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Category Archives: wine

About that Wine…

The first stop my friend Kim and I made on our Scattered Saturday adventures was Valley Wine and Liquor in Herkimer for a wine tasting of Swedish Hill Winery.  I had promised Kim some sweet wines, because I have been to Swedish Hill in Romulus and tasted sweet wines there.  Well, what a surprise to me, they were sampling two dry, one sweet and one semi.

We tried the Mooscato first, which was sweet.  I absolutely love the name, which probably comes as no surprise to anyone.  I liked the wine too, even though I don’t usually drink the sweet ones.  I liked the Vidal Blanc, the semi dry, better.  I am not real familiar with the vidal blanc grape, so I may have to try a few more.  I bought a bottle of Swedish Hill’s to start with.  I did not take any tasting notes on the Dry Riesling or Dry Rose, but I remember liking them.

After tasting, Kim and I walked around looking at other wines.  I  love to look at the different labels.  Yes, I confess sometimes I choose a wine based on the cool label.  I’ve found some good wines that way.  And if you don’t like them to drink, you can always cook with them.  Waste not want not.

So, how was this for a blog post on a Monday?  I bet you thought I was going to do a Monday Mental Meanderings and never mention again the cool stuff I did on Saturday.  Oh, OK, I’m the one that thought that.  Only now I can’t come up with a good conclusion.  It’s Monday.


Wine on a Friday

It’s a late, lame post on Lame Post Friday.  Too bad I’ve already used that as a headline (or similar words; I can’t be bothered to look back through past posts).  In lieu of my usual random observations and half-baked philosophy, I shall give a brief shout-out to two businesses, one local one not too far away.  I went to a wine tasting of Thousand Islands Winery at Valley Wine and Liquor in Herkimer, NY.

Thousand Islands Winery is located in Alexandria Bay, NY.  I have been there a few times, and I love it.  I have also sampled their wines at various venues in this area, farmers markets, craft fairs and wine tasting events.  They are extremely popular and with good reason.  They offer a variety of wines to please different palates.  Additionally, the people pouring are always knowledgeable, friendly and helpful.  I enjoyed a great conversation with a very nice young man as I waiting for my friend, Kim, who was also coming to taste wine.

I tried waiting for Kim to sample something, but at last I succumbed to temptation and tried the Gewurztraminer (there should be two dots over the u).  It was tasty, but I like drier wines better, so I asked for a little Merlot.  Yum!  Then Kim showed up.  She forgave me for starting without her.  She likes sweet wines and greatly enjoyed the Niagara.  We both liked the Cocoa Island, a dessert wine that combines their Cabernet Sauvignon with chocolate.

We decided we would really like to visit the winery, which Kim has never been to.  I said there were several other wineries in the area that we could visit, so perhaps we should get rooms somewhere.  The young man doing the tasting said Thousand Islands Winery had cabins for rent.  We said, “Let’s go!!!”  I’ll write a blog post about it if we do.

Valley Wine and Liquor has tastings almost every week.  For a complete listing, you can visit their Facebook page.

Working on my Oenophile Cred

Last Friday after adventuring for most of the afternoon, I stopped by Vintage Spirits in Herkimer, NY for their Easter wine tasting.   As regular readers know, I have no real oenophile cred (or even a clear idea of how to pronounce “oenophile”).  However, I love wine and I like giving a shout-out to a local business.

Tastings at Vintage Spirits are always educational for me, because Bronson, who owns Vintage Spirits, is very knowledgeable.   I suppose if I go to enough tastings there, I will eventually gain a few oenophile creds myself.  If I don’t drink too much wine and forget everything I hear (not at the tasting, of course, but, you know, if I buy a couple of bottles).

I started with Le Petit Rouviere Rose 2015 from Provence, France. I told Bronson how Steven and I often make the joke:   If I have a little red left in my glass but Steven is opening a bottle of white, I tell him to mix it and we’ll make Rose.  Of course that is not really how it is done.  Bronson explained how the wine skins are left in for a certain length of time to make the color.  I’m afraid I don’t remember the full explanation (yes, I purchased a couple of bottles; why do you ask?).

