Cape Gazette
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Wine

Prudent buyers can restock cellars at discount pricing

By John McDonald | Jan 06, 2014

Some of you may have sworn off “likker” as a new year's resolution. For those of us who have been there, done that and who have a modicum of self-restraint with the key to the cellar, here’s a bit of advice. Typically, the next month is the nadir of the “whiskey peddlers” season. Prudent buyers can often restock their cellars at discount pricing. Keep a sharp eye out for bargains, especially in the sparkler markets. Now is usually a good time to lay in your sparklers for the coming year. This is especially true if you can afford to purchase by the case. There is usually a handsome discount for doing so. I’ve already seen some 91-point Champagne blanc de blanc NV advertised for $35.

Regarding notes on Sherry, I forgot to mention a famous quote by an acquaintance from New York named Sunny, who said, “The failure to eat something while drinking sherry is often why people don't instantly ‘get’ sherry.” Sherry is without doubt at the top of the food wine chain.

Sampled some Speakeasy Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey recently. While I’m not much on whiskey anymore, this was delicious. A lovely aromatic bouquet of caramel highlighted with vanilla and coffee and some floral notes led to a very complex palate of apple, citrus and caramel with hints of pie spice . Finishes long and smoothly with just a touch of alcohol. Label claims it is aged over four years, no color or flavor added and is 94.4 proof. Priced less than $30/qt.

I’ve been doing a great deal of beer surveying lately. Trying to remain “au courant” dontcha know. It was interesting for me to learn that good ole USA took 71 places on the best 100 in the world listing. Ten of those listed were Delaware breweries. Dogfish 90 Minute IPA was No. 21. I also learned that worldwide, the favorite beer type was imperial stout, by a wide margin.

So far, the top American Pale Ale has been Zombie Dust from Three Floyds Brewing and Brew Pub in Indiana, rated 4.63/5. Delaware’s best is Ironbound from Iron Hill Brewery at 3.84. For American IPA, Fuzzy Baby Ducks got the highest rating at 4.50; Sculpin IPA got 4.42 and the most voters rated. Dogfish Head 90 Minute got a nice write-up. Double IPAs best: Russian River Pliny the Younger (600 reviews) and second best with Pliny the Elder (2,263) The Elder was also chosen the best beer on the planet by Beer Advocate panels. Dogfish took 15th but it also had the most reviewers by a very wide margin, at 3,998. You can bet you will read more on this as I work my way through the listings.

Aside from the onerous task of tasting many beers and the long and frequent walks to the facilities that requires, the best resources I’ve found, to date, have been by Larry Koestler. Lots of charts and info on polling and separated by states. You can look here: http://larrykoestler.com/2012/07/20/the-top-rated-beer-advocate-beers-by-state/. The short clip at the end will make old fogies like me LOL. The links on the right side of the page pretty much capture all you would ever wish to know about the subject. The second best and close runner-up as a resource was Beer Advocate.

On a separate note, I found this session from First We Feast, by Jonathan Cristaldi, titled “How to drink at a wine bar” to include excellent advice It is a 5-15-minute read depending on how fast your computer changes pages but well worth the time: http://firstwefeast.com/drink/how-to-drink-at-a-wine-bar/. One area well covered is a pet peeve of mine on temperature. A partial quote, “Why pay $12-$15 per glass if the wine isn’t good enough to show at the correct serving temp?” The article is chock-full of such advice including the best places to sit.

In closing, I would like to wish all the absolute best in 2014. I’m hoping you stay well and all of your realistic wishes materialize. Happy New Year!

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