Archive | Wine, Beer, Spirits Q&A

Barriba Cantina Pours Some Holiday Cheer

Barriba Cantina Pours Some Holiday Cheer

Barriba Cantina is serving up some Holiday Cheer.

In need of some Christmas spirits? Then check out the Holiday Cheer cocktail menu at Barriba Cantina, 111 Crockett St., above the County Line.

The menu will last until spring and includes some potent potables, including:

  • Tuaca Lemon Drop Martini — Lemon- and sugar-infused Skyy Vodka with a touch of Tuaca, $11.
  • Mango Loco — Republic Sliver Organic Tequila, Patron Citronge, mango, Tabasco and simple syrup, $8.75.
  • La Guapa (aka Sexy Girl) —  100 Proof Dulce Vida Organic Tequila, Amaretto, grapefruit juice, ginger beer and cayenne pepper, $8.
  • Spiced Apple Manhattan — Apple- and cinnamon-infused Jim Beam, sweet Vermouth, Goldschlager and Angostura Bitters, $9.25.
  • Hot Apple Toddy — Apple- and cinnamon-infused Jim Beam and apple cider, $6.50.
  • Diosa Verde (aka Green Goddess) — Blended Bacardi Rum, avocado, half and half, lime juice and simple syrup, $8.
  • Chocolate Razz Martini — Stoli Razberi Vodka, Bailey’s and Crème de Cacao, $11.
  • Ambrosia Martini — Stoli Vanilla Vodka, Frangelico, grapes, pineapple, lime juice and simple syrup, $9.50.
  • Pomegranate Fizz —  Pomegranate-infused Beefeater Gin and elderflower liqueur, topped with Champagne, $8.

Barriba Cantina is open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. That includes New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day with no cover charge or reservations needed. Call 210-228-9876.

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Spirits, Food Pairings at WB Liquors’ Savory Saturdays

Spirits, Food Pairings at WB Liquors’ Savory Saturdays

With a little help from talented friends in the restaurant industry, WB Liquors, located in the Colonnade at 9801 IH 10 West at Wurzbach Road, will be bringing the flavors from some of San Antonio’s most creative commercial kitchens and melding them with the creative output of the bar.

Savory Saturday at the WB will feature some of the Alamo city’s top chefs pairing cocktails, brews and wines with their culinary creations. The first Savory Saturday will be this coming weekend, on Saturday from 2-4 p.m.

Jeremy Gibbony, executive chef at Drew's American Grill.

The featured chef will be Jeremy Gibboney of Drew’s American Grill. Pastry Chef Melissa Beverage and sommelier and mixologist Robert Millican will join him.

Drew Glick, partner in the new eatery that just opened three weeks ago in Stone Oak will lead the team in a food pairing discussion featuring demonstration and tasting.

Trends seen in a growing number of restaurants and bars today have created a favorable environment for the pairing of food and spirits. The popularity of small plates, tapas and sliders give greater opportunity for multiple tastings paired with diverse cocktail experiences.

A tailgate party is scheduled after the Savory event, from 4-7 p.m. as well. Take this opportunity to meet Rebecca Creek Distilleries’ co-owner Mike Cameron and have one of the first bottles of the new Rebecca Creek Fine Texas Whiskey autographed.

Door prizes with no purchase necessary will be awarded throughout the day including private tours of Rebecca Creek Distillery, tour and overnight stay at a Hill Country bed and breakfast courtesy of Becker Vineyards, a $150 gift certificate to Drew’s American Grill in Stone Oak and a drawing for a Big Green Egg Grill.

“We are delighted to host such culinary artisans at WB Liquors in an educational and informative pairing of food and beverage,” said WB’s president John Hermann.

Each chef will be given a wine, beer or spirit to incorporate into food preparation or to pair with a dish of their choosing. Chefs Gibboney and Beverage will be working with Rebecca Creek Fine Texas Whiskey, a new product being produced here in San Antonio at Rebecca Creek Distillery. Mixologist Millican will be creating a spirited beverage using the whiskey and share the exclusive cocktail recipe – printed on WB cocktail cards – with patrons attending Savory Saturday.

