In case you haven’t been outside recently, it’s hot. I’m not just speaking on behalf of where we are, but the majority of the country is feeling exactly what I’m talking about every day. Many of us are experiencing 100 degree plus temperatures on a regular basis, and with it comes a sense of being overwhelmed by drink choices.
It’s too easy to reach for a cold domestic brew after 15 minutes in this heat, which inevitably lead to sweating through two shirts, and virtually passing out. Here are some recommendations for you that don’t start with ‘Bud’, or end in ‘Light’.
If there is on thing we have learned about serving wine, it’s that exploration (for the most part) died with Juan Ponce de Leon in 1521. “I know what I like” is a common phrase from many consumers. That’s not to say that knowing what one likes is a bad thing, but let’s face it, Napa isn’t the only place making wine. Hence, a need for the revival of exploration. This time, with better navigational tools.
For us, hot summertime weather means a break from Cabernet, Syrah/Shiraz, Zinfandel, and anything else that could be used as a club in the event a riot breaks out due to frost-bitten nerve endings during the winter months. It’s a well deserved hiatus for us and all of the abuser friendly wines we love so much. During the separation months, these varietals still see periodic visitation on rainy days, or cool(ish) evenings. In some cases, we get to visit them in the form of Rosés, which is nice. Speaking of Rosés, I feel the need to call men out briefly. It’s ok to drink pink wines. They’re not all sweet. They’re not White Zinfandel or White Merlots. And it by no means makes you look feminine. All you’re really doing is saying, ‘I have a sophisticated palate, and I don’t buy into stereotypes.’ The next time you’re at a wine tasting, give the pink one a go. You may be surprised.
That being said, here are some more heat friendly wines for you to enjoy. The first thing you’ll want to do is avoid heavy oaking. Sorry Cali Chards. Think White Burgundy (Chablis, Côte de Beaune) are great choices, or possibly Viognier from further south in Rhone. Try Sancerre, Alsacian Riesling, Pinot Gris, or Gewürztraminer. These are amazing choices this time of year. Looking for something a bit more crisp, and tropical? Perhaps more floral? How about Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, or some Mendoza Torrontes? If you’ve never heard of some of these, that’s okay. That’s why wine professionals exist. If you’re at a restaurant, ask your server or sommelier what they suggest. We still ask for recommendations when we go out. I frequently ask questions like, “what would you pair with 100 degree heat, a pulled muscle, and the shrimp scampi?” If someone can answer a question like that without looking at you like you’re clinically insane, drink what they recommend. They know what they’re doing. You will also find luck with Grüner Veltliner from Austria, and in a multitude of German Rieslings. Try to avoid a lot of sugar though. Lean towards the dry or Troken end of the spectrum. Don’t let me forget sparkling wine, or Champagne. A little bubbly on a hot day is always the right choice. Celebration or not, bubbles will make you smile. On that note, something a little fizzy that we find does the trick is Vinho Verde. They’re usually pretty inexpensive, and tasty.
If you can’t get over your winter Red kick, that’s okay too. Just back it off a notch. Just switch the regions around a bit. If you’re a Cab or Merlot drinker that only drinks Cali stuff, think Bordeaux for a change. If you’re a big Zinfandel drinker that loves the spiciness and high alcohol content the Zin carries, try going with a Spanish Garnacha, or Côtes du Rhône. You may find a new friend that you never knew existed. Tempranillo or Mencia may also be valid options. Malbec from Argentina or Cahors, France are quality picks for this time of year, though, I find myself avoiding them for the most part. Pinot drinker? Love California, or Oregon? Try Central Otago, New Zealand. More good options for Pinot fans would be a Beaujolais Cru, or a Dolcetto d’Alba. You’ll find a sense of home with these lighter style reds.
