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Category Archives: liquor store

Tasty and Different Wines

Regular readers know I am something of an oenophile (I pronounce it oh-nee-oh-file, to give you an idea of my level of wine knowledge and snobbishness) (just to be extra clear: not high). I am always delighted to increase my knowledge and discover new wines when Vintage Spirits holds a wine tasting. Bronson, who usually does the pouring, is very knowledgeable, and he has good taste in wine.

The first wine I tasted was a Tangley Oaks Chardonnay from 2012. This is an unoaked (my computer seems to think unoaked is not a word; must not be an oenophile) California wine, which makes it an unusual California Chardonnay. I was pleased to hear this for two reasons: that Chardonnay is aged in oak or stainless and it makes a difference in the taste is one of my few bits of wine-making knowledge. Also, I like unoaked Chardonnay. I liked this one. I noted that it was tasty, light and bright.

I moved on to Laurent Miguel Chardonnay-Viognier 2013. It is 65% Chardonnay, 35% Viognier. I pronounced it yummy (my highest praise) and different. This is where I would like to educate my palate a little more, because I would like to be able to articulate how it was different. Bronson said the viognier gives the wine an apricot taste. I have not eaten an apricot in years (and the ones I ate then were dehydrated) so I had to take his word on that. Still, I enjoyed the differentness (I guess that’s not a word, but it says what I mean better than “difference”) (or should I say more betterly?).

Next I tasted CK Mondavi Blond Five 2013, another California wine. The five are Chardonnay, Moscato, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. It was sweeter that I usually like but tasty. I enjoyed that a lot of different flavors are present. Once again, I must educate my palate to describe it more clearly. For now I can only say, it tasted like a lot was going on.

The last white was Rosemont Estate Traminer-Riesling 2013. This Australian wine is 83% Gewurztraminer, 17% Riesling. It has a definite crispness to it. I pronounced it tasty and a little different as well. Once again a little sweet for my tastes, but I liked it.

The first red on the list was Lost Vineyard Rosso, an Italian wine. Sangiovese is the grape used. It is made in Italy and imported by a Rochester company, in case like me you’re a sucker for a New York State connection. I found it tasty but plain. Another taster pronounced it too light. Bronson agreed that it did not have a whole lot of depth. Steven liked it, as did other tasters who prefer a light wine.

I felt there was a little more to the Melini Chianti Riserva DOCG 2010. It also had the coolest shaped bottle. I pronounced this one tasty as well. Bronson warned me that the Estancia Reserve GSM 2012 was a little sweeter (he knows I like dry), but I liked it. It’s made from three grapes, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre.

The last wine had a cool-looking bare tree on the label. It was Old Soul Zinfandel 2012, made from old vines. Bronson told us that vines must be 25 years old to be considered old vines (that was my new bit of wine knowledge for the day). Some California vines date back to the 1860s. During the gold rush, Italian immigrants brought vines of “Primitivo,” which became Zinfandel. I thought the wine smelled sweet but did not taste overly sweet. Still, it was my least favorite wine of the day (although I did like that tree on the label). Tasters who preferred a sweet wine liked it best.

Vintage Spirits is located at 246 Mohawk St., Herkimer, NY. Phone number is 315-866-6800. They are open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday 12 to 6 p.m. For more information you can visit their website at or you can Like their Facebook page. You can also get on a email list to receive notifications of future tastings. Perhaps I’ll see you there.


A Sip for Silly Me

I am so silly. I completely forgot to write about the wine tasting I attended at Vintage Spirits in Herkimer, NY last Friday, March 21. Luckily I still have my notes.

The tasting began at 4 p.m. Since I usually arrive home from work about ten to four, I thought it would be an easy matter to run a couple of errands and arrive at Vintage Spirits at the crack of four. Of course I mistimed myself and got there early, but Bronson was almost ready to go, so I did not have long to wait.

The first thing I tasted was a Chardonnay by CK Mondavi, from California. I don’t always like Chardonnays; I find them too buttery. I tend to like French ones over California. I learned that is because the French Chardonnays are usually aged in stainless steel, while the California ones are aged in oak. There, I got out my one bit of wine knowledge.

Perhaps I should just mention for the benefit of new readers (if any) that I am not exactly a oenophile (in fact, I like to pronounce it oh-nee-oh-file). My highest accolade for a wine is “yummy.” And I hardly ever taste “notes” of anything, which knowledgeable descriptions of wine always include.

