Near West Side Beer and Wine Musings

ImageAs the holidays settle around us like so many drifted leaves (or snowflakes) we usually find ourselves looking for tasty tipples for sharing.  Perhaps you find yourself doing the same.  After all, part of what makes the holidays sacred is the sharing of food and drink with those we love.  Here at the Near West Side we have lots of good eats for the table and good ingredients for the kitchen.  Our desire to be a one-stop shop for you means we have much to offer in the way of beverages too.  Here’s a quick look at some items that are relatively new and seasonally savvy:

First let’s talk about bubbly.  The winter holidays, from early December through Valentine’s Day, are all about the bubbles.  And with good reason—ounce for ounce there’s more good cheer (or romance) in a bottle of sparkling wine than in any other beverage known to humanity. 

It’s even a favorite at the North Pole, where Mrs. Claus doles out “shift drinks” of Champagne to elf workers as they leave Santa’s Toy Factory every night. This year’s bubblies at the Near West Side are Rotari Brut and Rotari Brut Rose, both made properly, from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and refermented in the bottle. Also available are the Pinord Reynal wines from Spain, including their delicious and surprising sparkling red wine.  All of these bubblies are for sale at just $9.99/bottle.

Le Lapin Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, or Multiplicity (a blended red)--This is the “second label” of Rabbit Ridge Winery.  This brand is a trip back to their roots as a producer of ripe, juicy red wines of great value.  These wines are all $7.99 a bottle and you’ll be surprised at how good they are.

Caligiore “Staccato” Malbec/Cabernet—One of our recent additions to the organic selection, this wine has been difficult to keep in stock.  It’s a great blend that is both cocktail and food friendly and is a tremendous value at $8.99/bottle.  For your holiday cavorting and carousing, this is one of your better options.

Morgan Cotes du Crow’s Syrah/Grenache Mendocino—I’ve always loved the wines from Morgan Winery, more so now that they have been committed to sustainable farming practices for over a decade.  The problem has been the upward creeping of price points over the last few years.  Now they have a delicious bottling that showcases the quality and purity of fruit that have made Morgan famous, and at a price that will sell at the grocery store ($17.99/bottle).  Bring this wine to the party when you want something with a bit more stuffing to it!  Or enjoy it with the roast beast (or beets) at your holiday feast!

Gran Verano Cabernet Sauvignon or Sauvignon Blanc—Got a lot of thirsty revelers coming over?  Or just interested in good wine responsibly packaged?  In our quest to offer our wine shoppers super fine value and a lighter (packaging) footprint we have found another excellent line of 3 liter box wines.  These wines are varietally correct, food friendly, and downright tasty.  And they are only $22.99 for a 3 liter box.  That nets out to $5.75/bottle!  (Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus)

Also look for the wines of d’Arenberg to be arriving here at the Near West Side later this week.  The Stump Jump Shiraz just made it onto Wine Spectator’s top 100 list for 2009.  It and its brothers and sisters (Grenache-Shiraz-Mourvedre, Verdelho, and Sticky Chardonnay) will all be $11.99/bottle. I’ll leave it to you folks to puzzle out which of those wines are brothers and which are sisters!

Please also keep in mind that we have great deals on a very limited supply of Riedel Wine Series crystal stemware.  Loose stems are $8.99 each and 4 packs are $29.99 each.  These make great gifts for the wine buff in your life!

Final wine note: We have acquired a wine chiller here at the Near West Side and will soon have it set up right in the wine department so that those of you who need to get a bottle of wine down to proper drinking temperature in a jiffy can do so.  This should be in place by the weekend.

Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the seasonal beers we have brought in this year for your enjoyment during and after the holidays.  Winter seems to be the “honey” season for beer (that means the good season, not “honey, will you bring me a beer?”).  Many of the world’s craft brewers save their best (and sturdiest) efforts for the cooler months.  Work your way through the following selections this winter and you are likely to stay warm and cheery:

Anchor Brewing Merry Christmas Happy New Year
Rogue Santa’s Reserve
Sierra Nevada Celebration (and remember, Bigfoot will be coming soon!)
Bell’s Winter White
Bell’s Christmas Ale
Mendocino Imperial IPA
Breckenridge Christmas
Upland Winter Warmer
Affligem Noel

Whatever your holiday plans, please remember to cherish the time spent together at the table and in the living room with your friends and loved ones and please enjoy your tipples responsibly (because, after all, Santa is still watching).

Jason Hill, wine buyer.

ps: In case you are wondering, I just made up the part about the elves and the Champagne.