Volume 1, Issue 1 — December 3, 2006
In This Issue
Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut Rose NV (17.99)
Roederer Estate L'Ermitage Anderson Valley 1999 (33.99)
The next level would include:
The Right Amount
Desert Juniper Gin (26.99)
Maison Prunier VSOP Cognac (22.99)
Bruichladdich Single Malt 10 Yr old (51.99)
Dartigalongue Bas Armagnac XO (44.99)
Greg Norman Estates Chardonnay Victoria 2003 (13.99)
M. Chapoutier Cotes du Rhone Belleruche 2004 (12.99)
Columbia Crest Merlot Columbia Valley Grand Estates 2003 (10.99)
Quinta de Roriz Douro Prazo 2004 (16.99)
St. Urbans-Hoff Riesling Kabinett Okfener Bockstein 2005 (12.99)
Sweetwater Festive (9.49)
Sierra Nevada Celebration (8.99)
Lagunitas Brown Shugga (9.49)
Lagunitas Hairy Eyeball
Editor’s Note: Welcome!
Subscribers are entitled to special discounts on featured items. You will find a coupon for those items at the end of each monthly newsletter. Subscription to the newsletter is free.
Congratulations to Beth Tedrow for winning the competition to name this newsletter.
With the holiday season upon us, this newsletter includes two articles to help you prepare for your holiday party or those unexpected guests.
In "Holiday Libations," you will find helpful suggestions for stocking a unique collection of liquors to spice up your holiday or everyday bar.
"Out of the Box" discusses the finer points of cigar selection, including how to find the right gift for even a seasoned smoker.
Each newsletter issue will also help keep you informed of new products in the store and our current specials.
This month's issue features several highly rated champagnes and a couple of unique single-malt Scotches perfect for staving off the approaching winter weather.
We welcome your comments on our articles and we gladly will accept both free-lance submissions as well as suggestions for future articles.
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Once again, thank you for subscribing to The Vintage Voice and we look forward to seeing you soon.
But choosing an appropriate wine or cocktail should not be an afterthought in that a great selection will help make your celebration unforgettable. It therefore makes sense to splurge a little and drink something nicer.
For instance, while you may want to have one of the standard lagers, why not pick up a christmas beer instead? Many craft brewers make seasonal brews that are a little stronger, richer, and subtly spiced. These beers are complex enough to stand up to hors d'oeuvres or to enjoy on their own. Some great ones are Anchor Christmas, Sierra Celebration, Lagunitas Brown Shugga, and Sweetwaters holiday ale.
A classic cocktail before dinner is another popular option. One suggestion is the traditional martini. Try the original gin used in the martini, Plymouth, or if Vodka is more your thing, try a handmade vodka from the U.S. such as Hangar 1 from California, or Titos from Texas.
With the weather getting colder, more people are also turning to the brown liquors. A good bourbon on the rocks or a lighter single malt scotch can be a great aperitif. Lighter Islay scotches or a highland scotch would be especially perfect to whet the appetite. A few great choices include Aberlour, Bruichladdich, Lismore, or Balvenie. All are fruity and light enough not to overwhelm the palate before dinner.
A signature cocktail is another way to spice up the party. An easy one is the perfect Manhattan. The drink includes two parts bourbon or rye to one part dry vermouth and one part sweet vermouth served shaken in a cocktail glass with a cherry.
A glass of dry white wine can also be a delicious aperitif. Have a bottle of sauvignon blanc or chardonnay in the fridge, or try something more unusual like a fruity Albarino from Spain or a crisp Gruner Veltliner from Austria. Inexpensive varieties of each are available that are very nice.
For dinner itself, you'll want to serve wine. What to pick depends upon what you are serving. But you should take into consideration not just the main course, but also all the traditional side dishes. Many of the sweet, spiced, or strongly flavored dishes will otherwise overwhelm a delicate wine or make a structured red seem too bitter.
For a red, look to a Pinot Noir, a shiraz, zinfandel, or a Spanish wine like a tempranillo or garnacha. These wines have a lot of fruit flavors in them that stand up to many of the holiday side dishes. Pinot Noir also goes with some main dishes that normally are served with a white wine, such as turkey. Cabernets, Malbecs, Meritages are likely to bee too tannic unless you are serving a robust cut of meat like a ribroast, steak, or game.
For a white wine, it is probably better to go with something a slightly off dry. Great choices include Riesling, Gewurtztramineer and Albarino. These wines are perfect with turkey or a pork roast.
Another option is a brut or extra dry champagne/sparkling wine. Especially nice is a decent Rose sparkler. The extra flavors it has are beautiful accompaniments to many meats.
After dinner, it is always nice to serve dessert followed by a coffee and a digestif. For dessert, almost all wines will be overwhelmed except for fortified wines like port.
A port, sweet sherry, or ice wine would be perfect. A vintage style port of late bottled vintage won't break the bank and is still a wonderful finisher on its own.
A sweet sherry like an Oloroso or Pedro Ximenez could be a dessert all its own.
Ice wine, made from the nectar pressed from grapes frozen on the vine, is particularly sweet and honey-tasting but with enough acidity to cut through the sugar and make it refreshing.
