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How to taste
Two thousand wines are expected to be up for tasting at this year’s Winter Wine Spectacular for Easter Seals on Thursday, Jan. 27 — that is a heck of a lot of vino.
 
For an event of such magnitude, whether you are a first-timer or a pro, it does not hurt to go in with a game plan. To start, try to get a copy of the event program before entering, scope out your options and decide which tables are a must.
 
Maureen Adams, owner of The Wine Studio in Manchester, suggested also giving yourself a goal as to what kinds of wines you want to try.
 
“You can’t go to every table and taste everything on it,” Adams said. “If you do that, you will make it to about four tables and that is all you will be able to do.”
 
Most people, Adams added, should not be able to sample 30 wines during the three-hour event, but “people do push it and try to.”
 
For those new to the world of wine tastings, Adams had two suggestions: attend the event with a full stomach and spit after you sip.
 
“It is very, very intimidating for first-timers at wine tastings; they almost always get drunk. So you have to eat beforehand and it’s very hard but you have to spit, you can’t swallow everything,” Adams said.
 
Adams noted that unlike many large wine events, the Easter Seals tasting has many food options. She also suggested drinking a glass of water after each table visit: “Otherwise, it might not be very much fun and you won’t last very long,” she said.
 
Another way to keep up your sipping stamina is to stay away from drinking too much acidic wine, like a savignon blanc, to avoid palate fatigue.
 
“If you try to taste 20 savignon blancs, that is all you will taste. After a while it burns out everything in your taste buds,” Adams said, adding that even if you try to sample such wines in moderation, after a certain amount of time palate fatigue is inevitable “and there isn’t anything you can do about it, it’s just done.”
 
Adams suggested that guests focus on light whites and then work their way up to reds, light to full-bodied, and finish off the evenings with some bubbles.
 
For vino veterans, Adams recommended to not taste wines they have already tried but instead to branch out and sample a few Spanish reds or some varietals from South America and South Africa. And, if you cannot turn down the chance to have a sip of one of your favorites, “have it at the end of the night after your palate is shot,” she said.
 
Learn from Carla
• Making “Scents” of Wine with Carla Snow
Where: Southern New Hampshire University, Pease International Tradeport, 231 Corporate Drive, Portsmouth
When: Tuesday, Jan. 25, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
Tickets and info: $25, call 433-0160
 
• Wine and Cheese workshop with Carla Snow
Where: Southern New Hampshire University, Pease International Tradeport, 231 Corporate Drive, Portsmouth
When: Wednesday, Jan. 26, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
Tickets and info: $30, call 433-0160
 
Winter Wine Festival
In case one week of wine isn’t enough, Wentworth by the Sea Hotel and Spa in New Castle kicked off its six week wine festival on Jan. 14. The festival was created seven years ago as a 10-day event and has been evolving ever since, said Benjamin Gaherty, Wentworth by the Sea beverage manager and wine festival director.
 
“Since last year we have tried to make it more of a local event in the community … than a Wentworth event,” Gaherty said. “We have incorporated other restaurants, guest chefs and local wine people into our dinners and seminars for the six weeks.”
 
The event has no formal relationship with New Hampshire Wine Week, but “winemakers are already coming to New Hampshire [for Wine Week] that often do not come to New Hampshire, so we want to capitalize on that as much as we can,” Gaherty said.
 
Local wineries are also spotlighted during the event, primarily at the grand tasting.
 
“It is important for them to be there because they’re such a small community that has been growing and growing each year, they really need all the support we can give them. … A lot of people don’t take our local wineries seriously, but there are some really great wines and varietals in New England that we can showcase that you might not see very often,” Gaherty said.
 
Something you also might not see often at a wine festival is vino-drinking guests donning jeans, dancing to the music of wine representatives, but that is what Gaherty said to expect at the hotel’s “Bogle in Blue Jeans” & Rockin’ Rombauer “Not So Grand” Grand Vintner’s Dinner on Friday, Feb. 25, with Wentworth executive sous chef Matthew Louis.
 
“It’s a fun way to end [the festival],” Gaherty said.
 
Another event added to this year’s festival is the sommelier smackdown, which will pit local sommeliers Sarah Mackinley and Jess Sutton against each other for a four-course menu pairing.
 
The Wentworth’s Roosevelt Lounge will offer mid-week events including glass demonstrations, flight nights and a cooking and wine pairing demonstration. “Bubbles and Jazz” champagne brunches will be held every Sunday and two wine dinners held every weekend during the festival. 
 
“It’s all so well received, I think, because it has really hit the younger generations as well,” Gaherty said, attributing that to exposure and to wines’ becoming more approachable and affordable.
 
Proceeds from the festival will benefit Families First, a Portsmouth-based program that helps families in need of medical support. 
 
Here’s the schedule for the Annual Winter Wine Festival at Wentworth by the Sea Marriott Hotel & Spa, 588 Wentworth Road, Portsmouth, 422-7322, www.wentworth.com. All dinners feature four courses and reservations are required.
 
• A grand vintner’s dinner with Tiamo & Tortoise Creek owner/winemaker Mel Masterson will be held Friday, Jan. 21, at 6 p.m. The cost is $99.95.
 
• A grand vintner’s dinner with Peter Paul Wines owner Jude Blake and Chef Gregg Sessler of Cava Tapas & Wine Bar, Portsmouth will be held on Saturday, Jan. 22, at 6 p.m. The cost is $99.95.
 
