GSN Review: Center of Effort Chardonnay Virtual Workshop

The Center of Effort Estate is located along south-facing slopes in the western Edna Valley, just moments from the Pacific shoreline. The vineyard unfolds along an ancient dune with rocky and sandy soil. This lean, sandy soil allows the vines to achieve natural balance, with limited vigor and low yields. The nuance of the Estate’s particular location in the Edna Valley lends to the bright and complex nature of their Chardonnay.

On March 6th, The Center of Effort winemaking team hosted an in-depth virtual tasting and discussion on their Estate Chardonnay. GSN had the opportunity to join the team and taste through a variety of COE Chardonnay, new and old, to learn the impact that time, barreling and growing season can have on each vintage. 

The discussion held via Zoom was quite informative and allowed participants to taste various unfiltered wine samples that were ultimately used in the final blend. It was eye opening to discover the various effects of different woods and even concrete on the various samples. Differing percentages of each are used to make the final Chardonnay, which was quite delicious.

The end of the evening gave everyone a chance for Q&A with the winemakers, and a invitation to visit the winery in the future.

For more information go to: Center of Effort Wine

Included in the Workshop were:
2015 Chardonnay, COE
2017 Chardonnay, EFFORT
2012 Chardonnay, COE Library

2020 Samples
Concrete Egg
Acacia Wood Barrel
French Oak Barrel 
Neutral Barrel

GSN Review: San Felice 2015 Vigorello Toscana Wine

San Felice is located in the commune of Castelnuovo Berardenga, a few kilometres from Siena, in the heart of Chianti Classico. Surrounding the tiny medieval hamlet and the winery complex are 140 hectares of vineyards, 80% planted with Sangiovese, a testimony to the commitment of San Felice to the production of Chianti Classico with a manifest bond to its local terroir, as shown by its ‘Il Grigio’ and ‘Poggio Rosso’ wines.

At the same time, San Felice has won recognition as a very innovative producer and committed researcher. Eloquent examples are its historic wine Vigorello, the precursor to the Supertuscan wines, and Pugnitello, made from the ancient Tuscan grape of the same name, which San Felice re-discovered and experimented with over many years, in collaboration with the University of Florence.

Their Vigorello is a blend of four different grapes: Pugnitello 35%, Merlot 30%, Cabernet Sauvignon 30%, and Petit Verdot 5%.

GSN’s Remarks: A dark burgundy color in the glass, with a slight oakiness overlaying a medium grape nose. The initial tasting brings fresh fruity grape character, quickly followed by a rich, near meaty presentation. This fades into a pleasant and balanced finish with some light tannins. The blend is a success, with a liveliness that is immediate. If you let it breathe awhile, more notes of dried fruit awaken. All in all, this makes for an elegant wine perfect for enjoying with some light charcuterie or with a chocolate dessert. GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Vision Wine and Spirits

GSN Alert: Passing Time: A Virtual Wine Tasting & Talk with former Miami Dolphins Quarterback and Hall of Famer Dan Marino and former NFL QB Damon Huard

The Dan Marino Foundation presents Passing Time: A Virtual Wine Tasting & Talk with former Miami Dolphin Quarterbacks Dan Marino and Damon Huard, hosted by Andrew Lampasone with Wine Watch, a unique wine boutique based in Fort Lauderdale.

  • Participants will get an exclusive opportunity to virtually Meet & Greet with Dan Marino and Damon Huard, co-owners of Passing Time Wine based in Washington State. Guests will hear from the NFL Quarterbacks about their award-winning wine and receive an opportunity to ask questions about football and life. 
  • Guests will also hear from Andrew Lampasone, owner of Wine Watch, and Chris Peterson, the Winemaker at Passing Time Wine.
  • Registered attendees will choose from two tier options: a Passing Time Trio set to include three bottles of fine wine (2017 Passing The Time Chardonnay, 2017 Columbia Valley Red Blend, & The Flagship 2018 Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon), and a chocolate tasting box from Hoffman’s Chocolates OR a Passing Time Duo, two bottles of fine wine (2017 Passing The Time Chardonnay, 2017 Columbia Valley Red Wine).
  • Wine packages will be shipped to individual registrants prior to the event date. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Dan Marino Foundation to help support its mission to empower individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities.
  • The Marino family started the Dan Marino Foundation 29 years ago with a vision that has become reality, focusing on creating opportunities leading to employment and independence for individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities.             

