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Wine & Spirits

THIRSTIE Launches In Miami

THIRSTIE, the New York based on-demand wine and spirits delivery marketplace, has extended its service to customers in Miami.

THIRSTIE now offers Miami customers the convenience of bottle service at their doors and eliminates the trips to the liquor store. THIRSTIE is the only app offering this service in Miami and is available on a number of platforms including online, iOS and Android. THIRSTIE provides a simple, intuitive user experience that makes liquors easy to find while also serving as a discovery tool for new products that might be out of the ordinary. THIRSTIE works with key retailers to curate the selections for an optimized shopping experience ensuring that the customer’s order is in stock. With all orders, THIRSTIE delivers purchases within the hour.

“We’ve seen some incredible success already in our initial launch markets, so choosing a city with this much vibrancy and excitement as Miami only made sense for our next launch,” said CEO Devaraj Southworth. “Miami sets the trends for the mixology and spirits community, so we wanted to offer THIRSTIE as the newest go-to service for having a good time.”

THIRSTIE is easy to use on any platform. After downloading and opening the app, the customer is instantly connected to participating liquor merchants closest to their desired delivery address. THIRSTIE provides users with information about each product such as the size, alcohol content and price. The customer can shop as long as they like, selecting options and adding them to their shopping cart. When ready to check out, the customer selects the shopping cart option where they can view everything that has been added. The customer then selects their payment method and completes the order. Once the order is confirmed, the customer receives an email verification and delivery of their wine or liquor purchase will arrive within the hour.

Paul Guarino Hired to Head New Fine Wine and Spirits Department for Kings in Ridgewood, N.J.

Guarino cropKings Food Markets announced the hire of Paul Guarino, local executive chef and wine expert, as the Fine Wine and Spirits Manager in the Kings Ridgewood, N.J. store, which has added more than 600 wines, 250 liquors and a variety of local and craft beers to its offering.

In this role, Guarino will oversee the new Fine Wine and Spirits department, which was added to the Ridgewood location as part of an entire store refresh. The store celebrated the department’s grand opening on Friday, May 2.

“Paul is a great addition to our team,” said Judy Spires, President and CEO of Kings Food Markets. “He is going to make Ridgewood’s new wine and spirits department the ultimate destination for our shoppers, providing them with a unique opportunity to not only purchase their favorite specialty cheeses, ‘top of the catch’ seafood, fresh and organic produce, quality meats – as well as all of Kings’ other gourmet food offerings – but also select combinations of fine wines, spirits and local craft beers to pair with that food. Between the new offerings and Paul’s extensive knowledge, our shoppers in Ridgewood will now have the perfect resource for all their entertaining needs, whether that’s just dinner with the family or party for friends and neighbors.”

With over 20 years of experience in the food and beverage industry, Guarino has extensive knowledge to contribute from a diverse background. Guarino owned and managed the Beverage Barn in Northvale, N.J.  for 10 years and is also a trained chef, having attended the Culinary Institute of America in 1995. He most recently spent 11 years as General Manager and Executive Chef at the Colonial Inn in Norwood, N.J.

Hunt Cellars Wins in “Best Of California 2013″ Competition

In the recent “Best of California Wine Competition 2013″ Hunt Cellars, a Paso Robles based boutique winery, was just notified that in this competition held by Food and Beverage World, Hunt Cellars won four out of the 11 categories.

Hunt Cellars won the following:

  • Best White Wine 2010 Viognier “Twilight Time” 93 Points
  • Best Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 “Cabovation” Reserve 96 Points
  • Best Zinfandel 2008 “Zinovation” 95 Points
  • Best Port 2001 Tawny Cabernet Sauvignon Port “Good Vibrations” 93 Points

Kirin Partners With Chef Candice Kumai To Bring Japanese-Style Beer To Growing Asian Cuisine Movement

 Kirin has partnered with celebrity Chef and Top Chef contestant, Candice Kumai, to share Japanese-style beer pairings with foodies, as traditional Japanese and Asian-fusion cuisines continue to grow in popularity. The partnership kicks-off in earnest at the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., where Kirin and Kumai will offer Japanese-style beers and a special frosty Japanese serving method to attendees.

With Japanese roots and expertise in Asian cuisine, Kumai will serve as the Kirin brand ambassador, bringing the pure, clean taste of the Japanese-style lager to beer drinkers at the festival and beyond.

“As a chef, it’s important to select beverages that will highlight your recipes,” said Kumai. “With rich flavor and a deep, smooth finish, Kirin Ichiban complements refined traditional Japanese cuisine, the bold tastes of modern Asian-fusion food and other flavor-forward dishes.”

