Ironic Turkey and More Intro to HSST

November 29, 2009


Just to further introduce you to Harwich Spirits Shoppe Talk… (Trust me, we ain’t your average hoity-toity wine, beer, and liquor purveyor.)

Thought we’d just say that we hope that everyone had a pleasant and safe holiday, and include this ironic (though flawed) photo…

Do you see that blurry brownish object with the small gray lump on it just to the right of the lid of the gravy jar? That’s a wild turkey. Yeah… I was prepping some left over gobbler and stuffin’ when this brute wandered through the backyard. Can you imagine what his reaction might have been if he somehow could have conceived the whole process of the slaughter, plucking, freezing, defrosting, cooking, carving, eating, refrigerating, microwaving, and eating yet again of one of his brethren? It probably would bent his tiny little mind.  Something along the lines of, “It’s a cookbook!” in the old Twilight Zone human terms. Anyway, this is the sort of Weltanschauung you can expect at our store. (Put another way, Steven Wright probably would feel at home in the joint.)

One last note… Check out our references section below. Those will be a common element of every post. (There will be a quiz later.)

See you by the racks,



Wine Glossaries

* Nat Decants: A thorough glossary from Natalie MacLean, noted wine writer, speaker, and judge.
* “The Independent Consumer’s Guide to Fine Wines”
* GLOSSARY of Wine-Tasting Terminology (Version 1.4 – Jan. 1995): A thorough collection of definitions from Anthony Hawkins.

Beer Glossaries

* ratebeer: Now that’s a straightforward name!
* beer-pages: Roger Protz and Tom Cannavan say that “it’s all about beer”.
* A fine collection of Beer dictionaries.


Wine and Beer Reference Page

November 27, 2009

Wine and Beer Glossary Links

One of the joys of starting a new blog like this is establishing a reference page – that is setting up a series of links that will help the reader more thoroughly understand the beer and wine experience. (Down the road, we may expand this to include the harder liquors.) Further, going forward, those references will always be placed at the bottom of each post so that you don’t have to go looking for them. So, without too much fanfare, let’s see if we can’t build up a nice jumping off point for the aficionado and the want-to-be aficionado.

Wine Glossaries

Beer Glossaries

  • ratebeer: Now that’s a straightforward name!
  • beer-pages: Roger Protz and Tom Cannavan say that “it’s all about beer”.
  • A fine collection of Beer dictionaries.

Well, that should keep you busy for a while. And should you see another good reference source, speak up!

See you by the racks,

Bruce et al

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at Harwich Spirits! May the spirit of the day stay with you the year round!

See you by the racks,


Holiday Wine Sale! Shhh!!! Bruce Needs Sleep…

November 23, 2009

Don’t let anyone in on this little secret, but Bruce has clearly fallen short a few fries from the ol’ Happy Meal, if you know what I mean… Here’s a cryptic message he sent out from his padded “Wine Cellar”…

Lets keep in mind that there is a bit more wine poured during the holidays than usual. Having said that, take a look at your purchasing habits. If you think there will be the chance that 12 bottles will be used in the near future, what with the company for the bird (gobble), kids home for a long weekend of munching and mooching, and all those leftovers. Not to mention a few bottles for yourself whilst cleaning up afterwards or just to have in the rack.
Saving MONEY is the talk of the moment. By buying a mixed case of wine right now you can save 20%, which for an average case could equate to real money. check these figures:

  • 12 bottles @ $9 gross is $108 – 20% {21.60} = $87.00

  • 12 @ $12 gross is $144 – 20% {28.80} = $115.20

  • 12 @ $15 gross is $180 – 20% {36.00} =$144.00

  • 12 @ $20 gross is $240 – 20% {48.00} =$192.00

I think you can see where I’m going with this. Seize the moment and save some bucks.

Okay Bruce… If that’s the holiday sale that you want… Fine. Sleep is good. Just take the pills that Nurse Ratched gave you and stay away from the fishing boats.

Nailing the cellar door shut,


Wine and the Holidays

November 22, 2009

Hmmm… Holidays… Where to begin? Well a good wine shop like the one below (Hint! Hint! Hint!) might be a wise starting point.

But how do you make all the varied flavors of the foods that are traditional at this time of year play nice with wine? Well, for the most part, there are “acceptable” matches.

  • If your favorite grape is savignon blanc then it will usually fit.
  • Stronger and heavier whites will also stand up to the richer, creamed veggies and gravies.
  • Red wines can also be served. Many dressings having sausage, bacon, linguicia, or udder meats within.  A Gewurztraminer or other Alsatian whites will match too and hold their own even with the spicier foods of fare gracing the happy table.
  • Few meals throughout the year yearn for the “sticky” wines such as Ports, Tawny Ports, Ice Wines, Moscatos, or any late harvest wine.  Late harvest wines are more expensive and usually come in half bottles. (The process is that of botritised grapes,also known as the Noble Rot.) These wines are the perfect match for any and all desserts including pies, cakes, tortes, cheesecakes, ice cream, and my favorite….a raisin and apricot fruit square with real whipped cream  and a spot of Lyle’s trycle syrup drooled over the top.

