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Want to Golf With Hall of Famer Dan Hampton?

Join NFL Hall of Famer, Dan Hampton, with The Scores promotion team on June 3rd at Binnys in Des Plaines & June 10th at Binnys in Orland Park, both from 2pm to 4pm.  Hampton will be on site signing autographs and one lucky person and a guest will be chosen to play in the Harp Open with Dan Hampton on July 6th at Eaglewood Resort in Itasca.  The only way into the golf tournament is to win and the only way to play with Dan Hampton is to visit Binnys, or by texting Binnys to 67011.  Binnys and The Score will be giving away two foursomes total.


Pink is the Summer Red


Warm weather is here and it’s time to start drinking Rosé. Our shelves are starting to see many new ones arrive. Most Rosés are dry, refreshing and great with food. The colors of Rosé vary between pale salmon to translucent purple. The color of the wine is determined by how long the skins sit with the juice. The Saignée method (bleeding) is done when a winemaker chooses to reduce his or her red wine. The pink wine is removed from the soon-to-be red wine and fermented separately.

Ice cold beer is tough to beat on a warm day, but Rosé is a nice change of pace. I think it would be funny, but appropriate to drink Rosé on a golf course. After a bad shot, cursing and trying to chop down a tree with my 9-iron would seize. I would just have a sip of Rosé and go hit my next shot (from the sand.) Anyway, below are some new arrivals we’ve tried and also some old favorites.

This comes from Mendocino County. It is very ripe, well balanced and refreshing. You get a lot of Pinot Noir flavors, but the fruit is more tart and lively. It is a well made wine and the price is down considerably from a few vintages ago.
This has been my favorite Rosé under $10 for the last couple vintages. It is a blend of Grenache Blanc, Grenache Noir and Grenache Gris. The nose is very ripe, with watermelon, sweet raspberry and also a wet clay tinge. It is light bodied, medium-high in acidity and fruit forward. It is a great bottle.
This is another favorite Rosé under $10. It is made from mostly Garnacha, (Grenache). It has a deep pink color. The nose is ripe, with tart raspberry, strawberry, and it is very peppery. It has medium acidity, a light body and would pair nicely with anything from salads to pizza, or anything off of the grill.
As far as sparkling wines under $20 you will not find many that are better than this. Besides it’s refreshing acidity and tart, ripe berry fruit, it has a nice, chalky, mineral driven finish. It is very well made and is a great, great value.
Pretty soon, we will be screaming for winter.  Help stave off the heat by drinking rosé.

Come to a Binny’s Tweetup Featuring Hahn Family Wines

  Does the average wine review make your eyes glaze over? Twitter has solved the problem of the over-articulated wine review by limiting each to 140 characters.

  Join us for a real world and virtual wine tasting at the Lakeview Binny’s location the Ivanhoe Castle at 3000 N. Clark – on Thursday, June 3rd, from 5:00-7:00 pm. This Binny’s Tweetup will feature the wines of Copa del Rey, Cycles Gladiator, Hahn Vineyards and Smith & Hook.

  If you can’t make it to the store, you can still participate online through Twitter just use #binnys as the hashtag on your Twitter tasting notes. We’ll not only be tasting the wines in store, but will also project the live Twitter discussion from your online comments. Check this blog post again on Thursday the 3rd, when we’ll post a link so you can follow the tasting online, as it happens. If you’re not at Binny’s. Which you should be.


O’Fallon Uses Hemp as Ingredient in Beer

OFallon Brewery is trying some new things this summer.  First off, they have decided to make 12 pack cans of their popular peach wheat summer beer, Wheach, which was previously only available in six pack bottles.  OFallon has also released a new and innovative beer titled Hemp Hop Rye.  This beer is brewed with rye, and yes, it is also brewed with hemp.  We arent sure if the hemp is used for actual flavor or as a marketing tool for stoners to purchase the beer, but we are sure of one thing:  this brew is delicious.


Hemp Hop Rye poured an amber color with a small head.  A twang from the rye was all over the nose and palate, as well as a subtle dryness, perhaps from the hemp.  Hints of caramel malt, as well as a faint bitterness from the hops were apparent, but for the most part both took a back seat to the spicy rye.

What will be put in our beer next?  Although there has been beers brewed with hemp in the past, it seems as if OFallons Hemp Hop Rye is the first to be distributed in Chicago.  Have you experienced a beer brewed with hemp before?


R.I.P.A. is Now On Rye

HeBrew, the self proclaimed chosen beer line from Schmaltz Brewing, has chosen to team up with Buffalo Trace Distillery.  The uniting of the brewery and distillery consists of Schmaltzs Bittersweet Lennys  R.I.P.A. (a rye double IPA)  aged in Sazerac 6 Year Rye barrels.  Released in 2005, the 90 proof Sazerac 6 Year Rye is a blend of a small group of barrels. 


