12 Jan 2010
Do you know where your coffee comes from? With words like Fair Trade, Direct Trade, Organic and Third Wave thrown around the coffee industry without much regulation, how can you trust where your coffee comes from?
DOMA (a name mash up of the owner’s sons Dominic and Marco) Coffee Roasting Company of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho is the ONLY member of the exclusive Cooperative Coffees in the Northwest (one of 22 in the US). What does this mean? DOMA has a direct relationship with the farmer who grows the coffee. By direct, we mean so direct as to physically spend time with the farmer helping them with farming practices, sharing growing and roasting information and actually working on the farm at different times. There is NO middle man. DOMA even provides proof of shipping records, receipts, and prices paid through www.fairtradeproof.org Can your coffee company say that?
In talking with owners Terry and Rebecca Patano it is evident that three things are important to them; the environment, quality, and relationships.
Some companies advertise organic coffee as a means to jump on the ‘green’ money train. DOMA lives sustainability in every aspect of their business. Certified organic roaster, 100% biodegradable bags, compost or recycle all waste material, all print materials are on recycled paper, non toxic cleaning agents and roasting on a Loring Smart Roaster (saves the equiv. of 2000 gallons of natural gas per year). All of this is in addition to the direct relationship with the farmers (as mentioned above). These efforts lead to better coffee.
While at DOMA Coffee Roasting Company, I had the privilege of watching a roasting. The 50lb batch was treated with care from the loading of the green beans to the frequent monitoring of the roaster while the temperature rose to 400 degrees. Every few minutes the beans were checked for color, quality, and aroma to ensure the perfect quality roast. At just the right moment, Jim (the roaster), smelled and saw what he was looking for and stopped the machine releasing the beautiful beans into the container. I’ve got to tell you that this was THE single most beautiful coffee smell I have ever encountered. The direct relationship ensures the quality of the original product, DOMA “takes and turns it into something special,” says Terry.
The focus on quality continues with the relationships they have with the retailers who use and sell their coffee. Each coffee stand, café, and coffee shop must go through a training program, led by trainer Greg Hjort. Greg teaches the proper techniques for brewing, pulling shots, service, and even fancy espresso art! DOMA will work with new businesses to get their systems in place, provide input on counter set up, and more. Greg makes his rounds for quality control and to provide continuing education. What does this mean to you? It means that you will always get a quality cup of coffee or espresso wherever DOMA is sold.
When I asked what was on the horizon for DOMA Coffee Roasting Company as they celebrated their 10th year in business, Rebecca spoke to the continued desire to get better and refine the quality of the product, training and relationships they have. The whole Patano family is getting ready for an upcoming trip to a Peruvian farm to work side by side with the farmers for two weeks. Terry and Rebecca also swore me to secrecy about an upcoming “change” that they were super excited for. They also have visions of a new ‘green’ certified location at some point in the future.
When you’re out for coffee and you see the DOMA Coffee Roasting Company name, trust that you’re going to get a GREAT product that has been grown with care, tested and refined with passion, roasted with quality, and brewed with consistency.
Visit them on the internet at www.domacoffee.com and soon in the Social Media world!
11 Jan 2010
Buy Local! It makes sense supporting local businesses; higher profit margins, more money stays in the local economy and the capacity to create jobs increases. For the New Year, I vocalized my desire to buy more of my wine locally. I am extending this challenge to all of my wino friends. The resolution is not to buy ALL of my wine locally, just more of it. I commit, where possible and when fiscally responsible (I’ll explain later) to purchase most of my wine from local wine shops or directly from the winery.
Who’s with me? Does it make sense? For me, this is a major departure from the way I traditionally buy wine. My wine purchases typically come from the grocery store, Costco, and occasionally from a local shop near our home. Going local will mean going out of my way to make an additional stop. Our ‘good wine’ purchases tend to come from our bi-annual trips to Washington wine regions.
2010 also brings a challenge to try ‘new’ and interesting wine. I’ve been challenged by my friend James Yates (@winecentury on twitter) to join the Wine Century club where I taste 100 different grape varietals. Currently, my total is at 42. Have you made the Wine Century club? Who’s with me on this journey? What is your starting number?