SPONSORS:        Badia Spices, United Kronos Group, Hoffman’s Chocolates, Emeril Lagasse Foundation, and Wine Watch

WHEN:                 Thursday, March 18  5:30 p.m.  – 7:00 p.m.

WHERE:               Virtual Event:  

DETAILS:              Individual tickets are $250 – $350

Limited tickets are available

Reservations must be made in advance by Thursday, March 11. 

About the Dan Marino Foundation:

Founded by Dan and Claire Marino shortly after their son, Michael’s, autism diagnosis in 1992, the Dan Marino Foundation has a long and distinguished history of life-changing programs and services, with the mission to “empower individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities”.  The Foundation has raised more than $84 million to create and support unique and impactful initiatives. For more information, please visit or follow on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter

About Passing Time

Former Dolphin QB Damon Huard had to travel 3,000 miles away from home to learn about the fine wines coming from his home state of Washington. It was teammate and NFL Hall of Famer, Dan Marion, who went into his personal cellar to introduce Damon to Washington State wines during the 1997 season. Over the next decade, the formers QB’s conversation about wine evolved into a discussion about owning and operating their own winery upon Huard’s retirement and return to Washington State. Damon’s family has deep roots in the heart of Washington wine country, helping pioneer the valley into the agricultural powerhouse that it is today. “The vision of making a truly great Washington wine is one that Damon and I have shared for a long time,” said Marino, one of the most decorated quarterback in NFL history and a member of the NFL’s Hall of Fame. “Although there are more than 900 wineries in Washington State, we believe the industry is still in its adolescence and we want to be part of it as it grows into the world’s next great wine region.” Passing Time was launched with the 2012 vintage of cabernet and released in the spring of 2015 to rave reviews from wine critics and customers alike.

About Wine Watch

From 1998 to the present, Andrew has owned and operated the Wine Watch, located in Fort Lauderdale, and today, the Wine Watch features over 4,000 different selections and a floor to ceiling display of wines in 3,000 square feet of display area that is housed in a new location that is custom built to house over 30,000 bottles they have over 10,000 active customers with over $3,500,000 in sales annually for the last five years Wine Watch is one of the largest wine only retailers in the Southeast United States. 

GSN Alert: February 18th – National Drink Wine Day

February 18th is National Drink Wine Day, which is a day each year that celebrates the love and health benefits associated with wine. According to the consulting group BW 166, wine sales in the U.S. topped $72.2 billion in 2018, which was nearly a 5 percent increase over the prior year. Clearly, we are nation that loves a good glass of wine, and the more we learn of the health benefits, the more likely more of us will add a bottle to our grocery list.

“People were enjoying a good glass of wine long before the research showed that there are health benefits,” explains Blake Helppie, managing partner at Rosé Piscine, a rosé wine specifically made to drink over ice. “Now we can enjoy our glass of wine and feel good about what it is doing for our body, too. Rarely do we find something that we enjoy so much that also provides health benefits.”

Wine enthusiasts can rejoice as they celebrate National Drink Wine Day this year, because the drink has plenty of research pointing to the fact that it’s a healthy beverage to drink in moderation. What exactly is moderation? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), moderate drinking is up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. One drink is defined as being four ounces of wine. Further, they recommend that number is not the average consumed over a week, but the amount consumed on any given day.

Most people who enjoy having a glass of wine with their meal love the taste, but they may not be aware of the way it’s helping their body. Here are some of the many health benefits that have been associated with making wine a part of your diet:

  • Heart health. The National Institutes of Health reports that studies have shown that adults who drink light to moderate amounts of alcohol may be less likely to develop heart disease than those who do not drink at all or are heavy drinkers.
  • Gut health. The April 2017 issue of the journal Current Opinion in Biotechnology included the research results of a study on the health benefits of fermented foods, including wine. The study found that fermented foods, including wine, provide health benefits well beyond the starting food materials, and contain living microorganisms of which some are genetically similar to strains used as probiotics.
  • Diabetes health. The April 2017 issue of the journal Endocrine reports that the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association recommend a Mediterranean diet for improving glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes. It also reports that studies show that higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet is associated with a 20-23 % reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The Mediterranean diet is one that includes drinking wine in moderation.
  • Brain health. Research out of the University of Rochester Medical Center in 2018 found that drinking wine in moderation was associated with reducing inflammation and helping the brain to clear away toxins, including those that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

“From the brain to gut to your heart, drinking a little wine has health benefits for most people,” added Helppie. “It’s nice to feel good about what you are drinking, whether with dinner, at a party, or at the beach. You can drink some wine and know you are doing your body good.”

