Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Kick Butt Wines of Charles Smith

Charles Smith is a legend in the wine industry, but not in the same way as Robert Mondavi (Mondavi Winery) or Warren Winiarski (Stags Leap). Those gentlemen are much older and have been established for over 40 years. The ever impressive Charles Smith is much younger and has been established for about half that time, but has none the less created a reputation of amazing talent and wine making skill. His simple straight forward wine labels and delicious juice have amazed many a drinker over his career. 

We are lucky enough to have one of his disciples visit us in the next few weeks to spread the good word. She will walk us through his history and wine making philosophy as well as his off shoot projects that everyone is raving about. This is sure to be a very cool class. (and yes he definitely looks like Sammy Hagar)

Come Join Us For Our: KICK BUTT CHARLES SMITH WINE CLASS on May, 7th @ 6pm

A Short History of Charles Smith
Growing up just outside of Sacramento, California, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Charles Smith began craving worldly travel at a young age due to his Welsh mother and French father. As soon as he had the chance, Charles decided to move to Denmark (for a “hot piece of a**” i.e. a lady friend he met in the states). While in Scandinavia, Charles spent the next nine years managing rock bands and concert tours throughout Europe, including the famed Danish duo, The Ravonettes. Wining and dining while on the road became a catalyst for his passion of wine, which ultimately triggered the career he has today.

In 1999, he moved back to the United States, specifically to the Pacific Northwest, opening a wine shop on Bainbridge Island, just across the Puget Sound from downtown Seattle. On a road trip in late 1999, he passed through the small town of Walla Walla and met a young Frenchman and winemaker. The two men discovered their common passion for great Syrah and Charles was eventually convinced to move to Walla Walla and make his own juice. In 2001, Charles released 330 cases of his first wine, the 1999 K Syrah. The Walla Walla Valley was now his home.

After a devastating freeze in 2004, Charles brought to life, a label he had once in a dream: House Wine. Low and behold, the label concept had never been created or trademarked, so Charles launched the legendary brand before selling it to Precept Brands in 2006. That same year, Charles started a second brand, Charles Smith Wines. The brand was themed as “The Modernist Project,” which focuses on the way people generally consume wine today: immediately. The intent was (and still is) to create wines to be enjoyed now, but with true typicality of both the varietal and the vineyard.

A self-taught winemaker, Charles is a true artisan and a pioneer in the wine world. In 2008, K Vintners was recognized by Wine & Spirits magazine as one of the “Best New Wineries of the Last Ten Years,” and as “Winery of the Year” in their annual buying guide. In 2009 Food & Wine magazine awarded Charles “Winemaker of the Year” and in 2010 Seattle Magazine recognized Charles as their “Winemaker of the Year.”

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Top 10 Drinks for Summer

The warm weather has finally arrived and with it comes thoughts of the delicious beverages we will be sipping on while soaking up the sun. With all the plethora of choices out there we have narrowed it down to our Top 10 Summer Drinks. These are the most flavorful, easy drinking and perfect cooler stuffers around!


1. Greylock Gin & Tonic
This premade Gin & Tonic is packed in 200ml bottles for a perfect serving every time. Made with super premium Berkshire Gin and mixed with small batch craft Tonic water, this is one of the most delicious G&T's you will ever taste. The only thing you need is fresh lime slice and sunshine!

2. Spiked Seltzer (West Indies Lime, Indian River Grapefruit, Valencia Orange)
One of the coolest new creations that screams Summer. This is a artisanal sparkling seltzer water that is actually brewed to create a nice 6% alcohol level. These aren't your overly sweet Mike's Hard Lemonade, just fresh ingredient that are crisp, dry and very refreshing!

3. Honoro Vera, Dry Rose
Most wine drinkers see a pink wine and think white zinfandel sweet. This is definitely not the case with most rose wines from other countries. This dry rose from Spain has a white wine crisp, light body with the flavors of a red wine (think strawberries, raspberries and light spice). If you haven't tried a dry rose yet, then jump on the band wagon and pick this one up today.

4. Harpoon, Big Squeeze Grapefruit Shandy
A seasonal favorite around here that is now in cans! This is a combination beer and grapefruit juice that hits the spot on a warm day. Nice and light with a flavor similar to a wheat beer accented by a nice tart grapefruit flavor. Better snatch this one up soon before we drink it all ourselves!

5. Crabbies, Cloudy Lemonade
A new offering from Crabbies who specialize in making alcoholic ginger beer. This lemonade has a sweet and tart flavor with a nice kick on the finish from the 4.8% abv that this drink packs. Something a little different that would make a great Arnold Palmer when mixed with some iced tea!

