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Celebrate Valentine’s Day With Bubbly From The Finger Lakes

 

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BoozyLife Visiting the Champagne caves in Reims, Champagne France –2015

Frigid February is here, and the Finger Lakes have you covered for celebrating romance (and everything else) with bubbles! Champagne can only be truly CALLED Champagne unless it’s made from certain grapes, and produced in a regulated area in the region of Champagne, France. Anything made here in the US will be called sparkling wine–however, the methods in which the bubbles are created are sometimes different.

A bottle of Finger Lakes or local bubbly might be marked with Méthode Champenoise, which translates to the traditional Champagne Method of hand turning bottles while aging (called riddling), aging the wine in the bottle on the lees (left over or dead yeasts), or the traditional, natural way to create the bubbles! In regular, or ‘still’ winemaking, carbon dioxide escapes when fermentation occurs. In traditional champagne making, they add a little and sugar to the yeast  fermentation is in the bottle, trapping the bubbles–that’s where the ‘POP’ comes from when you pop the bottle! On the other hand, cheaper or non-traditionally created sparkling wines are often simply injected with a little bit of carbon dioxide gas, similar to a bottle of Coca-Cola soda…not quite as fancy a process.

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A selection of Finger Lakes Bubbly

While we can’t call sparkling wine Champagne locally, the Finger Lakes are producing some fantastic bubbles for all of your celebrations, romantic or otherwise. I stopped into our local liquor store in Ithaca, Triphammer Wines and Spirits, to see what they had on hand from Finger Lakes producers. You should be able to find several of these in the NY State area, including Manhattan wine stores in the know–have a look!

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Chateau Frank– Bubbly house producers from Dr. Konstantin Frank on Keuka Lake. They make a couple of different styles of bubbles–easiest to find will probably be their Blanc de Blanc (made all of Chardonnay grapes) or Brut (means dry or raw in French). Both are lighter, crisp flavors, quite dry. The Célébre from Chateau Franc is a sparkling Riesling that’s a fun change from the usual! Price points go from mid $20’s with the Riesling just under $20 retail.

imageHerman J. Wiemer– Cuvée Brut 2011– the cuvée is a French term for the tank, and often refers to the best juice from a grape pressing. Brut is on the dryer side, and this is a beautiful representation of a traditionally crafted Finger Lakes sparkling wine in a very traditional style. Retails for @$30 per bottle.

imageRed Tail Ridge Estate Bubbles– Blanc de Noir and Sparkling Rosé –Blanc de Noir means essentially “white from black” in French, and is usually a white sparkling wine, made from RED Pinot Noir grapes. No skin contact keeps the wine clear, or not colored. A sparkling rosé can be made from several different red grapes, usually Pinot Noir or Cabernet Franc. This one is drier, with a lovely fruity, strawberry nose and blush color. Retail @ $35 per bottle.

Sweedish Hill 2006 Brut, Blanc de Blanc, Riesling Cuvée– winery on the north end of Cayuga Lake. Dry traditional Brut, and a very popular semi-sweet sparkling Riesling. Retails From $25 to under $20 for the sweeter sparklers.

Glenora Winery–vintage and Non-vintage Brut produced on Seneca Lake. Non-Vintage is a great value retails around $18 per bottle or less! Also produces a sweeter fruit (peach and raspberry) sparkling Spumante for a fun spritzer.

Lamoreaux Landing Blanc de Blanc and Brut–dry, traditionally produced champagne style bubbly, lovely delicate bubbles. Estate grown and bottled. Priced at mid $30 range retail.

Hazlitt White Cat Fizz–sweet, fruity, sparkling style white wine. Not champagne, but very popular and well distributed! Picnic wine.

It’s getting easier to find Finger Lakes sparklers for every occasion! Have fun looking for your next taste, and shoot me a comment with your favorites–the Finger Lakes is a beautiful place to Taste NY ❤️ Enjoy your Valentines Day!