• A grand vintner’s dinner with Frog’s Leap Winery owner and winemaker John Williams will be held on Friday, Jan. 28, at 6 p.m. The cost is $114.95.
 
• A four-course dinner and sommelier smackdown with Sarah Mackinley and Jess Sutton will be held on Saturday, Jan. 29, at 6 p.m. The cost is $99.95.
 
• A grand vintner’s dinner with J Lohr Vineyards & Winery owner Shauna Troy and chef Jonathan Cartwright of the White Barn Inn, Kennebunkport, will be held on Friday, Feb. 4, at 6 p.m. The cost is $99.95.
 
• A grand vintner’s dinner with chef Ryan Phillips of La Bella Vita, Bar Harbor Club and Italian wines of Neil Empson and imported cheese from La Cave a Vin will be held on Saturday, Feb. 5. The cost is $99.95.
 
• A grand vintner’s dinner with Merriam Vineyards owner and winemaker Peter Merriam will be held on Friday, Feb. 11, at 6 p.m. The cost is $99.95.
 
• A “Black Diamond Truffles & Coastal Pinot Noir” grand vintner’s dinner with chef Adam Savage of Sagamore Resort, Lake George, N.Y., will be held on Saturday, Feb. 12, at 6 p.m. The cost is $99.95.
 
• A Valentine’s Day Veuve Cliquot grand vintner’s dinner will be held on Monday, Feb. 14, at 6 p.m. and will feature a sweetheart menu matched with champagnes. The cost is $129.95.
 
• A grand vintner’s dinner with Joseph Carr Wines owner and winemaker Joseph Carr and chef Earl Anthony Morse of Bedford Village Inn, Bedford, will be held on Friday, Feb. 18, at 6 p.m. The cost is $99.95.
 
• A grand vintner’s dinner with William Hall Winery winemaker Ralf Holdernreid will be held on Saturday, Feb. 19, at 6 p.m. The cost is $99.95.
 
• A “Bogle in Blue Jeans” & Rockin’ Rombauer “Not So Grand” grand vintner’s dinner with Wentworth executive sous chef Matthew Louis will be held on Friday, Feb. 25, at 6 p.m. The cost is $89.95.
 
• A closing reception will be held on Saturday, Feb. 26, at 6 p.m. The cost is $59.95.
 
Bubbles & Jazz brunches will be held at the hotel on Sundays in February during the festival. The cost is $44.95.
 
NH Wine Week
Wine-related fun isn’t confined to Jan. 27’s Winter Wine Spectacular. There are events happening in the days before and after the big tasting. On a budget? There are several free tastings and chances to meet the winemakers. Looking to splurge? There are dinners and seminars across the state. Here are some of the events planned so far. Check back with www.liquorandwineoutlets.com to find more events. (Hosting an event not listed here? Let us know at food@hippopress.com for inclusion in the Jan. 27 issue’s Weekly Dish.)
 
Thursday, Jan. 20
• Amy LaBelle, winemaker from LaBelle Winery, will host a “Winter White” wine dinner at Black Forest Café, 212 Route 101, Amherst, 672-0500, www.theblackforestcafe.com, at 6:30 p.m. A reception of hors d’oeuvres and wine will begin at 6 p.m. LaBelle will lead guests through a four-course dinner paired with four award-winning LaBelle white wines. The cost is $60 per person. Call for tickets. Reservations are required.
 
Sunday, Jan. 23
• Peter Oldak, owner and winemaker from Jewell Towne Vineyards, will host a free barrel tasting of New Hampshire-made wines, on the hour, from 1 to 4 p.m. at Jewell Towne Vineyards, 183 Whitehall Road, South Hampton. Call 394-0600.
 
Monday, Jan. 24
• Marcelo Retamal, winemaker from Opici/DeMartino, and Horizon Beverage Company will host a wine dinner at Saffron Bistro, 80 Main St., Nashua, at 5:30 p.m. Tickets cost $60 per person. Call 883-2100 for reservations.
 
Tuesday, Jan. 25
• Laurie Hook, winemaker from Beringer Vineyards, and Horizon Beverage Company will host a free wine tasting and bottle signing at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet at Bedford Grove Plaza, 5 Colby Court, Bedford, from 11 a.m. to noon; at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet at Southgate Shopping Mall, 269 DW Highway, Nashua, from 1 to 2 p.m., and at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet at 27 Coliseum Ave., Nashua, from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.
 
• Marcelo Retamal, winemaker from Opici/DeMartino, and Horizon Beverage Company will host a free bottle signing at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet at the Portsmouth Traffic Circle from 3 to 4 p.m.
 
• Kevin Zraly, author of Windows on the World Complete Wine Course, and Southern Wine & Spirits of New England host an Italian wine seminar followed by a book signing at the Bedford Village Inn, 2 Olde Bedford Way, Bedford, from 6 to 8 p.m. Antinori wines will be sampled and hors d’oeuvres will be served. Books will be available for purchase and the book signing will be after the seminar. Tickets cost $40 per person, with part of the proceeds to benefit Easter Seals NH. For tickets, call 888-368-8880.
 
• Joel Peterson, winemaker from Ravenswood Winery, and Southern Wine & Spirits of New England, will host a Zinfandel sampling and a four-course dinner at O Steaks & Seafood Restaurant, 11 S. Main St., Concord, at 6:30 p.m. Tickets cost $40 per person. For tickets, call 856-7925.
 
• Mike Meyers, national sales manager for Ladera Vineyards, and Dunn Wine Brokers will host a wine dinner at Unums, 49 E. Pearl St., Nashua, at 6:30 p.m. Tickets cost $75. For tickets, call 821-6500.
 
