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Wine, Beer, Spirits

Build your Wine Collection from Scratch – Here’s How

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Building your own wine collection is an unrivaled experience but also a never-ending process of trial and error. It’s not the same as collecting art pieces, with wines it is more like a leap into the unknown. Not every time, of course, but very often. Wine, however, is arguably one of the most popular alcoholic beverages across the globe, and more and more people decide to plunge into the wonderful world full of unique tastes and aromas. 

The good news is you do not have to be a millionaire in order to build a wine collection but, quite understandably, certain knowledge is required, so as a little help of lady luck. If you are ready to embark on the most exciting journey of your life, check out the basics of building your wine collection from scratch we share below.

Determine Your Goals

The very first thing you have to do is to set your goals and determine the priorities. Ask yourself what is your main reason to start a collection. Are you plotting to invest money and make some profit? Or do you just want to assemble a diverse selection of bottles to have the perfect fit for every occasion? Your goals make a big difference and once you set them, you will be able to develop a proper strategy able to help you hit the sweet spot. And believe us, you will need a good plan to cover every aspect of your new hobby or business, from the list of auctions you might want to attend to close monitoring of the developments in the fine wine market.

Set A Budget

Just like with all other things in our life, it is of utmost importance to decide on the amount of money you are ready to invest at the outset. It doesn’t matter whether you will set aside for this purpose $10,000 or $1,000, make sure to spend them wisely. What are we trying to say is that investing all of your wine funds into a single bottle is not a good idea. The general advice is to focus on a range of wines that cost between $200 and $2,000, meaning that even with a $1,000 budget you can start with five bottles of age-worthy wines, which is an excellent foundation for a newbie. 

Experienced collectors also recommend trying wine before ordering several bottles. By the way, if you worry about the destiny of an uncorked bottle in the case it’s not consumed immediately, consider taking a close look at this dispenser that preserves wine for at least 30 days. The special technology guarantees no alternation of the organoleptic elements of the wine such as taste, flavor, aroma, body, consistency, and color. That means you do not have to rush to conclusions and can take your time to decide on whether you want a certain variety or not.

Decide On A Storage

Chances are you have a fancy wine fridge but we have to disappoint you – it is not a proper place to store your wine long-term because such fridges are not designed to facilitate conditions that let age-worthy wines reach their full potential. You have two options: invest in a home cellar or take advantage of professional full-service storage. If you have a proper space at your house, your own cellar is a better solution in the long run but professional service also has its virtues.

Opt For Collectible Wines

Collectibility is a very broad term, mainly because it is pretty much a matter of personal view. Anyway, it is safe to say collectible wines are those that have the following characteristics: top scores from critics, a great quality-to-price ratio, aging potential, and are available for purchase by the case and in bulk. Last but not least, such wine has to suit your personal taste and preferences. Since not many collectible wines have all the aforementioned elements, you will have to learn, research, and do your due diligence to figure out the perfect match for your collection.

Keep Track Of Each Bottle

Well, keeping track of your wine would certainly be a piece of cake at the very start, but it can become a huge problem later on. If you do not want to miss the peak of a certain bottle, keep accurate records about every bottle from the very moment you add it to your collection.

Building a wine collection is a lot of fun, all the more so, nowadays you have tons of resources just at your fingertips. Use them wisely and remember that your taste does matter.

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Recipes

An Alcohol-Free Version of Our Best-Loved Cocktail

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So many people want to know how they can enjoy Coconut cream and lime margarita without the drowsiness that comes after an alcoholic drink. Alcohol is a commitment that you are not always prepared to make. Few things are as pleasant as a margarita enjoyed at a poolside. 

Devon Francis is a test kitchen cook who has solved your dilemma with her recipe for a non-alcoholic margarita that offers the same refreshing tropical flavors with none of the alcohol. She uses honey, ginger, maca root powder, Tajin, and orange juice instead of tequila and Cointreau. Believe it or not, her margarita is just as good as the original – if not better. 

Devon specifically chose maca powder for its mood-boosting properties and ginger as an adaptogen. According to her, the drink combines coconut flavor with tart and heat. “The overall flavor profile is tart, coconutty, with a hint of heat from the ginger and Tajín.” 

Tajin is a popular Mexican seasoning composed of dehydrated lime, chiles, and salt. You can find Tajin in grocery stores, liquor stores, online food stores, and Latin American food stores and markets. 

