VineBox! Check It Out

VineBox! Check It Out

Holiday Gift Idea: VineBox

Starting this week we will have VineBox “12 Nights of Wine” available at both Vine Arts locations. With awesome packaging and phenomenal wines, VineBox makes an awesome gift for that hard-to-buy-for person in your life. A concept that has gained quite a following in the US, VineBox is a fun way to countdown to the holidays in style. The box contains 12 individually packaged glasses of wine from prestigious wine regions around the world. See www.getvinebox.ca for full details. $129 + tax.

Weingut Pittnauer!

Weingut Pittnauer!

Lately, some of our favourite wines are coming from Austria, specifically  Burgenland, which is a strip of land that butts up against Hungarian border. Over millennia, it has been claimed by major powers in just about every era of European history, yet has managed to carve out it own unique wine culture. Burgenland is becoming well known for complex red wines from a country that is most often known for its acid-driven white wines. These wines are often blends of both indigenous varieties that you rarely find elsewhere and international varieties planted during the California-inspired boom of the 1980s. The red wines of Burgenland can be quite bold, however, are balanced by acidity and earthy complexity. Burgenland also makes plenty of  wonderfully bright white wines, perhaps more typical to what we might expect of Austria, as well as some seriously unique sparkling wines that are as full of rustic charm as they are class and vivacity. The wines we’re featuring this month are a wonderfully spicy Burgenland red and an ancestral method rosé made from a similar blend, which quickly shows the diversity of the region. Next time you’re in the shop, ask for us for a Burgenland recommendation, because trust us, we have copious delicious options, many of which follow extremely sustainable viticultural practices, coming from this little known region.

Cognac & Armagnac: Cranked on that 'Nyack!

Cognac & Armagnac: Cranked on that 'Nyack!

Like most kick-ass intoxicants, brandy was stumbled upon by accident. Alchemist were attempting to harness the power of the elements to produce the most precious of metals, gold, but they harnessed the powers of wine and, instead, produced liquid gold. Originally, brandy was prescribed as medicine to cure wounds, restore memory, and provide courage to the faint of heart, but since then it has been used to self-medicate both rappers and grandfathers alike.

Cocktailing with Calvados

Cocktailing with Calvados

As a bartender I'm embarking on a new challenge: trying to make delicious drinks with only a few ingredients, without sacrificing depth of flavor. Inevitably, during a service I'll be told "make me whatever you think is good", or something to that effect. More and more lately, I've been reaching for Calvados when this happens. It's funky, it's nutty, it's fruity, and it serves as a wonderful substitute for gin in the classic Negroni cocktail (equal parts with sweet vermouth and Campari). So what is Calvados? Well, it's essentially apple cider from Normandy that's been distilled. First, the harvested fruit is pressed and fermented to get to the point of cider. After the cider is distilled, we have what's called an eau-de-vie. After a minimum two years of aging in oak casks, it can legally be called Calvados. Some of the best Calvados I've had have been in the 6-15 year age range. These are great for sipping as well as mixing.  Next time you head down to your local Vine Arts to add a bottle to your collection, consider Calvados.  For a great cocktail base, try the Pere Magloire VS ($46 all-in).  If you are looking for something a little more special to sip on, the Pierre Huet 8 year old Calvados, a young a fruity apple brandy fermented in 100 year old oak barrels, is a great place to start ($85).

It's Fall, Motherf***er!

It's Fall, Motherf***er!

...Excuse my language.  Anyone familiar with comedian Iliza Shlesinger’s comedy special “Freezing Hot” will surely understand the reference.  You see, as she so aptly puts it, “girls love fall.” When we applied to be girls, we walked up to the girl counter, and when asked “What’s your favourite season?” We emphatically replied, “It’s fall, motherf*cker!”

Fringe Bourbon!

Fringe Bourbon!

The season of patios and bellinis is over people!  While it breaks my heart that I can no longer enjoy a gallon-sized fish bowl of peach sex in the sun, I look toward the horizon. The future holds a season full of pumpkin spice, wool sweaters and bourbon. Straight, pure, unadulterated bourbon. While bellini’s hold a special place in my heart, a couple of ounces of corn-dominant, American oak aged whiskey fills me with joy. Like most people, when bourbon comes to mind, my first thought is of when I slammed a bottle of it while at a river party when I was 16 years old. My second thought is Kentucky. Kentucky is to bourbon as Burgundy is to Pinot Noir. While Kentucky holds the record for production at 95%, there is a common misconception regarding where it can be made. Many think that Kentucky is the only state it can be distilled in but, in fact, it can be cooked up anywhere in the States. For whiskey to be bourbon, it has to meet a few requirements. It must be 51% corn. It must be aged for some time in new American oak, the length of which is not regulated. Only water can be added post ageing, whereas scotch may see some caramel colouring added. Lastly, as of 1964, it can only be produced in the United States. While Kentucky may be the hub for bourbon there are distillers elsewhere making some insanely good product and just like there can be exceptional pinot noir found outside of Burgundy, exceptional bourbon can be found outside of Kentucky.