Thursday, December 22, 2016

Sweden's Greetings, Happy Holidays

Ladies and gentlemen we have a paradigm shift!  No longer do Bourbon and Whiskey rule the oak infused liquor shelf- heavyweight Absolut has stepped into the ring! That's right, vodka is stepping up its game and giving our winter cocktails a run for their money with Oak by Absolut.

But it’s only in a few select markets – and Boston is one of the lucky ones.

Utilizing a quick aging on a combination of American and Swedish oak as well as former bourbon barrels, the vodka takes on subtle flavor. Notes of chocolate, caramel and toasted oak make Oak by Absolut incredibly malleable.  Paired with almost anything or served on its own, versatility is its knockout punch. Below are some inspirations for everyone in Boston looking to enjoy some festive and delicious cocktails at home.

Fall Harvest

I'm never quite ready to abandon the light crispness of summer white wines when the temperature begins its descent, so I created this fall inspired sangria, utilizing a robust rose wine to help ease the transition.

o   1 bottle rose wine (I suggest one made from Garnacha or Sangiovese)
o   1 cup Oak by Absolut
o   1 tbsp honey
o   1 Macintosh Apple, cored and then cubed
o   1 Bartlett Pear, cored and then cubed
o   1 orange, sliced, halved and cut into quarters

Instructions: Combine wine, Oak by Absolut and honey in a large pitcher, stir well.  Add the fruit, and serve over ice.  If a little fizz is appealing, top with seltzer water (local favorite Spindrift in the lemon flavor is perfect).

The Mighty Oak

The advent of the Fall season is always welcomed with warn sweaters, comfy boots and all things apple. A base of good apple cider, combined with the oak flavor of Oak by Absolut and the nuttiness of Amaretto makes this cocktail king of the fall.

o   1 cup good apple cider
o   1 shot Oak by Absolut
o   1 shot Amaretto

Instructions: Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice.  Shake well, pour into glass, serve.

Flannel and Cords

While the fashion this time of year might be oh so "basic", this cocktail is anything but.  Nutrients burst out of this one to help ward off the common cold, and it pairs perfectly with your perfectly trimmed beard, and of course the standard flannel.

o   1 cup pure carrot juice
o   1 shot Oak by Absolut
o   1 tsp turmeric 
o   1 tsp cayenne pepper
o   2 tbsp pepperoncini juice
o   1 pepperoncini (for garnish)

Instructions: Combine all ingredients except for the garnish in a shaker over ice.  Shake well.  Serve over ice in a mason jar, garnish with the pepperoncini and a handlebar mustache.  Basic.

The Snow Shovel

It's coming...we all know it is.  Soon enough our days will be spent shoveling- sidewalks, parking spaces, driveways, outdoor bars...shoveling will be done.  It's a task that desperately needs a cocktail to fix that inevitable throbbing back.  Enter, The Snow Shovel.

o   1 cup Oak by Absolut
o   2 tsp good maple syrup
o   1 tsp vanilla

Combine all ingredients in a shaker over ice.  Shake well.  Serve straight up.  Shake off the chill.

Comm Ave

Winter brings ice, snow, and the obligation to shop.  The obligation to shop with thousands of your favorite Bostonians, all jamming into stores and creating crazy traffic at every turn.  The Comm Ave is an ode to all those brake lights that line our favorite "mall" during the winter, and it's sure to calm your nerves from a stressful drive.

o   1 cup cranberry juice
o   1 shot Oak by Absolut
o   1 shot Cointreau 
o   Orange zest

Combine all liquids in a shaker over ice.  Shake well.  Strain into a martini glass, squeeze the zest of an orange peel into the glass and add as a floater.  Be glad your drinking and not driving.

Noche Nevada

Once the winter settles in, we're all looking for ways to escape the doldrums, and start cashing in those miles to get to the nearest tropical location.  For those of us whose points don't add up enough, fear not: Noche Nevada is your ticket to island time
    • 1 cup pure coconut milk
    • 1 tsp grated cinnamon
    • 1 tsp grated nutmeg
    • 1 tbsp good maple syrup (optional)

Instructions: Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice.  Shake very well.  Serve in a martini glass and picture the sand between your toes.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Is There Bacon In My Wine?