6. Abita, Strawberry Lager
A Summer seasonal that comes straight from New Orleans (and we know they know how to drink!) and is brewed with fresh strawberries to make this lager really come alive. This very easy drinking beer has light flavors of caramel, spice and of course strawberry with a silky soft finish. This beer is great for everybody because it's not sweet but it's not bitter and dry either. 

7. Aveleda, Vinho Verde
An amazing wine for both the price and quality. Think of Vinho Verde as Portugals version of Pinot Grigio but lighter and more refreshing. It also has a slightly lower alcohol level (10%) which makes it a great choice for those afternoon parties that you don't want to pass out before your guests leave.

8. Owl Brew, Coco-lada (Tea Crafted for Cocktails)
This is the only drink that made the list that requires a little prep work. A really unique company out of Brooklyn, NY that makes this Coco-lada drink mix that is a blend of black tea, coconut, chai spices & pineapple that is amazing when mixed with a little (or a lot of) rum or prosecco.

9. Ca Furlan, Prosecco
Prosecco is the undesputed champion of versatile drinks! It is perfect served chilled all by itself but it also plays well with others such as peach nectar (bellini), orange juice (mimosa) or for a real treat on a hot day, pop a few pieces of frozen fruit in to flavor it and keep it cool at the same time. Cheers!

10. Jack's Hard Cider
This is made at a local winery in Pennsylvania using only the freshest apples that are grown on the estate. These ciders are slow fermented to create a richly flavored cider that has a smooth finish with out the typical lingering syrupy flavor that other big cider producers have. Plus the cans make it a very easy to transport Summer treat. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Margarita Madness

It's that time of year when the weather starts to break and the days get longer. The beach is soon to be calling so be prepared..... with MARGARITAS!!

Margaritas are really easy to make and taste so much better fresh than when you use that store bought mix that shall remain nameless. Here is the original homemade recipe as well as some fun variations using our favorite house tequila: Cimarron!

Don't Forget to Sign Up for our Margarita Class on June, 18th @ 6pm!!

Original Homemade Margarita
1 oz Triple Sec (or Other Orange Liqueur)
0.5oz Fresh Lime Juice
Splash of Agave Nectar (or Simple Syrup*)
-Combine All Ingredients in a shaker. Shake and pour over ice. Salt or Sugar Rim is Optional. Garnish with a lime.

St. Germain Margarita (Elderflower)
This margarita smells like fresh picked lilles and goes down very smooth!
0.5oz Fresh Lime Juice
Splash of Agave Nectar (or Simple Syrup*)
-Combine All Ingredients in a shaker. Shake and pour over ice. Salt or Sugar Rim is Optional. Garnish with a lime.

Bloody Maria Sriracha Margarita
-Combine All Ingredients in a shaker. Shake and pour over ice. Salt or Sugar Rim is Optional. Garnish with Celery Stalk, Pickled Green Bean and Wedge of Lime.

Blackberry Lime Margarita
1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
-Combine All Ingredients in a shaker. Shake and pour over ice. Salt or Sugar Rim is Optional. Garnish with a lime.

Strawberry Banana Margarita
1 oz Vanilla Ice Cream
-Combine All Ingredients in a shaker. Shake and pour over ice. Salt or Sugar Rim is Optional. Garnish with a lime.

*Simple Syrup Recipe: In a small saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil; simmer until the sugar is dissolved, 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.

Hidden Gems, Best Overlooked Booze

We have one of the best jobs around, tasting new wine, beer and spirits each week! We often find extremely delicious products that we think everybody should check out but for one reason or another they fly completely under the radar of most consumers. So, I have complied a list of our favorite "Hidden Gems" throughout the store that you should take a look at. 

Your Fellow Spirit Slurper,
Chad (The Tie Guy)
White Horse Wine & Spirits  

RoundHouse Coffee Liqueur 
(Boulder, Colorado) $30.99A hand crafted fair trade/organic delight. If you like coffee it is a must try!!

Kilchoman Scotch
Islay, Scotland $54.99-$89.99
Built in 2005 its the first distillery to be built on the Island for 125 years. One of the only farm to table distillers in Scotland. Winning award after award!

Industry Standard Vodka 
Brooklyn, New York $36.99
Redefined and reset the bar for vodka. Keep it local with this small production release!

High West Barrel Aged Cocktails
Park City, Utah $44.99
Pre-made barrel aged cocktails made to perfection. No one else out there is doing it to this degree. Treat yourself!

Journeyman OCG Apple Liqueur 
Three Oaks, Michigan $19.99
Limited release and hottest seasonal spirit on the market this year. Think organic apple pie, serve warm or cold, but get it before its gone!

