Open that Bottle!

Open That Bottle Night is February 24th! 

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While maybe not as well-known of a holiday as "National Margarita Day" (which was also this week, February 22. If you didn't celebrate, belated celebrations are always acceptable!), Open That Bottle Night will soon become one of your favorite nights of the year. 

Dorothy J. Gaiter, author of The Wall Street Journal's wine column, "Tastings," from 1998 to 2010  created  the annual "Open That Bottle Night" celebration of wine and friendship. 

In her words, "John and I invented Open That Bottle Night to provide an impetus for people to enjoy a wine they had been keeping for a special occasion that never arrived. Weddings, births, anniversaries, all manner of special milestones had come but those corks remained intact. We knew this happened because readers told us about bottles like that and we have many ourselves.
While we urge people to open them as often as possible, and we try to do that because no one is promised tomorrow, there are still some bottles that we just haven’t brought ourselves to open. Some are rather young, but special to us, still. The point is to open these gems with someone you care about and celebrate the memories that are in that bottle. Make them the occasion. Recognizing that sometimes it takes a village to do something difficult, we set a date, the last Saturday in February, for this global celebration of friendship, love and wine. This year, it’s Feb. 24th.

The hard part is choosing the wine. If it’s old and may have sediment, you’ll want to stand it up a couple days before Saturday the 24th so the sediment will settle in the bottom of the bottle. Have a back-up wine handy in case your first choice is irretrievably bad (and even then, don’t rush to throw it out. You’d be surprised how some old wines can pull themselves together by the next day).

It's not all about old and collectables. Some people use OTBN as a reason to finally buy a wine they’ve been curious about for some time.

Talk about the wine, why it’s special to you, and savor a little of it without food. Give it a minute alone, give it its due. And last, enjoy the wine for what it is, not what it might someday be or might once have been."

If you're either looking to buy a special bottle to celebrate or wondering which bottle from you existing collection you should open, we have some suggestions. 

Celebrations large and small (and really, why not just celebrate existence?) deserve champagne, and the 1997 Champagne Salon is really starting to drink at its peak.  

You can't go wrong with a Burgundy. The 2006 vintage of red Burgundy is drinking really nicely and 2013 vintage for white Burgundy will surprise you with their finesse.

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Much like Burgundy, Barolo has a reputation for excellence. The 2004 Barolos are beginning to open up very nicely. 

With spring around the corner, it's time to open and drink 2016 rosés. They are better young (I'm sure many of us would say the same of ourselves!) and the 2017s are starting to hit the shores.  

Love is a Battlefield, Win the Warre's

We love to think pink around here. Rosé all day are words to live by. And while you can't go wrong with a beautiful bottle of Miraval Rosé this Valentines Day, if you're looking to try something a little different, try a port cocktail. 

Now if you're unfamiliar with Port, Port wine is a Portuguese fortified wine produced exclusively in the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal. It is typically a sweet, red wine, often served as a dessert wine, but it also comes in dry, semi-dry, and white varieties

Port on its own pairs beautifully with chocolate- try it with s'mores by the fire or that heart-shaped box of truffles, some fudge brownies or an adult affogato (pour a healthy dose of port over your favorite quality vanilla gelato or ice cream). 

If you're looking for something a little more dramatic this Valentine's (or Singles Awareness or belated Galentine's) Day, try one of our favorite port cocktails below. 

Founded in 1670, Warre & Co. is the oldest and one of the most highly esteemed port shipping firms in the world. William Warre joined as partner in 1729, and the company became known as Warre.  The Warre fam­ily worked in the wine trade at Oporto for over 200 years. Andrew James Symington, great-grand­father of the current managing director of Warre’s, sailed to Portugal in 1863. After establishing himself as a well-known merchant in the port trade, he became associated with Warre’s in 1905. In 1912 the Warre family chose to return to England where they would look after sales, while the Symingtons managed operations in Portugal. Today James Symington is the director of Warre & Co. Ltd. 

Touchdown, Wine!

