The (not so) Glamorous Life of a Wine Diva

A lot of people think being the wine buyer at The Dog is a glamorous and fun job (you know the drinking on the job thing, working with such a cool boss, etc.). Now, don’t get me wrong it is fun but it’s a lot of work too.  There are days when the sales reps come in starting at 10 am & don’t stop until 4! That is a ton of wine that I taste and, if I’m not careful, I can get a little tipsy (wink wink).

In all of those wines there may be five that I find may worthy of bringing into the store. I look at quality versus cost, overall taste (of course), and most of all I think about what my customers will like.  I try to put myself in their shoes to think what they would enjoy.  I have to constantly remind myself (if not, the boss is quick to) that the store is NOT my personal wine cellar unlike so many other wine buyers.  So, buying wine is not something that I take lightly.  One other important thing I ask myself when tasting wines is, “Is the winery a family owned operation or a large conglomerate?”  Since we are a small family owned store we like to support like-minded small businesses and we certainly hope that you feel the same way!  There is a lot of good wine out there made by hard-working folks like you and us!

Saluté! Continue reading

Tis the Season for All Things Pumpkin….Beer

Pumpkin beer, once brewed by our founding fathers because of shortages of barley and other brewing ingredients, has turned into a market of its own, with great variety I must say!  You can find anything from a mild cider, shandy, or lager all the way to bourbon barrel aged imperial ales and even stouts and porters. They all vary greatly in actual pumpkin/squash/yam flavor, style of beer, spice level, and alcohol content so sometimes trying to pick out the perfect pumpkin beer can be overwhelming. You have beer that tastes like you are biting into a slice of pumpkin pie (such as Southern Tier Pumking) to beers with heavy allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon notes (like the Fordham spiced harvest ale). Me?  I like notes of pumpkin or squash and some spice but it can’t be the only thing I taste. I mean, I am a BEER lover which means I still want pumpkin beer to taste like BEER, not pie. Great examples of what I’m referring to would be Uinta, Evolution, and Dogfish Head. I also will say that some different tastes in this category are very nice too; Terrapin has a cranberry pumpkinfest which has a cranberry tartness. Boulevard has a cool spiced sour called the Funky Pumpkin. The Bruery has an awesome yam and molasses beer that is definitely worth a try. I was even impressed by pumpkin ciders, which is surprising because I don’t seem to like a lot of ciders normally. If I did have to pick a favorite, it would probably be The Great’er Pumpkin by Heavy Seas. It has a great bourbon background note and still showcases all the “necessary” spices without taking over the flavor. Being around 10% ABV is reason enough to try it and definitely nice for those colder nights. In all, I would say the only way to really know which is going to be your favorite is to get out and try as many as possible before this short season of beer is over.    Here at Hair O’ The Dog we make that easy for you as you can buy most of these beers individually, or for an even better deal, put together a mixed 6 pack of various pumpkin beers and see which you like best!

 

Oh, by the way, my name is Sean and I am the resident “Beer Guy” at Hair O’ The Dog, appropriately named the “HOPtical Solutionist”. I am a beer enthusiast, hop grower and home brewer with an appreciation for the art of brewing and always on the search for my new favorite beer. I’ve never been much of a blogger (this is actually the first I have ever written) but if people want to read what I have to say then that is A-OK in my book and I’ll try to keep the beer knowledge and experiences rolling. They say beer talks, so I try to listen. Now go drink beer and make sure to tell all your friends (and me!) when you find a beer that is worth trying.

The DOG Delivers The Goods!

An event coordinator and her rig!

An event coordinator and her rig!

Ever see that super cool Hair O’ The Dog truck cruising around town??? No, we are not out joyriding with any of our product! One of the fun parts of my job is getting to coordinate deliveries with the DogMobile and drive it myself (when Joe’s feeling brave). Aside from getting friendly honks on the road (those are friendly, right??), everyone is happy and in good moods to see their booze arrive. It really is fun to bomb around town in a big, tall truck and know that I’m kicking someone’s weekend off right. And yes, this 5’2” munchkin does a get a kick out of driving “big, tall trucks,” can you tell?