Koval Liqueurs (Ginger and Jasmine)
Chicago, Illinois $24.99
Small batch organic liqueurs that need you to get creative. Mixes well with gin, vodka, whiskey, or tequila.

Art in the Ages Spirits (Organic)
Philadelphia, Pa $29.99
Not your typical spirits company and they are located right here in Philly. Pick one up and create your our cocktail!

Caledonia Barr Hill Gin
Hardwick, Vermont $36.99This man is a Jersey boy at heart creating one of our house favorite gins. Secret ingredient is his own raw honey. Staff recommended!

Tequila Ocho
Jalisco, Mexico $45.99-$56.99
Single Estate Tequila, made the old fashion way, designates year and location of harvest. Old school farmers bringing you real tequila. Enjoy! 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Craft Beer Happenings

     Love to talk LOCAL!! A new addition to the bottled selections from the wildly popular and local Cape May Brewing Company will be a Double IPA.  It seems that anything that Cape May Brewing bottles these days is an instant hit and you can be sure that their newest will follow suit.  Formerly available only at the brewery, Coastal Evacuation Double IPA clocks in at 8.3% ABV and has that piney, resinous taste that most IPA lovers crave.  The malt backbone is enough to give it almost perfect balance and keep it from being overly bitter.  Stop in for a sixer and taste for yourself the world class brews that are being crafted right here in our own backyard!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Top 10 Wines Under $10

One of our biggest joys of being wine lovers, is finding delicious wines under that sweet spot of $10! There are so many great wines on the market today that it isn't too hard to find LOTS of wine under 10 bucks. The hard part is finding GOOD wine under 10 bucks! Below we have compiled our Top Ten list of our favorite value wines, all under $10. Enjoy!
1. NxNW, Dry Riesling (Washington) $9.99
A great DRY Riesling with flavors of peach, jasmine, clover, apricot, mango, lychee and citrus with a crisp, round, long finish, balanced with nice dry acidity. Super easy drinking, but with a lot of flavor!

2. Domaine de Pajot, White Blend (France) $8.99 ORGANIC
From the Cotes de Gascogne, just south of Bordeaux, this wine is made from the four main regional varietals: Colombard, Ugni-Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Gros-Manseng. Crisp, dry, and bright, with flavors of citrus, melon, and herb, this refreshing white wine is one to snap up by the case and keep on hand all summer long!

3. Amalaya, Riesling/Torrontes (Argentina) $9.99
This wine comes from the Calchaquí Valley in northwest Argentina, in the foothills of the Andes. It is a unique blend of steely Torrontes 85% and aromatic Riesling 15%. Floral, fresh and minerally, this is a refreshing wine for your favorite seafood dishes, salads, or on its own in the warm sunshine.

4. Zestos, Old Vine Malvar (Spain) $9.49
Zestos Blanco is perhaps one of the most complex white-wines produced in Spain. It is also a tremendous value. If you have a demanding palate and love the bright acid of Sauvignon blanc and the body of chardonnay, the Malvar grape will greatly reward your taste. This wine exhibits bright tropical fruits, white flowers, litchis and citrus notes. If you like medium- to full-bodied whites, without oak, that are bright, drink Malvar. White spice and fennel on the finish.  This wine for this price still blows our minds!

5. Tarrica, Chardonay (California) $9.99
Liquid Butter! Golden in color with aromas of tropical fruit, peach, vanilla and hints of sweet oak. Medium bodied and complex with a well balanced mouth feel offering tropical & stone fruit, mineral and citrus flavors. Ending with a satisfying creamy finish.

6. Bodan Roan, Pinot Noir (California) $9.99
Bodan Roan Wines are produced with a clear goal: to make straight-forward, food-friendly wines. This goal is attained through a process that begins in the vineyard, where high-quality grapes provide a base for the wine. The grapes chosen for these wines are from select vineyard sites throughout California. Bright and juicy with notes of cherry, strawberry, and a hint of spice.  Hard to find good pinot under $10.

7. Portada, Red Blend (Portugal) $9.99This deep ruby red, medium-bodied wine has berry fruit flavors and a beautiful balance. It’s fruity, tasty, and very pleasant and elegant. It’s the perfect “happy hour” red wine, a great everyday wine. Excellent with everything from roasts to  barbecue, pasta and pizzas!  Portugal is where the values are!!

8. Chateau Julien, Merlot (California) $9.99
If you like Cabernets try this Merlot! A big, beastly wine with dark plum and blackberry flavors and nice rich tannin structure on the finish. A big red that really goes well with bold, red meat based dishes.

