VinoVerve in the News

The sword is mightier than…. well fill in the blank yourself.


Earlier this year, I visited a friend, Arlynn Lieber Presser who was undertaking a project to visit all of her Facebook friends in 2011. Since then she has gotten quite a bit of publicity and some of it has rubbed off…. on VinoVerve. I was on Good Morning America (albeit somewhat passively).

Until GMA decides that they want to know about local wine…. hint, hint.

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The Sabre

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Arlynn PresserYes, that object from Wednesday was a champagne sabre.  I have seen a bottle opened this way once in the past.  Yet, I felt that I needed to give it a try.  When my friend Arlynn Lieber Presser told me about her blogging project to meet and learn from all her Facebook friends, I knew that this was the time to go ahead.  I purchased the sabre (you can spell it with an -er if you wish.  I am going all Buffalo Sabre-y on you) and waited for it to arrive.

It is magnificent. Has good heft and according to Kevin and the girls, the ability to put someone’s eye out.  Indeed, Champagne Rory indicated a concern that he would be blinded by flying glass.  This was not to be.  Everything went flying along its trajectory at such a rate of speed that I am not sure it is even possible to get glass blowback.  And wine foaming from the bottle removes the possiblity of shards travelling down your throat and lodging in your lung.  I like the looks of this sabre.  Kevin and I bought a Laguiole sabre for a friend a couple of years back and I was disappointed to see that it looked like a machete.  A deadly weapon as well to be sure, but it was missing the elegance of a sabre.

So, I took the sabre to Arlynn’s and I showed her how it worked.  But she was still concerned about trying it herself.  Watch for yourself.  I talked her into it.  You can read her post about our evening here.  I even got my Dad and Sophie to try using the sabre (Though in Sophie’s case, it was more like trying to keep her from it.)

I KNOW that I will never open a bottle of bubbly another way again.  This was way too cool.

It Came From Where?

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

If you have read this blog before you know that I appreciate wines from non traditional areas. These areas are usually in the United States, but not always. I love local wine, but believe that everywhere is local to someone.

So what do you do if you live in Russia and you want Champagne? Prior to Soviet control, French Champagne could be imported into Russia, but at great expense. It was Prince Leo Galitzine, who created the first factory for sparkling wines at his estates in the Crimea. These wines were called Soviet Champagne or Champagne for the people. After the revolution, these wines were still in production.

So when I saw this bottle? I knew that I had to try it.

Russian Champagne... I think they were in a hurry....This sparkling wine (not being from the Champagne Region of France, I won’t call it real Champagne) is not from the Crimea, but rather Kazan, which is the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan, Russia.

The taste was very apple. And the color very golden. I can fairly say that I have never had a sparkling wine like it before. The carbonation was very light, and while dry it was exceptionally fruity. If I hadn’t known better, I would have assumed it was cider rather than wine. It wasn’t what I was expecting, not by a long shot. But that doesn’t mean that it was bad. On the contrary. Just different. I also noted that this was the “dry” version. The store where I found this also carried the semi-dry and sweet varieties, which I am guessing can move into the cloying category. Luckily, I stuck with what I did. And we enjoyed the bottle, toasting my parents as they prepare to leave for a vacation to Egypt and Israel. Naturally, they have been asked to keep their eyes open for interesting wines and to report back to me!

How I Want To Open Champagne From Now On

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

I saw a demonstration last night on how to sabre a bottle of Champagne. I want to do this from now on, although realistically, I realize that my personal sommelier, Sophie will undoubtably take over this task, as she loves to open wine for me.

So, Sophie? This is for you, my love. Study up.

and remember as Napoleon said, “In victory, you deserve Champagne, in defeat, you need it”

What I was drinking

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor


What do you think? We were celebrating. And nothing says celebration more than Champagne!

This one, The Ernest Rapeneau Champagne was interesting.

The color was more gold than champagne. The flavor more bitter.

Sadly, we didn’t limit ourselves to this single bottle.

We drank everything fizzy in the wine fridge. There weren’t that many… but they are all gone.

Ironically the cheapest was the best. But then I have always been partial to Cava.

