Browsing articles in "wine festivals"
Oct 31, 2014
Terri Judson

India’s Top Ten Indian wines

Here are the Top ‘Ten’:

The participating wineries were Sula, Grover Zampa, Four Seasons, Fratelli, Reveillo, York, Myra, Vallone, Nine Hills, Charosa, Chandon, Alpine, Big Banyan, Krsma Estates, Good Drop and the SDU Winery from Bangalore which was the last minute entry. The event was curated by Rojita Tiwari, a freelance wine journalist and consultant who had been selected as one of the Top Ten Women of Wine in the Indian industry by the Indian Wine Academy last year. This is an initiative by the organisers of Mumbai Wine Festival, who are also the organisers of several wine festivals held across Mumbai every year.

The jury consisted of Subhash Arora (Delhi), Alok Chandra (Bangalore), Sonal Holland (WSET Diploma holding wine educator currently with ITC), Sanjay Menon, Craig Wedge, Vishal Kadakia (all wine importers), Shatbhi Basu (Mumbai) and of course Rojita Tiwari.

The samples were given by the wineries directly. Rojita Tiwari assures delWine that the wineries had been asked to give an undertaking that the wines they gave were from the regular production lot and were not made specially for the event and any information to the contrary would disqualify them. Judging was totally blind and the judges were only informed about the categories of the grape varietals and the blends and vintages.

Fratelli Sangiovese and Nine Hills Chenin Blanc tie for the runner-up spot. A total of 86 wines were submitted but due to last minute glitches, 82 wines were tasted.

All the wines were scored on the 20-point scale (the British system followed by the likes of Jancis Robinson MW.  Only those scoring above the average score of 12.5 have found place in the ‘India’s Finest Wines List’ for the year 2014.  To see the top 50 high scoring wines, “Celebrating India’s Finest 50 Wines” list will be out soon, says Rojita Tiwari, the curator. She says that this prestigious list will be updated every year with more wineries having a chance to participate in the selection process.  The submission of samples was free, at least for the inaugural edition, she adds.

For any questions on the selection process or any other information, please contact Rojita Tiwari directly     

For an earlier Article relating to the launch of the Tasting, please visit Mumbai Festival Celebrating India’s Finest Wines

For complete listing of India’s Finest Wines List- 2014 please watch this space. The following are The top 25 wines as per the ‘Selection of India’s Finest Wines’. The wines with the same scores are not necessarily in the same order.

Subhash Arora


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Oct 30, 2014
Terri Judson

Weekly Q&A: Life Is Beautiful organizer Rehan Choudhry is already busy …

If you attended all three days of Life Is Beautiful, chances are good you made time for a nap on Monday. Rehan Choudhry slipped three into his schedule after spending three full days wandering the streets of Downtown, watching bands, chefs and crowds in action (see Pages 42 and 50 for coverage). We tracked down the festival’s exhausted organizer Tuesday morning for a chat about this year’s success rate and next year’s plans.

Generally speaking, how do you feel about what you guys accomplished in 2014? I could not be happier about it, largely because people had such a good time. There was a guy there who said he had been at the first Woodstock and a thousand other festivals in his career—he’s part of the industry—and he said it’s the best festival he’s been to in his life, which is crazy.

In terms of your own experience, how much did you get to enjoy the festival? I got to spend a lot more time this year actually being a part of the crowd and seeing the vibe and the reactions. Last year, it felt like I spent most of my time in a production trailer.

What were a few personal highlights from the weekend? No. 1 was the Cirque du Soleil/Philharmonic Love collaboration. Knowing how much work everybody put into it, it was cool to see that come together so well and to see it so well-attended. Lionel Richie’s crowd was incredible. People were super critical about him being in the lineup, and I think he surprised the hell out of everyone—it was just one big dance party. I saw Oscar Goodman’s talk. He speaks with such conviction and principal and defiance. It’s really cool to see him in his element. And I saw the headliners each night. I loved the Arctic Monkeys’ set, and Dave Grohl running in the crowd during Foo Fighters was unbelievable.

