Sunday, January 30, 2011

Opening a New Brewery - A Tale of Two Countries

I found this article interesting after reading about several new breweries that are opening this year in the Washington D.C. area. In the U.S. a new brewery opens regularly; in Greece, Heineken limits start-ups.

What’s Broken in Greece? Ask an Entrepreneur

DEMETRI POLITOPOULOS says he has suffered countless indignities in his 12-year battle to build a microbrewery and wrest a sliver of the Greek beer market from the Dutch colossus, Heineken.

His tires have been slashed and his products vandalized by unknown parties, he says, and his brewery has received threatening phone calls. And he says he has had to endure regular taunts — you left Manhattan to start up a beer factory in northern Greece? — not to mention the pain of losing 5.3 million euros.

Bad as all that has been, nothing prepared him for this reality: He would be breaking the law if he tried to fulfill his latest — and, he thinks, greatest — entrepreneurial dream. It is to have his brewery produce and export bottles of a Snapple-like beverage made from herbal tea, which he is cultivating in the mountains that surround this lush pocket of the country.

An obscure edict requires that brewers in Greece produce beer — and nothing else. Mr. Politopoulos has spent the better part of the last year trying fruitlessly to persuade the Greek government to strike it. “It’s probably a law that goes back to King Otto,” said Mr. Politopoulos with a grim chuckle, referring to the Bavarian-born king of Greece who introduced beer to the country around more

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Virginia Wine Showcase - Another Festival During Valentines Weekend

We were miffed that not many Virginia wineries were participating in the Washington D.C. Wine & Food Festival and think we've discovered a clue. During the same weekend of February 12th-13th; the Virginia Wine Showcase is being held at the Westfields Marriott in Chantilly. Tickets are very reasonable $45 for a tasting; $20 for non-tasting; and children under 11 are free. Why not bring the kids and get a hotel room.

What to expect at the festival? There are currently 37 Virginia wineries planning to pour their wares - including a couple infants: Rosemont Vineyards and Winery and Annefield Vineyards. The wineries represent a large array of regional and grape variety that is making Virginia a popular wine region. There will also be plenty or wine and food seminars for foodies so you won't spend all your time at the tasting booths. And unlike the event in DC; all these seminars are included with the purchase of a ticket. Here's who's presenting:
  • Richard Rosendale, Executive Chef, Greenbrier Resort
  • Mamma Agata: Simple and Genuine Book Tour
  • Warren Brown of CakeLove and Love CafĂ©
  • Andrew Stover, Vino50 Selections
  • Executive Chef John Emerson, Wegmans Food Markets Inc.
  • Mary Schellhammer, Spice Rack Chocolates
  • Brandon Walsh, Hosted Wine Tasting, LLC
  • Chef Bernard Henry
  • Dorit Paz, Sababa Market
  • Chef Patrick Wilson, Culinary Institute of America
  • Jeffrey Mitchell, Frenchman's Cellar
  • James Ricciuti, Ricciuti's Restaurant
  • Carl Henrickson, Farm Wineries Council
  • Joe David, Author

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

12th Annual Washington D.C. International Wine & Food Festival

Its time once again for the Washington D.C. International Wine & Food Festival from February 10th through the 13th. And as usual the grand tasting will be held at the Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center during Saturday, February 12th and Sunday, February 13th from 2:00pm-6:00pm. There will be over 100 domestic and international wineries exhibiting, pouring more than 600 wines available for sample. Tickets vary and will increase by $10 after February 5th: Saturday only ($85), Sunday Only ($75), Two-Day Pass ($140). There will be plenty of events targeted towards foodies including Gourmet food booths sampling new products; a Food Pavilion at the GRAND TASTING showcases local restaurants; and The Washington Post's Chef Demo Stage features celebrity chefs. We are more interested in the wine selections which include some Virginia and Maryland wineries, as well as a contingent from the Finger Lakes, and several from the left coast. As for international wines, there will exhibits dedicated to New Zealand Winegrowers, Rhone Valley Wines, The Republic of Hungary, Wines of Don Quxiote's Spain, and Wines of South Africa. Let the sampling begin....

