Upcoming Wine & Spirits Seminars

For those of you who don’t know, not only do I spend time working on my personal beverage blog, but I also have the glitzy position of Director of Marketing & Education at the Divine Wine Emporium here in the shoreline village of Niantic, CT. With fall coming up, it means we start rounding up guest speakers from different wine and spirits companies to tell good stories and of course, pour samples for us to try.

So let me be a shill and give some press to Divine Wine today. Our calendar is filling up fast, and we are getting the festivities started tomorrow night. The guest speaker programs are typically free, while our in-house educational sessions require a fee of some kind. Here’s a rundown of what we have coming up, and if you are in town give a call to Divine Wine at (860) 691-1053 to RSVP for any of the programs below.


Thursday, September 20th, 7:00pm (Cost: $0): Single Cask Nation & More. Josh Hatton, founder of Single Cask Nation and Northeast Regional Manager for ImpEx Beverage, will be talking whisk(e)y with us. He has seven whiskies in total to share, two of which come from Single Cask Nation. Other products include Kilchoman and Isle of Skye from Scotland and Ohishi from Japan. Josh is a great guy, who I got to know back in March at a trade tasting with Skurnik Wines & Spirits.


Wednesday, September 26th, 7:00pm (Cost: $0): Piazzo Winery. We welcome this outstanding producer of Piedmont wines to the classroom. We already carry the Piazzo Barolo, and we will be tasting a range of other wines from the region (expect this to be a red wine-leaning seminar). Marco, the grandson of Armando Piazzo who is heavily involved at the winery, will be our presenter for the evening.


Wednesday October 10th/17th/24th, 7:00pm (Cost: $100 for the three sessions): Wine 101. The Boss himself, Ken Turcotte, Certified Specialist of Wine and WSET Advanced Level III is running his tremendous foundation wine course that he has taught to nearly 1,000 students over the last 16 years. He covers everything from field to bottle in a fun, casual setting over three Wednesdays in October. The tuition covers all study materials and wines that will be tasted.


Thursday, October 25th, 7:00pm (Cost TBD): Gin Lane 1751. Geoff Curley, founder of Gin Lane 1751, is extremely passionate about gin and works to not only build his brand, but to promote the gin category. He will be offering a full seminar on gin, complete with sampling four products, and providing practical know-how in the form of cocktails, classic and modern.

PSA: Stay Hydrated

What does Crown Royal have to do with hydration? Read on to find out.

What does Crown Royal have to do with hydration? Read on to find out.

I really enjoy writing about alcoholic beverages. I study it every day to make myself smarter and share information with you so you can make confident, informed buying choices. It's fun to explore a new wine or sample a classic cocktail. It is great to pick up the new release from your local craft brewery. When disposable income allows it, it's a joy to spend $100 on a bottle of fine Cognac or single malt Scotch and sip it at the end of a night.

However, a small but very important part of what I do involves responsibility. It is my duty be a good advocate of moderation and good health. Even though summer is winding down, the temperatures sure haven't given us a feeling that we will be heading into autumn (I'm not exactly feeling that malty, rich Oktoberfest brew just yet!). If there is any beverage that should be at the top of your list every day, it should be a significant dose of water.

Now don't get me wrong here. I love a refreshing white ale or some Tequila on these warm, muggy days, but in order to prevent the alcohol combining with the heat to serve me a whopping headache in the morning I am staying on top of hydration. Keep the water flowing all day. Drink a glass in between alcohol if you plan to have multiple beverages in one sitting.

For example, take this newly released campaign from Crown Royal, which is asking fans to have a Crown Royal Water Break. This is something I can appreciate: a large brand like Crown Royal (63 million liters sold worldwide) owned by a gigantic drinks company, Diageo, encouraging alcohol consumption in moderation while staying hydrated. Additionally, on the heels of the pro football season about to kick off tomorrow, you have former NFL greats such as Brian Westbrook (my final bit of love to Eagles fans before the 2018 season gets started) being spokespeople for the brand and the Water Break message.

Image credit:  The Atlantic

Image credit: The Atlantic

And as we do head into legitimate fall weather, don't skip out on the water just because the temperatures feel cooler. You still need it. Water regulates your body temperature, takes nutrients to all parts of your body, and keeps you awake while you read my blog. So whatever you pick as your poison, stay hydrated. It's important.

