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Feb 09, 2016
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Drink This Weekend Edition

Drink This Weekend Edition: 3 wines from the northern Rhone

Thursday, February 4th, 2016


Wines from the northern Rhone Valley region are some of the best in France, yet they often fly under the radar. Stone fruit, flowers and hay are typical on the white wines (typically made from viognier grapes). The reds are almost always made from syrah grapes and range from Burgundian ethereal beauties to full-bodied crushers.

The northern Rhone region runs from the town of Vienne, France south along the Rhone River to Valance. Look for appellations like Cote Rotie, Condrieu, St. Joseph, Crozes Hermitage, Hermitage, Cornas and St. Peray. Here, my three picks from the northern Rhone perfect for cool winter nights.

1. 2007 Domaine Lionnet Cornas Terres Brulees
This is an organic domaine that farms a small 2.2 hectares. Bold and structured with a lot of complexity, this wine is amazing with beef dishes (think beef Wellington) or grilled lamb.
$50, available to go at  Reeds American Table

2. 2009 Jean-Louis Chave Crozes-Hermitage Silene
Here is a fruit-forward, easy-drinking wine from a great 2009 vintage. Balanced and medium-bodied, this wine typifies what Crozes Hermitage is all about: red fruit, mineral and a hint of flowers. This is a wine to pair with hamburgers or grilled fish.
$30, available at Starrs

3. 2014 Domaine George Vernay Viognier Le Pied de Samson
Viognier is a singular grape with clear alpine, floral notes. This excellent wine from the hills of Condrieu is from an altitude too high to be allowed in the appellation. Flowers, hay, a beautiful texture and balance with just a hint of white pepper make this an amazing wine for lobster in butter sauce.
$30, available at The Wine and Cheese Place

Ben Wood has more than 10 years experience in the wine industry. He currently works as shop manager of Cork & Rind.

Drink This Weekend Edition: Mark Twain Brewing Co. launch party

Thursday, January 21st, 2016



We have it good in this city, especially when it comes to the local beer scene. Well-established breweries are now expanding in size or adding new locations, and new breweries are opening their doors to the public at increasing speed. Even our out-of-town offerings are top-notch, and starting this week, another brewery makes its entrance into our great city by way of Hannibal, Missouri.

Bill Martin and Lance Smith opened Mark Twain Brewing Co. on July 4, 2014. Its taproom and 10-barrel brewhouse is on the Mississippi River in Mark Twain’s historic hometown. Husband-wife brewing team Dave Alley and Cat Golden (who formerly brewed for O’Fallon Brewery) have taken this river town by storm, and now they’re bringing their delicious beer to The Lou.

The Mark Twain team will unleash their offerings tonight, Jan. 21, at International Tap House in the Central West End during its official launch party, starting at 6 p.m. Keep an eye out for brews like:

Huck’s Habanero Apricot Wheat, pleasantly spicy and juicy with ripe apricot
Jumping Frog IPA with assertive citrus and pine on the nose and palate
Chocolate Coffee Stout, featuring a roasted malt backed by loads of chocolate and coffee notes
Brown Ale, where robust toasted pecan nuttiness meets maple syrup sweetness

Can’t make it to the party? Golden will teach Cicero’s weekly Beer School on Wednesday, Jan. 27 at 5:30 and 7 p.m. Keep your eyes peeled for these approachable beers on draft at St. Louis-area beer bars, with bottles soon to follow.


Katie Herrera is the tasting room manager at The Side Project Cellar and co-founder of Femme Ferment. 

Drink This Weekend Edition: Murphy’s Second Law at Layla

Friday, January 15th, 2016




When new spirits come to the St. Louis market, local bartenders get giddy and creative. Enter Murphy’s Second Law, a collaborative effort by Layla general manger (and current president of the St. Louis Bartender’s Guild) Tony Saputo and bartender Zach Murphy. They have taken brand-spanking new booze, added some fire and introduced a wonderful weekend drink.

First, the new stuff: Bone Snapper Rye Whiskey is a dry-as-a-bone, spicy, smoky treat from Indiana and is the backbone of this powerful sipper. Next, rethink single malt whiskey and get France in on the action with Brenne, a fruit-sweet, caramel-smooth whiskey aged in cognac barrels. Mix both whiskeys with three amari: china-china, which offers sweet orange up front and a bitter finish, Zucca with its super smoky nose and fruity rhubarb notes and the classic standby, Campari.

The spirits are stirred and strained over a large ice cube and finished with burned Chartreuse. Burn a liquid? Yes – with a spritz bottle and a culinary torch. The fire burns off the sugar, leaving behind botanical notes. Swipe the rim with an orange peel, and you’re ready to sip. Murphy’s Second Law starts with a citrus nose and an herbal start. Along the way is a deep, smooth orange and fruit flavor that turns pleasantly acidic before finishing slightly dry and warming yet bitter. Balanced and nuanced, the Bone Snapper Rye’s dryness tempers the sweetness of the other ingredients for a sophisticated, layered libation. We can all drink to that.