The bonding between Lennys R.I.P.A and the Sazerac  6 Year Rye barrels resulted in a delectable brew labeled R.I.P.A. on Rye.  The beer was brewed with an obscene amount of malt and hops, 9 malt varieties and 7 hop varieties to be exact.  We enjoyed the whiskey presence, which was everywhere, especially on the lingering finish.  The beer had a decent hop character, but for the most part this was overshadowed by the whiskey and caramel malt.  Hints of sweet vanilla and chocolate were a pleasant surprise.  Everything from the dark brown color to the ridiculous amount of malts and hops gave R.I.P.A. a barleywine- esque nature.


If you wish to try this concoction, make sure to come in soon, as only 469 cases were produced.  If you miss out on this offering, you may still be in luck. It looks like Schmaltz Brewing will be making a habit out of barrel aging, as they have indicated that new barrel aged creations are in the works.  Which of the HeBrew beers would you like to see barrel aged next?

Easy on the Sugar, Please

  While European leaders gathered during the second weekend of May to rescue the Euro, six Binny’s “rangers” were bailing out their palates in Germany, exploring the pure taste of Mosel and Rheingau Riesling.

Although domestic Riesling is on the rise in the US, its German counterpart still remains greatly misunderstood.

It is true that many German wines are insipid, tasting more like hard lemonade, a kind of sweet and sour alcoholic drink with the personality of 7 UP. Light, unpretentious sippers, which can offer a notion of wine drinking. Liquid relaxation available in blue glass, which may turn any blue afternoon into a party.

Ironically, some of these wines, “Spatlese” and “Auslese” with no grape indicated on the label, contain little (if any) Riesling, and are composed of less distinctive grapes like Muller-Thurgau or Sylvaner. Deeply filtered, drained of flavor and coated with an extra dose of sugar, they abuse the name of a white wine with a great past, the noble German Riesling.

  The only way to understand why German Riesling in the 19th century was fetching the same prices as the greatest crus of Bordeaux and Burgundy is to visit Germany. It takes a walk on the slate hills of the Mosel Valley, where the steepest slopes are at an 80% gradient. They are worked by hand, the pickers risking their lives harvesting the fruit. Then, it takes a sip of a dry (Trocken) Riesling to get it, to catch up with the Germans.

Unfortunately, for many US consumers their experience with German Riesling is based on mediocre, semi-sweet wines, which almost don’t exist on the domestic German market. Persuading the importers that a sweet alley has no outlet is a job for the wine pros, and all Binny’s staff take it seriously. Trocken and Semi-Trocken Rieslings have already reached the US and we are excited to offer them to our customers.

Drinking a pure, virgin version of dry German Riesling can be a truly aesthetic experience. The wine stands naked in your glass, it is crisp and fresh like a summer breeze and keeps promising much more than a Friday night’s fun. This is wine that cries for a table cloth, proper glassware and a slowly cooked dish.

  For us, the American wine pros who go easy on sugar, think green and hope to eat organic, it was a remarkable experience. Katrin, our friendly host at Weingut Markus Molitor, and Kevin, a wine broker who organized the trip, could hardly hide a smile when six American wine specialists suddenly discovered the true face of German Riesling. It was the sort of discovery which burns the mind; the same as when a toddler who uncritically believes in the power of a Thomas the Train toy sees for the first time a real locomotive with a series of railroad cars attached to it – in comparison to its replica, the real one is not only huge, but makes a lot of noise and moves mysteriously forward.

German Riesling, in its best drier version, is not a toy. It is true, it is moving and it is a very serious glass of wine. Ask for it during your next visit to Binny’s.

Ein trocken bitte!


– Jarek Lewandowski is a wine manager at the Niles Binny’s.

A Slew of Belgian Beer Hits Chicago

A slew of new to the market Belgian beers (21 to be exact) are now available at four of Binnys Chicago land locations (South Loop, Lincoln Park, Grand Avenue, and Lakeview).   The beers hail from 9 different breweries, all located in the Flanders area of Belgium except for Bierbrouwerij Grand-Café Emelisse, which is in the Netherlands.  The new breweries are listed below, with the beers we are offering from them following.


