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A rapper launching a luxury Champagne is nothing new. But a rapper creating a luxury Lambrusco? That has both the wine and music worlds doing a double-take. The Wu-Tang Clan’s Raekwon is giving this sparkling red wine a flashy makeover with the launch of Licataa. Unlike its Italian Lambrusco brethren, Licataa is encased in stylish blue chrome bottles, fitting for everything from posh restaurants to nightclubs.

Raekwon wants his wine to be an affordable luxury, according to HipHopDX. “I don’t believe you need to go into debt just to get a bottle of wine — I still want to reach those people who were with me from the jump — but I still want people to get an authentic experience of the high life,” says Raekwon. As such, the wine retails at a very reasonably-priced $35 per bottle.

Via Wine Spectator, the wine is named after the Sicilian town of Licata, from which many Italian-Americans originally immigrated. This idea of having to journey from one’s home highly resonated with Raekwon. The Wu-Tang Clan is based out of Staten Island, which is also removed from New York City.

Photo credit: Jarren Vink

Licataa is a demi-sec wine from the Emilia-Romagna region of central Italy. Raekwon was directly involved in its creation, spending time in Verona, Italy with sommeliers and winemakers to make his vision a reality. Tasting notes include aromatics of red berry, cherries, and lilac, with a hint of musk. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied with a smooth, velvety texture. Licataa is produced by Cantine Ceci, a generations-old Lambrusco maker.

While Licataa can be enjoyed chilled, its light tannins and crisp acidity also make it perfect for cocktails. Via Revolt.tv, Licataa was launched with two cocktail recipes, the slightly bitter Licataa Red Velvet Guillotine, and the more fruit-forward Licataa Peony (recipes below).

Licataa is a yet another force adding momentum to the revival of Lambrusco in the U.S. This fizzy red fell out of favor in the 80’s due to excessive low-quality production. Now, winemakers are crafting drier, more finessed versions of Lambrusco, and Licataa is one of them.

“Licataa is the new standard in luxury wine,” says Raekwon. And he isn’t stopping at Lambrusco. Fans can expect a full line of wine and spirits soon. To learn more, visit Licataa.com or visit one of the New York City retailers above.

Licataa Red Velvet Guillotine Cocktail Recipe

  • 1.5 oz Cognac
  • 0.75 oz Lemon Juice
  • 0.5 oz Orange Curaçao
  • 0.25 oz Creme de Cacao
  • 1 Dash Angostura
  • 1 Dash Peychaud’s

Shake, strain in a Collins glass, and top with 2-3 oz Licataa. Garnish with an orange slice.

Licataa Peony Cocktail Recipe

  • 1 oz Aged Rum
  • 1 oz Fresh Pineapple Juice
  • 0.5 oz Fresh Lime Juice
  • 0.5 oz Simple Syrup

Shake, strain in a coupe or flute (ice is optional), and top with 2-3 oz Licataa. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Photo credit: Jarren Vink

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This Black Friday and Cyber Monday, take advantage of some major wine sales to stock up your cellar. Here are the top deals available in states where wine can be shipped directly to consumers. This list will continue to be updated as more wine deals are obtained.

Bevmo.com
  • $20 off online wine purchases of $100 or more starting Black Friday through Cyber Monday (November 23-26). This offer is for one-time use only.
  • 15% off 12+ bottles of wine from BevMo’s “5-Cent” selection of bottles, Cyber Monday November 26. Available to CA, WA, AZ, AK, NE, NM, ND, NV, OR, WY, DC.
  • Free shipping on all online orders, no minimum order threshold, Cyber Monday November 26.
  • 2 Priority Wine Passes for $49.99: The Priority Pass grants access to discounted or free tastings at over 400 wineries in California, Oregon, and Washington. The pass also includes discounts on select Napa Valley hotels, the Napa Valley Wine Train, tours, and more. Black Friday through Cyber Monday (November 23-26).
  • California Residents: Vinturi products are up to 60% off for customers shipping to California, Black Friday through Cyber Monday (November 23-26).
Wine.com via Ebates
  • 5% cash back on all purchases when you click the link from Ebates.com. Cash back will be deposited into Ebates account.
  • New to Ebates?  $10 Ebates sign-up bonus
Sotheby’s Wine Italian Wine Merchants
  • Over 90 magnum and double-magnums of acclaimed Italian, French, and Californian winemakers are going on sale, including Antinori, Gaja, Fontodi, Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia, and much more. See the full list here and email

    sergioiwm@italianwinemerchants.com to purchase.

