Author

About the Author
Joe Wehinger (nicknamed Joe Winger) has written for over 20 years about the business of lifestyle and entertainment. Joe is an entertainment producer, media entrepreneur, public speaker, and C-level consultant who owns businesses in entertainment, lifestyle, tourism and publishing. He is an award-winning filmmaker, published author, member of the Directors Guild of America, International Food Travel Wine Authors Association, WSET Level 2 Wine student, WSET Level 2 Cocktail student, member of the LA Wine Writers. Email to: Joe@FlavRReport.com

Philly is Falling in Love: Dating Expert Andrea McGinty makes it easy with 33000Dates.com

Philly is Falling in Love: Dating Expert Andrea McGinty makes it easy with 33000Dates.com

We’re with Andrea McGinty, dating expert from 33000Dates.com

Dating Expert Andrea McGinty makes it easy with 33000Dates.com

Dating Expert Andrea McGinty makes it easy with 33000Dates.com

Today’s conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  For the full, un-edited conversation, visit our YouTube channel here

So often we talk about food and wine and it’s usually for dates, romantic nights out, date night, anniversaries, vacations

Dating Expert Andrea McGinty makes it easy with 33000Dates.com

Dating Expert Andrea McGinty makes it easy with 33000Dates.com

Today we’re going to get to the source of what those date’s are actually about. So with us is a dating expert, Andrea McGinty from 33000dates.com. 

 

Joe Winger: 

So just to start things off, what inspired you to become a dating coach?

Andrea McGinty: 

You mean what inspired an accounting / finance major to become a dating coach? 

I started this when I was in my 20s. So this is the 1990s. 

There’s no Google yet. There’s no online dating.  It’s going to happen in the late 90s, but it hasn’t happened yet. At that point I was living in Chicago and I was getting married and five weeks before the wedding, he called it off and it was like – boom!

What do you do? First I cried, of course…

Anyway my friends started fixing me up on dates, still in your 20s and you know how those dates go, 

They know someone that’s single, so they think you should like them, blah, blah, blah…

After some of those dates I was really thinking about it and I thought, it’d be great if there was a place you could go, like an executive recruiter for your professional life. 

The same thing for your personal life. 

And of course, there was nothing like that at the time.  Even in high school and in college I fixed up two of my suitemates. They’re still with their husbands that I fixed them up with.

I was already good at this and I thought I could start this. 

Anyway, fast forward.

I started a company in Chicago called It’s Just Lunch. Where people meet for lunch. We do all the work.

Fast forward, 15 years later, it’s still the same.

[At my first dating company, It’s Just Lunch] we had 110 locations globally and then I sold.  Timing was perfect because online dating was coming out of its infancy and it was a mess it at first, just the scammers, the crazies, the horrible stories, 

I thought, “Oh, wow, there’s a need. People have no idea what to do online and how to date.” 

 

Dating Expert Andrea McGinty makes it easy with 33000Dates.com

Joe Winger: 

Is there one big lesson to learn how to be more successful with dating in today’s world?

Andrea McGinty: 

I think there’s a couple, there’s probably two lessons to learn. 

#1 is you need to understand how to navigate online dating because there’s over 1400 sites out there. 

#2 you’ve got to be really careful that you don’t give up too quickly. 

Most people give up in the first 2-3 weeks because they go online, see a bunch of people, they probably went on the wrong site by the way too, like not the right site for them at all. Then they see these people who like them and they’re like, “Oh my gosh, this is online dating, forget it, I’m done, gone.” 

And it goes back to they didn’t do it right, they had no idea what they were doing.

Joe Winger: 

Can you bring some clarity to that and help somebody understand what are the first few steps are and how to do them correctly?

Andrea McGinty: 

Absolutely. With online dating you need…

 #1 you need to be really careful that you’re choosing the right site.

When we’re talking about 1,400 sites out there, I tend to work with the top 25 sites. When I’m working with a client I start initially with a zoom call with a client and get to know them what they’re looking for. 

I work primarily with the 40 – something 50- something, through the 60s age group. Second time around, second acts in life type of thing. 

Back to the right site…

When I’m choosing a site for a client after the zoom call, I’m thinking about. “Okay, what sites do I think they belong at?” And it’s very different if you’re in Los Angeles versus Houston versus Washington versus New York City or Orlando, Florida.

[The sites are] so different, how the sites function and the type of people that are even on the site. 

I’m strategic too. I use three different large companies for research. I use Gallup,  Pew and Statista.  I pay to get research on a monthly basis and it really tells me the percentage of men to women on a site. 

Some sites that are 80% men. Some sites are 80% women 

You might be having an awful time on a site because you’re a woman and you’re at a site that’s 80% women. You’re in the wrong place. 

So I do the homework with the research. Geographically where you live, level of education, income. Is that site’s membership increasing, decreasing?

#2 Your pictures. 

Oh my gosh. I’m like a crazy person with photos because you have to have really great photos. I don’t mean LinkedIn photos, I don’t mean glamour shots, and not selfies.

The candids are nice because it’ll show you and your friends. Out playing pickleball, out playing tennis, out having drinks with your girlfriends. The professional shots. Depending on where you live, you’re just gonna get some great shots up against a graffiti wall in Brooklyn or a nice shot by the beach that are just a little more.

You want a couple full body shots. 

You want the photos to be current, within the last year.   Just like you don’t want to be surprised when you show up on the date and there she is.  She has a few more wrinkles and a few more pounds than what I saw online. 

It’s like you’re not being truthful about the whole thing. 

Online dating is a visual medium. You’ve got to be presenting yourself. My LA and Orange County market, Dallas market, they get that.  But there’s other parts of the country. I’m like no, we are not putting that picture of you online. There is absolutely no way.

#3 Your profile

Once they look at your photos online, if they like what they’re seeing, they’re going to read about you.  It can’t be the same old stuff. Like I like to walk on the beach and I look as good in a tux as I do….   it puts me to sleep. 

So a short, sweet, interesting, quirky profile sells. 

A lot of times it’s hard to write about yourself. That’s why it’s nice to have somebody like me, write about you.

[Summarizing]  You’re on the right site.  The right photos. Your profile. Now it’s looking through high potential dates for you….

#4 Looking for High Potential Dates

Putting in algorithms, putting in search filters. That’s something I teach people how to do because otherwise it’s like you’re looking for a needle in a haystack and you want it like a needle in a little Easter basket.

Once we throw those filters and algorithms on, it gets rid of  80% of the people. Now we’re down to some of these people that look like high potential people for you. 

#5 Send messages

We found 10 “someone” ‘s and now we send messages.

We don’t send them a weak heart or any of that kind of junk because men get so irritated.  Because half my clients are men, they get so irritated with this. 

Why are these women sending likes and hearts and no message? 

That’s my constant battle with women.

Hey, you’re in your 40s, you’re not 90 when women had to wait to be pursued. We’re not living in our grandparents era, right? We’re equals. We can reach out to the men too. 

The men totally appreciate when a woman sends a well crafted, interesting, short three sentence message.

The messaging is super important because you don’t want the: “Hi, how are you?” – or this is horrible. “Hi, you’re so good looking.” “Hi, you’re so beautiful.”

It was like, copy paste, they threw that out to the world, they sent that to everybody.

So now you’ve sent a message, hopefully he / she messages back. 

#6 Schedule a date

The next thing is let’s get that date scheduled. This can all be done with just a couple texts on both people’s part:

“Okay, yeah, I’m totally interested. How’s Friday, at 5:30p at Bistro 110. Let’s meet for a glass of wine?

Because chemistry only takes place in real life. 

Joe Winger: 

In reality, do most dates get set up that quickly?  It seems like there’s more delays and game-playing?

Andrea McGinty: 

From the time you first send a message to someone, if the date has not been scheduled within five days of that initial text.  There’s a 90% chance the date will never occur. 

I’ll say to my client, “We’re going to go right for it right now.”

Write a couple of cute lines that are just for that person and then be like:

“You know what? I don’t really need to text you anymore or talk to you anymore because I’m ready to meet you. I’m super interested. How’s Friday night…?”

Sometimes you’ll get back a reply, what’s the rush? 

I think to myself, what isn’t the rush here? 

What do you want to talk about? Can’t you just get dressed? 

We both live in Beverly Hills for goodness sakes. How long would it take us to get together and meet, right? We’re both in New York City.  C’mon. Let’s do this in person. 

If you’re getting those people that are drawing out the process, you either just cut bait. Just block them, goodbye, gone. 

Or you say, you know what, if you don’t reply, you’re going to end up on my waiting list. 

And you do it with a little humor, add an “LOL”  

That can work too, where people crack up and they’re like, yes, I would love to meet you Saturday. Let’s grab lunch.

Joe Winger: 

In today’s world of different levels of politically correct, cancel culture, different levels of sensitivity, regardless of whether you’re in a very conservative culture, progressive culture, etc.

How do we deal with any level of uncomfort when it comes to online dating?

Andrea McGinty: 

First of all, you’re not in the workplace dating right now. Cause that’s where a lot of that happens, right?

This is where I say “Women, you’ve got a big advantage right now because you can feel very comfortable and free reaching out to men and get over that whole thing”.

Women wait to be pursued.  There was this book that came out in the 90s: “The Rules.”

Wait to be pursued by the man and then don’t respond to him for three days. What the heck is that about? 

No. Reach out to men. 

Now for men, you’re not going to send stupid messages like, “Oh, you’re so gorgeous and sexy and blah, blah, blah”

Nobody wants that message. 

You would find that offensive too.

As far as men reaching out to women, just do it in good taste.

Women are there to meet men.  Creepy doesn’t happen very much online anymore. We’re out of that 2000 – 2010 era where more of that stuff happened. 

There’s so many more hoops. Both parties jump through [hoops] on top notch dating sites now and dating apps now that verify that you are who you say you are and verify some information about you.

Joe Winger: 

Most of the people watching this, they’re into food. That means fine dining. They’re into wine and cocktails and collecting wine. 

What kind of a goal can they look for if they come to 33000Dates.com?

When they approach and connect with you, what should they be thinking about and preparing so they know how to best represent themselves in that first conversation with you?

Andrea McGinty: 

Just be real with me and, people that are foodies and wine collectors, there’s a lot of us out there. There’s a lot of people out there that will find that very attractive. 

There’s a lot of people that like to try different wine bars, they like to go up to Napa.  Maybe that’s your third or fourth or eighth date, 

Be real with what your interests are and… talking about food. 

This goes back to when I’m writing your profile, when people just say, “Oh, I like Italian food.” I’m like no.  Give me something here. 

“I like carbonara with peppers and from Trattoria is amazing.”

It doesn’t have to be written in a snobby or snooty way, but it’s just like fun. Like you’re describing what you like to eat or your favorite foods or it could be talking about, you like this vintage of wine.

Be very specific with me because that’s how I can help you the most and be really upfront no, no PC woke stuff with me because this is your personal life.

Joe Winger

What are some realistic goals for your online dating experience?

Andrea McGinty: 

We’ve got to make sure that we’re not listening to all the noise out there. We’re not listening to our negative friends about dating and friends and family can be two really negative forces because you get one of one of two things. 

If it’s family, maybe a lot of them are married and they’re like, Oh, you’re good looking. You’re so awesome. You don’t need to do online dating. That is like for losers. 

That is so not the story anymore. 

You’ve got friends that are like, “Oh, I just tried Bumble. It was horrible”. “I did hinge. It was horrible.”

A lot of dating is going in with a good attitude. I’m not talking about rainbows and unicorns; and everything’s perfect or anything like that.

We spend a lot of our 20s and 30s becoming successful and working on our careers.

By the time we’re 40s, even 50s we’re there career-wise. So now, it’s time to focus on our love life. 

That could be two very different pictures: it could be a second act because you’re divorced. 

Or it could be you’ve been single and just all your efforts have been going into career and friends and travel and all this other stuff, good stuff you’ve got going on.

But you wake up one day and you’re like:

“Hey, I’m 45 and I’m single. What’s up with this?”

Go into online dating, approaching it the way you did your career.  Strategically.  It’s no fun to think about your love life, like strategically, hire somebody, think about how you play golf.

You didn’t just go out on the golf course. You took a bunch of lessons.

Everybody’s playing pickleball now.  But you didn’t just go out on the court, even if you played tennis before. You took a couple clinics, right? 

That very quickly threw you into the intermediate range all of a sudden because you put some effort into it. 

Same with dating.

But if you want to do it effectively and pretty effortlessly, just like you did with golf, hire the pro to do this stuff for you.

My typical male client tells me I take 80% of the workload off him because he doesn’t have to think about it anymore.

I’m coming up and presenting ideas to him, presenting women to him and just getting them through. All of the hoops and the messaging and all that stuff. Getting them to the good dates because they’re out there.

There’s some markets, like Los Angeles and New York, that can be big complainers about dating. I think because they’re trying to do it on their own. 

When I get online and go on the good sites in those two markets, there are so many good people on there.

It’s just a matter of having somebody doing a good portion of the work and pushing you. 

And oh, here’s the other thing, accountability. 

When you’re working with me, you have accountability because you’re going to talk to me next week. And I’m going to say:

 “Okay, Tell me what happened to you last week.”

“How’d that date go?” 

“Did you call back that other one that we talked about?“

I did text her after the date you said you were going to, what happened? 

So that little push along the way and keeping you on track too.

Because we’re in a culture where, we’re educated, we’re taking great trips, we’re dining out.  We’ve got a nice group of friends that we love to hang out with. 

It can be really easy to sweep this all, to the wayside. There’s no reason because there’s a loneliness epidemic in the U.S. and we all know if you’re with somebody, that you really enjoy hanging out with you’re going to live longer and you’re gonna live happier too.

Right.

Joe Winger: 

You’re offering great dating tips.  Thank you. 

Let’s say you’re someone who’s done the work on your protile,  messaged all those people, asked for a date, and they’ve all disappeared.

What’s that person doing wrong?

Andrea McGinty: 

You kinda gotta take responsibility for it. You’re doing something wrong. 

Here’s the deal. You don’t know what you’re doing wrong.  

But that’s stuff I can fix.

That’s another thing. You have to stay away from those free sites or sites that have free people on it because there’s no skin in the game there. They’re just dilly-dallying around, playing around on there and not really serious. 

Part of it is recognizing the statistics that you’re going into up-front that for every 5 texts you send, 1 person is going to respond back.

I give my clients homework on a weekly basis, two sessions. That’s all I ask of them. 

During those two 30 hour sessions they have to send out 8 messages.  So I know by the time I’ve talked to them, they’re going to at least have gotten back 3 responses.

If their photos are really good, they might have 8 responses back. 

If they haven’t already booked the date, craft the email, craft the text, craft the message that’s going to get that date in person. And get us there. Get us there.

Joe Winger: 

Andrea McGinty from 33000Dates.com dating expert. 

Any requests from the audience watching and listening?

Andrea McGinty: 

I would just say, take a look around my site, maybe take the dating quiz that I have on the site. It’s fun. And it’s really fast. It’s 10 questions, and it goes right to me. It doesn’t go to any of my people. And. I can rate you and what you’re doing and tell you whether or not I can help you too.

So if you do take that quiz, give me as much info as you can. I don’t mean personal info, but like where you live, your age, but that’s all going to be on there. But take that quiz because that’s a good way to contact me and see if we might be a good fit and maybe I can help you if you really want to meet somebody.

Philly Needs to Wake Up To Better Coffee, They Traveled the world to find it, Dr Christina Rahm from Rahm Roast Coffee

Philly Needs to Wake Up To Better Coffee, They Traveled the world to find it, Dr Christina Rahm from Rahm Roast Coffee

Today we’re talking coffee!  The rich and delightful taste of Rahm Roast, crafted from carefully selected coffee beans straight from Guatemala.

