Jul 14

Quick Sips: Abecela Reserve Tempranillo “South East Block” 2009

The Back Story: This is one of 10 wines that found its way to me so that I could become better acquainted with Oregon Wines thanks to Trellis Growing Partners. It is produced by Earl & Hilda Jones in Southern Oregon’s Umpqua Valley. This couple has a a passion for bringing spanish varietals to America. I am 90% sure that I met Earl a few years ago when I was tasting wines for Eno Wine Room in the Intercontinental in Chicago, and he was showing his Alberino at the time… I remember loving it, so naturally I was excited to taste and share my thoughts on their Tempranillo for you.

THE FACTS: Abacela Temp

Winery: Abacela abacela.com

Wine: Reserve Tempranillo “South East Block”

Grape: Tempranillo

Region: Umpqua Valley AVA, Southern Oregon

Vintage: 2009

Harvest Date:  October 6,  2009

Bottling Date: August 11,  2011

Release Date: October 1, 2013

Cooperage: French (100%); 17% New, 79% 2-­yr old, 4% neutral oak

Alcohol: 13.9%


Sight: Clear/ Transparent/ Shiny/ Rich Color Saturation/ Granite Core to Pink Rim/ No Gas or Sediment

Nose: No Faults/ Leads with: Dark Chocolate/ Black Cherry/ Dried Strawberry Followed by: Vanilla/Cinnamon/Leather/ Hibiscus Jam

Palate:  Medium Plus Body/ Medium Tannin/ Medium Acid/ Medium Plus Alcohol/Medium Plus Complexity/ High Quality Leads with: Jammy Cherries/ Strawberry Fruit Rollup/ Chocolate Powder Followed by: Gauloises Tobacco/ Saddle Leather/ Vanilla/ Hazelnut

Final Thoughts: This wine was truly a tasty treat that I feel is worth every penny of its suggested retail price of $50. I do think however right now it is young and gushingly fruit forward and it will only benefit from bottle aging another 5-10 years, at that point I think it can surely hold it’s own next to its Spanish Brethren. I enjoyed this wine with some spicy black bean and veggie chili, and it made my palate smile, I could also see it as a perfect match for aged gouda and dark chocolate, or seared pork belly.  This was a very exciting off the beaten path treat for Oregon, and I highly recommend sharing it with your most adventurous friends.


Sep 13

Spirit Lab: The Greenbar Distillery

Me & Melkon Green BarI first experienced GreenBar Spirits upon starting my new job as Beverage Director at The Muddy Leek  in Los Angeles. My 1st week was all about trying to figure out what my predecessor had left for me and where to go from there.  I noticed we were running low on our house rum, and before placing an order to restock I decided to try the stuff on our “reserve shelf”. I saw there was a rum called Carusoe. It caught my eye for three reasons: 1. It is organic, and so is our restaurant, 2. It is produced locally, and we are a farm to table concept, & 3. As an ex-Miami girl it reminded me of David Caruso from CSI Miami, and I am a lady that LOVES a bad crime show. And then I tasted it and I was blown away. As an ex-Floridian I pretty much grew up on rum, but this was so smooth, aromatic, and inviting!!!! I was hooked and had to know more about this Greenbar Distillery.

Recently  Dave and I had the privilege of touring the Greenbar Distillery in Downtown Los Angeles. We were guided by the Green Bar Pot Stillvery charismatic Melkon Khosrovian, Co-Owner of this Willy Wonka Factory for Adults. Upon arriving I was hit with the most amazing waft of citrus, only to later find out they had just been hand zesting tons of local organic oranges to be used in their Fruitlab Orange Liqueur. Melkon first took us to his stills. They have one classic Pot Still which up to this point has been churning out the bulk of their production, and they just acquired a Continuous Fractionating Column Still, which will allow them to have much more control over the finished product so that they can fully actualize the flavors they have steeping in their brains. The rest of this area is full of about twelve stainless steel, temperature controlled fermentation vats, similar to the ones that are used in wine production…. this is where all of the flavor magic happens. I felt like a kid in a candy store.

We chatted about how Greenbar came to be, and why he uses only local and organic fruits and botanicals. It turns out it all happened quite “organically”. There was not that Eureka moment where he and his wife woke up and said, today we are diving head first in to the spirits industry. It all started with a need for flavor. Basically he began infusing base spirits to create something that would satisfyColoum Still his wife’s discriminating palate. The couple soon became so good at creating tasty brews they could hardly keep up with the growing demand of their friends and family. And soon a company was born. The organic happened next and was also born purely out of a need for flavor. They had ordered a batch of celery and noticed that it was greener and more aromatic than the rest of the celery they had used. They were thrown for a loop. It totally changed their product. They went back to the farmer to inquire where this super celery came from, and he explained that in order to save their land they had gone organic. Suddenly a light bulb went on. They soon began using all organic produce, and sure enough their product was better and more consistent than it had ever been. This concept soon snowballed for them, and Greenbar was born. Now they are so green, that every time you have a cocktail made with Greenbar products you actually  reduce your carbon footprint by one day. So another great reason to stop by Muddy Leek, you can have one of my Greenbar based cocktails and feel better about yourself by saving the world the tastiest way possible. You may be trying to figure out this carbon footprint math so I will break it down for you. They work with all certified organic ingredients, which helps keep the farmland, the water and the consumers free of artificial fertilizers, synthetic pesticides, and GMOs. And as someone who just spend some time in the Rio Grande Valley of TX, where the water is so laden with pesticides it is undrinkable, I can not stress the importance of organic farming practices. They also use lightweight bottles, which uses less fuel to transport. They use 100% PCW recycled labels, and avoid using frosting or metallic paints which cause pollution. And my favorite thing is they plant one tree in Central American rain forests for every bottle sold. This is not only to replenish the forests, but also to provide shade for coffee and cocoa farmers to grow better products, and support their family.  So the equation is One person makes 121 lbs of CO2 daily + Greenbar cocktail is -137 lbs CO2= -16 lbs CO2. So when you drink GreenBar products, we all win!

Melkon then brought us to the tasting room, which is my favorite part! He first mixed up a delightful Ixa tequila, lime, and barkeepbitters_lavenderspice_Thumbpoppy tequila concoction. (Ixa is the only product not made on premises. It has to be made in Mexico, because it is much less green to uproot the Agave and truck it CA, and there is a good chance it would rot on the way, so Melkon makes an annual trip to Mexico to whip up this tasty Tequila.) We chatted about how when thinking of new products he is constantly chatting with bartenders and mixologists to come up with things that make the industry better and easier for us. He also explained his Bar Keep bitters program, where he actually holds an annual competition for bartenders across the country to submit their own bitters recipes, and whichever one wins gets added to the line, with the bartender getting a cut of each bottle sold — He may be seeing a Sara Kay submission next year 😉 So far there are: Apple, from Marshall Altier in New York, NY; Chinese, from Josh Loving in Austen TX; Fennel, from Adam Stemmler & Dustin Haarstad in San Diego, CA; and Lavender, from Tobin Eliis  & John Hogan in Las Vegas NV & Baltimore MD.

We then got down to the business of tasting the full line, and some specialty projects, like his truffle vodka that Melkon made for a truorganic_vodka_Thumbspirits dinner early on in his journey. That is one expensive shot for a discriminating palate ;). We tasted through the entire line of TRU vodkas: Straight, Lemon, Garden, and Vanilla. I appreciated that the infusions where not heavy-handed and did not taste synthetic, because they are not.There are tons of tasty cocktails that can be borne of these, and they were also highly enjoyable on their own, especially the garden, it reminded me of a less aggressive gin.

