Some Interesting Beer Myths Blown to Pieces

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ice-cold-beer

Found a great article today that I wanted to share with our readers. It deals with beer myths such as; Does beer taste better when it’s served ice cold or served nearer ideal wine temperatures?

One of my favorite questions in this article, which we hear at the store often, involves canned vs. bottled beers – which tastes better? It’s akin to screw caps vs. corks for wine bottles. It’s really a common sense answer, but can you deal with it?

Lastly, the ubiquitous beer gut and healthy vs. unhealthy drink debates. What’s interesting here is the argument that red wines are actually a “healthy” drink and that beer is not. Both beer and wine have what are called polyphenols. In wines, they are known as resveretrol and are widely considered good for you. Care to guess which one actually has more polyphenols in them?

I love it when a good myth goes up in flames. So do many people or the TV show Myth Busters wouldn’t be nearly as popular as it is!

Click here to read the entire article at Men’s Health.


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Mother’s Day and Wine, What a Deal!

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Gift Basket 1Ah yes, the day of recognizing the person who gave you life! This modern holiday was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother in America. This sparked a campaign to make “Mother’s Day” a recognized holiday in the United States. Although celebrated in different ways, known by different names, and happening on different days, there is one universal goal for this holiday and that is to show your mother some love!

Why would I tell you this? Oh, that’s because Amazing Grapes employees recognize our mothers too and we thought of a fun gift idea that you could bring home to your mother on this special day!

One of the owners here makes wonderful and unique gift baskets that feature our wines in them as well. What better way to show your mother some love than a bottle of wine and cool little knick-knacks? What is more awesome is the owner has a website: www.omgbaskets.com where you can customize your gift basket with a different wine from our store and different little gifts if you’d like!

So come on in today to get your basket and check out the site if you are looking for something a little exclusive!

Until then, Happy Mother’s Day to all of our wonderful mothers! “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother” ~ Abraham Lincoln

 

Gift Basket 2        Gift Basket 3  Gift Basket 4


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Founders Brewing Launch’s Craft Beer Contest

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Founders Brewing

With the craft beer craze continuing to sweep the state of Michigan and summer approaching, Pure Michigan and Founders Brewing Co. have teamed up to give fans and craft beer enthusiasts a chance to pick a Founders beer style that best represents Pure Michigan.

The beer chosen by fans will be featured in the Founders tap room in downtown Grand Rapids throughout July as part of Michigan Craft Beer Month.

Starting today and running through Friday, May 3, fans can vote between the following three beer styles . . .

Click here to read the entire article at All About Beer Magazine.

Click here to try beers we can actually get in California!


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Dandelions for Dinner?

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Sure, they’re a headache in the yard, but with the proper preparation and ingredient pairings in the kitchen (bacon, garlic, maple syrup, etc.), dandelions can bring an assertive, delicious taste to a salad or pesto.

“But they’re weeds.”

My much better half is not, shall we say, “adventurous” when it comes to greens: A “real” salad is built around a wedge of iceberg or chopped romaine. Stewed collards are fine for New Year’s Eve, and sautéed spinach can make an occasional appearance at the dinner table. But that’s where the love ends. Forget arugula and radicchio, and don’t even think about frisee.
Dandelions are an assertive green, just ask any gardener who’s had to battle them on the front lawn or in cracks on the driveway. Unwanted, any greens are “weeds.”

Can you pair wine with dandelions? Yes you can! Young red wines work well with bitter greens, wild herbs, and olives.
Try the Frescobaldi 2011 Castiglioni Chianti, rated 90 points and under $10.00.

But have you ever bitten into a dandelion leaf? The flavor is tangy, even borderline bitter, with a definite texture. It’s an assertiveness that can work wonders in the kitchen, provided you know how to . . .

Click here to see read the original article at the LATimes.com.


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Spring is Here, Let’s Drink Beer!