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn from Eve’s Cidery on NY Cork Report

imageNY hard Apple ciders are finally getting the recognition they so deserve, and once again the Finger Lakes area is a leader the trend towards producing dry, heirloom sparkling (and still or no bubble) hard ciders. Autumn Stoscheck, of Eve’s Cidery here in the Finger Lakes, was recently featured as a NY Tastemaker for her incredible, hand made adult ciders! Check out her question and answer with Lenn Thompson of New York Cork Report here: http://newyorkcorkreport.com/blog/2016/02/02/new-york-tastemaker-autumn-stoscheck-eves-cidery/

Last year, I was lucky enough to attend a tasting with Autumn and partake in some of her incredible ciders! You can read up on my visit to the Finger Lakes Cider House and tasting with Autumn here: http://boozylife.com/2015/0809/cider-makers-afternoon-with-autumn-of-eves-cidery-finger-lakes-cider-house/

 

 

Grüner and Blaufränkisch– Austria Abroad in the Finger Lakes

imageLast Sunday, I had the opportunity to attend a very special tasting at Dano’s Heuriger overlooking Seneca Lake. The restaurant is a lovely space, despite the  easily missed exterior of the seemingly smaller building-naturally modern, with a warm feel and unassumingly elegant decor. The breathtaking lake views are the main attraction, aside from the traditional Viennese cuisine. Don’t miss Dano’s if you visit the area–it’s a local gem, owned by Dano Hutnik and his wife Karen. Both are accomplished chefs (she in pastry), and Dano’s experience living as a ballet dancer in Vienna adds to the authenticity of the locally sourced menu.

The concept behind this tasting event was a very exciting one–a tasting of two wines, one white (Grüner Veltliner), one red (Blaufränkisch aka Lemberger). Several different wineries from the Finger Lakes, along with producers from Germany, Spain, and even Washington State US were represented. Both grape varietals are native to Austria, and both grow exceedingly well in our cooler, Finger Lakes climate. Grüner wines are white, and tend to have a light, floral, citrus or peachy flavor, highlighted often by a peppery or even white pepper notes. Blaufränkisch (Lemberger) wines are red, and have a red, ripe, jammy character–think red currants and dark, ripe cherries. Oak aging can help tame acidity and tannins, but many retain their bright flavors.

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Dano’s

All the while, Dano’s had a beautiful array of appetizers and light bites to go with the Austrian themed wine pairings. The menu  included artichoke tarts with a delicate pastry, asparagus wraps, smoked fish spread, hard salami, sausage and schnitzel bites over homemade sour kraut, and smoked fish

So, let the tasting notes begin! I really enjoyed having the opportunity to taste several Grüners in a row, something I have never had the chance to do, let alone with several Finger Lakes wineries in the mix. My limited palate knowledge on this grape is that it’s white, fruity, and light, often peppery, and is usually made in a dry style very complimentary to delicate foods. I had no idea how different the wines produced in the Finger Lakes would be, especially from each other.

The 2013 Grüner from Hazlitt was soft, had a light acidity, peachy and a bit of time on the lees. Very different, the 2014 Grüner from Anthony Road was tart, dry, and had a balanced structure with lemons and tropical fruits. Dr. Konstantin Frank Grüner 2014 came with the 2015 Jefferson Cup that they had recently been awarded–with good reason. This beautiful Grüner has a peachy nose, beautiful, bright acidity, and a dry but lasting finish of subtle honey and light spice.

Lamoreaux Landing 2013 Grüner is very light and dry white, food friendly, with hints of white pepper. Bloomer Creek 2013 Auten Vineyard was a HUGE surprise after the others, with a yellow gold color, crazy and long lasting finish of honey, right from the comb. The honey finish had me grabbing my tasting friends, and forcing them return to it by holding my glass under their nose….sometimes, I get excited over a sampling, and decorum goes out the window. No apologies!

Over to red! A few of my favorite FLX wineries brought their Lembergers, which was exciting since I am such a red wine lover.  I definitely had more knowledge on this side of the room on what to expect going in. Herman J. Wiemer 2013 Lemberger – cherry nose, dark red fruit, currant, bright acidity, light and rounded tannins. Lip smacking, tart finish. Fox Run Vineyards 2013 Lemberger had a bit of heat on the nose, red fruit, clove spice, nicely balanced, and very quaffable indeed. Red Tail Ridge 2013 Blaufränkisch was a bit more oaky tannin focused, with higher acidity, and leaner structure.

 

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Stephanie & Damiani

Damiani Wine Cellars 2014 was also lean, with baland dark fruit, oak, and a still crunchy acidity. To round out the tasting, I also tried Glatzer Blaufränkisch 2014 from Austria–chewy, tannic red, much lower acidity and jammy ripe red fruits. Not crazy about Schatz 2006 Acinopo Lemberger Ronda, Spain–a bit higher RS, licorice, smokey oak and finish. Very different than others, and not my favorite by a long shot.