Drink This Weekend Edition: Resolving to drink better in 2016

Friday, January 1st, 2016



Happy New Year! Now that the party is over, it’s time to consider your new year’s resolutions, particularly when it comes to alcohol. Here, what to drink in 2016 when you’ve resolved to drink better, cheaper or less.

If you resolve to educate yourself on wine…
Excellent! Head to your nearest reputable bottle shop and ask the wine professional for a world tour in six bottles. Keep your budget at $15 or less per bottle and ask for tasting notes on each wine. In the meantime, head to Reeds American Table and try the Quinta de Vale de Pios Excomungado: juicy and balanced with dark fruit and nice complexity. Not only is this wine affordably priced to go, it also comes with a highly knowledgable drink team to answer all your questions.
$16. Available at Reeds American Table

If you resolve to drink on a lower budget…
Bargain hunting for great bottles can be a fun challenge. Segura Viudas Brut Rosé is the perfect bottle to get you started. Sparkling wines are not just for New Year’s Eve toasts. They make great pick-me-ups and add a celebratory feel to an ordinary day. This excellent dry cava is made in the Champagne method and holds strawberry and mineral notes.
$9. Available at Starrs

If you resolve to drink less…
Did last night’s revelry leave you vowing to cut back on the booze? Lower ABV wines are readily available. Some of my favorites include gamay from France’s Loire Valley or its Jura region, as well as new-school California wines. Folk Machine Valdiguié is light, bright and at 11.5 percent, won’t knock you off your feet after a glass.
$22. Available at Cork & Rind


Ben Wood has more than 10 years experience in the wine industry. He currently works as shop manager of Cork & Rind.




Drink This Weekend Edition: Dr. No at Eclipse

Thursday, December 24th, 2015



Forget Expecto patronum. Harry Potter should have learned about oleo saccharum at Hogwarts. Translated from Latin, it means “sugared oil.” The process is simple: Put some orange and lemon peels in a nonreactive bowl, stir in a fair amount of sugar (1 cup per batch at Eclipse), wait a few hours and enjoy the oils of your labors. The sugar draws out the citrus oil from the peels, and, when added to a cocktail, functions both as a sweetener, flavor agent and thickener.

Eclipse’s Dr. No features this syrupy flavor bomb. A take on a West Indies punch, the crew at Eclipse gives Dewars Scotch a fat wash with coconut oil, then shakes it up with Jamaican rum, green tea, passion fruit preserves, lime juice, the oleo saccharum and Pierre Ferrand Pineau Des Charentes (a sweet, French aperitif wine). Double strained over an extra-large ice cube, this winter tiki starts with a citrus and banana hit, and ends with a creamy, coconut notes and a hint of funk from the rum. The fresh grated cinnamon gives it a lightly spiced nose, and the oleo saccharum gives the drink flavor, sweetness and pleasantly thick body throughout.



Drink This Weekend Edition: Cask Beer

Friday, December 18th, 2015



While you are jing-jing-jingle belling through these last days of December, don’t forget to stop and breathe. Take some time for you and cozy up to one of the most enjoyable yet underrated beers around: cask-conditioned beer.

Cask-conditioned beer, or “real ale,” is a centuries-old style of beer imbibed well before draft systems were around. Real ale goes through a second fermentation in the cask itself, creating light, natural carbonation that is typically served around 56 degrees. These characteristics allow for genuine, unadulterated taste.

Flavor profiles tend to be a bit softer than their counterparts on draft due to the lack of forced carbonation, and the palate is often described as creamier and smoother. The warmer serving temperature, velvety texture and pure malt and yeast flavors make cask beer incredibly quaffable.

You will find this beautiful fermentable being poured from a firkin sitting atop a bar or more frequently, by gravity dispense through a beer engine, a hand pump attached to the bar. Several local tasting rooms in St. Louis have cask beer readily available. The Schlafly Tap Room, The Civil Life, Square One and The Side Project Cellar always have something rotating on their beer engine. Go warm up at one of these pubs, grab a pint or two of cask beer and enjoy a break in your busy holiday schedule.



Drink This Weekend Edition: 3 wines for a Hanukkah weekend

Friday, December 11th, 2015



Happy Hanukkah! We’re halfway through the Festival of Lights, and I have three bottles that are perfect for the holiday, whether you’re sharing with friends or pairing with traditional fried fare or milk chocolate gelt to celebrate a hard-won dreidel victory.

