27 Dec 2011
After seeing the popularity of my last blog, I took notice that people enjoy a good, honest rant. Upon returning from a wine tasting trip with a sour taste in my mouth compliments of piss poor customer service, the words came out rather easily. I find myself today with a similar height of frustration, but from the other side of the counter. As an employee in multiple tasting rooms, I’ve seen my fair share of pretentious people walk through my doors and clearly state their hard-wired preferences right off that bat. Why go into any new situation with an already-made list of things you wont try or test out. Last time I checked, life was for living. If not, someone please forward me the memo stating otherwise. Specifically, I’d like to address the people who claim to only drink “big reds” and refuse a glass of anything white or pink. Oh I get it, your manhood is bigger than mine because of this preference? Am I right? Well, lets dive deeper into why this is NOT the case.
In my ever-lasting goal to bring everyone together, I’ve come up with four kinds of people in regards to wine:
- Men and women who don’t drink wine at all. They either tried it a few times and never got into the damn thing or choose not to drink at all for various reasons.
- Men and women who have eagerly taken the first steps to liking wine and still stick to whites, often times leaning towards the sweeter side of life. They aren’t opposed to red wines necessarily, but simply haven’t traveled that far in their journey to full wine appreciation. Drink on!
- The unfortunate souls…err….men and women who have taken the step into bigger red wines, yet leave white and/or sweeter wines in the dust viewing them as a person they regret ever dating. These people view drinkers of “anything but red” as uneducated, unsophisticated, and as ignorant as they come.
- Finally! These highly-intelligent, ridiculously-cultured, and scaringly-sexy people that have come full circle and completely understand that all (yes ALL) wine has its place in our hearts, and finding those places are half the fun!
Three of these four categories are completely fine. Group number 3 and their views, however, have created such a heavy presence that many adults are effin’ scared to admit they like enjoy a sweet wine every once in awhile. Why should they be ashamed? As I stated earlier, red, white, and pink can all find a fitting way into our lives. For a couple of examples, sweet wines are a great offset to spicy foods such as Thai and Spanish cuisine. Whites with great acidity (eg Sauvignon Blanc and many dry Rieslings) can compliment a wide range a meals and have the backbone to cut through a lot of heavy, cream based sauces. Dry rose’s are great palate cleansers that seem to pair with any food you can put on a holiday menu. Lastly, on a dripping hot summer day, there’s nothing better than a light, refreshing Pinot Gris on the porch. When were whites seeing as wines for pansies and neanderthals? Personally, I feel whites hold more characteristics to the original grape flavors and have just as much depth as any red you could put in front of me. Disagree? I dare you to send me a red so great, so amazing that it will force me to forget all about whites. If you can, strive to become a number 4 because its truly the right way to live. I try and act cool, but when I’m in the privacy of my own home, I’ll be the first to admit that I turn on Jersey Shore on occasion. Although I should be embarrassed about this, no one should feel insecure when walking up to the bar and ordering a dry white, sweet white or rose. I can speak for most tasting room employees and proclaim our annoyance with the 3rd group. Get over yourselves. Stop buying big trucks. Drink what you REALLY want to drink. For most of you, it’s all an act act anyway. Just be yourselves! What’s your favorite white wine and why?
Ben Hilzinger is a wine slinger at Nectar Tasting Room and at Arbor Crest Wine Cellars. During the day he masquerades as an aspiring drum teacher seeking to instill a sense of rhythm in wanna be rockers. In the evening Ben dons his rock star cape and travels the country with @weshotthemoon. Ben hopes to share the love of wine with his generation and has aspirations to be a wine maker. Follow Ben on Twitter @benhilzinger
03 May 2011
“Once you know what you like, you’re already an expert.” This is a phrase I use all too often in the tasting room for intimidated newbies and, in many ways, I believe it. Sounds pretty simple and inviting right? Sadly, the man behind curtain would agree that there’s more to enjoying wine than simply sticking to what you’ve previously found easy and comfortable. The world of wine is dying to be discovered in each and every soul. Yes, if you’re a novice drinker and find Franzia to be smooth and elegant then that’s your prerogative. I’ll even find myself enjoying a nice glass of boxed wine on a summer camping trip. But for me to say you’re an expert in my tasting room needs the accompaniment of a little more explanation.
No one, and I mean no one, has ever been born with an amazing wine palate. It’s a physiological and psychological structure, if you will, built with experience, dedication, and attention to every subtle detail inhabited by the wines we’ve had in our past. An expert might know more than one can conceive, but life has shown me the true best of the best are always willing to learn and be proven wrong. I say this because no one should ever “know what they like” and refuse to veer from that path claiming to be an expert on their own palate; you never know how much you could be missing out on. For example, I’ve had roughly twenty different Tempranillos (Spain’s “noble grape” often referred to as the Spanish Cabernet) as of late, and I have yet to find one that truly tickles my fancy. Will I stop drinking Tempranillo? NO! All it means is that I get the luxury of being “forced” to keep drinking more until I find one I like. Yes, there’s the possibility that the day won’t come, but to be honest I’ll never know. There’s too much wine in the world to ever stop searching.
