Whether you’re a fan of red or white, sweet or dry, or even if you can’t really tell the difference, we can offer you some great tasting wine options for every occasion!
5 Holiday Wines for under $50: The Red, The White & The Bubbly
The holidays are stressful: fighting the crowds to find the perfect gift, holiday parties to attend or host, decorating and baking that can make the joy of the holidays not so joyful. At The Red Lion Inn, we will welcome around 15,000 guests over the next 6 weeks, so we know a bit about entertaining. In an effort to alleviate the stress of decision making this season, here are my top 5 food-friendly wines to enjoy here at the Inn or in your own home. With Thanksgiving around the corner, these all-American wines honor of our forefathers as well as pair with many holiday staples.
1. Domaine Carneros by Taittinger, Brut
Nothing is more festive then sparkling wine and champagne. While I love true champagne, my pocketbook does not. Prosecco and Cava are nice but I crave the purity and richness of methode champenoise sparklers. Domaine Carneros is located in the Carneros region of California a region known for producing fine Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The Taittinger family has been producing Champagne in France since 1734 so this bottling has all of the knowledge and attention to detail that go into more costly cuvees.
2. Ravines Dry Riesling, Finger Lakes, New York
I have loved these wines since I first tasted them years ago and they are starting to get the attention they deserve. Named to the 2013 Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of the World and according to Eric Asimov of The New York Times, produces one of the best Rieslings in America. Bone dry, crisp and refreshing with minerality and focus, this wine should be on every table to help cut through the richness of most holiday dishes.
3. Steele Vineyards, Zinfandel, Pacini Vineyard, Mendocino, California
No grape is as rooted in American wine culture like the Zinfandel, so it’s a very appropriate selection for a Thanksgiving feast. Pacini Vineyard was planted in the 1940’s and produces wines with great brambly fruit with spice and bacon on the nose. Medium alcohol levels help to prevent palate fatigue.
4. Hermann J. Weimer, Cabernet Franc, Finger Lakes, NY
Back to the Finger Lakes for this pretty red: Cabernet Franc is Cabernet Sauvignon’s hip little brother. Weimer is best known for the making the long lived Chinon from France’s Loire Valley. Soft on tannins, big on fruit and acidity, perfect for roast meats and fowl. Not a hedonistic wine it requires a little thought but is well worth it.
5. The Troublemaker by Austin Hope, Syrah/Grenache/Petit Syrah, Paso Robles, CA
Quite the opposite of my last wine The Troublemaker is big, ripe, lush and viscous. The blend is similar to many Chateauneuf Du Pape or Cotes Du Rhone in southern France. Both elegant and powerful flavors of black cherry, vanilla, mocha and tobacco make this multi-vintage wine unique and very drinkable.
Good Libations: The Red Lion Inn Cider House Rules
As the leaves start turning and the air gets cooler, a familiar smell returns to the Inn. Enter through the Widow Bingham’s Tavern and you are greeted by scents of orange, cinnamon, cloves and most importantly: cider. Apple Cider is a staple in these parts, fresh pressed minutes down the road at Hilltop Orchards, it also signals the colorful fall months and the upcoming winter. The Vittori Family has been operating Hilltop Orchards for over 25 years with some of the heirloom varieties being planted on their property for over 100 years. Fresh cider is unfiltered, unsweetened and all natural. The practice of spiced or mulled cider can be linked to wassailing, an English tradition of singing and drinking to ensure a healthy apple harvest the following year. Next time you are in Stockbridge, join us and help celebrate the harvest or make our cider at home.
Hot Spiced Cider
The Red Lion Inn
1 ¼ oz. Spiced Rum
1 Orange Peel
1 Cinnamon Stick, 1 ½ inches long
2 Whole Cloves
6 oz. Apple Cider, heated
Pour all of the ingredients, except the nutmeg, into a heated mug.
Let steep for 3 minutes and then stir. Sprinkle with the nutmeg, and serve
Rocking Libations: Berkshire Mountain Distillers Gin & Tonic
Legend has it that a sommelier once asked Julia Child what her favorite wine was. Her response was simple: “Gin”.
Gin its’s what’s for dinner.
Gin the other white meat.
Gin and Sin
Gin Gin Gin I like Gin!
Gin vodka with flavor.
For a more floral taste, his Ethereal Gin is released in batches with each one having its own unique botanical recipe (think Bombay vs Bombay Sapphire)
Chose one of these and pour a healthy portion into a collins glass, top with tonic water and a generous squeeze of lime (to prevent malaria and scurvy).
That’s it… don’t over think it, just enjoy.
Rocking Libations: Stockbridge Sangria
During the hustle and bustle of Summer in the Berkshires, sometimes we are in such a hurry to get to Tanglewood concerts, Berkshire Theater Festival shows, Jacob’s Pillow performances, that we forget about the art of relaxation. There is no better place to hone up on your relaxation skills than on the Front Porch of The Red Lion Inn. Some people prefer to take their morning coffee on the porch and watch Stockbridge wake up, while others prefer an after show nightcap.
Either way you find an open rocking chair next to Simon the cat and settle in. The only other thing you need on a summer day is a cold refreshing beverage to enjoy. Throughout August we’ll show you a few of our favorites for you to try.