I though the Rose was tasty and would make a good summer wine.  Of course I am quite ready to sit out on my deck with a glass of wine, but so far the Mohawk Valley weather has not been cooperative.

Next I tried Heron Hill Dry Riesling 2013 from Keuka Lake, NY.  I like dry riesling and I am a huge fan of New York State wines (what a surprise), so I had high hopes for this one.  I was not disappointed.  It earned my ultimate accolade of “yummy.”  I made a further note that it was “New Yorky.”  I can’t describe exactly what I mean by “New Yorky.”  It’s one of those “I know it when I taste it” things.  This riesling was not entirely dry, and the description said it paired well with ham, so I felt confident in purchasing a bottle to bring to my parents’ house for Easter dinner.

I tried all the reds except the Fulkerson Red Zeppelin from Seneca Lake, NY.  I knew it was sweet, and I think I have tried it before.

In addition to the riesling, I picked up a bottle of Barefoot Pinot Noir, which is a very tasty wine, especially for the price.  Mom was cooking a rolled roast beef as well as the ham, so I thought some people might prefer a red.

Steven was working till six.  Thinking he had worked all day and would like a treat, I walked to his place of employment and brought him to the wine tasting, which ran till seven.  The nice people at Vintage Spirits did not mind that I tasted twice.  After Steven had tried everything, we purchased a bottle of the Rose.  Steven liked it, and I found I liked it even better on the second try.  Now if we could only get some good deck-sitting weather.

Vintage Spirits is located at 246 Mohawk St., Herkimer, NY.  Phone number is 315-866-6800.  You can also Like them on Facebook.


But I Think My Attitude is Improving

I am sipping my first taste of wine in 2016.  Isn’t that nice?  I had not meant to write a blog post about it.  I went running earlier with the specific thought that I could do a Running Commentary post.  Before making my blog post, however, I ate dinner, read some more of a book (I must NEVER pick up fiction unless I can just sit there and read the whole thing; I become obsessed) and of course dithered (I always say: go with your strengths).  This being Bad Attituesday, I don’t think my writing muscles are going to cooperate.

Regular readers may remember that I have been doing without wine for 30 days.  It started as an experiment to see if it had any effect on my headaches, then it morphed into “Well if I can’t go 30 days without wine, maybe I have a problem,” and then, well,  I just got stubborn.  But I made it 30 days, so I felt a little pleased with myself and thought I deserved a glass of dry red.

I went to Ilion Wine and Spirits after work to get my bottle. This is handily located next to The Medicine Shoppe, where I had to pick up a prescription.  So, you see, I give shout-outs to two local businesses as I sip.  When I walked into the liquor store, I immediately saw some bottles of Chianti on sale.  I had purchased one of these bottles prior to Christmas.  Steven drank the whole thing himself during my dry 30 days (not all at once, of course; he’s no lush either).

First I looked all around to see if there was something I’d like better. I hesitated over a bottle of Barefoot Pinot Noir.  When I was at church two Sundays ago, during the sermon the priest told a story involving Barefoot Pinot Noir.  “That’s a good wine,” I told my sister.  Imagine, me having something in common with a priest.  I decided to stick with the Chianti, but I may go back for some Pinot this weekend.

It is Chianti Superiore made by Banfi of Montalcino, Italy.  It was imported by Banfi Vintners of Old Brookville, NY.  So you see I am being international and buying New York State.  It’s pretty tasty wine, too.

Ilion Wine and Spirits is located at 10 E. Main St., Ilion, NY, phone number 315-894-8142.  The Medicine Shoppe is at 10 Central Ave., phone number 315-894-7283.  Don’t let the different streets fool you; they are just a parking lot away from each other. It is most convenient.