GSN Review: Lifevine 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

Recognizing the hot topic around wine and health, LifeVine put its wines through rigorous testing with the Clean Label Project. With a goal to reduce contamination across all consumer products, the Clean Label Project™ uses data and science to reveal the true contents of America’s best-selling products. Products are tested in an accredited analytical chemistry laboratory for 130 harmful environmental and industrial contaminants and toxins. Results are published as Product Ratings. LifeVine Wines have been awarded the Clean Label Project Purity Award.

“Today’s consumers are more knowledgeable about what they want to put into their bodies. We know that fewer calories and less sugar in wine isn’t enough. In fact, our research revealed that 94 percent of wine drinkers are concerned about pesticides in their wines. Second only to the importance of higher antioxidants,” said Nichole Simpson, Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing for IBG. “In response to this trend, we’ve developed a series of wines that not only deliver on taste, but also check important health and wellness boxes that millennials and GenX consumers are looking for in their beverages of choice.”

Lifevine wines are the ONLY Certified Pesticide Free wines in America. Their wines have been independently sampled and tested in an accredited analytical chemistry laboratory for harmful environmental contaminants and toxins and over 200 pesticides. They also contain zero sugar per serving and are lower in calories & carbs, in addition to being certified organic by the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF)

LifeVine Wine offers a California Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, and an Oregon Pinot Noir from the famed Willamette Valley.

GSN’s Thoughts: A dry and vanilla forward Cab Sauv that has a medium body. Fruit forward and clean, with a meaty and woody character. There’s an almost walnut or hazelnut-like flavor that adds a bit more of a tannic edge. The terroir of this wine is apparent, as it definitely has a more northern, inland quality than you will find in Central Coast wines. A perfect wine for celebrating with friends, enjoying over a meal, or winding down at the end of the day. It’s not every organic wine that succeeds, but this one does. GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Lifevine Wines

GSN Alert: A Virtual Tasting – Exploring 2011 Wines with Inglenook, Corison & Ridge Vineyards

Francis Ford Coppola | Cathy Corison | Paul Draper
Eric Asimov | Elaine Chukan Brown

A Virtual Tasting:
Exploring 2011 Wines with Inglenook, Corison & Ridge Vineyards

Francis Ford Coppola, Cathy Corison, Paul Draper, Eric Asimov and 
Elaine Chukan Brown discuss the memorable 2011 vintage
and taste wines from a distinctive NorCal growing season

WHAT: As the 2011 vintage approaches its 10th anniversary, Inglenook is pleased to host an exploration of wines from that notable year. The vintage was known as a challenging one, in which Northern California experienced unusually cool weather throughout the growing season. Francis Ford Coppola, proprietor of Inglenook, is excited to gather with friends and colleagues to reflect on that memorable vintage, discuss critical farming and harvest decisions that were made that year, and explore how the wines have aged over the past ten years. This virtual tasting is open to the public.

Some of the 2011 wines that will be tasted include Inglenook’s Rubicon and Cabernet Sauvignon; Corison St. Helena, Napa Valley Kronos Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon and Corison St. Helena, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon; and Ridge Vineyards’ Monte Bello and Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.

Moderator Elaine Chukan Brown, Journalist & IWSC Wine Communicator of the Year
Francis Ford Coppola, Proprietor, Inglenook
Cathy Corison, Winemaker & Founding Partner, Corison
Paul Draper, Chairman, Ridge Vineyards
Eric Asimov, Wine Critic, New York Times

WHEN: January 19, 2021 at 3 p.m. Pacific Time



Founded in 1879 by Gustave Niebaum as Napa’s first estate winery, Inglenook boasts an illustrious heritage, a renowned legacy of innovation and an outstanding portfolio of award-winning wines that have defined and established Napa as a world-class wine region. From Gustave Niebaum to John Daniel, Jr. to Francis Ford Coppola, Inglenook’s three principal stewards have shared a strong sense of vision and an unwavering passion to create a wine estate that hearkens back to the European tradition, producing original, distinctly Napa wines that rival the best in Europe. Certified organic for more than 25 years, Inglenook remains the largest contiguous estate on the famed Rutherford Bench, Napa Valley’s finest area for producing spectacular Cabernet Sauvignon. 