Dr. Christina Rahm is a scientist, supermom, devoted partner, and the ultimate coffee aficionado! 

With a passion for detoxing and a mission to uplift lives, she’s not just about the lab coat life; she’s out there exploring the globe in pursuit of both science and the perfect cup of joe.

Today’s conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  For the full, un-edited conversation, visit FlavRReport’s YouTube channel here

Joe Winger: 

So what I love the most is your introduction, Dr. Christina Rahm, “Mother. wife, scientist and coffee lover.”

Dr. Christina Rahm: 

Thank you. Yeah I always start with mother. Now my kids are older. I’m like, am I supposed to say mother to adult children? They were such an integral part of my life. And hey, that was the reason I started drinking coffee. Just to be honest, I had to stay awake to take care of them.

Joe Winger: 

Do you remember what first inspired you to get interested in coffee?

Dr. Christina Rahm:

Motherhood, basically.. 

I grew up in a home where everybody loved coffee but me. I remember when I had my 1st child, and I was thinking, how do all these mothers stay awake? 

I worked back then too. It was a lot, working and taking care [of my first baby].

I was delusional because I thought I’m going to have my son, and I thought, I’ll go back to work on Monday. Cause you don’t know. I remember that Monday getting up and calling my mom and saying, “This is not doable.  What am I going to do?”

I had a job where they let me take him to work, but still it was a lot. And my mom was like, you’re going to have to drink coffee. 

So I started drinking coffee. 

My parents loved it growing up. They would offer us coffee with cream and sugar when we were little.

I grew up on a farm and  they would offer it and I’d be like, no, I don’t like it. I was the only one in my family that didn’t like it, but I learned to love it after I had a child. 

Then I three more [kids]. But I love the taste of it. 

Also, as a scientist, I had a pituitary tumor and different types of cancer.

When I started researching, you can’t ever claim that a natural substance cures anything, but I did notice there were certain types of coffee and coffee beans that caused cancer cell death, apoptosis. 

So it was one of the things that I added to my regimen. 

What happened was, the cancer metastasized and I was trying to eat everything from spirulina to coffee to resveratrol.

I did give up alcohol for a while. 

Then someone said one glass of alcohol is good because of the resveratrol. 

So I  added wine back in [to my diet].

But like I learned to love [coffee].   The more I researched it, the more I understood that it had mold and mitotoxins and it had all kinds of things.

Even though the pure bean could help from a physical perspective and from a healthcare perspective because of the pesticides and GMOs in the land, air and water that we have. 

I hate bringing up the topic because people [think] the environment’s not that bad. 

The problem is, regardless of your political stance, our environment is not healthy like it used to, because we’ve had so much pollution/

Nuclear war and when a nuclear war happens, it does not leave the stratosphere. 

It disseminates across our world. 

So a our things – plants and herbs and roots and seeds – you have to be very careful where you get it. 

Most of my career I focused a lot on detoxification and really helping clean out the environment.

Things I’ve worked on… You can go to the store and buy coffee or buy vitamins and they can have heavy metals, lead, mercury, horrible things in it. 

I don’t want to scare people.

Instead, I’ve worked on creating some things that hopefully will help people feel, look, and be better because we just all need to be as great as we can be. 

There’s no easy, one pill solution, right? 

Coffee was definitely something for me.  

People drink [it] every day, and if they’re going to drink it, I’m hoping they drink something that’s, free of mitotoxins, that has a good pH level, that is fair trade.

I had a whole list of things that were so important to me.

When Rahm Roast launched I was very happy because we ended up getting a 91% cup score. We worked really hard for that. Only 1% of the coffee in the world has a score that high.

But I think what was more important than a score, what’s that going to do for you? 

What really matters to me is that the coffee did not have toxins and the coffee did not have heavy metals and it hadn’t been exposed to GMOs or pesticides.

If my name was going to be on it it better be something that’s really helping people and making their life better. That was important to me.

Joe Winger: 

Two words you said a second ago, let’s connect them: coffee and detoxification.

What does that process look like for Rahm Roast?

Dr. Christina Rahm: 

I went all over, even to Ethiopia because [they] have great coffee.

I would meet with different coffee plantations and different owners trying to find a really good place. We ended up being able to find a place in Guatemala that was on top of a mountain, which had never been exposed to GMOs and pesticides.

The water’s clean, the air’s clean. 

It was a very isolated place.  We decided we wanted to partner with a business that was small.  All they cared about was making something that was just really unique and special.  [Unlike most other businesses] they were not worried about mass production.

They’re worried about making sure that it tastes good, which taste was important to us. 

But the biggest issue was let’s make sure that everything is fair trade, the organic, the vegan, we wanted everything. I wanted to be sustainable. 

For me, sustainable is not enough. 

We need to remediate things because you can to be sustainable. It’s not completely accurate, right? 

I have a lot of patents based on remediation of things and making sure that you’re not just detoxing, but you’re helping the plants and you’re helping everything grow.

Because we should have this much top soil [gestures to 6 inches] and now we have this much top soil [gestures to 2 inches] and there’s not enough nutrients in it that help the plants and the roots and the seeds.  They’re just not the same. 

We explored all of that and came up with a process to clean the beans and detox the beans of any kind of monotoxins, mold, fungus, bacteria, viruses, anything surrounding it. 

I developed that in 2015. I started by basically writing a series of patents that had to do with getting rid of nuclear waste.

The regeneration of land, air and water and the human body and also the reversal of aging.

What I’ve learned as a scientist and as a human being is to admit failure every day, and then to admit that I’m going to try to be better every day. 

And that’s what happened with the coffee. 

It was a one step process that involved a four day process to make the cleaning and it’s made from basically a zeolite silica trace mineral vitamin mixture which goes in and cleans the beans.  

I think that’s the reason our cup score is so high because the PH level basically getting rid of all those minor toxins, all the things, the beans that are harmful or could be harmful creates a ph level that is very conducive to our body.

I don’t know if you know this, but our Earth is composed of silica and water, right?

As humans, we are too. 

So when you put something in your body, you want to make it compatible bioavailable to the body. And I would say that’s another proprietary thing that I do. And I work on things I’m working on. 

Understanding the DNA of a coffee bean, and understanding our DNA and then understanding how they would work copacetically together.

Another thing that was really close to me that I actually have not talked about in any interview is the fact that. With coffee and coffee enemas and different things that people have, there’s like a 70 percent increase right now in colon cancer. It’s horrible. And I would credit that to the environment and to all the things we’re being exposed to.

And even vegans are getting colon cancer. Even younger people. You can look it up. 

It was in the New York Post, everything else. So I wanted a coffee that a doctor decided functional med doctors or doctors in other countries wanted to help with this area that could use it as a colon cleanse as well.

Again, I have not talked about that anywhere, but for me, it was essential because as a person that’s had so many different types of cancer, I want to put things in my body that will help my body. 

What’s interesting about what I do for a living now, I used to work in pharmaceutical and biotech and we could say.

We don’t cure bronchitis, but here’s zithromax to help with bronchitis and it does right from my perspective. 

Giving people things that make their body, make them achieve the greatest thing they can, that, which is to be their best self, it’s so important.

And if those things that we give them can also improve the cellular health of their body by making the healthy cells healthier and making the cancerous or the sick cells not even wanna be there, then that is a goal. 

There’s been all kinds of studies, there’s all kinds of information which shows that could be possible.

But again, the problem is in theory, yes, that can help people in different areas of health. 

But in reality, I don’t feel like it has because I think the coffee beans and coffee has been exposed to so many things in our environment that then sometimes we’re putting more toxins into our body. 

So that was really a major focus for me when I worked on the coffee.

We drink coffee every day and we deserve to have really good coffee. 

I’m not saying,me making spaghetti and saying my spaghetti is the “best spaghetti in the world.”

I will tell you that I’ve traveled to 89 countries and I’ve studied this for years and this has been a topic of mine since I was in my twenties, that has been important to me. 

Then my oldest son, my Mom used to give him the coffee with the sugar and the cream and he would just keep drinking it.

And I would get in an argument with my Mom about why are you giving my Son coffee now? 

He’s bouncing off the walls. He just loves it. 

So he put fire under my feet on it. I was like, I’m too busy working on all these other projects. 

He was like, “Mom, you have to make good coffee.”

Because some people drink four or five glasses a day. So it needs to be healthy for you. 

It’s just like water. If you’re going to drink water, you want to drink healthy water; and water is part of the process when I make the coffee too.  It’s a specific type of water that helps clean the beans. 

It’s interesting. I tried to do it in the United States. I could not find a master coffee maker that could do what I wanted.

I found one in Cyprus [Greece]. 

So I was in Cyprus introduced to an award winning coffee grinder coffee maker.

He’s won awards all over, [ he] understood my process, understood how to do it. 

Then after you tasted it, after it went through the process, he was like, this is amazing. This is the best coffee ever. And again, it makes sense.

Like when we’re healthy, we look better, right? 

When coffee beans are healthier, they taste better. They’re better. 

It’s just simple and I love it. 

I think it’s magical how science works and how all of our DNA is connected. We’re connected to a leaf on a tree. We’re also connected and able to bring coffee to the world that’s going to help people.

I think it is probably one of the things I’ve enjoyed the most in the last three to four years of my life.

Joe Winger: 

That’s beautiful.  Obviously you have a huge scientific background.  Our audience is into the flavor. Food, spirits, wine, coffee based on flavor. 

I’m sure you can understand how science can intimidate so many of us.

Is there a very simplified way of explaining what makes Rahm Roast good for the body, good for the planet? 

Dr. Christina Rahm: 

It’s like going to an organic farm up in the mountains where everything’s perfect and tasting a bite of a watermelon and it just tastes so great. 

Or of strawberries. 

When you go to these places on these islands that have never been exposed to GMOs and pesticides.

And you’re like, why does this taste better? 

Sometimes in the United States, you’ll buy a rose for someone and it doesn’t even smell like a rose, but then you’ll go to a tropical island where they don’t use GMOs or pesticides and it smells so beautiful.

This is the most beautiful rose. It smells so amazing. 

The coffee was made and sourced from a single source in a place that was the perfect environment that we could find. We looked everywhere. 

Then the process. That was made basically cleaning it until it was beautiful and perfect. It’s like you brush your teeth, you take a bath, you look better.

If you don’t shave or brush your teeth or take a bath for two years, then you may not look the same as you look today. 

This coffee has been cleaned in a very holistic way, organic way using only natural.

It tastes amazing. It tastes almost like chocolate.

It’s very smooth.

Using zeolites [like they] used to line the ducts of the Aztec and Incas and Mayas and the pyramids. It’s documented throughout history and all I did was take a process and make sure it was cleaning so that it would look beautiful.

I think it’s simple.

I sourced it from the most amazing place that had not been exposed to pesticides and GMOs, that was fair trade, that everything was a sole source farmer.

We knew everything about the history.  I want your audience to also know this. 

It’s not just the beans and the plants.  

It’s the parent plants and the genetics behind it. 

When you see race horses. They breed, right? You pay a lot of money if you have a winner from the Kentucky Derby.  Because it’s genetics. 

There’s a genetic component and there’s always this debate about genetics and the environment.

Which one’s better? 

And so to me, both are important. 

So I looked at the genetics of the plants and the seeds

I made sure the environment was a really good environment to raise a healthy environment to raise these amazing coffee beans. And then we just cleaned them and made them even more beautiful so that everyone could taste how amazing they are.

Scientists made GMOs to try to make plants bigger, better, right? That failed. 

So as a scientist I went back to school, I went to Harvard and studied nanobiotechnology for a very different reason than most people think. 

I studied to see how we could reverse it.

Things naturally from things that we’ve put into our world that weren’t natural, that have hurt us. 

Joe Winger: 

Incredibly inspirational.

From a corporate point of view, can you talk a little bit about what inspired you to pursue the social responsibility of the company?

Dr. Christina Rahm: 

In my career, I worked for the government. I’ve worked for a lot of the top pharmaceutical and biotech companies. 

I would say I failed at that in many ways.

Our economy depends on spending a lot of money on health care.

It was a hard time for me, but I never gave up. 

From my perspective. Since I had cancer, since I had Lyme’s disease, since I had a child that had cancer, I’ve devoted my life to trying to do the right thing.  I have an opportunity to be alive for a reason.

It was a blessing, even though I didn’t feel like it was a blessing when I was diagnosed. I have a warrior strength of fighting anything.

We’ve just got to be better humans, right? 

My goal is to make every person have the longest, best life possible.

That means mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. And as a scientist, I feel like it’s on my shoulders and my responsibility to tell the truth and to do it in a positive way instead of being a whistleblower blowing things up. 

I want to offer these things that can help people.

About 8-9 years ago, I started really stepping up and talking about social issues, working on female empowerment. I just always try to talk about how we can empower.

When you have gifts, if you have influence, if you have money, if you have power, your job is to protect those weaker than you or that need help.

And somehow we’ve lost that in our move for success.

We think we don’t we forget about that. But for me, that’s my motive to make social change is to it’s my responsibility to be a good human. I’m going to die someday. And I’m going to have to answer for everything I’ve done on this earth.

So I have to try every day to be better. 

The coffee was something that was for a social change that I think we need to be aware of without scaring everyone. 

And so that has led me to move past that. To run companies. I have 22 companies actually under DRC ventures and a lot of people don’t know that. So there’s 22 companies that I’m actually in charge of right now, trying to make some good social changes in the world.

Joe Winger: 

For our audience who wants to learn more about your and Rahm Roast Coffee, what are the best ways? 

Dr. Christina Rahm: 

DrChristinaRahm.com is my website.

I’m on social media at Instagram, LinkedIn

The root brand sells Rahm Roast at RahmRoast website.  We also donate from every bag of coffee to philanthropy as well. 

Philly’s Search for Love and Healing: The Orchid Book Conversation with co-authors Rocio Aquino, Angel Orengo

Finding Your Power through healing: The Orchid Book Conversation with co-authors Rocio Aquino, Angel Orengo

Rocio Aquino and Angel Orengo, co-authors of “The Orchid” are, as their website shares partners in life and spirit, wanderers who found home in each other’s hearts.

Their journey together has been filled with a myriad of cultures, beliefs, and encounters with both the ordinary and extraordinary. 

The Orchid: The Secret Code of Modern Goddesses

The Orchid: The Secret Code of Modern Goddesses

The Orchid: The Secret Code of Modern Goddesses

The story focuses on five of these women, each wrestling with unique life challenges such as closeted sexuality, career pressures, spousal abandonment, sexual abuse, eating disorders, and manipulative behavior. 

As they engage with the program’s curriculum, they peel away layers of self-deception, pain, and societal conditioning, discovering that the love and solutions they seek already reside within them. 

The Orchid serves as both the setting and the metaphor for their collective journey toward self-realization and empowerment.

Today’s conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  For the full, un-edited conversation, visit FlavRReport’s YouTube channel here. 

Joe Winger:

We’re talking about The Orchid, The Secret Code of Modern Goddesses. 

I go to a lot of book events, and a few weeks ago in Los Angeles, I went to The Orchid’s book signing. What I was amazed by was there was so much emotion in the audience.  Big smiles, happy tears. 

What are we missing in our lives that your book, The Orchid, helps us recognize? 

Rocio Acquino: 

How beautiful [of a] question. I think, to be honest, that we are perfect already. And we forgot.

Angel Orengo: 

Yeah, I think we forget that at the core life doesn’t need to be that difficult. It’s not that complicated that we allow ourselves to be complicated by the things around us, by the things that we’re told, by the way we think our lives need to be, by the number of houses, clothing, shoes – everything right that we need to have.