Where I Got the Wine

It was a whole week ago that I went to Rustic Ridge Winery as part of my day of adventures with Cheryl and Penny, and I still have not drunk the bottle wine I bought there. Aren’t you proud of me?  Or are you wondering what I was thinking?  But let me write a blog post about it…

It was a beautiful drive to Burlington Flats with views of mountains covered with color.  The color was perhaps a little past peak but there were still plenty of reds, yellows and oranges to delight the eye.  I know, I know, forget the scenery, get to the wine.

My plan was to purchase a bottle of either Untamed Red or Untamed White for our, wait for it, Halloweddinganniversaryweenary Party next weekend.  The label of the bottle has two big, mean-looking eyes.  I am buying several Halloween-ish-looking bottles for the party and thought this would be a good addition.

Therefore the Untamed White was the first wine I tasted.  It was yummy, but I already knew that.  However, I had not tried the Untamed Red.  I liked the bouquet.  It was good, but I liked the white better.  Of course I also tasted a few other wines while I was there.

The Lazy Days Dry Rose was nice.  The Cabernet Sauvignon ’11 was very dry.  I tried the Merlot this time, which I had not tried before.  Steven is more of a Merlot fan than I.  The man doing the pouring also gave us a taste of the Native Port, a dessert wine. it did taste very desserty.

The fellow doing the pouring was friendly and knowledgeable.  I foolishly did not ask his name, but I knew he was important, because when I talked about how I wanted the bottle with the scary eyeballs, he said he designed all the labels on the wine bottles.  One day when I get a fancy camera or phone that can add photos to the blog, I will return there and post pictures of some of the bottles.  Ah, good, another reason to return.

In addition to the wine, I found a Rustic Ridge Winery shot glass to purchase for Steven.  He collects shot glasses, although he very rarely drinks a shot.  On our way to pay, I saw a Mohawk Valley Living magazine and opened it to the article I had written about Rustic Ridge.

“Hey, that’s the guy that just did our pouring,” Penny said, pointing to the picture of Rick Bennett and his mother.

We really enjoyed our tasting, and I AM going to save the Untamed White for the party.  Rustic Ridge Winery is located at 2805 St. Hwy 80, Burlington Flats, NY, phone number 607-965-0626. Their website is



Tasty and Different Wines

Regular readers know I am something of an oenophile (I pronounce it oh-nee-oh-file, to give you an idea of my level of wine knowledge and snobbishness) (just to be extra clear: not high). I am always delighted to increase my knowledge and discover new wines when Vintage Spirits holds a wine tasting. Bronson, who usually does the pouring, is very knowledgeable, and he has good taste in wine.

The first wine I tasted was a Tangley Oaks Chardonnay from 2012. This is an unoaked (my computer seems to think unoaked is not a word; must not be an oenophile) California wine, which makes it an unusual California Chardonnay. I was pleased to hear this for two reasons: that Chardonnay is aged in oak or stainless and it makes a difference in the taste is one of my few bits of wine-making knowledge. Also, I like unoaked Chardonnay. I liked this one. I noted that it was tasty, light and bright.

I moved on to Laurent Miguel Chardonnay-Viognier 2013. It is 65% Chardonnay, 35% Viognier. I pronounced it yummy (my highest praise) and different. This is where I would like to educate my palate a little more, because I would like to be able to articulate how it was different. Bronson said the viognier gives the wine an apricot taste. I have not eaten an apricot in years (and the ones I ate then were dehydrated) so I had to take his word on that. Still, I enjoyed the differentness (I guess that’s not a word, but it says what I mean better than “difference”) (or should I say more betterly?).

Next I tasted CK Mondavi Blond Five 2013, another California wine. The five are Chardonnay, Moscato, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. It was sweeter that I usually like but tasty. I enjoyed that a lot of different flavors are present. Once again, I must educate my palate to describe it more clearly. For now I can only say, it tasted like a lot was going on.

The last white was Rosemont Estate Traminer-Riesling 2013. This Australian wine is 83% Gewurztraminer, 17% Riesling. It has a definite crispness to it. I pronounced it tasty and a little different as well. Once again a little sweet for my tastes, but I liked it.

