Label Art: Awesome Artwork from The Brimming Horn Meadery

We’ve been looking forward to the opening of The Brimming Horn Meadery for some time and it looks like Jon Talkington and Robert Walker’s dream will be opening sometime late February/Early March.

In the meantime, here’s some awesome artwork from them to show you what you can expect to becoming coming out of Milton, DE, very soon.

brimming-horn-labels

Select Events at the Upcoming MidAtlantic Wine and Food Festival

This  March 6th-10th marks the second annual MidAtlantic Wine and Food Festival.  This 5 day event highlights not only wine and food, but  beverages such as spirits, tea, and coffee.   The events are held in venues up and down the state of Delaware and benefits such amazing art institutions as the Delaware Art Museum, Opera Delaware, The Grand Opera House, Christina Cultural Arts Center, Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, Delaware Symphony Orchestra, Delaware Theatre Company, Kent County Fund for the Arts, and The Rehoboth Beach Film Society.  One very cool aspect of the Festival, is that some events are geared towards helping certain institutions, but quite a few of the events let you chose which institutions you want to help with your ticket purchase.

Below is only a small sampling of the amazing events with descriptions from recent press releases and the website.  For more information, visit their website at MidAtlanticWineandFood.com, Facebook, and make sure to follow them on Twitter for updates.  I’d like to thank JulieAnne Cross for keeping me in the loop for this amazing event!

CRAFT BEER :

The Craft of Beer: Thursday, March 7, 5:30-7:30pm, OperaDelaware, Wilmington. We celebrate the MidAtlantic’s role in the craft beer revolution at this event that brings together brewers and beer lovers. Many of the region’s most beloved craft brewers will gather to share their creations, sample some suds and talk a little shop at this tasting event. The list of participating breweries includes Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales, Troegs Brewing Company, Yards Brewing Company and Evolution Craft Brewing Company, just for starters. $50

He Said Beer, She Said Wine: Friday, March 8, 6-9pm, on stage at The Grand Opera House, Wilmington. Which drink is a better food partner — beer or wine? You’ll decide who wins this delectable and entertaining debate as a legendary brewer and a world-class sommelier go head-to-head. Join Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and noted wine author Marnie Old, co-authors of the popular illustrated book, “He Said Beer, She Said Wine,” as they present rival pairings for a multi-course dinner prepared by Chelsea Tavern (home to one of Delaware’s most impressive beer lists) and served on the main stage of The Grand Opera House. $125

Belgian Beer Lunch: Saturday, March 9, 12pm-1:30pm, Union City Grill Wilmington. Belgian beer will take center stage at this three-course lunch paired with Saison DuPont, Gulden Draak and Olvisholt Lava Smoked Imperial Porter.  Host Chef: Matthew Curtis, $50

WINE :

Wine Photo from The MidAtlantic Wine and Food Festival
Wine Photo from The MidAtlantic Wine and Food Festival Facebook Page

937-Point Wine Tasting: Friday, March 8, 2013, 5:30-7:30pm, Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, Wilmington. Just because a wine isn’t “perfect” doesn’t mean it’s not darn good. This tasting event, the little sister of Saturday’s 1000-Point Wine Tasting, brings together 10 extraordinary wines that came close to a perfect 100-point mark rating. $100

Wine + Chocolate Tasting: Saturday, March 9, 2013, 3-4pm, Christina Cultural Arts Center, Wilmington. Artisanal chocolates (including Swiss Neuchatel truffles!) and fine wines—both perfect on their own, but together they create entirely new flavor profiles. Taste and sip along with the experts at this sinfully good afternoon indulgence. $50

Champagne + Caviar Tasting: Saturday, March 9, 2013, 5-6pm, Christina Room at the Hotel du Pont, Wilmington. Sample quality American caviar, sustainably produced in the Sunshine State. Presented by Carter Caviar, selections include American Hackleback, American Osetra, American White Sturgeon and more, all paired with bubbly to keep the taste buds dancing. $50

