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Cocktail of The Month: Spiked Hot Cocoa

MWS Oct Cocktail (7 of 11)

The days are getting colder, leaves are falling and carving pumpkins is on everyone’s to-do list… fall is officially here!  We’re not sure about you, but we love this time of year!  If you’re looking for a warming cocktail to enjoy this fall, try our Spiked Hot Cocoa. It’s delicious and easy to make.

MWS Oct Cocktail (2 of 11)

We used The Irishman Irish Cream to make this cocktail and it didn’t disappoint.  You could also replace with Bailey’s Irish Cream and possibly add some Kahlúa (yum).

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounch of  The Irishman Irish Cream
  • Hot Chocolate Mix
  • 1 cup of milk
  • Handful of Marshmallows (or more if you’re really crazy.. :))

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Directions: Combine all ingredients and enjoy! We suggest grabbing some fun Halloween decor to create a fun and festive evening!!

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Do you love making themed cocktails? Tell us, what is your favorite?

Stop into Mystic Wine Shoppe and grab all your cocktail needs!

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Brewery of the Month: Ipswich Ale Brewery

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Located in Boston’s North Shore community, Ipswich Ale Brewery has been a bean town classic since 1991, making them one of the oldest craft brewers in New England. They are a well-known, household name to beer lovers all over Massachusetts and in New England in general. The overall vibe and image of the brand and brewery is just timeless, fun, and classic Boston. It is the perfect environment and brew selection for the exemplary beer lover.

The team at Ipswich Ale Brewery is jam-packed with industry experience and Boston culture. Their president started with the company back in 1994 as just a plain-old volunteer! Over the years, he had worked his way up from delivery guy, 12509583_409137799282531_1551170967375270316_n.0.0productions, and to Director of Operations! In 1999, he bought the brewery and molded and showcased it into the reputable, lovable brand we see today.

Now, what you’ve all been waiting for, the beer selections! Ipswich Ale Brewery offers 8 year-round beers at all times. Throughout the year they release 14 different seasonal beers. Along with these, they offer a special 3 types only available on tap at their on-site restaurant, the Brewer’s Table!

Here are some descriptions of some classics, limited, and on-site offerings!ipswich-ale-brewery

  • “Original Ale” Pale Ale: This original Ipswich classic provides a caramel malt accent with a bitter finish. This beer was created for drinkability, leaving you craving more than one (or two).  Year-Round
  • “Pesky Pils” Pilsner: This carefully brewed Pilsner has a proper German malt, Czech Saaz hops, and lastly, a bright, uplifting touch of Lemondrop hops. This beer is known for its refreshing, light taste.  Year-Round
  • “Oatmeal Stout” Outmeal Stout: This dessert-type beer is a deep, rich malt enriched with flavors of coffee and chocolate. “It’s what espresso would be if it had the gumption to be beer.”  Year-RoundDm5llh7VsAAvnlP
  • “Pumpkin Porter” Brown Porter: This is a traditional brown porter brew with actual, real pumpkin and a pinch of pumpkin spice. This festive choice includes sweet caramel malts, cloves, and nutmeg.  Seasonal
  • “Blueberry Shandy” Blueberry Shandy: This brew will change all the shandy-hater’s minds. Zesty and sweet, this lemon and blueberry combo will leave you begging for more!  Seasonal
  • “Revival” Belgian Style Saison: A beer for the working man and woman, this golden-hued brew contains fruity yeast esters and a hop aroma.  Seasonal 

Make sure to add Ipswich to your list of breweries to visit! Along with tasty brews, you can also grab a bite to eat at their restaurant! Being huge fans of Ipswich Ale Brewery ourselves, we at Mystic Wine Shoppe also carry their year-round and seasonal beers! Make sure to stop in and pick up a pack. You can’t go wrong with this timeless, New England classic!

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Appassimento

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Raisins are nature’s candy. The dried, sugary essence of a grape, concentrated into one little morsel. It seems hard to imagine a wine made from such a thing, but there are actually many. The most famous ones are from Italy, specifically the majestic Amarone, a blend of grapes used to make the very light and delicious Valpolicella wines and Vin Santo, the sweet, luscious desert wine the Italians eat with little biscotti called “cantucci.”

There are other wines made from shriveled grapes – mostly those affected by “noble rot” or botrytis and some “icewine,” made after the water has frozen in the grape so that you when you cold-press the grapes, you just get the sugars and acids and none of the frozen liquid. Excellent examples of these techniques come from Bordeaux in the form of Sauternes or Barsac and Germany, with their Trockenbeerenauslese (dry-berry harvest), but also in the Finger Lakes and the Niagara area where the grapes hang until they freeze before harvesting. I have an on-going love affair with all raisinated, botrytized and frozen wines, but they are all “special occasion” wines, so not on the regular rotation of every day wines.

