Have you met the new shop girls?

Perhaps you noticed on a recent visit that there was a strange, brown-haired girl working the cash register.  Maybe you wondered, “What the heck, is Lisa taking a day off or some crap like that?”

Well, yes, I was sort of was!  We’ve got two new faces (both brown-haired ladies) in the shop these days, so you’ll want to meet them both.  I made them answer questions (I threatened to fire ‘em if their answers didn’t meet my extremely high standards) so that you all, the loveliest customers in the land, could get to know them better.

 

Megan 

mustache

-Where are you from?
A: I’m from Southern Oregon originally, but have lived in Seattle for the last 12 years.
-What do you do besides drink?
A: I paint pictures, trail run, and go to shows. I’m also responsible for a behemoth cat named Andy.
-Why do you love the Red Sox?
A: So I can keep my job at Barrique Barrel.
-What’s your favorite thing to drink on a cold, drizzly winter day?
A : A good Stout
-What’s your favorite thing to eat with that drink?
A: Sizzle Pie
gorge
-What excites you about wine/beer/cider?
A: Seasonals! I love how the weather dictates my drinking mood. Oh, and drinking after running is the BEST.
-Tell us about your favorite restaurant.
A: I could eat the wings at Pok Pok until my face melted off. Also, the nearby Baowry Restaurant makes a mean sizzling rice soup.
-What kind of music will be playing on your shift?
A. I will likely be streaming KEXP or playing NW folk-based tunes. Rowdy.
-Breaking Bad or The Sopranos?
A. Heisenberg, yo.
-Favorite place that you’ve traveled.
A. Orcas Island, WA. in the San Juan Islands. Also a big fan of Iceland.
-It’s your day off.  Where are you?
A. Painting in a basement, running in the Columbia River Gorge, or Buzzfeed.
me and andy
Bryce
bryce3

 

-Where are you from?
A: I’m from magical county of Marin; home of Tupac; Ewoks and Miwoks.
-What do you do besides drink?
A:You can find me studying or camping. Oh wait, I’ll probably still be drinking
-Why do you love the Red Sox?
A: I love the Red Sox because my grandfather played for their AAA team and my mom would disown me if I did not love them.
-What’s your favorite thing to drink on a cold, drizzly winter day? And what’s your favorite thing to eat with that drink?
A: I love stouts and cabernet sauvignon any time of year, but most especially when the sun goes down at 4:30. Nothing could make me feel cozier. Unless I had also had a big bowl of slow-cooked beef stew or yam and squash enchiladas. Yum.
bryce

 

-What excites you about wine/beer/cider?
A: This is corny, but I love the communal nature of wine and beer. Portland is awesome because you can make a new friend based on a mutual love of an Oregon brewery. (Or in my case you can make enemies by divulging an allergy induced aversion to IPAs.)
-Tell us about your favorite restaurant.
A: There are so many great restaurants that I love or have yet to try! I am a big fan of Che Café and I could live off of Taqueria Santa Cruz, although I’m not sure how long I would live.
-What kind of music will be playing on your shift?
A:  I’m usually bumping Jay Z or Wu Tang. If I had too much wine the night before then I’ll be playing The National.
-Breaking Bad or The Sopranos?
A: I haven’t watched either. How about Downton Abbey or Walking Dead?
-Favorite place that you’ve traveled.
A: My happy place is a solitary evening under the stars with South Sister to my left, Broken Top to my right and not a soul for miles.
-It’s your day off.  Where are you?
A: I spend my weekdays getting educated at PCC in an effort to earn a BS in Geology. #forscience
bryce2

 

Ch-ch-ch-changes…

Did you know that in just over a week, Barrique Barrel will be two years old?  It’s true!  Two years of building friendships, explaining the difference between Pinot Gris & Pinot Blanc, searching out the latest beers, and expanding the inventory…bottle by bottle, cooler by cooler, chocolate bar by chocolate bar.

And with that in mind, it’s time to announce the biggest expansion yet.  As of today, October 23rd, we will be able to pour you a glass and let you relax.

It’s going to take a bit of time to get things in order (yikes, time to go snifter glass shopping!  Oh, right, and we are suddenly in desperate need of a kegerator!).  But in the meantime, I bet you’re wondering just exactly how this will change the business.