GSN Review: Cool Cat Wine Spritzers

Cool Cat, a new line of low-calorie wine spritzers, recently launched its first two flavors: Original (Elderflower Mint Lime) and Citrus. These naturally flavored spritzers feature a base of California pinot grigio, cane sugar and are naturally gluten free. At 6.9% ABV they contain just 150 calories and two carbohydrates per 12-ounce can.

“As a minority business owner, it’s essential that we’re inclusive of all genders, ethnicities and sexual orientations, and bring together like-minded individuals who share similar values and experiences.” says Co-founder and CEO Rocco Venneri.

Cool Cat can be enjoyed right out of the can, poured over ice or used as a mixer in cocktails.

Cool Cat Wine Spritzers (6.9% ABV)
GSN’s Thoughts: These are particularly refreshing after a long day, kind of like the year we’ve had. Both spritzers are lightly flavored, with the Original having a more intriguing flavor profile. The citrus is more straightforward, but also makes for a mimosa-like alternative for brunch. Overall, the wine flavor is solid and neither flavor leans toward the sweet end of the spectrum. We recommend these for those who are fatigued of alcoholic seltzers. Cheers!
GSN Rating: B

For more information go to: Drink Cool Cat

GSN Recommendation: Pineau des Charentes

Spirited wine from France, Pineau des Charentes is the striking combination of a wine’s elegance with the kick of a spirit. The result of hundreds of years of craftsmanship, this bold, sophisticated combination is more relevant than ever, as craft products in the beverage industry are thriving.

Over the last decade, the beverage industry has witnessed the emergence of craft products, along with increased consumer attention to product quality. Consumers seeking excellent, smaller-batch products with traceable production should look no further than Pineau des Charentes, whose commitment to craftsmanship is a clear answer to today’s demand for authenticity and quality. The one-of-a-kind aromas of Pineau des Charentes are the fruit of the unique expertise of winegrowers and cellar masters passed down from generation to generation. In keeping with traditional production methods, the grape juice and cognac must come from the same estate, the same vineyard, and must be made by the same people.

The quality standards and artistry behind Pineau des Charentes have been recognized globally since the industry began to organize itself in 1920, which led to its Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (Protected Designation of Origin) in 1945. This label is a guarantee of Pineau des Charentes’ origin and quality and a recognition of its production methods.

The Pineau des Charentes Committee, known in France as the Comité National du Pineau des Charentes (CNPC), represents over 500 wineries and trade companies that produce Pineau des Charentes in France’s Charente and Charente-Maritime regions. The CNPC protects the interests of those who make and sell these wines.

Bartenders have welcomed craft products with open arms as the new key ingredients in original and authentic cocktails.  Here’s a cocktail to try created by Josue Romero

Haunted Mind
1 1/2 oz Pineau des Charentes
1/2 oz Cognac
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Plum Juice
1/2 oz Grilled Fig Syrup

Visit Pineau Academy for more information.

GSN Review: The Clambake Un-oaked Chardonnay & Limited Edition Rosé Wines

As a seasoned “clambaker,” sommelier, and culinary school graduate, founder and leader, Mary McAuley, had an “ah-ha” moment when charged with the task of selecting the wine for a clambake she threw with her friends back in August 2011 in her seaside hometown of Mantoloking, NJ. What started with the humble intention of making a “family wine” for personal clambakes turned into a local cult following when McAuley realized the void for trustworthy brands on the american wine market, and felt compelled to bring her idea to the masses. Ripe life’s first wine, the clambake chardonnay, hit the shelves in July 2013 and was an instant success.

At ripe life, Mary oversees every aspect of production, from vineyard procurement to winemaking direction with her team. She is solely responsible for creative direction, business development, and the sales and marketing of over 20 major wholesale markets.

The single-vineyard Mendocino chardonnay is picked slightly under-ripe, and aged in stainless steel tanks, resulting in an atypically light, clean, and smooth expression of California chardonnay. Letting the grapes from this amazing region speak for themselves, Ripe Life’s winemaking techniques result in a chardonnay that is curiously delicate with notes of lemon verbena, green apple, citrus zest and crisp minerality. Perfect for a seafood feast.

