Wine and beer reviews in Eagle County |

Wine and beer reviews in Eagle County

Daily Staff Reports
Vail CO, Colorado
Theo Stroomer/Vail DailyDomaine Andre Brunel Cotes du Rhone is 85 percent grenache and 15 percent syrah.

One of my favorite things about picking out wines to review each week is asking the local wine experts to pair a wine with a dinner I’m planning. In this case, a creamy penne pasta with red and yellow peppers, mushrooms and chicken. And I wanted red wine. Dan Mahan at Beaver Liquors in Avon wrinkled his nose, thumb under his chin, forefinger tapping his nose while he “thought with his palate.”

“Aha,” he said as he picked up this bottle of French red, “I think this will just about do it.”

The red rhone wine hails from the vast wine region in southeast France is a combination of 85 percent grenache and 15 percent syrah. The wine is slightly spicy with ripe fruit flavors. Not only was it good with my penne dish, it complimented a creamy, slightly spicy pomodoro sauce made with tomatoes, garlic, crushed Chile flakes and fresh basil a few nights later. All in all this wine is extremely food friendly. Cotes du Rhone’s in general are known to pair especially well with stews, roasts, chicken, bean dishes such as cassoulet and hearty vegetable dishes.

” Caramie Schnell, High Life Editor

Word to the wise ” this sake needs and deserves to be drunk cold. When I tried to rush it, and poured a lukewarm taster, the saline flavor in this cloudy, white sake was a little to prevalent. I tried it cold however, and the sake was smooth and tasted much better. There’s a creamy, almost nutty nose and though I expected the sake to be a little sweet because the label refers to the profile as ricey/fruity, it was more dry. There is a hint of fresh fruit flavors though ” especially banana. In all, this sake is mellow and easy to drink.

Though I tried it sans food, sweeter sakes are supposed to pair well with creamy dishes. Sakes that are higher in acidity, like this one, are supposed to stand up well to oily fish or tempura. Warm sake drinkers beware, Dan Mahan at Beaver Liquors explained that heating sake (called Kanzake) is most often a way people mask the flavors of a poorly made, low grade product. Another thing I was unaware of until a quick little sake tutorial: Seimaibual refers to the degree of rice that’s been polished before brewing. This sake, which is 70 percent, means that the rice has been milled so only 70 percent of the rice kernel remains. Generally the higher the rate of milling, the cleaner, more refined and fragrant the flavor of the sake.

Though this sake has a similar alcohol content to wine (14.9 percent) some people claim it will give you less of a hangover compared to vino, likely because sake has fewer congeners, which is the byproduct of fermentation and has been shown to cause headaches.

” Caramie Schnell, High Life Editor

“‘Tis a privilege to live in Colorado.”

That slogan used to adorn the front page of The Denver Post every day, but our fair state’s beer drinkers are especially privileged with breweries around the state doing good work every day.

This example of Colorado brewers’ craft proclaims its flavor is based on “chocolate, black and crystal malts, balanced with a combination of American and English hops.”

Precious self-description aside, Northstar is heavy, almost chewy, but not in an obnoxious way, and smooth, smooth, smooth, with none of the bitterness heavy beers can sometimes have.

Make no mistake, though, this is heavy-duty stuff. Thanks to the happy coincidence of a sale at Avon Liquors, I happened to have some Guinness Draught in the house when this bottle of Northstar came home. The Guinness is like light beer by comparison.

Which brings up today’s trivia questions: What’s the difference between a porter and a stout, and what the heck does the “imperial” tag mean, anyway?

Porters are ales, and evolved from stouts. All stouts will pass the “I can’t see through it” test, while porters can come in a variety of colors, from tawny brown to new-moon-on-a-starless-night black. “Imperial,” which is usually applied to stouts, IPAs and porters, means a beer that’s been kicked up a notch, usually thanks to more and darker malt in the mash.

Technical elements aside, we’re not yet done with winter, the best time to enjoy dark beers, and Northstar is a darn fine way for Colorado beer drinkers to enjoy a rich, seasonal beer.

” Scott N. Miller

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