* Our hours will stay the same.  That’s Tuesday through Saturday from 12-8 & 12-6 on Sundays.  (Although keep an eye out for our holiday hours, when we are open for 7 days a week).  Why is that?  Because a bottle shop has always been the goal.  The expansion into “tasting bar” is being undertaken because we want to open MORE bottles for you.  We want to give you as many chances as possible to taste.  What happens when you taste wine?  You are more likely to leave satisfied with your purchase, knowing that you enjoyed that wine here & you’ll enjoy it at home.  You are also more likely to understand what I mean when I say things like “This wine tastes like raspberry jam” because you have a glass of it in your hand.  Then (and this is the most important part), we get to have a conversation, which strengthens our community within the store and outside of it.

* How will this affect Friday Night Flights?  The short answer is that it won’t…much.  There will still be a flight (alternating as much as we can between beer, wine & cider).  The biggest difference is that if, while tasting, you find something that you particularly enjoy, you can buy a glass of it.  (And if you do, the tasting fee will be waived.)  Plus, you know those times that we are doing a cider tasting but your husband hates the stuff?  Now he’ll be able to pull a bottle of  beer out of our expanded cooler selection for a small corkage fee.

* As for a kegerator, that is decidedly in the works.  There will be three taps, with one of those three dedicated to cider.  Expect to see a rotating selection of limited releases.

* But where in the store will you hang out?  Sure, it can get a little crowded in there.  Expect to see some rearranging of the wine racks & bar area in the next few weeks.

There is some bad news that comes along with these changes.  Without serving food (which we are simply not in a position to do), the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (that’s the licensing government body) will not allow minors in the store while alcohol is being served.  I worked with the OLCC to find a compromise – building a kids area in the front of the store, roping off areas, rearranging things – but the simple fact is that we couldn’t swing it.  Here’s the compromise that I got:  Alcohol service begins at 3pm.  Minors are allowed in the store until that time.  After that, Barrique Barrel would face fines for any minors in the store.

I know that this is less than ideal.  I know that we have had families in the shop since Day One and without all those parents supporting us, we would never have gotten to where we are.  I wish, I wish that I could have found some way to work within the bureaucracy, so I hope you believe me when I say that I did everything within my power to find a way.  We will be more than happy to welcome minors in the store before 3pm, but please understand that we won’t have a choice after 3pm.

October Wine Club

spain_punch

You may have noticed that October is the Month of Spain around these parts! Each week, I’ve chosen a different Spanish region to focus on. So far this month, we’ve visited Rioja & Southern Spain with Cataluyna coming up next and Castilla y Leon after that. It’s been a whirlwind tour, to be sure. Anybody who attends two of this months tastings will receive 10% off any single purchase over $20 in November. And anybody who attends three tastings will receive 20% off any single purchase over $20 in November. You’d also receive the last tasting for free, but as you know, wine club members already receive free tastings!

But the wines have been so well-received at the tastings that I feel inspired to plan the next few months & also to share some of these wines with you.

And since I’ve got you here, just an FYI that Barrique Barrel will open at 2:30pm on Tuesday, October 22nd. We apologize for any inconvenience this causes and appreciate your flexibility!

La Cigarrera Manzanilla

I poured some Sherry during last week’s Southern Spanish wine tasting and it excited me to see how many people enjoyed it. So, you all get sherry this week! I’m also planning a Grand Sherry tasting on December 21st, accompanied by Manchego cheese, Spanish olives, and jamón. Frankly, sherry is a massive subject (which I’ll address in further detail in December), but the first thing I’d like to address is that not all sherry is sweet. Sure, some are sweet, but Manzanillas are never sweet. Sherry is a fortified wine from Jerez, Spain. They are produced in what are called “soleras” in a criadera system. It is basically a barrel system in which the sherry from the oldest barrel is bottled and than the missing liquid is replaced with sherry from the next oldest barrel and so forth down the line. Most soleras use 4-5 barrels. What results is a surprisingly consistent wine (unlike many wines, vintage is unimportant here). Manzanilla and Fino sherries are the lightest sherries, they are mineral driven and taste briny or salty.

Food Pairing Ideas: Promise me that you’ll try this sherry with food. Sherry is really meant to be with food. In Jerez, you’d drink this style of sherry with shellfish or aged cheese. I know a sherry expert who loves to drink it with sushi. Garlickly shrimp would be a simple & delicious pairing.