(Now how did my favorite get in there?)

Hey! Next time on this blog, look for some mind-blowing wine sales. And “next time” is much sooner than you might think!

Pass the word… Brooce is blogging and he ain’t takin’ no prisoners!

See you in the racks,

Bruce et al

Forget the Wine, Have a Beer!

November 21, 2009

Enough of this “French Wine Talk“! How about a little working-class discussion of beer?!? Yeah!!!

Here’s how I break it down… There are four classes of beer:

  • First are the 1970’s era Ortleibs, Blatzes, and “Green Deaths” – the stuff of frat parties and cheap fishing trips. About the best that can be said for those is that they didn’t taste any worse coming up than they did going down.
  • Second come the Buds, Millers, and Coors of the world…Alrighty then… How about a beer to go with those chips? These suds aren’t horrific, and so long as you get them cold enough and add enough salty snacks (peanuts, pretzels, Slim Jims, salt licks…) they’re pretty good, especially if your team is winning. A couple of quick side notes about “The Big Three” from St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Golden… America didn’t always have a taste for “ice-cold” beer. In fact, it wasn’t until the early part of the 20th century that refrigerated freight cars made it possible to ship local beers coast to coast. Add to that the influence of WWII and the introduction of lighter-alcohol, and less-balanced beers (Rosie the Riveter was not a German Braumeister), and the need for cold beer skyrocketed. Finally, the “supermarket-standards” are good for cooking. I kid you not.
  • What next? The good stuff… Samuel Adams, Sierra Nevada, Tsingtao all leap to mind. Natch that different styles (ales, lagers, lights, darks, ad infinitum) may or may not appeal to you. But this is the stuff of real beer. I like to think of beer as a food, and see how it knits with other food. Taste references run the gamut from cheese and sausage for darker beers, to pretzels with mustard for lighter beers, and finally to delicate Chinese food like egg rolls for delicate beers such as Tsingtao. So much is subjective, but common sense and experimentation rule the night.
  • And then there are the home brews and brew pubs. (Don’t get hung up on the glitz of the brew pub – some are great and some produce yak spit.) Once again, there is a gradient, from sub-sterno to best-on-earth… Many moons ago, I was a pretty serious home brewer, and I gotta say that a good home brew will blow away any commercial product. Two sources I used to live by were the author Charles Papazian and Midwest Supplies. Between those two alone, they’ve got you covered. BTW (and I ain’t bragging), the finest beer I ever had was a red ale I brewed myself. Did I save the recipe? Nooo!!!

So there you go, a thumbnail of real beer for real folks who don’t necessarily have a mansion in Newport.

See you by the coolers,


Quick Introduction to French Wines

November 19, 2009

(Photo courtesy Wikipedia)

Looks fantastic doesn’t it? A little Burgundy… A little Chablis… But let’s back up a bit and get a better sense of the history of these gems.

In the 50’s and 60’s many California wineries began producing what came to be known as jug red wine Burgundy and jug white wine Chablis. This was a huge misnomer. Why? Because those two terms reflect geographic locations in France and the grapes used in the jug California wines are not the same varieties used in those areas. Let me explain a bit further…

France has a very strict set of wine laws and certifications called the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC). These laws were implemented in the 1860’s after a 10 year study, complete with hearings and meetings all over the country. Within the body of laws it so stated that only the Chardonnay grape was allowed to be used in any bottle of white wine from the Chablis district. In the same vein, any bottle of red wine labeled Burgundy must be made from the Pinot Noir grape. The AOC had many other laws pertaining to the varieties, place names, and even foods such as cheeses and butters. This was to protect the economic importance of wine making etc. in the French system. Unfortunately for wine connoisseurs, the United States did not enter the League Of Nations (1920 – 1946) whereby doing so would have had the grape growers of our country following these laws. This allowed wine manufacturing and labeling to go unchecked in this country until recently. Finally, in the ’60s, many of the finer wine growers from California began lobbying for a similar set of laws for this country. Slowly, a set of rules have been implemented to emulate the AOC of France. This is one of the ways consumers can be protected from the few but unscrupulous scammers of the industry.

Just keep in mind, that not every bottle of Chablis is necessarily a bottle of chablis and not every bottle of burgundy is necessarily a bottle of Burgundy.

‘Til next time, I’ll see you in the racks,


P.S. Click on this link for a complete list of AOC wines.

P.P.S. A more detailed history of American wine can be found here.