Creative Juices Wine Blog

Summertime, and the pairing’s easy.

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.

Cheers!

-Zak

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Wines That Will Put You In The Mood

Posted in Announcements, rulis international kitchen, wine, Wine Tasting by CreativeJuicesWine on April 27, 2010

On Saturday, May 1st at Rulis’ International Kitchen, Creative Juices will be hostingWines That Will Put You in the Mood.’ We censored the title, but you get the idea. We will be serving six (6) wines that are silky smooth, and will excite your palate to no end. Come with someone special, or by yourself to this sensual in-mouth experience hosted by the most attractive Sommeliers in the business: Creative Juices. We promise you will leave satisfied.

The event starts at 6:30pm, and as always, there will be a give-away bottle at the end of the event. This is going to be a fun event, and we plan to enjoy drinks with you well into the evening, after the event has concluded. For group reservations call 915.541.9990. Rulis’ International Kitchen is located at 318 N. Mesa Street, El Paso, TX 79901 in the historic Cortez Building. See you there!

Cheers!

Zak & Olena

Spanish Winemaker Meet & Greet Announcement

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!

Cheers!

– El Zak

Wine Tasting Reminder

Posted in Announcements, Aragon, Beer, Bierzo, Spain, Texas, wine, wine shop, Wine Tasting by CreativeJuicesWine on March 31, 2010

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

How Racial Discrimination Changed This Wine Blog…

Posted in Texas, wine, wine shop, Wine Tasting by CreativeJuicesWine on March 22, 2010

Let me begin by saying sorry for the dramatic title, but as you read this blog post, hopefully you will understand.

Those of you who follow our blog know us to be a couple of wine loving individuals that are generally upbeat, and always passionate about sharing our love of the grape with others. Despite being trained wine professionals with accreditation from two well-respected wine institutions, we have a very laid-back approach to wine. Wine shouldn’t be intimidating to anyone, yet for many reasons, it is. A lot of what I have noticed through reading several wine blogs (including ours) is that the content is pretty bland. In many cases, I have found that wine blogs are misleading, and create an undesirable image of the Wine World.

Recently, Olena and I have been discussing how to improve the content of our blog to better serve you. Rather than do the same thing that many wine bloggers are already doing, we want the content we write and put on video to be entertaining, and informational. This is not to say that all wine bloggers are doing it wrong, it is just that we have a unique situation being a married couple who happen to be Sommeliers. Why not showcase it?

After several conversations about this topic, we have decided to be honest with ourselves. What’s the point of leaving out details? We want you to understand who we are, and what we are all about. We want to share with you our everyday trials and tribulations that come with making a wine business bloom in a market that is barely budding in terms of wine consumption. We want our blog to become a behind the scenes look into what our end of the Wine Biz is all about. Being the only two Certified Sommeliers in El Paso (a city of more than 600,000 people) sounds, and looks great on paper, but it comes with a daunting uphill climb that serves as a reminder that we have to work harder. We are trying to educate the #1 Bud Light drinking city in the Country about wine. Needless to say, we’ve had easier times.

To catch any newcomers up to speed, we recently took over the wine program in a friend’s restaurant in downtown El Paso, TX. We are currently carrying about 70 labels, and plan to grow our selection to over 100 by mid-summer. Rather than our customers paying astronomical restaurant wine prices, we offer retail pricing with the option to consume on or off premise. This is an innovative way to generate a larger interest in wine, without intimidating prices (which are often ridiculously excessive). In addition, we host Wine Socials every other Saturday at the restaurant where we informally educate people on wine regions, varietals, etc. under the helpful guidelines of a tasting. The response for this has been phenomenal, and we have been rather pleased with the turnouts. That brings us to why I titled this blog post what I did…

This past Saturday was our “How do you pronounce that?” Wine Social. We were tasting a collection of exciting varietals from all over the globe that people seem to have trouble pronouncing. Going into the evening, we were excited simply because the varietals we planned to taste, also happen to be delicious.

For me, everything changed when a party of three showed up an hour late to the tasting (which is no big deal) and sat down in the bar area where we were hosting the event. From the moment the group walked in, they had an air about them that put me off. Being in the service industry, this is not an uncommon occurrence. They appeared to be well-dressed, well-groomed, and that was all I knew of them.