We will return to regularly scheduled boozery next time.

I Survived Volleyball Night...Now It's Time For A Drink

When we moved to Connecticut over four years ago, I knew I needed to find a physical activity to do. It had been a LONG time since I had really broken a sweat aside from going for walks or hikes in a park, or eating jalapenos in the summer sun. Taking care of the kids and studying for wine school took up most of my waking hours for several years, and when I was done with that for the day, I wanted to do nothing.

Yeah, that's not good...

I used to play basketball. A lot of basketball, and over the years I just didn't like how my back, knees, and ankles felt when I was through. So when I looked in our town's Parks & Rec brochure, I said, "Oh...they do volleyball here. Let's give this a shot."

I showed up the first day, and when I watched people warming up I muttered, "What the #$%! am I doing here?" Fortunately, I stuck with it. To this day, returning a serve is still a coin flip proposition, but I did improve my setting, spiking, and blocking. People who had been doing this much longer than I have coached me up on my technique, too, and I was (and still am) happy to take the advice. As a result of venturing out of my comfort zone, I not only became a believable enough player, but I also met some awesome people who became friends.

And while the theme of this blog is to encourage you to step out of your comfort zone with your adult beverage purchases, I actually tend to stay rigid when I am looking for a post-game drink. Most nights I immediately head directly to the showers and bed. However, on the nights I choose to meet up with the crew at the bar or watch a game at home, I need something restorative after chasing down a free ball to the corner, absorbing punishing kills, or diving after a short tap over the net. I essentially play steel cage volleyball, so my body is always in need of repair.

That's me on the left back in August; I almost look like someone who can play volleyball! Soon enough, we'll be playing on the beach again. Hopefully, my friends don't mind their likenesses being used for my benefit.

That's me on the left back in August; I almost look like someone who can play volleyball! Soon enough, we'll be playing on the beach again. Hopefully, my friends don't mind their likenesses being used for my benefit.

Whether you are into running, cross-fit, weight training, or just going for a stroll, I'm sure you like to reward yourself for getting the blood flowing with a satisfying drink. Now, I will say this: I am no fitness expert, but I do find it important to re-hydrate with water or your electrolytic drink of choice. Directly replacing all those lost fluids and nutrients with booze will lead to feeling like garbage the next day. For a non-alcoholic drinkable meal, a smoothie made up of some proportion of frozen fruit, yogurt, banana, fruit nectar, and greens (maybe even a scoop of protein powder) does wonders for keeping you going. When I am in for the night, it's leftover pasta or a sandwich of some kind. Even when I go to the bar after playing, wings or pulled pork is a must for me.

So after proper refueling, here's what I typically reach for after my body has splattered itself on the court for two hours on a Tuesday night.


Abita Turbodog ($9/6-pack): Yes, a beer has made it into a post! This is a full-bodied brown ale that has all of the "brown" flavors going on: caramel, toffee, roasted nuts, and chocolate. It's a very good brew to have on-hand in the winter months. If I have zero inventory, well...I go for a Guinness Draught or Boddington's Pub Ale.

Two Roads Worker's Comp Farmhouse Ale ($10/6-pack): More beer! If I need something lighter but still loaded with flavor, I love a good Saison/Farmhouse Ale, a wild yeasty style that is traditionally made in winter to be sold in the summer. This Connecticut brewery's example is packed with tropical fruits and spices. I will happily knock this back year-round, along with Maine's  Allagash Saison (pictured, about $10/4-pack).

Whisk(e)y (any price point): On nights where I have exerted myself more than I expected to, or if the games are particularly intense, whiskey is in order. Bourbon, Scotch, whatever. As I write this, I am enjoying the Sons of Liberty Battle Cry Rhode Island Single Malt American Whiskey ($44). This is actually a distilled Belgian-style ale, which results in what tastes like breakfast: a bowl of oatmeal with almonds and baking spices. They also make the Uprising American Whiskey, made from a distilled stout beer for a few bucks more.

You have something you like to enjoy after a workout? Share it with me below!