All of these wines are pretty easy to find. In most wine shops, and restaurants around the country, there is someone waiting for you to come in and just ask questions. That’s what we live for. We have answers, and it’s rewarding on both ends. We get to talk about wine, which we love to do, and you get to enjoy something new. Worst case scenario, just go online and check out wine.com, 2020wines.com, winelibrary.com, or any number of other online resources. This is, of course, if you cannot find it locally.
Good luck, stay cool, and have fun.
Hello Friends! It’s Friday, and we’re excited to announce that tomorrow night will be Texas Beer Night @ Rulis’ International Kitchen! We will be tasting 7 beers from Texas, eating delicious munchies prepared by Chef Rulis, and having an awesome time. These events are getting more fun every time we host them. We love, and appreciate your support. Thank you all for making these events such a huge success.
We will be kicking things off tomorrow night, Saturday April 10th, at 7pm. We have four beers from Real Ale Brewing Co. in Blanco, TX, 2 beers from Shiner, TX, as well as the classic Lone Star coming straight from Dallas. The event costs $20, and we will be serving all of the beers throughout the evening for $3 if you want to stick around. If you haven’t been to one of these events, what have you been doing with your life? You’re missing out. So, if you like fun, and beer, and Texas…we’ve got your plans for the weekend at Rulis’. See y’all there! Cheers!!!
Hello everyone! We had a great weekend, and a delicious Easter dinner with a brilliant 2006 Pinot Noir made by Ehren Jordan (previous winemaker of the year). We hope that all of you enjoyed your weekend, and that the new week, and beautiful weather are treating you well. Those of you that made it out for ‘Wines With Cool Labels’, thank you! We had a blast, and can’t wait for the next one.
That being said, we have an exciting announcement for you! As many of you already know, we will be having a Spanish winemaker meet & greet on May 5th at Rulis’ International Kitchen. Today, we sat down with Justin & Xabier to finalize the list of wines and winemakers that will be present at the event. We are proud to tell you about this exciting event, and want to let you know to clear your schedules for May 5th. This is going to be an absurd amount of fun based on the stories we heard about a lot of these winemakers, but we’ll let you find out for yourselves upon meeting them.
The final list of winemakers is as follows (in no particular order, and includes some of the wines we will taste from each of them):
1. Ruben Simon–Laxas- 2009 Albariño–Rias Biaxas, Spain
2. Alejandro Migeulez–2006 Abad Dom Bueno Mencía, and 2008 Abad Dom Bueno Godello–Bierzo, Spain (We love these wines!)
3. Paco Puerta–2008 Lorca Monastrell, Bullas, Spain
4. Rafael Cambra–2008 El Bon Homme, Cabernet Sauvignon, Monastrell–Valencia, Spain
5. Felipe Alvarez–2008 Milcampos Tempranillo–Ribera Del Duero, Spain
6. Jose Alberto Casajus–Casajus Ribera del Duero Vendimia Selecion 2006–Ribera Del Duero, Spain
7. Diego Ibañez–2004 Heras Cordon Reserva (Tempranillo, Mazuelo, Graciano)–Rioja, Spain
Just writing about this has me excited! Olena, Chef, and I have tasted all of these wines, and we promise you that this is a wonderful treat. As the date approaches, we will be able to release more information about the Tapas menu for the event. Please stay tuned, and confirm your intent to attend. I for one can’t wait to share a few drinks with these guys. Talk to you soon!
- El Zak
Hello everyone! Those of you who have stopped by the shop know that we’ve always got something going on. During April, we will be continuing that trend by hosting our Wine & Beer Events (check the Events Tab) every Saturday of the month! We have also started Thursday Wine Tastings every Thursday evening starting at 5pm. Stop by after work to try a few new wines, and maybe take a couple home with you. You’ll get to share your experience with the only two certified Sommeliers in El Paso, us!
In addition, we will be bringing in over 20 new labels over the course of the month, followed by a meet and greet with 8 Spanish Winemakers on May 5th. Details for that event will be posted the beginning of next week. Bottles from two of those winemakers are already on sale at the shop, with more to come after next week. Come out for dinner Wednesday through Saturday and take advantage of retail pricing on all wine. We also offer 50% the menu price on all beer to go.