Gospel Brunch with Wines from Around the World, Sunday, March 10, 2013, 11am-2pm, World Café Live at the Queen, Wilmington. More than a dozen regional restaurants take brunch to a new level, where breakfast sandwiches might be made with quail eggs, and light risotto might be topped with a shaved truffle. Sample 80 wines from around the world, and have your spirits lifted by the rousing sounds of the 60-member Combined Choir of the Calvary Baptist Church, returning to the Festival by popular demand. $125

THE HARD STUFF :

Bourbon + Bacon – North, South and Central editions: Thursday, March 7, 5:30-7:30pm at the Columbus Inn, Wilmington; Friday, March 8, 5-7pm at Nage, Rehoboth Beach; Saturday, March 9, 5-7pm, Triad Farms, Dover. It’s the perfect pairing of pork and potent potables, as small-batch bourbons are poured and paired with delectable parts of the pig. Bourbon experts will lead a tasting journey, exploring some of finest examples of America’s native spirit. These promise to be among the hottest events of the festival. $50

Scotch + Cigars: Thursday, March 7, 8:30-10:30pm, Oberod, Centreville. Join us after your dinner to relax with a stogie and a snifter at this Scotch and cigar tasting on the patio of Oberod, one of the finest estates in the heart of Delaware’s chateau country. It’s a magnificent setting for a quiet night out, and one that would make Gatsby envious. Bill Sullivan, the highly respected general manager of the Courtyard by Marriott Newark at the University of Delaware and one of Delaware’s top cigar aficionados, will be the lead storyteller. $50

Single and Malty: Friday, March 8, 9-11pm, Buckley’s Tavern, Wilmington. Take a trip to the Highlands at this tutored tasting event where you’ll sip and sample a variety of single malt Scotches. $60

In the Mix: Mixologists and DJs: Friday, March 8, 9-11:30pm, Festival Village, Rodney Square, Wilmington. Some of the area’s most talented mixologists create cocktail masterpieces using all-American spirits at this late-night party inside the Festival Village tent, where the drinks will shake things up and the music will stir the spirit. $50

Brunch and Bloody Mary Throwdown: Sunday, March 10, 11am-2pm, Noble’s Pond, Dover.  Amateurs and professionals compete to create the perfect Bloody Mary. Attendees will vote, and in the final round, the leading amateur and the leading pro will face off in a final battle. Area restaurants will provide tasty brunch foods for a bloody good morning, and sparkling wine will complete the treat. $50

OTHER FUN STUFF:

Scrapplegasm: Saturday, March 9, 8-10am in the Green Room at the Hotel du Pont, Wilmington. The defining breakfast meat of the MidAtlantic gets redefined at this incredible scrapple breakfast, where the only thing you can expect is the unexpected. Pheasant scrapple? Bison scrapple? Anything is possible when chefs tackle the region’s signature breakfast meat, served in addition to everything you’d expect from a traditional Hotel du Pont breakfast. Host Chefs: Keith Miller of the Hotel du Pont and Robert Lhulier of The University & Whist Club. $40

The Great Coffee Roast: Saturday, March 9, 9-11am, Festival Village, Rodney Square, Wilmington. Watch and smell your morning coffee as it’s roasted on the spot. Learn how to “cup” coffee and what makes one roast style different from the next. If that java jolt is your thing, you will come away energized and educated. Free with Festival Village pass.

