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Posts Tagged ‘Wine and Spirit Store’

You Want to be Where Everybody Knows Your Name…

Our troubles are all the same, right?!  It all starts around 6:00 AM with a sore back from sleeping on a WWE action figure all night; then as you make your way to the coffee maker while stepping over a pile of the kids’ clothes (that somehow couldn’t find its way to the hamper), you find your pet hovering over the kitchen sink trying to get some leftovers from some dishes you left from the night before.  You wrap up the morning with a 20 minute Q&A session with one of your kids while in your closet, half dressed, trying to make yourself look moderately presentable.  You’d love to stick around for more of this blissful morning glory, but it’s off to the workplace for even more fun and excitement.  The fun and laughs seem to never end, as this episode replays itself for 5 (long) straight days…  On day 5 you wake up in your typical haze, but then you stop and say to yourself, holy shit…it’s FRIDAY!!!!  You get so excited by the thought of it that you break out into a happy dance, a River Dance, and even the Cabbage Patch Dance!  You stir that pot of chocolate pudding like there’s no tomorrow, because it’s FRIDAY baby!!

Now that the weekend is here, what are you gonna do for fun?  Are you going to just stay home and watch SuperNanny, Kitchen Nightmares, or My Big Redneck Wedding??  For Pete’s sake – haven’t you been on your couch enough for one week??  :) Why not do something fun with a group of pals – like a wine tasting party?!  That’ll certainly kick start your weekend!

That’s what my friend, Holly, recently did – and so can YOU with just a little help!

There are lots of great ideas and themes to choose from when putting together a fun tasting. I thought that it might be a blast to do a unique, in-store wine tasting for my friend and her wine gang.  Now when I say “in-store wine tasting,” you’re probably envisioning a mini-bar or table set up off to the side of your favorite local wine shop.  You know…the free tastings that take place on most Friday evenings and/or Saturday afternoons at many wine shops across the US; but I’m not talking about that sort of “unique” in-store tasting in the least.  What I’m talking about is a truly private tasting for just you and your gang in the store’s wine cellar! 

I’m lucky to live near several outstanding independently owned wine shops where the owners are truly passionate about their business and provide customers with superb selections and individualized customer service.  One of those great little gems is Peco’s Liquors.

I’ve recently gotten to know Edward Mulvihill of Peco’s.  Ed grew up in the family business and he’s now the store’s Director of Sales & Marketing.  When I first met Ed, I had no clue that Peco’s even had a wine cellar – even though I’d shopped at this establishment for the past 12 years.  Since seeing the old cellar for the very first time a few months ago, Ed and the Peco’s staff have done an amazing job renovating it. They’ve created an intimate atmosphere that is perfect for entertaining and sharing good cheer with 12-20 fellow wine lovers.  I was quite eager to share the cellar with some of the locals, so I asked Ed if he’d be willing to host a private soiree and he graciously agreed to my request.  So now that I scored a swanky venue for Holly’s wine tasting party, I needed some great wines to serve up.  I worked with both Edward Mulvihill and Alex Calla, who is the store’s wine specialist, to come up with a tasting flight that we hoped would receive high praise from our party host Holly and her 20 thirsty guests.

Here’s the line-up that we decided on:

When Alex, Ed and I were trying to come up with the tasting flight, we wanted the line-up to be a little bit off the beaten path, yet not totally out in left field.  We were also aiming to introduce the group to several new wines that would be perfect for everyday drinking (under $20) and that would also pair well with a variety of recipe ideas. 

So what did our thirsty guests think about these wines?

Well, based on the responses and written feedback that I received from our evening’s host and her guests – there were a few that hit the bull’s-eye and a few that missed the target.

Here were the ones that hit the mark and received the most accolades from the group:

Cantine Riondo Prosecco Spago NV (Veneto, Italy) - This crisp Italian Sparkler was such a big hit that folks were lining up for more even after the tasting had ended.

2006 Trapiche Broquel Bonarda (Mendoza, Argentina) – Guests raved about this wine’s beautiful aroma, great body and impressive, big and full flavors.

2009 Bodega Septima Malbec (Mendoza, Argentina) – This was another winner from Argentina with the guests.  Lots of folks commented on the richness of this wine and many expressed that its flavors were very complex.

Unfortunately, one wine that totally struck out was the 2009 Alamos Torrontés (Salta, Argentina).  Many in the group had never tried an Argentine Torrontés before, so we had hoped that the Alamos would be a nice entry into this category to leave a positive, lasting impression on our guests.  Sadly, those lasting impressions were of “armpits,” “feet,” and “grandma’s basement.”  I’m not quite sure if the last comment was a term of endearment or not.  :)

The wine with the most mixed reviews was the 2008 Penley Estate Sparkling Pinot Noir (Coonawarra, Australia).  Many did enjoy the smell of this wine:  bursts of strawberries, raspberries, and light spice.  And there were a few people that embraced this less traditional rendition; describing it as “FUN,” “Surprising,” and “Awesome!”  However, the majority of the tasters thought the sparkling nature of this wine was a little odd and too different from what they’re accustomed to from a traditional Pinot Noir.