There's been quite the debate over who will win Super Bowl LII. Will Tom Brady and Bill Belichik lead the Patriots to yet another win? Or will the Philadelphia Eagles win their first championship since 1960? 

One thing that won't be up for debate is the MVP of your Super Bowl Watch Party. Spoiler alert, it's wine! 

We've collected some of our favorite recipes for snacks perfect for the big game from Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, and Southern Living and paired them with some of our favorite wines. 

Photo Credit: Bon Appétit 

Photo Credit: Bon Appétit 

CHIPS & GUACAMOLE: Every good party needs chips and dip and this one will guac your world. A bright white like Marqués de Cáceres Verdejo, a dry Riesling like August Kesseler Rudesheim Riesling, or a zesty New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc like Mohua all pair perfectly. 

Photo Credit: Food & Wine

Photo Credit: Food & Wine

PIGS IN A BLANKET: Few things disappear as quickly at a party as Pigs in a Blanket. The warm sausage and crisp pastry...we're getting hungry just thinking about it. These from Food & Wine are brushed with a tasty mix of honey, mustard, and fresh black pepper to kick things up a notch. Pair with a dry rosé, like La Vieille Ferme or Miraval (both made by the Perrin Family). 

Photo Credit: Bon Appétit 

Photo Credit: Bon Appétit 

PIZZA: Whether or not your team ends up breaking a pizza your heart, you'll want a slice of this pie from Bon Appétit Magazine. Get creative and add your own toppings or stick to classic cheese. Either way, pair with a Barbera or Dolcetto like Massolino produces. 

Photo Credit: Bon Appétit

Photo Credit: Bon Appétit

CHILI: How could we share recipes for the Super Bowl without including a recipe that is served in a bowl? Chili is the perfect antidote to cold weather and bonus- this one is made in a crockpot so you'll spend less time cooking and more time drinking! Try this crockpot chili with South African Ashbourne Pinotage, a Rhône Blend from Famille Perrin like Châteauneuf du Pape Les Sinards, or an Argentinian Malbec (you really can't go wrong with anything from TintoNegro). 

Photo Credit: Southern Living Magazine

Photo Credit: Southern Living Magazine

NACHOS: These are nacho average chips and toppings. These sheet pan nachos are customizable for any taste, fast, and fun. So if the party eats them up (and they will!), you'll be able to pop another round in the oven. This Southern Living recipe is elevated when paired with Thibault Liger Belair Moulin à Vent Vieilles Vignes Beaujolais. 

A few other tips for Super Bowl snack pairings:

Serving anything fried- French fries, fried chicken, fried pickles, etc? Serve champagne. We love Champagne Delamotte Brut  or Blanc de Blancs

Serving wings? With spicy dipping sauces or marinades you'll want to go with something semi-dry but a little sweet- like Pichot Vouvray

Finally, the meatier the dish (maybe you add bacon and sausage and pepperoni to your pizza...), the heartier the wine. Borgo Scopeto makes a beautiful Chianti that can stand up to hearty meats. 

SANGRIA DAY- December 20, 2017

Wine punch has always been popular- from hippocras in the Middle Ages to Claret Cup Punch in the days of Jane Austen to any number of conceptions today. 

Sangria, the quintessential Spanish wine punch, is traditionally made with red wine, excellent when made with Rioja and other Spanish reds. White wine and sparkling wines can also be used to create refreshing and festive Sangrias. 

Sangria was first tasted in the United States at the 1964 World's Fair in New York. 

Today, December 20, just so happens to be Sangria Day. While at first you might think Sangria Day should be in the summer, just think about how beautiful the traditional red Sangria looks in a pitcher. The colors complement any festive holiday party (and at a party, what is better than a generous helping of an alcoholic beverage?) and the versatility (depending on the wine used) can pair nicely with any number of dishes. 

Not to mention here at Vineyard Brands corporate headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama the weather has reached a balmy 70 degrees, so a cool glass of sangria would be quite welcome. 

Food & Wine Magazine (who has recently relocated to our fine city of Birmingham, Alabama) has a collection of sangria recipes sure to please every taste and party theme. 

