Author Archives: Twin Liquors
Did you know that Bordeaux is the most popular and largest wine region in the world? First off, where in the heck is Bordeaux? Bordeaux is located in southwest France roughly 300 miles southwest of Paris and about 120 miles north of the Spanish border. Bordeaux’s location along and near the Bay of Biscay (area of the Atlantic Ocean along the western coast of France to the Spanish border) ensures a mild maritime climate providing the area with mild winters and warm summers protecting the vines that grow in this area from winter freeze and spring frost. Bordeaux’s location near the Atlantic made it a prime location to distribute wine across the world and essentially make Bordeaux the famous wine region it is today.
Bordeaux is most famous for its cabernet sauvignon and merlot blends and in turn is mainly a red wine region. The majority of Bordeaux wine is a blend of several grape varieties.
The red Bordeaux blend consists of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Bordeaux’s red blend is one of the most copied in the world. The dominant flavors found in red Bordeaux wines include black currant, plum, cedar, violet, and graphite. Red wines from Bordeaux are typically medium to full-bodied and exude mineral and fruit notes on the palate that lead into mouth-drying tannins. The high amounts of tannins allow the wines to age for several decades. As it relates to wine, tannins are a textural element that makes wine taste dry. It is naturally occurring in plants, seeds, bark, wood, leaves, and fruit skins.
While the clear majority of wines produced in Bordeaux are red (about 90%), there are a fair number of white Bordeaux wines (about 10%) that are produced using Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Muscadelle grape varieties that produce wines with flavors consisting predominately of citrus fruits (grapefruit, lemon, and lime), peach, gooseberry, and chamomile. White Bordeaux wines tend to be very crisp and refreshing. Of the 10% of white wines produced in Bordeaux, 25% of those are sweet wines. At its infancy, Bordeaux was first loved for its sweet wines produced in the sub-region of Sauternes where the predominant grape variety grown and used is Sémillon.
Geography 101 – Bordeaux: The Region Split by Waterways
Bordeaux is split up into two distinct areas by the Gironde Estuary (tidal mouth of a large river where the ocean meets the river) creating two banks, the right bank to its north and the left bank to its south. The Gironde estuary then splits into two rivers, the Dordogne (Dor-don-ye) to the north and the Garonne to the south. The area between the two rivers is known as Entre-Deux-Mers (the land between the seas). A winery’s location in Bordeaux plays an important role in the proportion of Merlot and Cabernet found in each wine produced in the Bordeaux region. The right bank is famous for producing wines dominated by the Merlot grape variety whereas the left bank produces wines dominated by the Cabernet Sauvignon grape variety.
The Left Bank is home to three main grape-growing sub-regions: Médoc, Haut-Médoc and Graves. Each of these sub-regions is then home to various wine producers that each contain their own unique wine styles. Margaux, Pauillac, St-Estèphe, and St-Julien are all notable producers of the Haut-Médoc sub-region. The right bank does not have nearly as many sub-regions, but the notable ones are Pomerol and Saint Émilion.
Left Bank vs. Right Bank and the Land between the Seas
Left bank wines (wines produced in areas south of the Gironde Estuary and west of the Garonne River) tend to be higher in tannins and acidity. Wines produced on the left bank tend to be heavier and rich than wines produced on the right bank.
Right bank wines (wines produced in areas north of the Gironde Estuary and north and east of the Dordogne River) tend to be more delicate, less tannic, and less acidic.
The land between the two rivers (Entre-Deux-Mers) produces red and white wines, but tends to be more well-known for its white wines that are created using a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and Muscadelle grapes.
Bordeaux Quick Facts
- Nearly 800 million bottles of quality wine produced each year
- Home to 10,000 wine estates (known as Châteaux [sha-toe] in France)
- World-famous grape varieties Cabernet, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc all originated here
- Home to 57 different appellations (An appellation is simply the name of the region, district, or village in which the vines are grown and the wine is made…for a wine to be granted the right to use an Appellation, it needs to comply with a strict set of production and quality standards)
Whiskey came to America with the Irish and Scottish immigrants.
As they settled in their new homeland, they were forced to adapt in many ways including the use of new raw materials. Gradually through the years a new kind of whiskey evolved.
Today there are few, if any, similarities left between American whiskey and its whiskey cousins from Scotland and Ireland. For example, smoke is not used to dry the corn, rye or wheat used in American whiskey. Because of this, American whiskey often has a fuller, stronger and sweeter taste than its European counterparts.
American whiskey is commonly divided into six categories: Bourbon, Tennessee, Rye, Wheat, Corn and Blended whiskey. The categories are mainly motivated by differences in the type and amount of grains used during the mashing but there are also differences such as aging.