Brouwerijt Gaverhopke:  t Gaverhopke Singing Blond

Brouwerij Het Alternatief:  Eerwarde Pater, The Bitter Truth

Brasserie de Cazeau:  Tournay, Tournay Black (not available at Lincoln Park)

Brasserie La Botteresse Brewery:  La Botteresse Blonde, La Botteresse Noire

Brouwerij Contreras:  Valeir Divers, Valeir Extra

De Hoevebrouwers:  Toria, Koekelaring, Toria Tripel

Bierbrouwerij Grand:  Café Emelisse:   Emelisse Russian Emperial Stout, Emelisse Rauchbier, Emelisse Barley Wine (not available at Lincoln Park)

Brouwerij Hof Ten Dormaal:  Hof Ten Dormaal Blonde, Hof Ten Dormaal Amber

Brouwerij De Dochter Van De Korenaar:  Noblesse, Bravoure, Embrasse, Courage


As of now production of these beers is not great enough to meet the demand of our suburban stores.  If you have any questions about any of the beers or breweries, please contact

Q&A: Light White Wine That Isn’t Chardonnay

  Continuing our Q&A feature on the Binny’s Blog, here is a question submitted in the comments section of a previous blog entry:


I really love white wine, but I find that the lighter it is, the better I like it. I really don’t care for Chardonnay, but I enjoy Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, etc. with just about everything. My favorites tend to be Californian or French. What are some of the newer, “light” whites out there?

– Anne, via Binny’s Blog comment


  This question comes up a lot on the sales floor. There seems to be a backlash against the heavier chardonnay coming out of California. I’ve met plenty of people who say they’re looking for “ABC” Anything But Chardonnay. Fortunately, there is a world of fresh, light, white wine out there. Here are just a few suggestions:


A Few Light Whites

  If you’re looking for something really light, try vinho verde. This Portuguese white blend is light and fresh and usually just a little fizzy. Though it’s not a very serious wine, the fresh flavors and low alcohol (and low price) make it perfect for patio sipping on a warm spring day, which we’re due for any day here in Chicago. While the similarities across vinho verde brands are stronger than the differences, I always recommend Casal Garcia and Gazela as consistent values.

  Taking a step in a little more serious direction, give gruner veltliner a try. This white grape from Austria is known for its delicate qualities, featuring notes of peaches and light citrus fruits, perfume and mineral. It might compare to a more refined and withheld sauvignon blanc. Gruner veltliner is light enough to pair with sushi, and will go with vegetables and cream sauces well. Some regional and single-vineyard bottlings can get expensive, but there are always values to be found, like the Lois, Hugo and GruVe.

  Also, be sure to check out Albarino. Binny’s carries a good selection from the Rias Baixas region in Spain, though we’re starting to see the grape from elsewhere, too. This light and aromatic white is recommended for fans of pinot gris (or pinot grigio). Albarino displays strong fruit notes of peach and apricot with lively acidity and a more broad texture on the palate. Martin Codax and Burgans are very well-established, Paco y Lola is a recent favorite of mine, or try La Cana for a more broad and fat Albarino.


Don’t Discount Chardonnay

  I know you’re looking for wines that aren’t chardonnay, but don’t write off the versatile grape entirely. Many producers are making lighter-styled chardonnay by using (or by avoiding) certain winemaking techniques.

  One such technique that gives so much chardonnay a heavy reputation is the use of oak aging, which can impart notes of baking spices or vanilla to the wine. Another technique is sur-lie aging, French for “on the lees,” meaning the yeasts that ferment wine are left in the must longer, resulting in bready or nutty notes. Also, many winemakers use a process known as malolactic fermentation, which converts the wine’s tart malic acid (think granny smith apples) into lactic acid, an acid compound actually found in some dairy products. This conversion means a wine changes from tart and bright to fatter and creamier. I’d recommend a chardonnay that avoids these winemaking practices.

  You mentioned that you like French whites try a white from Macon, a region in the South of Burguny, and home of the famous appelation Pouilly Fuisse. Whites from the Maconnais are almost entirely chardonnay, but are more crisp and light than many chards from the US. Also, many producers all over the globe are offering “unoaked” chardonnay, which can be more light than you might expect. Be careful, though, I’ve tasted a few unoaked chards that are still quite heavy due to malolactic fermentation.


  I hope you find some new favorites! Be sure to let us at the Binny’s Blog know if you found something you like or dislike. We’re always happy to compare notes. If you have a question you’d like to pose the the Binny’s Blog, post a comment or email gversch [at] binnys [dot] com.

New Holland: Brewery and Distillery

New Holland is Michigans third largest brewery, churning out 10,650 barrels in 2009.  Business is good: in 2008 their barrel output totaled 9,335, and New Holland is on pace to once again experience a large amount of growth in 2010.  New Holland brews at two locations:  One is a large facility dedicated to brewing beer, while the other is a brewpub and also serves as New Hollands distillery. 