Food photos for the MidAtlantic Wine and Food Festival ((C) Joel Plotkin)
Food photos for the MidAtlantic Wine and Food Festival Facebook Page ((C) Joel Plotkin)

The MasterChef Tasting Experience: Sunday, March 10, 5:30-7:30pm, Festival Village, Rodney Square, Wilmington. For the Festival’s finale, seven contestants representing all three seasons of Chef Gordon Ramsay’s “MasterChef” TV show on Fox — Christian Collins, Suzy Singh, Dave Miller, Tracy Kontos, Becky Reams and Derrick Prince, plus Wilmington’s own Jennifer Behm, winner of season two — will show off their culinary skills and tell stories from the show.  Each chef will prepare tastings for the crowd from the Festival Village Kitchen Stage.  Photos and autograph opportunities will be available after the event. Host Chef: Jennifer Behm. $75

The Centennial Tea: Friday, March 8, 2013, 2:30-4:30pm, Green Room of the Hotel du Pont, Wilmington. Join the 100th birthday of the Hotel du Pont at this spectacular Centennial Tea. Served with all the trimmings, from finger sandwiches to petits fours, the tea is hosted by certified tea master Sergio Mueller, and features special tins of estate tea. $50

Desserts by Dana Extravaganza: Friday, March 8, 2013, 8:30-10pm, Wesler Room at The Grand Opera House, Wilmington. Join Chef Dana Herbert, owner of Desserts by Dana and winner of TLC’s popular competition show, “Cake Boss: The Next Great Baker,” as he pairs delectable creations with dessert wines in the sweetest tutored tasting of the weekend. $60

Determining the Value of a Wine – to YOU.

It dawns on me that during my relatively short time as a blogger that I haven’t said anything about wine.  While on the surface this seems understandable as this is primarily a beer blog, it is none the less a shame because when I started this journey I started on the wine side of the road, forming a lot of the opinions I have on alcohol in general in that arena.

So with that in mind I’m going to share with you some thoughts on buying wine for the every day man (or woman) in the context of something you’re going to drink everyday, or at least with the thought that you’re going to drink it in the relatively near future.  I feel that this approach to wine is pretty solid in that it takes out all the factors brought in from the vintner and the seller and places the onus for determining the value of the wine on the only person in the equation that truly matters – you.  I also feel the system is easy enough for anyone to master because it focuses on price which is a common denominator for any wine, although ironically I will state that of all the factors that can be used to judge the quality of a wine, price in reality is probably the least important.

The first thing I tell people when they start down a wine journey is that they must build themselves a working wine knowledge.  Most people sigh and look defeated at this point, believing that what I’m asking them to do is lock themselves in dark, hidden room in some library with the arduous task of memorizing topographical maps and meteorically trends of every grape growing region in Napa and France.  Yeah, forget that.  That stuff isn’t important.  Well actually it is very, very important if you’re growing the wine (which, you’re not) and important if you’re trying to convince someone to buy the wine (which again, you’re not).  But for you the buyer?  Nope.

Huh? What? Ah…no…There’s no need to be this guy.

Instead what I would want people to do is simply drink wine, but pay attention.  Do you like certain wines?  Can you tell me in ten words or less why you like that particular wine over another?  Can you give me one or two examples of wine you drink that fall into that description?  People again feel daunted at this task when first purposed because they believe they need to learn some arcane, coded “wine speak” that would put the secret language of the Masons to shame.  You don’t. Again, leave all that nonsense for the growers and the sellers.

The example I’ve actually used a number of times when talking with people usually unfolds like this:

Me: “Do you like red or white wines?”
Them: “White.”
Me: “Do you like Chardonnay?”
Them: “I love chardonnay!”
Me: “Do you like it when your Chardonnay tastes like crisp green apples or like buttery vanilla?”
Them: “Oh buttery.  I love J. Lohr’s Chardonnay!”

Hopefully at this point a light bulb goes off over their head.  Most people do know exactly what they like, they either haven’t taken the time to really figure out how to describe it, or worse yet been lead to believe that their way of describing it isn’t “technical enough”.  Again, rubbish.  The conversation above is all you need in any five star restaurant with a wine guy who knows his cellar to pare the type of wine you’d be most interested in having with your lobster down from 60 bottles to maybe 4.  And we didn’t have to break out the decoder rings.

