The BSFW blog offers a periodic airing of our staff's observations and musings about things we find in our market and, frankly, can't live without. This is not a dispensing of erudite information from high on the mount; this is us sharing with you the aspects of the fine wine, craft brew and gourmet worlds that pique our interest.
This congenial approach is something we take seriously - so please feel free to comment! Afterall,it's our customers that inspire us to do what we love to do - and do it even better than before at every opportunity.
The name may be "Ball Square Fine Wines", but I assure you, we are much more than a fine wine shop. In case you weren't aware, we're very passionate about all spirits, including BEER. That's right, friends, the lovely liquid that one of our founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, once so highly proclaimed as "proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy," has grown into a cultural phenomenon. And yeah, oh yeah, we be blog'n accordingly! So, whatever faith you may follow, sleep easy knowing that our shop offers a wide spectrum of the finest ales and lagers from all over the world. (We did, afterall, come in second in the recent Weekly Dig "Best Of" Boston for our beer selection.)
Just to give you an idea of what I'm talking about, I'd like to mention a couple of new additions to our selection. First, Narragansett Porter: a Rhode Island tradition that has made it north to Boston in a limited release. Pleasantly dry and sweet, I defy you to find me a better Porter for less than nine bucks a six pack (after taxes). And it comes in 16oz cans, no less!
On the other end of the spectrum: "Tactical Nuclear Penguin," an Imperial Stout from Brew Dog out of Scotland costs $119.99 a bottle (before taxes). The brew that, just lat Fall, set the world record for strongest beer ever created at 32% Alcohol By Volume! The record stood for some time before a German brewery produced one at 40%. Not to be outdone, the staff at Brew Dog went on to quadruple their efforts to create the quad IPA "Sink the Bismark" ($163.99), clocking in at an astounding 42% ABV! We're proud to have brought a couple of bottles of these groundbreaking Scottish beers into our shop. Either would be a crowned jewel to any beer buff's collection, or a fantastic way to bring a group together during a holiday celebration.
Cheese. You know you love it. It's one of mankind's oldest and greatest comestibles, right up there with wine and beer. What better time to enjoy a little extra something decadent that now at the holiday season. I certainly have been.
When the weather turns chilly, I tend to favor hearty, rustic red wines. That's where some of our harder cheese come into play. I'm a particular fan of our Provolone Vecchio (aged provolone). This cheese is about as strong as a hard cheese gets. Made in huge logs and aged for over three years, it has a pungent, almost mushroom-like aroma. The texture is firm almost to the point of crumbliness, and the flavor is rich and earthy, dry with a salty bite. True, it's tough and not for the faint of heart, but come in from the cold and enjoy with a hearty red and maybe some salami and you'll see what I mean.
Let's not forget our soft cheeses,though. We are, after all, deep into Champagne and bubbly season too. Nothing, and I mean nothing, goes better with Champagne than a buttery soft triple creme, full of fat and oh-so-delicious! Try some Langres, a rich triple creme from France with a distinctive rippled yellow rind, produced by washing the cheese in Champagne marc during it's production. We've also got the classic Brillat Savarin, a triple creme so rich it might as well be butter. Also French, this cheese is spreadbly soft, rich and sweet, but with a distinctive tang in it's long and decadent finish. Do yourself a favor this New Year's and spring for one of these and a bottle from our selection of high end, hand carfted boutique grower Champagnes.
And how about all those parties? Entertaining should be fun for the host as well as the guests, and your hors d'ouvres need not be complicated to be real yummy treats. Baguette slices topped with dijon mustard, pate and a cornichon pickle is always sure to please, or for a sweet/savory treat, baguette with quince paste and a hard Spanish sheeps milk cheese, such as Manchego, Roncal, or the Basque Ossau Iraty wins every time. Even something as simple as Landaff, a hard Welsh style chees from New Hampshire, cut in cubes and drizzled with southern Tupelo honey will wow them. All these things take minimal effort, and yet they are wonderful special treats. Best of all, you can spend more time where you want to, out of the kitchen and with your guests.
O.K. better stop now, I'm getting hungry! Come check out our gourmet department for these and many other delightful treats to make your holiday season just a little more special...or at least a little yummier.
In these, the coldest months of the year, many breweries release their "Winter Warmer" seasonal beer, sometimes brewed with "holiday spices." Lately I've been bringing home a more traditional style of warmer... eh, forget traditional, let's call 'em old. "Old" or "Stock" ales are generally thick with malt sweetness and higher than normal in alcohol percentage. Most are brewed to age well.
