Thursday, April 24, 2014

Thursday April 24th, 2014 - Tomfoolery Tasting - hosted by Ms.Jackie &Mr. Santiago

Thursday April 24th, 2014 - Tomfoolery Tasting - hosted by Ms.Jackie & Mr. Santiago

Theme: Tomfoolery Tasting (grocery store wines) - a play on April Fools for wine
The Rules:
1)  Purchase a wine from your average grocery store (ex: Trader Joes, Kroger, Publix)
   *specialty grocery stores or the "Kro-Gay" (Kroger) in Ansley area are not allowed
   *no "Three-Buck-Chuck" - try to step it up a little bit.
2)  Pick out a wine that you know is decent, or that you have enjoyed in the past.  If you are not sure, pick one at random.  If you can, stay in the usual TWITs price range (aka: up to $20 for singles, up to $40 for couples).
3)  Bring the wine to TWITs, in a paper bag, for blind tasting

We will be blind tasting these wines, for fun.  Then at the end we will unveil them, and see what wines we ended up with.  You may be surprised which ones you liked.  The wines can be red or white or sparkling or rose, it does not matter.  The point of this tomfoolery is to try to pick something "good" from a "grocery store".

TWITs Tasting Notes:
Enjoy this hilarious video that essentially recaps our tasting.  

Welcome Wines: The Welcome Wines were not "Tomfoolery Wines", but listed here so we can recall what we tried.
Welcome Wine 1) Earl Olivier Cousin "Pur Breton" Pays an ange vin ~ $30 at Le Caveau
   12.5% alcohol
Welcome Wine 2) 2010 Domaine Galevan - Paroles de Femme - Cote Du Rhone ~ $20 at Le Caveau
   60% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre, 10% Cinsault, 10% Carignan, 14.5% alcohol

1) Lamarca Prosecco (Italy) ~ $17 with Kroger Plus Card
100% Prosecco, 11% Alcohol
Guesses: Marilyn and the guys all guess prosecco, Val says Cava,
golden apple nose, light, refreshing, good for a hot tub on a hot day

2) 2012 Villa Borghetti Delle Venizie Pinot Grigio $5.99 @ Trader Joes
100% Pinot Grigio, 12% alcohol
Guesses:  white wine, light refreshing, almost tastes like nothing, "like the Coors Light of Wine", Kathy guesses it might be Chateau St. Michelle?

3) 2008 Marques de Caceres Rioja - retails for $30.59, but on sale for $17.49 at Toco Hills Kroger
100% Tempranillo, 13.5% alcohol
"that's my kind of stinky, sweet stinky", dry, no transparency, Rheinallt smells Dill, Sweet Dill, "Dill and Grass" or "Dillon Grass, ha ha the name of your dealer perhaps?" Lynn says sour cream and chive, dry maybe high gravity, leather, earth, Val guesses American Oak (later we found it was French oak).

4) 2012 Sterling Vintners Collection Pinot Noir - $11.99 @ Kroger
100% Pinot Noir, 13.5% alcohol
Val guesses Pinot Noir, nose is light, chocolate notes, cheap Welch's fruit drink, Rheinallt guesses Sonoma County Pinot Noir, Marilyn guesses 12.5% alcohol, dark cherry chocolate, Jackie said she has had Sterling before, but this one is more casual than the one she had.  "There are gondolas at the winery" (aka: closed car ski lifts), in the Calistoga area, Casual wine.

5) 2011 Ghost Pines Cabernet Sauvignon - $13.99 @ Kroger
100% Cabernet Sauvignon, but blended from different vineyards
21% Napa, 30% Sonoma, 49% Lake County
13.8% alcohol
Brian says Cab Franc, I said I love the finish, but not the nose, Rhein and I said nose is like a California Syrah, white pepper, Santi says it smells like Chinese food, the finish is great, squid ink, looks like I suffered a gunshot wound, I would eat some lamb with this, Lynn guesses Cab.

6) 2010 7 Deadly Zins - $15 @ Kroger
100% Zinfandel 15% alcohol
opaque, dark bitter coffee, slow broad legs, Marilyn guesses at least 14% alcohol, petrol nose, Santi says fresh rain on a hot road, Matt says Asphalt, Rhein says it smells like I-285, Australian Shiraz? Kathy says you thought you were smelling I-285 but that's Lodi (low-dye).