Spiced wine has been around since the Romans brought viticulture through Europe. The practice of adding Brandy and fruit to red wine is thought to come from Southern Spain’s Andalusian(sp) territory. We lighten our Sangria up a bit using both rosé and white wine, Lillet, Elderflower Liqueur, and numerous other secret ingredients (if you ask nicely I’m sure we can get you the recipe). Next we add some fresh fruits- apple, strawberries, raspberries- and let the flavors mingle. The longer the flavors mix the better the sangria. Finish with some ice and a splash of soda and enjoy.
Summer 2013: Chilling with Red
Summer has arrived!
As I write this, it’s 85 degrees out and beautiful. A great time for dry rosés from Provence, crisp fruity New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs or Trocken Rieslings from the Mosel to serve chilled from the fridge. Though for those carnivores at heart who love to cook animal protein over an open flame, white wine often doesn’t do the trick. On the other hand big tannic Napa Cabernets can be tough to swallow.
So what is the red wine lover to do?
That’s right, put your reds in the cooler right next to the prosecco and enjoy. Here are a few red wines that are best served from the ice bucket.
Cleto Chiarli, Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco, Modena Italy
Dry Lambrusco is fantastic served chilled, as it still carries the flavors of a typical red but without the weight. Low in alcohol, slightly sparkling, juicy and refreshing. Light red in color, vibrant with aromas of raspberry and roses.
The Chiarli Family has been producing Lambrusco for over 150 years and consistently wins Italy’s highest wine award “Tre Bicchieri” from Gambero Rosso.
Enjoy with pizza, charcuterie, grilled sausages and meats.
Lamoreaux Landing, T23 Cabernet Franc, Finger Lakes
Unoaked pure Cab Franc, stainless steel tank fermented(tank #23) this New York State red is bursting with aromas of red cherries and fresh cut herbs. Made in the style of the great Chinons of the Loire Valley this variety has plenty of flavor without any oak tannins to get in the way.
Perfect with roast vegetables, ratatouille, sausage, grilled chicken, and eggplant.
Domaine Cheysson, Chiroubles, Clos Les Farges, Beaujolais
Old Vine Gamay from one of the 10 Crus of Beaujolais. This is a far cry from the overly sweet Nouveau banana wines we see every November. High acid, firm structure and plenty of crunchy red fruits.
These poor man’s Burgundies are made for the table and will complement a wide array of food, from salad to sausage.
Planeta 2010, Nero D’Avola/Frappato, Cerasuolo Vittoria, Sicily
Located between the sea and the Iblei Mountains Cerasuolo is the only DOCG in Sicily. The red sandy soils produce a wine with flavors of pomegranate, strawberry and cherry.
Great for seafood lovers this is a wonderful red to pair with just about anything from the ocean.
So when you are looking at a wine list on a beautiful summer day or shopping for a Tanglewood picnic dinner put down that Malbec, Shiraz, and Cabernet and try one of the wines above served below room temperature. — Dan
The Lion’s Ale: A Beer is Born
Beer is important to us here at The Red Lion Inn. From our humble beginnings as a stagecoach stop and tavern, to the opening of the Lion’s Den after Prohibition was repealed, we have served beer, and lots of it: around 20,000 gallons a year or 128,000 imperial pints. We are fortunate to have 34 Craft Breweries in Massachusetts and 3 located right here in the Berkshires. Wandering Star Craft Brewery in Pittsfield, the Barrington Brewery in Great Barrington, and in October of 2012 Big Elm Brewing in Sheffield opened. Bill and Christine Heaton of Big Elm met while working at Victory brewing in PA. They soon married and opened Pittsfield Brew Works in Pittsfield. Tiring of the restaurant business, they sold Pittsfield Brew Works and began planning a brewery-only project.
We started carrying their beers as soon as they were available. One of the perks of small town living is that the beer delivery person is usually the brewer just as the man or woman delivering our vegetables usually just picked them hours before. Bill is very passionate about beer and when we discussed the type of beer we were looking for he suggested brewing one especially for us. Shying away from super hoppy IPAs we discussed flavor profiles and decided a traditional English amber ale best fit with The Red Lion Inn — a beer you can imagine Colonists drinking while discussing the Monarchy or more recent guests debating Red Sox vs. Yankees.
So on a snowy day in February a group of us headed to Sheffield to assist in the inaugural brewing of Lion’s Ale. Myself, Food and Beverage Director Brian Alberg, long-time Barmen Patrick Flynn and Bob Hardiman, and even our General Manager Bruce Finn joined in on the fun. The wort (grain and malt that has steeped) was boiling when we arrived. We took a quick tour and went right to work. We measured specific gravity (the density relative to water, to help gauge sugar levels and potential alcohol levels) added the hops, and Brian even got to clean out the mash tun!
Making beer is thirsty work. While waiting for the wort to boil we sampled the Big Elm lineup. The IPA was very hoppy and assertive, 413 is a farmhouse ale brewed with local honey and spices, and the Gerry Dog Stout is a robust oatmeal stout. We were even able to taste some of the limited edition Buffalo Trace Bourbon barrel aged beers, delicious but don’t drink too many.
Fermentation is a little like baking or pregnancy. We think the ingredients will make a great product but we can’t be sure until it’s done cooking. Fast-forward to March 17th, St. Patty’s Day (an appropriate day to release a new beer), and the moment of truth.
It’s perfect (at least we think so) a smooth, malty, rich yet very drinkable amber ale.