Alright- so you’ve picked out some scents.  You sniffed the wine, you pushed past the “Wine” smell, and you recognized some fruits or flowers or savory scents in your glass.  The next thing to look at is are those smells fresh or manipulated?   How the scents present themselves will tell you if the wine is aging.  So let’s take a closer look. 

If you smelled lemon- is it a fresh lemon that you’d use to squeeze into your tea, or is it a lemon curd or jam?  Is it candied zest?  If you smelled apples- is it the smell of a fresh apple you just bit into as a healthy snack to keep that doctor away?  Or is it a baked apple or a bruised apple?  If you smelled flowers- are those flowers in a bouquet or dried? Are you getting baking spices?  Smoked wood?  Cedar box?  The more mature the scents are, the older the wine is getting.  

So earlier we talked about how when wines age we talked about how their colors change- the vibrant blues or the fresh greens fade and are replaced with ruby or straw yellow, as that is happening, at the very same time, their scents are also changing.  When wines are young, their scents are ripe and smell young.  You’ll get those awesome lemon or green apple- fresh fruits .  However as those wines start to develop in the bottle, and get a little older, those scents change too.  This is where you might start smelling things like candied lemon peel, or apple butter, bruised apple, peach jam, raisins, dried flowers, or even more savory scents like cedar box, or smoked meats.  

My general rule of thumb is if the fruits or flowers smell like they have been manipulated in some way (baked, candied, jammed) the aging process has begun.  The older the wine gets, the more those fruit scents will lessen and the more savory scents will appear.  Its a fascinating process to observe.    

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Introduction to Smelling Wine- What ARE We Looking For?

OK!  We’ve swirled our wine, we’ve watched the pretty rhythm of the rotating liquid, and we did so without spilling it on ourselves, our neighbor or the table!  Or….not- either way- that wine has gotten some fresh air in it and that means we start smelling.  The color of wine tells us so much, but the real personality of the wine comes out through the nose.  The scents that rise out of the glass alert you to what is waiting for you- is it a simple or complex wine?  Savory or sweet palette, showing age or maintaining freshness?  Smelling a wine always starts to open my mind up to the possibilities- what to pair it with, how will it develop the longer it sits out, should I be looking for another bottle?  

Here’s the deal- smelling wine is like the Tinder of wine tasting- it lets you know just enough to let you know if you want to know more.  

Here’s the first note- when you’re starting to smell wine, start sniffing as soon as you stop swirling and start to lift the glass towards your nose.  How close does that glass get to your nose when you start to smell the aromas?  Is it shy or extroverted?  Does it jump out of the glass and rush to meet you, or do you need to coax it out of the bottom of the glass, asking it to share it’s story?  Every varietal has it’s own DNA, and that make up will allow it to either be unreserved in its scent, rising out of the glass powerfully, and some have low intensity, and you need to really work to get the smell.  

Every wine has it’s own personality.  

Then concentrate on what scents are present.  “Wine” is the most common answer here- yup I get that.  Take another smell though.  Every wine is comprised of a variety of other scents- fruits, flowers, herbs, vegetables, savory things like cedar box or smoked meats, general smells like earth, or wet rocks, or damp forest…all of these scents appear in wine and we just need to use our noses to narrow them down.  

This may be one of the most interesting facets of wine though- so I urge you not to breeze past it.  You know how I waxed on about how every wine tells a story?  Every wine tells you all about where it came from, what the soil and the climate was like there, what the weather did in that particular year, and the efforts of the farmer.  Every single scent that you can smell in that glass contributes to the story.  Dig in- do you smell citrus fruits?  What about apples- green or red?  Plums?  Blackberries?  Strawberries?  Maybe white flowers or lavender?  Dried fruits? Black pepper?  

Training your nose to pick out these scents isn’t easy- believe me.  Here’s the big trick though- ready for it?  Next time you’re in your local grocery store, or at a farmers market- smell the produce.  Smell the herbs.  Smell the flowers.  Smelling is free- you may look a little weird- but do it anyway.  Then when you smell your next glass of wine- try to narrow in on the different sections of the store.  It’ll help you to narrow down the flavors.

As you get more comfortable with smelling wine, you’ll start to recognize more and more about the wine from the nose, and next time we’ll talk more about what some of those scents mean.  However, for now, smell your wine and allow it to introduce itself to you- swipe left or right but at least you’ll have a little more information to help with the decision.  


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