New Hollands brewery is a very clean place, and has all the amenities one would look for in a craft brewery (including a glass of Mole Ocho or Cabin Fever during tours).  New Hollands best seller is Mad Hatter IPA, but the beer that has exploded over the past couple years is Dragons Milk.  This Imperial Stout is aged in Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels at the brewery.  Not only is this beer delicious, but it is only $7.99 for a bomber of it.  You would be hard pressed to find any other bomber of a bourbon barrel aged beers under ten dollars.  Dragons Milk is also now available in four packs at Binnys.


New Hollands Brewpub, a separate location from the brewery, is a very interesting place.  Besides brewing special beer only found in the pub in a brew kettle located right next to the bar, New Holland uses this location to brew their spirits line.  It was interesting to note that all the spirits made by New Holland pass through the same, relatively small still located for all to see in the brewpub.  New Holland does have plans to acquire a brand new, bigger still in the future due to the increasing popularity of the following:  


Dutchess Vodka:  “A clean and crisp vodka distilled from organic wheat, Dutchess is an excellent companion to boundless ingredients.”

Dutchess Citrus Vodka:  “A crisp spirit, with lively citrus notes infused from real fruit, Duthess Citrus brings fresh flavors to your glass.”

Kinckerbocker Gin:  “A vibrant, aromatic gin, twice distilled and infused with flavors from more than a dozen herbs and spices.  Generous amounts of juniper-berries contribute a bright citrus and evergreen body, bursting with flavor before a clean, dry finish.”

Hatter Royale Hopquila:  “A fermented was of 100% barley is twice distilled, then stepped with centennial hops.  The vivacious spirit features grain-centric body framed citrus laden hop character in the nose and finish.”

Huron White Rum:  “A clean, bright rum with a delicate sweetness and hints of vanilla.”

Michigan Amber Rum:  “Barrel aging in oak presents a caramel color and deep body.  A rich, smooth marriage of molasses and oak.”

Superior Single- Barrel Rum“Packaged from a single honey barrel, Freshwater Superior showcases barrel-aging in a robust, yet elegant presentation.”

New Holland is a unique brewery, in that it is also a distillery.  They join a unique crowd in doing this, Anchor Brewing in California, and Rogue Brewing in Oregon are a few of the others.  Do you enjoy New Holland more as a brewery or a distillery?

Q&A: Meat-Free Wine Pairing

  I’d like to kick off a new, hopefully regular feature here on the Binny’s Blog: The new Q&A feature, where we Binny’s Bloggists can get at the questions you really want answered. I received the following question via email, regarding meat-free wine pairing options:


  After noticing that you were a vegetarian, had a question for you… Simply, being a vegetarian, how do you pair wines and food?  Specifically with bigger more tannic wines, that are often paired with red meats–how do you finagle a pairing?

– David H.


  When it comes to pairing food and wine, I’m in the camp that believes that it isn’t about finding that one ‘magic bullet’ pairing, but about discovering what generally works. I’d say about 90% of wine pairing is knowing which parings to avoid because of overtly conflicting tastes, and knowing which foods and wines are best for the target audience.

  I know many of my colleagues here at Binny’s will disagree with me, suggesting the perfect pairing can be picked from centuries of regional and gastronomical tradition. I myself am especially fond of pairing full-bodied white wines with cream sauces and vegetable purees it’s almost always a perfect pairing to me. But it seems to me that limiting your pairing experience only to tradition is ultimately just that limiting. The joy of wine is in discovery.

  Big, tannic red wines pair well with red meats both because of the fat content and the savory flavors of red meat (I might be a vegetarian now, but as a kid growing up in Iowa and Nebraska, I ate more than my share of beef). The fat works by masking the tannins, making the wine seem more plush and round.

  As an ovo-lacto vegetarian (I do eat eggs and dairy), I tend to pair tannic reds with foods containing cheese, oil, and savory herbs and vegetables. I avoid light foods that would be lost under the weight of the wine, and avoid spicy foods that would conflict with the aggressive tannins.

  I cook up a mean sauteed mushroom dish involving extra virgin olive oil, freshly ground black pepper, garlic and Balsamic vinegar. Serve it over noodles, with bread and butter and a good California cab and I’m in heaven. I also like pairing heavy reds with roasted veggies with rosemary or sage, also with plenty of olive oil. Or a cheesy frittata with thin-sliced peppers and spinach. And I know it’s not too classy, but I’m a sucker for a fat, greasy slice of Chicago deep dish cheese pizza. It’s a good cabernet pairing to be enjoyed on the couch.

  It rarely hurts to try new things, so I try to keep an open mind about pairings. There’s plenty out there. It doesn’t always have to be about meat.


  If you have a question you’d like us to consider for a Binny’s Blog Q&A, post a comment, either below or on the Binny’s Facebook page, or email me at gversch [at] binnys [dot] com. Thanks for reading!

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