Because almost all Bourbon is made in Kentucky, many people believe this is a requirement, but in fact, Bourbon may be produced in any state. The only prerequisites are that it must be made in the US, contain at least 51 percent corn and be stored for at least two years in new, charred oak barrels. (Jim Beam, Van Winkle, Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, Blanton’s, Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve, Evan Williams, Elijah Craig, Wild Turkey)
Tennessee whiskey is closely related to Bourbon but there are a few differences. Tennessee whiskey must be produced in the state of Tennessee and is always filtered through sugar-maple charcoal. The filtering process usually takes 10 days to complete. (Jack Daniel’s, George Dickel Whiskey)
Rye and Wheat Whiskey
Only a small amount of Rye whisky is bottled as Straight Rye Whisky—most of it’s used in blending to add character to other whiskies. To be called a Rye whiskey, the spirit must be made from at least 51 percent rye and aged in charred oak barrels for at least two years. Rye whiskey is slightly more powerful and bitter than Bourbon. Most current Rye whiskies are made in Indiana and Kentucky. Wheat whiskey must be made from at least 51 percent wheat and is quite uncommon. (Wild Turkey Straight Rye Whiskey, Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 13 Year, Sazerac Rye Whiskey 18 yr)
Corn whiskey was developed due to the abundant supply of corn and is a predecessor to Bourbon. As the name suggests, corn is the main ingredient. The mash must consist of at least 80 percent corn. Another difference between corn whiskey and Bourbon is that corn whiskey does not have to be aged in wood. If corn whiskey is to be aged, any maturation must be done in either un-charred barrels or used Bourbon barrels.
Blended American Whiskey
The blended American whiskey should not be confused with the blended Scottish whisky. Blended American whiskey only contains 20 percent of Rye and Bourbon whiskey; the remaining 80 percent are made up of a neutral spirit. American Blended whiskey is much lighter than Tennessee and Bourbon whiskies.
Home to global giants like Microsoft and Starbucks, Washington State is a place of tremendous vision and drive. Our wine industry also reflects these characteristics as one of the world’s most dynamic & exciting wine regions in the world. Our innovative growers and winemakers broke ground in a vast, wild territory where conventional wisdom said they could not. And they have expanded that work to create America’s second-largest wine region, with more than 50,000 acres (20,234 hectares) of vines and more than 900 wineries – a number that had doubled in the last decade.
We cultivate nearly 70 grape varieties, including Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. Washington has 14 federally approved unique growing regions with a mosaic of landscapes, from evergreen coasts and snow-capped mountains to a vast sagebrush desert where the sun shines 300 days a year. These diverse regions result in a wide array of climates, soil types, and growing conditions that allow a wide variety of grapes to grow well. These range from warm sites such as Red Mountain to cool regions like the Puget Sound and areas in between. The great Missoula Floods, a series of cataclysmic events that happened some 15,000 years ago, define the soil types of the vineyards in Washington. Most vineyards lie below the floodwaters with soils of loess—wind-blown deposits of sand and silt—overlying gravel and slackwater sediment with basalt forming the bedrock. This provides a diversity of soil types that are well drained and ideal for viticulture.
Long, warm days and cool nights in the growing regions create a large diurnal shift, which helps maintain the natural acidity of the grapes. Washington State has some of the most dramatic fluctuations of any wine region in the world with up to 40º F difference between daytime high and nighttime low temperatures. The higher levels of natural acidity contribute to making the wines more food friendly and also assist with their longevity.
Our winemakers and grape growers live throughout the state. Some work in small towns where old homes, beautiful barns and converted mills reflect the American west. Others choose to live amongst the hustle and bustle of Seattle and neighboring cities. No matter where they call home, they are active in their communities, connected to the land and eager to share their stories. Because vineyards and wineries here are often spread across hundreds of miles, grape growers and vintners must work in tandem. From individual vine rows reserved for specific winemakers to fully-fledged joint-ownership projects, our region is one of shared endeavors and true collaboration.
The vast majority of wineries in Washington are small, family producers making less than 5,000 cases annually. In fact, of the state’s 900+ wineries, only about 20 make more than 40,000 cases annually. The small, artisan nature of the industry contributes to producing wines of exceptional quality. When stopped in a tasting room, the person you see walking in the vineyard, driving a forklift or opening bottles behind the counter is often the owner or winemaker. Our wines echo this authenticity – rare natural conditions permit cultivation without the common, manipulative practice of vine grafting or intensive use of chemicals. We harvest the purest expression possible for every wine. And our wines exhibit that spirit of integration, combining the vibrant fruit character expected of American wine with the defined structure typical of the Old World.
Spring is here and with it come all the wonderful celebrations, festivals and holidays alike. At its core we love spring, because it’s when the fresh rosé gets released, refreshing cocktails abound and we get to thing about food and wine pairings with all the lovely spring bounty!
STARTER — Fonseca Bin No. 27 Port $$
Let’s start with PORT cocktails! Your mind went right to “but Port is heavy”. To that I say, pour 2-3 oz in a glass filled with ice, top with tonic (or club soda if you want it dry) and a hearty squeeze of lemon. And, see if you don’t crave this drink all summer long. Plus you can garnish it up with all sorts of goodies, like mint, orange slices and cherries. Think of it as an alternative to Sangria!
SALAD NICOISE – Sean Minor 4 bears Chardonnay $
A beautiful golden straw-colored Central California Coast Chardonnay with aromatic notes of apricot, apple, honeydew, and gentle notes of butter. Tropcial fruit notes pop with green apple flavors, but are kept in check with nice acidity. Green apple and pear flavors on the backend provide a refreshing lengthy finish.
SPRING ROLLS – Mud House Sauvignon Blanc $
On the first sip of this beautiful pale lemon-colored gem your front palate will be greeted with fresh melon, citrus, and grapefruit flavors. The crisp, grapefruit-like acidity allows for a long mouth watering finish. This pairs beautifully with fresh corriander, lime, crunchy vegetables, and Vietnamese seafood spring rolls.
