Weekend Pairing – Clams and Chorizo and Finn River Farmstead Cider

Cider is quite possibly one of the most underappreciated beverages around. But in that few years there has been nothing short of a revolution in the American Cider industry. I say American, because Europe has a long history of growing great artisanal cider. England, France, Spain all have great cider producing regions, just look to the Basques for culinary inspiration for cooking with cider or Sidra.

America has a long history of producing cider, which in the EU sense I mean hard cider. We all heard the stories of Johnny Appleseed growing up, but what most of us didn’t hear was that Johnny was peddling cider apples, meant for making hard cider. Which makes sense because fermented cider, hard cider was stable and in the times before refrigeration that is what you wanted. With the rise of prohibition the cider industry was virtually destroyed in the US. There have been a number of ciders produced after prohibition but these have been made using second grade dessert apples. Dessert apples are table apples the so called Red Delicious and its kin.
“Up until Prohibition, an apple grown in America was far less likely to be eaten than to wind up in a barrel of cider,” writes Michael Pollan in The Botany of Desire. “In rural areas cider took the place of not only wine and beer but of coffee and tea, juice, and even water.”
Cider apples are a different breed, these apples are bitter and tart and have grown to produce ciders that are complex and interesting.

In the US today there is nothing short of a cider renaissance, with cideries opening up at record numbers. Here in Northwest we are at a center of the action, for decades Washington has been synonymous with apples and with over 175,000 acres of orchards we produce over half the apples in the US.
We are blessed with many great cider producers but a personal favorite is Finnriver. Finnriver Cidery was founded in 2008 by Eric Jorgensen and Keith and Crystie Kisler. The roots of the cidery began in friendship and farmland and now, with several thousand heirloom cider trees in the ground, farming and fermenting continue side by side on 80 acres in Chimacum Valley on the Olympic Peninsula.

Weekend Pairing – Clams and Chorizo and Finn River Farmstead Cider
Finnriver is at the forefront of the craft cider revival and farmcrafts a range of traditional, contemporary and seasonal ciders made primarily from organic Washington fruit, along with a line-up of spirited fruit wines.
Erin James in her new book “Tasting Cider –The Cidercraft Guide to the Distinctive Flavors of North American Hard Cider” she shares a recipe from Chef Paul Zerkel for Clams with Chorizo with Sweet Peas and Leeks. You can pair this with a traditional Basque cider or something local like the Finn River Farmstead Cider.
Weekend Pairing – Clams and Chorizo and Finn River Farmstead Cider“An earthy, amber-colored cider with an aroma of warm bread and sweet apple. Offers a rustic taste of the ripe orchard and hearty homestead cider tradition. Nutty with a sharp acidity that balances a gentle tannic finish. Unfiltered lees lend body to this cider.”

Clams and Chorizo with Sweet Peas and Leeks
Makes 4 servings
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 leek, diced and well rinsed
2 ounces Spanish chorizo, thinly sliced
1 bunch Italian parsley, minced
3 pounds Manila clams, rinsed, scrubbed, and soaked in salt water for 1 hour
1 cup ÆppelTreow Winery & Distillery Appely Doux cider
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
{1/2} cup fresh sweet peas (frozen is optional)
1 baguette, sliced in half lengthwise and buttered

Weekend Pairing – Clams and Chorizo and Finn River Farmstead Cider
1. Preheat the broiler. Set a large pot over medium heat and add the butter. Add the leeks, chorizo, and half of the parsley. Sauté until the leeks are soft and the chorizo is a little crispy, 4 to 5 minutes.
2. Increase the heat to medium-high. Add the clams and stir gently, until they are well coated. Add the cider and season with salt and pepper, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover the pot and let simmer until the clams open, about 5 minutes. Add the peas during the last minute.
3. While the clams are steaming, place the baguette under the broiler and toast until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Pour the clams and broth into a shallow serving bowl. Garnish with the remaining parsley, slice the bread, and serve hot.
Courtesy Erin James “Tasting Cider”

Join us for an evening of Cider and Pairing With Erin James September 6th

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The Dark Side of Tequila presented by Hornitos Black Barrel

The Dark Side of Tequila presented by Hornitos Black Barrel 

May 3rd, 6-8PM The Sky Lounge 

Come learn about the art & process of crafting tequila, with an in-depth look at various aging techniques using everything from new oak, ex-bourbon, and former Cognac barrels. Local rep Derek Wieting will lead guests through a guided flight tasting and dinner. Followed by Mitchell Johnson of M Bar with a presentation on how to create simple tequila cocktails at home.