But getting back to the CK Mondavi Chardonnay, I liked it. It was crisp. I wrote about it, “This is my favorite so far. Oh wait, it’s the first one I tried.” (See, I even get silly in my notes to myself.)

The other white I tasted was Swedish Hill Doobie Blues White. I have been to the Swedish Hill Winery in the Finger Lakes (I LOVE the Finger Lakes) (in fact, I’ll be going there next week, as I may have mentioned in this blog), so I’ve probably tried it before but did not recall it as one of my favorites. Bronson described it “like a sweet Chardonnay.” I actually liked it. Sometimes a sweet white is nice over ice on a hot summer day.

As I was tasting and chatting with Bronson, other customers came up for a taste. They would usually taste one wine, say thank you and be on their way. I felt a little lushy, being the only one to taste more than one kind. At other tastings, there have been people who tasted all the wines. I guess they were all getting there later.

Moving on to the reds, I tried two from Tuscany: Caparzo Toscana 2011 and Barone Ricasoli “Brolio” Chianti Classico 2011. The Toscana is a blend but with 85% Sangiovese. I pronounced it very nice. The Chianti was the driest Bronson offered. I liked that one, too.

I also tried a Desert Wine Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 from Washington State. Cabernet Sauvignon is one of my favorite flavors (it’s fun to say and fun to drink), so I was pretty sure I’d like it. This one is 4% Cab Franc. It reached my ultimate accolade of yummy. I also tasted notes of pepper. Score! Without even reading it on the sheet Bronson had describing the wines! So I definitely bought a bottle of that.

I also bought a bottle of the CK Mondavi Chardonnay, after trying just another sip of it. And I helped another customer who tasted one wine. She said she almost never bought wine, because she would buy something she didn’t like and it would go to waste. Both Bronson and I encouraged her to attend wine tastings, to find wines she liked.

“And if you don’t like a wine you bought,” I said, “you can always use it to cook with.” A lady at another liquor store told me that once.

“You can do that?”

“Sure, and if you wait too long and it goes to vinegar, you can use it in salad dressing. That doesn’t usually happen to my wines.” In the interests of full disclosure.

It was a fun time. After writing about it, I am more than ever looking forward to my family’s Finger Lakes trip next weekend. Did I say something about dithering over it? Silly me!

Vintage Spirits is located at 246 Mohawk St., Herkimer, NY. Phone number 315-866-6800. They are open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday 12 to 6 p.m.

Yummy and New Yorky Wines

I have a new way of attending wine tastings on a Friday. I work out at Curves with my friends Phyllis and Kelly, then we go to the wine tasting in our sweaty workout clothes. Friday we went to one at Vintage Spirits in Herkimer, NY.

Bronson was already pouring the wines when we got there. This time he was assisted by a lovely young woman with long blonde hair. I later found out this was Alyssa, a representative of Empire Merchants North, one of the distributors Vintage Spirits deals with.

When I pulled out my little zebra striped book to take notes in, somebody said, “Ooh, she’s a professional.” I kind of tarnished that reputation when I pronounced the first wine “yummy,” and I completely obliterated it when I described another as “New Yorky.” As they say, I gotta be me.

The first yummy wine was The Skinny Vine Mini Moscato. Alyssa told us it was only 95 calories a glass. It was semi-sweet. I thought it would be a good middle-of-the-road wine for a gathering.

The New Yorky wine was Red Tail Ridge Chardonnay, from a Seneca Lake winery. Bronson described it as “lightly oaked,” kind of midway between a California chardonnay (aged in oak) and a French chardonnay (aged in stainless). I sometimes get a little oenophile-ish over chardonnays. It’s not my favorite wine, but I seem to know more about it. I taste a lot of differences between the different aging processes, so it is more interesting to me to taste than, say a pinot noir or cabernet sauvignon that I’m pretty sure I’m going to like.

Phyllis pronounced the Milbrandt Vineyards Riesling, from Washington State, refreshing. We all liked the Mumm Napa Brut Prestige.

Two pinot noirs were offered, Red Tail Ridge and Chateau St. Jean. Both were very good; the Chateau St. Jean was more smooth. That was my favorite wine of the day.

I also liked the Four Vines Petite Syrah, but decided to purchase the Chateau St. Jean. That was one of the ones distributed by Alyssa’s company. I asked her if I could mention her in my blog post. She said I could if I had nice things to say.