• Roland Marandino, brand ambassador from Banfi Vintners, and Horizon Beverage Company will host a wine dinner at Cartelli’s Bar and Grill, 446 Central Ave., Dover, at 6:30 p.m. Tickets cost $50. For tickets, call 750-4002.
 
• Carla Snow of A Grape Affair (www.agrapeaffair.com) will host the “Making Scents of Wine” workshop at Southern New Hampshire University, Pease International, 231 Corporate Drive, Portsmouth, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tickets cost $25. For tickets, call 433-0160.
 
Wednesday, Jan. 26
• Roland Marandino, brand ambassador from Banfi Vintners, and Horizon Beverage Company will host a free bottle signing at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet on I-95 southbound in Hampton from noon to 1 p.m.; at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet on I-95 northbound in Hampton from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., and at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet at the Portsmouth Traffic Circle from 3 to 4 p.m.
 
• Laurie Hook, winemaker from Beringer Vineyards, and Horizon Beverage Company will host a free bottle signing at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet on I-95 southbound in Hampton from 2:30 to 3:15 p.m.; at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet on I-95 northbound in Hampton from 3:30 to 4:15 p.m., and at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet at the Portsmouth traffic circle from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.
 
• Mark Stupich, winemaker from Heck Estates/Kenwood, and Horizon Beverage Company will host a free bottle signing at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet at Bedford Grove Plaza, 5 Colby Court, Bedford, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.; at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet at North Side Plaza, 1100 Bicentennial Drive, Manchester, from 2 to 3 p.m., and at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet at the K-Mart Shopping Plaza, 1271 Hooksett Road, Hooksett, from 3:15 to 4 p.m.
 
• Marcelo Retamal, winemaker from Opici/DeMartino, and Horizon Beverage Company will host a free bottle signing at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet on I-93 northbound in Hooksett from 2:30 to 3:15 p.m. and at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet on I-93 southbound from 3:30 to 4:15 p.m.
 
• Sergio Mora Viera, winemaker from Ecosur/Xumek, and Horizon Beverage Company will host a free bottle signing at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet on I-93 southbound in Hooksett from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet on I-93 Northbound in Hooksett from 12:45 to 1:45 p.m.
 
• Pam Walden, owner of Daedalus Cellars, and Horizon Beverage Company will host a free wine tasting and bottle signing at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet at Southgate Shopping Mall, 269 DW Highway, Nashua, from 11 to 11:45 a.m., and at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet at 27 Coliseum Ave., Nashua, from noon to 12:30 p.m.
 
• Gianni Abate, winemaker from Morgan Winery, Gove Celio, winemaker from Neal Family Vineyards, and RP Imports will host a free wine tasting at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet at Bedford Grove Plaza, 5 Colby Court, Bedford, from 4 to 6 p.m.
 
• Louis de Coninck, owner and winemaker from Beaucanon Estates, Rob Stuart, winemaker from R. Stuart and Company, and Wineberries will host a free wine tasting at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet at 27 Coliseum Ave. in Nashua from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
 
• Rick Middleton, proprietor of Clayhouse and Cadaretta, and RP Imports will host a free wine tasting at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet at 27 Coliseum Ave. in Nashua from 4 to 6 p.m. 
 
• David Adelsheim, owner and winemaker from Adelsheim Winery, and MS Walker will host a free wine tasting and bottle signing at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet at North Side Plaza, 1100 Bicentennial Drive, Manchester, from 3 to 5 p.m.
 
• Joel Peterson, founding winemaker from Ravenswood Winery, and Southern Wine & Spirits of New England host a free wine tasting and bottle signing at New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet at North Side Plaza, 1100 Bicentennial Drive, Manchester, from 3:30 to 5 p.m.
 
• Patricio Julián Santos, winemaker for Ricardo Santos and founder/winemaker for Tercos, and The Imported Grape will host a lecture, food and wine pairing and bottle signing at WineNot Boutique, 170 Main St., Nashua, from 6 to 8 p.m. Food will be provided by Saffron Bistro and Stella Blu. Tickets cost $30 per person. For tickets, call 204-5569.
 
• Martignetti Companies of New Hampshire will host Joseph Carr, owner of Joseph Carr Wines, as guest bartender at O Steaks and Seafood Restaurant, 11 South Main St., Concord, from 6 to 8 p.m. Call 856-7925.
 
• Gove Celio, winemaker from Neal Family Vineyards, and RP Imports host a wine dinner at Hanover Street Chophouse, 149 Hanover St., Manchester, at 6:30 p.m. Tickets cost $95. For tickets, call 644-2467.
 
• Gianni Abate, winemaker from Morgan Winery, and RP Imports will host a wine dinner at Buckley’s Great Steaks, 438 DW Highway, Merrimack, at 6:30 p.m. Tickets cost $125. For tickets, call 424-0995.
 
• Tom Eddy, owner and winemaker from Tom Eddy Wines, and RP Imports host a wine dinner at Bailiwicks Fine Restaurant, Wine and Martini Bar, 111 Main St., Littleton, at 6:30 p.m. Tickets cost $65. For tickets, call 444-7717.
 
• Mark Dupin, export manager, from Kobrand/Louis Jadot, and Horizon Beverage Company host a wine dinner at Colby Hill Inn, 33 The Oaks, Henniker, at 6 p.m. Tickets cost $80. For tickets, call 428-3281.
 