Deals For Deeds are offering tickets to the Washington DC International Wine and Food Festival for 33% off. The direct link is:

Friday, January 21, 2011

Beer Review Dude - Terrapin Hopzilla Double IPA

We are not the only outfit tasting Double IPAs or making beer videos. Check out Beer Review Dude and their collection of reviews including this one for the Terrapin Hopzilla Double IPA. Also, visit this social networking site over at Craft Beer Network.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bell's Hopslam Ale - Is It Worth the Hype and Price?

This past Friday, we drank for the first time, several glasses of Bell's Brewery's seasonal cult-classic Hopslam Ale. Most of my associates were very familiar with the beer and the restaurant, Fireworks Pizza, ran out that evening. A nearby music venue, Galaxy Hut, also exhausted their supply in one night. What makes this double-IPA so special? Well, it starts with "six different hop varietals added to the brew kettle & culminating with a massive dry-hop addition of Simcoe hops". Now, you would think this massive dose of hops would result in an overly bitter concoction, but no, it is balanced by sweet malt and a dose of honey. The beer's aroma is the most powerful we've experienced, and the flavor profile complex and spicy - reminiscent of of a Belgium Ale. Truly a great tasting beer; but worth the $20-$25 price per six-pack. Well considering that same evening we spent $7 for average tasting beers at the 9:30 Club; at $4 a beer - its a bargain. Yea, there is still some sticker shock when purchasing a case, but this isn't the type of beer to guzzle in an evening - its one to savior throughout the year - hopefully our case will last that long.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Forgotten Visit: Crushed Cellars - Purcellville Virginia

This evening while scanning through our wine cellar I came across the Crushed Cellars Seyval which we had purchased at a winery visit a couple weeks back.And sadly, we prompted forgot to publish a winery visit. Fortunately Dezel from MyVineSpot has all the details; I just remember that proprietor Bob Kalok offers one of the best Seyvals that we have tried in quite a while. Its made dry with nice acidity which worked well with the Thai rice and veges this evening. The wine also has flavor, which many Seyval wines lack. The same holds for the other two wines we tasted, a semi-dry Vidal and a Cabernet Sauvignon. We will be back soon - maybe this weekend to stock up on more Seyval and perhaps some farm fresh eggs.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell Unveils New Plan for Liquor Privatization

According to the Washington Post, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell will unveil a proposal Wednesday to close 332 state-owned liquor stores and replace them with 1,000 private retail outlets - a scaled-back version of a plan he's pushed for months to end Virginia's monopoly on the sale of distilled spirits.

Under McDonnell's liquor proposal, the state will continue to act as the wholesaler of liquor in Virginia, buying thousands of cases directly from distilleries and selling them at a profit to private retailers, who would then set prices for consumers.

Aides to the governor hope prices will fall because the state will cut the markup it applies to liquor prices from 69 percent to 50 percent.

The stores would be be sold off over an 18-month period that would start July 1.

McDonnell hired PFM, a national financial management company, at a cost of more than $75,000 to consider ways to privatize the state's stores without losing money after he did not have enough votes to hold a special session to take up the issue.

Licenses would be sold to the highest bidders and split among big-box stores, such as grocery stores and Wal-Mart; convenience stores and drugstores; package stores and wine stores; and small convenience stores.

A legislative study released in November showed McDonnell's original proposal may have overstated by tens of millions of dollars the amount of money Virginia could make from selling the entire system. His new figures came from PFM.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Wine Making Is as Old as Civilization

Here's another example to give to any temperance believer who thinks alcoholic beverages should be banned from society. And believe me these people are out there. This article describes the discovery of a 6,000 year old wine press - the oldest ever discovered - which shows that alcohol consumption is as old as mankind itself. The press was retrieved from a caveside cemetery in what is now southern Armenia and holds remnants of an ancient red grape. 'The press itself is a shallow clay basin about three feet (one meter) in diameter, surrounded by grape seeds and dried-out grape vines." Wonder if there were wine critics rating these wines, way back then.....

Thursday, January 6, 2011

CNN Understates Number of Wineries in Virginia by 13 Dozen

CNN's Jim Boulden needs to join; if he did, he would quickly realize that Virginia contains more than the two dozen he claims in this report regarding U.K. and Virginia sales. Heck, Florida has over two dozen wineries, as does Minnesota, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Iowa, Georgia, and many other states. For the record, Virginia currently contains 190 wineries.