Speaking of Gin, our next stop was Tru Gin which has a honeyed color because they choose to make it in the fashion of the 16th century by macerating the botanicals in alcohol. They refer to it as Renaissance Gin, and it definitely offers a depth of flavor and is richer than most modern gins on the market. Their chosen botanical bunch is: Juniper, lemon, lavender, angelica, orris, coriander, vanilla, cardamom, clove, fennel, cinnamon, allspice, chamomile, & star anise…. and love.

We tasted  the IXÁ Organic Tequila on its own, and it erased all feelings of tequila I had stored up from a miss-sipped Green Bar Collective - Ixa Tequilayouth. And by miss-sipped I mean shots of rot gut te-kill-ya. This tequila is made with 100% organic blue heartland agave. This is a creamy tequila, with notes of thyme and clay. It is a fantastic sipper, and would be a great base for herbal cocktails. Melkon explained this was such a smooth sipper because they start with organic mature agave, which is sweeter and more flavorful. They quarter and steam the cactii in clay ovens for three days to caramelize the sugars, and then press the cooked agave and ferment the juice with a high ratio of agave fiber, and white wine yeast for a fuller flavor.  They then double distill it in an alembic pot still to taste, in super small batches. This deviates from the te-kill-ya production in that most large modern producers harvest young agave, then pressure cook it in stainless steel, they also only ferment the agave juice so you are not getting the richness from the fibers, and then they distill to maximum output.

We moved on to Slow Hand Organic Whiskey which is a white whiskey. It will confuse your average whiskey sipper, as it slowhand_whiskey_Thumbin not aged in charred oak, and glowing with hints of amber, and sweet nuttiness. Most aged whiskeys are made to highlight the distillers use of oak and blending, this one on the other hand is meant to highlight the grains (organic oats, barley, & spelt) to be exact), and that it does. It smells like cream and oats, and the barley gives it a nice nuttiness in the mid pallet. This is a great sipping whiskey, and would also be fun in a whiskey flight as a starter.

Crusoe Organic Rum (both silver and spiced) were up to bat next. I am familiar with the silver as it is the base of my cocktail the Celia at the Muddy Leek. I was originally drawn to this rum because it has more body and layers then most silver rums and is not overly sweet.  It turns out this line was inspired by Robinson Crusoe, and they combine Caribbean-style molasses, with California style fermentation.  For both rums they ferment molasses in temperature controlled tanks, with white wine yeast. Extended fermentation, and double distillation cursoerum_white_Thumb allows for fuller richer flavors. At this point their production varies a bit. For the Silver they use micro oxygenation, a technique common in the wine industry, they do this in place of oak aging the rum, which can strip it of some of its natural notes. For the Spiced they macerated whole cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, orange zest, Osmanthus flower, and molasses over a 3-4 week period, since they are dealing with whole ingredients, no two batches behave the same, so they taste each batch daily and add or subtract from the maceration until it reaches the desired symphony of flavors. Both of these rums make me think twice about dumping in a bunch of sugar and crushed mint.

We ended the evening exploring the Fruitlab Organic Liqueurs. I was already familiar with the Grand Poppy which is a California inspired take on classic European aperitives.  I used it as the mid-pallet note in my Celia cocktail, along with the Crusoe Silver Rum. It is bitter-sweet and honeyed. It is a blend of California poppy, orange, lemon, grapefruit, bearberry, California bay leaf, pink peppercorn, grandpoppy_btl_thumbdandelion, blessed thistle, burdock rue, artichoke, gentian, geranium, cherry bark, and cane sugar. And it shows. There is also Ginger, Hibiscus, Jasmine, & Orange. They are all amazing, and a mixologist’s friend, as they have a huge depth of flavor without being syrupy sweet.

It was such a treat to meet Melkon and taste his full portfolio. I know I will be proudly using GreenBar in any beverage programs I design, and I encourage all of you to as well… for your home bars. Not only are all of the products truly tasty, but they are all local, organic, & sustainable! And the more we as a market demand this, the more it will become available.

Cheers to GreenBar!

As a Parting tidbit I will share my Celia recipe.  I encourage you to try this at home!!! But if you are near Culver City then you can just stop in to The Muddy Leek (8631 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232) and I’ll mix one up for you.


The Celia Muddy Leek Logo

  • 2 oz Crusoe RumCelia
  • ½ Grand Poppy
  • 1 oz Lime
  • ½ Spicy cucumber syrup
  • ½ Simple syrup
  • 6 drops of Orange Blossom Water
  • Drop in a pickled sweet pepper, orange zest & mint in a Collins Glass with an Ice Spear
  • Shake & Strain Drink Mixture into The Collins Glass
  • Top with Club Soda

If you would like to contact GreenBar for more info,  or check out more tasty recipes here is how:


GreenBar Collective
2459 E 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90021
(213) 375-3668

Feb 13

Sara Kay’s Meatballs of Glory!

Queen Bean PotAbout: Meatballs are found in almost every culture, and can be dated back to 700 BC. They are, in essence, portable baby meatloafs. The purpose is to cut meat with other protein, starches, and veggies, to boost their nutrient value while stretching the meat. I have been a huge lover of meatballs forever — however, when my husband discovered his gluten allergy, I had to figure out how to adjust my recipe to accommodate.  This is my low carb, gluten-free version of a Southern Italian meatball.

Prep Time: 10 min

Cook Time: 30 min at 375 °

 Difficulty: Easy

Servings: 6 (4 balls each)

Calories per serving: 433

Carbs Per Serving: 2

Best Pairing: This really depends on what sauce you are serving the meatballs with… but assuming you are using a fresh tomato-based sauce, there is no better way to go than a rootie-tootie fresh and fruity red such as  Negroamaro from Puglia. The best part is that you can usually find one of  these at a wine store for that $10 sweet spot!

Tools Needed: Meatball Prep

  • Frying pan
  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • Spatula
  • Bowl
  • Baking dish
  • Your hands
  • Latex gloves (Optional)

IngredientsMeatball bowl

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 small onion finely diced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of shredded pecorino
  • 1 cup of shredded parmesan
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 tbl saltMeatball Kneeding
  • 1 tbl black pepper
  • 1 tbl extra virgin olive oil

How To: 

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 375°
  2. Dice your onions and mince your garlic
  3. Heat frying pan on medium heat with 1/3 of your olive oil in it
  4. Add onions and cook til translucent, stirring often (about 3 min). Add your garlic for the last 30 secs to open up its aromatics
  5. Remove to bowlMeatball Balls of Joy
  6. Roughly chop your parsley and add to bowl
  7. Add the rest of the ingredients to bowl
  8. Put on gloves (if you wish), I find with gloves it helps keep the meat from sticking to my hands, helping me form the perfect ball.
  9. Knead all of the goods with your hands until fully integrated
  10. Use the rest of your olive oil to coat your baking dish
  11. Form the meat mixture into 1″ balls and place with a bit of space between them in the dish
  12. Place in the oven and bake for 25-30 min (until tops are browned)
  13. Serve with your favorite greens, & sauce.
    • For a great recipe for fresh sauce check out The Puglian Cookbook by Viktorija Todorovaska http://www.facebook.com/ThePuglianCookbook
    • Tip: If you do not eat all of these in one setting, you can keep them in the refrigerator for up to a week. I sometimes like them for lunch with a little spicy ketchup.