• Laurie Hook, winemaker from Beringer Vineyards, and Horizon Beverage Company will host a wine dinner at Library Restaurant, 401 State St. in Portsmouth, at 6 p.m. Tickets cost $72. For tickets, call 431-5202.
 
• David Adelsheim, owner and winemaker from Adelsheim Winery, and MS Walker will host a wine dinner at the Granite Restaurant & Bar at the Centennial Hotel, 96 Pleasant St., Concord, at 6 p.m. Tickets cost $65. For tickets, call 227-9000.
 
• Richard’s Bistro, 36 Lowell St., Manchester, 644-1180, www.richardsbistro.com, will host Bedford Village Inn executive chef Earl Anthony Morse for the first “Have Knife, Will Travel” series of 2011 today at 6 p.m. The dinner costs $80 per person including a wine pairing by Peter Merriam from Merriam Vineyards. Proceeds will benefit the Manchester Food Bank. Reservations are recommended. 
 
• Rob Stuart, winemaker from R. Stuart and Company, and Wineberries host a wine dinner at Stella Blu, 70 E. Pearl St., Nashua, at 6 p.m. Tickets cost $85. For tickets, call 578-5557.
 
• Martignetti Companies of New Hampshire will hosts Alex Sokol Blosser, co-president of Sokol Blosser, as guest bartender at Corks Wine Bar at the Bedford Village Inn, 2 Olde Bedford Way, Bedford, from 6 to 8 p.m. 
 
• Carla Snow, of A Grape Affair, will host a wine and cheese workshop at Southern New Hampshire University, Pease International, 231 Corporate Drive, Portsmouth, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tickets cost $30; call 433-0160.
 
Thursday, Jan. 27
• Winemaker Patricio Santos will present “Wine of Altitude,” a food and wine pairing, in the culinary department at Southern New Hampshire University, Pease International Tradeport, 231 Corporate Drive, Portsmouth, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Tickets cost $20 ($10 with a Winter Wine Spectacular ticket). Spots must be reserved by Friday, Jan. 21, at info@theimportedgrape.com or by calling 566-3197.
 
• Laurie Hook, winemaker from Beringer Vineyards, and Horizon Beverage Company will host a free bottle signing at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet at North Side Plaza, 1100 Bicentennial Drive, Manchester, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and a free wine tasting and bottle signing at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet at Market Basket Shopping Plaza, 32 Plaistow Road, Plaistow, from 1 to 2 p.m.
 
• Roland Marandino from Banfi Vintners and Horizon Beverage Company will host a free wine tasting and bottle signing at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet at Kings Highway Plaza, 28B Portsmouth Ave., Stratham, from noon to 1 p.m.; at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet at Village Shopping Center, Lafayette Road, North Hampton, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., and at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet at North Side Plaza, 1100 Bicentennial Drive, Manchester, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.
 
• Mark Stupich, winemaker from Heck Estates/Kenwood, and Horizon Beverage Company will host a free bottle signing at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet on I-95 southbound in Hampton from 1:30 to 2:15 p.m. and at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet on I-95 northbound in Hampton from 2:30 to 3:15 p.m.
 
• Marcelo Retamal, winemaker from Opici/DeMartino, and Horizon Beverage Company will host a free wine tasting and bottle signing at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet at One Jaffrey Road, Peterborough, from 11 a.m. to noon; at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet at 6 Ashbrook Court, Keene, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., and at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet at West Side Plaza, 40 Northwest Blvd., Nashua, from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.
 
• Sergio Mora Viera, winemaker from Ecosur/Xumek, and Horizon Beverage Company will host a free wine tasting and bottle signing at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet at Southgate Shopping Mall, 269 DW Highway, Nashua, from 11 to 11:45 a.m.; at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet at 27 Coliseum Ave., Nashua, from noon to 1:15 p.m., and at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet at One Jaffrey Road, Peterborough, from 2:15 to 3 p.m.
 
• Pam Walden, owner of Daedalus Cellars, and Horizon Beverage Company will host a free wine tasting and bottle signing at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet at Market Basket Shopping Plaza, 32 Plaistow Road, Plaistow, from 11 a.m. to noon and at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet at 417 South Broadway, Salem, from 12:30 to 1 p.m.
 
• Lamberto Frescobaldi, vice president of Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi, and Horizon Beverage Company will host a free wine tasting and bottle signing at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet at North Side Plaza, 1100 Bicentennial Drive, Manchester, from 11 a.m. to noon; at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet at K-Mart Shopping Plaza, 1271 Hooksett Road, Hooksett, from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m., and at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet at Bedford Grove Plaza, 5 Colby Court, Bedford, from 1:45 to 2:45 p.m.
 
• The Winter Wine Spectacular for Easter Seals will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel, 700 Elm St., Manchester. In addition to the 2,000 wines at the Grand Tasting, the event will feature the Bellman’s Cellar Select high-end tasting room with 30 exclusive wines and food, a grand silent auction and a raffle. Tickets cost $60 for the Grand Tasting, $100 for the Bellman’s Cellar Select Room and $125 for both. For tickets, call 888-368-8880.
 
Friday, Jan. 28
• John Williams, owner and winemaker from Frog’s Leap, and Martignetti Companies of New Hampshire will host a wine dinner at Wentworth by the Sea Hotel and Spa, 588 Wentworth Road, New Castle, at 6 p.m. Tickets cost $114.95. For tickets, call 422-7322.
 