Dinner will feature tacos & sides from El Camino. All guests will take home a gift bag and we will be raffling off a brand new Hornitos Golf Bag!

$15 tasting fee, which can be used towards your purchase,

space is limited RSVP by calling 206.682.7374

The Dark Side of Tequila presented by Hornitos Black Barrel The Dark Side of Tequila presented by Hornitos Black Barrel The Dark Side of Tequila presented by Hornitos Black Barrel The Dark Side of Tequila presented by Hornitos Black Barrel

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Upcoming Classes in the Sky Lounge

Introduction to Wine Classes Series:

With this Introductory Series, sommelier Arnie Millan will be your guide as you are taken through the basics of wine. You will learn about the many wine producing regions throughout the world, sample the wines and participate in lively discussion.

This shortened series begins May 7th and continues through June 4th. The program of four classes is scheduled on Sundays from 1:30 – 4:00 p.m. in Esquin’s Sky Lounge. Free parking is available in Esquin’s lot on the South end of the building.

These fun, informal classes were featured in the Wall Street Journal and each class includes useful handouts. Arnie was recenjtly featured in a Seattle Times profile entitled “The finest Wine Mind in Seattle.”

The series of four classes, including wine tastings of 8 wines during each class, will be offered for $39 per class or $145 for all 4 classes per person. Gift certificates are available.

To register, please email arnie@esquin.com.com or call 206-682-7374.

Advance registration is required. Gift certificates are available.

Topics covered will be:

May 7th –  Class 1 : Grapes, Viticulture and Winemaking

We will learn a glossary of important wine terms, discuss the major international grape varieties as well as the basics of viticulture and winemaking.

May 21st – Class 2: A Tour of Spain

Spain’s wine history is the oldest in Europe and its wine regions reveal a wealth of indigenous grapes far beyond the famous Tempranillo. Explore Spain’s dynamic and exciting wine scene.

May 28th – Class 3: A Survey of Italy

Italy is one of the world’s greatest wine regions with an unbelievable treasure trove of terrific indigenous grape varieties. We will cover all 19 wine regions and taste 8 delicious wines made from native grapes.

June 4th-  Class 4: A Tour of France

France is the touchstone for fine wine, the benchmark by which quality wine is judged. We will de-mystify and explain all their major regions including Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Alsace and the Rhône Valley

Upcoming Classes in the Sky Lounge

Food + Wine Classes with Lenny Rede

May 14th – Champagne & Caviar! 2-4PM in the Sky Lounge

Explore the range and elegance of Champagne and some classic pairings – including Caviar, Lobster, Fried Chicken, and Popcorn. We will discuss the production styles, rules, and history of the King of wines. With Special Guest! $49
Call 206.682.7374 to register. Advance registration is necessary. Gift Certificates are available.

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Spring Classes at Esquin

Italy In-Depth 3 Class Series

Italy! The Land of the Vine, according to the ancient Greeks; nowhere else is wine so closely intertwined with daily life in every village throughout the Italian peninsula – not even France. Nowhere else is there such a enormous array of excellent native varietals.

Beginning Sunday April 2nd, Sommelier Arnie Millan will be offering an in-depth look at Italian wine with three classes, each organized by region:

1. April 2nd – The South (Campagnia, Sicily, Puglia, Calabria, Sardinia, Basilicata)  1-4:30PM in the Sky Lounge $69

2. April 23rd – The Center (Tuscany, Umbria, Lazio, The Marches, Emilia-Romagna, Liguria, Molise, Abruzzi) 1- 4:30PM in the Sky Lounge $69

3. April 30th – The North (Piedmont, Valle d’Aosta, Lombardy, Veneto, Alto Aldige/Trentino, Friuli-Giulia-Venezie) 1-4:30PM in the Sky Lounge $69

Join us for the complete series $195, tickets available here>>

Each region, its history and wines, will be discussed in depth. Classes will include tasting regional wines. We will taste 8 wines per class from the Italy’s greatest appellations. Free parking is available in Esquin’s lot on the South end of our building. The Seattle Times recently named Arnie “The finest Wine Mind in Seattle.”

FOOD + WINE CLASSES with Lenny Rede

Spring Classes at Esquin Spring Classes at Esquin

April 9th – Bourbon and Barbecue! 2-4PM in the Sky LoungeTwo great tastes that taste great together. We will explore a variety of styles of barbecue and an equal number of bourbons, including a few local favorites! Do’s and don’ts on how to make your next BBQ the best party ever. $49 Call 206.682.7374 to register. Advance registration is necessary. Gift Certificates are available.