Thank you Freixenet!

More Champagne Stories…

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Once upon a time when our Maman was just a girl of 15, she made a magical trip to France with the Emmett Belknap Junior Highschool French Club.

It was her first time away from home on a holiday, that being Easter Sunday. And after a crack of dawn mass at Notre Dame de Nice where we kept getting woken up by the dripping of candle wax on her hands and being driven throughout the south of France in bus listening to the narration of a tour guide who NEVER ceased filling our stupid little upstate New York brains with facts we finally headed to dinner.

Those of us who’s parent had signed the additional permission slip were allowed to drink wine with our dinners. I was one of those students. Alas at the end of the meal, I was feeling a little extra melancholy.

After dinner, the students from my school met with our teachers. Now that year, there were four students on the trip and two teachers. One of the teachers spoke no French. Only German and was there for the pure joy of being in France. She was the music teacher at our school and according to my mother, something of a floozy. Well, whatever…

Anyway, we met after dinner and our teachers, noticing that we were a bit down suggested that we go out for a while before heading back to our spectacular rooms at the Hotel Terminus (I kid you not on the name). Their idea? Well, what else do you suggest with a pick of 15 year olds? We went out for drinks.

As we approached the bar, Mme. Berger explained that at many drinking establishments in France there was differential pricing based on where you sat. Those sitting out on the patio payed the highest price. The lowest prices were paid by those sitting at the bar. When asked where we wanted to sit, being young and stupid we sat on the patio. Why? Well, it was April in France, the bar was across the promenade from the Mediterannean and the moon was shining on the shimmering water.

When the waitress asked what we wanted to drink, Randy, Gina and Gwen (yes, we had a Gretchen, Gwen and Gina all on the same trip) able to order what they pleased, all ordered Screwdrivers. Which, naturalement are not called Screwdrivers in France but just plain Vodka and jus d’orange. Our teachers order beers. But me? Champagne. Moet & Chandon White Star.

I had two glasses then we went walking in the moonlit surf. It is a beautiful story, n’est ce pas?

Well sure. White Star has been my favorite Champagne ever since. Oh, the next day. I wanted to be dead. I was so hung over. And I was bruised. Why? Well, the beaches in Nice are rocks, not sand. Ouch.

Marguerite, knowing me for the last 24 years, knows this story.

And that is why she gave me White Star for my birthday.

Champagne Wishes

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Wasn’t that considered the ultimate in the 1980’s? Champagne wishes and caviar dreams!

Coming from an unusual family (if you know me, you may stop laughing now… I mean it!) you realize that wine was part of family events.

The first time that I received a bottle of wine as a gift I was 16. A bottle of champagne (ok, sparkling wine, those were the days that we didn’t know any better…) for my Sweet Sixteen. That birthday I also received my first diamonds.

My family never had a ton of money, but they knew how to make an event special. My diamonds were tiny little chips of earrings and a ring from my parents (The thought was that I wouldn’t be in any particular hurry to run out and get diamonds in any form, as I already had them…). My grandparents gave me the champagne. It had a plastic cork.

But I considered myself the grandest of girls. And certainly no one else in my class at Lockport Senior High School got jewelry and wine. Perhaps it should have been a sign of things to come, eh?

Why do I mention this? Today is the 27th anniversary of that Sweet Sixteen.

Champagne is still my favorite wine for celebrations. This year, like in the past, I have to watch my pennies. So I am trying to decide which Champagne is my best option.

Tell me what you think that I should choose and why and cross your fingers that I can find it for my birthday dinner.

I still feel special everytime I open a bottle of champagne.

Naturally, this year, in lieu of champagne I will accept nomination to to Wine Blogger Awards. Nominate us at will… Merci. And thank you in advance…

Happy New Year!

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

I am making Champagne cocktails to celebrate!


Easy peasy!

Some sort of sparking wine… I think this one is a sparkling non-champagne French wine…

a dash of bitters…

a cube of sugar

a tablespoon of Grand Marnier

and a long piece of orange peel…

Bonne Annee!




Happy New Year!