Rebecca Creek Whiskey featured at Savory Saturdays this weekend.

The Rebecca Creek Fine Texas Whiskey is produced from natural, local barley and limestone-filtered water before being distilled in copper tanks and matured charred oak for maximum effect.

“We’re everything Texas here. When it’s possible, we use Texas products. Our grain comes from Texas, our bottles are from San Antonio, and our company vehicles are manufactured in Texas. We know Texans are loyal to Texan products. There’s a lot of loyalty here,” said Steve Ison, CEO of Rebecca Creek Distillery.

Chef Gibboney will also pair savory selections with Becker Vineyards Merlot Iconoclast and Becker Chardonnay.
Located in the Texas Hill Country between Fredericksburg and Stonewall, Becker Vineyards was established in 1992 by Richard and Bunny Becker. The vineyard was planted on a site of native Mustang grapes much prized for winemaking by German neighbors and their ancestors. Also planted on site is a three acre lavender field reminiscent of the wine country of Provence, France.
On the bar scene, the finely crafted classic cocktail is shaking things up at trendy “pre-prohibition” inspired bars and restaurants where “bar chefs” are formulating herb and food infused artisan cocktails. From muddling cucumbers, potatoes and herbs with vodka and tequila concoctions to garnishing with bacon-stuffed olives, almost anything goes.
In cooking, spirits, wine and beer have been used to complement the flavors of food for centuries, but spirit pairings are still in its infancy. The wine glass and the beer stein will always be part of the place setting, but diners may soon see the double Old Fashion glass joining them on the table.

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Drink Regional Wine Week Is Under Way

Drink Regional Wine Week Is Under Way

DrinkLocalWine’s fourth annual Drink Regional Wine Week is now under way.

The purpose of the program is to help get wine drinkers to try something local. And to make the experience of becoming a locapour even more rewarding, the organization is have a contest during the week.

Everyone (over the age of 21, that is) is invited to submit stories or anecdotes about their local pour in 47 words or less.

DrinkLocalWine’s 47 Words Contest ends at midnight ET Saturday, Oct. 15.

The rules are simple: write 47 words following the theme that there are hidden gems among the other 47 wine producing states (that is, those states outside California, Oregon and Washington). If you know one of those gems, whether it’s a wine, a producer or a region, tell us about it in 47 words. Entries can be emailed to

DrinkLocalWine board members will select winners based on creativeness, inventiveness and whether they’re 47 words long. Prizes for the winners include:

  • Tickets to DLW 2012: Colorado the fourth annual regional wine conference in Denver in April 2012;
  • Autographed copies of Todd Kliman’s best-selling book, The Wild Vine;
  • Copies of The Sipping Point, written by Laurie Forster, The Wine Coach, as well as two combo packs of the book and her DVD; and
  • Packages of Wine Shields, the innovative way to preserve open wine.

For information about Regional Wine Week, the essay contest, or to submit a story link, call 978-276-9463 or email the above address. For more on DrinkLocalWine, click here.

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Wine to go with Osso Buco: A Match Made in Italy

Wine to go with Osso Buco: A Match Made in Italy

By Cecil Flentge

You’ve loved it on Italian menus, and maybe even made it yourself. Now that the weather shows a slim promise of cooling, let’s talk about a  hearty Italian stew.

Meaty veal shanks are the main ingredient in osso buco.

Ossobuco or osso buco (sometimes seen as “bucco”) is Italian for “bone with a hole” (osso bone, buco hole) or “marrowbone”, both a reference to the marrow hole at the center of the cross-cut veal shank.

