Pillar Box Red

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A blend of shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, and merlot that is tasty and fruity with a hint of dry to let you know it’s serious, but an open an easy flavor to be accessible and friendly. This is one of the bottles I received in my latest Wine Awesomeness shipment and I couldn’t be more pleased. Spicy with berries, endlessly drinkable.

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Enough body so that you know you are drinking something with substance, but not so heavy that you wouldn’t want to drink it with food. Overall, a thoroughly yummy wine I would purchase again!

Winey Woman 🙂

Winey Information Resources #1

The internet is full of information, but with so much to sift through, where should you start when looking for information about wine, beer, and other alcoholic goodness? Of course, I would suggest you start with this blog (self-promotion never hurts!), but we are by no means a never-ending vessel of information. I will be doing a series of posts highlighting great resources for information, good books to read, etc. on our favorite subjects.

Our first featured resource is Pinterest.com. I was really surprised to find the great practical information available on Pinterest. Sure, knowing all of the ins and outs of what makes a good wine is important, but sometimes you just want to know the type of wine that goes best with your salmon and risotto for your dinner party or holiday meal!

Pairing Wine, Beer, and Spirits with your Thanksgiving Meal from Pinterest.com

Pairing Wine, Beer, and Spirits with your Thanksgiving Meal from Pinterest.com

Or, how about how much of each type of alcohol should you buy for your party based on the number of people you’ve invited?

How to buy the correct amount of alcohol for your party.  From Pinterest

How to buy the correct amount of alcohol for your party.
From Pinterest

Sure, all of this stuff is merely guidance. Maybe you don’t care that Pinot Grigio is the best wine for your Thanksgiving stuffing–you’re going to drink your Malbec regardless of what the little chart says. These charts and infographics are used best when you’re not sure or you need a starting place. They can also be a great place to start experimenting with your alcohol and food pairings. Having the “right” wine can often take an already delicious meal to the next level.

Happy Pinning, dear readers! Just make sure to set a time limit for yourself, or you can spend several hours surfing Pinterest and not even realize it!

Have a great resource for information? Share in the comments!

Winey Woman 🙂

Dark Horse–Big Red Blend

Sometimes you walk into the wine section of the grocery store and you know exactly what you want. You know that you want a red, a Merlot with tobacco and chocolate flavors that’s on the dry side and will go great with a juicy rare steak.

And other times you walk into the wine section looking for something new and CHEAP. I often like to try different wines, and I tend to avoid the bottom of the barrel $5 wines because they are usually closer to the complete crap side of the spectrum. Sometimes, you get lucky and you find a gem that is both delicious and cheap. Dark Horse is definitely one of those rare gems. It was on sale for $7.99 a bottle and the label was good and the description sounded fantastic, so I thought, “What the hell!? Eight bucks is a pretty low-risk bottle of wine.”

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Such a classy label!

Dark Horse is not as dry as Dreaming Tree, it falls closer to the middle of the dry-sweet spectrum, maybe slightly more on the dry side than the sweet side. It has a truly luscious round fruit flavor, but with balance to keep back what can often be an overpowering sweetness.  Lots of tart cherry, blackberry, and currant flavors with a dash of oak on the finish. For such an inexpensive bottle of red, it is so delicious. I would pair this with food or just to sip on the couch while enjoying a classic episode of Top Gear (such as the episode where they launch a Mini Cooper off of the ski jump at Lillihammer).

Definitely consider picking up a bottle the next time you visit your local grocery store (I got mine at Hannaford!).

Winey Woman 🙂

Dreaming Tree Cabernet Sauvignon

Standing here the old man said to me
“Long before these crowded streets
Here stood my dreaming tree” 

Lyrics from ‘The Dreaming Tree’ by Dave Matthews Band

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I have to start by admitting I love the Dave Matthews Band. When I use the word ‘love’ I really mean it. I have always felt that if you are really into music, at some point you find your ‘soul music.’ This is the music that just makes you feel in a way that most other music can’t. DMB is one of my two ‘soul music’ bands and because of this, I have always wanted to try this wine.

I was praying this wine was going to be good. My expectations were high. DMB holds such a special place in my heart that I’m willing to ignore when they put out an album that just isn’t up to their normal quality (I’m looking at you, Busted Stuff!). This wine was not a Busted Stuff in liquid. This was a Before These Crowded Streets or a Crash- in other words- it was delicious!

This wine is on the dry side, but I wouldn’t put it in the ‘very dry,’ more of a semi-dry once it really starts to breathe and all of the luscious fruit comes to the forefront. There’s a really nice deep cherry flavor that comes through, with a hint of vanilla for balance. Dreaming Tree is the type of wine I would bring to a dinner party. It tastes more expensive than it is, and it goes with food well. You could also just sip this wine in front of the fire on a cold day, music playing in the background, and have a nice conversation with your significant other. Overall, I would buy this again.

Winey Woman 🙂

Harpoon Brewery, Windsor, VT — something a little different this time.