Throughout the year, Kumai will share special recipes with Kirin fans on Facebook.com/KirinUSA and continue to make appearances with Kirin throughout the year. At the National Cherry Blossom Festival, Kumai will be dishing up Kirin samples, pairing tips and Japanese drinking customs. Kumai is scheduled to make appearances at the Festival’s Grand Sake Tasting on April 3 and its Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival on April 5.

While beer drinkers have long-loved enjoying Kirin at Asian restaurants, the National Cherry Blossom Festival will offer of-age beer drinkers a new opportunity to enjoy several varieties of Kirin and a unique, frozen preparation of its signature brand. Selection to include:

  • Kirin Ichiban – Known as “beer at its purest,” Kirin Ichiban is a 100-percent malt, first-press beer that offers rich flavor and no bitter aftertaste. Kirin Ichiban is 5 percent ABV.
  • Kirin Light – A light beer with just 95 calories, but offers full flavor, authentic Japanese heritage. Kirin Light is 3.2 percent ABV.
  • Kirin Ichiban Frozen – Draught beer is topped with frozen Kirin Ichiban, using a proprietary process. It is an innovative way to enjoy Ichiban in Japan, and is now available in select U.S. locations.

“People are expanding their culinary horizons and discovering a wide range of dishes and flavors that are inspired by Asian cuisine,” said Michael Lourie, brand manager, Kirin Beer. “Partnering with Candice is an opportunity to excite beer drinkers about pairing their favorite foods with Kirin Ichiban and Kirin Light at restaurants, and trying the beers with both familiar and new recipes at home.”

For more information on Kirin or to find it close to home, visit Facebook.com/KirinUSA. For more information on the National Cherry Blossom festival, visit nationalcherryblossomfestival.org.

Terlato Adds Rioja’s Bodegas Valdemar to Luxury Wine Portfolio

Terlato Wines has entered into a partnership to import the wines of Bodegas Valdemar, an innovative, award-winning, producer from the iconic Spanish appellation of Rioja.

The agreement with Bodegas Valdemar caps a search by Terlato for a Rioja winery possessing the elements the company has identified as keys to success in the U.S. luxury wine market: family ownership, superior estate vineyards and a keen focus on the highest quality wines.

“We have found an ideal partner in Rioja,” said Terlato Wines Chief Executive William A. Terlato. “In a very traditional appellation, the Valdemar family has shown how a bold approach to grape-growing and winemaking can deliver critically acclaimed wines. We’re excited to expand U.S. distribution and develop the full potential of their wines in the U.S.”

Just last August, Terlato entered into an import partnership with the Priorat winery Marco Abella. With the addition of Bodegas Valdemar, Terlato’s renowned portfolio now also features a selection of acclaimed Spanish wines.

Terlato will feature wines from two Bodegas Valdemar lines: Conde de Valdemar and Inspiracion Valdemar. Wines from both lines have earned spots on Wine Spectator‘s prestigious Top 100 wines list for the past two years consecutively: The 2010 Inspiracion Valdemar Seleccion ranked in 2013, and the 2011 Conde de Valdemar White Rioja ranked in 2012.

The Conde de Valdemar wines reflect three traditional Rioja classifications: Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva. Tempranillo forms the backbone of all the wines, with grapes sourced from estate vineyards in the higher elevation of Rioja Alta, the flatlands of Rioja Baja and the rolling hills of Rioja Alavesa.

Inspiracion Valdemar, a “winery within a winery,” was created by Carlos and Ana Martinez-Bujanda, following in the footsteps of innovation set by their father, Jesus, who in the 1980s was a leader in bringing temperature-controlled fermentation to Rioja. The new facilities for Inspiracion Valdemar provide the means to cool the grapes, carefully select bunches and berries, use small fermentation tanks and experiment with a wide range of oak types.

Wine and Food Lovers Slow Down to Savor the Selections at WineStyles Tasting Station

By Lucas Witman

In 2002, WineStyles’ founder Brigitte Baker was enjoying a casual backyard barbecue with friends, when the conversation turned to wine. Baker was surprised to find her friends unaware of the wealth of high quality, low cost wines available today. It was in this moment that Baker first got the idea to open a shop that featured reasonably priced wines and educated consumers on how to get the most for their money when it comes to the sought after libation. A little over a decade later, WineStyles has evolved to include 26 stores in 12 states across the country.