We've selected three of our favorites (Red, Rosé, and White- so a little something for everyone) and paired them with some stellar (but won't break the bank) Spanish wines from our portfolio. We've linked the whole collection of recipes here

First up is a traditional Red Sangria. What better wine than one from one of the leading figures in Spanish Rioja, Marqués de Cáceres

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This Rosé Sangria with a Mixed-Berry Ice Ring is a gorgeous addition to any soirée. The Marqués de Cáceres Rosé has a beautiful pink color that looks as good as it tastes. 

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For something a little less traditional and sure to impress any guests you may have, try this Thai-Basil Sangria. The citrus and basil will be a refreshing palate cleanser after all the heavy flavors of the holiday season. Use Marqués de Cáceres Verdejo to keep the drink rooted in its Spanish origins.

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Eat, Drink, & Be Merry!

Read on for food and wine pairings perfect for the Holiday season. We'll cover the eating and drinking, it's just up to you to be merry!

Unlike more traditional Thanksgiving, really anything can go menu-wise at Christmas. 

We selected a few of our favorite wines (that we love to both give and receive, so if you're still looking for that perfect gift and our Gift Guide didn't quite do the trick....) and paired them with some delicious dishes. 

If you're having friends over for a holiday gathering, if you're just spending time at home with your feet up to relax, or if you need a snack to tide you over between big meals, you can't go wrong with wine and cheese. Try Domaine Delaporte Sancerre Silex with some Crottin de Chavignol. 

And once you've had your fill of ham and turkey and gingerbread and peppermint, the Sancerre Silex is a perfect wine for Thai or Chinese takeout. 



Of course at Christmas time you'll be eating hearty meats. With more traditional holiday fare like tenderloin, prime rib, and rack of lamb pour a glass of Massolino Barolo Vigna Rionda. The flavors are intense, complex, refined, and unique and the color is a beautiful garnet that is sure to provoke oohs and ahhhs from all who drink it. This is the holy grail of Barolo top vineyards. For special times with close family and friends, you need a special wine and this is it. 



If you're celebrating Hannukah and are looking for something to sip with your latkes, try Champagne Delamotte. The bubbles cleanse your palate and the acid cuts through the oil. Not to mention Hannukah is truly a celebration- a festival (of lights)- so you need a wine that brings the festivity. 




If you're tired of making decisions (what gifts to buy, what time to arrive at Grandma's house, what to wear to the party...), we have a wine that will be the easiest (and one of the best!) decisions you'll make all holiday season. One wine that can start almost any meal off well is Gradis'ciutta Friulano. It's a beautiful white perfect for beginning any dining experience.


Finally, while not a food and wine pairing, mulled wine is sure to make you merry! 
Two of our favorites to use are Stark Condé 3 Pines and Padrillos Malbec.
Bon Appétit Magazine and Ina Garten both have delicious recipes. Pick one, whip up a batch, and warm up on a cold night!

Holiday Gift Guide

While we might be a bit biased, there’s no better holiday gift than a bottle of wine. It’s a gift that quite literally is the spirit of the holidays. It’s a gift that can be many things- it can encourage community, but it can also be the antidote to a long day. It’s a gift that can last for years or for hours. Whoever is on your list, whatever the occasion, a bottle of wine is the perfect choice to treat someone this holiday season.

The Vineyard Brands Family has perfected wine gift giving over the years and we’ve compiled this list of ideas and suggestions.



For the "Hostess with the mostest": a bottle of Miraval Provence
The Holiday season brings with it parties and dinners and gatherings of all kinds. A bottle of Miraval Rosé is the perfect gift for any host or hostess.