Meatballs finished I hope this dish hits the Spot!

As always, feel free to share, or ask me any questions you may have.



Jan 13

The Veneto: 101

Veneto 2013We have been exploring the Tre Venezie on Wine Soaked starting with Trentino- Alto Adige and Friuli-Venezia Guilia, and today we are going to explore the most well know of this trio of wine regions that surround the city of Venice, that is The Veneto. Some people love this region’s wine for its complexity and some people see it as one of Italy’s major bulk wine  producers, and both of these sentiments are on the mark. We will see why as we explore the history, geography, grapes, wine-making techniques and wine regions of this very multi-faceted area.

The History of Wine Production in The Veneto

The Veneto, and Venice for that matter, take their name from a tribe that settled in the area around 1000 BC. It was one of theFlag leading trading ports and commercial empires in Medieval times, and it was the link between the Byzantine Empire and the Northern country of Europe. Wine was a major trading commodity, and this laid the groundwork for the Veneto to be a great wine growing region, with many influences of grape and vinicultural style from around the world.

It has had many high points and low points as far as quality goes through the ages, but one thing that has always been true of the Veneto is that it is capable of producing A LOT of wine. In fact, this was particularly exploited in the 1960s and 1970s when the main goal was to make as much “ok” wine as possible. This is the point when Valpolicella, Soave, and even Prosseco stopped being looked at as quality wines worth study and reverence, and instead became that passable wine on supermarket shelves for under ten dollars. That is not to say that there are not amazing producers of all of these wines, it is just to say that those producers are not the ones responsible for the Veneto producing the most wine in all of Northern Italy. One wine, however, that has always demanded respect from the region is Amarone, which we will talk about a bit later. There is has lately been a resurgence of lower yields and more quality as the demand for high-quality mid-priced wine has been rising on the international market.

The Geography of it All

veneto hillsOn the most basic level, The Veneto is in Northeastern Italy (The bottom of the ruffle on the garter).  The vast fertile alluvial plains of the Veneto (capable of producing a sea of bulk wine) stretch from Venice and the Adriatic Coast to the foothills of the Alps, and the border of Trentino-Alto Adige. This is where the magic happens! In the foothills there is less fertile soil, which makes for much more complex wine.

The best growing area is on the hills, on well-drained volcanic soil sprinkled with sand, clay, and gravel. The climate in the North and West can be quite cool and mountainous, where the further south and the closer to the Adriatic Sea you get it becomes warmer and more Maritime. There is also Lake Garda, and the Adige and Po rivers, that have a moderating effect on certain sub-zones.

The Grapes of Note


  • Garganega– Leading white grape. Probably of Greek origin, but it has been a key player in the Veneto since the Renaissance.  It is the key grape in the Soave & Gambellara regions.
  • Pinot Grigio– This is the key volume player. It is also used as a blending grape in Prosecco. It is light and easy-going, but its quality here pales in comparison to the neighboring regions of Friuli-Venezia Giulia & Trentino-Alto Adage.
  • Trebbiano- Leading blending grape for Soave & Bianco di Custanza.
  • Prosecco aka Glera- Most likely native to Friuli-Venezia Giulia, but it is now almost exclusively grown in the Veneto as the leading grape in Prosecco Spumante, and Frizzante.
  • Tocai Friulano- Not as popular in the Veneto as in Friuli, but it is super unique and fun and does pop up in some high quality blends.
  • Vespaiola- This native grape is the base for some interesting dry whites and more notably some sweet wines.
  • Pinot Bianco- It is a minor grape as far as production goes, and is often used as a blending grape in Prosecco.
  • Chardonnay- It can make some easy access New World-style wines, but mostly it just falls into that “make a fast buck” wine-lake of the Veneto.


  • Corvina- This is the superstar red grape of the region. It is the star player in the blends of Amerone, Valpolicella, & Bardolino.
  • Rodinella- This is the second most important red grape. It is the supporting player in Amerone, Valpolicella, & Bardolino.
  • Molinara- This is the third runner up as far as red grapes go in the Veneto. It also usually is blended into Amerone, Valpolicella, & Bardolino.
  • Negrara- This is a background or accent grape that is only sometimes blended in Amerone, Valpolicella, & Bardolino.
  • Raboso- An indigenous red grape that makes easy fruit-forward reds in the regions of Raboso del Piave & Raboso Veronese.
  • Wildbacher- This is a black grape mostly used as a blending grape. Also found in Western Styria in Austria.
  • Merlot- Mostly it just falls in to that “make a fast buck” wine-lake of the Veneto, although it can also be used in a few interesting blends.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon- Always falls into the “make a fast buck” wine-lake… and is usually thin and unremarkable.
  • Cabernet Franc- Mostly DOC wine worth searching out, often barrique-aged.

Most Famous Wine Styles & Wine Making Techniques:

  • Amarone-  The name means “The bigger better one”. It is made in the Valpolicella region of the Veneto. It is even theDrying lofts same blend as Valpolicella — mostly Corvina with a backup blend of Rodinella, Molinara & Negrara.  The major difference is that these grapes are left on the vine for a longer period of time to achieve extra ripeness. Next, whole bunches are harvested, and left to dry on bamboo shelving or mats in cool drying lofts for two to three months. This causes the grapes to shrivel, further concentrating their flavor and sugars. When the grapes are finally crushed and pressed it produces an intense full bodied wine that is usually 15-16% in Alcohol.
  • Prosecco- This is a Spumante wine (Sparkling Wine) made primarily from the Prosecco grape. Instead of employing the Traditional Method, this sparkler is made in the Charmat Method, which means that the second fermentation occurs in pressurized tanks, instead of in individual bottles. In Venice it is considered an ombrette, or pick-me-up!Prosecco-037
  • Soave-Traditionally this white is a blend of Garganega & Trebbiano. It is best described as light, fresh, and smooth. Due to the cash-grab wine industry expansion in this region in the 1970s, you are often better off seeking out Soave Classico (which comes from the original foothills of the region), or better yet Soave Classico Superiore, which must be aged for Eight  months before release. There is also a tiny amount made in the recioto method  — this is the the drying method also employed in Amarone & recioto della Valpolicella. However, here the fermentation is halted before all of the sugar is converted to alcohol, leaving stunningly complex, sweet white wine.
  • Valpolicella – Like Amerone, Valpolicella is made from Corvina blended with Rondnella, Molinara, and a few other Garganega-drying-2008-006permitted surprises. After that, the similarity splits off. Valpolicella is now split into five distinct styles.
    1. Basic– Lightweight grapey wine which is not usually aged and can come from anywhere in the Valpolicella region. (This is a product of that aforementioned 1970s greed rush.) I will not say that all of these are bad, but they’re not likely to be life-changing wines.
    2. Valpolicella Classico- This refers to wines that come from the original Valpolicella zone pre-70s greed.
    3. Valpolicella Superiore- This wine comes from the Classico zone and must be aged a year.
    4. Valpolicella Ripasso- This is made by taking newly fermented Valpolicella and adding Amarone pomace (That is what is left post the pressing of Amarone grapes). The pomace is left in for a few weeks so that the Valpolicella may extract all of the extra color, tannin, flavor & structure.
    5. recioto della Valpolicella- Like Amarone this wine is made from the ripest grapes possible, that are put into special drying rooms allowing the grapes to raisinate, to concentrate their sugar. The difference between Amarone and this wine is that fermentation is halted to preserve some sugar, like that of its Soave sister.