• Bedford Village Inn, 2 Olde Bedford Way, 472-2001, www.bedfordvillageinn.com, will host Richard’s Bistro executive chef Matt Provencher for the second half of “Have Knife, Will Travel” today at 6 p.m. The cost is $85 per person and includes a tasting of wines from Lionello Marchesi, Tuscan wine entrepreneur, and Martignetti Companies. Proceeds will benefit the Manchester Boys & Girls Club.
 
• Patricio Julián Santos, winemaker for Ricardo Santos and founder and winemaker for Tercos, and The Imported Grape will host a free wine tasting and bottle signing at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet at New London Shopping Center, Route 11, New London, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet at I-95 northbound in Hampton from 4 to 6 p.m., and at  Zampa, 8 Exeter Road, Exeter, from 7 to 9 p.m.
 
• Mark Dupin, export manager from Kobrand/Louis Jadot, and Horizon Beverage Company host a wine dinner at The Balsams Grand Resort Hotel, 1000 Cold Brook Springs, Dixville Notch, at 6 p.m. Tickets cost $75. For tickets, call 255-3400.
 
Saturday, Jan. 29
• Patricio Julián Santos, winemaker for Ricardo Santos and founder and winemaker for Tercos, and The Imported Grape will host a free wine tasting and bottle signing at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet at 80 Storrs St., Concord, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and a private conversation about wine and bottle signing at UnWine’d, 865 Second St., Manchester, in the Cigar Room, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.




Season of the pour
New Hampshire celebrates wine week

01/20/11



While it’s only January in New Hampshire and we still have a couple months of winter to get through, it is time to quit your whining and start your wining. 
 
From Monday, Jan. 20, through Sunday, Jan. 30, the Granite State will be abundant with wine celebration and education as it revels in the eighth annual New Hampshire Wine Week, put on by the state liquor commission. More than 40 events, featuring 20 winemakers from across the globe, are scheduled across the state. The Winter Wine Spectacular, a charity benefit for the Easter Seals of New Hampshire, is the week’s focal point.
 
The Winter Wine Spectacular will be held at the Radisson Hotel, 700 Elm St., Manchester, on Thursday, Jan. 27, from 6 to 9 p.m.
 
“The Easter Seals event is the Super Bowl of the week,” said Christine Hardy, Easter Seals director of events and corporate relations. “All of the other wine events are the playoffs.”
 
The Winter Wine Spectacular, she added, has become the largest wine event in the region, featuring an estimated 2,000 wines this year. After selling out every year, the event has expanded to the exposition side of the Radisson hotel to accommodate more guests and more distributors. The expansion has brought in 25 new wineries and eight more restaurants. It will also allow for several hundred more tickets to be sold.
 
“Addressing feedback from the community to make it bigger, we were able to make it even more spectacular,” Hardy said.
 
Despite the economic downturn, the Winter Wine Spectacular continues to sell out annually, though the sold-out sign gets posted closer and closer to the day of the event. “That is really the only impact we have seen,” Hardy said. “We still sell the same amount of tickets, it just takes longer to get to that point.”
 
In the event’s first year, the organization anticipated drawing in no more than 400 attendants but brought in 800.
 
“We’re very optimistic here,” she said. “We knew after seeing the first year of success that we found the cherry in the bowl, or the grape on the vine if you will.”
 
Wine fans
Wine began to become popular with a wider audience in 2002 when the first event was pulled together, so Hardy said the event got “on the map at a good time.”
 
“We kind of set the pace for other wine tastings that are coming about. … [New Hampshire] winery owners, restaurants and the liquor commission have pulled together as a committee to ensure a top-notch event,” she said.
 
Hardy said Easter Seals has no plan to relocate the event to the Verizon Wireless Arena, no matter how large it might grow: “I feel in doing that it would lose its intimacy,” she said.
 
Wine Week, Hardy said, was a brainchild of the state liquor commission.
 
“This is the one time when we have a large number of winemakers from all over the world … descend on our state for the week,” said New Hampshire Liquor Commission Chair Joe Mollica. “Even if you don’t have an interest in wine but think you might … this is a great opportunity to try a vast number of wines and speak with winemakers.”
 
“Everyone is timid about spending the money on wine and learning it wasn’t what they expected it to be, but here you get to try it and experience it so next time you go back into the store, you can obviously take that knowledge with you,” Mollica said.
 
There will be space on each program book where event attendants can take notes on the wines they’ve tasted and conversations they’ve had with winemakers, Hardy said.
 
Mollica noted that holding the event in January, when winemakers are not worried about the spring bud break, harvesting or crushing, was ideal so the winemakers themselves could visit the state.
 
“We work very hard with our suppliers and our brokers year-round to make sure we can provide the best deals for our clientele. In doing that, we can develop relationships with wineries and, in turn, they like to come out and see our stores,” Mollica said.
 
“It is very personal for them, it is their names on those wines, their lives’ work in the bottle,” he continued. “They like to come out and see where our stores are and experience how New Hampshire runs its businesses.”
 
New Hampshire winemakers also benefit from the event, and the entire week, as it gets their products in front of the buying public, Mollica added.
 
“They are a great asset to our state and they make some wonderful wines,” he said. “This week absolutely benefits them and gets them the recognition of having other successful winemakers around the world come and try their wines as well, and [they] get to kind of talk shop with those people.”
 
The more the state can educate its customers on wines, the greater the uplift in sales, Mollica added.
 
The Winter Wine Spectacular is one of the largest-grossing fundraising events for the Easter Seals of New Hampshire. Last year’s event brought in $135,000 for the organization.
 