The unique bottle shape and label make a beautiful presentation and it pairs so well with a variety of dishes and appetizers. The beautiful pink color is a much needed tonic for the grey days and dark nights of winter.
Suggested by Val Markus, Sales Rep

The beautiful packaging feels expensive and special and the wine inside is even better. While any size is a nice gesture, to really get the party started a manum or three liter is so fun to share.
Suggested by Kate Pluhar Catenza, Boston Metro Sales Manager



For the Southerner:  Thibault Liger Belair Moulin a Vent Les Rouchaux
As any Southerner knows, trying to predict the weather during the holiday season is impossible. One year you may be in shorts and a tshirt, the next you may be in scarves and gloves. Most often though, dreams of a white Christmas are dashed and temperatures are still relatively warm.

With the temperamental weather in the South, a nice, lighter red is a crowd pleaser. Plus, the Thibault Liger Belair Moulin a Vent Les Rouchaux is a nice discovery wine for friends not familiar or in the wine business.
Suggested by Jennafer Tuffner, NC & SC Market Manager




For the Northerner: The Chocolate Block
Unlike their Southern counterparts, Northerners are always prepared for a chilly winter (and often a white Christmas).

Chocolate Block is an excellent red wine. The nice, hefty palette makes it great for winter and those delicious  meats. It’s definitely a teeth stainer (be prepared!), but it you can’t beat the quality for the price.
Suggested by Melissa Wilkinson, Regional Sales Manager | Sandy Stewart, Accounting & Inventory







For the lake and beach bum: Bulletin Place Moscato
This light and refereshing Australian wine is not too sweet for a Moscato. It’s just the wine to drink on a nightly pontoon boat ride or an evening by the bay.
Suggested by Pat Sparks, Accounting | Katia Braithwaite, Special Projects Coordinator







For the casual wine buff: Coudoulet de Beaucastel Rouge
If you know a wine buff, either a buyer in the industry or a friend who reads Wine Spectator more often than People, this is the gift for them. This is a perfect wine that your recipient can drink now or put in their cellar for years to come.  While many people know the history of Château de Beaucastel, not as many are familiar with this part of the Perrin estate.
Suggested by Anne Keller Klumpp, Midwest Sales Manager







For the foodie: Domaine Pichot Vouvray Le Peu de la Moriette
If you have a friend who loves to try a variety of cuisines or loves to cook, a bottle of Domaine Pichot Vouvray Le Peu de la Moriette will hit just the spot. It perfectly dances the line between dry and off-dry. It’s a crowd favorite and pairs beautifully with many ethnic cuisines and vegetarian fare. If there’s a “fool-proof” wine gift, this is it.
Suggested by Perry Riddle, Marketing Director








For the Brunch King/Queen: Alma Negra Brut
For the friend who knows weekends plans should be built around one very important meal, who knows breakfast or brunch is best with a mimosa, who has experimented with every juice and every ratio to find just the right champagne based breakfast beverage, Alma Negra Brut Sparkling is ideal. This Argentinian wine is delicious as a mimosa but also fine to sip and savor on its own.
Suggested by Ron Bishop, System Network Service Administrator






For the loyal friend: Famille Perrin Château de Beaucastel
This wine is globally recognized an acknowledged for its pedigree and quality. For the friend who has been there for you through thick and thin, this wine is a true gesture of appreciation.

Vineyard Brands vice president Sheilah McGovern gives all her distrubtor managers and top sales reps a bottle of the just arrived Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape.

As Tommy Oldre said, “Château de Beaucastel and the Perrin family represent the core of Vineyard Brands. On a personal note, the last 15 years of my professional life have been closely tied with the Haas and Perrin families and the companies they have founded and grown.”
Suggested by Sheilah McGovern, Vice President  | Tommy Oldre, Sales Manager



For the red wine lover: Marques de Caceres Crianza
Many people know of or have heard of Rioja, so wines from the region are nice comfort zone wines. This Marques de Caceres is a fantastic value. It’s a great dry red that’s perfect with food or just to drink on its own. Plus, it’s readily available and they (or you!) won’t have trouble finding more.
Suggested by Patrick Bennett, NJ & PA Manager






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For the dinner party fanatic: Warre's Otima Team Year Old Tawny Port
In a beautiful package, this is a truly delicious Tawny port, and has a great rating to boot (93 from Wine Advocate!). It's an excellent wine to bring to a dinner party because everybody loves port, and if you don't, you just haven't had the right one! 
Suggested by Patrick Harney, Sales Manager | Kate Pluhar Catenza, Boston Metro Sales Manager








And for anyone on your list: Champagne Delamotte
An overwhelming favorite wine to gift is Champagne Delamotte. It epitomizes the essence of the holidays and is the perfect wine for celebrating. It’s a celebration in a bottle!