PASTA with GREEN VEGGIES – Côté Mas Rosé $
Hailing from Languedoc-Roussillon, France this pale salmon colored rosé offers a complex nose with notes of cherry and strawberry transitioning to soft candied fruit. The palate is smooth yet rich with decadent notes of ripe red fruits and well-balanced acidity. This wine pairs perfectly with light dishes, spring salads, or on its own.
BEET SALAD – Chandon Sparkling Red $$
This sparkling red invigorates the palate with flavors of plum, black cherry, sweet cranberry with hints of cocoa, and beautiful bergamot orange and spice. The skin contact during the winemaking process allows for a full body and nicely rounded tannins.
PICNIC PARTY – Shania Monastrell Box Wine, 3liter $$
Sporting a mix of cassis and blueberry flavors, this wine has an intense deep red cherry color with fine tannins and bright acidity allowing for a long, savory finish, plus it’s in a box!
ROASTED PORK LOIN OR LEG OF LAMB – I Veroni Chianti Rufina $$
Thanks to its makeup, this medium-bodied, dry Italian Red is a great companian for traditional Tuscan red meat dishes, game and poultry dishes. Your nose will be greeted with red berries and ripe red fruit aromas.
GRILLED CHOPS OR VEGGIES – Acheval Ferrer Argentinian Malbec $$ mix of many different grapes from across Mendoza give this Argentinean Malbec its beautiful bright ruby red in color. Your nose and palate will be greeted with fresh and floral notes featuring blackberry, raspberry, and violets. Silky tannins and a noticeable minerality promote a lengthy finish.
EVERYTHING – Taittinger Brut La Francaise $$$ A Taittinger Brut La Française is made up of a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier wines from at least 35 villages across France. What really makes this wine unique is its higher proportion of Chardonnay grape than other nonvintage champagnes and its extended aging process. These two additional steps give the wine a higher amount of elegance and allow it to reach its peak of aromatic maturity. This champagne is characterized by its delicate aromas of peach, white flowers, vanilla, and brioche notes on the nose and its fresh fruit and honey tones on the palate. Pairs well with seafood and white meat.
PATIO PARTY BUFFET—Palo Duro Canyon TX Sauv Blanc or Zinfandel $
Texas tried and true both of these wines pair beautifully with an array of spring fare. The Sauvignon Blanc is crisp and fresh and the Red Zinfandel is luscious and packed with lots of great fruit flavors.
Brown spirits are so diverse that they offer something for everyone. What is exciting to us is educating consumers so they understand they have options. If you enjoy Japanese or Irish Whiskey, which tend to be lighter-bodied while exhibiting good minerality we can steer you towards a crisp white wine,. If you like American Bourbon with its sweeter palate and heavier oaked finishes, you’ll love fruit-forward bold red wines.
We have quite a number of customers that shop both categories, but it’s exciting that that base is growing and the diversity of Whiskey is growing too.
We are looking to expand that as more and more folks are exploring both categories.
When you can relate that the whiskey language can be similar to the language of wine with aroma, weight, terroir, minerality and finish, it makes for an easy transition.
There are also restaurants now that are doing Whiskey and Food Pairings… something we mostly saw with Wine, making it a really exciting time for both categories.
In support of the Whiskies of the World Festival on Sept. 16 in Austin.
Twin Liquors will hold a Whiskey and Wine sale from Sept. 7-26: shoppers get 15% off when they buy a bottle of whiskey with one bottle of wine.
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!
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.
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!
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 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.
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.
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!
I’m Peter Gatti, Director of Education for Twin Liquors, here to talk about some Italian sparklers for our Italian Wine Month. I’ve been in the business since 1979, have lived all over the world, have traveled and studied in many of the worlds’ wine areas, love good wine regardless of where it’s from, believe firmly that great bargains still abound, and especially love sharing a lifetime’s worth of knowledge!
So, what’s the difference among the three most popular these days: Moscato D’Asti, Asti, and Prosecco?
Well, Moscato D’Asti and Asti are both made to order, in the Piedmont, from the same Moscato Bianco grape which is pressed and kept chilled as juice till needed to be fermented, and fermented once in the closed tank or Charmat (or Martinotti) process, but from there, they diverge somewhat. Moscato is fermented to a maximum of 5.5 % alcohol and 2 atmospheres of pressure, so it’s just lightly sparkling or frizzante, and has about 65 grams per liter or 6.5% residual sugar, while Asti is fermented to a minimum of 7-9.5% alcohol and 3 atmospheres of pressure, so it’s quite a bit fizzier, as well as having less residual sugar at 30-50 grams per liter or 3-5 %. Oddly enough, Moscato D’Asti tends to taste less sweet! Both, however have similar aromas and flavors of honeysuckle, jasmine or tangerine blossom, apple, peach, apricot and pear fruit flavors and a wonderful fresh fruit grapiness that is utterly seductive and flat out delicious. Try them with fresh fruit, not too sweet desserts or even as dessert. Their mostly low alcohol levels allow them broad application much of the day, too.