The moment you bring it down to the basics and you’re like, yeah, life should be simple. We are okay. We’re just learning here. We’re back. We’re like in a school and the teacher wasn’t angry because we got it wrong. On the contrary,  it was just like, Oh, don’t worry. I’ll teach you.

Joe Winger: 

So what I’m interpreting is, people are having these emotional realizations because they’re remembering your message that they’re perfect already?

What do you think it is about that audience interaction that your book is giving?

Rocio Acquino: 

I was in the front, so I was not as intimate like you and your perspective. But what resonates with me and what I see that can resonate for someone else is that they know and they understand that they are not alone on this journey.

The struggles they are feeling are real. They feel the difficulty. Everyone at some point is [feeling] who here has a difficult path? Everyone is like me. That connection is not superficial, but it’s more in a deep way when you are in a group setting after being so disconnected really to talk about the important things that matters in life has another connection.

Angel Orengo: 

We’ve gotten large amounts of feedback by now.  Some people are touched by the fact that someone has written a book selflessly to help them. I know there were people that were touched very much by that.  

I think you understand what that means really, it was all about how do we help the reader get to a different place, right?

Go from point A to point B, right? There are people that for the first time find themselves in an environment where they can treat themselves with some kindness, where maybe they haven’t stopped to think about that before.  Because we try to block it.  

It’s easier to numb pain than to experience it and let it go.

Other people are [having the realization that] it’s not that complicated.  I’m just so happy that I found this now. I think it’s just all of that energy. 

The energy in the room that day was really powerful. When you’re in the presence of that energy and by presence, the collective – it wasn’t us.  It’s we  – emotions come to the surface, and that’s how we clear emotions, and that’s how we clear energy. 

Thank you for sharing that because I didn’t realize that was happening. 

Rocio Acquino:  

We didn’t have any idea and remember, we have two teenage daughters. They bring us back to reality really quickly at our house. 

 

Joe Winger: 

Going to the actual book itself between the characters, the descriptions, their backgrounds. 

What’s real?  What’s fiction?  And for fiction, what inspired it?

Rocio Acquino: 

Everything happened, everything is real, but never happened all together.

Angel Orengo: And not to those people.

Rocio Acquino: We know that some of the places exist and all the situations exist.

The fiction is today there is not a place that you can go for free to heal in this way. But we hope that someone will open it.  Let’s hope we can do it..

Angel Orengo: 

Yeah, the characters, the book is absolutely real.

Every single thing that happens there has either happened to us or happened to someone we know, or we’ve read it in the news. 

The story about the model and the sexual abuse that’s real, right? It’s happening in the modeling industry now where they have gone through their own “Me too” movement.

There is a scene in which “Olivia” is doing a silent walk and she has a vision of her mother near her. [to Rocio] That’s something that has happened to you, about your own mom who passed away.

There’s a scene in which “Olivia” is speaking to her father. It was a difficult relationship and her father wasn’t the best version of a father that he could have been.

That a lot of it is after my own experience with my own father, who I met three times in my life. One of which, the longest, was five hours. So we took pieces and through the help of everyone who collaborated in the book to construct these characters that brought together all these experiences.

We wanted to write the story of Rocio, who morphed into “Sophia”, and then we realized that we wanted to tell more that we needed that in order to be of service to the people who would be reading the book, we needed to tell more stories because there are so many things happening to women out there that we don’t hear about that we wanted to do justice by representing as many of them.

That’s where it all comes from.

Rocio Acquino: 

The same happened to us when we were reading, not writing the book. We were crying constantly.  At one point I put it down, we were crying [so much]. Then we did it first in English and after in Spanish and then we were crying in Spanish so was like, “Okay I’m continue to heal.”

The process for us was really intense 

Angel Orengo: 

The experience that you’re having [the audience and reader’s emotion], everyone is sharing similar things. It’s simple, but as I’m going, I find myself thinking about things that I’ve never thought about in my own life.

I need to put them down. Sometimes it takes me a little bit before I pick it up again. So it’s like peaks and valleys of intensity.

Joe Winger: 

As authors, how are you feeling now knowing that so many people are having such extreme feelings and discoveries from your pages?

Rocio Acquino: 

You never know how your work is going to be received, to be honest. 

Even though we have a very strict culture of not judging anyone, being totally neutral, we are going to make suggestions.

Now that people are seeing the book, it’s a pleasure, it is humbling. 

Angel Orengo: 

There was intentionality in what we were writing. The book came after our first year of deep introspection into who we were and how we wanted to change our lives. [We studied] a lot of self help books. At the time that we started writing, it was about how do we share this with people who normally don’t have access to information

Also for people who don’t have resources to go and spend time in a retreat for a weekend or spend $5,000 or even $500. [We thought] we should do television because this is our background. But let’s own the intellectual property, the story behind it.

[We thought] we should do television [series], but let’s own the story behind it.

So when we sit down with the people who are going to help us craft the TV show, we have a say in how it’s made. Right now what ends up happening is that people don’t think that love is powerful enough to deal with the issues that you have around you. 

We think that we have to combat anger with anger or force. That’s what we’ve been raised to believe. We’ve gotten to a point where love really does conquer all, but not in the way in which we were taught. 

So when we approached a book, it was, “Let’s do it with a lot of love,” we said, and if we can help one person, it’ll have been worth it.

Everyone who we are connecting with is having similar reactions so it’s humbling.  We’re filled with gratitude beyond belief that we were chosen, selected, inspired to write what we wrote and to put it forth. 

Not just write it, but really now be the face of it and take it to as many places as we can.

Rocio Acquino: 

That’s the main point.  When someone says “Thank you”, because now that means I can continue to share with more people.  If more people feel better about themself, that is incredible. That’s our main point to invite everyone to our party.

If more people feel better about themself, that is incredible. 

And the part is really, if you are feeling better about yourself? Great! So it’s about that.

Joe Winger: 

During your book event introduction, you mentioned one of your goals is to bring The Orchid to real life.  Where are we today with that goal? How can the audience help you? 

Angel Orengo: 

Everything in your life begins with an intention.  Waking up in the morning, getting off your bed, right? 

Everything is intention after intention. The first and most important thing that we want is for people to truly enjoy the book because through the enjoyment of the book, there is a transformation that’s taking place.

We now understand that the way to change the world, and even though this is not the ultimate intention is the indirect intention, we can make this place a better place to be for all of us. 

It begins by me feeling better about myself, and you feeling better about yourself. And it begins by all of the things that we create.

All these things these women are experiencing in The Orchid. 

To your question, the first thing is for people – and it’s happening already – to say, wouldn’t it be awesome if this place really did exist and these transformations were taking place.  If one person says it, it’s a big deal.

If a million people begin to think that way, or a billion people begin to think that way. Wow. It is about the power of what we have to manifest. 

In terms of The Orchid as a retreat center, I think there are versions of it throughout the world already.  There are many places that exist. I think those places will be inspired when they read our book to go to a different level. We can do more to expand the way we’re doing this. 

There are podcasts down the line. There are television shows that we’ve mentioned. There’s a digital community that we would like to work on and develop.  There is a nonprofit because there are going to be issues that will require that approach.

We’re going to continue building this community that ultimately is going to want to continue conversations as to how I deal with this.

Even though we attempted to do a very complete seven day experience at this retreat center, the truth is that the experiences can vary greatly.

There’s so much more out there.

We only depicted a number of healers. The number of healers and healing modalities out there are endless. I believe it will happen. 

We have had initial conversations with certain people about it, but I would say it’s in early stages.

I would much rather encourage everybody who is already well advanced into a retreat center to look at themselves and see if there’s anything that can be learned from ours and create their own orchid so that we can help more people around the world.

Rocio Acquino: 

Yes. Take the lessons, what you learn and it really is, “How I can begin to have a conversation with someone.”

Joe Winger: 

As authors, can you talk a bit about what your writing process was like? What was the timeline going from idea to finished, published book?

Angel Orengo: 

We began our process for the book at the end of 2021.  So it took us about two and a half years. 

We’ve come across a lot of people who say, ”Wow, that’s fantastic.” It took them nine years or 10 years and so on.

We were doing this 24 hours a day for two and a half years. 

We relinquished everything else that we were doing and we dedicated ourselves to our growth, our personal growth and introspection, which in itself was the core of what’s at the book and to crafting putting on paper as many of the thoughts and ideas that we had.

The first step was Rocio and I basically went back and forth.  We started thinking about which things worked. At first she was the guinea pig. She was experiencing things, a lot of healing practices. 

Rocio Acquino: 

It’s a process. Experiencing different things, and at the beginning you don’t have it very clear, but you begin, “Okay, this was my story.”

The main thing was to teach the lessons in a very original way.  When you are relaxed, when you are in your house watching TV or reading. 

You begin to question, is this serving me or not?  The process of putting our learnings on paper.

Everyone is a creator.  We can create and create.  

No one is going to have our perspective. Angel was very clear [about] what he likes in life and has never spoken bad about anyone.

In my mind, I was not like that. I was speaking bad about people. But then I learned the power that [kind of speaking] represents and now I don’t want to do it.

But it’s those lessons that you begin to learn [from]. I grew up with that different paradigm, and now that I know another one, I prefer the new one.

Because it gives me more freedom, creativity, and everything.

We put everything in place. We worked hard to make this happen because our motivation was to do a book for [the younger version of] me 32 years ago when I tried to kill myself and I didn’t have the tools and I didn’t have anything.

So this is a book that I wish my mom had before she passed away 32 years ago. 

The motivation was really to spread that another way of thinking was available. So we were in a hurry, like this needs to be available for those Rocio’s, for those Pepitas who were out there, who are out there and need to have something that they can grab quick, and they can begin to see a change.

Angel Orengo: 

I would add, the process of writing the book was truly experiential. It wasn’t just spitting it out, we were living certain things. 

There were times we stopped the book to have an exercise of releasing energy. 

What we realized as we were writing, there were things inside of us that needed to be addressed.

Whether it was an experience that happened when you were a child…

I can’t tell you the times where we were crying, deeply moved by what we were writing and reading and how that was cleaning us inside and how that was changing us. 

We went through different hurdles. 

For example, we realized at an early stage that the book could not be judgmental about anything. if we were going to connect with readers, right?

We had no idea that we needed to ensure that the people at the Orchid, Mary and her staff. [They] never looked at anybody and said, “Oh, I’m so sorry.”  It’s more, “We know we’ve been there. You too can heal from that.”

And so all of those things emerged as we were writing.

There was intentionality and some clear ideas as to how we wanted to proceed.  The truth is that we were experiencing and adjusting as we went.

Rocio Acquino: 

With a lot of respect.

Angel Orengo: 

With a lot of respect for each other, the people we were collaborating with, and the reader.

Joe Winger: 

The book is called The Orchid: the Secret Code of Modern Goddesses. 

The color scheme, it’s primarily female names, from a traditional or direct point of view, it’s geared more toward a female audience. 

As the authors, trying to get a guy in a woman’s life to read it. What would you encourage them to say to get a guy to read it?

Rocio Acquino: 

#1, I’ve been a woman and reading many books about guys, written by guys and I love it. 

So maybe it’s time for a guy to be open minded. I can do this and I can read a book about women.

#2, it’s incredible to go in the deepest way of thinking of women. So try to understand how they work and what they are thinking. This is a fantastic opportunity. It has so many good sides because you want to have a better understanding of your mom, of your sister, your girlfriend, your wife, your daughters.

Then you’ll have a better way of how women relate to each other, but how do they relate to themselves, and how you can be an ally in their process. 

Angel Orengo: 

Recently I was writing a brief article for a fraternity that I belong to and I was very active when I was in college.

Essentially the article is to inspire them to read this book. The issues that we talk about, whether it’s sexuality,  limiting beliefs, the power of forgiveness, the power of gratitude or any of the other issues that the women who are there are speaking of, they’re universal.

They’re not gender based, right? 

So any opportunity that you have or that you give yourself to relate to those issues, it’s an opportunity to grow. 

I think for men for far too long, we’ve defined masculinity as “the absence of emotion” or perhaps the “existence of physical strength.”

More and more we’re finding out about emotional intelligence, right? 

That emotions in general and our ability to share them to be vulnerable is powerful and can only enhance the people that we are. 

I would say be open minded. The issues are truly for everybody. You can learn a thing or two, not just about yourself, but about the women in your life.

It’s and it could be really powerful. Plus let’s face it, the better we communicate with one another, the better we relate to one another across genders the better our community is going to be, and we need more community in the world. 

I think if anything has shown us, and this is true at any time, right?

Every person you speak to, we’re all longing for community. We need connection. We need to connect more with each other.

Rocio Acquino: 

Deep connection, not superficial.

Joe Winger: 

The book is called The Orchid, The Secret Code of Modern Goddesses.

Wrapping up, for people out there who want to buy the book after hearing about it, Whether it’s websites, social media, how can we follow you? How can we buy the book? 

Rocio Acquino:

There are so many ways right now.  We have a website:  TheOrchidBook.com

You can find the book in English and Spanish.You can buy it on Amazon, and Barnes and Noble, Apple, and we have the audiobook too. 

And the exercise, if you want to do a book club with your friends, you can do some exercise that are on the website. 

Instagram, Facebook YouTube, TikTok.  All @TheOrchidBook_

 

Philly Celebrates with Perfect Passover Wines for 2024, Revealed by Kosher Wine Expert

Philly Celebrates with Perfect Passover Wines for 2024, Revealed by Kosher Wine Expert for Passover 2024

Passover starts Monday April 22 at sundown and ends April 30th. But today’s conversation is about the flavors of Seder dinner.  

Jay Buchsbaum

Royal Wine and Kosher.com’s Jay Buchsbaum visits to talk about flavor, tradition, tastes for every family member and what’s exciting in the wine world for 2024.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  For the full, unedited conversation, visit our FlavRReport YouTube channel.

 

Joe Winger: Jay, welcome back.  I appreciate that you’re returning.  Last time was great and we learned alot.

Jay Buchsbaum: Thank you for having me. Wow. This is great. So getting invited back for a second date, that’s really cool.

Joe Winger: Passover is just around the corner and we want to talk about different over wines to enjoy during the celebration and some great wine pairings.

I wanted to start off with what might be one of the popular new bottles – Carmel Black Cabernet Sauvignon.

Jay Buchsbaum:  It’s very hot and the reason it’s very hot is because people want something that’s rich and flavorful, especially the American palate, what we call the New World style.  

Opulence, fruit forward, but they don’t want to spend a fortune like you’d have to from some fancy vineyard in Napa or from Judean Hills. When it comes to Israel or the Golan Heights, and this is one of those wines where they’ve put together this at the beginning of opulence, lots of fruit forwardness, 14 months in oak and about $25.

So it’s really one of those really wonderful wines. What I noticed, and they say they forgot to do it, but I noticed that it does not have an appellation specific, except for Israel.  The reason I believe the winemaker did that –  I don’t know for sure – he talks about it on the back [of the bottle] that they brought the grapes from some of the finest vineyards.  He chose small amounts [of grapes] from the best vineyards from different places and put them all together, carefully crafting it so that it’s big and rich and flavorful and still under $30 bucks.

Joe Winger: That sounds amazing. What are some good food pairings that you’d recommend with it?

Jay Buchsbaum: A roast would be great. On the first and second night of Passover, we don’t officially roast anything because we don’t want people to think that it was a sacrificial lamb that was done in Egypt because we don’t have it today yet.

Until the reestablishment of the temple on the Temple Mount at some future time. 