It’s a present that can be opened to celebrate the holiday or, even better, saved for New Year’s Eve. Champagne is always an appropriate gift and as a bonus, pairs well with nearly any food. You just can’t beat bubbles at a party, and Delamotte stands out from the pedestrian bubbles in the crowd.

Suggested by Chris Thomas, Sales Rep | Amber Cochran, Financial Analyst | Perry Riddle, Marketing Director | Jennafer Tuffner, NC & SC Market Manager | Patrick Bennett, NJ & PA Manager


Eat, Drink, & Be Thankful (Part II)

In part one of our Thanksgiving wine and food blog, we suggested a variety of wines for all tastes and all budgets from around the world. 

If you're a little overwhelmed by all the options or if you're still trying to decide a final few things to cook, take some inspiration from our Marketing Director Perry Riddle's Thanksgiving menu. 

On my table for Thanksgiving, I usually serve mostly dishes from my favorite cookbook author, Ina Garten.  This year I will be making her Roast Turkey with Truffle Butter, Spinach Gratin, Garlic Roasted Potatoes, Cranberry Conserve, and String Beans with Shallots.  I also will be serving a Honeybaked Ham, my mom’s Chicken and Dressing, yeast rolls, and my grandmother’s Sweet Potato Pie. 

Hors d’oeuvres:  To start I like to make some simple nibbles like Ina’s Truffled Popcorn, mixed nuts, and Cheese Straws and serve Delamotte Brut.  There’s just something about Champagne at a special holiday that screams “festive”.


Dinner:  I usually serve a red and white for dinner.  For white, my go-to is always an off-dry Riesling.  With my dinner menu, there is the typical element of sweetness that you find on the Thanksgiving table, but I don’t overdo it.  Wines such as August Kesseler’s Riesling R have an innate sweetness that beautifully pairs with foods while maintaining a crackling acidity that keeps things refreshing.   Plus I’ve found that this wine is a fan favorite among all my friends.   And, honestly, the combination of Honeybaked Ham and this wine is stunning!   For reds, my choice this year will probably be Southern Right Pinotage (which in my opinion is the best Pinotage for the money in the world).  The abundant blue fruit, fresh acidity, medium body, and spice notes really blend well with the food.  Another suggestion would be MAAL biutiful Malbec:  once again, a wine with abundant fruit, spice notes, and an easy-going structure  Overall, the key with reds is to avoid aggressive tannins and to embrace juiciness and fruitiness. 

Dessert:  Thanksgiving is the perfect time to enjoy a decadent dessert wine.  My grandmother’s Sweet Potato Pie is overall not a sweet pie but a very spicy one.  Fresh grated ginger and lots of allspice and cinnamon really wake up the taste buds.  I’ve found that Gewurztraminer can really be a gorgeous pairing with sweet potatoes when there’s an exotic spice element in the dish.  The absolute ideal wine here would be Domaine Weinbach Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Mambourg Vendanges Tardives, but if you’re like most of us and can’t get ahold of this rare gem, the Cuvée Laurence or Cuvée Theo bottlings also have a light sweetness that can pair nicely with desserts that aren’t overly sweet.

Everyone has their own family recipes and own traditions, but if you're looking to spice yours up this year or make some new traditions of your own, we hope these blogs have helped! We'll leave you with a recipe for homemade cranberry relish from our Patrick Harney. The only thing missing from the recipe is the addition of 3 shots of Grand Marnier or Cognac (more depending on the number of annoying family members you plan on seeing). Happy Thanksgiving! 

Cranberry Relish Recipe