The original version is ‘ossobuco in bianco’ (Osso Buco with White Sauce), which does not use tomatoes. Then there are many modern versions that do use tomatoes, simply called Osso Buco. But time marches on and it is now quite common to find this dish made with pork shanks (whole or cross-cut), lamb shanks or cross-cut legs of beef or venison.  There is even a movie named Osso Buco.

No matter how you approach it, Osso Buco is the ‘black tie and tails’ version of a pot roast, so it is easy to do though it takes some time.

Osso Buco with Tomatoes, Olives and Gremolata (Recipe)

But what wine?  So many will work, both white and red, and it does vary with the type of Osso Buco.  No matter what country a recipe originates, you will find the same countries wines will be a safe bet.  All of these wines will make you happy with your Osso Buco, as well-matched wine and food always will — so on with the Italians!


La Maia Lina Chianti Classico, Tuscany 2008:
The little pig on the label does not tell you ‘buy me’, but you should.  CostCo for $11.

Fact: Sangiovese is the primary grape for Chianti and this medium red-colored example shows why they never will change.  A ripe cherry nose with cedar and a whiff of raspberries.  The palate echoes the cherry, blended with a ripe plum, and enough tangy acidity to keep it all fresh.  After it has been open 30 minutes you get a little aroma of black raspberry jam.  The finish trails a bit with cherry, mineral and plum.

Feelings: This is why I like drinking wine.  You can open this one and have a glass while you cook your Osso Buco, while you dine, while you clean up, and relaxing with a book before bedtime.  If you follow this outline you will probably be ready for bedtime!

Sasso al Poggio, from Piccini winery, Tuscany 2004
The 2004 is the current vintage of this ‘Super Tuscan’ offered at CostCo for $13.  An excellent opportunity to see how wines develop with some age.

Fact:  Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet bring the red color, age brings the caramelized pear color, and together they made a lovely brick red.  Vibrant cherry, plum, and wild strawberry on the nose with smoky, earthy undertones.  Cherry, mushrooms and an almost meaty component blends with toasty notes for your palate.  Deep black cherry served on wood-baked bread linger with the minerality on the finish.

Feelings:  Use the good china and polish the silver.  Drag out that tablecloth and light some candles, open the wine a few minutes before you serve that rich and fragrant dish.  Let the wine tell you stories of Italy, the scent of wild oregano and the statues hidden in marble, as you dine.

Ramitello, Biferno, from Di Majo Norante 2008
From the Molise region, about 200 miles east of Rome.  Super value for $11 at CostCo.

Fact: Dark garnet red in color, there is black cherry with a touch of aged woodpile in the enticing aroma.  Tasting brings forth cherry, coffee, mineral-earth and a bit of green Poblano pepper. The acidity works well to keep the wine interesting and the finish leaves you with dried cherries and coffee.

Feeling: This wine demands attention.  It is like your friend that you have spirited conversations with over dinner, you look forward to the experience.

Ruffino, Modus, Tuscany 2006 
Another of the ‘Super Tuscans’ with Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet available for $20.

Fact: An attractive and dramatic label enfolds a dark red wine from a well known winery.  Dark cherry, graphite, and cedar were pleasantly presented in the aroma with earthy accent.  The first taste repeated the cherry and cedar while later there was more of the minerally graphite and a little vegetal seasoning.  Tannins were chewy in this full-bodied red, but all were balanced.  One note is to decant this wine twice before serving to awaken the scents and flavors.  Alternatively, buy a couple and put them away for two or three years to see how it matures.

Feeling: Somewhat akin to petting a tiger.  You can feel the warmth and see the beauty, yet the power is still leashed.  Be patient, it will relax as you do.

Caparzo, Brunello di Montalcino, Tuscany 1998 
Locally, the 2004 vintage is available at Gabriels Superstore for $49 and is rated as highly as the 1998, though it may be more approachable after 2012.

Fact: When first opened there was a toast, black cherry, dried strawberry nose.  A few minutes later that was joined by warm red soil and raked Fall leaves.  The flavors of red berries, soft tannins, and rich minerals coat your palate.  It stays rich and flavorful through the finish, the cherry blending with espresso and chocolate.