Certainly taste what you know you like, but never be against branching out from time to time. The saddest thing one could ever do to is become unwilling and close-minded. This goes for everything, not just wine. The honest reason I jumped into the wine industry is to help expand the palate of the young and willing world, as well as my own. Develop and build your palate by taking chances, stepping outside of your preconceived box, and letting the world of vino come alive in you. Just for fun, next time you stop in the any tasting room or wine shop, tell the worker to grab a wine he or she thinks you’ve never had before. You can always let them know the wine you usually drink so as to help narrow down the selection. I’m not saying one can’t have “their wine”, but don’t choose it every time. Simply acknowledge it as your safety net, but seize every opportunity to experience something new. Who knows, you might find a suggestible Tempranillo for yours truly. Wine is life so make it a good one!
About The Author
Ben Hilzinger is a wine slinger at Nectar Tasting Room and at the Arbor Crest Winery. During the day he masquerades as an aspiring drum teacher seeking to instill a sense of rhythm in wanna be rockers. In the evening Ben dons his rock star cape as a drummer for a local band. Ben hopes to share the love of wine with his generation and has aspirations to be a wine maker.
29 Mar 2011
Guest blog post by Nan Gibbons
As a female fitness trainer, I am often asked for advice about foods and drinks which are beneficial to your health. In this day and age, when health insurance is more important than ever, my clients count on me to offer sound advice for healthy living. Many of my clients are surprised to hear me say that certain red wines, in moderate amounts, can be very good for your body. Compounds found in red wine, called antioxidants, are very healthy for your heart. They raise your good cholesterol and help prevent clogging of the arteries. Certain red wines are beneficial to heart health due to flavonoids and a compound called resveratrol which is found in high quantities in darker red wines. Antioxidants in red wine, named polyphenols, help safeguard the artery lining in your heart. A certain polyphenol known as resveratrol is getting a lot of attention for having healthy benefits.
Resveratrol is a very important ingredient in red wine. It protects blood vessels from damage, lowers “bad” cholesterol and protects against blood clots. It also reduces inflammation and helps prevent heart disease, one of the leading causes of death today. In my travels, helping my clients to become more healthy and fit is top priority. Here’s the most important fact I tell all of my fitness clients. The antioxidants, especially resveratrol, are found primarily in the skin of the grape. Darker wines, such as Cabernet and Merlots, have been exposed to the grape skins longer. So what does all this mean, you ask? Darker wines are healthier than lighter ones. They contain much more of these wonderful, healthy components. The darker the wine, the healthier it is. Blush wines are only briefly in contact with the grape skins, and therefore are not as healthy.
So which wines should you buy? The world’s healthiest red wines have the greatest amounts of potent heart healthy polyphenol antioxidants, especially resveratrol. The healthiest wines are imported from the region of France. Studies show that the population in Southwest France has an extraordinary lifespan. Wine from this part of the world is significantly higher in polyphenol antioxidants. As a matter of fact it has over 10 times more. The type of grapes and traditional wine-making skills of the French southwest winemakers creates a higher level of antioxidants, especially compared to contemporary, light, everyday drinking red wines.
Mayo Clinic article regarding wine & health - http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/red-wine/HB00089
Studies regarding wine & heart health: http://www.winesummit.com/documents/frenchparadox.pdf
About the Author
Nan Gibbons is a fitness expert and advisor. She spends her time traveling, cooking, and running the beach with her lab mix Cody. If you can keep up, follow her on twitter: @healthnut2011
08 Jul 2010
This post is from guest blogger Dustin Cann (@DustinCann on twitter)
For me, summer brings to mind thoughts of time spent in the yard or around a pool with friends, grilling to hearts’ content and talking about all things impactful or ridiculous over the appropriate summer beverages. You’re well familiar the normal libations: Pinot Grigio, Sangria, Mojitos, Margaritas, and (alas) light beer. Nothing against any of these options, but I’m a little bored with them. Fortunately, I recently had a good friend give me a particularly great piece of advice: rediscover and fall in love with the storied Moscow Mule.
There are plenty of reasons to enjoy one of these dandies- the crispness of ice cold vodka in a freezing copper mug, the sweetness of simple syrup and ginger beer, the brightness and tart magic of a generously limed rim. It’s a great drink, but the thing that turned me onto it so immediately was the story behind my friend’s love of the drink.
She told me how on hot days, she has very clear memories of growing up when her dad would mow the lawn. He’d bring out a couple of Mules in their cold copper mugs and the lawn would manage to take care of itself much easier. She remembers how great she felt when he finally let her have a tiny sip, like he thought she was grown up enough to be eligible for a little bit. The way the mug felt in her hands and the way he grinned as she licked her lips afterward.