Having a couple great delivery guys (Sean and Jordan) and some serious muscle to load it up at the store (that’s for you, Joe) really streamlines the process. With any size delivery, I make sure all the product is in the store and compiled, Joe or Sean are dispatched to load up the truck, and then Sean gets to roam Talbot County and get everything set up where it needs to be. For big deliveries, the DogMobile has a trailer, which is apparently my next task – to learn how to drive AND reverse with a trailer attached. Look out everybody!

 

 

WWDD or What Would Our Diva Drink….

IMG_1308This year we started a new section called “What Would the Diva Drink” or WWDD. This is where I, the Diva, can express my own palate and hopefully introduce our customers to something new.  See, as the wine buyer, I have to choose wines for the store that will appeal to our customers, not just to me.  As ‘The Man’ is always saying, this is not my personal wine cellar!

So every once in awhile I come across something that is really super cool and yummy that demands special attention, like a Schiavo from Italy or a Groeller Gris from the Loire Valley.  If left on the shelf, it’s something that you might pass by, but if we put it in WWDD then you’ll know that it’s something extra special and has its own stamp of approval (look for bottles with stickers on shelves for previous picks). So stop by & see what new things we have & what really tickled my fancy!

 

 

 

The Diva Waxes Poetic on her Favorite Wines…Rosés!

It’s Rosé Season and that makes me very happy!!!! It has been very gratifying to see one of my favorite styles of wine increase in popularity over the years.  I remember when I first started ten years ago how we just had a few cases.  Now we carry up to twenty different Rosfrom all over the world and in different varietals.

I could bore you with details on the different ways they make Rosé but I’d rather not.  What I’d like to tell you is that Rosé is absolutely delicious and very versatile. No longer do you have to wait until May to start drinking or have to stop after Labor Day when you put your white shoes away (you ladies know to what I refer). Rosé can vary from the bone dry, mineral, salmon-colored, and melon flavored of Provence to the rich, full bodied, lush strawberry, and deep pink of Spain and California. It can accompany many different foods ranging from ham to salads to seafood to vegetables to BBQ. Or you can be like me and just drink because it tastes so darned good!

I have currently have two favorites but that is subject to change at any given time! La Croix Belle Rosé from Cotes du Thongue just blew me away when we sampled a bottle earlier in the year. It comes on soft, in the middle it explodes with tart fruit flavors, and finishes dry.  My second isn’t in the store yet but I recently tasted it at a supplier show, La Spinetta. This is an Italian Rosé made from Sangiovese and Prugnolo Gentile but drinks like one from Provence. It is complex with red berries, honeysuckle, and pomegranate.

I invite you to stop in the store to check our Rosé garden out; it will be blooming all spring & summer!!

Dogs On The Wing: Ales Well That Ends Well

Hello, my name is Dick Tettelbaum, I’m a part-time Dog; mostly-retired attorney; lifelong student, specializing of late in the leisure sciences; not so good fisherman; and good barbecue.  I thought that it would be entertaining to write an occasional blog giving non-technical impressions of brews and ‘que offered in a very random sampling at The Dog.

For the first of these events, I cooked five pounds of wings on my charcoal-fueled rotisserie.  The wings were rubbed with Old Bay seasoning, cooked for about 90 minutes, and then sauced in a mixture of passion fruit syrup (the stuff that real Hurricanes are made of), Frank’s hot sauce and butter.  One of my fellow Doggers pronounced them the best wings she’s ever had.

The beers, all ales, selected for this event all of which are, of course, featured at The Dog:  Devil’s Backbone Striped Bass Pale Ale; DuClaw’s El Kabong Apricot Chile Ale; and Tall Tales Red Headed Step Child Irish Red.  I intentionally selected these so as to be a complement to the wings, rather than the wings being an excuse for downing untold quantities of “industrial” beer.

