What Does February 2, 12, 14 & 22 Mean to You? Not This, I'll Bet

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  • By Randy Kemner
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What Does February 2, 12, 14 & 22 Mean to You?  Not This, I'll Bet

If you think you know the significance of these dates in 2019, you'd probably be wrong.

Growing up in 1950s and 1960s in Long Beach, February was a month full of meaningful and fun holidays.  Do they still mean what they used to mean?



Most people think of February 2nd as Groundhog Day.  But this year they would be wrong.


February 2nd is our Annual Oyster Fest from 1-4 at The Wine Country.  We have invited Saint & Second Restaurant executive chef Shelly Bojorquez and her shucking crew to return to our store with their usual dazzling array of fatty mollusks and give us an excuse to wash them down with equally dazzling Fresh white wines selected by Samantha Dugan.  Her choices this year will include champagne, Sancerre, Chablis, Muscadet and more.


If you don't like oysters on the half shell--and there are a few of you who don't--you are still welcome to sample these bracing and satisfying wines.  Cost for the wine tasting alone is just $25. 


And if you're excited to sample some great tasting oysters, they will be for sale 6 for $15.  If you want more, you can purchase 6 more for another $15 and on and on. 



I'll bet you thought February 12th was Lincoln's Birthday.  But this year you'd be wrong. 

Instead we invite you to emancipate yourself on down to The Wine Country for a special Tuesday Commuter Tasting from 4:30 to 6:45 p.m. featuring the wines of Spain's greatest Garnacha (Grenache) producers, Bodegas Borsao and Bodegas Alto Moncayo.  (It's also Amy Mullally's birthday--she'll be joining us, too, along with Andii Ulrich, wine specialist from the Henry Wine Group.)  Cost is just 3 Lincolns ($15).



I really don't have to tell you the significance of Valentine's Day, do I?  It's the day loaded with minefields like, "I don't want you spending money on me." 


Valentine's Day this year will be a lot of fun at The Wine Country

For our regular Commuter Tasting from 4:30 to 6:45 February 14, our staff will be pouring Luscious Rich Reds to help grease the skids, as we say.  I imagine there will be a sensuous Pinot Noir in there somewhere, but the other five wines are still a mystery until the big reveal.



I'll bet you thought February 22nd is George Washington's birthday.  But this year you would be wrong.


Friday night February 22nd at 7:30 p.m. our southern hemisphere buyer Jessica Martinez is hosting a sit-down tasting featuring the impressive Wines of South Africa.  (It really has nothing at all to do with the Father of our Country--he was a whiskey distiller, after all.) 

South African wines began to find their way to U.S. shelves after aparheid ended, just about the time our store opened, and despite a rocky start, the offerings we have on our shelves now are quite good for red, white and sparkling wines.  Join Jessica and learn about Stellenbosch, Paarl, Stellenbosch, the Western Cape, Pinotage and the rest.  You'll also be sampling some terrific wines, many with surprising affordability.


To find out more about the tastings we're offering in February and beyond, consult our website at www.thewinecountry.com. 


Softening Up Your Champagne for

Valentine's Day

Champagne truly produces great wine.  The flavor, the tickle and the long, long aftertaste can't be duplicated anywhere else on earth.  And there is a long tradition of adding liqueur to champagne to make it softer, sweeter and a bit more festive.


Personally, I can't fathom altering true champagne by adding anything to it, so I use simpler, fruitier, often less expensive bubblies like prosecco, sekt (German sparkling wine) and Vouvray Brut for use in sparkling wine cocktails.


The most classic example of infused champagne, is a variation of the Kir, the Kir Royale which simply drizzles some crème de Cassis in a glass of champagne.  You can substitute most fruit liqueurs, like raspberry, strawberry, blackberry or passion fruit to add a sexy sweetness to your bubbly.


A staple of Sunday brunches is the Mimosa, where orange juice is added to champagne.  A variation is the Bellini cocktail, peach nectar and Prosecco, Italy's famous easy-going bubbly.


The traditional Champagne Cocktail whose history extends back to the mid 1800s, achieved huge popularity into the 1950s, combining a sugar cube and a few drops of bitters to dry sparkling wine.  Sweetness takes the edge off sparkling wine, offering a gentler drink that still retains the magic effects of bubbly wine.


There are other cocktails using champagne--the French 75 is one, combining gin with bubbly (some old-time mixologists I knew substituted cognac for the gin.)


It's fun to experiment with sparkling wine and liqueurs, especially those which leave a red or pink color in your bubbly.  It's a festive way to charge up any Valentine's Day celebration.


7 Recommended Liqueurs to Soften Your Bubbly

Antolin Crème de Cassis Liqueur, Burgundy, France

Without a doubt, this is the most luxurious, most concentrated and most fascinating Crème de Cassis liqueur we've ever encountered.  Made by Mickael Antolin who emigrated from Madagascar, this beautiful, silky, spicy blackcurrant elixer will make your Kir truly royal.  You can also serve it over chipped ice, or add a hint of vodka

$39.99 per bottle


Chambord Liqueur, Loire Valley, France

Made near the Chambord castle from macerated fresh blackberries and raspberries blended with Fine French cognac, sweet Madagascar vanilla and fragrant herbs.  A classic liqueur delicious to drink by itself, drizzled in sparkling wine, poured over ice cream or any host of dessert ideas.

$34.99 per bottle


Giffard Crème des Fraise de Bois (wild forest strawberry) Liqueur, France

Made from strawberry and wild strawberry infusion, this unctuous liqueur has very intense, fresh and fruity aromas which lead the flavors to evolve from the typical “green” taste of wild strawberries to the very ripe fruit taste characteristics of jam and marmalades.  Very pleasant, vivacious finish.  16% alcohol.

$26.99 per bottle


Cointreau Orange Liqueur, Anjou, France

Created in 1875, Cointreau is an orange-flavored triple sec liqueur produced in Saint-Barthélemy-d'Anjou, France.  It is drunk as an apéritif and digestif, and is a component of several well-known cocktails. It was originally called "Curaçao Blanco Triple Sec".

$39.99 per bottle


Giffard Caribbean Pineapple Liqueur, France

Unmistakable aroma and flavor of rich, ripe pineapple in this irresistible, sweet indulgence. Try experimenting by adding it to tropical drink recipes.

$34.99 per bottle


Giffard Fruit de Passion Liqueur, France

A beautifully realized liqueur, with a sweet, rich, and concentrated flavor of ripe passion fruit. Silky, luxurious texture.

$26.99 per bottle


Mathilde Pêche Liqueur, France

Delicious, sweet flavor of fresh white peaches.  Made by the firm that produces Pierre Ferrand Cognacs.

$13.99 per half bottle


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