DOCG’s and all that Jazz!

There are 14 distinct DOCG’s in the Veneto that are worth remembering  and tons more DOC’s if you have the time. Today I will delve into the wine laws of these 14 DOCG’s:

Veneto Map

List Of DOCG’s:

  1. Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG
  2. Bardolino Superiore DOCG
  3. Colli Aspolani (Asolo Prosecco) DOCG
  4. Colli di Conegliano DOCG
  5. Colli Euganei Fior d’Arancio DOCG
  6. Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG
  7. Friularo di Bagnoli (Bagnoli Friularo) DOCG
  8. Lison DOCG
  9. Montello Rosso/Montello DOCG
  10. Piave Malanotte/ Malanotte del Piave DOCG
  11. Recioto di Gambellara DOCG
  12. Recioto di Soave DOCG
  13. Recioto della Valpolicella DOCG
  14. Soave Superiore DOCG

Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG (Est 2010)

  • Region– Veneto
  • Province-Verona
  • Number of Communes– 19
  • Four Levels of Note- Amarone della Valpolicella, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, Amarone della Valpolicella Valpantena, &  Amarone della Valpolicella Riserva
  • Grapes- 45- 95% Corvina, 5-30% Rodinella  and a max of 25% “other” red grapes, with no single other grape comprising more than 10%
  • Min Alch- 14%
  • Max Residual Sugar- 12 g/l
  • Aging requirements- Amarone della Valpolicella- Min of 2 years from the 1st January  of the year following harvest. Riserva- Min of 4 years from the 1st November fallowing harvest.
  • Other Restrictions- Grapes may not be vinified before December 1st of the harvest year. No more then 65% of a producers total maximum yield may be used to make Amarone.
  • Min Planting Density-  3,300 vines per hectare (2.47 Acres)
  • Max Yeilds- 12 tons per hectare

Bardolino Superiore DOCG (Est 2011)

  • Region- Veneto
  • Province- Verona
  • Number of Communes- 15
  • Levels of Bardolino Superiore- Bardolino Superiore, & Bardolino Superiore Classico
  • Grapes- 35-65% Corvina Veronese, 10-40% Rodinella  & Max 20%  “other” red grapes, with no single other grape comprising more than 10%
  • Min Alch- 12%
  • Max Residual Sugar- 6 g/l
  • Aging Requirements-  Min one year from November 1st of the harvest year.
  • Min Planting Density- 3,300 vines per hectare (2.47 Acres)
  • Max Yields- 9 tons per hectare

Colli Asolani (Asolo Prosecco) DOCG (Est 2009)

  • Region- Veneto
  • Province- Treviso
  • Number of Communes- 17
  • Types of Colli Asolani DOCG- Colli Asolani (Tranquillo), Frizzante, Spumante, & Spumante Superiore
  • Grapes- Min 85% Prosecco (Glera), Max 15% blend of Verdiso, Bianchetta Trevigiana, Perera, & Glera Lunga, Max 15% Pinot Nero, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, & Chardonnay
  • Min Alch- Basic: 10.5%, Spumante Superiore: 11%
  • Sweetness Levels- Frizzante- Secco to Amabile, & Spumante Superiore: Extra Brut to Dolce
  • Other Restrictions- Frizzante wines may undergo a second fermentation in the bottle, and when done they must be labeled, “rifermentazione in bottiglia”
  • Min Planting Density- 3,000 vines per hectare (2.47 Acres)
  • Max Yields- 12 tons per hectare

Colli di Conegliano DOGC (Est 2011) 

  • Region- Veneto
  • Province- Treviso
  • Number of Communes- 20
  • Types of Colli di Conegliano DOGC- Bianco, Rosso, Rosso Riserva, Refrontolo (Roso), Refrontolo Passito (Rosso), & Torchiato di Fregona (Bianco Passito)
  • Grapes- 
    • Bianco- Min 30% Manzoni Bianco & Min Combined 30% Chardonnay & Pinot Bianco, Max 10% combined Sauvignon & Riesling
    • Rosso- Min 10% Cabernet Sauvignon  Min 10% Cab Franc, Min 10% Marzemino, 10-40% Merlot & Max combined 20% Incrocio Manzoni & Refosc
  • Min Alch- Bianco: 12%, Rosso: 12.5%, & Rosso Riserva 13%
  • Aging Requierments-
    • Bianco: Min 4 months from  November 1st of the harvest year
    • Rosso: Min 24 months from November 1st of the harvest year, including at least 12 months in oak
    • Rosso Riserva: Min 36 months from November 1st of the harvest year, including at least 12 months in oak
  • Min Planting Density- 3,000 vines per hectare (2.47 Acres)
  • Max Yields- None

Colli Euganei Fior d’Arancio DOCG (Est 2010)

  • Region- Veneto
  • Province- Padua
  • Number of Communes:17
  • Types of Colli Euganei Fior d’Arancio DOCG- Colli Euganei Fior d’Arancio Tranquillo (Secco, or Dolce), Colli Euganei Fior d’Arancio Spumante, & Colli Euganei Fior d’Arancio Passito
  • Grapes- Min 95% Moscato Giallo, Max 5% other aromatic veriatels
  • Min Alch- Tranquillo: 10.5% (4.5% for Dolce), Spumante 10.5%, Passito: 15.5%
  • Min Residual Sugar-  Dolce: 50 g/l, Spumante: 50 g/l, & Passito 50 g/l
  • Aging Requirements- Passito Min one year from November 1st of the harvest year
  • Min Planting Density- 4,000 vines per hectare (2.47 Acres)
  • Max Yields- 12 tons per hectare

Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG (Est 2009)

  • Region- Veneto
  • Province- Treviso
  • Number of Communes- 15
  • Subzone- Cartizze
  • Types of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG- Prosecco (Tranquillo), Frizzante, Spumante Superiore, Spumante Superiore w/ notation of “Rive” vineyard, & Spumante Superiore di Cartizze
  • Grapes- Min 85% Prosseco (Glera), Max combined 15% Verdiso, Bianchetta Trevigiana, Perera, & Glera Lunga, & Max combined 15% Pinot Nero, Pinot Bianco, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio ( Spumante wines only)
  • Min Alch-Basic- 10.5%, Spumante Superiore 11%, Spumante di Cartizze 11.5%
  • Sweetness Levels- Frizzante: Secco to Amabile, & Spumante Superiore: Brut-Dolce
  • Aging Requirements- None
  • Other Requirements-
    • Wines labeled “Rive” must be handharvested, indicate a vintage & list one of the 43 vineyards from this hillside on the label.
    • Frizzante wines may undergo a second fermentation in the bottle, and when done they must be labeled, “rifermentazione in bottiglia”
  • Min Planting Density- 2,500 vines per hectare (2.47 Acres)
  • Max Yields- 12-13 tons per hectare

Friularo di Bagnoli (Bagnolu Friularo) DOCG (Est. 2011)