“It is a non-traditional fundraiser,” Hardy said. “In the world of nonprofits everyone does similar events. That is why we embraced a wine event — we had to do something unique and different to cater to people’s interests.”
 
The money raised at this year’s Spectacular will go to the organization’s Family Center for Early Support and Services, a program for children up to three years old throughout the state with mental and physical disabilities.
 
“Every single dollar raised goes back to the people of New Hampshire that need it most,” Hardy said. “We are bringing a great event to the community, but it all comes down the reason why we’re doing it.”
 
The event will also feature an auction of 15 wine-centric art pieces created by students at the New Hampshire Institute of Art.
 
“We found their interpretation of wine fascinating. … Everyone’s different take on wine comes out in their artwork and it is a nice marriage of two nonprofits,” Hardy said.
 
First-timers and veterans
For some businesses, Wine Week serves as a new adventure and a way to showcase their selection and knowledge — and draw in new customers. And while Wine Week is old hat for others, one veteran is setting the (ice) bar high at this year’s event.
 
Innkeeper Mason Cobb will welcome Marc Dupin, export manager of Louis Jadot and Kobrand wines, to Colby Hill Inn in Henniker for a five-course wine dinner on Wednesday, Jan. 26, at 6 p.m. It is the Inn’s first year participating in the Winter Wine Spectacular, as well as its first time hosting a Wine Week event.
 
“Having the opportunity to bring in Marc Dupin, we thought would be a good opportunity to present to our guests,” Cobb said. “It is the first time we have had an opportunity to bring in a dignitary of his stature.”
 
The Inn already features Louis Jadot wines, and Cobb hopes Dupin will be able to share with guests the French vineyard’s philosophy of wine-making.
 
“It is going to be really special,” Cobb said, adding that he will serve a menu of a duck confit tartlet, broiled chevre salad with a candy cane beet vinaigrette, butter poached Maine scallops, an intermezzo of black currant sorbet, an entree of filet mignon, and a lavender cream caramel for dessert.
 
Wine Week events, Cobb noted, can educate consumers on selecting wines.
 
“When you go to a store there are rows and rows of bottles, so people might not know which one to pick; they might just pick the one with a pretty label that appeals to them — they might like the flowers or sophisticated design,” Cobb said. “And for a sophisticated wine-drinker they will get to try some of the off-the-wall stuff that a lot of people don’t know much about, like Spanish wine, which has really come into its own recently, and Portuguese wines. They will be able to try things other than what they’re used to.”
 
“Wine can be a never-ending study…. Wine Week allows the average consumer to meet the principles of wineries and ask in-depth or simple questions to increase their wine knowledge without having to go to France,” he said.
 
As her shop opened after the 2010 Wine Week, Svetlana Yanushkevich, owner of WineNot Boutique in Nashua, looks forward to being a first-time participant in the 2011 event.
 
“This is a huge thing for everybody. It is great to share this excitement with our clients,” Yanushkevich said. “They get to see the person behind the winery, see the story behind the label, learn about the vineyard where the wine is made.”
 
WineNot Boutique will host Patricio Julián Santos, winemaker for Ricardo Santos and founder and winemaker for Tercos, for a lecture, food and wine pairing and bottle signing on Wednesday, Jan. 26, from 6 to 8 p.m.
 
Yanushkevich said she looked forward to Santos’ bringing in Argentinian wines to help her customers veer from the domestic styles and traditional varieties they have become accustomed to. The event, she said, will also serve as a gateway to offering more exotic wines at her shop. Yanushkevich plans to bring in semillon, made with a French grape from the Bourdeaux region; corontas, made with a white Argentinian grape; sangiovese, a red Italian wine; malbec, and dessert wine from Uruguay.
 
“Uruguay is producing amazing wines…. They have produced a lot of nice full-bodied red wines and an amazing dessert wine whose quality can be compared to a tawny port from Portugal,” she said.
 
Wine Week is shaping up to be busy for the Bedford Village Inn, which will host events daily from Monday through Saturday. 
 
“There is no better way to celebrate our wine knowledge and our extensive inventory than through a week where we can really strut our stuff for both food and wine,” said BVI owner Jack Carnevale.
 
While BVI guests will be welcome to enjoy wine dinners and wine deals at the Inn’s function rooms, tavern and Corks wine bar, the main attraction at BVI will be the 50-foot circular ice bar on its patio, to be carved out of 10,000 pounds of ice by the Inn’s executive chef and certified ice sculptor Earl Morse. The bar will be open Monday, Jan. 20, through Saturday, Jan. 29.
 
“It’s really going to be a hoot,” Carnevale said of the wintery watering hole. Morse will also carve bars for the Winter Wine Spectacular.
 
The bar, Carnevale said, will feature a martini ice luge that guests can hold their glasses under to wait for a cascade of cold spirits. Hot drinks and, of course, wine will also served at the ice bar.
 
And while there will be heaters surrounding the bar, Carnevale suggests for guests to bundle up.
 
“Hopefully the weather will be cooperating with us,” he said.
 
The Inn will host Kevin Zraly, author of Windows on the World Complete Wine Course, for a wine tasting and seminar on Tuesday, Jan. 25, from 6 to 8 p.m. Alex Sokol Blosser, of Sokol Blosser Winery will serve as a guest bartender at Corks on Wednesday, Jan. 26, from 6 to 9 p.m. and winemaker Lionello Marchesi will visit the Inn on Friday, Jan. 28, at 6:30 p.m. for a wine dinner prepared by chef Matt Provencher of Richard’s Bistro in Manchester, as part of the area’s “Have Knife, Will Travel” series. The Inn will offer a special wine meals throughout the week including a three-course dinner menu, paired with wines, for $45 per person.
 