So people cook a roast in the oven, it’s not barbecued. That’s what they’re talking about from a historical, spiritual sense –  but a delicious roast, maybe chicken marsala, where you have mushrooms and caramelized onions, you have a really rich flavor to go with that.

A lot of the Sephardic foods are like that too. We talked about traditional foods. Traditional foods from where? Sometimes it’s Eastern Europe, sometimes it’s Middle Eastern, and sometimes it’s Sephardic.

Lots of seders have a mix of all [cuisines] because you have melded families.

 

Joe Winger: Royal Wine currently has a wide roster of wine suggestions for Passover  Something for every adult at the table, from Grandpa to 25 year old Grand-daughter and her boyfriend.

 

Jay Buchsbaum: That’s a great point.  I’m going to give you the last one first only because I thought this was so much fun when I thought about it and I actually might do it. 

Let’s say the boyfriend is coming over. He wants to bring you something and he doesn’t know what to get you because, he’s not that observant..

So I thought, why don’t you end the meal with something Sparkling. The Momentous Rosé. That might be fun. You go out with a pop, so to speak. There’s Vera Wang’s  Prosecco Rose that’s also wonderful.   Both around $20.

But if you want to go really high end, why not go with the Rothschild Brut Rosé from Champagne, which is magnificent.  It’s 100% Pinot Noir, and about $100 a bottle.

So you have great diversity and  accessible and quite delicious sparkling wines.

Grandpa, or if you have a real fine wine guy. You have beautiful wines from the Rothschild vineyards, the Haute Medoc. which is in the upper $30s, and then you even have Grand Cru’s LesCombes, Grand Cru Margaux as an example, and some amazing wines from the Herzog Winery in California like the Alexander Valley Herzog Reserve, or the Napa Valley Herzog Reserve.  

We have a beautiful Lake County Reserve Cabernet from California. Big, opulent, delicious, mouth filling. 

I start my Seder usually with a rosé.  The reason for that is because you’re starting your Seder, having eaten nothing pretty much since the morning. So you’re on an empty stomach and the tradition is to finish at least the first glass. So I try to start with a rosé.  It’s a little lighter, a little lower in alcohol, a little lighter in texture and, and I like to start with an Israeli wine first.

Joe Winger: Iis there a hidden gem as far as just high quality with amazing value?

Jay Buchsbaum: There’s a really wonderful wine from New Zealand.

It’s a white wine, not a red wine. It’s made by the Rothschild family, but it’s made in New Zealand, called Rimapere Sauvignon Blanc. Less than $30 for sure.  Fresh, sweet lemons, but with enough acidity and structure, almost like a palette cleanser.

Joe Winger:  Anything that you’re looking forward to in the next few  months that wine lovers should be getting excited for?

Jay Buchsbaum: We were missing rosés from Israel for a whole year because of the sabbatical year. We skipped that vintage of roses, and so they’re back for the first time in 24 months for this Passover.

I love some of the new Italian wines. One of them to take a look at is Cantina Giuliano.  it’s a boutique winery. They make 3,000 – 4,000 cases maximum. It’s run by a young couple and I just had them over at my house for Sabbath Shabbat.  His wines blew people away.

I think the most exciting thing is our new winemaker and what our new winemakers is doing with our grapes. His selection and his final product over at the Herzog Wine Cellars. And that could be

Our new winemaker, his name is David Galzignato. He’s with us about three years and he has a background that is with some of the finest and smallest, medium sized boutiques. 

He was going to be moving to France, going to go for his MW [masters of wine] and they asked him if he’d come and consider working with us and he did. He has been making literally blow your brains out wonderful wines so our Napa Cabernet, our Alexander Valley Cabernet are just up and down the line, the wines, especially the reds are just rich and opulent.

He got Joseph Herzog to buy a visual sorter, they range in cost between a $100,000 – 1 million dollar machine.

What they do is when the grapes come in [during harvest] and there’s something called sorting tables.

Done by hand [vineyard workers literally sorting through the harvested grape bunches, looking for]  damaged or a little beat up or whatever, and they only allow the perfect grapes to go through. 

This visual sorter does this electronically by computer, so nothing is missed, zero. As a result, the grape quality is much higher

Famously said in The New Yorker Years ago, “There’s only three things that matter in good winemaking. Good grapes. Good grapes. Good grapes.”

So, the fruit that we get and the fruit that we end up making wine out of is literally the most important thing.

By using these kinds of methods, which are not inexpensive. But the quality is through the roof. We’re looking to make a 100 point wine one of these days and I think it might we might get close this year. 

Philly Cocktails! Now Madre Mezcal offers a Gateway to a Better Taste

Philly Cocktails! Now Madre Mezcal offers a Gateway to a Better Taste

Today’s conversation is with Ryan Fleming from Madre Mezcal.  The LA nightlife veteran reveals his time working behind the bar in some of Southern California’s hottest spots, as well as the inspiration that got him to travel to Mexico, discovering Mezcal. 

The aroma, flavors, science and food pairings for Mezcal.

Love Tequila?  Discover the Gateway to better taste with Madre Mezcal's Ryan Fleming

Love Tequila?  Discover the Gateway to better taste with Madre Mezcal’s Ryan Fleming

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  For the full, unedited conversation, visit our YouTube Channel.

 

“…I’ve been a big Mezcal lover before I ever sold it…”

Joe Winger:  Can you share the behind the scenes or how the brand itself was created? 

Ryan Fleming: I’ve been a big Mezcal lover before I ever even sold it or made a dollar doing that. So I got to actually meet Ron Cooper, who is the legend that started the Del Maguey label back in 2011.

I got to drink rabbit Pachuca with him and all these other amazing things. The reason I bring him up is he’s a kind of one of the people that we look up to, how to sustainably bring a brand and how to create culture that crosses boundaries in a sense. 

He has a beautiful book that I recommend anyone to read if you haven’t read Ron Cooper’s book.

But we share a similar story. One of our founding partners, Tony Farfalla and one of my good friends, Stefan Tony’s an artist and he was literally traveling through Oaxaca doing documentaries and embracing the art and culture. He happened to meet Jose Morales, which is the first family we ever worked with.

If you have original bottles of Madre [Mezcal] before the labels have changed, it used to say Jose’s name on the bottle. 

So Tony was bringing bottles back to Brooklyn in plastic water bottles and it snowballed. His friends in Brooklyn were like, this stuff’s great. Started out in plastic water bottles in 2014. I think it was 2016 when our first glass bottles actually came by and we became like of a more legit brand and company.  But it started with Tony and Stefan; and they brought on our CEO and COO, Chris and Davide.

Chris actually is one of the founding driving forces in the electronic scene in the 90s in Europe. Chris comes from a very artistic, music based background. Then he went on to work for some bigger alcohol brands in the vodka world. 

madre mezcal

Davide, who is our COO, my direct boss, who I love, is Italian and his whole family built furniture and he got his big break by importing and bringing furniture over [to the United States]. He also works with a beautiful high end apparel line. 

“…everyone has a very unique artistic background, which really reflects the brand and the label…”

So everyone has a very unique artistic background, which really reflects the brand and the label. Just not wanting to make a quick buck and actually make something we can stand behind and believe in.

As the families now blossom into four, we use three: the Vasquez family, the Blas family and the Morales family are our three main producers for our red and black label, which most people are familiar with. 

We just brought in Moises and he’s actually from Santa Catarina Minas.  That’s a little town where all they really make is their production. It’s a town known for nothing but clay pot distillation. So if you actually use a copper pot in, in Manera and Santa Caterina Minas, you’re looked at as what are you doing? That’s not what we do here. 

He’s our last and newest producer and he may be the most cowboy of them all, and he’s my favorite.

When you get to Tlaxcala, you have to walk over like a little rope bridge over like a river and stuff into the hills of Minas to see his production, and he’s got his grandfather’s old still, and he’s got his mom’s little kitchen that he wants to reopen, and it’s like a restaurant. But if you and I were to look at it, it just looks like a backyard set of tables and chairs with a cooking center.

No, this is a restaurant for the village. It’s really beautiful down in Minas. I recommend everyone, if you get a chance to go down there, it felt like the jungles in Costa Rica, cause it’s up near the hills and it’s just so green and lush up there.

 

“…I’ve been working in the alcohol industry for almost 15 years …”

Joe Winger:  What got you down there? Was it for a vacation or for Mezcal?

Ryan Fleming: 

So I’ve been working in the alcohol industry for almost 15 years and I worked for the Houston Hospitality Group for over a decade, helping run programs and menus. I worked for a couple other restaurants, but I used to work for Stillhouse Whiskey, which many people remember the terrible flavored moonshine in a gas can.

Yeah I actually sold that. I did pretty well, there was always one flavor that someone loved. I had the mint chocolate chip and I would keep it in the freezer to take care of my sweet tooth when I didn’t have ice cream. So that’s how it started.

My buddy, Stefan, who’s one of the founding partners goes, “Hey, we got this Mezcal company.”  I was just basically consulting for free lunches. 

One day he goes, do you want to go to Oaxaca? And I went, absolutely. 

I familiar with going down to Mexico city, but I’d never been as far South as Oaxaca. So I jumped at the chance.

[Meanwhile] we all got an email from Stillhouse saying “Hey, I know things are being shaken up right now, but trust me, everything’s fine. Don’t worry about it.” 

That weekend, apparently the whole team got laid off, but I didn’t get the email untll I came home Monday. They’re saying, “Ryan, are you going to be okay? Do you need help finding work?”

So I went down to Oaxaca, met the families, broke bread with Jose Morales, got to meet his mother who blessed the roast and cooked us dinner.  They offered me a job.

That was started my journey about six years ago with Madre [Mezcal ]and I’ve been with him since.

Fleming motions to tattoos on his arms and hands.

Discovering Madre Mezcal

I have it tattooed on my hand right here. I have it tattooed on my palm right here. And I think I have another one on the inside of my leg too. We do tasting events and we’ll have pop up tattoo artists all the time.

 

Tequila vs Madre Mezcal

Joe Winger: 

You mentioned the tastings and the education.  Are there quick lessons that you teach the most often?

Ryan Fleming: 

Basic production, culture, financial, environmental and economic sustainability. 

I don’t think people understand that Oaxaca is the second poorest state in Mexico.  Everyone thinks the Mezcal boom must be bringing so many jobs, but it really only affects about 20 – 40,000 people that live in Oaxaca for the production, 

Mezcal is great because it does bring some financial sustainability to the families. Jose started off driving a taxi to pay his bills and now he’s making Mezcal in his family’s tradition.  His whole family, his cousin, his uncles, they all make Mezcal for a living now.

There’s so much culture behind it. Even the old argument of did the Spanish bring over copper stills and that started distillation or does it go back to the Aztecs and Mayans? Because they found distillate and pottery from 3000 years ago. It’s those little nuances.

People really like to talk about the environmental, but giving back to the people down there by not just buying product, but giving them some ownership, which Madre does do, so that everyone has a little bit of skin in the game.

So I think Sustainability, whether it’s environmental, economical, cultural, and production. Those are the things I really like to talk about.

Joe Winger:  What is the basic difference between mezcal and tequila? Or is it more complicated?

Ryan Fleming: 

You could say production techniques, additives, mass production are probably the three biggest differences. 

Tequila can only be made with one agave. It’s a blue weber.  Mezcal can be made with the other 47-ish varietals, and that number is always fluctuating, based on classification and family genius.

Production is the big one. Tequila is made in massive factories and made with either chemicals or steam for the most part. 

Whereas mezcal is actually made by hand, roasted in an earthen oven. The biggest thing that separates Tequila and Mezcal is the 1% additive rule.

Tequila can have up to 1% by volume additives, and they don’t have to tell you. That’s why certain large brands will say 100% Agave, but it’s full of additives, because it doesn’t take much  with modern chemistry. Just a couple drops of glycerin or vanilla extract to change the flavor and hide  all the nuances.

Mezcal can’t have any additives by law. 

Joe Winger: Can we walk through the roles and responsibilities between the families that produce Madre Mezcal?

Ryan Fleming: 

Yeah, the four families. Let’s start with Jose Morales. Him and his brother both make mezcal. Now they produce for us in the US exclusively. We encourage all of our families to continue making mezcal to trade. They use it for a local economy.

Every time I go down there, [their operation is growing].  When they started, they had three stills. Now there’s 12 up and running and they have solar power.  It’s just so crazy to see how much the transformation has happened. 

The original recipe, the blend of cuishe and espadine at 90 proof, that’s his family’s recipe. So we expanded that and we brought on Carlos Blas and the Vasquez family. Unfortunately, Natalio the father passed away a couple of years ago.

His daughters are now producing in the family’s tradition and we take whatever we can from them. 

But what we do, that’s a little bit different is, we started out when it was just Jose, he was making the blend himself. Now we have them make the espadine and the cuishe separately.

All three families are part of the process. Sometimes we just get cuiche from Jose. Sometimes Carlos makes all the espadine, but Carlos is like a master blender. 

We blend a cold style like Scotch does. Even though it’s not the most traditional way, all the distillation and process is as true as it can be.

But by blending post distillation allows us to keep consistency, which was a huge problem because every batch with your wild fermentation, your wild yeast and all these beautiful nuances, it’ll be inconsistent as you grow as a brand.  It was hard for us to keep consistency.

But by blending multiple terroirs and three different families’ production, we can keep a consistent product that tastes the same as well as expanding and bringing on more families to help instead of just going to a large factory house and not making what I would call “traditional Mezcal.”

Joe Winger: So focusing on your background, you mentioned that you’ve been a bartender in the LA nightlife.  Any memorable adventures or lessons you can share?

Ryan Fleming:

There are some stories I could tell that I probably don’t want to share publicly. But there are some amazing stories I can tell.

One of the oddest experiences I’ve ever had, I worked at Good Times at Davey Wayne’s, which is one of the most famous bars in the Hollywood nightlife in the past decade. 

Paul McCartney showed up at our door. 

But because our staff is younger and our door guys are a little bit younger, they thought it was an old weird British man that just showed up and they turned Paul McCartney away from the door.

‘Holy crap, is that Paul McCartney’?

He was like, do you know who I am? The guys [were like] ”We don’t care.” Like straight up, blowing Paul McCartney off. One of our managers came out and was like, ‘Holy crap, is that Paul McCartney’? And they’re like, wait, the guy from the Beatles?! 

My manager ran out, “Please come back,” and Paul had a great time at the bar. We got him a special little area to sit down. It was a packed Saturday.  It’s not a nightclub where we have gated off [areas]. Even if you reserve a table, people are inches away from you where you’re sitting at your table. 

Justin Bieber showed up one time and everyone went nuts.  He comes in, walks around, does a loop, comes out and goes, “I thought this was a hip hop club.” and just left.

It was a 1970s themed bar and we played nothing but 70s music. 

The dichotomy between the two different generations and to see them all melt into one location was one of the coolest things about working at that bar. 

 

Joe Winger:It’s so crowded because it’s so popular.  The Houston Brothers always do such a good job.

Ryan Fleming: 

Yeah.  The cocktails are still really good too. For as much volume as we used to do there, the biggest thing is how can I make a really beautiful cocktail that’s still cost effective and doesn’t take 12 steps. We got really good at batching stuff and figuring out how to infuse things.  Luckily our back of house was just the most amazing.  Mariano is the best barback I’ve ever had in my whole life. He’s still there. 

He is just a workhorse that got all the infusions. He would cook, he would infuse all of our products and he was just great. Even if we just did a jalapeno infusion on our tequila, if it got too spicy, he could break down the ratio and water it down with more products so that we could keep the spice level approachable.

Joe Winger:

What is the secret to high quantity yet high value cocktails? 