Once you have your own working wine knowledge (and again, chances are you already have it more than you think) we can put it to use.  As I said above, price can be a poor factor in judging the quality of a wine.  So many elements influence what a vintner needs to sell his wine for in any particular vintage to make the profit margin he needs to hit, that it’s quite possible that he could be asking $25 one year for a bottle of wine that the previous vintage was only $20 AND – the $25 dollar bottle not really be any better than the $20.  But price is important to you, unless you’re lucky enough (unlike me) to not be concerned about how much you’re plunking down for a bottle of the grape.

There is only one rule I want you to really try to follow when you’re in a situation of tasting a wine – do it blind to price.  Do every thing you can NOT to know how much someone wants for the bottle you’re tasting until after you tasted it.  I realize in some cases this can be almost impossible, but try as much as you can.  Then it’s simply a matter of tasting the wine.

If there’s a guy there telling you all about how it was grown on the north side of the mountain, 23% of this grape, yada yada – nod your head like you’re hanging on his every word, but ignore him.  Focus only the wine. And once you’ve tasted it and “analyzed” it as much as possible ask yourself one simple question, “How much would I be willing to pay for this bottle of wine and not feel that I paid to much.”  Look back at that sentence.  Those “I”s are bolded for a reason.  This is your judgment on the value of the wine.  Not the vintner’s.  Not the seller’s.  Not the guy standing next to you trying the same wine.  It’s yours, you own it.  So what does this tell you?  Let’s look at two different scenarios.

You’re at a wine tasting and a gentleman in a suit just poured you a glass of wine.  After tasting the wine you decide that if you had paid $15 dollars in a store for it you’d believe you’d have gotten good value for your dollar.  After a little back and forth the gentleman tells you that it’s a $30 bottle of wine.  Walk away.  Unabashedly.  Unashamedly.  If the wine is twice what you think it’s worth to you, nothing else matters.  And don’t let anyone tell you that your palate isn’t “sophisticated enough” to appreciate a high dollar bottle of wine.  That elitist bull crap is one of the main foundations of what’s wrong with some sectors of the wine world today.

Oh I’m not going to lie.  There is a certain knack to tasting a high dollar bottle of wine that’s meant to be laid down and aged for 10-15 years after you buy it.  You have to pick through the tannins and decide how it’s going to taste after it ages.  But that’s not the wine were talking about here.  Most wine produced is made to be drunk within a year or two after purchase, and if you’re anything like me the life expectancy of a bottle of wine in my house can be measured in days, not years.

So, scenario number two.  You’re at my house and I pour you a glass of wine.  By the end of the night you believe that again, the wine (to you) is drinking like a $15 dollar bottle.  During the course of the evening you learn that I picked it up at the local wholesale warehouse for $8.  Go buy some.  Heck, go buy a case.  Hell, go buy a case and then invite me over to help you drink it.  I cannot over state how many well knowledged wine people out there play in the $10 and under price range.  Finding an $8 bottle of wine that drinks like a $20 bottle should be considered a constant goal for the every day wine person.  There are more of them out there than you think, and they are worth seeking out.  As an example I point you over to Roberta at Homemade Delish, who agrees with me that Apothic Red (which I get at BJ’s for $9.99) drinks pretty damn well.

Can you translate this thought process to beer? Theoretically, yes.  But the dollar swing between six packs of beer is in most cases only a couple of bucks, and so it loses a little of its usefulness when you’re comparing two six packs that are $2 apart, verses bottles of wine that can be $10, $20 or even $50 dollars apart..  Happily, I don’t remember running into any $40 dollar six packs.

Anyway, that’s a few thoughts on approaching wine for the every day buyer. It does require a little more engagement from the drinker then just deciding if one “likes it”.  But in the end I think the process can really work to ensure that someone is getting what they believe is value for their money.   If you take only one thing from this post then let it be this, a wine’s value is truly assessed by only one person – you.  It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks it’s worth, or what wine gibberish they use to try to convince you that it’s worth its price tag.

Time for another beer glass of wine.

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