A little white wine advice

So I’ve always claimed to be someone who just wants the red wine, please, but lately I’ve been buying and drinking white. I don’t know what’s up with that. Maybe I’m just sick of winter and pining for the porch wines of summer, but I decided I could use some suggestions — are there some whites I should try or a restaurant that has something that pairs really well with their food? I put the questions to our resident sommelier, Lindy Brown:

“I am on a white kick too!  I really like Rhone blends when the weather is still transitional like this or a not-so-oaked, but not-super-sweet Chard like Calera Central Coast. As it gets warmer I love Txakolinas, and really any Spanish whites. Godella, Rioja blanco is great for the money, and German Riesling, when it’s well balanced. Thunderbird has a great, well-priced Riesling right now that pairs really well with most of the dishes I’ve had.”


What does a sommelier recommend for Valentine’s Day?

By Lindy Brown

“I only drink Champagne when I’m happy, and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I am not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it — unless I’m thirsty.” —  Mme. Lily Bollinger, Champagne icon and head of the Bollinger House, Oct. 17, 1961.

photo (22)

As Ms. Bollinger so eloquently points out, there is no definitive time to drink Champagne (or sparkling wine in general, for that matter).  However, if you are one who loves to have a great excuse for bubbles, look no further than Valentine’s Day, no matter your dinner plans. Sparkling wine pairs perfectly with everything from oysters to fried chicken.  So forget the candy hearts this year and try one of my favorite selections. (You’ll find most of these on the menu at Pizzology or The Libertine Liquor Bar, as well as at Vine & Table and Goose the Market.)

Naverán Brut Vintage Cava, Penedes, Spain 2010…with expressive honeysuckle, green apple and white peach notes, this Cava is well priced and the perfect way to start your evening.  Most Cavas get a bad rap, and some deservedly so, but this well-made wine will change your mind!

Camille Braun Cremant Rosé Pinot Noir, Alsace, France NV…made from 100 percent Pinot Noir, this sparkling wine from Alsace could easily pass for Champagne.  It has notes of dried cherry and wild strawberry, yet it’s dry and well balanced, making this wine an excellent choice, particularly for those for typically prefer red wines or darker beers.

Ca del Bosco Franciacorta Cuvee Prestige Brut, Lombardy NV…Franciacorta is a lesser-known sparkling wine, but only because there are so few in the market.  Beautiful in color, with yellow plum, citrus and honey flavors accented by a toasted bread finish,; you’d be remiss not to order this wine should you find it!

Joseph Perrier Cuvee Royale, Champagne, France NV…this is my favorite non-vintage Champagne by far.  The winemakers chose a 35 percent Chardonnay, 35 percent Pinot Noir, and 30 percent Pinot Meunier blend that is aged for a minimum of three years.  Notes of lemon, peach and vanilla lead to a full-bodied, yet refreshing finish.

A French 75…for those of you who like a bit of booze with your bubbles.  When properly made, this is my favorite classic cocktail.  Created by Harry MacElhone in 1915, the combination of gin, Champagne, lemon juice and sugar was said to have such a kick that it felt like being shelled with the powerful French 75mm field gun.

Certified sommelier Lindy Brown lives in Indianapolis and loves chocolate, something & talking in code. 


Devour Downtown Cocktail Contest

I got to help judge the recent Devour Downtown signature cocktail contest, and I really enjoyed some of the entries. Here are three of my favorites.

Torpor Hum photo

By Corie Metzler, Tavern on South

3 blood orange segments
1 1/2 ounces Stoli
1 ounce Hum Botanical Spirit
¾ ounce lime juice
¾ ounce Wilks & Wilson gomme syrup
Blood orange peel

Muddle the blood orange segments.  Add all ingredients in a shaker.  Shake and strain into a martini glass.  Garnish with the blood orange peel.


