At the SFWTC, we like to send out seasonal newsletters with special offerings and gift ideas a few times a year. The holidays are already upon us and we’ve included a bunch of great gift-giving ideas to get the wheels spinning and to avoid stress once the holidays actually arrive. If you aren’t already on our snail-mail list, please give us a call at 415.731.6222 or email us at email@example.com. Read on:
THE SINISTER HAND
by Lori Varsames, SFWTC
A sinister hand, what a terrible fright!
It shook me awake one dark, stormy night
It tugged on my collar and rapped on my head
And pulled me away from the comforts of bed
Dripping red drops, led down a strange hall
Through cobwebs we wandered, hearing a call
Of popping and rattling from a candlelit room
The hand seemed to point me to impending doom
And as I approached an old table and bottle
I realized my fear was just silly twaddle
The drops on the hand were nothing but wine—
It turned out that everything was fine!
The hand sat me down and poured me a glass
Of such brooding goodness with plenty of class
Sourced from the Columbia Valley beyond
One sip of this Rhone blend made me instantly fond
Bottled by a legend named Owen Roe,
Bathed in mystique reminiscent of Poe
And suddenly I awoke in my very own lair
Surprised to feel a hand stroking my hair.
A bottle of the hand costs $22.00. Click here to treat yourself to a little darkness.
Over the last few years, gin has been enjoying a kind of renaissance. A former medicinal invented by the Dutch in the 16th century to combat insomnia and high blood pressure, gin was rebranded by the British and was spread to the colonies as a vessel for mixing with quinine to combat malaria—the earliest incarnation of a gin and tonic. During Prohibition in the United States, it was reduced to bathtub moonshine. Easy to produce, it slaked the thirst of a nation during trying times. Evidenced by the dozens and dozens of new micro-distillery gins on the market today, this timeless spirit is at last getting the attention it deserves.
Whether made of a mash of corn, rye, barley or wheat, the one key ingredient that makes a gin a gin is juniper berries. While the juniper berries add the flavor, botanicals lend the aromatics. Coriander, fennel, anise, angelica and citrus zest are common; however the new generation of small craft distillers is experimenting with non-traditional, exotic and even floral components. Gin has remained inexpensive, relative to other spirits, due to its lack of barrel aging. But now certain gins are following the path of their ancestor, the Dutch spirit called genever, and spend time aging in oak before release.
Here at the SFWTC, we’ve taken a strong position on gin. In fact, we have more than 40 different selections of gin alone. It’s the primary ingredient of the classic martini, a gin and tonic and a gin fizz. But that’s only for starters. With the widening range of gins available comes an equally impressive array of new gin cocktails. In the interest of promoting our own backyard, we have provided a list of some of our favorite California-made gins below. However, you can click here to browse our entire selection. Please feel free to give us a call at (415) 731-6222 if you would like assistance.
Over the last few years, we’ve noticed an increasing number of customers who’ve caught the Riesling bug. Talk about a comeback. In the 1970s, the most people knew about German wines was reduced to cloyingly sweet and inexpensive Liebfraumilch. Remember those? If our in-store tasting last weekend is any indicator, German Riesling has clearly reached newfound respect among American consumers. Industry folk attribute this to the efforts of German wine guru and importer Terry Theise. Terry started importing German wines in the 1980s and made his name by selling small-production, family estates. His edgy, honest and educational industry catalog served as his blog long before there was even an internet. And today, he deliberately targets his voice to buyers from Generations X and Y, who he recognizes are thirsty for the eclectic.
As in the rest of Europe, Germany’s wine regions are going through appellation and classification changes. While the emphasis on quality has long been attributed to sweetness, more and more wines of quality are also dry. And Terry’s portfolio is chock-full of Rieslings that straddle the line between the two. Let’s just put it this way: his are not your mama’s sticky sweet Rieslings.
A lot of people think that Rieslings aren’t food friendly—or that they only pair well with pork and sauerkraut. That couldn’t be any further from the truth. If you are a fan of Thai, Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese or Cambodian food, then you’re already in-the-know that are few wines that can counteract the spice, saltiness or richness of these dishes better. But that’s just a few ideas. Think quiche, trout, fish tacos, fruit salad, terrine…well, the list goes on! Depending on what specific bottling you are looking to drink, Rieslings make great aperitifs and can also help you finish the meal as dessert. And do yourself a favor and forego the cliché Bloody Mary or Mimosa at brunch—a low-alcohol Riesling, crisp and fresh with just a hint of sweetness cannot be matched.