How did the festival perform financially? There’s two ways to look at a loss. There’s a strategic loss and then there’s an unexpected loss. For us it was purely strategic, because these things take three years at a minimum to break even and start making money, and if you’re really trying to push the boundaries it can take up to four or five years.

By adding the third day, we knew we were gonna see some incremental revenue bump, because of the third-day ticket. What I would have loved to see is the third day sell well and then all three days increase incrementally. What we ended up seeing was a flat year-over-year per day, I think largely because people are still getting to know this thing. We’re still new. But I would have loved to have increased ticket sales, like 10 or 15 percent per day. But going from 30,000 to 30,000 per day is a pretty good story, given that we just added an entire third day.

Was your 90,000 reported total attendance pretty evenly distributed across the three days? Friday and Saturday were really close, like 200 tickets off from each other, and Sunday was about 500 tickets higher. I expected Friday to be light and Sunday to be big, given the feedback we got about Kanye [West]. But it turns out Kanye haters are really loud, and Kanye fans are really quiet, but they buy tickets.

Now we’ve got our format. We’re a three-day festival, and I know we can fit another 10,000-15,000, maybe more, a day, without changing the footprint much. I think next year is going to be about increasing the dailies pretty considerably. This year was, can this market handle a three-day ticket? We’re a cheaper ticket compared to other comparable festivals, but to book this type of talent it’s still an expensive ticket in a relatively young market for festivals.

The biggest indicator is the Vegoose factor—in each year they saw a decrease in daily attendance, which would have been scary. And the good news is, we weren’t there. And the even better news is, for the people who attended, the response was overwhelmingly positive.

Our reporters bumped into quite a few people over the weekend who seemed to have found discounted tickets or free tickets one way or another. How tough is it to sell full-price tickets in a market like Las Vegas, where comps are such a part of the culture? What I’ve learned over the last four years of being here is that it’s a little overstated. In reality, the influencer group in this market is not a big percentage. The people who are buying tickets are folks who don’t get into clubs for free every night and aren’t getting hookups for hotels. There’s still a lot of people who are just used to getting free tickets, but it’s not as many as you’d expect. So I’m less concerned about that.

We do the same amount of comps and promotional tickets and ticket giveaways as any festival. We’re just in a smaller market, so the locals get more of that pie than I think you’d see in most cities. But 50 percent of our audience came from outside the market and 50 percent were locals, and anyone from out of the market bought a ticket and the vast majority of locals bought a ticket.

How did that split compare to last year? We were actually 60 percent out of market last year, so we increased our percentage of locals pretty significantly.

Does the fact that Sunday sold best indicate that your crowd prefers rock acts like Arctic Monkeys and Foo Fighters to hip-hop headliners like Kanye West and OutKast? We did a rock festival last year—we had blended programming, but at a headliner level it was really a rock event—so a natural rollover of fans from last year to this year would cause a greater spike on Sunday. And with Friday and Saturday, largely we’re speaking to new audiences. If you’re a Killers, Kings of Leon, Beck, Imagine Dragons fan, you may not necessarily be into Lionel Richie, OutKast, Kanye and The Weeknd, so we had to actively market to a new audience for those days. And it turned out to be pretty successful, because we weren’t off by very many tickets on those days.

What does the 10 percent increase in local attendees tell you? I think part of it is increased awareness in the market. Last year, people who’d bought tickets didn’t know whether The Killers were gonna play on the 3rd St. stage. Nobody really knew what we were doing. So going into the second year, you expect an increase in the local market.

I do worry a little bit that the weekend we have has one of the highest weekend occupancies of the year in the city. There are still hotel rates that were as low as $120, $130 a night, but it’s hard to get something much cheaper during that weekend. So I worry that we might have to address that at some point.

Like, you might have to move the festival dates? We’ll never shift it off October, because the weather’s so great, but even if we moved it earlier a week … I don’t know. I’ve gotta sit down with Las Vegas Events and get an idea of whether that was a factor. That’s just my gut, that when you’re on a 90-percent occupancy weekend, it may affect people’s ability to travel in. But we can still shift earlier a week or later a week and not affect the vibe of the festival.

