You may be right, but I doubt it…

Steve Bird Winery

I love it when I speak with people and they have strong opinions on wine. Sometimes the opinions are wrong (ahem), but nonetheless, it makes for a lively exchange. For years now, Pinot Noir has had a certain cache, it is the wine grape that has been made into some of the most legendary cuvees of Burgundy, the wellspring of ethereal, elusive, coveted and as a result, unimaginably expensive wines. But in the past few decades, it’s magic has been captured and vinified in the new world. There are purists who would recoil from the idea that one would drink Pinot Noir from anywhere but the golden slopes of Burgundy, but (ahem), they would be wrong.

It turns out that there are valleys in California and Oregon that make just beautiful, scented, delicate, poignant Pinot Noirs. And more recently, the art of Pinot Noir has come to New Zealand.

So what is it about Pinot Noir that is so magical and mysterious? Why do people wax poetic about it? The first thing is that it is a notoriously difficult grape to grow. As the Oxford Companion to Wine states, “Pinot Noir demands more of both the vine-grower and the winemaker…It is a tribute to the unparalleled level of physical excitement generated by tasting one of Burgundy’s better reds that such a high proportion of the world’s most ambitious wine producers want to try their hand with this capricious and extremely variable vine.”

Steve Bird is one such intrepid winemaker. He has dedicated his life to winemaking, coming to it as a high-schooler working at the local winery, studying it in college and then working in wineries his entire life. And his skill is well rewarded in his signature wine, the 2013 Bird Big Barrel Pinot Noir from the Marlborough wine region of the south island of New Zealand.

This wine has some magic in it. When you pour it, it has this amazing gem-like ruby brightness with hints of orange, which indicate it is 5 years old and ready for drinking. Then you smell it. The first impression is of cherry with a light herbal note – maybe mint? But patience is required. This wine has been sitting in this bottle for 5 years now. Swirl it some more – let is open up and relax a bit. Then take another deep breath of it. Now you start of find that elusive quality. It is now full of cherries, a hint of strawberry, some roses and violets and wonderful baking spices, some cloves, some licorice. And yet it remains delicate, there is nothing overt in this wine. It is coy and draws you in. On the palate it is fruity and mouthwatering with just the right amount of silky tannins to make it linger on the finish, again just the right amount.

And voila, one sees that Pinot Noir is indeed able to thrive and prosper outside Burgundy. There are many ways it can express itself. It can put forward its floral character, it can put forward its herbal character; it can be fruity but it can also be savory. But when it is well made, it is always wonderful.

Cheers, Seema (Our local wine expert)


Steve Bird Winery

Grab Your Variety Packs!


So many variety packs – so little time!

We’re not sure about you, but the staff at Mystic Wine Shoppe loves a good seasonal beer pack. Whether it’s winter, spring, summer or fall we’re always on the hunt to bring you the BEST seasonal variety packs.  Right now, we have about 12 variety packs available for purchase… ranging from local winter brews, such as The Mountain Mixer from Shed Brewery, to lighter brews, such as Liquid Aloha by Kona Brewing Co.

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Want to enjoy local beer made right here in New England? Try these variety packs by Wachusett Brewing, Shed Brewing, Long Trail Brewing, Switchback Brewing and Jack’s Abby Brewing.

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Do you have a favorite variety pack?  Let us know if there is a brand you want us to carry and we can look into it.

Cheers, The Mystic Wine Shoppe Team

Not Your Grandma’s Sherry

Fino Sherry

We have all read the novels where a British matriarch insists on the family dressing formally for dinner and beginning the evening with a round of sherry.  Before I ever tried sherry, I always pictured it as a very sophisticated tipple that only the most refined people can enjoy. Then, in my youth, I was introduced to cream sherry, a sweet syrupy concoction that seemed likely to induce a headache when followed by wine at dinner.

It has only been in recent years that (here in the US), the entire range of sherry, from bone dry to sweet, has emerged from the dusty drawing rooms of the china tea set crowd to shine as an aperitif, but also as a wine that can be paired with food and mixed into cocktails.  It is a very versatile wine that while making one feel quite sophisticated and international, can still be enjoyed just for itself.