If you buy cut mango in Brooklyn or Mexico City, you may have come across Tajin. It is sprinkled in with the fruit and adds an invigorating salty, bright, and spicy flavor to the mango. 

Devon designed her recipe to be flexible and quick to make. 

Here is her recipe for a fabulous non-alcoholic margarita:

Non-Alcoholic Coconut-Lime Margarita

To rim the glass:

1lime wedge

1 tbsp. pink Himalayan salt

½ tsp. Tajin Clasico Seasoning

For rimming the glass:

To make the drink:

3 oz. coconut milk

1 Tbs. local wildflower honey

2 oz. freshly squeezed orange juice

1 tsp. peeled and grated fresh ginger

1/4 tsp. maca root powder

2 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice

1/8 tsp. Tajín Clásico Seasoning, plus more for garnish

1 lime wedge

Combine the Tajin and salt in a small bowl and stir them together. Spread them evenly in one layer. A small bowl will help you to coat the rim of your glass with a thicker mixture. 

Use the lime wedge to moisten the rock’s glass rim and dip it into the salt mixture in the bowl. Shake off any extra and store the glass in the fridge until you are ready to use it.  

Before you serve the margarita, pour ice cubes into your rimmed glass. Combine the orange juice, coconut milk, honey, lime juice, ginger, honey, maca root powder, and Tajin in a cocktail shaker. Cover the cocktail shaker and shake the mixture hard until it is well chilled. Strain the mixture into your glass that is rimmed and filled with ice. Use the lime wedge as garnish and sprinkle Tajin lightly on your drink just before serving. 

Serves 1 

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Wine, Beer, Spirits

Champagne Pivots with the Pandemic

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Hamptons restaurateur Ian Duke is decking the front yard of his establishment with tons of bright and cheerful orange umbrellas that symbolize Veuve Clicquot champagne.

Duke owns Union Sushi and Steak, a Southampton restaurant that is working to jump-start champagne consumption after what has been a difficult year for the champagne industry. 

“When you open a restaurant, you have to decide who you are going to cater to,” explains Duke, who is catering to the kind of diner who is determined not to let the pandemic ruin their summer. 

In 2020, French winemakers and grape farmers under the Comité Champagne cut production down to the lowest levels since the Great Depression. That is how hard the year was for the champagne industry. There wasn’t much celebration going on in 2020. An 18% slump in global champagne sales cost the industry above $1 billion. 

The festivals and celebrations, duty-free airport promotions, and bottomless brunches that had champagne as a mainstay could not be relied on anymore. 

Champagne brands are now zeroing in on resort sites like Berkshires and the Hamptons to keep themselves going. 

They are partnering with restaurants, nightclubs, party planners, bars, and fundraisers to quickly make sales and turn around their fortunes. 

High-end resorts all over the Northeast are witnessing alliances between champagne makers and the hospitality industry to push sales of the bubbly drink.

At the Southampton Inn, proprietor Dede Gotthelf says that after they set up a fridge by the front desk, guests started asking for sparkling wines and champagnes. Gotthelf has seen an estimated 10% increase in grab-and-go drinks supplied to rooms directly. 

Meanwhile, Daniel Boulud who runs Blantyre Resort in Massachusets has put up a Dom Perignon-inspired champagne salon. The salon is fitted with a caviar menu and a Baccarat chandelier. 

A few Champagne makers are offering restaurants and bars more incentives. Chef and restaurant owner Salvatore Biundo has taken advantage of the incentives to create a successful Mother’s Day menu. He says Champagne offerings go up to ten from as low as four at his Hamptons Bay’ Centro Trattoria.

Biundo has found that by making Champagne more visible, sales have gone up. He has introduced a piazza deck complete with a piano and fountain. Customers are indulging in champagne as they wait for a table. “They’re getting a $37 Blanc instead of a $13 prosecco. Hey, I’m not complaining,” says Biundo. 

These higher Champagne sales are evident on weekdays as well as weekends, as one Montauk restaurant has witnessed. La Fin is a waterside restaurant that boasts among its offerings a daily ‘recovery brunch’ and stocks a wide range of champagne brands. Prices are set at $68 for the cheapest to $488 for the most expensive. 

The Southern Glazer is the second leading distributor of liquor in the US. According to the Southern Glazer SVP Lee Schrager, exactly one year ago, the company had seen 160,000 of their nightclub, bar, and restaurant accounts vanish. 

Now the company is preparing for the Bubble Q hosted by Guy Fieri – one of the most important Champagne events in the US. The Bubble Q was part of the Miami South Beach Wine and Food Festival, and Schrager is one of the festival founders. 