But this wine is something new, that maybe you could drink more regularly. It is a raisinated wine from the Montepulciano grape, famous for the light, bright, fruity wines of Abruzzo. Most Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines are meant for drinking casually, a cheerful blend of plums and cherries, with high acidity and low tannins that also “cleanse” the palate when you have it with pasta in a rich sauce. But when you dry the grapes and then press that precious, concentrated liquid into juice that ferments slowly and carefully, you get a deeply colored, deeply flavored wine that will stand up to heavy sauces and red meats and spice! This is a wine that has the intensity of a California Cabernet with all the mouth-filling aromas of fruit and some herbs, but has the acid brightness of wild cherries and summer plum, like a much lighter wine. It is a wonderful, unusual combination that will have you taking just one more sip, just to see if it really does have all that complexity. And the texture will have keep you sipping once you are used to the unusual mix of flavors, it is smooth and viscous. At $14.99, it will give that Amarone you’ve been saving for a special occasion a definite run for its money.

We had it last night with roasted leg of lamb and a wonderful mint sauce – definitely a regular from now on!

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A to Z Oregon Riesling

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There are some wines that everyone loves. And there are wines that cater to the few. There are wines that grow on you and there are wines that just stand up and smack you in the face. So, which one is this?

The A to Z Oregon Riesling is a puzzle. I will come out and say it – I love it! It is lush and fragrant on the nose with a silky soft and smooth mouthfeel. It is full bodied and fruity, delicate and floral and mouthwatering with a hint of sweetness all at the same time. As a wine writer, I have been told over and over that when I am tasting a wine, it is not about whether I like it or not. It is about describing the attributes of that wine and making clear notes that so that customer can evaluate it on their own and so that I will be able to remember this particular wine – grape, soil / climate and year – when I retaste it. But sometimes, you just love a wine.

So why am I questioning whether others will love this wine as much as I do? To be honest, I am not sure why anyone would not like a riesling. It is called a “noble grape” in Alsace for a reason. It is one of the few white grapes that has a very distinct character and is age worthy regardless of where it might be grown. Chardonnay is the truly the wonder grape, yes. It grows almost anywhere, it takes on the characteristics of the climate and of wood aging very well. It is versatile and pairs with a wide range of foods. It is fairly neutral, so there is rarely a lingering aftertaste – you get the fruity or flinty character and if it is cleanly made, it tastes clean and crisp. And it blends with a variety of other grapes.

Riesling, by contrast, is not Chardonnay. It stands in bold contrast to the other white grapes. It is finicky about where it will grow. It does best in a cool climate with rocky, slate rich soils that absorb the sun’s rays and drain away the rain. It does well when it has long, molasses days that last until a 10pm sunset and cool nights that allows it’s rich acids to develop. It loves growing on steep slopes that require hand picking and careful selection and it is very susceptible to Botrytis. Botrytis, under favorable conditions, is called “nobel rot,” and is a gentle affliction that punctures the skin of the grape, allowing the water to evaporate from the grapes on the vine. This concentrates the flavors and leads to the “trockenbeerenauslese” (dry berry harvest) that is so prized in German Riesling.

Rieslings come in a variety of quality levels and sweetness levels. While I love the German language, having lived there for well over 2 years, I won’t go into the details. That is one of the nice things about buying Riesling from the Pacific Northwest. It is labeled simply and can be appreciated without any angst. This wine, I would call ‘soft’ because it has an wonderful balance of sour and sweet that is perfect if you are having scallops or lobster. It has enough body to stand up to spicy foods – think Indian or Thai. And it is complex and quite simply tasty enough to just drink on its own. I would recommend serving it very chilled with the bottle on ice. The tart, tangy richness will be enhanced by the cold temperature.

Cheers, Seema

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Hugh Hamilton Wine Tasting Recap

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What a great turnout we had this weekend for our wine tasting with the one and only Hugh Hamilton!  Hugh travels from Australia twice a year and always hosts a wine tasting with us at Mystic Wine Shoppe. We’re always grateful for his time and for the support of the community.  Hugh and his team just launched a new wine collection and it will soon be coming to Mystic Wine Shoppe.

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Thanks again, Hugh We loved having you and sampling all your delicious wines.

Stop in and grab a bottle of Hugh Hamilton Wines at Mystic Wine Shoppe.  Trust us, you won’t be disappointed!