Feeling: Ah, your favorite Aunt that always told those wonderful stories!  That is what this wine mimics as it tells different stories to your palate and nose, weaving its magic into your dinnertime, sorely missed when it has gone.


Cecil Flentge is a San Antonio wine educator for professionals or novices and a cooking instructor. Restaurant events or home tastings.  Questions? Email



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It’s Election Time. Vote for the Westin La Cantera’s Jeffery Bloody Mary.

It’s Election Time. Vote for the Westin La Cantera’s Jeffery Bloody Mary.

The Jeffery

Bartender Robert Carrillo of the Westin La Cantera Resort, 16641 La Cantera Parkway, has been named by Absolut Vodka as the maker of the best Bloody Mary in San Antonio.

The local competition is part of a national search to find the Best Absolut Bloody Mary in each of the 50 states, which leads to a finale competition in New York, where the Best Absolut Bloody in America will be decided.

To help drive support for Carrillo’s creation in the state competition, his version of the drink dubbed the Jeffery, will be featured at the Westin’s restaurant, Francesca’s at Sunset, during its Sunday brunch. Every Sunday in October from 10:30 a.m.  to 2 p.m., diners can taste the drink for free and vote online on Absolut’s Facebook page, Best Bloody in America — Absolut.

Carrillo created his version after trying the Westin’s clear gazpacho soup. His drink features Absolut Vodka, of course, as well as lime juice, basil leaves and Tabasco. It is muddled and shaken up with house made spicy clear tomato juice and served with red tomato ice cubes.

For more information on the brunch at Francesca’s, call 210-558-6500.

The Jeffery

½ ounces lime juice
3-4 Basil Leaves
2 ounces Absolut Vodka
Dash of Tabasco, or to taste
4 ounces Clear Tomato Juice (see recipe below)
Chile salt
Tomato Juice Ice (recipe below)
Basil leaves, olives and celery ribs (for garnish)

In a mixing cocktail tin, muddle lime juice, basil, vodka and Tabasco together. Add Clear Tomato Juice and ice. Shake well.

Moisten the rim of a tall glass and dip in chile salt (a mixture of chile powder and salt). Add Tomato Juice Ice, alternating with regular, water-based ice to fill glass.

Strain contents from mixing tin into tall glass.

Garnish with basil leaf, olive and celery.

Makes 1 cocktail

Clear Tomato Juice

2 jalapeños
1 clove garlic
2 celery ribs
½ medium onion
4 large tomatoes
5 dashes of Tabasco
5 dashes of white Worcestershire sauce

In a blender, mix jalapeños, garlic, celery, onion, tomatoes, Tabasco and Worchestershire. Purée ingredients thoroughly.

Filter puréed mush through five coffee filters until resulting juice is clear.

Makes 16 ounces.

Tomato Juice Ice

32 ounces tomato juice
½ ounce lime juice
½ ounce Tabasco

Mix tomato juice, lime juice and Tabasco. Pour into ice cube trays or molds place in freezer until frozen.

From Robert Carillo/The Westin La Cantera

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Spectacular Brilliance: Food-friendly Wines Great to ‘Go To’

Spectacular Brilliance: Food-friendly Wines Great to ‘Go To’

Troy Knapp is executive chef at the Hyatt Hill Country Resort, including Antlers Lodge. He’s also a Certified Sommelier and Certified Specialist of Wine. His column, Spectacular Brilliance, appears monthly on SavorSA.

By Troy Knapp

Troy Knapp

“What wine should we bring?”  This is a common question when attending a party, especially when you know the food and company will be outstanding.  Just because the cuisine is uncertain, doesn’t mean the wine selection should be.  When in doubt, a “Go To” wine is your best bet!