See you at 318 N. Mesa Street. Cheers!!!
Zak & Olena
After my absurd mission to procure African Beer for my tasting event this past Saturday failed, I felt the need to tackle a new project. On Friday, one of our regular customers approached us with an idea to track down two bottles of each of the top 100 Wine Spectator wines of the year from 2009. This is a project I have considered tackling on my own, but now that it’s for someone else, I know it will get done.
The mission is simple (on paper). All we have to do is find two bottles of each wine on the top 100 list, and get them safely to our customer. He doesn’t care if the labels are pristine, because the only thing he really cares about is the juice inside the bottle. A question that pops up when discussing Wine Spectator ratings, or Parker ratings, or any other ratings for that matter is, “why do you rely on someone else to pick wines for you?” The answer is simple. Well, not really that simple, but nevertheless, here goes… The wine reviews are completed in a quiet room with no distractions, blind. The only details given are the varietal, appellation or region. Price and producer are not taken into account, so there is no bias imparted. For example, recently the 2007 Bordeaux vintage was tasted and rated by James Suckling. In the Pessac-Léognan category the Chateau Haut-Bailly Scored 91 points, the same score as Chateau Haut-Brion (one of the First Growth Chateaus from the 1855 Classification). The difference in these wines of course is in the price. The Chateau Haut-Bailly is $56 per bottle, whereas the Chateau Haut-Brion is $427 for a bottle. Oh, and the Chateau Haut-Bailly doesn’t come with a fancy classification that says that they make amazing wine. Scores are just a helpful guideline at best.
While points, and scores are important to a degree they are only in place to help potential buyers. They can be understood universally, and have proven to be an excellent selling tool. Ask anyone in Hong Kong (the leader in wine consumption in Asia) if you don’t believe in scores. In the 1990’s when the Asian market became a formidable market, and caused an inflationary effect, they were relying heavily on scores–specifically on those coming out of Bordeaux. My point is that whether or not you personally rely on scores, a ton of people do, and it has helped the wine industry grow into a $50billion a year powerhouse in the United States alone. So, why rely on other people’s scores and palates? The same reason you wear shorts and flip flops when the weatherman predicts that it will be 75 and sunny. You trust it to be true. The problem is that it ends up being 50 and rainy with 40 mile an hour winds when you’re wearing shorts and flip flops, and your palate disagrees with Robert Parker’s 96 point score on a Napa Cab. Then again, who knows? Those guys aren’t wrong all the time, are they?
That being said, I am excited for this project. I think it will be an interesting challenge for the Creative Juices team. I’ve begun researching, and have already found that for a couple out of the top 10 there will be a lot of digging involved. I will of course be in contact with our distributors to see which of these wines we can get, but for the rest I will be relying on a multitude of Google searches, phone calls, and road trips. I’d also like to be able to call your services to action. If you know of anyone (or if you are someone) in possession of some, or all of these spectacular wines–please let us know. We would like to take a couple off of your hands.
As this journey develops, we will be keeping you updated on our progress. Thank you for reading, and happy Monday!
We just had a terrific day and we hope so did you! Tomorrow, just to let you know, Killah Priest is performing at Rulis, we hope to see you there!
It is windy in El Paso today. I was walking, no – floating, to Rulis International for dinner today, and thinking how wonderful a glass of a Pinot Grigio would be. Or a glass of a Gruner Veltliner. Or a Dolcetto…
The wind was blowing at over 40 miles an hour and my nostrils were full of sand. All the city pigeons where hanging out on the library lawn facing the wind, showing off their aerodynamics skills. I was trying to hold on to the aviators on my face and bypass all the potentially unstable structures.