There are several types of sherry one can choose. The lightest and driest style is “Fino” from Jerez or sometimes, Xerez in Spain.  On the open, it has a nutty flavor – is it almonds?  pecans? and perhaps a bit of salty creaminess?  Then one gets a better sense of how it is made – in humid cellars with a mild mushroom note.  Then as one continues to contemplate what this is doing to your palate – you get an amazing, yeasty breadlike flavor all over that makes you want to take that next sip and experience it all over again.

Sherry is quintessentially a winemaker’s wine.  It is made from the Palomino Fino grape in the town of Jerez de la Frontera in Spain.  The British, reluctant to pronounce “jerez” simply called it Sherry.  The Palomino grape can withstand drought well – a boon in the arid land of southern Spain – and “produces a reliable crop of slightly low acid, low sugar grapes whose wine may oxidize easily – in short, perfect raw material for sherry.” (JancisRobinson.com)  Because it oxidizes so easily, fino sherry is produced in humid, hot cellars that are an ideal breeding ground for a type of mold called “flor.”  The flor creates a crust over the wine that imparts a wonderful, cheesy flavor while also protecting it from oxygen by creating a largely impermeable barrier over the liquid (if this barrier of flor is intentionally broken to create a more oxidized style, it is called “oloroso;” if it is unintentionally broken and then further aged, it is called “amontillado”).

One of the coolest aspects of making sherry is the way it is aged and blended.  The youngest wines are used to top up the newest barrels of what is known as the solera.  It is system by which the wines can be “fractionally blended,” meaning that some wine is new, some is old and these are blended in parts over the course of several years to create a wine of great consistency and relatively high average age.  The closest analogy is an escalator.  The young wine goes into the barrels on the top level, but only makes up about 50% of that barrel.  After a year or two, 50% of this wine is moved to the next level for further aging while 50% of the second level wine is moved to the third level and so on. Usually, there are about 5 to 8 levels on the escalator and each level has a higher and higher average age.  Some part of the wine in the last level will still be the very original wine you started with – whether that is 30 years or 50 years old.  It is like an extended family tree, with all the character and ructions of each vintage smoothed out to create a unique flavor profile.

Unfortunately, it is wine to be drunk in small quantities or blended into cocktails (see below for two fabulous recipes!).  We have enjoyed sherry as an aperitif with marcona almonds, fried calamari and avocado & shrimp salad.  But anything salty like olives, any seafood such as oysters, clams, mushrooms caps stuffed with crabmeat or mussels in white wine sauce and most anything fried, like corn fritters would pair beautifully with Fino.

Sherry Cocktail Recipes To Try:

The Sherry App:
1 1/2 ounces Aperol
3/4 ounce fino Sherry
1 ounce fresh grapefruit juice
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/4 ounce honey simple syrup

Directions: Combine in shaker with ice, shake and strain

The Rye Witch:
1 1/2 cups Kentucky rye whiskey
3 tablespoons Strega (herbal liqueur)
3 tablespoons Fino Sherry
2 tablespoons simple syrup
12 dashes orange bitters
12 orange twists


  • Combine first 5 ingredients in a large pitcher. Add ice; stir for 15-20 seconds. Strain the mixture into 6 chilled coupe glasses.
  • Pinch an orange twist over each drink, then rub around rims of glasses to release oils from peel; discard peel.
    Garnish each with a fresh twist.

Irish Beer, Here!


St. Patrick’s Day is THIS weekend and let’s face it, drinking delicious stouts, ales and lagers of Ireland is a tradition.  With flavorful beer brands such as Ohara’s, Killian’s, Smithwicks, Murphy’s, and Guinness there is no shortage of festive Irish beers to choose from.  Stop by Mystic Wine Shoppe and grab a few delicious Irish Beers to sample at your St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

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Not feeling the Irish beer? How about some Irish Whiskey!