Moët & Chandon will be the event sponsors, something they have not done for 10 years. The brand will donate 360 cases of champagne. Even better, most of the 160,000 accounts that the Southern Glazer lost are back to working with them. 

 Champagne is an ageless drink. Now that more and more people are drinking at home thanks to the pandemic, the hospitality industry is hoping that these at-home drinkers will go for something lighter and more festive … something like Champagne. 

Lawrence Scott, an event planner says that champagne lends elegance to an event:  “Drop two raspberries into a Champagne flute, and the guy holding it sticks out his pinkie and thinks he’s elegant.” 

This summer, champagne producers are particularly keen to see their Champagne brand crowned the drink. There are still many venues that work without a complete bar. 

Cocktail hours often involve patrons sitting down, with servers circulating a tray with one kind of drink Sometimes rolling carts are serving up just a couple of liquor brands.

According to La Caravelle wines ‘chief bubble officer’ Rita Jammet, there has been a clear and strong buying pattern from female customers. Jammet who heads the boutique champagne variety sold at Le Pavillon, a new eatery. 

La Caravelle engaged female customers during the pandemic with Zoom cooking lessons as well as Goldbely promotions featuring Laurent Tourondel, Marcus Samuelsson, and Gabriel Kreuther, all top chefs. 

La Caravelle’s splits and champagne have won the hearts of many female customers. The champagne rose has already achieved half of last year’s sales between January and April alone. 

Jammet says that customers resonate with the optimism and joy that the brand evokes. “The color brings joy and optimism, which we have badly needed throughout the pandemic,” she adds.

Restaurant owners are more than ready to welcome a champagne comeback. Abraham Merchant who owns Upper East Side establishment Phillippe says it best:  “Once [diners] start their meal with a glass of Champagne, they move on to a glass of wine, and then they’ll be drinking all night long.”

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Wine, Beer, Spirits

5 Non-Alcoholic Beers you want to Try

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Non-alcoholic beer has never received the same attention that ‘real’ beer received. It was treated as an afterthought. Its most respectable position would be at the bottom of a beer list, or unreachable spots on a liquor store shelf. 

To be honest, non-alcoholic beer was the last thing that came to mind for beer lovers. Once there was an increase of craft beer quality and availability, the sober-curious and those who don’t take alcohol were disappointed to find a watery product that wasn’t exactly beer.

Things have changed now and for the better. Now that more people are interested in nonalcoholic drinks, we are seeing nonalcoholic beers getting more attention and effort. You could very easily find the non-alcoholic beers appearing on a list of alcoholic drinks. 

Breweries are bringing forth fruity and unfiltered crisp lagers, IPAs, and sour ales using different proprietary methods that eliminate alcohol from the brews. 

Most of these companies also produce regular sought craft beer. However, most of the brewing companies were once traditional brewers who decided to focus on non-alcoholic beers after shifting to the low alcohol level lifestyle. Most of their beers have an extremely low alcohol percentage (0.5% ABV).

It doesn’t matter whether you’re marathon training, finally deciding to become sober, or you simply want to experiment on IPA’s count while at home, you have various options. Below are some of our best non-alcoholic cans at the moment.

Helles Lager by Two Roots Brewing

This beer is good with French fries. Not only is it light-bodied, but it is also clean with the right amount of malt flower that allows it to be consumed with fatty foods. It can also go well with snacks or crispy-skinned fish. Once you hive Helles a try, you can then give other types of Two Roots a try.

Golden Ale by Athletic Brewing

This drink has notes of fresh-cut grass, toasty baguette, lemon peels and black tea. It bears similarities with a Belgian ale only it would be its lowercase version. 

Amber Lager from Bauhaus Brew Labs

This drink is smooth with the flavor of toasted malt. It’s darker than most light lagers and its body is slightly heavier. Lovers of Modelo Negra and Newcastle will enjoy it. If you wish to switch from regular to non-alcoholic beer occasionally, the Bauhaus Brewers have alcoholic beers as well. 

Raspberry Gose from Bravus Brewing

The gose is always a must-have for us. Whether it has booze or not, its salty, perfectly tat (and in this drink) it’s filled with a raspberry flavor. You can pair it with any salty snack, cream or dessert.

Creatives IPA from Surreal Brewing

This drink has notes of grapefruit, resiny pine trees and mango. All you need to do is relax with your eyes closed and let it transport you to a tropical beach. 

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