Prosecco is also made (with one exception, the Col Fondo style—homework time!) by the Charmat method, but from Glera grapes, in Veneto and Friuli, fermented to 11-12 % alcohol, can come in still, frizzante (lightly sparkling) and fully Spumante (sparkling) styles, requiring a minimum of 3.5 atmospheres, but often somewhere between 5 and 6, making it as fizzy as champagne. Further, it can be made in Brut or up to 12 grams per liter / 1.2% residual sugar, Extra Dry or 12-17 grams / 1.2-1.7% residual sugar, or finally, Dry, at 17-32 grams / 1.7-3.2% residual sugar styles. Whew! The lesson here is to read your label carefully so that you’re not unpleasantly surprised by what you drink, right? It’s not as messy as you think, as you’ll most often see Extra Dry, the style that tastes rounded and a little fruity, but rarely ever tastes overtly sweet. Prosecco’s less aromatic and less fruit packed than Moscato and Asti, but is more broadly useful for that. It’s also the base wine for Bellinis and Mimosas everywhere, and in Italy, if you’re upright and breathing, they’ll hand you a glass at the drop of a hat as a rather pleasant form of greeting!
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.
Twin Liquors Marketplace at the Galleria
As employees of Twin Liquors, we are given the chance to further our knowledge through seminars, tastings and industry events. Just last month, employees attended a tasting of twelve wines from the Bordeaux region. We had attendees from across the Twin Liquors family of stores. Tasting wines from different producers of the same region can give a very detailed understanding of what that region represents. With this knowledge, staff can offer you detailed advice on a wide range of subjects.
But, these events are not always limited to industry professionals. Often, they are open to the public. On Feb 23rd, we will host the Chateau Montelena winery for a tasting with winemaker Matt Crafton right here at the Hill Country Galleria location! It will be a spectacular opportunity to experience the wines with the winemaker himself. For those of you that join us, we appreciate you welcoming him into our community.
So, whether you would like to talk about one of the events your favorite Twin Liquors employee attended, or experience it for yourself, Twin Liquors has you covered. Look for more great events on our website www.twinliquors.com
Twin Liquors Marketplace at the Galleria
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.
Twin Liquors Marketplace at the Galleria
Need help with your holiday gift list? Food and wine pairing menu for a dinner party?
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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!
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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.
Twin Liquors in the Hill Country Galleria
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!
Twin Liquors in the Hill Country Galleria
DOWNLOAD the PDF WINE LIST: bigredswinelist_2016
This year, not will my Father-in-Law and I continue the eternal competitive fight over whose premier soccer league team will be triumphant, Arsenal or Chelsea but even more important the great, hedonistic, mano a mano Thanksgiving Wine battle between us will task me with finding THE ONE WINE to give me the lead in our 1-1 wine score. Last year, I pulled a very close win with my 2012 Domaine St. Prefert Chateauneuf du Pape over my Father-in-Law’s 2004 Hewitt Cabernet Sauvignon. The challenge this year is to deliver a knockout punch with my wine pick, as well as revive a skill I have not used in 5 years. What skill is this you ask?
While dating my wife, I made a cheesecake from scratch (my mother’s recipe) for her family (call it a bait and hook for a good impression). Little did I know that this token to gain approval would become an expectation, namely from my Sister-In-Law, as she has threatened to take my Dachshund hostage (and potentially my entire Thanksgiving meal) if I don’t come through with the goods.
So, as Turkey Day grows closer, I will hit the books to find the wine that will give me the lead, pray that Chelsea beats Arsenal next go round, and hope that my cheesecake brings me great favor at the table. Come in and share your family traditions and let us help you find that TKO wine! Stay tuned to find out the results of the battle, the wine chosen and the well-being of Chico, my Dachshund.
About eight years ago a group of my friends decided we wanted to brew beer. Pick it up as a hobby, learn the process, buy some books, get some equipment and have some fun. Anyone who has had a hobby, knows you can get in pretty deep before you even know it. Long story short, we brewed quite a few beers in those first years.
We tried some basic styles first. After we messed up a couple times we learned the two most important factors when brewing. Cleanliness and temperature. These two factors are crucial in order to track progress. Without taking extreme care in these two areas, you get results that are never consistent, and therefore, you cannot learn from your mistakes.
Cleanliness is important so that you are only working with one strain of yeast. If you have dirty equipment, the flavor you were expecting from one type of yeast, could be altered and produce flavors you were not expecting. Yikes! We brewed quite a few red ales, and if we didn’t keep everything clean, they wouldn’t have gotten any better. Lucky for us, they did! After brewing ale’s for a bit, we decided to venture into the extremely difficult world of lagers.
Lager’ing is a very detailed and extended process. This is where the temperature part comes in. If you make one mistake, you’ll taste it. But all that extra effort really pays off. We focused on low alcohol simple beers. Truly, I now understand that simplicity is more difficult than complexity. A crisp, clean and refreshing beer. One that was made by you and your friends, nothing tastes better!
Do you have a good homebrew story? Swing on by the shop and let’s talk!
Twin Liquors in the Hill Country Galleria
Enjoying wine on vacation is just about the best thing, especially when paired with a wonderful meal! But, how many times have you been on vacation and had an amazing wine that you simply could not find in the States? Or maybe you found it but it wasn’t quite the same? Well, of course it’s not going to be exactly the same because you’re not on vacation at home! It’s a challenge, we know, but with a little ambiance you can get close to recreating that experience.