1. Ca’ Dei Zago prosecco. My favorite Hanukkah wines are bubbly to better cut through the oil from a crisp latke. This brilliant, unfiltered farmer fizz is made from Glera grapes and has complex floral and crisp mineral notes.
$24, available at Cork & Rind

2. Red Newt Circle riesling. The Finger Lakes region of New York is a world-class location to produce riesling. This is a great off-dry wine that pairs well with fried food, but has enough sugar to stand up to chocolate or a jelly doughnut.
$14, available at The Wine & Cheese Place in Clayton

3. Twin Suns cabernet sauvignon is an excellent kosher option with deep, rich and plummy notes the pair perfectly with brisket.
$15, available at The Wine & Cheese Place in Creve Coeur

Drink This Weekend Edition: Devil in a Blue Dress at Frazer’s

Friday, November 27th, 2015


{From left, Vanity and Devil in the Blue Dress}


Spend Saturday shopping small on Cherokee Street, then take some of that hard-earned holiday green over to Frazer’s Restaurant and Lounge in Benton Park, where bartender Terry Oliver has rolled out the winter cocktail menu. While the Negroni-esq Vanity entertains with a mirror “garnish,” we go for the Devil in a Blue Dress.

Starring Four Roses bourbon infused in-house with blueberries, this sipper starts with spice from cinnamon syrup, then turns slightly floral and sweet from the blueberry bourbon and lavender. Vanilla liqueur enhances the naturally smooth notes in the Four Roses, and barrel-aged bitters and lemon juice lend depth and a dry finish. Poured over hand-chunked ice, this layered cocktail is the perfect way to celebrate and relax after a long day of buying local.



Drink This Weekend Edition: Fresh hop beers at Llywelyn’s Pub

Friday, November 20th, 2015



Amidst the pumpkin beers and holiday cheer, one thing remains undeniably bitter. No, I am not a Scrooge. The onset of fall means another hop harvest is upon us, which means I’m talking fresh hop IPAs here, folks.

Using hops hours to days after they are picked rather than dried and in pellet form allow for purer aroma and flavor to come through. Often described as juicy and ripe with citrus and mild dankness, fresh hopped IPAs are full of pine, grass and zest. Their bodies remain light to medium to support the beautiful hop expression.

This Saturday, Nov. 21, Llywelyn’s Pub in Webster Groves celebrates the most recent hop harvest with a tap takeover displaying a plethora of fresh hop IPAs. Rumor has it they are tapping approximately a dozen for imbibers to tastily explore. Here, my three suggestions for exploring the vast flavor profile differences that hops exhibit best when consumed fresh.

1. Deschutes Chasin’ Freshies (65 IBUs) is a straw-colored, light-bodied IPA with zesty lemon on the aroma and pine and subtlety sweet citrus on the palate. Hops used change every year; note the Bravo and Lemondrop for the 2015 season.

2. Great Divide Fresh Hop (55 IBUs) is a caramel-colored, light-bodied, slightly dank pale ale ripe with bright citrus on the palate and a slightly bitter and grassy finish. Appearance is caramel in color. Hops used are a Pacific Northwest Coast variety.

3. Left Hand Warrior IPA (60 IBUs) is a coppery, medium-bodied IPA with loads of grapefruit and floral notes on the aroma followed by citrus and pine on the palate. Hops used are Centennial and Colorado Wet Cascade.


Drink This Weekend Edition: 3 wines to demolish your Halloween candy stash

Friday, November 6th, 2015



Maybe your kids recently went out in a silly outfit and came back with a mountain of candy. Perhaps you overestimated the number of trick-or-treaters you thought would come to your door and have picked at that bowl of sweets all week. Either way, it’s time to finish them off this weekend, grown-up style. Invite some friends over and pair Halloween treats with a few great bottles of wine. Here, my favorite three candy and vino pairings:

1. Kids tend to inhale milk chocolate or cookies-and-cream mini bars and leave behind the dark chocolate pieces. For more mature palates, dark chocolate pairs perfectly with a Giribaldi Caj Barbera d’Alba. Rarely does a pairing elevate both the wine and the food but in this case, the chocolate and wine sung together in perfect harmony. $20, available at Lucky’s Market in Ellisville

2. Sometimes you get those overly sweet-sour candies everyone hates (I’m looking at you, Nerds.). These silly candies go great with a somewhat tart frizzante wine – I recommend finding a bottle of vinho verde. The Aveleda Casal Garcia Branco vinho verde has slight fizz and sweetness and a tart finish that perfectly complements a box of crunchy little Nerds. $8, available at Randall’s Wine & Spirits in St. Louis

3. OK, technically, caramel apples aren’t candy, but this treat is everywhere right now. While I love apples, I wasn’t a huge fan of this dessert until someone convinced me to try it with an oloroso sherry. It worked beautifully. The nuttiness in a bottle of Lustau Don Nuno oloroso will highlight the complexity in the caramel, and the acidity will match well with the apple. $30, available at Starrs
Ben Wood has more than 10 years experience in the wine industry. He currently works as shop manager of Cork & Rind. 

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