Ryan Fleming:

Batching is definitely the way to do it. Any of your alcohols that are shelf stable, you want to put all of those in the proper ratios in a bottle.

Instead of grabbing a modifier and your base spirit and another modifier, you’re grabbing one bottle with a special tape at the bottom, so you know which cocktail it goes to and then all your fresh stuff. 

You can’t batch the fresh stuff. It has to be separated because you put citrus in something and it goes bad in three days.  Now the whole batch is bad. So keeping your fresh stuff separated.

Joe Winger: Back to Madre Mezcal.  Obviously the bottles themselves are where all the power is.  So let’s talk about labels and taste profiles.

Ryan Fleming:

People love our labels. Our branding is top notch. It’s one of the first compliments we always get. “Oh my God, I love your branding.” 

Madre Mezcal Artesanal

Madre Mezcal Artesanal

Looked at Oaxacan culture and some other like medieval culture and combined the art from the two.

As far as the red label it’s the woman on the bull. It’s a really beautiful message of Mother Earth coming down and starting to share humanity and move across the world to plants and spread love.  That’s why she’s on the bull.  It’s the combination of animal, Mother Earth, and humans. 

Madre Mezcal Espandin

Madre Mezcal Espandin

The black label is a beautiful logo of a woman on the ground.  She’s planting and spreading the seed of life that gives us agave and flowers and fruit and vegetables and everything else.

Madre Mezcal Ancestral

Madre Mezcal Ancestral

The ancestral is this beautiful clay bottle with old clay vessels from Greece that carried wine with the fluid coming out and it’s supposed to celebrate the ancestral way of making mezcal and clay pots and clay distillation.

I always love telling the story of people who say mezcal is not supposed to be aged, which is a true-ish statement in my opinion. But back in the day, everything got transferred in barrels. So Mezcal would accidentally get aged in barrels because it would travel from town to town on horseback after the product was made.

So the idea that Mezcal was never aged is it wasn’t aged on purpose. 

Mezcal was accidentally aged in wood. The traditional way that people would age Mezcal is in glass and they would hide it underground. 

I always tell people, if you have a beautiful bottle of Mezcal, you should open it and take it out and put a wine cork in it, or at least crack the bottle and get some air because it really lets alcohol open up and aerate.

Mezcal benefits from a resting period. Pouring it in a nice open glass, like a snifter or a wine glass, letting it sit for about 5-10 minutes will really open it up.

Madre Mezcal tasting notes 

Madre is designed to be less smoky. I really hate the term smoky. I like the word roasted because what you’re tasting is like barbeque.

You’re tasting the roasting of the agave and the charcoaling and the burning of the outside agave which will affect the sugars, the caramelization.

Madre really was designed to be a more approachable mezcal. We call ourselves ”The gateway to the category.” 

We want to bring people from tequila over to Mezcal so you can explore what agave spirits also have to offer. 

It’s bright, clean, and smooth. I always compare it to a really nice, made tequila.

Our Espadine is actually a close cousin of [tequila’s] Blue Weber. It tastes really bright, clean and smooth.  But you’re going to get some of that minerality and smoke in the end. 

Like easy drinking with some earthy aromas. 

Joe Winger:  That night when I met you, what you handed me was my first taste of the night. I love that it was so pure and smooth.  It didn’t clog up my mouth for the rest of the night.

Ryan Fleming: 

I’m like you. I want to have 2-3 cocktails a night. Not just one and my palette’s done. 

Our Espadine to me is a 2-3 second palette.  It clears up and you get like a breath and it’s fading.  Our Ensemble goes on for 10- 12 seconds.  From sweet vanilla to chocolate to mineral and then to smoke.  Then the smoke fades and you get just a really beautiful, crisp.  It’s viscous. You can feel the oil in your mouth when you swirl it around and it makes the best Negroni.

Joe Winger:  Let’s talk about food pairings.

Ryan Fleming: 

I want to know if this caught you off guard, but it’s Italian food.

Very rich foods. These beautiful Mezcals are light and almost floral and fragrant, It cuts through the richness and creaminess of food.

That’s why mezcal and chocolate are consistently paired together, but that was just way too easy. There’s always mezcal chocolate pairings, but like a really nice Italian dish, something creamy and rich, like an Alfredo or a really well done piece of pizza, like a margarita or a white sauce pizza.

“…I want to know if this caught you off guard, but…”

We are working on doing some [pizza] pairings with some places in LA.   Do a different slice of pizza with three different cocktails of Madre and then have a tasting at the end.

Chocolate has a big part of Oaxaca too. You can’t not have some chocolate and mezcal at the end of the night. 

Espresso martinis are so hot again right now. Try making one with mezcal instead of vodka and just [see] how coffee helps open up the agave and the notes, and you’re going to get so much more going on in your cocktail.

If you pair a nice espresso martini with  beautiful, dark chocolate from Oaxaca.  That is your final cocktail at the end of the night, it won’t let you down.

Joe Winger:  You mentioned replacing Mezcal with vodka in a martini, are there any traditional or more common cocktails we should also try replacing Mezcal in?

Ryan Fleming: 

When I tell you this, it may blow your mind. Most gin cocktails are a little bit better with Mezcal.

There are certain times you need botanicals, but a lot of really good classic gin cocktails, if you sub them for Mezcal, are absolutely fantastic. 

Joe Winger:  I’m shocked because most gins have such unique aromatics.

Ryan Fleming: 

Which Mezcal has so many of those same unique terpenes going on that it changes the cocktail, but it works.

So instead of having botanicals, you have all these beautiful vegetal and mineral notes that just come from agaves. 

Joe Winger:  What are the biggest misconceptions in the world of Mezcal?

Ryan Fleming: 

A lot of people have a misconception, especially on the trade side, that we have grown exponentially. It’s been a lot of hard work. People think we have this massive team behind us.  There’s less than 20 of us on the whole team. That includes our team down in Oaxaca, who  watches over manufacturing and production for us down there. 

We don’t have an office.  We have a little tiny apartment in Venice for meetings.

A lot of people don’t understand the hard work that goes into creating a small brand. It’s just a lot of people working hard to create beautiful Mezcal, especially the families. 

People [unfairly comparing it to] tequila.  What do you mean, we can’t get more? Why is it so expensive? We have people going out hand collecting wild agaves and harvesting espadine.  All of that is hand cut, hand chopped.   I’ve hand cut agaves with the families.

None of this is industrialized or mechanized like tequila. 

Appreciate every drop of mezcal you have, because someone put a lot of love and labor into it.

Joe Winger:  Ryan, as we wrap up, let’s talk about where can learn more about Madre Mezcal? 

Ryan Fleming: 

We have a beautiful Instagram.  Madremezcal.com is our website. 

We also have this Instagram called mezcal. Learning and it’s a little short videos and little blurbs to talk about production, families, history, and culture. It is focused on Madre, but it’s not just Madre, it’s Mezcal as a whole.

If you want to know more about our families who produce, where it’s made, you can find all that information on madremezgal. com. 

Our bottles are in most of your nicer bottle shops, liquor stores. In California, we’re lucky enough to be in Trader Joe’s for the Espadine and Whole Foods has our Ensemble.

If you can’t find it,  go to madremezcal.com and we ship bottles to almost every state in the U S.

We’re in nine countries, too. Australia. All over Europe, Costa Rica.  We’re working on Japan and South Korea as well. So I’m just excited to see the culture of mezcal just expand beyond just America and see how excited because I, when I talk to people that are in London or, people in Australia, and they’re so excited about the idea of being able to get mezcal.

Joe Winger: What is the future for Madre?

Ryan Fleming: I can’t tell you about the big one.

But, [exciting things for] our Ancestral, which is pretty new and every batch of that’s going to be hand numbered and labeled.

We’re going to start doing small batch productions that will be very limited. Then the desert waters, which we have ready for summer. 

To learn more about MadreMezcal, visit MadreMezcal.com. Find them on Instagram at MadreMezcal

 

Philly loves cocktails, Bring the magic home? Bark and Barware Shows You How with Cocktail Smoker

Philly loves cocktails, Bring the magic home? Bark and Barware Shows You How with Cocktail Smoker

Bark and Barware enters the cocktail market with their premium cocktail smoker, including 6 flavors. 

Bark and Barware’s Harel Levy

Bark and Barware’s Harel Levy

Today, Bark and Barware’s Harel Levy joins us for a conversation about cocktails, creating your long-lasting drinking crew, picking the right flavors, the perfect pairings and more!

The below conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  Find the full conversation at our YouTube channel.

 

Joe Winger: Can you tell us a little bit about your story? And what inspired you to create this cocktail smoker kit?

Harel Levy:  I’ve been an entrepreneur for the last seven years. While there are no mistakes, I actually found [the cocktail smoker] by mistake. I was planning to buy something for my Dad. I usually won’t give something if it’s not 100%. So I’d rather not give a gift that I don’t really like.  Because I really care about what the recipient is going to feel. 

“I really love the idea of cocktail smoking kits. […]  It’s another tool to have a great night.

I don’t want to give something cheap, because if you really love someone, you really want to make sure that everything is spot on, right? 

Even on yourself, you will be more forgiven in terms of what you buy than someone else.

I really love the idea of cocktail smoking kits. It’s not that it’s only cool and it’s a great addition to having those nights with friends, with family.  It’s another tool to have a great night.

I went to Amazon and I saw there is no one who actually sells it in a premium, wooden box.  And with many flavors.  I talked with [my company’s] CEO about it, what’s missing here.

Bark & Barware's Smoker Kit

Bark & Barware’s Smoker Kit

We came up with a wooden box. It came from my passion to give something that looks good.

For almost a year, we went back and forth with factories. The smoke.  The flavor.  Details with the box.

When we released it, we were very happy.  We knew my criteria.  If I can give it to my Dad, not being afraid he’s not going to like it.  Then I know that other people are also going to enjoy it because I have high standards for giving a gift to someone that I love. That’s how we came up with the product and the product.

The second thing we are planning is to bring a mixologist,  make it a more holistic experience. 

Extend the journey with our customers, give them cocktails, give them recipes, give them ideas, The journey doesn’t end when the transaction happens for us. We want to continue to build trust and serve our customers.

 

Joe Winger: You have a very comprehensive website.  Can you walk us through your Cocktail Smoker Kit? When we buy it what do we get?

Harel Levy: There are six different chip flavors, the culinary torch, the smoke lid.  Ice tongs, whiskey stones. Unfortunately, we don’t include butane [gas for the torch] because shipping is very heavily regulated, 

“In every smoker kit you get six different chip flavors, the culinary torch, the smoke lid.  Ice tongs, whiskey stones.”

We have six flavors: cherry, oak, pear, maple, hickory and apple. Our plan is to listen to our customers and come up with new flavors based on what they ask for.  It’s not a one-time product release.  We’re going to offer refills, extensions, more.

Each taste is very delicate.  The world of wine, flavor, alcohol is so wide and you can get very specific sometimes. When you do get specific, you get the best results, right? 

 

Joe Winger: Has there been one or two major lessons you’ve learned?

Harel Levy: Initially we had more flavors. After we gave out samples and heard about which flavors were the favorite, we removed some. 

Joe Winger: You mentioned flavor pairing.  What’s your favorite cocktail pairing?

Harel Levy: It’s a tough question because taste is something that is extremely subjective.

We usually put it with scotch. That’s our personal preference.  Our customers get very creative with their ideas. That’s why we initially started with those six flavors. But listening to customer feedback, it’s going to grow and change.

 

Joe Winger: Over a year of research and development, were there any unexpected surprises?

Harel Levy: A lot of people agreed with me on the wooden box.  People started asking for smoke refills.  They’re going through the smoke faster than I thought.  When we launched, I was expecting this to be used for special occasions.  But people are using it every week, all the time.  

 

Joe Winger: In the past few weeks, I’ve been in Los Angeles, Brooklyn, New York, Philadelphia.  All those places have bars where they’re serving smoked drinks.  Now people want to have that experience at home.  

Harel Levy: That’s going to make you the hero of the party.  You’re the one who brings the cool stuff. I always like to do that. 

We really advise [anyone trying this] to taste all of the flavors. Not just one or two.   The spectrum of what flavors someone likes or doesn’t like is very wide.  You’re probably going to really like 1-2 [of the flavors], and less like the others.

Those 1-2 that you really like, we’re going to offer you refills.

When I host friends [at my house], I drink scotch and it goes well with cherry.

But it’s like a game.  You try a lot of things. You find out something that you’re really going to love.

“That’s going to make you the hero of the party.  You’re the one who brings the cool stuff.”

Joe Winger: This first kit is a starter kit or a sampler kit. I get those six flavors and I get to decide, “Oh my gosh, I really like this one. Now I need a refill.”

Harel Levy:  Exactly. It’s exciting me on a personal level because I’m curious […]. What’s going to make people upgrade a scotch that costs hundreds of dollars?

I can play with the flavor. That will upgrade an experience for the end customer cost hundreds of dollars. I did my part, right? And for them, they’re going to be over the moon. They’re going to be super happy. It’s just going to become one of their routine.

“What’s going to make people upgrade a scotch that costs hundreds of dollars?”

Joe Winger: There are smoking kits all over the place. Dozens of competitors on Amazon.  Why should someone choose Bark and Barware?

Harel Levy:  It’s the full experience that we offer. It starts with the package. Then the flavors. Most of our competitors offer four, we offer six. We tasted all of the competitors and our flavor is better.  Otherwise I would not have released the product.

Our post-purchase [experience] the recipes.  We’re working with a mixologist to just create a mini course to go with the kit, go with specific drinks. Customers are going to have access to all of it. How do I mix it? What should I mix it with? 

Joe Winger: What does the future of the brand look like?

Harel Levy: We’re planning to release big packages [re-fills] of each flavor. Second thing is the mini courses. We really want to inspire because that’s fun.  

The process of drinking with friends, the process of smoking. It’s a fun process. You sit on your balcony, with friends, you open a bottle of wine as well.  That’s a fun process. 

Our goal is to inspire. Someone [will realize they] like a specific cocktail.  We will give them all of the information on how to make it,  how to mix it, then we earn a customer for life. 

Joe Winger: You mentioned picking a cocktail is like picking a favorite kid. It’s so hard to do. What is your favorite cocktail to use with your smoker? 

Harel Levy: Yeah, so that’s a great question. I like the combination of the apple and scotch.

Joe Winger: Because you’re a foodie, are there any specific cocktail and food pairings that you really enjoy with any of your specific flavors?

Harel Levy: My favorite is having an apple flavored scotch with a ribeye. Someone I work with loves the hickory flavor.  That’s the beauty of this world, every person has their unique taste.

Shop for Bark and Barware’s Cocktail smoker hit on amazon here: https://amzn.to/3P5c42g 

Learn more at: https://www.barkandbarware.com

Bark and Barware enters the cocktail market with their premium cocktail smoker, including 6 flavors. 

Bark and Barware’s Harel Levy

Bark and Barware’s Harel Levy

Today, Bark and Barware’s Harel Levy joins us for a conversation about cocktails, creating your long-lasting drinking crew, picking the right flavors, the perfect pairings and more!

The below conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  Find the full conversation at our YouTube channel.

 

Joe Winger: Can you tell us a little bit about your story? And what inspired you to create this cocktail smoker kit?

Harel Levy:  I’ve been an entrepreneur for the last seven years. While there are no mistakes, I actually found [the cocktail smoker] by mistake. I was planning to buy something for my Dad. I usually won’t give something if it’s not 100%. So I’d rather not give a gift that I don’t really like.  Because I really care about what the recipient is going to feel. 