In terms of national coverage of the festival, were you surprised outlets like Rolling Stone and Pitchfork completely ignored Life Is Beautiful, from its lineup rollout to the weekend itself? I’ll take that responsibility on myself. I wanted to strengthen our marketing overall by doing some larger deals with very specific outlets. We have gotten a lot of great press—Businessweek, Billboard, USA Today—but I think a bit of our strategy played against us in that we became really good friends with a couple of national outlets, and that kind of precluded a couple of the other ones from participating. But that’s coming from a guy that’s not a media strategist by any means.

Let’s talk festival specifics. You shifted the footprint a bit this year. How do you think that worked out? I think it had a lot more energy. Last year, while some of the additional areas—like the Fremont Street bars or Jackie Gaughan Plaza across from the El Cortez—gave us some additional space to program, they also spread the crowd a little too thin. Where this year, especially in that area around the Huntridge Stage, we had a lot of energy. It always felt like there were a lot of people there hanging out, having a good time.

The introduction of the Container Park solved a lot of issues from last year. The only space we had for culinary demonstrations [in 2013] were two tents behind the Western, which were hard for people to see and access. Putting them in the Container Park not only made them more central and accessible, it created a better vibe for culinary. Having more space to do more murals—we effectively added the Ogden from 7th to 8th—gave us interesting space to add more elements. I wish the Fit Mob and Dancetronauts stage was a little more central, because where that was it probably didn’t do them much service. I liked the Western Stage; I think I want to grass that next year like we did the Huntridge Stage. And I like the new layout for Ambassador, facing that grassed beer, food and wine garden—I saw people just sitting on the Fremont Street side of the grass, watching the shows.

You opted to break apart the Culinary Village and scatter restaurant food throughout the footprint. Did that work out the way you’d hoped? I got really good feedback on that, but I still need to spend some time with my more hardcore foodie fans who go to food and wine festivals, to see how the broken-up experience compares to other tasting events they go to. But the good news is, at no point did anyone feel like they were sacrificing the quality of the food they were eating because of their programming choices.

How would you categorize your relationship with the city and the neighboring business and residents at this point? The city could not be happier. We have a great relationship there. The bars and restaurants, for the most part, were all really happy, because they saw increased business. They ones we’re having challenges with are the churches or the bail bondswoman who has a very unique business that doesn’t get better when you have more cops in the area. But we’re gonna keep trying to adjust, keep working on it. Outside Lands has been around seven years, and there are still people in the neighborhood that aren’t happy they get taken over for three days.

Is 2015 a definite go? Absolutely. We’re already talking to headliners. We still have to get some rest and debrief and figure out what next year looks like, but we’re not letting this thing go.

Musically, I’ll always bang the drum for edgier acts and more left-of-center bookings, to augment the more mainstream names. Do you see yourself tweaking the lineup in any direction in the future? In terms of the more indie stuff and some of the cool throwbacks like Afghan Whigs or The Replacements, the answer is yes, we want to skew a little more in that direction. iHeart is successful because they do mainstream well. And EDC does EDM better than anyone. We’re gonna kinda be this cultural lifestyle indie-vibed festival, and I want to make sure we have more of that cool factor. But we’re not FYF; we’re not gonna be a hardcore indie-rock event.

Positivity is part of your festival’s motivational message. Are there certain kinds of acts—punk, metal, whatever—you would steer clear of for that reason? Having created the Life Is Beautiful brand, I can tell you that we’re not a literal representation of “life is beautiful.” I’m not trying to only book people who are boy scouts. We’re trying to book people that align with our message in some deeper capacity.

Kanye’s mother tragically passed away, and he had to react on a public stage. And he ended up pushing through it, releasing one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time and getting married and having a kid. He’s learning and he’s growing and he’s a human being, and life is not pretty but it is beautiful. And I very much stand by that booking.

Would I book a hardcore metal band that promotes violence and anger? Maybe not. Would I book Rancid? Absolutely, ’cause I freaking love ’em. Some of it’s pretty subjective—there isn’t an application we can plug in to see how people are gonna work out. But I’m probably not booking death metal any time soon.