Financial responsibility is important. Nothing irks me more than buying something only to find out that I could have gotten it cheaper at another store or online. In a recent post on www.corkd.com Robert Dwyer (@RobertDwyer on twitter) posed the dilemma of buying local or buying for the best deal. This is a challenge for local retailers who have less buying power and run on higher overheads. In our global economy the local retailer MUST compete on price AND relationship. If the local shop offers no additional benefit, service or connection then the price will always win. Wineries should also keep this in mind when selling in their tasting room. I recently purchased a nice $48 bottle of wine at a winery only to hear of a blogger friend who picked it up “on sale” for $29. To be honest, this pissed me off. I have a local buying price threshold. This is the difference in price I’m willing to pay for the service, experience or relationship that the local store offers. My max threshold runs around 8-12% (depending on the price bracket). In the case of the wine mentioned above, I would be comfortable with paying $48 FROM the winery even though it could be purchased for $40 at the box store. For the $16 discount wine at the grocery store, I’m okay paying $20 at a local shop (but not $22 or $24).
My 2010 approach to wine is to support local wine for most of my wine purchases. The two caveats revolve around selection and price. If I discover a wine that fits my goals to have new experiences while at Costco, then I’ll buy it. If the wine is consistently 10% or more less at a box store, then it may get my business, especially if the local retailer offers little or no additional value (relationship, experience, or knowledge).
What are your thoughts? Do you have a price threshold? Are you ready to join me on my 2010 Wine Challenge?
Buying Wine “Locally” in Spokane
Are we missing your favorite Spokane Wine Shop? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- 3319 North Argonne Road Spokane Valley, WA
- (509) 443-4027
- 926 South Monroe Street Spokane, WA
- (509) 358-8955
Left Bank Wine Bar
- 108 North Washington Street, Spokane, WA
- (509) 315-8623
- The Drink Nectar Review (Nov 2009)
Niko’s Wine Bar
- 725 West Riverside Ave, Spokane, WA
- (509) 624-7444
- The Drink Nectar Review (Jan 2010)
- 726 East 43rd Avenue, Spokane, WA
- (509) 343-2253
Vino! A Wine Shop
- 222 South Washington Street, Spokane, WA
- (509) 838-1229
- 8801 North Indian Trail Road, Spokane, WA
- (509) 468-9463
Yokes Fresh Market Stores (6 Spokane Locations)
- Locally owned with one of the largest selections in the NW
- http://www.yokesfoods.com/ visit site for store locations
- Wine365 – Yokes Wine Blog
Williams Seafood Market & Wines
- 10627 E Sprague, Spokane Valley WA 99206
- (509) 922-4868
Jim’s Home Brew & Wine
- 2619 N Division St
07 Jan 2010
Only a handful of wine makers in the state of Washington have as much experience as Mike Conway.When Mike opened Latah Creek and Hogue Cellars in 1982 (in a partnership with Mike Hogue), there were only 18 wineries in the state. After two years as the head wine maker at Hogue, Mike left to concentrate on Latah Creek. The full history of Latah Creek can be read on their web site.
Mike crafted his winemaking skills in the 70′s working for wine giants E&J Gallo, Franzia Brothers and Parducci. It was while at Parducci that he honed his skills for white wine and brought the slow cold fermentation process to Washington state (cold fermentation brings out a natural residual sweetness in white wines at a lower alcohol level of 8-10%). It is the white wine line-up that helped Latah Creek grow to a 17,000 case per year company.
100% of Latah Creek’s distribution is done in the Northwest. The annual release of their Spokane Blush, Maywine, and Huckleberry d’Latah are highly anticipated in the region. While 70% of their sales are comprised of white wines, Latah’s future focus is the introduction of small lot reserve quality reds. The current Vinosity (reviewed below) is an example of that. While at the winery I also tried the 100% Petit Verdot. If these two reds are any indication, Latah Creek may quickly jump to a 25,000 case per year operation. In talking with Mike, his passion for Washington wine comes through. He wants to expose some of the great grapes that grow in this state (Nebbiolo, Tempranillo, Mourvedre, Malbec) to his customer base.
While Latah Creek has been a business of two people for 20+ years, in 2005 daughter Natalie joined the team. Mike and Ellena’s vision had always been for Natalie to carry on the business. In elementary school, while all the other children wanted to be firefighters, pro athletes and politicians, Natalie wanted to be a wine maker. Natalie graduated with honors from EWU with a bachelors in biology. Shortly after, she joined the team. Under her dad’s guidance, Natalie is already contributing to the wine offerings with Natalie’s Nectar dessert wine and the Vinosity red blend.
