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!
Like many Texans, I am a big fan of tequila. Whether in cocktails or sipped neat, the complexity of this noble spirit embodies the flavors of the Southwest. However, there are a number of factors that have made the production of high-quality tequila problematic in the last couple of decades.
Part of this problem lies in the nature of the agave plant itself. The agave plant takes from six to ten years or more to reach maturity. This means that tequila producers must gauge how much agave they need years in advance. Plant too few agave plants and there is a shortage. However, plant too much and there is a glut of agave on the market. Too much agave, and it can cost more to harvest the plant than can be recouped by making tequila. This is especially problematic for small producers.
Another issue caused by the mass planting of agave is one that is seen in other mass-produced crops: the problem of large-scale monoculture. Since real tequila can by law only be produced from 100% blue agave, entire agave plantations are often planted with clones of the same plant. This leaves them dangerously susceptible to disease and infestation.
Also problematic part of the equation is economic. Traditionally, agave is harvested by highly skilled workers known as jimadors. This is a tradition passed down from generation to generation. Economic factors have caused many of these jimadors to migrate north looking for more profitable endeavors. Their traditions are slowly being lost. This may be the saddest problem of all.
So, what can we a consumers do to combat these issues? This is definitely a thorny question. Above all, insist on pure agave tequila and avoid mixto tequilas that can be produced from other agricultural products. It’s up to all of us to preserve this classic spirit for the generations to come!
These days in Texas, the margarita is the cocktail that rules the summer. But there is another spirit that epitomizes summertime and beach culture dating back to the 1930s and 1940s. Pioneered by the restaurant concepts of Donn “The Beachcomber” Beach in Hollywood and “Trader” Vic Bergeron in Oakland, the Tiki concept really took off when servicemen came home from the Pacific after World War II. Beach and Bergeron’s restaurants featured Polynesian food and décor along with rum and juice cocktails that appealed to the Hollywood crowd and spawned countless imitators.
If any cocktail epitomizes Tiki, it is the Mai Tai. Both Beach and Bergeron have laid claim to this beverage, but there is no doubt that it is delicious! Over the years, this classic has grown to include more and more ingredients but sticking to a simple recipe yields the best results. Start with 1.5oz aged rum. Add ½ oz overproof white rum, 1/2oz orange curacao, ½ oz orgeat syrup (an almond syrup that is essential), and ½ oz lime juice (there is no substitute for fresh squeezed). Shake and strain into a tiki mug (or Collins glass) filled with crushed ice. Then, float a healthy pour of blackstrap rum. Garnish with mint sprig, lime wedge, and sugar cane stick for the real deal.
So this summer, consider going Caribbean/Hawaiian style and reach for the rum shelf. Compared to other spirits, high quality rums represent great value. Enjoy on the rocks or blend into Tiki drinks to perfect your next poolside or lakeside party! For more TIKI, visit us at Twin Liquors the first week of August for our Tiki Week featuring Tiki 101, Recipes and More!!
Bring yourself and your friends to the FREE TIKI 101 Class, where you will learn the history of TIKI culture, where and why it began! Why rum? Why all the exotic ingredients? Plus you’ll get to taste a cocktail and a few rums!
So wear your favorite Tiki-Attire and join us!
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, 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.
Twin 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!
People say women have better palates… Sandra Spalding of Twin Liquors and Scarlett Greyson of Fox Good Day Austin discuss.
If you are a fan of locally produced whiskies, then you are living at the perfect time. In the last few years Texas distillers have made their mark on the world stage by producing excellent spirits of all kinds. From the Red River to the Rio Grande, our state has become a whiskey lover’s paradise!
The man who deserves a lot of the credit for the Texas spirits revolution is Dan Garrison of Garrison Brothers Bourbon. From the start, Garrison has championed the “grain-to-glass” concept. They use Texas-grown corn, distilled in Hye, TX, and age the whiskey for two years in oak barrels. It makes for a rich, full-bodied whiskey with flavors of nutmeg, butterscotch, and vanilla with a long, smooth, buttery finish. This is definitely a whiskey to drink straight or on the rocks.