Part of that experience is having a little knowledge about what you are drinking. That is a big part of why wine taste so great on vacation… you have a sense of where the grapes came from. When you are consuming at home try find a little history in the bottle, really think about it. I promise it makes a difference.
In our quest to further educate our guests and ourselves this October at Twin Liquors we are celebrating French Wine Month! We will have a French Themed Wine Walk and many weekend features focused on Bordeaux and Laguedoc. And with our great staff, all passionate about French wine, we want to help you find that perfect French Wine so you can re-create a vacation memory or make new ones!
Twin Liquors in the Hill Country Galleria
My family formed the company CKC Graphics and Signs in the mid 1990’s. That stands for my two brothers Craig & Kyle and me, Cale. My parents have been running this company since then, and now as they retire, it has passed hands to a new owner outside the family. My brothers and I have all moved in a different professional directions and although we chose not continue the family business, we take the work ethic my parents taught us. We all learn something from the previous generation. That is the whole idea, right? And then improve upon what came before us.
This applies in all aspects of life, football included. And the season is almost here, which means, it should be cooling down. The team I root for is no stranger to “cooler weather”, the Green Bay Packers. Each year, they build on what came before them. I have respect for their attention to tradition and their work ethic. And, I can’t wait to fire up the grill and enjoy some cold beers and watch some football. Maybe even enjoy a bottle of Sancerre that my wife and I brought home from our recent trip to France.
We had opportunity to visit a few family run wine estates. It gave us the opportunity to see what several generations can accomplish. Vineyards and cellars passed down generation to generation. And, how to work a particular soil, or manage a row of vines. They are building on what came before them. Bringing in new barrels, or updating their tasting room. Adding vineyards or dividing them into smaller parcels to create more site specific wines. The passion and knowledge was easy to perceive while walking with them through the vineyards. Truly a great trip my wife and I enjoyed together.
So, what do you want to pass along to the next generation?
Twin Liquors in the Hill Country Galleria
There is a long list of folks that work to get the bottle from the vineyard to the shelves. They range from producers, importers, distributors, restaurateurs & retailers to ultimately end up in the hands of the consumer. Each role plays an important part to form the culture of wine here in Austin.
It is a culture where everyone is excited to learn from each other. Whether it is a customer telling me of a recent visit to a wine region or a distributor showing me a selection of wine to taste and evaluate, I take every occasion as an opportunity to learn. Keeping an open mind is necessary to gain as much from these experiences as possible. Everyone has a story to tell and we all benefit when we have an open exchange of ideas.
It has been really fun to meet so many people along the way. The Austin wine culture has always been dynamic and continues to grow with great restaurants and retail. With this growth, comes a hunger for more and a wine consumer that wants to explore. In fact, just last week I had a few requests for orange wine which to the customers’ surprise we have! The demand for this is met by more distribution of great wines, beers and spirits. That’s where Twin Liquors comes in to provide the customer base with the widest variety and detailed selection as possible. It is an ever changing landscape out there, so stop on by if you are looking to explore or want to know what orange wine is all about… Hint: It’s not wine made from oranges!
Twin Liquors in the Hill Country Galleria
I have been working at Twin Liquors for seven years come this fall. In this time we have rotated through hundreds of wines, spirits and beers. Our selection is based on the needs and interests of our customers as well as the seasons. With summer nearly here, we have focused our efforts on styles of beers that are crisp and refreshing. Cocktails built for the patio, and wines perfect for sipping around the pool.
So what are you doing this summer? Relaxing in Austin? Or maybe you are taking a vacation somewhere? I often hear from our customers about their travels and wines, sprits or beers they tried while on their trips. My wife and I are headed to the Champagne region of France on our honeymoon this summer. We are very excited to experience the culture and try some new things! I have been able to get a lot of tips and recommendations from customers and friends that have visited the area before. And, when we get back, I know just the shop to visit should we want to buy some of the champagne we will be drinking in France, Twin Liquors at the Hill Country Galleria!
So whether you are sticking around Austin, or have a trip abroad, stop by and tell us about the new things you discover this summer. We may have a suggestion of our own, too!
Twin Liquors in the Hill Country Galleria
One of my favorite re-occurring summer memories was accompanying my mom to her favorite local joint. It was a great old dive bar in our hometown which has been open and running since 1934. Known for their cheesy nachos, fried pickles, cold beers and heavy handed margaritas, this place was always my mom’s favorite because “everyone knew your name” and the waitress who was there since I was a young boy still remembered your order by heart.
Two years ago in June, I lost my mother unexpectedly. So summer is a little bittersweet for me now. The loss is balanced though thru the annual July celebration of my wedding anniversary. From new beginnings, to tragic ends, I can say that these two pivotal women have forever changed me to become the man I am today. Over the years, sad or joyous, food and spirits have always been involved to commemorate both. I believe this is where my passion for the hospitality industry comes from.
I have so many memories of laughing with my mom and having great conversations with her over a plate of fajita cheesy nachos, her favorite. So, now my wife and I have started a new tradition of our own, making an annual visit back to where I grew up in July, to visit my Mom, and uphold some of our traditions, we will toast to her spirit and good memories in honor of the blessing of life, traditions, great food and amazing drinks that binds it all. Heres to you Mom, Salud!