  • Region- Veneto
  • Province- Padova
  • Number of Communes- 13 & Classico Zone: 1
  • Types of Friularo di Bagnoli DOCG- Basic, Riserva, Vendemmia Tardiva (Dry), Passito, & Classico (Can also be Riserva, Vendemmia Tardiva, or Passito)
  • Grapes- Min 90% Raboso Piave, Max 10% any other red grapes of the region.
  • Min Alch-Basic & VT- 11.5%, Riserva 12.5%, Passito 15.5%
  • Ageing Requirements- 
    • Basic: Min 12 months from Novermber 1st of the harvest year
    • Riserva: Min 24 months from November 1st of the harvest year including at least 12 months in oak
    • Passito: Min 24 months in oak from November 1st of the harvest year
  • Other Requirements-
    • Passito: Grapes must be dried until at least December 8th following the harvest
    • VT: At least 60% must be harvested & vinified after November 11th
  • Min Planting Density- 2,500 vines per hectare (2.47 Acres)
  • Max Yields: 11-12 tons per hectare

Lison DOCG (Est 2010)

  • Region- Veneto & Friluli
  • Province- Venice, Treviso (Veneto), &  Pordenone (Friuli)
  • Number of Communes-19
  • Types of Lison DOCG-
    • Lison
    • Lison Classico
  • Grapes- Min 85% Tai (Friulano), & Max 15% non-aromatic whites of the region
  • Min Alch-Basic 12%, Classico 12.5%
  • Aging Requirements- Wines may not be released before March 1st of the year following harvest.
  • Min Planting Density- 3,000 vines per hectare (2.47 Acres)
  • Max Yields- 10-11 tons per hectare

Montello Rosso/ Montello DOCG (Est 2011)

  • Region- Veneto
  • Province- Treviso
  • Number of Communes- 18
  • Types of Montello Rosso DOCG- Rosso, & Rosso Superiore
  • Grapes- 40-70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30-60% combined Merlot, Cabernet Franc, & Carmenere, Max 15% any other red grapes of the region
  • Min Alch-Basic 12.5%, Classico 13%
  • Aging Requirements- 
    • Basic: Min 18 months from November 1st of the harvest year, including 9 months in oak, & 6 months in bottle
    • Superiore: Min 24 months from November 1st of the harvest year, including at least 12 months in oak, & 6 months in bottle
  • Min Planting Density- 3,500 vines per hectare (2.47 Acres)
  • Max Yields- 10 tons per hectare

Piave Malanotte/ Malanotte del Piave DOCG (Est 2010)

  • Region- Veneto
  • Province- Verona/ Treviso
  • Type of Piave Malanotte DOCG- Rosso
  • Grapes- Min 70% Raboso Piave, Max 30% Raboso Veronese, Max 5% other grapes from these regions (15-30% of the grapes must be dried until at least December 8th of the harvest year)
  • Min Alch-12.5%
  • Max Residual Sugar- 8 g/l
  • Aging Requirements- Min 3 years from November 1st of the harvest year, including at least 12 months in oak & 4 months in bottle.
  • Min Planting Density- 
    • Bellussi (“Raggi”) Training 1.250 vines per hectare
    • Other methods 2500 vines per hectar
  • Max Yields- 12 tons per hectare

Recioto di Gambellara DOCG (Est 2008)

  • Region-Veneto
  • Province- Vicenza
  • Number of Communes- 4
  • Types of Recioto di Gambellara DOCG- Classico, & Classico Spumante
  • Grapes-100% Garganega
  • Min Alch-Classico 11.5% & Spumante 11%
  • Aging Requirements- May not be released until September 1st of the year following harvest
  • Min Planting Density- 3,300 vines per hectare
  • Max Yields- 6.25 tons per hectare

Recioto di Soave DOCG (Est 1998)

  • Region-Veneto
  • Province- Verona
  • Number of Communes- Basic: 12, & Classico: 3
  • Types of Recioto di Soave DOCG- Basic, Classico, & Spumante
  • Grapes- Min 70% Garganega, Max combined 30% Trebbiano di Soave, Chardonnay & Pinot Bianco
  • Min Alch-16%
  • Min Residual Sugar- 70 g/l
  • Aging Requirements- May not be released until September 1st of the year following harvest
  • Min Planting Density- 3,300 vines per hectare
  • Max Yields- 9 tons per hectare

Recioto della Valpolicella DOCG (Est 2010)

  • Region-Veneto
  • Province- Verona
  • Number of Communes- Basic: 19, & Classico: 5
  • Types of della Valpolicella DOCG- Basic, Classico, Spumante, Valpantena, & Valpantena Spumante
  • Grapes- Min 45-95% Corvina, 5-30% Rondinella, Max 25% other red grapes of the region (10% of which have to be native)
  • Min Alch-14%
  • Aging Requirements- Grapes may not be vinified before December 1st of the harvest year
  • Min Planting Density- 3,300 vines per hectare
  • Max Yields- 12 tons per hectare

Soave Superiore DOCG (Est 2002)

  • Region-Veneto
  • Province- Verona
  • Number of Communes- Basic:12, & Classico: 2
  • Types of Soave Superiore DOCG- Basic, Superiore, & Superiore Riserva
  • Grapes- Min 70% Garganega, Max 30% combined Trebbiano di Soave, Chardonnay & Pinot Bianco
  • Min Alch-Superiore: 12%, & Riserva: 12.5%
  • Max Residual Sugar- 6 g/l
  • Aging Requirements- 
    • Superiore: May not be released until September 1st the year after harvest, including 3 months bottle aging
    • Riserva: Min 2 years from November 1st of the harvest year, inclusing at least 3 months of bottle aging
  • Min Planting Density-4,000 vines per hectare
  • Max Yields- 10 tons per hectare

I hope this was a great starting point into your study of the Veneto!

Check out my Veneto Show, where I taste through 3 classic wines from the region http://winesoaked.com/2013/the-veneto-wine-show-2013/

As always I welcome thoughts and comments, and feel free to share any additional info you may have on this region.

Cheers until next time, when we will explore Asti!

Jan 13

The Veneto Wine Show 2013!

Wine From Today’s Show: 

Nino Franco “Rustico“, Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Superior DOCG,  NV (2006)


Grape: 100% Prosecco AKA Glera

Dead Nino Franco

Alch: 11%


  • Color: Yellow to a watery rim
  • Bubble: Fat and erratic (Tank Method)
  • Brightness: Day bright
  • Viscosity:  Medium minus viscosity
  • Age/ Condition: Healthy and a little developed by the color


  • Condition:  A hint of oxidation
  • Primary Notes: Dusty tulips, beach wood, brused golden apple, & over ripe Anju pear
  • Secondary Notes: Meyer lemon, shortbread, & limestone


  • Acid: Medium minus
  • Sugar: Dry
  • Body: Flat
  • Complexity: This wine is sadly dead!
  • Primary Notes: Apple Cider Viniger
  • Oak: None
  • Finish: Sad
  • Possible Pairings: This bottle needs to be taken back from whence it came. This is when bad things happen to good wines.

Pieropan Soave Classico DOCG 2010


Grapes: 85% Gargenega & 15% Trebbiano

  • All estate grown & bottled
  • Fermented in cement lined with glass

Alch: 12%


  • Color: Bright straw to a watery rim
  • No Gas or Sediment
  • Brightness: Brillant
  • Viscosity: Medium
  • Age/ Condition: Healthy with just a touch of age


  • Condition:  Bright and slightly developed
  • Primary Notes: Dried orange peel, thyme, Meyer lemon, & Napa cabbage
  • Secondary Notes:  Chalky, sea salt, & bruised jasmine


  • Acid: Medium
  • Sugar: Dry
  • Body: Silky
  • Complexity: This is a nice layered wine with ripe lemon and apple notes and classy signs of age
  • Primary Notes: Ripe Meyer lemon, thyme, & honey
  • Oak: None
  • Finish:Lingering
  • Possible Pairings: This would go well with a cream based risotto  or a creamier goat cheese such a Bijou from Vermont Creamery (Possibly one of the most addictive goat cheeses of all time).