Wine Express

…And much, much more: we’ll continue updating this article as we find more sales.

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This Black Friday and Cyber Monday, take advantage of some major wine sales to stock up your cellar. Here are the top deals available in states where wine can be shipped directly to consumers. This list will continue to be updated as more wine deals are obtained.

Bevmo.com
  • $20 off online wine purchases of $100 or more starting Black Friday through Cyber Monday (November 23-26). This offer is for one-time use only.
  • 15% off 12+ bottles of wine from BevMo’s “5-Cent” selection of bottles, Cyber Monday November 26. Available to CA, WA, AZ, AK, NE, NM, ND, NV, OR, WY, DC.
  • Free shipping on all shipping orders, no minimum order threshold, Cyber Monday November 26.
  • 2 Priority Wine Passes for $49.99: The Priority Pass grants access to discounted or free tastings at over 400 wineries in California, Oregon, and Washington. The pass also includes discounts on select Napa Valley hotels, the Napa Valley Wine Train, tours, and more. Black Friday through Cyber Monday (November 23-26).
  • California Residents: Vinturi products are up to 60% off for customers shipping to California, Black Friday through Cyber Monday (November 23-26).
Sotheby’s Wine Wine Express

…And much, much more: we’ll continue updating this article as we find more sales.

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Digital marketing mogul Gary Vaynerchuk is working to disrupt the wine industry with the launch of Empathy Wines. Empathy Wines is a concept that lets farmers sell directly to consumers, under the Empathy Wines label. This eliminates the markup consumers must pay, while also allowing farmers to earn more. Vaynerchuk launched Empathy Wines along with co-founders Jon Troutman and Nate Scherotter, who he initially met while working in the wine industry.

Via Instagram, Vaynerchuk stated that launching a wine was one of his lifelong dreams. Since his youth, Vaynerchuk has been immersed in the wine industry through his father’s wine shop. In 1998, he took over the business (now named Wine Library) and helped exponentially grow its profits. He also founded the immensely successful WineLibrary TV channel on Youtube, which at its peak had over 100,000 daily viewers.

While Vaynerchuk no longer runs Wine Library, he remained passionate about wine. He also felt that the wine industry structure gave too much profit to wine industry distributors and retailers. So, Vaynerchuk launched Empathy Wines with the goal of providing an alternative to consumers tired of paying high markups for wine.

Empathy Wines is a subscription service providing three shipments per year. At launch, the subscriptions range from $243 for 9 bottles (about $27 per bottle) to $720 for 36 bottles ($20 per bottle). It includes the Empathy Rosé blend of Grenach, Syrah, Mourvedre, and Pinot Noir, Empathy Wine blend of Vermentino, Viognier, and Grenache Blanc, and Empathy Red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Zinfandel. The Empathy Rosé ships first in the spring of 2019, the Empathy White ships in summer 2019, and the Empathy Red ships in the fall of 2019.

The initial group of farmers growing grapes for Empathy Wines has decades of experience with acclaimed wineries. It includes Markus Bokisch of Bokisch Vineyards (Lodi, CA), Scott Bilbro of Marietta Vineyards (Mendocino, CA), Clay Shannon of Shannon Ranch (Lake County, CA), and the Mettler Family of Mettler Vineyards (Lodi, CA).

Ultimately, Vaynerchuk hopes “empower drinkers to trust their palate… taste lesser-known regions and grapes, and decide for themselves the good from the bad.” With Empathy Wines, he seems to be on track to do just that.  Learn more about Empathy Wines at empathywines.com.

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You could say Delia Viader is an exception to the norm. She’s a female winemaker who started a world-class winery on her first attempt, all while singlehandedly raising four children. She was an early champion of Cabernet Franc, back when everyone in Napa was jumping on the Cabernet Sauvignon bandwagon. And unlike most California vineyards, her vines are planted vertically up and down the hillside to optimize sun and wind exposure.