My dad taught me how to fix things. Fix the lawn mower, fix the broken door, fix whatever is broken. I learned you cannot fix a lawnmower with a toolbox full of Phillips head screwdrivers. You need an array of tools that work in different ways, and you need to know how to use them.
My dad will always teach me about new tools and fixing go-karts. Only now I can repay the lessons, teaching teach him how wine and food can work together. He is learning and appreciating how many possibilities there are with the many types of wine.
Wine and food pairings can be difficult, but they’re worth the effort. When you make the right one, a good meal becomes great. My wife and I like to have a variety of wine on hand: light crisp reds, heavy rich whites and crisp mineral rosés. That way, if we decide to have wine with dinner, we can pair accordingly. What do you guys usually have for dinner? Fish one night, beef another, maybe a stir fry? Each one of those meals could be made better by a good bottle of the right wine.
Perhaps you’re unsure if wine will even work with your meal? No problem, we can pair beer and cocktails too. Stop by the Marketplace and we will show you around. We have basic rules for pairings or we can geek out. However advanced you want to make it, we strive to have a very diverse set of wine styles so that we may offer you the best tools for the job.
Twin Liquors in the Hill Country Galleria
One of the most surreal experiences of my life was visiting the Buffalo Trace Distillery (formerly Old Fire Copper Distillery), a distillery rich in bourbon history. My wife and I were enamored by the red brick warehouses and the columns of smoke rising from a nearby building. The distinct humming of the stills, and the aroma of wood and buttered creamed corn, complimented the sights which included old barrels being rolled through an assembly line. Colonel Blanton’s house stands atop a lush, grassy hill, and nearby is a new dining hall honoring a master distiller, Elmer T Lee. Thunder, a sculpture of a buffalo made from a tree which was struck by lightning, stands near the end of a trickling spring.
We were lucky enough to have a private tour with Freddie Johnson; a 3rd generation member of the distillery. Additionally, we were welcomed by their master blender, Drew Mayville, with whom we tasted several bourbons within the restricted quality control lab; an area where the best palates sample items to ensure product consistency. As Drew answered our questions, he graciously poured us a sample of a personal project of his and what must be the best bourbon I have ever had: E. H. Taylor Cured Oak. We got a chance to see the revered Pappy Van Winkle being hand bottled. As if our experienced hadn’t been memorable enough, Julian Van Winkle strolled in with a rare collectors bottling (a 16 year old hand painted bottle made exclusively for the European market) to share. As we walked to our car while the sun set, we looked at each other realizing that these memories would last a lifetime. That is Buffalo Trace Distillery.
As I sip my morning coffee I look outside my window and marvel at the bounty of our peach tree! It was only three years ago I that I hacked thru the TX limestone to plant it. Now I stand in awe of the 14 ft tree that puts out more peaches that I can eat and reminds me of the scent of my favorite white wine of all time, White Rhone.
Southern Rhone in particular has been my favorite wine region since I first had what I would consider my “a-ha” moment drinking a 1980 Chateau de Beaucastel from Chateauneuf-Du-Pape. This wine region has had centuries of popularity by some esteemed Kings and Popes. In this region not until recently did I come in contact with the marvel of White Rhone wines and in particular the region of Lirac. This region is the oldest wine growing region in the Southern Rhone Valley. They most commonly use Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Rousanne, Clairette, Viognier, and Bourboulenc. These obscure grapes are not commonly heard of, but they make a marriage of utter bliss. With a succulent mouth feel of rich baked apples and lemon butter, solid acidity, and a nose of fresh peaches, honeyed melon, and honeysuckle.
As the heat creeps and I get ready to pick my endless peaches to make some peach pies, I most certainly will enjoy a bottle of Domaine Maby from the Lirac region. Thinking about your summer wine of choice? Start by telling us about your favorite fruits… then we can help you find the right wine that exhibits those flavors! Come see us!
“Top of the ninth and the Brewers are down 9-1. Couple of grand slams and we are right back in this thing! Brought to you by Usinger’s Bratwurst and Usinger’s Sauerkraut too! And the pitch… 1-0. At the top of the ninth. Breezy night here in Milwaukee. Wind up, out of play towards the first base side. Nothing says summer in Wisconsin like a grill full of Usingers! Ball 1. Have you tried the sauerkraut? And the pitch… Get up! Get up! Get outta here! Gone! And the Brewers have put one more on the board, 9-2!”
This is not an exact quote from Bob Uecker, but I think it’s pretty close. I grew up listening to the Brewers in Wisconsin. I will always be a Brewers fan; through the tough, and well, through the tough again. We haven’t exactly been the best team ever, but we sure have had some good runs over the 30 years I’ve been supporting the Brew Crew! Every chance I get, when I’m back home, you can count on me tailgating at the stadium. I wear my hat; wear my shirt; grill some brats and have a beer. And, I get to wear that hat because I support my team. Yes, I’m a fan of the Brewers.