North Coast Brewery's offering, Old Stock Ale is a mahogany colored delight, sticky sweet and available all year round. I visited North Coast's brew pub in August while on a West coast vacation. Fresh out of the keg, this beer was a gem. I look forwrad to popping a cellared bottle in a year or two.
Bottled just last month, Smuttynose's Really Old Brown Dog has some serious potential. I opened a bottle this past weekend with a couple of buddies and this old ale is young! Intense fruit attacks the senses, but clearly this is a finely crafted beer. Grab a bottle before this year's vintage runs out and open it in a couple months. I'm sure you won't be disappointed.
Do you prefer today's spicier Winter Warmer, or have you given the more traditional style a whirl?
T'was one chill nite this story begins, when a small 16.9 0z bottle gave me a grin. A Warm Welcome it offered for $6.99, with nutty brisk browness I couldn't deny. Amber goodness with a nice frosty head, it tickles your nose as you put it to bed. Caramel malts with a light hoppy mix, makes for a great n'igh whilst this brew's in your midst.
As the nights approach Christmas much magic ensues, like the tale of'n IPA that came into view. I picked up a bottle and from the label heard snickers, claiming that I - yes, I - wore nancy boy knickers. Outraged I glanced and saw a small pointy hat; was it a rat? No indeed, t'was a Bad Elf who poured a shimmery gold fluid into my glass. With a small but firm head t'was balanced indeed but a bit highly hopped, it took a nip at my nose and made me crinkle my toes. No doubt a grand brew for just $6.99... I think tonight this one'll have to be mine!
A boring cold night I couldn't decide what to drink, when the name of a friend gave my mind a quick clink. A pink little elephant with whom I'm acquainted, Delirium Noel, with its Christmas hat painted. A lovely Strong dark Ale with a mild sweet finish, that by the end of the bottle'll have you feeling quite gid-dish. It's fruity demeanor and car-a-mel tones, bring all the right flavors that warm to the bone.
I can't promise I'll be so rhyme-y in future, but I hope you are feeling the holiday 'spirit', too and will tell me... whaddaya think of my effort?!
With Dan's post yesterday on his wine-of-choice at the moment, we all figured we'd weigh in on our own favs. (Yep! That means you'll also be seeing blog fodder from our beer and gourmet departments starting this week, so stay tuned!)
I actually wasn't sure if there was a "theme " to my home wine drinking repertoire of late. Fortunately our system allows any Club Member to look up their purchase history to see what's what, or we can do it for you in the shop. (I will say, this feature also comes in handy when someone you know wants to buy you a little someth'n someth'n you'll probably enjoy....) Swami said I've been enjoying red wines from the Languedoc, France recently.
This doesn't surprise me, now that I'm clued into my buying habits of late. The Languedoc has a bevy of affordable red wine blends (usually some mix of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre) - and affordable has been particularly important to me this month when I'm spending my cash on things like Christmas presents, holiday travel and, of course, a couple of festive, new party dresses. Go figure.
I've also been cheffing up a storm, taking advantage of the cooler days to make hearty soups and stews, stuffed squash, pork tenderloin with brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes... you get the idea. The Languedoc reds have both great, lifting red fruits and enough of that French earthiness I so love, to pair particularly well with these kinds of dishes.
Favorites? It seems our new Gerard Bertrand Pic St. Loup and Chateau Flaugurges (an old favorite/staple that I hadn't brought home regularly in a couple of vintages simply because I was sampling new things) are up top on my 'regulars' list these days!
Are you a Languedoc lover, too?
I was recently asked to do a "what are you drinking at home?" piece for a BostonChef's spread. While there are many correct answers (including Patron blanco on Saturday night, yeah!) here's what I chose:
The Brits are fond of saying that "a wine's first duty is to be red" - and we certainly consume a healthy heaping of red wine at my house. But lately it's been white Burgundy that's been floating my proverbial boat! The tension between the Chardonnay grapes textured layers and the region's inherent palate-cleansing acidity keeps the glass coming back to the lips with pleasant frequency. Whether it be a simple Bourgogne blanc from Vignerons de Buxy Co-Op (my current "house white") or a Premier Cru Saint-Aubin from Marc Colin, these wines fulfill their duty quite well, thank you!