 Zenato, Valpolicella Superiore DOC 2009

http://www.zenato.itValpo 2010

Grapes: 80% Corvina, 10% Rondenella, & 10% Sangiovese

  • 12 Months in Slovenian Oak

Alch: 13.5%


  • Color: Deep ruby to a salmon rim
  • No Gas or Sediment
  • Brightness: Dull
  • Viscosity: Medium plus
  • Age/ condition: Healthy with just a touch of age.


  • Condition: Day 1 really strong BRET, Day 2 healthy, & developed
  • Primary Notes: Dried rose petal, under-ripe raspberry, sour cherry & rye bread
  • Secondary Notes: Granite, leather, & dill


  • Acid: Medium plus
  • Sugar: Dry
  • Body: Medium
  • Complexity: This is a complex sandwich of dried fruits and earth
  • Primary Notes: Sour Cherry, muddy leather
  • Oak: Slovenian Oak
  • Finish:Lingering, and thought provoking
  • Possible Pairings: This would be great with squab, or a nice aged Gouda riddled with crystallization.

Check Back for my Veneto 101 post for everything you ever wanted to know about Veneto…


Dec 12

Top 10 Hiring Tips

One of the most important processes for any management team to master is the art of strategic hiring.  Your human resources are your best assets and can also be your demise. Here are ten tips on how to pick the best possible candidate:

  1. Assess your current team-  A work team is like a small community. When thinking about adding another element to that community make sure to take stock of what you already have. Make sure that you know what assets you already have, and make sure that you are utilizing them to their full potential. Once you do this it should be clearer what you are in need of.  No community needs five comedy clubs and no hospitals, or vice-versa.  If you create a team of individuals that complement each other, instead of having to compete with each other for a living, then they can each place all of their focus can on providing great service and growing the business.
  2. Assess your HR policies- If you are in a company that has to use an HR department for hiring, make sure that their standards and your standards match up, and that they are tapping all relevant industry resources to find you the best person. Even if sometimes you and HR butt heads, everyone can agree the most damaging thing to a business is an unqualified or ineffective employee. Yet it is usually much MUCH harder to fire someone than to hire them.
  3. Do not hire a best friend!- Some people believe that you should hire someone you would like to have a beer with… I advise against that. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t like who you hire. I’m just saying that if you are trying to hire someone to make a friend, you will have difficulty managing them objectively, and that leads to major problems.
  4. Be honest about room to grow- Do not tell people there is room for advancement if there is not. Be completely clear about the chain of command within your organization  A new job is an important life choice, and it is better to have all parties start out with a clean and clear slate. This will lead to much less ill will down the road.
  5. Make your position desirable for more than just money-  An attractive starting salary is great in the beginning, but after the first six months it becomes the new normal… and sights start to be set higher. Any great employee you find will likely be upwardly mobile. This means they will strive hard for your success and their own, and make sure you are offering other benefits, such as training, networking, community outreach, and promotion opportunities.
  6. Be honest about your time requirements/restrictions-If you are looking for only part time be clear about that. And if you are looking for someone that you need over 60 hrs a week be clear about that. There is no benefit to hiring someone that can not meet your needs. There is always someone out there who can!
  7. Do a background check (I mean the references)- I am not suggesting doing financial background checks, or even criminal for that matter. I am suggesting that you take the time to fully check out your applicants’ references. It is true that people are not supposed to tell you if someone has been fired (which I find absurd) , but you can gain a lot of info by tone and pauses. And also if someone has listed all friends and no former bosses. If something feels wonky follow that instinct. It will save you loads of headaches later on.
  8. Never hire a band-aid- Make sure you are always hiring the best qualified person, even if that leaves you short staffed for a few more weeks than you would like. The wrong hire could hurt your business much worse than a smaller crew of solid employees.
  9. Make sure they are compatible with your clientele- You should know the core clientele of your business, and make sure your new hire is compatible with them. Some people look great on paper, but do not translate well into the actual work environment.  This is also what your 90 days are for. If someone just is not the right fit, cut your losses before this time is up.
  10. Create a questionnaire that includes scenarios of your business’ biggest challenges- Make sure you create some questions that are specific to your business and its unique challenges, and really listen to the answers you are getting. If these scenarios seem out of the person’s grasp, they may not be the best fit. However, if they come up with creative solutions that you may not have considered, that may be your best possible fit.

Dec 12

Leverage takes on Wine Fraud: An interview with actor Aldis Hodge

I have been a long time lover of TNT’s show Leverage. For those of you who have not had the privilege it is an action-packed show about vigilante con-men, with a super talented cast of character actors. They are now in the show’s fifth season, which took a major foodie bent after the crew relocated their headquarters to Oregon, and opened a brew pub. It stars Timothy Hutton as Nate Ford, Gina Bellman as Sophie Devereaux, Aldis Hodge as Alec Hardison, Christian Kane as Eliot Spencer, and Beth Riesgraf as Parker. It is easy to draw the comparison between this show and the A Team, except that this show is much more modern, with strong female leads, and I feel like it tackles much more important issues.

I have recently been made aware that they are finally running a wine con. On Tuesday December 11th, the team will con a corrupt winery out of a priceless bottle of their own wine in an episode called “The Corkscrew Job” (10PM/9 CST.)

You can look up more info at http://www.tntdrama.com/series/leverage/

I am always excited when my favorite shows collide with my favorite beverage, and I had the pleasure of interviewing Aldis Hodge about this show, and wine:

What is your favorite wine and why?

AH: I have three favorites. Rambaure’s Reisling, Hawksview Cellar’s La Baliene, and Anam Cara’s Gewurztraminer- and simply because they all have a great taste.

Who decided to do a show on wine fraud? 

AH: Our writer for the episode Jenny Kao.

I know from time to time each of you get to highlight some of your special talents, like your wonderful violin playing. Will we get to see any new layers of Aldis in this episode?

AH: Hardison does get to tussle a bit in this episode. Though it’s not exactly how I was brought up fighting (haha) it’s close enough.

Did you guys hire consultants from the wine industry to help you with this episode?

AH: Living in Portland, OR is all the consultation you need. The place is a mecca for wine knowledge.

Is this show loosely based on any true stories?

AH: Not certain, but if I was a betting man I would say that certain elements of it are.

This season is especially foodie-centric, what is the driving force behind that?

AH: Just being in Portland. It has an amazing food culture and you know what they say? When in Rome…

Which cast member is the biggest wine enthusiast?

AH: Probably Hutton. He currently owns a restaurant so I think from that experience he’s built a sound foundation of wine knowledge.

There has been a through-line of a turbulent relationship with alcohol from the beginning… why is that? 

AH: That’s a question for the creators Rogers and Downey… haha. I personally think that it’s Nate’s kryptonite because he hasn’t resolved past issues. It’ s also proof that the mastermind is human and has flaws.

Are you really a tech genius, or do you just play one on TV? 

AH: I merely play one on TV. If I was a tech genius I’s sure I’d be a billionaire living in Greece spending the fortune I just made off of reinventing the internet and finding a solution to harnessing reusable clean energy from an infinite source.

What is your favorite moment of this episode and why? 