Herman Marshall is another fantastic distillery operating out of Garland, TX. Like Garrison Brothers, Herman Marshall makes their whiskey from scratch. They produce a bourbon, a rye, and recently introduced a single-malt expression. In 2013, their bourbon garnered a silver medal and 93 point rating from the American Distilling Institute. It features warm, creamy vanilla and dried fruits with nutty components and a long finish.
And right here in Dripping Springs Swift Single Malt Whiskey is rapidly becoming a Texas favorite. Nick and Amanda Swift spent a lot of time in Scotland in order to bring that nation’s whiskey-making tradition back to their native Texas. Starting with 100% Scottish two-row malted barley, they double-distill in copper pot stills before aging in Kentucky bourbon barrels and Spanish oloroso sherry casks. The nose is sweet and malty with notes of peach and apple. This is a young whiskey, but Swift has barrels in reserve and they will release older whiskey when ready. Another exciting project they have in store is a whiskey finished in French Sauternes barrels.
It’s an exciting time for Texas whiskies so be sure to pick up a bottle the next time you come see us!
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.
When you visit one of our stores over the next few days, consider adding a donation to the Red Cross of Central Texas as part of your transaction.
100% of all donations will go to the American Red Cross of Central Texas to help our neighbors.
Twin Liquors will match donations up to the sum of $10,000.
Memorial weekend comes so fast after the spring event season and I don’t know about you, but while I am so ready to relax, I don’t have the creative energy to spend a whole afternoon creating special cocktails. I just want to kick back and sip!
These are some fun ideas that will get your party going with VERY little effort and BIG flavor. Plus most of these cocktails are refreshing and are not super boozy.
My go to…Start with your favorite bottle of mineral water—I use Topo Chico—and swig out about 2 ounces, then pour in a shot of a good reposado tequila. Top with lime and, boom, you’ve got a portable, dry refreshing cocktail, clocking in at about 100 calories! It’s also 12oz of water, so you’ll stay hydrated!! Topo also comes inplastic screwcap bottles, so you can do the same if you are pool-side or onaboat!
If you are not as worried about calories as I am, and you need some caffeine, the Cuba Libre is a fantastic summer sipper! Use Mexican Coca Cola, good rum and a lime (250 calories). You can get creative and use spiced or berry flavored rums if you like that sort of thing.
Then there is the Gin & Tonic. It’s having a resurgence, so says the blog-o-sphere. Regardless, I LOVE a good G&T, but I usually only drink one, maybe two… tonic gets to be a little too sweet for me. The thing about the G&T today is that, with all the different gin profiles out there now, you can experience so many different flavors. The ingredient to which I hold strict is that I use really good tonic, like Fever Tree (90 calories) or the Liber & Co Spiced Tonic Concentrate. This ensures that no matter what gin I use, the sweet component of the tonic is of good quality and therefore eases the opportunity for a sun-drenched-alcohol-aided headache! Nobody wants those!
And lastly, for those of you who want to get a little creative, try a Cointreau Rickey (190 calories). Cointreau is an orange flavored, 80 proof spirit, made from the zest of sweet and bitter oranges. That’s what gives it balance! You don’t need to measure the Rickey too closely, so you will almost never mess this up. 2 oz of Cointreau, 1 oz Lime Juice and 4 oz Club Soda is an easy combo. And if you like fruit, add some muddled berries, cucumber slices and mint leaves. Think of it like an alternative to Sangria. In fact, this would be a great cocktail to make in pitchers if you have a crowd.
Thirsty yet? I am. See you at the pool…Cheers!
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!
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,
For the first time, Twin Liquors’ Dollar Sale will include some BEER!
We will be taking 750ml, 500ml, and 22oz beers, dropping the price to rock bottom, and adding a buck! For three days, Thursday through Saturday Aug 27-29, it’s Beer Bomber Mania at Twin Liquors! Domestics, Imports, Rarities, the beers you love and the beers you’ve always wanted to try; they’re going to be on sale at Twin Liquors for three days only! Build up your cellar! Stock up for Labor Day! Invest in IBUs!
THE 3 DAY DOLLAR SALE IS GOING BEER-BONKERS!
*Some exclusions apply. No further discount. No rain checks. Please drink responsibly.
2015’s Umlauf Garden Party Wine list features fresh rosé, lovely sparkling and an elegant array of international and domestic white and red.
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.
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!