May 14th – Champagne & Caviar! 2-4PM in the Sky Lounge
Explore the range and elegance of Champagne and some classic pairings – including Caviar, Lobster, Fried Chicken, and Popcorn. We will discuss the production styles, rules, and history of the King of wines. With Special Guest! $49
Call 206.682.7374 to register. Advance registration is necessary. Gift Certificates are available.

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Jeff’s Januik Blend

I recently attended a blending seminar at Novelty Hill Januik Winery in Woodinville with the Master of Merlot himself, Mr. Mike Januik. We were given five wines, out of barrel, from different sites and tasked with blending and bottling our own wine. There were no rules.

First, I started with the Stillwater Creek Merlot. This is a cooler vineyard than most and makes for a great Merlot site, because Merlot ripens earlier than the other Bordeaux varietals. This wine is soft and plummy with a round mouth feel and dark berry fruits, it will be perfect for the mid pallet of my blend and could soften any hard edges the other wines might have.

Second,  I tried the Cabernet Franc from Ciel du Cheval –  one of Washington’s most famous vineyards on Red Mountain. Wow! The aromas soar from the glass with violet, red and dark berry fruits carrying through to the pallet. My impressed self thought, “I MUST incorporate this in my blend!”

Third, I tried the Malbec from Stillwater Creek. Oh boy, a very showy wine with dark berry fruit and creamy texture, it is dense and dark.  I realized  I would have to be careful with this one if I wanted to blend with it. A wine like this could overpower a blend.

Number four was a Cabernet from the Wahluke Slope and the Weinbau Vineyard. A good example of Cabernet with slight herbal notes, red and black currants and Mocha nuances. This is a medium to full-bodied wine with moderate tannins.

Number five was the Shaw vineyard Cabernet from Red Mountain. This wine has the markings of good Cabernet, like the Weinbau, but is bigger in structure. It has more concentration of fruit weight and tannin with good acid to make it balanced. I liked it, and a little could go a long way in a blend.

After tasting the five selections given, and I was tasked with coming up with my own blend. The question to myself was, do I want something out of the ordinary or try my hand at a classic style that could compete with the world’s best.  I decided to go for a right bank Bordeaux style with a slight twist.

I eliminated the Malbec and the Weinbau Cabernet, as they didn’t have the structure I need, and decided to use the other three wines.

My blend:

50% Ciel du Cheval Cabernet Franc

30% Stillwater Creek Merlot

20% Shaw Cabernet from Red Mountain.

Typically you wouldn’t see any Cabernet in a right bank Bordeaux style wine, but I wanted to add a little mussel to this blend.  I used a heavy dose of Cab-Franc, because I liked it so much, and the Merlot helped soften and smooth out the transition from the mid-palette to the finish.

My blend resulted  in a wine with floral aromas and dark fruit that expressively carry through to the palette, with a soft and seamless texture in the transition, and a long finish. Too bad I only got to make one bottle.

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog and maybe learned something. If you ever have any questions about Washington Wine or anything at all please e-mail me Jeff@esquin.com

~ Jeff

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Wines of the Rhône Valley Classes March 19 and 26

Beginning Sunday March 19th, Esquin’s Arnie Millan will host a two-part series of classes

focused on the wines of the Rhone, their history and their effects on the world of wine.

The Rhone Valley is home to some of France’s greatest wines, from noble Hermitage in the North to celebrated Chateauneuf-du-Pape in the South. The ancient Greeks and Romans planted vines here. The Papacy moved here for a brief but unforgettable period, thereafter bringing great prestige to the area.

In short, this is a region with a wondrous past yet whose present achievements in wine attract the world’s attention. The wines of the Rhone continue to exert a huge influence on wines being produced around the world, from Washington State to Australia and South Africa.

The first class, on Sunday March 19th, features the Northern Rhone Valley from Cote-Rotie, Hermitage, Saint Joseph, Cornas to Saint- Peray.

The second class, on Sunday March 26th, explores the Southern Rhone Valley with its great villages dominated by the renowned Chateauneuf- du-Pape.

We will taste 8 wines per class from the region’s greatest appellations. Cost is $79 per class or $145 for the two-part series.

The classes will be held on on Sundays, from 1:30 – 4:00 p.m. in Esquin Wine & Spirits Sky Lounge at 2700 4th Avenue S., just South of the stadiums in SODO. Free parking is available in Esquin’s lot on the South end of the building.

Gift Certificates are available.

The Seattle Times has named Arnie “The finest Wine Mind in Seattle.”

To register, please click on the following links:

Rhone Valley Entire 2 Class Series
March 19th class: The North
March 26th Class: The South

or call Esquin at 206-682-7374 or email Arnie.

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