********************************************************************

Telmo Rodriguez Al Muvedre*

This fun little wine comes to us from Alicante, a region known for their Mouvedre or Monastrell, as it’s called in Spain. In France, they mostly use this grape for blending in the Rhône region, but the Spanish let it shine on its own. It’s a bold wine, but still approachable due to its delicate tannins and spicy, full-bodied flavor.

Food Pairing Ideas: Monastrell is a natural partner for meats like lamb & pork or meaty vegetables like portobello mushrooms & eggplant. Whatever your persuasion, make sure to roast it.

**********************************************************************************

Bodegas Borsao Garnacha*

Garnacha may also be familiar to you as Grenache, but it originated in Spain right in the Aragon region (where Bodegas Borsao is located). And this winery has had a major role in reviving & elevating Garnacha. Flavorwise, it can be a bit like Primitivo with more grip to it. Since it’s more fruit-forward, it can handle a little spice.

Food Pairing Ideas: You know what I’d like to eat with this? Enchiladas. And given the crisp, autumn air out there, I’d go with chipotle squash enchiladas.

**********************************************************************************

Luzdivina Mencia

I know we’ve got some Malbec & Cabernet Franc fans in the Club, so I thought you might like to check out Spanish Mencia. People used to think Mencia was a direct relative of Cabernet Franc due to similarities in aroma between the two grapes (spicy, peppery notes dominate both wines), but it turns out that assumption was incorrect (thanks, DNA testing!). It has a luscious & bold texture in common with Malbec. And so, I present Mencia to you, the best of both worlds!

Food Pairing Ideas: Like Malbec, this would get along swimmingly with roasted meats. But it’s also got some high acidity, so don’t be afraid to pair it with a simple pasta & tomato sauce. My favorite tomato sauce recipe is Marcella Hazan’s, made with copious amounts of butter, a sure way to my heart. Here is a recipe, from the blog of Orangette (a Seattle-based food blogger that I like).

*Wines with an asterisk are part of the 4 bottle Club. Email me if you would like to order a bottle for yourself. 

 

More hops! More Instagram! More winners!

You may recall our last Instagram contest, which was held in late May and featured one of my absolute favorite things to drink, rosé wine.  Well, given the success of that contest, it looks like that many of you also love Instagram, drinks, and putting pictures of your drinks on Instagram!

So let’s do it again!  I spent some time thinking about what our topic should be and it’s pretty clear there’s only one thing: fresh hops.  Take pictures of vines growing in your backyard or pictures of your fresh hopped homebrew or pictures of a new favorite hoppy beer.  Really, you can take pictures of just about anything as long as you can tie it into our hoppy theme.

How it works:

-Upload your picture to Instagram and use the hashtag #freshhopbb.

-We’ll pick our favorites and then host a vote.  The winner of the public vote receives a $25 gift certificate to the store to spend on all their favorites!

-The contest runs from now until Wednesday, September 18th.

-Your pictures don’t have to be of hops!  Whatever you’re drinking, whoever you’re with, whichever backyard you happen to be in is all fair game.  Just take a pretty picture!

Instagram Contest! (Don’t worry, it involves drinking too.)

 

Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 12.59.06 PM

Summer is coming, right?  RIGHT? I know, it’s super rainy right now, but my favorite way to deal with the spring showers is to pretend the sun is shining.  I do this by closing my eyes and sipping a fresh, delicate rosé.  Then I Instagram a picture and tag it #roséporn and chuckle.  Never fails to cheer me up from the rainy day doldrums!

Okay, so now YOU try!

How it works:

-Upload your picture to Instagram and use the hashtag #roséporn.

-We’ll pick our favorites and then host a vote.  The winner of the public vote receives a $25 gift certificate to the store to spend on all their favorites!

-The contest runs from now until the day of our first Friday rosé tasting (June 7th).

-Your pictures don’t have to be of pink wine!  Whatever you’re drinking, whoever you’re with, whichever backyard you happen to be in is all fair game.  You know, just take a pretty picture!

 

Domo arigato, Mr. Rosato!

Rosés on display.

 

Several lifetimes ago, I worked at a restaurant in Midtown Manhattan called Becco.  (It’s still there, you can still check it out and if you do, may I please recommend the unlimited pasta plate?)  Jeremy was the sommelier here.  And he was just about the furthest thing from a stuffy sommelier that you could imagine.  Jeremy had this crazy mane of curly brown hair, he towered over me at 6’4″ and I never saw him wear a suit.  His passion for wine was thrilling and he always had time to teach me a bit about it.

