The 2021 GSN Holiday Gift Guide

It’s time once again to share our gift suggestions for the holidays! This year we have even more spirited suggestions for everyone on your list, whether they enjoy beer, cider, spirits, wine, or coffee, tea, or non-alcoholic beverages. Cheers!


Heritage Distilling Co. Spirits Advent Calendar The only US craft distillery produced Spirits Advent Calendar features 24 – 50ML bottles of HDC’s award winning spirits including vodkas, gins, whiskeys and rum. Starting December 1, countdown to Christmas by popping open the square for the day and seeing what is inside. Each calendar the products are randomly placed so you’ll be truly surprised and delighted each day of December.

Adagio Teas: Twelve Teas of Christmas This holiday season give the gift that keeps on giving: our 12 Days of Christmas Gift Set! This jolly collection contains a selection of our most festive blends, one for each of the 12 Days of Christmas. The reusable tins line up to create a fun scene and can hang as ornaments until ready to be brewed. Each tin contains one single serving pouch of loose tea.

Drinks by the Dram: Tequila & Mezcal Collection If you’re struggling to pick out a cracking gift for an agave fan, we have something to help you. It’s the 12 Dram Tequila & Mezcal Collection! This beautiful box contains 12 different 30ml wax-sealed drams of tequila and mezcal from some excellent producers, sure to please even the most picky of agave lovers.


Brewvana Brews Less Traveled Beer Club Not only do you get some eclectic brews and cool local swag, but you also get to virtually hear from the brewmasters while you sample their wares. It doesn’t get any better than this, outside of taking a road trip. And a subscription is a lot less expensive than gas, tolls and lodging. 



The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails Compiled by world authority David Wondrich, with the assistance of a team of experts from around the globe, The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails provides an authoritative, enlightening and entertaining overview of this third branch of the alcohol family.

Tiki Triangle Why another tiki book? Because this one puts recipes and history into a chronological perspective. Author Cristaldi shares some personal history with the culture before giving a brief and informative lesson on rum itself, along with some cocktails pre-1933, which is considered to be the birth year of the genre. 


Precision Botanical CBD Precision Botanical products come from its own Oregon hemp farm and uses a commercial-level proprietary extraction of hemp oil that’s in the patent process. All products are third-party audited and certified for potency and purity.

Vessel Eclipse Vape Kit This is a beautifully made and classy set that is perfect for traveling or a day out. What we especially like is the compact and easy to carry case which is designed specifically for the three pieces. Vessel has been in business for nearly three years and have several smoking related products available.


Austin Eastciders Imperial Cider A quite dry, powerhouse of a cider. We like it. Fruity, almost rustic in flavor, and eminently quaffable. With such a high alcohol content, you’ll want to take your time with one to truly enjoy it. We especially like this one paired with a meal. Try this with a pork stew, or mushroom quiche. For a lighter table, craft a cheese board using aged cheddar, brie and camembert. 



Fire Dept. Coffee Their signature spirit-infusion process expertly combines the flavors of bourbon, whiskey, rum, or tequila with the best coffee beans, ensuring you the perfect cup of infused coffee every time. Whether you’re sitting at your desk, dropping the kids at school, or looking for an afternoon pick me up, Fire Department Coffee’s Spirit Infused Coffee is the perfect choice.



Tom of Finland Organic Vodka Tom of Finland Organic Vodka is crafted in Finland from organically grown wheat, rye and arctic water. A percentage of profit from each bottle will be donated to the Tom of Finland Foundation, a charitable organization founded by Tom of Finland and Durk Dehner and dedicated to promoting tolerant attitudes towards sexuality and the preservation of erotic art. 



Juke Cordialities Jukes 1 is definitely more akin to a sweet white style wine, let’s say a Sauternes or perhaps a Riesling. Jukes 6 is still sweet, but has a fuller flavor of dark berries and fruits. It’s closest in style to a table red or even a Port. Both are well made, and we particularly like the fact that they can be diluted to your own chosen strength. We recommend these for anyone who is looking to cut back on their alcohol consumption, as well as those who are interested in a healthier and lower calorie alternative to fruit juices and sodas. 

Twisted Alchemy Cold Pressed Juice The juices have a fresh quality to them, and are miles above and beyond anything canned or even massed produced in plastic containers. We love the fact that these juices will last for several months (not days or weeks), thus cutting down on wasted from unusable product. Plus, they definitely save labor behind the bar.

RTD (Ready to drink) COCKTAILS

DRNXMYTH Cocktails After reviewing dozens of RTD’s, we can honestly say that DRNXMYTH has cornered the market on freshness. The bottle design is clever and adds a sense of elegance that adds to the experience. As any decent bartender knows, balance is key, and the cocktails we received are all excellent. Outside of going to a bar, these are the best ready to drink cocktails you will find on the market.