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Still not seeing green? Here are a few cocktail recipes that will get you in the spirit.

Have a safe holiday weekend everyone! Your friends at Mystic Wine Shoppe 🙂

Weekly Wine Pick: The Lahn Sauvignon Blanc

St. Michael Eppan John Sauvignon

The angel on the label of this wine says it all – it is heavenly.  In more ways than one.  Not only is it absolutely, mouth-wateringly delicious, it is grown and made close to the clouds.  Alto Adige, Italy or more primly in Austria, Sudtirol, is a land of soaring mountains and lush green valleys divided by the Adige and Isarco rivers.

This is a rugged landscape that includes breathtaking vistas of little fairytale villages and dramatic snowy peaks that reach over 10,000 feet.  How do they grow vines in this amazing terrain that can also be cold and forbidding?  The answer is very carefully!  On small plots of land, lovingly tended by hundreds of farmers.  St. Michael-Eppan is a cooperative of 340 farmers who farm 380 hectares (939 acres) of land.  Large scale grape production would be impossible in this part of the southern Alps that are characterized by sometimes dizzying slopes.  In order to thrive, the vines are planted on south facing slopes to receive maximum sunlight and receive protection from the cold northerly winds howling down through the high mountains.  And because of the rugged terrain, the grapes must be hand-selected and harvested in small batches.

The Lahn Sauvignon Blanc from St. Michael-Eppan is the flagship wine of this wonderful producer.  Established in 1907 with 27 farmers originally, the winery has hewed to the highest standards of winemaking for over a century.  The limestone-gravel soils give the fruit lovely, floral aromas while aging on the lees and in oak barrels gives the wine a wonderful toasty, soft mouthfeel.  The natural character of the wine – apples, lemons, fresh cut hay – is preserved through careful handling resulting in a wine that is reminiscent of a very high quality Sancerre.  At only $16.99, given the amount of work that goes into the harvesting and winemaking, it is a huge bargain.

St. Michael Eppan John Sauvignon

My husband and I opened this wine after a very busy weekend over take out pizza.  To make it a bit more festive, after the pizza (potato & bacon and pepperoni & mushroom), we broke out a wonderful nutty aged Robusto Gouda, a nice, perfectly ripe Camembert and a borough-market Stilton with an arugula, blueberry and pine nut salad.  This wine stood up to all of it, despite being a cool-climate, relatively delicate white wine.  It was tangy enough to balance out the strong flavors of the pizza, yet fragrant and well structured enough to offset the richness of cheeses.  It was the perfect end to a hectic, exhausting weekend!



Cocktail of the Month: Green & Creamy Iced Coffee

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St. Patties Day isn’t just about chugging Guinness, it’s about enjoying delicious creamy cocktails too.  We wanted to give boring iced coffee a spin and create something unique, drinkable and fun. Behold the Green & Dreamy Iced Coffee Cocktail!  This cocktail is beyond easy to make and boy is it good!

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  • The Irishman Irish Cream – We love this award-winning Irish Cream Liqueur for this tasty cocktail
  • Milk (just a splash)
  • Coffee ice cubes (prep in advance)
  • Green food coloring

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  • Prep coffee ice cubes ahead of time by freezing the coffee of your choice into an ice cube tray
  • Once cubes are frozen place 5-6 into cocktail shaker
  • Pour 4 oz of The Irishman Irish Cream into the shaker
  • Add a splash, or more, of milk
  • Add in 4-5 drops of green food coloring and shake all together
  • Pour into a festive glass cup and enjoy!!!
  • We topped off our drink with a few more drops of food coloring to make it more festive looking.

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This drink was absolutely devine! You can pick-up all your liquer needs at Mystic Wine Shoppe.

We hope you enjoy it this month and remember to drink safely on St. Patties Day!

Thanks for reading!


Brewery Spotlight: Jack’s Abby

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The uniqueness of Jack’s Abby has always been strongly linked with the story of lager brewing. Jack’s Abby brews lagers, and only lagers. Born in the high alps of Bavaria over 200 years ago, lagers became a beloved brew all across Europe. Lagers feature a distinctive smoothness and fullness that no other beer has, and we think everyone deserves.