All in all, a fantastic way to spend a Sunday afternoon in the Finger Lakes. I took away quite a bit of information about two grapes that I was relatively unfamiliar with, and tasted several different styles of wines made with them. For me, the best part was meeting the winemakers and having them answer questions about their wines, process, and craft — along with the commeraderie of the afternoon! Get out of your comfort zone, say yes to trying new wines, and you’ll be genuinely surprised at what you find you might love.

 

 

 

BoozyLife is in Puerto Rico

SENZALA TATTOO in Old San Juan, PR

SENZALA TATTOO in Old San Juan, PR

A TASTE NY SPOT IN PR?!? Who knew?!

A TASTE NY SPOT IN PR?!? Who knew?!

Cemetery crypts with one hell of a view

Cemetery crypts with one hell of a view

Old San Juan

Old San Juan


Lefty and I are in PR for about a week, while he does an artist guest spot at Senzala Tattoo in Old San Juan! Many talented tattoo artists travel extensively, working out of shops around the world.

Ocean views

Ocean views

Lefty has international clients, and when we met years ago, he was spending a lot of time on the island of Puerto Rico–enough to have a client base and following here. Still does!

My pirate Lefty

My pirate Lefty

It’s been roughly seven years since he’s been here (owning a shop will unintentionally tie you down for a bit), but I definitely foresee trips becoming more frequent. I love seeing the pirate Lefty in his native environment! This is my first time, so I’m getting the full tour from the entire gang of characters here–gracious group of artists, every one.

Molina working on Demian at Senzala Tattoo

Molina working on Demian at Senzala Tattoo

I have a few boozy excursions planned, not to mention incredible foods,  rainforests, and a bioluminescent bay to visit…stay tuned…

Avacado stuffed with shrimp & tostones

Avacado stuffed with shrimp & tostones

Follow along on my BoozyLife FaceBook page, on Twitter as @boozylife or on Instagram @missusmolina 🙂

 

Wild Brute Winery in Arkport-Going Rogue off the Trails

Wild Brute Winery

Wild Brute Winery

This summer, I was a part of the Wine Blogger Conference –this year located in the Finger Lakes region, or my back yard. I felt like I needed to go because it was so close to home…however, I unexpectedly ran into some incredible local winemakers that were doing things their own way. I made a point of it to explore this back yard of mine in earnest! Arkport, NY just kept coming up, over and over. There are incredibly interesting things happening off the lakes, about an hour away from Corning, NY.  I took the ride, and it was totally worth it.

The Lineup at Wild Brute

The Lineup at Wild Brute

The French were the first to use the term ‘Gagariste’ in terms of winemaking–these were the mavericks, making wines off the grid and outside of a very regulated system. Although they were not in the system, the French had to agree that the small batch, artisanal products coming from these tiny producers were interesting, and sometimes ground breaking. Justin Recktenwald and his startup, Wild Brute Winery in Arkport, NY, fit the definition of garagiste winemaking perfectly–right here in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate NY. Justin has the pedigree -Graduated Cornell Viticulture program, worked and learned under Dr. Constantine Frank sparkling masters, and has travelled extensively to learn, and apply the knowledge at home.

Justin, me, Kyleigh, Wendy, and Mark--the Wild Brute Crew

Justin, me, Kyleigh, Wendy, and Mark–the Wild Brute Crew

Wild Brute Winery (follow the link for their website) is a family affair. Justin Recktenwald is the owner and winemaker, along with a crew of many-fiancé Kyleigh, mom Wendy, dad Mark, and brother Cody all have a hand in the production process. This family knows farming, and Arkport, and Justin’s knowledge and winemaking skill has turned family farm property into a wine bar and production facility. Currently, aside from publicized weekend events and music shows, the Arkport tasting room is by appointment (although during the nicer weather there is an outside open tasting bar.)

Wine pairing with chocolates

Wine pairing with chocolates

I was invited up to do a tasting, and I really can’t say enough about the feeling I left with. I brought my husband, and we were met by Justin, his family, and a beautiful spread of artisanal chocolate bonbons from Angelica’s Sweet Shop-about fifteen minutes away! I was already a fan of Wild Brute’s 2013 Unfiltered Cabernet Franc…but this time, we got to sample the entire lot…and it was quite a showing of what’s happening beyond the wine trails on the lake shores!