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I’m not quite done ruffling through our large fridge of beer selections yet! I figured since it is now spring that it would be beneficial to know which beers would enhance this wonderful season! With the help of our beer buyer Daniel, I’ve highlighted some delicious beers we thought you’d enjoy!

trade winds tripelFirst up is the “Trade Winds Tripel” from the Bruery. This tripel yields at 8.1% alcohol by volume.  Its color is burnt orange with a creamiscle-colored head. The aroma you’d catch would be like oranges, yeast, vanilla, sugar and herbs. It is also carbonated, but not heavy or light, it’s just right. It delivers a vanilla-minty taste up front rather than the Thai basil, but it has a slight fresh basil aftertaste. You can catch orange marmalade with a slight hint of Thai spices like cardamom at the end. It has a classic tripel flavor in the background but it’s not heavy on the spices. Overall this is a complexly flavored but well balanced beer. It’s very elegant and definitely a good spring beverage!

 

sierra nevada bigfootNext is the “Sierra Nevada Bigfoot” Barleywine Style Ale. This American Barleywine has 9.6% alcohol by volume and is an award winning example of the English Barleywine style. It boasts a dense, fruity bouquet; an extremely rich, intense, bittersweet palate; and a deep, reddish-brown color. This ale is superbly balanced between an almost overpowering maltiness and a wonderfully bittersweet hoppiness.  Another good drink for this season!

The “Weihenstephaner Vitus” is a delectable Weizenbock. It has a hazy golden color with a head that is bright white and big. The aromas it gives off are coriander,Weihenstephaner Vitus lemon, and yeasty esters with a little bit of grain behind all this fruity smell. It starts off sweet with plenty of spice, coriander, mild pepper and clove. There’s an abundance of bubbly as well with a medium body. This beer isn’t too rich like many complex Belgians, but has the just the perfect amount of fruit coupled with the bubbles. Something delicious for the warmer days in spring!

Ah yes, the “La Folie” from New Belgium Brewing. This Flanders Oud Bruin is a very delicious sour brown ale. This beer pours a dark mahogany with some nice reddish hues. It has a tan head that fades almost immediately and leaves a fair amount of lacing. It smells of sweet dark fruits with notes of cherry, currants and fig, with a musty aroma as well. It also hints of alcohol, faint oak barrel characters, caramel/toffee and tart lactic acidity. It is puckeringly sour with notes of tart cherry and sour citrus. You can even get apple cider, vinegar, sweet dark malts and oak. It is on the lighter side of being medium bodied, but for all those beer lovers who enjoy the puckering sourness, this beer is definitely for you!

la folie Finally is the “Tank 7” Farmhouse Ale. This beer gives a bold golden straw colored body. There’s a lot of foam and a moderate amount of lacing. It smells of pepper, sour lemon and clove. There is also some light grass and straw tones as well. You can definitely taste the lemon and some earthy pear. There is some spice, clove and pepper from the yeast. There is a light mouth-feel with moderate carbonation and it’s very thin and crisp. As it warms, it takes on a more honeyed dimension. Another good beer to enhance the weather ahead!

Now that I’ve got you prepared for spring, head on down to Amazing Grapes and pick up a couple of these beers. You’ll be glad you’ve bought them when the weather warms up and you are in need of beers that will be refreshing and delightful to the last drop! As for food, these beers pair well with mature cheeses andtank 7 meats like roasted chicken.

 

Until then, leave with a fun quote of the day, “Beer is the best damn drink in the world” ~ Jack Nicholson. Yes Jack, it is!


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It’s Belgian Style!

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What’s a wonderful beer selection without some Belgian in it! The next variety that seems to sell a lot is our Belgian-Style beers, so here’s some cool information on the carefully hand-selected beers from Daniel I’ll be discussing.

Let’s start off with the “Trappistes Rochefort  8”.  This Belgian strong dark ale yields 9.20% in alcohol by volume. This beer pours a deep mahogany with intense carbonation present in the pour. Your nose will be greeted with sweet caramel malts, dark fruits like figs, raisins and prunes. It has a very well balanced aftertaste that subtly hides the alcohol. A very wonderful sipping beer that deserves to be savored!

The “Saison Dupont” is an awesome farmhouse ale. It has a nice golden body with a head over three fingers in width that will leave a nice lacing on the glass. You’ll smell citrus, floral, yeast, and a grassy barn yard aroma with orange rind. You’ll have a slight peppery taste at the end but with a hint of citrus still there.  This beer would be great for the hotter months to come!