AH: A moment towards the end between Hardison and Parker. I can’t give details, but let’s just say that Hardison proves his merit by fighting for what he wants.

Well I can say that I am super excited to watch this episode.  I look at wine as the fine art of the food and beverage world, and for most people on every level of the industry it is a labor of love, so it drives me crazy when people try and scam on that. I am happy that Leverage is shedding some light on this issue. Not that, with any wine related show or movie I will not be watching with a critical eye, and wincing if people are holding their wine glasses by the bulb  or saying things like “this Pinot Noir from Bordeaux is mind blowing,” but I have faith this team will do a great job. I hope that one day Mr. Hodge gets to be a Grecian billionaire, and as to the Parker and Hardison moment coming at the end of the episode, I am hoping Hardison puts a ring on it!

I would love it if you all would share your thoughts on this show.

You can fallow Aldis at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Aldis-Hodge/131506073422

I will be tweeting my thoughts – follow me at @SaraKayGodot


Dec 12

Belated Beaujolais Thursday 2012

I’m a very festive person in general, so I get especially excited about wine holidays! One of my favorites is Beaujolais Thursday, which is the third Thursday in November when each year’s vintage of Beaujolais Nouveau is released.

This is a fun wine tradition that started in 1935 and has been tweaked, official, unofficial, but always recognized. This is one of the few wines that is meant to drink ASAP! (Do not think that this is true for all Beaujolais — once you get to the village level and beyond they can be quite age worthy.) Basically everywhere that Beaujolais goes importers agree not to release it until the third Thursday of November, and then its brightly colored labels hit the shelves around the world making for a super tasty, fun, easy, cost-effective, holiday wine… and a FABULOUS reason to drink!

This year the release day  was November 15, 2012, but sadly there was NONE to be found in Harlingen, Texas. I stopped at the three wine stores that are available to me and no one had heard of the holiday or this wine, and so I went home sad and defeated. But my husband being the wonderful man that he is kept up the search and one of the stores must have listened to my cries, because last night Mr. Godot came home with a nice shiny bottle of 2012 Georges Dubeuf Beaujolais Nouveau for me to review for you!

Producer: Geaorges Dubeuf (One of the key players in the Beaujolais Nouveau game)


Region: Beaujolais, France  (Burgundy)

Grape: Gamay

Vintage: 2012


  • Color: A purple core to a magenta rim
  • Youthful
  • Brilliant
  • No Gas
  • No Sediment
  • Med + Viscosity


  • Youthful & Healthy
  • Primary Notes: Candied raspberry, blueberry bubble gum, plum skin, & petunias
  • Secondary notes: Cucumber, fresh-cut grass, & rubber balls
  • Minerality: Wet Slate


  • Dry
  • Medium Plus Body
  • Medium Acid
  • Low Tannin
  • Signs of Carbonic Maceration
  • Super fruity & juicy
  • Medium Alcohol (12%)
  • All of the fruit and minerality carries through to the palate
  • Fun start and quick finish

Would Pair Best With : 

  • Turkey
  • Movie Night
  • Burgers

Final Thoughts: I am very impressed with this year’s offering. I feel like the fruit and floral notes are in the forefront, which make this a fun and inviting wine. I feel like 2010 & 2011 were lacking in the ripeness. That being said I would drink this a quickly as you can, because once this fruit starts to fade there is not much to be found.

Other Links to Check Out: 
You can see my thoughts oo the 2009 offering at:

And if you want to learn more about Beaujolais as a region check out this video:

I hope you all have an easy, tasty holiday… and as always feel free to share your Beaujolais stories with me.


Nov 12

Spirit Lab Gin Show – Holiday Cocktails Made With Martin Miller’s Gin

5The Man:  A larger than life entrepreneur, and inventor of Martin Miller gin.  He started out in youth with enterprises like breeding hamsters and making a mail-order book called “Success with the Fairer Sex.” He has had many more lucrative businesses since then, and in 1998 while sitting in a bar with his friends, sipping on sub-par gin and ,he hatched the plan to create the Best Gin Imaginable. He seems to be having some success at reaching his goal.

The Philosophy: Obsessive attention to every last detail is his secret ingredient. (A man after my own heart)

The Method:

  • Single Pot Still (His is named Angela)miller 008
  • Uses only central cuts (The Hearts)
  • Steeps his botanicals loosely (like loose tea, instead of a tea bag)
    • Juniper
    • Coriander
    • Angelica (Finland)
    • Lime Peel
    • Licorice Root
    • Cassia Bark
    • Florence Iris
  • Chilled & bottled in Iceland with “Living Water”. (His description of why it was important to use mineral water over distilled water reminded me very much of the principals of terroir that we discuss with wine)

Check out his full story at: www.martinmillersgin.com or follow them on twitter @MartinMillerGin

Todays Cocktails & Tasting Notes:

Martin Miller Neat:

Glass: Rocks, or Snifter

  • 2oz Martin Miller’s Gin
  • Drop of water

Note: This is a wonderfully layered gin that is light and floral on the nose, and earthy and zesty on the pallet. It is a perfect sipping gin!

Pink Gin:

MM-Pink Gin

Glass: Chilled Martini

  • 2 Oz Martin Miller’s Gin
  • 4 Drops of Angostura Bitters

How To: Swirl the bitters in a chilled Martini glass, add the gin, and a twist of lemon for garnish.

Note: This is a slow sipping spicy cocktail with hints of nutmeg. This was first created by the British Navy in the 1870’s.


Martin Miller’s favorite holiday cocktail is a French 75, but as I am currently on a starving artist’s budget, I made some adjustments:

Starving Artist 75

Starving Artist 75

Glass: Chilled Champagne Flute

  • 1/4 oz Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 oz Martin Miller’s Gin
  • 1/4 oz Torres’s Orange Brandy
  • 5 oz Cava

How To: Pour Lemon Juice, Gin, & Brandy in a shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a chilled Champagne Flute. Pour in the Cava, garnish with a lemon slice

Notes: This is like a fancy meyer lemon pop! This was 1st created by me in my house this week, but inspired by a classic cocktail from the New York café in Paris in 1915.


MM- Orange Blossom

Orange Blossom:

Glass: Chilled Martini

  • How To: Pour ingredients into a shaker with ice, shake well, strain into a martini glass, garnish with an orange peel.1 1/2 oz Martin Miller’s Gin
  • 1/2 oz Orange Juice
  • 2 Dashes of key lime juice
  • 2 dashes of simple syrup.

Note: This is a medium bodied orange-centric cocktail with notes of honey and basil. This was featured in The Waldorf Astoria’s Bar Book of 1935


Tip on Lemon Twists:

  • Use a nice sharp veggie peeler and peel off long constant strips
  • With a sharp knife cut the peel in to ribbons of what ever width best suits your cocktail.
  • Roll them in to tight spirals and let them set for at least 1/2 hr so that they save their shape


Starving Artist 75 As always I would love it if you would share your stories regarding these recipes, and never hesitate to ask me questions.

Have a great Thanksgiving, and cheers to a nice glass of “Dutch Courage”!

Nov 12

Spirit Lab: Gin

As the holidays are approaching, I am going to feature the history of classic spirits to provide a better love and understanding for these products.

I decided what better spirit to start with then the first one I ever enjoyed drinking all by itself: Gin.