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Oct 30, 2014
Terri Judson

Scary Side Of Fintech: Detroit Startup Helps Haunted Attractions

Sometimes, fintech startups get a little spooky. Or at least the customer base does.

Take HauntPay, for instance. It’s a payments and event ticketing system for haunted attractions.

Born out of experience in the payments industry and intrigue into the world of Halloween entertainment, HauntPay officially launched in the 2014 season and already has more than 17,000 new users, 60,000 tickets sold and $1 million transacted.

Related Link: This Startup Is Eating Adobe And IBM’s Lunch

CEO Alex Linebrink has run the parent payments company, Core Merchant, for four years. He told Benzinga in an email that he comes from a family that had always put together elaborate Halloween setups on their own property and even attended haunted attraction conventions. That’s how he got the idea for HauntPay.

“Through my interest in haunted attractions, I knew that they desperately needed a low-cost and low-effort solution,” he said.”I also knew where they did their buying every year (the conventions!) so I gathered some developer buddies, and we started working on our proprietary technology in early 2013.”

How It Works

Linebrink said HauntPay allows event owners to get set up in a few minutes, collect online pre-sales and in-person sales, and even add merchandise sales. The goal was to create a system for haunted attraction owners that was “low-cost, high-tech and super simple.”

The process is brisk, given that business owners have all of the information prepared, and accounts are automatically approved. HauntPay also gives owners access to the payments much sooner than other systems.

“Unlike other providers, we don’t make event owners wait until after the event to get their funds,” Linebrink said. “All funds show up in their bank accounts in 1 to 2 business days after a transaction takes place.”

But it’s more than just the set up that’s simple. At the event, itself, attraction owners can use the mobile app to scan purchased tickets — both printed ones and those displayed on mobile devices — look up guest names to redeem tickets or even sell tickets right there with a card swiper.

“The system has been incredibly well received,” Linebrink said. “Just one year in, we’re already the de facto leaders for online and in-person ticketing for haunted attractions.”

Why The Niche System Clicks

The team at HauntPay did a little research and found that the most likely future buyer of a ticket to a haunted attraction is someone who has already bought tickets to a haunted attraction in the past.

“Our biggest value over competitors to haunted attraction owners might just be that by using HauntPay, they’ll actually see more ticket sales just based on the fact that more than 100,000 other haunted house tickets are being sold on HauntPay,” Linebrink said.

He explained that just by listing their own event on HauntPay, attraction owners are getting exposure to their target market.

“People looking for haunted attraction tickets don’t go to Eventbrite. They go to HauntPay,” he said.

Post-Haunting Season

The team behind HauntPay has already begun the transition for when Halloween is over. This past August, they launched Passage, which is essentially a non-haunted version of the event ticketing system.

Passage has done a potpourri of events so far, including beer and wine festivals, pet costume parties and even a Bone Thugs N Harmony concert. While Passage remains somewhat generic right now, Linebrink said the plan is to utilize the success they found in the haunted attraction space across other niches.

“We plan to continue building out the system so that we can have that same value through specialized landing sites for other event verticals as well,” Linebrink said.

He said their next ventures will include beer and wine festivals, renaissance fairs, living history museums and paintball.

Posted-In: Alex Linebrink Detroit electronic paymentsEntrepreneurship Startups Tech Interview General Best of Benzinga

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Oct 27, 2014
Terri Judson

Destination: Carefree Fine Art & Wine

WineFestivalBy Kathryn M. Miller ~ The Thunderbird Artists will present a spectacular gathering of artists at the 21st Annual Carefree Fine Art Wine Festivals. These nationally acclaimed, juried fine art signature events attract artists and art collectors from throughout the United States and abroad, all sharing a love and appreciation for fine art.