The limited edition rosé is made from some of the very best old-vine Carignan from Mendocino. Picked in its youth and crushed ever so lightly, Ripe Life has created a rosé with both delicate, acid-driven structure, but is also refreshingly crisp and will cut through the richness of a typical clambake.

GSN’s Thoughts: Both of these wines are on the dry and somewhat tart side, which make them ideal for enjoying with a meal. We especially liked the Rose which had a slight berry flavor. The Chardonnay had some of the usual butter, but it was quite subdued. Both of these are fine for a summer seafood feast, or a French style brunch. GSN Rating: B

For more information go to: Ripe Life Wines

GSN Review: The Vice Tri Blend Wine

The USA Triathlon Foundation recently announced a partnership with The Vice Wine, a luxury winery based in Napa Valley, California, and operating out of California and New York, through 2022.

Proceeds from The Vice Wine’s triathlon-inspired luxury limited edition batch “The Tri Blend” will benefit the USA Triathlon Foundation and help to support its mission, which is to transform lives through sport by providing opportunities to swim, bike and run. The Vice Wine is co-founded by Malek Amrani, a multi-time member of USA Triathlon’s amateur Team USA, and his wife, Torie Greenberg.

“Elite and amateur triathletes alike have an ongoing quest for improvement in sports, while maintaining a clean and healthy diet, which is a pillar of the triathlete lifestyle,” Amrani, Founder and Winemaker of The Vice Wine, said. “In 2017, triathlon became a vice for me and helped me tremendously thrive in my field of winemaking. I’m proud that the simple pleasure of enjoying a glass of The Vice Wine can now help the USA Triathlon Foundation achieve its mission.”

The Tri Blend is available exclusively at The Vice Wine’s online shop at Based on triathlon’s three disciplines, the blend includes three distinctive grapes and is ultimately comprised of 16 percent Petite Sirah, 54 percent Malbec and 30 percent Cabernet Franc. The inspiration behind the precise blending is the percentage of total race time spent on each discipline — swim, bike and run — by world champion Katie Zaferes en route to her victory at the 2019 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Lausanne, Switzerland.

“In triathlon, you have to consistently train for a long season and excel at all three sports during a race to score a victory,” Amrani said. “As in triathlon, I’ve worked very hard for the past three years to craft three unique wines from three vineyards of Napa Valley to blend this winner.”

“When I found out the inspiration behind The Vice ‘Tri Blend’ was my win at the ITU Grand Final 2019, I was both honored and excited,” Zaferes said. “It’s such an original and neat way to celebrate that day. I love that the blend of the wine is based on each component of the race, which really makes it all the more meaningful. I’m not usually an avid wine drinker, but this type of specialty wine has me looking forward to both savoring it and holding onto it just as I wanted to do with that moment in Lausanne last year. I just can’t wait for the moment when we can reunite with family and friends again and celebrate with such a meaningful wine that brings back many happy memories as we start a new journey to get back to racing, while being able to support the mission of the USA Triathlon Foundation.”

The Vice Wine will continuously craft dedicated batches for the triathlon community in support of the USA Triathlon Foundation. The Vice Wine will be available in the expo area for athletes over 21 years of age at the Legacy Triathlon in Long Beach, California, and the Toyota USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships in Milwaukee. In addition, USA Triathlon annual members will receive a discount code via email for 25 percent off of all The Vice Wine products through May 25, as well as additional exclusive offers throughout the year.

The Vice Tri Blend Wine (14.6 ABV)
Visual: Rich raspberry red.
Nose: Heavy fruit with more of a sweet bent than an oaky one. The scent is luxurious, well appointed and mouthwatering.
Taste: Initially, it has a sweet grape character, but upon a second quick sip, the tannins come out and create a dry foil to the bottom heavy fruit.
Finish: Medium long, as is appropriate for this style.
Overall: This is a very well blended wine that has quite a bit of bright character and vivacity. You can definitely tell that the Malbec is in the majority, which makes for a great canvas upon which the Cab Franc and the Petite Sirah lay upon. An excellent choice to enjoy with a light meal.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: The Vice Wine