One thing that sets Latah Creek apart from all other wineries in town is their spacious tasting room and the selection of gift/boutique items. Mike’s wife, Ellena, runs the tasting room and has done a fantastic job of stocking it with whimsical gifts, wine accessories, and artful decorations. During the holidays, tasting room traffic increases exponentially, and not just for the wine.
Latah Creek; Mike, Ellena (and now Natalie), and their wines, are Spokane institutions. “Spokane is the reason we’re here,” Mike says. Beside’s the wine, Latah Creek’s gift back to the community is their support of the arts and many other charities. The Conway’s are particularly proud of their sponsorships of the Spokane Symphony and the Foster Parents Association.
If you’ve driven on the freeway in Spokane, chances are you’ve driven past Latah Creek. The winery and tasting room sit at freeway’s edge between the Pines and Evergreen exits (13030 E Indiana). If you’re headed to the Valley Mall, take a quick detour and enjoy a free tasting of their wines. Of the 13 offerings only 2 are over $20 (Petit Verdot and Vinosity). The tasting room is open seven days a week from 9AM – 5PM.
NV Latah Creek Vinosity Blend
- The Stuff: 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Syrah and 23% Zinfandel. Produced from various vineyards in the Washington State (Wahluke and Columbia Valley) 13.5% alcohol
- The Swirl: Dark violet color with nice translucent tones. Not completely opaque. Moderate legs representing some good residual sugar and alcohol.
- The Sniff: Boom! Awake with dark blueberry and Cassis. Get a faint whiff of a tender spice and cocoa (could be the Zin).
- The Sip: While not entirely a fruit bomb, this wine has some very nice structure. I can definitely feel the Syrah, but the strength of the Cabernet balances it out. The heat and playfulness of the Zinfandel keep the finish alive for some time adding a nice acidity.
- The Score: At just $20 retail this is a heck of a buy! I score this wine a strong 4 (out of 5). If I found this wine for anywhere south of $15 I would buy several bottles.
06 Jan 2010
Tasting wine is a similar experience. Wine is a lover to be enjoyed, caressed, and passionately embraced. This is something that guys need to learn. We’re not used to the delicate intricacies of a woman (or wine). Most of the time we fumble along hoping our bodies connect in the right way. A real man appreciates the arresting aroma, savours the supple style and drinks in delicate drama that is a woman (or wine). Dude’s it is time to move from our slam a shot mentality to the savor the senses experience that is wine. This is a gentle love affair not a one night stand.
In the first two posts we talked about;
- Three reasons all dudes need to know at least a little about wine
- Explained seven wine grapes to help understand the strange new world
Today, we are going to talk about tasting wine. Wine can be described as a symphony with its subtle nuances and bold phrases emphasizing the rise and fall of emotion. As guys, we’re used to a drum solo – bam – it’s loud and fast and it’s over and we’re happy – time to sleep.
The Swirl: Getting Her Ready
Lay her back, rub you hands in a circle letting her get excited. She gets aroused as the friction causes her to breathe. With the motion you take notice of her color, her quality, and her clarity. Her juices run down the…GLASS! We’re talking about wine here guys!
Exploring wine begins with the swirl. People swirl wine to allow oxygen into the wine. A nice crystal glass and the shape of the bowl help the wine to breathe and prepare the next step; the sniff. Don’t over pour your wine. A four or five ounce pour is plenty (remember wine has twice the alcohol as a normal beer). Leave enough room in the glass so that when you swirl you’re not spilling on your girls new dress. That is a major foul and will probably not lead to the desired outcome of the night.
The Sniff: The Intoxicating Allure
The flurry of motion has released a myriad of aromas that flood the nose. With a deep inhale you allow the smell to penetrate. Your brain becomes excited at the anticipation prompting a heightened awareness of the other senses. Careful not to rush, you enjoy the smells before you dive in to taste…THE WINE. We’re still talking about wine here guys!
Wine, more than any other beverage, offers a variety of aroma (and taste). These tastes vary greatly between region, grape, year, and personal style of the wine maker. Enjoy the smells of the wine. Refer to the second post in this series for a stereotype of the seven common wines you’ll encounter.
Your senses are nearly on overload. The aroma has you transfixed, the anticipation makes you swell with excitement. Your mouth waters as you expectantly take it in. The flavors dance across your tongue. Now more than ever your senses are aroused as the full climax of the experience is revealed…still talking about THE WINE here.
As you drink in the wine, let it sit in your mouth. For the first few sips, let it rinse across all parts of your mouth from front to back. Take note of how it tastes different on the tip of your tongue to the sides of your mouth. Good wine will reveal different secrets even after you swallow it (the finish). Some wine will be smooth and sweet and others will be dry and tart. These different flavor profiles work well with different foods. Like food, you’ll develop a preference for some, but don’t be afraid to experiment.