Enhanced by the backdrop of the beautiful Sonoran Desert, the streets of Downtown Carefree will be closed October 31 – November 2 for the festival, making room for more than 165 juried fine artists, gourmet food, delectable chocolates, robust wine and live musical entertainment. An excess of 5,000 original masterpieces of fine art – works include small, medium, life-size and monumental bronze sculptures, metal, clay, wood, stone, glass and mixed media sculptures. There is an array of pottery, photography, hand crafted jewelry, batiks and select fine crafts. There are also spectacular oil and acrylic paintings on canvas, watercolors, pastel, charcoal, etchings and mixed media paintings. With a wide variety of mediums, styles, sizes, subject matters and price ranges, to ensure there is something that appeals to everyone.

This year, award-winning artist Lauren Knode, will be the featured artist, and a few of the musicians who will be performing, all three days are Elijah Bossenbroek, Keith Johnson and Jason Michael Tracy. Andiamo will be serving a variety of wood fired pizzas, Grilled Addiction will serve their signature dishes and there will also be a host of mouthwatering truffles, homemade fudge, refreshing coffee and chocolate slushies, sweet kettle corn, flavorful balsamics and much more.

The Carefree Fine Art Wine Festivals are enhanced by the beautiful Sonoran Desert backdrop of Carefree. Admission is $3; wine tasting ticket with souvenir glass is $10. The event runs 10am-5pm. For more information, visit |CST


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Oct 26, 2014
Terri Judson

Rippavilla to host Vines & Vintage: Wine, Antique, Artisan Market Nov. 1

SPRING HILL — Rippavilla Plantation’s Vines Vintage: Wine, Antique and Artisan Market will welcome 15 wineries from across Tennessee to Spring Hill for a day of food, drink and live music Saturday, Nov. 1.

Working with the State of Tennessee Department of Agriculture and the Tennessee Wine Growers Association, Vines and Vintage is one of only six state-sanctioned wine festivals in Tennessee this year and the final wine festival for 2014.

Because the festival is state-sanctioned, Vines and Vintage wineries will sell their wines exactly as they do at their own vineyards. Festival goers will be able to sample wine and buy it by the bottle or the case while touring 15 Tennessee winery booths and all conveniently located on the beautiful historic site.

In addition to the award-winning Tennessee wines, Rippavilla invited approximately 20 of the best antique vendors and artisans from this summer’s Swanky Plank Vintage market at Rippavilla, and these vendors will be on site selling one-of-a-kind items just in time to start your Christmas shopping.

A unique attraction at the wine festival is Bellaterra Ranch from Franklin; Bellaterra makes cigars that are perfectly paired for the various wines being offered at the festival. Bellatera’s booth at Vines Vintage will serve as the festival’s cigar lounge.

Vines Vintage committee members hope festival attendees will purchase a bottle of wine, enjoy lunch from one of the food vendors while listening to live performances from two musical acts. From noon-3 p.m., Columbia folk and blues artist Damien Boggs will perform and Dixie Crossing, another popular local band, will finish the day from 3-6 p.m.

Advance purchase tickets are available for $25 at Admission at the gate will be $35 for anyone enjoying the wine. Designated drivers can enter for $15. The wine festival is a 21-and-over event. Everyone will have to show photo ID to purchase a ticket.

Title sponsors for the event are First Farmers Merchants Bank, General Motors, Maury County Convention Visitors Bureau and Farm Credit.

Proceeds from the event support the preservation of the antebellum home and its educational programming. Rippavilla, Inc. is a 501 (c) (3) historic site and does not receive federal or state monies for operating expenses.

For more information, call the Rippavilla gift shop at (931) 486-9037 or visit the website at

Pets are not allowed at this event.

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Oct 24, 2014
Terri Judson

Autumn Wine Festival Returns to Salisbury

Shyheim White who goes by the name Shockavelli says he did not write the lyrics or rap this song, but he says this was not a threat, just a “diss.”

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Oct 15, 2014
Terri Judson

N.J. wines to shine at annual Washington Township wine tasting event – Gloucester County Times

Friday night will mark the eighth time the Washington Township Chamber of Commerce has brought out the bottles at its annual wine tasting event, which raises scholarship funds for local grads. And over those 8 years, organizers have not only raised more than 55,000 to offset college costs, they’ve seen a significant draw toward wines produced right here in the the Garden State.

