An Invasion of the Riesling Kind

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Riesling is one of those wine varieties that gets under your skin, in a totally beautiful way, in the way it preoccupies your mind like the way a lover does, sparking something deep inside, and stirring your innermost senses. With stunning and perfume-like aromatics that can stop you in your tracks, riesling is also one of those varieties that also surprises you with its food-friendly diversity. Ranging in style from bone-dry to honey sweet and desserty, there’s a riesling?true to?every palate. And coming up very soon is the 2016 Riesling Invasion, your opportunity to journey through?so much riesling, you may finally understand why it’s considered a noble variety and why some experts have called it “The Best White Wine on Earth.”

On Saturday, July 23rd, 2016, from 5-9pm, Riesling will dominate Jacobsen Salt Company offering wines from more than 40 different producers. Visit the website for the complete list, and discover?how many different domestic producers in the Pacific Northwest?are crafting this cool-climate wine. Some wineries you may have note?even heard of?yet, like Sabella and Paetra. And as an added bonus, and giving tasters?something traditional to compare to, Dr. Loosen wines from Germany will be available for sampling as well.

Riesling is historically significant, dating back to the Rhine region of Germany in the 1400s, and is known well for being terrior-driven, which means it is expressive of and influenced by the region where it is grown. Grown in cooler climates like Austria and Alsace, it typically shows high acidity, allowing for favorable aging. Older vintages often display?smokey, honey, and petrol characteristics, which may not sound all that appealing (mostly the petrol),?but are?positively captivating. Though fruity, floral and delicious in their youth, the sweeter rieslings,?with their high sugar content, can be aged for 30 or more years.

Tickets for this unique tasting opportunity are just $30/advance ($35/at the door) and include tastings of over 100 rieslings, a commemorative Riedel glass, and a six-pack wine carrier to manage your purchases. Food from Chef Jesse Skiles of Brasica, Viking Soul Food, and the Wild Hunt will be available to purchase.

Purchase tickets here.

Nocino and DIY Booze, Because You Can

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IMG_4618Many beverages we currently enjoy in today’s day and age were commonly developed for their medicinal properties. Nocino, made from unripe green walnuts, is no different. Used during the middle ages, Italian monasteries crafted nocino for its medicinal properties and also as an alcoholic treat.

Falling right after the summer solstice, June 24, also known as John the Baptist Day, is traditionally the day for beginning the transformation of unripe green walnuts into nocino, a deliciously spicy, sticky, and coffee-brown magical elixir.

Historically, the nuts steep in neutral spirits for 40 days, when a spiced simple syrup is added and it’s steeped some more (though I add the sugar at the beginning). The liqueur should be ready by Halloween (see, magic!), but is recommended to age for at least 6 months. And since it will only improve with age, bottle and let it mellow for a decade or longer. You might find it tastes a little like Christmas, and you can wait till then to drink it, but be prepared to enjoy it on a cold evening with a warm fire brewing.

Though there is a basic recipe you can follow, since it’s often homemade, the “traditional” recipe varies from village to village. It’s also available in a commercially bottled version, but more fun to do it yourself each year, changing up the recipe based on your individual preferences.

Serve in tiny glasses after a meal as a dessert digestif or try mixing into your favorite cocktail. For instance, add a small shot into a classic Manhattan for some nutty flavors and added complexity.

For this version, I have chosen to experiment with adding all the ingredients at the beginning, we’ll see how it goes.

2 dozen green walnuts cut in quarters 
750 ml of good 80-proof vodka (I used a local Oregon small batch distillery called Vivacity)
Zest of one orange, cut into strips
Zest of one lemon, cut into strips
5 cloves
5 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 whole nutmeg
1 teaspoon dark-roast coffee beans
3 cups of sugar

  1. Add all ingredients into a large jar and seal.
  2. Place in a sunny spot for 40 days agitating every 10 days.
  3. Bring inside and store for another 40 days.
  4. Strain, bottle, seal and place in a cool dark spot until you’re ready to enjoy (or up to decade).