“In real life, I can say cutting things about some people,” I said. “But in my blog, I like to keep it positive.” I hastened to add that there was nothing negative to say about her or her company anyways. She was very friendly and helpful, even pouring samples of wines that her company did not distribute.

Another lady at the wine tasting (another regular, like me) vouched for my blog being positive.

“You read my blog?” I was quite delighted.

The wine tasting was a great deal of fun. Phyllis, Kelly and I may go on more wine tasting adventures. Stay tuned.

Vintage Spirits is located at 246 Mohawk St., Herkimer, NY. Phone number 315-866-6800.

Just Another Little Taste…

In addition to tasting wine and cheese at Vintage Spirits in Herkimer, NY, last Friday, I tasted some wine at Ilion Wine and Spirits. Steven accompanied me to the second place.

Ilion Wine and Spirits has a tasting room that is, dare I say, tastefully furnished. On my way back there I snagged a piece of cheese from the table of munchies. Ilion Wine and Spirits puts out an excellent snack table to go with their tastings. I left Steven sampling the goodies and made my way to the wine.

A number of people were already tasting, but not too many to get through. I’ve been to tastings there where the room was packed. However, people are usually nice about making room for each other. I picked up the print out listing the wines.

I started with a Petra Unger Gruner Veltliner 2010 from Austria. I asked should there be two dots over the u to make that “eueu” sound. There should be. I seem to remember hearing the word Veltliner before and liking the wine. I like the word, too. It’s fun to say. Try it. I liked this Veltliner, although it did not reach my ultimate accolade of “yummy.”

My other favorite of that tasting was the Medinet Blanc from France. They described it as semi-dry, well balanced. I just liked it.

By now Steven was sitting on the couch, observing the proceedings (he thought he should refrain from eating everything on the munchy table). I would get my taste, go sit down next to Steven and sip it, then ask him to hold the glass while I wrote in my little book about it. It’s a very pleasant way to do a tasting. I must get Steven to accompany me to other tastings with couches.

This was a very friendly tasting, with everybody chatting and comparing notes on what they had tried and what they had liked. I refrained from trying the Smirnoff Savannah Tea, but participated in a discussion about Long Island Iced Tea and how it can be difficult to find one made properly. We discovered that several of our fellow tasters were headed to Herkimer next for St. Anthony’s Festival. As that was Steven’s and my next destination, we promised to look for them. I also recommended the tasting at Vintage Spirits.

“Tell them Cindy sent you,” I said, although I doubt that anyone did.

I actually did not buy anything I tasted, but I found a bottle of Twin Vines Vinho Verde, which I like, and Steven pointed out some Baco Noir from Domhnall Vineyards in Herkimer, NY. I don’t like to take advantage of a free tasting and not buy anything.

Ilion Wine and Spirits is located at 10 E. Main St., Ilion, NY, telephone 315-894-8142.

Beginning My Wine Weekend

I’ve been promising a post about wine tasting for some days now. At last I have my wine tasting notes with me. How to begin?

I thought a Wine Tasting at Ilion Wine and Spirits on Friday night would be a fitting prelude to my Saturday tour in the Finger Lakes. It was.

I started with a a Darcy Kurt Gruner Veltliner, 2010, California. Scott thought it was an Austrian grape, although it is a California wine. This is where I become painfully aware that I am not a real wine blogger. My only notes are “oh yeah, very nice.” Nothing about fruity notes or a dry finish (I don’t remember if this one had either of those, by the way). I never even mention the bouquet. The only thing I can note is that I think the u in Gruner is supposed to have the two little dots over it (it has the “eeuu” pronunciation). (As side note: my fifth grade cello teacher, Mr. Tufts, taught me how to pronounce the u with the two dots. You make your mouth like you’re saying “eee” then your lips like you’re saying “ooo.” It’s fun, but it always takes me too long).

So I have several more wines listed with notes like “good” and “OK, but I liked the Veltliner better.” Oh, the Gerard Bertrand Viognier 2010 (France) I noted as “very dry, very plain, very light.” I wonder if real wine connoisseurs describe wines as “plain.” Not as descriptive or as complimentary as “yummy.”

