Wine & Spirits

By Stef Schwalb

The sun is shining brighter and the weather is getting warmer, so that means it’s time for a toast (or two)! Our long winter has finally come to its end, and celebrating the arrival of spring (and soon enough) summer is exactly what we’re thinking. Here’s a roundup of products to help you prepare.

A bottle of red, a bottle of white…and let’s add some pink because it’s seems so right. For the red, we suggest Frescobaldi Remole 2010 ( This Italian stallion blends native grape Sangiovese with Cabernet Sauvignon resulting in a wine with savory fruit flavors and balanced acidity that pairs well with a bounty of sizzling steaks you’re grilling up on the barbecue. With a suggested retail price (SRP) of $10.00, it won’t burn a hole in your budget either.

Americans love Chardonnay, so of course we had to throw one into the mix of our picks. We went with Giguere2011 Clone No. 8 Musqué Chardonnay ( Unlike the big buttery, toasty treats we know from the Golden State, this full-bodied, vibrant Cali girl is completely unoaked. It offers aromatic delights of honeysuckle and orange blossom and juicy flavors of papaya and lychee, while still maintaining a creamy, lush texture on the tongue. At a SRP of $16, it’s satisfying to both palate and the wallet.

Not just a stunning shade in the glass, the pretty in pink Caves da Cerca Fâmega Rosé is a powerhouse blend of grapes from two of Portugal’s most renowned regions: Vinho Verde and Douro DOC. Native grapes Vinhão and Alvarelhão hail from the former, while Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz are found in the latter. The result is a youthful, dry, clean wine featuring aromas of raspberry and citrus with zesty red fruits on the palate. With a SRP of just $7.00, you can definitely find room in your picnic basket for this.

Since this month we celebrate Cinco de Mayo, we’re keeping things caliente with Alacrán Mezcal ( as we anticipate the warmer weather to come. Made in Oaxaca, Mexico, by the makers of Alacrán Tequila, this smoky selection is made from 100% Agave Espadín. It’s ideal for serving on the rocks or as part of a cocktail, and the refreshing taste packs a powerful punch of medicinal and tonic characteristics. It also comes packaged in a sleek, soft-touch coated glass bottle and has a SRP of $48.00.

What would spring be without some rum? It’s such the perfect ingredient for so many popular cocktails and is also nice with ice on its own. We’ll start with a premium pick and turn to Shellback Rum ( Hailing from Barbados, this Caribbean gem comes in Silver and Spiced. Shellback Silver features floral, vanilla, and tropical fruits that combine to make for a smooth, sophisticated taste; Shellback Spiced showcases a selection of spices (sans any sugar), plus hints of caramelized honey and dark roast that result in an equally impressive palate pleaser. Both bottles are available for a SRP of $17 each, so we say it’s high time to get ready to rum-ble.

If flavored rum is more your thing, Cruzan Rum ( has two new products to consider that are perfect for the season: Cruzan Key Lime and Cruzan Passion Fruit. The former features key lime’s citrus characteristics with notes of floral honey sweetness; the latter showcases passion fruit flavors highlighted by hints of peach and caramelized sugar. These smooth, refreshing selections are latest additions to the company’s large portfolio of flavored rums, and with a SRP of just $14.99, there’s no reason not to try both.

Last but not least, to get you excited for your summer reading list, we have Bucket List Bars ( This tome of taste by Dr. Clint Lanier and Derek Hembree offers the complete history of 40 famous bars from around the country. Tall tales (and true ones) are revealed by the establishments’ owners and bartenders, and tips are provided for travelers headed to their locales. Twelve regions are covered including Austin, Boston, Chicago, LA, NYC and San Fran, among others. If you want a sneak peek, head to McSorley’s (NYC’s oldest running bar) because it made the Top 10. To find out the rest, you’ll just have to get a copy for yourself, and with a SRP of just $16.95, who wouldn’t want to?

Originally published May 2013
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