Delia Viader — Photo credit: VIADER Vineyard & Winery

But Delia isn’t just different for the sake of being different — her singular decisions were borne out of a tremendous desire to craft the best wine possible. Her discerning palate and unique approach to winemaking helped transform a rocky Howell Mountain hillside into exceptional wines.

Today, VIADER remains a small-production, boutique winery despite increasing wine industry consolidation and commoditization. Its vineyards are hand-farmed, with an incredibly low yield of just two tons per acre.

VIADER’s scenic Howell Mountain estate. — Photo credit: VIADER Vineyard & Winery

VIADER may never be the biggest winery, but it is certainly one of the best. We were absolutely blown away by the VIADER Proprietary Red Blend. Each sip unleashes a symphony of lush fruit, structured-yet-smooth tannins, and bright acidity. The finish is long and complex, with notes of herbs and dark chocolate. This is a highly ageworthy wine that’s also hard to resist drinking now.

The VIADER Proprietary Red Blend contains 31% Cabernet Franc, making it softer than pure Cabernet Sauvignon. “Cabernet Franc instills a mellowed complementary balance and early approachability to the wine with beautiful aromatics, silky texture and an elegant finesse,” says Delia. “Cabernet Sauvignon provides the backbone, structure, character and aging potential with succulent fruit and rich tannins.”

The VIADER Proprietary Red Blend is entirely grown on rocky, volcanic Howell Mountain slopes. However, the winery is 75 feet below the designated Howell Mountain AVA elevation. So, while all VIADER wines are technically Howell Mountain wines, they must be labelled Napa Valley.

In true Bordeaux style, the VIADER Proprietary Red Blend is designed to be consumed with food. One of Delia’s favorite pairings is lamb with seasonal roast vegetables alongside the VIADER Proprietary Red Blend. “The rich red fruit and earthy, leather and herbal spice flavors of the wine play perfectly with this dish,” says Delia. “The wine is smooth enough that it doesn’t overpower the meat, and elegant enough to allow for more than one glass.” Additionally, the fat in the lamb helps soften and give new depth to the Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon tannins.

Of all the quintessential wine pairings in the world, there’s something especially satisfying about succulent roasted meat and rich, velvety red wine. We’ve included our recipe for this pairing below — it’s perfect for special occasions, and easily accommodates a crowd.

As newly-minted fans, we are relieved to know that VIADER is a multigenerational business that will be around for decades to come. In fact, VIADER winemaking has already seamlessly transitioned from Delia to her son, Alan. Her daughter, Janet, oversees Sales and Marketing.

“We are always looking for new opportunities to continually improve the quality of our wines and dually, preserve the integrity of our vines and our family business for future generations to come,” says Delia. “One day, perhaps a grandchild (or several!) will be a part of our team!”

The future is bright for VIADER, and we look forward to tasting many releases to come. Learn more or schedule a private tasting at Viader.com.

Rosemary-Garlic Roasted Lamb and VIADER Proprietary Red Blend

Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Best Roast Leg of Lamb: We love the aromatic combination of rosemary and lamb in Jamie Oliver’s recipe. However, we added one key step to enhance the flavors of the meat: broiling it in the oven for about 3 minutes to create a browned, caramelized exterior.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lamb loin
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the sauce:

  • 1 bunch fresh mint
  • 1 stalk rosemary
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 tsp wine or rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Optional: seasonal vegetables such as squash and brussels sprouts

Instructions:

  1. Remove lamb from fridge and let it come close to room temperature (about 1 hour).
  2. Peel and mince garlic and rosemary.
  3. Make the marinade: In a bowl, mix garlic, rosemary, lemon zest and olive oil.
  4. Sprinkle salt and pepper onto lamb. Then rub marinade all over.
  5. Place lamb in oven and broil for 3 minutes or until it is seared brown on the outside.
  6. Lower oven temp to bake at 350F. Bake for approximately 75 minutes for medium rare and 90 minutes+ for well done. Bake time will also depend on the shape and size of your cut.
  7. Optional: after 30 minutes, you can add seasonal vegetables on the bottom rack.
  8. Prepare the sauce: Peel the mint and rosemary leaves and finely chop. Mix with the sugar, oil, and vinegar.
  9. Let lamb rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.
  10. Enjoy with a Cabernet Sauvignon blend that includes Cabernet Franc (we recommend Viader Proprietary Red Blend).
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Sweater weather means it’s time to cuddle up to cozy dishes — and wines. Warm up with rich, slow-cooked chicken mole and Zinfandel. This mole is incredibly easy to make, and its depth of flavor makes the ultimate match for a lush Zinfandel.

The Pairing: Why It Works
Zinfandel’s layered notes of warm spice, blackberry, vanilla, and mocha meld harmoniously with mole’s earthy red chile and chocolate flavors. The fruit in the Zinfandel also helps tame some of the spices in the dish. The sauce is quite rich, and has the potential to overpower a white wine.

The Wine: Ridge Vineyards Three Valleys
For our pairing, we selected our favorite Zinfandel maker, Ridge Vineyards. Their critically-acclaimed wines have enough fruit to be approachable, but also the structure and complexity to be far more interesting than your typical, jammy Zinfandel. The Three Valleys is a blend of 78% Zinfandel, 13% Carignane, 8% Petite Sirah, and 3% Mataro. The Petit Sirah lends extra depth to the wine, while the Carignane adds brightness and acidity.

The Recipe
When we say Slow Cooker Chicken Mole is easy, we mean barely any cooking easy. And the results? So delicious, you’ll find yourself craving it later on. We adapted our recipe from AllRecipes’ Slow Cooker Chicken Mole. There’s one key change in our version: more chicken. We increased the quantity of chicken from 1.5 to 2 pounds. This gives you a heartier mole with more servings, with still an abundance of sauce to go around!

Ingredients:

  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup raisins or chopped dates
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 chopped canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (not the whole can) << adobo sauce is key! Goya makes these and it’s available at Target, if you’re having trouble finding
  • 3 tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 14 oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • a dash of nutmeg
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 lb chicken

Preparation
Just load up a slow cooker with the onion, raisins, garlic, chipotle pepper, peanut butter,  crushed tomatoes, sugar, cinnamon, chili powder, cumin, coriander, nutmeg, cocoa powder, and chicken. Stir.

Turn it on for 6-9 hours (depending on how much you want the chicken to fall apart). Stir occasionally as needed.

Serve with rice. That’s IT!!

We hope you enjoy this Slow Cooker Chicken Mole and Zinfandel. Let us know what you think in the comments!

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Last year, Pink (aka Alecia Moore) made public that she owned a 25-acre vineyard in Southern California — but its name remained a secret. Now, Moore has announced that she is the force behind Two Wolves Wine. Unlike other celebrity-owned wines, Moore herself is the winemaker.

Two Wolves Wine is a project that was decades in the making for Moore. It started with discovering a passion for French wine, and then blossomed into purchasing a vineyard. Somehow, between endless touring and the release of her seventh album, Moore managed to learn the winemaking process, and then manage harvest, fermentation, and bottling of her first wines. To craft the wines, Moore relied on knowledge from both her Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) classes as well as her assistant winemaker Allison Thompson of La Lepian Wines.

Moore places a huge focus on sustainability, with practices such as cover crops and native yeast strains during fermentation. In 2014, the vineyard was certified as organic by the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF).

So what can we expect from Two Wolves Wine? Via the San Francisco Chronicle, the first three wines released will be a 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon ($90), 2015 Cabernet Franc ($60), and 2015 Petit Verdot ($60). All of the wines bear a vivid profile, with herbal and spice notes, reflecting Moore’s own wine preferences. While the wines are all red at launch, the vineyard also grows Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Malvasia Bianca. Moore mentioned eventual plans for a rosé, but she does not want her wines to be associated with the color pink.

We anticipate the arrival of some The Two Wolves-branded gear in the future. Moore’s trademark also includes clothing and wine accessories like gift bags and stoppers.

Two Wolves Wine will be available starting November 15th. Visit twowolveswine.com to learn more.

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