A “Go To” wine refers to a wine with friendliness, as it gets along well with others.  It typically offers flexibility to pair with a wide range of dishes, as well as the preferences of a diverse crowd.  “Go To” wines will typically have particular structural traits.  There are two major factors when determining a wine to be “food friendly”: alcohol content and acidity.  Wines from a moderate to cooler climate will typically display lower levels of alcohol and higher acidity, which is prime for “Go To” wines.

My personal favorite “Go To” wine selections are:

Sparkling:  Always a safe bet.  Not only is sparkling wine versatile, it is also a great way to kick off the party.  You can’t go wrong with Cava, Prosecco or Champagne.  Feeling adventurous?  Look for French Crémant de Bourgogne, German Sekt or South African Cap Classique.

White Wines:  You’ll want to look for medium to light-bodied white wines, with racy acidity, good fruit, and even a touch of residual sugar.  My personal favorites include, from Austria, Grüner Veltliner.  From Spain, Albariño and Txakoli.  From Oregon, Germany and North Italy, Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio. For something with subtle sweetness, France’s Vouvray or Germany’s, Mosel Kabinett (off-dry) Riesling.

Dry rose wine

Dry Rosé Wines:  This is my favorite category!  Rosé is typically, very versatile, as the slight red fruit character lends itself to a wide range of dishes.  Highly underrated and reasonably priced wines from Tavel, in France, Vinho Verde from Portugal and Spanish Garnacha Rosado, bring a lot of excitement to the table.  One piece of advice: these should not be confused with cheap, pink sweet wine.  As they say, “Friends don’t let friends drink white Zin.”

Red Wines:  Here’s where it gets a little tricky.  The one thing to keep in mind here is to stay away from excessive alcohol and tannin (bio-molecule that contributes to the dry, “puckering” in your mouth you feel with certain wines). Check the label to ensure the alcohol content is not too high — you want to stay under 14 percent alcohol.  The lower the alcohol, the better indication that it will be friendlier to a diversity of dishes, as well as the audience.

Oregon, Washington and the cooler areas of California will offer bright fruit with balanced acidity.  Merlot can be a good option as it is typically rounder with soft tannins.  Zinfandel displays loads of fruit up front and moderate tannin. However, it can be very high in alcohol so keep an eye on the label.  Other exciting options consist of German Pinot Noir, Barbera from North Italy, Cru Beaujolais from one of the 10 highly regarded village /sites in France.

Dessert Wines: Selections such as Moscato d’Asti and Brachetto d’Aqui from Piedmont, Italy, are enormous crowd-pleasers.  Both offer light effervescence with balanced sweetness and acidity.  Low in alcohol with delicate minerality, these selections are sure to intrigue a range of palates.

Now that you have my recommendations, here are some items to avoid when looking for a “Go To” wine.

Big, oaky Cabernet isn't necessarily food friendly.

Wines high in alcohol, tannin and a big oak treatment should be nixed.  With this in mind, you may want to save the big California Cabernets and Chardonnays for an occasion that will do them justice.  As wonderful as they are, they are better suited for specific dishes and certainly have their place in the pursuit of the perfect pairing, just not for the “Go To” list.

Be wary of chasing critic scores or ratings. Remember we are looking for certain specific qualities in a wine that gives it the ability to work well under most conditions. Ratings are far too general and do not speak to the structure of a wine.

Don’t forget to do a little research on the wine; where did it come from, where’s the vineyard, what was the process?  What you discover may add a little something extra to the overall experience, plus, it would make for great dinner conversation.  Keep in mind the theme of this column — to educate yourself on the art of wine pairing, while intriguing your appetite for adventure.  Spectacular brilliance is always right around the corner, sometimes you may have to stroll from your comfort zone to achieve it.

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Griffin to Go: A Taste of Texas Wine Offers Something Beyond the Same Old Chardonnay

Griffin to Go: A Taste of Texas Wine Offers Something Beyond the Same Old Chardonnay

Kim Murray McDonald of and Sarah Vernetti of enjoy the wines at the Taste of Texas Wine.