“Cuvee Des Jacobins Rouge” is a unique Flanders red ale. This beer is a copper-ruby color with a small tan head that fades quickly to a ring of foam. You’ll smell tart, earth and sourness. As the beer warms you’ll also smell hay. The sourness of the initial taste will be consumed by a bright, sharp red cherry flavor. With how tart it is, you can taste hints of raspberry or blackberry. As the lactic sourness slowly fades it will leave behind a dry, grainy flavor on the roof of the mouth. Overall this beer is for people who enjoy the fruity and tart tastes blended together.

Our “Chimay Speciale Cent Cinquante” tripel at 10% alcohol by volume is definitely something a Belgian beer lover should try. This special edition is a full bodied and distinctive beer developed within the abbey to celebrate and honor the 150th anniversary of the brewery. It’s produced with 100% natural ingredients and its pale golden robe and champagne sparkle is topped by a rich white head of foam. The distinctive bouquet evokes the rich, fruity and complex notes of the Chimay yeast in harmony with a delicate spicy note and the fragrance of fresh noble hops. It will also deliver a crisp hop finish that will delight the palate.

Lastly is the “Cuvee Van De Keizer Blauw” Belgian strong dark ale hailing at 11% alcohol by volume. You’ll be greeted with a murky chestnut body. The smell is a little woody, but contains a super sweet scent of molasses, candied walnuts and caramel.  You’ll taste orange bitters and nutmeg as well. This is a medium-thickness beer with fairly high, but very creamy carbonation. Overall, this beer is very well balanced and a tad sweet. But for a strong dark ale, what more could you want when it comes to an array of fruits, spice and a bit of caramel?

We usually carry these Belgian ales so you should head on down and pick some up. These beers will also pair well with many meat or cheese dishes, so you can also dine in our store and grab the “Popeye’s Pizza” or the “Salumi” entrees during your visit!

Until then, stay tuned for our next variety of beers and leave with a fun quote of the day, “Everybody has to believe in something…I believe I’ll have another drink” ~ W.C. Fields.

Belgian Beers

 


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Show Some Love for our Beer Selection too!

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Everyone knows Amazing Grapes sells wine but not many know we also have an awesome variety of craft beer as well! I wanted to take a break from my wine blogging to focus on some of our beers, and hey, why not start with one of our most popular selling varieties; IPAS!

Because we have a large range of IPA’s I had our “beer guy”, Daniel Cuppels, hand me some that were worthy of being highlighted.

Pliny the Elder The first beer he came up with was “Pliny the Elder”.  It’s brewed with Amarillo, Centennial, CTZ and Simcoe hops. Copper in color and 8% in alcohol by volume, it is well-balanced with malt, hops and alcohol, slightly bitter with a fresh hop aroma of floral, citrus and pine. But this beer is best enjoyed fresh, hence the reason for the brewery making it in such a limited supply. But there’s a cool story behind this name. In 2000, a friend of the brewery, Vic Kralj (who owns the Bistro in Hayward, California), decided to host his first-ever Double IPA festival. He invited 10 breweries, 6 of which (including Russian River) had to brew something unique since they didn’t have anything that would fall into this beer category. One of the brewers had an idea for a recipe, but not a name. Thus, from a long time in research, books and brainstorming, the brewery came up with “Pliny the Elder”. The person they named it after (Pliny) lived in the first century (23 to 79 AD). According to history, he and his colleagues either created the botanical name or at least wrote about “Lupus Salictarius” or “hops”, which is currently known as “Humulus Lupulus”. Cool stuff, I know! Oh, and you should try our “Beef on Weck” with this beer. Way awesome.