7) 2009 The Federalist Dueling Pistols - Dry Creek Valley - retails for $40.59 but was on sale for $32.48 at Kroger, according to the winemaker's website, this was bottled on April 1st, 2011 (fitting for this tasting's theme)
50% Zinfandel, 50% Syrah 15% alcohol
more asphalt, burnt smell, guessing Zin, worse than the 7 Deadly Zins

8) 2007 Campo Viejo Gran Reserva - $25 @ Fresh Market
85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, 5% Mazuelo, 13.5% alcohol
Jamie says tastes like 4 Deadly Zins, Santi says "a good C+ student, I thought the finish was not impressive

Brian joked "Worst TWITs Ever!"  I think we agreed, but we still had fun trying out these wines.  We have definitely grown our palate beyond the Grocery Store Wines though.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sake Tasting at Le Caveau - April 23rd, 2014

Sake Tasting with Savannah Distributing at Le Caveau Fine Wines

Timothy Sullivan is the founder of, the 2007 Sake Samurai (Japan Sake Brewer’s Association) and an International Sake Sommelier (Sake Service Institute|SSI). He is also the Official Brand Ambassador of Hakkaisan Sake Brewery.  Timothy used to be a web developer for Barnes & Noble, but one night at dinner, he tasted a sake that changed his life.

Koji Aoto is long time resident of Atlanta, Georgia, Koji Aoto was born in Tottori Prefecture in west Japan. In 1990, Koji came to the United States as an intern teacher to teach Japanese culture to the American children in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1997, Koji joined one of the oldest liquor distributors in Georgia, Savannah Distributing Company, as one of the start-up members of its Atlanta office. At that time, Koji was the only Japanese in the industry.  
To further enrich his career, he returned to Japan in 2005 and visited more than twenty sake breweries experiencing the sake making process first hand. In 2006, Koji received a visa as a sake expert from the U.S., and returned to Atlanta, Georgia. He became the Asian Account Manager of Savannah Distributing Company, where he serves the most popular Sushi bars.

*Not pictured is Lisa Allen of Savannah Distributing, who also helped with the tasting this evening.

Abbie from TWITs with Timothy Sullivan, Brand Ambassador of Hakkaisan Brewery

1) Hakkaisan Junmai Sparkling Nigori Sake
With refreshing acidity and gorgeous aroma, Hakkaisan Sparkling Nigori is certainly enjoyable as an aperitif, but this popular sake can be enjoyed many ways. Try pairing this beautiful brew with rich or spicy dishes as well as fruits and dessert. 

2) Hakkaisan Junmai Ginjo Sake
It’s a touch dry with tremendous balance and a crisp refreshing finish. 

3) Hakkaisan Honjyozo Sake
Delicious and slightly rich honjozo. On the dry side with plenty of body to stand up to hearty food.

4) Kotsuzumi Tokubetsu Junmai Sake
100% Kita Nishiki, a unique rice from Oku Tanba is used. Only limited breweries use this rare rice. Full bodied and clear tasting.

5) Kotsuzumi 'Draft' Junmai Ginjo Nama Sake
The softest water in Japan, locally grown rare rice Kita Nishiki and unique yeast No.10 makes this sake so elegant, fresh, lively and pure. This is a rare Nama Sake (freshly pressed sake), which is bottled un-pasteurized to maintain the original delicate flavor of “newborn sake”.

6) Amabuki Junmai Ginjo Nama Strawberry Yeast Sake
Brewed using yeast cultivated off the flowers of strawberry plants, this sake is characterized by a refreshing crispness and almost reminiscent of fresh strawberries.

*If you keep the lid on the Sake bottle, and keep it cool, the bottle could last for several days.

What is Sake?

Is it a wine, a beer, a spirit?  Actually it is none of these things.  Sake is a "brewed alcohol", it converts start to sugar and sugar to alcohol at the same time and in the same tank.


Sake rice is not the same as the rice we eat.  The starch in the core of the sake rice grain.  The grain is made up of starch, fat, and proteins.  the grain is milled down to the center.  When you see a milling rate for sake, the lower the number means the higher the quality, as it is a finer starch.  For example, the Hakkaisan sparkling wine from the tasting has a 60% millage rate.  The highest millage rate sake that Hakkaisan produces is 30%.


Elsewhere, in Japan, there's a sake called Super 8, which has an 8% millage rate and retails for around $3000 / bottle. 


The unfermented rice solids, called Kasu (Kah-soo) that are not needed for Sake-making, are sold and used in cooking and pickling


In the 1960s and 70s, when Japan sent the USA Sake, it was bottom-of-the-barrel, quality-wise.  It was cheap table sake.  A lot of people have had hot sake (typically not a good quality) as a first experience, and thus decide they do not like Sake.  However, you wouldn't give up on Wine just because you had one bad glass, would you?  I wouldn't.


There are 47 prefectures (like regions or states) in Japan.  All but 1 of them makes Sake.  Hakkaisan Brewery is located in the Niigata Prefecture.

Unlike wine, Sake is not terroir driven.  It is better to categorize sake by the quality and characteristics of the brewing water used to make it.  Soft water might give you a cleaner, softer, more feminine sake vs. a harder water might give you a more masculine, robust, dryer sake.

Sake Rice shown at various millage percentages

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Simple Science of Food and Wine Pairing from Wine Folly

Simple Science of Food and Wine Pairing from Wine Folly

Nice infographic