We recently received our shipment of Terry’s wines, and we are pleased to show you a few of our selections. To see all of our German wines, click here. (Most of our selections are from Terry). If you want the personal touch, please give us a call or write to our resident German wine champion, Kerry Winslow: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The young Johannes Leitz is regarded as one of the Rheingau’s greatest producers. His are wonderfully aromatic wines, lusty and powerful yet with an ethereal grace. The Dragonstone is sourced from loess, loam and quartzite soils and opens up to light citrus notes, with a spicy salinity and soft texture. Very slightly sweet.
The Donnoffs have reached cult status in Germany for their outstanding, world-class Rieslings. The Trocken—the German word for “dry”—is just that, bone dry. Infused with mineral intensity from the porphyry soils, it is the perfect wine to imbibe entirely on its own.
Now that the long, four-month season of eating and drinking is upon us, what better way to prepare than by adding a few amaros to your liquor cabinet? Amaros take their name from the Italian word for bitter, and they range from sweet and herbal to bitter and earthy. Now made all over the world, they take their roots from ancient Greek and Roman mixologists, who infused aromatic herbs into liquids for medicinal purposes, especially to aid digestion. (Even Hippocrates and the ever-thirsty Pliny the Elder endorsed a few recipes.) Many centuries later, medieval monks began to steadily perfect secret blends, and some of those recipes have endured. Today many regions throughout Europe celebrate their local trees, herbs, plants and roots with these beloved concoctions, and depending on the bottling, they can combat all sorts of ills induced by overeating, indigestion and over-imbibing. Bitter drinks have long been considered by herbalists to boost the body’s saliva and digestive juices. While some doctors chalk this up to folklore, the vast variety of these herbal remedies (Italy is said to have over 300 versions alone) attests to its effectiveness.
And forget about the bad memories of drinking too much Jägermeister in college. At the SFWTC, we happen to be real geeks for the stuff. We have a collection of 40 artisan amaros sourced from all over the world. While they are traditionally consumed in a tall, straight glass with ice cubes, a lemon wedge (and some water, if you’re partial to easing into the complex flavors), they also make terrific cocktail ingredients. In fact, Gary enjoys replacing vermouth with bitter amaros in his Manhattans.
To best consider the preference of your taste buds, we’ve divided our amaro selections into two categories on our website: Liqueurs and Digestifs. Click on either category to browse, and feel free to reach out to Fred Tocchini, our resident spirits guru, at email@example.com or (415) 731-6222 if you need help choosing. Below are a few teasers:
Crafted by Piemontese winemaker, Giovanni Bosca, this bittersweet amaro is made with two kinds of artichoke thistle, cardoon and blessed thistle. Spicy, sweet and bitter like a mulled wine, it can be used as an aperitif, digestif, or as seasoning for your favorite harvest-themed cocktail.
Made in Santa Barbara County, this bold amaro is made primarily from Sangiovese grapes. Powerfully herbal with sage, thyme, marjoram, rosemary parsley, lemon verbena, roots, barks, and many other secret ingredients, this is Gary’s go-to vermouth replacement for his Manhattans.
In an effort to make your online shopping experiences with the SFWTC easier, faster, and more enjoyable, we’ve spent the last few months working on a new website. We think you’ll be pleased with the results. The new site offers a lot of great new features for you to take advantage of:
- A fast, easy, user-friendly search function for both wines and spirits, allowing you lots of different ways to find the products you love
- An extensive list of organic and biodynamic wines and spirits
- Monthly staff picks
- Online gift registries (perfect for weddings, anniversaries, and house warmings)
- Online purchase and use of SFWTC gift cards
- Online sign-ups for our three wine clubs
- List of regularly updated wines on pre-arrival
- Detailed information on our weekly wine tastings, including a list of wines featured at each event
- Featured spirits
- A new “About Us” section, featuring the SFWTC story (36 years in the making!) and an opportunity to meet the team to help personalize your shopping experience
For those of you who have been regular online customers, you may have elected to set up a username and password. As part of the relaunch, we invite you to register a new password into the new site. You can do this easily at http://www.sfwtc.com/retrieve-pass.html. We apologize for any inconvenience, but we think you’ll appreciate the new shopping experience and it’s flexibility.
If you have any questions or would like to work directly with one of our wine and spirits consultants, please contact us at: (800) 681-WINE. We hope you enjoy exploring the new site and we look forward to hearing from you!