GSN Alert: 2020 James Beard Award Beverage Nominees

The James Beard Awards are given in many categories, including chefs and restaurants, books, journalism, and broadcast media, plus restaurant design, leadership, humanitarian work, and lifetime achievement

Beverage with Recipes
Last Call: Bartenders on Their Final Drink and the Wisdom and Rituals of Closing Time
Brad Thomas Parsons
(Ten Speed Press)

The Martini Cocktail: A Meditation on the World’s Greatest Drink, with Recipes
Robert Simonson
(Ten Speed Press)

The NoMad Cocktail Book
Leo Robitschek
(Ten Speed Press)

Beverage without Recipes
The Complete Guide to Japanese Drinks: Sake, Shochu, Japanese Whisky, Beer, Wine, Cocktails and Other Beverages
Stephen Lyman and Chris Bunting
(Tuttle Publishing)

Red & White: An Unquenchable Thirst for Wine
Oz Clarke
(Little, Brown Book Group)

World Atlas of Wine 8th Edition
Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson
(Mitchell Beazley)

Wine, Spirits, and Other Beverages
“How Climate Change Impacts Wine”
Eric Asimov
The New York Times

“May I Help You With That Wine List?”
Ray Isle
Food & Wine

“Seltzer Is Over. Mineral Water Is Forever.”
Jordan Michelman

Outstanding Bar Program
A restaurant or bar that demonstrates exceptional care and skill in the selection, preparation, and serving of cocktails, spirits, and/or beer.

Anvil Bar & Refuge

Portland, OR

Kimball House
Decatur, GA

Lost Lake

Trick Dog
San Francisco

Outstanding Wine Program
A restaurant or bar that demonstrates excellence in wine service through a carefully considered wine list and a well-informed approach to helping customers choose and drink wine.

New Orleans

Portland, OR


Miller Union

Night + Market Sahm
Venice, CA


Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Producer
A beer, wine, or spirits producer who demonstrates consistency and exceptional skill in his or her craft.

Scott Blackwell and Ann Marshall
High Wire Distilling Co.
Charleston, SC

Cathy Corison
Corison Winery
St. Helena, CA

Drew Kulsveen
Willett Distillery
Bardstown, KY

Todd Leopold and Scott Leopold
Leopold Bros.

Lance Winters
St. George Spirits
Alameda, CA


GSN Review: Grüvi Alcohol-Free Beer & Prosecco

Grüvi, a mover and shaker in the alcohol-free craft-brewed category, recently announced its newest non-alcoholic brew — Grüvi Stout — a full-bodied alcohol-free beer. Helping consumers continue 2020 with the best wellness intentions, Grüvi Stout is now available for a limited time online and in select retail stores.
Grüvi Stout delivers the distinct characteristics of barley and chocolate malt one expects in a Stout-style beer, but without the alcohol. This dark ale contains hints of toasted malt, along with mild oat, coffee, and honey notes.
The next generation of America is the most social and diverse ever, with a greater focus on health and wellness, as well as community and connection. Whether you are sober curious or just looking for an alcohol alternative, Grüvi offers a line of full-flavored, alcohol-free beer and wine experiences.
“Your health is your wealth, and if you’re looking to drink less or not drink at all, it’s our hope that Grüvi Stout can help you be healthy and stay social, one beer at a time.” said Niki Sawni, founder of Grüvi.
We were sent a sampler of Grüvi Stout, along with cans of their IPA, Lager & Prosecco.

GSN’s Thoughts: After trying the three non-alcoholic beers, we were most impressed with the stout. It had a real depth of character and a true dark, malty flavor. I could drink this one regularly. The lager was very similar to a lot of NA beers we’re had over the years. Refreshing, but not quite like a true beer. Still, better than many currently on the market. The IPA was the least successful, seeming more like a bitter soda than an India Pale Ale. Lastly, the Prosecco, which was more like a very tart grape soda. It lacked the dryness of a brut, but also had a distinct concord grape taste. Not similar enough to a real Prosecco, we will pass on this one.

GSN Ratings: Stout A- | Lager B | IPA C+ | Prosecco C-

For more information go to: Get Gruvi

GSN Review: Ohza Mimosa

Ohza Mimosas, the ready-to-drink, reinvented mimosa in a can has officially launched online ordering and shipping to 29 US states. Ohza was founded by 25-year-old Ryan Ayotte after attempting to mix mimosas with his friends on a tippy boat off of Cape Cod, MA. From making a mess on the high seas, to lugging bottles, cartons, and cups to the beach – he knew there had to be an easier way.