It’s midmorning on a sunny January day, and I have come to the Twin Liquors Marketplace store on 281 near Bitters [in San Antonio] to meet with the company’s co-owner, Margaret Jabour. No sooner have I approached the sales counter to announce myself than I hear a friendly voice from behind calling my name. We start our visit by looking around the attractively laid-out store. “We like our stores to have a department-store feel, to be female friendly,” she explains as we pass appealingly arranged island displays in the front, a cafe-like tasting bar area, impressive displays of wines from different regions of the world, and finally stop to peek inside the Fine Wine Room…
Founders-distillers Boyan Kalusevic and Chris Mobley never hopped out of bed thinking, “What Texas needs is a brandy!” But instead it was a commitment to carrying on their family tradition that led them to creating Texas’ first brandy.
Chris and Boyan are behind Dorćol, “an urban boutique craft distillery” opened in San Antonio in 2013. The duo met in 2003 at The University of Texas, and each went separate directions upon graduation. But they retained a bond, and a hankering, that eventually led them to carrying on the family’s rakia tradition.
“Everybody makes a wine or a rakia in Serbia, and everywhere you go they are offering it to you—it’s a part of life.” Kalusevic adds, “Prohibition killed anything like that here.” Kalusevic’s 94-year-old grandfather is a winemaker and distiller, and it was enough to plant a seed in his grandson. “We realized we had [access to] expertise that could be traced back at least three generations on the farm—likely more,” says Kalusevic. An idea was born. In 2010, the pair started formulating a business plan.
Today, the copper still made for them by a traditional coppersmith in Serbia gleams, and the spirit itself, an apricot rakia baptized Kinsman, dazzles. The spirit was the highest rated American brandy at the 2014 World Sprits Championships in Chicago where it was awarded a Gold medal.
As for the future, “We are looking at some upcoming seasonal expressions,” says Kalusevic.
Once upon a time a south Texas farm girl grew up and traveled the world. She came back to Texas more worldly, more sophisticated, and really into limoncello. Thus, Paula Angerstein became the first woman and second person to be licensed to distill in Texas.
For the last ten years, Paula’s Texas Orange and Lemon Liqueurs have made margaritas, iced tea, and just about everything else a little more delicious.
Stricken by wanderlust in 2013, Paula let Gary and Dee Kelleher in on the deal. Veterans of the bar and restaurant business and founders of Dripping Springs Vodka, the Kellehers fit right in. They joined chef and distiller Chris Roberts, and brought on Bill Graham, another chef with over a decade of experience in the liquor business.
Joining the mix this spring is Paula’s Texas Grapefruit Liqueur. Like Paula’s other liqueurs, it’s made by hand with fresh fruit and cane sugar. It’s all natural, gluten free, and damn tasty.
Ciderkin: Based on nostalgic profiles of ciders everyone first experienced, Argus Ferementables Ciderkin delivers a straightforward apple palate, yet finishes dry and tannic; suited more for a session cider. Traditional Ciderkin is made from reconstituted apple pomace that is pressed and fermented wild to produce a low ABV—dry cider style. Expounding on that tradition, we have employed a yeast blend that finishes dry, yet still preserves a prominent stone fruit nose and apple palate.
Tasting Notes: Apple, Cherry, Caramel , and Citric Nose. Round apple palate with a dry, tannic quick finish. No candy-linger, and exceptional with food.
Ginger Perry: Inspired by our affinity toward spicy ginger beers/ales, Ginger Perry is Argus’s first unpasteurized fermentation utilizing only the pear. Distinctly dry as characteristic of the Argus portfolio, development of this product placed the upmost importance on delivering a balance of ginger, stone fruit, and citrus flavors without palate fatigue after just one. Residual sugar is present, but don’t expect anything too sweet. Great served chilled as a session sipper, yet versatile enough to be mixed.
Tasting Notes: Floral Ginger Nose, light stone fruit. Finishes spicy and dry with a tannic pucker.
Tepache Especial: Wild sparkling pineapple wine with light bubbles, a light spice from a house blend of French oak and a nice tropical finish. This demi-sec fermentable is a derivative of traditional tepache, a beverage based on utilization of the whole pineapple with yeast and spices. The pineapple used for Especial is a 100% organic Cayenne Varietal.