And so it was that one day I finished up my shift and sat down at the bar to order a plate of the heirloom tomato salad that was on special.  Jeremy walked up to me and handed me a glass of Castella di Ama Sangiovese Rosato.  I swear to you, all he did was hand me this glass of rosé and say in a very serious tone “You need to drink this if you’re eating that”.
You guys?  It was stunning.  It was the first time that I had experienced a rosé with no sweetness, with lots of bright flavor.  And it was amazing with the tomatoes.  This was the first time that I understand why people make such a damn fuss about which wine goes with which food.
The summer went on and I learned more about wines (especially pink ones).  It was from Jeremy that I learned you can use real words when talking about wine.  I nearly spit my wine out the first time he called a Sauvignon Blanc “cat pissy” – and he didn’t even mean it as a negative! Jeremy just felt that you can laugh about wine or say what you really think about it.
Rosé Porn.

 

It’s been eight years since he handed me that glass and rosé wines have grown a personal passion of mine.  You might already know this about me, if I tried to shove a bottle of pink wine in your hands one day.  You might have been protesting “But is it a sweet wine?”.

No.  Almost never in my shop.  That’s because very little of the rosé produced in the world is sweet.  White Zinfandel, which is many peoples reference point, is a very, very small percentage of pink wine and frankly, it shouldn’t even count.  That crap is basically simple syrup.  Gross.

Pink wines (you might see them called rosé, rosado, or rosato depending on the country of origin) have been produced for centuries.  There are two main ways of producing a pink wine.

One method is called “saignée” (French for “bleeding”). This technique is done at the same time as red wine production.  Let’s say that you are an Oregon Pinot Noir maker and you would like to make a Pinot Noir rosé as well.  You let all your Pinot Noir juice rest with the skins & seeds.  (This is where tannin is extracted from the skins into the juice.  Most red wines will sit on those skins for days, maybe weeks.)  At this point, the winemaker will separate a portion of this seedy, grapeskin-filled juice that is destined to be a pink wine, and they will filter it far earlier than what is intended to be red wine.  How much earlier?  That’s up to the winemaker.  There are many factors to be determined.  Do they want a dark, rich rosé or a lighter, less tannic rosé?  What was the ripeness of the fruit when picked?  The skins (also called pomace) could be filtered off as early as a few hours after the crush.  Or perhaps a few days.  Depends on the wine, the vintage, the winemaker and whatever other factors that we don’t even know about because winemaking is a very fluid activity.  Kind of like a Choose Your Own Winemaking Adventure, really.

The other method of rosé-making is Direct Press.  In contrast to this saignée method, where maceration is an important factor, direct press juice is filtered almost immediately after producing juice.  This results in a much lighter pink wine.  There’s nothing wrong with either method here.

 

Rosé Porn.

 

Anyway, all that’s just an explanation about how pink wines are actually made.  How do they taste?  Texturally, they are quite like a white wine: generally light, crisp and served cold.  Pink wines can be made from ANY grape varietal and they can maintain the flavor characteristics that you associate with that varietal.  You could have a peppery Cabernet Franc rosé from the Loire.  You could have a delicate, cherry & cranberry-like rosé from an Oregon Pinot Noir.  With rosé, you can have it all, because these wines are excellent meal pairing wines.  BBQ-slathered pork?  Try a juicy southern Italian rosato.  Grilled fish with lemons?  If you don’t buy this Provençal rosé, I will be mad at you.

We’ve come full circle with these pink wines, my friends, because it isn’t that pink wines have been sweet and just now producers are making dry ones.  It’s that pink wines have ALWAYS been dry and That Pink Winelike Substance Whose Name We Shall Not Speak bastardized the category for awhile.

I preach from the pulpit of pink wine year-round, but I get especially shouty during the summer.  I’ll be reinforcing this Pink Wine Manifesto by pouring rosé tastings on the first Friday of every summer month, starting in June.  I’d like to share with you what’s so special about these wines, just as Jeremy did with me.

2013

The new year is a great time to take a deep breath, look around and assess.  With that in mind, Barrique Barrel is taking a week off!

The shop will be closed from January 1 to January 8, returning to our regular hours on Wednesday, January 9.

We apologize for any inconvenience this causes our customers.  We’ll be excited to see you in 2013!