“I really love the idea of cocktail smoking kits. […]  It’s another tool to have a great night.

I don’t want to give something cheap, because if you really love someone, you really want to make sure that everything is spot on, right? 

Even on yourself, you will be more forgiven in terms of what you buy than someone else.

I really love the idea of cocktail smoking kits. It’s not that it’s only cool and it’s a great addition to having those nights with friends, with family.  It’s another tool to have a great night.

I went to Amazon and I saw there is no one who actually sells it in a premium, wooden box.  And with many flavors.  I talked with [my company’s] CEO about it, what’s missing here.

Bark & Barware's Smoker Kit

Bark & Barware’s Smoker Kit

We came up with a wooden box. It came from my passion to give something that looks good.

For almost a year, we went back and forth with factories. The smoke.  The flavor.  Details with the box.

When we released it, we were very happy.  We knew my criteria.  If I can give it to my Dad, not being afraid he’s not going to like it.  Then I know that other people are also going to enjoy it because I have high standards for giving a gift to someone that I love. That’s how we came up with the product and the product.

The second thing we are planning is to bring a mixologist,  make it a more holistic experience. 

Extend the journey with our customers, give them cocktails, give them recipes, give them ideas, The journey doesn’t end when the transaction happens for us. We want to continue to build trust and serve our customers.

 

Joe Winger: You have a very comprehensive website.  Can you walk us through your Cocktail Smoker Kit? When we buy it what do we get?

Harel Levy: There are six different chip flavors, the culinary torch, the smoke lid.  Ice tongs, whiskey stones. Unfortunately, we don’t include butane [gas for the torch] because shipping is very heavily regulated, 

“In every smoker kit you get six different chip flavors, the culinary torch, the smoke lid.  Ice tongs, whiskey stones.”

We have six flavors: cherry, oak, pear, maple, hickory and apple. Our plan is to listen to our customers and come up with new flavors based on what they ask for.  It’s not a one-time product release.  We’re going to offer refills, extensions, more.

Each taste is very delicate.  The world of wine, flavor, alcohol is so wide and you can get very specific sometimes. When you do get specific, you get the best results, right? 

 

Joe Winger: Has there been one or two major lessons you’ve learned?

Harel Levy: Initially we had more flavors. After we gave out samples and heard about which flavors were the favorite, we removed some. 

Joe Winger: You mentioned flavor pairing.  What’s your favorite cocktail pairing?

Harel Levy: It’s a tough question because taste is something that is extremely subjective.

We usually put it with scotch. That’s our personal preference.  Our customers get very creative with their ideas. That’s why we initially started with those six flavors. But listening to customer feedback, it’s going to grow and change.

 

Joe Winger: Over a year of research and development, were there any unexpected surprises?

Harel Levy: A lot of people agreed with me on the wooden box.  People started asking for smoke refills.  They’re going through the smoke faster than I thought.  When we launched, I was expecting this to be used for special occasions.  But people are using it every week, all the time.  

 

Joe Winger: In the past few weeks, I’ve been in Los Angeles, Brooklyn, New York, Philadelphia.  All those places have bars where they’re serving smoked drinks.  Now people want to have that experience at home.  

Harel Levy: That’s going to make you the hero of the party.  You’re the one who brings the cool stuff. I always like to do that. 

We really advise [anyone trying this] to taste all of the flavors. Not just one or two.   The spectrum of what flavors someone likes or doesn’t like is very wide.  You’re probably going to really like 1-2 [of the flavors], and less like the others.

Those 1-2 that you really like, we’re going to offer you refills.

When I host friends [at my house], I drink scotch and it goes well with cherry.

But it’s like a game.  You try a lot of things. You find out something that you’re really going to love.

“That’s going to make you the hero of the party.  You’re the one who brings the cool stuff.”

Joe Winger: This first kit is a starter kit or a sampler kit. I get those six flavors and I get to decide, “Oh my gosh, I really like this one. Now I need a refill.”

Harel Levy:  Exactly. It’s exciting me on a personal level because I’m curious […]. What’s going to make people upgrade a scotch that costs hundreds of dollars?

I can play with the flavor. That will upgrade an experience for the end customer cost hundreds of dollars. I did my part, right? And for them, they’re going to be over the moon. They’re going to be super happy. It’s just going to become one of their routine.

“What’s going to make people upgrade a scotch that costs hundreds of dollars?”

Joe Winger: There are smoking kits all over the place. Dozens of competitors on Amazon.  Why should someone choose Bark and Barware?

Harel Levy:  It’s the full experience that we offer. It starts with the package. Then the flavors. Most of our competitors offer four, we offer six. We tasted all of the competitors and our flavor is better.  Otherwise I would not have released the product.

Our post-purchase [experience] the recipes.  We’re working with a mixologist to just create a mini course to go with the kit, go with specific drinks. Customers are going to have access to all of it. How do I mix it? What should I mix it with? 

Joe Winger: What does the future of the brand look like?

Harel Levy: We’re planning to release big packages [re-fills] of each flavor. Second thing is the mini courses. We really want to inspire because that’s fun.  

The process of drinking with friends, the process of smoking. It’s a fun process. You sit on your balcony, with friends, you open a bottle of wine as well.  That’s a fun process. 

Our goal is to inspire. Someone [will realize they] like a specific cocktail.  We will give them all of the information on how to make it,  how to mix it, then we earn a customer for life. 

Joe Winger: You mentioned picking a cocktail is like picking a favorite kid. It’s so hard to do. What is your favorite cocktail to use with your smoker? 

Harel Levy: Yeah, so that’s a great question. I like the combination of the apple and scotch.

Joe Winger: Because you’re a foodie, are there any specific cocktail and food pairings that you really enjoy with any of your specific flavors?

Harel Levy: My favorite is having an apple flavored scotch with a ribeye. Someone I work with loves the hickory flavor.  That’s the beauty of this world, every person has their unique taste.

Shop for Bark and Barware’s Cocktail smoker hit on amazon here: https://amzn.to/3P5c42g 

Learn more at: https://www.barkandbarware.com

Philly: Introducing New Passover Wines approved for 2024: Lovatelli, Cantina Giulian

Introducing New Passover Wines approved for 2024: Lovatelli, Cantina Giulian

The Festival of Passover starts April 22 – 30, an eight day holiday celebrating the Israelites’ Exodus from Egyptian slavery.

The most important event in Jewish history is marked by eating a festive meal with matzah, telling the Passover story (Seder) and drinking four cups of wine.  And, when you have four cups to get through in one Seder dinner, wine quality is paramount.

Passover wines perfect for 2024

Royal Wine Corp. is the largest manufacturer, importer and exporter of Kosher wines and spirits, with a portfolio that spans hundreds of brands and thousands of bottles of world-class wines.

For Passover 2024, they are introducing top quality wines from some of the finest wine producing regions including California, France, Italy, Spain and Israel, among others.

Lovatelli

Lovatelli

While forty percent of annual kosher wine sales occur for the Passover holiday, sales of kosher wine and spirits have been growing significantly throughout the rest of the year.

The not-so-secret to perfect passover wines

According to Jay Buchsbaum, VP of Wine Education at Royal Wine Corp.,

“There’s nothing cookie-cutter about these Passover wines – they are top notch, award winning and distinctive.”

Jay Buchsbaum

VP of Wine Education at Royal Wine Corp

“And, while red wine is traditional for the Passover Seder, it can be a nice Burgundy or a Pinot Noir, or a Cabernet – just as long as it is kosher for Passover. There are dozens to choose from. And, just to be clear, our portfolio consists of  acclaimed wines that just happen to be kosher, recognized for our quality and value.”

These Passover-approved bottles will complement any Seder fare. “L’Chaim”

  • Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico, world famous winery producing kosher wine for the first time. This renowned and well regarded brand is producing kosher wine for the first time exclusively for Royal Wine Corp. (with more to come); SRP $25
  • Lovatelli, a new line of fine and affordable Italian wines, including a Salento Primitivo, SRP $17 and a Barbera d’Asti, SRP $25; Coming soon:  Nebbiolo, a Super Tuscan, as well as two new vermouths.
  • Cantina Giuliano, fully kosher boutique winery started in 2014 in Tuscany, Italy. The winery was started  by a young couple, who inherited wineries from their grandparents. It’s now fully kosher with new bottles and labeling.
  • Many new kosher wines are being imported from South Africa by ESSA and J Folk wineries (among them are : Chenin Blanc, Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon and more).

  • Bartenura – Flavored Moscatos in cans such as Peach, Lychee, and new Blueberry.
  • Château Dauzac Grand Cru Classé and Aurore de Dauzac Margaux ’21
  • Chateau Roubine Cru Classé Lion & Dragon Red
  • Des Moisans Deau Cognac Privilege
  • Herzog Lineage Momentus Rose
  • J de Villebois Sancerre Pinot Noir
  • Kamisa Winery – Galilee, Israel
  • Malbec du Clos Triguedina – Cahors
  • Shamay Winery Upper Galilee, Israel
  • New Carmel Black Cabernet Sauvignon, Galilée, Israel (SRP $30)
  • Brio de Château Cantenac Brown, Margaux

Is Kosher for Passover Wine Hard to Find?

Actually, it’s rather easy! Most kosher wine is also kosher for Passover, making it easier to sell this wine (and for consumers to stock up on bottles) year-round. Any kosher-for-Passover wine will have a “P” symbol or “Kosher for Passover” next to the kosher certification on the label.

But that’s not the case with some spirits. For example, you’ll be unlikely to find kosher-for-Passover whiskey, as whiskey is made with grain.

Fine kosher wines are made the same way that fine non-kosher wines are made,” adds Buchsbaum. “There is no kosher winemaking ‘technique.’ What’s required for the wine to be considered kosher, is that the wine be handled only by Sabbath-observant Jews. And there are plenty of fine winemakers and cellar workers who are Sabbath observant. Great grapes and skilled winemakers yield great wines—kosher or not.

Consumers looking for wines from renowned regions throughout the world can satisfy their thirst with more options than ever before. It seems the problem is not the availability of great wine but the overwhelming number of great wines to choose from. Royal Wine offers a delicious selection of kosher for Passover wines from around the world,” says Buchsbaum. “Some of the top producers are creating award-winning varietals at every price point, and with Passover just around the corner, we want to take the guesswork out of buying wine.”

 

Why Four Cups of Wine

One of the rituals served at Passover is the custom of drinking four cups of wine. The four cups of wine are consumed in a specific order as the story of Exodus is told. Served to the adults throughout the dinner, these four wines represent points from the exodus story. While there are several explanations for the significance of the number four, the connection to “freedom from exile” is often referenced. For observant Jews, the wine served should be kosher. Although a kosher wine uses the same grapes as other wines, the wine making is handled by “sabbath-observant Jews”.

Philly Wine: Wine Pro Alan Tardi Returns to NYC for Beyond Bubbles Class December 13

Philly Wine Lovers!  Wine Pro Alan Tardi Returns to NYC for Beyond Bubbles Class December 13

Alan Tardi has worked as a chef, a restaurateur, a sommelier, a consultant to some of New York City’s biggest and best fine dining restaurants.  He’s also written for magazines and publications, such as Wine Spectator, Wine and Spirits, Decanter, of course, the New York Times.

This past fall, Alan Tardi taught his very popular Italian Wine class, The Many Faces of Sangiovese.

Today Wine Expert Alan Tardi returns for a conversation about his new Champagne, Prosecco and Lambrusco sparkling wine class Beyond Bubbles on December 13 at New York Wine Studio.

NYC Wine: Wine Pro Alan Tardi Hosts Popular NYC Wine Classes: Beyond Bubbles on December 13

NYC Wine: Wine Pro Alan Tardi Hosts Popular NYC Wine Classes: Beyond Bubbles on December 13

Alan, thank you so much for coming back. You have a new class called Beyond Bubbles.

Can you just give us an idea of Beyond Bubbles about the class itself?

Alan Tardi:  The class is going to take place on December 13th. That’s a Wednesday from 6 – 7:30pm. And the venue is  the New York Wine Studio located at 126 East 38th Street between Park and Lexington, so a couple blocks away from Grand Central Station in New York City.

It’s going to be called Beyond Bubbles. I’m really focusing on three archetypal sparkling wines. Champagne, Lambrusco, Prosecco.

And I have to say Prosecco from the original growing area, Cornigliano Valdiviadene, not the extended one right now.

These are the sparkling wines that, to me, took their own path and they can, in the case of Lambrusco and Prosecco they’re really ancient grape varieties that have been going on for a very long time. 

Champagne, they’ve been making wine for a very long time. But as we’ll talk about, which is really fascinating, they’re adjacent to Burgundy and they’re both in close proximity to Paris where the King and the royal kingdom was. They were very competitive with their wine.

The counts in Champagne and the Dukes in Burgundy. They were really vying for their wine for the favor of the King. But Champagne, like Burgundy, began making it for a long time, hundreds of years, still wines. And when, and that was what they made for a long time.

 

Pouring sparkling wine

In your class Beyond bubbles, can you give us an idea of how many bottles are going to be tasting from and learning about, and maybe one or two that are extra special to you?

Alan Tardi: We’re going to be tasting 10 wines. Three from Lambrusco, a very misunderstood wine.  The grapes for Lambrusco are wild. Prosecco and Champagne.

The class is Beyond Bubbles. Wednesday, December 13th, tickets are on sale. Now it’s coming up very quickly. 

Let’s really dive deep for a second and just get to know champagne’s history.  The whole idea of sparkling wine was an accident.

 

Alan Tardi: Yes. It was originally considered a flub because they were trying to make still wines to be in competition with Burgundy and they were very good at it. The still wines of Champagne were highly regarded.

So it did happen by accident.  What happened is that Champagne is much further North than Burgundy. It’s at the breaking point beyond 45 degrees North where grapes can’t grow anymore. So they had a hard time making wine.  it got very cold after harvest. One of the big customers for champagne was England and they shipped a lot of wine in barrel to England.

They were put into barrels once the fermentation stopped, because it got very cold and then they would ship them to England eventually in the springtime..

Because they finished their fermentation too early because it got cold, the fermentation stopped. Once it got warm again, the ferment: the remaining sugar went to work on the remaining yeast and it created bubbles in a closed container. 

So when people opened up the barrel, it was fizzy.

When that happened in France, people did not like it because it was considered a flaw. England didn’t have a problem with that. 

Eventually the producers said, wow, these people really want to have the bubbly wine. The King of France became very fond of this wine.  So it really took off from there, but it happened in England first. 

 

Talk a little bit about who “The Father of Champagne” was and how he tried to prevent this from happening.

 

Alan Tardi: It’s a really great story. Dom Perignon is considered to be the father of champagne. He was a chef and while he was a monk, he took over as the steward.

The convent had a lot of land given to them as dues to the church. He was managing the winery there in order to sell wine to support the monastery. 

He would select different grapes from different places. He created fractional blending and fractional pressing of the grape so it’s very gentle and soft, which is very important for the development of champagne. But this was a still wine.

He was trying to make a still wine. When it spontaneously started sparkling, he considered it a flaw.  He tried to avoid it with everything that he could possibly do. 

It became extremely popular.

Dom Perignon champagne

He said, “Brothers, I see stars in my glass.” And he was supposed to be blind by that point. 

This whole thing of Don Perignon being the the father of champagne and seeing stars was made up as a marketing ploy by Robert de la Vogue, who was the head of a major champagne house.  So they created this story around it.  It’s a great story. I love it.

I wonder if that’s one of the reasons why champagne does swell during the holidays. When there’s decorations out and it really is a celebration.

