Tim’s Top 5 Barbecue Wines

Memorial Day weekend is almost upon us, and we’re willing to bet that most of you are either going to barbecues or planning your own (weather permitting, of course). To help you pick out the best wines to pair with cookout classics, we had Tim Sweeney, owner of Stone Ridge Wine & Spirits, pick out his top five barbecue-friendly wines. Whether you’re slow-cooking some ribs in the smoker, searing steaks over some red hot coals, or just enjoying a few glasses of wine with some friends, these wines will be a sure hit at any Memorial Day party. Here they are, in no particular order:

The Messenger White Wine #1The Messenger White Wine #1 (NV)

($17.99 + tax; 13.4% alc)

Ripe, refreshing, and slightly off-dry, The Messenger White Wine #1 is a blend of 69% Sauvignon Blanc, 18% Muscat Canelli, and 13% Riesling. While it would pair perfectly with spicier dishes thanks to its slight sweetness and notes of tropical fruit and spice, this multi-vintage wine is also excellent on its own.

Fiddletown Cellars 2011 Old Vine ZinfandelFiddletown Cellars 2011 Old Vine Zinfandel

($21.99 + tax; 14.5% alc)

Zinfandel has always been one of my favorite grapes, so when Tim picked out the Fiddletown Cellars 2011 Old Vine Zinfandel for this list, I had no complaints. This full-bodied, jammy beauty of a red is bursting with berry and black cherry aromas and a noticeable hint of fragrant vanilla on the finish, making it a great match for your favorite barbecued rib recipe.

47 Friends California Table Red Blend47 Friends California Red Table Wine (NV)

($11.99 + tax; 13.8% alc)

47 Friends California Table Red Blend was created to take the guesswork out of finding a high quality, affordably priced everyday wine. This fruit-forward, easy-drinking red is a blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Syrah, 20% Zinfandel, and 10% other grape varietals, and would pair perfectly with burgers, steaks, chicken, or whatever else you happen to be grilling.

Orlana Rosé Vinho Verde (NV)Orlana Rose Vinho Verde

($9.99 + tax; 10.5% alc)

Vinho Verde (“green wine”) is a style of wine that originated in Northern Portugal. These young, fresh, and slightly fizzy wines are available in white, rosé, or (less commonly) red, and are made from a host of Portuguese grape varieties. Orlana Rosé Vinho Verde is exceptionally light and fruity with fresh berries on the palate, and is a fantastic all-day sipper for a barbecue. At $9.99 a bottle (and 20% off cases!), this is the ultimate summer party wine.

Lava Cap 2011 El Dorado Cabernet SauvignonLava Cap 2011 El Dorado Cabernet Sauvignon

($19.99 + tax; 14.5% alc)

Sometimes called the “King of Grapes,” the California Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most recognizable wines in the world. Lava Cap Winery’s take on this legendary style is a full-bodied yet incredibly smooth wine with notes of black cherry, vanilla, and a hint of spice. This dark and silky red is just begging to be served with a seared ribeye.

From now until the end of the long weekend (let’s call it Monday at 9 p.m.), all of these wines are 10% off individual bottles, so it’s easier than ever to make sure your party is fully stocked.

On a more somber note, with all the grilling, drinking, and celebrating going on, it’s easy to forget what Memorial Day is really all about – it’s about remembering the brave men and women who lost their lives in defense of our country. In honor of those fallen heroes, we hope that you celebrate safely and have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Wine Review: Daniel Gehrs 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon


The mystery bottle, unveiled!

The mystery bottle, unveiled!

In all my time as a card-carrying, licensed blogger/taster of things that are delicious (but potentially bad for you in excess, I’m told), I’ve reviewed vodka, tequila, apple pie moonshine, and a ton of cigars, but never wine. But it’s time to check that box off on my “things I’ve written about” list, which totally exists, by the way – this post you’re currently reading is my very first wine review.

Since it’s my first wine review, and therefore the first on the Stone Ridge Wine & Spirits blog, I decided to go with one of the styles that got me interested in wine in the first place: the California Cab. In particular, I picked the Daniel Gehrs 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, a wine that’s new to our store, and also relatively new to the market. Founded in 1990 by Daniel Gehrs and his family, Daniel Gehrs Wines originally focused on varietals specific to France’s Loire Valley (Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc, and Cabernet Franc), according to their website, but eventually expanded their repertoire to include Pinot Noir, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and more. They’ve since taken home awards from the San Diego International Wine Competition, the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, and the New World Wine Competition, and the Cabernet I’m about to try is the recipient of two of those awards.