The first red on the list was Lost Vineyard Rosso, an Italian wine. Sangiovese is the grape used. It is made in Italy and imported by a Rochester company, in case like me you’re a sucker for a New York State connection. I found it tasty but plain. Another taster pronounced it too light. Bronson agreed that it did not have a whole lot of depth. Steven liked it, as did other tasters who prefer a light wine.

I felt there was a little more to the Melini Chianti Riserva DOCG 2010. It also had the coolest shaped bottle. I pronounced this one tasty as well. Bronson warned me that the Estancia Reserve GSM 2012 was a little sweeter (he knows I like dry), but I liked it. It’s made from three grapes, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre.

The last wine had a cool-looking bare tree on the label. It was Old Soul Zinfandel 2012, made from old vines. Bronson told us that vines must be 25 years old to be considered old vines (that was my new bit of wine knowledge for the day). Some California vines date back to the 1860s. During the gold rush, Italian immigrants brought vines of “Primitivo,” which became Zinfandel. I thought the wine smelled sweet but did not taste overly sweet. Still, it was my least favorite wine of the day (although I did like that tree on the label). Tasters who preferred a sweet wine liked it best.

Vintage Spirits is located at 246 Mohawk St., Herkimer, NY. Phone number is 315-866-6800. They are open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday 12 to 6 p.m. For more information you can visit their website at or you can Like their Facebook page. You can also get on a email list to receive notifications of future tastings. Perhaps I’ll see you there.

A Rustic Taste

One of the stops on Steven’s and my adventurous Friday was Rustic Ridge Winery in Burlington Flats, NY. I am, of course, a longtime lover of wine and of wineries, so I was delighted to find another good one.

We had the map of the Cooperstown Beverage Trail. I would like to make all the stops on the trail one day, but since we had other adventures in mind on Friday, I thought one winery would be good. It was not hard to find, 2805 St. Hwy 80. We pulled into the driveway and felt pleased with ourselves for not getting lost or, even more likely, driving right by the place.

Steven right away saw a nice labrador-looking dog out behind the place. I read somewhere that most of the wineries have dogs. They help keep certain pests away from the vineyard. Also, dogs are nice. Steven tried to get the dog to come over and say hello, but he declined. I said he was probably on guard duty.

Inside, the cabin looked, appropriately enough, rustic. Country music was playing. We were the only tasters there at the time. We could have paid $3 for five tastes, but opted to pay $6 and keep the glasses. We like to add to our collection of wine glasses.

For whites we tried the Chardonnay and the Untamed White. Two Chardonnays were available. I chose the one that was not oak aged. I liked it. The Untamed White had a cool label with evil eyes. Rick Bennett, the owner who was doing our tasting, said it was comparable to Pinot Grigio. We liked it but preferred the Chardonnay.

For reds we both tried the ’09 Pinot Noir and the Cabernet Franc. Steven tried the Merlot and I went for the Lemberger ’09. I’m not as familiar with lemberger as I am with merlot, so I thought to try something different. We liked everything we tried but only purchased the Chardonnay, giving us a good reason to return at a later time.

Before making our purchase we browsed the shop for wine accessories and t-shirts. Steven especially liked one that read, “New York is for wine; Napa is for auto parts.” Of course, we’ve had some California wines that we liked perfectly well, but I enjoyed the play on words.

Incidentally, the dog came in while we were tasting and Steven petted him. I was busy taking tasting notes, but on our way out I petted him, too. I’m sure fellow dog lovers will be happy to hear we got to meet the nice dog.

We were very pleased with our stop. I hope to bring some of my wine other tasting buddies with me next time. For more information on Rustic Ridge Winery you can call 607-965-0626. Their website is, and they have a Facebook page.

Serenity Now

I just realized I never gave a shout-out to any of the Finger Lakes wineries I visited in April. What an omission! I shall start with my favorite: Serenity Vineyards.

Serenity is located at 930 Davy Rd. in Penn Yann, NY. Right nearby is Seneca Shore Wineries. When we found out Serenity offers dry wines, most of our group opted to skip ahead to that one. My sister Diane and I stayed, one of our designated drivers also remaining (insert smart remark of your choice about our not being sweet and/or having dry senses of humor).