But this is an article about wine and baseball, and more specifically, about supporting wineries…and baseball. In a great “vintage”, I’d follow at least half of the games the Brewers played. In a lesser “vintage” I’d trail off towards the end of the season, but I’m still wearing the hat. If you’re a fan of a winery, you appreciate their style, you appreciate their dedication, you follow the “team” and support that winery through it all. Did they have a great vintage? Get a case! Was it a challenging vintage but they did their best nonetheless, buy 6 bottles. Either way, if you’re a fan and support your “team” you can still claim the rights to wear the hat!
Twin Liquors in the Hill Country Galleria
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.
Sandra Spalding, Director of Marketing for Twin Liquors, here! I have worked for Twin for 15 years and have seen many folks “grow up” in our company! Cale Thibadeau, who you know as the author of this column, is one of those people. I’m writing for him this month because he is off getting married. In fact, he is marrying a Twin alumna who I have known for many years. So, I dedicate this to them and to love! Salute!
Love is every day. So is Italian wine. Love is a grand gesture. So is Italian wine
At least in my world it seems that every time Italian wine is uncorked romance ensues. And, the great thing is, there are boundless Italian wines at all price points and styles encouraging you to set romance in motion every day! So, why not?!
Personally, I have found passion in pizza night paired with a value-priced Nero d’Avola or Corvina. I have hosted elegant dinner parties and added a touch of romance by serving Barolo or a Barbaresco. I got engaged over the Italian white Vermentino. It was not an expensive wine but it was a special bottle from a place I love. I had Italian wine at my wedding and leftovers for the first year of marriage.
And you can too…Want to pop the question? Pop an elegant Franciacorta! Want to celebrate a 3 month anniversary? Pop a Prosecco. Impressing a first date, but don’t want to seem too pretentious? Offer up a nice Valpolicella Ripasso. Generally in the $17-25 range, it’s like a baby Amarone but won’t intimidate your date. Or maybe, you do want to go all out? In that case, go Super Tuscan or Brunello di Montalcino. Need some help figuring out what to pour or figuring out what the heck I’m talking about? Go see your Twin guy, Cale! By the time this publishes, he’ll be married, so you can go congratulate him and get some good Italian wine advice!
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.
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!
Austin has a reputation for being a gastronomic hot spot. Yet, no restaurant review could prepare someone for the decadence and immense hospitality of a bourbon-themed, private lunch hosted by master distiller Chris Morris of Woodford Reserve and prepared by the Driskill’s head chef, Troy Knapp and his team. A four course meal, each course paired with a unique Woodford whiskey, is a food and spirit experience that will forever remain unrivaled.
Walking into the Driskill hotel whisks you back in time, until you are met by the very present and intoxicating aroma of exceptionally crafted bourbon. Sweet and oaky, your mouth begins to water. Placed before you are four glasses of tempting whiskey, each one unique in its own right. Mr. Morris artfully describes his recipe and methodology in crafting these fine spirits. He deliberately uses only the finest, all natural resources to ensure a farm-to-bottle creation. From fresh well-sprung water from Pepper Springs, to a specifically bred distiller’s yeast, the new information only heightens your anticipation.
This first course includes a whiskey cured and cigar-smoked salmon with house made rye crackers. One bite of the salmon and you know what they mean by cigar-smoked; it exudes a robust, smoky, and lightly fruity flavor that pairs delightfully with both the crunchy rye crackers and Woodford Reserve Rye. Similar to straight bourbon which must be at least 51% corn, a straight rye whiskey must be made from a minimum 51% rye grains. But unlike some of the newfangled 95 to 100% rye whiskeys, Mr. Morris uses a traditional recipe that includes 53% rye, 33% corn, and a sizable 14% malted barley. This classic recipe is not to be mixed into cocktails such as a Manhattan; it was designed to be consumed neat. The rye has notes of black pepper and almonds which finish in a lengthy marzipan savor. As the spirit leaves its rich nutty character lingering on your tongue, you take that last bite of smoked salmon and await the next course.
The chefs present a brunch course, an epicurean take on bacon and eggs paired with Woodford’s signature bourbon, the Distiller’s Select. Not your average crispy bacon strip, this course contains a hardy hunk of Berkshire pork belly laid next to a striking poached egg. Accompanied by an orange-honey glaze, this dish embodies the chef’s vision of a fat-washed whiskey flip. And now for a sip of the bourbon; the Distiller’s Select is remarkably balanced bourbon intended to appease every palate. Sweet and nutty, fruity and smoldering, it is steeped with passion and pride.
Course number three arrives in three oval shaped ramekins. Local red cabbage on the left, a mint and bourbon lamb shank pie in the center, and oh-so-buttery hand-crushed corn grits on the right. Your fork dives straight through the puffy crust of the pie releasing the burly smell of warm lamb. You scoop the luxurious grits in right after. The soft, elegant textures meld in your mouth and call for a refreshing drink. This time it is Woodford Reserve Double-Oaked. Double Oaked is made by taking the finished Distiller’s Reserve product and aging it even longer in another unique barrel. This second American white oak barrel is given four times the regular amount of toasting, is charred for a brief five seconds, and holds the whiskey for an average of ten months. Every barrel results in a distinct whiskey, leaving Mr. Morris the difficult task of blending different barrels to create a consistent product. The ultra-premium straight bourbon you lift to your lips emanates flavors of butterscotch, maple, honeycomb, and more. Its scent is sweet and enticing. One taste isn’t enough. You daydream about having a glass after dinner tonight. Another bite of creamy grits layered with the syrupy whiskey makes you think of a whiskey filled Sunday brunch. You look back down and all four vessels are empty.
