Charlie Opines About Wine

In my search for interesting wines to serve to guests at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast, I attend many planned and impromptu wine tastings. I am happy to share my experiences with you. It's a tough job but someone has to do it.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cape Cod Style Found In Florida

Seaside, Florida
On the road again (still), and always working hard to find intresting wine to serve guests at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast. In our winter travels, we search out great beaches where we can work on our tans, and we always spend as much time as possible on the pure white sands and in the clear green waters of the Gulf of Mexico in the panhandle of Florida. One of our favorite stops is Seaside, Florida, the first planned beach community along scenic 30-A, and in the heart of what is known today as the Emerald Coast.  

Chris Wallace & Me
Seaside was originally designed to copy a New England village with narrow streets radiating from a central town square across from a pristine beach. Around the square are a number of shops and restaurants, including Crush, A Vintner’s Café. Yes, A Vintner’s Café is a place that interests me. Crush is a very nice, hip, wine bar that offers small plates and sushi with both inside and patio seating overlooking the common area. We were pleased to learn that they featured a daily ‘happy hour’ from 4-6 PM with all wine, beer, and sushi half priced. Not surprisingly, Jan and I found ourselves gravitating from the beach to Crush around that time of day.  Can it get any better than this?  Yes, on Thursday evening how about a free ‘formal’ tasting

Last Thursday, we settled in to ‘our’ table by the window and ordered our usual small plate of Crostini with hummus, chorizo sausage, arugula, and roasted pepper shallot jam. The manager, Chris Wallace, was sharing four wines. Chris’s father is Mike Wallace, but as he said, not the 60 Minutes’ Mike Wallace.  Having learned about our preference for reds, Chris started us with the 2007 Snake Charmer Shiraz.

The name and label alone were enough to get my attention and the wine stood up to the hype. This big and bold Australian Shiraz really complimented our appetizer. With a little research, I found it was made by Vinaceous wines from South Australia with grapes from the famous McLaren Vale. They have a very interesting website that points out that ‘Vinaceous literally means of wine and grape’. Besides making good wine, Vinaceous has a real marketing flare producing other wines with interesting names like Red Right Hand (Shiraz Grenache Tempranillo), Raconteur (Cabernet Sauvignon), and Divine (Verdelho). I was charmed by my first experience with the Snake and will be on the look out for their other brands.

Breaking the rules of a formal wine tasting, we skipped the whites, although Chris was serving a chilled gewürztraminer that was getting rave reviews when paired with Crush’s sushi. The big surprise of the night was the last wine, a 2008 Angove Nine Vines Rose. Also from South Australia, the Angove Family Winemakers have made exceptional wines since 1886. This well made Grenache and Shiraz blend is bright pink, fruity, and very refreshing. I will find some of this juice for my summer ‘deck’ wine for Inn guests to enjoy on a warm Cape Cod evening.

Formal or informal, I continue to taste wine (this is a full time job) in search of the perfect wines to serve guests at our Sandwich Inn.  

Happy Wine-ing!

Charlie Preus, the Innkeeper’s Assistant and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod Massachusetts

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