Redefining the ready-to-drink beverage, Ohza’s gluten free mimosas have the calorie count of a hard seltzer, but the flavor of a classic cocktail – all while containing real juice, no added sugar, no artificial flavors, a low ABV for all day sip-ability, and a clean nutrition label. Crafted with Brut sparkling wine from the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York and real orange juice, one 6-pack of Ohzas is equal to nine mimosa flutes, or two bottles of bubbly and half a juice carton.

After a successful launch with cans in 2019, restaurant and bar managers loved the taste and convenience of Ohza’s mimosas, but some preferred not to serve a canned cocktail.  “Canned cocktails really call for an environment where the portability factor is more crucial, like ballparks or concert venues,” said Ryan Ayotte, the 25-year-old founder behind the brand, “so when we got feedback from restaurants and bars saying they’d order Ohza immediately if it was in a keg – we did it.”

Ohza’s goal with draft is to increase serving speed, reduce waste, and provide an opportunity for unique menu specials and “bottomless brunch” options. Plus, with a single sixth barrel-sized keg serving up 110 flutes worth of mimosas, Ohza is far more profitable than mixing them behind the bar. The kegs use standard American D couplers, allowing bars to plug directly into standard beer tap systems. Kegs are available starting February 24th, 2020 in MA, RI, CT, ME, NH, and VT. To order, contact Ohza at

Ohza Mimosa (5% ABV) Mimosas are a great way to start your Sunday morning brunch, but sometimes you can’t finish that 750ml bottle of sparkling wine before it goes flat. A can of Ohza Mimosa is a perfect way for two people to share a glass each and celebrate. We were definitely surprised by both the balance between the wine and the orange juice, plus the relatively light sweetness of what is typically pretty heavy on the fructose. A first taste is very wine forward with a dry edge, and the juice just bringing a hint of sweetness. After the second sip, it becomes apparent that this is the perfect ratio to keep things elegant and perfect for pairing with a classic French breakfast. You could easily have two glasses and not feel as though you’d just imbibed boozy orange soda. All in all, these are great to bring to a party, or keep in your fridge for that last celebratory morning before Monday arrives. GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Ohza Mimosas

GSN’s One For the Road: Spain’s Great Match at Mercado Little Spain

I first tasted sherry in my 20s. Always game to expand my tastes and food technique, I bought a bottle of Lustau Fino.  I was living in Syracuse, N.Y., at the time, where a rich home life is a key to good living. The first sip was at my kitchen table.

My previous sherry exposure had been one part Mark Bittman and three parts Frasier Crane asking, “Sherry, Niles?” So, what was I expecting? Something dry and complex that would make my pork chops taste better? Something sophisticated for erudite cocktail hour?

I was a bit surprised then, at the strange taste it had. Had it been on the shelf too long? It didn’t quite seem spoiled. But it wasn’t entirely pleasant, either. Over a few sessions I got used to the flavor. But I’m not sure I understood why Niles and Frasier would drink this all the time.

On October 1, 2019, when I arrived at “Spain’s Great Match,” an event on Spanish wine, I was expecting to see riojas and tempranillos. I was not expecting sherry. Is sherry from Spain, I thought? Pause. Is all sherry from Spain? Naive questions both, and the answers are both yes. Sherry is grown and aged in the Jerez region of Andalusia, on the Atlantic coast of Spain and near the southern tip of continental Europe. Like port from Oporto, it’s a savage anglicization which produces sherry from Xérès and Jerez.

“Spain’s Great Match” is an annual event sponsored by the Trade Commission for Spain in New York, to promote Spanish producers and distributors of wine. The host Mercado Little Spain at Hudson Yards, closed to the public on the day of the event, is a pristine, bustling venue under the High Line, showing off a coordinated range of Spanish food and drink offerings. It’s “a Spanish Eataly,” according to The New York Times, which is accurate, though the airiness and sprawling windows give it a feeling distinctly more Hudson Yards than Eataly’s Fifth Avenue digs. It’s a cute place to have a meal or visit for the afternoon, and I look forward to heading back sometime, particularly to Pan con Tomate, a vendor of the namesake tapa of garlicky fresh tomato sauce on toast.

