s was the first and most successful spirit brand to start in Texas.  Numerous other have joined in.  Contrary to the highly individualistic Spirit of Texas, these distillers share their knowledge and experience with each other to promote a growing industry.  Vodka, rum, gin, bourbon, and whiskey are being made in the State of the Yellow Rose. The only spirit off limits for distilling in Texas is Tequila, which must be made in Mexico by Mexican Law and Regulation.

Austin’s own Twin Liquors proudly supports the local producers.  Come see us and we will show you our favorites!

Wines and Romance

Wine evokes emotions like no other beverage. It appeals to all of the senses in the same way that a true love appeals to all of your being. Sight, smell, touch and taste are all important factors in the appreciation of wine.

To help set a romantic and appreciative tone for your Valentine’s celebration. Select food, and wine that you are passionate about, that has high quality, and is worthy of the loves in your life. Any of our highly trained Wine Authorities are always available to help you select the perfect wine.

As only the best will do, here are some wines that are often considered the best in their class. French Champagne, Argentine Malbec, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Oregon Pinot Noir, German Riesling, and California Zinfandel.
Finish the meal with sweets, and a dessert wine. Moscato Di Asti, Port, and Sauternes are three that are versatile and great picks to satisfy the sweet tooth in all of us.

To life love and peace, Cheers,
Rich Doherty

To A Healthy New Year…

tl_15865_HeartHealthyAfter the long season of celebrations, the New Year often finds us considering ways to live a healthier lifestyle. And while it may seem counter-intuitive, wine and other alcoholic beverages can be part of a healthy diet. The main thing to remember is moderation.

                Much of the debate regarding the health benefits of moderate wine consumption dates back to a study by a French scientist in 1991 that was reported on the TV show 60 Minutes. This study addressed the so called “French Paradox”: the apparent disconnect between French patterns of high saturated fat consumption and low rates of cardiovascular disease. The study concluded that a diet based on southwestern Mediterranean cuisine (high in omega-3 oils, antioxidants and moderate consumption of red wine) created lower rates of cancer, myocardial infarction and cardiovascular disease. It must be noted, however, that this study has been hotly debated in subsequent years.

                While the “French Paradox” study is still debated, it cannot be denied that many studies over the past few years have touted the benefits of moderate consumption. One chemical compound often cited in these studies is resveratrol. This red-wine compound (also found in grapes, nuts and berries) has been found to reduce the accumulation of fat in the liver, reduce blood clots, prevent damage to blood vessels and reduce LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol). It should be pointed out that most of this research has been carried out on animals, not people. Want to try red wines high in resveratrol? Studies indicate that tannat, pinot noir, sangiovese and grapes grown in cooler regions tend toward higher concentrations of this compound.

                Other studies suggest moderate consumption of any alcohol has health benefits. The Mayo Clinic suggests that alcohol increases “good” cholesterol, decreases “bad” cholesterol, and reduces blood pressure and blood clots. What is moderate consumption? For healthy adults, this means one drink a day for men over 65 and women of all ages or two drinks per day for men under 65. One drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits. While the science is still far from settled, it seems safe to assume that smart consumption of alcohol is not only good for the disposition but for the body as well. Cheers!


Extra Dry Champagne is Sweeter?

It’s true! Bubbles labeled as “Extra Dry” are actually sweeter than Brut. Here is a quick breakdown on Sparkling and Champagne to help you choose the perfect popper for your Holiday gathering!

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.

Sparkling ROSE: “Pink” Sparkling produced either by leaving the clear juice of red grapes to briefly macerate on their skins or by adding a small amount of still Pinot Noir to the sparkling wine cuvée.

CAVA: Sparkling wine produced in the traditional champagne method from grapes grown mostly in Spain’s Catalonia region. Cava can be white or rose 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!)

Levels of Sweetness

A Dosage (sugar + wine) is added to Sparkling which determines its sweetness level…

EXTRA BRUT: Sparkling wine which will have less than 6 grams of sugar per liter with a bone dry finish.

BRUT: The most common style, this Sparkling wine will have less than 12 grams of sugar per liter with generally a dry finish.

EXTRA DRY: Sparkling wine which will have 12-17 grams of sugar per liter with a sweeter finish than Brut.

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

DOUX: Very sweet sparkling with 50+ grams of sugar per liter.



A Sparkling Season

No beverage says “Happy Holidays!” like champagne. The sound of the popping cork and foaming liquid, the tiny bubbles streaming from the bottom of a tall fluted glass, and the powerful yet delicate flavors: these are the tell-tale signs that the time to celebrate is here. Whether in the style of a lighter non-vintage bottling or majestic tete-du-cuvee champagne, this is the drink for good times.

                The world’s best-selling champagnes are those of the large maisons: Veuve-Clicquot, Mumm, Moet & Chandon and Perrier-Jouet, among others. One of my favorites is Piper-Heidsieck Cuvee Brut. A fresh tasting bubbly consisting of a large percentage of pinot noir, this is full of apple and pear aromas with hints of citrus. I think of Piper as the perfect aperitif or brunch champagne: crisp and lively, begging you to take another sip.

                Quickly growing in popularity are the so-called grower champagnes. These wines a produced by wineries that own and cultivate their own vineyards, as opposed to the larger houses who purchase grapes from farmers throughout the region. Amongst these, L. Aubry Fils is one I find to be outstanding. The wine geek in me appreciates the fact that their non-vintage brut contains a large percentage of Pinot Meunier as well as the ancient and nearly forgotten varietals Arbanne, Petit Meslier, and Fromenteau. A very low dosage (sugar solution added to kick-start secondary fermentation in the bottle) means this wine has a steely frame with floral and citrus aromas followed by rich flavors of toast and candied lemon zest. This is truly a wine to savor.

                Want to really go for the gusto? Champagne’s top-end cuvees are some of the world’s finest wines. One of the first wines that really stopped me in my tracks is Salon Blancs de Blancs. Made from 100% Chardonnay, Salon is only produced in exceptional years (approximately 4 times a decade.) This champagne is typically aged for 10 years in the bottle before release. A paragon of complexity, Salon exhibits aromas of toasted almond, biscuit, candied ginger, citrus and fresh white flowers. This is a wine that will make you say “Wow!”

                This holiday season, enjoy your time spent with family and friends and enjoy plenty of one of the world’s finest beverages—Vive Le Champagne!!!

Big Reds + Bubbles Wine List

Big_Reds_and _Bubbles_2014_Logo_GoldLeaf-300x300A divine evening of food + wine pairings featuring local restaurants and internationally recognized wines.

Click Here for the wine list.


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