Next up is “Stone Enjoy by IPA”. What’s so awesome about this beer is that while freshness is a key component of many beers-especially big, citrusy, floral IPAs, Stone has taken it further in this IPA. They specifically brewed it not to last. Yea! They not only went to the extensive lengths to ensure you are getting this beer in your hands within an extraordinarily short window, they made sure that the Enjoy By date isn’t randomly etched in tiny text somewhere on the label to be overlooked by all but the most attentive retailers and consumers. Their enjoy_by_110912biggest reason was to send a clear message with the name of their beer that there is no better time than right now to enjoy this delicious IPA. This would also pair really well with our “BBQ Chicken Quesadilla”.

tumblr_meiq88NAJS1r88g5fo1_500 How about some “Ballast Point Sculpin”? This delicious beer showcases bright flavors and aromas of apricot, peach, mango and lemon. The lighter body also brings out the crispness of the hops. This ale won a gold medal at the World Beer Cup in 2010 in the International Pale Ale category. The fish on the label is a cool addition because the Sculpin fish has poisonous spikes on its fins that can give a strong sting. Ironically, the meat from the Sculpin is considered some of the tastiest. Something that has a sting but tastes great, sounds like a Ballast Point India Pale Ale! Oh, and try it with our “Sesame-Crusted Seared Ahi”.

Now for the “Knee Deep Simtra” triple IPA. Your eyes will be greeted by a clear dark amber color. You’ll then smell big citrus hops infused with orange, tangerine, pineapple, grapefruit and mango. There is some caramel and toffee notes in the background as well. The first thing you taste is the citrus followed by the fruits I mentioned a moment ago. There are some malt notes that will give way to a touch of sweetness but that soon diminishes as the finish is really bitter. The mouth-feel would be considered as a medium-body with moderate carbonation. Definitely a big seller and it would go well with our “Popeye’s Pizza”.

sculpin-ipa-3833 Now last but not least is the “Deviant Dale’s” by Oskar Blues Brewery. This beer was born at the crossroads in a juke joint. It has foreboding aromas of citrus, grapefruit rind and piney resins with a copper-ball-of-fire color and inscrutable finish. This beer won the 2011 GABF (Great American Beer Festival) Silver Medal in the American IPA Category. The liquid is medium-full bodied and sticky on the tongue, very resinous. The taste is juicy grapefruit, only moderately bitter. There is a solid backbone that keeps the bitterness in check. The aftertaste is fresh lemon zest instead of hop bitterness and the alcoholic presence won’t really show much until the beer warms. Another good buy for sure and definitely something tha6942307630_ef98aefcfc_zt would pair well with our “Pastrami Sliders”!

Now these are just five of the beers we can carry, so you should head on in and check out our full selection. And once you get here and find yourself staring at our wide range of unique beers and seem lost, don’t worry, all is indeed not lost. Just ask for Daniel, the “beer guy”. You ask it and he knows it. He’ll have you leaving with great recommendations that you’ll keep coming back for.

Until then…here’s my fun quote of the day. “Milk is for babies. When you grow up you have to drink beer.” ~Arnold Schwarzenegger (now say that quote in his accent…)


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Happy Hour, where?

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The-Prohibition-Era-39-HotelI hope you don’t think by this title that I was going to tell you where the best happy hours in town are! Even if I did it would of course be at Amazing Grapes! Anyways…I thought it would be kind of fun to talk about where in the heck the term “happy hour” came from! I was actually shocked myself when I researched it, so I’d like to share my knowledge with you.

According to the web (oh the famous place of knowledge), the term “happy hour” comes from the sailors in the United States Navy circa 1920’s. In this era, they used the term to describe the period of time during the day scheduled for entertainment. Sailors would use this time to relive the stresses of their lives on ships by consuming a few drinks and watching boxing or wrestling matches. Some of the sailors would participate in these matches as a way to relax their minds of the sea-life. “Happy” was the word they referred to as the feeling they got during this free time and the state of mind they entered after a few drinks.

As for the United States citizens back on land, they had to get their alcohol illegally as Prohibition was in full effect during this era. Renegade drinkers now had to find their alcohol illegally, and the most popular of places were at speakeasies (an illegal drinking establishment). For many people, the best time to go to a speakeasy was in the afternoon just before dinner. The fact that people could not get alcohol with their dinner anymore enticed individuals to stop in and have moonshine before a meal. Some people made this a ritual which thus, paved the way for future generations to enjoy happy hours as we know them today.

But how did this term become popular? It wasn’t a household expression until the 1960’s. What changed this was a 1959 article about the military that featured in The Saturday Evening Post, which described the sailor entertainment period which was dubbed as “happy hour”.