Then she told me a few times a year she drops by her mom’s house on a hot day, and borrows one or two of his copper mugs for the day. She brings them home and puts them in the freezer for a while before mixing up a Mule and heading out to the yard. One sip and she’s 7 or 8 years old, all over again.
It wouldn’t be the same in a different mug, and it wouldn’t even matter except for the crystal clear memories of daddy and daughter that each sip evokes for her. Any drink that can do that for her is worth giving a shot. And even without the romance of great memories, it’s a damned good drink.
About The Author
Dustin Cann is a traveling business consultant (39 trips in the 52 weeks of 2009) who loves his work, but would rather be a rock star. He’s a foodie and an appreciator of both haute cuisine and pub food. When he’s home, he plays around in recording studios and relaxes on the lake with a blind pug called Honey. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee with his partner of eight years and almost surely needs to drink fewer Manhattans.
25 May 2010
Today’s post is from guest writer Coryn Briggs of Black Star Farms
“I don’t like Riesling because it is too sweet,” how many times have I heard this…the answer, one too many. The reality is that some of the best Rieslings are made in a variety of styles ranging from bone dry to off dry to semi dry to sweet to late harvest. This is what is so fabulous about this varietal! Indeed Riesling is a “noble” grape with tremendous ability to produce amazing wines suited for any palate and meal for that matter.
The grape’s resistance to a cool climate plus its natural tendency to express terroir makes it one of Northern Michigan winemaker’s favorite varietals. Riesling enthusiast and winemaker at Chateau Grand Traverse, Sean O’Keefe adds that “this is a grape that many of us have been working with for years with the purpose of creating a true regional style. Not only “can” we grow Riesling in Northern Michigan, but we can do so at the highest international level.” O’Keefe and several others are looking forward to showcasing their wines alongside the classic Rieslings of Germany, Austria and Alsace at the upcoming Riesling Rendezvous.
The line up for the 2010 Riesling Rendezvous includes a full team from Northern Michigan. Participating wineries include, Bowers Harbor Vineyards, Black Star Farms, Chateau Grand Traverse, Left Foot Charley, Peninsula Cellars, and 2 Lads. The wineries are also a co-sponsor of the event along with wine marketing boards of Germany, Alsace & Austria.
Northern Michigan winemakers will be equipped with award winning Rieslings and a new logo representing the hand as the “State of the Riesling” and they will rendezvous with a purpose to highlight their success with this noble grape. As a co-sponsor of the event the wineries will also be providing wine for one of the lunch programs, serving the region’s wine to more than 250 participants.
The event will be held on July 11, 12 and 13 and is hosted by North America’s premier Riesling producer, Chateau Ste. Michelle of Washington state and Ernst Loosen of Germany’s renowned Dr. Loosen estate.
Information about Northern Michigan wineries participating is below:
Bowers Harbor Vineyards is a family run winery surrounded by epic views of Lake Michigan’s historic Bowers Harbor. Our cool climate region produces dynamically expressive varietal wines.
Black Star Farms is a unique agricultural entity that features three tasting rooms, two winery production facilities, a distillery, B&B Inn, and equestrian facility. The winery is proud to represent the viticultural diversity of the Northwest Michigan region.
Chateau Grand Traverse has moved into its second generation of family winemaking – and has grown to be one of the largest Riesling producers in the Eastern United States. Riesling is the winery’s passion, and it has been a tireless promoter of the variety as the Old Mission Peninsula’s signature grape.
Left Foot Charley is a winery located in the Village at Grand Traverse Commons. The winery works with 14 local growers exclusively to provide the highest quality fruit for their varietal and blended wines.
Peninsula Cellars is a family run winery located on the Old Mission Peninsula. Their philosophy toward wine making is minimalistic, allowing the regional expression of the fruit to come through.
2 Lads Winery is a 10,500 square foot facility located on 58 acres on the Old Mission Peninsula. They specialize in cool climate red and sparkling wines.
In addition, the wines of Bel Lago and Chateau Chantal will be represented by Linda Jones, of the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council, as it is acting as co-sponsor for the Michigan portion of the event.
We would love to know if any of you are planning on attending this prestigious event. If so, please be sure to say hi to our group of winemakers from the mitten shaped state.
About the author:
Coryn Briggs moved to Traverse City 6 years ago and quickly immersed herself into the Michigan wine industry. She is currently the Winery Promotions Coordinator for Black Star Farms. In this role she manages the many pieces of the marketing mix including, off-site events, website content, advertising, social media, as well as graphic design. Coryn enjoys local food, wine and the downtown Traverse City area where she lives with her husband and two young daughters.
Black Star Farms is a unique agricultural entity that features two winery production facilities, their adjacent tasting rooms, a distillery, Inn, and equestrian facility. The winery just celebrated its 10 year anniversary and is proud to represent the viticultural diversity of the Northwest Michigan region, and its proximity to the 45th parallel – the same parallel that runs through so many of the great wine regions of the world.