Crafted dry, we recommend serving over ice, as a base for cocktails or sweetened to your liking over ice. We personally prefer simply mixing in agave nectar as we find it a true flavor complement.
After 35 years travelling the world as an executive in the spirits industry, Pepe Zevada retired to Austin, Texas. However, it did not take him long to get back in the game and he quickly launched Z Tequila. His Blanco, Reposado, and Añejo tequilas have received awards and critical acclaim and are well-loved throughout Texas.
Now, Pepe is rounding out his portfolio with the release of an Extra Añejo tequila. Extra Añejo is a relatively new category of tequila, introduced in 2006. In order to qualify for the title, tequila must be aged for a minimum of three years. The Zevada Family Gran Reserva Extra Añejo is aged for four. It is made from 100% mature lowland agave that is cooked and distilled using traditional old-world methods. The tequila then rests in new American White Oak barrels, which are lightly toasted, not charred. The result is an exquisite and distinctive spirit with a maple nose, flavor notes of caramel and toasted nuts followed by agave, and a smooth, bourbon-like finish.
Retailing at right around $70, the value is as remarkable as the quality, because Pepe believes that luxury shouldn’t be so hard to come by.
What’s the best way to enjoy Gran Reserva? Pepe recommends sipping it from a snifter, or in a rocks glass with a little ice and an orange twist. He also suggests buying a bottle right away, as only 500 cases have been produced.
…//TEXBEERNET – DISPATCH – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE // Monday, October 3, 2022 //…
Once again, the Texas beer scene broke all previous records at the 2022 Great American Beer Festival — and for the first time ever, the Lone Star State went home as the bride instead of the bridesmaid.
After finishing second in total medal count in 2020 and 2021, Texas finally took the championship this past weekend, finishing with 49 total medals to recent rival California’s 47. While several recent newcomers to the Texas brewing scene contributed to the medal count, it was the familiar names that tipped the balance in the final reckoning. Medals went to classic Texas breweries like St Arnold’s Brewing (in business since 1994), Real Ale Brewing (1996), and Texas legend Spoetzl Brewing, makers of Shiner Bock (1909). These small breweries paved the way for some of the later winners like Austin Beerworks, Oasis Brewing, Grapevine Brewing, Hops & Grain, 5 Stones Brewing, and Thirsty Planet – all of whom added to the medal count this weekend.
“It’s a long way from 2014, when Texas breweries took 16 medals,” said Duke Egbert, head of the beer department for 118-store Twin Liquors, based out of Austin. “I thought then that Texas had potential to be the next Colorado or Oregon, and I think the results this weekend really show that. For those who discovered Texas beer back then – or even earlier – it’s been one Lone-Star-sized good time.”
Hyperbole? Perhaps. But the Texas craft beer scene is growing by leaps and bounds, and it seems every month brings us something new and wonderful to try. I’ve personally had over 250 Texas beers, and I can honestly say I can only recall a handful that didn’t make the grade. You owe it to yourself to try Texas beers, ciders, and meads – and there is no better time than now, during Texas Fest, at your local Twin Liquors!
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!
It may surprise you (or it may not), but in the last couple of year Dripping Springs has become a focal point for Texas distilling. Following the trail blazed by Tito’s Vodka in Austin, more and more distillers have decided to move out to the Gateway to the Hill Country.
The first to set up shop here was San Luis Spirits in 2007. They are best known for their Dripping Springs vodka. Distilled from corn in small 50-gallon batches using copper pot stills and artesian spring water from the Hill Country, it is lush and balanced with a very smooth finish. They also produce an orange vodka made with hand-zested Texas oranges. One of my favorite ways to enjoy their vodka is in a Moscow Mule. Start with a tall glass, fill with ice and add 1.5oz of vodka. Top with ginger beer (I recommend Fever Tree), add a squeeze of lime and it’s refreshment time! They have also recently introduced a gin. The gin is juniper forward without tasting like a Christmas tree. It has soft floral notes and uses citrus from the Rio Grande Valley. It makes a fantastic Martini.