The tasting room is part of a large warehouse. We could see large steel vats and huge wooden barrels, so I knew they would have plenty of wine for us to taste. Music by Billie Holiday was playing, so there were all kinds of things for me to like about the place.

A gentleman named Mike poured for us. He was familiar with all the wines and told us what he liked to eat with them. I liked that, because I don’t know much about pairings (although I do know the truism of “white with chicken, red with beef” is NOT always true) (um, I guess that’s why it’s a trueISM and not a truth).

We started with a 2011 Dry Riesling. It was very tart, fruity but dry. Mike said it went well with creamy stuff, like Alfredo.

Then we went to an ’06 Pinot Noir. Mike said it was cool in ’06, making the wine light, soft and chillable. I agreed that it was very light, what I would call a good summer wine. The ’07 Pinot Noir, in contrast, was vinted in a hotter, drier season. That one was Mike’s favorite. I found it tasty but not something I would crave.

The 2011 Cab Franc Mike called a “quintessential steak wine.” I could taste the light, peppery finish, which is unusual for me because in general my palate is not that sophisticated (you see, I admit it). This was my favorite so far.

The 2011 Mirth, one of their most popular wines, is a 50/50 blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Regular readers may remember that I like blends, and I certainly liked this one. Alas, I did not make a note if I liked it better than the Cab Franc. I suppose I’d better make my way back to the Finger Lakes for another taste.

I told Mike I tend not to pair wine with food; I like to sip a wine all on its own. He said he preferred to pair it and let the tastes influence each other. I’ll have to try that. It may be good for more blog posts.

Diane told Mike I wrote a blog and would probably write about Serenity Vineyards. He invited us to Like their Facebook page and to share a link to the blog when I wrote about them. I Liked their page right away. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to write the post.

Wine Not?

Friday I attended a wine tasting at Vintage Spirits in Herkimer, NY.

And here is my usual disclaimer that this is not a wine blog and I am far from a knowledgeable oenophile (I pronounce it oh-nee-oh-file). But I did take notes, and I thought it might be fun to write about what I tried.

Tastings at Vintage Spirits are always fun, because Bronson IS a knowledgeable oenophile and can tell you all about what you’re tasting. I also like to interact with the other customers who are tasting, comparing opinions and making silly jokes.

I started out with the Cesari Rose Bardolino Chiaretto Classico 2013. I’m not really familiar with roses. Sometimes if I’m switching from red wine to white of an evening, I suggest not rinsing the glass and making it be rose. That is a silly joke, of course, but it relates to what I learned about rose on Friday. In Europe, to call a wine rose, it must be made in the classic method: red grapes are used with the skins on from 20 minutes to two hours, then the skins are removed. They do NOT blend red and white wine together, as is allowed in the United States (yeah, we’re rebels in this country).

The Cesari is a classic European rose. I found it had a little sweetness to it and thought it a good summer wine. Another lady there found it too dry, but I think my tastes run very dry.

Next I tried the Rock Brook Chardonnay 2011, which I declared yummy (regular readers may recall that this is my ultimate accolade). I find I have been liking more Chardonnays in recent years. In general I prefer those aged in stainless to the ones aged in oak (my one bit of real oh-nee-oh-file knowledge) (ooh, but now I know the rose thing). This one was lightly oaked, I think. It was also an excellent price, so I purchased a bottle.

Next up was the Stone Fruit Reisling 2012 from the Pfatlz region of Germany. I found it sweet for me. I thought I might like it as a spritzer, which I make with seltzer water and fresh lemon. Chat de Manissey cotes du Rhone 2012 grew on me. I wasn’t too impressed with the first sip, then it got better. I’ll have to buy a bottle some time to check the effects of a full pour (and if I don’t like it, I can always cook with it).

My other favorite of the day was the Sarmento Irreverente 2010 from the Dao Region of Portugal. This is made from four different Touriga grape varieties, which is the local grape in Portugal. As usual, I love a good blend.