For the digestif, nothing beats great brandy or old single malt scotch. Choose one of the great brandies of France (Cognac, Armagnac, or Calvados), or a fine alembic brandy made in the U.S.
If you are serving coffee at the end of the meal, you might consider an orange liqueur like Grand Marnier or Couintreau. Baily's, Frangelico, Amaretto and coffee liqueurs like Kahlua or Starbucks are other good choices.
For New Year's Eve, obviously the drink of choice is champagne. Real champagne only comes from the Champagne region of France, and the pinnacle is Cristal, made by Louis Roederer. The 1999 Cristal (the one out now) is the best in recent memory.
Other champagnes that are great but are a little less regal include Veuve Clicquot, Pommerey, and Moet.
A great alternative to French champagne is sparking wine. Two especially good ones are Roederer estate and its premium expression, L' Ermitage. Bottled by the makers of Cristal, these wines are well priced and will knock your socks off with their flavor and finesse.
Cheaper alternatives include a Spanish Cava, an Italian Prosecco or Spumante (a little sweeter), or a nice Washington State sparkler like Domaine Ste. Michelle.
When choosing a sparkling wine, one thing to keep in mind is the sweetness level. Champagnes and other sparklers are graded from dry to sweet with the driest being Brut, followed by Extra Dry, then Demi-sec, and finally syrupy sweet Sec. Buy according to your preference.
If you spend a little time paying attention to your holiday libations, you can really make the seasonal gatherings and feasts more impressive and delightful. Happy holidays and cheers!
Out of The Box
A good cigar makes a wonderful gift that many people truly would enjoy. But when it comes to choosing a gift for someone else, a different criteria for making selections is in order.
Brand names become more important in that the individual receiving the gift might not have the same tastes as the giver.
With that in mind, here are some great cigar gift ideas for both new and veteran cigar smokers.
The Gift of Cigars
Therefore, cigar sampler packs containing several different brands and/or sizes of cigars undoubtedly would be greatly appreciated. Sampler packs usually come in quantities of five cigars and up.
But if you would like to splurge on a box of premium smokes for someone special, stick to a couple of top brands that are mild to medium in flavor.
Macanudo is the top selling cigar in the U.S., and is made by the second largest cigar company in the world, Swedish Match. Montecristo is another widely recognized premium brand. These cigars are made by the largest cigar company in the world, Altadis.
Both of these brands are well known and respected in the world of cigars, and the new cigar smoker will never look out of place while smoking one of these.
Of course, if you know the favorite brand of a seasoned cigar smoker, stick to that brand to give as a gift.
Gifts for the Seasoned Smoker
In addition, a book about cigars would also make a fine gift for the newer cigar smoker.
Gifts for the seasoned cigar smokers who already have many of these items could include cigar tubes, travel cases, and portable travel humidors.
Other accessories that may also be appropriate include ashtrays, special cigar breath cleansers, humidification devices, digital hygrometers, and even cigar apparel.
The Right Drink
Traditional selections include cognac, scotch and rum. Non-alcoholic drinks such as coffee can also be a great compliment.
With the old year almost over, what better way to kiss it goodbye than with a premium hand rolled cigar?
A good cigar is more than just an enjoyable experience. It will also help fire up the holidays!
Recipe: Glögg (Swedish Mulled Wine)
As with chili or beer, there is no one set recipe for Glögg. You should feel free to substitute and experiment as you please. In place of brandy, the original Swedish recipe uses aquavit, a distilled spirit flavored with caraway seeds. Some people try vodka or whisky, though a wine-derivtive like brandy lends a rounder flavor.
Most recipes include cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, orange peel, almonds, and dried fruits like raisins, dried cherries, or figs. Sugar content can be varied too and/or you can try honey. Err on the low side with the sweets, and offer some extra for guests to add to taste.
Glögg can be brewed in advanced and aged, or simply consumed on the spot. The aging will bring out more flavor from the spices, but there is a lot to be said for drinking as it brews. The aroma of the cooking is half the fun, and will fill your house with amazing scents of warmth and comfort.
Choose moderate wines and brandies; nothing too fancy, but certainly not rotgut either. Do not use an copper or aluminum pot since these metals interact chemically with the wine and brandy and impart a metallic taste. Use stainless steel or porcelain. Cardamom comes in three forms: pods, seeds, and powder. Avoid the powder. If you can only find the pods, just break them open to get the seeds.
Pour the red wine and the port into a large, covered porcelain or stainless steel pot. Add the cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, orange peel, raisins, and almonds. Warm gently but do not boil, as boiling will burn off the alcohol.
In a pan, soak the sugar with half of the brandy. Warm the sugar and brandy slurry over low heat. The sugar will bubble and become a clear golden syrup of caramelized sugar. This caramelization is essential to developing complexity in the final beverage. Add the caramelized sugar to the wine mix. Cover and let it mull for an hour.
Just before serving, strain or carefully ladle to remove the spices. Ladle into mugs. Garnish it with a fresh orange peel, twisted over the mug to release the oils. Allow guests to add sugar and brandy to taste.
If you are going to age the concoction, make sure the bottle is filled as high as possible and tightly sealed. To serve later, warm it gently over a low flame or in a crockpot.
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1789 Lawrenceville Highway, Decatur, Georgia 30033 | Phone: 404-633-8242 | www.decaturspirits.com