WineStyles1-RN.jpgIn 2012, Iowa-based WineStyles franchisees Bryan and Andrea McGinness took over for Baker, when they purchased the company. The pair immediately set about reinventing the store concept and diversifying the product offerings. “We’ve grown and expanded over the past year and a half, going into gourmet foods and cheeses and chocolates, all of the things that pair nicely with wine,” said Bryan. “The whole rebranding of the company has been very important to us.”

Today, WineStyles customers will still find an expansive wine selection, but they can also shop for cheese, specialty food, chocolate, coffee, tea, beer, accessories and more. The company’s gourmet food offerings have been instrumental in bringing a whole new customer base into its stores. Shoppers are now loading up their carts with products from some of the most popular specialty food companies in the business, including Sweetshop USA, Bissinger’s, The French Farm, Robert Rothshild Farms, Gourmet du Village, Rishi Tea, American Vintage Biscuits and Jennifer’s Homemade.

WineStyles also treats shoppers to a variety of specialty prepared foods, as well, some made with gourmet ingredients that are available in store. Prepared food offerings include pizzettes, olives and cheese boards, and the menu is expanding. In many of the stores, customers can also enjoy wine served by the glass.

Wine may still be the star attraction at WineStyles, but it is not the only beverage getting customers’ attentions. The newly reinvented WineStyles stores are also focusing on offering extensive selections of craft beers as well. “The craft beer has brought in a totally new customer base,” said Bryan. “We keep about 200 different craft beers in the store at any given time, and they rotate seasonally.”

WineStyles Tasting Station sets itself apart from other wine shops in a number of ways, but the most striking may be way that the wine itself is merchandised in store. Whereas most wine shops divide up their selection based on varietal or regionality, WineStyles opts to organize its bottles by style. When it comes to whites, customers can choose from crisp, silky or rich offerings. The store’s reds are broken up into fruity, mellow and bold bottles.

WineStyles is also unique in its focus on offering its customers locally sourced regional selections. Each store brings in craft beers from local breweries, and stores located in wine growing regions also have selections of local wines. “Different stores around the country are offering different beers. Craft beer is still so regional that there is a different flare in different parts of the country.” The McGinnesses’ Des Moines store, for example, treats its customers to Toppling Goliath’s Tsunami Pale Ale, Madhouse Brewery’s Imperial Red and Confluence Brewing Company’s Des Moines IPA.

WineStyles2-RN.jpgReaching out to wine aficionados and newcomers alike, WineStyles’ popular wine club is a great way to broaden one’s knowledge and try some great new bottles on a regular basis. “We’re the only wine club with a clubhouse,” said Andrea. By signing up for the monthly wine club, customers will take home two new bottles of wine each month. WineStyles also offers a variety of similar clubs, where members have the opportunity to try new beers, chocolates, cheeses, teas and coffees.

Catering to a diverse clientele with varying degrees of wine knowledge, WineStyles strives to staff its stores with knowledgeable experts in the field, trained to guide customers through their purchase. However, for Bryan and Andrea, personality is just as important as expertise when it comes to bringing new staff into the business. “When we hire, obviously we want them to have some knowledge,” said Andrea. “Customer service is huge for us. The training is geared toward customer service…but personality is also key.”

When reinventing the WineStyles concept, the most important thing for Bryan and Andrea was to create stores where customers felt free to browse the shelves for an extended period of time, perusing bottles, learning about wine and picking up a few things along the way. To get the full experience of the store, the pair hopes that customers will hang around for at least 45 minutes or more.

This is what ultimately sets WineStyles apart from other wine and specialty food shops around the country: a welcoming atmosphere where customers feel free to shop, drink, snack and peruse the products at their leisure.

“What sets us apart is the look feel and fit of our stores. We are set up like an old world wine cellar where customers can come and try wines from all over the world,” said Bryan. “The fit and finish of the store is very cozy.”

To learn more about WineStyles Tasting Station or to view a complete list of stores, visit www.winestyles.com.

Korbel Brandy Celebrates 125 Years Of Handcrafted Excellence

Founded in 1889, Korbel Brandy celebrates 125 years of brandy excellence this year. Like the smooth, award-winning flavor of Korbel Brandy, it is a milestone to savor. So, for the rest of the year, Korbel Brandy will mark the occasion with weekly 125th Anniversary Sweepstakes drawings and invites everyone to join the fun!

Francis Korbel must have seemed exceedingly optimistic when he built his first brandy still inside the brick tower at Korbel Champagne Cellars in 1889, but just four years later, Korbel Brandy was the surprise hit of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, perhaps the largest assemblage of brandies up to that time. His handcrafted approach – premium grapes, meticulous distillation, slow aging in hand-coopered oak barrels and careful blending – has guided Korbel Brandy ever since. In 1954, when the Heck family purchased Korbel Brandy from the descendants of Francis Korbel, it did so with the promise to continue this tradition of quality and two generations of Hecks have kept that promise. Today the Korbel Brandy portfolio encompasses four distinctive brandies: flavorful Korbel California Brandy, complex Korbel V.S.O.P. Gold Reserve, uniquely infused Korbel XS and rare, elegant Korbel 12.