“Wines locally have just exploded,” said Joe Matusiak, owner of Saline Wine and Liquors and an organizer of the Chamber’s annual wine tasting.

There will be more than 200 wines featured at the event, including vintages from Heritage Vineyards in Harrison Township, Coda Rossa Winery in Franklinville and Valenzano Winery in Shamong Township.

“New Jersey wines are kicking like they were back in the 1800s, and everyone likes that,” said Matusiak.

Many are trying to dispel Jersey wines’ reputation as sickly sweet, a trend that’s falling out of favor as vineyards’ grape vines age and produce the kind of grapes that create higher-quality, dry and complex wines.

“[Wineries are trying to get away from that and expand,” he said, adding he sees the interest first-hand in his Egg Harbor Road store, especially after big local wine festivals. Washington Township hosts one of the newest festivals in the state, the “Sip into Summer” blow out held in Washington Lake Park for the second year in a row this past June.

“Most of the wineries will say ‘Oh this is available at Salina,’ and some of our websites share our link to say where their wines are available so people will be able to search it out,” he said.

While Friday’s tasting event will give wine lovers a chance at checking out some of those wines, the most important point is the thousands they raise each year for local graduates heading off to college, said Matusiak.

“It’s a good event,” he said. “We raise at least $7,000 to $8,000 to give to the students.”

The Washington Township Chamber of Commerce’s Wine Tasting event will be held at the Wedgwood Country Club on Hurffville Road. The event runs from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

For more information, contact the Chamber at 856-227-1776, email or visit the event’s website to register.

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Oct 15, 2014
Terri Judson

Food, Wine, Fairs, Festivals Fill Up A Connecticut Weekend

The weekend is coming and it looks like it’s going to be a great one. Autumn weather and a plethora of choices when it comes to getting out.

 On Thursday, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra opens its 2014-2015 season with a program featuring  “Porgy and Bess: A Concert of Songs” with Carolyn Kuan conducting. The Hartford Chorale will also perform. For more information go here.

 You can also kick-start your weekend by heading over to Real Art Ways for its  monthly Creative Cocktail Hour Thursday, Oct. 16.  Dancing with The Dance Cartel will be featured at this month’s party. For more information go here.  

 It’s apple harvest time Connecticut and Glastonbury celebrates that fruit with its annual Apple Harvest festival Friday through Sunday, Oct. 17 to 19. There are fireworks planned for Saturday night, music acts, food concessions, vendors, rides, a Harvest pub, a 5k race and more. For more information go here.

 Take advantage of predicted good weather in a variety of ways over the weekend.  Mystic Aquarium will host its annual Fall-o-ween fun beginning Oct. 18. There will be special seasonal activities, costume contests, pumpkin sculpting , and shows with the special festival continuing through Nov. 1. For more information go here.

Also on Saturday head to the West Hartford town Hall Auditorium for the 2nd annual WeHa Whiskey Festival. The event offers more than 150 bourbon, scotch and whiskey tastings with proceeds benefiting the Town Cares Fund and Camp Courant. For more information go here.

 Garden party anybody? On Saturday, Woodland Gardens in Manchester will celebrate its 75th anniversary with a free family fall festival. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Families can enjoy a bounce house, petting zoo, face painting, balloon artists and more, as well as free ice cream and cider. For more information go here.

Did we mention it’s CT Restaurant and Beer Week through Oct. 19. Restaurants across the state are offering specials to celebrate so dining out is fun and affordable. For more information go here.

 The grape harvest is done but the celebrating is not. Hopkins Vineyard in New Preston will host its annual Cheese and Wine Festival beginning Saturday, Oct. 18. from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Located at 25 Hopkins Road, the festival features handcrafted, artisan-made food and wine from local Connecticut merchants, farms and vineyards, including Hopkins Vineyard, Jones Winery, Walker Road Vineyard, Cato Corner Farm, Beltane Farm and Artisan Made-Northeast. For more information go here.

 On Sunday, Hill-Stead Museum will celebrate another kind of harvest, the hay harvest with its Hay Day Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. food, family activities and hay rides will be featured. For more information go here.