Apple Jax

photo (2)By Dave Hornak, Scotty’s Brewhouse

1 ¼ ounces Fireball Whiskey
1 ¼ ounces Jack Daniel’s
2 ounces Angry Orchard hard cider

Fill rocks glass with ice. Add each liquor and top with Sprite.



Smoked Vanilla Manhattan

photo (1)By Kenny Gardner, Tavern on South

Hickory smoke for garnish
Hickory-smoked vanilla ice cubes

2 ounces Knob Creek bourbon
1 ½ ounces cherry vanilla-infused sweet vermouth
Dash of bitters
Brandy-soaked cherry for garnish

Turn the snifter upside down and let fill with hickory smoke. Put the smoked vanilla ice in a shaker with Knob Creek, the infused sweet vermouth and bitters; stir. Turn the snifter over, let smoke escape and pour in the contents of the shaker.  Garnish with the brandy soaked cherry and serve.



A Wintertime Celebration Drink 20140109-112707.jpg

Mixologist Zachari Wilks of Wilks & Wilson came up with this recipe when I asked him for a great winter drink to celebrate the launch of EatDrinkIndy. It’s a terrific riff on a hot toddy!

Hot High Five
Serves 1

1 1/2 ounces Tanquery gin
1/2 ounce honey
1/2 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 cup fresh-brewed green tea

Add gin, honey and lemon juice to your favorite hot drink mug. Brew 1 cup of green tea and pour into mug. Stir until well mixed. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and a slice of lemon.
–By Zachari Wilks of Wilks & Wilson

A Woman on Wine
By Lisa Cunningham

Are you drinking a Matisse?

After years spent that in the wine business, I have formed the opinion that wine is like art.

Lisa Cunningham

Lisa Cunningham

First, like art, wine is subjective. Thankfully, in both the art and wine worlds there’s a plethora of colors, styles and price tags from which to choose.

Second, winemaking is in some ways like an artist blending paints on a palette. Sometimes the artist might choose to use the color as it appears in nature. Other times it might be blended with another color to create something entirely different.

Some of my favorite wines are the blends. There are the “field blends” that many times begin as a wine made by the winemaker for his or her family and friends. Then there are the classic blends of the Bordeaux and Rhone regions of France.

Some of my favorite wines at Mass Ave Wine Shoppe are these fun blends. Like popular art, many are made to appeal to a wide variety of palates. Some are food friendly; some are quite delicious on their own.

Third, with wine as with art, there are the choices between new world and old, contemporary and renaissance, modern and classic, recently made and carefully cellared.

And, like art, not every bottle of wine is a masterpiece destined for a museum. There is a time and a place for fresh wine, recently bottled and meant to be consumed in its youth. Think of the lovely, refreshing wines of the Vinho Verde region in Portugal. (We have a great selection of these at the shop for under $10.) In that same vein, you probably have some young, fresh artwork on the front of your refrigerator right now.

Other wines and works of art improve and become more valuable over time.
I’m not making any judgements on which is better…there is a time and place for ALL art — and wine.

Lisa Cunningham, a former sommelier at Oakleys Bistro, manages the Mass Ave. Wine Shoppe.

Fifth-annual Whisky & Fine Spirits Expo at Vine & Table

This event looks great — tastings, master classes, gourmet buffet. Plus, check this out from Vine & Table’s website:
“This year’s event will also coincide with the arrival of Vine & Table’s exclusive, hand-selected cask, a heavily sherried single malt Scotch from the Glendronach Distillery, along with our very own bottling of a rare, peated, single cask single malt from the Isle of Arran Distillery. Those attending the event will have the first opportunity to sample and pre-order these unique, limited edition whiskies.”

Inaugural CANvitational craft beer festival brings 30+ brewers to Indy

It was great to see so many enjoying the craft beer at Sun King’s CANvitational canned craft beer fest Sept. 28 on Georgia Street. Approximately 1,000 tickets were sold for the tasting event, which brought breweries from across the country to Indianapolis.