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Black Ops

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Wine writers call wines like Black Ops by Hugh Hamilton a “rare red blend.” I would call it an “extremely rare red blend.” It is just luscious – deep, inky color paired with unmistakable notes of wild blueberries, dark blackberries, juicy red cherries and a slightly elusive savory/wild herb / ripe fruit note that soaks into every taste bud and makes your shoulders relax.

This wine is made of the unusual blend of Shiraz, Saperavi and Nero d’Avola. Shiraz, a mainstay of McLaren Vale, is the iconic grape of meaty, mighty and most especially tasty Australian wines. It is the same grape that is used in Rhône wines, notably Hermitage, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and Cornas, which is the only French wine made with 100% Syrah. The primary distinction between Shiraz and Syrah is stylistic. Most Australian Shiraz tends to have a riper, fruitier, more concentrated set of flavors, whereas the cooler climate Syrahs of the Rhône Valley in Southern France, then to be a bit more savory, a bit more structured and a bit more peppery. The trend these days in Australia is that Shiraz is planted in cooler microclimates and is producing a more restrained type of wine, closer in character to the Syrahs of France, while the French are dealing with warmer, longer summers and are producing much more alcoholic, powerful wines than in the past. But despite this climatic convergence, they are still very distinct.

To add to this distinction, Hugh Hamilton has lived up to his Black Sheep logo by introducing an extraordinary grape to Australia called Saperavi. It is an ancient grape variety from the Republic of Georgia. In my mind, it evokes romantic images of farmers thousands of years ago, plucking grapes by hand, stomping the grapes in celebratory fashion with their families, fermenting that must in clay amphorae and drinking it with joy at every hearty meal. It is a grape that deserves this image. It brings to this wine a sort of wild, gamey nature that the buttoned-down varieties of Western Europe lack. It is a teinturier grape, that rare grape whose flesh, not just the skin, has color. And it is known for its depth, acidity, and full body.

Another bold move was to blend in Nero d’Avola. Again, this is an ancient variety that has found its home in the southern parts of Sicily. Like its happy compatriots, it is a dark, full-bodied wine that exhibits bright cherry notes that when oak-aged, can become plummy and juicy.

Together, these three varieties make Black Ops a truly exceptional wine. It is fruity and fragrant while still being structured and powerful. The wine starts strong with aromas of black currants, plums and cherries and fills your mid-palate with wonderful roundness and the complexity of pepper, dark chocolate and a small hint of herbs that seems ingrained in Australian terroir. The mellow tannins are more textural than grippy, rolling over your tongue with very pleasing sensations. It finishes with a long, slow slide of lingering fruits and tobacco and perhaps a hint of smoke.

You’d be a fool to pass up this wine at $19.99 a bottle!!!!

Your wine expert, Seema

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Manu Sauvignon Blanc 2018

2018 Manu Sauvignon Blanc

It’s like when you casually lean over to smell a rose, not expecting anything, and you can actually smell the rose! It transports you to your childhood in your grandmother’s beautiful garden with melon sized roses that you could smell from a yard away.

That is how the Manu Sauvignon Blanc is. You open it and pour, expecting to smell some Sauvignon Blanc, but then you smell it! It has a gorgeous nose that feels like a lungful of fresh air out on an alpine meadow. It is full of bright lime, grapefruit and green apple freshness balanced with tropical notes of guava and gooseberry. It is overlaid by a wonderful herbal grassiness that reminds you of lying on a hillside on a lush lawn watching the clouds drift across the sky. Even if you never actually taste the wine, you could breathe it in all day.

But then if you do taste it, it is tart and tangy, round and smooth and totally refreshing – from the first taste to the last lingering flavors, it is a wine to be tasted with your eyes closed.

Sauvignon Blanc is grown in many regions of the world. While the Loire and Bordeaux are undoubtedly the wellspring of classic Sauvignon Blanc wines, it has found one of its most popular expressions in New Zealand. Close to 95% of all wine exported form New Zealand is Sauvignon Blanc, followed by very excellent Pinot Noir. What is it about this southern clime that makes this wine so special there? There are several factors. One is the ideal climate in the Marlborough region of the southern island. It is a maritime climate with warm, sunny days and cool nights with ocean breezes flowing off the Pacific to cool down the vines. The morning fogs protect the grapes from the worst of the sun’s ray until the sun is overhead and the leaves can protect them – after all, grapes can get sunburned too. It has combination of schist and sandstone mixed with clay (called Greywacke) that allows the roots of of the plant to penetrate deep, drain well and yet retain enough moisture to nourish the vines. And of course, the final factor is the winemaker. Steve Bird is a fabulous producer – dedicated, thoughtful and willing to think “outside the box.”