Enjoying wine may seem as intimidating as talking to a Victoria Secret model (while she’s still in her unmentionables), but the sexiness and complexity is revealed as you pull back the covers of the Swirl, Sniff, and Sip. Keep these basic principles in mind and even the most basic dude will experience the foreplay and climax that is tasting wine.
On a final note, guys; be willing to experiment. We all want our ladies to be playful in bed and open to new experiences. We need to take our own advice. It’s okay to walk into the store and buy 3-4 different bottles just to taste. Even better, take your lady on a day trip to a few winery tasting rooms. This is a fun and affordable way to explore new experiences. Be a man, don’t be a friggin’ sissy. Man up and go wine tasting. You just might have fun and you just might get laid!
In the final post of this four-part series we will attempt to demystify buying wine at the store and ordering at restaurants.
The Dude’s Guide to Wine
- In Part One we explained three reasons all guys should know a little about wine
- In Part Two we explored the basics of grapes and their general characteristics
- In Part Three we talked about the experience of wine tasting (swirl, smell, sip, savor)
- In Part Four we uncover the struggle of ordering wine at restaurants and buying in stores
04 Jan 2010
When wine in Spokane meant a handful of wineries and a small selection at the local grocery store, Niko’s owner Laith Elaimy anticipated a trend and took a chance by hiring Pauline Riley, his wine representative from a local distributor, to run his wine menu. The seemingly odd pairing of Niko’s Greek Restaurant and its mediterranean menu and the Niko’s Wine Bar has resulted in one of Spokane’s finest places to enjoy not only a great dinner but a huge variety of wine.
“Wine is food for the soul,” says Pauline, “we want to provide a place to bring people to good conversation and good wine.” Niko’s not only provides a great dinner menu and wine selection but is a premier location for VIP dining rooms, valet parking, and catering; all of this in the heart of downtown Spokane on Post and Riverside (just 2 blocks from Riverpark Square).
Pauline is one of the go to wine people in Spokane. She is a trusted expert in the community. Her years of experience have made Niko’s wine bar the place to enjoy a good glass of wine, a fun wine flight, or buy that special bottle retail for the last 12 1/2 years.
The wine bar, an extension of the restaurant, is a quaint nicely decorated room to enjoy wine. Pauline prepares a new wine tour sheet every few weeks that features between 40-50 wines by the glass, chosen from their 1100 bottle cellar. The menu favorites are the various wine flights where you can experience regional, international, varietal or producer flights. Pauline even likes to feature a “anything but Sideways flight” where patrons get all Merlot. My favorite is the blind white or red flight where Pauline brings you a random selection. After the tasting she brings out the bottles challenging you to pair the wine you drank with the correct bottle. It is a fun and challenging tasting.
When I asked Pauline what she wants people to experience at the wine bar, she said, “I want people to embrace new wine in an environment that is conducive to shared experiences. I want to serve the best selection of wine in a beautiful location using quality stemware. Life is too short to drink the same wine twice.” Niko’s has been voted by local Spokane Inlander readers as the region’s Best Wine Bar and Spokane’s Best Wine Selection for ten straight years!
Whether you are a wine expert, new to wine or, somewhere in between (like me), Niko’s has developed a fantastic reputation as the spot for wine in Spokane. With so much wine available, Pauline sees her job to be your wine professional helping you select the best wine for your needs. “You have a Real Estate professional or a finance professional, why not a wine professional.”
- The Stats: Niko’s Wine Bar is open Sun – Wed 4pm - 10pm and Thur – Sat 4pm – 11pm. Open Friday for lunch from 11-3 (all entrée’s $10)
- The Social: www.nikosspokane.com 509.624.7444
- The Streets: 725 W. Riverside (Riverside and Post)
2010 represents Niko’s 25 years in business. To celebrate the longevity Niko’s is offering a $25 gift card to use on a return visit when you enjoy dinner during 2010. You heard it here first. Tell them DrinkNectar sent you.
NEW UPDATE 1/29/10 – Talked to Pauline last night and she has started a fantastic Happy Hour $2 Glass of Wine (1 red, 1 white), $2 off any glass, $2 off any flight and $2 beer. Happy Hour is 4-6pm and 9-close Monday – Friday! Tell them Josh @ DrinkNectar sent you!