Recently making a big splash was the opening of a beautiful new facility by Deep Eddy Vodka. Over 3000 square feet, the distillery features a tasting room and covered patio with a fantastic view of the Hill Country. In addition to their original vodka, Deep Eddy produces cranberry, ruby red grapefruit, sweet tea, and lemon flavored vodka. The lemon vodka, their newest flavor, is great mixed with club soda or Topo Chico and is sure to quench your thirst as the mercury starts to rise. One of my favorites it the sweet tea vodka mixed with fresh lemonade.
Coming soon to the neighborhood is Treaty Oak Distilling. Producers of their eponymous rum (also available in a barrel-aged reserve version), Starlite Vodka, Graham’s Texas Tea (a sweet tea vodka), Red Handed Bourbon, and Waterloo Gin (also available in a fantastic Antique barrel-aged version), Treaty Oak is sure to have a spirit that will tickle your fancy.
Here in Texas, there is really no excuse not to drink local!
After years spent perfecting handcrafted vodkas, San Luis Spirits has released another spirit with the same passion and small-batch quality that put it on the map years ago. Dripping Springs Artisan Gin is a reinvention of a traditional juniper forward London dry gin, with soft floral notes, a hint of spice and fresh citrus from the Rio Grande Valley. The product was released in late 2014.
Dripping Springs Artisan Gin is the distillery’s first foray into non-vodka spirits. “Gary and I have worked on a gin recipe and process for years,” said Co-founder Kevin Kelleher. “If we were going to use the Dripping Springs trade name, we wanted to make sure it was a world-class product. The challenge was to capture and balance the essence of nine unique botanicals, but finish it off with the soft mouth feel and minerality present in Dripping Springs Vodka.”
Most vodkas and gins are made in stainless steel column stills that produce thousands of gallons a day. Dripping Springs Artisan Gin is different. The Dripping Springs process takes three days to produce a final 55 percent cut from a single 40-gallon batch.
“It’s kind of an old fashioned concept, but first and foremost it really is about quality. If you make a quality product and price it fairly, it will find a home with a group of discerning consumers,” Kelleher said.
Customers can taste the gin at the Twin Liquors Grand Tastings during Texas Fest, or at the Dripping Springs Distillery. The distillery offers tours and tastings Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 3pm. Tickets can be purchased at drippingspringsvodka.com.
The Beam-Suntory company put together the Women of Whiskey Tour which kicked off at Arizona Cocktail Week last weekend and landed in Austin today. We had a great time tasting Whiskey from all over the world and learning how these women have excelled in this male dominated field.
Victoria Macrae-Samuels was a chemist from the Pacific Coast, who made her way to Kentucky following a series of spontaneous decisions, which lead her to a job with the Booker Noe and ultimately to Maker’s Mark. She is the first woman distillery manager in Bourbon country.
Tish Harcus has been with Canadian Club for over 20 years. While working with a law firm, she drove by the CC distillery every day, where the aroma wafting in the air lured her in. She has an infectious passion for whiskey and its place in bringing people together.
Stella Lacken grew up with an Irish grandmother who believed that Irish Whiskey could cure anything. And so, a bottle was always near by in their household. It was just a way of life. She enjoys being a brand ambassador of Kilbeggan Irish and traveling the country educating people on the Irish Whiskey way of life.
Vicky Stevens’ first distillery tour was on a school field trip at 8 years old. Over the many years after, while she grew up the Speyside area, she was exposed to all things Scotch. She found her way to Isla with Laphroaig, as the first employee hired to expand their “guest experience” from private appointments, to a full fledged operation. She now has an entire team. She is funny, charming and travels with her own block of peat!
Her story will make you go WOW!
Margaret Jabour is the owner of Twin Liquors, a company headquartered in Austin, TX. With over 70 retail locations, the family business has quickly grown and adapted to many Austin neighborhoods. Her business practices don’t only involve the day-to-day activities that one would expect – she also manages to cater to the local community on a regular basis. From managing employees, raising two sons as a single mother, and being an active philanthropist….Margaret Jabour is involved in all aspects of her personal and professional life. She is strong in her faith and believes we meet people for a reason and therefore, must not take relationships for granted. Read more…
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,
After 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!
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.
DEMI–SEC: 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.
HOLIDAY SPARKLING PUNCH RECIPE: Rougey Boozy Sparkling Punch
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!!!
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Check out our photos from the 3rd annual Wine + Swine event at Star Hill Ranch