 

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*Wild Brute 2014 Chardonnay–Bright acidity and a balanced oak finish, vanilla, caramel, green apple, smooth mouthfeel. Grab it if you see it!

*Wild Brute 2013 Unfiltered Cabernet Franc–Dark plum color, red fruit, figs, warm oak, light warm acidity. One of my favorite Cabs in the FLX…seriously. It’s special because it’s so different from anything else.

*Wild Brute 2013 Unfiltered Single Barrel Reserve–Super Limited, dark jammy red fruit, a bit younger bite of acidity. Gorgeous dark plum color, lasting finish. Oak adds a warm rounded depth without overpowering the fruit.

*Wild Brute 2013 Off-Dry Riesling–Bright nose, floral, pear, peach, honey, green apple. Light acidity is balanced with hint of sweetness and a lasting honey finish

*Barrel tastings of WB Hard Apple Cider (YUM), wild ferment, heirloom apples.

If you see a bottle of Wild Brute, grab it. If you’re headed through Horse Heads/Corning and want a bottle, they have a limited stock in the general area. This coming spring, I forsee LOTS of events starting up through the he summer at the Wild Brute wine bar–here’s their FaceBook Wild Brute Business Page–Wild Brute Winery on FaceBook–go give them a Like, and know what events are coming up…music, wine, and local flavor, Finger Lakes style…off the lakes! Make an afternoon drive that you won’t regret! #goingrogue

Wild Brute Wines

Wild Brute Wines

#BoozyLife is Bound for Puerto Rico and Senzala Tattoo

Puerto Rico Bound

Puerto Rico Bound

Finally, after years of being the airport drop-off driver for this very commonly repeated trip, I’m tagging along to Puerto Rico with the husband! Early December, my man Lefty will be back at it, doing a guest spot at Senzala Tattoo in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico–one of the oldest existing cities in America. I’ll be blogging along the way, hanging out at the tattoo shop, trying local delicacies and boozy beverages galore–when I’m not touring rainforests and a bioluminescent bay…..and beaches, and hiking….

Have any recommendations for stops along the way that I absolutely shouldn’t miss? Leave a comment here, on my FB page, or tweet at me on Twitter @BoozyLife 🙂

Lefty at Senzala Dec 8-14

Lefty at Senzala Dec 8-14

Aaaand, if you’d like to schedule a tattoo appointment with Lefty while we’re in PR, get a hold of Senzala Tattoo for any tattoo availability and booking (follow the link above)!

Turkey Day Boozy Beverage Options

Groceries are grabbed, baking is (mostly) finished, and our free range turkey from Autumn’s Harvest Farm is dry brining away. Now it’s time to focus on the booze–what to drink with a meal that includes a LOT of different flavors? So many booze choices, none of them wrong…..

Thanksgiving is a perfect occasion to serve a bunch of different beverages. They are so many foods and textures, there is no single right or wrong wine style to pair. Sparkling wines like Champagne or Prosecco are great for serving during appetizers and lighter nibbles, such as cold shrimp or cheese plates.  Bubbles are also fabulous with dessert.

Wild Brute Cabernet Franc

Wild Brute Cabernet Franc

I am a big wine drinker, and I love my dry, bold reds, so I will have a selection of bottles Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir to serve during the main event.  One of my favorites is from Wild Brute Winery, who readers will hear more about VERY soon. But wait,  isn’t turkey a bird, so you need to drink a white wine with it? Nope! Rules are made to be broken in this case. The richness will hold up against bolder flavors-go ahead and try that NY State, cool climate Pinot Noir with your turkey. Delicious! As for white wines, local Finger Lakes Rieslings are world-famous–and heavily publicized at the moment. Fox Run just made the Wine Enthusiast 100 for 2015 for their Fox Run 2011 Reserve Riesling–but at number 47, Herman J. Wiemer shows up on the SAME LIST for their 2012 Magdalena Vineyard Cabernet Franc (at 94 points, TELL ME AGAIN HOW NY STATE CAN’T MAKE QUALITY, INCREDIBLE RED WINES). Sorry, back from the rant–not all Riesling is sweet, which is a common misconception….but if you’re looking to try something different, go for a Gewurtztraminer. This German grape has a floral, almost hoppy fragrance, and the taste is spicy, fruity, and different than any other. It pairs well with lots of different flavors, without overpowering lighter foods. Give your guests a chance to try something they might not be brave enough to sip on their own!