Many of the guests were Spanish, and in the food and wine industry. I sat next to bartenders, sommeliers, restaurateurs, and distributors, and mingled with winemakers. More than one dude sported the look: jacket and slacks, leather slippers, pocket squares, wide-open shirts, and bushy eyebrows.

A Jerez-Xérès-Sherry “seminar” involved several tastings and a lecture presented by none other than the director of the denominación de origen. It was a real treat learning from someone so knowledgeable of sherry and passionate about sharing it with the world. I discovered that sherry’s unique character comes from flor, a yeast layer which forms from the Andalusian air and sits on the surface of the wine. Winemakers promote its development by targeting a certain alcohol percentage in the young fortified wine. By protecting the wine from excessive oxidation, flor facilitates a process called biological aging, which characterizes the fino and Manzanilla styles, sherries which are extracted early enough to avoid oxidative aging.

Of course the strange flavor I tasted in that first fino – that was flor.

The eight tastings showed the incredible range of sherry. A clean fino expressed the yeast, the palomino grape, and white and dusty soil called albariza. A Pedro Ximenez impressed sweet tea and prunes. A third, a blend, was unlike either the fino or PX: it was spicy, jammy, and sweet. One favorite was Fino La Barajuela 2016 from Luis Perez, boasting flavor of poached pear and apple and aroma of rich, mature dough. Another was Amontillado Cuatro Palmas from González Byass, offering pleasant yeast notes, a medicinal bitterness, and aromas of almond, cherry, and strawberry.

Though regulated, sherry is always made from one of three grape varietals moscatel, Pedro Ximenez, and most commonly palomino, producers on trend will emphasize the region’s diversity, particularly differences in slope, soil, and the races of yeast which predominate. Others bottle their sherries en rama, or naturally, filtering them using a large filter which leaves some living yeast cells intact, and not stabilizing them in the bottle.

The experience definitely made me want to drink more sherry! Well done, el señor.

It was time to venture out of Jerez to see what the rest of Spain had to offer. On the tasting-room floor I met someone representing the winery Parés Baltà. It’s a family-operated winery near Barcelona. The two women winemakers make a wide range of wines including a couple of my favorites of the day. The yeasty cava and Amphora roja 2018 were pleasant, and the Hisenda Miret 2017 was delightfully complex.

A distributor representing Rueda was pouring several verdejos, from the white grape, which ranged from very clean to very oaky, including the Nisia Las Suertes Old Vines Verdejo. One representing Ribera offered a range of tempranillos, including Boada Crianza 2016 from Groupo Yllera, Valduero I Cepa 2015 from Bodega Valduera. Another importer boasted a wonderful rioja alta, the Martinez Lacuesta Reserva 2010. Yet another, white and rose Cava coming from its denominación de origen in Catalonia.

The Rias Baixas is a Northern maritime region on the Atlantic, characterized by namesake low-lying estuaries. Owing to the region’s matrilineal history, its wine industry has historically been run by women and consists of majority women winemakers. Most grape growers have only 1–2 acres, a scale that makes growing more like people’s weekend projects than agribusiness. Neighbors cooperate and hold each other accountable. There’s a sense that helping each other improves quality and yields, and uplifts the region. From here I tasted nine samples of albariño, made from a white grape. The wines made easy drinking, with mineral and citric character. Two standouts came from uncommon winemaking technique. An aged wine, the 2012 by Paco & Lola was delightfully soft and round. Another treat was the Sensum Laxas 2017 from Bodegas As Laxas, a traditionally produced sparkling wine which was balanced and full, with toastiness and a pleasant salinity.

My last taste of the day was not a wine at all, but a rum from Sister Isles. In St. Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean, the producer ages rum in a variety of spanish wine casks. A spirits lover at heart, I found these delightful, conveying subtle and not-so-subtle notes of the sherry grapes moscatel and Pedro Ximenez.

I appreciated getting to deeply explore a few of these regions, and the opportunity to connect the grape with the flavor and culture of these places. I find myself choosing Spanish wines as I continue to eat my way across Brooklyn and Manhattan every week. And I’m keeping my eye out for Parés Baltà, aged albariño, and these rums. My sherry interest is piqued. After a long absence I’m excited to return.

Written by GSN’s NYC based correspondent Paul Melnikow