The Korbel Brandy 125 Years of Handcraftology® Sweepstakes will begin on February 17, 2014 and continue weekly until December 28, 2014. Entries for each week’s sweepstakes drawing may be submitted either through the Korbel Brandy website at www.korbelbrandy.com/125years or through Korbel Brandy’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/korbelbrandy. Each Monday, a sweepstakes winner will be drawn from the previous week’s submissions. The weekly winner will receive an embossed, limited edition Korbel Brandy 125th Anniversary tin bar sign. Official rules for the Korbel Brandy 125 Years of Handcraftology Sweepstakes are available at the Korbel Brandy website, www.korbelbrandy.com.

Unique among United States brandy producers, Korbel Brandy controls production from grape to bottle. Handcrafted in small batches, Korbel Brandy is aged to perfection in premium fire-toasted oak barrels to achieve golden amber color, generous butterscotch aroma and extra smooth taste.

GODIVA Introduces New Dark Chocolate Liqueur

To celebrate the most indulgent day of the year, GODIVA Liqueur Company introduces new GODIVA® Dark Chocolate Liqueur.  Combining the renowned GODIVA chocolate tradition with spirited innovation, this liqueur is the delicious embodiment of liquid dark chocolate.  With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, this is the perfect occasion to bring the gold standard in chocolate to the ultimate chocolate martini.

The enticing GODIVA Dark Chocolate Liqueur was inspired by GODIVA’s rich dark chocolate and pleases the palate with a blend of flavors including deep, unsweetened dark chocolate, bright black cherry, candied sweet orange peel with a hint of cold-brewed coffee peeking through.  This versatile liqueur is dairy-free, allowing it to easily mix with an array of spirits and ingredients, resulting in the perfect cocktail to share with friends during a night out on the town, while entertaining at home, or when toasting a special moment. Revel in the moment by mixing it into the signature GODIVA Dark Desire made with CIROC®Amaretto and orange juice or put a modern spin on one of the country’s most enjoyed cocktails, the Chocolate Martini, by mixing GODIVA Dark Chocolate Liqueur with CIROC Ultra-Premium Vodka, a sure way to spice up an evening with friends.

“We’re excited to provide chocolate lovers with the latest addition to the GODIVA Liqueur family,” says Stephanie Jacoby, Director of Liqueurs. “GODIVA Dark Chocolate Liqueur is a delicious full-flavored indulgence with less guilt.  As with all of our decadent offerings, we encourage everyone to drink responsibly.”

The new flavor will launch this month at a suggested retail price of $29.99 per 750 ml bottle. It will be available nationwide wherever fine spirits-based beverages are sold and joins GODIVA Chocolate Liqueur and White Chocolate Liqueur.

Crown Royal Introduces Extraordinary New Member to the Family

Crown Royal is making an extraordinary craft addition to its product line with the introduction of Crown Royal XO, an ultra-premium blended Canadian whisky, handcrafted by Crown Royal Master Blender Andrew MacKay. The unique blend of more than 50 of Crown Royal’s finest whiskies is finished in cognac casks from the French Limousin Forest, resulting in a complex expression of the signature blend.

A top-shelf craft addition to the Crown Royal portfolio, Crown Royal XO is an amber/topaz whisky deliciously balanced with hints of vanilla, spice and rich dried fruit, closing with an impeccably smooth finish.

Due to the brand’s great craftsmanship and history – the whisky was originally created to commemorate a grand tour of Canada made by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain in 1939 – Crown Royal has often been referred to as a noble spirit. MacKay pays homage to this distinguished tradition with his handcrafted approach to creating the Crown Royal XO blend.

Crown Royal XO can be enjoyed neat or on the rocks to fully experience the liquid’s complex flavor, or as the key ingredient in a number of classic cocktail recipes. It will be sold at a suggested retail price of $49.99 for a 750 ml bottle and will be available nationwide in early January.

The packaging for Crown Royal XO displays premium colors of gray and gold paired with a variation on the iconic bag, gray with gold embroidery accents. The unique bottle displays an extraordinary smooth silhouette with gold accents.

The launch of Crown Royal XO will be supported through print and online advertising as well as public relations, strong digital extensions and point of sale materials.