Dessert comes in the form of spiced cheesecake delicately crafted into the shape of a sphere and a scoop of sweet potato gelato. Your spoon glides effortlessly through both; the gelato is sweet and tangy, the cheesecake is the texture of softened cream cheese and saturated with fresh vanilla bean flavor. As you reach for the last taste of whiskey you start to feel a sense of loss, for two reasons. One, lunch is almost over. And two, Mr. Morris explains that production of this whiskey has already ended. The Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Single Barrel chosen for Twin Liquors, the last whiskey of the day, has all been produced. This product is bottled directly from a single barrel chosen by Mr. Morris. Rather than being blended for consistency, as the previous tasting saw, this whiskey comes from a particular barrel that aged brilliantly all by its self. The Twin Liquors Single Barrel starts with more pronounced fruit flavors; notes of cherry and mild berries arrive first, quickly followed by fresh honeycomb and toasted nuts.
Twin Liquors extends many humble thanks to Brown-Forman, Woodford Reserve, and Mr. Chris Morris for their selection and naming of our Single Barrel and for their hospitality in organizing such a remarkable event! We would like to extend special thanks to the Driskill and the efforts of their immeasurably talented chefs! We would also like to invite customers to come and purchase all four of these phenomenal whiskeys, and particularly our Single Barrel while supplies last!
My fiancée and I have enjoyed cooking many memorable meals together. This is one of the things that drew us together. We both appreciate taking the time to cook for the ones you love. And, marking those meals with a bottle of wine that you can recall years after you had the meal makes it that much more special. I can remember one of the first meals we had together.
Elizabeth prepared a slow cooked lamb shoulder seasoned with black pepper and rosemary. It was cooked perfectly. She paired it with a Northern Rhone Syrah and it went together naturally. Since then, we have had lamb cooked in many different ways. Don’t be afraid to cook something unknown to you. After the first time, you get more confident and it can be a real enjoyment to experiment and try new things. You could even try a duck breast with smoked tea!
I remember this meal well. We cooked two duck breasts seasoned with Lapsang Souchong smoked tea. We put the tea in a spice grinder along with some white rice and turned it into a powder so that it would adhere to the duck more easily. We enjoyed this with a bottle of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir that was not over ripe and had good acidity. I had never cooked duck before this meal. Again, the first step in cooking is always the most intimidating. I bounce a lot of ideas for meals and wine pairings off of friends to get feedback and more perspective.
This last pairing I think might be my favorite. Seared scallops with an orange ginger glaze with mangos and pumpkin seeds on a bed of lettuce. A simple dish prepared quite quickly. Searing the scallops is the only cooking involved, once you get that you could substitute any number of ingredients and keep the scallop as the main focus. With our preparation we had a white wine from Santa Barbara County that uses the varieties typical in white Bordeaux, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Truly a dish I will not forget.
All of these recipes were borrowed from cookbooks, chefs, friends of mine or searching the endless reading you can find on the internet. Over the last five or six years we have gotten better and better at pairing wine with food for that special occasion. Just remember, this is supposed to be fun! So don’t feel intimidated, instead look at it as a fun and enjoyable way to spend time with that special someone.
Twin Liquors in the Hill Country Galleria
Black Eyed Peas, Champagne, Prime Rib & Resolutions. Some of these traditions I know about. Some I know less about. All are good. Some I visit more regularly than others.
The first, a Texas tradition, enjoyed on New Year’s Day, is to bring you luck. This is something rather new to me. I have never prepared it, but am always excited to join in on the tradition. Since living in Texas, my brother’s wife, who is from Texas, has made it each year. My parents are typically in town and we relax around the house filling our bellies with just the right amount of luck. I don’t have a wine pairing for this afternoon snack; so let me know if you can think of any!
Champagne, a world-wide tradition, has a long history associated with the celebration of New Year’s Eve! I feel happy enough that I plan on getting a great bottle of champagne to enjoy with my fiancée and some close friends to ring in the New Year, reflect on all we have accomplished and look forward to all that is ahead.
The third tradition is a family one…I think my brother started doing Prime Rib annually around the holidays about four years ago. He always does a great job. It is a great chance to pull a special bottle or two, as the dinner is usually rather small. Amarone is a re-occurring pick for the wine or maybe some California Zinfandel. We adjust the flavor or cooking method each year slightly, because, why not! The wine changes, so must the food.
In January, when I take a deep breath…the fast paced holiday season is over. I may be drinking less wine but I will always crave new flavors. With the thought of resolution, I will go to the grocery store seeking out fruits with which I’m not familiar, trying to widen my horizons of flavor in a healthier way. What I am getting at is, there are so many different types of meals, styles of wine, experiences to have… Why not make your New Year’s Resolution to try something new! After all, at the Hill Country Galleria location, we carry around four thousand different wines. Come on by!
Twin Liquors in the Hill Country Galleria
Sparkling wine produced from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France. Grapes are generally Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay.
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.
Sparkling Italian white wine produced in Northern Italy, made from the grape Glera (aka Prosecco!).
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.
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.
Twin Liquors in the Hill Country Galleria