Puffin Drinkware These are the coolest koozies we’ve ever seen. And they work! We especially like the handles which add a fun grip when toasting. We’ve only shown a few styles here, but there are many more to choose from. We recommend these as great stocking stuffers for the upcoming holidays. Especially since they are so affordable. 



Philips GoZero Hydration Bottle What we like about this new water bottle is that it is metal, has a rubber carrying handle, holds hot or cold liquids, has a smooth drinking rim, and best of all, it self sanitizes and purifies itself on a regular basis. We can actually taste the difference in the water afterwards. It seems purer, fresher and near to spring water. Really, this is everything we could ask for in a water bottle whether we’re behind the stick, at home, or in the great outdoors. 



Ficklin Vineyards Old Vine Tinta Port This truly is a remarkable and delicious port. What makes it even more extraordinary is that it comes from old vine Portuguese varietals. A smooth, raisin-like character hits upon the entry, and then immediately opens up into a world of masterful oak aging. The body is fulsome, with a near viscous mouthfeel that is often lacking in ports. But, it’s the overall flavor that keeps you coming back for more.

GSN Review: The Vice Orange of Semillon, “Brooklynites”, 2020

The Vice Wine, an all Napa Valley wine producer has released one of the few orange wines to come out of the “orange wine” appellation. Orange of Semillon, “Brooklynites”, 2020 is the name given to this wine produced from a small vineyard in Napa and picked in 2020 right before the wildfires and ensuing smoke tainted many of the vineyards.

Sometimes known as ‘skin-contact white wines,’ orange wines are made by macerating white grapes with their skins, thereby lending the wine an orange hue. With the skin contact, the wine becomes more nuanced and layered thanks to the tannins and phenols released from the skins. The Vice Wine’s Orange of Semillon was made by leaving the juice and skins in contact for 21 days in two concrete eggs, before removing the skins for the rest of the eight month fermentation using wild yeasts, much the way old world orange wines were made for hundreds of years.

Everything The Vice Wine does is by hand and the team members themselves are integral in every step of the winemaking process.

GSN’s Remarks: This is a very easy wine to drink. Smooth, mellow and somewhat tropical in character. we picked up notes of banana nut bread, baked green apple and apricot fruit tart. A very nice summery wine that is down to earth and reminiscent of a sunny day. Try this with some creamy cheeses and fresh fruit. GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: The Vice Wine


GSN Review: Ficklin Vineyards Old Vine Tinta Port

Is there truly such thing as a perfect wine? Sunset Magazine’s International Wine Competition judges think so… Ficklin Vineyards, America’s oldest Port winery established in 1946, has scored a remarkable 100 points, Double-Gold, Best of Class, in this year’s Sunset International Wine Competition for Ficklin Vineyards Old Vine Tinta Port, produced by Peter Ficklin.

The prestigious competition has the distinction of annually recognizing the best wines produced internationally. This year’s contest had over 2,900 entries.

Gold medals were awarded to wines rated 90-plus points and those wines were eligible to move on to the “Best Of” category. From that collection, Double Gold awards were given to wines that scored 95 points or higher. From among those wines, the sweepstakes winner of “Best Of” category is determined. For any scores over 95 points, there must be a unanimous consensus among the judges.

So what would 100 points mean? According to Oliver Styles, Author and Editor for Decanter and Wine-Searcher, “100 points – the holy grail of wine scores. Although wine-making has never been better, getting the top score is no mean feat.”

Established in 1946, Ficklin Vineyards is a dedicated and traditional Port winery instrumental in founding the Madera AVA.

GSN’s Remarks: This truly is a remarkable and delicious port. What makes it even more extraordinary is that it comes from old vine Portuguese varietals. A smooth, raisin-like character hits upon the entry, and then immediately opens up into a world of masterful oak aging. The body is fulsome, with a near viscous mouthfeel that is often lacking in ports. But, it’s the overall flavor that keeps you coming back for more. The complexity is exquisite, with a perfect portrayal of low and high notes, and a wide and friendly mid-range. Not too sweet, slightly dry and compact, this delicious port is a gift that keeps on giving. A 100 point wine? Well deserved! GSN Rating: A+++

For more information go to: Ficklin

GSN Alert: August 28th – National Red Wine Day

It’s always a good time for red wine, especially on August 28, National Red Wine Day. Today, we throw out all those stuffy rules about how and when to drink this nectar from the gods.  Instead, we grab our coolest glass and savor the taste of our favorite red wine.

Red wines including merlot, pinot noir, Bordeaux, cabernet sauvignon and blends like shiraz, don’t always have to rest at a  temperature of between 65-70 degrees before you can enjoy a glass.  In fact, there are some experts who say it’s perfectly acceptable to refrigerate red wines and drink them cold, especially during exceptionally hot weather.

So, ignore the wine snobs, make your choice and commit to drinking responsibly. Then, hoist your glass in a toast to National Red Wine Day.

Courtesy of National Today

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