So, what were the impressions of the ales we sampled?  The Striped Bass Pale Ale:  a light, moderately hopped brew that has the body to stand up to the mildly aggressive wings.  The El KaBong:  a showstopper with a chocolate ambience and chili tang that would make any chicken willing to part with its wings.  And, the Red Headed Step Child:  dark, roasty, and with a touch of sweetness, it might be an almost perfect barbecue accompaniment.  The final verdict?  The El KaBong was my favorite but  Nirvana might be wings served with all three!

Oh, have you met our new Event Coordinator Devon?

Hey there Top Dogs!

Many of you would have seen me this past year and a half if you had come into the store on Fridays or Saturdays, but now you’ll be seeing a lot more of me. I wanted to introduce myself, if you did not know, as the Event Coordinator at Hair O’ The Dog, and let you know a little bit more about myself.

I grew up in Williamsburg, VA, went to college at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, and majored in International Relations and French (hey, wine is international, right?!). After college, I moved to Paris for almost two years and then moved to Easton, where my mom had relocated after getting remarried. As I had a little wine experience from living in France and drinking copious amounts of the good grape stuff, I ended up working a couple days a week at The Dog and also at the Tidewater Inn as a server/bartender.

Now, being full-time, it is awesome not being pulled in different directions between two jobs, or working 15 hours a day on the weekends. As much as I loved the Tidewater Inn, I am loving being able to focus my energy on this business. A business that is so great because everyone’s in a good mood! Think about it: people are coming in to buy alcohol for parties! People are celebrating something. It’s really fun to provide supplies for that, and to see everyone’s enthusiasm leading up to the event. Could you imagine being a divorce lawyer every day?! (no offense to any divorce lawyers out there reading this – power to ya!).

Anyway, with a little background on myself, I hope you all have a better sense of who is serving you, or will want to come in and use me for your parties! I’m really excited to be embarking on this mission this year and hope I can find success along the way. Worst case scenario, I’ll learn all kinds of things! It really is a fascinating business, with new products, knowledge, and cool people every day. Plus, I get to boss around the big bearded delivery guys now ;) I’ll update periodically on whatever strikes my fancy!  Thanks for reading y’all.

 

The Devonator

The Story of The Wine Diva, aka Leeanne Young!

Leeanne 3.1.16 So, this is my first ever blog. I’ve been debating what to write about and as I thought about wine varietals, styles, and regions it occurred to me that people are always asking me how I got started.

About ten years ago I was in between jobs and started working at Hair O’ The Dog, not expecting ten years later that I’d be the wine buyer! As time wore on I started learning about wine and discovered that I had a decent palate, I caught the wine bug! The guys saw my enthusiasm and encouraged me in my pursuit of knowledge. Over time I became a store manager then the wine buyer for Hair O’ the Dog, and I love it!!! I love searching for unique wines and introducing them to our customers. I get such a kick when a customer comes in and tells me how much they enjoyed the wine that I recommended. That and learning about new wines and regions are what continue to feed my passion.
Because we are constantly sampling new products I’ve discovered a new passion for bourbon & tequila. I was a strictly a wine girl who’d a thunk it? I guess you CAN teach an old dog new tricks.

BOULEVARD FUNKY PUMPKIN

pumpkinwebAhhh pumpkin beers…..Everyone’s favorite style…..well, maybe not. But, I can’t lie, I do enjoy a pumpkin brew everyone once in awhile, especially on a crisp Iowa fall day. I can understand the people who don’t like them either, I’ve found myself scoffing at a few pumpkin offerings trying to figure out what exactly the brewer was trying to do to make their pumpkin beer…READ MORE

SOUTHERN TIER PUMKING

PumpkinI think Southern Tier listened to some of the criticisms of Pumking and tweaked the recipe. The heart of this is still the Pumking fans (like me) know and love, but with the rough edges shorn off to make it a more casual friendly beer. The Pumking detractors aren’t going to change their tune nor will this win over those that want the pumpkin front and center, but someone on the fence may find…READ MORE