“Wine Week just seems to get bigger and more versatile and little more unique here at the Inn,” Carnevale said. “We are just going to have a lot of fun that week … I’m hoping we don’t get a blizzard, but if we do I will just have to keep shoveling a path to the bar.”
 
On the nose
Wine education with Carla Snow
 
Can you really tell a good wine just by smelling it? Can you serve white wine with steak? Those are just some of the questions Carla Snow, of A Grape Affair in Portsmouth, hopes to address during her two Wine Week workshops, “Making ‘Scents’” and “Wine and Cheese.” Snow conducts regular wine events and classes through A Grape Affair to “make the world of wine a less intimidating place.”
 
“I love supporting Wine Week because it really gives people an opportunity to get exposed to so many different wine events … it’s a great draw for people whether they are just starting out or have been appreciating wine for 50 years,” Snow said. “There are events that are free, others that cost $100; there is something for every budget and palate.”
 
The week-long wine event, Snow said, can help newcomers feel more comfortable about wine by removing the “snobbish approach.”
 
“They will be given a confidence level to order something and buy something instead of just slinking in to buy a Kendall Jackson chardonnay, hoping that no one will ask them any questions,” she said. “When they are comfortable they will be able to have more fun with wine, maybe buy one from the south of France.”
 
“One of the things people often say to me when they are tasting wine is ‘I don’t understand how you get chocolate or lemon, I don’t smell anything, I just smell grape juice,” Snow said.
 
To help better pull apart the aromas for wine-drinkers, Snow brings an aroma kit to her “Making ‘Scents’” workshops. The kit includes 54 essences typically found in wine, such as mushrooms or cherries, to smell before sniffing a pinot noir.
 
“A glass of wine could have up to 200 different aromas and we are really only capable picking up four as human beings in general,” Snow said. “Asking someone to pick out aromas in a glass that has 200 can be very overwhelming.”
 
Six wines and cheeses are sampled at Snow’s wine and cheese workshop and she makes it a point to discuss the rules of food and wine pairing. And while Snow will align cheeses to the wine flight, she said she encourages her students to create their own combinations.
 
“Food and wine pairing is 99 percent preference and one percent science,” Snow said. “I can’t tell you that something is a match made in heaven if doesn’t work for you.”
 
The rule of thumb to pairing wine and food, Snow said, is to match weight with weight, which does not necessarily mean serving red wine with red meat or white wine with fish or chicken.
 
“If you have a chicken dish but it is made with a very heavy rich tomato sauce then you’re going to need a wine [to] really hold up to that sauce, not necessarily hold up to the chicken,” she said. “The preparation is more important [when pairing wines] than the protein.”
 
The characteristics of cheese, like the aromas of wine, can also be overwhelming when selecting a proper wine. A pairing can be born out of whether the cheese is creamy, dry and flaky or rich and buttery, whether it comes from a goat, sheep or cow, whether it is smooth or has a bite, is stinky or mild. “There are many things that you look for with the different cheeses,” Snow said.
 
Snow noted sparkling wine as a versatile pairing option and suggested boucherondine, a semi-soft goat cheese from France, as a good match.
 
“The cheese has a very dry finish to it but it’s creamy up front,” Snow said. “The bubbles from the sparkling wine scrub away the creaminess so you just get the flavor from both.”
 
One “no fail” rule of thumb when pairing vino and cheese is matching region with region. And, while epoisses, a stinky soft cheese, hails from the Burgundy region of France, you do not have to necessarily snack on it with a French burgundy wine as chardonnay, the white grape of burgundy, would work just as well, Snow said.
 
“Chardonnay has just enough acidity to cut through the creaminess of the cheese and the stinkiness works well because chardonnay has just right amount of oak to balance it out,” she said.
 
New Hampshire wine country
Q&A with Amy LaBelle
 
This year will mark the fourth that New Hampshire winemaker Amy LaBelle, owner of LaBelle Winery in Amherst, has participated in the Winter Wine Spectacular. She will also host her second annual wine week dinner on Thursday, Jan. 20, at 6 p.m. at the Black Forest Café, 212 Route 101, Amherst, 672-0500, www.theblackforestcafe.com. LaBelle talked to the Hippo about how Wine Week benefits the state and about the differences and similarities between winemaking in the Granite State and in California. She said people should not let a lack of prior wine knowledge keep them from participating in Wine Week events.
 
Q: How does Wine Week benefit the state?
Wine Week is great for the state of New Hampshire on couple of levels.
 
It gives people a really good excuse to go out and do something fun in January; that’s a good thing. It is also a very nice opportunity not just for local wineries but for wineries across country and in some cases from international spots to showcase their wines to groups of people that may not have exposure to them otherwise.
 
It’s nice to have learning events around wine during Wine Week — the list of events is just endless. It’s great to have that focus on wine in general and let the public … focus and really learn about it and try things they may not have otherwise tried.
 
For local wineries, it is a really nice opportunity to let folks know we are here, to let folks know world-class wine can be made here in New Hampshire. The Easter Seals tasting event allows residents to taste our wine against world-class wine.
 