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Jack’s Abby was founded in 2011 by three brothers, Jack, Eric and Sam Hendler. Together, they have made this brewery a widely popular place of the craft brewing scene in the Northeast and nationwide. Their mission is to create truly distinctive lagers featuring locally grown ingredients, traditional German brewing standards, and American innovation.

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Their product line consists of Core Lagers, Seasonal, Specialty Seasonal, Limited Specialty and currently available. This month we’re highlighting their core lagers, but the possibilities are endless.

Core Lagers:

  • Hoponius Union- India Pale Lager: Their India style Pale Lager is like a traditional IPA but with a twist – it’s fermented cold and aged for extended periods. A blend of classic American hops creates a huge tropical fruit and citrusy hop aroma. A dry finish accentuates the pleasant bitterness and hop profile.
  • Smoke & Dagger- Black Lager: The use of a small percentage of traditional Beechwood smoked malt adds complexity and balances the liberal use of chocolate malt. Notes of roasted grains, beechwood smoke and coffee accompany a full bodied and sweet chocolatey malt character.
  • House Lager- Bier: This Lager is sweet and golden with a full malty body that comes from using a traditional German malt variety. A special beer for year-round enjoyment
  • Calyptra- Session IPL: This hoppy lager is brewed with two intense and aromatic hops, Calypso and Citra. It’s an easy drinking brew that balances dominating fruity, citrusy, and tropical aromas with a sessionable malt body.
  • Excess IPL- India Pale Lager: Various methods of hopping throughout the brewing and lagering process maximize the aromas. With bold hop aromatics and flavors, this India Pale Lager is packed to the brim with intense hop goodness.
  • Post Shift- Pilsner: Brewed with Bavarian malt and hops, this everyday Pilsner is bright, crisp and refreshing. We think it’s the perfect way to end the work day. Clock out, post-up and enjoy!

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Jack’s Abby attends all kinds of events across the northeast. Tap takeovers, beer dinners, tastings, lectures, beer festivals—if there’s beer they’re there. They provide a list of events so that it’s easy for everyone to find them and go have a drink.

Interested in learning more about Jack’s Abby and what they have to offer? Visit their website 


Weekly Wine Pick: The Chateau de Paraza 2014 Cuvee Speciale

chateau De Paraza Cuvee special

Opening a new bottle of wine is like going on a blind date. Is it worth the time and money? What is it really going to be like? I have an idea about what to expect from the profile – nice label, deep ruby color, French – but what do I really know about this bottle?

Well, put your worries aside, I am the matchmaker you have been searching for! This is the type of wine you have when you come home from a long day, you put on your slippers, grab a nice soft brie or Saint Andre cheese from the frig and collapse on the couch to savor the good things in life. No worries about that blind date going horribly wrong – this wine is totally mellow and easy. You might even ask afterwards, is this too good to be true?

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The Chateau de Paraza 2014 Cuvee Speciale is a wine with a long pedigree from one of the warmest parts of France, the Languedoc Wine Region or the more painterly name of Le Midi, where famous artists have flocked for generations. The Chateau de Paraza lands have been planted with grapes and olives since the Roman times. The Chateau itself hosted the civil engineer during the reign of Louis XIV who built the Canal du Midi which links the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean. While it may have run into problems over the last century, it was revived in 2005 as a family-run winery dedicated to high-quality wine that reflects the beauty of the local vineyards.

The wine itself is a brilliant, dark ruby color – with the wonderful spicy and fruity flavors of its blended grapes. 40% Syrah, 40% Grenache and 20% Mourvedre. It has a nose redolent of dark cherries spiced with nutmeg and clove. On the palate, you get a rounded sensation of wild blueberries and black cherries. The tannins are supple, leading to a fresh, fruity finish.

And to top it all off, it is a bargain!

Your wine expert, Seema