Winey Woman and I decided to visit Harpoon Brewery’s Windsor, VT., location for lunch this weekend. I was smart enough to remember my two empty Harpoon growlers, as I usually find something worth taking home a lot of to share with friends. This visit was no exception. Being a Saturday, the place was PACKED, but even so, the wait for a table was only about 15 minutes. That gave us plenty of time to wander through the retail section to see the new clothing, beer glasses, sunglasses with pop-toppers built in, and of course, plenty of bottled and canned beer.

Harpoon Brewery, Windsor, VT

Harpoon Brewery, Windsor, VT

Upon being seated, our waitress was prompt and knowledgeable about the new beers on tap. Harpoon had two pilot batches ready to serve, Boston Tea Party and Humble Braggert. BTP was described as a porter brewer with black tea, and HB was a double IPA with tons of hops. I opted to get a taste of both, along with ordering one of my seasonal favorites, Long Thaw IPA. The BTP was dark…like really dark. But what did I expect of a porter with black tea? I’m not much of a tea drinker, and when I do, it’ll be herbal or white tea mostly. This one wasn’t something I’d personally seek out, but if you like dark beers with a far amount of bitterness, this one could be right up your alley.

From L to R: Hard Cider, Boston Tea Party, Humble Braggert, and Long Thaw

From L to R: Hard Cider, Boston Tea Party, Humble Braggert, and Long Thaw

Humble Braggert, on the other hand, was awesome. So much hoppy goodness in one small sip, I was blown away. Having only had a small taste, I can’t comment on how it’ll hold up throughout an entire pint, but my small taste was enough for me to get a growler to go. Winey Woman got her standard Harpoon Hard Cider, as having Celiacs Disease makes drinking beer a rather unpleasant experience.

Might as well try a few!

Might as well try a few!

WW interjection: Harpoon’s hard cider is decent. Drinkable, but much more like fermented apple juice in taste than a highly developed flavor profile found in some other hard ciders. I much prefer Harpoon’s honey version of their hard cider. They have also done a pilot batch of dry-hopped cider that was truly delicious. Hint, hint, Harpoon!!!

WW enjoying her cider

WW enjoying her cider

Our lunches came out looking awesome, I had a BLT with beer battered fries, and WW had a tuna melt on gluten-free bread. Like usual, both meals were great, and we enjoyed our time immensely. As mentioned above, I took home a growler of Humble Braggert, and I also got a fill up of Rich & Dan’s Rye IPA. I remember having this one a few years ago when it was launched, and felt it was time to reacquaint myself with it. I’ll be doing full reviews of both of these sometime soon.

The Beer Garden has a warm atmosphere- a really nice place to grab a brew and some food

The Beer Garden has a warm atmosphere- a really nice place to grab a brew and some food

Along with Harpoon’s northern location, the light industrial park (Artisans Way) they are in features a distillery and a shop featuring Vermont food products. Since we were there and didn’t have any time constraints, we decided to wander about some. In The Sustainable Farmer, they feature a smorgasbord of local Vermont products ranging from the obligatory maple syrup to cheese, sauces, spreads, and a recent addition – Putney Mountain Winery. Much to our surprise, one of the owners was there, pouring samples of their delicious wines. After having a taste of all eight they had in stock, we picked out two, a cranberry wine and a cassis dessert liquor. Both shall be reviewed shortly by WW and myself.

Silo Distillery- just across the driveway from Harpoon

SILO Distillery- just across the driveway from Harpoon

The other alcoholic offering at Artisans Way is SILO Vodka. A vodka distillery that now offers other options, including bourbon and moonshine. I decided to sample the bourbon and moonshine, as I’d only ever had their vodka, which is amazingly smooth. The moonshine was definitely moonshine, but was clearly thought out. It had a rough taste, but wasn’t so rough that you couldn’t enjoy it. The bourbon, on the other hand, was incredible. So utterly smooth and flavorful, it was possibly the best I’ve ever had. I wanted to buy a bottle, but the price was quite steep, so I guess I’ll have to wait for my birthday or something… 😦

Overall we had an awesome time in Windsor, discovered some new drinks and revisited some old, and I can’t wait to bring you my thoughts on Harpoon’s brews.

<>Beer Man

Svenska Red and a Brief Mention of the Finger Lakes Region of Wine, Beer, and Spirits

Svenska Red by Swedish Hill Winery is labeled as a semi-sweet table wine, but really should be labeled a dessert sweet wine. With 11.5% alcohol content, Svenska is a doozy, and will get you feeling happy quickly, if you can drink enough of it at one time, due to its sweetness. Overall, it’s a nice fruity dessert wine that I think would taste amazing poured over vanilla ice cream, but definitely not a table wine I would have with dinner.

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Svenska Red…sweet and yummy!

Svenska Red is an upstate New York Finger Lakes Region wine. If you have never visited the Finger Lakes Region of NY, and you’re a fan of wine (and beer and spirits!), you are truly missing out. There are over 100 wineries and several breweries and distilleries along the beautiful shores of Cayuga and Seneca Lakes.There are many companies that run wine tours so you do not even have to drive yourself to each winery.