9. Cameron Hughes, Lot 358 Malbec (Argentina) $9.99
This Malbec is filled with rich dark blackberry and plum fruits, framed with a nice approachable tannin structure.  A great alternative to your everyday California Cabernet. Perfect with steak, fajitas, or a simple barbecue with friends.

10. Isle Saint Pierre, Red Blend (France) $9.99
A big, bold blend of 40% Cabernet Franc, 40% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot, Other Red, 10% Arinarnoa. Delightfully aromatic with sweet dark fruit—berry, damson plum, black currant jam—and dark milk chocolate. The palate is drier than the nose suggests, structured by its acidity rather than its fine tannins. The black fruits are there, joined by red fruit and a touch of pepper at the mid palate, and a certain chocolatey sweetness on the finish.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Decanting Wine 101

Want to make your wine taste $20 better? Try decanting it. Decanting your wine separates any sediment that may have formed while simultaneously aerating the wine, which enhances the aromas and flavors of the wine. Knowing why, when, and how to decant wine can really upgrade that bottle on your table.

Decanting is a simple and easy process. Just pour wine into a large open glass container or decanter and let sit for the desired amount of time. Just pulling out the cork and letting it sit open will not actually do anything, it needs to have a large opening in which wine and oxygen have the freedom to mingle. Avoid using any plastic containers as they will alter the flavor of the wine.
Riedel Red Wine Decanter
We recommend the Riedel Wine Decanter ($59.99) - made of 24% lead crystal, this exquisite decanter has an elegant base that ensures maximum aeration of your wines and an open spout for drip-free pouring. The minimalist design of the decanter puts the focus on your fine wines.
True Fabrications Decanter with Handle
Houdini Wine Carafe
Another great option is the True Fabrications Wine Decanter with Handle ($29.99) for a classic style with a handle for easy no-drip pouring. Or for a more casual look and feel, go with the Houdini Wine Carafe ($19.99).

How long should I decant my wine for?
Decanting times range from about 30 minutes to more than 3 hours depending on the variety and age of the wine. A general rule of thumb is to add 1 hour of decanting for every 10 years that the wine has been aged. Most red wines can benefit from decanting, not just the expensive ones. Here are some guidelines based on different wine varietals, but since every wine is different, be sure to check your wine periodically for "doneness." Make sure that you are allowing your wine to sit at room temperature, not in a cold or sunny spot.

Red Wines
Zinfandel: 30 minutes
Pinot Noir: 30 minutes (e.g. red Bourgogne)
Malbec: 1 hour
Grenache/Garnacha Blend: 1 hour (e.g. Côtes du Rhône, Priorat, GSM)
Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot: 2 hours (e.g. Bordeaux)
Petite Sirah: 2 hours
Tempranillo: 2 hours (e.g. Rioja, Ribera del Deuro)
Sangiovese: 2 hours (e.g. Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti)
Vintage Port & Madeira: 2 hours
Mourvèdre/Monastrell 2-3 hours (e.g. Bandol)
Dão and Douro Reds: 2-3 hours
Syrah/Shiraz: 2-3 hours
Nebbiolo 3+ hours (e.g. Barolo, Barbaresco)

White Wines
Most white wines don't need to be decanted, in fact, if the wine is highly aromatic decanting may actually hurt the wine. Occasionally however, white wines taste funky (think steamed mushrooms) and decanting will fix this! This flavor is common in full-bodied white wines from cooler climates like a white Bourgogne (e.g. Chardonnay). Decant for about 30 minutes.

Aerators do an excellent job of decanting wine in just minutes by forcing air to be circulated through the wine. As you pour, the wine "breathes" as bubbles are sent through it, thus creating a wine with more expansive aromas and/or softer tannins. An aerator can be great for casual meals, where time may be of the essence. We offer several options for aerators that can be purchased in store or online.
Vinturi Aerator
We recommend the Vinturi Wine Aerator ($39.99), which aerates your red wine in seconds. The Host Tilt Mini Aerator ($12.99) is also a great inexpensive option and it is small enough to fit in your pocket!
Host Tilt Mini Aerator

Getting in all the nooks and crannies to thoroughly clean your decanter can be tricky. It's recommended to not use dish soap to clean the inside of decanters as it can be too difficult to remove all of the detergent, which can adversely affect the aromas and flavors of the wine. recommends washing the outside with hot water first and then rinsing the inside with cold water, which helps to keep the glass from getting foggy on the inside. We use this nifty Glass Cleaning Brush ($7.99) to easily clean our decanter and our wine glasses too. Plus they're scratch free cleaners so you don't have to worry about ruining your glassware.

Glass Cleaning Brush
For more information on decanting wine, check out!