 Don’t forget Hamlet at Hartford Stage and Annapurna at Theaterworks if stage is your style when it comes to the weekend.

And if you like the weekend to spill over a bit, Mark Twain House Museum has a treat for you.

It’s the annual “Mark My Words: A WICKED Cool Evening” authors event Tuesday, Oct. 21 at 8 p.m.  Panelists include Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked, The Novel, and Stephen Schwartz, composer and lyricist of Wicked-the Musical, which by the way, returns to the Bushnell in November. The discussion will be moderated by Hartford Courant’s Frank Rizzo. For more information go here.

Copyright © 2014, Hartford Courant

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Oct 7, 2014
Terri Judson

Get here without leaving the Shore

When it comes to wine, Leslie Sbrocco believes people seek something richer and heartier for the cooler months.

“You put away your light linens, summery dresses, and that’s your light Sauvignon blanc,” says Sbrocco, an award-winning author, wine consultant and television host. “I’m looking for things like a little earthier, heartier reds, (such as) Italian Zinfandel from California, Cabernet from Washington state — all of them fulfill that sort of richer transition. It’s a seasonal sipping transition.”

There is not much that compares to a nice glass of wine paired with delectable cheeses. In the world of wineries, cheese shops and wine festivals, there are an array of flavors and new experiences to indulge in.

“Overall, we’re getting to be a really wine-savvy nation,” Sbrocco says. “We are now (the country that) consumes the most wines in the world. People are really starting to enjoy wine. You don’t have to make it a great production — you can spend $10 to $100. I think people are (recognizing that).”

What’s new for fall

Sbrocco, the host of the PBS/KQED series “Check, Please! Bay Area,” was recently voted as one of the top 100 most influential people in the American wine business. In addition, she has two books: “Wine for Women: A Guide to Buying, Pairing and Sharing Wine,” and “The Simple Savvy Wine Guide.”

Most recently, she curated the DO AC Boardwalk Wine Promenade Sept. 27 and 28 on the Atlantic City boardwalk.

The Wine Promenade featured a majority of wines perfect for fall — from velvety Spanish reds of Rioja, Spain, to supple whites from California and Washington. People were able to stroll along the historic boardwalk while sampling more than 100 wines, including new, rare and expensive wines and Champagnes.

“I selected 150 individual wines and about seven bourbons,” Sbrocco said prior to the event, touting international products from Sicily and South Africa, and plenty from the wine region of Rioja, Spain.

As a wine educator, it’s tough for Sbrocco to pick an absolute favorite among the 150.

“They’re like children,” she says.

But eventually, she nails down two wines — that also serve as fall varieties — Villa Sandi’s il Fresco Prosecco, an Italian wine, and Brunello di Montalcino, a Castello Banfi wine from Tuscany.

The weekend event featured plenty of other fall wines under the “Bourbons and Big Reds” tent — such as Renwood Winery’s Old Vine Zinfandel from Amador County, California, and Cabernet varieties, such as the Emblem wine from Napa Valley, California.

“Pinot Noir is a gorgeous red ideal for fall,” Sbrocco says, also mentioning Ferrari-Carano’s Pinot Noir blend and Chateaux St. Michelle’s Cold Creek Merlot.

“It’s a lighter style of red, but it’s perfect for transition for fall.”

According to an article in FSR Magazine, more fall wines include Alsatian Riesling, Burgundy Pinot Noir, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Piedmont Nebbiolo and Spanish Tempranillo.

White wines aren’t solely a summer treat, Sbrocco adds.

“I still love whites in the fall and in the winter,” Sbrocco says. “Chardonnay — rhône style whites. They’re a little bit further bodied.”

The Wine Cellar, 23 Monmouth St., Red Bank, has some fall specialties.

“For fall, our popular Harvest Sale will return (running through Oct 13) — bringing over 100 Cellar Select wines to under $8.50 a bottle when you mix and match a case (a perfect time to discover a new bottle),” says Celine Hymoff, store manager. “You can also look forward to a complimentary Halloween sampling and rock-bottom prices for Black Friday.”