View of Seneca Lake from Glenora Winery- Finger Lakes Region, NY

View of Seneca Lake from Glenora Winery- Finger Lakes Region, NY

Beer Man and I did a mini-tour last year while we were participating in MINI Takes the States (MTTS), a cross-country rally for MINI Cooper owners that had a stop in Buffalo, NY last year. While we couldn’t do the entire cross-country rally, we did the last three stops in Buffalo, NY; Bethlehem, PA; and Boston, MA. We took the long way to Buffalo and spent a night at the very bottom of Seneca Lake in Watkins Glen. As we were leaving Watkins Glen to head to Buffalo we stopped at several wineries and a brewery called Climbing Bines, which I imagine we’ll post about separately on this blog in the future.

Beer Man and Winey Woman at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel

Beer Man and Winey Woman at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel

Beer Man in the Hops Field at Climbing Bines Brewery

Beer Man in the Hops Field at Climbing Bines Brewery

We will undoubtedly return to the region soon, so I will end the post here. Check out http://www.fingerlakeswinecountry.com/ if you want to plan your wine tour now!

Winey Woman 🙂

Belated New Year’s Eve Beverages

WW: Here we are, writing a beer and wine blog, and we haven’t even discussed what we were enjoying for beverages on New Year’s Eve, which, if the fullness of the shopping carts in the liquor store that evening were any indication, is a national drinking holiday.

Beer Man and I enjoyed a delicious Sparkling (Champagne) Cider from Harpoon Brewery. This is a brew they make only around the holidays and it is one of our favorites. Harpoon’s regular cider has improved slightly over the years, but it is still very light- more of an alcoholic apple juice than a real flavorful hard cider. Combine their cider with champagne yeast and everything changes. It’s effervescent and dry, hits the tongue with a sparkle and is just a joy to drink. It is still somewhat light in flavor, but the champagne yeast adds a really nice quality to the overall experience, without making it taste like strange champagne.  It also makes you feel fabulous pretty quickly, despite its fairly low alcohol content (4.4%) because the bubbles speed up absorption (this is why all champagne tends to get you feeling really happy more quickly than most other alcoholic beverages of equal abv).

All in all, this is a drink I would recommend heartily to anyone who loves a nice hard cider and has something they want to celebrate!
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Beer Man made a drink of his own to kick off the evening…

BM: My own creation — Buckwheat Maple Manhattan. So here on Beer Man and Winey Woman we’re not just all about beer and wine. Hard cider is more than welcomed, as are spirits. Not the mythical kind that haunt you or make you think that your dead relatives are watching over you somehow…..but the yummy, alcoholic kind. Anyway, I digress…..

So for New Year’s Eve, I made myself a Manhattan. It’s a drink I recently (re)discovered on a recent weekend escape that brought us to the Mt. Washington Hotel. Inspired by the awesome Manhattans that their bartenders were making, I decided to break out my old bottle of bitters, my newly acquired Scotch Rocks (soapstone cubes you keep in the freezer and replace ice with), and my “good ‘ole Yankee ingenuity” to try my hand at mixology. I came up with something I’m calling the Maple Buckwheat Special (MBS) (#1, since I’m sure I’ll keep experimenting). I took one measure of Catskill Distilling “Otay” Buckwheat whiskey, two measures of VT Gold vodka, a dash(-ish) of bitters, and a splut of VT Maple Syrup, directly from the bottle, and stirred them together. The result was nothing short of awesome. The syrup cut the harshness of the high-test alcohol, and the buckwheat, which is great on it’s own on the rocks, offered a perfect flavor to compliment the sweetness of the maple. While I did manage to forget a cherry (rookie mistake), the drink made me quite happy, and I think has inspired my inner mixologist to continue experimenting with Manhattans, as well as drinks in general.

Once Upon a Vine…There was a Big Bad Red Blend…

Big Bad Red by Once Upon a Vine. I bought the bottle based on the cool label and fact that it is a red blend and they tend to be fairly well-rounded and good with food. Unlike a merlot, or a pinot noir, which can be somewhat more particular and require a palate that truly appreciates them, a red blend is a red for the people. It usually combines at least two, if not three different types of red and the hope is that the best characteristics of all the flavors will come to the surface.

Oh, what big teeth you have…

When we first opened BBRB- I was not impressed. It felt sharp and somewhat astringent, and none of the promised chocolate and cherry flavors on the label came forward. It wasn’t the worst thing I have tasted, but it certainly was not a bottle I would go searching for, nor recommend.

I’m going to huff…and puff…

As the red breathed and as we had some delicious lamb and Italian food, the wine started to open up nicely and the cherry flavors and a nice oak finish came forward. It started to get smoother and the unpleasant sharpness disappeared. Definitely not a bottle to pour and start sipping immediately. We didn’t finish the bottle, re-corking it for the next day. As the saying goes, this wine was better with age or more accurately, with a little more exposure to air. It is actually much better the next day. Something that I would buy again. The astringent sharpness stays on the nose, but the chocolate flavors have now come to the front and the berriness in the middle is quite nice. The oakiness isn’t as prevalent on the second day, but the other flavors are a welcome addition. I do like this wine, but I’m still not sure I would go “on the hunt” for this Big Bad Red Blend!

Winey Woman 🙂

Big Bad Red Blend