Alan Tardi: I think it is. Sparkling wines bring something with them. There’s this effervescence, It’s like shooting stars. When they’re in the glass and you’re, you put them in your palate and they’re tingling and that’s all good.

Once the sparkling version was approved around 1725 by the King, it expanded throughout the world, it was a worldwide phenomenon.

 

You’ve mentioned the words method and process, share more about traditional champagne method?

Alan Tardi:  It is a very stable process. You have to make a base wine. So you ferment grapes. They started sourcing different grape varieties from different areas throughout the extensive Champagne area. They would blend them together to make a decent wine.  That’s the first fermentation.  

Then they add a liqueur, called the tirage in French, it consists of primarily sugar, could be beet sugar or cane sugar; and yeast. 

They’re put in individual bottles and then the bottle is sealed with a crown cap to keep the wine in the bottle.  They would sit in a cellar for a period of time to create the secondary fermentation in a closed container. Like the initial fermentation process where the sugar goes to the yeast that is added to it. That creates a combination of sugar and yeast creates alcohol and carbon dioxide.

The carbon dioxide goes up, the alcohol stays in, and that’s how wine is made. But because [in still wine] it’s in an open container, the carbon dioxide goes out. 

In a closed container [like in sparkling wine], in this case, a bottle, the carbon dioxide that was given off from the second fermentation was trapped inside the bottle. So once you open the bottle, the carbon dioxide would come up and out. And that’s where it comes from. That is what gives it the sparkle. 

In Champagne, their method is known as the Method Champenoise

Pouring sparkling wine at Popular NYC Wine Classes Beyond Bubbles

They carry out the secondary fermentation in a closed bottle. Then, in the third part, they make the method Champenoise. It’s removing the sediment from the wine.  There are many different ways to do it. 

The most important common grapes for sparkling wine are Pinot Noir, Pinot Meurnier, Chardonnay.  But your class reveals “lost grape varieties”.  Tell me more about that.  

Alan Tardi: These were grape varieties, typical of the area, that were used initially, but then people just put them by the side. The most important grape varieties were Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  Meunier was used as a workhorse, a filler, but it didn’t have the same identity that that Chardonnay and Pinot Noir had.  Those are the three principal ones. Then [there was] these other varieties.

There’ve been major changes in the past 10 – 15 years in Champagne.  It was driven by the Maison.  Thousands of growers who supplied grapes to the Maison.  Many times they would actually press the grapes, vinify the wine and then send the wine to the Maison.

They produced it for the houses. They didn’t have their own labels.  That changed. A lot of the grower producers started labeling and selling their wine on their own. They got a lot of attention.

Some of these people were very loyal to the old grape varieties that were left on the side – they like Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris – not very rare grape varieties, but people are not aware they are part of the grape varieties of Champagne.

Some people are really trying to promote those because it’s part of their culture. It’s part of their history. 

There’s two others, Petit Mellier and Arban. It brings a whole new aspect to Champagne.

So we’re talking with Alan Tardi. On Wednesday, December 13th he hosts his new class Beyond Bubbles.  One of those bubbles we’re going to be talking about is Prosecco. Frizzanti, Spumanti. Help us understand what these words mean, the region, how it all relates 

Alan Tardi: Prosecco is one of the most misunderstood wines out there. There’s a lot more to it than most people are aware of. It’s not just a base for a Bellini or a cocktail, or just a cheap fix. There’s a lot more going on there than often meets the eye.

It’s a very old wine growing area.  The original area is Conigliano Valdobbiadene. Fifiteen towns that make up the area in the hills just at the foot of the Dolomites in Veneto. They’ve been making wine there for a long time.

I have a feeling that the people who originally planted grape vines there were members of this  Celtic Ligurian tribe that were up in Northern Italy, like in the Botellina and over in Liguria. They have this amazing capacity to plant vines in places where it’s very difficult.

Prosecco is very different from Champagne.  I was living in Italy. I was going to Prosecco a lot because I did a story for Wine and Spirits Magazine about the Cartice area in Val di Biadena.

It blew my mind away. At the same time, I was starting to go to Champagne to research my book and I spent a lot of time there. I was finding a lot of similarities between these two very different wines.

Champagne began as a still wine called Coteaux Champenois.  It had another wine in between. A sparkling wine, but a softer, lower amount of pressure called Cremant de Champagne. 

In Prosecco, the traditional way of making wine was fermenting the wine.  Then, they would put it in a container, either a barrel or a cement tank or in a bottle. The same thing happened. The fermentation would stop prematurely because it got too cold. Then, in the spring, when the temperature rose, the wine would wake up and the sugar would go back to work on whatever yeast was left.

Being in a closed container it would be fizzy. Now, in the bottle. The Italians had no problem with the sediment in the bottle. 

I remember going there in 2013, I heard about this kind of Prosecco where the sediment was left in the bottle and people were a little bit embarrassed to show it. 

This is actually called the Method Ancestral like they did in Limu. 

They left the sediment in the bottle. It was just part of the wine. m In 1895, someone at Vinicultural Research Research Center in Asti named Martinotti, figured out they had a lot of sparkling wines in that area like Moscato.

Martinotti invented a system instead of having to do this process in the bottle, he created a large container with a top under pressure where the second fermentation could take place under pressure and then bottle it from there. It’s called the Martinotti Method that he created and patented in 1895. 

Then 15 years later, in France he applied a sterilizing system.  It’s referred to as the Sharma Method. That is the typical Way to make Prosecco not the traditional way.

Most producers in the area did not advance their methods until after World War II happened.

Mionetto, a very big Prosecco producer, only started using autoclaves in 1987. 

At my tasting in New York on December 13, we’re going to taste three Prosecco’s. One is a still version from a winery called Bortolomeo, one of the most significant wineries of the area

After World War Two, he was very instrumental in creating a small group of producers and protecting their tradition of making wine in the area. 

Now their daughters are running the winery. They’re still making a Prosecco. It’s part of the disciplinary of the rules for Prosecco Cornigliano Valdobbiadene

That used to be the same with Coteau Champenois, the still wine of Champagne. You would not find those around. 

While we’re talking about Prosecco, tell us about their growth —  between the DOCG and the DOC?

Alan Tardi: One thing I want to say is that in the very small area of Corneliano, Corneliano about to be out in a Prosecco, DOCG.  In about 2009, because of the large demand for Prosecco, and because of the fact that people were growing grapes and making wine outside 

That appellation covers the entire region of Friuli and three quarters of the region of Veneto. So it’s a huge area, mostly flat. Higher yields, most of the vineyards can be worked, can be harvested mechanically. It’s a very different wine and that accounts for the vast majority of the 500 million bottles that are being produced.

The little area up in the hills has a much more complex growing area, soil to topography. 

It hasn’t really been touched since the earth rose when that, when the sea and the sea receded on the other side of Cornigliano, there was a glacier that happened up in the north and it came down and just took all the land with it.

If you look at the map, the part is very narrow and the Cornelia part spreads down and is very wide and lower altitudes.  So you have two very different soil makeups and different sections within the area.  So it’s much more complex. 

In 2009, they created the DOC and that’s when the original area, called Prosecco, changed its name to Corneliano Valdobbiadene and they were elevated to a higher level, a DOCG category.

They created subzones within this very small area. 43 different areas within the overall territory. If grapes come from one of those areas, they can have the name of that on the label. 

At Beyond Bubbles on December 13, we’re going to be tasting the Tranquilo Prosecco from Botolomeo.  We’ll taste a Colfondo from a young guy who’s been carrying on his family’s winery.

He always made wine in the cofondo method, and he just also started using the method traditionnel as well.

We’re going to taste his Cofondo, and then we’re going to taste Prosecco, Brut Nature, no sugar added, from the Cornigliano side, different softer, denser soil, lower altitude.

You can taste the difference.

That sounds incredible. We’re celebrating Beyond Bubbles, Alan Tardi’s new class coming up December 13th. One of the bottles, the Lambrusco. Can you talk a little bit about its reputation? 

 

Alan Tardi: I think we should feel very excited.  In the United States people still think about Lambrusco as a sweet, red, bubbly wine.

Lambrusco has really changed and it’s very complex.  Usually wines don’t do well in flat areas, but in the Po Valley, that’s where they come from, they started out as wild vines.

They were cultivated by this old ancient tribe who lived in the area from about 12 to 6  BC, and then they just disappeared  There are 12 different Lambrusco grapes. Three of them are really the most important because they have their own distinct identity and growing area. 

Sorbara comes from the town of Sorbara, takes its name after it, and it has its own appellation. 

Grasparosa di Casavetro, down in the south, it’s flat, but it starts to go up a little bit into the hills. 

And then Salomino, in the north, which is the powerhouse of the three.

It’s really fascinating.  They’re considered to be the most elegant because they’re all red grapes. In Champagne, it’s mostly white grapes.  in Prosecco, the grapes are also predominantly white. There’s Pinot Noir that was one of these international grapes. It was permitted but only as a 

The Sorbara is very light, transparent, elegant.  There’s a lot of finesse to it.

The Graspa Rosa is dark red, juicy, fruity, floral, intense, foamy.

The Salomino is the workhorse, Sorbata is not self pollinating. And Solomino is often the pollinator for Sorbata.

At Beyond Bubbles on December 13, we’re going to be talking about unusual bottles.  Tasting a Salomino wine from a winery called Lini 910,  a wine is made using the method Traditionnelle.  This wine is going to be 2006 vintage, and it’s spent nearly 14 years on the lees.

At our Beyond Bubbles class, I’m going to start with the Lambrusco, the oldest of the wines. Then the Prosecco.  Then the Champagne. So there’s a buildup to that. 

After the champagne, there’ll be a still champagne from the Valley de la Marne from the Mounier grape, and the Philipponat Champagne vintage.

After that, I thought it would be really interesting to look at two wines from made by people who went to the champagne area in the turn of the 20th century and they fell in love with champagne and they were compelled to go back to where they came from and make a wine using the champagne style method in their own way.

A wine from Trentino, Giulio Ferrari.  And the other one is RTOs in in Catalonia in Spain, compare.

Alan Tardi’s class Beyond Bubbles will take place December 13, 2023 at New York Wine Studio.  126 East 38th Street New York, NY 1001. Readily accessible between Park and Lexington Avenue, just minutes from  Grand Central Station.

For tix and more information visit NewYorkWineStudio.com

 

With Flavor and Acclaim, Jøyus Non-Alcoholic Wines Proves it’s an All Year Drink

With Flavor and Acclaim, Jøyus Non-Alcoholic Wines Proves it’s an All Year Drink. Not just for #SoberOctober, but its award-winning tastes help you celebrate all year-long.

Jøyus non-alcoholic wines not only taste like wine, but great wine. With the industry awards to prove it. 

Recently I sat down with Jøyus leader Jessica Selander.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  You can find the full, un-edited conversation on our YouTube page.

 

 

Can you give us a personal story, maybe that includes the celebration of wine, if you have one?

Jessica Selander: The story is very personal and the funny thing is I get so nervous before talking about things because when I started Joyus, I did not originally [think about] doing things like this, being so face forward. 

I thought I would create a product that I was really excited about.  Eventually I came to realize, how do I do that without telling the “why did I do it?”

The whole reason that Joyus exists and it influences everything I do is because I’m sober.  I quit drinking alcohol 17 years ago now, which just feels like a fantastical amount of time.

For me, it’s been very rewarding. I’m very glad about it. But it was definitely something that was really hard and very personal. It wasn’t something I shared about publicly. So that’s also why this is a journey of getting comfortable talking about my sobriety, my recovery.

I like the taste of wine. I like beautiful glasses. I like the smell of wine.  I love the community and people; and hanging out and celebrating.  It literally says ’let’s celebrate’ on our bottles.  How great sparkling is for summer, but sparkling is such a happy thing.

You know what I mean? Something good happens in your life and people are like, let’s celebrate. Let’s pop some bottles. New Year’s Eve is such a beautiful idea of let’s start over. Whatever happened last year, whatever terrible things went down, there’s a brand new year.

It’s a new idea that we can celebrate either that past year that was good or celebrate the potential of a new year. That’s going to be better and that’s sparkling. 

And for me, I didn’t have any options. 

I started Joyus nine years ago. People ask me how long the company’s been around and we launched about two years ago. So it took me a very long time to figure it out, to save up the money to do it because as you can imagine, nine years ago, people thought it was crazy.

They’re like, ‘That’s a terrible idea. Nobody wants that’. And I’m like ’I want it’.

Having quit drinking, I had a lot of friends that also didn’t drink. I had a lot of people in my life too, who were just light drinkers – could give or take alcohol.  Then I have two kids and there’s a huge percent of the population that quits drinking for nine months [because they’re pregnant], sometimes even longer.

You can get into medications, you’re not supposed to drink on it. Anxiety medication, not supposed to drink on it. Heart medication, cancer treatments. There’s a lot of medical stuff too, that you could go down the list.

So I get a lot of people now who are like, ‘Oh, it’s not alcoholic. It’s trending.’ And that’s a thing now. 

Early on in my sobriety, I actually used to drink a lot of soda pop out of glass bottles, and then eventually discovered non alcoholic beer.

Non alcoholic beer is definitely having a really cool movement right now. There’s so many different options for non alcoholic beer, but the beer has always been around. 

I was like, this exists and it tastes like beer. What’s up with non-alcoholic wine?

There was one sparkling [non-alcoholic wine] in the entire country and that’s all you could find. There was one white and there was one red and that was it.

For me these options were really sweet. They were very affordable, which is nice, but they didn’t have the complete experience that I was going for. I wanted non alcoholic wine that tastes like wine. 

I wanted something that I could bring to a gathering and bring to a get together and have it feel appropriate and look appropriate and just look like everybody else’s [alcoholic] bottles.  Smell like everyone else’s bottles that you just wouldn’t even know that it was non alcoholic until you saw it on the label. And that’s what I did.

So after trying to find it for forever, eventually I was like, I’m going to do it myself. And I had no idea that this whole sober curious, non alcoholic world would take off like it has at exactly the right time.

So part of me is very frustrated that it took so long. But part of that too, it was like saving up the money to start the company.

This is a bootstrap company.  I like making my own decisions. A side effect after getting to this point is I’m 100% in control of all the decisions, which also means that I can control the quality because [it] is incredibly expensive to make.

 

Let’s talk about your sober story.  What it means to you, how you got there, what your mission is, how that helps others.

 

Jessica Selander: So for me, I can’t drink alcohol. What happens when I put alcohol in my body is that I make decisions I don’t want to be making.  

I tried a lot of things. I tried cutting back and it didn’t work. I tried replacing [the drinks and that didn’t work].

My life became pretty chaotic. 

I stopped drinking and once I get my life in order, then everything will be fine. I can drink again. 

Then after not drinking for a period of time, I was like, Oh, you know what?  There’s actually something to this and it’s something deeper and it’s probably the best thing I ever did, honestly, in my life. 

I would not be the person I am today on the inside if I had kept drinking.

I have a wonderful spouse and I’ve got amazing kids and I’m able to be a parent and be a person and do that clear eyed and there’s a lot of my upbringing was not the most positive. 

Sober curious, it’s a hashtag now. 

I’m not saying alcohol shouldn’t exist. I’m not that kind of person whatsoever. 

On a personal level it is so exciting to see other brands pop up. The first time I tried non-alcoholic tequila, it blew my mind. It was amazing. The spirits are interesting because some people build it up from science and some people are de-alkalizing; taking the alcohol out.

So that’s the really interesting thing about this. Normally spirits are completely separate from wine, which are very separate from beer, but in non-alcoholic, we’re all in the same swimming pool and everybody’s doing it differently and everybody’s got their own take and you can try one non-alcoholic whiskey and it’s incredibly different from another one.