Hymoff adds her customers are becoming more adventurous.

“We’ve been receiving several requests for wines from lesser known places in the wine world, such as Croatia, Latvia, China, and Hungary to name a few,” Hymoff says. “It’s exciting to see this sense of discovery in our customers.”

The store’s Cellar Select collection is becoming increasingly diverse, she adds. Besides carrying wines such as the San Stephan Cabernet Sauvignon from Bulgaria and the Campanula Pinot Grigio from Hungary, customers will also see a larger selection of less common grapes, such as Cortese, Dolcetto, Barbera, and Garnacha blanca, Hymoff says.


WINES ANYWHERE (also trading as Lenape BuyRite Liquors): 567 Mantoloking Road, Brick; 732-477-4249 or

LAURITA WINERY: 85 Archertown Road, New Egypt; 609-752-0200 or

THE WINE CELLAR: 23 Monmouth St., Red Bank; 732-219-9935 or

WINE OUTLET: 526 Arnold Ave., Point Pleasant Beach; 732-528-7777 or

BOTTLE SHOP OF SPRING LAKE: 1400 Third Ave., Spring Lake; 732-449-5525 or


Oktoberfest, autumn, mark exciting time for beers

SAM ADAMS: The Harvest Collection, available through October, has Harvest Saison, alongside some classics such as Boston Lager, Harvest Pumpkin and OctoberFest.

THREE FLOYDS BROODOO: A toasty, nutty malt backbone that piles on rich, palate-coating hops that throw off big hits of tropical fruit and pine sap.

AYINGER OKTOBER FEST-MÄRZEN: This Bavarian-brewed Oktoberfest has a trademark bready caramel foundation that is complemented by subtle toffee and toast that finishes dry and slightly crisp.

GREAT LAKES NOSFERATU: Marries bold roasty, caramel malts with grassy Cascade hops and fruity, floral Simcoes.

DOGFISH HEAD PUMPKIN: Backed up by a brown ale base, which the brewers then balance with brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and real pumpkin.



Create your own wine and cheese pairings party

To simplify the strategy, divide cheese into four major categories: bloomy (creamy, decadent cheeses, with a soft rind), hard (stiff cheeses, which are often sharp and/or salty), blue (pungent, often salty cheeses, with a blue tinge), and fresh (soft, often spreadable cheeses that can be tangy or mild).

If you have a specific cheese in mind, first contemplate the category it belongs to.

Just as with any food pairing, it helps to think of either complementary or contrasting flavors. A lush wine works well with a triple-cream cheese, while an acidic wine will cut the cheese’s sweetness. As you begin to experiment, taste the cheese first by itself, to get a sense of its character, and then put another bite into your mouth with some wine to see how they mingle. Many experts say that white tends to pair better with cheese, but a light-bodied red and cheese pairing is still possible.

Wine and cheese pairing examples: Camembert and Champagne, Brie and Chardonnay, Gouda and Merlot, Cheddar and Cabernet Sauvignon, Parmesan and Chianti, Gorgonzola and Port, Blue and Riesling, Ricotta and Pinot Grigio, and Mozzarella and Sauvignon Blanc.

Purchase a few different cheeses from a cheese shop or gourmet store with a well-equipped storage facility. Discuss your plans with the cheesemonger and ask for recommendations. You can get creative with cheese place cards or purchase a nifty slate cheese tray, which allow you to etch cheese names in chalk. Lastly, be sure to serve the wine and cheese at their proper temperatures, so their flavors can emerge. Serve white wine at 45 degrees Fahrenheit, red wine at 60 degrees Fahrenheit and remove the cheese from the refrigerator 30 to 60 minutes prior to serving.

A great wine and cheese party offers pairing selections with varied flavor profiles. Display the options in a circle and have your guests start with lighter wines and fresher cheeses and move clockwise toward the ones that have sharpness and depth. To simplify, you could also choose a flexible wine that pairs with a wide range of cheeses. A lean red, such as Gamay or Pinot Noir, could serve as a perfect starting point.


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