I did try a wine I hadn’t intended to, Voga Moscato, Italy, and noted it as “yummy” and “a good wine to bring somewhere.” Another lady tasting said it was her favorite and urged me to try some. In fact, the cylindrical bottle looked familiar. I believe that is a wine I bought at another tasting and brought to my sister’s house one weekend some years ago. If so, my second note was quite appropriate.

My most notable take away was a recipe for some warm dip they served. You take equal parts shredded cheddar, chopped onion and mayonnaise and put in a 350 degree oven for about an hour. I believe they said the recipe is originally from the Horned Dorset Inn. I can’t wait to make some. Maybe to bring to somebody’s house along with a bottle of Voga Moscato.

I purchased a bottle of One Hope Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, California, by Rob Mondavi, Jr. I teased Scott for being on familiar terms and calling the winemaker “Rob” instead of “Robert,” but it says “Rob” on the bottle. In addition to its being a very tasty cab, 50% of profits are donated to autism research.

I left with thanks for starting my wine tasting weekend off right. In fact, I’m not sure but what that was the best of my wine tasting last weekend. It certainly involved the least amount of driving. Ilion Wine and Spirits is located at 10 E. Main St, Ilion, NY, phone number 315-894-8142.

Muddled Monday

I was either going to write about Saturday’s wine tasting or resort to Middle-aged Musings. Well, I mislaid my tasting notes, so musings it is.

I’m actually bemused this morning, because my coffee has not kicked in. What’s that all about? I can’t still be tired from Saturday, can I? Am I getting too old to have fun? Say it ain’t so!

I can’t write a whole blog post about how tired I feel. Actually, I could because right now that is uppermost in my mind, but how boring would it be? The sad thing is, I think I have mentioned how tired I am many times in this blog. I know I’ve talked about my desire for an old lady seat so I can shower sitting down. Yesterday I even considered staying dirty.

Actually, there is something else I could blog about (such a silly verb): Friday night. Friday night was to be spent with my husband. I felt so bad that he had to work and could not go on the wine tasting tour. Really, the older I get (ooh, it’s another middle-aged musing), the more I just want to be with my husband. Fun without Steven is just not as much fun. I’ve always felt that way to a point; heck, why would I have married him if I didn’t like to be with him? I may be an independent, take charge kind of woman (and say so in my blog), I may be my own person (others have described me that way), but I like to be with my husband. So there.

Our first stop Friday night was the Ilion Farmer’s Market at Clapsaddle Farm, Otsego Street, Ilion, NY. I just talked about it last week. This week we took our schnoodle Tabby. Tabby loves the Farmer’s Market. The old barn has so many smells for her, and there are always nice people who like to pet a cute dog (which she is). We got into a big conversation with one lady about dogs, cats and skunks.

After the Farmer’s Market we headed back down Otsego Street to Ilion Wine and Spirits, 10 E. Main St. They were having a wine tasting (kind of a warm up for my Saturday). We left Tabby in the car, because she’s not 21. I have some notes on that tasting too, so I guess I’ll write more about it later.

We took Tabby home before we went to dinner at the Herkimer Elks Lodge on Mary Street. The sign out front used to advertise Fish Fry, but now it says Dinner, reflecting their expanded menu. The cooking is by Dominick Scalise of Dominick’s Deli in Herkimer, and everything we’ve had so far is quite delicious. Friday I had seafood stuffed haddock and Steven had baked haddock. I look forward to eating my leftovers.

I’m thinking my musings were more entertaining than my activities, or do I flatter myself? No matter. I’ve written both, I’ll type in both (like last week, I have little time and am too flustered for extensive re-writes). People can like it or not (although I hope they do).

Valentine Wine

I was delighted to attend the Valentine Wine Tasting at Vintage Spirits in Herkimer, NY last Friday.

I started my sampling with a Charles de Fere Blanc de Blanc Brut. I knew that blanc de blanc was a sparkling wine — having also been made aware that the correct term is “sparkling wine,” because champagne only comes from a specific region in France. I’ve probably noted that before, but I must trot out my sophisticated wine knowledge whenever possible (and by “sophisticated” I mean I say it with a little sashay). Friday I learned that blanc de blanc is made from the Chardonnay grape. This gave me a chance to air the one other thing I know about wine.

“Is it aged in stainless steel or in oak?” I’ve discovered that I only like Chardonnay aged in stainless steel.

Bronson explained to me that the champagne method entails aging in the bottle. Boy did I feel silly with my stainless and oak sashay. I explained to a couple of other tasters about my little bit of Chardonnay knowledge and how foolishly proud I am of it.