What would you tell people that are afraid to attend Wine Week events because they do not know much about wine?
A lot of people find wine intimidating, but Wine Week makes it a little less scary. That is a huge theme for us at the winery. It upsets me so much when customers come up to the tasting bar and apologize for not knowing about wine. I always say, ‘Why are you apologizing? Isn’t that why you are here, to learn more about wine?’ … The best opportunity is to go to free tasting events, start with the small ones, those aren’t intimidating, or come to the Black Forest Café on Jan. 20 and I will be standing there talking wine for three hours to anyone who wants to listen and answer questions —there is no question that is not OK.
 
What are the similarities and differences in how grapes are grown in New Hampshire versus [traditional wine-making locations such as] California?
Obviously of course, the main difference in New Hampshire is that we have to grow grapes that are cold-hardy and happy in the New England climate. Wine grapes can grow here, and while they are of very top quality, they are different varietals than wine grapes grown in Napa or Sonoma. With advances made in scientific resources — root stock and grafting — basically, what the research has done over the years is it has taken wine grape varietals and grafted them to cold-hardy root stock. Such advances allow us grow wine grapes in New England now of very high quality and grapes that can withstand our cold winters; it is a fairly recent development in terms of agriculture.
 
What varietals can be grown in New Hampshire?
One varietal that grows really well is Marechol Foch, commonly known as Foch, and Seyval Blanc. The Foch is red and the Seyval is white, so they produce wines of that color. The other thing we can do in New Hampshire really well is produce fruit wines. That is one thing we do at LaBelle — showcase the best and brightest produce from New Hampshire, whatever that might be, grapes, apples, blueberries, peaches.
 
Can you describe the Foch wine?
Foch is a red French hybrid grape that grows very well in our cold climate and can be produced in a dry or semi-sweet variety. It is aged in French oak and takes well to oak aging. It is a red table wine with a pinot noir body style, not like a cabernet red…. It can be made richer depending on the winemaker. There are flavors of berry and cherry versus they Seyval, which is very lemony and citrusy.
 
How else could you describe the Seyval?
I love the Seyval. It is our go-to white wine at the winery. It has a lot of lemon and grapefruit notes that go well with seafood. The one we do is aged in oak. … It has won gold medals at international competition. It is an easy-to-drink wine that is not too fussy.
 
Is there a difference in how wine is prepared using a fruit other than grapes?
There isn’t much difference at all. We treat our fruit wines the same way we treat our grape wines and end up with the same quality result. In terms of the fermentation process to pressing, aging and bottling, it is the same process along way.There are hundreds of decisions that go into any given wine production and in case of fruit wine making there are the same number of decisions and same kind of decisions.
 
How much wine do you produce at LaBelle?
This year we produced 5,000 cases, which is 60,000 bottles. Those are mind-numbing numbers considering we bottle by hand.
 
What is the key to producing a world-class wine?
[laughs] Somebody can tell me. For us, I’ve noticed every single batch of wine is different. No matter how many times you do Foch, each wine acts a little different, it is kind of like babies in a way. If you have 10 babies they will all act different, even if they are from the same parents.
 
From Carneros 
Q&A with Joseph Carr
 
Joseph Carr produces wines at Larson Family Vineyards in Carneros, Calif., which borders both Napa and Sonoma counties. As a nègociant, a person who purchases grapes from other growers, Carr has produced some of the world’s finest wines, including Louis Jadot. In addition to participating in the Winter Wine Spectacular, on Wednesday, Jan. 26, Carr will serve as a guest bartender at O Steaks and Seafood in Concord from 6 to 8 p.m. He talked to the Hippo about his experiences at Wine Weeks past, how wine is produced in the Golden State, the newest addition to his winery and his New England roots.
 
Q: How has your experience been participating in New Hampshire wine week over the past five years?
It has been great. We see a great number of consumers all coming to the events during the week and you get people buying wine. It is a great way to really kind of test the market and see how things go. You can do a lot of events but never really know what happens; this one is really impactful.
 
What do you think Wine Week guests take away from trying your wines? Or what experience do you hope they will have?
In the past, we’ve always had a family member attend, whether it be myself, my daughter or my wife. [Carr’s 27-year-old daughter Cailen will be at his side at this year’s Winter Wine Spectacular.] The consumer really enjoys meeting a principal or a family member of the winery, as opposed to talking to a representative that might be a  representative for lots of brands. Us being there adds a more personal experience than some of the other folks there.
 
I know you had a relationship with Louis Jadot wines. Has working with French wines influenced your products?
Our whole business model is based on producing European-style wines … they tend to be very balanced. And our red wines are blended — we make a red with merlot for cabernet franc, which is made with other components other than cabernet.
 
What does French oak add to the wine?
It comes from forests in Nevers and Allier regions of France. All the barrels are produced the same way and come from craftsmen in France. You  can buy lots of different kinds, light toast, medium toast or heavy toast, and the different nuances might be the smells or aromas of smoke or cedar, just subtle things like that. We never want the oak to be overwhelming because we want the fruit to come forward. We also use American oak, which is very good too. We just use a balance of American and French oak and mix them all up.
 
Can you tell me a little about the creation of [the newest addition to your wines,] Josh Cellars?
It is a wine named after my dad. I was working with a friend of mine, Tom Larson, who owned a vineyard outside of Napa Valley and I really like it, it is organically farmed and sustainably farmed. We sat around one day talking about our fathers and I thought it would be a really great idea to work with Tom to make wine outside of Napa Valley in this vineyard, which we did, and when all was said and done, I thought I would name it after my dad. My dad was a lumberjack in New England, he was born in Vermont and traveled all over New England hauling logs, he had his own logging company. Now we make a [Josh Cellars] cabernet sauvignon and a chardonnay as a tribute to my dad — he passed away a long time ago. 





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