I also liked the Dreaming Tree crush 2011, which is 66% Merlot and 33% Zinfandel. I thought, what’s not to like? I finished my tastings with Naked Grape Pinot Noir, an unoaked wine. I figure with a name that includes the word “naked” this will be a fun wine to serve at a party.

I do enjoy tasting wines and mean to try to expand my wine-describing vocabulary beyond “yummy.” And if I learn a little bit more each time, perhaps one day I will be a knowledgeable oenophile.

A Sip for Silly Me

I am so silly. I completely forgot to write about the wine tasting I attended at Vintage Spirits in Herkimer, NY last Friday, March 21. Luckily I still have my notes.

The tasting began at 4 p.m. Since I usually arrive home from work about ten to four, I thought it would be an easy matter to run a couple of errands and arrive at Vintage Spirits at the crack of four. Of course I mistimed myself and got there early, but Bronson was almost ready to go, so I did not have long to wait.

The first thing I tasted was a Chardonnay by CK Mondavi, from California. I don’t always like Chardonnays; I find them too buttery. I tend to like French ones over California. I learned that is because the French Chardonnays are usually aged in stainless steel, while the California ones are aged in oak. There, I got out my one bit of wine knowledge.

Perhaps I should just mention for the benefit of new readers (if any) that I am not exactly a oenophile (in fact, I like to pronounce it oh-nee-oh-file). My highest accolade for a wine is “yummy.” And I hardly ever taste “notes” of anything, which knowledgeable descriptions of wine always include.

But getting back to the CK Mondavi Chardonnay, I liked it. It was crisp. I wrote about it, “This is my favorite so far. Oh wait, it’s the first one I tried.” (See, I even get silly in my notes to myself.)

The other white I tasted was Swedish Hill Doobie Blues White. I have been to the Swedish Hill Winery in the Finger Lakes (I LOVE the Finger Lakes) (in fact, I’ll be going there next week, as I may have mentioned in this blog), so I’ve probably tried it before but did not recall it as one of my favorites. Bronson described it “like a sweet Chardonnay.” I actually liked it. Sometimes a sweet white is nice over ice on a hot summer day.

As I was tasting and chatting with Bronson, other customers came up for a taste. They would usually taste one wine, say thank you and be on their way. I felt a little lushy, being the only one to taste more than one kind. At other tastings, there have been people who tasted all the wines. I guess they were all getting there later.

Moving on to the reds, I tried two from Tuscany: Caparzo Toscana 2011 and Barone Ricasoli “Brolio” Chianti Classico 2011. The Toscana is a blend but with 85% Sangiovese. I pronounced it very nice. The Chianti was the driest Bronson offered. I liked that one, too.

I also tried a Desert Wine Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 from Washington State. Cabernet Sauvignon is one of my favorite flavors (it’s fun to say and fun to drink), so I was pretty sure I’d like it. This one is 4% Cab Franc. It reached my ultimate accolade of yummy. I also tasted notes of pepper. Score! Without even reading it on the sheet Bronson had describing the wines! So I definitely bought a bottle of that.

I also bought a bottle of the CK Mondavi Chardonnay, after trying just another sip of it. And I helped another customer who tasted one wine. She said she almost never bought wine, because she would buy something she didn’t like and it would go to waste. Both Bronson and I encouraged her to attend wine tastings, to find wines she liked.

“And if you don’t like a wine you bought,” I said, “you can always use it to cook with.” A lady at another liquor store told me that once.

“You can do that?”

“Sure, and if you wait too long and it goes to vinegar, you can use it in salad dressing. That doesn’t usually happen to my wines.” In the interests of full disclosure.

It was a fun time. After writing about it, I am more than ever looking forward to my family’s Finger Lakes trip next weekend. Did I say something about dithering over it? Silly me!

Vintage Spirits is located at 246 Mohawk St., Herkimer, NY. Phone number 315-866-6800. They are open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday 12 to 6 p.m.