As I welcomed them to the event, the lone female member of the group stared at me with a furled brow, and impatiently waited for me to stop talking. The man to her left blankly glared up at me with a disappointed, bored, annoyed gaze. The other man in the group just stared at the table, and didn’t acknowledge me in the least. I thanked them for coming out to the event, and asked if they had any questions. They all just sort of shrugged, and chuckled to themselves. I didn’t pay much attention to it (there was a fairly evident language barrier) smiled, and excused myself.  As I walked away, I began to feel as though it may be of little use to prepare their glassware for the tasting. I knew they weren’t going to go through with it. I did it anyway, and while I was fetching their glasses, a fourth person joined the group. As soon as she sat down, a conversation between her and the first woman began. I know when someone is talking about me, and in this case, there was no attempt to hide that the topic of conversation was me. Because the continued glares, and disapproving looks continued to come my way, I casually paid attention to what was being said. The words that came out of woman #1’s mouth disappointed, and cut through me, leaving me with a bitter taste in my mouth. While looking at the man to her left, she said, “I don’t want to do this. They’re White.”

Moments later, Olena told me as she was returning the glassware to the bar, “they have decided not to take part in the tasting.” She went on to tell me that the man (who was staring at the table earlier) informed her, “We don’t want to do this. I already know a lot about wine. I know what I like. I like Cabernet.” Number one, we weren’t tasting a Cabernet that night, and number two, it turns out that the “How do you pronounce that? Wine Social would have benefited him after all. Cabernet is not pronounced, “Cahb-air-NET”.  As Olena finished relaying that information, all I could say was, “I know.”

I generally don’t take too many things seriously, and I feel as though I’m pretty hard to offend. However, the events of Saturday night have really stuck with me these past couple of days. I have been kind of down on myself, and El Paso in general to be perfectly honest. I’ve been trying to break out of this funk, and it has proven to be a little bit more difficult than expected. We’re often the only ‘white people’ in the room, but until now, I haven’t thought about it.

To the people who I feel are ruining the beauty of what wine should be about by painting a picture of elitism, I leave you with a quote:

“In Europe we thought of wine as something as healthy and normal as food and also a great giver of happiness and well-being and delight. Drinking wine was not a snobbism nor a sign of sophistication nor a cult; it was as natural as eating and to me as necessary.” – Ernest Hemingway

Please share any similar stories you may have. Thank you for reading.

Cheers!

Zak

How do you pronounce that?… Wine 101 Social

Posted in wine, wine shop, Wine Tasting by CreativeJuicesWine on March 19, 2010

We will be tasting a Grüner Veltliner,  Vinho Verde, Gewurztraminer, Crémant de Loire, a Texan Carignan Mourvédre Blend as well as a Tokaji. We will be talking about the grapes, the land and the tastes of all the wines, as well as providing you with Tapas pairing options. The event costs $25 and all bottles are available at retail. We will discount all case orders. See you there!

Cheers!

Creative Juices Wine Show Episode 11: Primaterra Winery

Posted in Italy, Pinot Grigio, rulis international kitchen, Sangiovese, Texas, Veneto, wine, Wine Reviews, wine shop, Wine Tasting by CreativeJuicesWine on March 17, 2010

On Episode 11 of the Creative Juices Wine Show, we taste two wines from the Primaterra Winery in Italy, and receive a phone call from the Mexican Consulate…Enjoy the show! Cheers!!!

Zak & Olena

Creative Juices Wine Show Episode 10: Wine Serving 101

Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, California, rulis international kitchen, Texas, wine, Wine Reviews, wine shop, Wine Tasting by CreativeJuicesWine on March 16, 2010

This is the best way to order a bottle of wine in a restaurant whilst wearing a ‘Members Only’ jacket. During Episode 10 we show how to properly serve a bottle of wine, but have a bit of fun with it. Enjoy the show! Cheers!!!

Zak & Olena

Creative Juices Wine Show Episode 9: How to drink wine like a pro

Posted in Argentina, Malbec, Mendoza, Texas, wine, wine shop, Wine Tasting by CreativeJuicesWine on March 16, 2010

Hello friends. During Episode 9, we teach their guest, Josue, how to taste wine like a pro. Enjoy the show! Cheers!!!

Zak & Olena

Creative Juices Wine Show: Episode 8

Posted in California, Napa Valley, Pinot Noir, rulis international kitchen, wine, Wine Reviews, wine shop, Wine Tasting by CreativeJuicesWine on March 13, 2010

After a short hiatus from the Creative Juices Wine Show, we have returned in a new location, with a much more appealing ‘set’.  In Episode 8, we taste a 2008 Thomas Henry Pinot Noir with special guest Chef Rulis. Cheers!!!

Zak & Olena