Veronique Barretto of

Steinheimer’s Lounge at the Westin La Cantera features a treasure map on the ceiling that supposedly points to hidden gold. But on Friday night, the gold was found in glasses, as the bar was the setting of a Taste of Texas Wine Tweet-Up.

Wine from Haak, Becker, Alamosa and Inwood Estates.

Resort sommelier Steven Krueger and Vintage Texas wine blogger Russ Kane led a tasting of four uniquely different Texas wines, each made from grapes that extend far beyond the California classics, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.

“Texas is its own growing region, unique,” Krueger told the audience of local bloggers and tweeters. “You walk into a Texas winery and you don’t know what they’re going to serve you … and that’s a challenge.”

Grapes with names like Aglianico, Touriga Nacional and Vermentino aren’t household favorites, Kane admitted. Yet these seem to be among the grapes that are proving to be perfect for the state’s climate and great for those “locapours” out there who want to drink locally, he said.

“Our wine experience is not going to be what a California wine experience will be,” Kane said.

Westin sommelier Steven Krueger leads the discussion.

California has cast a giant shadow that the rest of the wine growing regions in the nation all have to operate under, Krueger said.

But Texas winemakers are making strides with lesser-known varietals that are offer great flavors in the glass.

To prove that, Krueger started the tasting with the 2009 Haak Vineyards Blanc du Bois, which was steely and bracing with a citrus edge. “Lemon meringue pie,” pronounced Veronique Barretto, who writes the Vinously Speaking blog.

Blanc du Bois is a grape that was introduced in 1987. It was developed in Florida to withstand harsh growing conditions while being resistant to Pierce’s disease, a bacterial infection that has wiped out countless acres of vineyards in the U.S. and beyond. With a grape so new, “there’s not a history or tradition of making it,” Krueger said.

So, people like Raymond Haak of Haak Vineyards are writing that history with their attempts. Though the version poured at Steinheimer’s was dry, Haak also produces a sweet Blanc du Bois.

The main point of the event was to spread the word about Texas wine, which the various writers did with their tweets. The gathering included Heather Hernandez of; Lauren Madrid, @ohmypuddin; Kim Murray McDonald of; Emily Stringer, @definedelicious; Stacy Teet, @steet; and Sarah Vernetti of

While the bloggers tweeted away, our attention turned to the 2010 Becker Vineyards Viognier, all viscous and full of peach or apricot flavors. This is another grape that grows well in Texas, so well, in fact, that “it has kind of become our Chardonnay,” Kane said.

Richard and Bunny Becker have been pioneers of the grape in the state, Krueger said, adding that Bunny deserves credit for pushing for the grape’s growing acceptance among wine drinkers and growers alike.

Heather Hernandez of (from left), John Madrid, Lauren Madrid of ohmypuddin and Stacy Teet of @steet

Third was the Alamosa Wine Cellars Palette, a Rhone-style blend that winemaker Jim Johnson likes to call “Chateauneuf-du-Bend,” a reference to the grapes’ Texas home town. This blend features Syrah, Cinsault, Grenache and Mourvèdre, with a touch of the aromatic Viognier added for good measure.

Kruger said the wine showed Johnson’s “Old World soul” in its rustic yet elegant nature, with a slight touch of barnyard on the nose.

The tasting concluded with the 2007 Inwood Estates Tempranillo, another grape that is gaining great reviews for its robust flavors and adaptability to Texas soil. Tasting this made me want a large glass alongside venison with a blueberry or huckleberry sauce.

Russ Kane of tweets.

Barretto pointed out an almost Port-like quality to the wine, though it was dry. That could be because the Tempranillo grape is related to Touriga Nacional, the major grape used in Port, Kane answered.

When the wine opened, huge aromas of toffee, caramel, cajeta and other sweet and creamy combinations seemed to explode from the glass, all the while maintaining its fruit flavor.