Eve's Cidery flight

Eve’s Cidery flight

Lastly, Hard Cider is one of my favorite drinks to have with large, family style meals….especially during the fall, and harvest season. Hard apple and even pear ciders are currently enjoying a popularity swing, and several local New York State producers are making high-end artisanal, traditional styles of sparkling and still ciders (with or without bubbles). Some of my favorite local cider products are from Eve’s Cider, Bellwether Hard Cider, Redbyrd Orchard Cider, and Naked Flock Cider out of the Hudson Valley.

I’ll be posting cooking and pairing updates throughout the day tomorrow–post YOUR FAVORITE BOOZE pairings in my comments, on BoozyLife FB, or follow along live on Twitter @boozylife 🙂

Local Turkeys Hang Out at The Piggery

Well, it’s that time again. Time for obligatory Thanksgiving blog posts! What to cook, what wine to serve, and how to survive the holidays abound. Me and the tattooer are staying local this year, and that means we’ll be putting on the traditional dinner at Casa Molina for family and friends that want to swing in. We try to keep it simple, local, and delicious….but this year we are going really LOCAL.

Turkeys roaming at Autumn's Harvest Farm in Romulus, NY

Turkeys roaming at Autumn’s Harvest Farm in Romulus, NY

First up, the turkey. In the past, my dad has had the fresh turkey hook-up from having owned a restaurant for twenty years. This year, I’m super excited to bring the bird! Today, we grabbed a little thirteen pound turkey from our friend Heather Sandford, who with husband Brad Marshall own and operate local pig farm and butcher shop The Piggery (follow the link for their beautiful blog and website). Incredibly, my husband and I were lucky enough to score a REAL PERNIL from them last Christmas, which was rated as ‘absolutely divine’– that came from Puerto Ricans that KNOW their pork, and it is VERY serious business.

The Piggery, Ithaca NY

The Piggery, Ithaca NY

The Piggery has a retail space in Ithaca (423 Franklin St, down by Red Feet Wine Store) that has a fantastic selection of their far raised pork-plus goodies from all over the Finger Lakes, from cheeses, breads, spreads and oils, plus beef and poultry sourced from Autumn’s Harvest Farms in Romulus, NY. Our little Thanksgiving turkey guy lived a happy, pasture life, wherein he roamed free and ate certified organic grains, bugs, and all the good stuff turkeys eat in real life. No factory farming here, kids. This is how our great-grandparents did it….no antibiotics or chemicals, just quality meats from well lived and cared for animals on local farms. Here is a pic of the star of the show…

The star of turkey day 2015

The star of turkey day 2015

Next up, what booze I’ll be bringing to the table…local wine, hard cider, brews, and cocktails to enjoy with your holiday spread and beyond!

Awesome FLX Reblog: article from BinNotes: FLX Wine Region-Beyond ‘Crappy’ Hybrids

FLX Wine Region-Beyond ‘Crappy’ Hybrids by L.M. Archer

A few weeks ago, I attended WBC15, a conference dedicated to wine writers and bloggers checking out the Finger Lakes wine region.  It was incredible insight for me personally, as a Finger Lakes local, to hear what others had to say about our wine region. We are pretty isolated here in the FLX, and a group of wine writers from all over the world would only help to spread the word.

We were taken on ‘secret’ bus excursions one afternoon, and I ended up on a bus headed to Arkport, NY and Element Winery. Also on our bus was writer L.M. Archer, creator of the Red Thread, BinNotes blog, and several other wine and travel publications. She was also a LOT of fun, and we spent a lovely weekend enjoying and comparing notes, especially on Kelby Russell’s rosé. I believe a bottle was grabbed from table 15 at the dinner, but no proof remains….

A gorgeous Rosé by Kelby Russell

A gorgeous Rosé by Kelby Russell

Her article is a great overview of who was there, what we drank, and what she took away from the weekend in the FLX.  I’m listed in her Thank You’s as a ‘partner in crime’ for the weekend, which makes me blush–it was my pleasure! Have a read, the link is embedded here~~~>FLX Wine Region — Beyond ‘Crappy’ Hybrids