Finally, the 2006 Henry Estate Pinot Noir (Umpqua, Oregon) – which was the most expensive wine of the bunch – also received a few mixed reviews from the tasting group.  Some said, “it’s very earthy,” “reminds me of the woods,” “flat taste,” while others said, “amazing,” “very smooth,” and “very good.”

Oh well, you know the old saying, “You win some and you lose some…”  But at the end of the night, everyone goes home happy, feelin’ good, and ready for the rest of the weekend!  :)

Very special thanks to Peco ‘s Liquors, Ed, Alex and Josh for a great evening! (Peco’s FaceBook Page)

I’d also like to thank my good friend Holly for bringing the incredibly delicious cheese selection and a great group of wine lovers to party with!

In Store Wine Tastings

One of the best ways to judge your local wine merchant is by finding out if they hold free in-store wine tastings.  An in-store wine tasting certainly helps a merchant attract customers, but it’s also a great way for customers to sample wines that they may have never noticed or tried otherwise.  Wine tastings are also a great way to learn more about the particular wines that you’ll be tasting and the wineries that produce them, because the wines are usually being poured by a representative that is very familiar with the winery and the wines that they’re serving up.  Another great thing about free in-store wine tastings is that you’ll often times run into some really nice people that love to drink wine just as much as you do.  So it’s a great way to meet new friends! 


Such was the case on a recent Saturday afternoon when I decided to take a trip to one of my favorite local wine shops.  Free wine tastings have been a regular occurrence every Saturday afternoon at Kreston Wine & Spirits located in Wilmington, Delaware for as long as I can remember.  Kreston Wine & Spirits has been a landmark for fine wine and spirits in Wilmington, Delaware since opening its doors in 1933.  This exceptional Delaware wine shop is operated by a third generation of the Kreston Family.  Robert Kreston and his staff are some of the most knowledgeable and nicest folks in the business.


So on this particularly Saturday afternoon, I took a “taste drive” of several different wines produced by the Frei Brothers Winery, which is located in the heart of Napa Valley, California and is owned by the E & J Gallo Winery.  Jeff Loebs from was on hand to serve as the “Wine-MC” for the afternoon and to offer some further insight about the wines that were on the tasting table. 


First up in the tasting was the 2006 Frei Brothers Russian River Reserve Chardonnay.  This wine retails for $19.99.  The winemaker’s notes indicate that this chardonnay consists of 85% Russian River Valley sourced chardonnay grapes.  As far as tasting notes go, the folks at Frei Brothers say that their chardonnay exhibits,

“Flavors of orange zest and green apple, which are complemented by buttery and toasty notes”.


What I liked most about this chardonnay was that it wasn’t heavy-handed on the oak.  As far as the other flavors – I didn’t pick up on the orange zest, but I did get a mouthful of green apple.  All in all, this is a well-made California Chardonnay.  However, at $19.99 a bottle, the price tag seemed a tad high to me.


Second in the tasting was the 2006 Frei Brothers Russian River Reserve Pinot Noir.  This wine retails for $30.99.  As to how it tastes, Frei Brothers say that their Pinot Noir has,

“A mid-palate of red cherry overlaid with hints of black fruit, typical of the region from which the grapes originate”.


I would agree with the tasting notes.  This Pinot Noir did deliver a very good jolt of red fruit to my taste buds, but I thought that the finish could have been better.  I found the finish to be on the short side and I was expecting this wine to really give my taste buds a workout at $31 a bottle.  I was somewhat disappointed.


Next up was the 2006 Frei Brothers Dry Creek Valley Merlot.  This wine retails for $19.99 a bottle.  This merlot consists of 90% Merlot, 6% Petite Sirah, and 4% Zinfandel.  The Frei Brothers tasting notes indicate that it is

“A medium-bodied wine that exhibits intense flavors of blackberry and cherry from the vineyard with hints of complementary barrel spices.” 


In my opinion, this was the sleeper of the bunch.  The splash of the other two red grapes really gives this wine some punch that is not often found in a lot of Merlots costing less than $20.  This merlot was packed with black fruit and had just the right touch of spices and oak to make me take notice of it.


The last wine in the tasting was the Frei Brothers Dry River Valley Zinfandel. This wine retails for $19.99.  However, for the day of the tasting it was being discounted to $16.99.  The 2007 Frei Brothers Reserve Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel is comprised of 92% Zinfandel and 8% Petite Sirah. 85% of the grapes come from Dry Creek with the remaining 15% coming from Russian River.  There were no tasting notes from Frei Brothers for this bottle.


I have to tell you, this red Zin was a steal at this price point.  It was packed (And I mean packed!) with fruit, and the oak was kept under control.  I personally loved this wine and would consider drinking it any day of the week – especially at this price level.


On a final note, I’d like to give a special shout-out to Ruth, Ed, Jeff and Jim for a great afternoon of wine tasting.  Like I mentioned earlier, wine tastings are a great way to meet other wine lovers just like you.  We were having such a good time talking and sampling the Frei Brothers wines that Jim (one of Kreston’s outstanding wine associates) offered us all a glass of a dynamite Napa Valley cab from the Stags Leap District, called Angels Landing (2007).  Now that my friends was the perfect cap to a great afternoon of tasting!




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