As our summer transitions into autumn, this wine will allow you to linger in that alpine meadow for a little longer and draw out the best of the season.

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Brewery of the Month: Lamplighter Brewing Co.

Brewery of the Month: Lamplighter Brewing Co.

The vibe that Lamplighter Brewing Co. embraces is a modern, funky environment that allows visitors to experience a unique twist on their basic brewery trip. This eclectic brewery, located in in downtown Cambridge, Massachusetts, focuses in quality, community, and craft. With a saying such as “I Love Lamp,” a reference from the comedy hit, Anchorman, it comes as no surprise that this location meets its goal by being a fun, hip place to be.

lamp1The team at Lamplighter is an energetic mix of different backgrounds in education and expertise who all share a strong passion for producing delicious beer. This team makes for a very fun, welcoming environment from the minute you enter the brewery. The space has a very modern, industrial look to it. From the exposed pipes to the classic Boston brick work, this brewery is a neighborhood favorite.

Now for the most important part, the beer. All together, Lamplighter creates 44 different types of brews. Impressive, right? Within these 44 unique choices, they focus on aroma-packed and flavor-driven ales, with an emphasis on New England IPAs, barrel-aged sours, and unique seasonals.

To help narrow down your possible selection, we’re going to provide you the info on the 13 brews that happen to be on tap today!

  • “Alyosha” Abbey Ale: low ABV, and light body allow hints of fruit and spice to shine, while the addition of wheat and pilsnerScreen Shot 2018-09-04 at 5.08.04 PM malts leave each sip soft and approachable.
  • “Brothers Antitoi” Brettanomyces Fermented Wild Beer: smooth and bright acidity is complemented by subtle underlying funk, layered atop flavors of fresh strawberries, ripe pineapple, and candied peach rings.
  • “Cuppa” Brittish Ale with Cold Brew: light and fruity hot bloom roast is added at the end of the brewing process to preserve as much coffee flavor as possible. The finished beer is made up of about 10% coffee.
  • “Ele” Saison: citrus forward flavors, hints of clove and spice, and a dry and peppery finish. Inspired by the character Eleven from “Stranger Things.”
  • “Finnegan’s Wake” Irish Dry Stout: akin to a smooth and creamy Guinness, with each sip bringing forth waves of bitter chocolate and freshly roasted coffee.
  • “Gestalt” Altbier: bright copper in color and exceptionally smooth, balancing assertive hop bitterness with warm malt character.
  • “Group Theory” Wheat Ale with Chamomile and Honey: despite the addition of syrupy raw honey to the brew, GroupScreen Shot 2018-09-04 at 5.09.01 PM Theory has a lovely, dry finish as a result of the fermentation of its simple sugars. It takes its name from a central concept of abstract algebra, which pays homage to both the math background of one of their co-founders, and to their brewery name (a small math reference itself).
  • “Looking Glass” Extra Special Bitter: balanced notes of dark bread, toasted hazelnut, and a robust earthiness. The beer is then lightly hopped with Target and Challenger to accentuate those flavors.
  • “Luminati” India Pale Ale: each batch of this hoppy beer highlights a different hop addition, presenting ever-changing flavors atop the same bold, brash base beer. (citra, mosaic, bru-1)
  • “Metric Systems” Gose: this tart German wheat ale is refreshing and light, with notes of orange peel and lemon.
  • “Rabbit Rabbit” Double India Pale Ale: veritable juice bomb, boasting huge hop flavors of mango, melon, and ripe fruit.
  • “Space Monster” West Coast Style IPA: fresh departure from smooth and juicy New England-style IPAs, instead boasting a prominent bitterness and slight sweetness. From that base emerges omnipotent and monstrous flavors of sweet cedar, prickly pine, and ripe pineapple.
  • “Speedwagon” Kolsch: fermented with ale yeast, but then finished in cold temperatures like a lager. The resulting beer exhibits some of the best characteristics of both categories – light and quaffable, with a touch of muted fruitiness and a crisp, clean finish.

Screen Shot 2018-09-04 at 5.05.46 PMFind something you’d like to try? No surprise there! Lamplighter Brewing Co. has something for everyone! Make sure to stop into Mystic Wine Shoppe to pick up one of their brews on the go. If you need another excuse to try them, they hold trivia nights every Tuesday from 8pm – 10pm. Check their website for more upcoming events! With all the options they have to offer, the fun, funky environment, and the amazing location, make Lamplighter your next brewery must-see and the next pack you pick up from us!