In the heart of Sonoma Valley in California, the Russian River flows south through acres of highly sought-out vineyards. The Russian River Valley is an American Viticulture Area (AVA), or appellation, one of many sub-appellations within the broader North Coast appellation. An AVA is a geographical area of wine grape growing legally determined by the Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. The region became an official AVA in 1983, expanded its boundaries in 2005 and again in 2011, and now has more than 15,000 acres of vineyards, 200 grape growers, and 75 wineries. Many wineries in California and beyond produce wines from grapes sourced from this area.
A rum craft distillery has arrived in New Hampshire. Sea Hagg, owned by Heather Hughes and partner Ron Vars, became the only rum maker in the state when they opened last year. And Hughes has just won a award given to a handful of small businesses around the country under the auspices of SCORE, a division of the U.S. Small Business Administration. Sea Hagg’s flagship product is their Silver Rum; they now also make Amber, Peach, and Blueberry. The molasses used for the distillation comes from Louisiana, and the fruit used is local; the aging barrels are charred according to the company’s specs.
Both wine professionals and consumers agree that Italy’s wines are among the world’s finest, especially their big, bold reds. They are wines that exude class, diversity, and style. Italian reds are perfect companions to Italy’s outstanding cuisine and to our delicious Seacoast winter recipes.
Sometimes, a cocktail can be a meal in itself – or a dessert in itself. Seaglass Restaurant’s Winter Whoopie Martini lets you have your cake and drink it too. The blend of crème-y liqueurs include mint and chocolate, a pairing that goes particularly well during the holiday season. And the drink has the ultimate garnish – a seasonal peppermint candy whoopie pie made by former Chococoa Baking Company in Newburyport.
Alsatian wines are a line of fabulous primarily whites that are terrific accompaniments to holiday meals. Last month, I attended a wonderful dinner at Craigie on Main in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in which chef-owner Tony Maws created a tasting menu that perfectly complemented several different wines from Alsace.
I recently attended the Joy of Sake in New York City, the largest sake-tasting event held outside Japan, with over 350 sakes. There were examples of every brewing style from every region of the country. Categories included Junmai, Ginjo, and Daiginjo A and B. Tasting tables were decorated with linens and flowers; many sake bottles are works of art on their own. To really understand and appreciate sake, you should taste as many as possible. There are different grades from dry to sweet.