15 minutes later I was sitting at the bar with a glass of Pinot Grigio in my hand. Apparently, we finally opened a bottle that was just sitting around for a while. It is Solombra 2008 Fair Trade Certified Reserva Pinot Grigio, and I believe the chef’s father bought it at Sam’s Club for $3 on clearance :-). It drinks pretty darn well, and is absolutely perfect for this weather. I do know that the bottles sold out that day, but if you see this wine anywhere, it is a great, inexpensive and a straightforward wine. Cheers, and hope you guys are enjoying a better weather where you are!
Yesterday Zak and I were at a catered event at a local medical school. We had been at the establishment once before but this time were excited to notice that the attendees were drinking much more wine. Way to go, medical students! :-)
When we got back after a full day of work, all I wanted to do was drink a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Lucky, we had one. Even though I’ve been feeling a bit on the tired and maybe even a little on the ill side, there are few wines that can freshen me up in quite the same way that a Marlborough Sauv Blanc does. So I was sipping my wine and putting together a mental map of why I love wine so much. Hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it:
1. Wine forces me to slow down, it is a meditation in a glass. So often in the rush of the day we all forget to stop and smell the roses. However, when in the evening your Gewurztraminer smells of roses, that’s a bit difficult to ignore.
2. I never have to have the same wine twice. It is sometimes hard to find a beer label I haven’t seen or tried before, while liquor and I just shouldn’t mix, but as far as wine goes, I love knowing that if I drink the same wine twice, it is a choice. With so much variety out there, my quest for new combinations of flavors never has to stop.
3. Wine has a way of connecting people. I have met so many wonderful people thanks to a shared passion of wine. The most notable example – my dear hubby Zak. Moreover, so many of the dinner party conversations that I was a witness to were saved and steered out of a danger territory thanks to a bottle of wine someone had brought. How often do you see people storming out of a room after passionately discussing a Beaujolais Nouveau?
4. Each wine is a perfect sauce to some dish, you just have to find one. To quote a favorite chef: “Wine is a Sauce”. With this tip in mind, the food and wine pairing just seems that much less intimidating.
5. If you are obsessed with knowledge, wine is unlimited fountain of learning possibilities. I love knowing that no matter how much I know about wine today, tomorrow a new winery will form, a new grape will become popular, a new vintage harvest will prove to be of value, and some unheard of region will start making amazing wines.
6. Every sip has a story – about the people who made the wine, but also each bottle can have its own idea on what it should taste like. And if you look deeper yet, the wine will tell you a story about the establishment and the people behind the wine list.
7. Wine is alive. You can see a wine go through life stages – a young, awkward wine turns into a young adult, developed but sometimes lacking in complexity. A few years later, a wine will peak, showing all it has with the utmost grace and development. And then each wine declines, becoming mustier, leaker until it is finally rendered undrinkable.
8. Wine is always a surprise, no matter how much I know about the varietal, the region, or the winemaker. Each individual bottle of wine is a new expression of what with time becomes more and more familiar, but never boring.
10. Wine is a terrific travel guide, and an even better excuse to travel in the first place. If you haven’t visited a local winery or a vineyard yet, schedule a trip for the upcoming weekend, and see if you can find out for yourself how wine is a beautiful thing worth sharing with the people you love.
Ok everyone…after making over 100 phone calls to locations in 8 states, it’s official: African beer is just not possible to get without driving to San Diego to get 24 of the remaining 47 bottles of Tusker (Kenya) in the continental US.–The other 23 (that I could find) are in Washington D.C.
I tried to call in some favors from various cities that might have some African Beer available to them, but it turns out that my friends have legitimate jobs that don’t allow for ridiculous beer hunting projects that I assign to them. Sheesh!
The new title of our event is “Beers From 5 Continents Because Antarctica is too cold, and Africa has terrible distribution policies when it comes to United States.” We did our best for you, but it’s not looking as though beer from Africa is going to happen. Sorry everyone. We’ll make it up to you. See you tomorrow night! Cheers!