But don’t take my word for it. Or Krueger’s, Kane’s or any of the bloggers on the scene. Only you can tell you what kind of wine you’ll like. And you can sample four Texas wines for $10 every evening from 5 to 6 p.m. at Steinheimers in the Westin la Cantera, 16641 La Cantera Parkway. Krueger changes the selection regularly, so there’s always something new to taste.



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Beer of the Week: Bard’s Sorghum Malt Beer

Beer of the Week: Bard’s Sorghum Malt Beer

Bard's Sorghum Malted Beer is gluten-free.

Beer of the Week is sponsored by the Lion & Rose. Each week, we introduce you to a wonderful brew that’s a little bit different and well worth seeking out.

Bard’s Sorghum Malt Beer

Can you make a beer without wheat, barley, rye or oats? The folks at Bard’s have. Their gluten-free brew is made with malted sorghum, a grass raised for its grain.

The beer was created by two men who live with celiac yet wanted to knock back a few cold ones with their friends on occasion.

The end result is a lager with a reddish, copper-colored hue and a honeyed aroma. There was a decent foam after pouring it into the glass that carries over into a pleasant fizz on the palate.

The taste is fruity sweet without being sugary (or like sorghum molasses, if the name makes you think of that). There’s a pleasant tart apple quality; but don’t think of hard cider. Bard’s has a rich mouthfeel that gives it heft. The spiky finish carried a tingle that made me want to drink a little more.

All in all, it’s a real treat for someone keeping gluten-free. With only 14 grams of carbohydrates a bottle, it’s also a good option for those looking to cut back in that department as well.

The Lion & Rose has had such a call for gluten-free food that the local chain has added a gluten-sensitive menu. Dishes range from some spicy naked chicken wings and a series of salads to several steaks, grilled shrimp and chips, grilled jerk chicken and the Central London Chicken Curry. the demand, so far, for gluten-free beer hasn’t been as great, says bartender Stephanie Sansonetti, who works at the 700 E. Sonterra Blvd. restaurant.

Perhaps it’s because they haven’t tried Bard’s yet. It’s good enough to enjoy, even if you aren’t keeping gluten-free. The cost at the Lion & Rose is $4.50 a bottle.

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Beer of the Week: St. Peter’s Old-Style Porter

Beer of the Week: St. Peter’s Old-Style Porter

St. Peter's Old-Style Porter

Editors’ note: We’re inaugurating a new feature, Beer of the Week, which is sponsored by the Lion & Rose. Each week, we’ll introduce you to a new brew that’s a little bit different and well worth seeking out. 

St. Peter’s Old-Style Porter

Porter may be a winter warmer, but once you get lost in an air-conditioned oasis from the heat, you’ll welcome this robust, complex beauty from Great Britain.

The packaging is prime, a green 500 milliliter in a shape that takes you back to an earlier era, perhaps not as far back as the brewery site’s history, as recounted on the label, but it is definitely not modern. It seems the the buildings go back to the time of Henry VIII while the well from which the water used is said to be sourced is even older.

None of that matters once you get the first whiff of the dark beer’s bold aromas that are both woodsy and filled with cocoa powder. The St. Peter’s website claims it is made from a mixture of “a mature old ale with a younger light beer,”  but that offers no picture of the great range of flavors to be had, from fruit to coffee, before leading to a seductive vanilla finish. It also has a great mouthfeel that is neither too sticky heavy, which you might think given its almost impenetrable darkness, nor too watery.

This is a beer that bartender Kelly Vinton of the Lion & Rose at 700 E. Sonterra Blvd. likes to recommend to beer lovers looking for something definitely different. And by beer lovers, she isn’t referring to the Corona set. This is not a beer to be chugged. It’s to be sipped and shared with friends (remember, that bottle is 500 milliliters).