Historical Time Line:

  • 1550 -16oo-Dutch professor of medicine Dr. Franciscus de la Boë  created a juniper and spice-flavored medicinal spirit that he promoted as a diuretic. There are some who claim thatGin Paintinh Antoine de Bourbon, Count de Moret of France actually invented gin by blending a grape based distillate with Juniper and calling it Juniper Wine… I will chalk this up to the mysteries of collective consciousness.
  • 1580s-The tasty spirit was found  in Holland by British troops who were fighting against the Spanish in the Dutch War of Independence. They gratefully drank it to give them what they soon came to call “Dutch courage” in battle.
  • 1600s-The Dutch were encouraged by their government to favor grain spirits over imported wine and brandy by lack of excise taxes on local drinks.
  • 1720s-Dutch Protestant William of Orange and his English wife Mary became co-rulers of England after the “Glorious Revolution.” They banned the import of Catholic-made wine, causing about a quarter of the households in London to make their own gin. Mass drunkenness became a serious problem.
  • 1736- Gin Act of 1736(Prohibition FAIL #1)- Government tries to prohibit gin production, resulting in massive illicit distilling and the cynical marketing of “medicinal” spirits with fun names such as: Cuckold’s Comfort and My Lady’s Eye Water.
  • 1800-1900s- Major government reforms in Europe improve production and materials, and slowly transform gin’s image away from drunk disheveled street urchins swilling rotgut gin, to a spirit of class and culture.Bath Tun Gin
  • 1600s-1900s- Gin is a back seat player in the North American spirits game.  Paul Revere and George Washington were notably fond of gin, and the Quakers were well-known for their habit of drinking gin toddies after funerals.
  • 1920s-(Prohibition FAIL #2)- The US prohibition act gave rise to bathtub gin, jazz, mob-run speakeasies, US cocktail culture, and the swankiest counterculture in US history.
  • 1930s-1960s- It was the dominant white spirit in the US, made famous by “three martini lunches.” It was the image of class, and success.
  • 1970-1980s- Was unseated in the US by vodka & wine, ironically by another counterculture movement who deemed gin a symbol of “the Man.” It was even betrayed by James Bond, who ordered a vodka martini instead of a gin martini… Shame on you Mr. Bond!
  • 1990s-As the US economy got bigger and better, so did its thirst for gin. The power martini was back in fashion.
  • 2000-2012- The rise of mixology and micro-distilleries. This is the time of making cocktails & spirit production an art, sometimes in new and inventive ways and sometimes by perfecting and refining old traditions. Either way it is a very exciting time to be a gin drinker.

What’s In A Name?:

The name gin is an English shortening of Genever, the Dutch word for juniper.

Development of Style:

Victorian era England in the mid-19th century ushered in a low-key rehabilitation of gin’s reputation. The harsh, sweetened “Old Tom” styles of gin of the early 1700s slowly gave way to a new cleaner style called Dry Gin.

This style of gin became identified with the city of London to the extent that the term “London Dry” Gin became a generic term for the style, regardless of where it was actually produced.

Ladies who lunch sipped sloe gin (gin flavored with sloe berries) while reading Bronte. Incidentally, I desperately want to taste a sloe berry!

There are three commonly recognized distillation styles for gin:

    1. Pot StillPot distilled gin- It represents the earliest style of gin, and is traditionally produced by pot distilling a fermented grain mash (malt wine) from barley and or other grains, then redistilling it with flavoring botanicals to extract the aromatic compounds. A double gin can be produced by redistilling the first gin again with more botanicals. Due to the use of pot stills, the alcohol content of the distillate is relatively low; around 68% ABV for a single distilled gin or 76% ABV for a double gin. This type of gin is often aged in tanks or wooden casks, and retains a heavier, malty flavor that is appealing to whiskey lovers. This method is loved by many artisans and purists.
    2. Column distilled gin-This method came after the invention of the coffee still and is produced by first distilling high proof (e.g. 96% ABV) neutral spirit from a fermented mash or wash using a refluxing still.  The fermentable base for this spirit may be derived from grain, sugar beets,  grapes,  potatoes,  sugar cane, plain sugar, or any other material of agricultural origin. The highly concentrated spirit is then redistilled with juniper berries and other botanicals in a pot still. Most often, the botanicals are suspended in a 05.GVine-Column-Still-150x150‘gin basket’ positioned within the head of the still, which allows the hot alcoholic vapors to extract flavorings components from the botanicals. This method yields a gin lighter in flavor than the older pot still method, and results in either a distilled gin or London dry gin, depending largely upon how the spirit is finished.  This is how many of the larger gin houses produce their product.
    3. Compound gin- is made by simply flavoring neutral spirits with essences and/or other ‘natural flavorings’ without distillation, and is not as highly regarded as distilled gin.


There are four labeling distinctions: (With an endless number of smaller distinctions)

  1. Juniper-Flavored Spirit Drinks – This includes the earliest class of gin, which is produced by pot distilling a fermented grain mash to moderate strength (e.g. 68% ABV), and then redistilling it with botanicals to extract the aromatic compounds. It must be bottled at a minimum of 30% ABV. Juniper-Flavored Spirit Drinks may also be sold under the names Wacholder or Genebra.
  2. Gin – This is a juniper flavored spirit made by simply adding approved natural flavoring substances to a neutral spirit of agricultural origin. The predominant flavor must be juniper.
  3. Distilled gin – Distilled gin is produced exclusively by redistilling ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin with an initial strength of 96% ABV in stills traditionally used for gin, in the presence of juniper berries and of other natural botanicals, provided that the juniper taste is predominant. Gin obtained simply by adding essences or flavorings to ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin is not distilled gin. It is the most common way.
  4. London gin – London gin is obtained exclusively from ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin with a maximum methanol content of 5 grams per hectoliter of 100% ABV equivalent, whose flavor is introduced exclusively through the re-distillation in traditional stills of ethyl alcohol in the presence of all the natural plant materials used, the resultant distillate of which is at least 70% ABV. London gin may not contain added sweetening exceeding 0.1 gram of sugars per liters of the final product, nor colorants, nor any added ingredients other than water. The term London gin may be supplemented by the term “dry”. It is the traditionalist method.

Cocktail Culture:

Cocktails seem to have been birthed out of the British military, particularly the officer corps. Hundreds of gin-based mixed drinks were invented and the mastery of their making was considered part of a young officer’s training (If this was still a thing I might have enlisted.) The best known of these cocktails, the Gin & Tonic, was created as a way for Englishmen in tropical colonies to take their daily dose of quinine, to ward off malaria. Modern tonic water still contains quinine, though as a flavoring rather than a medicine.  As we have already discussed, the US gin cocktail culture was at its peek from the 1920s-1960s, with a mini pop in the 90s, and a boom now.

There are a million gin cocktail recipes to be found, and a million more being invented by mixologists every day. Below are a few classics you may want to experiment with:

  • Fallen Angel
  • Gibson
  • Gimlet
  • Gin and Tonic
  • Gin Fizz
  • Gin Rickey
  • Moon River
  • Martini
  • Negroni
  • Old Etonian
  • Pink Gin
  • Ramos Gin Fizz
  • Satan’s Whiskers
  • Singapore Sling
  • The Last Word
  • Tom Collins
  • Vesper
  • White Lady

Stay Tuned:

Throughout the year I will be posting shows on how to make seasonal cocktails, highlighting some of my favorite producers. This month I will be featuring Martin Miller’s Gin, with some fun holiday cocktails. I will try to resist growing a fancy mixologist handlebar mustache, but I can’t promise anything. After all, it is Mo-vember.