Not long after the mainstream media picked up on this term, bars and restaurants started to feature these specialty hours on certain days. But, like all new things, there was a backlash in the 1980’s. There were issues with happy hours because many thought drunken driving would increase due to the low priced drinks being offered early in the day.

Because of the scare of drunk driving and binge drinking from happy hour, many states in the U.S. today have regulations against happy hour. For example, Massachusetts was one of the first states to implement a state-wide ban on happy hours in 1984. Also in 1984, the U.S. military abolished happy hours at military base clubs. In 2011 the Utah State Legislature passed a ban on happy hours that went into effect on January 1st, 2012.

On the brighter side, Pennsylvania extended the period of time for happy hour from two hours to four hours in July 2011. And in June 2012, happy hour became legal in Kansas after aindex 26 year ban!

Pretty interesting stuff, I know! With that said I hope you know about our great happy hours! They are from 4-6pm Wednesday through Saturday. What’s unique is that we welcomed happy hour on a Saturday, which not many people do; so it’s more of a reason for you to come on down and enjoy $5 starters, select glasses of wine and draft beers and no corkage fees! But, please drink responsibly!

Until then, “Surely, it’s 5:00 somewhere…” ~ anonymous


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Part Two: Magic in the Menu

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photo(7)Ready for the sequel? Don’t worry; this sequel is just as amazing as the first one! And what makes this just as awesome? The main courses on the menu of course! Be prepared, because as many of you had your taste buds dying for the starters, the introduction to the main dishes will leave your taste buds begging you to come in and try them right away.

So, let’s dive in shall we? Up first is our “Roasted Beet Salad”. Now many people aren’t fond of beets, but believe me when I tell you that this entrée is fabulous, and with Gerri as the chef you know you can’t go wrong! She takes baby spinach and arugula, goat cheese, pistachios and mixes them together with a fresh herb-orange vinaigrette dressing. Yum!

Next is the “Classis Caesar’s Salad”. You can never go wrong with one of these! She also gives you the choice of adding chicken so you can get some protein in your delicious and timeless salad.

How do I put into words how awesome the “Truffle Mac & Cheese” is? As a cheese lover, this is just a dream. Gerri takes pasta shells that are enrobed in a creamy béchamel sauce and tops it with crunchy panko. This is definitely worth trying!

Another classic on the menu is our “Pastrami Sliders”. If you like Pastrami then you’ll be more than happy with this entrée. Gerri presents this dish using thin sliced Pastrami and Swiss cheese.

Next is a meal from her heart. “Beef on Weck” (from Buffalo, New York). This entrée has roast beef that lies in a salty Kummelweck roll with au jus, horseradish and chips. Definitely a taste from the big apple and an experience you’ll enjoy right here!

Now for a small tour on the Italian-inspired side. “The Penne a la Vodka Sauce ”. This delicious menu item has a rosy sauce made with San Marzano style tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, vodka and cream. Can we say…WOW!

Part two of Italy is the ever-awesome “Pasta Romano”. One of my favorites, you’ll be delighted by the presentation of the dish as well as the taste! It has appetizing chicken, sphoto(1)undried tomatoes, roasted red peppers and arugula in a light chicken-lemon-garlic sauce. Your taste buds will love you for enjoying this plate!

And last but definitely not least is the “Popeye’s Pizza”. This probably is my favorite dish on the menu. This pizza sits on very fresh homemade dough. Its sauce is spinach-basil pesto and its toppings are pancetta, mozzarella and olive oil drizzle. Seriously so good!

Well, now that I have your taste buds pleading and begging for you to bring yourself in, go and make a reservation!

Bye for now, and leave with my ever-fun quotes. “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well” ~ Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own.