Try this porter with seafood, a steak or even dessert. Try it and you’ll want to try the rest of the St. Peter’s lineup, which we will be introducing you to in the coming weeks. At the Lion & Rose, the pint plus-sized bottle is priced at $10.


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White Wines to Ease Your Way Through Summer

White Wines to Ease Your Way Through Summer

By Cecil Flentge

Some people talk of beverages to ‘beat the heat’ this time of year.  That is a battle this Texas boy knows he can’t win, so I will settle for achieving a comfortable co-existence.  These are five white wines I have recently enjoyed drinking and pairing with food.

Italo Cescon, Pinot Grigio, Veneto, Italy 2010

A light, delicious choice for a shrimp salad or simply sipping.

The story on the back of the bottle talks of grandma tying a bit of grapevine on the bottle to show the connection to the vineyard.  That is cute and makes the label distinctive, but the wine would speak for itself.

Fact: Clean peach and raisin nose with a slight tart quality keeping the even flavors lively.  A satisfying and appropriately short finish.

Feeling: This is the ‘go to’ wine for cooling down and wakening your taste buds for dinner.  Maybe a cold and spicy shrimp salpicon salad with the chilled shrimp, a little crumbled cotija cheese, the crisp lettuce and peppers, and those spicy chopped jalapeños — um, um, good! CostCo Liquors has this wine for $10.

Willow Crest, Pinot Gris, Yakima Valley, Washington 2009

While Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio is the same grape, the styles of wine can be very far apart.  Available at CostCo for $10.

Fact: Orange and lime are the first aromas blending into grapefruit and nectarine that continue and delight the tongue.  The balanced acidity finishes out with mineral, orange and melon.

Feeling:  Broiled halibut with julienned red jalapeños, shallots and lime in a butter sauce and a cold glass of Pinot Gris to share with my favorite woman in the whole world.

L.A.Cetto, Chenin Blanc, Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California, Mexico 2009

Apple, mineral and more in this cool Chenin Blanc.

Even with our proximity to Mexico, we do not see many wines from our southern neighbor despite their 350 years of winemaking experience.  So when I ran across this gem in ‘my’ H-E-B, I had to give it a try.  At $10, it wasn’t too big a risk and now I will have to go back and try the L.A. Cetto Cabernet Sauvignon.

Fact:  Beautiful and generous nose of nectarine, mineral-salt, served with sun ripened limón.  The nectarine continues on the palate blending with apple, mineral, and finishing with dried apricot. Just a tiny bit off-dry, serve very cold.

Feeling:  Pulling a dripping bottle of this wine out of a cooler as I sit near the shore in the late afternoon.  Maybe it is time for another apricot?

Stellina, Prosecco, Veneto, Italy

More like Champagne than Asti Spumante, Prosecco is a great value.  This wine is available at Don’s & Ben’s, Whole Foods, and World Market for about $15.

Fact:  Apple, peach, and toast on the nose with good acidity and a bit of peach flavor, this could almost be a sparkling Sauvignon Blanc.

Feeling:  Reward yourself for just being you!  Pour some bubbly and watch the stars float up in your glass as you have some chicken fajitas.

Roux Pere & Fils, Pouilly Fuisse, Burgundy, France 2009

A find: Chardonnay with low oak.

Once a darling of Chardonnay drinkers, it has been lost and found, a rich Chardonnay with low oak.  This can be found at CostCo for around $11.

Fact:  Ripe apple with honey-oak on the nose.  More apples and a pear or two with oak and a soft touch of mineral for the palate.  Smooth on the tongue and enough acidity to keep it from clinging.

Feeling:  It does not demand that you pay attention to it, you just go ahead and enjoy yourself.  This is the drink for popcorn, Cornish hens, or broiled sea bass.


Cecil Flentge is a San Antonio wine educator for professionals or novices and a cooking instructor. Restaurant events or home tastings.
Questions? Email



Posted in Wine Reviews, Wine, Beer, Spirits Q&AComments Off on White Wines to Ease Your Way Through Summer