“I was at a gathering once where they had Chardonnay in a box and I was all, ‘Is it aged in stainless or in oak?'” I gave myself a snooty tone of voice, making fun of my own pretensions. “Somebody said, ‘It’s aged in cardboard! Drink it!’ So I did.”

They were amused. It’s my favorite Chardonnay story.

A lady that started tasting after me asked how long you could keep champagne — uh, sparkling wine. Bronson said indefinitely, as long as it was not opened. I said that was good, since I’d had a bottle in the fridge for a while now. Bronson said that wasn’t so good; the vibrations could make it lose its bubbles. I asked if it would get skunked like beer if I un-chilled then re-chilled it. Bronson thought not, but I think I’ll go ahead and just drink that champagne soon. No point in taking chances.

The lady also told us about an old bottle she had acquired. She hadn’t known to store it on its side at first, so she was not sure if it had kept well. She also couldn’t quite make up her mind on an occasion to open it. I told her about Open That Bottle of Wine Day, which I heard about on NPR one time. A couple of wine aficionados had so declared a certain Saturday for just such a situation.

“What day is that?” she asked.

“I don’t remember,” I confessed. It had been a long time ago, and I had not had such a bottle at the time. However, we agreed that it would be acceptable to declare one’s own Open That Bottle Day.

I tasted a number of wines that earned my favorite accolade of “yummy.” I purchased a Chateau Blouin 2009 Bordeau. I learned that all Bordeaux are blends, and I tend to like blends (this could be dangerous: me acquiring more wine knowledge). I went home and declared it Open the Bottle I Just Bought Day.

Vintage Spirits is located at 246 Mohawk St., Herkimer, NY. Phone number is 315-866-6800. You can get on a list to receive emails about upcoming tastings. Maybe I’ll see you there!

Walking with a Nefarious Purpose

I spent a good portion of my time at work on Friday pondering my movements for the evening (while still working; I have that kind of a job). I wanted to go to Hannaford, I wanted to go to the liquor store, I definitely wanted to walk my dog. Then the title “Walking with a Nefarious Purpose” came to me, and there was no looking back. Tabby and I were walking to the liquor store (see, I have a hard time with titles; when I think of one I like, I go with it).

Longtime readers may recall some months ago I wrote a post titled “Walking with a Purpose,” in which Steven and I walked our dog Tabby to Hannaford. Steven and Tabby waited outside while I went in and made our purchases. Steven was still at work, so he could not aid me in my purposes, nefarious or otherwise. However, I thought I could get away with taking my dog into the liquor store briefly.

I feel I am being a little silly even calling it a nefarious purpose. I was not purchasing alcohol for minors in order to corrupt their morals. I just wanted to enjoy a glass of white wine and maybe cook with it. I actually had it in my head to purchase a box o’ wine (the crowd I used to run with always referred to it as “box o’ wine,” studiously leaving off the “f”). For one thing, box o’ preserves the wine better if you don’t intend to drink it all in a short time. For another, I had discovered a flavor I liked.

Off we went. It was a lovely afternoon for a walk, not too cold, no precipitation. Ramar’s Liquors, where I intended to go, is a fairly short walk from my house. We were two blocks away from it when Tabby tried to make a left and head in another direction. I convinced her otherwise, but she tried again at the next corner. I hoped she would not insist. I can usually win an argument of this sort with a 17 pound dog, but I am not here to torture my poocher. I want us both to enjoy the stroll.

The box I wanted was right inside the door. Excellent! The lady at the register did not seem to mind my pooch being there. I had brought a reusable bag to carry my purchase. For one thing it had longer straps I thought I could put on one shoulder.

Tabby was happy to head in the direction of home. So was I, although it did seem to take a longer time. Maybe a small bottle would have been better. Or I could have taken Tabby for a walk and driven to the liquor store later. As the ever-heavier box bumped against my hip, I was only thankful it was not beer. I pictured opening a can of beer that had bounced on my hip for ten minutes and wondered if that would be a fun thing to do at my next party. I was just kidding, of course; I don’t have college-flavored parties any more.

The walk home was not really bad, but I thought it would make a better blog post if I suffered a little. For those of you with nefarious purposes of your own, Ramar’s is located at 104 N. Caroline St., Herkimer, NY, 315-866-9897,