Oh…and we updated our happy hour by extending it to Saturdays as well! If you don’t know about our happy hours here’s the information below:

Wednesday through Saturday

4-6pm

$5 starters, select wines and draft beers


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The Magic in the Menu

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Even though I haven’t been working at this wonderful place for very long, I feel as though I should expand upon the one thing I am asked at least once a day; and that is if we serve food at our store. I can totally see where the customer comes from in asking because; given our name, “Amazing Grapes Wine Store” it wouldn’t be obvious that we have more than just wine. But in the heart of our store, we do in fact serve food! Our kitchen is always open Wednesday through Saturday from 4pm-10pm. But it isn’t “bar” food as many people might assume given that we do have a bar. We have a full menu including appetizers, main courses and of course, delectable desserts. Oh and I forgot, yes we have wine and beer on the menu as well!

What I wanted to do, besides answer the ever-asking question, was to shine a light on what we offer and who is the master-mind behind the food that many of our loyal customers enjoy pairing their drinks with. So, let’s begin with a little background on our wonderful executive chef, Gerri.  She was raised a New York girl which already makes me understand why she has such a passion with the foods she chooses for the menu. Those New Yorkers, they sure know how to cook and they take pride in their ingredients! But her ever-growing experience also comes from the culinary program she completed at Saddleback College. From there she was able to snag an internship at the famous Hanna’s Restaurant, which is also located in RSM.

After she finished her internship she was given the title as Executive Chef at our Amazing Grapes Wine Store and as many will know, she brought our menu up to what it is today; delicious and ever-impressive. She would have to say that her signature dish here is the Figgy Cheese. Along with the variety of concoctions she creates, her ultimate favorite item to cook is soup. Hence our Soup de Jour starter! Gerri realized that as she expanded the menu it attracted more people and she needed extra help. She was able to hire more kitchen staff, and was also given the opportunity to sponsor interns from a couple colleges. Her internship program gave a few people the chance to experience kitchen life in the real world. They were also given the chance to create a special, have it sampled in the menu and be named after them too!

Now let’s go into the magic that is Gerri, the menu of course! I’ll just begin with the “Starters”, that way you can keep coming back to read more on the other menu items in the future. First off is the “Smoky Edamame”. As custom, they are chilled but she created her own smoked salt and yes, it gives a new meaning to Edamame! Her “House Hummus” is just spectacular. She doesn’t like the boring hummus that is usually brought to parties or found in a grocery store with only a spoonful of flavoring. No, she takes it to a new level with this hummus. She has it mixed with roasted red pepper and chipotle for a nice zing. To top it off, its served with warm seasoned naan bread. The “Brie-Apricot Bites” are another hit. The apricot-rosemary compote gives extreme flavor to the baguette slices. To make it even better, the warm brie and chopped pistachios provide it that little extra “umph” that perfects this starter. The “Soup de Jour” always changes and because this is Gerri’s favorite thing to cook, you know you will not be disappointed with her creation of the day!

Oh and the “Tortured Tomato Crostini” has a cool story behind this starter which makes for an even better taste. While Gerri was finishing her program at Saddleback, her professor

 encouraged her to participate in a chicken dish competition. The competition called for a side of vegetables as well. While Gerri was contemplating this idea, her professor told her that her school had never participated in this and that she would be the first if she so chose. Of course she did, so she and her professor were coming up with vegetable ideas, and she ended up choosing tomatoes.

Not just any tomatoes, but ones that were to be blistered on a skillet. While that sounds all fine and dandy she still had to come up with a presentable menu for her dish and a name. With her close friends at hand with the skills of compiling such a menu her friend fell upon the idea of “Tortured Tomatoes”. How perfect! Thus, began the name of this starter. Oh, and she placed third in the competition! Ah yes, I can’t forget to say what is in this starter. She takes warm tomato confit, ricotta cheese and places them artfully on the crostini. She then tops if off with a balsamic reduction and basil. It’s heavenly.

Lastly is the “Figgy Cheese”. This menu item is a customer favorite and like I said earlier, a chef favorite. She uses rosemary-infused goat cheese and tops it with black Mission figs and fig jam. The crackers pair well with the cheese and provide a wonderful taste.

I hope you find these starters to be mouth-watering and that you will have an idea of which one you want to try the next time you are in. I also hope you found it helpful to get to know our chef a little bit because when your dish arrives, it won’t just be a plate of food, it will be a plate of food that was given some major TLC!

Until then, leave with a fun quote of the day, “Food for the body is not enough. There must be food for the soul” ~ Dorothy Day


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