But that’s enough about me, and enough about the producer(s) – it’s time to talk about this handsome red.

It's as good as, if not better than it looks.

It’s as good as, if not better than it looks.


Packaging: 750ml bottle

Alcohol Content: 13.5%

Price: $15.99 + tax

Composition: 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petite Verdot

Aging: 13 months in stainless steel


Dark red with bright ruby accents; slowly descending legs.


Fresh berries, eucalyptus, peppercorns, freshly cut flowers.


I was expecting this to be a big, spicy fruit bomb, but it’s most certainly not. It’s subtler and gentler than many of its peers, and I think it owes that (at least partially) to the fact that its aging takes place only in stainless steel, rather than in oak. This wine greets the palate with eucalyptus and a bit of bell pepper up front, giving way to fresh blackberries and black currants. The fruit is ripe and pronounced, but thanks to ample acidity, it’s not jammy or blown-out. The finish is long and berry-like with a slight hint of what I can only describe as leather.

Final Thoughts

This is unlike a lot of other California Cabs out there. The absence of oak allows for the character of this iconic grape to really shine, and while the wine is relatively young, it is also fairly complex. With its subdued fruit and subtle floral aromas, this is a New World wine for an Old World palate, though its pronounced blackberry note might still impress fans of bolder, fruitier, New World-style wines. Either way, at $15.99 a bottle, it’s not too much of a gamble.

Introducing the Weekly Cuvée

One of our goals here at Stone Ridge Wine & Spirits is to keep fellow wine lovers informed about the goings on of the wine world. With that, I’d like to introduce our first ever roundup post: the Weekly Cuvée (for those of you who are less wine-nerdy than I, the word Cuvée is used to describe a wine that is blended from several different vats or batches). Without further ado, here are my weekly picks for this week’s best wine news.

First off, a Japanese company called B&H Lifes just introduced “Nyan Nyan Nouveau,” the first ever wine made for cats, according to a post by TIME NewsFeed. The wine is made from Cabernet Franc grapes, and while it doesn’t contain alcohol, it does contain catnip, so I would imagine a cat could still get fairly “drunk” from a few glasses, dishes, or whatever you’d use to serve wine to a cat. Anyway, B&H Lifes is only producing 1,000 bottles, and as far as I can tell they aren’t being sold online, but who knows? Maybe cat wine will be the next big trend.

Next up, we have a story from Medical News Today, who reported that according to a recent study, the resveratrol found in red wine is not only good for your heart, skin, and metabolism, but could also aid in the treatment of certain cancers. According to the article, when resveratrol was used in conjunction with radiation therapy, the therapy killed 65 percent of melanoma cells, up from 44 percent with radiation alone. Other research suggests that resveratrol could also help prevent certain cancers, so with moderation in mind, uncork a nice bottle of red and drink up for your health!

Back in California, the St. Helena Star reports that the Napa Valley harvest has all but come to a close, thanks to what they called a “remarkably early and trouble-free growing season.” According to the harvest report, 2013 is shaping up to be a great vintage, with many growers indicating yields as good as, if not better than last year’s. Because they need time to age, it might be a few years before we see many of these 2013 vintages, but it sounds like they’ll be worth the wait.

Finally, we have some news of our own – this weekend, we’re hosting not one, but two wine tastings!

The first tasting is tonight (Friday, 10/18) from 5-8 pm. and is a fundraiser to celebrate Marbletown Multi-Arts‘ (aka MaMA) 15th anniversary. We’ll be featuring some rare vintage wines, including Burgess Cellars 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon and Blandy’s 15-Year Madeira, and more.

The second tasting is tomorrow (Saturday 10/19) from 1-6 pm, and will feature a selection of heavier, fuller-bodied whites and reds to help kick off the fall and holiday seasons. Among the wines we’ll be serving are the Josh Cellars 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, Dead Bolt 2011 Red Field Blend, Dinastia Vivanco 2011 Blanco, Santa Alicia 2012 Reserva Pinot Noir, and many others.

And that concludes the first edition of the Weekly Cuvée – enjoy your weekend, and we hope to see you at one (or better yet, both) of our tastings!