Community not competition is one of our core values.  Normalizing non drinking is a big one. It’s not necessarily replacing alcohol either. I’ve talked to people in the wine industry who are very offended by the idea of non alcoholic wine.  I’m like no, it’s backwards. You’ve got it backwards. Non-alcoholic wine is a love letter to wine. You love wine so much that you still want to have it. You just can’t have this one piece that’s in it [the alcohol], but I want everything else. 

I want to cheers that glass with other people. I want to drink that red with a really strong stinky cheese. I want to pop that celebratory cork. I want to Rose all day. I just can’t.

I think that wine is very important culturally. It’s so interesting historically. The process is this fascinating mix of art and science.  I love everything about it. Getting deeper and deeper into it too, because I want Joyus to be around for forever and I want to make the best possible non-alcoholic wine.

There’s so much stuff to perfect that I could spend the next 50 years just working on non-alcoholic red – period.

 

You mentioned you’re seeing other competitors in the marketplace. How many different ways are there to make non-alcoholic wine?  Are some ways higher quality than others?

 

Jessica Selander: I can give tips. Our wine is a dealcoholized or alcohol removed wine, which means it’s gone through the whole winemaking process.

It’s aged, it’s fermented, and then we have removed the alcohol from it. Our bottles also say it’s non alcoholic. Sometimes you’ll see a bottle in the store and it just says non alcoholic on it. It doesn’t say dealcoholized or alcohol removed. They’re interchangeable. That means it wasn’t fermented.

So if you’re looking for a wine that is really going to taste like wine or have that fermented taste, look for dealcoholized or alcohol removed.

[Look at the label on the bottle] look for dealcoholized or alcohol removed, because it could say that it’s a non alcoholic red or a non-alcoholic grape [varietal] and it might just be a juice, that hasn’t been fermented or ages but comes in a wine bottle.

 

What are your goals in the present moment and in the near future to help your company continue to be a leader in the industry?

 

Jessica Selander: I think goals are accessibility. Normalizing sober drinking.  Making [non-alcoholic bottles] easy to find.  We do ship off our website, which is great. We’re shipping from Seattle. We ship everything ourselves.  If you’re out East, it’s going to take four or five days to get to you. 

Also starting to talk to restaurants, getting into more restaurants is a big one.  I’ve had anniversary dinners with my spouse and I’m drinking an Arnold Palmer.

I’m calling restaurants and I’m calling grocery stores and they’re still really skeptical that it can be good and that people want it.

 

Do you think it’s just audience reaching out? Is there a tipping point?

 

Jessica Selander: Yes, that really helps having people being in a restaurant and saying, “Hey, what do you have that’s an alcoholic?” Because restaurants are saying nobody’s asking for it. 

Here I am double digit sober and I had never gone into a restaurant and asked for it.

I would look at the [menu’s] non alcoholic section, which is always juice, soda pop, iced tea and stuff. If it’s not on the menu, I would never ask them for anything. Here I am for over a decade, not telling them that I want this thing. So we started doing more education on social media and online.

If you walk into a restaurant, ask them “What do you have that’s not alcoholic?”

Just pregnant people alone. There’s a large percentage of the population.

Is there science that says a pregnant woman can drink this and have zero concerns?

 

Jessica Selander: Yes. So this is super interesting. In the United States we’re the most strict in terms of alcohol. If you go to the UK, they have different, actually higher limits for how much alcohol can be in something. The US’s rules come from prohibition when you can’t sell, make, transport alcohol.

The government said once it gets under 0.5%, it’s not alcohol anymore. So that’s where that number comes from and sometimes people see it and say, “Oh, there’s a little bit of alcohol in this.” 

There was a study done in Germany where they tested a lot of grocery store items.  What they found was there’s a lot of stuff in our grocery stores that had a little bit of alcohol in it. Very ripe bananas, which we feed to toddlers have some alcohol in them. Orange juice is another one.

American hamburger buns. But it also makes sense, bread, yeast and we have more sugar in our products, right? Bread actually has more alcohol than people realize. 

Let’s talk about your wine’s flavors and aromas and the winemaking process to get there.

Jessica Selander: I knew what I wanted and I was incredibly picky about it. 

We launched with the sparkling white and the sparkling Rose’ and people were asking for a Rose’ with no bubbles.

I thought it would be easy.  It was not easy. 

Stills are very different from sparkling. I’m a balance of “I know what I want. I’m going for this thing and very focused”, but then I’m also balanced with listening. So we do a lot of focus groups. I do want feedback.  I do want opinions. 

We were working on it.  Everyone’s saying it’s good, it’s great.  But I didn’t think it was good enough. We were supposed to launch it in summer and I pushed everything back.  Back to the drawing board. 

What if we did this? What if that?  Talking to people, reading science and chemistry books

Was it like working for the right blend?

Jessica Selander: It’s tweaking so many different things and pieces in the blend. But it doesn’t always work out.  If you tweak a blend, sometimes other notes will come forward that you’re not expecting, or sometimes you’ve diminished things that you didn’t intend to diminish.

The still Rose is a great example, it didn’t have that click and so I just kept working on it. And that’s the one that won Double Gold and Best in Class in the San Francisco International Wine Competition, which is one of the biggest and oldest blind tastings in the world and the biggest and oldest blind tasting in the U.S.

 

Can you share any details and lessons you learned taking on the world of winemaking?

 

Jessica Selander: There’s so many things.  We’re not just making wine.  We’re wholesale, we’re distributing, we’re direct to consumer. We have so many different facets. 

I could talk for hours about how our wines are very low in sugar and they don’t have the alcohol in them. So our [bottles] probably freeze easier than anything else on the market. So shipping during the winter.

I’ve had conversations with other non alcoholic people too.  Everybody’s doing it differently and that’s the hard part too, where I feel like there’s a solution for every problem.

We’ve gotten better and better at winter shipping, but it’s not quite there yet.  Figuring out what can we ship in that’s going to have thermal protection, but isn’t going to contribute a ton of garbage. We’ve got the most eco-friendly, innovative winter shippers.  They’re made of corn. 

They’re expensive as hell, but it’s better than styrofoam. We have to keep everything under 50 pounds for UPS and 12 bottles of sparkling is 51 pounds in these corn shippers.

That thermal protection is still not enough, so we added heat packs. 

Let’s talk about your wines.

 

Jessica Selander: We have four varietals.  We’ve got our sparkling white, a sparkling Rosé. Still Rosé, a Cabernet Sauvignon. I love our red a lot. The reds are hard. They’re the most complicated; red wine has the highest alcohol content to begin with.

What flavor notes should we be looking for?

 

Jessica Selander: It’s definitely an American Cab. More fruit forward. It’s not grape juice. It’s fermented, it’s aged in American oak so you’ll get some green-ness to, like forest floor.  The longer it’s been open the more tasting notes you’ll get. I like it more and more throughout the week because the fruit notes settle down. Black currant, cherry, some leather 

The still rosé, watermelon, a nice floral to it. 

Sparkling rosé. Slightly floral.  Some orange blossom to it.  Blackberry, but some people say raspberry. Some people say strawberry.  They’re very summery

I think sometimes tasting notes feel in excess because we all taste things very differently. 

Our audience is foodies. Let’s talk a little bit about some of your favorite meals that you think would pair that your favorite pairings with your wines

 

Jessica Selander: I bake. I come from a big family, so I can pretty much cook anything. 

I heard someone say one time that baking was more science. And cooking was more art and I do agree with that. 

Let’s talk about the wine competitions. How you see them, what the experience has been like, and of course, what their results have been.

Jessica Selander: I did not know that competition was as big of a deal as it is [which was a blessing].  So what happened was I was beating my head against the wall being like, “They taste like wine!”  And my brother said, nobody believes you. You have to enter them into wine competitions. You need to prove to them in their own landscape that you belong there. 

So, here’s this competition. The first one, the sparkling rosé won gold and sparkling white won bronze.

Then I looked deeper into what the competition was [and realized it was the acclaimed San Francisco International Wine Competition & World Spirits Competition ]. It was a blessing because I think I would have been scared to do it. Then [next year] I do it with the Still Rose and the Cab.  Then hearing back, you’ve got the highest a non-alcoholic has ever gotten and you’re Still Rose is the best non-alcoholic wine of any varietal entered from all over the world. 

I was only wondering if it was even going to place, and here it ends up winning the best.

I was at a grocery store [today] I’ve been trying to get into for two years where the head buyer won’t even try it. So it’s [frustrating] but the more of these awards that we stack up, at some point in time they have to not ignore it. They’ll be like, Oh, this is a real thing.

We haven’t [hit that goal], it’s not normalized yet. We’re in over 300 stores and in almost in every state.

 

If you want more non-alcoholic near you at a restaurant and grocery store, what are the step-by-step, simple direction

Jessica Selander: This is super easy for people.

So if there’s a grocery store or a local market that you shop at already, you just go into the wine department and say, “Hey, what non-alcoholic wine do you have?”  And let them know you want it.  Verbally say it

It’s the same thing in restaurants. I do it myself now too, where I get the menu and I’m not seeing what the stuff on it. And I just ask and say, Hey, what non alcoholic stuff do you have?” 

 

Tell us how we can learn more about Joyus.  Shopping and following on social media.

 

Jessica Selander: So all of our social media stuff, our website is DrinkJoyus.com. Our Facebook, our Instagram, our TikTok are all DrinkJoyus

And on the website, there is this Find Joyus store finder map. So you can look on there and find us closest to you and working hard to add new stores pretty much weekly and email, email us. There’s a contact form on the website. Email. If you’re like, Hey, there’s a store by me. I want them to carry you. Email us. And we will call them and we will try, we’ll do our best and we’ll call them again three months later and we’ll call them again.

 

Philly’s answer for Rose’ Wine: NBA Hall of Famer Tony Parker shares his Dinner Party Adventures, French Summer Escapes and the future of the Rose’ Revolution

NBA Hall of Famer Tony Parker shares his dinner party secrets, favorite french summer escapes and the future of the Rose’ Revolution.

In his incredible basketball career, Tony Parker earned four NBA Championships with the San Antonio Spurs, was selected for six All-Star teams and named MVP of the 2007 Finals.

But these days, his passion for food and wine is keeping him even more inspired.

Starting as a boy growing up in France, the memorable dinner parties he hosted during his NBA days, his summer escapes to French Vineyards during the off-season. 

It’s no surprise that now he diving into the French wine world, buying Château La Mascaronne in Provence with legendary business partner Michel Reybier.

A magnificent adventure for the next vintage of his life’s journey.

Château La Mascaronne Rose' COURTESY OF CHÂTEAU LA MASCARONNE

Château La Mascaronne Rose’ COURTESY OF CHÂTEAU LA MASCARONNE

Today I sat down with Tony Parker (over audio-only speakerphone) for a conversation about dinner parties, french vacation, getting busy in vineyards, and the future of Rose’ wine. 

The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  The full conversation can be found on our YouTube channel.

Also, the podcast version is here:

 

 

You’ve been diving into the world of winemaking with Michel Reybier and his team. Can you talk a little bit about the adventure, any surprises or lessons?

 

It’s been amazing. I always wanted to invest in a project like that. The first time I tried wine was when I was 17 years old. I wanted to keep learning about it and get my knowledge better around the wine world. And so when I was 19, I finally made enough money to afford all those great wines.

I was lucky enough to play for a coach who loved wine, had a huge collection, was reading wine magazines every trip. And so that’s how we bonded. As I got better, in my knowledge of wine, I started to invite all the best [people] in San Antonio to come to do a nice dinner at my house with Coach Popovich, and then the next day I would invite them to a Spurs game.

Château La Mascaronne COURTESY OF CHÂTEAU LA MASCARONNE

Château La Mascaronne COURTESY OF CHÂTEAU LA MASCARONNE

Then during the summer I started making trips to the vineyard. I started to know them better. Because in the wine world, obviously, you have great families. They’re super passionate. And that’s how I started; working on my allocation and the good bottles, the Reserves. 

Tony Parker and Michel Reybier - SEBASTIEN CLAVEL

Tony Parker and Michel Reybier – SEBASTIEN CLAVEL

When I retired I wanted to be more involved. But it’s very hard to invest in the wine business because it’s either in the family for generations and generations.  Those big companies buy everything. And so I was very lucky, through mutual friends I met Mr. Reybier and after talking for six or eight months, we decided to become partners. Now I’m a proud Owner / Ambassador / Everything.

 

You mentioned the wine dinners you had in San Antonio. Just for us massive foodies, can you help us fantasize for a moment?

What kind of food was served? What kind of wines were poured? Can you take us back to those nights?

 

I had a private chef. My private chef would work with the vineyard. We tell them who’s coming, how many people, which bottles and what year they will send us. 

Then they will work with my staff to make sure we make a menu accordingly, to make sure that everything is matched with what we are drinking.

So when the [dinner party] came to my house, we tried [the vintages] 1969, 1982, 2000 and 2009. It was unbelievable. Great bottles, great vintages. 

And for me, I’m very lucky too because I’m born in 1982 and it’s one of the best years for wine, especially in Bordeaux. So every time I visit a castle in Bordeaux, the employees are always super happy because it’s a good opportunity for them, as the owner, to open an ‘82 [vintage]. 

Most of the time, they’ll come and say thank you to me, saying it’s [their] first time trying an ‘82 [vintage]. Because nowadays, they don’t open those 82’s a lot.

 

 

You’ve hinted at your sports background, obviously you have become a master. Is there any lesson that you mastered in sports that you’ve brought into the wine world with you?

 

The passion and the work ethic. Obviously in the wine world I will never try to be and talk like a Sommelier, they studied for that. Even if I have good knowledge and I’ve been working with vineyards.  And I’m learning all the time, especially since I’ve been owning vineyards. I did Harvest. I did the assemblage.  Which is when you try all the possible [options], and you decide what the wine is going to be.

Tony Parker and Michel Reybier - SEBASTIEN CLAVEL

Tony Parker and Michel Reybier – SEBASTIEN CLAVEL

I’ve been working with great directors.  Our director is unbelievable. The director at La Mascaronne, she’s great too. And so for me, it’s been great knowledge, and a great learning process to learn even more about wine.

What inspired you to choose the partner with Chateau La Mascaronne?

 

When I met him, I knew he was huge in the wine business and obviously it brings a lot of credibility when you work with somebody like Michel Reybier because he’s been at this for so long and he’s the owner of one of the best wines in the world with Château Cos d’Estournel.

That’s how I knew him and that was big time. When he talked about La Mascaronne, he bought it from Tom Bove.

Back in 2006, when I started going on vacation every summer, I started drinking Rose’ with my brothers and my friends. We love rose’ in the summer. 

That’s when Miraval took off.  Brad Pitt bought it with Angelina [Jolie]. He bought Miraval from Tom Bove.

Tony Parker at Château La Mascaronne COURTESY OF CHÂTEAU LA MASCARONNE

Tony Parker at Château La Mascaronne COURTESY OF CHÂTEAU LA MASCARONNE

So [I thought] if Tom Bove hit that property perfectly with Miraval, for sure [it can happen] with La Mascaronne, it’s just a matter of time before we can do something amazing.

What’s next for you as far as the wine world goes?

 

Our premium rosé just came out from La Mascaronne.  Only 3,000 bottles.

We’re working on more premium one’s now.  I think that’s where things are going with rose’s.  All these big companies and all the knowledge that they get from the red wines is coming into the Rosé world, where the Rosé is going to get better and better.

For more information on Tony Parker and La Mascaronne:

La Mascaronne’s website

La Mascaronne’s Instagram

Tony Parker’s Instagram

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