With its three basic ingredients?honey, water, and yeast?the making of mead sounds misleadingly simple. But Michael Fairbrother tinkered with the recipe for this ancient drink in his garage for 17 years before he felt ready to open Moonlight Meadery and share the results. Michael has fine-tuned the fermentation process to craft batches of mead from ethically sourced, unpasteurized honey, which imparts each sip with rich color, vivid aromas, and the pleasant buzz that bees make while wading into a hot tub. Michael?s traditional mead rests side by side with fruit-tinged and spiced varietals that meld flavors such as tart rhubarb and Madagascar-bourbon vanilla beans with New Hampshire wildflower honey.
The inspiration for Zorvino Vineyards came to Jim and Cheryl Zanello in the same way it does for many American vintners—from a trip to Italy. Taken by the contrast in the quality of the wines and the pace of life between the two countries, the Zanellos brought over their own taste of the old country to an 80-acre New England estate. With grapes sourced both from their own vineyard and such regions as Tuscany, Chile, and California, the pair crafts a suite of red, white, and fruit wines that they sell on site and proffer to local restaurants and merchants. However, the winery itself is worth a trip, with its wrought-iron gate, lantern posts that seem to grow out of empty casks, and swarms of fireflies that send Morse code recommendations for the best wine to pair with salmon. Inside the tasting room, guests lean on hardwood banisters as they sip samples of the winery’s creations.
The Boston Wine Expo’s Grand Tasting event unites varietals from nearly 200 wineries around the world with cuisine from more than 40 local eateries during four hours of culinary harmony. Attendees can sip more than 1,000 red and white elixirs culled from the grape-producing and wild-cork-taming regions of North America, Europe, the Southern Hemisphere, and the Mediterranean. Samples from Boston-area restaurants such as Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Sandrine’s Bistro complement each swig as vintners enlighten enophiles on current winemaking trends. Throughout the afternoon, top gastronomic maestros tread two stages during live demonstrations that divulge recipes and directions for finding the secret compartment hidden inside every wine bottle. Lifestyle exhibits and a full schedule of seminars enlighten guests on topics ranging from cheese-and-wine matching to the diversity of Italian varietals (not included with this Groupon). A portion of the event’s proceeds will benefit local charities.
On any given night at Gordon's Fine Wines & Liquors, guests might hear staff instructors share their favorite French wines or introduce a Speyside scotch. They might also see guest sommeliers, local brewers, or winemakers discuss the production regions and flavors of their most cherished varietals. For more than 75 years, Gordon’s has been a beacon for such talented flavor enthusiasts, recruiting a team of specialized instructors that has earned the alcohol emporium the title of Massachusetts Beverage Business 2012 Retailer of the Year. These professionals have never tired of spinning out lessons—touching on wine education, beer and spirits, cooking, and wine-and-food pairings, which immerses visitors in how to successfully marry cheeses and wines without their parents getting all bent out of shape.
Yet apart from the knowledge spread therein and the discussions bubbling with poignant enthusiasm behind the shelves, Gordon’s also serves as a supplier. Its shelves abound with hundreds of wines—including kosher wines—from every continent except Antarctica, more than 500 types of craft beer, and 300 single-malt scotches.
Guests arriving to the Sheraton Needham Hotel might find their senses flooded with the aromas of classic American cuisine. The enticing smells come courtesy of Link Caf? & Bar, located just off the main lobby. There, chefs concoct a range of house specialties, from grilled chicken wings doused in teriyaki or chipotle barbecue sauce to flatbreads topped with figs and goat cheese or prosciutto and pears. Pub-inspired large plates such as English-style bangers and roasted salmon with mustard-chive sauce are hearty enough to sate any appetite, and make a perfect pairing for one of the bar's classic cocktails. Link Caf? & Bar also offers top-quality wines by the glass or flight, and each vintage on its compact, international list was chosen because it earned a high score from Wine Spectator and also aced the essay portion of its application.
Amy LaBelle has come a long way since she made her first batch of blueberry wine in her Boston apartment. She's taken classes in the Wine and Viticulture program at UC Davis in California and added cranberry, apple, peach, and 23 other varieties of other fruit and grape wine to her repertoire. Her first bottles were so popular that they sold out at local shops and farmers' markets. This was also when Amy began collecting her numerous awards. But her biggest achievement was opening her eponymous winery in a new state-of-the-art facility in late 2012.
Today, Amy and her husband Cesar Arboleda continue to run the winemaking process. Besides production equipment, their facility houses a sleek tasting room where guests can sample wines such as the bold Red Alchemy, the maple-finished Granite State Apple, and the signature Dry Apple. The bottles pair perfectly with dishes at Bistro at LaBelle Winery, which serves French-style cuisine in a warm, family-friendly setting. And visitors who find themselves inspired by Amy's can-do spirit can purchase items from The Winemaker's Kitchen, a line of culinary products that includes wine-infused jellies and wine-infused cooking wines such as the Jalapeno Cooking Wine and Sweet Onion Cooking Wine.